Bug Vanquisher

11 October 2007

Out of the Fire, into the Frying Pan

Filed under: Bugz, Windows Vista — Tanveer Badar @ 2:16 AM

There is a very nice proverb in Urdu that truly explains what happened to me.
آسمان سے گرا، کھجور میں اٹکا
I installed this update (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/938979). Everything seemed to work fine until… I decided that I could no longer ignore the constant prompts of Windows Update service to restart the computer. Then, I left to take a look at winky. When I came back I saw the first ever blue screen on a Windows Vista system. The offending file was CI.dll and I don’t remember the exception codes. This was certainly the result of that ‘Reliability Improving Update’ that I had installed. When I looked at the properties of the offending dll, it was deemed Code Integrity Module.

After resetting the power switch, I went to find if any diagnostics were recorded anywhere in the system. Eventlog didn’t have anything to say on the subject. Additionally, there was no memory dump at %systemroot% and to cap it all Problem Reports and Solutions has no memory of the event.

Therefore, I guess by removing any records of something bad happened, you definitely improve the reliability of your product.

28 June 2007

Finally someone tells me!

Filed under: Windows Vista — Tanveer Badar @ 2:11 PM

I never knew why my Windows Vista Enterprise edition ever showed anything in restore previous version tab. Now, I know why.

2 June 2007

Run applications during Windows Vista (onwards) setup

Filed under: Fun, Tips, Windows Vista — Tanveer Badar @ 1:52 AM

It’s been a tip season and I am longing to tell you this piece of information for ages!

You can run light weight applications during Windows Vista setup and even things like explorer after the second reboot.

This magic works because Vista’s setup runs in a mini Windows installation called Windows PE-Windows Pre execution Environment. This is a full blown Windows environment that exposes just enough facilities to give you a 32/64-bit GDI based GUI. I tried to take a picture to show you how to do but save/save as in paint didn’t work. Due to COM registration issue in that part of setup, showdocvw.dll was not registered at that point and explorer gave an error (refused to lanuch) and there was no way to save the snap-shot. However, after the second reboot, I was able to run things like cmd.exe, taskmgr.exe, explorer.exe and devmgmt.msc and GOD devmgmt.msc showed devices installing in real time.

The trick to do stuff like this starts with getting a hold of command prompt which can be run by pressing SHIFT+F10 keys. Now, this step is document and recommended only if you ‘really‘ need to have access to a command prompt. I went ahead to tried to run things from that command prompt and most worked. Next you have a choice to run an application of your choice from the command line. Remember that application should not rely on things like COM registration or OLE automation. These things are not initialized properly during that stage of setup.

26 April 2007

Windows Search in Windows Vista

Filed under: Windows Vista — Tanveer Badar @ 4:29 PM

Where to begin? Searching in Windows has always been a laugh. When tired of working, press Win + F and see that abomination of an animation, the dog. Failing to find results; continuing search even after pressing Stop; window not closing instantly; slow performance. The list goes on and on. Then, there was another beauty hidden behind the scenes. The indexing service [aka. cisvc/cidaemon]. Though it performed very well when uninterrupted and indexed whatever you threw at it. It had one major problem. Index rebuilds. Whenever power failed, on the next startup, indexing service threw away everything and started from scratch. Before I installed a UPS at home, I would have manually searched for a document rather than rely on indexing service/built-in search to do the job.

Windows Desktop Search tried to address most of these issues. It found everything and much more, performance was really fast, really reading from an index instead of going to every file and folder. No more behind the scene searches. But it had this big problem, not supporting full query language like indexing service did. You had to restrict yourself to just one boolean operator at a time. There was no way to compose another search out of some preexisting ones. Another big issue is if you lose power, you lose the index sometimes. It starts building from scratch upon next boot.

Windows Search in Windows Vista seems to finally overcome this final obstacle, although it does not integrate that well with general file types. Most thoroughly supported files are from Office 2007 suite. You can do things like query composition, apply any number of boolean operators in a query, save a search, do post query filtering by many attributes like name, type, size, author, categories, tags, created/modified dates etc.

Windows Search still has some missing functionality, the result of dropping out of WinFS from Windows Vista. It cannot relate user data yet. Support for attaching arbitrary meta-data to any file or folder is missing. That’s where Office 2007 suite shines most because it natively supports meta-data properties like author, title, subject, comments, categories, tags etc. You can also use most of these with pictures but that’s it.

Until WinFS ships at whatever stage of my life, I will gladly embrace it. I am way too much addicted to searching on meta-data, attaching arbitrary properties, setting authors, keywords, categories, tags on documents.

As a work around I am working on something.

1 March 2007

And we ride on wave of bugs

Filed under: Bugz, Windows Vista — Tanveer Badar @ 8:59 PM

I have to suspect that even with my OS build number of 6.xxxx, I have got an internal build with build number magically bumped up to 6000 due to the shear number of bugs I am encountering in my Windows Vista Enterprise Edition.

Have a look at how I am dying a death by a thousand cuts.

This beauty popped up when I tried to remove my USB Key from the computer. Can you guess what message of utter alien intelligence this dialog is conveying?

Despite repeated assurances from Microsoft that all drivers are strictly checked and video drivers “do not” cause screen artifacts, a triangle is clearly visible when I previewed Windows Energy screen saver.

Here is a million dollar question: To which program does this UAC prompt belong, if I remove the highlighted window hint? Does some Mr. Anonymous want to do some harmful action?

Here’s my favorite from Windows Server 2003.

Did you know the fact that Windows Server 2003 predates even the most ancient human civilizations ever recorded? A whole 58494.16 years older!

Even if you see the persian blue line at the bottom and right border, pretend you didn’t see anything and everything in Aero glass works fine.

7 February 2007

The problem with Thumbnails in Windows Vista

Filed under: Windows Vista — Tanveer Badar @ 10:08 AM

[Update: 7th April 2007. When viewing blog statistics, I noted that this particular post was getting many hits in relation to some problem with thumbnail images in Windows Vista. If there is some problem with them, let me know. This article is about Thumbnail API provided by DWM.] 

If you remember my past post of “Let’s mourn Windows Vista”, in the last paragraph I wrote about thumbnail freezing to the last image when a window is minimized. I got a link to really nice blog of a DWM guy (Greg Schechter), very informative about all the how’s and why’s of DWM.

Now, I have an official response to that problem and, ahem…, it is has as usual “by design” explanation! No offense to Greg.

The message I wrote yesterday follows:

<message>

“I have read your blog back-to-front over the last couple of days. You seemed quite involved with DWM so I thought I should bring this issue into your notice.
The thumbnails which are displayed when mouse pauses over a tab in taskbar are dynamic while the window is not minimized. As soon as the window is minimized, the last image is displayed even if the window itself is updated many times a second.
A very good example is the Performance tab in Task Manager. When it is not minimized, processor usage and memory consumption graphs advance in the thumbnail in sync with the actual window. But when you minimize it, they are frozen to the last image they would have displayed.
The version I am using in Windows Vista Enterprise Edition. These details may help further restricting the scope. My system is dual core Pentium D, 2.8 GHz, 1GB DDR2 RAM and D945GZIS motherboard (AERO capable).
Time won’t permit it to be fixed as I only realised it two days ago and Windows Vista has RTMed already. I haven’t check the thumbnail displayed with ALT+TAB combination but as you said they are same thing at different locations, I expect them to exhibit same behavior.”

</message>

And the expected reply:

<reply>

Yes, you’re correct, and that’s By Design. This is because applications, when minimized, actually do have the region they paint to minimized as well and receive Window messages telling them that they’re minimized and they stop drawing. The DWM retains the last good bitmap, and displays this.

</reply>

6 February 2007

What’s wrong with my System Protection?

Filed under: Windows Vista — Tanveer Badar @ 12:41 PM

The word is: “You are multibooting Windows Vista with a previous version of Windows and unable to restore Windows Vista to some previous restore point.”

The problem:

  • All restore points are deleted from the disk.
  • All previous versions of files are deleted from the disk.
  • All but the most recent CompletePC Backup are deleted from the disk. The remaining backup made by CompletePC Backup is full and complete and can be used to restore your entire computer.

The reason:

Windows XP automounts every disk it detects, including external or removable hard disks. As part of the automounting process, NTFS writes to the disk, and these writes are detected by the volsnap.sys driver in Windows XP. Because this version of volsnap.sys does not recognize the persistent shadow copies (also known as restore points) made by the volsnap.sys driver in Windows Vista, Windows XP cannot maintain the integrity of the shadow copy storage area and deletes the shadow copies to avoid corrupting them. Note that dual-booting Windows Vista with Windows Server 2003 or Windows XP Professional x64 Edition will also result in the shadow copies being deleted.

The only workaround:

To avoid losing Windows Vista shadow copies on a disk that you don’t need to access from Windows XP, disconnect or power off the disk prior to booting to Windows XP.

For complete details, follow the link: How restore points and other recovery features in Windows Vista are affected when you dual-boot

1 February 2007

Update to my mourning

Filed under: Windows Vista — Tanveer Badar @ 3:28 PM

I managed to find an explanation to the behavior I was seeing in internet explorer while loading a page. The problem lies entirely with internet explorer and has nothing to do with DWM.

Read further in: http://blogs.msdn.com/kamvedbrat/archive/2007/01/26/back-on-channel-9.aspx

Pay special attention to paragraphs eight and nine. According to that post, the application should redraw with the default, which in this case is the AppWorkspace. However, that drawing isn’t happening smoothly.

31 January 2007

Let’s mourn Windows Vista

Filed under: Bugz, Windows Vista — Tanveer Badar @ 5:46 PM

I don’t know where to start, the list of bugs I have already found and will find in future is quite long. This story will be told in multiple parts. I managed to get my hands on Windows Vista Enterprise Edition a few days ago, which I’ll be upgrading to Ultimate Edition again in a few days time.

Now, it is time to start listing the bugs I have found.

  1. The first one was discovered when I was checking the magnifying capabilities of dwm. Carefully watch the thumbnail image shown. Those card holding rectangles should never leave the vicinity of menu no matter how much the application’s height and width are increased. But in this case, they are far away.

  2. The next one is also related to dwm and shows what Microsoft promised us for three years hasn’t been done like what we were told.

    See the area filled with window background. That glitch-free painting through dwm is a far cry. And how the status bar is shown in two places. No wonder, it might be because the web page took so long to load, but then, the problem is with Internet explorer.

  3. Thumbnail API is also flawed. It does not show any of the child windows in the thumbnail.

  4. And for added fun, if a window is minimized, no matter what you do and how dynamically rendered that window may be, its thumbnail will just be a static image with no live preview and updates.

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