I'm running P99SE SP6 on an IBM NetVista 6648 with a Pentium III 866 with
128M of memory (yes I know I need more), and W2K PRO SP2, and Office 2K PRO
SP2, Internet Explorer 5.5, all recently installed from Scratch.
I have a Logitech Mouse and Mouseware, and an external Parallel Port CD Rom
R/W. The only other software on the machine is: Adobe Acrobat Reader 5, Real
One Player, PowerDesk 4 Pro from Ontrack, and Norton Antivirus which came
with the machine from IBM, and CAMtastic.
In have had the machine for about 10 months, and never had any failure or
problems of any kind with it. I recently aquired the External CD R/W, and
after installing it, I completely reloaded everything from the IBM / Win2K
Restoration Partition on the 20 Gig Hard Drive..
I had been working on a Protel Project which has 2 small libraries (40 parts
in one and 6 in the other), 2 small PCB's which are both barely started, and
a couple of OrcAD 7.20 Netlists, all in the same DDB, and all open.
I open and close the Protel Database several times from the Desktop
Shortcut, and after saving all files, close it with the big X, without
closing individual files first.
I have been working on the thing for over a week, open, close, up, down,
etc., with no problems.
Somehow I have gotten a little problem with my OrCAD 7.20 Netlist and one
page of the schematic is getting corrupted, and generating a bogus Netlist,
or maybe Protel is messing them up on the import.
By the way, the OrCad is on another machine, and I import the netlist across
I had rebooted both machines, several times, and I had just generated a new
netlist on the other machine, and the problem with the netlist is not the
problem that I am concerned with here (although if anyone is an expert on
OrCAD netlist problems I'll accept any suggestions about that). The netlist
problem simply led up to the Protel Problem I will now describe.
I go to the IBM, and launch Protel from the shortcut. It normally takes
about 15 seconds to load all of the files.
This time, however, rather than wait for Protel to load, I hit the
"minimize" button while it still has its little Protel "Logo Box" in the
center of the screen, and is starting to load files, and it dissappears into
the taskbar, so I can launch PowerDesk (or Explorer, or something else) so
that I can go directly to the other system and copy the netlist to the local
drive before importing (to eliminate anything that may be be happening
because of the "import" across the network).
After double clicking the Powerdesk shortcut, while it is launching, I go
back to the Taskbar and hit Protel to enlarge it again.
The Protel "Ghost Screen", as I call it, appears on the screen, which
consists of the Protel "title bar" (banner) across the top of the screen,
with an empty gray "menu bar" (no text (File, Edit, etc)), and an empty gray
bar at the bottom of the screen, but with no Protel in the middle of the
screen - just a hole - sometimes you can see what was there before, and
sometimes it is just gray background.
I have become very familiar over the last year with this Protel "Ghost
Screen", as it appears to be the Protel equivilent of what the "Blue Screen
of Death" is to Microsoft.
Anyway, on numerous occasions during the past year when Protel has gone
south for the winter, it has left this "Ghost Screen" behind, and simply
crashed out of Protel, but not crashed the system (other than trashing the
graphics of the Desktop). The other common form of Protel crash that I am
also very familiar with is the one where the system simply locks up, where
occasionally, if you can do a CntlAltDel, you might be lucky enough to get
to the Task Manager and recover, but most of the time you simply have to do
a "hard reset" or "power down".
Anyway, all that is a preface to this.
This time, in the middle of the "Ghost Screen", something I have never seen
before, the little Protel "Logo Box" in the center of thescreen.
Protel has crashed, and is no longer running, and I have the "Ghost Screen"
and Logo Box" on top of everything.
Windows is still running, albeit with a trashed screen, but I can still
launch other programs, or maxamize PowerDesk, etc., but just with the "Ghost
Screen" behind it.
Needless to say the graphics are trashed and at the very least unstable, so
I decide to reboot the machine.
Once I reboot, I try numerous times to replicate the problem, but only got
it to go south and give up the "Ghost Screen", one other time, but the one
thing that is consistant is that every single time I try to repeat the
problem, I DO get a PERMANANT "Logo Box" in the middle of the screen in
Thats right, a permanant "Logo Box", right on top of everything, and a
"normal (?)" Protel session running underneath it.
Protel seems to be running just fine, but the "Logo Box" is right on top in
the center of everything, and will NOT go away unless and until you shut
You seem to be able to do any normal functions in Protel, just so long as
you can get to the screen around the perimeter of the permanant "Logo Box".
I eliminated diddling around with any other programs, and got the problem
down to the simplest form where it is 100 percent consistant and repeatable
on my system.
I launch Protel from the Desktop shortcut (with or without having unclosed
files from the previous session), and as soon as it fills the screen I hit
the "minimize" ("-") button, which causes the Protel to "shrink" to the
"Taskbar", and then I simply wait for it to finish loading. Then I hit
Protel on the "Taskbar" to "maxamize" it again, and it reappears , but it
now still has the "Logo Box" in the middle of the screen, with an otherwise
apparently normal Protel rinning behind it.
OK, so I understand that this a fluke caused by my messing around and
"minimizing" and "maxamizing" Protel at the wrong time.
Well, number one, it is abnormal, and number two, it is repeatable and
consistant on my machine.
It is bizzare behaviour that is directly asscociated with an occasional
It may be repeatable on other systems.
I bring this up because the by virture of the fact that it is abnormal and
also repeatable, it may be a possible key for understanding the other
remaining causes of system crashes that are still happening in Protel 99 SE.
This may just be something that will allow some of these problems to get
tracked down and resolved.
I guess I would also wonder if it is repeatable in DXP.
I also bring this up because I believe that there are many people out there
that either have not upgraded to DXP, or do not plan to upgrade to DXP.
Protel 99 SE appears to have a pretty broad user base out there which
appears to want to continue to use the "product" that they purchased, Protel
99 SE, and would appreciate it if Protel would fix the system crashes,
especially since many of those users have complained about the crashes since
they bought Protel 99 SE, already at SP5 or SP6, and some of which have not
even had it a year yet, and yet they will not be getting a free upgrade to
DXP, since they bought it (Protel 99 SE) just before October 1, 2001.
I for one happen to have the full release version of DXP, sitting in a box
right next to me, and it is going to remain sitting in it's box for quite
some time, since I have no immediate plans to for it's installation.
I think that it needs a little time to "mature" (like a good wine), maybe
just a service pack or two, and I will need a little time to learn how to
become proficient at it.
But for now, I have work to do, and the only thing that I can rely on right
now that is somewhat consistant and somewhat productive is Protel 99 SE.
I would be interested in whether or not this can be repeated with any
consistancy on other machines.
I have a hunch that the slower the machine, the more chance of
repeatability, and I would believe that it may not occur on a fast system,
since I believe that you have to hit the "minimaze" button and "shrink"
Protel into the "Taskbar" before the "Logo Box" dissappears.
Anyway, if this repratable, then maybe we need to tag it with that nasty
little "b" word and pass it on to Protel.
(Speaking of that nasty little "b" word, it seems to be batted around quite
freely, and also quite often, in the Official Altium Monitored DXP Forum . .
Speaking of the Official Altium Monitored DXP Forum, have you ever seen so
many "Managers" from any one single company in any one single place before?
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