Lots of technical stuff too, difficult to remember it all.
The biggest item is I finally replaced my aging (10+ years) workshop desktop with something a little different, namely a FIT PC2i. This device is about the size of the box a 70 mm cooling fan comes in, you can see the actual size on the website. While the physical size in not that important, it is nice that it fits on the shelf above my monitor, next to the router, NAS drive and the external drive. Clear desk, clear foot area under my desk, lovely. More importantly is its power consumption. Flat out it consumes less than 10 watts, in standby its about a single watt. It’s taken me a while to get all the drivers sorted out, but this was complicated by other issues detailed below.
The reason I chose the PC2i was that firstly it has a 2 GHz processor and 2 gigabytes of ram, but also has a serial port (a really cute mini one), with an adaptor to plug in the serial cable. This means I can run my vinyl cutter off it. The major problems I have had have concerned standby mode and blue screens. The blue screens appear to be an attribute of the drivers for the GMA 500 video chip, but have not happened for a while now, so obviously I have found the right combination of drivers and settings. Coming out of standby, I was having problems with a jerky mouse cursor. In the end I replaced my aging microsoft wireless mouse and keyboard combination with a new logitech MK250 combo, which meant a complete change of drivers etc. I didn’t think this had worked, as I still got a jerky mouse in some cases.
However, this was a red herring, as the issue was now with Firefox 4, which I have been using for a while. It seems that quite a few people out there have been experiencing a jerky mouse after migrating to Firefox 4, and after testing with Google Chrome and IE8, I realised it was my problem also. It looks like I will have to ‘downgrade’ to Firefox 3.6. A client has also been having problems with FF4, in his case using the drop down search bars in AVG and Google search bars, neither of which allow you to actually use any of the entries in the drop down.
Another issue I have dealt with on two recent jobs is the RUNDLL32.EXE problem, where some piece of malware seems to corrupt windows, and leaves it corrupted after it is removed. Until now the only solution I have had for this problem is to re-install windows, which is still the answer in some cases. However, I had one machine where the usage did not warrant this extreme action, and found another solution. The symptoms, which are basically that no application is found to run the above named file, or any of many applications, only show themselves in a single user of the machine. In this case the ‘Owner’ sign on showed the symptoms both in normal mode and safe mode, but the administrator sign on did not show them at all. Some other symptoms are present in both sign ons, but they are trivial to fix. So the solution is to create a new sign on with the same attributes as the infected one, and copy over the documents, start menus etc from one user to the other, being careful not to copy the windows or application data directories, as these contain whatever the infection is. A little work to get the sign on working properly, delete the old sign on, and bob’s your uncle, a working user sign on!