Windows Explored

Everyday Windows Desktop Support, Advanced Troubleshooting & Other OS Tidbits

Archive for December, 2010

Too(L)ManyBars

Posted by William Diaz on December 30, 2010


I have run into quite a few IE environments in my time, often cluttered with annoying toolbars. Although I frown upon too many toolbars in any browser, I decided to see how many toolbars I could install in IE before I got tired. To isolate this potentially unstable environment, I started Windows XP mode from my Windows 7 system and after 45 minutes achieved the following:

Now begins the process of removing the toolbars.

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Zipity Do Da .Docx

Posted by William Diaz on December 28, 2010


It’s a mystery how some files get their file extensions changed or removed. I have no doubt that some users think that manually changing it makes it compatible with whatever program they want it to open in. We often get files that contain a .doc extension but fail to open in Word. Sometimes they are corrupted, sometimes they are in a newer version of Word, and sometimes they are not Word documents at all. When you run into these, the easiest way to determine what kind of file it is is to open it with Notepad (or any text reader for that matter) and look for readable text in the data. Here is an example:
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Outlook, HTML Messages, and Internet Explorer

Posted by William Diaz on December 28, 2010


OutlookHTML

 

 

If you didn’t already know, Outlook 2003 and earlier use IE as its print engine when printing html formatted messages. This means you sometimes need to go to IE to correct problems with emails printing outside of the print margins. These settings are found under File > Page Setup. The defaults are 0.75 on all sides. When coming across issues like this, I often find the margins set to 0.25.

This behavior is not the same for all html formatted messages. Some emails have web content embedded or pasted into them and will have odd page characteristics that cause the message to print outside the margins and may be difficult to correct. Different versions of IE also handle html messages differently.

In Office 2007/2010, html messages in Outlook no longer rely on IE and now use a MS Office html as the printing engine.

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Just Because You Are Using Debugging Tools Doesn’t Mean You Are Debugging

Posted by William Diaz on December 22, 2010


One of my saucy co-workers asked why were we using the various debugging tools (WinDbg, Adplus, Debug Diagnostics) to resolve issues with crashing apps. This turned into a debate, mostly over semantics, because were not actually resolving issues using these tools, at least not directly. It should be pointed out that just because you use debugging tools does not imply that you are debugging. The process of debugging means to remove the bugs from program code. That’s not what I (or we) are using the debugging tools for. For that, we would need access to the source code; and even if we had access to it we are not professional programmers and lack the experience to correct buggy code.

The main purpose of using these tools in our capacity is to diagnose an application hang or crash when the normal troubleshooting techniques fail. The goal is to identify the component or module causing the hang or crash and then work around it by either upgrading (or downgrading), disabling, or removing the app, and hopefully it is not a mission critical app. If it is a mission critical app, then further escalation needs to take place that involves the developer and you can provide your crash/hang dumps to them for analysis.

In the end, what you have done is used these tools for Basic Crash or Hang Analysis. This is where your job is complete and someone else’s begins.

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Why is my Outlook Message Full of ATTXXXXX.htm, .txt, and .dat Attachments?

Posted by William Diaz on December 16, 2010


Every now and then you might encounter a message that contains ATTXXXXX.htm attachment(s):
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If you try to open these, by default they will launch in IE but not open anything or may not display anything meaningful. The reason for this is that the attachment is just a fragment of formatting code from the message body, i.e. html tags. You can see this by right-clicking in the page and selecting View Source:

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Troubleshooting Office 2007/2010 Files

Posted by William Diaz on December 13, 2010


The Office 2007/2010 native file format is now xml based. What does this mean to you troubleshooters? Earlier versions of Office files, for example Word, saved all the formatting, text, images, etc as a single binary file. With the latest Office offering, all those document “elements” are now created as xml files and then compressed into a single file. To see this, take any docx, pptx, xlsx file and change the extension to zip. When you open with Windows compressed files or WinZip, you will see different folders that contain several xml files, which contain the formatted text, pictures or other media. Here is an example of one of my blog Word 2010 articles dissected:
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The Case of the Zip File That Wouldn’t Open

Posted by William Diaz on December 8, 2010


While trying to extract the SysInternal PSTools.zip, I was running into the following error: “The Compressed (zipped) Folder is invalid or corrupted.”

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CRC & Bad Blocks

Posted by William Diaz on December 3, 2010


Its actually refreshing when I come across a problem that does not always manifest itself as  GUI error in Windows, or even a software problem for that matter. If, when trying to boot into Window, it fails to load in a timely manner or not load at all, try starting in SafeMode (F8). You should being able to see which system files are being loaded and, in cases where the file system and hard disk where it resides are having problems. you may get lucky (well, lucky in the sense that you can decipher what may be happening). For example, in the case of a laptop I was asked to diagnose it would hang at : “Loaded: \Windows\System32\drivers\crcdisk.sys
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Process (Monitor) of Elimination

Posted by William Diaz on December 2, 2010


The problem presented itself as thus: “Microsoft Visual BasicRun-time error ‘-2147024894 (800700002)’: Automation Error . The system cannot find the file specified.”

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Restoring the Quick Launch in Vista & Win7

Posted by William Diaz on December 1, 2010


I know Microsoft wants to us to use the Pin this program to taskbar feature but I don’t care for it. I really like the Quick Launch feature. Out of the box, Windows Vista and 7 do not enable the Quick Launch. But you can bring it back with little effort. To do so, right click the Taskbar and select New toolbar.

Now paste the following into the toolbar path location: %appdata%\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch.

Confirm the path to the new toolbar before selecting Select Folder.

The Quick Launch toolbar was not placed into the left side of the taskbar in my case so drag it to the desired area of the taskbar if needed. If you prefer, right-click the QL and uncheck the options to the Show Text and Show Title options.

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