Category Archives: Uncategorized

Debugging app crashes on windows

At some point or another it happens: either windows blue screens, or an application locks up.
With a little effort, there’s no need to feel helpless nor to guess at what the problem might be,
debugging tools for windows can help.

below is a summary of some techniques – sorry that its not real descriptive. I’ll add to it one day – I promise..

In vista, you need to attach to the dying process.
Launch windebug and attach to the dying process.

Configure vista or 2008 to always generate a dump file (for application crashes)
Create key named:
Hklm\software\microsoft\windows\windows error reporting\localdumps

Dumps go to %localappdata%\crashdumps
Override with a Dumpfolder (string) value
Limit dump history with a dumpcount (dword) value

!analyze –v

If this doesn’t work –
Look at the thread stack for functions with ‘fault’ ‘exception’ or ‘error’
Open callstack window – the look at the threads looking for stacks

~0 kb (inspect call stack of CPU0)
~1 kb  (inspect call stack of CPU1)
Lm kvmvpn* (list driver version?)

Network Monitoring

Network monitoring is critical if you want to know that your computer systems are working.

I looked into a few choices:
Free:
SmokePing: pings a bunch of addresses and graphs the response times http://oss.oetiker.ch/smokeping/

Nagios: Nagios is a free, full blown network monitor for Linux. When I looked into it, it was a fair amount of work to set up – there are a few books available

Another app is Groudwork opensouce edition.
I am always leary of open source software that has a paid version. Seems like what could be a great free app usually ends up being little more than a demo for the companies paid version.

Another tool I found is ServerSentinel (http://www.jam-software.com/serversentinel/index.shtml) Server Sentinel isn’t free, but it’s not pricey either $65. Has a nice variety of sensors (you can do a lot more than just ping an address)

Version Control with Subversion

I use Subversion at home to keep my projects in order.
Subversion, being free, and lacking a marketing team, can be a real pain to get into -there are different versions of it out there, built by different groups etc…

The combination I’ve settled on so far is:

Server: I use the free VisualSVN server at www.visualsvn.com
VisualSVN server basically takes Subversion and turns it into a nicely packaged windows service and MMC management plug in. It takes 2 minutes to install, 1 minute to configure.

Client: For the client, I use 2 pieces: TortoiseSVN (http://tortoisesvn.tigris.org/) Tortoise adds shell integration to windows to support subversion – what this means is that any folder on your system can be added to version control. There are a few commands that took some getting used to, but overall a very nice experience.

Visual Studio integration: the VisualSVN folks make a nice Visual Studio add on, but unfortunately they charge money for it – a lot of money – $50. Now $50 isn’t bad if you’re just buying one copy, but one of the benefits of knowing and using open source free software is that moment at work when you give your boss a nice alternative to sourcesafe that won’t cost the company a penny. That whole sales pitch goes out the window if they need to buy 50 copies of an add in for $50 a piece.  So I use AnkhSVN. (http://ankhsvn.open.collab.net/)  When I started with it, it was a bit rough going, the official release didn’t work for me, but the latest nightly build at the time did. I’m sure by now the current release works just fine, but if you have problems, don’t give up, try a nightly build.

If all the nice gui stuff isn’t for you, Coding horror has a nice article on setting up basic subversion server usng text commands:

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001093.html

Cover Commander

an interesting little program I found from the makers of AWIcons.

Cover Commander makes fake pictures that look like books, boxes, CDs etc..

you design a layout in your favorate paint program, then Cover commander warps it in 3d and add’s it to some of it’s pre-defined layouts to make an image that looks like a cartoony rendering of the real thing.

You see this all the time on shareware and software sites – programs that you know don’t really come in boxes – but they have a picture of the program in a box anyways – cover commander does that for about $70. So does Photoshop, but not for $70.

Icon editor

I’m not sure why this is, but the icon file format seems to alude popular programs like photoshop, paint.net and others.  If you’re writing software of any kind, you’re likely to need a custom icon at some point or another.

I found awicons lite to be a nice free tool (http://www.awicond.com)

Test your memory

For years I’ve relied on Memtest after building a new PC.

the results: I’ve had stable PC’s that have gone for long periods of time without crashing.

Testing is critical when you’re using multiple sticks of memory. It seems there are a number of issues that show up with 4 sticks that get by just fine when only 2 are used.

here are a few links:

Memtest86+ is found at memtest.org – it’s free. Download an iso, burn to CD and  boot it in your pc – wait 24 hours and see if your screen shows any errors – easy easy easy…

http://www.memtest.org

Memtest86.com is by the guy who originally wrote memtest. It wasn’t updated for a few years, so memtest.org sort of took over, but I see he had an update in Jan 09 so it may be worth a look. Free – he also sells a CD for $11.

http://www.memtest86.com

Microsoft has a tool, which is a nice start, except one tiny problem: it won’t test more than 4 gig of ram.

http://oca.microsoft.com/en/windiag.asp

Online backup

Mozy offers an online backup tool with 2gb of free storage. ‘unlimited’ is $5 a month.

http://mozy.ccom/home

Here’s an interesting idea:
Google provides a good chunk of free storage with each gmail account – someone wrote a utility to turn that into a drive: http://www.viksoe.dk/code/gmail.htm

BasementJack

Hi everyone,

I’ve finally gotten around to converting basementjack.com to use a Content Management System (in this case, wordpress).

Over the next few weeks I’ll be figuring out how to add nice image libraries and probably a few home theater related articles.

 – Jack