Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Memory Manager

I've spent a large chunk of time rewriting the memory system for Mortal Kombat. It was a huge and ambitious endeavor using a lot of new techniques that are not really used in other systems. Development on it was expensive but justifiable because we plan on reaping benefits from the system and eventually sharing it with other studios under the WB Games umbrella.

So my "Director of Engineering" told me today that Rock Steady Studios (the developers of Batman: Arkham Asylum) have integrated the Memory Manager I developed for Mortal Kombat into their latest game under development. It only took them 2 days without any help and was a very smooth integration. Right off the bat it saved them 4.5MB on PS3 which is an enormous amount to get back just from a memory manager and also it resulted in a large increase in stability for that platform.

Woo hoo! I feel pretty good about that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

More Windows 7 Gripes

Windows 7 isn't all good -- it's mostly good but I continue to find little quirks where they "dumbified" things which were more useful in Windows Vista.

Taskbar Behavior

In Windows 7, the Taskbar is Always-On-Top. The only way to have full sized windows on your primary screen is to turn on the Auto-Hide Taskbar option. There is no longer an OS supported way to have a TaskBar that is not always on Top. Basically, this is a "dumbification" of the UI that ends up with a choice between wasting screen space or forcing you to auto-hide the Taskbar.

There is a hack in the Windows Seven Forum though to reintroduce this Vista/XP functionality... I'm not sure why MS removed useful functionality from Vista in making 7.

The hack isn't perfect though and has some flaws. It would have been much nicer to just have the feature in the OS and work correctly.

Windows 7 Explorer Quirks

Open Window Position

New Explorer Windows open to wherever you moved the most recent Explorer Window. They do not remember where they opened from before for that directory (or root). Windows XP and Vista both remember where Explorer windows were opened for a particular file root. For example, you could get "My Computer" or a directory shortcut to open in a consistent screen location before. Now they open wherever the last active Explorer window was.

Folder Views

Menu "Tools"->Menu Item "FolderOptions"->Tab "View"->Item "Folder Views"->Button "Apply To Folders"

This no longer actually applies the current folder view to all other folders -- only to folders of similar types. In particulare, it doesn't work at all for certain folder types.

It mainly bothersome because I'm stuck with the "XBOX360 Neighborhood" browser constantly defaulting to "tile" view even though I prefer "list" view and I have to change it anytime I recreate the folders (i.e. clean builds) on my development system.

Read-Only Handling in Explorer

In Windows 7, Directories can not be made Read-Only, only the files within them are made read only. The button for the properties probably doesn't work the way you expect it to (i.e. it defaults to read-only but files created there are not really read-only - they only change state when you update the checkbox and click OK).

Also, delete (or move) will delete (or move) Read-Only files without any additional confirmation (other than the initial confirmation you may get with non-Read-Only-protected files).

Basically, the "read-only" flag no longer protects files in the Windows 7 Explorer GUI. Just a word of warning to y'all.

NOTE ON CMD commands with Read-Only Flag: The "read-only" flag is also ignored for "rd /s" or "rmdir /s". However, the "read-only" flag still does work for some commands like "del".

Windows 7 Photo Viewer Gripe

Overall, Windows 7 is pretty good but there are a couple things that I actually like better about Vista. The main problem is that Microsoft removed some useful functionality and "dumbified" parts of the OS.

For example, the "Windows Photo Viewer" in Windows 7 has been totally castrated. In the Vista version, you could view photos and perform simple modifications: rename (from DSC_0216.jpg to MakingAGoofyFace.jpg for example while looking at that picture), fix red eye, crop picture.

All the editing features save rotation have been removed in the Windows 7 version. They didn't even included the simple ability to rename a picture.

To get these standard Vista features back you need to download the "Live Essentials Photo Gallery" which installs all sorts of fun stuff like an SQL Server CE 3.1, MS Application Error Reporting Service, Windows Live Sync, and Windows Live Communications Platform.

Basically, in order to get back a small number of useful features, you need to install the entire "Live" platform of cruftware. Not to mention that the install of the new "Live Essentials Photo Gallery" requires 56MB of diskspace !!!!

I wonder why they didn't leave the simple basic functionality in the original viewer rather than making you have to download an entire "Live Essential" Platform to get a poor Picassa clone.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Windows 7 GodMode

If you have Windows 7, you can create a folder called the following:


Then, if you type “GodMode” in the Explorer Bar, you basically get a one-stop configuration panel that handles 95% of your config panel needs from a single click without going through the fluffy layers of the “Control Panel” happy hierarchy.