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The Pocket PC I recently received was completely in French, so I figured 'I'll just change this to English'.

It can't be that hard, can it? Apparently it was trickier then I thought.

The Pocket PC has the OS in it's ROM, and it has limited ROM, so no multilanguages in there.

It quickly became obvious to me the ROM had to be flashed with an English version, but where to get it?

I didn't buy the Pocket PC, so asking Dell to give me an English one probably would fail, and from various messageboards I discovered they won't do it anyway.

So, where to get it? From the Dell site I guessed, in the download section there was an English update for Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition.

Since this update just flashes the ROM and puts the new version in it, I guessed this was ok.

But when trying to flash it, it started complaining about being the wrong language.

Apparently French can only be upgraded to French, and since I don't speak French fluently this wasn't practical :)

So, search engine to the rescue. I found this post on Aximsite, a site dedicated to Dell Axim resources.

It seemed logical, get the English and French ROM, make the updater believe the English ROM is actually a French language, and flash.

The process looked obvious to me, so, let's get started!

I opened up the French ROM and English ROM in a hex editor and located the differences:

This is different from the forum post! It's not the first 7 lines you have to copy paste.

Pasting the first 7 lines results in an Integrity Check error. It's enough to change everything before the "AXIM30".

After having modified the English ROM with the new header, I saved it to the French updated directory, overwriting the original French ROM update. (So, now you have a filename which indicates it's a French ROM, but it's actually the English ROM with the French header)

I did the same for the other image (there is a C and an N image).

Now I ran the updater, which did not give me an error about Integrity Check anymore, and also not about wrong language.

It successfully updated the ROM and after the Pocket PC restarted, everything was English!

So, now I have an English Pocket PC :)

Of course, the disclaimer on my blog applies especially to this post, as this is not something you should do quickly if you have no technical skills.

So: I (David Cumps) cannot be held responsible for any damage what-so-ever that might come from this post. You do this at your own risk.
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Today I got the chance to experiment with the Microsoft Fingerprint Reader and I love it!

I believe this is very useful for elder people who can't remember any passwords at all. For example, I can now setup a computer for my grandmother, and the only thing she has to do when use it, is touch the reader briefly.

Yes, I already hear people saying, why not set it to logon automatically for her or use a password manager? Well, I don't want to have it login automatically, because it could have multiple users, like her grandchildren. And I didn't use a password manager, well, because I had to change to test this, which is in essence a sort of password manager.

Bringing up the point about her grandchildren, it can be configured to detect who touches the reader and log in to the right account as well, and also allows fast user switching by a touch.

The installation was very easy and clear, with graphics explaining how to register your fingerprint with the reader. Everything is very dummy-proof, making it perfect for a normal user on a normal XP installation.

As a normal user mostly uses IE, it doesn't matter if it doesn't work 100% in Firefox (as I have read somewhere). I like the simplicity, the wizard to create a new website logon is also very clear, indicating which field is the username field, the password field and the logon submit button.

It does say it shouldn't be used for corporate networks, but as this is mainly a home product, that's not a big problem. It's really a useful tool.

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I don't like Abit anymore. There you go, I said it. Why? My motherboard killed a RAM module. (My motherboard is an Abit IT7-MAX2)

A bug in the BIOS, or a hardware problem, I got lost in the possible causes. In the end it did kill my memory.

The motherboard set the memory bus at 178Mhz, while it supports PC2100 memory, but PC2100 memory can't handle that speed, PC2700 even has problems with it.

I had 2x 512MB PC2700, and then, one died. So far for the auto-detect options of the motherboard.

Cold boot was impossible, I had this issue once before and then they advised me to replace my PSU, that worked last time, although it must have been coincidence because it was a memory issue.

The motherboard displays an A7 and AF error on it's led when it stops booting, and this is of course undocumented by Abit, only forums help. There I learned it was a hardware issue, along with all the details.

Solution? Go into the bios and remove the auto detect options and set everything manually.

H/W Strap should be set to Low 1:1, PCI to Fixed 33Mhz, and your multiplier and FSB to whatever is needed for your CPU.

One problem though, if I can't boot, I can't change anything in my BIOS. :(

So, off to the store it was, bought myself 2 x 512MB PC3200 and everything is working again. The old memory module is dead.

So far the worst part, motherboards killing memory. Now more of the undocumented stuff.

I had one module of 512MB still here, so I thought, 1.5GB of ram, nice!

I insert 3 x 512MB, and what does the BIOS see? 1GB...

I switched modules around, inserted them one by one to make sure none were damaged, but my motherboard refused to see all three of them.

The website states it supports up to 2GB of ram, and it has 3 memory banks.

But now for the undocumented part: the motherboard only supports 4 sides, so you can have 2 dual-sided memory, or 1 dual-sided and 2 single-sided. But you can't have 3 dual-sided modules. But guess what, almost all ram is dual-sided. Solution? You have to buy 2 x 1GB, which is expensive.

It seems Abit likes to sell, but when it comes to helping they believe their products are flawless, while they are not.

My advise: Don't but an Abit motherboard, I sure won't but them anymore. Take an Asus or something.

Here is a 11-page thread about this problem, that show the true nature of Abit.