Stupid Computer Problems

Wow what a mess. Since Monday afternoon, I’ve been struggling to fix problems with my computer. At a time when I’m woefully behind on work to the point of pissing off some clients – I’ve wasted 3 and a half days trying to fix my computer. And today I finally, FINALLY found the cause of the problems. Nerd story below.. if it helps out 1 person I’ll be happy.

Random Freezes

The troubles started on Monday when my system was randomly freezing up. The active window would still work for a little while, I could move the mouse around, Num Lock on the keyboard still worked (so it hasn’t outright crashed). But I couldn’t click anywhere or launch Task Manager with Ctrl+Alt+Del. (This is on Windows XP by the way.)

Bad Video Card Driver Update Creates Another Problem

After running a hard drive disk check with no issues, I began normal system clean up. I uninstalled old programs I wasn’t using and updated existing programs to their newest versions. I updated my drivers, notably the graphics drivers (I have an Nvidia 8800 GTX). Well for some reason the latest Nvidia drivers do not install correctly and this is a widespread issue. Unfortunately incomplete driver installation royally f*cks things up. Now I had barely functional display. I managed to clean it all up and install a slightly older but working version of the drivers.

Jmicron JMB363 eSATA Controller Failing (Integrated on Motherboard)

However my system was now crashing shortly after startup and my Kaspersky Internet Security (KIS) would never manage to startup before the crash. I figured maybe something was wrong with KIS. So I updated it to a newer version. The crashes went away but now instead of crashing, my system would become really slow for several minutes. I ran DPC Latency Checker and confirmed something was bogging down the system. I thought maybe it was malware. But I noticed in Device Manager, that there was a problem with a “Jmicron JMB36X” controller driver. It would pop up after a while and say it couldn’t be started. And my system would go back to normal. So it would seem that while it’s trying to start this driver, my system just craps out. This was probably also causing the freeze ups from before. Turns out my motherboard has a Jmicron JMB363 controller integrated which provides eSATA connectivity. I don’t use eSATA so I disabled it in BIOS and that got rid of the freeze ups.

Firewall in Updated Kaspersky Internet Security Blocking All Internet Access

But now there was another problem. Whenever Kaspersky firewall was turned on I couldn’t get any network connectivity. No programs could access the web. This is a big problem. I feel a firewall is necessary for system security but I obviously need to access the Internet. So I tried repairing KIS, uninstalling, reinstalling, and running KAV remover as well. Nothing worked. Turning on the firewall blocked everything. And KAV remover also broke my MS Office 2007 installation. So I had to clean that out (by the way, Microsoft’s new Fix It apps are awesome) and upgraded to Office 2010.

Great but I still had the KIS firewall problem. After trying forever to figure it out, trying to get help from Kaspersky tech support and their forums, I FINALLY FIGURED IT OUT TODAY. It was one of those OMFG moments because you don’t know how exasperated and desperate I was getting. I was about to reformat my whole system.

Firewall Issue Caused by Blocking Objectdock

I run a program called Stardock Objectdock. It’s a dock program that you can add shortcuts to launch applications. I put all of my most used programs there and it keeps my desktop clean. And I’m extremely particular about when and how my programs access the web. I hate when programs phone home or just do things in the background that you haven’t explicitly allowed it to do. Objectdock doesn’t need web access so I always block it in my firewall.

Apparently, in newer versions of KIS, blocking Objectdock also blocks every program you launch from it. So that was why every program I launched from Objectdock had no network connectivity. *Facepalm* But I should note that KIS version and earlier did not have this issue. And the applications being launched are completely separate from Objectdock. There’s no reason to suspect this issue. The newer versions of KIS are obviously a bit more aggressive in how they track applications and seems to consider apps launched from Objectdock as part of the same thread.

End Result

My computer’s more secure and running leaner now but I’ll be working this weekend. I hate working weekends!!! :-(

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