PapaJohn's Newsletter #34 - Jan 1, 2005

(updated March 2009)

Movie Maker and Photo Story


 New Year's Resolutions
Manage Adware and Spyware
Understand DLL Registration

To start the new year on a positive note, how about learning a bit more about what's on your computer competing for its energies and your attention?
There are many posts by those who say they resolved Movie Maker issues by cleaning up adware and spyware. Maybe they did.
And there are more and more people with computers bogging down with adware and spyware, to the point they can no longer run the apps they used to, or can't run them as well.
Let's explore that a bit... along with a possibly related item, the registration of Movie Maker DLLs.
... before getting into them, a couple notes about things going on...

 It's been kind of quiet for the holidays... I'm waiting for a few people to get back to work next week or so... to take the next steps on a few co-operative projects.
That gives me some time to work on my current video-related priority, writing the chapter for the new book about the world of Virtual Dub.

Adware and Spyware
Adware and spyware have become more of an issue than computer viruses for many people... certainly more prevalent... and just as serious in terms of performance issues.

Here are two utilities from Microsoft that check your computer and help you resolve any issues they find. I didn't have them in the original issue of this newsletter. Try them first and hopefully you won't need to go any further.

check your computer for infection

Windows Defender

If needed, continue on to the 6 step process I first published, finding and removing the adware/spyware on your computer using free utilities in addition to your usual virus protection software. The steps should be done in sequence.

1 - Ad-Aware
Download  at Ad-Aware from Lavasoft ... (free for personal use)
install it... the default location is C:\Program Files\Lavasoft\Ad-aware 6 
When starting it, have it check for updates (link in the lower-right). It's like a virus protection app, needing the most current list of what's out there, a list it calls the reference file.
Then 'Scan now', going with the default to perform a smart in-depth system-scan. I just ran it on my laptop and checked its log. It reported:
 42 running processes (the Task Manager is reporting 51). Ad-aware provides more info than Task Manager does about each, including the path to the file. The figure below includes a sample line item from the Ad-aware log.
 31 tracking cookies... many of which I know about and want to keep. Ad-aware lets you choose which ones to keep or quarantine.
Do a right mouse click and choose 'Select all objects' to quickly put check marks in all of them. Then let it quarantine whatever it finds, sometimes hundreds of items. Or review them individually and decide which to quarantine. If you do them all and later miss something, you can take it out of quarantine. I left the 31 tracking cookies it reported and quarantined nothing on this pass.
Desktop check - My laptop recently came back from the shop with a new hard drive, so it hasn't had a chance to accumulate as much adware and spyware as my desktop... running it now on my desktop shows 230 new objects (68 registry keys, 5 registry values, 156 files and 1 folder). I let Ad-aware quarantine them all, then repeated the scan to see if anything came back automatically... nothing did.

2 - Spybot Search and Destroy
Install it... the default location is C:\Program Files\Spybot - Search & Destroy
Similar to Ad-aware, update it's reference file first by clicking on Search for Updates.
Then select 'Check for problems'. Spybot takes a good bit longer to run then Ad-aware.
Here's what it reported on my laptop.
 5 security holes in Internet Explorer
 24 tracking cookies
I left everything as is for this run... on my laptop I'm seeing what these apps report, and fixing nothing. The computer is my main work machine and I don't trust anything to take over.
Desktop check - Spybot says there are 65 problems on my desktop. I'll give it the OK to fix them all.
It said it fixed 58 of them but 7 couldn't be fixed, perhaps because they were in use. It asked for permission to run during startup after I rebooted. I gave it the OK, did the reboot and let it go to work. It fixed one more, but not the remaining 6. Reboot again for another pass...
On my desktop I'm letting them fix anything they think is a problem. My desktop isn't as critical to me as my laptop if they are over-zealous in their fixing. And my desktop has had some problems in recent months that I don't understand... maybe spyware/adware. One of the problems is that Spybot takes forever to update itself... to the point that I have to shut it down abnormally.

3 - HighjackThis
Download HiJack This

No installation is needed, just run it.
Many of the items shown by HijackThis are needed for your normal activities.
Send the report to Security to have the items assessed.

4 - CWShredder
Cool Web Search is something so hard to remove that this specialty software was developed.
If you haven't seen it noted in the first few steps, you don't need to use CWShredder. I don't see it on either my laptop or desktop.
But if you do come across it, you'll need this specialized utility to remove it.
Download CWShredder
No installation is needed, just run it.
This ends the 4 steps to find and eliminate overly intrusive spyware and adware.
The final two steps are prudent steps to use to supplement these.

5 - Virus protection
Be sure to have an updated anit-virus app - usually Norton or MacAfee... do a full scan of your system to delete any left-over traces of the removed adware/spyware.

6 - Task Manager
If your system still seems too sluggish, use your Task Manager to see what processes are running.
....on to another possibly related topic

MM2.1 DLL Registration
It's easy to check the installed files in the Movie Maker working folder to be sure the right ones are there. It's a little harder to verify the DLLs are properly registered, something needed for MM2 to work properly.
Because many posts indicate there may be some relationship between adware, spyware, and DLL registration, I'm including this section in the newsletter. I don't know if agressive adware or spyware somehow unregisters DLLs, or if MM2's DLL's somehow slip out of gear.
I did some testing to see what effects unregistering DLLs has on Movie Maker performance... and found some interesting things.
I developed the Problem Solving > MM2 Will Not Install or Run page of the site using MM2.0... reinstalling it was a fairly easy step as there was a readily available and reasonably sized download file to use. But with MM2.1 being part of SP2, a hefty 250+ MB download, the right answers for installation and running issues are different.
I revised the Setup > MM2.1 web page to add file and DLL registration issues, and I'll elaborate a bit more here.
On checking 3 of the computers I upgraded to SP2, I see a full set of the over 2000 new files in this folder:
A handful of them are those for Movie Maker 2.1. If you check the Movie Maker working folder and don't see all the files after upgrading to SP2, it's an easy thing to go to this folder and copy the missing ones.

Registering DLLs

For most files it's a matter of having the right revision. But for some DLLs there's also the need to register them. Sometimes (based on posts I read) the installation of SP2 doesn't effectively register some of the DLLs, and you need to register them manually. 

I checked each of the 11 DLLs in the working folder (8 for MM2 and 3 for MM1) to see which ones can be manually registered and unregistered... there are 6 of them you can toggle on and off.

To register one, use start > Run > copy/paste one of the entries below and run it. Do them one at a time...

c:\windows\system32\regsvr32.exe c:\progra~1\moviem~1\wmm2ae.dll        

c:\windows\system32\regsvr32.exe c:\progra~1\moviem~1\wmm2ext.dll

c:\windows\system32\regsvr32.exe c:\progra~1\moviem~1\wmm2filt.dll

c:\windows\system32\regsvr32.exe c:\progra~1\moviem~1\wmm2fxa.dll

c:\windows\system32\regsvr32.exe c:\progra~1\moviem~1\wmm2fxb.dll

c:\windows\system32\regsvr32.exe c:\progra~1\moviem~1\wmmfilt.dll

When a DLL is successfully registered  your feedback will look like this:

Successful DLL Registration

To unregister a DLL use the same line except add an 'unregister' switch command to it as follows: regsvr32 /U

What Problems Exist if a DLL Isn't Registered?
I toggled the 6 DLLs on and off for a few days... registering and unregistering them (closing MM2 each time so the DLLs weren't in use). I did all of them together, some of them in groups, and each individually... checking Movie Maker to see if I could notice what was different. Here's what I found:

  • wmm2filt.dll is a pretty important one. When it isn't registered - effects and transitions don't preview in the collections, but other things do. When previewing the timeline, video and text don't show but audio and music play. None of the DLLs seem to effect audio.

  • if wmm2fxa.dll isn't registered but wmm2filt.dll is - things in the collections preview, but previewingEmbossed the timeline shows video that looks embossed, and you can't see titles. The picture at the right shows one of the wedding scenes during a transition when the DLL isn't registered. The embossing carries through the whole movie.

  • if all 5 of the MM2 DLLs are not registered - MM2 opens and appears to be functional, but: only 5 of the original effects appear in the collection (Blur, Grayscale, Mirror Horizontal, Pixilate, Slow Down - Half, Speed Up - Double) and they don't preview, transitions don't preview, clips of all kinds in your collections will continue to preview fine, the timeline of a project looks normal but when you preview it you hear audio and music, but don't see any pictures or video. The text wizard appears functional but you don't see any text previews and the text clips in the project don't preview. 3rd party and custom effects and transitions appear in the collections but don't preview.
  • if the MM1 DLL wmmfilt.dll isn't registered, everything in MM2 seems to work OK. And work OK in MM1 also.

Of the 6 DLLs I could toggle on and off, I found the key to rendering a movie to either a WMV or DV-AVI file is wmm2filt.dll. If I unregister it, I get the standard error message about not being able to save the movie for ....... any number of reasons. The message shows up quickly after trying to start the rendering, just long enough for Movie Maker to check to ensure wmm2filt.dll is available.

Rendering works fine with wmm2filt.dll registered and all other 5 DLLs not registered. But, how does the saved movie play if only wmm2fxa.dll is unregistered? The timeline preview looked embossed and you couldn't see titles... would that carry through into the rendered movie? Yes, it does... it looks kind of neat with all that embossing - clips, transitions and all. I might use it someday for an easy to implement broad sweeping effect on a full video. It's easier to turn off the DLL than it is to add the embossing effect to each clip.

Does unregistering MM1's wmmfilt.dll result in it not being able to render a movie to either WMV or DV-AVI format? Nope, it continues to render fine...

I'm sure there are other things I missed in my checking, but these should be enough to give you some understanding of the potential issues... and what to do about them.

Some people are reporting issues with MM2.1 that are similar to the issues seen when one or more DLL isn't registered. Some are reporting that removal of spyware and adware resolved their issues; others find manually registering the DLLs resolves it. Are spyware, adware and MM2 DLL issues related? I don't know, but I'm open to something being there, if not directly then indirectly.
I know there are many adware/spyware apps rolling out to help you manage the situation... some with more adware/spyware in them than they resolve. I don't try them all. One of son's spent 10 years in silicon valley doing computer desktop support for various companies.... he came back to Michigan a year ago and has been doing private computer support. Most of his business lately is from individuals needing to cleanup their computers... bogged down by adware and spyware. His customers are extremely satisfied with how their computers have worked since his tune-up... so I interviewed him this week to see how he approaches them.
This newsletter is the first documentation of what he does. I've tested each step on two of my computers to validate the checklist. I started this for my personal notes, but felt the topic is important enough to share with you.
I've been adding the DLL registration info to the website but I don't expect to be adding the spyware/adware info.
Happy New Year!!!

Have a great week...