Solved: The driver detected a controller error on \Device\Ide\IdePort2

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Microsoft Answers PictureMy son and I went through rather painful ordeal with this Event 11 that Windows quietly generates. It took us few weeks to fully work out why Windows suddenly started hanging, misbehaving or even crashing with blue screen. Now that I feel it is fully resolved, I thought I’d share my conclusion (and the process) – hopefully it will help few others out there who are struggling with this. Ridiculously, many people are likely affected by this issue, but unless they open Event Viewer and search for this event id 11, they will not realize that hanging is not “normal” behavior, even for Windows! OS seems to silently recover from this problem 10 to 60 seconds later, which is really strange in my book – considering that user isn’t even alerted to this serious atapi error.

For impatient souls among us, here are my conclusions:

  • First thing – check the SATA/EIDE and power cable connection between your hard-drive and the motherboard. If possible, try another SATA outlet on motherboard or another SATA cable if available.
  • If it still happens, the bad news is that this is likely a disk controller error, which is especially problematic since nowadays disk controllers are built into the Motherboard. If you are in a budget crunch, one potential workaround is to slow down your HD to use different PIO. This may avoid hangs, but will slow overall performance, so no fun solution…
  • Proper solution appears to be to replace motherboard, hence replacing disk controller. There are many motherboards starting at just $50 and in most cases it will improve overall performance and stability for you, even if you keep the same CPU and other components.

I am pretty confident that this is the right diagnosis, as we went through a lot of trial and error investigative work, in a space of few weeks, after it started abruptly. At first, I was pretty much convinced that HD is dying. The system had two hard-drives, and the older hard-drive was seemingly working just fine, even with the same SATA cable and connected to the same slot on the Motherboard. Turns out it was using slower PIO by virtue of it being older HDD. During the troubleshooting process I reinstalled fresh Windows 7 64 Bit multiple times, on various HD drives, only to see the issue start happening almost instantly after clean install. Few days ago a fresh HDD became available (separate long story), so I tried replacing the “dying” HD. Guess what, it being newer HD, it was instantly affected by the same issue, even though I put clean Windows there also. Thus it was concluded that controller was faulty, and I went shopping for a new motherboard. As an aside – DDR3 memory is Ridiculously Cheap. I was able to pick up 8 GB of Gamer grade memory for $25 (after rebate), so that is another bonus with upgrade.

We ended up replacing CPU also (time for upgrade anyhow), but all other components stayed the same. Right now I have 3 Hard-drives happily working flawlessly there, including the “dying” HD, and the rest of the computer is faster and better than ever.

Feel free to leave comments if you are still struggling with this issue, and I will try to answer. Good Luck and Happy New Year!

PS: As a bonus tip – while I was troubleshooting, I had to reinstall Windows 7 couple of times on various HD drives. Did you know you can avoid “tarnishing” your license in such scenario by Skipping product key page during Windows 7 setup? Very handy, and then you have up to 28 days to put your real key in and activate. During that period Windows is fully functional and we had used it like that for over a week while troubleshooting.

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11/11/11 And Our Binary Future

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HorseColoredJust had to post today, such a special day in history of the World. I entertained a plan to a day off, but ended up working harder than ever.

And now – it’s 11.11 pm and I am racing against the Clock to publish my First Game into the Android Marketplace on this Special Day!

Yes, the game is coming! So this post will have to wait, and WILL get updated.

UPDATE: Game is Live on Android Market!

Now, the next morning – reflecting on the freedom of the weekend. I am at the crossroad for my next project – we (as a family) have been brainstorming making another Game. Yet, I got so annoyed when my main 1tb drive crashed few weeks back, that I think I’ll make a diversion from that plan. You see, I am pretty sure that Most (albeit not alll and sometimes not latest) files were mirrored on most of my other PC hard-drives or External hard-drives. But it is such a nightmare to know what was and what wasn’t, and where it is!? I am trying Windows Live Mesh again to see if it can help me manage and mirror files around our home, but Alas, it is dead slow with big number of large files, such as video collection.

It seems that often in life we get paralyzed by inaction. As Steve Jobs would say - The Penalty for Failure is Virtually Non-Existent! So with these inspiring words I think I’ll embark on creating my own version of file management solution, but done right and taking Modern Digital Life into account!

Opinions welcome and if you do manage to point me to a solution which already works, I will probably just use it and return to our original “Next Game” plan.

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My Sandbox! (aka: Liability Fiasco)

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Mac App Store IconIt is that time again – time to decide how much credit we should allot to our users, versus how much we should “protect the user from him/her self”. Ah, the eternal dilemma – but wait, Apple to the rescue? Didn’t they pioneer the “we know what you want better than you do” model?

Actually, today’s post is a bit more technical than that simple discussion, but stick around and join the discussion, you’re sure to learn something (and contribute!)

The latest news from our (recently) beloved Apple is that (amazing) Sandbox technology is on the horizon, which will run App Store apps inside their own Sandboxes. Here are few words about sandboxing – it is basically a mechanism for computer to protect itself (and the user) from (potentially) malicious or misbehaving application that user wants to use. As security experts will tell you, there are plenty of supposedly useful applications which are just a (shameless) wrapper around virus delivery mechanism or an even simpler system that quietly looks at what you browsing to and captures user/pass you put into your (financial) website and silently sends it via the Internet to the perpetrator. After reading some interesting discussion on the subject, I decided to weigh in here.

Granted – I am as paranoid as the next guy, and you should ALWAYS know the source of Any Application you download and (even try to) run. And the issue is complex, as so far all I have seen is that users become mostly victims of increased security – how often did you call your bank because you forgot your password?! In fact, I once left a financial institution because their login procedure became 5 screens long, with pictures, symbols, pins, sentences, etc…

The punch line: if Apple Approves an App and grants it Sandbox Permissions, but later we discover that App still had Malicious Password stealer hidden deep inside? I say – We Sue Them! They performed a Paid service — developers Pay to get into App store and share cut of profit. Given that the aforementioned paid service had Primary purpose of Vetting an app for our (naive) users’ consumption, I see door wide open for Class Action. Seriously, given the size of Fiasco (millions of accounts stolen?), no 100 page License agreements we all carelessly click through will protect them.

So, Apple – for your own good – let the users free! Or better yet – Respect that they (sometimes) know what they’re doing!

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Turning Point – Steve Jobs Book Purchase

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Steve Jobs Book CoverShort post – more of a call to arms, to discuss burning point for many people today. That is, What Platform to choose to purchase this iconic Steve Jobs biography eBook. I am completely at a loss – what could have been price war between heavyweights in this category, turned into a paralyzing situation for consumers (like me) preventing our purchase completely. My interpretation is that Publisher insisted on same pricing across all platforms! What Gives?

Anyhow, let’s recap the contenders

  • Kindle – Interestingly, I don’t own any – and yet I have Tons of options for reading Kindle books (iPhone, Tablet, PC, Mac, etc) and already own many books on the platform. This is truly an achievement, which I applaud Amazon for!
  • Nook – I really have nothing against them, but I have virtually no prior books on the platform and no dedicated eInk reader. Still, their readers looking better all the time and they caught up to Amazon with Nook software reader being available on most platforms. Good job, B&N!
  • Kobo – Once partner of failed Borders, is an independent maker of eInk devices and the software platform. They are also present on many platforms and ironically I do own that eInk reader I picked up at Borders closeout. We use it once in a while, but who knows about long term prospects?

Not in the running:

  • iBooks – Apple insists on closed platform ways – show me Android iBooks reader? Or how about PC reader? And not even corporate discount Winking smile Nope, no go…
  • Google Books – Serious contender and I am glad to see they have the book available. Brand is strong with this one, but I just don’t know if this is another “Google experiment” with books, or are they in it for the long haul? Plus, no native clients on laptops detracts from reading experience a bit – although Web reader is mighty enticing. In fact, I almost forgot about this option…
  • Microsoft eReader – Um, anyone remembers this one exists? Exactly…
  • Adobe Digital Editions – I don’t even know if any store uses this… In fact, Adobe themselves didn’t post this free eReader on their Download page – seriously?!?!

So, chime in – help me decide. Weigh in your Pros and Cons and tell me where you got this book, and why! And yea, I am so crippled with this decision that I walked into retail store to buy Real hardcover. But then I got sticker-shock – where B&N employee politely explained to me that their pricing is completely different from their own Web pricing and That’s that.

Seriously – we have industry behemoths trying to set platform trends for ages to come, where should we vote with our cash – and WHY ON EARTH would publisher insist on fixed pricing!!?! I am certain everyone would be selling this one At A Loss at this ciritcal platforms’ junction, given a chance.

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Annual eBay Bashing – or Mini How-To for Large Software Base

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eBay LogoI fondly call my wife lately Commodity Investor, as she loves to scout out best deals on eBay. In fact, I would easily bet that we are in their top 10% of customers list, and let’s just leave it at that. So why is it that they allow themselves to continuously upset us?

Granted, some of the occurrences are not their fault – try as they might, bad sellers are still abound there. I understand that it is really hard to figure out who is lying, the buyer with years of track records of purchases, or seller who joined few weeks ago and got no solid feedbacks yet.

But this post is not about that, it is instead all about things that are Completely within eBay Inc’s control, or at least they ought to be. Here are just two of more Fun bugs for this week, that are live on their Production site:

  • My eBay – Whoever asked them to do Ajax on the items list, the developers must have looked back and said Huh, is that like “Food” item? They are completely clueless how to implement it properly, paging is just awful, printing completely broken, going to see item and coming back is broken.
  • eBay Search – This is funny, because clearly this is a different team and implemented “list” technology completely differently. They have complete reverse of the above bug – if you do navigate to second page, but then switch category, your new category list starts with Second page!!!

Seriously, we aren’t even trying to discuss how far the website look & feel is from anything resembling modern web. Instead, we are talking basic functionality here, leading to people being unable to view properly the Items people paying Money to display and sell. The sad part? I am sure they employ a small army of developers and testers.

In fact, I am here to say that the bigger the team gets – the harder it is to maintain consistency or quality. So what can we learn here? Here are some constructive tips for our brethren at eBay IT :

  • Hire a Small group of HIGH Quality developers (yea, expensive ones) to develop and design core Infrastructure for the site, Including UI Components and their “glue platform”.
  • Once that core platform is ready, unleash the rest of your developers to customize, reuse, enhance and repurpose it across all eBay Inc properties. Yes, that does mean that My eBay and eBay Stores and other eBay Lists will share the same components – that’s a Good Thing!
  • Create a LOT of automated tests, including ones that Render page and look at it to reflect that it functions as expected. There are plenty of frameworks for this. Still, after these automated tests, there is No Substitute for High Quality live testers, the ones who notice things with usability also, beyond plain “ugly” bugs (like my wife, who finds these things weekly).

Okay, end of annual eBay Rant – you can return to your regularly scheduled mediocrity. Oh yea, and feel free to shop on Amazon more, their site is still behind times, but still light-years ahead of eBay, and they also offer slightly used items on their marketplace Smile

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