Category: "Windows"

ProcessWatcher to handle XBMC issues and crashes

by Kyle  

I've been using XBMC for enjoying video and music on my TV, but have constantly encountered a bug where the video gets choppy if I've left XBMC open for too long. To help remedy the situation without needing a full PC restart or the aid of a keyboard, I've created a simple tool that will monitor the XBMC process (or any process for that matter) and restart it if it exits.

I call the tool ProcessWatcher and have decided to release it as a free download:
http://storage.kylefarnung.com/ProcessWatcher.zip

It does require that you have .NET Framework 4.0 installed:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=9cfb2d51-5ff4-4491-b0e5-b386f32c0992&displaylang=en

Usage Instructions:

  1. Unzip the downloaded file to a convenient location (like C:\Tools\ProcessWatcher\).
  2. Create a new shortcut in Windows. Point the shortcut to the ProcessWatcher.exe file and name the shortcut whatever you'd like (I call mine "XBMC").
  3. Right-click on the newly created shortcut and choose "Properties."
  4. To the end of the "Target" field you will need to add the full path to the XBMC.exe file. On 32-bit systems this will likely be "C:\Program Files\XBMC\XBMC.exe" (Don't forget to include the quotes) and on 64-bit systems this will likely be "C:\Program Files (x86)\XBMC\XBMC.exe" (Again, don't forget to include the quotes).
  5. Change the "Start in" field to match the path you found the XBMC.exe file in (For example C:\Program Files (x86)\XBMC\).
  6. Change the icon using the "Change Icon..." button to whatever you'd like (I used the XBMC icon).
  7. Click "OK" in the properties dialog and double-click the shortcut to launch XBMC via ProcessWatcher.

If at any point the XBMC.exe process exits (either intentionally or via a crash), the ProcessWatcher will count down and then restart the process. While ProcessWatcher is counting down, you can hit the enter key (if the window has focus) or click "Quit" to abort the countdown immediately and exit the application. If the countdown elapses, then XBMC will be started up again.

Fallout 3, Multi-Core Processors, and You

by Kyle  

Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition was only $20 on Steam last night, so I finally decided to pick up a copy.  I've played a lot of the game already on the Xbox 360, so I'm pretty familiar with the beginning areas, but I spent most of that time dealing with an annoying bug where the game would freeze, but not crash.  I could no longer control the game, but the ambient audio continues to play; the only resolution being to kill the process.  Needless to say, it really ruins the experience in the game and worst yet, it seems to be a really common problem for anyone who has more than two processor cores (I have eight, so the problem is multiplied further).  There doesn't appear to be any sort of official fix, but people have reported success with some custom modifications to the configuration.

The game engine has some issues with processors that have more than 2 cores. You can force the game to only use two of them and it will stop the freezing. I haven't had it freeze once since I did this several days ago.

Open up the fallout.ini file in: My Documents\My Games\Fallout3

Find the line:

bUseThreadedAI=0

change it to:

bUseThreadedAI=1

Add another line after it and insert:

iNumHWThreads=2

This will limit the game to 2 cores and prevent the engine bug from causing the game to freeze.

Windows 7 and TortoiseSVN problems

by Kyle  

For quite a while now I've been having issues with TortoiseSVN reporting that files were corrupt while updating and submitting.  After my working copy became corrupt, yet again, I decided to do some research and turned up a solution to the problem.  Apparently there is a bug, introduced in Windows 7, with the MoveFileEx command that TortoiseSVN uses quite frequently.  The fix will be included with Windows 7 SP1, due out sometime next year, but you can get the hotfix right now at the link below.

Hotfix:  http://support.microsoft.com/kb/982927/

ThinkPad T60 - How to Make a Custom OEM Windows CD

by Kyle  

Now updated for Windows XP SP3, if you encounter any problems, please let me know!

Please note that the RVM Update Pack and KB896256 hotfix are no longer necessary with Service Pack 3.

When I first bought my Lenovo ThinkPad T60, I was a little disappointed at the absence of a normal OEM Windows XP CD. This CD would allow the user to install their own copy of Windows free of the preloaded garbage that comes on every machine. After reading some posts and tutorials and running into problems, I finally have the solution for ThinkPad T60 owners. The CD that is created in this tutorial embeds the Lenovo OEM key (different from the one on the bottom of the machine) and doesn't require activation as long as it's installed on the same machine the license came with.

The problem I had previously where the machine would continually reboot when trying to load Windows seems to have been solved by integrating the KB896256 hotfix into the install. Although I haven't tested this yet myself, a forum user has reported that installing this hotfix in Safe Mode resolved the issue. Please be cautious when trying this out and make sure you have a backup before doing anything catastrophic, I cannot be held responsible for any damage as a result of this tutorial. (This is no longer relevant if you integrate SP3!)

A lot of the initial inspiration came from this guide, but everything here has been recreated from scratch to customize for T60 owners. This may work on other Lenovo models, but some of the instructions are likely to change slightly (mainly the drivers and hotfix). Anyway, let's get started.

Update: I tried out the install last night and it seemed to work well. Windows booted up fine the first time and I had only minor problems with System Update not properly installing things. This may or may not have been caused by the slipstreaming, but if anyone is willing to experiment, you can easily leave out the network drivers and update pack (make sure to still use the Intel Storage Matrix Driver and the KB896256 Hotfix).

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Windows Vista, Friend or Foe?

by Kyle  

Microsoft's first new consumer operating system in five years is set to be released tomorrow (January 30th, my Birthday). Although the final version was finished back on November 30th, a few months is needed for the major computer vendors to prepare their systems for production. As of now it looks as though the major vendors like Dell, Lenovo, and HP have readied their lines and are already selling systems with the much anticipated new operating system.

Update: It appears that the Vista launch was scheduled for earlier tonight. More information about the launch is available here.

The logo for the new Microsoft operating system, Windows Vista.

I have personally used Vista versions Beta 1, Beta 2, RC 1, RC 2, and Final Business Edition, and I must say that I'm not very impressed. Although a lot has changed since Windows XP, not in enough ways to make the steep upgrade and retail costs worth it. So far I have only invested $10 in my Vista experience for shipping the Lenovo upgrade to Vista Business (which won't ship until March anyway). Although I'd like to upgrade that version to Vista Ultimate when it arrives (using the new Anytime Upgrade feature), I think the $139 upgrade price from Business to Ultimate is still too steep given the few added features. For a full comparison of the different editions and upgrade prices, see the links below.

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