Yesterday, I was happily working when all of a sudden, up popped the dreaded Windows blue screen of death. I read the incomprehensible message (as you know by now, the message never makes any sense to anyone but a handful of programmers at Microsoft and they're not telling anyone, or at least not me).
Without choice, I shut down by turning off the machine, restarted, then initiated a clean shut down to flush the system of whatever caused the issue. Unfortunately, a few minutes later, the blue screen appeared again.
I read the message again. I like to think I'm somewhat computer savvy, but the only information I could really get from the many lines of text was that the issue was caused by nv4_disp.dll. It wasn't much, but at least I had a clue.
I started with a Google search, which lead me to understand, at least on some level that this involved my NVidia graphics card. Most of what I found suggested it was a problem with a recently installed graphics card, but since my graphics card has remain unchanged since I bought my computer last year, I knew that wasn't the problem. Brilliant, eh?
My next stop was the Dell Support Web site where I searched for NV4_disp.dll and came up with a couple of results, one of which suggested that I needed to update my video driver. They conveniently had a link to the latest driver (5/5/2005) and I installed it. This seems to have solved the problem.
One thing you should be aware of is that when the new driver is installed, it sets the resolution at a default of 800x600, so you will need to adjust that after you restart.
It took some perseverance on my part to find the solution, and I'm sure, someone with less understanding than me could never have solved this on their own. Incomprehensible error messages remain a big issue in Windows. I hope the next version, Vista, uses more understandable error messages with clear instructions on how to resolve the issue, or at least a clear road map on how to find the answer.
10/25 Note: This has been one of my most popular posts ever, leading me to believe that I am not alone in stumbling across this problem. Please leave a comment if you find it helpful or if you have found additional ways to resolve this problem. Thanks. RM
5/22 Note: Six months after writing this post, I am still amazed by how often it gets hit. While you're here looking a this entry, take a look around my blog. If you like what you see, please subscribe. Thanks. RM