The strange case of the incorrect side-by-side configuration

Side-by-side configuration error

A week ago VirtualBox informed that a new version was available and that I should update to it. I proceeded to get the latest version using Chrome, which downloaded as the file VirtualBox-4.2.4-81684-Win.exe. On executing the file, I got this error:

The application has failed to start because its side-by-side configuration is incorrect. Please see the application event log or use the command-line sxstrace.exe tool for more detail.

This error was a bit troubling to me because I have not seen any DLL or SxS problems with Windows 7 and recent versions of software. Those happen mostly with older versions of Windows and older software.

Searching online for this error leads to suggestions that one should install a particular version of the Visual C++ Redistributable package. None of those solved the problem however.

I finally suspected the file itself. File downloads rarely get corrupted these days, but it can still happen. So, I downloaded the file again and it installed without any complaint! 🙂

Just to confirm I opened up the two files in WinMerge and found that there were a few bytes at the end of the second file missing from the first downloaded file.

Tried with: VirtualBox 4.2.4 and Windows 7 Enterprise

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Visual Studio 2010: Conversion to COFF failure

Conversion to COFF failure.

Problem

I installed Visual Studio 2012. After that when I tried to open an older C++ project in Visual Studio 2010 and compile it, I get this error:

LINK: fatal error LNK1123: failure during conversion to COFF: file invalid or corrupt

Solution

This is an error caused by the installation of Visual Studio 2012. To fix this, just download and install the Visual Studio 2010 Service Pack 1. The SP1 install takes a while. The error should be gone after that.

Tried with: Visual Studio 2010, Visual Studio 2012 and Windows 7 x64

Component MSCOMCTL.OCX not correctly registered

MSCOMCTL.OCX error dialog

Problem

After I installed MP3Gain on Windows 8 and executed it, it threw this error:

Component ‘MSCOMCTL.OCX’ or one of its dependencies not correctly registered: a file is missing or invalid

Solution

This error is caused because either the file MSCOMCTL.OCX is missing or it is not registered with the registry. To fix it, try the following:

  1. Find a copy of this file. You might find this file somewhere among your Windows application directories or can be found online. Place the file in a directory which will not be tampered with.
  2. Open a command prompt with Administrator privileges.
  3. Register the file by using the regsvr32 command: regsvr32 C:\path\to\MSCOMCTL.OCX

After the registration is successful, run the application again and it should execute without throwing this error.

Tried with: Windows 8 x64 and MP3Gain 1.2.5

LibreOffice installation error

Problem

LibreOffice install error message

I tried to install a new version of LibreOffice (v3.6) over an existing old version (v3.3). During the install process, it threw up this error dialog:

Please exit LibreOffice 3.3 and the LibreOffice 3.3 Quickstarter before you continue. If you are using a multi-user system, also make sure that no other user has LibreOffice 3.3 open.

I checked and LibreOffice or its Quickstarter were not running. Nor was any other user on my computer logged on.

Solution

Not being able to find out why the installer was giving this error, I gave up. I uninstalled the older version of LibreOffice and tried the newer version installation again. It worked fine this time.

Tried with: LibreOffice 3.6

Fixing noisy HDMI audio output

Problem

I connected a Dell Inspiron 1320 notebook with HDMI output to a Toshiba REGZA LCD TV using a HDMI cable. The notebook is running Windows 7 Home Premium. When I play a video file on the notebook, both the audio and video from the TV seems to be fine. However, when you actually sit down to watch for a longer time you notice that the audio sounds kind of muffled or noisy and the spoken words are hard to distinguish.

Solution

First, I suspected the TV, since it has so many audio settings in its menus. After testing all possible audio combinations on the TV, there was no improvement in the audio.

Then, I decided to turn to the Dell Inspiron 1320. The HDMI video and audio from this notebook is generated by its Intel GM 45 chipset. I used the Support section of the Intel webpage to check if any of the notebook’s Intel hardware had newer drivers. And yes, there was a much newer graphics driver available. I downloaded, installed it and rebooted the notebook. When I connected the TV, the new driver could now detect that it was a Toshiba TV that was connected through HDMI and needless to say that the audio output was perfect! 🙂

Tried with: Dell Inspiron 1320 and Toshiba REGZA LCD TV

Windows Mobility Center not opening in Windows 7

Problem

You try to open Windows Mobility Center and it is not opening. It can be opened from either the Start menu or by pressing Win + X and neither method works.

Solution

Open Task Manager or Process Explorer and see if the Windows Mobility Center is already running. Look for the process named mblctr.exe and kill it. You should be able to open it after this.

Tried with: Windows 7

Python: pkg_resources module error

Problem

Run ipython3.exe and it quits with this error: ImportError: No module named pkg_resources

Solution

pkg_resources is a module that ships with the setuptools package. setuptools has been adandoned now, but a fork of it named distribute provides this module. So, install distribute (see how) and this error will be gone.

Tried with: ipython 0.12.1, Python 3.2 64-bit and Windows 7 64-bit

Stutter and freezing with VLC 2.0.1

Problem

VLC moved from 1.x to 2.x major version a while ago and I upgraded to VLC 2.0.1 Twoflower recently. But, with this version of VLC, I am experiencing stutter and freezing of both video and audio when I play any video file. When I look at the Messages console (Tools → Messages), I see error messages of this form:

ES_OUT_SET_(GROUP_)PCR is called too late (pts_delay increased to 300 ms)

Solution

There seem to be lots of people experiencing this problem with the VLC 2.0 and 2.0.1 players. A lot of solutions are suggested on the VLC forums, but none of them solve this problem. A major feature that was added in VLC 2.x was multi-threaded decoding, which I suspect might be the culprit here.

Finding no solution, I downgraded back to the last 1.x version: VLC 1.1.9 The Luggage. Video and audio plays fine with this version. I am sticking to it until this problem is fixed.

Tried with: VLC 2.0.1 Twoflower

Deployment Error with Google App Engine Launcher

Problem

You try to deploy an application using the Google App Engine Launcher. It asks for your Email and Password, so you enter your Google login and password. But, the deploy script (appcfg.py) fails with the error shown above:

  File "C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\google_appengine\google\appengine\tools\appengine_rpc.py", line 94, in __init__
    self.reason = args["Error"]
AttributeError: can't set attribute

Solution

You can use your Google login, but the password associated with that account is not usable for application deployment. For this, you need what is called an application-specific password. To create it go to https://accounts.google.com/IssuedAuthSubTokens. You can find the option to create application-specific passwords at the bottom of that page.

Once you have created an application-specific password, copy it and use it along with your Google login to deploy your application. It should deploy successfully now.

Tried with: Google App Engine SDK 1.6.5

Python DLL load failed error

Problem

You execute a Python program that uses a module and the module throws up this error at runtime:

ImportError: DLL load failed: %1 is not a valid Win32 application.

Solution

This is usually caused by a mismatch in the DLL of the module. I faced this error when I had mistakenly installed a 32-bit Python module (numpy in this case) on to a 64-bit Python installation. The error is thrown when the communication between the 64-bit Python and the 32-bit module DLL does not work, as expected. The error went away after I installed a 64-bit version of the module.

Tried with: Python 3.2 64-bit on Windows 7