Aaron Stebner's WebLog

Thoughts about setup and deployment issues, WiX, XNA, the .NET Framework and Visual Studio

More specific post categories now available for my blog content

More specific post categories now available for my blog content

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For a while, I've been trying to figure out how to manage the posts on my blog.  When I originally established my blog back in 2005, the blog creation wizard asked me to create one or more categories to classify content that I wrote.  I didn't have a clear idea about what kind of topics I wanted to write about back then, so I created some really broad categories (Setup issues, Visual Studio and .NET Framework and Windows Embedded).  I've added a few more broad categories over the past couple of years as the topics I've posted on my blog have evolved (Mailbag, Miscellaneous, Windows Media Center - General, Windows Media Center - Development and Windows Vista).

Since I started writing in this blog, I have found that I write about a wide range of topics, and only a subset of readers are really interested in each type of topic, so they'll tend to subscribe to the categories they're interested in.  I also tend to use my blog to store links to information I think is interesting and that I want to be able to find in the future, but I sometimes have a hard time finding specific links later on when I need them.

Based on these usage patterns, I think it will provide overall benefit to create a larger set of more targeted categories for my blog content.  This introduces a couple of possible problems - I don't want to go through all of my old posts that are filed in the broad categories and re-classify them.  I also don't want to break any category subscriptions that anyone might have by deleting the old categories or no longer using them.

So, I settled on a plan where I will create more specific categories, but retain the broad categories as well.  For old blog posts, if I edit them in the future I will add tags for the new categories.  I will also go through the posts that I refer people to most frequently to troubleshoot problems and add tags to them as well.  For new blog posts, I will classify them into both the new categories and the old categories I would have used if the new ones didn't exist.  Then as content builds up in the new categories, if anyone has subscriptions to the broad categories and decides they want to only get targeted information in more specific areas, they can adjust their subscriptions.

Hopefully this will provide a good step forward with the overall goal of making it easier to quickly find relevant information from this blog.

Here is an initial set of new, more specific categories that I have created:

If you have any feedback or recommendations about how to better organize the information in my blog, please leave a comment on this blog post or contact me and let me know what you think.

  • is that Media Center starts giving me the following issue: "APPLICATION FAILURE: A critical Windows Media Center process has failed. Please restart the computer and try again. If the problem persists, contact your hardware manufacturer for assistance."

    This is an almost-new (late November) Dell XPS 410 with Intel E6600 processor, originally 2GB of RAM, although I upgraded it to 4 GB (but that doesn't seem to be the problem, as memory checks turn out fine). I also replaced the Nvidia 7300Le with an eGeForce Nvidia 7300 GT KO, but I'm using the Microsoft drivers for that so I don't have Nvidia problems. It came with a 250 GB 7200 SATA II WD drive, and I added a 500 GB version of the same to the second internal bay, and it works fine.

    This last time I installed Vista, every single time I installed any new software or added a new driver, I checked Media Center both before and after to see if I could determine exactly WHEN a problem might pop up... I wasn't having one after a couple of days -- at least not with Media Center -- but for reasons I still don't understand, for the first time ever I was getting "permission denials" from folders I'm used to always getting into (like documents and settings). I was having trouble resetting permissions to the individual folders, so I clicked on the hard drive from "Computer" and changed permissions for the entire drive to my user name, which worked, but Media Center IMMEDIATELY began giving me that error above -- the one and only one it ever does... It says there are no shows recorded, although there are, and although it will show what programs are scheduled to record, it will neither let me change the schedule, nor does it appear to be recording them.

    Anyway, I figured if I did a System Restore and took the System back to before I did that Permissions change, that should fix Media Center, but NO SUCH DICE.

    I used to have repeated problems like this with MCE 2004, except it was always the "files needed to display video are missing or corrupt" error, and I never could get THAT fixed without a reinstall! Then, in XP MCE 2005, I had NOT A SINGLE PROBLEM... now Vista is acting like an evil rebirth of MCE 2004! Grrrrrrrrrr!!!

    I've posted about this in several forums, been through Dell Tech Support, tried the "regsvr32 wmp.dll" fix (which worked, for a while)... Done the SFC/SCANNOW, which didn't find ANY problems... tried booting from the Vista DVD and running a "startup repair," and it finds no errors, run every single diagnostic I can find or think of... looked for new Vista diagnostic software I can BUY that might help (not much out there yet). I'm at a LOSS and REALLY frustrated, as I have a dual TV tuner, and NOT just so I can say I have it!

    Right now, I'm fortunate to have some of my shows off the air or in re-runs, but that's about to change and I NEED my Media Center working again, and I ESPECIALLY need it without having to REINSTALL VISTA every week!

    Please, sir, do you have ANY THOUGHTS or directions you can point me?

    Jeff

  • Hi JeffAHayes - I'm very sorry for the hassles that you've encountered with your Windows Vista Media Center functionality.  It sounds like you have tried most of the steps that I typically suggest for this type of issue, so I'm not sure if I have any better ideas other than to re-install your system.  I haven't heard of cases where users have needed to repeatedly re-install Windows Vista, but a one-time re-install sounds like it would help get your system back into a known good state.  Hopefully this will get your system back up and running, and then I'd suggest making a system restore checkpoint so that you have a state that you can use to recover to in case something strange starts happening again in the future.

    I also have a couple of follow-up questions:

    1.  I'm curious to know what steps the Dell technical support people had you try as part of attempting to resolve this issue.  Can you send those steps to me so I can take a look?

    2.  Do you have a file named %windir%\ehome\ehshell.crash on your system?  If so, that should contain a callstack from the crash that occurs when you try to run Media Center, and it might help narrow down the root cause of these issues.

    I'm very sorry I'm not able to be more helpful in this scenario.

  • The ONLY "fix" Dell Technical Support gave me was one posted by a fellow member of the Dell Forum in the very thread I started, which I had already tried by the time Dell Technical Support emailed it to me, which was to get to command prompt at C:\Windows|System32 and run "resvr32 wmp.dll" As I think I posted before, this worked, temporarily, but the problem cropped back up after a couple of days and that "fix" hasn't worked since.

    Doing System Restores also doesn't seem to help, although I haven't tried doing one right back to the moment Vista finishes installing, because, frankly, that would wipe out all my OTHER program installations. Instead, what I've been doing is checking before and after every program installation, and creating a point at every step... But this most recent time, all my software installed fine and everything worked OK for a day or two, then it all got "hinky." And that's usually the case... It all works for a day or two, then starts messing up.

    As for that "crash" file, No sir, it's not anywhere on either of the two internal drives (I've currently unplugged all five of the external drives because it just simplifies diagnosing these problems and speeds boot times, and while I have SAVED TV on some of those drives, none of them are indicated as a "record-to" drive at present).

    It's been suggested to me by several people that I should just give up on this "upgrade" path and try a Clean Install... However, as the upgrade involved a second Dell disk with a number of new Vista drivers for the installed hardware, I'm not sure exactly how I'd go about that... if I'd still need to use that disk, or not, and if so, would I use it AFTER the "clean Install." I doubt I'll get much help from Dell on this one, lol.

    Thanks for any further thoughts you might have.

    Jeff

  • Hi JeffAHayes - In general, re-registering DLLs does not work on Windows Vista like it did in earlier versions of Windows (like XP) because the files and registry are protected by Windows Resource Protection and cannot be modified except by OS hotfixes and service packs.  So I'm kind of surprised that they are suggesting that on Windows Vista.

    I'm also not sure I understand how things would work fine for a couple of days and then stop working.  That suggests to me that something had to change between the working state and the non-working state.  Did you install any other software or start using any software in the meantime that might help explain this issue?  In particular, did you install/use any TV tuner applications, video editing software, decoders/codecs, or other similar software?  The issue seems related to video playback so that is why I ask this question.

    There is another location where crash files might be located on your system - C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\eHome.  Can you also check there to see if you have any log files that might help narrow this down, and if so, send them to me at Aaron.Stebner (at) microsoft (dot) com?

    I think a clean install might be your most reliable option here too.  You should be able to re-install the OS from the original media provided by your PC manufacturer.  If you have any issues with that process, Dell should provide technical support (which I think they provide for all computers that they sell).

    I'm sorry I haven't been able to be more helpful in this scenario.

  • Not at all, Aaron,

    You've been quite a help, although I simultaneously posted similarly at the Jessica Zahn thread on The Green Button and got a good many more responses, which is where I got even more prompting to do a "Clean Install."

    I discovered, the hard way, in doing a clean install, that it required XP be installed on the computer, as I formatted the C: partition with the Vista Installation drive before I tried running the installation and it hung on me after the "copying files" part finished -- TWICE in a row... I went ahead and reformatted again with the XP disk that came with the computer, Installed XP, did NO further setup or upgrades on XP, just took the disk out, inserted the Vista "upgrade" disk, restarted the computer and did the "workaround" for a clean install using an upgrade Vista disk (the one that requires you to Install Vista twice, entering the registration code only on the SECOND installation, the one from WITHIN Vista), and not only did Vista install much faster, easier and smoother than it ever did during any of the "upgrade" installations, it turned out the Dell "upgrade" disk was TOTALLY UNNECESSARY, as Vista automatically found and installed all needed drivers without even a hitch, without me even knowing it was doing it... Everything just RAN RIGHT THE FIRST TIME when I activated my registration after the second install.

    So I now DEFINITELY have the answer to why Microsoft allowed this "loophole" in their upgrade disks... Because the actual "upgrade process" simply doesn't work right for most people (maybe for NOBODY), whereas doing a "clean install," even if it requires jumping through the hoops of "installing twice" does such a better job, it's more than worth the trouble.

    Thanks!

    Jeff

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