STALKER crashes fixed?

Since earlier this evening, I was able to play STALKER for an hour without it crashing when I tried to save !!!!!?!!!!!

I have no idea why this works, and I shudder to think what’s likely happening under the covers when this works – it’s the oddest workaround ever:

I marked the Stalker executable as Large Address Aware.

Put precisely, I opened an SDK command prompt, then ran EDITBIN /LARGEADDRESSAWARE XR_3DA.exe in the Stalkerbin directory.

After doing that, I played for about an hour – the longest period ever – without it crashing.

I should add I’m using a 64-bit copy of Vista, and on 32-bit, you also need to bcdedit the UserVA to 2290, they reckon (the GSC forum doesn’t seem to be well-indexed, so I can’t find the link easily enough to post. But if you go trawl “single player bugs” in the official Stalker forums, you’ll find the threads. Eventually.)

Others in the same forums recommend the -noprefetch command line switch; I haven’t tried this yet, but hell, why not?

It looks like LAA might be the next big thing in 64-bit Vista compatibility. It’s already claimed as a panacea for Supreme Commander and others; might give it a try with Armed Assault, to see what shakes out.

Wonder why that works…

The Late, Late STALKER Review (S.T.A.L.K.E.R. = C.R.A.S.H.E.S.)

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (from here on in, just Stalker, okay?) is a game I’d love to hate more.

What crack am I smoking this week? Well, it’s like this:

Imagine, if you will, that Word crashed every fourth time you saved a document. That would be annoying. Saving is a key part of creating a document – you save at important milestones, or just to protect your work in case of a crash or failure.

Stalker is a very hard game, even on the easier difficulty settings. You really need to save a lot – many deaths will be caused by ineptitude, or assuming your gun is going to shoot straight, or just plain experimentation. You often try to save to consolidate your forward progress, or before trying something risky, or because if left alone long enough, it crashes to the desktop.

Now imagine that Stalker crashes about every fourth time you save. Imagine how frustrating and maddening that might be. Only you’re not imagining it, because it actually crashes to the desktop all the goddamn time.

Generally, I can save my progress once or twice without the game crashing, but any more than that and I feel truly privileged when the game saves and I’m not left staring at the desktop.

For some odd reason (possibly the glowing “look past the bugs” reviews elsewhere), I persevered through the very first zone of Stalker, but having saved games work a lot like a roulette mini-game isn’t exactly fun.

My prideful “F6” can so often end in screaming at the monitor (because a) the game didn’t save and b) I can see the Windows Start menu starting to draw itself) that I wonder whether I’ll ever want to fire the game up again.

But somehow, I do.

I’ve now spent 24 hours with Stalker, and I can see the beauty underneath the crippled shell.

None of the elements seem particularly fantastic, but as a whole, when it’s not crashing, you catch a glint of brilliance that inspires you to explore just a little more, or try to finish just one more mission, try to recover one final artifact.

Even without the constant crashing, it’s nowhere near perfect: people move in funny ways, especially in combat; it’s hard to shoot straight; the difficulty is immense. But the immense difficulty reinforces the sense of accomplishment in getting even the simplest of encounters right. I smacked the keyboard in startled fear when I got zapped while mis-timing a particular anomaly.

Atmosphere is important, and Stalker pretty much nails it.

I just wish I could keep it running for more than forty minutes at a time.

Initial impression: 4 out of 5 (minus one for a dodgy patch that didn’t actually seem to help a lot and that required all saved games be manually deleted (otherwise it would…. crash when saving!) and seemed to reduce the smoothness of my character turning, and minus one for crashing all the time).

Will I still be playing it tomorrow? You bet. Will I still have hair left to pull out? Possibly not…

Deleting your IE Feed Subscriptions

Let’s say that you’ve outgrown IE’s RSS feed capabilities.

Let’s say that you’ve already exported your feeds to an OPML file for later re-import.

To export the Windows RSS feed list to OPML:

Click the Add Favorites button in IE, choose Import and Export, then Export Feeds

Let’s say that now, you want to get rid of them. All.

How would you go about doing that?

With a script, dear Liza, dear Liza, dear Liza, with a script, dear Liza, dear Liza, a script.

What does such a script look like?

Like this: (save as DelAllRssfeeds.vbs)

set oFmgr = CreateObject(“Microsoft.FeedsManager”)

set oFeedFolder = oFmgr.RootFolder

for each thing in oFeedFolder.subfolders
Wscript.echo thing.Name

for each feedthing in oFeedfolder.Feeds
Wscript.echo feedthing.Name

Nice and easy.

V8 Supercars on Channel 7 – looking good

I missed the announcements over the off-season about the V8 Supercars ending up on 7 – I just spotted it while plotting my weekend recordings in MCE (thanks, IceTV!).

I tuned in, and heard a familiar-sounding voice – Matthew White! I remember he disappeared to Seven sometime last year (causing more double-takes), and watching for a little while longer, who popped up but Neil Crompton?! Excellent!

They were both bubbling with barely-contained enthusiasm while talking about this season – let’s hope they can maintain the momentum throughout the year.

I hope the quality of the broadcast pictures is higher than it was on 10 – the V8s were reliably one of the worse-quality SD broadcasts (not as bad as F1, but still not great).

Nope, it’s no better.


Except: It seems like every time Channel 7 change their channel title to “7 SD Digital”, Media Center decides it’s a set of 5 new channels, and the Guide gets screwed up.

Other channels don’t seem to have this problem- it’s just 7.

Iriver Clix – MP3 Done Mostly Right!

Okay bitches, here’s the dealio:

A while back, my slightly-retarded girlfriend bought an Iriver E10. I thought that was a pretty stupid choice. Many of you people – and let’s collectively refer to you as “imbeciles” – disagreed! The nerve!

The question was asked: so if I’m so smart, what would I buy? I mumbled something about a clix and didn’t really worry about it – I was happy with my gf’s unloved Samsung necklace.

Three weeks ago, in preparation for a long international flight on we-don’t-do-in-seat-entertainment-sir United Airlines, I needed some form of entertainment for the trip.

What did I buy? It wasn’t an Ipod… and if you’re not severely learning-challenged, you’ll know what I bought from the title.

Yep, a Clix.

Let’s run through my list of requirements again, this time using the Clix as ma’ ho:

Syncs with Windows Media Player: try and frakkin’ stop it! (YES!)

It integrates so well, it works like a frickin’ bought one. It’s brilliant. It Just Works.

Plays Windows Media DRM encrypted files: PROBABLY!

Honestly, I dunno, I lost them all. Bluntly, if anyone’s going to do DRM, it should be someone likely to still be in existence 99 years from now. Preferably, forever. I lost a bunch of music rights on NineMSN music recently somehow, so fuck them, and I’m scared of using Bigpond Music again for similar reasons (they found no record of one of my album purchases, so credited me an album).

Er, ranting aside, I assume it does the Windows DRM thang, based on the WMP integration and the PlaysForSure* (* – note: may not play for sure) certification thingo.

Has a standard mini USB 2.0 socket for charging and transfer: NO! BUT THE CRADLE DOES!

Noooo! Iriver, you bastards! So close to being perfect, and no mini USB socket.

If you pick up the Cradle, though, the cradle does have a USB socket, plus the cutest little tinny speakers you’ve ever seen. So I charge it in the cradle now, via USB, from the Media Centre (which offers to play the video stored on the clix – how very cool).

Doesn’t require loads of custom software to work properly: YES!

Just Windows Media Player! None of this Plus 3 bollocks!

Well, perhaps a qualified yes – DivX videos didn’t Just Work, I needed to reconvert them to 15fps 384k DivXs before they worked. The tool for the job: a SUPER tool, called SUPER© . Yeah, the name’s totally gay. But it works, says two seasons of The West Wing.

If there’s one complaint I have about it, it’s that it gets fingerprints on it really easily, but that’s a pretty lame thing. The inferface is good, very Media Centre, and everything pretty much Just Works.

So Is It Any Good? YES!

It’s not without its issues, but it’s pretty bloody good. Sound quality is really good, video is okay – the screen is very crisp and bright, the video frame rate is all that leaves a little to be desired. Issues like: the cradle is at just the wrong angle to be put on a tray table on an aircraft (it’d need to be oriented further upwards).

And it’s small – not tiny, but it’s really very small, so I find I have to hold it fairly near my face to recapture that IMAX experience when watching video.

Also, it takes a while to charge, like 2.5 hours-ish, sometimes longer from USB. I got the 2GB model for about $AU200.

All up, very happy with my purchase.

Armed Assault Demo – New Versions Sorta Daily

Armed Assault is my favourite thing at the moment – even though only the demo is available for us Englishers!

The demo as originally released had some issues, but BIS have been working hard to rectify and improve the experience, releasing near-daily updates.

These updates have been for both the demo client and the dedicated server (for the demo, it’s all in the one EXE), and they keep on coming…

“Daily” demo thread at the seriously-in-need-of-an-upgrade Bohemia Forums. Thanks to Marek and the team for the continuous support, I can’t wait to buy the game (pfft, game, it’s a simulation!) on Feb 22!