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  1. #1
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    Default Windows FAIL tale (one of millions no doubt)

    <rant=reality>Followup to my remote observatory PC crash caused solely by Microsoft's blithering carelessness.

    Because MS's neckbeards couldn't be bothered to put down their company-paid espressos long enough to actually glance at their work monitors even by accident, yesterday I: drove 100 miles in snowy weather, the last 3 miles of road requiring 30 minutes' inching along in a Subaru, then abandoning the car to hike with gear up the steep, high-altitude loma > 1/2 mile through calf-deep snow, taking an hour across open country, all to open the observatory to push one button to reboot Windows.

    Yes, Windows Update had yet again frozen my laptop, blocking external boots because it decided first that I had a bad disk sector (on a SSD!) then hey just kidding the SSD was perfectly OK after all, but losing all record of any Updates ever having been done on this 4 year old Windows install. I went through 3 cycles of Update and boot, and it seemed to be itself again. Closed up the observatory and luggged stuff back down the loma through snow, 2 hours' driving back home.

    The kids at Microsoft apparently don't get that their software-fail workflows have real-world consequences, that Snapchat and Fortnite aren't the whole real world.

    Through the snow I stopped to check my pulse before continuing, every 16 counted steps, the whole distance, both ways. Somehow didn't fancy dropping of a heart attack as a final sacrifice due Microsoft. But then I realized: then at least I wouldn't have to boot up Windows ever again! That thought encouraged me to continue on. Enjoy your free espressos, kids!

    Have halted my astro rig upgrades. Going back to music instead looking better and better, rarely requiring dragging gear up hills alone through snow. Best of all: they've standardized on Apple.
    New Mexico Mira Project, Albuquerque NM

  2. #2
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    Default

    A week later, to the hour, and the very next Windows Update has also completely borked my observatory laptop--it can't be reached via RAdmin or TeamViewer. Now I'm faced with another lost day and trekking through snow, or with just giving up.

    I think I'm giving up. Bob, it's was fun once, and I wish you well, but unless something changes I don't think I'm going to do this any more.

    Microsoft has decided to end my 10 years of photometry. It's just not productive any more, and it's sure not fun. At all.

    --Eric Dose

  3. #3
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    Default

    Eric,

    I know it's maddening. Somehow I've managed to avoid (so far) the problems you are having. Is (another?) new computer the answer for you? Can you go back to Win7?

    Please, you CAN'T give up. The astronomy community needs you. This forum needs you. Who will be the Python mentor for the next generation? (Your favorite subject?!) Who will tell us all how to get around these Windows problems? We need the Ganesha in you for all of us as the god of wisdom, success and good luck.

    I'll certainly miss your wit and your vast expertise if you decide to go. I'm hoping you won't.
    Dick
    www.VirgilObservatory.us
    Pier-mounted Meade 12-inch SCT "classic"
    w. focal reducer to f/5.3 ~ FL 1630mm
    Optec TCF-S focuser
    SBIG CFW-8A and ST7-XME
    FOV ~ 15' x 10'
    H-alpha, BVRI, RGB & Clear filters
    MaxIm and, of course, ACP!
    AAVSO Code: BRIC

  4. #4
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    The laptop is on Win 7 Pro. It took > 400 exposures the previous night without a single error. It was (yet again) the next morning's Windows Update that trashed my remote laptop that has worked for 4 years. Nothing has changed except Microsoft's new corporate policy of intentional hostility and blithering cluelessness.

    None of this matters. Microsoft went right into my PC and trashed it--again. It seems I have been betrayed by a company I've done personal business with for 33 years. And my only response to betrayal is excommunication from my life in the absolute.

    First, and much as one might treat other life-changing betrayals, I will give this a bit of time. Sometimes, something clever arises out of peripheral vision. But if by the end of January nothing has changed, with all respect Dick, I certainly can and will give up on astronomy, sell the stuff, and never really even remember it.

    --Eric

  5. #5
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    ...aaaaand yes here we are. The tongue-studded losers in Redmond confess:

    https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/new...ense-problems/
    New Mexico Mira Project, Albuquerque NM

  6. #6
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    Probably found the root of Microsoft's error today. After (another) trek through snow to manually reboot (again) my newly crashed (again) obs laptop, I found that yes, it AGAIN was Windows Update that had failed. Period. Failed. No internet communication, no response to keyboard or mouse, no error message on the screen, nothing. AGAIN.

    After a few power-cycle restarts and after deleting the apparently corrupted /Windows/SoftwareDistribution directory (a minor Windows lobotomy to get Update to stop throwing exceptions), I did get the system stable.

    Then I immediately created a Windows Restore Point to safekeep this newly stable configuration...and Windows immediately threw more fatal exceptions. It absolutely refused to create a Restore point. But then I saw it: Windows had failed to remove the old C: hard drive from the Restore Point drive list when I installed the new SSD. Windows had correctly removed the old drive from Disk Management, from Windows Explorer, from Drive Properties, from Recycle Bin, etc etc etc, but it forgot to update the Restore Point list, which actually listed two C: drives. Unbelievable (were it not Microsoft). I figured out how to remove the old drive from the list, and bingo, it then would create the Restore Point. Windows Update seemed to work too.

    Here was the problem: Windows 7 Pro creates a Restore Point before it installs Windows Updates but apparently without consistency checks, so if Restore Point fails, the whole Update process just stops--and with no notifications at all of what's going on or what you're supposed to do. It just bricks up and cuts off all communication, and you are supposed to magically figure it out. But then maybe it's too harsh to expect Microsoft Corporate QA to do their only job, what with the poor dears' higher priorities like cell phones, nose rings, and free company lattes.

    My snow gear is hanging to dry now, and ACP's running again tonight. My astro software was never the problem (thanks, Bob!). I'm more optimistic after today's fix, so I'll stick with this plan: I'll try to run 4 consecutive weeks (expected Update cycles) without Windows sabotaging my laptop. If everything works, all's well and I upgrade my gear. If not, this is not sustainable and I sell it all.
    New Mexico Mira Project, Albuquerque NM

  7. #7
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    Hi Eric,

    Good for you for figuring this out (or am I jinxing you now by saying so?)!!

    When I have a problem of similar difficulty, I often have trouble sleeping, and I will sometimes wake up unplanned very early in the morning, to run through all the alternatives for fixing the problem, as if I even knew what they were. Should I reboot this... Should I uninstall that... What if I try to do this... That's a pretty fruitless effort that only serves to rob me of sleep.

    I'm glad you were able to get past this roadblock, or so it would seem. Do you think that this Restore Point List is a problem for Windows 10 users? That's a kind of question there's probably no certain answer to, but I have also installed an SSD drive on my W10 observatory computer. I haven't noticed any issues with updates, though I try to put them off as long as possible.

    Where is the Restore Point List located?

    Good luck going forward.
    Dick
    www.VirgilObservatory.us
    Pier-mounted Meade 12-inch SCT "classic"
    w. focal reducer to f/5.3 ~ FL 1630mm
    Optec TCF-S focuser
    SBIG CFW-8A and ST7-XME
    FOV ~ 15' x 10'
    H-alpha, BVRI, RGB & Clear filters
    MaxIm and, of course, ACP!
    AAVSO Code: BRIC

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the good words, Dick.

    Restore Point logic strikes me as something that might have been ported wholesale from Win 7 to Win 10 (whereas Windows Update clearly changed). I found that drive list for Win 7 Pro's System Restore Point--which list appears to be maintained quite separately from the rest of Windows--via: System Properties > System Protection tab > Protection Settings section > Available Drives table. I think I highlighted the rogue entry (2nd C: drive line in the table) then clicked the Configure... button to bring up yet another window which allowed me to remove the old drive from the list. I think that any time that ANY user sets up a new boot drive (e.g., transferring to a SSD), they'll have to check Restore Point explicitly. Else risk following my doomed obs laptop into the Abandon Hope end of that Dante poem.

    The good news is that, having flushed this Microsoft drool from my system, I just got my first 100-target night for AAVSO. OK then, for the moment: onward.
    New Mexico Mira Project, Albuquerque NM

  9. #9
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    Eric,

    I found the corresponding configuration windows by searching the Settings for "system protection", which pointed to "Create a restore point." When you select that, what you get is the upper half of the figure below, which for me clearly shows a missing C: drive. How about that! And it was "on" no less, waiting for a system restore someday in the future. (What happened to the ones in the past?? I guess they're gone with the wind, rather than having been cloned.)

    Clicking on the Configure button brings up the Restore Settings window (lower half). When I selected Disable system protection and applied that change, the missing C drive disappeared.

    I guess I should turn on the System Restore function for the real C drive now.

    sysprot002.png

    Thanks for carrying this discussion out to the bitter end.
    Last edited by Dick Berg; Jan 26, 2019 at 21:05. Reason: This is in Windows 10
    Dick
    www.VirgilObservatory.us
    Pier-mounted Meade 12-inch SCT "classic"
    w. focal reducer to f/5.3 ~ FL 1630mm
    Optec TCF-S focuser
    SBIG CFW-8A and ST7-XME
    FOV ~ 15' x 10'
    H-alpha, BVRI, RGB & Clear filters
    MaxIm and, of course, ACP!
    AAVSO Code: BRIC

  10. #10
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    Yes, wow Dick, it appears strongly that Windows had laid the very same trap for your system that had snared my remote laptop. Thanks for posting in detail what to do--it seems just right.

    I expect (without knowing for certain) that this was a one-time problem caused by Windows System Protection losing its mind when the boot drive is replaced. Since SSDs as replacement boot drives surely count into the tens of millions per year, MS *might* want to consider fixing this in a new update, or at least providing a check script to run when installing a SSD boot drive since that's so common--and will get more so.

    In any case, I expect that our own 2 systems are now past this trap. I'll be checking my other 4 Windows systems next. I do like Restore Points very much, so I've turned my remote laptop's System Protection back on. There's a lot to be said for having a "Demonstrated Stable 20190124" configuration/restore point to go back to, should I get a bad feeling about some future change or installation. Others' mileage may vary.
    Last edited by Eric Dose; Jan 26, 2019 at 17:08.
    New Mexico Mira Project, Albuquerque NM

 

 

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