Follow-up to svchost.exe problem

After fixing my Windows XP OS using the patches mentioned in Technibble and chronicled in my last blog, things were working out fine until yesterday morning, i.e. hardly 24 hours had passed than the problem reappeared. I continued trying to reinstall the patches but the situation still prevailed.

Desperate to the point of just throwing out the laptop, I went back to the Technibble and followed the comments on the page. One comment stuck out. The user had followed the complete process of installing the patches and had rebooted the system. However the system slowdown persisted. The Technibble author had replied back and asked the user to switch off the automatic updates in the control panel.

Now, when I got to the control panel and check for the Automatic Updates link, I could not find it upfront. However when clicking the ‘switch to classic view’ link on the left hand side menu, you get most of the COntrol Panel features upfront and Automatic Updates was very much around in the list. I double-clicked the same and clicked the automatic updates OFF option. Rebooted the system and everything is fine.

Special thanks to Bryce Whitty for this really good article on Technibble. It really saved me lot of trouble.

Point by point process

  1. Got to Start>Settings>Control Panel
  2. Control Panel appears in the Windows XP default format
  3. Click on ‘Switch to classic view’ on the left hand side side-menu list
  4. Double-click Automatic Updates from the list
  5. Select the Automatic Updates OFF option
  6. Reboot the system and you are all set

Fixing virtual memory problems

My laptop and me are recovering from the virtual memory syndrome that very nearly drew me mad and nearly had my laptop end up in the bin. Ever since I got my new net connection (Tata Photon Plus – 950 unlimited) version) I had my head in my hands trying to understand what the hell was slowing down my machine. From the task manager I came to know that firefox was taking up a lot of virtual memory but that was standard. What the hell was happening?  I also kept getting the low virtual memory messages.

I had removed many of the start up processes bundled with my Acer laptop, and the damn machine still virtually hanged there leaving me no room to check the net for what was going wrong here. Exploring the problem in office yielded various solutions such as enhancing the RAM (my 5 year old laptop runs on 256MB RAM though that’s not a justification for really going down to some prehistoric lumbering dinosaurical speed), cutting down various start-up applications (which I did)… these were just a few of the suggestions that I explored and ended up restarting my system as much I kick-started my bike at every damn signal in Bangalore.

Baffled with the same result after undertaking every suggestion to escape from the virtual memory problem, I managed to scribbled a few more keywords on Google and ended up exploring more virtual memory issues, memorizing them faster than my system could boot, and stumbled on the svchost.exe memory leak bug.

Now, this issue seems to be a common enough problem for Technibble to dedicate a full page to it. Technibble is a site that offers comprehensive solutions to your comp problems and from my experience that I am chronicling here I would vouch for the info provided. It particularly affects the Windows XP OS (the same ran on my laptop). The svchost.exe, while an important file, has some bug problem that results in memory leaks (i.e. it takes up a lot of the CPU virtual memory space). Microsoft introduced a patch but it still needed to be debugged by some freeware files available. I followed the processes described in the solution list provided on their page, downloaded the executable files and ran them in safe mode on my system.

The following is quoted verbatim from the Technibble page, titled ‘How to Fix svchost.exe using 100% CPU / Memory Leak‘ (read the whole article for a clearer idea), and is the process I followed to the T. Trust me, it worked or I would not have blogged this in real-time.

How to stop svchost.exe using up 100% system resources (Windows XP Only):

  • Visit the Microsoft website and Download Windows Update v3 WindowsUpdateAgent30-x86.exe and save it to your C:\ drive
  • Download this file fix_svchost.bat (right click and choose save as..) and save it to your C:\ drive
  • Download this file WindowsXP-KB927891.exe and save it to your C:\ drive
  • Reboot the computer and log in to Windows XP in safe mode. To do this, press F8 just before the WindowsXP logo shows up during boot and press up to choose “Safe Mode”
  • Once Windows has loaded and you have the option of which user account to use, log on as “Administrator”.
  • Click Start > Run, choose the Browse button and find the fix_svchost.bat file you saved before, press Open, then OK.
  • A black screen will pop up and white text will scroll past. Wait for this process to finish as it could take several minutes. It will close itself when its finished.
  • Once the black screen disappears, Click Start > Run, choose the Browse button and find the WindowsUpdateAgent30-x86.exe file you saved before, press Open, then OK. Follow the prompts as it installs.
  • When Windows Update Agent finishes installing, Click Start > Run, choose the Browse button and find the WindowsXP-KB927891.exe file you saved before, press Open, then OK. Follow the prompts as it installs.
  • Reboot the computer

A professional leap forward

Wipro New WebsiteA little over two months and the new Wipro website is up and running. That’s right, I just completed my largest project to-date, as a part of the team that developed the new Wipro website. As the lead content writer, it was a real challenge developing content for over 500 pages. We did it with our team of HTML developers, engineers, testers, writers and designers. The results are for all to see at www.wipro.com

So far so good, we are fine tuning the website and the feedback from around the world has been great. There will be some complaints from the conformists I am sure, but for now I am savouring the successful launch with the team.

sci fi movie low budget on time travel

I had forgotten the name of this small sci-fi film that made me believe that time travel was actually possible by gearing up a contraption in my garage with the help of an IIT genius. This morning I decided to type in the very words that mark the title of this blog on Google. Hand it to Google, the first link that appeared was for the film ‘Primer‘ developed and directed by Shane Carruth.

Primer Film
Primer Film

Armed with a degree in Mathematics and engineering experience, Carruth made Primer on a $7000 budget. Now forget about a sci-fi flick, this would not be enough to arm even a c-grade romantic comedy meant to go straight-to-video. But with Primer, Carruth has given us one of the most engrossing sci-fi, time travel movie ever without the use of any cheap special effects. It’s the thrills and the twists and turns that make the film so engrossing.

Besides writing and directing, Shane Carruth stars with David Sullivan as the duo who accidentally come up with a time travel device in their garage and the movie traces their experiences while trying to manage this device in the best way that they can for their mutual benefit. The movie is believable from the point of view that it is the ‘Blair Witch…’ of the Sci-Fi genre. There are no sound effects, no dark alleys and renegade machines trying to entrap you. It’s just the characters who go through a complex lifecycle process while trying to go back in time and benefit from what they know happened. I won’t say I understood everything in the movie the first time I watched it, but there was a palpable thrill when the developers of the machine nearly came face to face with their body doubles from the past. Instances like this, create the tension in the film adn there is a climactic sense everytime the main characters use the machine. You wait for something bad to happen till the very end and this is what keeps the viewer on tenterhooks.

This movie deservedly received a Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance film festival. Other mainstream sci-fi awards like the Saturn Sci-Fi Film Awards completely missed this cracker of a film. Checking up on Shane Carruth on Wikipedia, I noticed that he hasn’t made any movie since.  I guess the studio execs found this guys number crunching skills too complicated especially when it came to realigning the share of the box office profits and otehr profit sharing ratios, which are now decided before a movie is made. From fractals to geometrical and algebraic patterns, Carruth is one guy who can turn numbers and element symbols into a 3 hour long masterpiece on celluloid. I hope someone is listening.

Watch the trailer here.

Microsoft User Experience Community

I had been for a user experience talk at the Microsoft campus in Domlur on Saturday. Microsoft has been promoting user experience practices in India and this talk was an initiative to have a common group of professionals share ideas on online user experience.

This programme is driven by Supreet Singh, a user experience evangelist for Microsoft. My boss was also delivering a talk at this gathering and had invited us over. The session started with the CEO from Apparatus Media Labs, who gave us a presentation on the work executed by his company with special focus on their social networking projects. There were some interesting ideas in the presentation such as a social networking platform where various residential communities could register and share details on their neighbourhood. For example, mention on your community that you will be flying back home on such and such a day. If someone else from the neighbourhood is coming down on the same day, these two persons (who may not know each other) could connect and share a cab back from the airport, thus saving expense and fuel. Small things such as this and other household requirements, especially searching for domestic help in the area, could be cracked using this platform.

One good thing was that there was no talk of web 2.0. I have heard this term dragged through virtually every online seminar and talk and after studying the various facets of this term I truly believe that this term does not need to exist. As Tim Berners Lee explained in his views on Web 2.0, there is no such thing as web 2.0 and this was just a term used to showcase the people to people connection on the web. But that was always the intention of the internet. Ever since its inception, the World Wide Web has been a platform where anyone can improve the online positioning and functioning. You cannot straightjacket the web with terms based on new functions and applications. Innovation is an inherent part of the World Wide Web. Period. A lot of the guys I have heard talking about web 2.0 just didn’t make sense and only succeeded going around in circles. I don’t think anyone yet knows what exactly web 2.0 means.

The presentation by my boss was more from a design perspective with emphasis on the synergy between design and technology. Online work using various media (PPT, portals, virals) was also discussed. Overall a truly interesting evening and looking forward to more seminars like this.