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 Post subject: Dock freezing and crashing (NOT Surface Pro)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 1:31 pm 
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I have an Alienware AW17 R4 with Nexus Ultimate v17.1 installed. It has always worked perfectly until the latest Win 10 Creator's Fall Update.

Now, when starting the PC, it loads normally but no matter how long I leave it, the dock first fails to respond, then pops-up about 50% and freezes. Eventually it opens 100% but it is almost impossible to select my desired icon. Finally, I am able to select the correct icon and if I wait a few more seconds it becomes clickable.

This morning however, it just crashed when I tried clicking on an icon. I started the program again and after a few minutes it behaves normally but this freezing issue has been happening every day since the last Windows update.

Any ideas Jorge?


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 Post subject: Re: Dock freezing and crashing (NOT Surface Pro)
PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 7:15 pm 
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Welcome to the wonderful world of RAD (Rapid Application Development) applied to an OS. Things are never stable for long.

This said, so far nobody else seems to be complaining.

Does this happen even when you exit and restart the program?

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 Post subject: Re: Dock freezing and crashing (NOT Surface Pro)
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 5:48 pm 
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The freezing does. It doesn't always crash.
I've been trying to work out what could be the cause of it because after a while it tends to settle back into normal operation. As it only happens when starting up I'm thinking that maybe it is connected to all my external HDD's? After all, they take a few seconds to spin-up.

That said, I've had them for years and they didn't cause this before. It's only since the Fall Creator's update although that could be a total coincidence. Also, I use a little utility called NoSleep HD which prevents all my drives from parking so theoretically they shouldn't be causing a non-response from the Nexus dock.


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 Post subject: Re: Dock freezing and crashing (NOT Surface Pro)
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2017 7:09 pm 
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Hmmm... could it be a failing hard drive or external hard drive controller?

Check your Windows System logs for events with red exclamation marks (Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Event Viewer -> Windows Logs -> System).

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Jorge Coelho
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 Post subject: Re: Dock freezing and crashing (NOT Surface Pro)
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2017 8:35 pm 
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I doubt it. All my external drives bar one were purchased in the last 4 months. The PC itself was new in June.

There are numerous red exclamations in the Event Viewer but all are for the same error "Distributed COM" (see attachment) and they seem to be occurring throughout the day whereas the dock's freezing issue only happens just after starting up. I don't know what that means and the description hasn't made me any wiser. Could that be the cause?

Attachment:
Event.jpg
Event.jpg [ 913.85 KiB | Viewed 1079 times ]


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 Post subject: Re: Dock freezing and crashing (NOT Surface Pro)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 3:34 am 
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Ok, first things first then. :D

This is obviously something specific to your system or configuration - as you can see, noone else is complaining. Because of this, figuring out what is going on is very difficult and normally involves a lot of trial-and-error. It could be anything, from a buggy driver to AV software, etc... As you said, it might not be related to the Windows 10 Update at all.

The first thing we must do is eliminate a weird configuration problem: open Preferences, go to the Advanced tab and make a Backup of your current settings.

Now that you have a Backup to go back to, on the same tab click on Troubleshooting Options and then the Reset Everything button. This will reset Nexus Ultimate to factory default - settings, dock contents, etc...

Close Preferences and exit the application. Does the dock still freeze when you restart it now?

To go back to your previous configuration, you open Preferences, go to the Advanced tab, click the Restore button and select the previous backup file.

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Jorge Coelho
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 Post subject: Re: Dock freezing and crashing (NOT Surface Pro)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:42 pm 
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Ok, I followed your instructions and after resetting everything it worked correctly. I then restored my backup and it is still working correctly.

Let's see if it keeps that up after reboot tomorrow morning.

As always, thanks very much for your assistance Jorge. :D


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 Post subject: Re: Dock freezing and crashing (NOT Surface Pro)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 7:13 pm 
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Well, go figure. Do you know that joke about the broken car and the 3 engineers? :wink:

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Jorge Coelho
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 Post subject: Re: Dock freezing and crashing (NOT Surface Pro)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:00 pm 
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No, go on, hit me with it. :mrgreen:


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 Post subject: Re: Dock freezing and crashing (NOT Surface Pro)
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:14 pm 
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Three engineers are riding in a car.

One is a mechanical engineer, one is an electrical engineer, and one is a computer engineer.

The car breaks down and coasts to the side of the road.

"Hang on," says the mechanical engineer. "The problem is probably the engine, let me have a look at it and I'll have us on the road again in no time."

"Wait," says the electrical engineer. "The way it just stopped like that, I think it's the electrical system. Let me have a look and I'll get us going again in a minute or two."

"Hold on," says the computer engineer. "Why don't we all just get out of the car and get in again?" :wink:

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Jorge Coelho
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 Post subject: Re: Dock freezing and crashing (NOT Surface Pro)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 7:26 am 
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Yes, very good, especially up to Win 7 which was largely stable. Then M$ had to fuck with it again resulting in a pile of horse manure that abandoned stability for bling and bullshit. :lol:

Well guess what, on start-up this morning, it is back to its freezing tricks. If I just leave it for a few minutes it stops all that nonsense so I think I'll run with that because as long as it doesn't crash it's not really a major concern.

Oh, and here's a completely unrelated joke for you... :wink:

Attachment:
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 Post subject: Re: Dock freezing and crashing (NOT Surface Pro)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:05 am 
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QTP wrote:
Oh, and here's a completely unrelated joke for you... :wink:


LOL. :lol:

QTP wrote:
Well guess what, on start-up this morning, it is back to its freezing tricks. If I just leave it for a few minutes it stops all that nonsense so I think I'll run with that because as long as it doesn't crash it's not really a major concern.


That is kind of a poor solution.

Keep an eye on it, is there something flashing when it freezes (for instance, it's trying to access the Internet Time Servers to sync the clock, or it's accessing your mail server for the Email Checker module) ?

If it freezes every time you restart the software and not just after a reboot, now that you have a backup it's also easier to try and diagnose: keep changing/disabling things you think might be the culprit until it doesn't happen anymore. For instance, do you have a CD Control internal command anywhere on the docks or the Shelf? What modules are you using? Do you use the battery module? Try removing the modules one by one (they MUST NOT be used anywhere - Shelf and docks - to actually deactivate their functionality).

The problem is that we need at least a clue to know in which direction to look.

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 Post subject: Re: Dock freezing and crashing (NOT Surface Pro)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 8:42 am 
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I only have the CPU meter and weather modules. I don't really need the CPU meter but I do use the weather version. Everything else on my dock are just links to my most used programs (Xplorer 2, Outlook 2016, Firefox, Chrome, IE, Steam, and Recycle bin).

The freezing only happens when starting Windows. If I exit the Nexus program and restart it will not happen so, in my opinion it has something to do with Windows.

I will try removing the CPU meter and see if that makes any difference but I repeat, it always worked perfectly prior to the recent fall Creator's Update.


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 Post subject: Re: Dock freezing and crashing (NOT Surface Pro)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:24 am 
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QTP wrote:
The freezing only happens when starting Windows.


Oh. I was under the impression that it wasn't just after a reboot.

Hmmm... you know what it could be? System startup is a very busy time, since Windows is opening and initializing all kinds of stuff at the same time.

Now, to function properly the Winstep application periodically needs to do stuff that requires elevation/admin privileges. For instance, only a program with admin rights can install a new font (some themes come with fonts). Same for adjusting the system time, something required by the clock module to sync with the Internet Time Servers. Besides this, lower privilege applications cannot get certain critical bits of information (such as full pathname) regarding higher privilege applications - something necessary if you want to display/build a list of running applications.

The Winstep application itself cannot run elevated, as this would be an INSANE security risk (especially for a launcher, since anything launched by an elevated application automatically inherits admin rights) and also because of something called the UIPI (User Interface Privilege Isolation), which forbids drag & drop operations between lower and higher privilege applications (in other words, if the Winstep application was running with admin privileges, you would be unable to drag shortcuts from Explorer into it).

So, to work around this there is a separate Winstep program (WsxService.exe) that runs elevated in the background as a system service. Whenever the main Winstep application needs something that requires admin rights, it asks the Winstep service to do it, or to provide the information.

Now, services in Windows are handled by the Windows Service Control Manager (SCM), i.e.; all service requests must pass through it.

The SCM processes service control notifications in a serial fashion — it will wait for one service to complete processing a service control notification before sending the next one. Because of this, a call to ControlService will block for 30 seconds if any service is busy handling a control code.

The keyword here is 'any', as this includes 3rd party services. So, if the Winstep application sends a request to its own service but the SCM is currently busy waiting for a stalled 3rd party service to respond, the Winstep application will 'stall' itself until the 30 second timeout for the other service elapses, through no fault of its own.

See the problem? Knowing this, the Winstep application already waits 60 seconds (1 full minute) after startup before even beginning to communicate with its own service (it assumes the system is still busy rebooting and gives it 1 minute for things to settle down, thus minimizing the chances of a stall/freeze because of a busy 3rd party service collecting its initial data).

What I think is happening there is that some 3rd party service on your machine (either Microsoft's or from another vendor) is stalling for longer than 1 minute after boot up. So, the 1 minute 'cushion' time already used by the main Winstep application before starting to poll its own service for data is not enough, and it freezes for about 30 seconds when it attempts to communicate with the service for the first time.

Since the Winstep application polls its own service for data roughly every second (it needs 'fresh' data for the CPU monitor, RAM Monitor, etc...), this can happen again and again until either the 3rd party service is automatically disabled by the SCM and marked as 'not responding' or it starts operating (and responding) normally.

So, if you ask me, the culprit of your issues is, in my opinion, a badly written 3rd party service.

Also, since this issue is obviously NOT happening to other Windows 10 users, I would say further that the service in question is NOT a native Microsoft/Windows service, but belongs instead to some 3rd party software you have installed on your machine. Because Microsoft is now constantly changing the inner works of Windows (idiots!), this 3rd party service, which was probably working properly before the Creator's update, now no longer does.

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Jorge Coelho
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 Post subject: Re: Dock freezing and crashing (NOT Surface Pro)
PostPosted: Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:59 am 
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Thanks for your very detailed explanation Jorge. I truly appreciate it.

So, taking into consideration all you have said, I would place the blame on one of 2 potential applications: Steam or Tobii Eye Tracking.

Steam is always updating itself in the background and often downloads shit I definitely don't need or want. Unfortunately, there is no way to stop it short of uninstalling but if I do that I can no longer play the games I purchased through them. On the other hand, millions of people use Steam so I'm thinking some other Winstep user/s might have had the same issue if it had been the cause.

Tobii Eye Tracking is probably not that common. This semi-useless gadget comes with all top-end Alienware laptops and has never really worked correctly. Well, it does work but on Windows start-up always fails to connect and the only solution I have found is to close the lid then reopen it. So, my first thought is that maybe Tobii is attempting to connect and finally fails due to taking too long to respond (the closing the lid solution may be coincidental because perhaps it's just a question of waiting until all services have launched)?

My second thought concerns a new item installed in the latest update of Tobii called 'Enumerator'. Strangely enough, Tobii's latest update came at roughly the same time as the fall Creator's update. I have no idea what Enumerator is or does and a search brought up nothing to enlighten me.

Let me be clear, I'm scraping the barrel here. It may be totally unrelated to Tobii or Steam. It's just that those two have recently updated so I'm quick to see them as potential culprits.


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