Atomic I/O letters column #10Originally published in Atomic: Maximum Power Computing Reprinted here 8-Jul-2002.
Last modified 16-Jan-2015.
WinXP on Optus?
Internet Service Providers that have a supported-operating-systems list are just telling you what OSes you can use if you want the ISP's support organisms to help you with configuration problems. As long as you don't want tech support related to your OS, you can be running Linux on a Sega Dreamcast and still connect to Optus cable.
Optus' special installer software might not work on other OSes, but all the software does is change a couple of simple system settings.
Optus used to have the normal @Home hostname-based authentication scheme, in which every user's given a "co1234567-a" sort of hostname to use. My Friend At Optus tells me that they now authenticate by cable modem MAC address, which means your hostname can be anything. Any computer connected to the cable modem that has TCP/IP bound to that network adapter (without File And Printer Sharing bound to that adapter as well, unless you really want to share everything with the universe...) should be able to get an IP address via DHCP - which is the default Windows behaviour. You can, thus, be rocking and rolling on the Net with no further fooling around at all.
I purchased a Pixelview Geforce2 MX200 to update my Pentium II 350, 256Mb PC. Works much better with fairly recent flight sims, car racing etc. However on the older European Air Wars and Red Baron 3D, it has completely wrecked the maps and scenery. Why? Both games used 3dfx Glide.
On installation I downloaded the latest Nvidia drivers, but that didn't help. If GF2MX200 doesn't support Glide, what does that mean? Could I force the card to use Glide drivers?
Also, why are P-IIIs so expensive, compared with P4s?
Glide was 3dfx's proprietary 3D Application Programming Interface (API), and nobody else was allowed to use it. 3dfx got eaten by Nvidia, but Nvidia has no plans to incorporate Glide support in drivers for their own chipsets, because only games a few years old - like Red Baron 3D - are unable to use some other API instead. There are various other older games that support Glide but also support Direct3D and/or OpenGL; getting those working on a current system isn't a problem.
The only way to get Glide-only games working on a non-3dfx graphics card is by using "Glide wrapper" software, which takes Glide function calls and translates them into Direct3D or OpenGL on the fly. Quite a few Glide wrappers have been made over the last few years, each with its own set of amusing character traits. Which, if any, of them would work for you, I don't know. You can see a pretty comprehensive list here, and Glidos is also worth checking out.
Note that several wrappers are made for some particular application, like the UltraHLE N64 emulator, or for some particular video card chipset. The ones that're meant to work on Nvidia hardware may work on yours. Emphasis on the "may".
You can't use any normal Glide drivers on anything that isn't a 3dfx-chipset graphics card.
Why's the P-III so expensive? Because it's an old processor, now largely phased out in favour of P4 (and, now, P4-based Celerons). Since there's still some demand for the dwindling supply of P-IIIs, the price is going up, not down.
I'm interested in setting up a network in my home. Should I use a cross-over cable or a hub? What types of network cards should they be? I would be using it mainly for games, and possibly Internet sharing. Which card would be adequate - a 10 mbs or a 10/100 mbs card? What brands do you think are good and how much are they?
A crossover cable's the simplest way to connect two computers with 10BaseT or 100BaseT network adapters (the ones with the telephone-ish RJ45 connectors) together, but you can only connect two computers that way. If you want to connect more, you need a hub or switch, with sufficient ports for the number of nodes you want your network to have.
All of the cheapest network cards these days are "10/100" compatible; they'll default to running in 100 megabit per second "Fast Ethernet" mode, but they'll also work at 10 megabits per second, if you connect them to a network running at that speed. For Windows users, any old cheapo-card should be fine.
There's a lot more that can be said about basic PC networking. Fortunately, I've already said it, on my Networking Explained page here.
I have a Dell Optiplex GX150 running Windows XP Professional and all of a sudden, whenever I open anything or do anything or even when I log on, it gives me a message saying "DevLdr32 has encountered a problem and needs to close. We are sorry for the inconvenience."
I think if I reinstall WinXP it will fix it, but I would like to know if there is a simpler way.
Apparently, some software installations overwrite devldr32.exe with their own version, which doesn't work properly. Sound Blaster Live! users, in particular, have reported this problem.
Rumours that Creative's driver team is composed entirely of gorillas enthusiastically beating on their keyboards with their feet have not been confirmed.
If you find and open the drivers.cab file on the Windows XP CD, you can copy the devldr32.exe file from there to the system32 directory in your main Windows directory, and it'll overwrite the devldr32.exe you've got at the moment. Which may solve the problem.
-5 IBM G94 Of Darkness
I have an IBM G94 19" monitor. The book says refresh rate is 85mhz on all displays up to 1200x1600.
I have an Asus V8200 Deluxe video card. When I install the Asus v21.81 drivers, (I have reformatted 4 times recently, each time this happens), and I choose Optimal for refresh rate, it sets it at 100mhz. I then usually set it back to 85 just to be on the safe side.
Can't find any info on whether this monitor supports 100. If it is set to Optimal, will it only do what the monitor can handle? Is it safe to run at 100?
I used to have a Asus V7700 Deluxe card, and when I ran games at 1200x1600 the screen would go dark. I have tried with 60mhz refresh but still the same. I thought it might be the card, but the GF3 does the same. It will run great one resolution down from 1200x1600, but at 1200x1600 it's just dark.
Is my monitor dying, as I'm sure I could put that res on before without it going dark? Could it be that when I run at Optimal refresh and it was set at 100 it has damaged my monitor?
First up, it'd be Hertz (Hz), not megahertz (MHz). Refresh rate, the rate at which a CRT screen is redrawn, is measured in Hertz - cycles, or in this case frames, per second. Canonically, flicker stops being noticeable from about 72Hz upwards, though most people find 85Hz and better looks noticeably better than 75Hz.
The only display specifications that'll be in megahertz (millions of cycles per second) are the video card's pixel clock - the maximum number of pixels the thing can draw per second - and the bandwidth of the video cable. The normal monitor specs are maximum horizontal frequency (or horizontal scan rate) and maximum refresh rate. Horizontal frequency is the number of lines the monitor can draw per second, and is measured in kilohertz (kHz) - thousands of cycles per second.
Divide the maximum horizontal frequency a monitor can manage by the number of lines in a given resolution - 768, say - plus a bit to give the electron beams time to get back from the bottom right corner to the top left one, and you've got the maximum refresh rate the monitor can possibly manage at that resolution.
IBM's specs for the part number 654940N G94 monitor, which is what I presume you have, say that it can manage refresh rates from 50 to 160Hz, depending on resolution. Higher resolutions require lower refresh rates.
The monitor's maximum horizontal frequency is 95kHz. So in 1600 by 1200, with 1200 lines to draw per screen, the monitor will be able to manage a refresh rate of less than 79Hz. 75Hz, in fact, according to its specs.
If you're using a monitor driver - which is really little more than a list of resolutions and refresh rates - which makes Windows think that your monitor can do a higher refresh rate at a given resolution than it really can, then the "Optimal" refresh rate setting will leave you looking at a black screen, on any fairly recent monitor. Old monitors try to display out-of-range signals and give you impressive scramble-vision as a result; more modern ones just display nothing when the signal's beyond their capabilities.
Try a monitor driver for some other similar screen; perhaps the G94 driver just doesn't have the right numbers in it.
You can also use a proper display-tweaking utility like PowerStrip to hard-set resolution and refresh rate as you like.
I have just bought a Panasonic MX7 MiniDV camera, which came with a FireWire card and Ulead Video Studio 4.0 SE. I run a Celeron 466MHz, and I'm not sure what motherboard it is.
Recently my sister had a wedding and after a whole day of filming I finally finished all the editing on my computer. All I have to do now is render the movie, which will take about 30 hours.
I leave it running, but every time I come to check on it and I take the computer out of standby, the program has stopped working and the rendering process has ceased. I cannot continue where it left off, so have no choice but to start again, and still the same thing happens.
I have tried everything to stop the comp from going into standby but no success. I have switched off all screensavers and in the BIOS power section I have disabled all power saving modes and put everything on "always on" but still the computer goes to standby after every 20 minutes. If it was a short movie and the rendering took only 5 hours then maybe I could go and move the mouse every 20 minutes, but over 30 hours, if I miss a turn and do not move the mouse in time then the rendering stops again.
It's been over a month and I still haven't found a way to finish my movie. Don't laugh, but I have even tried taping the mouse to my hand while I sleep, so hopefully my hand will move the mouse and stop it going into standby. Can you guys please help me to solve my problem?
(To the tune of "On Top Of Old Smokey")
'Til you're old and greeeeeeey...
Well, that's one option. It's perfectly possible that Windows has wedged itself in such a way as to be unable to avoid standing by when you don't want it to.
Before you nuke from orbit and reinstall, though, make double-sure that in the "Energy saving features of monitor" subsection of the screen saver display properties tab (the names may be different, depending on what Windows flavour you're running), you haven't got a 20 minute standby timeout set. That setup dialog covers a lot more than just monitor blanking.
A firmware (BIOS) bug is another possibility. Various PCs have BIOS problems that let you turn some feature on or off in the BIOS setup, without actually changing the system's behaviour. Fortunately, your computer is young enough that it almost certainly has a user-upgradable "flash BIOS", though you may need to move a jumper on the motherboard to make the BIOS writable.
To update the BIOS, you'll need to find out what motherboard your computer's using, and then head off to the manufacturer's site and get the latest BIOS, the update utility, the satchel, the junk mail and, of course, the towel.
A couple of tips to round out this column. One from a reader, one from me.
Easy Messenger squishing
I was reading Atomic's "XP Optimisation Guide" when I noticed that, to disable Windows Messenger at startup, you recommended editing the registry or deleting Messenger altogether. These methods aren't easily reversed, and affect all accounts, when it might only be one user that doesn't want Messenger.
I'm running WinXP Professional and have successfully disabled Messenger in two ways. If you have a clean install, go to Start -> Run -> "msconfig" -> Startup and untick "msmsgs". If you have upgraded to Messenger 4.5, open it up and go to Tools -> Options -> Preferences, and untick "Run this program when Windows starts".
Now, Windows Messenger no longer starts up when you log on.
I take a lot of digital pictures. I move them to my PC via a USB card reader. If you've got write-behind caching turned on for better performance, then USB storage devices under Windows 2000 (and WinXP) have to be "stopped" before you unplug them, if you don't want to see a sniffy message from your operating system and possibly have to deal with file system corruption.
You can stop devices by double-clicking the little Unplug or Eject Hardware icon in the system tray, then clicking Stop and OK. And so I did that. Often.
Then I discovered that you can just hold the left mouse button on the Unplug or Eject icon, and you'll get a neat-o quick stop menu.
Not as good as true hot plugging, which you can do if you turn off write caching (in the "Policies" tab of the device's properties, in WinXP at least). But better than the multiple-click solution.