First, some linkblogging…

And then the “fun” started.

  • Me: I’m going to focus on project X today!
    Computer needed for project X: I’m going to lock up today!
    Me: Argh!
  • Someone thought it would be a good idea to cover “Wonderful Christmastime?” 😯 (For the record: Shazam says it was Hilary Duff.)
  • OK, after 3½ hours stuck at 74%, I think I can assume chkdsk is stalled. *grumble*
  • Ate some blackberries I’d forgotten about from a week ago. Good news: I only threw out 1! Bad news: I should’ve thrown out 2. Blech!
  • Chkdsk round 3 is at 55% on Stage 5 of 5. Going to call it a night & hope my PC runs tomorrow. (According to Facebook, this posted at 5:55pm!)

Computer update: Disk check finished overnight, seems OK. Ran a backup just in case, but got some work done on that project!

  • Installed IE8 RC1. Installer crashed, and I ended up with IE7…even though I’d been running the IE8 beta before.
  • IE8 installer crashes system. New HW checks out. Bad RAM may have screwed something up before I replaced it. Time for System Restore. *grr*
  • Wow, System Restore is taking a lot longer this time. Maybe it’s actually working? (Or maybe safe mode just makes it slower?)
  • I can’t remember how many times I’ve rebooted this computer today. (And no, safe mode didn’t solve it)
  • Finally got IE8 RC1 installed by telling it not to install updates immediately. The Malicious Software Scan was crashing the system. WTF?
  • Now that I’ve FINALLY got IE8 RC1 running, a cursory check of websites I maintain shows no glaring problems. *whew!*

  • Running system restore on my Windows box at work. Just how I wanted to spend Monday morning.
  • Dear HaloScan users: Please do not use the Javascript-only pop-up for your comments links. I can’t open that in a new tab.
  • Grr. Dialog boxes should not pop up while typing. I hate accidentally saying OK or Cancel. Who runs only one app at a time these days?
  • Just got buzzed by a bird on the way to the car.
  • I don’t know why yesterday’s Real Life is so funny.

The IEBlog recently posted about their efforts to improve reliability in Internet Explorer 8, particularly the idea of “loosely-coupled IE” (or LCIE). The short explanation is that each tab runs in its own process, so if a web page causes the browser to crash, only that tab crashes — not the whole thing. (It is a bit more complicated, but that’s the principle.) Combine that with session recovery (load with the same set of web pages, if possible with the form data you hadn’t quite finished typing in), and you massively reduce the pain of browser crashes.

I’d like to see something like this picked up by Firefox and Opera as well. They both have crash recovery already, but it still means restoring the entire session. If you have 20 tabs open, it’s great that you don’t have to hunt them down again. But it also means you have to wait for 20 pages to load simultaneously. It would be much nicer to only have to wait for one (or, if I read the IE8 article correctly, three).

Edited to add:

On a related note, I’ve run into an interesting conflict between crash recovery and WordPress’ auto-save feature. If you start a new post, WordPress will automatically save it as a draft. If the browser crashes, it will bring up the new-post page, but restore most of the form data you filled in. So the title, the text of your post, etc will all be there. But WordPress will see it as a new post, and you’ll end up with a duplicate.

This wasn’t a major problem when I encountered it — I had to reset the categories, tags, and post slug after I hit publish (since I hadn’t noticed that they’d been reset to defaults), and I just deleted the older, partial version of the post — but I can imagine if I’d uploaded an image gallery, I would have been rather annoyed, since there’s no way (that I’ve noticed) to move images from one post to another. Reuse them, sure, but not such that the gallery feature would work.

I got into work this morning to find my desk’s keyboard and KVM switch non-responsive. The only way to reset the switch was to turn it off and back on, which meant disconnecting all the keyboard and mouse cables. (A KVM switch doesn’t need much power, so many of them just draw power from the computer, the same way an actual keyboard or mouse would.) It switched immediately to the Linux box, which was happily displaying its screen saver, so I switched back to the Windows box where it had been… and it got stuck again.

OK, so the Windows box had crashed. It’s been doing that lately, though usually I actually get a blue screen with the dreaded IRQL_NOT_LESS_THAN_OR_EQUAL, which could mean anything from a driver conflict to failing hardware. I haven’t taken the time to track it down, but maybe I should. I rebooted the Windows box, which seems fine for the moment, though there’s no sign of the crash—or even my forced reboot—in the system log.

Then I switched over to the Linux box, and the mouse wasn’t responding. When the mouse gets messed up, sometimes it’s enough to switch out of X into text mode and back. No luck. Sometimes closing X entirely and starting it again is enough. Not this time. I actually had to reboot the Linux box to get my mouse back. That really annoyed me.

So here are three things that went wrong.

  1. The Windows box crashed. This is probably a driver or hardware problem.
  2. The KVM switch got stuck. This should not be possible. Even if it’s getting confusing signals from one set of ports, it should be able to switch to another port.
  3. The Linux box (Fedora Core 4) could not recover from having the mouse unplugged for 10 seconds. There should be an easy way to tell it to check for the mouse again.

It’s #2 and #3 that bug me the most. Maybe it’s the man-bites-dog effect (I expect Windows to crash and/or require frequent reboots, so it’s more annoying when Linux does it), or maybe it’s just the fact that they’re simple error-recovery issues. I mean, seriously, unplugging the mouse for a few seconds makes it unusable?

Update: I forgot to check the second Windows box on the switch. It also had stopped responding to the mouse even after I reset the KVM switch. I’m beginning to think that problem #3 was in the switch itself, not the Linux mouse driver, since the non-crashed Windows box had the exact same problem.