Monthly Archives: May 2012

How to fix: Diablo 3 “Blizzard Update Agent has stopped working”

In a rather interesting blog post today, Rick Brewster (the developer of Paint.NET) sheds light on an interesting bug in Diablo III setup program. Apparently, Blizzard Update Agent does not support multiprocessor systems. Rick has solved this problem by manually adjusting the processor affinity of the setup program.

Interestingly enough, Rick describes his epiphany as “some Raymond Chen style psychic insight”. Smart readers definitely know the difference between that and some Mark Russinovich-style psychic insight. From a scientific point of view, at this point of time, these two are different. blog

I finally succumbed and bought a copy of Diablo 3 today, only to found out that it just doesn’t work:

Argh! No matter what I did, it would always crash. Every single time, over and over and over and over again.

In a last act of desperation before borrowing the DVD from a friend to try and load it that way, I had some Raymond Chen style psychic insight and thought it might be a multithreading bug. You see, I just put together a brand new Dual Xeon E5-2687W system. It is a beast: dual processor, 8 cores each, with HyperThreading. That means Task Manager shows 32 tiny little performance graphs. It makes compiling Paint.NET really fast (lots of C++/CLI these days), and is killer for working on all that multithreaded rendering code.

Anyway, the fix is a bit clumsy but it seems to work (so far! we’ll see if…

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Thumbs.db in Windows 7

Until today, I thought Windows 7 does not create thumbs.db files. But I was wrong.
Screenshot of Windows Explorer having searched for "thumbs.db" files stored in a computer

I was using a Windows 7 Professional Edition machine to browse a network share on a Windows XP Home Edition netbook. The share contained two JPEG image files which I had put there. Seconds after browsing the network share, a thumbs.db file appeared beside the two image file.

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PNGGauntlet: Pictures shall be compressed!

Screenshot: PNGGauntlet compressing multiple filesPNGGauntlet's computer icon

Portable Network Graphics (PNG) is a popular image format. It features lossless compression, meaning that images stored in this format take less space than an uncompressed image without losing quality. (On a side note however, I doubt you have seen an uncompressed image recently. Most popular image formats today compress images. It is a fact however, that not all PNG supporting software can create PNG files of optimum size.

PNGGauntlet, by Benjamin Hollis, is a Windows freeware app that can compose PNG files with more effective compression algorithms to achieve smaller sizes. The optimization process is time consuming but the resulting PNG files are usually smaller. I have sometimes achieved 50% smaller files. The app itself uses three other third-party components that work in the background but do not have a user interface of their own, namely DeflPNG, OptiPNG and PNGOUT. PNGGauntlet compares the compression result of the three and keeps the most compressed version.

Optimized PNG files may lose their original time stamp or their metadata, but the app features options to prevent such loses. These options are not enabled by default.

Smaller PNG files are easier and more cost-effective to transfer over the Internet, especially when one of the consumers is a mobile device connected over a metered Internet connection and has to pay for its Internet traffic.

Exit Windows using keyboard

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You can shut down, restart or log out of Windows with just a standard keyboard; this method works on all popular versions of Windows for PCs, i.e. Windows XP, Windows 7 and the upcoming Windows 8. Although I have not tested, but I believe this method should work in Windows Vista and all members of Windows Server family of operating systems. Read the rest of this entry

Windows 8 Beta – First impression

Finally, I managed to download a copy of Windows 8 Consumer Preview and try it out. Not an easy feat for one who is constantly roaming and is away from home. I am afraid it did not leave a good impression on me. Here is why.

Windows 8 Basic theme

Windows 7 Basic theme

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