Normally, Microsoft reserves its security patches, fixes, updates, and other software tweaks and maneuvers for the second Tuesday in each month, aka “Patch Tuesday.” Yesterday afternoon I was somewhat surprised to see various sources trumpeting the release of an out-of-schedule security patch through Windows Update on the fourth Thursday in October.
Given the focus of this Web site, I hope it makes sense that I also follow industry news about Windows Vista as well as its technical ins and outs. Recently, I”ve noticed a growing swell of journalistic opinion/reporting that Vista has failed, that Vista is no good, and that the business world is aleady passing Vista by. Jason Hiner”s 10/6 story for ZDNet is a pretty good example of this genre: it”s entitled “The top five reasons why Windows Vista failed” and it reports the Vista OS as having already failed in the marketplace 22 months after its introduction in January 2006.
One of the many things I do for a living is to develop and revise courseware for a local Austin company that provides “Learning Centers” for all kinds of Fortune 500 companies. This includes some companies whose high tech products and business activities overlap with my interests and expertise. Right now, I’m hot on the track of revising a course on spam and spyware that somebody else developed back in 2004. Among other things this means revising statistics, information, and tools supplied during Windows XP’s heyday, and updating them to reflect an increasingly Windows Vista world in 2008.
In yesterday’s blog, I reported on the appearance of reports for numerous (9 one day, 10 the next) “corrupt and unusable” VolumeShadowCopyXX entries in the System Log in Event Viewer. All of these originated from source Ntfs, the Vista file system manager.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve used lots of online sources to look up Windows processes and DLLs by name in the past, but one that keeps coming up on Google over the years is Uniblue’s site at www.processlibrary.com. Now, that company has created a free, fabulous, and small (2 MB) process lookup tool. It integrates right into Windows Task Manager and links any entry that shows up in the Processes tab view to its corresponding Process Library coverage.
This morning, I began my day with some modest self-congratulation, or perhaps just a small sigh of relief that my recent Vista crises have abated. It’s now been 9 days since my last bluescreen and my System Stability Index in Reliability Monitor is nearly at 8.0 for the first time since August 11. I sincerely hope I’m not jinxing myself to make this statement but it appears that my production system is finally stable. Zounds! What a wild ride it’s been.
In the past two weeks, I’ve built a new Windows Vista system and upgraded the CPU on my primary production machine. In each case, I’ve seen problems pop up afterward that caused the Windows Reliability Monitor to report errors and related problems on those machines, and have watched their reliability scores plummet accordingly.