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Another computer meltdown updates

Hey everyone, I’m having some technical difficulties with my system, you can see the current state of things in the picture below:


My main system that I do everything on has been unstable for days and I’ve been spending a LOT of time trying to diagnose what was happening as the errors were varied and very elusive. It will be a few days before everything is back in order as I’m on a backup system at the moment.

--- start geeky hardware explanation ---

I was having a lot of random restarts and vague blue screen errors, nothing seemingly related to processer or GPU load. All signs suggested that the problem was either with the power supply or RAM, but after days of testing, nothing diagnosed reliably (memtest kept coming up fine, except when the graphics corrupted), it was driving me nuts. What finally DOES seem to be the problem is the northbridge chipset on my motherboard is consistently running way too hot, at over 80 degrees Celcius (the rest of the system temperature is fine though). The heatsink must have come loose from the chip somehow and I’m really not sure how long I’ve been running it at these temperatures. I’ve ordered a new chipset heatsink from a local store near me, but it may take them a day or two for it to come in. Assuming the northbridge hasn’t been permanently damaged, I should have things back to normal in a day or two. If it IS damaged, I guess I’ll have to get a new motherboard. Right now I’m typing this on a secondary system I’ve built solely for motion capture and it doesn’t really seem to be worth the hassle of configuring all my software on another system if this will be down for only a couple days.

--- end geeky hardware explanation ---


This has brought things to a halt at the moment, but it shouldn’t be for very long. Here’s the state of everything I was working on before this happened:

SOUND EDITING MINI-CONTEST: I was expecting to have a new post on this up by now, but it will have to wait until I get some more files together and my system operational again.

FREEMAN’S MIND: I was planning to get moving on Episode 39 and I think people will be pleased for what I have in mind for it. You’ll have to wait longer for the downloadable copy of Episode 38 because the raw video files are sitting inside a gutted computer at the moment (see picture).

SOURCE ENGINE BUG: After exhausting all other options, I send Valve an email for the first time about the animation bug I was having in particular regarding demo recording in the Source engine. I received no reply. I then contacted a fan who had emailed me in the past and had some contact with Valve, who referred me to contacting someone else there personally. I then emailed them, then got referred to yet another person, who has looked into the problem and I have just recently heard back from, saying they may have a solution. This gives me some hope for staying on the post-2006 engine.

MYSTERY VIDEO / SERIES: After spending some time with the toolset of Dragon Age, I’ve decided to abandon using this engine for the medieval fantasy video I want to work on. In addition to encountering some difficulties that wouldn’t happen to me in Source, I’ve realized the mapping support just isn’t there. I’ve found maybe 10 custom maps created for Dragon Age, versus some 10,000+ made for the Source engine. My new plan is to do this all in the Source engine, which I think is doable, except I’ll need a lot of custom rigged humanoid NPC models with face flexes, which is somewhat of a tall order. I’ve received a couple very promising offers on this however, so I’m optimistic this video / series will eventually get made.

ALTERNATE VIDEO FORMATS: Even though opinion on what format I should use is quite divided, the H.264 codec does seem like the best quality to size option out there, which would steer the format towards either .MP4 or .MKV. I was planning on doing some encoding tests to test compatibility. My goal is to find an encoding option that will work on multiple players without having any framerate drop, rendering errors, or the sound becoming out of sync, even on a system with a botched codec install. So if somebody is using VLC Player, ffdshow, MPC-HC, some nightmarish codec pack, whatever, I want to see if I can come up with encoding settings that will work properly on almost anything.

MICROPHONE: This is actually a past issue, but I never made a news post about it. Around the time I was getting fed up with volume clipping issues, I was also getting fed up with driver issues on my old sound card, a Soundblaster Audigy. Since I already wasn’t a fan of Creative Labs’ policy about fixing their drivers , I decided to go with a soundcard from another company, in my case an Asus Xonar. In addition to the sound quality being perceivably better than my old Audigy, the volume clipping problem I had on my old mic has utterly disappeared on this new soundcard. I’m not exactly sure what aspect of it has made the problem disappear, but I’m just happy it’s gone. This means I’m no longer in a rush to get a new microphone, I’ll probably look into something again later based on all the suggestions I received.

That’s it for now, I’ll try and catch up on email in the meantime.

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