Monthly Archives: November 2008

An Internet Explorer Add-on named {b205a35e-1fc4-4ce3-818b-899dbbb3388c}

Students 2006 BoxA few days ago, when I was looking at Internet Explorer Add-On Manager (a part of Internet Explorer 7 and 8 which allows you to enable or disable add-ons), I stumbled upon a Browser Extension bearing the cryptic name of "{b205a35e-1fc4-4ce3-818b-899dbbb3388c}". I already knew that it was not dangerous because I had stumbled upon it many times before, had investigated about it each time and then later had forgotten what it was.

Anyway, yet another search in the Windows Registry reminded me that this browser extension is allegedly Encarta Search Bar, a component of Microsoft Student 2006 or Microsoft Encarta. I don’t know what does this add-on do when load by Internet Explorer 7, but I believe it does nothing. In fact, judging by what I have read on Internet Explorer Portal on MSDN and what I saw in the Registry, I think this add-on (at least the copy that resides on my computer) is not fully functional.

I believe it would be better to disable this add-on. After all, what’s the point on loading an add-on which does nothing? Besides, disabling features that are not required reduces your attack surface and improves security.

Problem with Java prevents Maple 10 and 11 from launching

Maple 10 BoxMaple 11 BoxIt seems that the issue of the mathematics software Maple failing to launch is becoming epidemic around me, so I thought I should blog about it and its solution for further reference.

A week ago, I attended a case in which Maple 10 didn’t start: After clicking on its shortcut, Maple’s splash screen would pop up, linger for a few minutes and then go away, but Maple 10 itself wouldn’t show up. Maple’s process (maplew.exe) would show up in Processes tab of Task Manager and would not consume any CPU time.

Today, I attended a similar case in which Maple 11 didn’t start, only with significant difference: After clicking on its shortcut, an error message would instantly pop up: "Java Virtual Machine Launcher" "Could not create the Java virtual machine".

Could-not-create-Java

Maple’s technical support is well aware of these problems, which have a common cause, and has already published solutions in its knowledge base. These issues occur because Java Runtime, a very well-known component created by Sun Microsystems and used by Maple, does not behave properly on a system with an abundance of free memory available! (That’s right: When there is far more than enough memory!) The affected machines all had at least 2GB of memory installed.

The solution is to limit the amount of memory available to Maple. To do so:

  1. Close Maple by terminating "maplew" process. Use Task Manager or a similar tool to accomplish this.
  2. Open "launch.ini" file located in "bin.win" subfolder of Maple program folder with notepad or another text editor.
  3. Add a new line that says: maxheap=256m. If a such line already exist, make sure it is not preceded by a #. Also make sure the number to right of the equal sign is 256.
  4. Save the file.
  5. Run Maple.

Doing so will prevent Maple from using more than 256m of the free memory and will allow it to run normally. Maple tech support suggests to limit the memory to 700MB. However, I noticed that anything larger than 256MB on those machines was still troublesome. With these changes, however, Maple should launch without any problem.

Finally, I’d like to mention that another way to run Maple in such cases would be to run a number of other programs, thus reducing the amount of free memory available. This is, of course, neither a solution nor a workaround, but rather a technical warning: If you usually run Maple on systems with lots of free memory available along with a number of other programs, chances are that the issue remain hidden.

Have a nice day harnessing the power of mathematics!

Two Common Problems with 3D Games

Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100

I have attended too many times to resolve two distinct computer gaming issues which are frankly difficult to understand for average users: The issue of having a completely or partially black screen and the issue of having a completely or partially white screen.

The issue of having a completely black screen or having black strips all over the screen often denotes a shortage of dedicated video memory. Note that most video cards can borrow from system memory to compensate for their lack of enough dedicated memory. However, this solution does not help video gamers whose games thirst for speed and huge amounts of memory. Since nowadays users cannot upgrade their Video RAMs – since they are integrated into the GPU – the only viable option for them would be to install a new and more powerful video card, either parallel to the former or completely replacing it.

The issue of having a completely white screen or having white strips all over the screen often denotes a rendering error caused either by the driver, DirectX or the GPU. Luckily, updating video driver, video firmware or DirectX most of the times resolves this issue. However, sometimes the issue is caused by an unsupported feature and/or a glitch in GPU which cannot be solved but by replacing the graphic card.

These two issues are particularly seen on laptops, especially those with integrated graphic chips. It has long been a well-known fact that integrated (on-board) graphic chips are not suitable for gaming.

As always, DirectX Diagnostic Tool (dxdiag.exe) is one of the most useful tools for finding and troubleshooting gaming-related issues.

EDIT (29 July 2010): DirectX Diagnostic Tool is deprecated in Windows Vista and later. It has lost most of its functionalities. Perhaps, I should have noticed this loss when I first wrote this article but back then, no one wanted (and no one used) Windows Vista.

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