Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When in doubt, look closer to home

I saw a string of peculiar messages in the Windows Event Log on my laptop which at first sight looked quite alarming:
Windows (1608) Windows: A request to read from the file "C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search\Data\Applications\Windows\Windows.edb" at offset 56401920 (0x00000000035ca000) for 16384 (0x00004000) bytes succeeded, but took an abnormally long time (13930 seconds) to be serviced by the OS. In addition, 0 other I/O requests to this file have also taken an abnormally long time to be serviced since the last message regarding this problem was posted 30928 seconds ago. This problem is likely due to faulty hardware. Please contact your hardware vendor for further assistance diagnosing the problem.
I was sceptical that my hard drive had issues. But (slightly alarmed) I thought I'd give the message the benefit of the doubt and investigate further.

First thing to check was, are there any other signs of hard drive issues? S.M.A.R.T.? No problems. Chkdsk? A-OK. Any different class of messages about hard drive/storage related problems in the Event Log? Nope.

So, as sure as one could be that my hardware was OK I took a closer look at the messages themselves. The first thing that stuck out was the times quoted: 13930 and 30928 seconds. Hmm, that's a long time - in fact respectively 4 and 8.5 hours!

The plot thickened: the messages seemed to be following a pattern - they were all straight after resuming from standby. Yes, it was painfully obvious by now but those 4 / 8.5 hours were how long the laptop was in standby. I didn't need to contact my hardware vendor to work that out, either.

Conclusion? I don't know: probably that if you are going to blame hardware, make damn sure you're right in the first place. (I can only begin to imagine what the conversation with my hardware vendor might have actually gone like...)

Monday, April 27, 2009


If A does something a handful of times, it is described as repeated, and yet when B does it several times as many as A it's not worth mentioning. Strange, isn't it?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kaspersky vs. Visual Studio and the rest of my computer

I thought I would try Kaspersky Internet Security 2009, since someone else in this household uses a certain bank gives out free licences.

I did face some issues though:
  • I only wanted the anti-virus part of it: not the firewall and other bits. Of course the options in the installer are so obtuse, it became a game of trial and error.
  • It refused to install with Spybot Search & Destroy installed - well actually, it said it would be automatically uninstalled if you continued. That is despite the fact I didn't have any of the real-time scanning features of Spybot enabled.
  • After installing Kaspersky, I noticed that in the Windows Vista Network & Discovery Center, network discovery was set to 'Custom' and couldn't be turned on. A little bit of digging around, I found out this is because Kaspersky takes it upon itself to disable the DNS Client service.
  • The next problem was that I was getting build errors in Visual Studio. I have VS set to generate .cod listing files for my projects, and it was randomly giving access denied errors on those. Disabling the real-time protection sorted that problem: it seems hard to believe modern anti-virus software has this kind of problem, who would want real-time AV protection if it randomly breaks your applications?
  • I then found out that it took it upon itself to break Internet Explorer 64-bit.
  • Finally, sometime later I realised that Autoplay/Autorun had stopped working for all types of media (USB flash drives, CDs, ...). I didn't link this to Kaspersky initially, but after some (virtual) digging it seems like it had something to do with it. If you are wondering, the fix was to sort out the NoDriveTypeAutoRunregistry key (which had been set to 0xFF) described in this Microsoft KB article in the "How to selectively disable specific Autorun features" section. I think this was followed by a log-off & on (or otherwise maybe a reboot).
Not to worry - even if it was a journey of fun, it didn't cost me anything.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Nokia N85: The dodgy earpiece

I quite liked my N85. Then I read about how various recent Nokia phones made before Feb 2009 had a problem with a faulty earpiece part. Naturally, that followed with my earpiece breaking: it would cut out and in if you tapped the area around it.

So I thought I'd try and get it fixed. My first thought was to take it to one of the Nokia Care points which mainly seem to be Carphone Warehouses and also some random dealers. I tried to call the local Carphone Warehouses on the list a few times. However their repair sections never bothered answered the phone every time I called. Like I'm going to leave my phone with you, then.

So I thought I'd post it off to the postal repair service instead, which seems to be operated by a company called A Novo. My phone came back about a week later which seemed reasonable. Unfortunately as my gut expected in the first place, they screwed my phone over. The earpiece doesn't work at all now - because they fitted it upside down. In fact you can see the lettering on it through the little hole for the earpiece - which after comparing with some photos on the internet seems to indicate it is still the faulty part!! Even worse, my previously beautiful OLED display now has several clusters of brightly coloured pixels. If it's just trapped dust or not, I'm not sure.

Needless to say I wasn't pleased with all of this (!)

Resolution: TBC....