Author Archives: Gabriel

About Gabriel

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Sometimes I Love My Job

It can be tedious working for a crown corp and the CBC certainly has its moments, just like any other job, but then there are things like this that you just don’t get to see anywhere else.

It’s pretty strange to be at a point in your life where pop heroes from your childhood are now being retread as kids entertainers of your middle age.  But it was still pretty neat to see the parents almost as excited as the kids!

Sorry for the bad quality, I didn’t expect to see Maestro, let alone be taking video of Let Your Backbone Slide so I wasn’t exactly prepared.

NHK World On Demand Sumo

Starting with this month’s tournament in Nagoya there is now an English language official web broadcast courtesy of NHK.  This seems to be an experiment, so I’m hoping that they decide it’s successful.  The quality of the programme is fantastic and as much as I’d like to see a bit more of the ring entering ceremonies and so on, I’m pretty impressed nonetheless.

You can check it out here, and if you’re a sumo fan who speaks English I really encourage you to!

Also, if you’re interested in more coverage, I suggest you to check out Jason’s All-Sumo channel on YouTube.  He’s got great coverage of the domestic broadcasts in Japan and is just doing it because he loves the sport not to mention he seems like a nice guy!

Audio Issues with Windows 10: Bitdefender was the Cause

As a follow up to this post two weeks ago, it’s pretty obvious that the issue I was experiencing was caused by Bitdefender.  Since switching back to using Kaspersky I’ve not experienced any slowdowns or abnormally high CPU or interrupt usage.

This is unfortunately since until I ran into this problem I had been quite happy with Bitdefender.  I’d read some of the horror stories about Bitdefender’s quality control but I had chalked them up to the usual combination of overblown edge cases with wonky configurations and disgruntled fanboys.  I can’t say for certain when this issue was introduced and I have to assume that it doesn’t manifest on every system or else it would be much more widely reported, but either way it’s serious enough for me to abandon paid software and buy a competing product.

Audio Issues with Windows 10 (is Bitdefender the Cause?)

I’ve been having some audio issues with Windows 10 for the past couple of months, they consist of occasional clicks and pops which appear to get worse the longer the uptime of the system.  After extensive digging and quite a bit of testing involving installing and uninstalling software, verifying all of the hardware connections, replacing the discrete audio card (Asus Xonar Essence STX) with an external USB DAC and amp, as well as reinstalling the operating system several times, there was still no significant improvement.

The only data I was able to gather that was much beyond trial and error testing was that there seemed to be excessive CPU usage by the “System and compressed memory” service which could spike as high as 100% at times when I was experiencing more serious audio problems.  These more severe audio glitches were definitely correlated to heavy CPU utilization, but after extensive research I was unable to determine any plausible course of action beyond the usual random suggestions on popular tech forums.

I was getting to the point of exasperation and even considering just giving up and replacing the computer.

But I was thinking about the problem this afternoon and I started thinking perhaps this was a result of antivirus software, Bitdefender in particular.  It has somewhat of a reputation of being fast, effective and a bit buggy so I’m surprised I hadn’t thought of this sooner.

After a bit of digging I did come across some evidence that Bitdefender has been associated with excessive system interrupts.  This could be a possible root cause.  I’ve removed Bitdefender from my system and, though it required a reboot which tends to clear the problem temporarily, I haven’t heard a click in the past 2 hours.

I’ve grabbed a trial of Kaspersky Internet Security and I’m going to run that through the 30 day trial to see if the issue has resolved itself.  I’ll post again if there is any change and whether or not this test is successful.

Below are my system specs for anybody who is interested:

  • Intel Core i5-4670
  • Gigabyte Z87MX-D3H
  • Gigabyte GTX 980 G1 Gaming (GV-N980G1 GAMING-4GD)
  • 32GB Mushkin Enhanced Stealth DDR3 SDRAM
  • 512GB Samsung 840 EVO SSD
  • Schiit Bifrost DAC

So far, so good at ~100Mbps

After a few shenanigans with Rogers and Teksavvy, I managed to switch over to my cable Internet service yesterday.  Thankfully the only issues were administrative.  After 24 hours of service, I’m cautiously optimistic that my local segment doesn’t seem to be especially congested.

I’ve not quite cracked 100Mbps download speed in any of my tests, but I have been able to hit 98Mbps pretty consistently and I’m always hovering around 10Mbps up.  My ping times seem to stay to between 10-15ms to servers hosted in the downtown Toronto core.  This is up about 5-7ms from my DSL service, but I’m fortunate enough to have always had good ping times in artificial tests simply because of location and this doesn’t seem to be a showstopper.  I guess I’ll know more when I get a chance to sit down and play a few online games.

Last night during the supposed peak usage period, I was only seeing a drop in download bandwidth of 3-4Mbps at worst and barely any difference in upload bandwidth at all.  My latency did increase a little bit as well but never more than 5ms and most of the time it was closer to 1ms.

If this holds, then four times the bandwidth is a fair trade for not having the lowest ping on the server!  I thought I’d share this in case anybody else is considering Teksavvy cable as I found it incredibly hard to find anything other than horror stories which were clearly a result of unique circumstances when I was researching the switch.

Here’s a link to my Speedtest results if you are interested in a bit more detail.

100Mbps Internet Service

So for the first time at home I have what until relatively recently would have been viewed as LAN speed for my Internet service, and with an unlimited, and reasonably managed bandwidth policy.  I’m not an abusively high user, I’ve almost always stuck inside my current cap on my DSL service, but I do appreciate that a good service provider should manage their networks during extreme congestion.

My experience with Teksavvy has been positive enough over the years, I’ve been a customer since 2006, and I’ve only ever had one provider that was better and this was back in the .com bubble days when Ottawa was crawling with technically savvy and responsive providers!  So I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt that they will not do anything naughty with their traffic shaping policies.   Continue reading

Because it’s 2015

There are a lot of symbolic things that Trudeau and his new government have done today, especially when it comes to telegraphing that they will be serious about issues which have faced aboriginal Canadians.  But the best soundbite of this morning’s ceremonies was his answer to the question of why the cabinet should be comprised of 50% women and 50% men.

“Because it’s 2015.”

I’m fairly realistic, I don’t expect this new government to be that dramatically different from other Liberal governments in the past, but it is pleasant to see them bowing to reality and facts for a change.  The fact that women are underrepresented in leadership positions is something that was within their power to address at the top level so it is refreshing to see some action.

Couple Things…

Thus far the visit to NY for AES has been way busier than I expected, which is nice in a way since I always find business trips a bit weird when I have too much free time. They’re sort of like a break but you’re on the clock so you don’t ever really relax and away from all your normal break time activities.

The panels for AES basically go from 09:00-18:00 or so non-stop, so by the time I’m done it’s been a long day and it’s too dark this time of year to take a lot of photos with the gear I brought for the trip.

But I had a very curious experience, I decided to grab some take out for dinner on my way back to the hotel since I skipped lunch.  When I went to pay, the sweet young woman at the counter apologized quite profusely to me because she didn’t have any singles for change. I thought she was going to give me a fist full of quarters, but instead she handed me four of these mythical Sacagawea coins that Americans seem to loathe so much! I almost felt the need to explain to her why $1 coins are better than bills and that it was no problem, but I decided it wasn’t the time or place in the end.

Coming from the land of the Loonie it was one of those weird little cultural reminders that even though the US is almost Canada in many ways, it’s also strangely different.

Then I walked out of the store and the bag my food was in broke and landed on the sidewalk. But that’s a different story and far less entertaining…

New York, New York

I just got on the new Union Pearson Express for the first time and am off to New York for the first time in almost a decade.

Unfortunately it’s for work, but I packed my camera and I’m hoping I can take some time to shoot a few photos and maybe grab a nice bite to eat somewhere. My brother the chef has been filling my taste buds with fancy ideas of fun places to go!

Let’s Encrypt Closed Beta

I received notification that the Let’s Encrypt closed beta has started yesterday.  As of this morning this domain is now running using the beta version of the client and service.

It’s looking pretty good so far, it’s a bit wonky to integrate with a site that is already running with HSTS since I don’t have a web server listening on port 80.  (This is required for the verification step of certificate generation.)  But thankfully the client comes bundled with a standalone webserver you can run to complete the setup.

The certs only last for 90 days (by design) and I’ll be interested to see how painful or painless the cert regeneration will be when the time comes, but otherwise it was trivial to get all of the other features I use up and running.

So far, so good!