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XP Geekitude


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#1 commart

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Posted 28 April 2009 - 03:08 PM

Case: Antec P180
MB: Asus P5K3
PS: Corsair 520W
CPU: Intel 6700 2.66Ghz
SDRAM: Corsair 4GB DDR3
VC: Asus EN8600GT
C: WD Raptor 150GB
E: Seagate Barracuda 750GB
F: Seagate FreeAgent 1-TB : Norton Ghost
M: LaCie 320
OS: XP Pro OEM, SP2
Admin: Office 2007 Pro
Adobe: Web Basic CS3; PS-CS2; Lightroom v2.1

That up there is my box.

I've been working for a while on several issues: a "hang" involving Microsoft Outlook and firewall reconstruction have been of primary interest; watching how my computer communicates internally as well as externally and with what and who (especially who, lol) have been also on my mind.

As I've looked up file names--I'm not alone in that--I've noticed the popular interest in security (why else should XP turn buggy) and processes; however, I've also encountered, downloaded, and installed the administrator programs for XP (and it looks like there are other software helpers from Microsoft yet to be downloaded and set to work).

Here's the problem: now that I can really get into trouble, I'm looking for a roadmap into understanding my computer solely from an administrative or engineering perspective reliant on XP's logs, diagnostics tools, and administrator tools as way to comprehending the software ecology of the machine I've built.

I think where I'm experiencing problems, there are potential conflicts (I'm a little suspicious about Ghost this afternoon and its compatibility with Outlook), possible mismangement or misconfiguration on my part, and then with the firewall or security issues, which comprise a dimension for exploration all their own, I want to improve my decision-making without reverting to reintalls or defaults.

I've gotten a certain level of help from The Missing Manual--it tells you how to install and work in the XP environment--but there's a lot missing from the missing manual when one starts looking over, say, the component services management console.

I'm going to forge ahead and starting learning the language of the element (so I know what "IWAM" means or "COM+" and so on), but I would welcome any orienting, basic curriculum wisdom from more experienced and certainly expert minds. If, for example, I asked for just half a dozen nouns fundamental to looking at computer health through the administrator's prism, I wonder what those words would be.

"IIS" is a mystery to me.

Is there a quasi-programmer's or administrator's vocabulary or experience on which to hang more information as one encounters XP as a Microsoft administrator or developer might?

Open question.

I'll leave it for a little bit.

I'm going into the machine . . . .

By the way, I/it should be a "stand-alone" compuer but I think it thinks it's a networked device. It was set up under the "workgroup" rather than "domain" protocol but that "IWAM" bit and some other behavior have me wondering what I--or a hack--might have done.

--Jim

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#2 Budapest

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 05:01 PM

I'm not sure what level you are at - but have you seen The TweakGuides Tweaking Companion.
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven't got it.

—George Bernard Shaw

#3 ranger72

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 06:18 PM

Excellent guides-Thank you very much for the link :thumbsup:
So Much To Learn; So Little Time To Learn It In!

#4 commart

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 08:41 PM

I'd regard my computing skills as "average end-user": I have followd instructions and built and given myself an XP-SP2 (OEM) box with, a little more in theory than in practice, a program drive, a data drive (which I'm going to backup manually this evening), and a 1-TB backup drive. No problem getting that far. However, Outlook (Office 2007) has gotten squirrely. Sometimes it works for 20 minutes, sometimes for hours, and then . . . in the background, it starts consuming 50+ percent resources and becomes unapproachable.

While trying to solve that problem, I may have made some missteps, and I'm inclined to build the box--but the box is a pretty good functional box.

I downloaded the Tweaking Companion a few days ago and have been looking it over this evening.

I wish I could get a four-year degree in computer science inside of, say, four hours, but I'm not yet Borg.

Instead: developing language, routine, and procedure seems a better course.

Today, I uninstalled Norton Ghost, my backup utility, thinking it might have had a conflict with Outlook. Result: no. It was probably fine. Outlook still hangs.

My theme here: how would an administrator look at the problem?

The administrator tools have been loaded off the XP disk--I just wish I knew how to use what in what order and toward what knowledge base. Having hit Microsoft's pages on everything XP, it's evident that prior knowledge helps make sense of each discussion.

I just noticed--opened the Tweak Guide, got siphoned off to startup, around p. 97, opened msconfig--that msconfig was checked for a selective startup rather than "normal", so I've checked "normal" and will see if anything happens.

I'm a little worried about initiating a clean install off the OEM disk--I'm not sure how Microsoft's computer will take a second hello from a familiar old number. However, if I'm able to do that, at least I'll be working with a clean machine and a sensible build from commercial software. When there's odd behavior, I may also be better prepared to relate it to something I did close to the event rather than something that happened along the way and made itself a part of the personality of the machine.

How long does one give a problem before a clean install starts to look like the best solution available?

#5 Budapest

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 08:51 PM

Are you talking about "Outlook" or "Outlook Express"?
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven't got it.

—George Bernard Shaw

#6 commart

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 09:14 PM

Office 2007, MS Outlook.

#7 Budapest

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 09:56 PM

You might want to try the repair options given here:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/924611
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven't got it.

—George Bernard Shaw

#8 commart

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 09:10 AM

Office Diagnostics: it's ready to run here.

I've backed up data drive "e:" to the Seagate, reformatted, with the exception of a folder titled (you'll like this) "57f20cfcce6c4cba105f82d8065f9f09". It contains folders named "amd64" and "i386", and I haven't been able to copy, delete, or move nor change its permissions.

This moves me closer to performing a clean install and probably with both internal drives formatted like new.

I'll let you know in a little bit what Office Diagnostics has to say.

I appreciate the help here.

Very possibly, fixing and tuning the system and firewall will take precedence over everything else (in my life, lol) for the next three days and into next week.

As with a car, I just want to get up in the morning, turn the key, and commute.

With a computer, it's more like wake up, boot up, and commune.

:D

At some point in computer-human interaction, not changing a system that works becomes difficult.

We tweak.

#9 commart

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 10:31 AM

You might want to try the repair options given here:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/924611


That was helpful. The diagnostic turned up null, although it did run into problemmed drive sector, probably that "btzlfk" fold that nothing can acccess. However, the tail of the diagnostic leads to other Microsoft pages online: e.g., http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/help/HP030889831033.aspx. The program actually uploads user results to the MS mother ship and reviews them with the end-user. Nice. And then it provides links for further help.

For the page noted, I restarted Outlook, which just two minutes ago hopped up into its resource eating paralyzed mode, so I / we are about to see what the systems recovery route will do.

#10 commart

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 10:43 AM

Microsoft's instructions (from the above noted URL) are perfectly clear for recovering a stalled program: Start --> Program --> Microsoft Office Tools --> Microsoft Office Application Recovery.

Simple.

Except "Microsoft Office Application Recovery" is not listed on my Microsoft Office Tools menu.

Bleeping computer! is right.

As I have an OEM install--my purchase from Egghead, one machine only, mine--and may have key issues (one of my worries) in the clean install process, I'm reluctant to initiate a service ticket with Microsoft.

Once again, I'm going to use Task Manager to close Outlook.

Edited by commart, 30 April 2009 - 10:46 AM.


#11 Budapest

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 04:56 PM

Right click on the C drive in Explorer and go Properties > Tools > Check Now (under Error Checking). Check both boxes then click "Start Now". A message will pop up saying that Error Checking will run after you restart the computer. Restart the computer and Error Checking will run automatically after the restart. After itís finished it will restart into Windows automatically.
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven't got it.

—George Bernard Shaw

#12 commart

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 09:41 PM

Right click on the C drive in Explorer and go Properties > Tools > Check Now (under Error Checking). Check both boxes then click "Start Now". A message will pop up saying that Error Checking will run after you restart the computer. Restart the computer and Error Checking will run automatically after the restart. After itís finished it will restart into Windows automatically.


Sorry for the delay. I've been blogging.

I've set up the error checking utility, but am going to shut down now for the evening. The routine should run first thing tomorrow morning.

I may do the same for "E:" which has that strange folder on it.

I may take another look at the error messages in the logs (they're there) to see if I can't make better sense of them.

While this thread goes on, I'm backing up data, listing programs and keys, etc. Pretty soon, the Outlook hang will be resolved or the software installations on the drive will be newly installed. :thumbsup:

#13 commart

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 10:17 AM

The box has started spitting update error message to Microsoft, but I don't think there's anything wrong with the drive. I'm reading through .log files, and it looks like there are a lot of (gnored) logical errors.

I think a rebuild would be healthy.

I've got two anxieties about that. My data has been backed up to the Seagate external drive, which I'm going to unplug (USB) during the rebuild. I worry that it may not be recognized when I reconnect it. That drive must not be damaged or reformmated! (Smaller units of critical data will make it to DVD's later today).

I worry about Microsoft's acceptance of a second entry of the XP Pro OEM key. What if? What possibility is there of there being an "if"?

Both drives C (programs) and E (data) will be reformatted. I want complete administrative control of the box, its operations, and its communications--a goal that should have been simple (why I built my computer) but has turned out easier said than done.

Edited by commart, 01 May 2009 - 10:18 AM.


#14 Budapest

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 03:53 PM

There should be no problem reusing the same key. If it doesn't work you can always phone the Microsoft hotline and explain the situation. They are normally very good about it.
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who haven't got it.

—George Bernard Shaw

#15 commart

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 06:34 PM

I want to thank you, Budapest, because I had about five hours of Outlook stability this morning and closed the program normally; moreover, it seems to be running fine, about two hours of up-time. The longest up-time I've had with Outlook recently has been 5.5 hours, and that ended with a hang.

Frankly, I'm not sure that I haven't been hacked or am not hosting remnants of an attack.

I'm nervous about the Seagate (1-TB external) playing the mother lode while the internal drives have been formatted. Also, there's that mystery folder, "57f20cfcce6c4cba105f82d8065f9f09" on E: (containing folders "amd64" and "i386") that I haven't been able to access beyond the folder level, copy, or delete. In this clean install, I'll format that drive first.

Thank you for your help. I think the expansion of resources and basic learning will come back into play with a clean OS, Office, and Business Contact Manager. From there, I expect legacy commercial programs to load as normal.

--Jim




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