Posts tagged ‘tech support’


Solving my BSODs with Windows 10 Creators fall update—it’s not the usual culprits

11.12.2017

Amazingly, Microsoft Windows 10 Creators fall update arrived last week on my desktop PC, and it took all of 25 minutes to do (running a Crucial 525 Gbyte SSD). (Add an extra 35 minutes for me to put my customizations back in.) This is in contrast to the Anniversary update, which took 11 attempts over many months, including one that bricked my desktop PC and necessitated repairs back at PB Technologies.
   However, I began getting regular BSODs, with the error message ‘Driver_IRQL_not_less_or_equal’ (all in caps), saying that tcpip.sys was the system file affected. An analysis of the minidump file using Windmp revealed that the cause was netio.sys (add ‘Netio!StreamInjectRequestsToStack+239’ if you want the full line).
   There were few people with a similar issue, though I can always count on people in the industry who help—usually it’s folks like Cyrus McEnnis, whom I have known since we were in the third form at Rongotai College, or Aaron Taylor, or, in this case, Hayden Kirk of Layer3, who pointed me in the right direction (that it was either hardware or drivers).
   First up, Windows Update isn’t any help, so let’s not waste any time there.
   Secondly, Device Manager was no help, either. Getting Windows to find updated drivers doesn’t necessarily result in the latest ones being downloaded. If the file that was crashing was tcpip.sys, then it does hint at something afoot with the TCP/IP, i.e. the networking.
   I couldn’t solve it through a virus scan, since a full one would never complete before I got another BSOD. (In fact, one BSOD knocked out Avira, and it had to be reinstalled.)
   It wasn’t Nvidia Control Panel, which was a regular culprit that people pointed to. I did remove and reinstall, just to be on the safe side, but that didn’t fix the problems.
   I had used the ‘Update driver’ option in the Device Manager for my network adapter, the Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller #2, and while it did update, it wound up on version 1.
   Without much to lose, I decided to feed in the full name of the adapter to look for drivers. Realtek’s website took me here, where I selected the Win10 Auto Installation Program.
   This installed a driver that was version 10, and last updated on December 1, 2017, according to Realtek’s website (the driver is dated October 3, 2017).
   So far I’ve been BSOD-free, and things appear to have settled down.
   If you’re interested, I filed a bug report at Bleeping Computer, and my dump files are there.
   Also remarkable is that my Lenovo laptop, which had attempted to install various Windows 10 updates for over a year, and failing each time (I estimate over 40 attempts, as usually I let it run most times I turn that laptop on; as of April 18 it was at 31 attempts). That laptop was on near-factory settings, so the fact no Windows update would work on it was ridiculous. (I’ve even seen this at shops, where display laptops have Windows update errors.)
   Again, there’s plenty of advice out there, including the removal of Avira as the antivirus program. I tried that a few times over the first 31 attempts. It made no difference.
   I am happy to report that over the weekend, the spring Creators Update actually worked, using the Update tool, and the only alteration I made to Avira was the removal of its System Speedup program.
   And as of this morning, the same computer wound up with the newer fall update.
   There haven’t been BSODs there but to me it confirms that Microsoft’s earlier updates were incredibly buggy, and after two years they’ve managed to see to them.
   I can report that the advice on the Microsoft forums didn’t work and I never needed to result to using the ISO update methods. The cure seemed to be patience and allowing multiple attempts. Since Windows 10 behaves differently each time you boot it up anyway, one of those times might have been compatible with the update patches.
   Hopefully the above helps those who have been struggling with getting their Windows 10s to update. I’d advise against attempting some of the more extreme solutions, especially if your gut or your logic tells you that you shouldn’t need to go to those lengths just to update, when easier solutions worked perfectly fine when you were on Windows XP or Windows 7.

PS., December 12: After a day without crashes post-driver-update, they returned the following day. Investigations are ongoing … I’ve updated the Bleeping Computer link page.

P.PS.: Updated a remote-access program as well as Java (which hadn’t updated despite it having been set to automatic updates). During the former, I had another BSOD as it tried to shut down various network services. Wish I wrote down what they were. However, it does point at a networking issue. Also I saw some hackers in Latvia and the Netherlands try to get in to the system and blocked their IPs. Coincidentally, they had not attempted anything yesterday, which was the day I didn’t have BSODs.

P.P.PS.: Event Viewer revealed those hackers were really going for it. Hayden says it was a ‘port exhaustion hack’, which does, logically, affect TCP/IP. I’ve replaced the remote desktop program, though Java 8 wound back on the desktop because of another program I run. The PC has stayed on since the afternoon, so hopefully that is that. It does mean a day wasted on IT—and it does seem worrying that Windows 10 Creators fall has potentially more holes by default, or somehow falls over more easily when attacked. Those attacks had always come, but they never resulted in BSODs. It was, overall, more robust in updating but it may have some other problems, if the last few days are any indication.
   The external HD was also moved to another USB port. There could be a connection to USBs, as it crashed once after my partner unplugged her phone, and on another occasion I distinctly heard the external HD activate just before a BSOD.

P.P.P.PS.: The above never solved it, but one month on, this might have done the trick.

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Posted in design, technology, USA | No Comments »


Remember when you could post, comment and like on Facebook? Those were the days

29.05.2015



Let’s see: Facebook doesn’t work on Wednesdays and Fridays. Check. Thursdays are OK though.
   It’s another one of those days where the Facebook bug that began on Wednesday (though, really, it’s been going on for years—including the famous outage of 2013 where what I am experiencing happened worldwide to a large number of users) has decided to resurface and spread. Not only can I no longer like, comment, post or share without repeated attempts, I cannot delete (Facebook makes me repeat those attempts even when a post has been successful, but doesn’t show me those till an hour later) or upload photos to messaging without repeated attempts.
   The deletion is the hardest: while commenting will work after three to twelve repeats, deletion does not work at all. The dialogue box emerges, and you can click ‘Delete’. The button goes light for a while, then it’s back to the usual blue.
   And this happens regardless of platform: Mac, Windows, Firefox, Opera, Android, inside a virtual machine, you name it. Java’s been updated as have the browsers on my most used machines; but it seems the configurations make no difference.
   I am reminded how a year ago I had even less on Facebook. Quite a number of users were blocked for days (Facebook isn’t open on weekends, it seems), but eventually the message got through and things started working again.
   My theory, and I’d be interested to learn if it holds any water, is that older or more active accounts are problematic. I mean, if spammers and spambots have more rights than legitimate users, then something is wonky; and the only thing I can see that those T&C-violating accounts have over ours is novelty. Facebook hasn’t got to them yet, or it tacitly endorses them.
   As one of the beta users on Vox.com many years ago, I eventually found myself unable to compose a new blog post. It’s an old story which I have told many times on this blog. Even Six Apart staff couldn’t do it when using my username and password from their own HQ. But, they never fixed it. It was a “shrug your shoulders” moment, because Vox was on its way out anyway at the company. (The domain is now owned by another firm, and is a very good news website.) Unlike Facebook, they did have theories, and tried to communicate with you to fix the issue. One woman working there wondered if I had too many keywords, and I had reached the limit. I deleted a whole lot, but nothing ever worked. It suggested that these websites did have limits.
   Computer experts tell me that it’s highly unlikely I’ve reached any sort of limit on Facebook, because of how their architecture is structured, but I’m seeing more and more of these bugs. But we are talking about a website that’s a decade old. My account dates back to 2007. Data will have been moved about and reconstituted, because the way they were handled in 2007 is different to how they are handled now. There have been articles written about this stuff.
   What if, in all these changes over the last eight years (and beyond), Facebook screwed up data transfers, corrupting certain accounts? It’s entirely conceivable for a firm that makes plenty of mistakes and doesn’t even know what time zones are. Or deletes a complainant’s account instead of the pirate’s one that she complained about. (This has been remedied, incidentally, the day after my blog post, and a strongly worded note to Facebook on behalf of my friend.)
   The usual theory I hear from those in the know is that certain accounts are on certain servers, and when those are upgraded, some folks will experience difficulties. That seems fair, but I would be interested to know just what groups us together.
   Last time I downloaded all my data off Facebook, and this was several years ago, I had 3 Gbyte. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest that that was now 6 Gbyte. That’s a lot to handle, and when you multiply that by millions, some will result in buggy accounts. Ever had a hard drive with dodgy fragments? Or a large transfer go wrong? Facebook might have better gear than us, but it’s not perfect.
   I don’t believe for a second that certain people are targeted—a theory I see on forums such as Get Satisfaction, with Republicans blaming Democrats and Democrats blaming Republicans—but I do believe that something binds us together, and it is buried within the code. But, like Vox, it may be so specific that there’s nothing their boffins can do about it. You simply have to accept that some days, Facebook does not let you post, comment, like, share, delete or message. The concern is that this, like random deletions, can happen to anyone, because these bugs never seem to go away. Looking at my own record on Get Satisfaction, they are increasing by the year.

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Posted in internet, technology, USA | 6 Comments »


McAfee did good: a software company that didn’t jerk me around in ’10

19.01.2011

A new computer arrived at the office, Firefox 3·6·13 was installed on it. Boom goes the dynamite (thanks, Jen—since I watch very little television I had no idea of this reference). It wasn’t the ‘unmark purple’ bug, either (sample size so far: 1).
   It’s a different set-up to the rest. For starters, it has both Chinese and English OSs. The fonts are installed differently—it’s using no font management software. I intentionally kept it different because, stupid me, I keep wanting to give Firefox the benefit of the doubt!
   I’ve been trying to give it a go since v. 1. With the new computer in, I’ve been going back through our archives to see if there were some programs I had to install. I found Firefox 1 and 2—neither of which, you might recall, passed my typography test (neither does Opera 10·63 or the new 11 that my Dad uses, but that’s another story).
   Firefox 3 was just such a godsend that it’s a shame that it became a crash-prone program after 3·5. It just seems a shame to abandon it after they did some really good work on kerning pairs, alternative glyphs and multilingual support.
   Where there’s a gripe against Mozilla, there’s one against Google. At left, Google Dashboard continues to insist I have one blog. Not to my knowledge: I haven’t had a blog on Blogger for nearly a year. So, just what private information of mine have you held on to, Google? I wrote to you, snail mail, to say I disagreed with your terms and conditions for this service.
   Its brand, in my mind, is in the toilet: I read the official version of why we had to merge our YouTube and Google accounts, and my entire reaction was one of scepticism.
   But, refreshingly, I am very happy with one program. As I installed McAfee on to the new machine, I had to note that it’s only had one major fault over 2010. It’s run largely faultless, or with only very minor niggles, for a considerable amount of time. Given that McAfee is a huge security suite, which I have had my fair share of problems with—including sarcastic tech support idiots earlier this century—it really looks like they listened to a lot of our gripes. It is not perfect, but at least it doesn’t crash four times a day, or slows down to such a crawl that I have to have a second computer on just in case. The one time I had to go to tech support, I had a volunteer (Pete) who was courteous and professional—quite the contrast to the deliberate obtuseness of Google.
   McAfee, in my book, you did good. From someone who has used VirusScan since 1989: keep it up.

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Posted in branding, business, internet, marketing, typography, USA | No Comments »


Google’s Rick Klau restores Social Media Consortium

06.01.2010

All it takes is finding the right bloke and hoping they would do the right thing.
   At the end of the day, that was the lesson in getting Vincent Wright’s Social Media Consortium blog restored.
   Yesterday, Josh Forde Tweeted me about an article he had read, where John Hempton’s Blogspot-hosted blog had been removed by Google. In the comments, a Blogger manager, Rick Klau, responded. I wrote to Rick on Josh’s suggestion.
   Today, Rick responded to say he had restored the blog. He also privately gave us some advice on what got the blog picked up by Google in the first place and why it might not have been restored in those ‘two business day’ reviews.
   It was, of course, the first we have heard of the reasons, and he has a point. At Rick’s request, Vincent and I have promised not to share that publicly.
   The blog was temporarily removed again as the bot picked it up, but Rick has now whitelisted it so we can begin posting again, at long last.
   It’s been a six-month battle but we’ve finally got there.
   I still think Google’s procedure needs some work. The way we were spoken to on the forums was unacceptable, as was the obstruction and even deletion of evidence.
   However, Rick’s actions have restored a bit of our faith. It’s good that the people actually working inside for Google can tell who the good guys are and have some horse sense.
   What Rick also did right was to be accessible, and he kept his word not only to us but to other bloggers.
   His emails to us were punctual, and on that note he kicks my ass given how long I can take to get back to people.
   So, a big thank-you to Rick Klau—and I look forward to seeing more posts over at the newly restored Social Media Consortium.

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Posted in business, internet, technology, USA | 6 Comments »