Saturday, December 31, 2011

Unlocking the iPhone 3GS on 5.0.1 using iPad's baseband

iphone-3g
Talk about perfect timing. Just when I wanted to take my iPhone 3GS to Sri Lanka, they released the unlock for 3GS. I had iOS5 installed on the 3GS, and the new jailbreak and unlock works for 5.0.1.
 
So following the guide below, I managed to unlock my 3GS, which is on the new bootrom. BTW, I unlocked it on the MacBook Air, because the PC doesn't have internet yet. :D
 
 
Since I don't have a SIM card of another carrier, I thought maybe if it worked fine, it should also recognize the Softbank SIM card without a problem. Maybe it doesn't really mean it is carrier unlocked, but I wanted to check.
 
So I removed the MicroSIM card from my iPhone 4S, and inserted it to the 3GS using the MicroSIM card adapter I had bought from eBay a while back. When I booted iPhone 3GS, it worked fine. The service was recognized. I was happy. Maybe it didn't mean anything. Only way to find out if it really worked was by using my Mobitel SIM card back in Sri Lanka.
 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New laptop

image

I moved to a new apartment. It doesn't have Internet so I went to apply for a new connection. You usually get great discounts if you buy a new PC with the new connection. So in my case, I was thinking of replacing my slow UL20A with something that suited 2011.

There were only options really. Either get an Asus UX31 or a MacBook Air 13". Both were available so I tried both of them before deciding which one to go for.

The Asus felt so much snappier and it was much easier to use. I felt right at home with Windows 7. However, the track pad was impossible to use. It was jumpy and this was with the updated driver.

Then I compared it to the track pad of the MacBook Air. It was great but kind of slow. But that could be adjusted. However, when I tried to use the laptop, it was so difficult. I didn't know the keyboard shortcuts. (apparently they are long cuts if you look at the default key combinations.) Anyways, when I tried typing on it, it was so much easier. The mouse pad didn't distract my typing.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Intel Smart Response Technology (SRT) for a data drive – worth it?

Background

This all started when Seagate launched the new MomentusXT 750GB drives. I was wondering if getting two of them to replace my 2TB RAID-0 data drive (2x1TB Samsung F3s)  was worth it. After checking the current prices of the MomentusXT drive, I gave up the idea. Each drive cost 18,000 JPY which is outrageous (for just 750GB per drive). Anyways, the “idea of caching” didn’t leave my mind right there.
Instead of getting all new drives, I could buy the OCZ Synapse Cache drives to get the same effect. OCZ have specifically released an SSD for caching. The cache management is done by their proprietary software.  I could not find it online in Japan, but the Newegg prices are pretty steep as well. $150 for 64GB, which is about $2.4/GB. You can get 120GB SSDs almost for that price these days. For example, the OCZ Agility 3 120GB is ~$152 (JPY 11,980) these days.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Antec Kuhler 620 performance with different fans

antec_coolerHey news flash! I am not happy with the cooling performance of my CPU cooler. But you all know, I’m never happy with anything, but that’s me. Some people are hard to satisfy. (That can be bad for both parties though)

Anyways, I tried many fans to get better cooling performance out of this radiator. There is no going back for me. I’m stuck with water cooling. A quality air cooler performs much better than these clumsy closed-loop water coolers for the same price (or even less) but they are very big.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Logitech Gaming Software crashing ATI driver or vise versa

Since you cannot live without the ATI driver, I blame Logitech for being irresponsible. Their *new* Logitech Gaming Software is so buggy. But I have to have it because I use those special 6 buttons on the left hand corner on my G15 keyboard. Logitech’s hardware is good, and so is ATI’s or Creative’s or many others’. Just that their drivers are so lame. Crashes PCs all the time, and people blame poor Microsoft. (Ok, one – they are not poor, two – they have their own faults too)

One of the main issues I had before this clash with the ATI driver was that it would stop working when I resume the PC from standby. How lame?? The LCD would show the G15 logo and nothing would work. I have to kill the lcore.exe (that’s the exe) process and launch it back – every time. The only way to fix it was using a batch file to kill the process and launch the app. Of course, thanks to the Windows Task Scheduler, you could do it automatically. But in your head you know, you are cheating. You are cheating for a company that made crappy software. ugh!

I hardly launch the app anyways, but the last two times I did it, I was playing BF3 and it crashed both the driver and the game. Why does the game has to crash, if the driver gets reloaded? It doesn’t happen with most games. Again, crappy software.

So how did I fix the problem? I went back the legacy software, which is not elegant, but is much more stable. It fixed the problem. Guess what? As a bonus, the standby issue got fixed as well. w00t! Guess Logitech recruited some morons to make things pretty but dumb inside. (Does that remind you of another company like that? Yes, that’s you Apple!)

Glad I fixed it finally. (Mostly the standby issue.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Passed the 基本情報技術処理試験 (Kihonjouhou Exam)

I thought I will not make it by a very small margin, but I think the marking scheme worked for my advantage this time. (of course I had done a few careless mistakes, otherwise it would not have been this close. )

There are two papers. You have to get more than 60 for both of them. Not the average like you would want. Last time, that is two moths ago, I got 68.75 for morning paper and 54 for afternoon. It was pretty close. This time I got 72.5 for morning paper and 60.5 for afternoon paper. How lucky was that? Only 0.5 above the pass mark. Who cares, right? All I want is the 7000円 pay increment. It doesn't matter whether I got 100/100 or 60/60. I thought today would be such a sad day and was thinking of not trying again if I got failed but destiny wasn't a bitch. ;)

 

Anyways, this exam is a technical exam and we don't really have to study to pass it, just like we did BIT. (remember, Tharaka?) But the difference is, this is in a language that has more than 50000 letters (not words!). You got to understand what they are asking and you got to understand the answers. (It's an MCQ paper, so there is some chance for the lucky ones)I can't really read much Japanese but that natural instinct plays a big role. "This must be what they are asking..." That is how you answer half of the questions. Luck plays a lot. This time we had questions from Electronics and Network stuff and I did them quickly. So I had enough time to do the rest. I panicked a bit when I saw how fast the time passed. I must have lost some time just for panicking. Not anything new TBH.

Monday, November 14, 2011

New SSD - Back to Kingston

Yesterday I bought my 4th SSD. But I sold the two Vertex 2 50GB drives today, albeit cheaply, so I only have two SSDs with me now.

The new drive is a Kingston HyperX 120GB drive. It's identical to Vertex 3 Max IOPS in that both use the same Sandforce Controller and more reliable and faster Toshiba Toggle Flash chips.

 IMG_0041

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Benchmarks of HD6950 (Single and Crossfire) on Battlefield 3


Battlefield_3_Game_CoverSince one guy thought the results the reviewers got in their tests were absurd, I was asked to check how many FPS I got with my rig. So here goes.
This is the footage.

The measuring started from the point where the fast forward part finished. (i.e. the actual game play started) The measuring was done using FRAPS. The PC used is given in this page. 

 
 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bye bye iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4S is my new phone


Last week, I bought an iPhone 4S. I was very excited to see how (well) the 4S performed compared to my old iPhone 3GS. For some reason, my old phone was performing really slow. It did not happen suddenly. It felt as if the phone was getting old by the day. It lost part of its “young age” when I upgraded it to iOS4.0. It wasn't as bad as on the iPhone 3G, but it wasn't as snappier as it used to be with iOS3 (but it wasn’t called iOS back then). It could possibly be that I had gotten used to the performance of 3GS, that I needed something faster to keep the wheel of happiness spinning. At first I might have been amazed by the performance after using a Samsung Omnia and a Sony Ericsson K700 soon afterwards. Anyways, I get fed up when I don't see a regular progression in performance, so I need to upgrade to faster stuff on a regular basis. The 3GS getting slower by the day (if it really was slowing down) was making me insane. The biggest performance hit was with iOS 4.2 iirc. It became as if they disabled half of the RAM, under clocked the CPU to 200MHz and cursed it with “you need to buy the iPhone 4 or you’ll be rotten with an old phone for the next couple of years”. Not to mention, how unlucky I was when I was forced to buy the 3GS when iPhone 4 was right around the corner. (In fact, it came about a month afterwards).

Sunday, October 30, 2011

3DMark11 results with HD6950 1GB (CrossfireX ON and OFF)

CrossfireSo far I have only been running 3DMark11 with Crossfire turned ON. All this time I was thinking that the HD5870 I had before the HD6950 (albeit overclocked) was comparable to one of the new cards. That meant, if a particular game was not support Crossfire, I would be running at the same speed as the old graphics card. To make things worst, in some of the reviews the HD5870 was a tad faster than the HD6950 because of higher clocks. (850MHz vs. 800MHz). But buying a second HD5870 for crossfire was out of the question, because the resulting performance was only comparable to a GTX580 which it the better option anyways as it is a single card and every game will perform to the fullest of its capabilities. HD6950’s scaling is impressive and it would always be faster than a single GTX580 – if crossfire was doing its thing.
 
Anyways, I was curious as to how much performance I would get by a single HD6950 card, so I ran 3DMark11  to find out. (Note that all are overclocked results, because that is the fair comparison. We are not comparing two cards, but two choices.)
 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Battlefield 3 - thoughts

Origin, the Electronic Art’s version of Steam, let me download and install Battlefield 3 (BF3) few days before the official release date. I pre-ordered BF3 a while back, about 7 months ago in fact, when I visited Sri Lanka after the dreaded Touhoku Earthquake in Japan. I could have pre-ordered it from Japan, but there were two issues. What was available was a the Japanese version and the price was hefty. We are talking close to JPY7,000, which translates to about US$82 those days. (I believe the game is only $59.95 in the US, and you see how the conversion rates work!). If bought from Sri Lanka, I can buy it from the Indian EA Store. The price was a reasonable $20. I wouldn’t mind spending that much for a game, that might be the best game ever released on the PC.
 
Anyways, I pre-ordered the game for cheap, and waited for the release date to arrive. Like I said before, we were given the binaries few days early, so I installed it and tried loading the game. Oh bummer! We have to wait till the official release date to play it. Oh well, that is – fair I would say. So I waited till 25th, which was the official release date for US version. Couple of days before that, I got an email saying that I could only start playing it on the 27th. Fine, I thought. Too bad, the US jerks are getting a head start. They need that anyways. :P But just to test my luck, I tried playing the game on the 25th. They were right. It wasn’t released to me yet. Instead of giving me “wait till 27th you moron”, I got “wait till 2nd you loser. pwned!” This is not right. I got the email saying that I could play it on 27th. This is not funny. So I downloaded a crack (it cannot be illegal as I have already paid for the game, and I am not playing MP early to get an advantage) and started playing the single player campaign till they unlocked multiplayer for me.
 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Battlefield 3 Hyperthreading Bug (with video)

Battlefield_3_Game_CoverThe game seems to be running into problems when Intel Hyperthreading is turned ON.

I captured it in video. This is not actual game play video, because it is harder to compare the difference. This is from a cut scene, but you can clearly see it in the videos. Sorry about the crappy quality of video as well as crappy job with the actual capturing.

Hyperthreading turned ON
Hyperthreading turned OFF

Speaker problem solved - Corsair SP2200 to the rescue

But the solution was expensive. Bought a new set of speakers. Good ones this time. Corsair SP2200. They solved the weird crackling noises from the Creative’s subwoofer.
 
One problem though. They don’t sound very loud though. Not that I can turn up the volume but I thought it would be louder. But no problem. The problem is gone anyways. I’m happy. Wee!
 
Corsair-SP2200-2.1-PC-SpeakerThe quality is great too. Supports 100~240V input and also has the volume controller on the satellites. Much easier than the Creative one, which had the volume controller on the sub. Disgusting!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Crossfire, here I come. Gigabyte HD6950 1GB OC (GV-R695OC-1GD)

I decided to sell of my HD5870 and buy something big – something that fit the rest of the specs of my PC. Original plan was to ditch AMD altogether. Bye bye, red team. New trend of green tech. (ironically, NVidia cards are so power inefficient.)

Checked my options. GTX580 is the fastest single GPU card. But was the performance worth the price? A good quality GTX580, in this case an Asus Direct CU II or a MSI Twin Frozr model would set me back for more than JPY40,000. Ouch! (Looking at the current exchange rates, that is a massive investment in LKR). How much performance would I be getting? 30% on average, 50% at best, except for a couple of hardcore nVidia supported games like H.A.W.X. No good! No good at all!

Of course, there are second hand cards for as cheap as JPY30,000, but with this kind of money, I didn’t wanna take the risk. Besides, there aren’t any second hand custom PCB + custom cooler models. That might be an indication of the quality of the cards, that nobody wants to sell them back. If some people are selling off their GTX580s quite cheaply, there is a good chance that I won’t like them either.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

No news from me?

There is not much news these days. I haven't bought anything new. But there are few unimportant things, which I might be able to sneak into this post.
 
I'm still playing Crysis 2. But now, I have a target. I have to unlock all the guns and stuff. Getting there slowly. But I won't be able to improve K/D with all the crappy profiles I have to use to get there.
 
I bought Hulu. Well, actually I haven't paid for it. It has a 30-day free trial. The quality is perfect. I do get the buffering here and there, but that is too seldom to even think about it. But when I watch it on the laptop, streaming in Wi-Fi, the buffering happens often.
 
Anyways, I started watching a new TV Series on it. Kyle XY. It is just like Smallville in its core, but instead of an alien, we have a guy with a super brain. But the result is pretty much the same - more or less. But it is at least scientific. :) Now I am into the final season.
 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Watched Transformers 3 in 3D

arkLast Monday, we went to see Transformers 3 in 3D at 109 Cinema's – Kawasaki. We went for the morning show, so that we could have lunch after watching the movie and return home. We planned to have lunch at a special venue – more of that later.

We reserved tickets on Saturday. After a lot of forwarding and backing, we managed to book the tickets. It’s mostly in Japanese, so it is not easy, if you are doing this for the first time. The tickets were expensive as well. JPY2200 per grown up. Since this was my first 3D movie, I didn’t really worry about it too much.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Canon S95: Just what the doctor prescribed

S95Sold my Canon SX1 IS. I didn’t really take much use of it, mostly because the auto mode didn’t give me good quality photos and it was very heavy. It was as heavy as a DSLR. Only positive things about it was, one: not requiring lenses to be changed, two: not 20x zoom.

Zoom is so over-rated. While some times you need it, most of the times it is not needed. But big zoom means, you need a tripod to get a clean photo. That is another burden.

After looking at few ultra compact cameras, I decided to go with Canon S95. It is pretty expensive for a Point and Shoot. I didn’t want to go very cheap on the camera. Heck, there are only a few things I need, so why go cheap? (What few things? Am I not spending too much money on gadgets??? Well, what I need is really a great PC, great Camera, great Phone, and maybe…a (great?) laptop.) I have a great PC and now a great camera. I cannot just change the phone when I want. I have to wait for the right time for that. The laptop…well, it only it being used when I sleep at night…to watch streaming TV from the bed, so doesn’t really need anything more powerful that what I have.) So basically everything is covered? We shall see. I love gadgets, and I don’t have to explain myself about my purchases to anyone. Everyone has to have a hobby, right?

Want to install Windows 7 from hard disk instead of the disc ?

Found a guide online and I made my own video tutorial. Videos ftw!

No need to look for the installation disc every time something goes wrong. You will always have the installation files on the hard disk.

Install Windows 7 from hard disk (launch from bootup menu)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What Microsoft can do to improve Zune Player user experience

Some time back I said that I had enough of iTunes and moved to Zune Software as the default media player and podcast downloader. I am quite pleased with it, but it with no flaws. There are few things they can do to make it a much much better software.

Here’s my list.

1. Double clicking the video playing window doesn’t make it run full screen. Almost all the software work like that, but there is a first to everything. But that is not a good thing at all. Add that feature.

2. Make that timeline longer! How can we precisely navigate to a location like that? Dumb! It stays the same size even when you maximize the window. Make it navigate using the mouse, scroll for going forward and backwards just like JetAudio. (Following is the actual size of the timeline)

image

3. And we need a way to set keyboard shortcuts. Shortcuts to go into different pages, shortcuts to easily pause and resume track CTRL + P is such a crap key combination) Make proper use of the mice with lots of buttons. Winking smile 

4. Make it manage music just like iTunes does. What I am saying is, when you drag and drop music files onto the player, it should make folders for Artist, Album and rename the music and copy to the location you specify in the settings. Bring that feature. That is one of the two reasons why I have to use iTunes. Other being that I have an iPhone, but even if I had a Windows Phone or Android, I will still have to use iTunes to media management.

5. Support more music formats. Let me rephrase it; support all the formats Windows Media Player supports. These are the few formats it supports at the moment.

image

6. And also it should cache the thumbnails. It always reloads them. While it is not ugly as Windows Explorer, as in it first shows the files and then generate the thumbnails, Zune does it nicely. But still, it would be faster, if it saved thumbnails. Heck, why cannot it use the readily available Windows’ own thumbnail cache??

These are the issues I see at a quick glance. I’m sure there are more, but at least these should be fixed or introduced with the next version, or an update. Then it would be an awesome music manager, player and podcast downloader. (Of course I haven’t used it with a Windows Phone, which is a major feature of the software, and I’m sure I will find more problems when I explore that area.)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fatality of the Fatal1ty brought out the Roccat from its Kave

About a week ago, I finally understood how using the front audio ports of a case can be a bad idea, especially if they case is on the floor. My 2 year old Creative Fatal1ty headset’s cable was hanging from the top, and they got entangled with my feet when I tried to go to the kitchen, and they broke because of the force. This is not the first time this entangling happened, but this is the first time for this new case (i.e Silverstone Raven RV03). The ports are very tight. So instead of them coming off the socket, the cables came off at this little box like thing where the two cables (i.e. audio out and mic in) separate from the thicker one that goes towards the headset.

ripfatal1ty

R.I.P Fatal1ty, you served me well.

No point trying to repair it. It would give bad sound quality anyways. This would be my excuse to try out a new and better headset.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why I cannot buy a Windows Phone just yet

windows-phone-2012Ever since they released Windows Phone 7, that’s what I wanted to buy. Alas, it wasn’t officially selling in Japan back when I bought the iPhone 3GS. Well, it is not being sold “officially” in Japan even right now, but you can buy an unlocked phone from Amazon. For example, the *unlocked* HTC HD7 is only JPY40,000 which is pretty decent. But I cannot buy it just yet, as it is missing few features: hardware wise as well as software wise. Read on.

Missing hardware features

1. Front facing camera. This is pretty much it. Of course, there is still no software support for a front facing camera as there aren’t any VoIP apps. But the support is coming soon (it better!) and I don’t want to be stuck with an already outdated phone.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Forgot that I had a big enough flash drive for the job

A while back I bought a 16GB flash drive. I mean, a good while back. But it was a very slow drive. Read speed was OK, but write speed was terrible. 4-5MBps on a good day. Doesn’t matter, I lost it a long time ago. Open-mouthed smile

I do have my age old Transcend 1GB drive, which is very fast for a USB2.0 drive. But as you can see, you can do nothing with 1GB these days. Or, specifically ONE thing. Install Windows using the USB drive.

Right now, I do not have my DVDRW drive plugged in. I cannot plug it, even if I wanted to. The SATA cable is not long enough for to reach the SATA ports, going behind the motherboard. It’s a looooog way from the drive to the SATA port, thanks  to the 90 degree rotated orientation of the board with my Silverstone Raven RV03 case.

I was thinking of buying a USB3.0 flash drive, but tbh, I don’t really have much use for one. I mean, why would I need a flash drive? Few things come to my mind. Flash BIOS, run memtest, make UEFI screenshots…and that’s pretty much it. Dang, again I forgot the most important one. Install Windows!

But then again, I have not been lucky with installing Window using USB drive since my old P5B-E motherboard. The Gigabyte P55 board didn’t support it, my laptop doesn’t support it (mind you, it doesn’t even have an optical drive! how stupid!), so I didn’t expect ASRock to be on my side.

But how can I test this? I don’t have a big enough flash drive. Wait! I have a 8GB SD Card, which I use in the camera. And I also have an adaptor which the SD Card can be plugged to a USB port. (I had forgot all about this. Open-mouthed smile) The SD Card is pretty fast as well. Just like my 1GB drive. Getting write speeds almost 30MBps. So this should do the trick, right? Yes, it did. It worked without a hitch. So I guess I don’t need to buy a new flash drive. Smile

IMG_0014

P.S.

Now you don't need a flash drive or a DVD drive to install Windows 7 on your PC. If you already have Windows installed, all you have to do is make a recovery partition similar to what PC manufactuers do, and you can install Windows from that partition. Check out the article here.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Crysis 2 DX11 + high res texture pack performance on HD5870

So finally Crytek released the DX11 patch along with high resolution texture pack. Now there are more graphics options to choose in-game. But can you bring back the popular saying, “can it play Crysis?”? If you turn up all the settings, it looks as if it is right back in its territory.

I have been kind of playing with the settings and finally managed to settle for a good performance settings while retaining all the eye-candy as possible. The following screenshots will do the talking.

1. All settings at Ultra + DX11 enabled + High Res textures turned ON: 23FPS

Crysis2 2011-07-10 07-40-47-75

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Intel Sandybridge, here I come (Core i7 2600K, ASRock Z68 Extreme4)

After a lot of thought, I went ahead with the Sandybridge upgrade. If you know me, you should know that I am always looking for the sweet spot when it comes to performance for the $$$. This time, things have changed.

Why did I have to upgrade?

Well, I didn’t have to, but there were few issues with my old PC.

  • It wouldn’t POST some times. It had warm boot problems.
  • I couldn’t add a second graphics card, if I wanted to, because the SATA ports would be right underneath the second card, rendering 4 out of 6 ports unusable. Of course I might not add one right now, because there is no real need at the moment. But definitely when BF3 comes out. Maybe I would buy two GTX560’s or 570’s.
  • I was doing a lot of video encoding stuff. A faster CPU would benefit.
  • And most importantly, fun! And we got our mid-year bonus + I made about 40k in the last couple of months from overtime work.
  • Besides, I could sell my old stuff off, so that I can make some of what I spent, back.

So what did I upgrade to?

Let’s see why I chose each of them.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mouse pad problems?

Whoever said laser mice tracks better on hard surfaces is a nut! I bought a Razer Sphex mouse pad a while back to replace my QCK mini which had gotten very rugged. I used the Sphex for months and months and it was so hard to track my G500 on it. The pad was too quick. Maybe it tracks well and that IS the problem.

After Crysis 2 1.8 update, something happened to the mouse sensitivity. I couldn’t get it to work well at all. Aiming got worse. Today I tried the old mouse pad again, and right from that point, I was back in the game. Yes, the mouse pad has a lot of friction, but I seem to mouse the mouse cursor to where I want more accurately with this mouse pad.

So I ordered a new QCK (not the mini this time. mini is a bit too small for my liking). Should come tomorrow. Hopefully I will be able to do well in Crysis 2 from now onwards. Probably I will give this pad to someone else.

image

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The annoying call quality feedback window of Skype

imagesMost of the times after ending a call in Skype, you get this Call Quality Feedback window and it is driving me crazy! After doing a simple Google search, it seems that I am not alone. Some people are posting on Skype forums saying that until Skype adds an option to disable this “harassment”, they will rate all calls as very bad. You know what? I am gonna do the same thing. Of course the deeds of few people will always go unnoticed, but at least there is the satisfaction of screwing someone. Open-mouthed smile

Skype_-_Call_quality_feedback-2011-06-19_21.45.19Skype_-_Call_quality_feedback-2011-06-19_21.47.46

Take that, Skype!

You might say, can’t I just press escape key to get rid of the window? Well, like someone said, it is not about how easy it is to get rid of the window, but the harassment the customers are faced with. Why do it in a separate window? They can integrate the message into the Skype main window and we will not have this problem. (It is still annoying. Remember those offers and ads Skype shows from time to time? At least there is an option to disable it. I thinks this “feature” should have such an option too!)

The most annoying thing is, whenever I am playing a game (game = Crysis 2) and I get a call and I end it, this window will come up and will minimize the game to desktop and when I get back, I’m already dead! Arrrghhh!!! Stupid piece of crap Call Quality Feedback window!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Adding video files to Zune Player

Apparently all the MKV files that I have in my video library don't work at all with Zune Player software. So these days I am in the process of converting all the video files to something universal. That means MP4.

Yes I know what you are thinking. Would I not lose the quality? Well, I cannot really see a difference between the source and the MP4 output. Doesn't mean that there is not, but it is not worth worrying about.

There is one little issue though. There is a max file size limitation for MP4 files it seems. Maybe there are apps that can player larger MP4 files, but te standard size is 4GB max. Zune Player wouldn't play anything larger.

I am using Handbrake to transcode the videos. I do 2-pass conversion with turbo 1st pass, and set the output filesize to 4GB. That makes video files generally if the size 3.9GB. But there were two video files so far that came out as 4.1GB and they were not playable.

I've been transcoding videos for 3 days straight. Man I wish I had a Sandybridge CPU with quicksync. Problem would be that Handbrake doesn't support quicksync yet. It should. I don't know if this is a software issue or a codec issue. All I know is that they should get it to work FAST.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Trying out the Zune Player

172359-image_Zune_SoftwareI have been using iTunes for a long time, not because it is a great piece of software, but because I had to. If you ask me, it is a piece of crap software just like most that Apple makes.

It is not a complete piece of junk though. There are a few good features which a lot of other software are missing. One is the ability to organize the Music collection according to the Artist, Album and Track Numbers.

image

That’s pretty much it. The interface is pretty slow, especially as soon as you launch it. It also has the Apple ego built into it. Apple doesn’t know anything about Windows software, how there are standard shortcut keys to do common things, such as Ctrl + E for moving the cursor to Search box in every software that supports that feature. What does iTunes do? Eject the CD tray! Duh!!!

Anyways, I have to use it because I have the iPhone.

Anyways, I wanted to give a shot at Zune software. It has a pretty sleek UI and pretty smooth too. Not even a little pause.

But it too has issues, like everything else.

1. With all those graphics and animation, it requires a lot of RAM. And bigger your media collection is, more RAM it needs.

image

2. You cannot see the Market Place unless your Locations is set to United States in Regional Settings in Windows. No market place, no way to buy music or more importantly subscribe to Podcasts.

imageimage

3. It cannot see the MKV files in my video collection. Also, all the video files in My Videos folder is shown under Other, and I don’t know how they get filtered into the predetermined folders: "TV, Music, Movies, Personal. I need to find out how. This is interesting.

edit: LOL you can just right click the video file and specify what kind it is. XD

image

4. It lacks the Music Organizing Skills of iTunes. Or does it? I haven’t really checked. There isn’t anything that leads me to believe that there is. Open-mouthed smile

Some other screenshots.

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Monday, May 30, 2011

improving the idle power consumption of the CPU with Gigabyte motherboards

Yesterday I found a new option in the BIOS of my Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD3 motherboard that I my eyes had not caught before. It's called Dynamic VID. This option was greyed out for the entire time (maybe that was why I didn't bothered about it) and yesterday I found out what it does. Then I wanted to make use of it.

What you specify by DVID is an offset voltage value. But it works only when you set the CPU Vcore to "Normal". When you set the Vcore to "Normal", the BIOS will set the default VID of the CPU as the Vcore.   But if you use DVID, the BIOS will use the stock VID when the CPU is idle, and the VID + DVID offset when the CPU is loaded. This is beneficial only when you have overclocked your CPU (with all the power saving features turned ON) or when you want to undervolt your CPU.

For example, if the VID of your CPU under load is 1.200V, if you set a +0.100V of DVID offset, the Vcore when your CPU is under load will be 1.300V. 

Before enabling this setting in the BIOS, the Vcore was at 1.25V all the time, regardless of whether the CPU is at idle or loaded up. After using DVID option, now the voltage hovers between 0.98 ~ 1.25V. Victory!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Upgrading the fans for better airflow and silent operation

I bought three more fans for the PC, replacing the two Antec Tricool fans that came with the Antec 300 case + the Thermalright X-Silent fan that came with the Thermalright Mux-120 CPU cooler which was mounted on the side panel of the case as I installed a couple of Enermax T.B.Silence fans on the heatsink.

I experimented with the fan plan before I put the order for the new fans. I removed everything except the 4 Enermax T.B.Silence 120mm fans I already had.

1. One front in-take (the lower fan slot)

2. One read exhaust

3. One on the side panel pulling air in

4. One fan pulling air onto the CPU heatsink from the front

These are the temps of the CPU and Video card. (Ambient 24.7C)

idle with fewer fans

Figure 1: idle temps of CPU and GPU.

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