My Computer is Playing Up - is FoundationStone Responsible?

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.....All the formatting I had on documents disappeared and I'm only left justified with all kinds of weird notations at the end of my documents - hope I didn't infect anything while trying to download. SO - I'll go on hold for as far as downloading and perhaps try at a later date - do you think FoundationStone had anything to do with my problem? I'm awaiting the tech gurus to check it out.....


In FoundationStone's support mailbox, there are occasionally some distress calls. This one was polite and reasonable, but some are fairly hostile - it's not much fun being on the receiving end of someone suffering "code rage", believing FoundationStone is the culprit.

This section attempts to answer a few things about what FoundationStone can't do, and a few general ideas are offered to help you fix the problem that very probably existed before you installed this application.


Firstly, FoundationStone is written in Java. That means no matter how poor its code, it cannot crash your computer. Java code is run by the Java Virtual Machine - it cannot run directly on your computer without it. This is similar to a .html file - it can only be opened by a Browser, it cannot run in its own right.

The Java Virtual Machine can crash your computer because it is a regular application. However, this is rare, and outside my control: I don't make it. If you're on a PC, you're using Sun's JVM. If you're on a Mac, you're using Apple's. Both these companies have teams of very capable software engineers who do their best to produce a reliable product, built to implement Sun Microsystems' Java standard specification. Like all human endeavours sometimes there will still be problems. Often (but not always) these problems are of a result of third party programs that alter your system. FoundationStone talks to your computer in a very standard way - through the JVM, which interprets the Java byte code. The JVM checks the code for errors, checks for security violations, and if it's happy runs FoundationStone. If it's not, you get a JVM internal error that tells you why, and how it handled it - the error never makes it out of the JVM.


Viruses particularly concern people using the PC platform, which at last count had well over 100,000 different viruses, that malicious programmers have so generously provided. Viruses don't just happen, someone made them.

We cannot give you a computer virus - when Sun engineers designed Java, they built it around a security manager that treats a program as running in a "sand box". If it tries to do anything that It's not allowed to, the security manager steps in and takes control. 100% Java programs like FoundationStone don't have access to any sensitive parts of your system, only the ability to read and write files that you say.

We run several virus checkers over FoundationStone before releasing it (on PC: McAfee, VET, Norton's). I am merely checking the .exe file that distributes the self extracting archive (if you still don't trust that, try opening it as a zip file using Winzip). Sometimes when people are running their particular virus scanner, it reports a problem. This is called a "false positive" identification. That is, it has found something that looks a bit like the signature of a known virus and makes a decision to notify the user. Some viruses makers are very clever, and change the exact form of their virus so they don't always have the same signature. It is because of this that virus scanner makers are forced to use less strict logic, and look for suspicious things, on the very sound principle that where there's smoke, there's fire. However, where there is smoke there's not always fire! So, if your virus scanner has picked up a Java *.jar file as suspicious - ignore it, it's being paranoid.

Font Conflicts

Some people report that the fonts when installed don't show up. If you have hundreds of fonts installed on your system, remove some (lots!). The fonts should not be able to cause problems. If they do, it is some instability with your system - these fonts have been used in over 100,000 different systems now with very few reported problems (less than 10).

General Troubleshooting Tips

There is no shortage of advice. Often it is too general to be of use. Advice also tends to be subject to opinion. Mine is no different, so don't necessarily believe everything I say. The following is offered as a place to start looking for problems.



Windows95/98/Me holds its device drivers, DLLs, fonts, settings and other resources mostly in C:/Windows/ and C:/Windows/System/ (similarly for WindowsNT/2000/XP which are more robust, but require more knowledge to fix problems with). Information about what is installed is stored in the registry. The average user is not meant to fiddle with these things directly, but rather use the installer/uninstaller. It's job is to keep track of what files have been installed, and where. It's not perfect, sometimes one piece of software replaces a particular file it needs with a certain version, and this breaks another piece of software that relies on the previous version of that file. Its not easy to identify the version of files in C:/Windows/, infact they are often given cryptic names. There is software that can help you, but again, it's arguably beyond most users (probably this is done intentionally, you can do really bad things if you don't know exactly what you are doing). You can also buy some third party software that fixes things when they are in conflict, but it's not foolproof - ask at your PC shop.

If you know someone who is a PC guru, try to enlist their help. That's not to say you want to turn a dreaded "fiddle monster" loose on your PC, these folks can make things worse! Expert technical help for a PC is not hard to find (go to one of the many PC shops), the downside is you will have have to pay.

It is a common practice (even in technical support circles) to simply reinstall Windows and all your software (one by one) if things have become unstable. Take backups of your essential work if this is where you are at.


OS X Macs

Make sure the fonts are installed. Ask questions at


Unix, OS/2 and Others

Google is your friend!

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