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Category Archives: Windows Problems

One of my tasks with Online College is to frequently post to discussion threads. They require that you do a minimum of ‘x’ posts per week, depending on the class. The way the threads are structured, it’s really tough to tell how many posts you’ve done for the week if you’ve forgotten.

Each post lists your full name, so it should be pretty easy to simply do a ‘Find (CTRL+F) ‘ in Internet Explorer 7 to scan the page and just count how many times your name comes up before the search wraps…Apparently it’s not.

This morning I found IE7 hitting my name twice when doing the search, even though when I scanned down the remained of the forums I found my name an additional 3 times.

Moral of the story: Be weary of Internet Explorer 7’s real ability to do a simple text search, which has only been around since the dawn of time.


I had recently been experiencing an issue at work that was driving me nuts. I first discovered this issue when I tried to open an attachment in a TFS work item. One of our QA people had kindly attached an image so that I can see the problem in action. I double clicked the attachment and was presented with an error message. I can’t remember the exact wording, it was something along the lines of “No type handler specified for the operation.” The other way this issue manifested itself was when I tried to open IE, and type in an address. It would open the URL I typed in FireFox…from IE…WTF? I also noticed clicking links in Outlook and Google Talk did not launch FireFox.

I immediately remembered that I had installed a standalone version of IE7 so I can test in both IE6 and IE7. I’m pretty sure that is what messed me all up. So, I uninstalled the standalone IE7. That didn’t help at all. I tried resetting FireFox as the default browser. Again, the problem still persisted. I tried setting IE as the default browser, didn’t work.

I then did some googling and I found that there’s a file type in Windows called “(NONE) URL:HyperText Transfer Protocol” and also another for HTTPS. These two file types were the cause of the problem. If you go into folder options then the file types tab (why are file types under folder options??), pick the above type and go to advanced, there needs to be an open action. The standalone IE7 (or MultipleIE’s, not sure which did it) removed this action for whatever reason. Once I associated the open action with FireFox, everything went back to normal.

Now, the thing that really bothers me is I googled the original error message and found a bunch of crap that was totally unrelated to my problem.  It must have been a very generic Microsoft error message.  Why can’t they help us out and in that instance, when you can’t launch a file from a work item, tell me why, I wouldn’t have wasted literally hours of my time at work.  I even had to bother other people to open the attachment and send it to me.  Thanks Microsoft.

I recently booted into Windows for the first time in I don’t know how long (I wanted to play some Oblivion). As usual, it took me a couple of minutes to start up and get to my desktop. However, once I got there, my machine was almost unusable. Everything was dragging, even just browsing around in Windows Explorer was slow(er than usual). I opened up task manager to see what was going on. Something was eating up 100% of my CPU about every 4 seconds or so. The culprit ended up being the Windows Media Player 11 background service.

This is the process that deals with keeping your music library up to date and apparently searching your network for other instances of itself. I then remembered I had recently moved all of my music from my Windows partition over to my Ubuntu partition, because I rarely use Windows. So, basically after having removed all of my music, Windows Media Player had no idea what to do with itself. It just went berserk trying to find where all its music had gone, leaving my computer completely unusable. Needless to say I killed the process and disabled the service.

Interestingly enough this isn’t the first time this process has caused trouble.  After I left a job recently, there were complaints about my old machine continuing to generate network traffic. This process turned out to be the guilty party.

Today’s lesson, don’t use Windows Media Player 11.  It’s an okay media player, although like anything else Microsoft it is annoying, but the stupid background process isn’t worth the trouble.  I have recently re-downloaded Winamp which works nicely.  For me, it isn’t such a big deal because 90% of the time I use Ubuntu which has Rhythmbox (and a slew of other choices).

This is a quick one. The other day I ran into an ASP.NET error basically indicating one of my virtual directories was running as an ASP.NET 1.1 app instead of an ASP.NET 2.0 app. “Easy enough, I’ll just go ahead and change it in the IIS mmc snap-in” I thought. To my surprise, the virtual directory properties window was missing the ASP.NET tab. I first went and made sure ASP.NET 2.0 was enabled in the web services extensions portion of the IIS snap-in, it was. I then used google, NOT LIVE SEARCH, to try and find an answer. After a ton of digging, I found that most of the time the reason this happens is related to a common Windows problem. Somehow, a piece of the registry gets hosed. I tried the fix mentioned in that forum post and it didn’t work. Finally, I found the reason for my particular issue. This one blows my mind. I installed vmware server because M$ Virtual PC is a piece of crap (it wouldn’t let me install Ubuntu). Somehow, vmware server removed my ASP.NET tab. To fix this I had to do the following (found here):

1) Stop the IIS Admin service (and any services that depend on it)
2) Open C:\WINDOWS\system32\inetsrv\MetaBase.xml in notepad or your favorite XML Editor. _DELETE_ the line that reads ‘Enable32BitAppOnWin64=”TRUE”’
3) Start -> Run -> iisreset

I don’t know who to blame here, M$ or vmware. Since it’s usually M$’s fault, I’ll blame them. I guess if Virtual PC weren’t so crappy I wouldn’t have had this issue at all.


I have had many a discussion lately on the topic of what operating system is best. To me, it really comes down to how you use your computer. That being said, I think the world could do without windows. There is no reason why everyone couldn’t use either Mac OS or some flavor of Linux. As far as I’m concerned, Mac OS is the most well rounded, easiest to use OS out there. Linux is great for people who like a customized experienced. Some distributions of Linux, such as Ubuntu, are getting to the point where every day users can easily use them. The world is moving in the right direction. A little competition never hurt anyone, and hopefully it helps open Microsoft’s eyes.

On to the main event. Why Windows Blows.

Windows’s Visuals

With a name like Windows, you’d think the OS would be good at handling windows. Think again. Yes, that includes Vista. You could argue that the latest version of the window manager produces better looking windows than its predecessor. But, the memory utilization and sluggishness it causes is hardly worth it. The window manager in all versions of Windows is very unresponsive. For example, how many times have you gone to drag a window only to have it stay in place, then eventually (sometimes 30 seconds or more) catch up with your mouse. More frustrating to me is the inability to change the appearance of windows. Sure, you can change the color and the font, but you’re stuck with pretty much the same looking window titles and borders.

Same goes for the widgets. There is no easy way to change the look and feel of the widgets. I say no easy way because there are programs and hacks that can do this for you, but they do it at the cost of performance. Reducing performance of an already sluggish operating system is never a good thing. I would be willing to guess that the reason the widgets are so awful is because the windows painting engine is so awful. The sucktitude of the painting engine is on display any time you see a window that is filled completely white. This happens mostly when a program is doing something that in the same thread as the main window, which prevents the window from painting. You may say, well that’s the fault of the developer of the program. And, it probably is to a point. But, Microsoft applications are the worst offenders (Visual Studio 2005 may be the worst).

Resource Management

The resource management in Windows is so bad you may even wonder if there is any at all. It seems as if Windows is a free for all when it comes to memory and CPU usage. When you are trying to do more than one thing at a time, it seems as if the programs you are using are fighting over your computer’s resources. It wouldn’t surprise me if this is really what is going on behind the scenes. A great example is trying to Alt+Tab out of a game and do something else. A lot of times it’ll take twenty seconds or more to get out of the game and start doing something. Doing this on Linux (even while playing a windows game) does not produce the same result. As a matter of fact on Linux you can run a game and visual effects (compiz) at the same time.

Computers are very powerful these days. When your operating system isn’t smart enough to divvy up resources properly it will really cripple even the most powerful of machines. Sometimes, the resource management really breaks down and the system will crash. The worst kind of crash I see in windows is the kind where the user isn’t even aware it has crashed. Programs will just stop responding, eating up the computer’s processor and sometimes the memory as well.

Perhaps my favorite Windows error of all is the blue screen of death (BSOD for short). I will admit that in later versions of XP this error happened fairly infrequently. But believe me, it’s still around. When I was running Vista on my laptop, I saw it a number of times. Another good one is the memory fault error. At the end of the post you will find examples of these errors, some are quite funny.

I have been using Ubuntu 7.10 for about four months now, and I have never seen a similar error. Not even a memory fault error of any sort. As a matter of fact, the only times Ubuntu has frozen on my were either due to user error (me doing something I shouldn’t) or my faulty video adapter. If an application has issues in Linux, it doesn’t bring the whole OS down with it as is the case in Windows most of the time. Linux makes is really easy to deal with applications that aren’t responding for whatever reason. It’ll allow you to force quit the application. In Windows it takes forever for the “program is not responding” dialog, if it ever shows up. And it takes even longer to close the application after hitting the “end now” button. I love when you get about eight of these when shutting down your computer.

Newer Is Better, Right?

Not when it comes to Microsoft. Windows Vista, albeit better looking, is definitely NOT better than Windows XP. The first and most obvious issue is the System Requirements. Aside from Home Basic, which is basically Server 2003 with a facelift, all versions of Vista require at least 1GB of RAM, a 40GB hard disk (requiring AT LEAST 15GB to install). This is absolutely ridiculous. Yeah, computers today are really powerful and most systems meet these requirements. The problem is that when the OS requires that much, it doesn’t leave room for much else. An operating system should be as lean as possible so that the applications running in that operating system have enough breathing room. As much as I dislike Windows XP, I’ll take it any day over Vista.

To my friends I sound like a broken record, but I cannot stand Microsoft’s development strategy when it comes to Windows, and most of the other products they put out. Windows probably hasn’t been completely re-written since at the latest Windows 98, and maybe even earlier. Windows XP is based off Windows 2000, which is based off Windows NT / Windows 98. It’s sad how old pieces of the operating system are. Some of the more obscure pieces are unbelievably old. Take the windows font installer for instance. That thing has been around since at the latest Windows 95, maybe even windows 3.1. Observe:

Windows Vista Font Installer

Beautiful isn’t it? This thing is visible, and it’s that old. Imagine how old some of the things you can’t see are! If Windows were written well, I wouldn’t be complaining, but it’s not. When I write bad code, I don’t leave it around forever, let alone bring it forward into newer versions. I really think if Microsoft would just start over they could really have something. They have lost their edge. I know how it goes though, I work at a big company, you do what you’re told. And unfortunately, Microsoft’s business practices show that they care more about getting things out the door and pulling in money than producing a well rounded product for their customers.

Final Thoughts and Funny Error Messages

I am no psychic, but if Microsoft stays on their current path they will find as people become more computer savvy, they will start looking for alternatives. And people these days are becoming more and more computer savvy. My generation grew up with computers, and our children will have even closer relationships with them I am sure. I am not saying that I want Microsoft to go away, at this point that’s not possible. I am saying that I hope Linux continues to gain popularity so that Microsoft will crap or get off the pot.


Not an error, but still funny




People may say I sound like a broken record but, I hate Internet Explorer. I like to say I don’t hate anyone or anything in this world, because hate is a powerful word, but I absolutely hate Internet Explorer. It is by far the worst browser out there. Ever version has been terrible, and it’s pretty funny to see bugs in IE7 that have been around since IE 4 (maybe even earlier).

I would like to start out by saying that Internet Explorer is so far behind in terms of capabilities in comparison with any other of the major browsers. It barely has CSS2 support, and definitely has more rendering bugs than any of the other major browsers. If you want to see a few good ones in action, here is a list of the nasty ones.

Let me explain why I am saying this. I, like most web developers these days, develop in FireFox. The biggest reason right now is simple, firebug. The firebug plugin makes a web developer’s life a great deal easier. As a matter of fact, if it weren’t for IE, I would go as far as to say, it makes a web developer’s life very easy. Also, rendering in FireFox works pretty much exactly how you would expect it to. I am not saying FireFox doesn’t have its issues. But it’s so much easier to develop in, and like I said, things almost always render as you would expect them to.

I know there are going to be whack job M$ fan boys out there saying, “this is not true” or “firefox doesn’t follow the standards either.” But you know what, FireFox 2 is pretty close, and FireFox 3 is even closer. The fact that Internet Explorer doesn’t fully support CSS2 really cripples a website, and forces developers to use JavaScript more than necessary.

That brings me to my next point: JavaScript. Wow, Internet Explorer has possibly the slowest JavaScript engine ever. A coworker and I ran some diagnostics today to get a handle on a JavaScript performance issue we were having. We had some JavaScript that was doing a lot of looping in order to fix a bunch of cross browser issues we had with our custom drop down widgets. In FireFox 2, the JavaScript was taking about 3 seconds to run. In IE7 it was taking about 9 seconds to run. In IE6, it was taking around 30 seconds. I don’t have anything else to say about that..

You may say, that’s a bad example. But here’s another example. I created a tree view one time that had a series of check boxes. The tree view was filled with data from an e-commerce site’s product hierarchy, so there were around 2,000 items. That means 2,000 check boxes. If the user checked one of the check boxes, I had JavaScript set up to check all child check boxes. So, if you check the root check box, in FireFox, all child check boxes were also instantaneously checked. In IE, it took around 15 seconds to check the boxes. That’s a real world example of the crap that M$ creates.

This whole thing started because of a bad experience I had today. I am working with my coworker on re-writing a custom drop down widget we created. I had to modify the CSS and I ended up setting up a background color with a text box sitting in the div with the background color. I only wanted that color to show up to the right of the text box, where the down arrow shows up. The outer div had a border of the same color as the background. IE (6 and 7) seemingly was adding another pixel to the top and bottom border. See Below:

Drop Down FireFox

Drop Down IE

I thought, meh, so IE add’s an extra pixel top and bottom margin, margin: 0 on the text box will fix that. WRONG. Actually what IE (6 and 7) does is adds a pixel to the top and bottom margin of whatever value you set. So in order to get the correct result, I had to add a top and bottom margin of -1px only in IE. These are the kinds of problems that are the most frustrating because you have to put in special hacks for IE. Also, they are so simple and there is NO REASON for M$ to do something like that.

Everyone should try this exercise, check out the acid 2 browser test in FireFox 2. It doesn’t look perfect. But after that try it in IE7 for a good laugh.