Archive for the “Software” Category

I’ve been using an Oculus Rift DK2 on an AMD laptop with dual graphics and have encountered the following error when using OVR runtime 0.43 or later.

There is a problem with your Rift configuration.
Interfering software is preventing the Rift from activating. Loaded UMD is reported as ‘aticfx32.dll’.

This causes whichever direct-to-rift demo is in use to start but no output to the Rift.

The laptop has “switchable graphics”. Essentially this is a Radeon 8650M for low power tasks and an 8970M/M290X for gaming and high-performance tasks.

If the software used with the Oculus Rift is set to run using the 8650M [power saving] in Catalyst Control Center’s Switchable Graphics Application Settings, the software will work correctly with the Rift albeit at greatly reduced performance. If the software is set to use the 8970M/M290X[high performance], the black screen and “aticfx32.dll” error will be shown.

It seems that the OVR runtime is not recognising the switch from the low power to high performance cards as the application starts.

 

The only workaround I have so far found is to downgrade the OVR runtime to 0.42.

It is likely that the bug will be eliminated in future versions of the OVR runtime. In the mean time, I intend to experiment with different AMD Catalyst driver versions to see if that makes any difference. I am currently using AMD Catalyst version 14.12.

 

If you’ve had success with another Catalyst version and dual-graphics on a OVR runtime later than 0.42, please let me know in the comments section.

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Windows 8 was a cheap upgrade path for me as the software that I wanted to run was no-longer supported by XP 64. That software, of course, was the sole reason for running Windows. Video games.

If you’ve tried Windows 8, you’ll probably have had the experience of booting up your desktop PC to what appears top be a tablet or smartphone OS and does nothing but get in the way of the normal desktop tasks you are used to. This ‘start page’, part of the Windows 8 Metro interface would be great if you were looking at 10″ portable touch-screen but the fact of the matter is, no matter how hard you prod your 23″ TFT, all you get are pressure splotches and the keyboard and mouse get lonely.

The term 'Metro' can bring back painful memories for some users.

The term ‘Metro’ can bring back painful memories for some users.

Fear not for help is at hand!

Help comes in the form a an open-source software project known as Classic Shell. This software allows you to return a Start Menu to it’s rightful place on the lower left of the taskbar and access your applications (I’ll choke if I have to now call them ‘apps’) in the manner in which you are used to.

Classic Shell also allows you to add back some popular features such as a full path and status bar to Windows Explorer and normal navigation on IE9.

Classic Shell Start Menu on Windows 8

Thankfully, I only really need Windows 8 as an engine for running games so I am spared the painful task of re-learning my workflow from scratch. I dual boot to Linux for serious tasks and with Gabe Newell’s pro-Linux stance for Valve and it’s Steam platform, the need for Windows in future will hopefully diminish.

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If you’ve come across QR Codes before (The square 2D barcodes designed for capture by smart phones) you’ll know they can hold a variety of information.

I recently wanted to offer a map location via a QR Code and handily, the Zebra Crossing Barcode Reader App for Android supports this via the geo: format.

The data format is as follows:

geo:[DecimalLatitude],[DecimalLongitude],[MetricAltitude]

The altitude element (and the comma preceding it) are optional and I’m not quite sure of their value unless some applications allow you to find a room in a tall building this way.

So, if I wanted to give you directions to Paris, France with no altitude information, I would use the following co-ordinates:

Lat: 48.856614 Lon: 2.352222

I need to pass these to a QR Code generator, I use qrencode for Linux which allows you generate QR Codes from the command line.

The following command produces a png image called paris.png of a QR Code which contains the co-ordinates for Paris.

qrencode -o paris.png geo:48.856614,2.352222

 Which produces this QR Code image:

 

 

 

 

When Scanned using the Android Barcode App (The common ZXing one), it offers two immediate options. You can “Show Map” which fires up Google Maps and shows the location or you can “Get Directions”. Depending on the Apps installed, “Get Directions” may offer the choice of getting directions either by Google Maps or via the web browser.

Obviously, this is only an example of how it works for Android users. The geo: tag may work for other handset types, barcode reader apps and operating systems but I have not tested this.

I would be interested to hear from anyone who has tried this using iOS etc.

 

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If you move in tech related circles, you may have heard of Google Wave by now which Google hopes will replace the concept E-Mail.

Google Wave is a multimedia communication platform running on an extended XMPP (think jabber) protocol allowing everything from basic instant messaging thru collaborative document modification to voice/video conferencing.

I also discovered in the last few days that Google Wave will also implement an API or ‘Apps’ platform allowing Apps written by third party developers to be run within a Wave. Barring the obvious potential for attempted malicious use of Google Wave Apps, there could be quite a market for new interactive applications which could draw developers from the Facebook API arena.

For now, Google Wave is a limited closed Beta (invite only). I look forward to getting a look-in soon.

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Earlier today I was introduced to the Left 4 Dead 2 Trailer from Valve.

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I’m not sure what to make of this. It’s a wholely separate game to the original L4D which although probably the best in the Zombie-Survivor genre, gets tired quite quickly. Valve did promise free downloadable content patches (DLCs) for L4D which have so far comprised the ‘Survivor’ mode which introduces one mini-map and an extra mini-campaign will be coming in September.

I can’t help thinking the rest of the aforementioned free DLCs have been packaged up and had a price stuck on their head to cash-in on L4D’s original popularity.

The redeeming feature me is frying-pan-armed combat ;)

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I just came across this FOSS Midi Piano Tutor program which I thought rather shiny.

The premise of Piano Booster is similar in concept to games like Guitar Hero only it turns the note path on it’s side, adds a proper musical stave and just might inadvertently help you to learn to play a real piano. ;)

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I was going to say how it probably isn’t as ‘cool’ as Guitar Hero but then again, if we’re honest, games like Guitar Hero actually make you look like a bit of a prat when played infront of your friends and I suggest that with the necessity for a Midi keyboard, Piano Booster is probably something you’d use on your own anyway.

Although I don’t have any special desire to be able to play the piano, with Midi keyboards now as cheap as $40, it’s a bit tempting to get one just to try out this software :)

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