Archive for the ‘Geeking Out’ Category

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Payday: The Heist Input Lag – REAL fix for ATI users

September 28, 2014

I’ve got a Lenovo T500 laptop, and bought Payday (1, or The Heist) to play coop with the roommate on the living room gaming PC. So, naturally, I was a bit disappointed to find that my laptop’s dedicated Radeon HD 3650 was giving the game so much trouble. The GPU doesn’t have GPU Compute capabilities, so all the physics work has to be done on the CPU. No problem, I’ve got a Core 2 Duo P9500, about as high as you can get in this PC. But the GPU cannot be upgraded without a whole new PC. Typically, I just leave the integrated Intel graphics enabled, and ATI switched off – I’m not a gamer, so I don’t play many games.

This PC has no trouble playing Portal 2 at max settings and full HD 1920×1200 on my HD laptop display, though… but in Payday, the input lag is so bad, it’s impossible to even navigate the menus with nearly a 600msec delay on all inputs! Move mouse up, half a second later the mouse moves up on screen. Try aiming for menu options when the mouse is so far behind where it’s being moved, you overshoot EVERYTHING, even basic navigation controls on the menus.

Problem: the engine was running at nearly 15 FPS, high enough to be visibly acceptable, but this apparently screws with the engine timing. It has to be near enough to the refresh rate (50hz in my unusual setup, I can’t get it to stay at 60Hz without resetting next time I plug/unplug AC power) that it doesn’t drop frames to sync with the screen.

Solution: axe some quality options. The game has quite possibly the worst graphics configuration page in the industry, allowing only resolution and some texture quality tweaks… but not the stuff that counts that it clearly is incapable of auto-detecting. The flip queue size is a big one, from what I understand – causing the GPU or game engine to queue up too many frames and ignoring input latency.

ATITrayToolsEnter ATI Tray Tools. It lets you change the hidden settings of the driver/platform to squeeze the extra performance needed to run this game smoothly. Install it (defaults), open it, and use the tray icon to set:
3D -> Antialiasing -> Application controlled (“Disabled” would be nice, but only the game has that control for some reason)
3D -> Anisotropic Filtering -> Performance, then “Application Controlled” (I have a feeling that though it greys them out after setting Application Controlled, the Performance option sets some additional settings under the hood as well)
3D -> Texture Preference -> Performance
3D -> Mipmap -> Performance (seeing a trend yet? lol)
3D -> Wait for vertical sync -> Always off (we never, ever want the GPU waiting on anything petty like the screen refresh rate, tearing will never ever happen here on this chip)
3D -> Flip queue size -> 1 – this is my setting right now, though “0” is commonly recommended – play with it and see what gives better performance for you.

In the game:
Texture quality: Low (minimal impact, if you have more GPU RAM than the minimum spec, then you can safely bump this up)
Antialiasing: Off
Anisotropic: Off
V-sync: Off
Streaks: Off (though I can probably turn a few of these back on, as they rely on CPU and not so much GPU)
Light adaption: Off (adaptation, rather? Dunno, but same as above, may be irrelevant)

And now, I went from 15 FPS in the menus to a blistering 50 FPS, and the cursor moves instantly, as does the control in the game.

It’s a damned shame Overkill never even addressed these issues, and everyone in the forums acts like Compatibility Mode (zero effect on mine) or a patched d3d9.dll file (also zero effect, except a blank screen on the second version of the patched file I tried), is some kind of fix that’ll work for anyone. No amount of config file tweaks, patches, or other crap helped until I did these things in ATI Tray Tools.

Windowed mode also helps, but who wants to play the game in a pinhole?

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Samsung BD-D5700 Blu-Ray Player Performance Fix

September 15, 2013

I picked up a BD-D5700 back in Christmas 2011 on sale at Best Buy for $100. Cool – I can get a Blu-Ray player for $100! I’m in. It turned out to be $100 for a reason – it was dirt slow.

Finally, now in 2013 and fairly out of warranty, I cracked open the case. Inside, I found this.

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The motherboard is about the size of a CD case, powered by a BCM7631 chip (Broadcom only has pages for BCM7630 and BCM7632 – weird). That powerful Broadcom SoC is cooled by one TINY layer of aluminum – barely as thick as a typical CPU’s heat spreader. Worse yet, the thermal compound was a pad, not even grease – leaving large burnt-out hot spots in the pad. The CPU is clearly overheating and thermal-throttling to prevent damage, and Samsung seems to have used that burn-out throttling to “class” the player as a cheap, slow device.

The heat needs to escape the chip quickly, and to do that, it needs somewhere to conduct to in a bubble area around the chip. In the current plate design, the top and center of the chip would get very hot very quickly, as there’s nowhere to conduct the heat to. We need a bigger heatsink.

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The heat sink here is from a dead PC motherboard. The spacing between the pegs straddles two different positions on the Samsung board, so the two spring mechanisms need to have very different tensions. I accomplished this by using two different spring clips (note above) and weakening the spring on the white one. This ensures the heat sink will stay centered on the chip, so that a lever action doesn’t lift the corner off the chip.

Now, you need to clean and prep the board and the new heatsink. I use ArctiClean and Arctic Silver Ceramique 2. Your goal is to clean both surfaces until the only thing you see is the mirror of the chip and the grain of the metal (or, preferably, the mirror finish) of the heat sink.

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Created with Nokia Smart Cam

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A dob’ll do ya. Leave it beaded (careful about air pockets) so the heat sink will spread it evenly without trapping air.
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As you assemble it, note how the heat sink rests flat on the chip.

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Created with Nokia Smart Cam

And reassemble.

WP_20130901_004 WP_20130901_005 WP_20130901_006

Done. Enjoy your player with a bit more pep in its step. Keeping that heat sink cool is key – now that it’s pulling away more of the heat from the chip and allowing it to run faster, it’ll produce more heat. Keep that in mind, and you’ll have a great player!

 

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PSTN digital network – it’s TIME to upgrade past 8KHz!

February 28, 2013

Look, internet. Telecom companies. Cell phone companies. VoIP providers. Get this shit straight. It’s 2013 now. We finally have realistic, viable, mass-market electric cars after decades of failures and false starts. We have a digital powerhouse in every pocket. Blindingly-fast 2 megabyte-per-second download speed is the accepted norm for broadband. TV is all on-demand now. Everyone is streaming their life in real-time on Facebook via their mobile phones.

So why in the FUCK are we still forced to endure 8KHz audio as the “norm” for telephone calls? I can’t even hold back here – that is nothing but bullshit. I don’t even answer phone calls anymore. With the mess of cell phones garbling audio quality and working to uphold that 8KHz piss-poor standard, I find myself spending most of my mental effort on the phone trying to decode the words said by the person on the other end, instead of thinking about the topic at hand. The only thing I ever want to do when I get/make a phone call to someone, is how much longer I must endure this conversation before I can get off the phone again.

Sick of this crap. Telecom companies, it’s time to upgrade your standards. The standard should be 44.1KHz like it is for everything else. Digital compression (AAC-ELD, maybe?) is within the realm of possibility for all PSTN connections, so why hasn’t any effort been made to phase in a newer standard? We get crystal-clear audio through VoIP connections that aren’t tethered to this arcane 64kbps/8KHz PCM standard. So why the hell can’t we get digital compression between callers? If you’re worried about loss in digital signals over a PSTN connection (i.e. dial-up modems), then just use a lossless compression scheme to fit higher bandwidth into that 64kbps bandwidth! But FFS, don’t keep screwing real people to make old dial-up crap technology happy. You can detect those signals and automatically apply a different compression scheme to them. Look at what Skype does. It automatically adapts to bandwidth needs in real-time during a call. Why can’t you do that for phone calls?

Get with it, because I’m sick of being afraid of picking up the phone and hearing some garbled 8KHz crap.

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Re-installing Windows XP sounds after removal (Download)

March 20, 2011

So you removed XP sounds from nLite then realized… oh, crap, I have no sounds? Fear not.

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/35284720/postfiles/WindowsXPSoundscomponent.rar

Spent way too much time compiling this. Extract, right click winsnd.inf, choose “Install”, then go select “Windows Default” in your sounds control panel. Voila. Sound.

Extracted from XP SP3.

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How to switch Windows XP HAL _BACK_ from Standard PC to ACPI (the clean way)

March 19, 2011

Awh man… a whole bunch of bad information on the internet about this. You don’t need to re-install the OS. Hell, you don’t even have to hack (and hence, un-sign) the hal.inf or machine.inf files. Using a little knowledge of the way Device Manager identifies devices (and hence, locks them into their supported hardware IDs), you can trick it into allowing you to “update” to the ACPI HAL and kernel.

Of course, on an unsupported system, this may just BSOD you forever, then you’ll be pretty much hosed since your ntoskrnl.exe, ntkrnlpa.exe, and hal.dll will have been replaced with ACPI versions – something “Last Known Good configuration” will not help you with. So BE ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN your system supports ACPI mode (e.g. “oh crap, I switched to Standard PC and now I can’t get out!”) before changing this.

Not even gonna give that “omg registry editing is dangerous” BS, because every geek should know their way around the registry. But this is another good place to mention: you could f’ing hose your system if you do this. I’m actually in the process of re-installing Windows on the PC I tried this on right now, because it’s a 266MHz Pentium II laptop with 64mb RAM, originally Win95, far from ACPI. The most recent BIOS update (in 2001) provided ACPI compatibility, so I figured I’d give it a try. Since it was installed with the Standard PC HAL (no ACPI), it installed all its hardware support under that key. So, it just BSOD-looped me (0x7b, curiously enough – couldn’t find the HDC driver?), and since 64mb isn’t enough to load MiniXP, and the HDD is too old to work with a USB-adapter, I’m screwed. Meh, I just installed it an hour ago anyway.

  1. Regedit. Browse to:
    HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Enum\Root\PCI_HAL000
  2. Right click the 0000 key and choose “Permissions…”.
  3. Check the “Full Control” checkbox for “Everyone”. This allows you to edit this next value…
  4. Open the “HardwareID” value and change it from “e_isa_up” to “acpipic_up” (followed by one line break, the cursor should be on the line directly under “acpipic_up”).
  5. Open Device Manager, open the “Computer” key, right-click “Standard PC”, and select “Update Driver”.
  6. You’ll pick from a list, don’t search, answer accordingly.
  7. Select the ACPI entry, which will now be shown in the Compatible Hardware list (joy!), thanks to the reg-tweak.
  8. Once again, if you actually CONTINUE with this, and your system is NOT originally an ACPI system, it very well may make it unbootable.
  9. Select “Next” and let the new HAL install.
  10. Reboot, and you’re done! Enjoy your ability to select the multi-processor HAL once again if you were curiously poking around. Since hal.inf locks you into only “compatible” HALs, you can now update again and select Multi-Processor PC if your system supports it, then you’ll have multi-cores again.

Hope this helps more people than it harms… please be careful with this. I’ll update this if that reinstall works and ACPI mode works after all… there might just be more stuff I need to tweak to make it work right. Not entirely clear on how the device-driver handling works… seems very strange that I would get a 0x7b BSOD instead of an ACPI-based BSOD… that tells me it’s not finding the HDC that it just booted with 10 minutes ago. That is, perhaps something is screwy with the hardware IDs it’s now detecting. I’ll look into it… but this should work for anyone that switched from ACPI to Standard PC and now needs a way back 😉

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Ungoogleables: Compaq F700 / HP dv6000/dv9000 buzzing speakers or turn on-turn off problem

August 23, 2010

If your HP dv6000, dv9000, or Compaq F700 has these symptoms:
– Devilish buzzing from the speakers at all times, even in the BIOS or during startup, in tune with the CPU fan speed
– Push power button, and it turns on for a few seconds then turns right back off… push it again, turns on, turns off… mash it again, on and off… and that’s all it does?

Replace the cable between the power button and the motherboard.

That cable powers the speakers (hence the buzzing sound), and if it’s unplugged from a working & running system, the system shuts off. There ya go. It turns on because it gets a signal from the button, but turns off likely because the lid switch wires are broken in the cable (hence it thinks the lid is closed, hence it shuts off). That’s just my theory, but still, pretty reliable fix since I just resurrected a dead motherboard with that theory.

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Authentec TrueSuite Starter for Windows 7 x86/x64

April 14, 2010

So, Authentec thinks it’s cute to say that they only provide software through OEMs. It’d sure be nice if the OEMs actually lived up to that fairy tale…

I’d recently picked up a DV6000 laptop with a fingerprint swipe. Somehow, Windows Update picked up the driver for it… “ooh wow, a driver, I’m so lucky”, I thought (sarcastically). I knew it needed software. But I tried it anyway… I clicked Start and entered “finger”. Sure enough, 3 results for fingerprint software already installed. What? I hadn’t installed anything…

Turns out, I was dead wrong. The software I’d used in the past for fingerprint login is slow, clunky, and WAY overfeatured for just wanting to use it to log in and geek out friends. It was HP ProtectTools suite that I had on my tablet, and it SUCKED. Slow, slow, slow. Quick to reject a fingerprint but slow to reset/retry, slow to log in, slow to open. This was all different. The software, TrueSuite Starter, is dead simple. It’s FAST. It gets the job done.

I killed ProtectTools on the tablet. But the TrueSuite software wasn’t offered. Huh? So I dug into my new DV and found out where Windows Update saved the downloaded driver. Curious… it stores the whole installation package in a DLL file. No EXE to set it up with. That’s OK. I checked the device IDs, and sure enough, the scanner in my tablet was included as well. So who knows how many other people on the internet might find this useful.

As far as I can tell, this is a package that works for all Authentec brand fingerprinters. Just update the driver for it (notice that it is, in fact, signed… I’m not f*cking with you guys here), and it’ll install the TrueSuite for you in the background (be sure to get rid of any other crap you’ve got installed first!). Then just enter “fingerprint” in your Start search, and bam! Fingerprinty goodness.

Works with the following Device IDs:

USB\VID_08FF&PID_1600
USB\VID_08FF&PID_2500
USB\VID_08FF&PID_2501
USB\VID_08FF&PID_2502
USB\VID_08FF&PID_2503
USB\VID_08FF&PID_2504
USB\VID_08FF&PID_2505
USB\VID_08FF&PID_2506
USB\VID_08FF&PID_2507
USB\VID_08FF&PID_2508
USB\VID_08FF&PID_2509
USB\VID_08FF&PID_250A
USB\VID_08FF&PID_250B
USB\VID_08FF&PID_250C
USB\VID_08FF&PID_250D
USB\VID_08FF&PID_250E
USB\VID_08FF&PID_250F
USB\VID_08FF&PID_2580
USB\VID_08FF&PID_2588
USB\VID_08FF&PID_2589
USB\VID_08FF&PID_258A
USB\VID_08FF&PID_258B
USB\VID_08FF&PID_258C
USB\VID_08FF&PID_258D
USB\VID_08FF&PID_258E
USB\VID_08FF&PID_258F
USB\VID_08FF&PID_2550
USB\VID_08FF&PID_2810

Open your existing (or unknown) biometric device in Device manager, verify the Hardware ID under “details” (it must match one of these!), then Update Driver, “On my computer”… “I’ll pick one”… “Have disk” to the folder you extracted this to… then install!

DOWNLOAD -> LINK <- DOWNLOAD (Updated 2/22/2013)