Unexpected crashes--Frame or otherwise

Subject: Unexpected crashes--Frame or otherwise
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com, "Lippincott, Richard" <RLippincott -at- as-e -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 12 Jun 2009 10:08:02 +0300

Richard et al.:

There are many things that can cause unexpected and intermittent crashes.
Several of them are seldom considered or appreciated by the typical IT
staff. These are hardware-related, so the crashes may happen with just about
any application--but with a working tech writer, Frame may be considered a
culprit simply because it is used more extensively than most other apps.

1. Tiny cracks in circuits. As you know, different materials expand and
contract slightly differently with changes in temperature. Over time, this
can cause very tiny cracks in circuits that are worse with higher
temperatures...such as when the machine has been on for some hours or when
you are doing something that stresses it and produces more heat.

2. Dielectric breakdown. Materials in power supplies and capacitors may age
with little grace--causing intermittent failures. Often, the first signs can
simply be subtle ones, and go on like this for some time. This may easily
take the form of application or entire system crashes.

3. Solder joints malformed. This is largely a manufacturing defect, but it
may show up first in the same circumstances as the above
problems--especially when the system is hot.

4. Memory errors. Memory modules that are beginning to go bad can easily do
so intermittently. Again, though, this would normally affect the entire
machine more often than simply one application.

Unfortunately, with the high degree of integration today, too often the cure
for most of these issues is a system replacement. Perhaps the most frequent
issue is problems with the power supply--either insufficient power,
manufacturing defect, marginal design to begin with (bought from the lowest
bidder, presumably!), or the afore-mentioned dielectric problem.

To troubleshoot, I'd suggest your IT people might consider several steps. As
a preliminary, assess the running processes on the machine in question--is
it running more software in the background that might stress the machine
more than ones that are not crashing? If not, look at one or both of the

a. If you have other machines with the same configuration, try swapping the
errant system's hard disk into one of these and see if it crashes over a
period of some days of use. If it doesn't, you know the problem was in the
rest of the machine.

b. Try replacement of the power supply with a known good one. This could
also be the first step to try. Again, if this fixes the issue, well and

If neither approach works, the issue is likely software. In that case, the
cleanest solution is to reformat the disk and reinstall the software load.
Most enterprise IT departments these days have master images to load from,
so this is often less of an issue than it would be for a home user.



On Fri, Jun 12, 2009 at 09:00, <techwr-l-request -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com> wrote:

> From: "Lippincott, Richard" <RLippincott -at- as-e -dot- com>
> To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
> Date: Thu, 11 Jun 2009 10:19:54 -0400
> Subject: RE: FrameMaker crashes
> Gerald asked about Framemaker crashing, and if anyone else notices it.
> I do, but at least one of these supports the theory that system
> configuration has a lot to do with it.
> Problem the first:
> We've all seen the periodic updates that come from Adobe: you open
> Frame, you get info boxes that tell you files are being downloaded.
> Typically there are two, they install before you can think about it and
> you press on.
> At my company, our PCs have been locked down due to security issues. We
> can't save -anything- on our hard drives, so the incoming Frame files
> are rejected. On my system, I click OK...the files never install...and
> that's the end. On my co-worker's system, he clicks OK...Frame crashes.
> Our IT guy is stumped. It's clearly a configuration difference in our
> systems, but they can't isolate it.

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