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volume 6 number 5 may 2001 TipSheet

Welcome to the May issue of MicroMetric's TipSheet.

This monthly newsletter is targeted at addressing the needs of our customers.

This month we'll continue a series of tips aimed at Troubleshooting.


A reader asks, All too often I get an error message saying, "This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down," after which the program I'm using closes. How can I prevent this?

There is no way to completely free yourself of "illegal operation" messages, but if you're getting a lot of them, you need to figure out what's causing the problem and what you can do to fix it.

If it's always the same program that goes down, it's probably a bug in that program--especially if it always goes down under similar circumstances. Next time it happens, click the error message's Details button. You'll get something like "EXCEL caused an invalid page fault in module FM20.DLL at 0137:60007585"--not very useful information for most of us.

But if the vendor knows about the bug, those unfriendly numbers will help you figure it out. Visit the vendor's Web site and search for the words "illegal operation" or the numbers from the Details box. With some luck, you'll be able to locate a patch or a workaround.

If you're getting "illegal operation" messages from a number of programs, or if you can't fix the problem through the vendor's Web site, a driver may be at fault. Printer and video drivers often cause illegal operations in other programs. In the case of printer drivers, you need not even be printing for the problem to occur.

Updating the driver may do the trick. Or you can try going the opposite route and use a more generic driver. For instance, most laser printers will work with an HP LaserJet Series II or LaserJet III driver. These have been around for a long time, and all the kinks are pretty much ironed out. Video drivers are more iffy. You could use VGA, but you're limited to 640 by 480 resolution. Even SuperVGA may dock you with that limitation. Sometimes there's a driver for a specific chip, like the S3, but in that case, you have to know what chip drives your video card.


Trouble: When you shut down Windows, the system often hangs, leaving you with a blank screen and a flashing cursor.

Fix: Flashing cursors--sounds like another migraine attack. Thankfully, this isn't. The perpetrator is Microsoft's Fast Shutdown feature. Usually when you shut down your computer, Windows removes device drivers from memory. Windows 98 unceremoniously closes Fast Shutdown device drivers, and the more abrupt shutdown causes many applications to crash.

Disabling Fast Shutdown is easy: Select Start, Run, type Msconfig, and press Enter. Then select the Advanced button. Check Disable Fast Shutdown. Good news: If you use Windows 95 or 98 SE, you're exempt from this fast shutdown problem.


Trouble: Windows calmly tells you 'Msgsrv32 caused an invalid page fault in module Kernel32.dll'. "What the hell does that mean?" you ask, grabbing a hammer.

Fix: Though it may appear capricious, Windows doesn't flash error messages willy-nilly. Unfortunately, the messages aren't explicit. So you need to note everything--and I mean everything, including changes or anything new--on your PC to diagnose the problem. Then visit the Knowledge Base page on Microsoft's Web site and see what it has to say about the error. I learned that the 'Msgsrv32' error might be caused by one of two events, depending on what's happened to your system.

If Windows recently crashed or your PC locked up, it's likely that your password list is corrupt. From the Windows desktop, press F3 and then type *.pwl into the 'Named' field and c:\windows into the 'Look in' field. In the list of found files, delete each file ending in .pwl (there may be more than one). Windows will re-create the files the next time you boot up.

On the other hand, if you're using Windows 95 and just recently installed a Plug & Play device, you may need a more current device driver. My buddy Kirk might suggest removing the device and fiddling with the Device Manager; I'd visit the hardware vendor's Web site, go to its support page, and look for an updated driver.

Copyright 2001, MicroMetric, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Permission to copy in total, with this statement and copyright, is hereby granted.

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