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 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.
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.
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.
In keeping with my ongoing Vista troubleshooting exercise, I’ve gotten into the habit of dropping in on my Event Viewer every couple of days to see what kinds of errors and warnings are popping up. By keeping tabs on this information, and researching stuff I haven’t seen before or don’t understand, I keep learning more and more interesting stuff about Vista. This morning, I found a new error from the Volume Shadow Copy Service (which shows up in the Windows Application log as a source named VSS). Because VSS is important to maintaining Vista operating and file system integrity, I started digging more deeply into this right away.
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.
Last week, my blog “Should Software Makers Clean Up After Themselves?” expressed my consternation that responsible software vendors could create uninstall utilities that don’t completely clean up after themselves. I reported that one well-known program that I just uninstalled left 462 registry entries and 151 files behind. I was wrong: it also installed the Viewpoint Media Player, which runs as viewpointservice.exe, and not only left it running on my machine, it also continued to load up and run at boot time, even with no consuming processes to serve.
It’s hot, hot, hot here in Round Rock, TX. And alas, when I say it’s hot here, I mean in the house! Our inside cooling stack for the main A/C apparently iced up yesterday, and quit working. I’ve had to cut the main unit off, so our only cooling in the house right now is literally trickling down the staircase (the coolest place in the house) from the still-operational upstairs unit and providing some cooling for the whole house.