Category Archives: Technology

ImageGlass Image Viewer

I just finished upgrading my old PC, Hrothgar. I’ve been using IrfanView since my university days as an image viewer, and while it’s still more than adequate, I decided that I’d use this as an opportunity to see if there’s anything else out there that I like.

Enter ImageGlass. I’ve only been using it for a day or so, but thus far there’s a lot to like and nothing that I don’t like. I’m not 100% certain if I’ll completely replace IrfanView, but I’m definitely leaning in that direction. I particularly like the customization options and the UI is clean and simple and it only uses about 12MB of memory on Windows 10.

Check it out if on the lookout for a simple, fast image viewer on Windows.

The Second Computer I Ever Used

In a continuation of the theme, The 8-Bit Guy’s “Commodore History Part 3 – The Commodore 64” is great technical breakdown of the second computer I ever used. It’s really interesting to understand the technical reasons for the various features and limitations of a computer that you used as a child. The 8-Bit Guy’s channel in general is quite good, it’s particularly interesting if you have a technical background but aren’t really familiar with the specs and conventions of late 1970s to mid-1980s home computing.

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The First Computer I Ever Used

My elementary school had a number of Apple II, Apple II+, and Apple IIe computers in the early 1980s. This was my first exposure to computers in general and I’ve only started to appreciate how fortunate I was to have a few teachers who were quite interested in computers even though there wasn’t really any computer class offered until I was in high school.

In my search for interesting info on the Apple II, I came across this really interesting video from the 8-Bit Guy walking through a restoration of an Apple II+.

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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