After a recent Windows 8 update, my computer refused to boot properly, but attempted an Automatic Repair, which was unsuccessful. The system would flash a blue screen of death and reboot with no more illuminating error message. I also encountered this when booting from the Windows 8 DVD – sudden blue screens with no error messages.
My Windows 8 installation is on a SSD on a system with an AMD chipset, and I had to switch the SSD to IDE mode access to get any sort of stability. After I did this, Automatic Repair had a longer attempt to fix it, but still ended unsuccessfully with a message informing me to check WINDOWS\System32\Logfiles\Srt\Srttrail.txt. Removing the SSD and examining this file on my laptop showed me the following error message:
Boot critical file E:\Windows\System32\drivers\amdsbs.sys is corrupt
Replacing that file with a fresh copy did not appear to help. To get Windows to boot properly, I had to boot to a command prompt (clicking the Advanced Options button from the screen with the Srttrail.txt error message) and use the dism.exe tool with this command:
After doing this and rebooting, on the next boot Windows detected a failed update and reverted changes. I was then able to enter Windows.
The update at fault appears to be KB2836988 and I suspect it may be causing problems with systems using the AMD 700 series chipset. Other people seem to be experiencing similar problems. We will see whether Microsoft do anything to address the problem; in the meantime, I’ve turned off Automatic Updates, and am avoiding that particular update for the moment.
Sony Vegas 8.0 projects that use mp4v files may not display the video properly, presenting only audio with a black screen. It appears that QuickTime 7.6.8 causes the problems. In my case, the .mov files, which originated from a camera phone, would play fine in VLC, but not in Windows Media Player.
The solution is to uninstall QuickTime 7.6.8 and install QuickTime 7.6. Unfortunately, this does mean you lose the updated security features of 7.6.8; one hopes Apple rectifies the situation in a future release.
Adobe Flash Player 10.1’s HD hardware acceleration feature can cause a green-screen error when attempting to play online high-definition (and even some standard-definition) video, such as on Youtube and Vimeo. It appears that it conflicts with the Sideport memory found on some motherboard with integrated ATI graphics, such as the Asus M4A785TD-V EVO with its ATI HD 4200 chip.
There are two workarounds, neither ideal. The simplest is to right-click the video, choose “Settings”, and uncheck the “Enable hardware acceleration box” found under the “Display” tab. This, of course, means that the whole point of the Flash 10.1 update—HD hardware acceleration—is disabled.
The other option, and in my mind the preferable one, is to disable Sideport memory in the BIOS. In the AMI BIOS for the above-mentioned Asus board, the relevant options are found under Advanced → Chipset → Internal Graphics → Internal Graphics Mode → UMA. Of course, this ‘solution’ is also irritating: the Sideport memory then becomes another feature paid-for-but-disused.
The best option, is, of course, dependent on Adobe/ATI (whether the problem lies with Flash or with the ATI drivers isn’t clear) updating their software to fix the clash. Here’s hoping they actually do fix it, otherwise the users—as so often happens—will be left feeling shortchanged.
Bizarrely, rendering performance in Sony Vegas Pro 8 suffers by a factor of 3 if the Dynamic RAM Preview is set to use 0MB. Increasing it to 1MB results in a 200% performance boost.
Dynamic RAM Preview normally allows you to render a small selected portion of your project to preview it smoothly. This is especially useful if you have a portion of your project that includes many transitions and effects: without this facility, you may be unable to preview it at a usable frame rate. You can increase the amount of RAM reserved for this task, which increases the length of clip that you can preview. Mike J has a good explanation on the Digital Media Net forums.
However, if you don’t use this feature, the recommendation is to reduce the RAM kept aside for it, allowing it to be used elsewhere. I hardly ever use it, so I reduced it to 0MB—a mistake, as I found out.
John Cline over on the Sony Creative Software forums has produced a handy “benchmark” file, rendertest-hdv.veg to compare the rendering performance of different systems. For instance, in 32-bit Vegas, a stock Core i7 920 could chomp through the rendering in about 1 minute 50 seconds. A lesser Core 2 Quad Q9400 could manage in about 2 minutes 10 seconds. By comparison, at first I was clocking in at over 10 minutes! Something wasn’t right. I downloaded Vegas Pro 8.1, which is the 64-bit version, and the file rendered in under 2 minutes 40 seconds.
I realised, after some playing around, that the Dynamic RAM preview setting was to blame. Strangely, if I increased it to 1MB, the rendering time improved tremendously, dropping to around the 2 minutes 55 seconds mark.
Simple then—if you’re using Vegas Pro 8.0c or 8.1, don’t set the “Dynamic RAM Preview max (MB)” setting to 0MB. A rather silly bug; it would have been good if Sony had picked up on it.
Rant warning. I’ve just spent a deeply unsatisfying 45 minutes trying to redeem a Clubcard voucher that was due to expire tonight. Not only are Tesco’s sites a horrible mishmash of differing designs with no clear consistent elements, their hyperlinking is confusing, misleading, and ultimately disappointing.
Take a look at this screenshot:
That picture on the left of the screenshot, just above the “CDs” label, is a link to Tesco Entertainment. Brilliant, thought I. I can grab a cheap Springsteen CD or something. Having eventually settled on The Rising, I went to checkout, only to be nonplussed by the registration. I entered my details to sign up: the system told me I was already registered. Huh? Oh, it must be thinking of my Tesco Groceries account – even though the two websites have little in common, and are not even on the same domain. Look at these two screenshots. Compare. Do you see much evidence of consistency?
Consistency and standards: Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing.
Don’t get me wrong, having the same login details for all parts of the Tesco site is a Very Good Thing. But obscuring this great feature by inconsistent interface design is just stupidity on a plate.
Moving on, I wondered where to enter the Clubcard voucher. There was nowhere clear to redeem Clubcard vouchers. I tried the promotional code box. Didn’t work. Went further on to the payment page to see if I could enter it there. No dice. The help page was useless. No mention of redeeming Clubcard vouchers. Where next?
Google, in the end. Suspecting Tesco might, unsurprisingly, have made a mess of communicating with their users, I Googled “tesco clubcard entertainment” and finally found another help page for Tesco Entertainment. Note the complete lack of design consistency with the site it’s supposed to be helping with, Tesco Entertainment. Nor is it clear why there need to be two separate help pages.
There it was. Under “How do I use my Clubcard Vouchers online?” it said the following: “We are very sorry, Clubcard Vouchers cannot be used to buy CDs, DVDs and Games on Tesco Entertainment.” Then why on earth does it link to Tesco Entertainment on the Clubcard website?
Fantastic. Thanks for wasting my time. Tesco, you managed to fail in all these ways, by:
using woefully inconsistent designs across your different websites, especially for login screens;
implying Clubcard holders can redeem vouchers where they cannot, in reality; and
maintaining two separate help pages for the same site, one of which has to be found and accessed externally by Google.
Clubcard is supposed to be a loyalty scheme. I certainly don’t feel very loyal to Tesco after tonight.
As a bonus, as a further example of Tesco’s complete inability to even maintain consistency on the same sub-site, compare these two screenshots from the Clubcard website:
Click on the “Clubcard rewards” navigation bar link and you get this:
As you can see, it’s exactly the same, apart from everything. Not the slightest bit confusing, of course.
It seems that if you’ve bought a computer from Dell with Windows Vista 32-bit, they’ll provide, upon request, disks of Vista 64-bit.
It can be a bit of a struggle, though. The key, it seems is to quote the following document to them: DSN Document ID: 158098 (Operating System Changes and Operating System Swaps – Dell Global Policy).
When I asked back in April 2009, my Dell Chat online support conversation went something like this:
Liam: “I need a copy of Vista Ultimate 64-bit to replace Vista Ultimate 32-bit.”
Agent: “Can you tell me which particular Windows came with your system?”
Liam Cromar: “Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit.”
Agent: “The cd or dvd installers we have are the ones that came with the system.”
Agent: “We can only send the Vista Ultimate 32 bit.”
Liam: “Thanks. I understand, however, that Dell Global Policy specifies that the customer is to be provided, on request, with two copies of the 64-bit versions as well. This is according to DSN Document ID: 158098 (Operating System Changes and Operating System Swaps – Dell Global Policy).”
Agent: “Thanks let me check if we can provide you.”
Agent: “Let’s check if your system is capable of having 64 bit. Click Start, click Run, type MSinfo32, and click Enter Look under the system type and see what it is listed.”
Liam: “X86-based PC.”
Agent: “This computer is not compatible with 64 bit OS. For Dell computers when you checked the system type and it list X86-based PC, it is only for 32 bit OS. For computers compatible with 64 bit, you will see X64-based PC.”
Liam: “With all due respect, I am an IT consultant and I know perfectly well that this machine IS compatible with a 64-bit OS. What appears in the System Information utility only refers to what OS is CURRENTLY installed on the computer. Since it CURRENTLY has a 32-bit OS on it, it says X86-based PC. To find out whether it could support a 64-bit OS you have to check the underlying hardware, in particular the motherboard and processor.”
Agent: “Thanks for additional information. Please give me a minute.”
Agent: “All indications point to 32 bit compatibility only. I have double check this and I got the same answer.”
Liam: “What indications?”
Agent: “We have reference where we can check compatibility with a certain system. No 64 bit OS is listed as compatible.”
Liam: “It has a Core 2 Quad processor, definitely 64-bit compatible. Please tell me exactly what is claimed not to be 64-bit compatible.”
Agent: “Let me check your processor information.”
Liam Cromar: “Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600.”
Agent: “Please give me a few minutes again thank you.”
Agent: “Thank you for waiting. Your request was approved. Since the warranty is active, I can send you a Vista 64 bit OS. I apologize for the delay in approving your request.”
Note the amusing attempt to try and persuade me that 64-bit Vista would not be compatible. All’s well that ends well, however; the disk arrived quickly.
Note also that I have no idea whether this policy is still in force, or whether it has been changed. If you want to try this, don’t leave it too long.
Much credit and thanks go to the moderator Chris M on the Dell forums who explained the necessary document to refer to on the Technet forums.
I had cause recently to upgrade the cooler on a Q6600, and chose to use an old Scythe Ninja that was lying about spare.
Under Prime95 load, with the stock Intel cooler I was reaching high 70s. With the Scythe Ninja, high 60s…in passive mode.
Considering how old this cooler is (note that it’s the original Ninja, not the Ninja II) I was immensely impressed with its performance. I had been prepared to add a 120mm Zalman fan but saw no need to: it’s rarely placed under maximum load as it is. The only fans in the case were the graphics card fan and the PSU fan, which is starting to annoy me now noise-wise.
What can I say? Not much. If you’re an average end-user who hasn’t yet changed from the stock CPU cooler, don’t look further. Seriously, buy a Scythe Ninja II. I know what I’ll be looking for for my next build.
Has anyone else any positive or negative experiences with the Ninja?
Clever, isn’t it. I was trying to install Microsoft Security Essentials on a laptop running Windows XP Professional; installation kept failing with error 0x80070643. Picked up hints around the web that other anti-malware programs might be interfering. I had already uninstalled Avira AntiVir Premium, but though I might as well try getting rid of Microsoft AntiSpyware.
Surely these two Microsoft security products couldn’t be conflicting with other…surely not…oh. Yes they could, it seems. Removed Microsoft AntiSpyware and Microsoft Security Essentials installed with no problems. Something for Microsoft to sort out, I think…