Tag: technology

Enable Hardware Acceleration on Lenovo X100e for Better Video Playback

by on May.01, 2010, under Posts

Lenovo ThinkPad X100e, PNG Image 401x255px

Gasp! Red-coloured ThinkPad?!?

If you just got the awesome Lenovo ThinkPad X100e notebook and found the video playback to be jittery or out-of-sync with audio, especially when the video is of high-definition quality or encoded using the H.264/MPEG-4 codec, try the following procedure to force update the video driver (under Windows 7 in this scenario).

The latest ATI Catalyst driver from AMD is 8.723.0.0 (as of writing of this post), which is more updated than Lenovo’s version 8.663.2.1000, released on April 7 2010. Lenovo’s driver does not yet support hardware acceleration of video playback.

  1. Download the display driver and Catalyst Control Center from AMD by selecting your Windows flavour, “Radeon” and “ATI Radeon HD 3200 Graphics” here, or click here for the direct link to download the one for Windows 7 32-bit. It is important to download separately under the ATI Catalystâ„¢ 10.4 Components section because you just want to update the driver.
  2. Extract the display driver by running the file 10-4_vista32_win7_32_dd.exe, which should extract all its files to C:\ATI\Support by default. The Catalyst Install Manager installation program will start, but click Cancel to abort the installation.
  3. Navigate to C:\ATI\Support\10-4_vista32_win7_32_dd\Packages\Drivers\Display\W7_INF. This is where the display drivers are located, which you will use later.
  4. In your Start menu, go to Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Computer Management. Here, go to Device Manager -> Display adapters -> ATI Radeon HD 3200 Graphics. Open its Properties -> Driver tab.
  5. Click Update Driver… -> Browse my computer for driver software -> Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer -> Have Disk…. Specify the location noted in step 3 above in the field Copy manufacturer’s files from, then click OK.
  6. Scroll down the list and select ATI Radeon HD 3200 Graphics. An Update Driver Warning window may pop up to scare you, but click Yes to proceed.
  7. After the driver has been updated, reboot your computer and repeat step 4 above. Verify that the Driver Version field shows 8.723.0.0 or later/greater.
  8. Extract the Catalyst Control Center installation by running the file 10-4_vista_win7_32-64_ccc_lang1.exe. Proceed with the installation as usual.
  9. Reboot your computer again.

At this point, try to play some HD or Flash video to see any improvement. If there still is not much difference, I’d recommend you install the K-Lite Standard or Full codec pack from here. This includes a good video codec ffdshow and the Media Player Classic program.

If the default codec settings still don’t help, try tweaking them by reading thru the following links.

http://www.codecguide.com/faq_mpc.htm>
http://www.codecguide.com/faq_playback_issues.htm>
http://imouto.my/watching-h264-videos-using-dxva/>

I’ve managed to get full screen MPEG-4 playback to be smooth and no audio delay or jitter. CPU utilization also dropped by half from 100%. Play the video capture of the playback below that I uploaded to Youtube.

Windows Update may try to be smart and bug you to update the driver, but you know you are smarter. Hide/ignore the update because it’s going to install the older version. However, it’s a good idea to keep watching the Lenovo driver link above for its official update, especially when they release the quad-core X100e (with optional hard disk clicking sound!) later this year.

If you want screenshots of the procedure above, do let me know. Kudos to Peter Wong who gave the good advice in the comments section of this review.

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Upgrading from the Nikon D40 DSLR

by on Feb.07, 2010, under Posts

The Nikon D40 digital SLR camera was the most successful entry-level camera for anyone who is interested in having more control and hopefully better quality over their digital photos than what point-and-shoot cameras can provide.

Nikon D40 digital SLR cameraThe portable size, high pixel ratio and large rear LCD are the most strong points about the camera. Its affordable price makes it possible for a lot of people to shoot quality photos and quickly capture the moment with its short focus lag.

Two years after enjoying the power of SLRs such as this D40, I am ready (itching) to look for a newer and more powerful model.

With the Nikon D90, I saw these advantages/improvements that are worth considering this model:

  • wider lens compatibility (not just limited to AF-S)
  • higher continuous frame rate
  • top LCD and more configurable buttons/dials
  • more AF points (11 versus 3)
  • CMOS sensor for higher contrast and vivid colours
  • high ISO (>=1600) performance

I tried searching online for a direct comparison between the D40 and D90; frame and lens being the same but just changing the body. Ronald Suello did just this and demonstrated the obvious advantage of high ISO performance with the newer cameras such as the D90.

Nikon D90 digital SLR cameraFor some of the above items, I’m able to find a compromise or workaround. However, the frame rate, sensor strengths and hard controls cannot be ignored. These limitations of the D40 are what make me think of upgrading.

Does this upgrade path guarantee better photos for the same photographer? I don’t think so.

The perpetual argument in the photography world – what makes a good photo, the photographer or the camera? – can never be easily concluded. I think a practical way to validate the answer is to ask: what am I shooting photographs for? Are the photos going to sit in some mass storage, displayed in a digital photo frame, printed for display, or printed for publications or exhibitions? Once we have figured the answer to the above, we can then evaluate whether the price we pay for the equipment is balanced with the level of photographic quality achievable.

Second, may I propose: why do people decide on a SLR based on the features offered? Do they satisfy the people being photographed or the photographer? I would think manufacturers and the mass market have conditioned such features like buttons, dials and functions to be important, but only to the one behind the lens! Does such consideration affect the photograph? No, but rather it satisfies the photographers’ needs and/or wants, the ability to do something that another model cannot.

Nikon D40 and D90 side-by-sideIn my case, I know I don’t shoot for profit, at least it’s improbable that my stock photos can recover all of my expenses. 90% of the time I’m shooting people, and 80% of that are on kids, those fast-running two-legged things. Compared to what photographic technology we’ve had 10 years ago, these people whom I shoot will have far better photographic memories of themselves than before. I reckon they won’t bother about or even tell the difference between a sharp and noiseless photo over the others.

Capturing the moment forever on a frame, with whatever photo capture device you have on hand, is priceless.

All that said, I’m still thinking… if I can sell that D40 body for a third of the D90, that’s a good 33% discount on a damn good SLR. Plus, the 2009 performance bonus and my birthday (Feb 12!!!) should sufficiently justify whipping out my wallet… :)

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Nokia N78 Packet Data Connections

by on Aug.12, 2008, under Posts

For those who have the Nokia N78 mobile phone and are having difficulties getting packet data connections over GPRS and 3G, I have found one solution. This problem happens after you have downloaded or configured your operator’s access points (Menu -> Tools -> Settings -> Connection -> Destinations) and when you want to connect for web browsing or sending multimedia messages (MMS). The phone will show a message saying “connection not available“.

Solution is simple. Go to Menu -> Tools -> Settings -> Connection -> APN control. A message will say “Reading content from SIM card”. After that, it should display another message “Connections restrictions inactive”. If it does not, go to Options -> Deactivate restrictions. Exit all the way back to the standby display and try web browsing or sending a MMS.

The help page for “Restrict connections” is described:

With the access point control service, packet data connections from your device may be restricted to certain access points only.

Your SIM card may not support the access point control service. Contact your service provider for more information.

Let me know if this works for you.

The following is a good site to be updated on Nokia software updates, which recently announced firmware version 12.046 for the Nokia N78. This release includes performance improvements for softkey selection, Bluetooth stability, video playback, e-mail sending and alarm clock functions.

http://europe.nokia.com/A4577225>

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