Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

Windows 7 Preorder Coupon Sale!

Posted in Amazon,Deals & Savings,Microsoft,Windows,Windows Vista,Windows XP by Elliott Back on June 26th, 2009.

I just preordered Microsoft Windows 7 Home on Amazon, because right now it’s over 50% off. For just $49.99 (58% savings) you will get it delivered to your door on the official release date of October 22, 2009 (if you’re a PRIME member, which I am).

As fas as I can tell, the only difference between Home Premium and Professional is that you don’t get their virtualization for XP software support (which is probably like VMWare Fusion on the Mac), no automatic backup features, and it’s missing some enterprise Active Directory thing called “Domain Join” that I doubt I’d ever use. So I’m not paying any $ for that.

One advantage I’ll get out of this is the ability to (a) run DX10 for the latest games, and (b) 64bit support, so finally I can run all 4 GB of RAM properly without PAE and any other proprietary crap. Right now my 4GB only shows up as about 3.4 anyway. Also, SSD support is much better in Windows 7, from what I’ve read. So my Intel X25-M will continue to serve me well!

Update: If you missed this, but you are a student or know a student, you can get a super cheap deal ($10 cheaper!) by visiting the Windows 7 Student Discount Page. It’s $30 for Windows 7 Pro, and another $13 to get a physical DVD.

How To Analyze Windows XP BSOD Minidump Files

Posted in Computers & Technology,Hardware,Microsoft,Windows,Windows XP by Elliott Back on July 1st, 2008.

If you’ve been getting a lot of BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) in Windows XP, the Windows debugging tools can help you find out what’s wrong with your computer. In this guide, we’ll walk you through what you need to do to analyze the minidump files that DrWatson leaves behind when Windows crashes.

First, you need to turn on debugging information in Windows. Right click on My Computer, select Properties, and click on the Advanced tab, and click on the Settings button under Startup and Recovery. You’ll see a screen like this:


You want to have the “Small Memory Dump” and “Small dump directory” fields filled in. If they’re already setup that way, great. If not, change them, restart, and wait for a BSOD stop error to occur so that you can investigate the problem.

Second, now that you have the memory dump files in C:\WINDOWS\Minidump\Mini???????-??.dmp, you need software from Microsoft to read and interpret them. Download:

  1. WinDbg – A windows debugger
  2. Windows XP SP2 Symbols – A system “dictionary”

Some people try to debug their system might get an error like this:

d -z Mini062808-01.dmp

Microsoft (R) Windows Debugger Version 6.9.0003.113 X86
Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Loading Dump File [Mini062808-01.dmp]
Mini Kernel Dump File: Only registers and stack trace are available

Symbol search path is: *** Invalid ***
* Symbol loading may be unreliable without a symbol search path. *
* Use .symfix to have the debugger choose a symbol path. *
* After setting your symbol path, use .reload to refresh symbol locations. *
Executable search path is:
* Symbols can not be loaded because symbol path is not initialized. *
* *
* The Symbol Path can be set by: *
* using the _NT_SYMBOL_PATH environment variable. *
* using the -y argument when starting the debugger. *
* using .sympath and .sympath+ *
Unable to load image ntoskrnl.exe, Win32 error 0n2
*** WARNING: Unable to verify timestamp for ntoskrnl.exe
*** ERROR: Module load completed but symbols could not be loaded for ntoskrnl.exe
Windows XP Kernel Version 2600 (Service Pack 2) UP Free x86 compatible
Product: WinNt, suite: TerminalServer SingleUserTS Personal
Kernel base = 0x804d8000 PsLoadedModuleList = 0x8055b620
Debug session time: Sat Jun 28 22:05:53.137 2008 (GMT-4)
System Uptime: 0 days 4:01:15.706

This error can be fixed by installing the Windows XP SP2 symbols pack above, or another Microsoft symbols pack.

Third, open up WinDbg by clicking Start, Programs, Debugging Tools for Windows (x86), and then WinDbg. You need to set the symbol path to wherever you installed the Windows symbols in the last step. You can do this from File then Symbol File Path, where you want to paste SRV*c:\windows\symbols*http://msdl.microsoft.com/download/symbols:


Finally, you just need to open a dump file from File, Open Crash Dump, and at the prompt type !analyze -v. You’ll then see output like the following:

!analyze -v
* *
* Bugcheck Analysis *
* *

An attempt was made to access a pageable (or completely invalid) address at an interrupt request level (IRQL) that is too high. This is usually caused by drivers using improper addresses. If a kernel debugger is available get the stack backtrace.

Arg1: f78ab980, memory referenced
Arg2: 00000002, IRQL
Arg3: 00000001, bitfield :
bit 0 : value 0 = read operation, 1 = write operation
bit 3 : value 0 = not an execute operation, 1 = execute operation (only on chips which support this level of status)
Arg4: 804dab68, address which referenced memory

Debugging Details:

804dab68 89448ffc mov dword ptr [edi+ecx*4-4],eax

PROCESS_NAME: iexplore.exe
LAST_CONTROL_TRANSFER: from b0d2a3be to 804dab68

f78a9dc4 b0d2a3be f78ab980 8a1f8107 00000006 nt!memcpy+0x130
WARNING: Stack unwind information not available. Following frames may be wrong.
f78aa29c b0d2a640 8a204000 8a1f8008 8a1f800e w70n51+0x2a3be
f78aac00 b0d0b11a 8a204000 89cd6fd8 89cd628c w70n51+0x2a640
f78aae30 b0d20abe 89cd6000 f78aae44 8a01c3a0 w70n51+0xb11a
f78aae4c b0d1d037 89cd6000 89b7e000 00000001 w70n51+0x20abe
f78aaf3c b0d1c77b 8a060658 89f328d0 f78aaf84 w70n51+0x1d037
f78aaf90 b0d1dcf6 89cd6000 f78aafab f78aafd0 w70n51+0x1c77b
f78aafac b0d1de4b 89cd6000 f78aafd0 f7445f09 w70n51+0x1dcf6
f78aafb8 f7445f09 89cd6000 8a127528 8a12778c w70n51+0x1de4b
f78aafd0 804dcbd4 89cd62a0 89cd628c 00000000 NDIS!ndisMDpcX+0x21
f78aaff4 804dc89e b11bfd54 00000000 00000000 nt!KiRetireDpcList+0x46
f78aaff8 b11bfd54 00000000 00000000 00000000 nt!KiDispatchInterrupt+0x2a
804dc89e 00000000 00000009 bb835675 00000128 0xb11bfd54


b0d2a3be ?? ???

SYMBOL_NAME: w70n51+2a3be
IMAGE_NAME: w70n51.sys
FAILURE_BUCKET_ID: 0xA_W_w70n51+2a3be
BUCKET_ID: 0xA_W_w70n51+2a3be
Followup: MachineOwner

In this particular case, we’re debugging a Dell Inspiron 5150 which has been recently having sporadic hard crashes. The bluescreen message it got, Stop 0x0000000A or IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL, is almost always an indication of a driver error. Googling for w70n51.sys (from the crash dump) shows it to be Intel PRO/Wireless LAN 2100 3B Mini PCI adapter software, which should be updated to resolve the bluescreens.

Blackberry blogging sucks

Posted in IM,My Blog,Windows by Elliott Back on June 22nd, 2007.

I want to blog about how my cancelled flight on nwa is making me five hours late, but all I have is my bb.

WordPress should definitely release a mobile skin for the admin area, which doesn’t work so well right now on small screens.

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