Tag Archives: Troubleshooting

Installing and Using Windows XP In The Year 2017

Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft. Installing it will usually result in a less than satisfying experience, until some fixes are applied manually. This article will explain why and how to do that.

It’s 2017 For Crying Out Loud, Are You A Madman?

Yeah, yeah. Windows XP has it’s flaws. Microsoft doesn’t support it. Everyone says move to Windows 7/10. Security concerns and marketing scare tactics aside, there’s a whole lot of computers and laptops out there with Windows XP still, and here are a few reasons for maintaining such a machine:

  • The computer is a hand-me-down for a family member or kid. Nothing expensive to worry about if it gets damaged. You did pay for this thing, remember? You did purchase software and games for it back in the day, remember? Might as well squeeze out that extra ounce.
  • The computer cannot be upgraded to a newer version of Windows due to hardware requirements. You did pay for this thing, remember? Just because Microsoft doesn’t support it doesn’t mean you need to trash it. The computer still computes.
  • A service technician needs to interface with an old machine (like an office copier or PBX phone system), using an older cable interface such as 9-pin serial, or older software program such as MS-DOS. Sometimes Windows XP is the only solution here.
  • The computer is part of a legacy system or network environment that cannot be replaced without incurring overhead, downtime or fees. Chain restaurants like Subway may still use Windows XP for taking orders. These are typically disk imaged to make fast deployment and repair possible, working as a turnkey restaurant solution.
  • You want to run a virtual machine (VM) with a licensed copy of Windows for whatever reason.
  • You’re a cheapskate and thought it was a good idea to buy a computer w/ original media on eBay or at a pawn shop for $50. I won’t say that was a good idea, but you may still be in luck.
  • The computer is kept around for preference, nostalgia or cyberpunk/cypherpunk reasons. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

For these reasons it is a good idea to always save your Windows XP disc and serial number. These are things you paid money for, and there is no way to recover them if lost. Another important thing to save is the driver disc, because as these computers get old it becomes more difficult to find the drivers online.

Now let’s walk through the steps necessary to get this antique operating system up and running.

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Quick Status Update

Just found out today that CloudFlare DNS took a dump on my website, making it inaccessible for a week or two. This has happened before, last time it was caused by the Wordfence plugin for WordPress.

The DNS problem has been fixed.

UPDATE: turns out this issue may have been caused by 1and1 web hosting DNS failure or changes on their end. My subdomains broke too, which is not part of CloudFlare. I tried walking the 1and1 tech support guy through my problem, but he was very slow so I had to end the call and ask for a follow up from him once he finds the issue. I never received the follow up, so I just went into the 1and1 control panel, re-created all my subdomains, then everything was fixed. I still don’t get why even the CloudFlare page cache was failing to serve a cached version of my website though…I thought that was the whole point of using CloudFlare – to mitigate DNS issues and site downtime? Really scratching my head over this ordeal.

UPDATE 2: 1and1 got back to me and said a glitch in their system is what caused my sub-domains to stop working. They also informed their engineers of the problem and wanted me to know how important it is for them to answer my questions as quickly as possible. Although the support was slower than I would expect for a business package subscriber and I had to take matters into my own hands, I’m not too worried about this event and will be staying with 1and1 for the near future.

The Day Wordfence Crashed GlassOcean.net

gaUPDATE: a solution has been posted at the end of this article.

UPDATE 2: if you’ve had this problem, I highly suggest verifying your SERP rankings. See the end of this article for details.

So, I just discovered GlassOcean.net has been online, but inaccessible for at least 10 days. I should check the site more often. 🙂

It turns out the Wordfence error does not make an appearance when I am logged in, it only shows up when viewing the site as a guest, and that’s why it took me so long to discover it.

Here’s what I’m seeing:

Wordfence Live Update: Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 33554432) (tried to allocate 55 bytes) in …/wp-content/plugins/wordfence/lib/wordfenceHash.php on line 328

Fatal error: Out of memory (allocated 33816576) (tried to allocate 1310976 bytes) in …/wp-content/plugins/wordfence/lib/wfBrowscapCache.php on line 51353

I’ve lowered the Maximum Memory Usage from 256 MB down to 16 MB, but the problem persists. Disabling Wordfence for now…I’ll follow up when I have a solution. Continue reading

Office 2010 Breaks Backwards Compatibility With Certain VBA Projects

So it seems that Microsoft has gone ahead and “done us all a favor” by having Office 2010 now save any type libraries that have been referenced in the Visual Basic Editor with the document itself to further improve compatibility between different versions of Office. What this actually ends up doing is completely breaking our VBA macros and sometimes the entire document becomes unusable on any computer running a previous version of Office.

We developed the Excel file on a computer with Office 2007, making a reference to the “Microsoft Word 12.0 Object Library” because we wanted to send some data from the Excel file out to a Word document using VBA, something like a simple “Generate Report” button. This worked and we were able to open the Excel file on computers running both Office 2007 and Office 2010, as well as generate the report.

But here’s the problem…Once the Excel file was opened then saved using Excel 2010 – without having any changes to the VBA code – the “Microsoft Word 12.0 Object Library” reference that was specifically added disappears and gets automatically replaced with a “Microsoft Word 14.0 Object Library” reference. Now when we open the Excel file on a computer with Excel 2007 it will try (and fail) to load the Word 2010 (14.0) Object Library and this results in a few serious problems:

  1. Opening the file in Excel 2007 is very slow and causes the program to stop responding.
  2. Attempting to correct the reference through the Visual Basic Editor is a no-go. The reference appears as “MISSING: Microsoft Word 14.0 Object Library” with a check mark. Attempting to clear the check to remove the reference results in an error: “Can’t perform requested operation”. Microsoft says this error happens when doing something illegal during VBA code execution, but we are simply opening the file and trying to remove the reference – we are not in break mode and no code is being executed!

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Don’t Fear the July 9th Internet Doomsday, Take Action Now!

On July 9th, 2012 the FBI will shut down a group of servers operated by a cyber crime ring who they’ve recently dismantled. These rogue criminals have jointly infected over 500,000 computer systems in the United States alone with variants of the “TDSS Alureon” malware. This malware redirects your computer’s internet traffic to servers that are run by those criminals, where they tailor your web browsing experience by injecting their own (risky and sometimes dangerous) search results, advertisements, products and services, hoping you’ll give them your money in one way or another.

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Dell: Repeat It Using Phonetics

“Dell Notebook” image courtesy of Break.com

Fun encounter with Dell tech support today. I called in with a service tag and the agent simply stated:

“You have to read it to me using phonetics.”

Woah there buddy, I speak English and if you can’t understand me then perhaps you should read back what I just said to clarify? My brain doesn’t enter military speech very easily; I cannot conjure up alpha bravo charlies at your discretion.

After converting what I could to phonetics, he just said the same thing:

“You have to read it to me using phonetics.”

Now looking like a fool myself, I just hung up on the guy. Dude, I just got Dell’t.

WordPress Trouble: No plugins match your request

UPDATE: From the WordPress team: “This is a problem with api.wordpress.org. We’re working on it and should have it resolved momentarily.”

UPDATE 2: Issue has been fixed! I can now search plugins from the backend.

Woops! It looks like something broke with the core WordPress plugin search feature that is powered by WordPress.org.

One minute I was searching and installing plugins like normal and the next minute I was greeted with a confusing message:

“No plugins match your request.”

I was sure the plugin still exists so I went to WordPress.org to verify and sure enough it was there.

A few other users are actively reporting this problem at the WordPress.org forums. Check there to see what I and others are currently saying about it.

This is breaking news so I’m doing a quick post to help anyone else who might be searching Google for a solution. I’ll post an update once I know of one myself but I think it’s safe to say their search is broken for now!

Blackberry Outage Is Affecting Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) Users

Over the past three days, millions of Blackberry users have been unable to send/receive email and surf the web. Now it’s a global problem with every major news channel and radio station touting the severity.

RIM has posted an official response which is being updated regularly, summing up the problem to an oversight with their email backup system.

Businesses who host their own Blackberry services using Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) usually get by unscathed, since global outages like this rarely affect the synchronization infrastructure between a Blackberry employee and the company’s BES server.

However, today I can confirm that our BES system is being affected by this outage.

ComputerWorldUK also reports that BES users are being hit by the outage.

UPDATE: Service has been restored!!! Some time in the afternoon yesterday (~3:00 PM PST), all of the emails which had been held up on our BES system finally synced up with our handhelds.