Tuesday, December 09, 2008

IE7 High CPU usage while moving the cursor

If you populate an HTML SELECT element with lots of OPTION tags, say 100+ AND you use CSS to specify the font-family / font-size of OPTION tags, then whenever you move the mouse cursor around the SELECT's parent box, you'll spike your CPU up to 100%.

This happens to me on a very modern 2GHz Core 2 DUO with IE7. Firefox 3 was unaffected.

During a website upgrade, our CSS was modified to include
option { font-family: sans-serif; font-size: 8pt }

About a day after the upgrade, users started emailing in, saying that IE was very slow to respond to mouse clicks on certain pages, which led to this problem being discovered. Once this CSS rule was removed, all was fine.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

iMac Boot Camp Wireless Problems

Thinking about buying an iMac and running XP on it? Well if you want reliable wireless networking, just don't bother. The BCM43xx driver version 4.170 will frequently lose its connection leaving you stranded for 10-20 seconds, or possibly until the next reboot.

Apple produce new bootcamp drivers slower than Dell release new Nvidia drivers, and unfortunately, because Broadcom don't release reference drivers, there's little hope of a fix anytime soon.

Oh, and speaking of Nvidia, I've been unable to find any reliable way of getting updated graphics drivers either. Laptopvideo2go doesn't have any yet.

Oh, and it took me 10 attempts just to get boot camp working. Supposedly a simple process, it seems to be very easy to end up with a black screen with a cursor flashing in the top left corner when it's supposed to be booting off your XP install disc. The forums are full of complains, but no answers and Apple provide absolutely no support for boot camp, so if you're one of the unfortunates who hits this problem and doesn't manage to get through it by partitioning and re-partitioning and re-partitioning again, then you're just screwed.

All in all, if you're thinking about getting an iMac to use as a Windows machine, you really are better off just putting up with a few more wires and using a proper Windows PC. I wish I'd never bought mine, and I'm considering writing off the $2,200 I paid for it and giving it to a school.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

SQL Server Compact v3.1 Installation

This post does a great job of explaining the different CAB files that make up the SQL Server Compact v3.1 redistributable.

In a nutshell, for people deploying onto the "Classic" or "Professional" type of devices - those with a touchscreen - you can use sqlce30.ppc.wce5.armv4i.CAB.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Dell Inspiron E1705 Overheating

My Dell Inspiron E1705 is about 15 months old now, and recently I've noticed absolutely appalling framerates while playing my favourite waste of time. Where I used to be enjoying 30-80fps, depending on my graphics settings, I'd found myself gradually lowering the settings and resolution down the the bare minimum and still only getting about 5-15fps. That's right, 5fps - try playing AB at that speed!

I figured it must be the GPU or the CPU protecting itself from overheating because I could feel the heat radiating out of the keyboard especially from the top right by the Page Up/Page Down keys, and the superb I8kFanGUI was reporting CPU temperatures in the 60s and GPU temps in the 80s.

So, with the help of Dell's online maintenance manual, a screwdriver and a vacuum cleaner, I ripped my notebook apart and removed a huge buildup of dust that was clogging both the CPU and GPU heatsinks. Removing the fans and sucking the dust out of the heat exchangers was enough to clear the blockages, I didn't have to remove the cooling assemblies themselves.

Since then, I've been getting a solid 85fps at WoW's lowest settings and 20-30fps at 1650x1080 with all the settings maxed out. The CPUs are a balmy 53 degrees and the GPU is a temperate 60.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Avoid DRM encumbered media

Now I'm not one of these people who has terrabytes of ripped movies and music that they've never actually purchased, but I do want to make sure that can I watch and listen to my digital collections on whichever playback devices happen to have available to me at the time. That's why DRM concerns me and also why I strive to avoid buying movies or music that is DRM encumbered, such as a song from iTunes.

Recently I came across this article and if you do a brief search on Google for DRM problems you'll find a slew of people who are unable to play content that the legitimately purchased because some minor change in their environment caused the DRM software on their PC to collapse like a house of cards.

Of course Apple are just as bad as Microsoft in this respect - but their DRM enforcement isn't so fragile. However, it binds you just as tightly - you'll never be able to play the movie you downloaded from iTunes on a non-Apple player.

So, how do you ensure that your digital collection remains playable for as long a time as possible? Well firstly, avoid buying DRM encumbered content from sources like iTunes and avoid buying DRM encumbered playback devices such as a PC with Microsoft Windows Vista installed on it.

Secondly, when you make digital copies of your CDs and DVDs, use open formats such as Ogg and DivX.

FogBugz 6 page width

How to use Firefox and GreaseMonkey to force FogBugz 6.0 to use more of your screen to display bug details:

// ==UserScript==
// @name Style
// @namespace fogbugz
// @description Make bug window larger
// @include https://*.fogbugz.com/default.asp?*
// ==/UserScript==

GM_addStyle("div.bugShadowBottom { width:75% ! important; }");
GM_addStyle("#bugviewContainer,.buttonbar,#BugFields { width:100% ! important; }");

This script adds some style overrides to the top of every FogBugz page. It is the div.bugShadowBottom that drives the width, so to make it even wider, adjust that. The second style makes sure that the internal styles scale with the overall width.

Update: Thanks to Adam V for pointing out the GM_addStyle function!