Thursday, July 5, 2007

More... There's always more.

CalBar Blondie asked a question about hibernation mode and anti-virus program updates in the comments to my last post and I did my best to provide a short but logical answer there. And I decided to reproduce those responses here in case someone doesn't get to those comments. As always, because the exam is so important, if you have any doubts about stuff like this, have your paid computer guy take care of it, or at least have him/her show you how. Because he probably has insurance in case something gets hosed. I'm just an ex-IT guy. And I don't have insurance. (;-)>

Q: GP: Would this explain my computer going into hibernation mode several seconds before they said "BEGIN" in February? It went back up miraculously, but there was temporary heart failure there for a few minutes. What about the Norton Anti-Virus updates?

A1: You can modify power usage settings through the Power Settings option on the Control Panel. I've set mine so that nothing times out when it's plugged in, and I've also disabled the Hibernation mode.

You'll also want to disable your wireless adapter the morning of the exam. Examsoft won't let your system communicate with the outside world when taking an exam. But the wireless network searches for a connection constantly, and that takes CPU cycles. This manifests itself as a cursor that pauses every 4-5 characters when typing and when using the arrow keys.

That's not critical, but it sure is annoying. The wireless adapter can be disabled temporarily through the Network Adapter component in the Hardware section of the System option in the Control Panel. Clear as mud? Great. Now let's tackle Cold Fusion.

Go to Control Panel/ System/ Hardware/ Device Manager/ Network Adapters, right-click on your wireless adapter then select "disable". Then do the same thing after the exam and select "enable" so that Examsoft can upload the exams.

Simple, eh? Right. Now, about that cold fusion thing.

A2: And... I've seen laptops lock up during the exam such that they have to be shut down and restarted. Examsoft starts right back up where it left off so they've apparently anticipated that problem. Hibernation mode is a little different than a restart because the OS simply saves the current state of the system to a file then restores it when you wake it up. That's much less destructive than a restart because when it hibernates, everything is saved, including what you've been typing and where you are in any program that happens to be open when it goes into hibernation.

A3: Regarding the various anti-virus program updates, these programs typically only update the virus definitions database. That's the list against which they compare what they found on your system to see whether that object is a virus, or whatever.

The anti-virus database updates pose very little threat because there are no (or negligible) changes made to the registry during this process. Again, the key is not allowing programs to access to the registry. The Microsoft Auto-Update process can be disabled through the Automatic Updates option in the Control Panel. Simply select "Turn off Automatic Updates", and ignore the otherwise prudent warnings until August.


Anonymous said...

that was really helpful..a friend of mine was doing a practice test and examsoft crashed.

calbar blondie said...

I turned off the auto updates. Here's the rub on the turning off the hibernation mode. Examsoft ignores it!!
I'm going to definitely do some test runs before July 24th. Thanks for the good advice, GP. I hate to say this, but as a repeater, I've seen dozens of computers freeze up all around me(including my own). Most reboot successfully, but I saw many blue books handed out as well. I hope that Examsoft is working out the kinks with each administration.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the advice! I'll be commissioning my IT techie husband to give my laptop another once-over, but using all your suggestions such as turning off automatic updates. You may just have saved a bar taker from opening fire.