AcroRd32.exe keeps loading or crashing when I single click a PDF file

January 20th, 2015

I’ve been having an issue on my aging Windows XP dev box (yes, I know I should be upgrading to Windows 7, 8 or 10, but with some old legacy systems sometimes that isn’t possible).  Sometimes when I single click on a PDF file I’m presented with a dialog box stating that Acrobat Reader has crashed.  Because I have development tools on there I’m also prompted to open a debugger.  Which is a pain.

While watching in Task Manager I found that simply clicking the PDF file once was enough to launch two instances of AcroRd32.exe which, usually, go away after a short while, or sometimes crash.

The reason for this is that Adobe Reader installs what is called a Shell Handler into Windows (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-gb/library/windows/desktop/cc144067%28v=vs.85%29.aspx).

When you click a PDF file the Windows shell looks at the handler for that file type and then the shell handler does something (e.g. updates a thumbnail or adds custom columns to the details view in Windows Explorer). If you use a tool such as ShellExView from Nirsoft (http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/shexview.html) you can look at all the shell handlers installed on your PC (both 32 and 64 bit versions are available).

ShellExViewExample

If you’re having problems when you click PDF files or simply don’t want AcroRd32.exe to load each and every time you click a PDF then just load the ShellExView program and look for “PDF Shell Extension” in the “Extension Name” column. There should be about 2 occurrences. Right click on one of them (it doesn’t matter which) and choose “Disable Selected Items”. BOTH items will be disabled.

Just remember that you’ll also lose thumbnail previews of your PDF files as this shell extension does both thumbnails and custom column info in Windows Explorer.

Also, re-installing or updating Adobe Reader is likely to reset this back to “enabled”.

Use the same tool to enable or disable the shell extensions as required. Enabling one will enable both.

Another option is to install a different PDF reader application.  There are a few free applications available that do everything Adobe Reader can do and sometimes more:

Foxit Reader (http://www.foxitsoftware.com/Secure_PDF_Reader/)

Nuance PDF Reader (http://www.nuance.co.uk/products/pdf-reader/index.htm)

Nitro PDF Reader (https://www.gonitro.com/pdf-reader)

Sumatra (http://www.sumatrapdfreader.org/free-pdf-reader.html)

Audi A4 Convertible Electric Window Switch Contact Cleaning.

August 6th, 2012

I’ve been meaning to contribute to this site for a while now, generally with knowledge I have gained whilst fixing small issues with my Audi A4 Convertible.

This article covers the cleaning of the contacts within my Audi’s electric window switches.

I had noticed that my electric windows were getting rather intermittent in operation, my rear passenger window, wouldn’t wind up at all with the switch and had to be wound up using the the large “all window” switch, also the front two windows would not “auto” up or down unless the buttons were hammered repeatedly.

The answer seemed to be to remove the switch unit and open it up to clean the contacts, and this article will explain the process I followed to do this.

Continue reading “Audi A4 Convertible Electric Window Switch Contact Cleaning.” »

ROCCAT Kone[+] Scroll Wheel glitch

March 4th, 2012

In the last few months the scroll wheel has started to play up on my ROCCAT Kone[+].  When scrolling up or down the mouse sometimes scrolls in the opposite direction briefly before correcting itself and scrolling in the right direction. The problem got worse and worse until I seriously considered throwing it away. Essentially the scroll wheel stopped being usable.

Of the two “fixes”, one made things slightly better for literally about 5 minutes (blowing air into the gaps around the scroll wheel) and the other wasn’t something I wanted to try with a mouse this expensive (spraying WD40 into the scroll wheel). There are many videos on YouTube showing the glitch in action.

Thankfully ROCCAT listened to their customers and at the end of October 2011 released a new driver/firmware pack (Driver v1.49 / Firmware v1.45) that so far has fixed the problem:
http://www.roccat.org/Support/Gaming-Mice/ROCCAT-Kone-/

The release notes are:
– Optimized scroll wheel behavior
– Minor bug fixes

It’s now March 2012 so I expect lots of people have found this fix already but I can confirm that the scroll wheel glitch is fixed.  My Kone[+] was experiencing the issue immediately before I upgraded.  Immediately after the upgrade I have been unable to reproduce the scroll glitch despite trying hard.

I would recommend this driver/firmware combo to everyone experiencing this issue.

 

UPDATE: This fixed the problem for about a week.  The scroll wheel is now as bad as before.  This has to be related to physical attributes of the wheel that the firmware adjusted the first time around (sensitivity to dust perhaps?).

Upgrading the HP Proliant ML115 G5 from Dual to Quad Core

October 28th, 2011

I bought an HP Proliant ML115 G5 servers just before they were upgraded to include a quad core CPU.  I’ve been running VMware ESXi 4.0 and 4.1 on it without any issues, mainly due to the fact that I also bought an HP SC44Ge Raid Controller and an Intel Pro 1000 NIC (Gigabit, as the name implies).

Although it’s running quite happily I wanted to max out the spec of the box in order to have the option of hosting more VMs.  The CPU it shipped with was an AMD Opteron 1214, a 64bit dual core CPU running at 2.2GHz.  I was doing a little reading up after I bought the server and several news sites suggested that it might be possible to install a quad core Opteron 135x CPU.  At the time the quad cores had only just been released and so I didn’t pursue the idea.  Fast forward several years to the present day (28th October 2011) and the Opteron 135x CPU’s are now becoming hard to find; eBay has several sources but all in the US (I’m UK based).

Anyway, to cut the story short I ended up ordering a second hand (used) AMD Opteron 1356 2.3GHz quad core CPU from a source in the US for the grand total of £25 including delivery to the UK.

To prepare for the CPU upgrade I knew I also had to upgrade the firmware on the server.  The machine is physically capable of accepting the CPU but the firmware won’t know what it is unless it’s told.  So, looking on HP’s support site I found the latest firmware, version 2009.07.06 (A) (29 Jul 2009 in Softpaq SP44683 available here.

Also of note is the recommendation from HP: “***Please Note: BMC Firmware version 3.11 or later must be installed on the ML115 G5 when upgrading to this 07/06/2009 BIOS.”  You’ll definitely want to download load the Baseboard Management Controller (BMC) firmware in Softpaq SP44085 from this page.  You’ll note that the firmware is for the Lights-Out 100 Remote Management card, which you may or may not have installed (it’s not a standard feature AFAIK).  It doesn’t matter.  What’s important is that this firmware package also includes the BMC firmware you’re going to need.

In order to upgrade the firmware you’ll need a USB memory stick and to have set up the BIOS on the ML115 to allow booting from USB devices.  Once you’ve done that simply run the ML115 firmware update package (SP44683) and it will do everything necessary to turn your memory stick into a bootable device.  Put the USB stick into the server, reboot it and the firmware package will do the updating for you.

On rebooting the server you’ll notice that the fan will continue running at what sounds like full speed.  This is why HP recommended you also update the BMC firmware at the same time.  Simply repeat the firmware flashing process by running the second firmware package (SP44085) to create another bootable USB device with the BMC firmware on it, reboot the server with the USB stick in the machine and let the updater do its thing.  Reboot one more time and the fans will return to normal speed.

Finally, for anyone with the SC44Ge Raid controller the latest firmware appears to be version “06.18.05.00 (1.23.43.00A) (3 Sep 2009)” in Softpaq SP45154 available here.

One final suggestion: remember to check the BIOS settings after flashing the firmware.  Although my settings were preserved between firmware versions your mileage may vary.

ROCCAT Kone[+] Firmware Install Problems

October 1st, 2011

So.  I paid nearly £70 for a ROCCAT Kone[+] mouse and it arrived with the base firmware (v1.19) installed.

That’s not too surprising and as the mouse drivers also come with the firmware I thought the best thing to do was to grab the latest drivers (driver v1.48, firmware v1.43) from the website (http://www.roccat.org/Support/Gaming-Mice/ROCCAT-Kone-/) and install them.

Windows 7 prompted me to allow the ROCCAT firmware updater to have special access to my machine, which I allowed.  I was asked to click “OK” to update the mouse with the latest firmware.  I clicked “OK” and after only a short period was presented with an error message saying that the firmware update failed.

After a lot of trial and error I solved the problem by downloading the next version on from the version installed in my mouse.  I already had firmware v1.19 so I downloaded firmware v1.20 (http://www.roccat.org/file_driver_356_88dd28c1ae41233d1c8f416c16f15195) and installed the mouse driver then ran the firmware updater again.  This time it installed the firmware without problem.

I then downloaded firmware version v1.30 (http://www.roccat.org/file_driver_395_88dd28c1ae41233d1c8f416c16f15195) and tried updating to that version.  Again it worked fine!

Lastly I downloaded and installed driver v1.48 that comes with firmware v1.43 (http://www.roccat.org/file_driver_480_88dd28c1ae41233d1c8f416c16f15195) and this time the installation of the firmware was successful!  It’s a really painful way to update the firmware but I got there in the end.

With firmware v1.19 and driver v 1.48 I also experienced problems with the ROCCAT Talk application not working and with the lights on the mouse not responding to changes made in the control panel.  I’ve put this down to a mismatch of drivers and firmware that has since been resolved by upgrading to the latest of both using the method described above.

UPDATE:

I’ve since been told by the chap that runs pcGameware (Hi James!) that the Driver v1.44/Firmware v1.39 package installs the firmware perfectly on top of firmware v1.19 so that could be a quick way to fixing your problems.  Link here: pcGameware Review of Roccat Kone[+]

 

VMWare Converter 4.0 Standalone – converter.agent.internal.fault.PlatformError

August 11th, 2010

I’ve been playing with ESXi 3 v3.5.0 Update 2 (yes, I know update 4 is available for 32bit machines) and VMWare vCenter Converter 4.01 (build 161434) Standalone trying to convert one of a pair of cluster nodes running Windows 2000 Advanced Server (SP4) and it’s collection of local and shared volumes across to a VM.

Without much success.

Every time I try the conversion it fails with the error:

[Task] Caught an exception while waiting on the agent task to complete.
Gathering agent logs before propogating the exception further.
Exception message: converter.agent.internal.fault.PlatformError

VMWare note a “known issue” with Converter 4.0 and Windows 2000 machines here:  http://www.vmware.com/support/converter/doc/releasenotes_conv40.html#knownissues

Unfortunately the issue appears to be slightly different and their suggested workaround of re-trying the conversion task doesn’t work for this problem.  Googling for the problem turned up several fixes one of which sounded a plausable fix for my environment http://blogs.egroup-us.com/?p=692.  Sadly that didn’t work either as all my network cards have their link speed and duplex set manually rather than auto.

Thankfully I came across VMWare’s own knowledgebase article (1004588) on Converter best practices: http://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=1004588

Due to disk space constraints on my target ESXi box I had elected to convert and resize ALL nine of the source volumes during the conversion.  After re-running the conversion with only two volumes selected (System boot, C: and Quorum, Q:) Converter managed to perform the task successfully.  Of course, this left me with an incomplete set of converted volumes.  Further attempts to convert the cluster node and shrink only one volume resulted in the same issues as before, causing conversion to fail after about 1 minute.

Thinking along the lines that maybe it was the shrink process that was messing me up I tried reconfiguring my MSA1000 array from RAID 1+0 to RAID 5 which gave me just enough disk space to perform the conversion without shrinking disks.  Unfortunately THAT also didn’t work!  I just got the same errors detailed above.

So, I set about trying to convert as many of the 9 volumes as I could (I have ten but only want nine of them on the VM)  slowly decreasing the number of disks to convert from nine to eight, seven, six etc.  Converting nine, eight and seven failed every time.  Once down to converting six drives I started receiving the error:

22/09/2009 16:22:23 Error: Failed to clone volume 'C:'
22/09/2009 16:22:22 Starting block-level cloning for volume 'C:'.

However this was similar in nature to the known error referenced above so I attempted the workaround and, would you believe it, it worked!  Simply right clicking the failed task and re-running started the conversion.

Getting VMWare ESXi 3.5 to recognise the Emulex LP950 HBA, MSA1000 and associated logical drives

December 19th, 2008

UPDATED: 17/09/2009

I’m posting very rough notes for the moment.  I’ll tidy them up when I get a chance.

Need to upgrade firmware to get ESXi 3.5 Update 2 to recognise the LP950 as an LP952
http://forums11.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/bizsupport/questionanswer.do?threadId=1206849

LP950 BIOS update (FILE: RB171A0.PRG)
http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/SoftwareDescription.jsp?lang=en&cc=US&swItem=co-52871-1

LP950 Firmware Update (FILE: rc393a0.awc)
http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/SoftwareDescription.jsp?lang=en&cc=US&swItem=co-34288-2

Need Emulex LP6DUTIL.EXE and LP6DUTIL.DOC of which version 9.3a4 is included in the (unrelated) firmware package available here:
http://www.emulex.com/ibm/support/ess/lp1005.jsp

NEW LINK: http://www-dl.emulex.com/support/hardware/lp1005dc/fw/190a5/mf190a5_lp1005dc.zip

STAT FFFA0000 Error when flashing
http://forums11.itrc.hp.com/service/forums/bizsupport/questionanswer.do?admit=109447626+1222963603475+28353475&threadId=453907

Need MSA1000 Bootable software CD to configure arrays using web based ACU

At this point the arrays are configured and ESXi will recognise the external storage.  However when trying to copy data to the data stores using VMWare Converter (P2V) it may fail at 2% with an error in the logs similar to:

… ‘P2V’ 2760 error … Task failed: P2VError UNKNOWN_METHOD_FAULT(sysimage.fault.NfcConnectionFault)”
or
… ‘P2V’ 5908 error … Task failed: P2VError UNKNOWN_METHOD_FAULT(sysimage.fault.PlatformError)
or
… ‘P2V’ 4400 error … Task failed: P2VError UNKNOWN_METHOD_FAULT(sysimage.fault.ImageProcessingTaskFault)

Alternatively, if after enabling SSH you try using WinSCP you may be *apparently* able to copy everything only for it to fail at 98% with the error “Function not implemented” or using “cp” at the unsupported command prompt may also copy small files but fail on large ones with the same “Function not implemented” error.  Similarly, using the “Datastore Browser” feature in VMWare’s “Virtual Infrastructure Client” will fail within seconds of trying to copy a large file.

At this point you should double check the firmware on the MSA1000.  Originally my MSA1000 was running an ancient v1.16 and I found that upgrading this to v4.48 fixed the problem.  If you do this you may also need the latest (v8.02 at time of writing) MSA 1000/1500 software CD.  v8.02 is available here: http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/SoftwareDescription.jsp?lang=en&cc=us&prodTypeId=12169&prodSeriesId=415598&prodNameId=443350&swEnvOID=1005&swLang=8&mode=2&taskId=135&swItem=co-70653-1

Balancing radiators in a heating system

December 18th, 2008

This procedure is better done with two or three people.

Before you start, make a list of each room in the house that has a radiator in it. The list will look something like this:

RoomOrderTurns
Kitchen   
Dining Room    
Living Room    
Downstairs hall    
Upstairs hall (landing)    
Bed 1    
Bed 2    
Bed 3    
Bathroom    

Make sure all radiators and the boiler are cold.

On all radiators, make sure that all valves, both flow and lock shield, are fully open. Open the thermostatic valve on the flow pipe and then unscrew and remove the thermostat.

One person keeps hold of the list of rooms

Pick people to work different areas i.e. upstairs and downstairs

1) Turn the heating system fully on, including both the room and boiler thermostats.

2) With the list of rooms, walk around your rooms feeling the top of the radiators.

3) As soon as you feel heat on the top of a radiator, shout out the room name. The person with the list now writes an ordered number against the room name. See below:

RoomOrderTurns
Kitchen7  
Dining Room6  
Living Room2  
Downstairs hall5  
Upstairs hall (landing)8  
Bed 13  
Bed 24  
Bed 31  
Bathroom9  

4) Now turn the heating OFF!

5) Fully close all lock shields on all radiators in the house except the last radiator to warm up on your list (The bathroom in the example example above). On the last radiator, BOTH valves must remain fully open.

6) Starting in room 1 on your list, open the radiator’s lock shield by a ¼ turn.

7) In room 2 open the radiator lock shield by a ½ turn.

8 ) In room 3 open the lock shield by a ¾ turn.

9) In room 4 open the lock shield by 1 full turn.

10) In room 5 open the lock shield by 1 ¼ turns.

11) Carry on for each room by adding a ¼ turn each time. See below:

RoomOrderTurns
Kitchen71 ¾ turns
Dining Room61 ½ turns
Living Room2½ turn
Downstairs hall51 ¼ turns
Upstairs hall (landing)82 turns
Bed 13¾ turn
Bed 241 turn
Bed 31¼ turn
Bathroom9Both valves fully open

12) Turn the heating fully ON.

13) Check that all the radiators are warming up.

14) If, at this point you find that some radiators are not warming up, put your ear by the radiator and listen carefully while you SLOWLY open the lock shield. As soon as you hear water moving STOP opening the lock shield valve. Repeat this on any other radiators that are not warming up.

15) When you are happy with the system, cover up all the lock shields, put the thermostats back on the flow valve as reset them as required.

Linking Access to a MySQL database

May 27th, 2006

For some time I was using Access to store and manage some simple data for a web site. Unfortunately, due to a change in hosting provider I was not able to continue using the Access database and had to migrate it to MySQL. One thing I wanted was to keep the Access forms I’d created for updating the data in the database and to create an external link in Access to the MySQL database through MyODBC. Creating the external link wasn’t a problem but there were a few gotchas that I discovered along the way to getting the forms working correctly.

Continue reading “Linking Access to a MySQL database” »

Ken Grimwood – Replay

May 19th, 2006

I’ve just finished reading a fantastic book, ‘Replay’, by Ken Grimwood. The book was the winner of the World Fantasy Award in 1988 and the copy I picked up is part of the Orion Books/Gollancz series called “Fantasy Masterworks“. The text on the back of the book reads:

Jeff Winston was forty-three and trapped in a tepid marriage and a dead-end job, waiting for that time when he could be truly happy, when he died.

And then he woke up and he was eighteen, with all his memories of the next twenty-five years intact. He could live his life again, avoiding the mistakes, making money from his knowledge of the future, seeking happiness. Until he dies at forty-three and wakes up back in college again…

Replay is a brilliant speculation on time and life, warm, wise and deeply satisfying.

I have to say I agree with that last part, ‘Replay’ has held me enthralled for the last two days and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

There is more about the author on Wikipedia and a Ken Grimwood tribute/rememberance website here.