Saturday, August 21, 2010

SOFTWARE: The Chicken Or The Egg

Early last week, I developed, simultaneously, three issues. Two dealt with my programming environment, Delphi. I was suddenly getting an error with menus while within Delphi. And Delphi wasn't finding my database of current choice, Nexus. AND, when I went to Xana NewsReader to head off to the news forums to ask questions as to why, Xana wouldn't run at all. And that was bad.

You see, I needed to solve the problem as to why Xana wouldn't run … to get to Xana to ask why Xana wouldn't run.

I looked at my recently installed list of programs. There were a few in the preceding week or so, so I uninstalled them. No help. I'd considerably changed around my Firefox, adding several add-ons and changing around my quick bookmarks. I disabled the add-ons, but that didn't help. I re-enabled them. More of those changes in a later blog.

Xana was upgraded, downgraded and then returned to the version I was currently (I wished!) using. Nothing but that infuriating dialog box at startup saying an Access Violation had prevented execution of the program.

Next step was to assume the absolutely bloody worst. A virus had gotten through. So, I ran a virus check, which took awhile. Like overnight-awhile. Which is normally prime programming time for me. I hit the hay early that night, obviously. And while I was fretting about it during that pre-sleep time we all have, I thought to myself, “I'd better run CrapCleaner and get rid of all temp files and then run the registry cleaner.” This was something I'd obviously remember in the morning (or early afternoon), so I didn't do what I normally do during a EUREKA! moment. Jump out of bed and go test the idea immediately.

When I DID clamor out of bed the following morning (Okay, it was something past noon, but you get the drift), I had completely forgotten my little bit of inspiration. I got the bad news that the virus check had run completely clean!?!?! Now what. I was out of ideas and panic was starting to set it. I uninstalled a Chinese tool library I use rather a lot, because I'd vaguely remembered reading somebody somewhere had an issue with it on Xana. When Xana was still working. I retrograded a couple of other upgrades to Delphi I'd done in the last two months.

Nothing worked.

It was now late Thursday night and I was getting a mite frustrated. Finally, it re-occurred to me that I should at least eliminate garbage as the cause. I'd run into that issue when INSTALLING Delphi's BDE database components over the years, and now habitually clean the computer before installing Delphi. Might garbage be the current problem? So I ran CrapCleaner (aka CCleaner) and had it thoroughly dispose my system of temp folder detritus. Then, I ran the registry checker and cleaned up 216 rogue entries. I wasn't surprised by that number, given the uninstalls I had done through the week.

I rebooted the system and tried Xana. It WORKED!!!!! And now, I have the questions out there in the news forums asking for help on my two Delphi issues. Hopefully some smarter person out there will shine a light on my mystifying issues.

What cured my Xana issue? Don't know. It might have been some file in a temp folder that Xana was choking on. Or it could be that a bad registry key was screwing things up. Whichever, Xana was now working.

The kicker, of course, is, I could have saved all of Thursday's grief had I just acted on my sleepy time thoughts immediately. The second kicker? Things would have gone back to working for Xana today … my weekly system maintenance day where I run CrapCleaner as part of my weekly routine. Xana would have started working again, and I wouldn't have been able to figure out why.

Just like the chicken and the egg conundrum.

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