The Linear Canvas
This journal is about the wrongs and rights of the world, as I see them.

The Linear Canvas

Maximizing PC Computing Resources While Operating High Usage Applications and Processes’

September 2nd, 2012 . by Alexander Fisher

Commodore_128There has always been a struggle for system resources while using some applications on my PC’s. I run Cakewalk Sonar X1 and Sony Vegas multimedia applications currently. These programs are big users of CPU and memory resources. At times these applications are just hobbled by low resource availability. But others times they do as little as use an identical communications channel or allocated resource that some other program demands to take over. The result is often a crash by the whole computer or just the applications involved.

The biggest resource offenders can be categorized in two groups: 1) Anti-Virus programs and 2) Everything Else. Anti-Virus (A/V) programs tend to be very system heavy and do a lot of probing that takes resources best used by the programs you may be trying to run. Unfortunately, ending the probing and listening by the A/V program sometimes takes some investigation.

Anti-Virus Programs

Most A/V programs have two modes; Real Time Monitoring and Media Scanning. The Media Scanning mode is usually initiated by the user or a timer. It may also be set to do the scan on startup or even shutdown. In any case it depends on the user making choices to even have it operate. Opening the A/V program’s schedule and deactivating it, then only starting the media scanning when needed, is recommended. If you must use the scheduler to run an A/V scan, set it up for a time when you won’t be using the computer. Like at 3 o’clock AM or something. Disabling the A/V scheduler requires the user to manually scan the computer on occasion to prevent virus’ and malware. You should get more involved in your computer’s health maintenance anyway.

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Fixing Cakewalk Sonar Project File Problems

May 4th, 2012 . by Alexander Fisher


Sonar 8_5 images2I am not going to claim this one fix will solve all your problems opening project files in the digital audio workstation Cakewalk Sonar. It has solved a problem before for me, when many of my projects created on one computer and/or version of Sonar would not open on another. Mainly I wanted to write this down so I wouldn’t have to find this info again.

This process only takes a few minutes and you should know whether you are successful almost immediately.

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PreSonus FaderPort and Cakewalk Sonar Key Mappings

January 3rd, 2012 . by Alexander Fisher

PreSonus FadePortI bought my PreSonus FaderPort about two years ago. It is a USB controller for use with digital audio workstation (DAW) software like Sonar, Cubase, or Pro Tools. I am generally satisfied with it. It works mostly as advertised.

I recently reinstalled my Cakewalk Sonar v8.5 Producer on a different computer. Initially I had trouble getting the FaderPort to show up in the Controller/Surface list. But copying the correct 32 or 64 bit FaderPort.dll file to the proper Shared Surfaces folder in the Programs Files/Cakewalk folder, then registering the file with REGSVR32, does the trick. But that was the easy part. I couldn’t remember how to program the key mappings for my life.

One of the main selling points of the FaderPort was that five of its keys could be customized to the user’s needs. These Custom Key Mappings were prominent in the ad for the device, but nothing on the web site mentioned the mappings at all. And if it was in the manual, I couldn’t find it. I searched everywhere for an hour, trying to remind myself how I’d accomplished it last time, two years ago.

I decided to just play around with the controller options in Sonar. I finally looked at the Controller/Surfaces toolbar and then I remembered there was a properties button on it. I pressed the button and there were the key map settings I had spent way too much time looking for.

If I were going to change the FaderPort in any way, besides mentioning the properties page that the installation includes with the FaderPort driver in the manual, it would to be able to switch to Track View using one of the customizable buttons. For whatever reason that option has been left out of the key mapping list, while a plethora of other useless objects were included. There are even mappings for other views. Including a mapping for the console view which already is a permanent map on another key.

I wrote PreSonus and told them that once, and I got no response. It was probably because I use the FaderPort on Sonar instead of their DAW software, Studio One. That’s OK. I am just glad it works as well as it does. Next time at least I can find the answer to this problem on my own web site. Too bad PreSonus doesn’t have it on theirs.

Sony Vegas Movie Studio: Removing Letterboxing from Widescreen Projects

September 8th, 2011 . by Alexander Fisher

I made a mistake when I started recording my newest music video. I feared I would have to start from scratch re-mixing the video tracks for sure. I was just not sure how far backwards I would have to go in the project to fix what I had spent two weeks doing, to get this far.

I had been using Pinnacle Studio for video editing and I had done a music video on it previously. But that video was not near as involved as this one was becoming. Pinnacle was not up to the task as it would only allow two video tracks to be used at once. That really turns into one track if you are doing a chroma-key (green screen) video. One becomes the track for the background and then you are left with only one track for your video. That was just not good enough.

I tried several other video editing software titles. Many are available as 30 day trials. That may be something you should keep in mind the next time you have the need for video software but not the money or desire to purchase any. Some of these programs offered unlimited video and audio tracks. The one I decided was best and wanted to purchase was Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum HD. Vegas comes in a Pro version that retails for around $600 as well. It does unlimited tracks for that price. And it should. The Movie Studio version is retailed at around $129. I found it online for $79. It will only allow ten video and ten audio tracks itself. That is obviously not unlimited, but it is manageable. Besides, it is the easiest to learn, at least for me as it somewhat mimics the multi-track audio program I already use. I also own Sony Sound Forge Pro, which also shares some of its interface, control methods, and appearances.

The mistake I made was not setting up the program’s project preferences to widescreen (16:9). My digital camcorder is not high definition, but it will record in 16:9 aspect ratio. It is capable of standard aspect ratio (4:3) as well. It was two weeks before I even noticed the black letterbox lines at the top and bottom of the video I was editing. Once I did notice them, I knew that I had a problem.

(see Movie Studio screenshot below)

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Digital Re-Synchronization of Analog Recordings

April 29th, 2010 . by Alexander Fisher

After I finished working on my digitally reconstructed analog recording, Sorry It Came To This, I wanted to write down some of the steps I took to get to the finished project, or at least my thinking on a few of the variables. Unfortunately I was a little brain dead from all of the ‘cypherin’, so I put it off. After I processed my next analog restoration, Mean and Cruel, in a similar manner, I finally decided to write a few thoughts about the whole process, before I forget it all, again.


The process of reconstructing these tracks is heavily software based and not that much to do with any one of my technical abilities. It isn’t like the old days when you needed better hand-eye coordination for cutting the tape and splicing it back together. Though the process is not completely dissimilar in it’s application.

I think many people could acquire the skills to reprocess analog recordings, with the automatic processing built into my Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), Cakewalk Sonar v8.5, under most circumstances. When I reprocessed Sorry It Came to This, I did use some of the automatic synchronizing capabilities of the software. When I began working on the song, using a MIDI drum controller, I recorded several drum tracks based on the rhythm of each progressive mix down during the original analog process.


After determining the original tempo of the recording, I linked the internal drum synchronization to these original tracks via MIDI processing. I was able to reestablish a common beat between all of the tracks using automated audio stretching through quantization, beat grooves, and also I manually stretched or compressed portions of the audio signal when the software could not properly recognize whether it was a component of the beat or not. Doing this allowed me to replace the original MIDI created analog drum track with a MIDI drum set included with Sonar. Drum samples have improved greatly since these original recordings were made and are nearly identical to a real drum kit. The improvement in beat timing was evident as well.

The amount of synchronization that I had to do on these tracks is directly related to the recording method that I used in Yamaha MT-100 II the beginning. I would record the initial four tracks on my Yamaha MT-100-II multi-track cassette recorder. It was designed to record on chromium dioxide cassettes (CrO2) and I always recorded at the higher speed of 3 3/4 inches per second that it also featured. The reasoning behind using the higher speed is that it enhances the audio quality and reduces the tape noise in the recordings. In addition the Yamaha recorded with dbx noise reduction.

The aural quality allowed using the dbx process was similar in many respects to the quality achieved in a digital compact disc (CD) recording. An advantage would have been the constant stream of audio as opposed to the digital sampling inherent in the CD recording process. Some have commented to me over the years that dbx, because of its use of compression in its methodology, called linear decibel companding, had an effect on the aural envelope, that you could hear. Compression/decompression technologies can be audible if it is used improperly, but I believe that like the opponents of the compact disc originally who thought they could hear sounds going on and off 44,100 times per second, they were a bit delusional as well. It’s probably the same people that complained about the inferiority of the minidisc that are now completely satisfied with the sound of the much,much inferior MP3 player.

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Adobe Flash and Firefox Browser Problems

February 28th, 2010 . by Alexander Fisher

Recently I started having problems with the Adobe Flash animation plug-in in my Firefox web browser. This is at least the second time since I started using Firefox that the Flash plug-in has gone AWOL.

Just like last time I tried uninstalling the plug-in using the Windows Add/Remove programs applet in the Control Panel, and then reinstalling Flash with no luck.

That’s when I remembered that I had found an Adobe Flash uninstallation program on the Adobe web site last time, that could get rid of the program completely, so that I could reinstall it.

I found the program and ran it. It got rid of all traces of the Flash application. I then reinstalled Flash and everything is fine again. For how long, I don’t know.

This problem seems to be tied to plug-in updates not “taking”, but I’m not certain of that. The download link for the uninstaller is below.

Adobe Uninstaller

You can then download the Adobe Flash Player at the web page below.

De-throttling YouTube

February 1st, 2010 . by Alexander Fisher

One of the problems I have always had with video sites like YouTube has been that the videos occasionally stop and start over and over again in Windows. If I am watching an interesting video, that can be especially annoying.

The issue is that, usually, the video’s speed is being throttled by Windows itself. I am not sure how that is supposed to help anything, except on a business network, but it is fairly easy to fix by editing the Windows registry.

(I have never ruined my Windows registry by editing it. Especially if done correctly, nothing will go wrong. I don’t back it up before I do any editing either. I run a separate backup program and there’s always Windows System Restore. Still if you are afraid that you will screw something up. find someone more capable to make this change for you)


Here’s how to do it:

Press <Windows key> R

In the Open: text box, type regedit then press <enter>

In the left pane navigate to:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Windows NT \ CurrentVersion \ Multimedia \ SystemProfile

In the right pane double-click NetworkThrottlingIndex, which causes a dialog box to appear. In the box, you can raise or lower the value data to change the throttling effect. Change the base to decimal and you will see the default is 10. Change the decimal value to 70. Press the OK button and then close RegEdit.

Hexadecimal default is a and the recommended value is 46. I think decimal just gives you a clearer understanding of the percentage of data throttling by Windows.

My assumption is this value could be from 0 to 100. Zero would obviously be complete throttling and 100 is no throttling at all. Microsoft recommends that this not be set over 70, but experimenting shouldn’t cause any real harm. Just change it back if it doesn’t work for you. I changed my throttling to 70 and am satisfied with the performance, so far.

Killing Processes With End It All 2 in Windows, for Enhanced Performance

December 5th, 2009 . by Alexander Fisher

For a number of years I have had a program called End It All 2. What this utility does is identify processes running in the background on your computer that may be unnecessary and stops them. The reason you would want to stop them is in many cases they are just running for no reason and using up system resources that could be devoted to the application that you are using. In my case I use a multitrack recording and editing program called Sonar 7. Recording and processing audio on a computer uses a lot of system resources and having a little extra power certainly doesn’t hurt any.

Another application for End It All 2 is computer gaming. While there can be many moving objects on the screen at once while gaming, there is even more happening in computer memory and processing. The more spare RAM and CPU cycles you have can make a difference in the quality of the gaming experience. Even video playback and creation can benefit from the additional resources gained by stopping unneeded processes.

As I recall, End It All 2 was originally written around the time that Windows XP was created. I have used it on Windows 2000 and XP. It will work on Windows 98 and Windows ME as well. I recently tested End It All 2 on Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate and it seems to work OK on it too.

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Malware; Virus’, Spies, Ads, and Bot’s or How’s That "Free Anti-Virus" Working Out For You?

September 20th, 2009 . by Alexander Fisher

When referring to a computer virus, there are many types that are easily confused. I tend to refer to all as Malware (malicious software). The bottom line is that they all do about the same things, in different ways, for different reasons. Some take control of your computer for nefarious purposes. Others were created just to make your life a little more difficult.

I have been asked several times recently about Personal Anti-Virus, a "rogue" program that had been infecting computers in the last few months with a Trojan Horse. I looked it up on search and anti-virus web sites. The response from Symantec (Norton) went something like, "Had you had our product installed, this wouldn’t have happened to you." Not very diplomatic or helpful, but probably true. Some of the other responses I found were to use other "rogue" sounding programs that probably would make it worse.

Malware Removal

There were some helpful posts around the web in my search for a remedy for the Personal Anti-Virus, which if one had enough computer knowledge, they could eliminate pretty much the whole threat. Unfortunately some directions I found were more complete than others, leading to immediate re-infections by the rogue program. I don’t think most casual computer users would have the patience to continue past that point.

In many cases, the Malware is spread to so many places on the computer hard drive that removing it manually is not worth the effort. Some times the existing Anti-Virus program has been uninstalled or crippled by the Malware as well. Often the most obvious way of ridding the system is using specifically created software for Malware removal or by doing a system restore of one kind or another. After removal, Anti-Virus program re-installation may be necessary too.

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Using ASIO with ADAT Instead of WDM: Digital Audio Alphabet Soup

August 15th, 2009 . by Alexander Fisher

During my recent adventures with ADAT digital audio transfers from my Fostex VF-16 digital multi-track recorder to my PC computer, I discovered ASIO (Audio Streaming Input Output). ASIO was developed by a musical company called Steinberg. It is a mostly open standard that has had a big impact on computer recording. I really didn’t know that much about ASIO before I started experimenting with my ADAT card. The only thing I knew was that my soundcard on my main computer was capable of ASIO audio production. I also knew that when I tried to use the computer in my studio area to record, I was terribly disappointed with the results.

Basically what ASIO does is take all audio information to and from a digital audio program, like Sonar 7, and routes it directly to the soundcard. The benefit of this direct connection is a reduction in the latency in the audio. Latency in this case, refers to the amount of time it takes to get from the input of the sound card, through all the sub-systems, and then on to the output. ASIO allows whatever is on the input of the sound card to arrive at the output in a more efficient manner. For ASIO drivers, Steinberg claims a latency of equal to or less than an imperceptible 2 milliseconds. Previously when I had tried to use a computer as a multi-track recorder in place of my Fostex, I noticed very discombobulating delays in monitoring what I was recording. It was so bad that I could not record anything at all. The latency (echo) was way too extreme.

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