Monday, June 15, 2009

Edirol FA-101 Windows 7 64 Bit Drivers

The original post I had here was a work around. Roland published Windows 7 64 bit drivers in late 2009 and I have found them to work well with Windows 7. Go to Roland and get them.

If anyone has tried these drivers with Windows Server 2008 R2, please let me know. Thanks.

You really don't need the following information, but I leave it here for historical purposes.

Original Post:

Windows 7 again impressed me when I needed to load up my FA-101. I use the FA-101 as the only audio interface on my studio PC.

Doing a quick search you will find that there are no Windows 7 64 bit drivers for this device and if you try to run the Vista installer (FA_101_Vista_x64_Ver.1.0.4) you will get an error that it will not run for this version of Windows.

All you have to do is run Windows 7's (very cool) "Troubleshoot compatibility" wizard.

You select "Troubleshoot program" and check the "The program worked in earlier versions of Windows ..." box. Indicate that is was Vista, and then the driver installs as it did in Vista.

I have found the FA-101 to be much less susceptible to problems under Windows 7 than under Vista. Although the FA-101 driver did not contribute to my former 64 bit Vista's instability, the driver itself would frequently seem to get stuck. I was very used to powering off the FA-101 to un-stick it. So far, that has not been necessary with Windows 7. It continues to shine!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Windows 7 Amazing Installation

I lost one of the two 400 GB Western Digital drives in my RAID 0 array on my home "studio" PC on Sunday. The performance of two mediocre drives raided together has always been impressive, so I was determined to go back to it. This desktop machine was running 64 bit Vista, and was not particularly stable. I was hoping to put either Windows 7 or Server 2008 R2 on it, and I was going to wait until fall.

Monday I bought two Seagate ST31000333AS 1TB drives from Antares Computing which arrived yesterday. I recommend both Antares and these drives (both are fast!). I only recommend RAID 0 if you can deal with losing the array (as I could). Reliability will be low - performance high.

So I take out the two old drives and stick in the two new ones. It takes longer than it should - thirty minutes - a little bit of cable manipulation and contortion (I never remove the full tower case from the rat's nest where it lives). Next I stick in the Windows 7 RC disk and boot. I think I had two clicks before it took off, and 20 minutes later it was done.

This bears repeating. Twenty minutes later, Windows was installed into previously unallocated space on freshly installed hard drives. I am sure I will have a lot of playing around to do (but I enjoy that - hit me). Twenty minutes. No formatting. Nothing.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Fixing SharePoint Search Propagation Problems - Part II

As a continuation of Fixing SharePoint Search Propagation Problems ...

In my previously described situation (stuck on propagation with a few other issues thrown in), the problem recurred, and repeating the procedure (moving the index file location on all query servers) again provided relief.

Since I needed more than a few hours of relief and I could see nothing new was making it's becoming available to search, I also stopped indexing. Over night, this allowed propagation to clear itself. Since all was well, I boldly turned indexing back on. More good results - all the new content made it to the query servers and continued to do so. I still may have issues because after a while, the propagating status once again seemed stuck, but content is getting added and we are otherwise healthy (otherwise - that is a big qualification).

It would be great to get an in-depth explanation of what the services are doing when they report various statuses. I wish I could give one - I want to get this explanation. My own experience has been that although monitoring the services can be alarming, they work well. Indexes are built and updated quickly, even when things do not appear to be working very well. This from a person whose life has been made much more stressful by having to watch over this system.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Using MKV Files With a Memorex Blu-Ray Player

I naively bought a two Memorex MVBD 2510 players last fall - one for my dad and and one for myself. They were good Black Friday deals, so I have no buyer's remorse. I knew they didn't have an ethernet port, but I had no idea what good it might be. I still can only guess what utility I might get from having my player on my home network.

Like most of these players, it has a USB port, so I quickly got into experimentation and found that it would play MP4, AVI, and a mess of other file formats, but not every file format. Around the same time, MKV files started to become prevalent. The Memorex doesn't like MKV's but they play wonderfully from VLC on my computer (which has a 24" HD widescreen). I don't live and breath for this stuff, but I am an enthusiast, so it took me a while to understand why we needed yet another format!

MKV (Matroska) is a container. From what I can tell, it is lossless, and it gets a small amount of compression. They can hold a lot of stuff, but in order to use them with devices that don't support it (and aren't being well supported by the manufacturer), you have to do something with them. I have the answer for that!

You could get a conversion program that knows how to read these files and write them out to another format - like AVI or MP4. That means all your content is going through another rendering and compressing process. Although the results may be acceptable , I know there is no way doing this is going to improve the video or audio. And it takes a long time. We need something better.

The answer is demuxing the file (and maybe doing something cool with the demuxed content). Demuxing the MKV contents to a .ts file will work with the Memorex (and thus I would think many other - better - players). The tool to do this is TXMUXER. Demuxing is as fast as your disk (you will wish you had a fast disk setup) and there is no re-compression.

The only problem is (at least with the Memorex) that .ts files act a lot like AVI's or other files played on the Memorex - rewind, fast forward and other operations don't always work as you would like, but otherwise, it's not a bad arrangement. You get the nice menu from the player and you can select the files nicely (just don't make the name too long - no scrolling on the Memorex).

MKVExtractGUI includes the ability to extract files to a Blu-Ray or AVCHD folder structure that it creates. AVCHD is what you want. Many BD players (Memorex and Playstation 3 included) support AVCHD. It's basically a Blu-Ray file system for DVD 5 (4.7GB DVD recordable discs). I haven't explored all the audio possibilities of this (Blu-Ray includes several outstanding lossless formats). These AVCHD discs have no menu, but you can "join" multiple input files and add chapter stops at whatever point you like (think "episodes"). Just burn the two folders the process creates to a UDF file system on a DVD 5 (I have not yet tried this with a DVD 9, but that is coming).

With a little trial and error, I've come up with a nice way to play and store content.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Fixing SharePoint Search Propagation Problems

See also Part II

I have been baby sitting my SharePoint search engine lately. I have some long term fixes I am planning to deploy, but in the mean time, things sometimes go bump!

The latest problems surround the engine sticking on "Computing ranking" and then today a propagation issue. The indexer eventually found itself unable to communicate with the query servers. This got ugly fast. Search results turned to garbage. They would cross scopes and return all kinds of erroneous stuff.

I was getting pannicky, all the while hoping I would not have to reset content. This I thought would very likely be a total fix, but drastic - the all new index would be pretty meaningless for quite a few hours. Resets of services and things were not going to fix this problem. Since the indexer seemed to have lost contact to the shares where the indexes were supposed to go, I decided to change the locations for the index files on the query servers.

In case you forgot, you do this in Operations > Services on Server > Office SharePoint Server Search Service Settings. For each of them, I put it in a brand new location. This didn't seem to help at all until they were all done. Then it all came back (fairly quickly). I still have a stuck on "Computing ranking" problem, but I have more reasonable content. I still intend to do that "Reset all crawled content," but I can do it in off hours.

See also Part II

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

PDF Ifilters in SharePoint - Follow Up

I would like to add an addendum to

I was not aware of PDFLib's ifilter until I was near the end of my testing and procurement a few weeks back. Since I still had a pretty good test setup for this, and I needed to do some final QA, I decided to test PDFLib too.

Before you can test PDFLib you will need to get yourself a license from their sales group. They give you a reasonable testing period and the process is painless.

In today's test, PDFLib's installer didn't add both of the registry keys I mentioned in my last post, only the first.
  • [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office Server\12.0\Search\Setup\ContentIndexCommon\Filters\Extension\.pdf]
  • [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server Extensions\12.0\Search\Setup\ContentIndexCommon\Filters\Extension\.pdf]
The GUID for PDFLib seems to be {47A1AF35-C345-475d-AE68-EB07E948BD07}

I added the second manually. I would guess it is not important if you have MOSS.

My test set was not a very challenging bunch of documents (about 680 MB, 1200 documents). In some previous tests, Adobe was much slower (as anticipated) but in the ones today, they all three were similar. I previously was running the test after resetting the content. On today's I did full crawls (to save time??).

Interestingly, the quality of Adobe was much lower. The same search terms produced far fewer hits with Adobe while Foxit and PDFLit had the exact same results. It almost seemed anomalous, but my main objective today was to review the installation process (I have beaten that to death, no?) and give PDFLib a quick test, so I don't have time for further tests.

We already bought Foxit. I may have been able to save a little money with the way PDFLib is licensed, but I think I made the right choice because of Foxit's more foolproof installer. Hopefully I can add one more follow up article once I have been running Foxit in a large production environment for a while.