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Everything posted by Volatus

  1. Wow. It's funny seeing someone that's just "decided" to stick with 98, after being pressured into XP by what may be considered the entire sane known universe. I just got through with my most recent 98 expedition, trying to get it to function fully on an old 400MHz Celeron (board, no case, booting from CompactFlash) as a musicbox/print server. Neither of which functions 98 was able to perform. Foobar2000, the software I was going to use as the CD/media player, had 9x/ME/2K support removed in v0.9, so it would not install at all. The installer crashes with an invalid page fault "in" itself (usually kernel32.dll, shell32.dll, but this was the installer EXE name, weird). So I had to use 0.8, which sucked. It worked. So I pressed on with the printer driver. My Epson Stylus Photo R280 is used for printing CDs, and for a lack of space (and because it looks hot in the living room), I put it in my living room with the boombox PC. So I use that PC as a print server since it requires very little power. First step: install print driver. Euh, problem... Epson doesn't provide a 98 driver for my printer. Hmm... And that's after dealing with a whole day of fighting with drivers for the onboard devices, dealing with 98's quirks, nasty and system-destroying third-party addons (982ME, fail!!! UGH!), a flurry of annoying updates and "you can't get this anymore" roadblocks, etc... Face it. 98 is DEAD (and for good reason, 98 sucks. Go with ME if you want the most up to date of the buggy-as-heck 9x based OSes...). So unless you're stuck in the stone age and don't want to do anything modern with your computer, you should just put XP on your computer with nLite. Full XP is freaking bloated. But nLitened XP is much cleaner and happier, even more so than 98. Give up the 98. Seriously.
  2. 9x is probably even harder, since most of its settings aren't unified in (relatively) simple registry entries. Many paths are actually hard coded into configuration files. But the system itself is easier, so who knows, you might have some luck...
  3. Well, IMO, an easy, quick, and quite functional solution would be to restrict "similar topic" location to the forum this topic is located in... besides, similar topics would be in the forum this topic is posted in, right?
  4. That's exactly the way I think too. Heck, that's the way I learned half the things I've learned about Windows. No good reason to really try it, other than sheer curiosity. If I break it, I find a way to fix it. If I can't fix it, I chalk it up as experience gained. Finding the way to fix the problems I've created myself has helped me solve many countless thousands of computer problems over the years, both of mine and of others. So tweak on!
  5. Your settings are stored in any of these places: (I use "Users" in place of that darn "Documents and Settings" name which may be different) C:\Users\Yourname\Application Data C:\Users\Yourname\Local Settings\Application Data C:\Users\Yourname\NTUSER.DAT C:\Windows\System32\Config The first one (Application Data) is where many programs are finally beginning to learn to store their data. You'll find your Firefox profile, uTorrent settings and data, and several other applications' stored information in there. The second one (Local Settings\Application Data) isn't as widely used and is mainly used for temp data (since Local Settings itself is mostly just a temp folder anyway, ironically enough). Look in the above one first. The third one (NTUSER.DAT) is the user registry for your account. It stores user-specific registry entries and is where you'll find most of your other settings, but it can't be opened by the "naked editor". To open it, you have to shoehorn it into your existing Registry temporarily using awesome software like Runscanner (complicated, but it works - the only command line option you _really really_ need is "regedit" I believe, it'll prompt for the rest), then poke through your "slaved registry" and find your necessary data. Whatever you do, don't just plop down your old user registry into a new computer! Finally, the fourth one (Windows\System32\Config) is your system registry, and stores the remaining system settings and operational information (the heart of Windows). You can use that to retreive program installation data and serials, etc... and I believe you will need that in order to use Runscanner anyway. Good thing to have on hand. I believe "ntoskrnl.exe" and "ntdll.dll" are used by Runscanner to detect the presence of Windows in a folder, so if you are just keeping that folder, be sure to keep those files from System32 as well, and maintain the folder structure. Program Files really just holds the actual executable programs, no settings. If you've lost the installation media, Program Files still has the program data sitting there waiting for you... most of the time, at least. Games are very, very good about not storing data outside their program folder, so they should just "bolt right up" to your new XP install. Office applications are the worst. Your mileage may vary (YMMV)!
  6. Yeah, that's a problem with ATI's shoddy driver package. You need to COMPLETELY uninstall it, then reinstall it. First, go to add/remove programs, and uninstall the ATI software. Let it reboot, you'll be in a crappy-graphics mode (slow and unusable). Delete the folder "C:\Program Files\ATI". Then you can reinstall the drivers from ati.com or whatever package you prefer, and that error should go away.
  7. No no no, I mean, to still be able to link to the sponsor page (as was done before), just less intrusively. I believe the original purpose of having that link there was to link the group name to the page, but since member name links are also colored, that link took priority over the member profile link. So maybe you could embed the link (to the sponsor information page) within the group name itself, instead?
  8. Wow. That was a quick fix! Thanks! edit: Isn't there another way you could link to "Group: Premium Sponsors" though - without embedding the link in the coloring (I guess)? Maybe set it, including the link, to the group name (Premium Sponsors)? It should parse, won't it?
  9. Sigh... Sorry for stating the obvious, but are you reformatting, or are you just repairing, or (worse), "leave the file system as-is" and "deleting" the existing Windows installation? Because, well, it seems like you're not familiar with the concept of "slaving", and you're not implying that you've got two or more hard drives or partitions. So, for your case, that means that if you've formatted, for all intents and purposes your stuff is GONE. If you haven't formatted, then I suggest you first back up those programs that you want to back up (*onto an external drive*), then reformat. Find your programs' information in \Program Files, and the settings for those programs (as well as your old documents, etc) in \Documents and Settings. But first, the answer to the big question... HAVE you reformatted, and are you using more than one hard drive...?! edit: Don't do Windows Update anyway. Slipstream SP3 into your XP disc, reburn, and reinstall. If you want to use SP2, use RyanVM's Update Pack. Every single update you apply (and that includes all of SP3 if you install it after installing Windows) essentially slows your system down as it keeps track of all the updates you've applied. Even "Automatic Updates" itself is a huge drain on system resources as it eats up 100% CPU for minutes on end trying to "figure out" what updates you need. Just slipstream SP3 into your Windows install using nLite, burn, and reinstall.
  10. I am a walking advertisement for MSFN sponsoring? I found that if I click my name when it's displayed as a colored link (at the bottom of pages, in the "who's doing what" section), instead of getting my profile (like everyone else), I get a topic about becoming an MSFN sponsor. Well, I'm kinda bugged about that... that kinda turns me into a walking advertisement for MSFN sponsorship. I want people that click my name to see my pimped-out profile , not an ad for "here's how you get that orange name"... =P
  11. Offtopic: you CAN do that with the "Program Files" directory. Just use quotes to enclose the full name (i.e. 'junction "C:\Program Files" c:\Apps'). However, even though that may work, it's not a workable solution... that's what I call the "Vista effect". Creating links under the old folder's name. Why? You may as well just link the existing folder to the folder name you want - it'll appear the same way (i.e. create a link to Program Files as "Apps"). If you have both folder names, all you created is clutter. In the case of Vista, no programs are even using the "Documents and Settings" folder (which I did away with in XP, a long time ago, to call it "users" like Vista), but the directory is still there anyway, pointing to "users". It just creates clutter, and unnecessary clutter at that. If all the programs are going to be using \Windows anyway, why redirect them all through a link? Best way is just to reinstall Windows. Most settings (and references to the Windows folder name) are in the registry, and a registry search-and-replace program may accomplish that, but it's not worth the hassle. I find absolutely no reason whatsoever to go changing the name of my Windows folder... it's perfect. It's 7 letters. No spaces. No unnecessary length (a la "documents and settings"). Why change it?
  12. You know, it's something I've noticed at the bottom of every thread. "Similar topics". While it may become useful, most of the time it seems to be digging out posts from the Funny Farm forum, not the same forum (where I'd expect similar topics to be). Most of the time they're completely irrelevant. Here are some example topics (although I get the odd feeling you can look anywhere): http://www.msfn.org/board/How-To-Create-A-...ke-t118295.html (I'm not about to do the above cleanup/formatting for each one... but I did this one just to preserve it in case this gets fixed) http://www.msfn.org/board/My-son-is-pressi...XP-t118407.html (3 funny farm "similar topics") http://www.msfn.org/board/Windows-Installe...rs-t118286.html (3 funny farm ones again) http://www.msfn.org/board/Can-Not-create-n...er-t118389.html (the only one IS a funny farm post) And I just practically went straight down the WinXP forum topic listing there. Bit of a problem, euh?
  13. Routers are for pussies. Unfortunately, since I just moved (one apartment over), I'm still waiting for PacBell SBC AT&T to move my phone and internet. So half my network is still at the old apartment and my main desktop needs to connect with wireless. Expect this map to change dramatically (most notably, internet -> pfSense -> router, instead of internet -> router). Meanwhile, here's my exact network layout at the moment, spread across several apartments... maybe later I'll update it to add divider boxes to show computers in other apartments Clicking is good for your health!
  14. Hack != CRACK. Big difference. Hack is what I do with EWF and nLite. Crack is what little script kiddies in their mommies' basement do to web hax on sites nobody even uses. With that said, nLite.
  15. Man, there's only been one semi-useful reply in a bunch of spammy, off topic replies here... a new low for this board, if I may say. What's up with all the off topic remarks and no help? Use Process Explorer. See the crosshair button on the toolbar, next to the Find (binoculars) icon? Click it, and drag it to the window you're curious about. It'll highlight the process that's responsible for creating it. That will at least solve that mystery. But considering as though you've got that blasted language bar turned on (I hate Microsoft for shoving that down peoples' throats), you might just want to change a few options. First, go to the Regional and Language Options control panel, the Languages tab, Details, then click the "Language Bar" button, and disable it. Then, do this: That'll be rid of a few bloaty, annoying Windows options. And most likely that weird window too.
  16. Add msvcrt.dll to that list... seems program installers lean a little heavily on SFC to detect and restore that file when it gets replaced by an older version. I've had 3 computers so far give a BSOD just before the login screen appears saying the winlogon process terminated unexpectedly. Quite a bit of detective work went into figuring out the cause of that. I found the solution when it mysteriously happened to a virtual machine I was working in. I mounted its drive and found that msvcrt.dll was replaced with an older version (6.x instead of the 7.x that WinXP requires - IIRC). Replacing that single file fixed the BSOD and I was happy. Anyway, be careful with file versions... you may be OK providing a slightly higher version (5.2.x over 5.1.x, for example), but large differences will cause large problems. Even small differences may end up causing small problems
  17. Okay... now, bear with me, and break out your binoculars, I'm about to go miles over most people's heads. I just hope there is someone still out there that is flying as high as I am Here's what I'm trying to do. Using the Shift+F10 "hack" I found (that opens the command prompt during Setup and allows you to, say, play Solitaire while you wait for Setup to finish), I want to be able to use EWF and have EWF (in RAM (REG) mode) store all writes that Windows Setup does to RAM instead of writing them to disk - in my case, Flash - then at the last moment as Windows Setup is "Removing any temporary files used", commit the changes to the drive and let Setup reboot. It would all work fine. I got the driver to install and load during textmode setup (using txtsetup.sif and hivesys.inf tweaks after nLitening), but there's one problem. The "volume" class wasn't initialized in the registry during the GUI Setup phase. So the filesystem filter for Ewf is sitting on its lonesome on the class descriptor for the Volume class (in the registry), until Setup finally builds the Class structure. Guh! I tried letting Setup build those classes, then go into the recovery console and copy "SYSTEM" over "SYSTEM.SAV" (which Setup reloads when it "restarts setup" after rebooting - ugh!)... but I just got SLAPPED in the face by Microsoft with a "SYSTEM_LICENSE_VIOLATION" blue screen of death. Ouch. Is it possible to get that filesystem driver (Ewf) to load on that volume after Windows is already started? Like antivirus software does it? Why do I want to do this? Well... I'm installing Windows on an Asus Eee, which uses a 4gb Flash drive, not a hard drive. The more writes you make to that drive (i.e. installing/reinstalling Windows over and over), the more likely it is to go dead. It would also be nice to disable the page file during Setup, but... maybe later. It has 2gb RAM and that's more than enough to store the entire Windows installation as Setup builds it. I'm also installing Windows from USB (which is schweet - using the "install windows from USB" project here at MSFN). So I'd like to be able to use EWF to both speed up Setup, and help preserve this Flash. Anyone?
  18. Oouuuuhhh... I totally forgot about those dang hung drwtsn32 tasks. I've had a small stack of those in the past (evidently, debugging each other...) and when I killed the chain, the problem task (in my case, the print spooler) started working again. Not sure why I didn't think of that. I need to start remembering that in the future. As for the ICU, well, I don't find that utility to be very useful. It's come in handy once or twice when Windows Installer exhibited another of its infamous problems - the Half Installed State in which you can neither install (because it's already installed) nor uninstall (because it's not properly installed) nor repair (because the option is never presented) - but that certainly wouldn't help a generic hung task that happened to be Windows Installer. I think my best bet there is, as you mentioned, checking for drwtsn32 tasks (because on my system, drwtsn32 itself does nothing but crashes since I have Error Reporting uninstalled). And yeah, Process Explorer can kill anything, but that's because it gets above and beyond the "permissions" problems that Task Manager imposes. It can kill tasks that are responding normally, but... it seems there are still some that don't feel like responding all the time
  19. Well, as you found yourself, I typically get myself into strange situations - that's how I learn to fix Windows, by finding all sorts of new and creative ways to break it. There's just usually a tool - or a way - to fix pretty much any problem, so I'm not afraid to do seemingly stupid things like unplug a CD drive that locked up, then rescan for hardware changes. There's just that occasional process that gets hung up on something and kinda ruins the day, y'know? Sometimes you just can't fix the cause. =P
  20. On the flip side, there's the rampant mismanagement of MSI installations that cause embarassing "Huh... uh... well, my computer decided that for no apparent reason, Microsoft Powerpoint is no longer installed properly (during my presentation), so it's trying to repair its--... wait, why is it asking me for the installation media? I don't have it with me... uh, cancel, ffs, it's already working fine! CANCEL! Ugh... anyway, uh, as I was saying"... for no reason other than that Windows Installer felt like doing it, it found some reason to fire up the whole installer and screw with whatever I was doing. Sometimes I've had no resolve other than to just place the dialog box below the screen and continue working. Sometimes this happens even without changing anything out of the ordinary (like deleting the Installer files). Even if it did happen because of deleting the installer files, what business is it of Windows' that a working program is now "broken" because it can't find the installer for it? Used to be common practice in the computer world to delete the installer after it's installed... Never before, with any, say, old InstallShield, or NSIS-installed program, have I had something just mysteriously "break" and need "repairing". If I did, carrying the lightweight and much less registry-bloated installer with me, and just re-running the installer over the top of the existing installer, would fix the problem immediately. Only with MSI would reinstalling over an existing installation "break" something due to its unprecedented amount of unnecessary bloat. The sad thing is, as in the case of Microsoft Office, even if you opted to keep a copy of the whole install file on your drive, it'll STILL find some reason to prompt you, without even telling what file it's looking for, for the installation media in order to continue. Love you guys, Microsoft. I knew the MS train was headed for the Vista brick wall when I saw Windows Installer being adopted... As for companies, well, that's understandable, but I highly doubt there's a single corporate environment that's being run entirely with MS tools anyway. I doubt even Microsoft is run without some kind of tool to install non-MSI software. And with that, it essentially defeats the purpose, because if you've got to use that software for one, you could just as easily install everything with it. Sigh... Ceaseramble. Simply put, it seems there's a reason Foxit Software offers Foxit Reader in two different flavors - one MSI installer, and one of their own installer (EXE). MSI is just no good for end users. Good for companies, sure, because at the cost of reduced performance and higher disk space requirements, there are less help desk calls for figuring out why a program isn't working right. However, for end users, it's just an unnecessary overhead. I wish more companies would take the Foxit Reader example. edit: Even more simply put, this is so far off topic... the point of this topic is being able to kill "frozen" processes, Windows Installer or otherwise. Hoy...
  21. Please enlighten me as to what Windows Installer does that requires it to constantly keep copies of ALL the installed data on the hard drive... as opposed to real, reliable, and stable "third party" installers like NSIS, that are more powerful and don't require you to use the installer to uninstall it? What makes Windows Installer so special? And believe me, dealing with this kind of crap almost every day, this is FAR from the only beef I have with Windows Installer. Keeping copies of the installer data on the hard drive as a "requirement" is just the tip of the "insatiable bloat" iceberg... let's not even get into the registry problem.
  22. Haha... that doesn't sound like a partition, that sounds like the irritating 8mb "I don't feel like really doing what you asked me to do" "dead space" at the end of your drive. It happens on every standard Windows installation on every computer Windows is installed on, unless the drive was partitioned with something other than the textmode installer (like Partition Magic). Most people just live with it (and don't even know it was there), but some go the extra mile to expand it to the full size using, well, Partition Magic. Am I correct in assuming that it's just empty space at the end of the main partition, about 8mb?
  23. Hm, that could work... I'd be willing to try that in the future as long as the debugger doesn't take up several hundred megs (or require some kind of IDE installed). Google is my friend here. Well, I guess everyone's dying to know how I most recently got into this "mess". Reader's digest version: s***ty, unreliable Microsoft software and their installers, combined with a lack of patience for MS software's "managed" code. Not so reader's digest version... A long time ago (in a galaxy far far away), I installed Microsoft Virtual PC. And life was good. An equally long time ago, I emptied out my \Windows\Installer folder of a metric a**-ton of unnecessary bloat (in the form of .msi files of software that's ALREADY INSTALLED). I already knew that this stuff would give me an error when trying to uninstall it (thank you Microsoft for your ridiculous "make them hold onto the installer in order to uninstall it" policy) but I failed to care. Now, after installing VMware and moving all my virtual machines over to VMware (and finding how much faster and better they run), I want to ditch MS Virtual PC in order to keep my computer running smooth. I add/remove programs it, click it, Uninstall. "Urr, where's Virtual PC.msi?!!". Grr... I cancel it and frustratedly dig out the installer (ambiguously named "setup.exe" which I renamed to "VirtualPCSetup.exe"...). I run the installer, naturally it doesn't TELL me that it's extracting files but the process goes so quick I didn't notice a delay before I got the message that, paraphrasing from memory, "Virtual PC must be uninstalled before it can be reinstalled". Now isn't that great. Most, if not ALL other Windows Installer (bleh) -based software I've used always gives you an option to repair, modify, or uninstall, when the installer is run when the software is already installed. So I reach for my temp folder and make a copy of Virtual PC 2007.msi (iirc), then click OK to exit the error. The original MSI file stays in the temp folder and the installer quits (oh, Microsoft, how I love your litter policy as well). So I go back to add/remove programs, and start the uninstall. It seems to have dropped a copy of itself in my Windows folder as well, because it didn't ask me for the file. It runs through "gathering information" and stops right before the end of the progress bar. Stuck. Clicking Cancel does nothing except change the dialog to say "Well, I'll cancel eventually, but long after it's too late" (whatever happened to software that knew to drop what it was doing and ABORT when a user says "cancel"?). I go into Task Manager, sort by name, and kill two msiexec.exe processes (as I usually do for hung/broken InstallShield/Windows Installer crap processes). First one I killed didn't exit and didn't close the dialog box, so I killed the other, which made the uninstaller go away. But that other one stayed behind. I go into Process Explorer, and found it, with no parent process (evidently it was started by the one I was able to kill?), and totally frozen. It had one thread - something to the effect of CreateThread (IIRC), and stuck in Wait:Executive state. I try everything I can think of (including Googling for a solution) then I go for the age-old, tried and true solution - Standby. If it can get into standby (which will typically work if a "zombified" process is caused by a dead I/O operation like a CD drive I unplugged, or jammed while burning, etc), then I can just resume and everything will be happy again. Not this time. I get stuck at a "Preparing to stand by" screen that won't go anywhere. Can't Ctrl+Alt+Del it, can't use Remote Desktop to get around it (it just kicks me right back out the moment I log in), can't kill the process (obviously!), can't do pretty much anything. Spent about 15 minutes at that standby screen trying to find a way to save the work that was hidden behind that Standby screen before irritatedly mashing my Reset button and cursing Microsoft to the depths of Hell. So yeah, that's how that happened.
  24. Somehow I'm not sure if that's what I'm looking for... it appears to just be a command line version (blech) of what Process Explorer or Task Manager already tries to do. But I'll keep that in mind if the situation ever does arise again... I'll try to come up with a reproducible scenario to try it on. I think I can make it happen again with what cause it the last time... Windows Installer is a huge flaming pile of crap after all. I can just try doing what I did a few minutes ago. (edit: guess i don't need to quote the whole post...) (edit edit: Nope! The unpredictable piece of crap actually didn't jam up this time. Long story, remembered to the T, exact same lead-up, but it actually finished properly this time. Ugh. Sometimes I loathe Windows (and I always loathe Microsoft) but I guess I've got to live with it...)
  25. Is this even possible? Today I had to reboot my computer (an event in and of itself) for the dumbest reason. Windows Installer (I LOATHE Windows Installer) decided to hang and become one of those occasional "dead-locked processes". One that you can't kill, because it's waiting on some kind of I/O operation that will never complete. Will. Never complete. So your only option is to reboot, because the process will never die. Not through any fault of permissions, but just because it refuses to die. However, what's sick is that Windows can end the process by means of the "process not responding" dialog box, during shutdown only! So that means it's obviously ABLE to kill it, but it just won't, unless you are in the process of rebooting... by which point, killing the process is useless anyway because the reset button is arm's length away! By "dead-locked" process, I mean a process that only has one thread (shown in Process Explorer), and is stuck in "Wait:Executive" state (from what I remember). The thread can't be killed - you can try and try and try, but it just ignores your "kill" requests. Really bad for viruses, I imagine... when you can't even kill them! It also doesn't respond to closing handles, and especially not to killing the process (which it doesn't). So, yeah. It's a process that won't die. Sometimes I can solve these by going into Standby, and resuming will kill the process by unlocking the locked I/O, which allows it to catch up to that "DIE ALREADY!" request I gave it much earlier. However, that's hit and miss - and if you miss, you're stuck with a computer that's locked at the "Preparing to stand by" screen and you can't do a **** thing about it - it's hopelessly frozen and you can't even save your work (I even forgot what I lost, but I know I had a full taskbar...). A thorough Google reveals that no such tool exists, and that the problem itself hasn't even been identified. So, now there's a topic about it somewhere on the internet (should be able to be identified by my use of the "Wait:Executive" term...). But there's no solution and no tool to fix it. I don't code desktop software so I don't think I can be the one to make that program. Does anyone have any insight into how to solve this problem? Create a tool that can kill a locked process like that? It happens all too often and it almost always results in having to restart the computer for the dumbest reasons. It drives me nuts!
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