All in bits

brainYou’ll have to excuse me if my ramblings are more inane and less rational than usual – the human brain has a remarkable capacity to act as a filter when having to deal with too much information that threatens to overload us or otherwise leave our conciousness stranded upon the cold, dark beach of non-comprehension. Right now, i have a lot on my mind, and that filter is working overtime to ensure that i keep trundling on, with a reasonable degree of normality, whilst allowing me a bit of space to process the mad, crazy, hair-brained stuff when, and if, i ever get to a point where i can rationally think things through properly.

It’s a bit like the big red box that sits between my computer and the wall socket, smoothing the power supply, protecting against unexpected and dangerous power spikes and waiting to leap into action should the electricity fail – everything is kept on an even keel and surrounded by a reassuring safety net, just in case the unplanned-for worst case scenario should spring unnanounced out of the blue. If the worst does happen, things can simply continue just the same as always, albeit operating with reduced capacity, until such time as everything returns to how it should be.

This is no doubt, terribly confusing to you, the reader, and i really should explain more, however now is neither the time, nor the place, so – for the time being – i intend to say no more. Frustrating, i know – but necessary.

Brains are bizarre things at the best of times and there’s certainly a great deal about them that we don’t really understand, and – whilst many of us would no doubt leap at the chance to increase our brain capacity, it doesn’t necessarily follow that to do so would be a good thing: the old science-fiction proposition that the eventual fate of our race is to do away with the flesh and flab altogether and evolve into ectoplasmic super-brains, is really not a workable proposition. Human beings are complex, particularly in the sense that we need to be able to interact with the world around us and – in order to do so – such inconveniences as bodies and voices are a necessary evil, without which we cannot do. A great blob of protoplasmic brain matter may be able to solve the mysteries of the universe, but without a pair of hands, a mouth, nose and tongue, it’ll never be able to enjoy the simple pleasure of making and eating a bacon sandwich! And i’d plump for a bacon sandwich over a black hole any day!

The same is true, to some extent, of computers. Like knives and garden tools, it’s always been my philosophy to always try to buy the best i can afford – they’ll last longer, be more up-to-date and have greater capacity to change with the times, (the latter is perhaps not strictly true for knives and garden tools!). It is a mistake though to think that simply being more powerful, having greater capacity and faster speeds will automatically bring improved all round benefits – in fact, there are cases, in the perverse world of technology, when quite the opposite may be true and such things can even degrade our experience.

kowloon1_001Just as human beings are the product of the sum of their parts, so too are computers – they are both systems – as opposed to standalone entities – and to fully appreciate how to get the best from them, we need to appreciate how those systems function. A brain alone cannot a bacon sandwich make, neither can a superfast processor produce superfast results if it’s plugged into architecture that can’t handle those sort of speeds. Similarly, you might have the fastest computer in the world, with a clonking great graphics card, but you’ll still get crappy framerates in sl with a dodgy internet connection – there’s nothing wrong with your kit, but you may as well have saved your money on a cheaper PC. It’s the equivalent of asking Usain Bolt to sprint, whilst wearing diving boots.

All of which brings me, admittedly rather circuitously, to Firestorm’s 64-bit Alpha release, which, it is clear – from the copious waves of bafflement emanating from the metaverse – is widely misunderstood, even by those who really should know better. i downloaded it as soon as it became available and have used it exclusively since, with no problems and vastly improved performance… but that certainly won’t be everyone’s experience and it is very much a result of the way in which my system is set up and the properties of its individual components that i’ve seen the improvements i have – there will, i’m afraid, be those who will appear to derive no benefits whatsoever from using a 64-bit viewer… that’s just the way it is, i’m afraid.

As always, there are those who have taken it upon themselves to lambast the Firestorm team for bringing out this quirky anomaly in viewer dynamics when – to their minds – there are far more important things that need attention. These people really should take a moment to sit down and chill! Software development is neither easy, nor is it particularly disciplined – if anything, it is the freedom to go off on tangents and esoteric flights of fancy that spawns creativity and insight – without these we would never see any improvements, other than those deemed ‘essential’. To argue that any software development team should concentrate their efforts solely and exclusively on one particular area is a surefire method to stifle development and see innovation come to a grinding halt.

Well done, i say, for coming up with something revolutionary – it won’t be to everyone’s taste and not everyone will benefit in the short term from it (since when was any revolution to everyone’s taster and benefit?); but what does it matter? It’s not as if there’s not alternative viewers out there that work perfectly well anyway! Life’s too short for moaning about things of little consequence, especially when they’re entirely optional. If you don’t like the new and shiny, nobody’s saying you have to have it!

That’s the way i see it, anyway and besides, there is another aspect to this story – call it coincidence if you must – which is both completely unexpected and unexplained. Almost immediately after upgrading to x64, i’ve was chatted up twice in just 10 minutes by 2 completely random strangers, a situation i never once found myself in with any 32-bit viewer… now that’s what i call an upgrade!

s. x

Work It Harder Make It Better
Do It Faster, Makes Us stronger
More Than Ever Hour After
Our Work Is Never Over
Daft Punk – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

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2 Responses to All in bits

  1. For me the 64 bit version gave me a tad slower frame rate, but there is a caveat. I found and pretty exhaustively confirmed that my best frame rate is on the version which had the most recent clean install. Somehow doing a clean install negatively effects the previously installed version. It is best to compare 64 vs. 32 bit versions by completely uninstalling one version before installing the other. (and yes, I know, they are installed in entirely different folders, but I tested this quite thoroughly, it is definitely true FOR ME).
    (HUG) Recovery just takes time, a little better most every day 🙂

    • Thank you – i’m trying not to run before i can walk, but it doesn’t come naturally!

      Everyone’s experience with x64 is going to be different – i think there’s a completely wrong perception that it will automatically boost performance, which it might, if everything else ties in on an individual system – it won’t always be the case. It’s interesting that you notice a difference after a clean install and, whilst it might seem to defy logic that this is the case, who know’s what’s going on in the background when there are two instances of a viewer on the same system? It’s entirely possible that memory is being addressed that doesn’t need to be, resulting in a net decrease in performance. Interesting things, these computers!
      s. x

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