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Techies PII 333 MHz PC


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Retired; replaced by Barrax



Sound Hack

The drivers for my Live! card – but not those for the Sum∑Vision card I was using briefly – exhibit a painful problem. After approximately 320 to 350 MB of memory is in use (irrespective of how much is fitted), the sound card driver seems to get paged out of memory shortly after the point that you stop playing audio. When a program next attempts to play sound, the system hangs for several seconds with the hard drive light illuminated (but no audible indication of activity) before sound playback commences. When whatever I am playing in Winamp finishes, alert sounds repeatedly cause Windows to hang until I start something else playing.

My solution thus was to leave Winamp on permanent repeat. When busy coding on the Macintosh and I’ve only give Winamp a single file to play, I might loop around the same song three, four or five times until I twig that I’m stuck in a loop and hit pause (not stop!) to kill the audio. Pressing pause leaves the card locked in active mode and the drivers can’t wander off anywhere.

I used to hate the card in general, but after playing with another card, I’ve realised that all the sound-related crashes were caused by hardware resource conflicts at the BIOS level from having the card in the “wrong” slot, and the new card got a far worse deal. Sound cards only work in two or three slots of my motherboard: the ones on the right, not the ones on the left (although it doesn’t require that it go to the right of the NIC like the MicroStar 6119 board requires of the Live! card). And I have come to realise that the noise gating on the card is quite valuable, so it’s staying. It’s a good card.

Sound Hack

So, I needed a solution to its only flaw. I finally tried out the idea that I’ve had for a while: write an app that plays a loop of silence forever. This is Sound Hack. It eats no processor time, causes no bother and I can stop and start audio in Winamp as I please without trouble. Finally got my sound under control.