Saturday, December 10, 2005

Expression based image zoomer

I've been quietly beavering away at an expression based image zooming program, the software is coming along nicely. The ultimate aim of this project is produce a piece of software that can as much as possible extrapolate data from a photo when zoomed, using a similar approach to how a human would draw an enlargement of a photograph.
Click on the images to view the original (small picture), GIMP x5 zoomed (left) and the zoomer (right) versions. The quality setting isn't perfect yet (obvious bugs such as missing pixels etc) since I've still to do a lot of tweaks and bugs to fix.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Sony debacle continues - Sony panicks, more mistakes made.

The Register is reporting that software Sony has released to fix the security hole in its Sunncomm DRM protected CDs actually has the same bug and can cause more problems for users.
It seems to me this was a knee jerk reaction to get patches out, unfortunately the people Sony are using have poor design and/or programming skills and/or no quality assurance.
On top of this Sony seems to be showing a complete lack of adequate leadership skills, they, or a third party on Sony's behalf should have properly checked the work. The cost and delay of adequate testing could have prevented the whole situation and saved money and face. Sony's behaviour and reaction to this whole debacle reeks of amateurism and incompetance for a company that once was synonymous with quality products.

America falling behind in the tech race?

A thought occurred to me today, when I went to America in my teenage years (circa 1997) the US had some great tech that I knew about, but wasn't available yet in Europe, I specifically remember DVD players in Costco. My parents didn't think they'd become popular and go the way of the Video CD and Betamax. DVD players became ubiquitous a year later here.
I went back this year and realised that virtually every mobile I saw was a generation behind and chunky (by European standards), our current phone being "second" generation 3G, which has Sky TV/TV available with certain providers. We've also got ubquitious high speed broadband available across the whole country at 8mbps (Yes I realise the US is far larger but you have vaster resources and many telcos...). America is a great place, and I can see why national pride runs high - I'd be proud - but imho they may find themselves in 20 years second best to a booming Chinese economy and the second place technology wise to Japan and Europe (except in the area of weapons/processor development perhaps).
Maybe its my limited experience in the US that leads me to believe the above so I'd love to hear your views.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Sony/BMG admits more of its music CDs cause Windows security holes

Sony BMG and EFF announced here that their security software (Digital Rights Managment, DRM), produced by Sunncomm, can cause security holes with Windows when you play their music CDs on your computer.
This comes hot on the heels of a number of lawsuits against Sony after using XCP, a music CD DRM solution from a British company (whose website is looking remarkably sparse now) was also found to do the same thing.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Overclocking the Geforce 6200 NV44

As mentioned in an earlier post the Geforce 6200 appears to be core locked with various Nvidia drivers, notably 81.40 and later. (Un)fortunately the newer driver revisions fix serious bugs like the one I had with HL2.
Disclaimer - I accept no responsibility for any damage you may do by following the instructions below, do so at your own risk!!

Since the newer Nvidia drivers won't allow us to change the core mhz for the 6200, we'll be reflashing your card's existing bios modified with higher mhz ratings. This will make your graphics card think it was designed to do the overclocked speed.
Since many 6200s use passive cooling its best we get recommended overclock values from Nvidia's overclock control panel software before proceeding, rather than enter random values. (Bear in mind that once the card is flashed with new values, if they don't work or are unstable your graphics card may never live again). To get the recommended values you can install the NVidia 81.33 drivers which do allow you to overclock the graphics card core (if you're happy with this instead, and not needing the most recent drivers, stop reading here and go away).
If you want to test values higher than those permitted by the 81.33 overclock test use PowerStrip this is NOT RECOMMENDED for the reason above.



Note the nvflash commands used in this guide must be typed exactly without extra spaces, failure to do so may result in erasing your card by accident.

Install the 81.33 drivers and coolbits

Open the overclock utility by selecting "Clock frequencies" from the Nvidia control panel, select the "Manual" radio button and then "Detect optimal frequencies".
Note the values down that it gives you for core and memory settings, and cancel the Nvidia control panel dialog.

Reinstall your preferred Nvidia graphics driver.

Create a DOS boot disk, in Windows, and extract the two files, nvflash.exe and cwsdpmi.exe from the to it (make sure they are not in a sub directory on the disk). Ensure the disk is left write unprotected.

Restart your computer with this newly created DOS disk and type at the DOS prompt
nvflash -b mybios.rom
After a few seconds a file will have been created on your floppy disk holding a backup of your graphics card bios - reboot your machine back into windows when its finished.
In windows open up the floppy disk you've just been using and copy the file mybios.rom to the desktop or somewhere else on your hard disk.

Extract and run the NiBiTor.exe from the NibiTor zip file. Open the file mybios.rom you've just copied to the hard disk in NiBiTor. Once the bios has loaded into NiBiTor change the settings circled in this diagram to those provided in the first step by the 81.33 drivers.
Save this bios to the floppy disk using the save file menu, save the file as NEWBIOS.ROM

Reboot your machine with the floppy disk, at the prompt type

nvflash -4 -5 -6 newbios.rom

This will wipe your existing bios and replace it with the copy with the faster core and memory settings.

When your machine next boots up, if you have coolbits installed for your Nvidia driver, you'll notice your default settings for the core and memory are now the faster settings you changed in the bios editor.

If you find any of this useful please drop a comment below - I'm sure I'm not the only person having to put up with shoddy products!!

Between a rock and a hard place - Geforce 6200 drivers and overclocking

If like me you've been suckered into replacing a more than worthy Nvidia Geforce TI4200 with a sub par Geforce 6200 AGP (N44 / N44A) you'll want to know why you (may) not be able to overclock (or underclock) the core speed, even by just 1mhz, memory overlocking is fine.

I bought the card because games like Matrix Path of Neo required Geforce 5x00 and upwards features, according to reviews such as this one for the XFX 6200 AGP, its an average piece of kit. Unfortunately XFX decided to create multiple versions of this card (including low profile versions) one of which was far slower - so slow it is quite frankly almost unusable imho.

When I got the card I found I had a low profile version, with a core of 350mhz as documented in the review but its memory clock was a lousy 400mhz (on an already poor 64 bit bus) and not the 500mhz the review mentioned.

All was not lost, by overclocking this card getting around the buggy 81.40+ (core locked drivers?) I was actually able to get an acceptable performance with very little extra heat which is good since the card has a passive heatsink (no fan).

I'll be documenting this process here later.