VisionTek Radeon HD4350 – Bad Fan on Heat Sink

Issue: An annoying and somewhat loud noise emanates from within the computer.  It’s pretty maddening to deal with unless you have the uncanny ability to block out such a disturbance.

Cause: The fan on the default heat sink of this model is poorly constructed.  VisionTek claims that dust buildup causes this, but I’ve seen a few units do this within a month and there really isn’t much buildup on it at all.

Solution: If you are within the 3-5 year warranty (depends on the device), get a hold of VisionTek Support (http://www.visiontek.com/support/customer-support/warranty-request.html or 1.866.883.5411) and request a replacement.

Recommendations: Depending on your situation, you may not need a fan on the heat sink.  We use these cards simply for dual monitors and nothing else; note that our office users are not graphic-intensive users.  Because I’m tired of dealing with their sub-par fans, I request silent heat sinks to avoid this problem in the future.

Unfortunately, VisionTek mixes their desire to quickly remedy the issue with their laziness to do it themselves by offering to send a new heat sink, but it requires your assembly and they do not provide the thermal paste; I don’t really see that as very professional on their part.  Because I’m a busy worker and also don’t want to risk voiding anything, I’d much rather prefer them to repair their own products; also, I don’t want a fan on VisionTek products, because they always seem to fail.  This means that you will have to go back and forth with VisionTek’s support via email for a couple of days politely stating that you want them to replace the silent heat sink.  It also means that you will need to send the part in for inspection before they can repair the card and return it.  I keep a spare card around so that the user is not kept from doing their work, because this process can take 1-2 weeks.

For the record, I’d like to state that any interaction I’ve had with an associate at VisionTek has been pleasant; they’ve never been rude or inconsiderate.  I just have an issue with their support protocol.

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Crystal Reports Crashes when Inserting a Field = Dual-Monitor Issue

This problem initially occurred a few months ago for what appeared to be no rhyme or reason.  Other users weren’t having this problem and it was specifically tied to one computer.  Naturally, the thing to do on a single incident like this was to not spend hours researching the problem and just uninstall/re-install with reboots in between to clear up any possible setup corruptions, which initially worked.

Unfortunately, it happened again… to the same computer… with the same user.  At this point you start thinking about what’s different between this user and the other users that are not experiencing this problem.  The OS was the same (Windows 7), all using 32-bit architecture, all using the same version of Crystal Reports.  Perhaps it was a user issue, and we know how amazingly honest users can be about what they did.  However, I watched every step she did and there wasn’t anything behavioral about this problem.

A bit of  searching lead to this thread: http://scn.sap.com/thread/1495164.  While it dealt with a different version of Crystal Reports, what caught my attention was the fact that Crystal Reports does not support dual monitors.  I’ve run into a problem like this many times with dual monitors: a function within in application does not work for what appears to be no reason whatsoever, until you move the application to the primary window.  I had seen this with copy/paste functions, window display issues, scrolling problems, and now inserting a field in Crystal.  Once she moved Crystal to the primary monitor, the insert field function worked as expected.

The reason a re-install will work is because all applications default to opening on the primary monitor… until you manually move the application over to the other monitor.  Since Crystal was re-installed, it opened by default on the primary monitor and therefore the function performed as expected.  Once the user moved Crystal to the secondary monitor, the function caused the application to crash.

Now that we’ve figured that out, it all boils down to training staff to use Crystal Reports only within the primary monitor, which is sometimes harder to do than a re-install; old habits die hard.

Microsoft Word: This document cannot be registered

I received a call from a user who says she had received this error that’s troubling her.  I open up the file and after it opens, the following message is displayed:

This document cannot be registered. It will not be possible to create links from this document to other documents.

I figure that maybe it’s something with the file, but multiple files in the folder are displaying the same error. A quick Google search will direct you to the following knowledge base article: KB176444.  Now this article seems to claim that Office is somehow broken with a corrupt registry entry, but that would mean that all documents being opened in Word would be showing the same message, which is not the case.  Additional searches show pretty much the same thing, or even to ensure that services like DCOM are started, which just doesn’t make any sense here.

I then took to looking at the file server’s open files and sessions, but that led nowhere.  Some of the files in question were open, others were not.  At this point, I ruled out the server as the problem.  However, it was happening on both her computer and mine, so it wasn’t machine- or user-specific.

Further investigation showed that there were some files within the folder which could open, so it wasn’t a permissions issue or corrupt folder.  Moving files wouldn’t work.  Trying to copy the files wouldn’t work.  The files definitely had content, so the files themselves weren’t corrupt either.  In an attempt to rename a file, that’s when I remembered an issue from the last file server migration I performed.

The problem here is really with the UNC path, which in this case has exceeded 256 characters (spaces are characters: ASCII 32).  The UNC path is the entire name of the file and its folders if you were to specifically address the file.  A good example is C:\Users\Mike\Documents\filename 1.docx.  This UNC path is 39 characters.  Once a UNC path exceeds 256 characters, pretty much any operation on this document will fail.  The easiest way to quickly resolve this problem is to rename an excessively long filename or folder to something very short.  The long-term solution is to change your naming convention of filenames or folders.

This 256-character limitation is by design and will affect 32-bit and 64-bit installations, so there really isn’t any way around it.  While it may appear to be helpful to you to be very specific with folders or filenames, it can really hurt you in the long-run.

“There are seldom good technical solutions to behavioral problems.”