Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vista, updates and Zone Alarm

I have Vista Home Premium installed on my main PC at home, and whilst it's had a lot of bad press, I quite like it.

I also use the mighty fine (and free) Zone Alarm as my firewall of choice, and it too does the business quietly and efficiently.

Today, I fired up Internet Explorer, something I rarely do as Firefox is my preferred browser, and I rarely go anywhere near IE if I can help it. However, tonight I did, and it would lad any web pages. I was connected to the Internet, Firefox worked fine, and IE was also connecting with no problems on my other PC.

Much scratching of head ensued, but I ran the inbuilt diagnostic tool in IE and it gave me the following error.


Now the only thing I recognise here is the word ALE, and I was pretty sure I hadn't tipped any beer on my keyboard. A quick Google suggested this was a policy issue (doesn't help me) and not too much help in suggesting an effective fix, and to be honest there's not much info on this returned on Google anyway.

I dug a bit more before I remembered that when I shut down last night there were some automatic updates waiting to install. I wondered if that had anything to do with it, and then a comment on a Forum about Zone Alarm caught my eye.

Now good though ZA is, there have been a couple of occasions when it conflicts with something - Norton AV seems to ring a bell, but NAV as I recall conflicts with almost everything anyway!

Anyhows, I closed down ZA and bingo - IE connected like a dream. I decided on the spot I'd prefer to have ZA in place and working than use IE as a browser, so fired up ZA again and IE stopped working.

My guess, for what it's worth is that last night's auto update changes something somewhere in IE or system code that conflicts with ZA. Whether this gets fixed remains to be seen. It's not on the MS knowledge base yet, that's for sure.

For info, the updates that got installed last night were:

  • Security Update for 2007 Microsoft Office System KB951944
  • Security update for Microsoft office system 2007 KB954326
  • Security update for office 2003 KB953404: MSO
  • Security update for office 2003 KB954478: GDIPLUS
  • Security update for office XP KB953405: SHARED
  • Security update for Microsoft Windows KB938464
  • Security update for Microsoft Windows KB954154
  • Update for Microsoft Windows KB954366
  • Update for Microsoft Windows KB955302
  • Update for Microsoft Windows KB905866
  • Security update for Microsoft Works 8 KB956483
  • Security update for Windows Media Encoder KB954156
Actually it's quite interesting to look through all the updates that have been installed (in Vista go to Control Panel, Programs, Programs & Features, Installed Updates)
I'm set to auto update, but I've no idea whether any of these updates are critical, useful or a waste of space.

There's no obvious one of the above that might have caused this conflict, and I can't be arsed to delete them one by one until I find out which one caused the problem - if indeed any of them did.

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