Force Crash Dump

On occasion, WriteLog has been known to hang. That is, it stops responding to keyboard input and the only recourse is to use Windows Task Manager to “kill process” or to reboot. This may be accompanied by a dialog that pops up that says, “Server Busy” but other than telling you there is a problem, is not useful. If you’re in the middle of a contest, it may not be your top priority to provide diagnostic information to the WriteLog team, but here’s a tool from Microsoft that can do just that and is not very difficult to install and use:

In defense of WriteLog’s design, it is very unusual for WriteLog by itself to hang. It almost always requires “help” from a device driver of some sort: a COM port, the network, or a sound board. But since you are likely using any or all of these, and the hangs happen without warning, it is impossible for you to tell which might have “helped”. This diagnostic dump will tell the story.

The procdump URL above provides lots of documentation and you are encouraged to understand it, but here is all you need to know in order to use it to provide a WriteLog diagnostic dump:

  • Download the zip file above.
  • Choose a permanent directory on your WriteLog machine(s) and unzip the procdump download there.
  • Also download this:
  • And unzip it into the same directory. It will create a file named dumpwl.bat.
  • After starting WriteLog, use Windows Explorer to double click the dumpwl.bat (or otherwise start it from the Windows command line). It will put up a command window with a description of what it is monitoring. You may minimize this command window.
  • Should WriteLog fail to respond to Windows messages for 5 seconds (per the procdump documentation), the procdump utility will create a diagnostic dump file with a name that looks like this:
  • That dmp file is what the WriteLog team can use to determine what was happening at the time of the hang. Compress that dmp file into a zip file (in Windows Explorer, use right mouse, Send-To, Compressed Folder) and email the resulting zip file to along with a description of what
    you were doing at the time of the hang.