Thursday, August 20, 2009

Form input time waster...

Why is it that often when you open up a page on which there is an input form, you have to manually move your cursor to the first field before you can actually start entering your data? I.e., you have to either TAB to the field or move the pointer and click in the field. When you consider all the forms that are on the web and all the people that use these forms, this is incredibly inconvenient and time-wasting.

For example, does place your cursor properly when prompted for a webmail or customer login, but not when you are working on the forms to manage your site. And, when I go to Amazon, I'd like to type in the name of the book I'm searching for, but first I have to click on the search box before I can start entering my text. The Office Depot shopping site does a nice job of putting your cursor into the "quantity" field when you go to a catalog page... just type in how many you want and move on.

I find this really irritating: if there's a form on a web page, it's a pretty safe bet that they want you to add some data into some of the fields...right? So why don't they start you off in the right place?

It's actually quite easy to do: it just takes a call to whatever command is available in the web development framework (it's called "setting the focus" to that field) when displaying the form and your user is ready to go. Once I realized this, I added this to my own 4MyPasswords site.

Why can't everyone do this? Sure would save a lot of time...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What kind of 'management' is this...?

Many of you already know about the program wmiprvse.exe -- it's a part of the Microsoft Windows Management Instrumentation feature. It's supposed to help your windows system run better, but it has a problem -- a big problem. It frequently starts sucking up 50% or more of the CPU, sometimes only briefly but sometimes for hours at a time. I know this from personal experience as well as from the many many postings there are on the web (here's one example) asking about how to fix this problem. I haven't found any satisfactory answers yet.

One post suggested this was because there was a bad network card on the network, but I have yet to find pointers on where to find the information that is being analyzed and how to find the errant network card... or whatever else is happening.

One problem with wmiprvse.exe is that you cannot simply terminate the process: if you do, say with Task Manager, then it immediately comes back and jumps right back up to the magic 50%+ CPU utilization. Even reboots aren't guaranteed to fix the problem and who wants to reboot their Windows machine and lose even more time?

Well, a few days back, I found a work-around. It's just a band-aid, I know, but I'm happy to be able to use it. The fix is to suspend the wmiprvse task. The way I do this is through the Process Explorer utility offered by the SysInternals folks -- this is just one of the many excellent programs that they offer (and in a nice little ironic twist, they're now owned by Microsoft so the problem and the solution are all in the family).

Once you have Process Explorer installed and you see that wmiprvse.exe is doing it's CPU-sucking thing, just find it on the Process Explorer list, right-click it, and select the Suspend option. The task stays in the system, but doesn't get any CPU cycles, unless you Resume the task.

At this point, I've had wmiprvse.exe suspended for over 3 days. Occasionally, I do a Resume and see it hit 50% and then just re-suspend. There aren't a bunch of error messages in the event log, so... no bad things seem to be happening to my system and I'm getting full use in spite of wmiprvse.

Thank you, SysInternals... nice stuff!