Wednesday, September 28, 2005

OK, I C how it is...

So, it turns out that creating a service that uses RegisterServiceCtlHandlerEx in VB.Net is in the realm of the "not really possible". It's impossible, except as a theoretical case where you re-write service base yourself. So, I had to "C" the light and just write a darn service from scratch using my arch-nemesis C.

Interestingly enough, I went ahead and started the service using the sample service provided by Microsoft in the Platform SDK. Believe it or not, that one uses the older RegisterServiceCtlHandler too instead of the Ex version. But, it wasn't much work to update their handler routine and rip out the named pipes demo stuff and just make use of their service shell. Saved me a bit of time anyway.

Now, the interesting thing is: this thingy works. Oh, I went through the normal crash, crash, crash while I figured out how to get my pointers in a row and remembered that C doesn't initialize your variables to nulls for you (nasty bug when I was trying to strcat to a non-initialized string and kept overflowing my damn buffer just like Microsoft). That's all just due to my relative unfamiliarity with the C language itself. However, I perservered and got the damn thing running.

On the home front, I just had my new Dell (new to me anyway, I bought it in Feb 2005) crap out on me. I have 5 Dells in the house, from an old XPS-T 850 Mhz P3 model to this new one and this is the first to up and crap out. I blame Maxtor. Their drives seem to be the only ones that ever fail. I bought this machine with the dual SATA drives in the mirroring or RAID 1 configuration figuring I could go a bit easier on the backups with TWO drives looking out for my important stuff. Sounded good at the time. So, the other evening we had some power lags or whatever they are - maybe brownouts is the term. This is where the lights go down a little dimmer for a second or two. We were watching a DVD and the TV and DVD player never had a problem. After 3 of these "lights down" events in 5 minutes, my wife and I went to turn off our computers. Both run through this huge (really about 60 pounds) power conditioner with a gigantic transformer and all in it. Mine then has a UPS connected to it too. So we shut them down. We left the kids machines up.

So, guess which one bit the dust? Yep, the NEW one; the one with the power conditioner AND the UPS. I boot it up in the morning and the array shows "degraded" and one of the drives shows "Error Ocurred". I let it boot, and it comes up with one drive. So I get on the Dell tech chat on another machine to get support. They want me to run diags. But I don't have the CD. So I download it. It wants to make a boot floppy. But the machine didn't come with a floppy drive. Ugh! So I made a boot CD and ran the diag only to find, yep: unrecoverable read error about 5 minutes unto the read test. So Dell agrees to send a person with a replacement drive. So far so good.

Then, I figure I should boot back into Windows to take a final backup from my one good drive. I boot and now the array says "failed" and shows BOTH drives with an error. It says I can pick one to mark as "normal" and it can correct the problem. OK, I figure this one is easy: pick the one that worked a little bit ago. BBZZZZT!!! Wrong answer. Ever seen "can't find NTLDR"? Well I have! So I give it 5 minutes to cool off and boot again. Back to both drives with an error and that helpful message that it can fix this. OK, why not - I pick the other drive. Hey! It finds the boot loader! Ever seen Galaxy Quest? You know the line: "Then it exploded"... Kind of like this... NTOSKRNL.EXE is missing or corrupt. Damn! OK, so now I know. The mirroring bought me all of one extra boot - which Dell used up by making me boot into the diagnostics. I was so pissed by this time I didn't even call Dell and ask for TWO drives until the next evening.

I'm still waiting on the drives. Then it gets fun: you get to press F6 during the Windows install and have it ask for a floppy disk (in that drive that doesn't exist). Fortunately I have an inside source: a hardware god at work named Kevin that can loan me a drive to get through that idiotic thing where the F6 to add a driver ONLY recognizes a floppy disk. Hopefully in a few days I'll be back up and running...


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