MLS sporadically crashes

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
mpolder
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MLS sporadically crashes

Postby mpolder » Fri Dec 24, 2010 10:58 am

One of the branches in our stake has had continuing MLS problems. I believe they have the latest MLS (3.2.x). They did a clean install of MLS following the instructions at https://tech.lds.org/wiki/index.php/MLS_installation_and_repair but they are still having issues of being "kicked out" of MLS for no reason. The most recent was November's MPR, in which the clerk had the form filled out completely only to be kicked out of MLS and it didn't get saved.

I think a last option would be to reinstall WIndows and Java but am unsure how to do the Windows bit, unless it lets me create a Restore/Recovery disc, but I don't think the CD drive is a burner.

Any suggestions?

thanks,
matthew

techgy
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Postby techgy » Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:06 am

mpolder wrote:One of the branches in our stake has had continuing MLS problems. I believe they have the latest MLS (3.2.x). They did a clean install of MLS following the instructions at https://tech.lds.org/wiki/index.php/MLS_installation_and_repair but they are still having issues of being "kicked out" of MLS for no reason. The most recent was November's MPR, in which the clerk had the form filled out completely only to be kicked out of MLS and it didn't get saved.

I think a last option would be to reinstall WIndows and Java but am unsure how to do the Windows bit, unless it lets me create a Restore/Recovery disc, but I don't think the CD drive is a burner.

Any suggestions?

thanks,
matthew


It's possible that you could have a corruption of the OS or else some other problem such as malware, etc.
You didn't say if you were the STS for the stake. If not, I would recommend that you contact your State Technology Specialist and have him look into this. If you have a OS corruption you shouldn't be using a restore/recovery since that would only bring back corrupt files. You would need to do a clean install of the OS, followed by a re-installation of all software that you had installed.

All of the above is a last resort and I wouldn't recommend doing it unless another cause cannot be found.
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russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:30 am

You might run a memory test on the computer. Also check the System logs for things like hard drive errors.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

jdlessley
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Postby jdlessley » Fri Dec 24, 2010 12:11 pm

mpolder wrote:[T]hey are still having issues of being "kicked out" of MLS for no reason.
Could you be more specific as to what happens? Does MLS display any messages? Does it close down as though the Exit button is clicked? Or does it just close without any message(s) as though the system closed it? What other system behaviors are present. Does the desktop go blank for a while and then recover (Icons disappear and then reappear after a while.) Does the desktop blink as though it is refreshed? The more information you can provide will help us track the issue. Some possible issues have already been brought up by techgy and RussellHltn. I'll list some that can cause MLS to abruptly close.
  1. Corrupt database.
  2. The MLS installation is corrupt. Some of the necessary files for MLS may be corrupt or unstable.
  3. The operating system has corrupt or unstable libraries used by MLS.
  4. Hardware failures or pending failures.
    a. System memory is failing.
    b. Motherboard components are failing.
    c. Harddrive is failing or has corrupt sectors.
  5. Infection by malware, viruses, etc.
These are just some of the things that can cause an uncommanded shutdown of MLS.

Since MLS is the primary program used by administrative computers it will probably be most likely to experience uncommaned shutdown if there is a system related issue. Other programs with similar system demands such as OpenOffice could be run to see if it behaves the same to see if it is a system issue or just an MLS issue.

mpolder wrote:I think a last option would be to reinstall WIndows and Java...
MLS installs it's own version of Java. Time would be wasted fooling with the system installation of Java.

Before the operating system is reinstalled the issue of why MLS shuts down needs to be investigated. A lot of time and effort will be wasted if the issue is not narrowed down. If the problem is hardware related the issue will only continue and get worse. By the way... what is the computer system involved? Have there been any memory upgrades done before the issue appeared?

I think you can see by all my questions that more information needs to be gathered before time consuming and possibly fruitless action is taken.
JD Lessley
Have you tried finding your answer on the LDS.org Help Center page or the LDSTech wiki?

rpyne
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Postby rpyne » Fri Dec 24, 2010 3:48 pm

An often overlooked cause of sporatic PC problems is a weak power supply. Often, the power supply will not fail completely, but will provide lower than specified voltages to the motherboard.

mpolder
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Postby mpolder » Fri Dec 24, 2010 8:20 pm

Some background info:
1. This is a new Dell 740 (Optiplex?) that replaced the old one in early May of this year. I suppose there could be hardware issues; the suggestion to run Open Office concurrently and see if it ever fails is a good one.
2. This is for a branch in our stake that doesn't have internet yet and is two hours away so I want to make sure I have lots of suggestions and everything I could possibly need before I go there.
3. I'm the Stake clerk; our Stake Technology Specialist was just called as my bishop :) Our STS did send the suggestions on the Installation and Repair page.

I didn't realize the MLS installer came with Java. Thanks for the tip. If I did decide to reinstall the OS, does Salt Lake or the local FM group have CDs or DVDs to do a clean install? Our STS handled setting them all up. I'm fairly comfortable technically but please keep sending your suggestions my way!

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Fri Dec 24, 2010 11:30 pm

mpolder wrote:If I did decide to reinstall the OS, does Salt Lake or the local FM group have CDs or DVDs to do a clean install?


Typically they are shipped with the computer. Ask the STS what he did with them.
Have you searched the Wiki?

Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

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Mikerowaved
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Postby Mikerowaved » Sat Dec 25, 2010 1:11 am

I didn't see anywhere if Windows was affected by MLS shutting down. If it's stable, but MLS is not, then my guess is either MLS is corrupt or it's a hardware issue like defective RAM.

I understand it's hard to do a long-distance diagnosis and I have to assume much of the information you're providing us is coming 2nd hand from the clerk(s) in the branch. It would be most helpful if one of the clerks can check the Event Viewer to see if there are any obvious errors that are MLS or Afaria related.

And make sure they know NOT to switch off any power strip the PC might be connected to before the PC has a chance to completely shut down. Just a shot in the dark, but that practice has been know to corrupt the MLS database and cause other problems.

With no Internet there, your concern with having everything you need is warranted. If I were making a trip there, I would have the following items with me...

  1. Windows XP, or Dell System Restore disks, in case you decide to reformat and start over.
  2. A pre-made CD of Memtest86+. It's a tiny program, but it may take some time to run. Obvious memory errors will often show up in the first few minutes, but I usually let it run overnight to screen for the more intermittent or temp sensitive errors. YMMV.
  3. A thumb-drive with the installation files from mls.lds.org of the programs you wish to install. Also useful for backing-up the unit's MLS data prior to a clean install as described by THESE instructions from the WIKI.
I'm not sure what beyond that would be helpful. I'm certain someone else in the forum might have a suggestion or two.

To answer a previous question, I believe this model comes with a combo CD burner / DVD player optical drive, but I don't know whether it has the option to create the system restore CD's you are looking for.

Best of luck and Merry Christmas!
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lajackson
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Postby lajackson » Mon Dec 27, 2010 4:12 pm

Mikerowaved wrote:It would be most helpful if one of the clerks can check the Event Viewer to see if there are any obvious errors that are MLS or Afaria related.


We have a regular glitch where MLS seems to freeze with a screen that is not properly displayed. It happens after certain MLS commands or links are clicked. It is a display problem in the MLS (or underlying Java) program.

We have found that in almost every case, the requested command was completed. The display just did not refresh as it should.

The workaround is to minimize the MLS screen, then display it again from the Task Bar. Everything after that seems to be perfectly normal until we do one of the commands that messes up the screen again.

If this is what you are referring to as MLS shutting down, you may be seeing this glitch. It is noticeably more common since we went to later versions of 3.2, and it is downright predictable in version 3.3.

And just a note here that we do not even have Afaria on our computers anymore. There is a thing called UDX that handles all of our communication. It showed up quite a while ago here.

kisaac
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Postby kisaac » Mon Dec 27, 2010 5:31 pm

lajackson wrote:We have a regular glitch where MLS seems to freeze with a screen that is not properly displayed. It happens after certain MLS commands or links are clicked. It is a display problem in the MLS (or underlying Java) program.

We have found that in almost every case, the requested command was completed. The display just did not refresh as it should.


I have experienced both. What lajackson has described is a display problem, and in those cases the request was indeed completed, the screen display was just messed up. However, I have also been "Kicked Out" of MLS as the original message describes. There is no error message, no warning, MLS just quits and dumps you back into your windows desktop. You must re-enter MLS and redo whatever you were working on. Windows seems unaffected, and MLS allows me back in and I continue with the exact same operations with no further problems. I've meant to keep a log so I could say when it happens, but the two issues are very separate. I think it is during either custom reports work, or custom member fields entry.


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