Friday, July 31, 2015

Windows 10 RTM build 10240 – “We’re getting search ready” bug

Microsoft had to rush up Windows 10 by several months because they wanted the “Back to School” sales. It seems to have an impact on the quality of the OS because to me, Windows 10 is one of the buggiest OSes yet to come out from the company based in Redmond.

One such issue is related to Windows Search. Microsoft have never gotten Search working properly on any OS after Windows Vista. Contrary to the popular backlashing, Vista was awesome with Search: super fast (even searching from non-indexed locations) and accurate. Windows 7, 8, 8.1 all have been messy. Files do not show up on search results even though you can clearly see they are there by browsing from the Windows Explorer.

Anyways, this bug in Windows 10 is that it shows “We’re getting search ready” on the top of the Search menu, even when the Indexing has been completed. Search would not be able to find most of the files during this time.

error

For example, it cannot find Windows Update entry. This is just an example; it cannot find anything useful. Apps do show up though.

I tried re-indexing, turning the Windows Search service OFF and ON and even reverting to the only Search Locations that are indexed by default. None of that fixed the issue.

But finally I managed to fix it. I deleted the index manually and let it be rebuilt.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

NVidia ShadowPlay seems to be causing issues with Windows 10 (driver versions 353.30, 353.54, 353.62)

Windows-10_Product-Family
 
I have been using Windows 10 RTM for more than a week and I've already discovered some issues with it. These could be fixed by the 29th of July, which is the date of public release, however I am afraid to say that I have a feeling they will not. Because it is already 29th in Japan and the problems still persist.
 
Issues
 
One of them was with the Photos app. When I double click on a photo to open it up in Photos app, it would close immediately. However, the Photos app could be opened normally to browse the albums. Photos can be viewed from there as well. The problem occurs only when opening via the Explorer.
 
 
Another issue was with the Store app. When you try to watch a trailer from the “Video” store in Full Screen, the Store app would crash.
 
 
The culprit
 
Until today I thought they were problems with the OS.
 
They are not, at least not directly.
 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Had to stress test the 4790K after a long time

Haswell

The last time I stress test day CPU was when I had the Maximus VII Gene board and the Noctua NH-U12S cooler. And it was with a low ambient temperature as well.

Fast forward to July of 2015 and we have a lot of changes. New case, meaning new motherboard and a new cooler. And Jul means, it's the summer. Sure, we have the A/C on, but the temps are around 26-27C, which is a couple of degrees higher than the previous months.

Wouldn't I have stress tested after all those hardware changes? I should have, but I didn't think it was necessary. For one, the stability of the overclock of Intel CPUs these days don't seem to be affected by the temperature. So the cooler or the lack of airflow inside the case shouldn't have made a difference. Then, Asus says that all of their Z97 Motherboards overclock exactly the same; only the feature set is different. More importantly, I didn't have the time to go through it again.

But yesterday, while I was transcoding a HD video in Handbrake, I got a BSODs. The dreaded "WHEA UNCORRECTABLE ERROR" error.

So the overclock wasn't stable after all. It was time for me to stability test the CPU. At least this time I had a starting point.

4.5GHz @ 1.21V Vcore with everything else set to default

That was where the CPU was at up until now.

But first, I wanted to make sure a stress testing tool would find the current overclock settings as unstable. I am not a fan of synthetic stress testing tools such as Prime 95 or AIDA64. Instead, I turned to Asus Realbench, which can be downloaded from here.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Windows 10, Windows Update and GeForce driver: is this what you callthe GeForce Experience?

I have Windows 10 RTM build currently running in my PC. I also have a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 graphics card installed. I had the GeForce driver version 353.30 installed until the day before yesterday. This was the latest driver offered for Windows 10 on GeForce.com website at that time.

On the day before yesterday I found out that there was a newer driver offered by Windows Update, with the version number 353.54. Before I even knew it, Windows Update had updated the old driver to this version and was awaiting a reboot. There is no way to skip updates In Windows 10. However you can defer updates for 24hrs. That's it. I don't like to update the graphics driver hence I first clean the existing driver and then install the newer driver from the scratch.

But Windows Update didn't give me a choice. So after it updated the driver, I rebooted the PC and went into the driver control panel to change the default settings to the settings that I use. (I change the default settings because default settings cause high input lag.) For some reason, the control panel had retained my old preferences, including the custom refresh rate (100Hz) that I set for my display. Weird, I thought.

Capture

Later that day, I tried to play a couple of matches of Crysis 3 and immediately encountered a problem. ShadowPlay wasn't functional. It wasn't totally dead, because the FPS overlay was visible and seemed to be working. But video recording wasn't functional at all. The indicator overlay was missing from the screen. I launched GeForce Experience and disabled the ShadowPlay option (it was enabled) and tried to re-enable it. It turned off alright, but never turned back on. (There could be a reason for this but I didn't want to troubleshoot it because it is time consuming.)

I know what this means: clean up the driver and reinstall fresh. First I tried to download the 353.54 driver, but sadly it wasn't available outside of Windows Update. Not even Nvidia's website had it. (Even as of writing this post, it is unavailable outside Windows Update.) 

Since there wasn't anything I could do at this point, I decided to download the latest driver hosted by NVidia, version 353.30. Then I proceeded to clean up the existing driver (the one Windows Update installed) using Display Driver Uninstaller (DDU). The author had added support for Windows 10 with the latest build. Phew! The great thing about DDU is that it would automatically boot into the Safe Mode, clean up the driver and reboot back into regular Windows. Too bad it is not completely unattended because the user has to specify which driver (AMD, NVIDIA or Intel) to remove after booting into the Safe Mode. It would have been perfect if the user could specify this at the initial stage or if it could automatically detect it. (For example, I only have the NVidia driver installed so I don't have to specify which one to remove.)

After cleaning up the driver, I managed to install the 353.30 driver without any drama. Without messing with the preferences, I headed straight to Windows Update and sure enough, Windows Update was ready to install version 353.54 driver. I let it update the driver. I thought the update wouldn't go bad this time because the old driver was at its default settings.)

Just as expected, everything went smoothly this time around. I could enable ShadowPlay after the reboot and set all the preferences as I would usually do.

So was that itl? Not quite.

I saw a glitch in the system after updating the driver. There was a new icon on the desktop. It said, 3D Vision Photo Viewer. It's been many years since I had seen that because when I install the GeForce  driver, I always choose custom and choose only the components that I use. The 3D Vision component and the HD Audio component are always unchecked because I don't need that bloat.

But Windows Update isn't sensible. It just had done a full installation. This is what Programs and Features window showed. Sigh!

nv_-_Programs_and_Features_2015-07-23_07-03-26

I has to remove the 3D Vision driver and HD Audio driver manually. Now things are as should be.

One thing that I could have done differently is skipping the 353.30 driver and letting Windows Update to install the 353.54 driver from the driver-less state. I'm not entirely sure if Windows Update would be able to see the card though. I'll try that next time. Hopefully NVidia will have the drivers up on their website before Windows Update hereafter.

Monday, July 20, 2015

It's 150mm long!

PSU weight

All this time I was under the impression that the Silverstone ST75F-GS PSU that I have in my PC was only 140mm long. Today while searching for a suitable PSU for the SG13, I came to know that it was in fact 150mm long. In addition to that, it actually weighs 2.5kg and not 2.1kg as I thought it was. I don't know how I got misinformed though. I probably was reading the specs of a similar unit from Silverstone.

Wait. That PSU I had been reading specs of, has the same model number. One is 150mm long and weighs 2.5kg. while the other one is 140mm long and weights 2.1kg. Which one do I have? I suppose I should measure mine. (Don’t want to take the PSU off the case, so I will just measure the dimensions – length – of the PSU.)

So the one I have is the 150mm long model. Phew!

This is exciting news!

Why?
 
Even at 2.1kg, it's too heavy for my liking. The PSU I was considering switching to was the SX500-LG, which, according to specifications, weighs only 1.4kg. I thought a decrease of 700g was too small to justify the hassle, but if it is an improvement of 1.1kg, I'm all up for it.
 
I am not sure if the 2.5kg of the PSU is with or without the cables. If is it without the cables, it is even better because the short cables of the SX500-LG would (should) weigh less. The overall improvement would be larger than 1.1kg. Magnificent.
 
So, by swapping the PSU and removing the HDD, I would be able to save (hopefully more than) 1.8kg as the Western Digital Green HDD weighs 680g. That would bring the total weight down to 5.2kg from the current 7kg. I can probably lighten up further more by swapping the AIO cooler with the Stock Intel HSF but the savings would be marginal because I will have to keep a 120mm case fan installed in the front to keep things cool.

Parted with the Noctua NH-U12S cooler

NH-U12S

My new PC case, the Silverstone SG13, doesn't support air coolers taller than 61mm. Hence the Noctua NH-U12S cooler than I had been using with the Silverstone SG09 case does not fit anymore. There is no point holding onto it because I won't be building a PC in a larger case in the foreseeable future. Therefore, I exhibited it on Rakuten Auction.

I set a starting bit at JPY 5,000. The cooler was going for around JPY 7,500. Since there was no degradation in the cooler, I thought it would be a easy sell. I was wrong. It's not that nobody was interested in the cooler. There were many who added it to the watch list but waited without bidding, hoping that I would drop the price a tad lower.

After a couple of weeks, I dropped the starting bid to JPY4,500. I waited many days and finally I got lucky. Someone thought that it was a fair price and placed a bid. He paid for it the next day and I sent it a couple of days later. That person lives in Hiroshima and it is hundreds of miles from my apartment. Thus it took a couple of days for it to arrive at the destination.

Here is the link to the Rakuten listing.

And there you go. My first Noctua cooler is not with me anymore. To be honest, I wasn't all that impressed with its cooling capabilities. The reviews that I read about it spoke of nice things about it. Even with two fans, it was nowhere near as cool as the Silverstone HE01 cooler with the sole fan running at 1000RPM.

If you are wondering what I am using in my PC at the moment, it is the Antec Kuhler 620 All-In-One water cooling unit that I bought about 4 years ago (yes, I didn't get rid of it for some reason). I do not have the stock fan with me anymore. A Gentle Typhoon AP-29 3000RPM non-PWM fan is helping the radiator cool down. Of course I do not run it at 3000RPM all the time; not noise would be deafening. The integrated fan control of the Asus Z97i-Plus takes care of the noise issue. The overclock/Vcore of the CPU and the maximum fan speed are set so that the CPU temps hardly go past 80C with the fan speed of 2000RPM while doing a normal CPU intensive job like encoding a video in Handbrake. Definitely it is very audible at 2000RPM but I cannot expect miracles with this 4 years old thin-radiator.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

There is a way you can activate Windows 10 build 10240

In the previous two posts (here and here) I mentioned that I installed Windows 10 build 10240 (hereafter simply will be called Windows 10) on my desktop PC but wasn't able to activate it. Yesterday while reading through the forums I found out that there is a way to get it done.

Launch the Window 10 installer from an already activated Windows 7/8/8.1.

Then Windows 10 will activate just fine. This is on my desktop PC.

Windows 10 finally activated

Yes, I reinstalled Windows 8.1 on my PC and then ran the Windows 10 installer from there. Remember, you have to have Windows 8.1 (or whatever version you are upgrading from) activated first. Otherwise it will ask for the key, saying that the previous OS wasn’t activated. At least, it asks for the key before doing anything irreparable.

I believe you can do a clean install just fine if the UEFI has the key of the original OS embedded, like most of the tablets and laptops. Perhaps OEM desktop PCs have it embedded as well. You are out of luck, if you have an assembled desktop PC. But I do not believe it is a traditional upgrade. You can simply tell it not to save user data or settings (which must be doing a clean install) within the installer. You will have to use Disk Cleanup after Windows 10 has been installed, if you want to get rid of the remnants of the previous OS. (Select “System File” option and then “Clean previous Windows installation” to do that.)

I was curious as to which key Windows 10 was activated with. I checked the key after installing Windows 10. It was the same “public” key that Microsoft had given away previously. So the key doesn’t really have any meaning as long as you were using a legitimate copy of Windows. Perhaps it didn’t even contact the activation servers. This might change on 29th. Obviously, people who are buying Windows 10 will have to receive new keys.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Still couldn’t activate Windows 10 build 10240

Last night I tried to install Windows 10 build 10240 (which seems to be the RTM build) by first installing build 10162 which I had already downloaded few days ago. I had to do this because Microsoft wasn't  offering the ISO anymore. (If you were trying out Windows 10 insider builds, you had won! I was too careful and I am paying for it now.) Although I could install build 10162, I couldn't activate it hence couldn't update to build 10240 as Windows Update was insisting that Windows was already up-to-date. I knew better.

So I downloaded the build 10240 from “somewhere” (since there aren't any official download links) and did a clean install with the key that I extracted from the tablet. The installation went through fine - no hiccups this time - but I still wasn't allowed to activate it. Same error code as last time.

Windows 10 10162 could not be activated 2

Dammit!!!

There is nothing I can possibly do at this point but to wait the remaining two weeks before I can activate it. But I don't know which key I will have to use to activate. I have legit Windows 8.1 key and several legit Windows 7 keys but I don't think I would be inputting those. And I definitely don't want to upgrade from Windows 8.1 or 7, even if they are really clean installs.

I probably shouldn't care too much about this issue. Everything will be answered by the 29th of this month. That's less than 2 weeks away. As long as I won't go into any performance issues in Crysis 3, I don't have a reason to go back to Windows 8.1 for now.

I guess you'll hear a rant from me about the issues in Windows 10 soon. There have to be issues, because you can hardly make bug-free software. I should probably use the tablet a bit and see if it is worth holding onto.

Finally installed Windows 10 on my desktop PC but hit a wall!


Build 10240

I did not want to install preview builds of Windows 10 on my main desktop PC because I was concerned about the latency of pre-release drivers which could hurt me in Crysis 3 online. I tested many builds on the tablet but the initial impressions of Windows 10 on the tablet was horrible. So after trying several builds, I went back to Windows 8.1. I was thinking about upgrading the tablet, but held off till Windows 10 came out. I really did expect a miracle from the early builds. After Microsoft published the release date for Windows 10, I knew the builds coming from there onwards would be much more like the RTM. So I tried build 10130 and it was notably better than the previous builds.
 
Up until today, I had build 10162 running on the tablet. I heard the Windows 10 had finally RTMed, but also heard that Microsoft wouldn't be releasing that build to the Windows Insiders. But I wanted to give it a shot and I was amazed by what I saw. A new build!! And it had the same build number as the RTM build: 10240. w00t!
 
I quickly started downloading it. Before finishing with the update process, I decided to install Windows 10 on my main PC. I went to the Windows Insider website and Microsoft had stopped offering the installer or the ISO for PCs. It was still possible to get one for the Windows Phone. But who cares about Windows Phone. Even Microsoft doesn't seem to, now that they are getting rid of 7,800 more workers.
 
Back on the topic. So I couldn't download Windows 10. Luckily, I had downloaded Windows 10 several days ago to install on VirtualBox. Luckily I had it with me so using Rufus, I managed to create a new bootable USB stick with the Windows 10 installer. Sadly, I had not saved the serial number so I had to look around. I found one and could install Windows 10 on the desktop.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Switched back to iOS with the iPhone 6

IMG_20150715_003557

Since the next iPhone release is right around the corner, everyone is offering discounts on iPhone 6 and 6 Plus here in Japan. So I decided to grab one of such opportunities and switch back to iOS. The phones we bought were the 16GB iPhone 6 and not the 6 Plus. The phones were had for about 11% of their original value, which turned out to be ¥8,500 per phone. Would have been great if they were free. Still, I can sell them for like ¥50,000  a piece at the current second hand market price.

We got the Gold one for my wife and Space Grey one for myself. On the way back home, we paid a visit to the Daiso store (a popular 100 Yen shopping chain) and bought screen filters and covers. My wife got a hard cover with a fancy Japanese art and I got a TPU case which looks decent for the Space Grey model. Since I plan to sell them before leaving Japan, I did not want to lose the resale value my scratching the skin.

The carrier we switched to was KDDI AU. Docomo’s monthly charges are high and Softbank would not have worked since Y-Mobile, the carrier that I was using previously uses the same network as Softbank, thus the MNP discounts do not apply. As expected, the phones are SIM locked hence I would have to sell them within Japan anyway.

This is not a permanent switch. I expect to switch back to Y-Mobile or Softbank if they offer a nice deal. Since the phones were bought paying full price, I can sell them anytime. Of course I would have to pay the termination fees. As long as I can sell the phone and recover (actually, make a profit), I'm all good.

I wouldn't be selling the Nexus 5's because despite having issues with Lollipop, they are decent phones and more importantly they are unlocked. I hate the camera though. Feels so good to use a fast camera again.

This is also a great opportunity  for me to test iOS 9 in the coming months. In a year or so, I would most probably switch to iOS depending on the quality of Android M and iOS 9. I would definitely be able to experience Android M since I'm not selling the Nexus 5's.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Asus T100 keyboard dock is messed up

One of the reasons for choosing the Asus T100 tablet when I was switching from the Dell Latitude 10 Essentials tablet which gave me all sorts of trouble was the bundled keyboard dock. It is difficult to use the desktop portion of the Windows 8 operating system without a hardware keyboard. While the keyboard dock of the Asus t100 tablet wasn't perfect, it was adequate for the job was job.

And now it's broken!

How broken is it?

There are two problems.

  • A large portion of the keys are not registering a keystroke. The reason for this I believe is a water spill. Just like the Logitech g15 keyboard that I had with my desktop PC, water has taken out another keyboard and this keyboard is very important because it is difficult to replace.

The keys with the green dot are currently functioning and the ones with the red dot are not functioning anymore.

T100 Keyboard working and not working keys map

  • The key that is under the Escape key pops off easily. The culprit in this case is my son. He loves to pull keys out of keyboards and he has even done that with the MacBook Air. Luckily the key on the MacBook Air did not break but the key on the Asus T100 tablet wasn't that lucky. This is a very important key because it is the key that is used to convert from input mode Japanese input mode and vice versa (yes, I have the Japanese model, but you can install US version of the OS no problem). But this is not really a big issue because most of the keys are not functioning at all and I cannot use the hardware keyboard at all.

T100 keys broken

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Which PSU to get for the Silverstone SG13?

Silverstone SG 13 case which I recently moved my whole PC into, does indeed support ATX power supply units (PSUs). In fact I currently have an ATX power supply in it. The one that I use is one of the smallest ATX PSUs out there. Being only 140mm long, it should fit just fine in the SG13 as per specifications posted by Silverstone. But in reality, that is not the case.

The following is a photograph of the current state of my PC.

SG13

There is hardly any room for the air to circulate inside the case. That is without even the 3.5” bay installed. (I simply place the HDD on the top of the cables, but the HDD will be removed from the PC soon) The lack of space is mostly due to the long cables this power supply comes bundled with. Since it is an ATX PSU, ideally it should go inside a larger case and the cables need to be long enough to reach the components. Inside the SG13, those cables are way too long.

What can I do about the cables?

I can of course spend some time and do a proper cable management job. I didn’t have to do that with previous cases but skipping that in this case is inexcusable.

There is another option too. I can buy the PP05-E short cable kit sold separately by Silverstone. Those cables should fit my PSU just fine because they are compatible with every modular PSU sold by Silverstone. Sadly, they don’t come cheap. JPY 3,000 is a steep price to pay for a set of cables.

How about more room?

But what if I make PSU smaller as well? Wait a second now. Didn’t I tell that the PSU that I use is amongst the smallest ATX PSU’s available in the present market? Yes, I said ATX. You do not have to restrict yourself to ATX PSUs though. There are other form factors that with much smaller foot prints. Two of such popular form factors are SFX and SFX-L form factors.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Benchmarks of the Western Digital Green 4TB WD40EZRX drive

Header

I did a quick HD Tune benchmark run of one my recently purchased Western Digital Green 4TB drive.

WD40EZRX HDTune

HDTune 5.0 read benchmark of WD40EZRX drive

Compared to the 3TB drive that I used to own (and now sold), the sequential read speed has improved slightly (from 114MBps to 122MBps). However the access time has increased from 16.6ms to 17.1ms. You can check out the benchmarks of the 3TB drive, the WD30EZRX from this link.

CrystalDiskMark_4.0.3_x64_2015-07-03_23-21-15

Crystal Disk Mark 4.0.3 scores of WD40EZRX  drive

The Crystal Mark scores aren’t comparable with the benchmark scores on that page due to version mismatch as well as the tests were performed on an partially filled drive. The HDTune results should be more appropriate.

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