fredag 13 januari 2017

Dear all web developers out there... Can we talk about some things?

I use the web sometimes. Here are some practices that needs to end, now!.

1. Page scrolling up and down on mobile devices.
So I go to a long web page on your mobile device, sometimes not with the fastest connection. Top of the page loads, I scroll down. Since not all of the huge images and ads has loaded yet, the content scrolls up and down for ages until the page has finished loading. Developers, please pre-define the height of the content as much as possible (especially images) in the HTML so it doesn't have to be readjusted after the content has loaded!

2. Banners that scrolls the page
So there is some cookie warning or what not as a banner on top of the page. Please, don't make it so the entire page scrolls 30 pixels down just as I am about to click a link... (I'll appreciate any irony if there is such a cookie warning on this page. :-D )

3. Popups (aka modal dialogs)
A long time ago, pages used to open popups as new browser windows. People hated them, so browsers started blocking them. Then web designers started making in-page popups instead. Granted, there are many cases where this is perfectly fine. But to show errors or alerts or especially ads, are usually NOT. Even worse, the implementations are often slow and jerky and jumps around and the "X" icon are hard to find or moves around until the popup has finished loading. Please just integrate your message into the rest of the page instead!

4. Full screen ads appearing after I already started reading the page
See title. It just makes me hate your site and the advertiser more than otherwise. Especially if the scroll position is reset after I close the ad.

5. target=_blank
I know how to use "Open in new tab". If I clicked the link without selecting "Open in new tab", I did not want it to open in new tab. Open in same tab, please.

Let's make the world a better place! :)

lördag 12 november 2016

Intel SSD Toolbox - installation fails, reboots Windows before installation is completed

The problem:
I wanted to install Intel SSD Toolbox 3.4.0.400. After clicking Next a few times in the wizard and the actual installation has started, Windows reboots and the installation is interrupted. Nothing of Intel SSD Toolbox is installedor changed.
Additionally, for each interrupted installation, a number of folders called "IIxxxx.tmp" (xxxx = random characters and numbers) are left in the C:\Windows\Temp folder, each containing 300+ MiB.

The cause:
The first thing the installer does, is to run the included vc_redist.x86.exe. This is the Visual C++ Redistributable runtime installer - essentially an installation program which installs a few DLLs that the toolbox apparently requires. On my computer, the VC++ runtime installer determined my computer needed to reboot. The Intel installer should have ran this installer with the command line that instructs the installer to suppress such reboots, but it does not.

The fix:
Download the installer.Run it.
Wait while "Please wait while setup initializes".
When the installer is waiting for you to hit Next at the first step, do NOT press it.
Instead, open C:\Windows\Temp.
Find the LAST folder (order by Modified date) called "IIxxxx.tmp". Check the modified time - it should be just a minute ago.
Open the Dependencies subfolder. It should contain a file called vc_redist.x86.exe file, and a few DLL files.
Rename the vc_redist.x86.exe file something else or delete it.
Find any other exe file - I picked C:\Windows\notepad.exe.
Copy it to the Dependencies folder and rename it to vc_redist.x86.exe.
Go back to the installation wizard and hit Next to let installation proceed.
Hopefully installation should be fine.
After completion, the installer will ask you properly to reboot. Do so.
After reboot, make sure to remove all of the "IIxxxx..tmp" folder in your Temp directory to avoid wasting disk space.
Complain to Intel that the installer has a bug.

Note: If the toolbox doesn't work properly, or if installation now fails at a later stage, you might have a problem with the VC++ runtimes. One thing to try then, is to follow the instructions above, but copy the vc_redist.x86.exe file to a separate folder and run it on its own by just double clicking it. It should show you a GUI offering to install, repair or uninstall the runtimes. You could also try downloading the runtimes from Microsoft.


Please leave me a comment if this helped you or not!

torsdag 1 september 2016

"Back to the Future: The Game" episodes 2-5 not downloading on iPad Mini

I played the first free episode of "Back to the Future: The Game" (1.6) on my iPad Mini (with iOS 9.3.5). Everything was fine and I decided to buy the bundle with episode 2-5. However, downloading the episodes (over wifi) persistently froze somewhere between 1% and 12%. After a long time, the game would then either close or give an error message about losing internet connection. I would then have to restart the download. I contacted Telltale's support, they responded quickly and with a lot of suggestions (restart the iPad, close all other apps, try another Wifi connection, keep trying, try a VPN), but neither of them made a difference.

I found this page where some people suggest using cellular data instead of wifi connection to get the episodes. That was not an option for me, as my iPad model is wifi only. However it gave me the idea to try to connect to the internet using internet sharing/tethering over Bluetooth from another device. Using Bluetooth internet sharing on my low end Lumia Windows Phone, I was able to download the episodes on the first attempt.
Note that similar Bluetooth internet sharing on an old HTC One M7 was not successful - the iPad was not able to connect to internet at all using that.

So - things to do if you suffer this issue:
- Contact Telltale support, even if you manage to solve this issue yourself using workarounds - if they do not know how many are having this issue, they wont fix it.
- Try either cellular data or Bluetooth internet sharing from another device, instead of Wifi, if you can.
- If it doesn't work over Bluetooth with your device - check if you have Internet connection at all over Bluetooth. If not, try another device, iOS is incompatible with many devices.
- Demand a refund if neither of the above helps.
- Mention this issue on App Store review etc.

Don't hesitate to leave a comment if this helped you or not!

lördag 4 januari 2014

Howto: Changing region on PS1 savegames

Maybe like me you have a bunch of PS1 games of PAL region, that you have replaced with the often much better NTSC U/C versions? Then you should know that while the PS1 memory cards are region free and can contain save games of mixed regions, the savegames themselves have regional tags set on them so that savegames made by a different regional version of a game while always show up as generic "used block" as if it was created by any other game.


Fortunatelly, for plenty of PS1 games, it is possible to change the region of savegames.

It should NOT matter if the game is a "PSOne classic" from PSN or a  physical game. It should not matter if the game is "Greatest hits"/"Platinum" or not etc.
It DOES matter if the game has any kind of in-game differences - if the game actually expect different data in the savegame, anything could happen, so keep a backup of the original savegame, as well as all other save games on the memory card. I play on PS3 so I have one virtual card for each game.
I have tried converting 4 games so far from PAL to NTSC (FF1, FF4, Medal of Honor, Breath of Fire IV), no problems so far.
I have no idea of the success rate converting to and from Japanese saves!
Also note that it is impossible to via PS1/2/3 browsers/memory card utilities see the difference between the different regionalities so try to keep them appart so you don't get them mixed up. These browsers will always concider saves of different regions as from different game, so they are always possible to have side-by-side but since their icons and names will not differ it might get confusing.

You will need a way to get savegames from and to a Windows PC - DexDrive, a PS2 that can run ULaunchElf or some Game Genie or such, the PS3 Memory Card adapter, USB stick, etc. Best option depends on your situation and available hardware.



* Download MemCardRex from: http://shendosoft.blogspot.se/ .

* Start the game of the "target" region. Create a dummy save on an empty memory card. Many games have virtual "slots", if possible you should create saves in the same "slot" as your real save game.

* Use any method to copy both the original save games as well as the dummy save games to and from a Windows PC.


* In MemCardRex, select Edit -> "Import save". Open the dummy save.

* Right click on the imported save, and click "Edit save header".

* Note all of the values. SCxS-yyyyy is the product name under which the game was sold as in the region. "x" is E for Europe (PAL), U for NTSC U/C, P for NTSC Japan. yyyyy is a five digit number, each games number is different for every region. Also note the Identifier, which is a string the game use to separate its own games. A few games contain region in this string as well (for example Breath of Fire 4 has "BOF4xxyy" where xx is the "slot" (00-14) and yy is the region (US for US, PL for PAL, unknown for Japan).

* Now import the original save, and select Edit save header, and change the SCxx-xxxxx, the region dropdown, and if needed, the regional code in the ID.

* Right-click and select "Export save". Select an appropriate format. Since the product code (SCxx-xxxxx) is a part of the file names, it is normal that the exported file has a different file name than the original one.

* Move the modified game to your memory card.

Troubleshooting:
* In PS1/2/3 interface, save has garbled graphics and/or text - the save file is completely invalid. Check which format you exported the save from in MemCardRex, and check how you copied it to your PS1 memory card.

* Save looks fine in PS1/2/3 interface, but game only shows save as a block used by another game: Check that all the regional parameters were changed to the values corresponding with the "target" region.

* Save looks fine in PS1/2/3 interface, but game crashes or glitches when reading the memory card, when loading a savegame, or later during gameplay. Or, there are items missing in inventory, you are on the wrong level or in the wrong state - the save is probably not compatible with the new region.

Hope this was of use to anyone!

onsdag 10 juli 2013

Nvidia nForce4 / geforce 6150 LE crashing

I had an old Fujitsu-Siemens Esprimo E5615, which has a Nvidia nForce 410 or 430 chipset, with integrated GeForce 6150LE, running Windows 7 64-bit and the latest drivers supporting the GPU (version 307.83, according to Windows Update, Nvidia Update och Nvidia website)

The problem:
* When playing movies encoded with VC-1 in Windows Media Player, the video would not be displayed properly and within seconds the computer froze, the graphics driver crashed, or I got a blue screen with various messages, often with a message that the graphics drivers timed out and could not be restarted.

* When calculating the Windows Experience Index, the computer crashed in similar ways during the "Windows Media" assessment.

The cause:
This seems to be an issue with the graphics driver, which crash on hardware accelerated VC-1 decoding. Note that the WEI crash while invisibly decode a VC-1 encoded file, "Clip_1080_5sec_VC1_15mbps.wmv", in C:\Windows\Performance\WinSAT. (SAT = System AssessmentTool).

Workarounds:
* Ignore the WEI and don't watch VC-1 files :)

* Get an older driver. For example, 285.79 (beta) seems to work while 296.10 (whql) does not, so somewhere between there, the bug was introduced. Obviously, any improvements done to the driver after will dissappear

* Disable video hardware acceleration. This can be done in Windows Media Player -> menues (press Alt to make them appear) -> Performance tab -> Tools -> Options -> uncheck "Turn on DirectX Video Acceleration for WMV files". This will fix WEI and will make VC-1 videos play without crashing, but these, and all other WMV files will no longer have hardware acceleration and thus worse performance. (Note: DirectX Video Acceleration = DXVA). If other applications use DXVA, these may have to have hardware acceleration disabled as well.

* Get another GPU if the computer has expansion ports. :) Make sure to get one that doesn't demand more than your power supply can handle. Remember to disable the 6150 (so it doesn't take up RAM and other resources) and uninstall its drivers.

If you have a better workaround, please let me know :)


Other ideas:
Some things that I tried that didn't help me in this case but might help someone else:

* Run Memtest86+. Faulty RAM is the cause of many strange problems.

* You can run WEI in console mode, just open a command prompt as administrator and run "winsat". It has various parameters to output reports and to only run particular tests. run "winsat -?" to show all parameters. Run "winsat >> c:\somelogfile.txt" to generate a log file. Also note that winsat can generate some XML report. This lets you troubleshoot various issues that happens during WEI problems.

* If the computer just restart with no explanation, maybe you got a bluescreen and the computer has been configured to restart automatically on errors. To change this, hold Win + Pause/Break button (in the upper right corner of your keyboard) -> Advanced system settings -> Startup and Recovery -> Settings -> uncheck "Automatically restart".

* Also try VMT, video memory stress test, from http://www.mikelab.kiev.ua/index.php?page=PROGRAMS/vmt . Like memtest but will run on the graphics RAM.

* Note that the drivers included in the nForce4 driver package is ancient, so answer "no" to the questions if you want to install them in the installation wizard of the nForce4 drivers.

* The nForce4 seems to have some problems with random hard drive corruption. If you have this chipset, try taking a big file and make multiple copies of it, preferably back and forth between two different (internal) hard drives, then run "comp" to ensure they are all identical.

onsdag 3 april 2013

Problem with Samsung SyncMaster SA300 24" (LS24A300BS/EN)

I received a broken Samsung monitor (model name/no in title) that some else had given up on. When no cable was attached, it seemed to work great, with a "No signal" message floating across the screen. As soon as a cable with signal was passed however, the screen would go completely black (no backlighting). The problem was fixed with a firmware update available on Samsungs website. I had to use a DVI cable to get the update software to detect the monitor in Win7 64-bit, but did not have to install monitor specific drivers beforehand, only the firmware update was required. I tried at first to update using VGA cable - that didn't work (that laptop might have been incompatible as well).

Unfortunatelly I managed to order a new mainboard - part no BN96-18431A, supposedely compatible with BN94-04264A and should work in LS24A300BS/ZA as well - I'll try to cancel that order but if I can't, then I guess I have this spare mainboard to sell :)

By the way quality of this monitor is shit. I wouldn't recommend anyone buying it :) However it's low power consumption (< 30W), external supply, no inverter board and generally very few components to fail and very few and small capacitors to break, one would think it would be fairly reliable, but not as long as they make this shitty firmware for it :( Also its a screwless design held together with plastic hooks. Cheap cheap cheap. This is my first Samsung monitor, probably my last too...

Some good resources that helped me when I was troubleshooting the monitor, or that might be useful to other people having problems with their monitor

Badcaps.net Forums - great forum for troubleshooting monitors and other things (things with failed capacitors in particular) :)

PacParts - original spare part store, ships internationally and relatively cheap


ShopJimmy.com - great second hand spare part store

Understanding and finding Samsung monitor part numbers - very good information, note that Samsung parts can have many BNXX-numbers on them but it's important to look for the proper ones. On my mainboard the partno was hiding in the middle of a long alphanumeric string (close to a barcode). while plenty of other less important BN numbers were printed on stickers and parts across the board.

I hope this useful to anyone!

lördag 23 juni 2012

Emulating Virtual Boy on a 3D TV

Inspired by this video from "Bureau voor Gamers", I wanted to try playing some Virtual Boy on a modern 3D TV. It was a bit tricky so I'll share how I did it. What I have is a Panasonic DT50 and a computer connected to the PC using HDMI, running Windows 7 64-bit.


First off, the TV must support "side-by-side" video. This is when the two images (left and right eye) are horizontally compressed to half their width and displayed side by side. My Panasonic sometimes automatically detect this signal as a 3D signal, but sometimes I will have to go the the 3D menu, press the button to go to manual signal selection, and select the "side by side -> 3D" option.

This means your computer/graphics card does NOT have to support 3D in any way! With an emulator that can output side by side video in fullscreen, it will work with any computer, drivers, cables etc as long as your TV supports the mode.

So here's how to do it:
* Get Medafen from http://mednafen.sourceforge.net . I got 0.9.22-WIP.
* Unpack it and change the cfg file: Find the "vb.3dmode" and change it from "anaglyph" (the classic red/blue mode) to "sidebyside".
* Change "vb.stretch" to "full".
* Change "vb.3dreverse" if and only if the images are reversed (i.e. stuff that should be in the background appears to be closest to you)
* Run the emulator (has to be started from command line, like "mednefaren filename.vb"). It should be displayed in a very wide window, with two images displayed side by side.
* Press Alt+Enter to go to fullscreen. The two images should be horizontally compressed.
* Set the 3D mode on your TV if your TV doesn't detect it automatically. You may have to select 3D mode manually (for example "Side by side -> 3D")

There you go! Don't hesitate to comment if you run into any problems or want to add something.

Some notes:
* Mednafen is also available for Wii (WiiMednafen). 3D settings are not available in the UI but they might still be set in the config file.
* Don't bother with "WiirtualBoy" for Wii, it's been superseeded by WiiMednafen!
* I also tried "Reality Boy" and "Red Dragon" (Red Dragon is the one used in the video I mentioned above), they both looked fine in windows mode but all the colors got messed up when running them in fullscreen.
* If you like the games or the console, you should buy them!