Sunday, May 04, 2008

Wacky Wacom Removal

Learned a new awesome sounding "power-phrase" this week (don't I wish I hadn't had to hear this new professional phrase).

"RCA" or Root Cause Analysis.

Silly me, I've been doing this for a long time, but just called it by the wimpy term "troubleshooting."

Doesn't saying "Well, my Root Cause Analysis is still in process, however indications are narrowing to a network issue." sound much more cool and l33t (especially when you thereafter use the acronym "RCA" than saying, "Well, I'm still troubleshooting, but I think it is a network thing."? 

See what I mean?


The Valca pc systems are all up and running well...

Well, almost.

I've still been noticing some strange behavior on our XP Home desktop system.  (Was happening pre-XP XP3 and AVG Free 8, so while those didn't fix it, they didn't cause it either.)

Sometimes when I fresh-boot the system, then log-on immediately to the profile, it will draw the desktop wallpaper, but take anywhere from five or more minutes to complete the action and then draw the icons/taskbar/etc.  The cursor is seen and responsive (I can move it around), but otherwise "something" is going on causing a delay.

During my troubleshooting Root Cause Analysis, I did a bit of housecleaning.


I use a number of third party add/remove programs to uninstall stuff from my systems.  All of these are much faster than Microsoft's Add/Remove Programs tool under the Control Panel.  My favorites are listed on that link above, which I listed in order of preference.

So today I reached for Revo Uninstaller for some reason and worked my way through the list of applications and stuff looking for anything that had been collecting dust for some time.  I prefer the "less is more" philosophy when it comes to software installations.  If I or my family isn't using installed software/drivers/hardware, and haven't used it for quite a long time, I prefer to uninstall it.  One less thing to have on the system and one less thing to have to worry about vulnerabilities about.  If we find we need it later, I'll put it back on.

Enter stage - Wacom

So, working through the list I found the Wacom tablet software listed.  While this nice tablet tool has been in our family for many years, it has been about that many since anyone has picked it up and used it.  Even our budding artist, Alvis eschews it.  It doesn't even stay connected via USB, we just keep it handy nearby.  So it was ripe for picking and removal.

I've observed for a while now that when the device drivers for this piece of hardware launch, they do so after the profile loads using a very quick (and rarely seen) window/box on the desktop.  I know it happens because once in a while during a VERY slow boot, I will see it clearly.  Every now and then, even when the device hasn't been connected to the system in months, the drivers will cause a hang-up during shutdown and I will catch it then also.

Under the Windows Device Manager, the particular Wacom tablet/driver combo that I have shows up in several places; as "Wacom Mouse" under the Mice and other pointing devices, and as the Wacom HID Digitizer, Wacom HID Pen, and Wacom Virtual Hid Driver, all under the Human Interface Devices (HID) item.

Under AutoRuns, it shows up as an entry under the HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Services (TabletService launched by tablet.exe).  That's it.

Under the ProcessExplorer, Wacom makes it presence under the Winlogon.exe process under Tablet.exe.  This has two sub-services; TabUserW.exe (using about 4700 K RAM) and Tablet.exe (using another 6300 K of RAM). No biggies here

Exit stage - Wacom

So instead of just disabling it via the AutoRuns, I wanted to remove it entirely, drivers and all since we really no longer use this piece of hardware on this system.

I launched Revo Uninstaller, right-clicked the Tablet item and chose "Remove Entry", and instantly regretted it.

Oops.  Should have had that second cup of tea this morning.

Oh bother.

See, what I MEANT to do was select "Uninstall" instead.

My erroneous choice worked perfectly.  And Revo did remove it from the list and the registry location where it was so that it could be listed here in Add/Remove programs.

No, Revo doesn't have an "undo" option.

I had removed the uninstaller from the list, but not uninstalled the Wacom Tablet program.

So now what?

Well, I dropped over into the Program Files folder and looked for Wacom.  Not there.  Hmmm.

Fortunately I stuck with my audit and found that Wacom places (at least with my Wacom Tablet software version) their program files under the "Tablet" folder instead.  Whew!

I found a cleverly named "Remove.exe" file in there.

Running it was the way to go.  It proceeded to remove the Wacom tablet and the drivers.


Rebooted.  All evidence of the Wacom tablet are now gone from my system.

The reboot and log-on to my profile went very quick.  Much quicker than I was used to.  I was back at my desktop (fully usable) in right about a minute.

I'm not ready to declare victory just yet on my startup-post-profile slow logins, but this was definitely a good start.

Remember kiddos, that's "Uninstall" not "Remove from List."



Anonymous said...

Ah so I am doing an RCA when trying to determine why a customer's website is not coming up (usually because they tried to 'fix' their DNS themselves and broke there website in the process).

Why even have a 'remove from list' option? I guess it is a bandaide fix for those people who think if is no longer on this list they don't need to worry about it. But still it seems rather odd.

Anonymous said...

Hey ffextensionguru!

It actually sounded a bit funny the way "RCA" was being bandied about in the postmortem we were doing. I kept wanting to say "RCA? Isn't that a TV brand?" but figured that would date me horribly.

As for the "remove from list" option, it actually is logical and makes sense for two reasons. I've "correctly" used in many a time before.

#1) Some software uninstallers are "messy" and leave remnants behind in the registry. Malware/crapware installs often do the same. So even after you have uninstalled an item, because a registry key wasn't removed, it remains populated in the list. This option allows you to pull that item out of the list to do the cleanup "manually" instead of diving into the registry using "regedit" to pull it out.

#2) Maybe you don't want a "basic" Windows user to know you installed something "stealthily" on their system. Most home-users who are familiar with Windows know the easiest way (besides looking in the Programs" list under the Start menu) to find out what is installed on their computer is to look under Add/Remove programs. This allows a sysadmin, who doesn't have any other options for a "stealth install" to remove the item from the listing, but still preserve the installation. Maybe you don't want someone uninstalling something. While this obviously doesn't prevent advanced users from doing so, it does discourage cursory viewing and removals.

BTW: REALLY liked your Foxit Reader STILL Free post. Great stuff. I'd seen some similar comments.