Saturday, September 29, 2012

How to limit cpu use in windows

Two ways to deal with your CPU running at 100%

Some programs are known to be resource hogs.  Nowadays, these have become less of a problem thanks to multicore and multithreaded hardware, but they can still become bothersome as they can drain your laptop's battery or simply not let you to do anything else while their process is running.  Here are two solutions that limit the CPU usage of a program:

1) lower the priority of your program

(Copied this from another source some years ago; don't remember where)

 write this on a text editor:

cmd /c start /low appname.exe

and save it as a .bat file and put it in the same folder as your application.  Now run your program by double-clicking it or make a shortcut linking to it.  Each time you run the program, it will take a lower priority to your other processes.  It will still run at 100 percent but will give way when other programs needs it.

2) limit the CPU usage to a desired amount
To do this download a program named Battle Encoder Shirase, which, if I remember rightly, is freeware.  With  BES you can make a target program run to a maximum CPU percentage of your choice.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Negotiauctions book review

Last year, I worked as a supplier for a German company. Cost reductions hit said company and my services were subject to revision. All of a sudden my offers were pitted against those of  other purveyors by the purchasing manager. Caught off guard, I could not effectively draw up a winning proposal and was outbid. I had been in the center of a negotiauction and had played badly. I vowed this would never happen to me again.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I recognized the situation for what it was. I remembered having read about it in Negotiation Genius. Sure enough, when I checked back later, there was a mention about it and  found that there was a book by the person who coined the term, which I promptly ordered. Negotiauctions by Subramanian is the book.

A negotiauction is the murky middle between pure negotiation and a pure auction. Sharing traits from both, negotiauctions are a completely different animal and strategies are needed to play them effectively both as a process setter and taker. This book, probably the first in the field, sets itself to deal with them. First, we get an introduction to negotiauctions, which describes them and illustrate the ways they differ from old, regular negotiations and auctions. The author, in fact goes so far as to hint that most "negotiations" nowadays, are in fact negotiauctions. The rest of the book is divided into two parts. The first one, describes the existing theory of both negotiations, and auctions taken separately and the strategies to treat/confront them.

The second part deals with negotiauctions proper. One of the characteristics of negotiauctions that makes them special, is that rules are more flexible than the pure extremes, which lend themselves to better deals, that is, more value extraction, if the situation is played well. This means that not only the process setter, who is generally thought to have the upper hand, can end up with a better deal, but also the process taker, if she plays her hand well. Throughout the book, there are very handy charts, which easily let the reader see if she is in fact in a negotiauction, and what steps she can take from both sides of the table to arrive to a safe harbor. The strategies described in the book are not a surefire approach to always winning. Rather, they are sensible ways to dealing with the situation, permit the reader a good shot at the table, and reduce the downside risks.

Examples from real life are given by the author, but I found them a bit complex on my first read, so I had to take pen and paper to disentangle them. Once done, they became clear.

It surprises me that this book hasn't had more impact, judging from the small number of reviews at Amazon. However, if you choose to read it, this may come to your advantage, as you'll have an edge at the negotiating table, while the other side may still be groping in the dark.

Totally recommended if you're a supplier or purchase manager.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Yamamotoyama teas review

I have heard tea being compared to wine. One aspect of the comparison is all too true: premium teas can go way beyond what normal people are willing to pay, much the same way as in some wine bottles. Wouldn't it be wonderful to get readily available great tea for low prices?

The Yamamotoyama brand of teas grants this wish. If you can look past the pre-packaging of their products, you find in their teas very high value. My first acquaintance with them was with their jasmine tea teabags some years ago, and have been a fan ever since. The flavor in that case is very pleasant and can be very intense if you oversteep it. That is not a problem because it allows you to stretch it over many cups; I can get five 16 oz. cups out of just one teabag.

Another great tea I have found from them is their hojicha roasted green tea. This comes in loose leaf form. Even though I bought the cheapest family pack I got a very drinkable tea. The flavor can be intense to the point of unpleasantness if you oversteep it or if you use too much of it, but with just a bit of restraint you can get excellent results. To my palate it tastes just like the seaweed used for sushi making; if you're anything like me, you might not want to compound the flavor by having both at the same time. I have also found that it leaves my mind fresh and that it can be had an hour before bedtime with no ill effect on my sleep.

In the same family pack category there is also the genmai, which is green tea with brown rice. I skipped it the first time I saw it in the store shelves not knowing what it was about, but in the interim I listened to a review of it in that Tea Lover's Room podcast and decided to try it out. The podcast's host, the Tea Lover Chic, didn't like the tea blend that much (I believe that it was not Yamamotoyama), but that didn't deter me; in fact, I so trusted the brand by now, that I went on. The results were wonderful! I found this tea even better than the aforementioned hojicha. Only one word can I use to describe its taste: toasted. I can add that it is very, very pleasantly so. I do not know what device of ingenuity they used to get to this Goldilocks flavor, but they nailed it precisely. In my palate, this flavor does overpower, or more accurately, cloak, the grassiness of the green tea; for me this is not a bad result. The actual rice flavor undertone stayed low and did not become unpleasant, even after prolonged steeping. I found that this one needs about the double of leaf as the hojicha to reach the same brew strength and that it doesn't retain enough flavor for re-steeping.

Although I am not too much a green tea fan, the pure sencha is also commendable. Once it has cooled enough to drink, I get the taste of something akin to a rich vegetable broth. I find that I have to watch this one more closely than the others, because it can easily get bitter if time runs away from me. About 4 to 4 1/2 min. of infusion does the trick. A second steeping can be pulled off, but all the good  flavor from the first go falls down to about one fourth and the bitterness now shows, so I do not recommend it. Dust or fannings that fall through the tea basket's mesh are something to watch for because, for, if they remain in the teapot, they can still make the brew bitter after a while.

All of these teas are very cheap in price too. 7 ounces or about 200 g of loose leaf can be bought for about $4-$5 which to me, it's a steal. This does not mean that you have to stock up when given the chance. It is so readily available, that there is no reason to buy more than one packet at a time of the ones you like or wish to taste.

I am sorry to see that they do not have oolong in loose leaf, as I would like to taste it from them, though they do have it in teabags. There appears also to be not one but two lines of higher grade offerings, especially of the sencha, at higher prices. These I have not tasted as of yet. The family packs easily  score  on my uncouth taste buds. Finally, it appears that also there is matcha from this company. Since it looks that it is too much of a bother to prepare, I have skipped it. This is not to mean that I will not take a look into them if given the chance. If so, I'll let you know.

The Yamamotoyama teas are the best value that I have found so far.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

De-essing part 3: AT440mla review

Rather than offering a review per se, I will let some pictures speak for themselves. The AT440mla has a finer needle than what's generally available. A finer needle results in a closer and deeper tracking of the groove and that impacts in the quality of reproduction as the inner, deeper parts are in better condition than the outer ones. At least, that's the theory. I bought this one, for about $200 in my attempts to de-ess my turntable. The runner-up in this occasion was the Ortofon red, but I settled on the Audio Technica because other people had had good results trying to solve the same problem as I. What you see next is the comparison between my previous setup consisting of a 681 EEE cartridge with a 6800EEE MK III needle, and the AT440mla needle and cartridge.

Red circles contain s vocals. Screenshots of Magix Audio Cleaning Lab. No processing.

Wave 1st disc

Spectral 680ee ~0:58s

Spectral AT440mla ~0:58s
Wave 2nd disc

Update 12/07/2016:

Here are a couple of microscope photos of the needle with around 120-150 hours of use (just a guess!):

More on de-essing: 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

How I beat wrist pain

Back around 2000 I got a copy of Starcraft and began playing it quite heavily, not very well, now that I come to think of it since I only finished the first scenario, but in prolonged sessions nonetheless. This is when I began to notice numbness on my wrist and hand during and after play, which began to grow as time went by. I won't go into the gory details of how much this distressed me since that's over and you're not really interested in that. Fixing my problem took me many years and trips to many blind alleys. Following is what helped me and what didn't. First, though, the usual disclaimer that you should not take the following as medical advice and if you are in need, you should consult your specialist.

What didn't help me:

  • Switching doctors and anti-inflammatory drugs
    • too much is likely to become deleterious

  • Switching hands
    • worked for a while, but then both hands began to hurt

  • Splints
    • I found that these only add to the pressure and after a couple of weeks they get grimy

  • the 3M vertical mouse
    • good concept though

  • the P5 glove
    • this one worked almost well, but before long my arm tired of holding it up and moving it around

What did help me:

  • Voice-recognition
    • granted is slow and a bit expensive but now I can go hours on end

  • a touchpad
    • I noticed that I could hold pain at bay much longer while using one of these. I got one that plugs into a USB port for alternative input (easycat from adesso)

  • Macros (I reviewed Quickmacros a couple of weeks ago)
    • crushed repetitive tasks

  • scheduling tasks
    • following a schedule and sticking to it reduced the chances of overdoing anything

  • foregoing games
    • this was the toughest one. After some years I did play Doom3, but only just one hour on weekends. Took me a year to finish it . Nowadays I could play regularly, but just choose not to

What I didn't get to try:

  • The smartnav hardware which tracks head movements
    • I may yet get one of these, but I suspect that I would get the sore neck from using it

  • Other stuff from
    • this may be the place to go for your assistive technology requirements. Has lots stuff, tried none of them except the voice-recognition. Many of the offerings here feel very expensive, but one of those may be just the solution for someone with a special problem

What could help:

The John Sarno and Fred Amir books that I'll  mention in an upcoming post on overercoming back pain. Any of these two could be your permanent cure.