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.

Music Distribution for Apple TV’s; How To Operate a Full-Time iTunes Server

October 1st, 2011 . by Alexander Fisher

Apple-TV-remoteI bought an Apple TV network device a few months ago. There are many of these network appliances out there that act as an interface between your television, the internet, and your home computer. They will play music and video usually from any network source they are connected to. Looking at the other network devices available made me realize some of them had more content providers available on them than the Apple TV, and there is always that exclusive Apple country club tax involved when buying an Apple product. But still I knew I had to have the Apple device and the under $100 I paid for the latest version Apple TV seemed almost like a bargain.

Most new TV’s and nearly everything else anymore, contain some kind of web app for anything from Netflix to Pandora. My 2006 Hitachi plasma TV doesn’t include any internet connectivity. But you’ll never get me to replace my plasma for lack of network apps. There’s no need for that currently anyway, as my Apple TV adds that same connectivity, within the Apple world, which is both good and bad.

I purchased the Apple TV for a couple of reasons, but the reason I bought the Apple instead of another network device, was my reliance already on iTunes for my music. I bought a 20GB iPod in 2004 and have been using Apple music products when I could ever since. I also have an iPhone. But I still use a PC. I am too deeply invested in PC software to change to a Mac now. But I have a lot of reverence for any product with the Apple name on it. My next computer could be an Apple, now that they have some PC compatibility.

The Past

I had been using a Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) audio device on my network, so this wasn’t a stretch by any means to convert to the Apple TV. That Netgear MP101 device was actually able to read an iTunes folder on a computer to play my iTunes music only.

I use a program called GoodSync to duplicate my iTunes folder on the music server from my computer. I could manually update the files, but that would be too tedious. The Netgear device didn’t care that iTunes was not actually installed on the server, as long as the folders were arranged as when it is present. This way I didn’t have to have my personal computer on to play music. I could just use any old computer on the network to serve my iTunes folders to my stereo upstairs. That was easy enough.

This Netgear music player did a very good job of serving music around the S/PDIF digital audio network I have constructed around the house. I was converting the analog output of the Netgear into optical S/PDIF. Now I split and amplify the Apple TV‘s optical audio output to connect to my system. I then split and amplify the optical signals again to make four outputs, finally converting each optical S/PDIF to 75Ω coaxial S/PDIF. I feel comfortable running each RG6 digital audio cable around forty feet to any digital audio device that supports coaxial S/PDIF. Any further than that and the signal loss could be a problem.

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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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