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#  Tuesday, January 3, 2006

This sordid story starts with a good thing to do: I wanted to perform a backup onto my external USB hard disk. So I took the drive that was attached to my old workstation and did my routine: delete an old backup to make space for new ones. But Windows decided that it might be a rather good time to annoy me:

Huh, what are you trying to tell me? At the same time, a tray notification popped up:

USB is usually not a network connection, and I most decidedly did not abuse the cord for bungee jumping at that time. This error also yielded tons of event log entries like this one here:

Being already a little ticked off, I decided to take a peek into Computer Management, section Disk Management:

Gotta be kidding me! Being annoyed already, I dug deeper into the property sheets for this drive:

You remember the error messages about delayed write failures as well as paging? Write caching is disabled?

For good measure, I attached my harddisk to another (non-x64) machine. Working fine there. Next, I switched USB cables. Same result. Used a different external USB hard drive. Again, same result. So that pretty much means that external hard disks don't work at my new workstation.

I am wondering if that is another problem of x64, or the chipset driver in this case. Cables and physical disks are already ruled out - ideas?

Update My drive enclosures have Firewire support too. So I connected the drives via Firewire. That works around the DWF problem, however, now I stumbled into a different issue (event log record):

The device, \Device\Sbp2\ASSMANN AB-PENR35 Combo Devi, did not respond within the timeout period.

The KB article SBP-2 drive stops responding when you try to write data in Windows XP nicely fits this error. Back to square one, research on the USB issue. At least I am not the only one that experiences those kinds of DWF problems, as an Internet search proves.

Update Tried again with USB after updating the nForce chipset driver to v6.82. It got farther this time, but it still crashes with DWF. Judging from a search for "delayed write failed", I am most decidedly not alone.

Solution At least sort-of... I poached ye olde Adaptec DuoConnect card from my old workstation and plugged it into the shiny new one (which, thanks to the A8N board, already has 10 USB 2.0 ports of its own). Booted the machine, drivers were installed automatically, plugged in the harddisk, did the same operations as before - and it worked flawlessly.

Conclusion: There must be an issue in the combination chipset / NVIDIA nForce (x64 only maybe?) chipset driver.

Seems like my computer is living up to its name.

Update I decided that I had to have another go at it. So I bought a brand-new external 3.5" enclosure, a Map-H31S (according to the documentation it should use a Genesyslogic GL811E). I disassembled the old enclosure and put the hard disk in the new enclosure. Connected it to the mainboard's USB connectors - et voila, it works! Seems that this enclosure's IDE to USB chip can deal with my motherboard.

Categories: this | x64
Tuesday, January 3, 2006 2:40:39 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [2]


#  Monday, January 2, 2006

Instead of risking my sanity by trying to install Virtual PC 2004 on my x64 box, I decided to go with Virtual Server 2005 R2 x64. Thankfully, this new release of Virtual Server allows installation on an XP host, and the setup experience was pleasantly uneventful.

Of course I ran into a snag - my default browser is Firefox, and the administration Web site didn't fully function with it. So back to Internet Explorer, and configure the first (existing) virtual machine:

I learned the following things:

  • Do not forget to configure the network adapters. Otherwise connecting to your domain can be a challenge.
  • Definitely enable Remote Desktop on your virtual machines, which brings me to the next item on my list:
  • When renaming a virtual machine beware of your own cleverness. Especially if all your virtual machines were copied from a once-configured image, and you renamed one of those instance so that the original name no longer exists in Active Directory.

Other than that I have to say that Virtual Server 2005 R2 is a much better experience than Virtual PC 2004.

Categories: Administration | this | Virtual PC | x64
Monday, January 2, 2006 7:05:10 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]


My journey through x64 land is getting more frustrating by the minute. When I tried to connect to my dedicated server box via RDP, I got the following error message:

The specified remote computer could not be found. Verify that you have typed the correct computer name or IP address, and then try connecting again.

"That can't be!" was my first reaction. Especially because I use the very same host for email, and that was working from the start. So I fired up my trusty X31 laptop and tried there - working just fine!

Next, I compared the TCP/IP settings - both identical, because I use DHCP in my network to dole out IP configurations. Back to the basics. Ping. Working fine on my laptop, not working on my x64 box. Scratch, scratch. Wait a second! Because I am paranoid, I don't configure the default gateway for my machines, so that when I turn off the ISA client, I have no Internet connectivity whatsoever (nice for testing).

Turns out that the email program makes proper (high-level) use of the network stack, however, ping and mstsc go lower, and - nasty surprise - the ISA client doesn't work properly on x64 (thread here). Now that is the second time that my "no default gateway policy" rears its ugly head (instance #1).

Categories: this | x64
Monday, January 2, 2006 11:25:18 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]


#  Thursday, December 29, 2005

Now THAT takes the biscuit by a long distance:

Those are the two hard disks of my RAID mirror! Showing up in Safely Remove Hardware... hard disks, which of course are nowhere to be seen in the device manager:

Anybody have an idea on how to exclude certain devices from Safely Remove Hardware? Let me know, I'd be really glad to hear.

Update A friend of mine pointed out that he had seen this with a RAID controller on one of his boxes too. He suggested that stopping the device would not work. After some hesitation, I decided to give it a try - and it failed:

Thank goodness. If it had succeeded, I would have had a problem.

Categories: Administration | this | x64
Thursday, December 29, 2005 2:05:14 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]


If you have ASP.NET 1.1 and ASP.NET 2.0 on an x64 machine, you better read the KB article How to switch between the 32-bit versions of ASP.NET 1.1 and the 64-bit version of ASP.NET 2.0 on a 64-bit version of Windows.

Categories: ASP.NET | x64
Thursday, December 29, 2005 12:15:48 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]


it's then you stumble across such an error message:

java.lang.StringIndexOutOfBoundsException: String index out of range: -89
 at java.lang.String.substring(Unknown Source)
 at java.lang.String.substring(Unknown Source)
 at ZeroGla.a(Unknown Source)
 at com.zerog.ia.installer.util.magicfolders.JavaHomeMF.a(Unknown Source)
 at com.zerog.ia.installer.util.magicfolders.JavaHomeMF.b(Unknown Source)
 at com.zerog.ia.installer.util.magicfolders.MagicFolder.initializeAllMagicFolderPaths(Unknown Source)
 at com.zerog.ia.installer.Main.d(Unknown Source)
 at com.zerog.ia.installer.Main.c(Unknown Source)
 at com.zerog.ia.installer.Main.main(Unknown Source)
 at sun.reflect.NativeMethodAccessorImpl.invoke0(Native Method)
 at sun.reflect.NativeMethodAccessorImpl.invoke(Unknown Source)
 at sun.reflect.DelegatingMethodAccessorImpl.invoke(Unknown Source)
 at java.lang.reflect.Method.invoke(Unknown Source)
 at com.zerog.lax.LAX.launch(Unknown Source)
 at com.zerog.lax.LAX.main(Unknown Source)

The application that blew up was the Sony Ericsson Update Service installer 2.2.11b. And guess what: it craps only on x64, not on my trusty 32-bit XP. I pretty much suspect that the programmer of this application didn't expect Program Files (x86) as a directory name.

Categories: this | x64
Thursday, December 29, 2005 11:52:56 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [3]


After Christmas, I set out to assemble the parts of my new x64 workstation:

  • ASUS A8N-SLI Premium motherboard
  • Athlon 64 3700+
  • 2 GB of memory (to be upgraded next week to 4GB)
  • 2 WD 400GB RE2 hard disks (used in a mirror, I am too old and lazy for data loss)
  • Matrox Millenium P650 PCIe graphics card
  • Optical drives (DVD-RAM & DVD-RW DL) - reused from the old workstation
  • Arctic Cooling Silentium T5 midi tower case

Lessons learned:

  • InCD 4 is my enemy #1 for 2005 - it doesn't work (even install) on XP Pro x64
  • Not all AV products' realtime scanners like x64
  • If you are used to Arctic Cooling CPU fans, don't install the out-of-the-box fan that ships with your CPU - you will be disappointed. And opening the case soon again to replace it.
  • Dual-head sucks. Why doesn't Matrox ship a triple-head card for PCIe?

I am pretty sure those ain't all the snags I will encounter, especially as Virtual Server 2005 R2 is now waiting to be installed instead of VPC 2004 on this machine.

Update Speaking of snags - the Canon LIDE 60 scanner doesn't work on x64. The driver simply doesn't support it. How craptacular.

Categories: this | x64
Thursday, December 29, 2005 10:20:12 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [1]


#  Sunday, December 18, 2005

Download here GIFs are included in different resolutions, as well as PhotoShop files. Quite handy if you want to show which version of .NET is required for your application, supported, as well as unsupported.


Categories: Cool Download
Sunday, December 18, 2005 4:38:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]


#  Saturday, December 17, 2005

Today I set out to do something simple - at least I thought so. My server is configured to have a German keyboard layout together with the German input locale, like so:

So I set the Default input language to English (United States). Click Apply & OK, log off, and then log on again. Guess what - I am back to square one. Neither rebooting or any other brute force let me change that, it always automagically reverted back. I'm quickly loosing confidence in my sanity and the Windows server platform.

Update: Good grief! The local input language settings are automatically remoted to the Terminal session. This default behavior I view as counterintuitive. But it can be fixed, thanks to Markus Oestreicher for pointing it out to me - Input Language of Terminal Server Client Does Not Match That of Terminal Server Session

Categories: Administration | this
Saturday, December 17, 2005 4:13:13 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]


#  Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Verity Stob has a new home (mentioned her book in my blog entry PDC05: The Books). That her column would go online on Reg rag premises was to be expected as announced here, however, I didn't quite expect El Reg to launch a developer site.

Categories: Newsbites
Tuesday, December 6, 2005 9:56:49 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]


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