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Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Data Center and Infrastructure

Windows XP SP3's aches, pains and user complaints

Even though my SP3 update went well, maybe yours didn't. So far, I've heard from about a dozen readers experiencing problem installations. This week, I share a few complaints and show you a fix for one of the most common errors.

Fix for Debug Version Issue

A couple weeks back, Senior Editor Denny Arar posted 'Windows XP SP3 Available for Download' and she supplied a link to the download--problem was, she pointed to a version for developers ('This installation package is intended for IT professionals and developers downloading to a machine intending to debug or develop software on Windows XP Service Pack 3') and some users encountered an error.

The installation error that some folks saw--'Service Pack 3 Setup cannot update a checked (debug) system with a free (retail) version of Service Pack 3, or vice versa'--is complete gibberish, of course. But lucky for us, Microsoft supplied a solution:

Manually download the SP3 installation file from Microsoft's Download Center. Note: This link is also appropriate for home users. Please save the file to C: (The root directory of partition C). Install SP3 in Safe Mode. To do this, we can avoid third-party programs conflict and make sure the installation can be performed completely. Restart the computer and keep pressing the F8 key until the Windows Startup menu appears. Choose Safe Mode, and press Enter. Double-click the downloaded file 'WindowsXP-KB936929-SP3-x86-ENU.exe' on 'C:' to install Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) in Safe Mode. Note: In Safe Mode, your system display and Desktop will look and perform differently than in Normal Mode. This is only temporary. To return the system back to Normal Mode, restart the computer.

Stop, Stop, Said SP3

Don G. wrote me with his tale of woe: 'I restarted and the screen went all blue with the following message: 'stop:c0000139 (entry point not found) can't find Gdi32.dll'--etc., etc. I tried everything to get XP Pro to start--getting into the Bios or safe mode, or anything else--to no avail. F8, F9, and any other 'F' I could think of and none worked. I Just kept getting the same screen and message over and over again.'

Don found details and a partial solution on Microsoft's TechNet forums; read 'Windows XP will not start after SP3 install' for details. Unfortunately, it cost Don US$94 to have a local tech support guy use the info to fix his PC.

There's a wealth of SP3 incident reports, along with solutions for many of them, on TechNet. You can also read the threads about SP3 hassles in 'Windows XP SP3 Sows Havoc, Users Complain' and 'XP SP3 Cripples Some PCs With Endless Reboots.'

Safe SP3 Solutions

Jesper Johansson has a good write-up for dealing with SP3 problems, and PC Hell talks about resolving the continuous rebooting problem. Microsoft's euphemistic 'change in functionality' Knowledgebase article has a short list of programs that may not, uh, work so well after installing SP3; it includes ATI's Catalyst and NeatReceipts. Oddly enough, I had no trouble installing or using NeatReceipts. I'm sure the list will grow as more people complain.

Time Wasters

Here's a batch of time killers.

Visual DNA is a fun projective test. Just answer each question by clicking on the picture that fits. When you're done, you'll get a report about your personality. [Thanks, Judy.]

Here's a video of a little white-knuckle stroll. It's worth watching to the end--if you can stand it. Some of the things you might wonder: Did he balance himself on those girders or was he holding onto something? How did he manage to walk with one eye looking through the camera, keep the camera steady, and not get dizzy?

FYI: Originally built in 1901, this walkway now serves as an approach to El Makinodromo, a famous climbing spot in the El Chorro gorge in Andalucia, Spain. There's more on the Wiki.

You've probably seen the National Geographic documentary explaining what drugs do to spiders, especially the impact on web building. Here's even more in-depth info that'll open your eyes. Watch it to the very end.

The 'Guitar never seemed so hard' video is some amazing guitar playing. Andy McKee doesn't use what we think of as standard playing--instead, his hands move around the strut to create delicious sounds. [Thanks again, Kelly J.]

If you're unhappy with the size or weight of your notebook, check out Charles Babbage's Difference Engine.

Steve Bass writes PC World's monthly 'Hassle-Free PC' column and is the author of 'PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer,' available from O'Reilly. He also writes PC World's daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve's newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.