Sunday, August 25, 2013

Installing SmoothDraw on Linux

At the moment, SmoothDraw is my "one application" that means I have to keep my old dusty Windows box in the corner.

I investigated installing SmoothDraw on Linux under Wine, and the good news is that you can get it to work, but there are caveats.

To start with, the latest version of SmoothDraw (version 4) requires .NET Framework 4.0. I couldn't get this running properly under Wine.

But winetricks can be used to install .NET 3, and with this running you can get SmoothDraw3 to work. The only drawback is that tablet input loses its pressure sensitivity (think it's treated as a regular "mouse-like" device by the wine driver).

An option to get pressure sensitivity working was the SAI (1.5.5) version of wine specifically set up for this. But then I couldn't use winetricks, and only winetricks seems to "know" how to install .NET...

Anyway, having it work allows me to open, view and manipulate existing files, so it's worth having. This is the process for installing SmoothDraw3 under wine 1.4.1 (pieced together from my history...forgot to write it up at the time :/)

$ sudo apt-get install wine
$ export WINEARCH=win32
$ winetricks dotnet35
$ wine SmoothDraw3Setup.exe
$ wine .wine/drive_c/Program\ Files/SmoothDraw/SmoothDraw3.exe

Sunday, August 11, 2013

CSS Holy Grail: Sadness

Saw an article the other day on the "holy grail" of CSS layout: the three column equal height liquid layout.

The sad thing is that after all this time, there isn't a simple pure-CSS solution to this problem that doesn't involve extra divs and hacky behind the scenes manipulation. :(

Saturday, August 3, 2013

DDR3 Dual-Channel vs Single-Channel Performance

It was suggested to me that with modern CPUs/motherboards, running with dual-channel memory was unnecessary because there's no difference. My understanding was there is a modest performance increase in using dual-channel. I decided to do a quick test to see.

For the test I used Handbrake (0.9.9) to transcode a 187MB 1080p video. This isn't a true benchmark because the conditions are maybe too uncontrolled (hence it's a "quick test"), but I thought using a real-world application like transcoding would give an idea of the performance difference if any.

I swapped between a single 4GB RAM stick and 2x2GB sticks. It was in my low-powered HTPC, so it took a while. These are the results:

RAM typeRun #Time taken
1x4GB14m 55s
1x4GB24m 48s
1x4GB34m 49s
2x2GB14m 36s
2x2GB24m 37s
2x2GB34m 35s

It works out to about a 5% performance improvement using dual-channel, which is consistent with other things I've read. How that translates from a processor intensive task like transcoding to everyday use I'm not sure, I suspect it would be unnoticeable though.

Rest of the system specs, for reference:

  • OS: Xubuntu 12.04.1 (64-bit)
  • CPU: G2020
  • Mobo: Asus P8B75-M LX
  • RAM: G-Skill NT 1x4GB or G-Skill NT 2x2GB
  • SSD: Kingston V300 60GB
  • HDD: Toshiba 1TB 7200RPM
  • GPU: Gigabyte GT610
  • PSU: Antec EarthWatts 380