Wednesday, 25 April 2007

The Windows Vista Power Hungry Monster

After upgrading to Windows Vista Premium on my ThinkPad X60t, I have noticed that my power does not last as long as before. Plus when resuming operations from standby or from a “cold” reboot, the system takes ages to be back to peak performance – wasting about 10% of my 100% battery power – just to get the system ready for operation.

I started wondering what could be wrong – was it a driver malfunction? Or just my slow 5400 rpm hard drive that took so much energy – since the hard drive seems to spin and spin and spin during boot.

Digging into Resource Manager in Windows I quickly discovered the first culprit. Windows Readyboost… After every standby it seems like the Readyboost Cache on my 2GB Ultra III SD card needs to be flushed and refilled (or at least checked for consistency) – It seems like the Readyboost architecture reads a lot from the hard drive even when resuming from an S3 sleep state. It keeps at it for 2-5 minutes at high read/write levels – invoking the Readyboost drive and the internal system disk.

Why it is needed from S3 standby state I don’t know, since it should be quite simple to have a “marker” telling vista if the device has been modified.
I do like the speed improvements in application startup from Readyboost, but now I’m starting to wonder if it is worth loosing a lot of power on. So I checked out my Readyboost device J and started debugging the rest of “where do my power go”.

So reboot – and back into Resource Manager.. And there was the next damn culprit. It seems like the Indexing service is another power-hungry bastard while running on batteries. Every single reboot on battery power, (and on ac power) starts the indexing service running full speed ahead – despite power settings being “balanced” or on “low power”. Indexing service simply eats away for 5-8 minutes at very high disk speeds. I have not tried to disable the indexing service yet - because I do love the search in Outlook 2007. But there are clearly improvments that can be done so this does not have to be done on EVERY boot or resume event.

So dear Microsoft, please give your engineers only notebooks and only allow them to boot on batteries for some time. Then I think we will get a solution to the 2 worst power draining items on a vista system. Of course there are plenty of other things that take additional power in Vista, but these two actually kills performance and especially boot performance.

I have pluged in my Readyboost SD card again, but am almost crying when the system has to resume or reboot - so now my X60t is labled "Mr. 90% power"

Friday, 20 April 2007

The Missing Router Firmware

I’m the proud owner of 2 Linksys 300N and 1 Netgear 854T Pre-N wireless routers. Really neat routers with great performance when they work. Pre-N is the new very fast Wi-Fi standard that should be the “Next Generation”.

But what really puzzles me is that all 3 have a similar bug. A bug where after some operation time, the router no longer accepts any traffic and stops working. It is impossible to figure out what goes wrong and it seems like nothing really makes it break down. It can happen anytime. But why does it happen? And on both equipment from Linksys and Netgear? And in different locations with different clients attached?

Could it be that both routers use some Open Source or BSD TCP/IP stack, with a know bug? The bug being that router does not close the “ports” in use so when the router runs out of ports – then the router dies. (A normal IP stack closes a used port after about 5 minutes of no activity.)

And why do Linksys and Netgear not fix it?

Well development departments are busy. They are likely already working on the next generation of gear for you. Bug or no bug – when the public does not cry foul – the manufactures do not fix the bugs.. CAN YOU HEAR ME CRY FOUL? Sometimes I think a class action suit is the only thing that makes them go back and fix the old bugs.

So in short – do not buy the above routers – they will give you grief. I replaced them with some old Linksys routers with DD-WRT firmware, an Open Source firmware with lot of options – and since then my support life has been bliss. No problems at all. They perform superb with features far exceeding that of Linksys and Netgear’s “ readymade consumer products”

So on my shopping list now – are ONLY products that are compatible with DD-WRT. They can be a bit hard to find – but well worth it.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Nokia N95 critics review

Well - who have not awaited the Nokia N95 with impatience?

I did -and bought it the first place I saw it. Nice phone - runs Nokia Series 60 V3 - (a Nokia Symbian version).

Among the features much talked about was 5 mpix camera, built in GPS, and VoIP via Wireless 802.11x networks. (Wi-Fi) and yes the phone does have a 5 mpix camera - but what does that help when the images that it captures are only 200-400 KB? and looks like crap? It does have autofocus and Carl Zeiss lens, but I think Mr. Zeiss would turn in his grave if he saw the quality of this camera. I'd rather have a 3 mpix great quality camera - than a 5 mpix bad... NOKIA!!

And built in GPS - great stuff - apart from GPS fix to satellites takes forever (I have never tried less than 5 minutes) - and the maps here are like 5 years old... (Dubai, UAE) and to use Navigation you have to pay an obscene amount of money for it.. Damn Nokia - this is stupid...

And voice over IP (VOIP) - then N95 excels in not disclosing all possible settings in the edit menu. You have to write custom software to edit things like the Stun server etc. So in short it only works with the "partner" of Nokia - VOIP Service - Gizmo Project. That is all right - but... then you should not label it as an VOIP phone - but as a "tether" VoIP client with limited ability..

Which brings me to the Wireless Performance... Again here - someone wanted to save dollars... The wireless Wi-Fi interface almost needs line of sight to work. Even my worst other phones with Wi-Fi have never had a problem - but the N95 surely is a bad performer.

And then the barcode scanning - used with the camera?? I have tried to scan multiple barcodes - and all with the same result... no recognized barcode (so far)

And last but not least - the importing of own certificates does not work on my N95... Which means my Exchange RoadSync software asks for every connection... “Are you sure?” “Are you sure?”... but my exchange certificate - the phone won't accept..

Damn - bit of small grapes .. Lets hope future firmware updates will erase the problems... :-)

have a nice one! :-)


The frustrations of hardware and gadgets

Sometimes you think (I do anyway) - the next gadget is going to be my do-it-all - and all the things in it is going to make me happy :-)And then you wake up.

This blog is dedicated to the mysterious hardware and software things that SHOULD work - but have errors and bugs that keep them from performing - so you will see tests in quite another way - and maybe get a different opinion on the devices you like or would like to have.

Routers with persistent bugs that make them fail - over and over again - firmware update after firmware update.

Printers that eat paper and ink

Phones that requires a ctrl-alt-del button despite NOT being from Microsoft

Features so badly implemented - that they should not have been there

Cameras with so bad quality that they perform worse than Kodak ISO 1600 paper from 1970

It might sometimes be technical - and sometimes not... and sometimes my writing might be both boring and wrong - :-) but I’ll correct it if needed :-)