Aug 062009

I built myself this dual-core computer several years ago, and it has been my main workstation ever since. By and large, it’s a good and reliable machine (not counting a broken fan and some fried capacitors on its motherboard… never mind, I now have spares of the same motherboard just to be safe) but there have always been a few minor glitches.

One of those glitches concerned MIDI files… if I played back a MIDI file on this computer, its tempo was all off. That is, unless I set the processor affinity of the MIDI playback program to play back only on a specific CPU core. Go figure. If that’s the worst problem I have on a machine that otherwise runs for months without a reboot despite being used for everything from software development to video editing, I guess I can call myself lucky.

But now, years later, I ran into another curious problem. There’s this computer game from the 90s, Duke Nukem, that I, for some reason, still find quite enjoyable. I usually run it on an old Windows 98 box. Recently I found out that there is an open source effort to develop and maintain a multiplatform Duke Nukem executable. I downloaded it and tested it on a test machine… it worked fine. So the other day, I put it on my main machine. It didn’t work fine… if I hit a key on the keyboard, it registered as a large number of very rapid keystrokes to the program.

I’ve been searching for a solution and came across a comment about CPU drivers and processor affinities. Whoops! Restricting EDUKE32 to a single CPU did the trick as a workaround. And then, I remembered that two years ago, I chose not to download a processor driver update from Microsoft Update, following the good old principle of “don’t fix it if it ain’t broken”. So now I took a deep breath and downloaded this update (okay, I wasn’t too worried, since this update already ran fine on a test computer with nearly identical hardware.)

Bingo! EDUKE32 runs like a charm and guess what… so do MIDI files? A years old mystery solved. Now I can happily shoot some heavily pixelated aliens in post-apocalyptic L.A…

 Posted by at 1:49 am