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earnshaw earnshaw Jack Sleeps
  • Unanticipat​ed ASR Behavior

    Vista has two backup utilities.  One creates an image of your system that you can use to restore your system in its entirety to the state it was in at the time of the snapshot.  (This takes care of registry settings, address books, e-mail, user profiles, and the odd assortment of third party software you may have installed.)  The other allows you to save some set of files that you consider critical.  Of course, neither solution is compatible with NTBACKUP.  On two separate occasions, the Mumbai Branch of Microsoft Product Support Services has informed me that problems with NTBACKUP are "outside the scope" of their responsibilities.  In other words, a new generation of developers is now working at Microsoft.  They took one look at NTBACKUP and said, "What is this dreck?"  Then went about creating its replacement.

    Incidentally, I was trying to mirror drives on Windows XP, only to discover that the feature is permanently on offer yet grayed out under all conditions.  That's a kind of false advertising that comes from relying too heavily on discoverability to patch holes in Help.  In depth reading of the foundation texts reveals mirroring is available only on Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Advanced Server, and Windows 2000 Datacenter Server.  Also, one might imagine, Windows 2003 Server, and Windows 2008 Server.  The command line DISKPART utility actually spells out the reason why mirroring doesn't work:  It isn't supported on Windows XP.  The GUI silently makes the feature unavailable for reasons unstated.  I wish a grayed out menu item could be right-clicked to get an explanation why it cannot be used.

  • Unanticipat​ed ASR Behavior

    The following concerns NTBACKUP, the now fully deprecated tool, that has shipped with Windows since the days of Windows NT.  Scenario:  slow HDD of 120GB capacity is fully backed up using ASR Wizard.  And successfully restored to a pair of new, fast 300GB HDDs. 

    So, once ASR is finished restoring, one finds that ASR has formatted DRIVE 0 with one 120GB partition with everything in it and one enormous unallocated partition with nothing in it.  There is an unwritten rule in Windows XP that says you may not extend the partition that contains boot files and/or system files, which, of course, the 120GB partition contains.  Also, you may not extend a partition that is not DYNAMIC.  Also, you may not extend a partition that was ever a boot partition and was ever BASIC even though it is now DYNAMIC. 

    I wanted to partition DRIVE 0 as one 300GB partition, but NTBACKUP says no.  Windows XP says no.  Waahhhhh!  I wanted to mirror DRIVE 0 and DRIVE 1, but the parental units (Windows XP, NTBACKUP) say no, no, no.

    Apparently, the only way to do what I want to do with the software I have is to format DRIVE 0 and install Windows XP fresh.  Then install other software from installation media I may or may no longer own.  Then manually restore e-mail and address books.  And on and on.  The File Settings and Transfer Wizard having been relegated to the category of  something that MAY work or MAY NOT.

  • MANIFEST PARSE ERROR

    The official MSDN release media has the installer for Windows XP with SP2 on it, which exhibits MANIFEST PARSE ERROR, too.  I sense something is wrong.  And nobody wants to talk about it.

  • MANIFEST PARSE ERROR

    Those of us who are members of the Microsoft Developer's Network have access to a secret download page where we may, at our leisure, download images of various versions of Windows.  Windows XP is a popular example of Windows, which is available by this method.  Currently, the wares on display are CD or DVD image files, which one can use to burn one's own installation media.  The Windows XP has a known bug in it called the MANIFEST PARSE ERROR bug, Knowledge Base Article ID 331881.  There is a certain file embedded in the CD image that contains several syntax errors.  That means the CD, that one might create, cannot be used to install Windows XP on a freshly formatted HDD.  I conversed with the MSDN Concierge and was placated with a suggestion that I fill out a survey form.  Seems to me it would take one Microsoft employee under an hour to remake the image, incorporating a change to one file for distribution to MSDN members.  Of course, that must be repeated once per human language times the number of different release versions of XP, like Amateur, Pro, Entertainment Center...  Damn.  There must be a disk image that was sent to the CD fab plant for each of these variations.  One is not going to distribute buggy software for retail sale, eh?   Why not put them on the site for download distribution to MSDN members?

  • Codename Longhorn Server Stall?

    If you will kindly navigate to http://www.mdrsesco.biz/fcf.bmp and inspect the screen shot there, you will see the program PRIME95.EXE (from the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search) faulted on what Visual Studio Whidby claims is an illegal instruction.  Whidby's debugger is running the program under Windows 2008 Server (Beta), which is running under Virtual PC 2007, which is running under Windows Vista RTM.  This happens with or without the debugger and always at the same instruction.  PRIME95.EXE does not exhibit this behavior under Windows Vista RTM (without virtualization).  What is going on here? I sent the info to the author of PRIME95.EXE.  He says:  "Ugh."  As stated before, this problem is infinitely repeatable (i.e. it can be demonstrated at will).  The registers snap indicates the memory operand should be addressable.  The instruction can be decoded by the debugger and should be decoded by the CPU.  By executing a Vulcan Mind Meld with my Dell XPS 600, I've concluded there is a problem with Virtual PC 2007.  That's my conclusion and I'm sticking with it until somebody proves different.  Big Smile

  • ILLEGAL INSTRUCTION? What ILLEGAL INSTRUCTION?

    If you will kindly navigate to http://www.mdrsesco.biz/fcf.bmp and inspect the screen shot there, you will see the program PRIME95.EXE (from the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search) faulted on what Visual Studio Whidby claims is an illegal instruction.  Whidby's debugger is running the program under Windows 2008 Server (Beta), which is running under Virtual PC 2007, which is running under Windows Vista RTM.  This happens with or without the debugger and always at the same instruction.  PRIME95.EXE does not exhibit this behavior under Windows Vista RTM (without virtualization).  What is going on here? 

  • Unsigned System Files from Microsoft?

    I recently installed Windows 2003 Server on a newly formatted HDD.  These files appeared unsigned.  Is this intended?  See screen shot below.

    SCREEN SHOT

  • Registry Cleaners

    I downloaded one of the top five Register Cleaners, a computer program that claims to solve problems by correcting inconsistencies and outright errors in the Windows Registry.  I recently installed Windows 2003 Server without any additional software except Office.  The Registry Cleaner "found" hundreds of problems, and, if I dropped several nickles into their bank account, they promised to fix them.  What is going on here?  If the Registry becomes corrupt or inconsistent, should not Microsoft Windows notice and correct the problem itself?

    The problem that I was trying to correct was at launch of Microsoft Office 2003, specifically, opening a .DOC file.  At launch a dialog box opened, telling me that software was being installed.  Immediately, another dialog box opened to tell me that Word for Windows could not continue because there was an open dialog box.  I ran the REPAIR function of Microsoft Office 2003.  It claimed everything was hunky dory.  It was not. 

    The problem went away when I upgraded to Microsoft Office 2007.

  • Codename Longhorn Server Stall?

    Well, this failure is reliable.  It happens after several days running.  A highly compute-bound application running under Windows Codename "Longhorn" Server running under the latest Microsoft Virtual PC running under Microsoft Windows Vista RTM stops working.  A dialog box openz to inform the operator and suggests "a solution" may be available.  A big button labeled Close program is the ONLY choice.  The Event Log suggests an illegal instruction has been tried and found wanting.  So, is the bug in Virtual PC or does the problem lie elsewhere? Also, is there a better place to report what appears to be a solid, bona fide, REPRODUCEABLE, no argument BUG? 

    SCREEN SHOT

    See the dialog box and application that failed in the screen shot at the location above.

  • Codename Longhorn Server Stall?

    I copied the PRIME95.EXE binary from Windows Vista RTM through the virtual network adapter to the Windows Codename Longhorn BETA via  Microsoft Virtual PC.  No actual network action was involved in that everything is running on a single machine.  That binary had been running without incident under Vista for many months.  Could be corruption during the virtual network transfer (unlikely with the CRC, but anything can happen).  I will try getting a fresh copy of the binary running to see what happens.