SEO Friendly Press Releases

In our previous post, we have learned how to write a press release, now we’ll take a look on how to write one that will attract visitors to your website:

Today, studies indicate that the vast majority of journalists working a story or seeking ideas are likely to turn first to the search engine of their choosing.

Where the primary goal was once to get your printed press release opened and read, the new “job one” for publicity seekers is making certain that, when a journalist types in keywords that relate to your business, you’re right there, at the top of the rankings.
Of course, getting your main website as optimized and as search engine-friendly as can be is a hot and vital topic for all businesses, and it’s one that can fill entire books. For this article, however, we’ll focus on just one task: how to get your press releases indexed, and highly ranked by major search engines.
Many of the principles that apply to getting entire sites highly ranked are similar, but there are some things unique to press release-only search engine
optimization.
Let’s start with some words of wisdom offered by a fellow Free Publicity subscriber. Tim Leffel, author of The World’s Cheapest Destinations was kind enough lay out the steps he’s taken to assure that his press releases are well-indexed and ready to grab the
attention of any searching travel journalist. So let’s turn it over to Tim:

  1. Get as many links back to your web site as possible from like-minded sites (and return the favor)— this has more impact than anything.
  2. Always feature your web site address in any articles or press releases as this will often show up as another link if the article is posted on the web.
  3. Get as many relevant keywords that relate to your expertise/product as you can into the content of your web site pages, and not just the home page. The more specific, the better. (For example, “cheap flights” wouldn’t do me much good since there are probably a thousand sites using those words.)
  4. Pay to submit your sites to all the search engines at once, ideally several times per year. I use www.ineedhits.com, which is downright cheap.
  5. If it makes sense for your business, start a weblog and contribute regularly. For whatever reason, these tend to get high rankings in Google. Write about what you know and use targeted, relevant keywords in the title.
  6. I’ve read that static web sites don’t fare as well in search results, so it makes sense to update the site on a regular basis, even if you’re not changing much. Apparently the search spiders look at the “last published” date in your code.
  7. Some writers are adamant that you shouldn’t write without getting paid. I think that’s bunk. Every time you write an article for a web site, that’s another notch in your web search visibility and if you’ve put a link to your own site, another addition to your score.
  8. All this takes time to work, so people shouldn’t expect instant results. Over time though, it snowballs. When I pull up my name or the name of my book on the search engines, it goes on for at least ten pages. And yes, it always makes sense to have a few relevant keywords or phrases in all of your press releases, especially if you’re an expert in a specific area. Envision what words should lead someone to your web site, then make sure those are in there somewhere.

I’ll add a few extra tips that seem to be working:

  • Consider distributing your release through a paid service like PR Newswire. These folks practically invented the idea of search engine optimized press release distribution, and they consistently get their clients releases at the top of the engines.
  • Choose your keywords carefully. Again (and this is the Free Publicity mantra), think like a journalist! If a journalist was using Google to search for story ideas in your area of expertise, which words or phrases would he or she enter? Need some help figuring this out? Try the excellent service WordTracker (http://www.wordtracker.com). It’s a brilliantly-designed resource to nail down exactly the right keywords for your company. A free alternative is The Overture Search Term Suggestion Tool (http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/). My advice? Use them both!
  • When you write your press release, pick your main keyword or keyword phrase in the page title, the headline and the subhead. Then put it in the lead paragraph! Don’t try to jam more than one keyword phrase into the release and dilute your chances of a high ranking. Keep it simple. Let’s say you’re in the business of selling digital photography equipment. Your visit to WordTracker informs you that the most searched phrase
    related to your industry is “digital camera”. Your release deals with consumer tips to avoid fraud. Further research shows that the phrase “rip-off” is heavily searched. Thus, your keyword phrase is “digital camera rip-off”. Here’s how you might craft your release:
    Page Title: Avoiding Digital Camera Rip-Offs
    Headline: How To Avoid Rip-Offs When Buying a Digital Camera
    Subhead: Danger — Digital Camera Rip-Off Artists at Work!
    Lead Sentence: Digital camera rip-offs are on the rise, according to digital camera expert Joe Smith.
    One more thing: keep your release short so you don’t dilute your the impact of your keyword phrase!
  • Getting links to your release is vital. Link to it from your home page, and try to garner links from e-zines, blogs and websites with good Google Page Ranks (get the Google toolbar to help determine page rankings of
    other sites). What you’re shooting for would be something like this:
    Joe Smith has some great ideas about how not to get ripped off when buying a digital camera. You can see his tips at http://nameofsite.com/ripoffrelease.html
  • One last bit of advice — after you’ve done it once, keep at it! Build a library of search engine optimized press releases and the media will keep finding you. Imagine that: journalists coming to you without getting
    on the phone, begging, pleading or sending out mailing after mailing. You gotta love the Internet..

Copyright 2008, Stoller & Bard Communications, Inc. all rights reserved. http://www.publicityinsider.com

Press Release Secrets

Every press release is different, but, regardless of its content, I try to make each release I write conform to these 10 Press Release Commandments:

  1. Thou shalt be professional. No goofy fonts, rainbow paper or silly gimmicks. Even lighthearted press releases represent a communication between one professional and another.
  2. Thou shalt not be promotional. If you can’t get enough objective distance from your company to write a press release that’s not filled with hype and puffery, hire someone to write it for you.
  3. Thou shalt not be boring. Even the driest subject matter allows for some sparks of creativity. Journalists like knowing that there’s a human being communicating with them, not some corporate robot.
  4. Thou shalt be brief. Learn to cut out extraneous words. Keep your sentences short. Include only the points necessary to sell the story. The well-crafted one page press release is a thing of beauty.
  5. Thou shalt know thy recipient. A feature or specialty editor is a very different creature from a city desk editor. If you’re promoting the opening of a new winery, the food and wine editor may be interested in all the details about what kind of aging process and wine press you’re using. The city desk editor just wants to know when the grand opening is and what’s going to happen there.
  6. Thou shalt use the proper tense. When writing a hard news release — a contract signing, a stock split, a major announcement, etc.) use the past tense (Acme Industries has changed its name to AcmeCo, the company announced today…) When writing a soft news release – a trend story, a personal profile, etc. — use the present tense (Jane Smith is one of the best marathon runners over 40. She’s also blind. Thanks to new technology from AcmeCo, Jane is able to…).
  7. Thou shalt think visually. A press release is more than words — it’s a visual document that will first be assessed by how it looks. I’m referring to more than font size or letterhead. I’m talking about the actual layout of the words. Whether received by mail, fax or email, a journalist — often unconsciously — will make decisions about whether to read the release based on how the release is laid out. Big blocks of text and long paragraphs are daunting and uninviting. Short paragraphs and sentences make for a much more visually inviting look.
  8. Thou Shalt Tell a Story. How to arrange the facts of a hard news release is pretty much cut and dried. The old “who, what, when, where and how” lead and “inverted pyramid” concepts still hold. So let’s focus on a soft news release. The trend story, the feel-good company story, the “gee-whiz, I didn’t know anyone was doing that!” release. The difference between these releases and the hard news release is simply a mirror of the difference between a feature story in, say, the entertainment section of your newspaper and the breaking news report on page one. The hard news story is about cold, hard facts (A mudslide closed portions of Interstate 70 last night, causing massive delays). A feature article about the guy who spends all day looking at seismograph readouts trying to predict where the next mudslide will occur will be very different. It’s likely to be in present tense, it won’t load all the facts upfront and it will be designed to draw the reader deep into the text. It is, in short, all about storytelling. Here’s the formula I use for these kinds of releases. I call it the 3S approach — Situation/Surprise/Support.The first paragraph sets up the situation. The second paragraph reveals the surprise. The third paragraph supports the claim made in the second paragraph. One very typical 3S is discussing a common problem in the first paragraph (For centuries, people have accepted memory loss as an inevitable result of aging.) The “surprise” paragraph announces the solution to the problem (But one local man says he’s ready to prove the medical establishment wrong.) The ”support” paragraph then tells the story. (John Smith, an Anytown entrepreneur, says he’s found the key to retaining a strong memory function far into old age. His “Memory Maker” software is based on ancient Chinese texts that were used more than 2000 years ago to…)  Another 3S — let’s revisit our mudslide watching friend. How would you start his story using this method? While John Smith’s colleagues at the National Atmospheric Center are watching the skies for signs of lightning and tornadoes, his attention is focused elsewhere. John Smith is listening to the mud. As the Chief Mudslide Analyst at the NAC, Smith spends his days glued to a seismograph, eyes and ears peeled for the telltale signs on an impending slide. Along with the 3S in action, I also followed the 7th Commandment. That really short second paragraph is a visual grabber, and will keep the journalist reading right into the meat of the release.
  9.  Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness. This may seem an obvious point, but it always bears repeating. Tell the truth. Don’t inflate, don’t confabulate, don’t exaggerate. Don’t twist facts, don’t make up numbers, don’t make unsubstantiated claims. Any decent journalist will be able to see right through this. If you’re lucky, you’re release will just get tossed out. If you’re unlucky, you’ll be exposed. It’s a chance not at all worth taking. Make sure every release you write is honest and on the level.
  10. Thou Shalt Know Thy Limitations. Not everyone can write a press release. A good feature release, in particular, isn’t an easy thing to craft. If you just don’t feel like you have the chops to get the job done, hire a professional.

One last tip: right before you start writing your release, spend an hour or two reading your daily paper, paying special attention to stories similar in feel to yours.
Immerse yourself in how the pros do it and you’ll be in the right frame of mind to tackle the job!

When Writing Press Releases, It’s all About Style

Write a great lead. The lead paragraph in a press release should, theoretically, be able to stand alone as a news item. A standard news lead answers the FiveW’s — Who? What? Where? When? Why? Successfully answer those five questions in one paragraph and you’ve summarized everything beautifully.

Write in Third Person. Perhaps it’s a silly convention, but press releases really should be written as if they’re coming from an objective outsider to your company, not from within your business. Of course, the journalist knows better, but nonetheless, they expect releases to be written in the third person. In short, here’s the difference between first person and third person:
• First person: We’ve developed the Acme X100. It’s our most advanced model ever.
• Third person: Acme Industries has developed the X100, which a company spokesperson called its “most advanced ever”
Attribute all opinions. Never flatly state an opinion. If you want to state an opinion or, as in the above example, make a claim, always attribute it to a representative of the company (which very well may end up to be you!). Anything apart from entirely factual info (dates, store availability, product features, biographical information, etc.) should be attributed.
Again, the best way to get a feel for this is to read wire copy. Start sorting out the things a reporter feels comfortable including without attribution and things
for which he uses a named source.

Remove all “stoppers”. A “stopper” is something that will stop a journalist in her tracks and distract her attention. Once that happens, your release is toast.

The point of your press release: to present information in the least obtrusive way possible. Consider it this way: the journalist isn’t dumb — she knows full well that you’ve sent her the press release for purely commercial reasons, hoping to get publicity that will make you more money. She can live with that as long as [a] there’s something in it for her (a good story) and [b] she’s not reminded of your commercial desires too often. A “stopper” breaks the suspension of disbelief needed for this little dance to be successful. It’s the boom mike showing up in the frame of a movie — once you’ve seen it, it’s hard to convince yourself that you’re really experiencing something that happened during, say, the Middle Ages.
Here are some ‘stoppers” to avoid:

  • Clunky language. Journalists keep their language pretty simple. Long words, compound sentences and lofty, pretentious phrases are no-no’s. Keep your sentences short. Don’t try to present more than one idea in a paragraph. Avoid words you wouldn’t use in everyday circumstances.
  • Hype and puffery. The ultimate “stopper”. Confusing press release copy with advertising copy is a pervasive problem with businesspeople. Don’t call yourself the greatest, the hottest, the coolest, the most unique or anything of the sort. If you must make a claim of superiority for your product, service or company, attribute it. Acme President Joe Blow said the X100 “has the opportunity to revolutionize the industry” is much better than The revolutionary Acme X100 is the greatest industrial advance since the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk.
  • Trademark Symbols. Including © or ™ or ® screams “hey, check me out! I’m a press release! I come from a business! The legal department made me include this stuff!”

The bottom line: write like a journalist, avoid the stoppers and answer the Five W’s and you’ll succeed!

Copyright 2008, Stoller & Bard Communications, Inc. all rights reserved. http://www.publicityinsider.com

Google Website Optimizer

HOT TO GET YOUR FIRST GOOGLE WEBSITE OPTIMIZER TEST RUNNING IN 10 MINUTES
You signed up for Google’s free multivariate or A/B testing platform, and I’d like to welcome you to the world of conversion rate optimization on steroids. For the longest time a quality testing platform was too expensive for many, but now it is available to all of us. Getting started is really easy. If you are willing to invest 10 minutes, I’ll walk you through the process of setting up and performing your first test.

Google Website Optimizer
Google Website Optimizer – Image Copyright Google Inc.

The Non-Technical Technical Overview
Even if you are uncomfortable with technical stuff, you should understand setting up. That way, if you have to talk to someone technical, you will be able to communicate effectively. The process is really simple.
We’ll need a name for this experiment; we’ll call it “First Test”.
1. The first thing you must do is identify which page you want to test (Test Page). For the sake of getting your first test started, let’s say you are going to test your homepage.
2. Identify the page your visitor must reach to qualify as a successful conversion (Conversion Page). Is it your order thank you page, your registration success page, your contact us confirmation page, or a begin download page? In other words, the Conversion Page is the page your visitor gets to once they’ve taken the action you want them to take on your Test Page.
For this example we’ll use our Contact Us Thank You page.
3. The Google Website Optimizer will generate little bits of code, called “tags,” for the Test Page and the Conversion Page. All you or your technical person needs to do is a little copying and pasting. Google will even check (validate) that you’ve placed the tags correctly before you can begin. On the Test Page, put the “Control Script” code at the top part of the page (called the “head”) and the “Tracker Script” at the bottom of the page (before the </body> tag). You only need to tag the Conversion Page at the bottom with the “Tracker Script.”
Please note the tracking script specifies in its code which is the test page and which is the goal page.

Test Page: “Control Script” at top + “Tracker Script” at bottom

Conversion Page: “Tracker Script” at bottom

4. Now, look at the Test Page and decide what pieces or elements (Sections) of the page you want to test. You can test up to 8 sections on any one page.
For now, we’ll set up test of only one section. This is commonly referred to as an A/B test. Let’s choose a section we know has a high impact on any site.
a. On your Test Page there is one section almost every visitor sees: the first headline. Headlines are the easiest section to test, because you don’t need anyone else to come up with any copy or images – all you need to change is a few words (remember it is only a test). Your headline should start with an <h1> (could be h2, h3, etc.) html tag.
b. Once you have identified the section you are testing – in this case the first headline – you need to place a “section script” (a tiny piece of code) right before and after the html that renders your headline.
Google recommends excluding as much HTML as possible when defining sections. In this section script, you to change the name of the section in the code so you can identify it. For example:
<h1>utmx_section(“Description”)
Your Current headline
</noscript></h1>
Change the “Description” to “Headline Test”.

Testing Headlines
For the purpose of this run-through, we didn’t spend time crafting a knock-out
headline. But you will definitely want to do this. Learning to create good headlines takes skill and practice. As you come to learn what works best for your audience, your ability to create truly persuasive headlines will improve. Here are some ideas for testing your headlines:

  • Test fractions (3/4) or percentages (75%) to prove your claim.
  • Test using numbers in your headlines.
  • Test asking questions in the headline (make sure you directly answer the
  • question after the headline).
  • Test using news in headlines to appeal to visitors.
  • Test using emotional-laden words.
  • Test different types of bolding, fonts, colors, capitalizations, sizes, and formatting.
  • Test background colors for headlines.
  • Test the number of words used in the headline.
  • Test using exclamation points.
  • Test using text to convey the benefits versus the features of your products or services.
  • Test self-focused text (we/I) in the headline.
  • Test customer-focused text (you) in the headline.
  • Test using quotations in the headline (consider the length of the headline).
  • Test the reading level of the headline.

<h1>utmx_section(“Headline Test”)
Your Current headline
</noscript></h1>
Make sure the </noscript> tag follows your original content in a section.
c. Try to come up with 2 different variations of your headline other than the one you currently have (you’ll have a total of three headlines).
Once you tag your pages (see Step 3), you’ll be able to add these variations into Google’s Website Optimizer yourself and get your experiment running.
Hopefully you were able to tag these pages yourself or had someone else do it for you by now. When the Optimizer has validated these, you can begin to enter your section variations.
You’re ready to begin your first experiment!

Create and Enter Variations
Google’s Website Optimizer interface will show you a box (Variation Entry Form) labeled “Headline Test”, and it will show the html code you put the section script around (<h1>Your Current headline</h1>) grayed out.
1. On the left you will see a hyperlink that says “+ Add another variation”.
Click that.
2. A small box will appear in front of the Variation Entry Form that asks you to create a new variation. You just need to supply a short, descriptive name.
3. It will then show you the code to edit in the Variation Entry Form with the new variation name you just came up with. All you need to do is this: between the <h1> and the </h1>, where “Your Current Headline” is, type one of the 2 variations you came up with over the words ‘Your Current Headline”.
4. Repeat steps 1 through 3 to add your second variation.
5. When you are done adding variations click on “Save and continue.”

Review Test Setting and Launch
The Google Website Optimizer presents a summary identifying the Test Page address, the Conversion Page address, the name and number of variations you created and the total number of combinations you are testing. It also allows you to decide what percent of your total traffic should be exposed to the test. In our example, we’ll leave it at 100%.

Click the “Launch Now” button. The fun of testing now begins! Next step, wait for the results. You have successfully launched your first test.

WHAT TO DO NEXT
How can you tell if your results are valid? Certainly it’s important to be aware of “freshness” factors that can influence your conversion rates, things such as seasonality or even time of day. It’s important to run your tests concurrently, ideally for a couple of weeks, making certain your sample size is adequate and the results between tests are statistically meaningful.
Remember, you do not want to marginally beat out what you have; you are looking for significant increases. Make sure you define what will constitute success when you start testing. You can base your criteria for success based on a certain number of conversions or sales, or you can measure results over course of time.
To be sure your test is showing a statistically meaningful impact on the variables, you have to know if you’ve demonstrated enough of a difference between the tests to declare a clear winner. As a rule of thumb, you should have at least a three times larger result (e.g., if A is 5, B should be 15).
The beauty of Google’s Website Optimizer is that it takes care of all the math and shows you which elements or combinations of elements will work best for you.
When you are ready to take the next step to multivariate testing (as in our earlier example), just add an additional section script before your element and go through the same process of creating and entering variations.

It’s that easy!

If you need assistance with your SEO or need setting up the Google Website Optimizer, why not give us a buzz on email?

http://www.carra-lucia-ltd.co.uk 

Skype Adds – Will it bring the downfall of Free communication?

Skype LogoIt seems that the popular P2P calls are no longer free, with the services offered by Skype being plagued by huge display adverts. The company is now bringing in the feature known as “Conversation Ads”, which will pop up within the calling window when you are talking to someone. Perhaps, the Skype marketing department believes that the users will see the ads and start talking about their content to the caller.

Actually, it’s something that advertising people always believe in – that their product is so good that the consumers will want to talk about it. However, in reality the callers will be swearing at the ad.

Skype admitted that the advertisements will be targeted at the consumers based on their location, gender and age. The representatives of the company explained that on a 1:1 audio call, the callers will see material that could spark additional topics of conversation, relevant to the users, as well as “highlight unique and local brand experiences”.

Apparently, people have nothing better to do in a consumption-based capitalism other than discussing the goods randomly flashed on their screens. Meanwhile, Skype marketing department believes that the advertising is a great way for the company to create interactivity between the users’ circle of friends and family and the brands they care about.

The experts suspect that the advertisements won’t be small as well, promising the display ads to be just as big as the picture of someone you are trying to talk to. Another hint the observers have made is that the adverts will pop up during Skype-to-Skype audio calls for Windows users. Nevertheless, only those will be affected who don’t have Skype Credit or subscriptions.

The company claims that there won’t be any degradation of the call quality and that the advertisements will be silent and non-expanding. In addition, the most discontent Skype users will be allowed to opt out of personalized advertisements, though it is a bit tricky to do. If you are one of them, then go to the Privacy menu in Tools and choose Options of Skype for Windows OS. Although you will still get advertisements, those will relate only to your location rather than hit your personal information.

How to Drag and Drop Outlook Mail Items in VB.NET

We have run across the need to drag and drop Outlook Mail Messages into a Windows Forms .NET application and after looking for a proper method, we have found out it was a lot easier to drag and drop attachments found in a mail message than the actual text of a mail message. After a lot of thinking, we cracked the solution and decided to share it with the rest of the world, in case they have to do something similar.
I assume you all know about the dragEnter and DragDrop methods so I shall not dwell into too much detail.

Here’s the function:

Private Sub lstLocalFiles_DragDrop(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As System.Windows.Forms.DragEventArgs) Handles lstLocalFiles.DragDrop
‘copy file(s) to destination folder
Dim destinationPath As String = “C:Temp”

If Not e.Data.GetDataPresent(DataFormats.Text) = False Then
‘check if this is an outlook message. The outlook messages, all contain a FileContents attribute. If not, exit.
Dim formats() As String = e.Data.GetFormats()

f formats.Contains(“FileContents”) = False Then Exit Sub

‘they are dragging the attachment
If (e.Data.GetDataPresent(“Object Descriptor”)) Then
Dim app As New Microsoft.Office.Interop.Outlook.Application() ‘ // get current selected items
Dim selection As Microsoft.Office.Interop.Outlook.Selection
Dim myText As String = “”
selection = app.ActiveExplorer.Selection
If selection IsNot Nothing Then


Dim mailItem As Outlook._MailItem
For i As Integer = 0 To selection.Count – 1
Dim strFilename As String = “”
                        mailItem = TryCast(selection.Item(i + 1), Outlook._MailItem)
If mailItem IsNot Nothing Then
Try
myText = “”
strFilename = mailItem.Subject + ” ”
strFileName += mailItem.ReceivedTime.ToShortDateString + ” ” +                 mailItem.ReceivedTime.ToShortTimeString + “.txt”
myText = e.Data.GetData(“Text”)  ‘header text
myText += vbCrLf + vbCrLf
myText += mailItem.Body  ‘Plain Text Body Message


For Each _Chr As Char In Path.GetInvalidFileNameChars()
strFileName = strFileName.Replace(_Chr, “_”)
Next


Dim attachment_count As Integer = 1
‘now save the attachments with the same file name and then 1,2,3 next to it
For Each att As Attachment In mailItem.Attachments
Dim att_filename As String = att.FileName
Dim att_extension As String = att_filename.Substring(att_filename.LastIndexOf(“.”))
att.SaveAsFile(destinationPath + strFileName.Replace(“.txt”, CStr(attachment_count) + att_extension))


myText += vbCrLf + “Attachment ” + CStr(attachment_count) + ” : ” + att_filename


attachment_count += 1
Next
 ‘save the mail message

Dim strw As New StreamWriter(destinationPath + strFileName, False)
strw.WriteLine(myText)
strw.Close()
strw.Dispose()
Catch ex As System.Exception
Finally
Marshal.ReleaseComObject(mailItem)
End Try

End If
Next
End If

End If
End If

End Sub
You need to include Office Interop Outlook into your project references.
If you ever need something like dragging and dropping Outlook Mail Messages into your application, give us a call or contact us on our website: http://www.carra-lucia-ltd.co.uk

Experts Warned of Cloud Complexity

One of the Yale researchers has warned that cloud-based systems might melt down with the systems becoming more and more complex.

Bryan Ford has written a paper, which he is going to present to the USENIX HotCloud 2012 conference soon. The paper says that with the use of cloud computing now becoming more mainstream, major operational “meltdowns” might arise. The matter is that everything will get quite complex, and complexity will cause an accident.

Ford explained that as diverse cloud services share more fluidly and aggressively multiplexed hardware resource pools, the probability arises that unexpected things will happen, including unpredictable interactions between load-balancing and other reactive mechanisms. This may result in dynamic instabilities, also known as “meltdowns”.

According to the experts report, it was a little like the intertwining, complex relationships and structures which could promote global financial crisis. He pointed out that new cloud services may emerge, which actually resell, trade, or speculate on complex “’derivatives” like financial trading industries.

Such components will be maintained and deployed by different companies, which, due competition, won’t share details (if possible) about the internal operation of its services. As a result, the cloud industry might face speculative bubbles. The experts predict occasional large-scale failures due to composite cloud services which have weaknesses that do not reveal until those bubbles burst.

Meanwhile, there’s no solution to the problem. The only advice that the experts can give is that providers should release detailed data about their system dependencies to some special 3rd party that offers cloud reliability analysis services.

Installing Windows XP on a SATA harddrive from USB

One of our machines recently lost its bearings and decided to die a peaceful death. We decided to re-format the hard drive and put Windows XP on it (I know, it’s being discontinued in 2014 but until then, it’s an easy installation with low memory usage, perfect for running greedy applications).

So, I went on and put a bootable XP CD and went on with the steps. I had minor errors from the CD when copying the files on the computer and once all of them were copied, XP would not install due to a Cyclic redundancy check error on the CD. I went on and put another DVD drive in the machine, thinking it would solve it. No, same error.

I used a brand new WinXP SP3 cd in the new drive – still, same error. Disgruntled, I took out the DVD/CD drive out completely and looked for alternative methods for installing Windows. Doing a server side installation would have been an overkill so I decided to explore a little and use the USB drive to install XP on the machine. The frontal USB drives were visible in BIOS so I changed the install order to use those first.

Now – you would think that just copying and pasting the XP data on an USB will do the trick! You are gravely mistaken.  The USB needs to be bootable.

You will need:

  • another PC running XP, Vista or Windows7
  • a 2GB USB drive (or above) 2.o
  • an original CD with Windows XP
  • the following three archives: bootsect.zip , PeToUSB_3.0.0.7.zip  șiusb_prep8.zip . Click them to download them.
  1. Create a local folder on your hard drive where you copy the three archives (close to the root, something like C:XP)
  2. Extract the archives USB_prep8.zip and PeToUSB.zip;
  3. Copy PeToUSB.exe in the folder usb_prep8;
  4. Execute usb_prep8.cmd from the folder usb_prep8
  5. A commander window will open and press any key to start the processImagine pas 5
  6. Imagine pas 6
  7. Press Start. The application will format your USB drive. Do not close this application
  8. Extract the archive bootsect.zip.
  9. Open up a command window (Start>Run> type cmd>enter)
  10. Go to the bootsect folder on your hard drive by using “cd ..” to go up a folder and then typing the folder name to go into it.
  11. Type “bootsect.exe /nt52 I:”,  where “I” is your USB drive letter.Imagine pas 11
  12. The result will be the boot number refresh for the FAT system found on the USB drive. this is the step that makes the CD bootable. Close all windows except the one with a menu on it.
  13. In the menu window, press 1 to select the source CD with Windows XP
  14. Press 2 if you already have drive T to select an unused drive letter.
  15. Press 3 and select your USB drive letter (I: or F: or G:)
  16. Press 4 and then press Yes. You will keep on confirming anything that pops up and stay next to the computer as it is a bit long. It will take you between 15 and 20 minutes to complete this step.
    Imagine pas 13
  17. Confirm the deactivation of the temporary drive and close all windows. Your USB drive is ready so pop it into the destination machine and boot up the system.
  18. Press F12 to bring up the boot menu and select TXT Mode Setup Windows XP… which will start the installation process.

Now, I have done it well so far and it would have been ok, if not for the dreaded BSOD with error code 7B saying that the device could not be initialized. Meaning the Hard drive of the machine was unreachable. Meaning that I could not install XP on a machine with no hard drive.

So I went on a quest similar to the one in the Leagues of Legend, trying to find out why a Dell machine with a SATA hard drive was so much special than a normal machine.

I found out first that

Hopefully this will help other people out there who are facing issues similar to this one.