August 18th, 2007


Protect us from ourselves

For the past week or so, I've been cranky at my computer.

A lot of folks get cranky at "the computer". "Maybe it's a virus". No, more likely, you screwed something up. I'm sorry, but human error accounts for a great deal. Ok, maybe it's a virus - are you running a virus scanner? At this point, if your answer is "no", that ALSO counts as human error.

For the past week, as I've been using my machine, all of a sudden, some process would start consuming an entire CPU. (What with hyperthreading and all, many modern machines have (or appear to have) more than one CPU.) So, I'd check what process was suddenly misbehaving - more times than not, it'd be VERCLSID.EXE, some new 'security' feature that Microsoft installed on my machine. Turns out, there's a known(?) issue that VERCLSID will occasionally become unresponsive, just like I'm seeing.

Microsoft says the problem is with HP software, although I see no indications that the onset of reported symptoms has anything to do with changes in HP software, so this seems unlikely. Microsoft also says that maybe it has something to do with a software firewall (which is a rant all by itself). Or maybe I should upgrade my video drivers.


I've worked in computer games long enough to actually remember when suggesting that people upgrade their video drivers WASN'T a joke. How is it that a piece of software that manages security for plugin software for Microsoft's Internet Explorer would have any interoperation with video drivers? Isn't the API for verifying DLL security completely unrelated with how video memory is managed? Or do you need to run a High Level Shading Language simulation of the code flow of your plugin in order to authenticate that it's secure and acceptable for use in the browser?

What pisses me off most is that Microsoft released a piece of software as an upgrade, they know that it's causing problems, and they haven't rolled back the software, or issued instructions on how to disable it. Ok, maybe there's some tricky interrelation between your brand new upgrade and software that's only on 45% of machines out there (Heaven forbid you should test that), but how hard is it to make a quick little patch to turn off the problematic code? Also, if people are getting upgrades automatically, let's not assume they have any business tinkering inside the registry to fix problems.

What pisses me off almost as much is that I upgraded my video drivers, and the problem seems to have gone away. Care to explain why that is, Microsoft? Or why the automatic update system, which could totally have installed the new drivers for me (and has in the past) didn't?

So. For the sake of any Google Bots out there, looking for VERCLSID.EXE 100% CPU, here's one data point: upgrade your nVidia drivers.