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§ VirtualDub 1.6.6 released; multithreading 1.7.0

It's been a while, but 1.6.6 is now out the door. This release is solely a bug-fix release; the one option that was added addresses a compatibility issue with some hardware-based playback devices. Assuming that no major issues crop up this version will be promoted to stable in the next release with few or no changes; otherwise, I'll try again.

Part of the reason for the delay was that I was also working on a 1.7.0 branch at the same time. Some of the changes that I did not want to put in 1.6.6 and probably won't put in 1.6.7 will go into this branch instead. The primary change that I am working on at the moment is rewriting the rendering engine; it's a monolithic mess right now and I'm trying to break it apart into stages so that it is more finely grained. Among the benefits of doing this are that it could be further multithreaded for better performance on 2-way and 4-way SMP machines, and also able to cover the latency of IPC between 32-bit and 64-bit processes, which is how I plan to have the 64-bit version use 32-bit filters and codecs. It will also make handling multiple sources and possibly multiple outputs easier, if I go down that route.

(Read more....)

§ How to install Windows XP in 2 days or less

I broke down and splurged on a new Dell Inspirion 9300 laptop. My previous laptop was an Inspiron 8200, which had been serving me well for three years... until the mouse button broke off. Now, this was probably not a big deal to get fixed, but I figure that a computer's usable lifetime is starting to run out when physical parts start falling off. Also, I couldn't resist a GeForce Go 6800 and a $750 off coupon. So I figured I'd get a new toy and hand the old laptop off to my father, who, as mechanical engineer, is less demanding of pointing devices and has a vast arsenal of adhesives and cements at his disposal to sort of stick the button back on.

Advice for first-time PC laptop buyers: as soon as you get a new computer, format it. Backup the hard drive or swap in a better one, wipe the system partition, and reinstall Windows XP. If you can't, beg or pay someone else to do it. The reason is that the OEMs install an unbelievable amount of crap on the machine, and it will make your life miserable. I thought it was bad on my 8200. This time, Dell preinstalled every piece of software I hate: Dell Support Center, QuickTime, RealPlayer, AOL, and McAfee. Now, my 1GB memory from Crucial hadn't arrived yet, so the machine was a game developer's nightmare: an XP machine with 256MB of system RAM and 256MB of video RAM. However, it was unbelievable how slow it was with all the junk  we're talking a good 10 minutes of swapping on startup, lots of annoying support popups everywhere, and 5-10 seconds of waiting per web page load. It will be better once I install more memory, but it was still so messed up that even after disabling a bunch of stuff system performance still inexplicably stank.

Time to reinstall.

(Read more....)