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Offline Icicle

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Monitoring VtMB and Hammer for Crashes
« on: February 09, 2017, 04:49:11 pm »
Sometimes it's helpful to know when something crashed.

Example, I get up from my computer for 10 mins, come back, I'm at my desktop...wait, did I leave VtMB running? Did it crash or am I crazy? Or both?

For most people there is a crash pop-up telling you that something has crashed, but I disabled that through Group Policy Editor, as Hammer crashes on me probably 50 times a day and I don't want to have to click a button to proceed every time.  Especially because this minimizes the Vampire.exe process just after I have compiled a map and am entering Dev mode to do the cubemaps and node graph update. So, my crashes are "silent", the program just exits and that's it.

Well, simplest solution is to have another pair of eyes...electronic eyes.

Enter Process Monitor, a less than 1MB utility by Microsoft that has existed for some time. It's useful for watching anything happening on your computer, in terms of when things start, when they end, and what they do in-between. It has no installer, just stick it in C:\processmonitor\ or something, doesn't matter.

If all you want to do is monitor 1 or 2 things, Process Monitor is really spammy and annoying to look through. Fortunately it allows filtering.

However, if you don't setup the filter right, you will block out everything you want to see (or part of it).

Here's how to setup Process Monitor to watch when Vampire.exe and Hammer.exe start and end, and also to log crashes too.

1. There's a Filter menu at the top, and you might want to choose "Reset Filter" before you start, just in case.

2. Then choose Filter > Filter...

3. Now repeat this for each of the following configurations of the tiny Filter popup:
  • Process Name, is, Vampire.exe, Include
  • Process Name, is, hammer.exe, Include
  • Operation, is, Process Start, Include
  • Operation, is, Process Exit, Include
  • Operation, is, Process Create, Include
  • Path, is, C:\WINDOWS\SysWoW64\WerFault.exe, Include
  • Path, is, <blank>, Include
(note, I'm using 64-bit Windows so if you're not, you might have to purposely crash Hammer or Vampire.exe before setting up your filters, and note the line in the process monitor that shows it crashed, and setup a filter for that instead... I doubt non-64 bit Windows uses "C:\Windows\SysWoW64\WerFault.exe")

The WerFault.exe is your signal that something crashed. Programs call this .exe when they are exiting abnormally.

Edit: OK, I had to dig a little deeper into this thing. It's not obvious, but if you don't do the following, procmon will gobble up all your available RAM as it runs and monitors things (it collects hundreds of thousands of events in a matter of ten seconds).

To make procmon run in a sane way:

1. Choose Options menu > History Depth...

2. Change it to 1 million. I doubt you're gonna need more than 1 million backlog of VtMB / Hammer .exe runs, lmao.  By default this is set to something insanely high like 99 million.

3. Choose File > Backing Files...

4. Change the radio AWAY from virtual memory, to "Use file named:" and pick a filename to create.  Click OK, procmon babbles about needing to be restarted, so close it and re-open it right away before it tries to crash your computer by eating up all the memory. (Thx Microsoft)

5. Last but not least, choose Filter > Drop Filtered Events, so it doesn't even bother logging the stuff that is filtered out.

There, a working VtMB and Hammer trace log that shows crashes. Not many alternative programs can do what this thing does.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 09:59:07 pm by Icicle »

Offline Icicle

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Re: Monitoring VtMB and Hammer for Crashes
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2017, 08:38:43 pm »
BTW, might look for a better solution than this Microsoft thing.

Something it does really screws up memory allocation.

Like, I ran this <1MB utility for a while, and noticed my computer started complaining about being out of available RAM, and I have 12 GB RAM, and have never run out of it previously.  Also noticed VtMB was complaining about not being able to allocate memory all of the sudden.

I close this little thing, and watched in task manager as my memory usage went from 11GB+ down to like 3GB? wtf is this little monster doing.

Sheesh, Microsoft.

Ya, log all process interactions, AND STORE IT IN ACTIVE MEMORY until it kills your session and you need to reboot your computer? WTF are files for, god, and this is a company that makes operating systems. Brilliant

Figures this happens only after I posted about it :P
« Last Edit: February 09, 2017, 09:13:46 pm by Icicle »

Offline Icicle

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Re: Monitoring VtMB and Hammer for Crashes
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2017, 09:00:14 pm »
K nvm, there's non-obvious ways of getting Process Monitor to work without chewing up all RAM and crashing your windows session............"great" design, let's make a program that will murder your computer while you try to solve problems using it... (Micro$haft thinking)... but anyway there's not a lot like this (deceptively) little tool. Edited original post


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