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10:21
Wed
30
Nov 2016

32-bit Applications on 64-bit Windows

As you probably know, the processor, operating system and applications on a PC may be 32-bit or 64-bit. CPU-s we have in our computers are 64-bit for a long time already. Windows XP tended to be used in 32-bit version, but now I can see most people use Windows 7/8/8.1/10 in 64-bit version as well. Only apps still exist in various forms. Shell extensions and drivers must match the version of the operating system, but other programs can be used in 32-bit version even on 64-bit system. Different combinations are possible:

  1. 32-bit Windows, 32-bit application
  2. 64-bit Windows, 64-bit application
  3. 64-bit Windows, 32-bit application
  4. 32-bit Windows, 64-bit application - cannot run.

We may ask a question about where does Windows store files and settings of such apps. It is especially interesting as the answer is very counter-intuitive. Location for (2) – 64-bit apps on 64-bit Windows – may contain “32” in its name (because of backward compatibility), while location for (3) – 32-bit apps on 64-bit Windows – may contain “64” (because of the name WoW64). Here is the list of such locations:

Program Files folder:

  1. C:\Program Files
  2. C:\Program Files
  3. C:\Program Files (x86)

System folder:

  1. C:\Windows\System32
  2. C:\Windows\System32
  3. C:\Windows\SysWOW64

Registry key:

  1. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE
  2. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE
  3. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node

(Same applies to HKEY_CURRENT_USER.)

See also: Windows 64-bit: The 'Program Files (x86)' and 'SysWOW64' folders explained

Comments (0) | Tags: windows | Author: Adam Sawicki | Share

14:54
Sun
02
Oct 2016

Color Temperature of Your Lighting

In photography, video and all graphics in general there are so much more parameters to consider than just exposure, meaning lighter or darker image. One of them is color temperature, or white balance. It's about what we consider "white" - a frame of reference, especially concerning light source and so all the objects lit by it. It's not real temperature, but we measure it in Kelvins. Paradoxically, lower color temperature values (like 3000K) mean colors that we call "warmer" - more towards yellow, orange or red. Higher temeratures (like 7000K) mean "cooler" colors - more towards blue. Values like 6500K are considered equivalent of a sunlight during the day, while light bulbs usually have around 3000K. Color temperature of your lighting is important when you work with colors on a computer. They recommend to use 6500K light source for that purpose.

I decided to make an experiment. Below you can see photos of part of my room, with a test screen displayed on my monitor, piece of my wall (behind it, supposed to be white) and a piece of furniture (the right part, also should be white). The monitor is LG 23MA73D-PZ, with IPS panel, calibrated to what I believe should be around 6500K (setting Colour Temperature = Warm2).

Left column shows a photo taken in the middle of the night, with lighting by LED lamps having 3000K color temperature. Middle column is the same scene lit by different LED lamps having 6500K. Finally, right column show a photo taken during the day, using only sunlight.

The only remainig variable is white balance of the photo itself. That's why I introduced two rows. Top row show all three photos calibrated to same white balance = 6500K. As you can see, the image on the screen looks pretty much the same on all of them, because monitor emits its own light. But the wall and the furniture, lit by a specific light source, seems orange or reddish on the first photo, while on the other photos it's more or less gray.

Our eyes, as well as cameras can adjust to changing color temperature to compensate for it and make everything looking neutral-white again. So the second row shows same photos calibrated to white balance of the specific light source. Now the wall and the furniture looks neutral gray on all of them, but notice what happened with the image on the screen when light was 3000K - it completely changed colors of the picture, making everything looking blue.

That's why it's so important to consider color temperature of your light sources when working with color correction and grading of photos, videos or some other graphics. Otherwise you can produce an image that looked good at the time of making, but turns out to have some color cast when seen under different lighting conditions. Of course, if you just work with text or code, it doesn't matter that much. It is more important then to just have a pleasant lighting that doesn't cause eye strain, which would probably be something more like the 3000K lamps.

Comments (0) | Tags: video photography graphics | Author: Adam Sawicki | Share

11:33
Thu
29
Sep 2016

How to Boost Your RAM to Declared 3000 MHz?

I recently upgraded some components of my desktop PC. I was suprised to discover that RAM doesn't work with declared speed of 3000 MHz. Here is the solution I've found to this problem.

Back in the days of DOS I can remember having to set up everything manually, like selecting IRQ number and DMA channel to make sound working in games. But today, in the era of Plug&Play, assembling a computer is easy and everything works automatically. Almost everything...

Although I found that both my new motherboard (Gigabyte GA-Z170-HD3P) and RAM modules (Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4, 32GB(2x16GB), 3000MHz, CL15 (CMK32GX4M2B3000C15)) support 3000 MHz frequency, it worked on 2133 MHz. Motherboard specification says: "Support for DDR4 3466(O.C.) /3400(O.C.) /3333(O.C.) /3300(O.C.) /3200(O.C.) /3000(O.C.) /2800(O.C.) /2666(O.C.) /2400(O.C.) /2133 MHz memory modules", while specification of the memory has "3000MHz" even in its title. What happened? Motherboard spec calling all the frequencies higher than 2133 "OC" (like in "overclocking") gave me some clue that it is not standard.

After few minutes of searching on Google, I've learn about a thing called XMP (Extreme Memory Profile). It's an extension to SPD (Serial Presence Detect) - a protocol used by RAM modules to report to the motherboard what parameters do they support. I then checked in the specs that my motherboard, as well as my memory support XMP 2.0.

So what I finally did was:

  1. I restarted my PC.
  2. I entered BIOS/UEFI during boot with [Del] key.
  3. I located a setting related to XMP. It is called "Extreme Memory Profile(X.M.P.)".
  4. I changed it from "Disabled" to "Profile1" - the only other option available.
  5. I exited BIOS with saving changes.

That's all! Fortunately I didn't need to manually set any frequency, timings or voltage of my Skylake processor, memory or any other components, like overclockers do. With all the other settings left to default "Auto", the computer still works stable and RAM now runs with 3000 MHz frequency.

By the way: Please don't be worried when you see only half of this frequency in HWiNFO64 tool as "Memory - Current Memory Clock". All in all we are talking about DDR here, which means "Double Data Rate", so the real frequency is just that, but data is transferred on both rising and falling edge of the clock signal.

Warning! It turned out that enabling XMP on my machine makes it working very unstable. Firefox, The Witcher 3 and basically all memory-intensive applications crashed randomly. So if you experience similar issues, you better disable XMP or, if you know any better solution, please post a comment about it.

Comments (1) | Tags: hardware | Author: Adam Sawicki | Share

18:19
Tue
27
Sep 2016

Internet in Poland - My History

This article at forbes.pl says that yesterday there was a 26-th anniversary of first Internet connection in Poland. On 26 September 1990 scientists made a first connection between Warsaw and Geneva to transfer some data. I thought it might be a good opportunity to write down some memories of my personal beginnings with the Internet. I think it can be interesting to some younger readers that know only the modern Internet as it looks today, as well as to some foreigners, because history of the Internet it other countries may be a little bit different than in Poland.

I know there were things before, like people dialing specific numbers and connecting to so called BBS-es, but my first experiences were already dealing with "this" global Internet. I was in high school back then. At first I started to go to Internet cafes - venues throughout the city where you paid per hours you could spend working on a computer connected to the global network, and possibly downloading some files to your floppy disks. Going there after (or instead of :) school, I first learned how to use IRC and of course WWW. IRC was a protocol that required a client app (mIRC was the most popular one for Windows) and allowed to chat with people, privately or on numerous topic channels, so it was possible e.g. to meet local girls in my city :)

Of course the Web existed already too, with many pages about programming that I've been reading to learn Delphi and download some new components for it. There was no all-knowing Google then, not to mention StackOverflow. Instead there were multiple competing search engines (e.g. Yahoo, AltaVista, Infoseek, Lycos, HotBot) and their algorithms were not so good yet. Page directories were also popular, with manually managed lists of websites grouped into categories and subcategories. Many people created websites about the topics of their interest, like "John's website about programming", or about fishing, or whatever. Pages looked different than today. Their style was to be later called "Web 1.0", with the use of HTML frames, textured backgrounds and animated GIF-s.

Read full entry > | Comments (0) | Tags: history web | Author: Adam Sawicki | Share

19:41
Sat
24
Sep 2016

Pitfalls of Floating-Point Numbers - Slides

Just as I announced in my previous blog post, today I gave a lecture on a "Kariera IT" event - organized by CareerCon, dedicated to IT jobs.

Here you can find slides from my presentation, in Polish. It's called "Pu³apki liczb zmiennoprzecinkowych" ("Pitfalls of floating-point numbers").

Here are links to the Floating-Point Formats Cheatsheet (in English) that I mentioned in my presentation:

Comments (0) | Tags: events teaching math | Author: Adam Sawicki | Share

14:28
Fri
19
Aug 2016

Pitfalls of Floating-Point Numbers - My Lecture on CareerCon

CareerCon is an event organized in various cities in Poland, dedicated to IT jobs, e.g. for programmers. You can find there many companies advertising their job offers. Entrance is free, but requires previous registration on their website. There are also some presentations every time.

24 September 2016 the event will take place in Sopot, where I will give a lecture "Pu³apki liczb zmiennoprzecinkowych" ("Pitfalls of floating-point numbers"). I will talk about properties of floating-point data types, which are the same regardless of the programming language you use. I will show their limitations, common mistakes to avoid and some good practices. If you are a professional programmer or a student interested in career in IT, I'd like to invite you to come and listen.

Comments (2) | Tags: events teaching | Author: Adam Sawicki | Share

16:43
Thu
28
Jul 2016

How to disable C++ exception handling using macros?

Some time ago my colleague showed me a clever way to disable exception handling in C++ using a set of preprocessor macros:

#define throw
#define try          if(true)
#define catch(...)   if(false)

Please note that:

  • throw is a macro without arguments that resolves to just nothing, so the expression following it will become a standalone expression with its result discarded.
  • try is a macro without arguments that resolves to an "if" statement, that will smoothly merge with the following { } braces.
  • catch is also a macro that resolves to "if" statement, but it takes variable number or arguments and doesn't use them in its definition.

So following code that uses exception:

try
{
    // Do something
    if(somethingFailed)
        throw std::exception("Message.");
}
catch(const std::exception& e)
{
    // Handle the exception.
}

Will resolve after defining these three macros to following:

if(true)
{
    // Do something
    if(somethingFailed)
        std::exception("Message.");
}
if(false)
{
    // Handle the exception.
}

Of course it's not a solution to any real problem, unless you just want your try...catch blocks to stop working. Disabling exception handling for real (and associated performance penalty, as well as binary code size overhead) is the matter of compiler options. And of course this trick makes errors not handled properly, so when an exception would be thrown, the program will just continue and something bad will happen instead.

But I think the trick is interesting anyway, because it shows how powerful C++ is (it empowers you to do stupid things :)

Comments (0) | Tags: c++ | Author: Adam Sawicki | Share

14:32
Wed
20
Jul 2016

Upgrade to Windows 10 - My Story

I upgraded my system to Windows 10. Free upgrade is avaiable until July 28th for all genuine users of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1, so now it's high time to do it if you don't want to pay for it later. My upgrade went well, but not without problems. Here is my story:

First some basic information:

  • There are two ways to upgrade Windows. First is to use the "Get Windows 10" app that pops up for several months on everyone's desktop, also known as GWX. Second is to go to Get Windows 10 website and download a small tool "MediaCreationTool.exe". This tool can also be used to download and create a bootable DVD ISO image or USB flash drive with offline Windows installer.
  • To get your free license of Windows 10, you need to perform an upgrade. After the upgrade you will have a product key for your new Windows, which you could use to reinstall the system from scratch if you want to. Product key of the current system, whether it's Windows 7, 8, or 10, can be retrieved using a small tool called ProduKey.

On my old Toshiba laptop with Windows 7, bought in 2011, the upgrade failed. The system is not broken though - Windows 7 still works. After the failure I checked manufacturer's website and found that there are no drivers for this model for any operating system newer than Windows 7, so it's good to stay this way.

On my new Lenovo laptop with Windows 8.1, bought in 2015, I was able to successfully perform the upgrade suggested by the system. All the devices work correctly. All installed programs and settings are also preserved.

On my PC, with most components bought in 2013, upgrade to Windows 10 also failed. I can remember fighting with this annoying upgrade window and deleting some system files few months ago, so that might be the reason. I was ready to format my system disk and install everything from scratch anyway, so here is what I did:

  1. I made all necessary backups - an obvious step :)
  2. I launched "MediaCreationTool.exe", selected "Create installation media for another PC" and created a DVD ISO file with offline installer.
  3. I burned the file to a DVD disk.
  4. I booted my PC from Windows 7 installation DVD, formatted my system disk and installed fresh Windows 7 on it, with proper product key.
  5. I launched "MediaCreationTool.exe" and performed upgrade to Windows 10. It succeeded this time.
  6. I launched ProduKey and written down the new product key of my upgraded Windows 10.
  7. I booted my PC from Windows 10 installation DVD, formatted my system disk again and installed fresh Windows 10, with the new product key.
  8. Finally I could install all the needed apps, apply my preferred settings, set some nice wallpaper etc. (I especially recommend Mandelbulb Maniaces Facebook group as a source of wallpapers :)

I could find drivers for Windows 10 for all my components and peripherals and they all work correctly (except only an old, little webcam - ModeCom MC-1.3M, but I don't use it anyway). I could also install all the programs that I need and they seem to work.

I recommend you to also get your free upgrade to Windows 10. I had an opportunity to work with this system a lot and I could say it's not that bad :) I know there are some arguments against the new Windows version, so let's look at them:

  1. Privacy concerns. They say that Microsoft introduced telemetry code that is spying on its users and sending everything to Microsoft. That might be true, but:
    • There are ways to disable or at least minimize it - just search for "windows 10 disable telemetry".
    • Microsoft introduced telemetry to Windows 7 and 8 as well, and even to programs compiled using Visual Studio 2015.
    • Whether we like it or not (and I don't like it either), technology world evolves in the direction where our data is moved to the cloud and so corporations and governments are spying on us. It's impossible to avoid, unless you want to be an outsider using only free software and give up on all the goodness that is available to us, like smartphones.
  2. New user interface is flat and ugly. I agree with that. There are even leaks from Microsoft that explain why it looks this way. But only the new part of the system (like Settings window) are made in this new style. All other windows and apps have similar looks as they had before.
  3. People commonly believe that new version of the system always works slower. I can see this is not the case. Since Windows 7, 8 and now 10 developers put a lot of effort to make it work fast, especially in terms of startup time. I think that Windows 10 boots and works as fast as previous versions.

There are some advantages of the new Windows as well, especially compared to Windows 8.x. There is no Charms Bar and Hot Corners when you but your mouse cursor in the corner of the screen. Start Menu is back with just few tiles you can configure and the old good list of installed applications. (You can always get even more old-fashioned Start Menu by installing free app: Classic Shell).

But the most important is what's not visible to the naked eye. As a developer I know that a new operating system is not about new looks of buttons and menus or new Calc application, but mostly about new technologies under the hood. Some of them (like Direct3D 12 and WDDM 2.0, to name just these related to graphics) are available in Windows 10 only. Some applications and games will require them to work sooner or later. That's the reason I believe it's worth upgrading to Windows 10 as long as it's free.

I plan to update my blog more often now, so I invite you to come back here from time to time or subscribe to my RSS channel.

Comments (0) | Tags: microsoft windows | Author: Adam Sawicki | Share

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