All posts by Ed Tittel

Full-time freelance writer, researcher and occasional expert witness, I specialize in Windows operating systems, information security, markup languages, and Web development tools and environments. I blog for numerous Websites, still write (or revise) the occasional book, and write lots of articles, white papers, tech briefs, and so forth.

New Graphics Drivers, New Shadow Copy Puzzles to Ponder

In the past couple of months, I ‘ve been grappling with graphics stability issues. Mostly, this has meant driver restarts where you get a message that reads something like “Display driver stopped responding and has recovered.” Occasionally, this has involved a BSOD that mentions the Nvidia driver files nvlddmkm.dll or nvlddmkm.sys. When it happens, it seldom occurs more than twice a week. I keep checking the Nvidia driver download page, grabbing new drivers as they become available (including occasional betas), and hoping for the best.

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Restart Manager Surfaces In Event Monitor

Any time something surfaces in Event Monitor that I’ve never seen before, it always piques my interest. My usual practice is to scan the Event Monitor’s Windows Application and System logs every Monday morning to see what might need my attention. This morning, among the items that caught my eye was this message “Application (pid 4684) cannot be restarted – Application SID does not match Conductor SID” from an unfamiliar source–namely the Restart Manager.

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Fixing Vista Mouse and Audio Nits

Now that my production system has been stable for nearly two weeks, I’m finally getting around to dealing with other aspects of its behavior that aren’t quite right. This morning, I resolved to address two issues that have been vexing me lately: an occasional but frequent case of “cursor freeze” from my mouse, and regular but brief stuttering or freeze in audio playback through Windows Media Player 11 or Windows Media Center. Let’s tackle these in their order of occurrence here.

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Yikes! A Positive Encounter with Dell Tech Support

I bought a Dell All-in-one (AIO) 968 printer a little over a month ago, to replace the aging Brother fax/printer I purchased almost 10 years ago for my business. Some of the vendors for whom I work require me to fax contracts back to them to get paid, so I’m quite naturally eager to retain fax capability. Alas, however, Vista sent me a “Print Filter Pipeline Host” error every time I tried to use this device, and despite uninstalling and reinstalling the driver, I was not able to make it go away. Each time I re-tried my print job, however, the output would be produced, despite this initial error. Now that I know what the cause was, I’m pretty impressed that anything worked at all.

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Windows Vista: Trials, Troubles, and Triumphs?

In reading over Chris Pirillo’s daily newsletter this morning, I tripped over an interesting item entitled “Is Maximum PC right about Vista?” For those not already in the know, Maximum PC is a serious PC enthusiast publication, built around a glossy, high-concept monthly magazine and a Web site to match, with coverage of all kinds of high-end PC hardware, systems, peripherals, toys, tools, and more. I almost got lucky about four years ago when one of my publishers decided to go after some of this company’s related book business, but alas the project never came to fruition. I provide all this by way of explaining why this little blurb grabbed my eye and my undivided attention.

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What a difference a fan makes!

In putting my production machine back together, I noticed that my disk drives and my passively cooled graphics card were running a bit warmer than I might like. So as I took the machine apart to replace the drives I also popped the front cover off and installed a ThermalTake 120mm TurboFan in front of the drive cage at the bottom of the case.

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Vista-compatible firewalls

Part of my daily routine consists of visiting online message boards for IT and technical classes for instructing online courses for companies that currently include HP, Sony, Radio Shack, and Motorola (I’ve also taught online courses for Symantec, IBM, Forbes and Business Week, and others). One topic that I’ve built courses for and teach regularly has to do with Windows Firewalls, not to be confused or conflated with the Windows Firewall Program introduced with SP1 on Windows XP, and now included with both Windows XP and Windows Vista.

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Time for a new motherboard?

My production Vista machine is still acting screwy. When I leave it running all night, as I usually do, to let it run automatic updates for Windows itself, anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and to conduct all kinds of automated housekeeping tasks (disk defrag, file system cleanup, and so forth), this PC hangs every night. Alas, I get no entries in the Windows event logs to tell me what’s causing the problem and I still haven’t been able to pinpoint a definite cause. But when I leave the machine alone for two hours or more, then sit back down to get back to work, the GUI essentially quits responding to user input, and I have to resort to extreme measures to get things working properly again.

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The Trouble with Explorer.exe

Viz Vista by Ed TittelIf you’ve been reading my blogs lately, you’ll know I’ve been battling mightily with some vexing and puzzling stability problems on my primary production PC. In the past two weeks, I’ve tried nearly everything I can think of to bring this problem under control. My failure to find a convincing resolution is forcing me to plan for the unthinkable last ditch for Vista system repair: back everything up, blow away the system drive, then reinstall Vista and all my applications. Ouch!

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The Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool

If you’ve ever looked over the regular updates that get delivered the second Tuesday of every month (so-called “Patch Tuesday”) to your Vista machine, you can’t help but have noticed the regular appearance of something called the Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool. As I write this blog on 8/05/2008, it’s only the first Tuesday of the month, so the latest version is dated 7/8/2008, as documented in KB article 890830 (there’s also a download).

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