Monday, May 25, 2009

Logitech updates GamePanel software to v3.02.173

Logitech released an updated to the GamePanel software which M1730 owners use to power their built-in Gaming LCD. The update includes the following:

Included Dual Mode LCD Applets:
LCD Clock
LCD Countdown Timer
LCD Media Player
LCD Performance Monitor
LCD POP3 Monitor
LCD RSS Reader

LUA Scripting changes:
Scripting now works properly on the G13.
Added an additional LUA function; "SetMKeyState".
G-Key and M-key events can now distinguish between G-series keyboards and the G13.
The "OutputLCDMessage" function now correctly interprets the delay in seconds.

G-series Key Profiler Changes:
Added an additional function macro to assign G-keys to M1, M2 or M3.

SDK Changes:
Fixed critical section leak in the "CLCDConnection" class

SideShow Changes:
The G-series LCD (color and monochrome) is now supported as a Microsoft SideShow device on Windows Vista.
Support for Microsoft Sideshow has been re-enabled for 64-bit Windows Vista.

The volume display should now show on the LCD when changing volume.
Should work with the 3.1 patch of World of Warcraft.

New Features:
Introducing the LCD Applet Finder for easier applet navigation.

Software Version: 3.02.173
Post Date: 5/11/2009

Links have been updated on the Current Driver pages.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Left 4 Dead - Intermittent freezes with audio loop and a way to fix it (for now at least)

This is not really related specifically to the XPS M1730 since so many others with other systems have encountered this lately. I'm posting this for my fellow XPS M1730 owners who are experiencing this though in hopes this will correct the issue until such time as a patch or update is made available (don't hold your breath).

Symptom:Left 4 Dead will randomly freeze up and the audio goes into a very annoying loop @ time of freeze.

Drivers:Some people have reported success with Forceware 182.50 however I have tried 182.50 and all drivers after 185.66. You might ask why I did not roll back and try an earlier stock driver (such as the 179.xx Dell driver). The reason is simple... I prefer to take full advantage of 'The Beast' and run my 8800M GTXs in SLI mode. With SLI mode enabled, any driver prior to 185.66 will NOT support PowerMizer correctly and downclock the GPUs dynamically based on system load while on AC Power.

Valve has an article (last modified on 4/17/2008) on their support forums with info on freezes w/sound loops however this does not discuss multi-core support and the option of turning it off to correct it.

After reading this article I was shocked at all of the reasons they listed. Uninstall your Anti-Virus software? PCI latency timings? Disable audio? C'mon now Valve - let's be realistic.

After spending several days researching this issue I have finally pinned it down to Valve's shoddy implementation of Multi-Core CPU support. This has been a long standing issue with Valve's Source based games and was (I believe) first seen in Team Fortress 2/ Half-life 2. Regardless, this issue was well documented by users and testers of the L4D Demo and has been seen since the launch of the Left 4 Dead product. You would think Valve would've put it to bed by now and resolved it to make all of us multi-core owners happy.

Temporary Fix:
In the end I found a post via Google on a forum (which I can't remember now) suggesting disabling multi-core cpu support. I did this via the in-game options menu and have not experienced a single crash. This has a downside to it though... I noticed a drop in FPS as a result. Everything else is ok but just seeing the dip in FPS kind of bothered me. Why can't this be fixed? Why can't I use the full power/capabilities of my CPU? Not cool Valve.

What's a bit odd about this whole situation is this... This is the FIRST time I have experienced freezes with audio looping. I had purchased Left 4 Dead at the time of the launch and have never had this happen before. Nothing has changed with my system configuration. The only thing which did change with L4D was the release of the L4D DLC update (4/21/2009). Something was altered in my opinion. To back this up, I have NEVER had issues with Team Fortress 2 with this laptop nor my previous Intel CoreDuo machine - and no, I did not disable multi-core support in the TF2 config file.

So, in the end, if you are starting to see freezes and audio loops with 'The Beast', you might want to disable multi-core cpu support in-game. Hopefully this will correct the issue for you... It did for me (at least I hope) :(

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Windows 7 RC Released (7100.0.090421-1700)

By now, most will have jumped on the bandwagon and downloaded Windows 7 RC. I've secured my 64-bit and 32-bit ISOs for install later this week. I look forward to test driving this new OS. From what I've read, native driver support is receiving high marks as well as stability (Vista has been nothing but stable for me so I'd expect nothing less).

If you are interested and haven't grabbed the download yet, here is the linky:

A quick side note:

The RC will expire on June 1, 2010. Starting on March 1, 2010, your PC will begin shutting down every two hours. Windows will notify you two weeks before the bi-hourly shutdowns start. To avoid interruption, you’ll need to install a non-expired version of Windows before March 1, 2010.

Once I have 64-bit installed, I'll post my findings. Enjoy the RC!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Intel Turbo Memory and Vista 64 - Revisited

Well, Intel released an updated Turbo Memory driver/installer last week. I have updated the Driver pages to reflect the new version.

I was a bit hesitant to give this new update a try. Back when I was running Vista 32-bit, the 1GB Intel Turbo Memory card did in fact make a difference. I saw reduced boot time and my startup items snapped open. When I made the move to Vista 64-bit I noticed a lag in boot and shutdown time. It was quite annoying to say the least. At first, I suspected it was my OS Install and ended up wiping the system and reinstalling Vista from scratch. Of course the issue was still present and after a few tries I decided to look elsewhere for the cause. I was finally able to pin it down to the Turbo Memory card.

After uninstalling Intel Turbo Memory and removing the card, I installed Intel Matrix Storage Manager. Boot time was faster than 32-bit!

So, fast forward to present day... I reinstalled the Turbo memory card and ran the updated Turbo Memory installer. For anyone who is doing this and has previously removed their Turbo Memory card, its ok to just run the installer - there is no need to uninstall your current version of Matrix Storage Manager as Turbo Memory has its own version of Matrix Storage Manager which it automatically installs.

After running the installer and rebooting the system - what did I find? Yes - the boot delay was back. Horrible. I decided to keep it installed and let it do its thing and build its little cache file. After a day of using it I finally decided to dump it all and go back to straight Intel Matrix Storage Manager v8.8.0.1009. Things are back to the norm.

Conclusion: Intel has quite a way to go with Intel Turbo Memory. I don't believe development will continue much longer as most systems today are quite capable of running 64-bit and typically ship with 4GB (or more) of memory. There just really isn't a need for it. Then again, I could be wrong. Who knows what Intel and Microsoft are working on ;)

Either way, Intel Turbo Memory is best left to those who are running 32-bit version of Vista. Anyone need a 1GB Intel Turbo Memory card? lol