Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.


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    Chapter 31. About Windows

    We are heavily dependent on Windows, when we are working on the computer. There are several versions, which are very different and there are lots of problems connected with Windows and audio/video devices. Even the very best hardware can give you nightmares when working with Win­dows …

    Where are the problems?

    Windows can be deadly irritating. It can be appallingly unstable causing a computer to break down at the wrong moment. The problems are usually caused by:

  • Drivers and program versions.

  • Conflicts and defective set-ups and optimising.

    Let’s have a look at what we can do ourselves to minimise the problems.

    Choice of version

    First, choose a Windows version. This isn’t easy. Windows 98 is still the most widespread, but it isn’t optimal for audio and video. Windows 98 is simply not good enough to utilise the computer’s hardware.

    Windows 2000 is much better and is, in my opinion, the best Windows of them all (Windows 2000 Professional). The newest version Windows XP is also good and it is adapted for work with audio and video devices.

     

    Program

    Quality

    Windows 98 SE

    Acceptable performance, but ineffective.
    Easy installation

    Windows ME

    Downright problematic.

    Windows 2000

    Highest effectivity.
    Installation a little difficult.

    Windows XP

    Excellent system but sometimes rather irritating.
    Installation a bit easier than with Windows 2000, but not as effective.

    Figure 219. The different Windows versions.

    The problem with Windows 98 is partly that the RAM and other resources are very badly controlled and partly that the program has to be re-installed often if it is to work satisfactorily. Windows 2000 and XP simply have much better management systems.

    If you choose Windows XP, then is should preferably be the Professional version. Microsoft has for marketing reasons left out several of the functions in the Home version. This is foolish, but that’s the way it is. Be also aware that the system for activating the software can almost drive you insane. When I put a new video grabber card in my computer, Win­dows XP had to be re-activated; I had to ring to Micro­soft and used 10 minutes exchanging dozens of codes to get Windows to work again.

    Ideally, you should have all three versions of Windows installed (98, 2000 og XP). It can easily be done, as long as you have enough room on your hard disk. The program System Com­mander, which you can buy through the net, makes it very easy to handle the different versions.

    Figure 220. System Commander is almost indispensable, if you want to work with several versions of Windows.

    Drivers

    The most important thing to do when working with Windows and video / audio devices is to install the newest and best drivers. Most hardware manufacturers have excellent websites, where you can easily fetch new drivers. They are often whole installation programs, which can by themselves find out which version of Windows you have and manage the whole procedure automatically.

    Sometimes you will have to use the original CD, which accompanied the product, for installing the driver. Which is why it is very important, of course, to keep all the CDs that accompany your hardware.

    Modern motherboards also have driver software, and it is important that you update your Windows with the newest motherboard drivers. So you should know the name of your motherboard (manufacturer and model number), so you can fetch new drivers from the manufacturer’s website.

    Figure 221. New drivers for Terratec’s video grabber card are downloaded from the company’s website.

    It is also important to de-install the programs you don’t use anymore. Old software fills up space, not only on the hard disk but also in registration databases, etc. De-install unnecessary programs as soon as you don’t use them anymore. Better to re-install if you should need them again at a later date.

    Figure 222. Remember to de-install software when you don’t use it any more.

    DirectX

    Another factor you ought to be aware of is DirectX. This is a multimedia extension for Windows. Windows, you see, has some standard drivers, which work in relation to all software and hardware. But there is also a little extra collection of program pieces, which give more go to a number of programs, so that the software and hardware work together better. This is what DirectX is intended for, but it requires that both the hardware and the software are compatible with it.

    Microsoft frequently release new versions of DirectX for the different versions of Windows. The manufacturers usually enclose a copy when they send products on to the market. So if you, for example, get a new video-editing program, which is optimized for a certain version of DirectX, then this will also be on the installations CD.

    Figure 223. This video-editing program can install DirectXitself, if that is required.

    Check your DirectX

    If you want to see, which version of DirectX, is on your computer, then look for the program Dxdiag.exe, which usually is to be found in the system folder system32, (under \Windows).

    Dxdiag is a diagnosing tool, which gives a report on your DirectX. There are tabs for each of the areas, in which DirectX works:

    Figure 224. Diagnosing tool Dxdiag.

    In the first tab you get a general description of the version, which is installed (see Figure 225). You can see yourself what the program can give of information about your computer.

    Figure 225. This computer works with Windows 2000 Professional and DirectX version 8.1.

    Allocation of resources

    I have earlier explained that it is important to have a lot of available space on a defrag­mented hard disk. This will give the video-editing program optimal possibilities for writing large video files to disk.

    Another very important thing is to do with the allocation of processor power to the individual programs. As a standard, Windows tries to be fair, so that all the programs get almost the same access to the processor and other resources. But when working with video-editing, it is important that the program gets maximum access to the CPU’s power. Which is why you should give your computer some peace while it is working. But you can also help the program by raising its priority. In Windows 2000 and XP type Control+Alt+Delete to open Windows’ Task manager. Then select the tab Processes:

    Then you can find your video-editing program in the list of processes. Right click on the process, and select Set priority. Select High. This often gives an appreciable improvement in the program’s work. In certain situations it can, in fact, remove irregularities in the finished video film!

    Figure 226. Increase the priority for the video-editing program before digitizing the video.

    Summary

    All taken together, observing the following precautions is to be recommended:

  • Be conscious of which version of Windows you are using.

  • Update the drivers for all the hardware inclusive the motherboard with the newest versions.

  • De-install all the hardware and software that are not used.

  • Don’t push your computer to the limit – always have lots of available hard disk space.

  • Set the process priority to High, when you edit video.

    It will save you many frustrating hours, if you do your utmost to keep your computer in a good condition. Try reading my booklets ”Win­dows XP ­– teach yourself” and ”PC-architecture”, if you don’t feel confident with hardware and control systems.


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