Dear ZoneAlarm overlords, (I welcome you!)

I guess these forums aren't necessarily monitored by tech support folks, but perhaps I'll get lucky and catch someone on the tech team with this message looking for a laugh who also might be interested in what I have to say.

So, I'm a developer, and I run tons of processes, debuggers, plugins, etc that hook Windows XP every which way. I fully understand that I'm already asking for trouble. That said, I like to keep all my goofball processes from phoning their respective motherships every hour like clockwork, so I want to run Zone Alarm (the free edition, mind you, because I'm such a lovable slob.)

Anyhow, so I get blue screens with this turd of a Lenovo, I used to get them randomly, maybe 2 a week on a computer seeing heavy use. Usually it's a standard old BAD_POOL_CALLER, but sometimes I hit the jackpot and land the coveted IRQL_LESS_OR_MORE_OR_WHATEVER_NOW_GO_%^&*_YOUR SELF.

I know what you're saying, it's your ram, it's your motherboard. It isn't, I've tested the ram and chips 9 ways to sunday. But drivers ... well, it's Lenovo, so you know we're getting Chinese par excellence... All I can say is, I have faith that Israeli or American (or wherever ZA lives) know-how and gumption will eventually triumph over Chinese cheapness! But in my defense, I keep my drivers and BIOS completely up to date with whatever pile Lenovo is shovellin' this month.

So, I USED to get the BSOD's randomly, didn't fit any pattern. I kindof just put up with them, knowing it was happening in vsdatant.sys, but believing that it was really Lenovo or Cisco VPN or something like that. But after I've upgraded to, I get them only in one place and only in one circumstance - VERY predictable.

I run with IE6 because I am the designated IE6 compatibility guy. The app we're writing does a TON of JavaScript and DOM stuff, and when IE6 is really cranking in this way, it uses both cores of the processor. Now, I run a localhost Java app server to build and test my code. I can hammer the server with Firefox, but both cores never really get slammed - it's single threaded and most of the work is happening in the one JavaScript thread. The **bleep** of my life, IE6 (**bleep** you BillG), though - he goes buck wild and pegs the **bleep** out of my processor.

When this happens, going from idle to max instantly with IE6 against localhost Java, I got like a 1-in-3 chance of BSOD. It is predictable. So, what does Mr. Programmer here think? I think we got us a good old fashioned race condition or a bad old fashioned cache line bug in vsdatant.sys. This latest Java 1.6: it's monster fast with the Socket stuff. Localhost is like in-memory transfer: impossible fast. IE6 slams both cores, blammo - all your race conditions can come out to play. And then there's vsdatant.sys, smack dab in the middle of the 1000-car pile up going on in my TCP stack. And, to head off some of your suspicions, I've got all plugins on IE6 disabled except flash and java, which I HOPE are reliable enough **bleep**s that they not BSOD me. I'm pretty sure the 100% cpu is all IE.

Yessir, we prolly got us a race condition in ZoneAlarm code - or maybe we got some ZA rocket scientist doing self-modifying assembly code thinking "they'll never get around to here before the cache lines clear..." Yeah, right, I've heard that one before (in 1998.)

Now, I seem to recall in ZA 4, 5, or 6 days there was a problem with dual processors in Windows 2000, and we couldn't run ZA at all at that time. I happened to have a duallie back then, so that problem affected me. You know, it strikes me maybe you never really got multiprocessor working 100%? I'd say a thorough code review is in order, what say you ZA man?

Hey, I sympathize, I have heard about some of the issues with hooking and the Windows driver model and how it is unsafe at any speed because it was designed by some sloppy wisenheimers up in Microsoft Town. But ... I dunno, could somehow figure out in your code how to not BSOD me? How about just crashing vsdatant.sys and leaving the rest of the system up? I'll even suffer a disturbing 1 second system hang while you make a gracious exit. I'd be more than happy to manually restart zoney after I'm done with my IE6 testing, heck just throw up a "SOMETHING BAD HAPPENED" systray bubble and I'll restart you later. It's just SUCH A DRAG to reboot this beast - it takes forever for all my **bleep**ola to load, you know? It's literally a miracle I don't have massive data loss, I really can't believe I have a clean/functional file system after bombing as much as I have. I can testify that NTFS gets it done.

Thanks again for a really really important product. I know for positive my zoney has protected me from both prying and attacks. Someday when I am not starving, I promise will payyyy. Even after all your transgressions, I call myself a happy and loyal customer.


Operating System:Windows XP Pro
Software Version:8.0
Product Name:ZoneAlarm (Free)