Archive for the ‘Troubleshooting Methodology’ Category

Trace Analysis Patterns (Part 88)

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

The previous patterns such as Basic Facts and Vocabulary Index address the mapping of a problem description to software execution artefacts such traces and logs. Indirect Facts analysis pattern addresses the problem of an incomplete problem description. However, we need another pattern for completeness that addresses the mapping from a log to troubleshooting and debugging recommendations. We call it Hidden Facts which are uncovered by trace analysis. Of course, there can be many such hidden facts and usually they are uncovered after narrowing down analysis to particular Threads of Activity, Adjoint Threads, Message Context, Message Set, or Data Flow. The need for that pattern had arisen during the pattern-oriented analysis of the trace case study from Malcolm McCaffery and can be illustrated on this diagram:

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Software Diagnostics Services

Friday, July 13th, 2012

For some time I was struggling with finding a good name for memory dump and software trace analysis activities. The name Memoretics I use for the science of memory dump analysis (that also incorporates software traces) seems not so good to describe the whole practical activity that should be transparent to everyone in IT. Fortunately, I timely understood that all these activities constitute the essence of software diagnostics that previously lacked any solid foundation. Thus, Software Diagnostics Institute was reborn from the previous Crash Dump Analysis Portal. This institute does pure and applied research and scientific activities and in recent years was funded mainly from OpenTask publisher and recently from Memory Dump Analysis Services. The latter company also recognized that the broadening of its commercial activities requires a new name. So, Software Diagnostics Services was reborn:

The First Comprehensive Software Diagnostics Service

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Forthcoming 2nd edition of Memory Dump Analysis Anthology, Volume 1

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

After 4 years in print this bestselling title needs an update to address minor changes, include extra examples and reference additional research published in Volumes 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

  • Title: Memory Dump Analysis Anthology, Volume 1
  • Author: Dmitry Vostokov
  • Publisher: OpenTask (Summer 2012)
  • Language: English
  • Product Dimensions: 22.86 x 15.24
  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-908043-35-1
  • Hardcover: 800 pages
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-908043-36-8

The cover for both paperback and hardcover titles will also have a matte finish. We used A Memory Window artwork for the back cover.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Forthcoming Transcript of Introduction to Software Narratology Webinar

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

In a week this short full color book should appear in online bookstores:

  • Title: Software Narratology: An Introduction to the Applied Science of Software Stories
  • Authors: Dmitry Vostokov, Memory Dump Analysis Services
  • Description: This is a transcript of Memory Dump Analysis Services Webinar about Software Narratology: an exciting new discipline and a field of research founded by When software executes it gives us its stories in the form of UI events, software traces and logs. Such stories can be analyzed for their structure and patterns for troubleshooting, debugging and problem resolution purposes. Topics also include software narremes and their types, anticipatory software construction and software diagnostics.
  • Publisher: OpenTask (April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • Product Dimensions: 28.0 x 21.6
  • Paperback: 26 pages
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908043078

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Forthcoming Introduction to Pattern-Driven Software Diagnostics

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Memory Dump Analysis Services organizes a free Webinar on Unified Software Diagnostics (USD) and the new scalable cost-effective software support model called Pattern-Driven Software Support devised to address various shortcomings in existing tiered software support organizations. Examples cover Windows, Mac OS  and Linux.

 Introduction to Pattern-Driven Software Diagnostics Logo

Date: 22nd of June, 2012
Time: 17:00 (BST) 12:00 (EST) 09:00 (PST)
Duration: 60 minutes

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Webinar Introduction to Software Narratology: An Applied Science of Software Stories

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Memory Dump Analysis Services ( organizes a free Webinar about software narratology: an application of ideas from narratology to software narrative stories.

Introduction to Software Narratology: An Applied Science of Software Stories Logo

Learn about this exciting new discipline and a field of research. When software executes it gives us its stories in the form of UI events, software traces and logs. Such stories can be analyzed for their structure and patterns for troubleshooting, debugging and problem resolution purposes.

Prerequisites: basic software troubleshooting and ability to read software generated logs.

Audience: anyone can benefit from this new perspective: from software users to software engineers and managers.

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Windows Software Trace Analysis Training

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

This is the first initiative for the year of software trace analysis: the first and unique software trace and log analysis training based entirely on patterns of software behavior. No longer you will be frustrated when opening a software trace with millions of messages from hundreds of software components, threads and processes.

Memory Dump Analysis Services ( organizes a training course:

Learn how to efficiently and effectively analyze software traces and logs from complex software environments. Covered popular software logs and trace formats from Microsoft and Citrix products and tools including Event Tracing for Windows (ETW) and Citrix Common Diagnostics Format (CDF). Learn how to use pioneering and innovative pattern-driven software problem behavior analysis to troubleshoot and debug software incidents.

If your are registered you are allowed to optionally submit your software traces and logs before the training. This will allow us in addition to the carefully constructed problems tailor additional examples to the needs of the attendees.

The training consists of 2 two-hour sessions and additional homework exercises. When you finish the training you additionally get:

  1. A full transcript in PDF format (retail price $200)
  2. 6 volumes of Memory Dump Analysis Anthology in PDF format (retail price $120)
  3. A personalized attendance certificate with unique CID (PDF format)
  4. Free Dump Analysis World Network membership including updates to full PDF transcript Q&A section

Prerequisites: Basic Windows troubleshooting.

Audience: Software technical support and escalation engineers, software maintenance engineers, system administrators.

Session 1: October 12, 2012 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM BST
Session 2: October 15, 2012 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM BST

Price: 210 USD

Space is limited.
Reserve your remote training seat now at:

Accelerated Software Trace Analysis Logo

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Software Problem Description Language (Part 1)

Friday, November 11th, 2011

One of the new initiatives for 2012 is the development of SPDL (Software Problem Description Language). Its purpose is automatic generation of a software troubleshooting tool(s) based on the description of a problem. Here software problem means a post-construction problem as outlined in Introduction to Pattern-Driven Software Problem Solving. The tool construction will utilize an expanded set of DebugWare and Workaround patterns together with the refind version of RADII software development process. This will also provide necessary effectiveness, efficiency and enhanced problem solving capabilities to existing TaaS (Tools as a Service) implementations that are limited in the number of tools they offer.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Forthcoming Volume 6 of Memory Dump Analysis Anthology

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

The new 6th volume contains revised, edited, cross-referenced, and thematically organized selected blog posts about memory dump and software trace analysis, software troubleshooting and debugging written in November 2010 - October 2011 for software engineers developing and maintaining products on Windows platforms, quality assurance engineers testing software on Windows platforms, technical support and escalation engineers dealing with complex software issues, and security researchers, malware analysts and reverse engineers. The sixth volume features:

  • 56 new crash dump analysis patterns including 14 new .NET memory dump analysis patterns
  • 4 new pattern interaction case studies
  • 11 new trace analysis patterns
  • New Debugware pattern
  • Introduction to UI problem analysis patterns
  • Introduction to intelligence analysis patterns
  • Introduction to unified debugging pattern language
  • Introduction to generative debugging, metadefect template library and DNA of software behaviour
  • The new school of debugging and trends
  • .NET memory dump analysis checklist
  • Software trace analysis checklist
  • Introduction to close and deconstructive readings of a software trace
  • Memory dump analysis compass
  • Computical and Stack Trace Art
  • The abductive reasoning of Philip Marlowe
  • Orbifold memory space and cloud computing
  • Memory worldview
  • Interpretation of cyberspace
  • Relationship of memory dumps to religion
  • Fully cross-referenced with Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, and Volume 5

Product information:

  • Title: Memory Dump Analysis Anthology, Volume 6
  • Author: Dmitry Vostokov
  • Language: English
  • Product Dimensions: 22.86 x 15.24
  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Opentask (December 2011)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-908043-19-1
  • Hardcover: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Opentask (January 2012)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-908043-20-7

Back cover features 3d memory space visualization image created with ParaView.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Uses of Memoretics

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Memoretics promotes pattern-driven memory dump and software trace analysis which has many uses but not limited to:

  • Software and site reliability
  • Software Debugging
  • QA and Software Testing
  • Computer Security
  • Software Troubleshooting
  • Malware Research and Analysis
  • Tools as a Service (TaaS)
  • Supportability
  • Software Diagnostics

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Crossdisciplinary Memoretics as Interdisciplinary Science

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Memoretics as a science of memory snapshots borrows many ideas from the following disciplines (the list is not exhaustive):

  • Troubleshooting and Debugging
  • Intelligence Analysis
  • Critical Thinking
  • Forensics
  • Linguistics
  • Archaeology
  • Psychoanalysis
  • History
  • Mathematics: Sets and Categories
  • Literary Criticism and Narratology

It also contributes many ideas back. The following diagram depicts such an interaction:

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Workaround Patterns (Part 4)

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Sometimes Fake API calls can be an alternative to source code defect fixing especially if it provides quick problem resolution in production environment. Such faking can be implemented at binary level (as patching and hooking after link phase) or at object code level (before link phase). For the latter example please look at the following case study: Applying API Wrapper Pattern. The reverse process (introducing unexpected situations via unit testing, modeling software defects) is similar and for C and C++ can be done using Isolator++.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Pattern-Driven Software Trace Analysis

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Presentation Software Trace and Memory Dump Analysis: Patterns, Tools, Processes and Best Practices from E2E Virtualization Conference (13th of May, 2011) is available for download:

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

A.C.P. Root Cause Analysis Methodology

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Very simple methodology summarized in just 3 words applicable to any problem solving domain and its activities including software troubleshooting and debugging:

Artifacts. Checklists. Patterns.

As an example of checklists and patterns please see these 3 presentations related to memory dump and software trace artifacts:

Introduction to Pattern-Driven Software Problem Solving

Fundamentals of Complete Crash and Hang Memory Dump Analysis

Pattern-Driven Memory Dump Analysis 

I’m now working on a detailed presentation of this methodology. 

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Memory Dump Analysis Anthology, Volume 5 is available for download

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

I’m pleased to announce that MDAA, Volume 5 is available in PDF format:

It features:

- 25 new crash dump analysis patterns
- 11 new pattern interaction case studies (including software tracing)
- 16 new trace analysis patterns
- 7 structural memory patterns
- 4 modeling case studies for memory dump analysis patterns
- Discussion of 3 common analysis mistakes
- Malware analysis case study
- Computer independent architecture of crash analysis report service
- Expanded coverage of software narratology
- Metaphysical and theological implications of memory dump worldview
- More pictures of memory space and physicalist art
- Classification of memory visualization tools
- Memory visualization case studies
- Close reading of the stories of Sherlock Holmes: Dr. Watson’s observational patterns
- Fully cross-referenced with Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, and Volume 4

Its table of contents is available here:

Paperback and hardcover versions should be available in a week or two. I also started working on Volume 6 that should be available in November-December.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Presentation from Webinar: Introduction to Pattern-Driven Software Problem Solving

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

The presentation materials from the webinar (25th of March, 2011) are available for download:

Thanks to everyone who registered and attended!

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Software Trace Analysis Checklist

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Because the number of software trace patterns is growing I’m starting another checklist in addition to memory dump analysis checklist. The goal is to help experienced engineers not to miss any important information. The checklist doesn’t prescribe any specific steps, just lists all possible points to double check when looking at a software trace. Of course, it is not complete at the moment and any suggestions are welcome. This post will be modified on the ongoing basis.


• Check overall trace time delta
• Check no trace metafile message density
• Check whether a trace is a multi-part or a circular
• Check for basic facts and the story (software narrative)
• Check for any exceptions, non-false positive errors and periodic errors
• Check for significant events
• Check for discontinuities in the time domain
• Check for message current and acceleration in the frequency domain

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Forthcoming Webinar: Introduction to Pattern-Driven Software Problem Solving

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Introduction to Pattern-Driven Software Problem Solving Logo

The first Webinar to start an in-depth discussion of pattern-driven software troubleshooting, debugging and maintenance:

Date: 25th of March 2011
Time: 18:30 (GMT) 14:30 (EST) 11:30 (PST)
Duration: 60 minutes

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

Topics include:

  • A Short History of
  • Memory Dump Analysis Patterns
  • Troubleshooting and Debugging Tools (Debugware) Patterns
  • Software Trace Analysis Patterns
  • From Software Defects to Software Behavior
  • Workaround Patterns
  • Structural Memory Patterns
  • Memory Analysis Domain Pattern Hierarchy
  • New Directions

Prerequisites: experience in software troubleshooting and/or debugging.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

The Way of Philip Marlowe: The Abductive Reasoning for Troubleshooting and Debugging

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Working for more than 7 years in technical support environment I found that many support incidents were resolved more easily by abductive reasoning than by induction and deduction practiced by Sherlock Holmes and observed by Dr. Watson. Abduction as a way to build an incident theory to advance in problem resolution was practiced by a USA colleague of Holmes: Philip Marlowe. Because technical support is less detached from customers (”the world”) when compared to software engineering departments I see the way of Marlowe as more natural. Of course, from time to time the way of Holmes is also appropriate. All depends on a support case. I found that abductive reasoning is also appropriate for memory dump and software trace analysis where “leaps of faith” are necessary because of insufficient information. Such leaps of abduction actually happen all the time when analysts give troubleshooting advice based on patterns.

I plan to write more about the 3rd way of reasoning after I finish reading two Raymond Chandler’s novels and a few other inference, causality and explanation books I mention later: The Big Sleep & Farewell, My Lovely (Modern Library).

I’m grateful for Clive Gamble for pointing this way out in his book Archaeology: The Basics

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -

Crash Dump Analysis Patterns (Part 125)

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Similar to Blocking Module pattern we also have Top Module pattern where the difference is in stack trace syntax only. A top module is any module we choose that is simply on top of a stack trace. Most of the time it is likely to be a non-OS vendor module. Whether the stack trace is well-formed and semantically sound or incorrect is irrelevant:

0:005> kL
ChildEBP RetAddr 
01abc4d8 6efba23d ntdll!KiFastSystemCallRet
WARNING: Stack unwind information not available. Following frames may be wrong.
01abc988 7c820833 ModuleB+0×2a23d
01abcbe4 7c8207f6 kernel32!GetVolumeNameForRoot+0×26
01abcc0c 7c82e6de kernel32!BasepGetVolumeNameForVolumeMountPoint+0×75
01abcc54 6efaf70b kernel32!GetVolumePathNameW+0×18a
01abccdc 6efbd1a6 ModuleB+0×1f70b
01abcce0 00000000 ModuleB+0×2d1a6

Here we can also check the validity of ModuleB code by backwards disassembly of 6efba23d return address (ub command) unless we have an abridged dump file (minidump) and we need to specify the image file path in WinDbg,

Why a top module is important? In various troubleshooting scenarious we can check the module timestamp (Not My Version pattern) and other useful information (lmv and !lmi WinDbg commands). If we suspect the module belonging to hooksware we can also recommend removing it or its software vendor package for testing purposes.

- Dmitry Vostokov @ + -