Tag Archives: drivers

Mantises are still having sex.

This is just something I remembered I took a picture of a while back, and I thought “what better place for this than the interwebs!”. Really, how often do you see praying mantises fucking on the side of a trailer? Like… never.

Anyways, that’s not the real reason for this post. Actually, there’s not much of a reason. I just wanted to ramble about my latest gaming. I’m not sure if it’s sad or not, but I’ve been having the most fun playing old games lately. Specifically, I played both campaigns of Warcraft 2, plus most of the Human campaign in the expansion pack (Beyond the Dark Portal). After a week-long intermission of playing NOLF, I moved on to another oldie: Command and Conquer (free here). However, the NOD campaign wasn’t as fun as the GDI one; GDI has too many versatile heavy weapons. If you don’t have some SAM sites yet, they’ll fuck you up with helicopters and especially air strikes. If you don’t have 5 light tanks, you’ll get rocked by a mammoth tank. And no more carting engineers into their base in an APC to jack their shit. :( So, I gave up on NOD and switched to C&C: Red Alert. Occasionally, I get an urge to play C&C: Renegade again. It’s too cool being in the middle of a strategy game. Alas, I never finished Renegade the two times I tried.

I’m not sure exactly what sparked this bought of classic gaming–maybe nothing in particular, but I’ve got some guesses. One is that my system is falling below the acceptable performance level for most new games. I was looking forward to playing Bioshock until I found out about the steep system requirements. Even though the community has fixed the video card shader requirements somewhat, I still feel like I’m having trouble getting into the game because of performance issues–try battling a Big Daddy with 6fps. Another reason for not playing recent video games is that I feel like I’m turning into the demographic old gamer that only enjoys strategy or nostalgic gaming. Hopefully, a game will come along soon to prove this wrong, though. The final reason is that my taste for them has been soured by constant bugginess and instability problems. It seems like every game I’ve played recently has had at least one problem I’ve needed to google, even the older games. Let’s go through a list, shall we…

  • Red Alert: Problems installing under XP. Fix: Run the DOS installer under compatibility mode for Win95 or just copy the install directory to your hard drive. Don’t forget to patch it.
  • No One Lives Forever: No music. Fix: Run DXDIAG, under Music tab, disable “Default Port Acceleration”. Apparently, NOLF uses MIDI music with their own sound font.
  • Warcraft II: Doesn’t run in XP. Fix: Get the Battle.Net edition.
  • Sven Coop: Can’t play online. Fix: Crack the authentication, because WON is dead. Check out Steamless Project, but probably don’t bother with the WON alternatives.
  • Dark Messiah: Overheated my video card initially, but then just started randomly freezing halfway through the game. Fix: Gave up on this one.
  • Stalker: Oh, where to begin. Fix: Play Deus Ex or Oblivion.
  • And finally, Fortress Forever…

I’ve been pretty excited off and on over the last year about Fortress Forever, the source engine remake of Half-Life’s Team Fortress Classic mod. Well, I finally checked up on it recently and noticed they finished it in September, weeks before the launch of TF2 in fact. But of course, when I got onto an empty server to give it a whirl, I locked up within minutes. Googling around, I came up with several supposed fixes to the generic “looping sound crash/freeze”. I dunno about crashes, but whenever my system freezes and the sound loops every few seconds, I know it’s a video card problem. Sure enough, most of the fixes were of the video card variety. So I tried the typical “update your drivers” fix, thus finding out that ATI has inadvertently (or maybe not) started phasing out AGP cards from its newest drivers (7.7+). Shit, my Direct3D wouldn’t even initialize with the 7.9 Cats. I went back to the next latest set of Omega drivers (based on 7.4) because I enjoy the control panel that doesn’t force bloatware rape on your system like the Catalyst Control Center that fucked my system over last time I installed it. But part of the Omega control panel doesn’t work for some reason, so I may end up going back to 7.6 + ATI’s control panel from some old Cat version (4.12?).

Long story short, the drivers weren’t the issue. I tried lowering sound card acceleration in DXDIAG and setting FF to launch in Direct3D 8.0. None of this did any good. Then I got a hint that reminded me of a “fix” I used to get Stalker working. You may recall from this news post, how I set some Paged Pool parameters to stop Stalker from freezing. At the time, I was unsure that such a change to the memory management would affect other programs negatively. From my understanding, setting PagedPoolSize to 0xFFFFFFFF basically just told Windows to use as big a pool as it could, thus making it difficult to run out. Apparently, the source engine doesn’t like this. After I forced a value of 402653184 (Dec) bytes (384MB), I was able to play an entire game of the classic map Well as a sniper. (Betting this fix may also work for my Dark Messiah troubles, as it also uses the source engine.) I’m still feeling out this new TFC, but it was still great fun and everyone in the community is awesome. I had some problems sniping though, at first…I kept trying to make lag shots like I was still on a 56K modem. Nope, you don’t need much lead with 70ms ping.

Oh…and FUCK YOU, STALKER! Ukrainian piece of shit.

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Holiday Formatting Fun

Turns out I wasn’t in the clear when I posted last on Wednesday. When I next restarted, it went right back to doing its boot BSOD thing. But it was weird, because it didn’t happen until after I was in Windows and startup programs were already loading. Once I removed the Catalyst Control Center, it started BSODing right after the Welcome screen. I hate Catalyst Control Center–what a bloated piece of shit excuse for a device config panel. You don’t need skinned interfaces and demo levels to set up your hardware.

So, I ended up reinstalling Windows anyways. As I was going about the process, I started making a list of things I’d need to do; and, that turned into a general checklist which I published as a short column found here. It details in a roughly chronological order the steps to take during reinstalling WinXP. So, hopefully, you and I won’t miss something important the next time we need to do it. I also list some more 1337 tips for optimizing your system for inevitable reinstallation.

One thing that all this Windows installation shit has brought to mind is the necessity of the registry. Now, I won’t claim to know everything behind the registry and what it was created for, but from my observations, the use of it by most applications impedes the speed at which you can get Windows set back up. I feel like any application specific settings should be stored right there in the same directory as the program itself. Too often, programs are storing everything in the registry and it’s a mother fucking pain to back this data up and restore it afterwards. The registry has some uses, though, that I won’t deny. Anything that multiple independent programs may need, should be stored in the registry (codecs, file handlers, drivers, other system stuff). Also, the installation path of most programs should be put into the registry (so any program can find another program). Finally, anything that could fuck up Windows should be put into the registry (so that a reinstall does fix it). Really, developers, just stop storing user settings in the registry; let’s go back to the days of ini files. Many awesome programs follow these rules and I’d like to commend them for making my life easier the last few days. They are: Trillian, Emule, Firefox, Media Player Classic, and all the programs I’ve made.

End Rant. And Merry Christmas.

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What’s been going on

So the fall semester of school is finally over with–oh, when will it end. I managed to pass all of my classes, albeit busting my ass to do so. Next semester, I’m trying for a lighter after-school (homework) workload, so I can finally get to all these projects I’ve been meaning to do. Or at least the ones I don’t get started over break. Those include my alarm program (still some bugs to work out and polishing); calculator RPG (working on the combat system); a program to convert Trillian logs to HTML (just an idea right now, but something I’ve been meaning to do); the links, photo album, and feature archive sections of this site (probably more coding from scratch in PHP), and fixing up dad’s old computer for a local server.

I’d really like to use Linux for the server, but I’m unsure of what distro, filesystem, and other settings to use to give it the best interoperability with the Windows machines. There’s also concerns about what upgrades I can manage to spend on it. It’s a five year old Pentium 3-based machine, desperately needing an upgrade from a 10GB hard drive if it’s to be a media server. I’m also thinking about using it as a testbed, especially for this site. As I said, it’s a project on its own.

Kaylen has been staying with me for the last week. It’s been a good time for the most part. We’ve been trying for 100% completion on Lego Star Wars II (currently at about 85%). That game is surprisingly fun for how simple it is. I’ve also been back at Red Orchestra since the last free weekend. I’ve been playing offline with a cracked steam dll since then, but I really wanna buy it and make Kaylen drive tanks while I man the gun. 😉

I’ve been trying to play NWN2, but that’s been an ordeal. I was getting locks in the game with the Catalyst 4.12 drivers that I’ve been so adamant about for two years. So I tried just upgrading to the newest version of Catalyst (6.12). That did better with the locking, but then I would get some BSODs on Windows startup. After much fuss with safe-mode and restore points, I finally got the old 4.12 drivers installed back. I hear people saying all the time that the WinXP system restore feature is crap and a waste of drive space, but that shit is really useful. But, I digress. No NWN2 for me, I suppose. I really need a new system.

Kaylen and I were cleaning out my room yesterday, and I had decided to finally get rid of a majority of my box collection. But before I threw out the hardware boxes, I snapped a pic for memorabilia’s sake. The pictured Diamond Viper II and SBLive! were the first video and sound cards I bought. I still have the SBLive in my rig, but it’s soon to be replaced by an X-Fi, courtesy of Santa.

Boxes from my first Sound, Video, and TV cards.

Boxes from my first Sound, Video, and TV cards.

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This is what god looks like.


I’ve been having some issues with the laptop since I’ve gotten it. I attribute most of the problems to my lack of networking and laptop knowledge, and the rest to XP being a prick. Today, I fixed three issues that were plaguing the laptop.

First, I tackled the issue of constant CPU speed limitations. Being that the laptop has an Athlon 64 Mobile, it uses the “PowerNow” feature to change the multiplier and necessary voltage of the proc in order to save power. It’s supposed to go from 800Mhz (400×2) to 2200Mhz (400×5.5). However, it would stay locked at 800Mhz, plugged in or not. I had installed the PowerNow drivers twice before without it affecting anything really (once from the included driver CD and once from AMD). Then, I’m looking back today and see there’s a new version on AMD’s site here, I uninstalled the last PowerNow driver (at the prompting of the new driver), restarted, installed the new driver, restarted. Then I open this neat “dashboard” utility (also available from previous link) to check the CPU speed and to my surprise, it reacts dynamically like it should have all along. Then, I start checking out the “Power Schemes”, the most incomprehensible settings in all of Windows XP. Apparently, the power schemes actually affect more then just when to enter power saving modes as set below. They also affect how the CPU speed is set for PowerNow (and probably Intel’s equivalent). See the table at Tom’s Hardware Guide. The only problem now is that when on battery, the CPU always stays at 800Mhz. This is an ongoing issue, though.

Problem two involved the fact that ABS bundled a version of the ATI Catalyst Mobility drivers that is almost a year old now. They provide no newer drivers on their site for the Radeon Mobility 9700 than the bundled one, which was something like 4.6. I go looking for an answer/solution again. This led me to a solution rather quickly. I found this page. It is a tool to modify the driver inf files of the new Catalysts so that their mobile brethren can use them. It worked flawless. I was surprised to see that the Mobility-only “PowerPlay” feature was still available in the ATI control panel, too. The new drivers didn’t necessarily fix anything, since I haven’t run any games newer than JK2 on the laptop yet. I can foresee installing CS: Source and UT2004 sometime soon, though.

The final problem has been fucking with me for at least a couple weeks. My post at EE explains it best, but basically I wanted to be able to have all my drives mapped between the two computers (Laptop and Desktop; SerpentMobile and Serpent) with password protection. But I still wanted to have my shared files available for when other computers are hooked up to my network. The first problem was getting the drives mapped on both. I actually want to outline the whole process in a short column because I’m sure others out there would want to do this. I can’t be the only person with a fully/highly functional laptop and desktop and a need to connect them seemlessly. With the mapped drives, they are almost one big computer. I can sit on the bed with a patch of Cat5 running to the switch and watch Family Guy and chat. Serpent acts as the file server and router. Anyways, the answer was found searching Usenet groups on Google (it searches all those wonderful Microsoft forums, sometimes more useful than searching the web because everyone posting has a problem) which led to this. Two installs of XP Pro only a month apart, how could one have Guests denied in an obscure Group Policy setting? Crazy shit.

I actually stood up and did a dance when I saw the second image on my screen. The cat enjoyed that.

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