Category Archives: Technology

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

Uranium

Check it out, I’m a huge fan of Derek Muller (the host) and anything on PBS doesn’t tend to go too far astray. I’ve read several books on Uranium and the weapons development over the past several years and as much as I’m pretty strongly opposed to the development and stockpiling of nuclear weapons there really is no escaping that it’s one of the most thrilling scientific, engineering, and espionage stories of the 20th century.

http://video.pbs.org/program/uranium-twisting-dragons-tail/

Wings of Russia

If you’re like me and you have an obsession with aircraft then this series is a bit of a treat. Wings of Russia is sort of a Russian equivalent to the Great Planes/Wings series produced in the United States but focused almost exclusively on the history of Russian and Soviet aircraft.

Check it out!  It’s fairly in depth and it’s great to watch a series that doesn’t treat Soviet and Russian aerospace development as simply a reaction to Western aircraft.  From what I know about the topic it’s a fairly well balanced presentation.

Stevey’s Google Platforms Rant

I was having a conversation today with a colleague about API usage and why it’s a key to success when building complex systems.  I tried to track down the original post from Steve Yegge regarding his thoughts from his time at Amazon and how they applied to the Google context and was a bit surprised that I couldn’t actually track down the original any longer.

For the sake of posterity I want to make sure I keep a copy rather than rely on G+, so with all credit to Mr. Yegge, here it is. Continue reading

Moving the Dock on OS X

I just learned something about OS X that I didn’t realize was a feature. Then again, sometimes these days the difference between a feature and a bug is marginal!

At work I routinely run my Macbook connected to a second monitor, either at my desk for extra screen space while preparing the latest round of paperwork or when presenting at a meeting. From time to time, the dock (which I just keep at the bottom of my screen) seemingly snaps to the second monitor. This can range from mildly amusing to completely enraging depending on my state of mind and or caffeine level at the moment.

I just learned that this is actually a feature that I’ve been accidentally triggering with sloppy mousemanship. It turns out that you can move the dock on OS X to another display device simply by briefly holding your mouse cursor at the bottom of the device in question.

Now that I know this, what used to seem like a really annoying desktop environment bug has become a cool feature!

The more you know...