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Windows 7: An excess of 7MC problems

05 Nov 2009   #1
Basilisk

W7pro x64
 
 
An excess of 7MC problems

I've run three releases of W7beta(x86) and each developed problems. 'Just did a CLEAN install of the W7(x64)[store-bought] 'upgrade' and most of those problems continued -- along with a new one! I need advice on how to best-clarify The Issues and the Path To Fixing Them.

H/W:
Q6600, 4GB, Radeon4850, 3HD, [+ DVD, vCam, prtr, scnr, etc.],
Tuners: Haupp'2250[2x ATSC/NTSC]+AVerVolarMax(1x ATSC/NTSC],
Display: 4850HDMI -> Onkyo TXSR606 -> Vizio 1080p TV [HDMI]

S/W: -- all with latest patches/releases
W7(x64),
Endless other pkgs (not running concurrently w/ problems),
Folding@home [added long after problems began]

The ONLY problems I have w/ W7 are in 7MC... but they are enormous and persistent [6 months]. Well over 50% of attempts to initiate viewing recorded TV shows freeze, abort, or freeze-then-abort! No other s/w [e.g. MP] shares these issues. While some of these problems may be independent of one another, I expect some are related so I'll list all here:
  • 2 minute Video freeze of whole computer -- almost always at the START of play, but, rarely, later on after doing multiple Forward/Backward clicks on screen's icons [searching for end of commercials].
    • Sometimes a 1/4 sec' of sound or video precedes the lockup.
    • Other processes then lock up if they write to screen -- again, those other problems never induce the lock up on their own
    • Note: background proc's not writing to the screen seem to continue [per blinking of the disk activity light on the chassis]
    • Usually the freeze is precisely 2 minutes long, but occasionally it's a multiple of two minutes
    • MC usually recovers from this without a restart
    • Oddly, programs often then begin about a minute into their programming -- despite the two minute hang
  • Audio looping [15% of starts?], culminating with a video driver error msg and requiring an MC-restart.
    • The first ~1 second of audio loops for a bit [15 seconds?]; video is usually frozen or never even started.
  • Running Silent: the audio never starts [10% of starts?], culminating with a video driver error msg and requiring an MC-restart.
    • The video runs normally until something times out and an error msg indicates a required reboot of the system or an MC restart. [A system reboot has never been required to skirt the problem.]
    • I think the error msg suggests a missing codec -- which is bogus as restarting MC and retrying the viewing doesn't repeat the same error.
  • MC often resumes from an extended pause [say, 30 minutes] in a troubled state [one of the above]
    • Note: the computer runs in non-power-saving mode; only screen blanking occurs, so there's no hibernation issue.
  • MC sometimes enters screen-blanking mode while watching a recorded show!
    • I'm unsure if this has continued into the production 7MC, but it was certainly an issue in the last x86 build before production keys became required -- i.e., when beta keys were no longer of use. It's almost certainly independent of previous problems.
The above errors are not fixed/repeatable for a given TV program: restarting MC and re-selecting that recorded program produces random results -- any of the problems may happen on the next attempt, so there certainly is NOT a fixed issue with the material or with missing drivers/codecs. While I've largely thought of these as Video problems, it's not impossible that the underlying problem is in an associated area like the Audio driver.


Next issue solved -- see fifth post, below:
A new problem which only began with the production W7 release and my transition from x86 to x64 seems unrelated, but I'll list it:
      • The recording side of MC is often [50% of time?] screwed up on non-cQAM recordings
        • audio is raised [two?] octaves -- they sound like they're inhaling helium -- and the video speed may be faster.
        • video quickly becomes jerky, then MC locks up
        • I've never seen this on a cQAM show.
This post is way too long, but I'm unsure what should have been dropped! While I'm quite pleased with W7 otherwise, it's hard to ignore the level of problems I've had with MC.

A lack of similar posts suggests my unique set of H/W or S/W is creating a Perfect Storm, although I think there's nothing kinky about my lash-up. The recurrence of the problems across multiple W7 loads suggests it's not just one-time corruptions.

End-users need to be able to precisely identify the specific components provoking their problems, and the steps to fix them. I've spent years solving friends' problems with various Windows releases, but I've never understood the techniques of debugging driver issues, so I need some help identifying where to look and what debugging options might be set. Ideally, there would be a document detailing the analytic steps for identifying errors and solutions, but I'm unfamiliar with such documents. Any instructions someone could point me to would be appreciated!

I converted two computers to W7Beta because Vista-MC was so [@#$%^] limited/plagued. In W7-MC there's a hint of what an MC can become, but its trouble-identification/resolution needs a lot of work before the masses can solve problems on their own.

TIA for any pointers!
John


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
05 Nov 2009   #2
SugarBowl

windows 7 ultimate
 
 

I would suggest:

Only run the final release version of windows 7. I can't tell from your post which version you are running.

Physically remove one of your tuner cards from the system, and see if problems persist. If you still see the same instabilities, replace the tuner card, and remove the other tuner card. Test again.

If you have a DVI monitor, try hooking the monitor directly to the PC, and disconnecting your HDMI connections.

Remove the stereo receiver, and try hooking up your PC directly to the TV via HDMI.

What kind of sound card are you using? Is it built-in to the motherboard ?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Nov 2009   #3
AngelProcesser

 

ALL of the components in the PC and their drivers/software MUST be compatible with the current licensing and DRM for WMC...many third party codecs and programs are not. I suggest a real "clean" install - add no third party programs and see what happens - or, check that the hardware is approved for use with digital recording of TV.

If you do not like this answer, talk to your Cable TV or other providers as they are the ones driving this.

When you do record, user information is encoded into the files in case someone decides to illegally distribute them - but read on, please.

A note on your hardware: Review the BIOS settings for your CPU. You may be being "throttled" (which would cause the behavior you note). A Q6600 under heavy load will probaly reach max temp and throttle to protect itself. It could reach Max Temp due to poor case design/air cooling or the heatsink needs cleaning. With everything you have inside that PC, I would suggest it is occurring in your case (literally). Try shutting down long enough to cool your CPU, chipset and memory, leave case open, apply an external fan (like a room fan) in a cool room, install a CPU temp monitor (software) and watch the temp while recording/during playback. It's not always software, in fact much more often than not, it is hardware. Also check that all the other cooling in your system is not clogged, air inlets, video card fans, etc.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

06 Nov 2009   #4
Basilisk

W7pro x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by SugarBowl View Post
I would suggest:
Only run the final release version of windows 7. I can't tell from your post which version you are running.
It's the store-bought W7 release on this computer: it was preceded by three Betas. Each release was clean-installed.
Quote:
Physically remove one of your tuner cards from the system, and see if problems persist. If you still see the same instabilities, replace the tuner card, and remove the other tuner card. Test again.
I don't grasp how changing a tuner would address the long-term play-back issues. It might impact the frequency-shifting one, and I'll look into that shortly -- DANG! 'Just occurred to me that I've forgotten to load Hauppauge's latest driver (which Microsoft doesn't pass along, though it came out in August). Always a chance it could impact the freq'y item.
Quote:
If you have a DVI monitor, try hooking the monitor directly to the PC, and disconnecting your HDMI connections.

Remove the stereo receiver, and try hooking up your PC directly to the TV via HDMI.
I've removed the Onkyo from the HDMI path... to no avail. I'll try the DVI path tonight -- 'have to recover a loaned-out cable -- but I confess to not understanding how DVI differs from HDMI [ignoring irrelevant HDCP issues]. I'll may also try the (awful) Intel IGP[VGA].
Quote:
What kind of sound card are you using? Is it built-in to the motherboard ?
I'm using the 4850's HDMI audio which [I infer] uses the on-motherboard RealTek chip.

Time to wrap and mail Sis's b'day gift... later.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Nov 2009   #5
Basilisk

W7pro x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Swanson Photos View Post
ALL of the components in the PC and their drivers/software MUST be compatible with the current licensing and DRM for WMC...many third party codecs and programs are not. I suggest a real "clean" install - add no third party programs and see what happens - or, check that the hardware is approved for use with digital recording of TV.
Were I certain this would lead to either A Solution or Useful Understanding, I'd do it. It is, however, the antithesis of how I believe problem-solving should occur: one should first Identify The Problem, then apply The Appropriate Fix. Unfortunately for mortals, MS has rarely made it easy to identify the problem. Worse yet, in failing to distribute its OS's as modules, it makes repairs a gawdawful experience when it forces a full reload rather than a module reload. I'm not trying to bash MS, but this has been a recurring theme for 20 years.

Quote:
When you do record, user information is encoded into the files in case someone decides to illegally distribute them - but read on, please.
I wonder what brought this on????

Quote:
A note on your hardware: Review the BIOS settings for your CPU. You may be being "throttled" (which would cause the behavior you note).... It's not always software, in fact much more often than not, it is hardware. Also check that all the other cooling in your system is not clogged, air inlets, video card fans, etc.
  • My Q6600 is operating w/in temp specs (<70c) even when running for days with 4xCPU-folding + 1xGPU folding + foreground tasks and case temperature = room temperature at this time as the cover remains off until Samsung provides me with the replacement for a failed HD.
  • The start-up problems occur regardless of CPU load -- even when all non-essential services are axed and the temp are ~30c.
  • My experience of Vista and W7 MC's has been that most of the problems HAVE been s/w!!! I'll be thrilled to identify the cause of these problems regardless of their nature, however.
  • I'll review my BIOS settings upon next reboot (tonight?).
Meanwhile, I remain flummoxed.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
06 Nov 2009   #6
Basilisk

W7pro x64
 
 
One problem solved -- the frequency-shifting problem

Resolved:
A new problem which only began with the production Windows 7 release and my transition from x86 to x64 seems unrelated, but I'll list it:
  • The recording side of MC is often [50% of time?] screwed up on non-cQAM recordings
'Loaded latest Hauppauge drivers. 'Selected an NTSC [non-cQAM] channel under Live TV, observed the audio frequency shift and stuttering problems and pulled the AverMedia USB plug out of the computer: since the TV program continued to display, that told me the Hauppauge was in use.

'Decided to re-do the TV Setup, staring at the details. It found 4 NTSC tuners and 3 ATSC?!?!? That wasn't right! Examination showed I'd thrown in another tuner [KWorld 110 NTSC] seven months ago and just forgotten about it. [Cabling into the wall prevents easily accessing the computer's rear.] W7's x86 drivers for it had never been a problem -- 'can't guarantee they had ever worked, but they were at least benign. 'Can't say the same for the x64 drivers: once I directed TV Setup to not use the KWorld in the TV Setup, the problem disappeared.

I've muttered this before: the MC should log the tuner, the TV Program (Name/Channel/Time) and any problems in a manner end-users can easily access... say, a rolling log of the last 50 programs recorded.

Edit:
WHOA!!!! Mea Culpa!!!!
I just went to check what programs were scheduled for recording tonight. On the "Scheduled" page is an item I'd never noticed: "History". It seems to have exactly what I've wanted.

'Wonder how many Beta releases it was in?! 'Never found a reference to it in any of the numerous Google searches I've made... sigh. It would have saved me hours of time.
This just leaves all those other problems! Sigh....
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Nov 2009   #7
AngelProcesser

 
Good Luck

After further review it seems quite clear that you have chosen to ignore peopel here and have ample technical knowledge to mess everything up enough and then complain about a unique installation - I shall spend my time assisting others.

Good luck.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
07 Nov 2009   #8
Basilisk

W7pro x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Swanson Photos View Post
After further review it seems quite clear that you have chosen to ignore peopel here and have ample technical knowledge to mess everything up enough and then complain about a unique installation - I shall spend my time assisting others.

Good luck.
I appreciate that you made the gesture of trying to help. That is a greater effort than most folks make.

I've 45 years of professional s/w development -- mostly on UNIX systems since '75 -- and 35 years working with h/w. I've written drivers, debugging tools, call-site agent tools, s/w for NSA, AT&T, and Exxon, have been responsible for kernel s/w debugging and reviews and been a principal higher-tier support member. I long ago learned to seek out and appreciate good advice and I've a strong awareness of the limitations on my knowledge, but I've spent much of my career in analytic and debugging roles and I've learned a fair amount about problem analysis and resolution.

I'm sorry you are upset over my responses. Your reply suggests I have unfairly ignored your sound advice; frankly, I think you over-prize your well-intentioned words. I have read and analyzed your contribution, above, multiple times and found it wanting. I'm confident that you wouldn't be spending your time doing this if you weren't helpful in other cases, however, and I commend you for that.


Meanwhile, I'm still pursuing ideas suggested by SugarBowl -- I'm sure you will appreciate that I don't ignore everyone's advice.... And thank you for the "Good luck" as it appears I'll need it.

[Note: some errant keystroke launched this as I was writing the first sentence, so most of this is an EDIT.]
My System SpecsSystem Spec
08 Nov 2009   #9
AngelProcesser

 
Thank you

I would never waste a minute on a Unix or Linux installation and therefore have strengthened my knowledge of the Windows world where 95% of the world lives.

I guess in closing all I can say is mine works great. With such experience, which is suspect, I am sure you will figure it out once you stop spending so much time in forums questioning your knowledge, then hailing it.

http://swansonphotosonline.com/image...enter%20HD.jpg
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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