Category Archives: Resolving problems

Posts about tricky problems that i want to resolve or when i manage to resolve them. So others don’t have to go through problem solving nightmares…

Prevent Firefox from closing browser when closing the last tab

If you hate that clicking CLOSE TAB button on last tab in Firefox closes entire browser, do the following:

In URL bar, type about:config, in Search field, copy this string browser.tabs.closeWindowWithLastTab. Switch it to FALSE by double clicking the entry.

After you do this, clicking close button on last available tab will just close the last tab and leave browser available for further use with empty page.

Out of all browsers, only Opera insists on doing the old fashion way where closing last tab only closes that tab and nothing else. Respect to Scandinavians. Good choice. The rest is just copying from Chrome like they don’t have any own identity or design skills… Yeah Mozilla, I’m looking at you. You did it like Opera still until you decided to copy the feature from Chrome. Why, I don’t know… It was a stupid decision.

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Disable intro videos in Prey 2017

I absolutely love this game, but like almost every new game, what absolutely pisses me off are god damn retarded half an hour long intro videos which of course can’t be skipped. Not the first time and I’m very much sure not the last time either. And if you’re like me, who likes to hop into a game, play it for a while, close it and do something else for a while and go back playing the game, you spend 1/3 of the time watching stupid intro videos. Who thought this shit should be unskippable? God…

Anyway, I figured out that while there is no config file, you can make them skip by simply renaming or deleting the intro video files.

So, go to:

.\Valve\Steam\SteamApps\common\Prey\GameSDK\Videos

Rename or delete following videos:

  • ArkaneLogoAnim_Redux_1080p2997_ST-16LUFS.bk2
  • Bethesda_logo_anim_white.bk2
  • LegalScreens.bk2
  • Ryzen_Bumper.bk2

This is it. When you’ll fire up the game next time, it’ll go straight into “PRESS ANY KEY” intro screen without half an hour of idiotic intro videos.

Enjoy

Watch Youtube/Twitch smoothly on very low end systems

So, I’ve been dealing with this issue for a while as Youtube performance has dramatically deteriorated over the years on my old AMD E-450 APU based laptop.

The thing is, only place where video acceleration doesn’t work well at all is in 3rd party browsers. Firefox, Chrome or Opera, they all run Youtube really badly, but if I fire up high bit rate 1080p video in MPC HC, it plays absolutely smoothly. I couldn’t get it to play smoothly for like 2-3 years now inside browsers. Luckily, there are few solutions I figured out recently and I’ll talk about them here so you guys can watch Youtube smoothly again even on your otherwise already obsolete systems. Why waste money on new devices when few simple tricks can give them back the power to serve you 🙂

Windows 8.1 and 10 Apps for Youtube/Twitch

While I generally don’t like the UWP (Universal Windows Platform) system as anything useful or positive globally (especially how it borks up games), but it has few useful specific apps. Specifically in this case, apps for Youtube which seem to run Youtube HD videos beautifully smooth on really crappy old hardware.

Youtube Windows 8.1 and 10 apps on Windows Store that I’ve tested and really like:

  • Hyper for Youtube
  • ProTube
  • PerfectTube

They all work a bit differently with different interface and functionality experience so try them out and see which one you like the most.

Twitch Windows 8.1 and 10 app on Windows Store that I’ve tested and really like:

  • MyTwitch

This one I also really like. Plays Twitch streams smoothly on same low end notebook and it’s actually so convenient I prefer it over browser for Twitch streams even on my desktop PC which has enough grunt to run several 4K streams at once without taking a sweat. It’s just so fast and straight to the point.

Play Youtube videos in external media player

Other way to achieve smooth Youtube playback without sacrificing convenience of viewing it easily via browser is by using certain browser add-ons and 3rd party programs. This method especially applies to Windows 7 or even Vista systems since you don’t have any Windows 8.1/10 apps to use.

What we need for this?

Install PotPlayer,use default install location so add-on will auto detect its path, making things easier. Then install Firefox or Chrome browser and also install the PotPlayer Youtube Shortcut add-on/extension in your browser.

Go to Youtube, right click on any video thumbnail and select “Open link in PotPlayer”. PotPlayer should open, playing selected Youtube video…

PotPlayer_Youtube.jpg

There are two more things to do…

Hardware Acceleration

Click on that S/W button marked with number 1. It should switch to H/W and you should see the “Use built-in DXVA Video Decoder: On” appearing on top for a short time. Like so…

PotPlayer_HW.jpg

This ensures video is played by a dedicated video acceleration, offloading most of the video decoding on GPU (graphics card processor), freeing up CPU (processor). This means your low end netbook or old laptop will be more responsive during video playback, video itself will play a lot smoother and you’ll experience less generated heat (quieter laptop fan) and longer laptop battery life.

Be aware that H/W (DXVA) mode may not be supported by all devices. If it switches back to S/W by itself, it means your device doesn’t support hardware acceleration of a given resolution or video codec. This may happen with very old Intel integrated graphics or when using resolutions or codecs not accelerated by your GPU.

Video Resolution and Codec

Now that we have fired up H/W acceleration, you may want to click on the menu marked with number 2. Doing so will bring you option to select video quality.

PotPlayer_YTResolution.png

You can experiment how high your GPU may support acceleration.

While testing, my GeForce GTX 980 was able to H/W accelerate 4K video using MP4 AVC codec. Using WebM VP9 switched the mode back to S/W automatically. AMD E-450 APU with integrated graphics in my old laptop on the other hand could only H/W accelerate up to 1080p MP4 AVC, but I was surprised that it was able to smoothly play it at 60 fps (1080p60). Using anything higher and audio started skipping and video stalling since it was running in S/W mode, forcing all the processing on CPU which is too weak for such demanding task.

Preferred resolution and codec should be up to 1920×1080 using MP4 AVC. This should ensure perfectly smooth playback with excellent image quality on most low end devices.

Conclusion

I really don’t understand how it came to this point that hardware acceleration of Youtube in browsers other than Internet Explorer/Edge is total poop these days. I mean, same laptop that played 1080p60 video above with absolute perfection struggles with 480p videos in a browser. Don’t tell me that’s not an absolute joke.

But again, the laptop is around 4-5 years old and it was low end when I bough it. This workaround extended its life for few more years, costing me exactly nothing (other than few minutes to set it all up and figure it out). Yes, it won’t track how much of the video you’ve watched and you’ll kinda break Youtube’s statistics, but really, that’s a small trade off for actually being able to view the content comfortably and without being in constant rage mode because stupid Youtube videos are lagging and stuttering.

Computer freezing with black screen on game exit

I’ve first experienced this with game LIMBO and couldn’t figure it out until today when it happened in Tower Wars game again. And the symptoms were too peculiar to be a coincidence.

Symptoms:

When you exit the game, screen remains black. No mouse or keyboard input seems to do anything as no amount of Ctrl+Esc, Alt+Tab, Alt+F4 did anything. If you had music player playing in the background via music player, music will continue playing (meaning system didn’t actually freeze).

Affected devices and games:

  • NVIDIA GeForce graphic card (GTX 980 in my case)
  • LIMBO (tested game)
  • Tower Wars (tested game)

Offending component/setting(s):

FreezingGamesOnExit.png

Solution:

Change the “Preferred refresh rate” from “Highest available” to “Application-controlled” in NVIDIA Control Panel.

The reason I’ve always changed this to “Highest available” was because I have a 144Hz monitor and I want everything to run at such high refresh. Apparently, with games that enforce own refresh rate (which isn’t 144Hz, but 60Hz instead), this somehow conflicts and causes this lockup with black screen.

Translate text from images using Yandex OCR Translator

I was in a need to translate large amount of text from the image and typing it by hand into Google Translate proved very inefficient and clumsy. Luckily, I’ve stumbled across Russian Yandex 🙂 They seem to offer wider range of translation tools than Google. One of them is translation of text from images using OCR.

Yandex OCR Image Translator
https://translate.yandex.com/ocr

Just drag in an image with text that you want to translate, select languages for the translation, highlight the text you want to translate (you can select large amount of text like you select many files in Windows using dragging selection) and voila!

Example that I needed. Translation from German to English, because my German is a bit rusty and I’m in a need for some new tires for my car 🙂

YandexImageTranslateOCR.jpg

It’s super easy and fast, I got the translation in seconds where I’d need several minutes to re-type all of it by hand. Especially from German which has notoriously long and complex words… Bookmarked this thing because I can just feel it, I’ll need this quite often in the future. And of course posted it here for you guys 🙂

How to fix horrendous Resident Evil 7 performance on PC

I was banging my head against brick wall why the hell performance is so bad with this game. Don’t get me wrong, it looks reasonably nice and works great all maxed out, but it just shouldn’t run as bad when you walk into certain sections of map where it feels like it’s only 15fps for no logical reason. It’s even worse when some sections of levels work super fast one moment and when you reload the game, it’s lagging like insane. I’ve tried everything from monitoring my GPU clocks to even refreshing Windows 10 installation and nothing helped.

But later, fiddling with settings systematically and later talking to someone on TechPowerUp, I came to realization that game is indeed bugged. And for the dumbest reason.

The offending graphics setting appears to be “Shadow Cache”. Not really sure what’s the purpose of it to be quite honest. The thing is, this setting caches shadow maps into VRAM and if you “only” have 4GB like I do on my GTX 980, this game will run like absolute garbage because this cache is taking space in VRAM that needs to be there for other more important things than caching shadows data that works “on-the-fly” anyway just fine. At first I resolved it by changing Shadow Quality from Very High to High, but this appears to be even better solution. It runs just as fast while shading and shadows look way better. The Shadow cache is enabled by default even though it shouldn’t be. In fact I’m not even sure what’s the purpose of it. I mean, caches are usually there to speed things up. If it runs faster with it disabled, what does that tell to you?

Resident Evil 7 PC performance fix:

RE7_PerformanceFix2.jpg

Set Shadow Cache to Off and crank everything else to the max. Wasted like half of the game ranting over idiotic garbage performance just because someone didn’t do his job in QA department. It’s unacceptable and stupid that gamers, who are suppose to enjoy this thing, we have to dissect it instead and figure it out why it’s broken. Ugh.

Well, at least now I’ll be able to enjoy it a lot better… Stupid Shadow Cache…

Strange folders and files appeared on my disk

I’ve noticed an increased number of people asking about strange files and folders appearing on their computer drives. Like this…

cybereason_ransomfree_honeypotfiles

Cybereason_RansomFree_HoneypotFolders.png

These folders and files are named randomly to avoid being targeted or ignored by ransomware writers.

I’ve instantly recognized the pattern with users asking about these “strange” files…

It’s Cybereason’s RansomFree Anti-Ransomware tool, the one I’ve actually wrote about here and I’ve even tested it myself and it’s very effective. You can read more about it here.

Cybereason RansomFree also notifies users about this, but either people click over it quickly or forget about it…

Cybereason_RansomFreeNote.png

These folders and files are called “honeypot” files and they are placed there to trick ransomware into fiddling with them and when ransomware does that, RansomFree pounces on it. Ransomware is captured and you don’t actually lose any of your real documents.

Be aware that if you have such strange files and you haven’t installed Cybereason’s RansomFree or any other security product that uses similar protection mechanism, I suggest thorough scanning of the computer with security software (antivirus).