Saturday, January 20, 2007

Excel doesn't even give me the option of running Macros

I have several Excel spreadsheets that I use regularly that have macros, one of which is a time tracking sheet that automatically downloads and uploads job and client codes based on P.O. information stored on our private server.

Anyway, these normally open fine, with a warning dialog about macros and their inherent security risk, giving you two buttons to let you choose to enable or disable macros for that session. No problem, since I'm familar with the documents, and know they are safe, I always choose to enable macros.

Oddly about once every other month it shows a different dialog saying macros need to be enabled to use this feature, and it doesn't even give me the option of enabling them.

Here's the solution if you wish to open an Excel spreadsheet with macros enabled, and you aren't being allowed to:
To solve this delima, you can go into Excel under Tools -> Macro -> Security and set the setting to Low.

What I couldn't understand was why this setting kept changing. It apearred to me that everytime I install a Microsoft Office update, it seems to change that setting to a higher level. So don't be surprised if you have to change that again after installing an update from Microsoft.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Debugging my latest Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)

Turns out a service called crypserv.exe was causing my laptop to blue screen. Read below for more info.

My laptop started randomly blue screening. Nothing too unusual for a Windows machine, but as I try to keep my XP laptop for development very clean, it was actually the first BSOD I had seen on this machine that I've been using for over a year now.

Ok, so I knew something in my config. had changed. So I had to think of what I installed recently. I was trying to work with a large source code dump I had gotten as a 3gig tarball. The first thing I needed to do was make some space on my horribly inadequate 40GB hard drive. For some reason Windows Explorer doesn't have the simple ability to list or sort by folder sizes in the Detail View mode. In order to see which folders were taking up a lot of space to know which ones to delete I installed an application called ViewFolderSize Pro. Now I did a search for utilities that would calculate the folder sizes and display them in the File Explorer. I found about three, and ViewFolderSize Pro appeared to be pretty polished and got some good recommendations, so I downloaded it and installed it. It had a timed trial period (30 days I think) after which they wanted you to purchase the software. Apparently they used crypserv.exe as a way of enforcing their licensing.

No blue screens yet and the product basically worked as advertised. It was very slow, apparently made a cache file that it didn't tell me where it stored it, and sorting seemed a bit random. After using the product to find a couple large directories I decided to uninstall it mostly due to concerns about it slowing down my machine, and an uneasiness in how stable the software was based on some of its shortcomings. Apparently the uninstaller didn't remove the crypserv.exe service.

Once I rebooted after the uninstall, the laptop could not function for 10 minutes without BSODing if simply left alone. Oddly I noticed that if I kept the laptop active, it would take much longer to BSOD. I also noticed the CPU fan came on about 2 seconds before BSODing meaning of course, some process was pegging the CPU at 100% just before the BSOD. Ok, so my theory was that some process was running away with the CPU and causing a memory exception. So after rebooting another time, I launched the Task manager, told it to sort by CPU, then I sat there staring at it. After a few minutes a process jumped up to using 99% of the CPU. It was crypserv.exe. In less than two seconds, the laptop BSODed.

Ok, great, I found my culprit. I rebooted, disabled the service in the services control panel, and then removed the crypserv.exe file from my hard drive. Rebooted once more to make sure the crypserv.exe didn't reappear, which it did not, and I've been blue screen free ever since.