Andre's Blog
Perfection is when there is nothing left to take away
Hard drive controller errors for USB-attached drives

Some time ago I noticed a bunch of disk controller error messages in Windows' Event Viewer and got alarmed that one of my disks or disk controllers might be corrupting data.

How to Configure Storage Spaces in Windows 10

This is a technical part of an earlier post about setting up Storage Spaces on Windows 10.

There are dozens of RAID products on the market that allow users to combine multiple hard drives in various combinations and many tech-minded people choose these RAID configurations, thinking that hardware RAID is the best solution money can buy.

The reality is, however, that when these consumer-level RAID enclosures fail, their owners end up either losing their data or spending time and money on data recovery. The manufacturer usually just advises users to backup data when setting up a RAID configuration, which is not helpful for terabytes worth of data.

A software-based drive pool is not as fast to run and is not a plug-an-play solution, compared to a typical hardware RAID configuration, but it is more resilient against enclosure failures because a failed enclosure just houses separate drives and in most cases can be replaced with another one, even from a different manufacturer, and the software drive pool will continue working as if nothing happened.

Storage tale

When I just started taking digital pictures, I thought a 320GB hard drive coupled with an occasional backup will last me for years, which worked quite well for the first 5-10 MP digital cameras I owned, but as soon as I upgraded to an 18 MP DSLR and started shooting RAW images at a high frame rate, I quickly realized that I need to find a better storage solution.

Just as many others, I first set my eyes on a hardware RAID device and bought the Addonics RTM435R5 four-bay enclosure. I set it up as a RAID1 mirror with four 2TB drives, which gave me 4TB of mirrored storage for me and my family. I honestly thought that this is the last time I bought storage, but once again things didn't quite work out as well as I hoped.

MSN Messenger crashes on Windows 7 x64

A couple of weeks ago MSN Messenger started to crash on start-up on my Windows 7 x64 box. The message indicated an invalid memory access violation in WLDcore.dll. After a bit of searching on the Internet, I found a couple of pages that pointed to this registry value being the problem (the number at the end will be your passport ID):

Printing from a 32-bit IIS process on 64-bit Windows

Last week I came across a very strange problem with Windows printing - an attempt to create a printer device context through CreateDC within a 32-bit IIS worker process would fail and return NULL, but GetLastError would indicate that there was no error and there was nothing in the system or application event log to help me identify the problem.

Naturally, my first thought was that the IIS anonymous user is missing some access rights and I spent some time double-checking various permissions and privileges, but found nothing that would be relevant in this case. Suspecting that the problem lies elsewhere, I added the anonymous user to the Administrators group, which actually made things worse. Now not only CreateDC would still return NULL, but it would actually take about a minute for this call to fail!

How much worse can tech support get? Apparently, a lot...

I remember the times when ISPĀ support personnel knew the mechanics of mail transfer. It seems, however, that these times are gone forever - every time I call Bell Sympatico Support, I have to spend more and more time explaining what went wrong and most of the time end up working around problems on my end.

About a couple of weeks ago I started having problems with mail messages sent in non-Latin encodings - all non-Latin characters would be replaced with question marks. At first, I suspected Outlook Express, which hasn't been updated for a while and now is discontinued by Microsoft, but trying different mail clients indicated that the problem was with the Bell's POP3 server.

IE8 - is there a hope for a better browser?

Internet Explorer v7 is probably the worst software title ever released by Microsoft, sporting poorly designed UI, various web standards followed inconsistently, lack of innovation and absence of any built-in developers tools. In hope that Microsoft learned from their IE7 mistakes, I downloaded IE8 beta and gave it a try. Let's have a look.

Mixing up 32-bit and 64-bit code

Back in the days of Windows 3.11, Microsoft provided a special layer that made it possible for 16-bit and 32-bit code to interact with each other.The technique used for such interface is called thunking, which allowed both sides to be blissfully unaware that they are not quite compatible.