Windows 8.1: Won’t go to Sleep

Just a quick note to share the solution to a problem I had with Sleep mode after upgrading to Windows 8.1, namely, the computer would not go to Sleep automatically.

For me, the fix was to leave the Homegroup.

I did this by typing Homegroup into Start, selecting Homegroup Settings and clicking Leave.

Further notes

Normally, when trying to solve Sleep-related problems, your best bet is to open an Administrator PowerShell or Command Window and run the command powercfg /requests.

However, in this case, powercfg always stated that Nothing was keeping my computer awake. Not terribly helpful.

Fix: Dark Souls Prepare to Die Games for Windows Live Zero Day Protection not unlocking

Dark Souls
After installing Dark Souls Prepare to Die Edition, I ran into the following error message posted by Games for Windows Live as it attempted to perform its Zero Day Protection (ZDP) unlock:

“Games for Windows – LIVE has encountered a corrupted file. Please reinstall the game and try again.”

So, I reinstalled using the repair option. Same error message.

I uninstalled, rebooted and reinstalled. Same error message.

I uninstalled Microsoft Games for Windows Live Client and Marketplace and reinstalled using the GFWL setup on the Dark Souls disc.

I updated DirectX using the DirectX setup on the Dark Souls disc.

Same error message.

Solution

  • After installing, open the Dark Souls folder in Explorer. On Windows 7 64-bit the default installation folder is “C:\Program Files (x86)\NAMCO BANDAI Games\DarkSouls”
  • Go into the Zdp folder and run Zdp.exe.

For me, this successfully unlocked the files and allowed me to run the game.

I suspect the reason for the failure before is that one of the files that Zdp wants to unlock is DarkSouls.exe but it can’t access it because that file is the one you ran to launch the game.

Chrome Engine Widescreen and Performance Tips

Xpand RallyI’ve got a number of Chrome Engine racing games that have been going cheap on Steam (Xpand Rally, GTI Racing, GM Rally, Classic Car Racing) as well as a boxed version of shooter Chrome. I’m want to run them on a 720P projector but I’ve been running into two problems.

Widescreen

These early Chrome Engine games only allow 4:3 resolutions to be selected in-game but you can use custom resolutions by editing the \Data\VideoSettings.scr file. Update the Resolution() line to the resolution you want; for me that would be Resolution(1280,720).

However, when I ran the game, the projector couldn’t display what the game was asking. Eventually, I realised that there was another setting further down the configuration file I needed to change: MaxRefresh(85). This is the refresh rate and because the projector was connected using a VGA interface, it couldn’t tell my PC that it couldn’t cope with the refresh rate of 85. I changed it to MaxRefresh(60) and got native resolution widescreen gaming from the Chrome Engine.

However, that wasn’t the biggest problem I was having.

Performance

From the initial install, the game ran fine; my PC was more than capable of running these games on full everything. After a couple of games, though, performance became horribly, unplayably jerky. Reducing resolution or graphical effects or audio quality didn’t make any difference and attempts to do so were even ignored at times. Eventually, I came across a TweakGuide for Call of Juarez which also runs on a version of the Chrome engine. This highlighted a problem with the shader cache which was fixed by deleting sub-folders in the \Shaders\ folder. I renamed my \Shaders\ folder and the performance issues were gone and the game ran perfectly. I didn’t notice any difference to the graphics either.

Superbike 2001 (2000, Motorcycle Racing Game) – 8/10 game review

Cast / crew
Director: Antonio Farina

Superbike 2001 (2000)

8/10

Instantly impressive motorcycle racing game with outstanding animation, graphics and control. The animation is astonishing making this the best motorcycle video games have ever looked. Even without rag-dolls, the crashes, near-misses and bikes trying to unseat riders looks completely amazing and convincing (perhaps because the rider doesn’t disappear once a crash starts). Once you add the touch that your rider has to walk back to his bike and pick it up to continue (as do crashed AI riders), you genuinely cannot understand why motorcycle games since ignored everything amazing this game did. What is really odd is that the creative people behind this game still make motorcycle games at Milestone. Just worse ones. (Additionally, this works on Windows 7 in 98/ME Compatibility mode and with the 360 controller and in widescreen!)

Need for Speed: Shift (2009, Nearly Undrivable Circuit Racing Game, 360) – 3/10 game review

Cast / crew

Need for Speed 13 Need for Speed: Shift (2009)

Track-based circuit racing.

3/10

This is unquestionably the worst gamepad driving experience ever delivered by a major console driving game, simulation-biased or not (the demos seem to drive differently to the full game). What is truly amazing about this is that none of the contemporary reviews ever highlighted it. IGN’s walkthrough for the game tells you but the review (a mind-boggling 8.7-9.0) does not (it does contain a passing remark that it is a ‘none-too-small task just keeping the car on the road’; 9.0 I remind you). The game is almost unplayable with the default settings and the menu that allows you to manhandle the controller into actually giving you a degree of control is easy to miss. Because the core driving experience with a gamepad is so atrocious, it doesn’t matter that the game looks good (aside from horrid texture filtering most apparent, sadly, on vinyl-laden cars), sounds good, features an excellent cockpit view, a ferocious sense of danger, an enticing badge reward system, a few unusual circuits and some tenacious AI opponents who even move over when being lapped. All-in-all then, a worthy successor to Need for Speed: PooStreet. If only there was some such pun for Shift.

Links

Continue reading “Need for Speed: Shift (2009, Nearly Undrivable Circuit Racing Game, 360) – 3/10 game review”

Creative ALchemy: Cross Racing Championship 2005 aka CRC 2005

 

To restore surround sound to Invictus Games’ Cross Racing Championship 2005 for Creative cards under Windows Vista and Windows 7, use the following setting in Creative ALchemy.

Use Registry Path: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Invictus-Games\Cross Racing Championship\InstallDirectory

Microsoft Word: Change Case Keyboard Shortcut Shift+F3

I often paste an address from a PayPal receipt and it never ceases to amaze how often people have entered their address without proper capitalisation; not for their name or even their postcode.

Word provides a function that changes the case of selected text (Format menu->Change Case) but it feels quicker just to go through and change the capitalisation by hand. However, there is a keyboard shortcut for this function: Shift+F3.

This cycles your text through “lowercase”, “UPPERCASE” and “Title Case” or “Sentence case”. If you’ve selected what appears to be a single sentence or line, Title Case is applied and all words are capitalised. If you’ve selected what appears to be multiple sentences or lines, Sentence case is applied and the first word of each sentence or line capitalised.

Colin McRae: DiRT (2007, Off-Road Racing, PlayStation 3) – 9/10 game review

Cast / crew

Colin McRae: Dirt (2007)

9/10

Colin McRae Dirt is the best in the series since the brilliant Colin McRae Rally 2.0 despite slightly odd handling and, surprisingly, establishes itself as the best next-gen racing game by some way. Outstanding graphics (especially on the smooth-running PlayStation 3 version), excellent sound, reference-quality presentation, lovely and accessible replays and lots to see and do are all the icing on the cake of the fun and excitement of the core driving sensation.

Classified 12+ by PEGI. The game is only suitable for persons who have reached the age of 12 or over.
Classified Bad Language by PEGI. Game contains bad language.

Available on PS3.

Continue reading “Colin McRae: DiRT (2007, Off-Road Racing, PlayStation 3) – 9/10 game review”

Control Media Player Classic properly using Logitech SetPoint

I have a Logitech keyboard with media keys that currently control WinAmp and PowerDVD regardless of which window has the focus. For example, I would be using my browser and could skip tracks, play or pause music in WinAmp without having to switch over the WinAmp. I had searched Google for help on how to extend this functionality to Media Player Classic and only this week had success.

I found the following instructions on a Japanese forum (this link no longer works) and so, sadly, cannot give explicit credit.

How to customise Players.ini for Logitech SetPoint

  1. Exit SetPoint by either selecting Exit from the system tray icon or by End Process-ing it in Task Manager.
  2. Open C:\Program Files\Logitech\SetPoint\players.ini and insert the following entries under the appropriate existing sections:
    [Players]
    mplayerc=wac,mplayerc.exe,MediaPlayerClassicW,xxx,xxx,xxx,xxx,xxx,xxx,xxx,0,1,Media Player Classic
    
    [Players.Display]
    mplayerc=Media Player Classic
    
    [Players.Seek]
    mplayerc=cmd,0x10386,xxx,1,1
    
    [Players.Rewind]
    mplayerc=cmd,0x10385,xxx,1,1
  3. Restart Setpoint

Controlling Media Player Classic even when it doesn’t have focus

If you still can’t control it when the window is not active, then you need to add some keys to registry.

Quick warning: messing with the Windows Registry can potentially bork your machine and set your hair on fire. If it does, it’s not my fault. Proceed at your own risk. Oooooh.

The K-Lite Codec Pack does this automatically in the installer but here is an example of the information that needs to be added and where. If you installed the program to different location, you need to change these two locations.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths\mplayerc.exe]
@="\"C:\\Program Files\\K-Lite Codec Pack\\Media Player Classic\\mplayerc.exe\""
Path="\"C:\\Program Files\\K-Lite Codec Pack\\Media Player Classic\""

You can copy this information as is to a file called AddApp.reg and install it into the registry by double-clicking it.

Windows XP Home to Vista printer sharing problem

HP OfficeJet V40 on Windows XP Home. Vista laptop. Let’s share the printer. Should be easy enough.

Surprisingly, it is. Especially once you remember to put both machines in the same workgroup. Vista’s default workgroup is WORKGROUP and XP Home’s default workgroup is MSHOME.

I shared the printer on XP and gave it a name (“Margaret?”). I accessed the share on the Vista machine, connected to the printer and Vista installed the drivers and tells me that the printer is ready to go. Splendid.

So, test page time. The test page says it’s printed, it appears in the print spooler, says it’s printed and disappears from the spooler. But here’s the small caveat: when I get upstairs to the printer, nothing has been printed. Yet there are no error messages or error events on either the Vista machine or the XP Home machine. To the contrary, the Vista print spooler reports the page printed fine.

The print job just vanishes into the ether. Spooky. Sorry, wow.

Fortunately, Google came to my help and pointed me in the direction of this post at Consider It Fixed: Printer Sharing Problem in Windows Vista. He reports on a solution found on the Windows Help forum which also takes you to this post on the Windows Users Group Network.

Those posts gives these steps and fixed my problem of disappearing print jobs. It also fixes “Access Denied” problems when you try to install a printer on Vista shared from an XP machine. Read all the instruction first.

  • Add your printer (in my case an Hewlett Packard OfficeJet V40) as a local printer on your Vista machine. Open Control Panel/Printers/Add a Printer/Add a Local Printer and “Use the existing port LPT1:”. Then select the make and model of your printer, etc. Do not set up the new printer as a network printer yet.
  • After Vista has finished installing the driver, right-click your new printer and open the “Properties” window. Select the “Ports” tab and click “Add Port.”
  • Make sure that Local Port is selected from the list and then select “New Port”. When the “Enter a Port Name” field comes up, manually add a new Local Port as follows: \\computer_name\shared_printer_name as the port name.
    For example, if the computer name for the Windows XP PC sharing the printer is “SlimmPC” and the shared printer is “v40” enter \\SlimmPC\v40 then select “OK”.
  • Now return to the port list and select the newly created port as the active port for the printer.
  • To test the printer, open Word and print to the newly created printer.
  • If that works, go to some of the above web posts and add your appreciation in a comment or mark the posts as helpful.