Monday, January 14, 2008

Windows Photo Gallery would not open a file on the desktop

Situation: I often use the desktop for temporary storage of images or documents I am going to throw away after a very short while. When I tried to open a JPG image on the desktop by doulbe-clicking it, there was no reaction however. Standard program for viewing images is the Vista native "Windows Photo Gallery."

Problem analysis:
  • Doubleclicking the image or rightclicking, selecting preview or open with - Windows Photo Gallery all produces the same result: Nothing
  • Doing the same on another file residing in any other folder works perfectly.
  • Moving the image file in question to any other folder makes it open like a dream. Moving it back restores the problem.
  • Rightclicking and selecting open with - also works.
  • Rightclicking and selecting open with - choose default program makes the file open in the other program you choose upon doubleclick or richtclick - preview.
Problem identification: Windows Photo Gallery has a problem opening image files residing on the desktop.

Clue: On a web forum I found a clue that it might be due to another file on the desktop being corrupt. He suggested moving all files except the image file(s) on the desktop to a folder on the desktop. Having done that, IT WORKED AGAIN! I had moved away a couple of PDFs and two internet shortcuts, that did the trick. By moving one and one file back, I was able to identify one of the internet shortcuts as being my problem:

Solution: An internet shortcut containing a very long URL (a direct pointer to an online shipment tracker) was a showstopper. Removing this shortcut from the desktop did the trick.

I figure it must be some kind of a buffer overflow issue or something.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Web browsing stops working; ping, skype, nslookup etc. still fine

I believe I have got another Vista hate item on my list: Every now and then, particularly after some time of heavy browsing, the web browser suddenly stops working. Ping, nslookup and Skype still works, but neither Firefox, Internet Explorer, Thunderbird or FTP (from CMD) work any longer.

Investigation: A net trace using Ethereal Wireshark reveals that using IE or Firefox, no packets are ever leaving the browsers when I try to make a request for a web page. Obviously, there's something wrong in the internal OS parts that prevent packets from ever being created. OS parts because the problem applies to both IE, Firefox, Thunderbird and FTP (and more?) - OS is what they all have in common.

Possible solution: There's a lot of rubbish advice out there on different forums and blogs that advice to reset routers, disabling firewalls etc., which does not address the problem at hand. My best clue yet is Microsoft KB937168, which describes a problem pertaining to those with ICS (internet connection sharing) enabled. I happen to have just that.

Microsoft has a rigorous process for downloading the needed update, however The Hotfix Share seems to provide what is needed (if you can afford the risk of downloading from another site than Microsoft itself).

I will update this post when I have some certainty as to whether the problem is really solved - i.e. after hours of successful browsing without any hickups.

UPDATE 14.1.08: Problem is still gone - I am terminating this as an "under research" topic, assuming that the solution is found.