Posted by Rob Scott on June 15th, 2014 in technology
and has Comments Off on 5 Ways To Easily Save Space On Your SSD
SSD (Solid State Drives) are great for PCs. They make information retrieval a lot faster, which allows for faster boot times for programs and Windows. On my dedicated gaming machine I have a 60gb SSD as my ‘Windows Drive’ and everything else should be installed on the normal hard drive.
This works when I have control over where things are installed. But over time you’ll noticed that the space on your SSD begins to dwindle and you’ve no idea why. When SSD’s came out they were fairly expensive, hence my relatively small storage size, now they are much cheaper so get the biggest you can.
But how can you save drive space quickly and easily?
Please note that I accept no responsibility if you make a mess of your PC by following these tips. If in doubt create a system restore point, and if you are still unsure don’t do them.
The first thing is to install a freeware tool call “CCleaner“. This will look over your files and folders and suggest where space can be saved i.e temp files, internet cache, left over installation files. It’s quick, simple and will save some space.
Another option is to run the Windows Disk Cleanup tool, which does the same thing, but there is another tab where you can remove some of your old system restore points if you have them – yes they take up lots of space and how likely are you to restore your PC to two years ago?
How about removing all the old Windows Update Files? This method can safely remove a lot of unused files. To do this open up the command window (Type “cmd” in the start box) and then enter: dism /online /cleanup-image /spsuperseded and press enter. If any files can be removed it will remove them (if you’ve already run CCleaner there may be nothing there).
Do you even use ‘Disk Hibernate”? This uses up heaps of space, if you don’t use it then turn it off. Open up the command prompt and type “powercfg -h off” to get back some space.
Another fantastic way, which will save you loads of space, is to move some of the folders to another location and create a junction to them. There are some files and programs (I’m looking at you iTunes) that sit on the C drive taking up loads of space. It’s easy to move them somewhere else and fool the PC into thinking that they are still where they are meant to be.
- First of all make sure that there aren’t any programs running that use the folder you intend to move
- Make a note of this folders file path (in iTunes backup case it is “C:\Users\(yourname)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\”
- Move it to its new location (for this example “E:\iTunesBackup\Backup”
- Open the command prompt to create a junction point
- Type in this line “mklink /J “C:\Users\yourname\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup” “E:\iTunesBackup\Backup“
- In the original MobileSync folder you’ll now see a short cut to the new folder that you have created.
- You can do this for a lot of folders that don’t really need to be on your boot drive i.e spotify
So there you have 5 ways to easily save space on your SSD. As an extra, I’d strongly recommend downloading and installing the WinDirStat program. This great tool looks at which ever drive you want and shows you what is taking up all the space, so that you have an idea where to start looking. It’s amazing what rubbish is lurking on your hard drive.
Posted by Rob Scott on June 8th, 2014 in football
and has Comments Off on The FIFA World Cup in Numbers
Posted by Rob Scott on June 7th, 2014 in football
and has Comments Off on FIFA World Cup 2014 Odds and Probabilities
If you’re looking forward to the world cup and, more importantly, making some money on it head on over to this website and have a read of this blog post
The article assumes that you have a basic knowledge of MS Excel and doesn’t claim that you’ll definitely clean up at the bookies, but it does give some helpful tips
Posted by Rob Scott on May 13th, 2014 in Flight Simulation
and has Comments Off on Helicopter Causing FSX to CTD?
You start flying a helicopter in FSX and after a few minutes FSX crashes?
If this is happening to you, and you have Audio Environment installed, visit this link and follow the instructions to solve your problem
Posted by Rob Scott on April 15th, 2014 in infographic
and has Comments Off on A Fish and a Robot search for Flight 370
Posted by Rob Scott on January 4th, 2014 in Flight Simulation
and has Comments Off on Improve FSX Performance With These Tweaks
Blurry textures, low frame rates and out-of-memory issues. Each one of those will be well-known to FSX users. There is one ‘easy’ way to be able to run FSX at maximum scenery settings without suffering a performance hit: spend thousands on a mega PC.
But as 99.99% of us cannot do that we need to find a compromise between quality and performance. However by spending a few minutes reading this post and applying some simple tweaks, you should be able to get FSX running beautifully on your machine.
I’ll state now that I do not claim responsibility for these tweaks, they are just the ones which I have found and used all bundled together.
First of all, my system spec is quite good, but by no means spectacular:
- Intel Core i7 2600k 3.4ghz processor
- NVidia GTX570 graphics card
- 8GB DDR 1600mhz RAM
I also take no responsibility for any problems which may occur on your system should you apply these tweaks. As with everything, create a system restore point and back-up your fsx.cfg file before doing anything.
Please read all the post once or twice before making and changes!
The file is located here: Desktop\[USER]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\FSX
If you cannot see it you will need to show hidden files and folders in the folder options
Open FSX and adjust your settings to how you would like – remember to be realistic given the spec of your PC. Save these settings.
For a quick fix, visit this website – http://www.venetubo.com/fsx.html – and let it adjust your fsx.cfg file. You can now either leave the cfg file as it is, or apply the following:
Other than AI the biggest performance killer in FSX is the autogen. Even at its lowest setting the autogen is more dense than the highest setting in FS9. But you can still limit how much autogen FSX displays in a ‘cell’
Search for ‘TERRAIN_MAX_AUTOGEN’ in the fsx.cfg file and change them to the below.
By default I believe that these are set to 4,500 and 3,000. You can change them to different values if you like. The maximum value is 6,000 and use 10 as your minimum value
Search for ‘HIGHMEMFIX=1’ in the [GRAPHICS] section of the fsx.cfg file. If it’s not there add it.
This is something that will stop FSX freezing/crashing/hanging when you switch around the cockpit via mouse clicks i.e Right click –> change view to overhead panel etc… Read this forum post on AVSIM which explains what to do (you will need to be a forum member). Since installing this fix I’ve not had FSX crash on me when changing views. If you cannot view the AVSIM post try looking through these links
PAGING FILE SIZE
Make sure that your paging file size is correct, and if possible, set it to be on a drive that doesn’t contain windows and/or FSX. This article on the Microsoft website tells you how to do it (for Windows 7). I’ve read that a good value to have is 1.5x your RAM. So in my case it is set to 12,000mb (12gb)
DESKTOP HEAP LIMITATION REGISTRY CHANGE
This fix was only given to me recently and it still unknown to some people. The person who suggested it used to work as a Microsoft Partner.
1). Click Start, type regedit in the Start Search box, and start the regedit program
2). Locate and then click the following registry subkey: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\SubSystems
3). (It is advisable at this point to export the key as it stands, just in case you want to revert to it afterwards).
4). Right-click the Windows entry, and click Modify.
5). In the Value data section of the Edit String dialog box, locate the SharedSection entry (you’ll have to scroll left and right to do so), and then increase the second value to 20480, and the third value to 1024. Be very careful not to change anything else, though (see 3, above, just in case).
This is a tweak to make your textures sharper in the distance. The FSX default is 4.50, I’ve seem some people report that they have theirs set to 8.50 and other folks claim that going above 6.50 is bad news. The LOD_RADIUS can be found in the [TERRAIN] section of the fsx.cfg file. I have mine set to 4.5 at the moment and it seems fine. You may wish to increase it if you want the sharp texture radius around the aircraft expanding – although this will lead to some sort of a performance hit.
Note that what ever you set this to, it will default back to 4.5 each time you enter, and confirm, in the fsx settings window. Hence why I said change your settings to begin with. You’ll need to manually change the LOD radius each time after you make a setting change.
TEXTURE MAX LOAD
This is found in the [GRAPHICS] section of the fsx.cfg file and by default is set to 1024. This is the maximum resolution texture that FSX can load. There are some add-ons that now use 4096 resolution textures (e.g REX 4), so changing this setting to TEXTURE_MAX_LOAD=4096 will enable the HD textures to load. It will not change 1024 resolution textures to 4096, but it will allow 4096 to load if they are present. Be aware that the higher resolution textures will cause a performance hit.
Find the [BufferPools] section of the fsx.cfg file and make sure that ‘Poolsize=0’ is present. You will also need to change your water textures in the FSX settings to High 2.x or higher or you will get flashing textures.
This is a tweak for Quad Core systems and it moves FSX onto another core. Search for ‘AffinityMask’ in the fsx.cfg file and for a Quad Core NOT running hyper threading set it to 14, for a Quad Core running hyper threading set it to 84. Read this webpage to find out if hyper threading is enabled on your machine.
Under the [DISPLAY] section in the fsx.cfg look for TEXTURE_BANDWIDTH_MULT and make sure it is set to 40. If you’ve not made any changes to the .cfg file before it should already be at 40 by default.
There are lots of arguments for and against using external FPS limiters. I used one for a while and if anything it made FSX more unstable. Under the [DISPLAY] section in the fsx.cfg file change UPPER_FRAMERATE_LIMIT= to your preferred frame rate. I use 30 and FSX runs at 30fps constantly. Combined with the BufferPools tweak this gives very smooth performance
FIBER FRAME TIME
This is a tweak that determines the fraction of the CPU time given to the scenery loader in relation to the time spent rendering the scenery. This is about finding a balance to between better FPS at a risk of blurry textures (lower value) and better scenery and lower FPS (higher value). The default value is 0.33 but I’ve seen a lot of people report a value of 0.10 – 0.25. If you are using the ORBX sceneries I’d go with 0.20 or higher (I use 0.20). Search for FIBER_FRAME_TIME_FRACTION= in your fsx.cfg file and make the change
As mentioned further up the page one of the biggest performance killers in FSX is the AI. Personally I don’t think that the ships, cars, ferries & vans whizzing around the scenery add much to the experience other than to degrade it, so I move those sliders to 0% in the settings menu. If you fly predominantly online then AI Aircraft won’t be an issue but if you want to have AI aircraft in FSX I would strongly recommend buying Ultimate Traffic 2 from Flight 1 and setting the FSX AI Aircraft to 0%. Because of the way that UT2 injects the traffic into FSX the performance hit is a lot lower than allowing FSX to use its own method of traffic generation. Basically, UT2 injects the traffic outside of the fsx process.
So there you have it, a long list of tweaks to help get the maximum performance from FSX. Before making any changes make sure that you have backed up your fsx.cfg file and saved it somewhere else. If the worst does happen and you don’t have a back-up, simply delete the fsx.cfg file and re-load FSX. FSX will create a new one when it loads. The down side is that you will have to apply the tweaks all over again.
Posted by Rob Scott on January 3rd, 2014 in Books
and has Comments Off on Book Review: Never Forget by Lisa Cutts
I love reading crime thriller books. I try to spend as much time as possible reading on an evening, and last night finished my latest book: Never Forget by Lisa Cutts
I purchased the Kindle version of the book a few months ago for £2.98 (it is currently selling for £3.12). A great price for any book. The description claims that:
Never Forget does what crime fiction has never managed to do before – to take the reader directly to the fast-beating heart of a police investigation
Quite a bold claim with so many crime novels out there, but the difference with this novel is that the author, Lisa Cutts, is a current serving officer in the Kent Police. This real-life knowledge shows through in her writing and makes the book very enjoyable. It was a welcome break from some books I have read where the answer magically appears from thin air. In ‘Never Forget‘ the characters work together to solve the case.
The book follows Detective Nina Foster as she tries to piece together the evidence from several gruesome murders, but along the way her own troubled past is dragged into the investigation. The procedural nature of the book slowed the pace down a little at times, but it helped to give an insight into what actually happens in a murder investigation.
The book is 369 pages long, so you should be able to read it in around 5 or 6 hours. Although the last 100 pages seem to fly by as the pace and action picks up towards the end of the story.
I was left guessing up until near the end as to who the culprit was, as there were a few red herrings along the way, which made the book a real page turner. At times I thought that there were too many characters in some of the scenes, which did make them difficult to follow – even though all the characters had a part to play.
I can strongly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in crime thrillers. For the price of a drink or two you can lose yourself in another world and become absorbed by Lisa Cutts’ writing.
Posted by Rob Scott on December 27th, 2013 in Flight Simulation
and has Comments Off on 10 Great FSX Websites #flightsim
The Flight Simulation hobby can quickly consume any spare time that you have, and often, the 2 hours you had set aside to ‘fly’ can be eaten up by looking around the web at the many websites on offer. Below are 10 great FSX websites that I frequently use, in my opinion you should bookmark these and visit them before any other FSX sites. Any info you need can be found on these.
Mutley’s Hangar – a vast community comprised of lots of simmers with expert knowledge. If you have an FS problem and someone at Mutley’s cannot solve it I doubt anyone else will be able to either. Mutley’s Hangar also has regular competitions and events that are free to take part in.
If you would like too add some structure to your flying then head over to Pacific Airways. This is a great virtual airline that has been around for nearly 15 years. They have several main hubs and are constantly updating their fleet and systems to bring you one of the best virtual airline experiences
At some point you will want to purchase an add-on for FS. These stores can be relied upon to give you top quality products at a fair price that wont trash your system:
Get even more from the hobby by subscribing to PC Pilot magazine. It’s by far the best FS related magazine, and they have just updated their website with some of their older articles on there. Now you can have a look at some of the content before you subscribe. It’s a bi-monthly magazine that covers all the main news articles, new releases, expert reviews and tutorials.
These are add-ons for flight sim which, as the name suggests, are free. They can range from high quality add-ons that the developer should probably charge for, to the outright rubbish (if you are unlucky). Fortunately you get some idea if the add-on is any good by the download numbers. The best two websites for freeware add-ons are:
You’ll need to register for a free account to be able to download anything, but it only takes a matter of minutes. After that you can download aircraft, scenery, sounds, airports the list is almost endless
If you want to add some realism to your flight planning Sim Brief is a must. You will need to register (free) and take a bit of time to get to know the website, but when you know which boxes to tick you can generate an accurate flight plan for almost any aircraft (it’s great for those of you who fly with a Virtual Airline). The website is constantly being updated and even has a short video showing you how to get started.
So there you have it, 10 great FSX Websites!
- Mutley’s Hangar
- Pacific Airways
- Just Flight
- PC Aviator
- PC Pilot
- Sim Brief
Personally I find it annoying when I download and install a new aircraft into FSX to find that it doesn’t have a GPS. I know that some of the aircraft wouldn’t have had a GPS when they were in service and would have used radio navigation or the stars to navigate the skies. But this is a desktop simulation and I do like to know where I am going, even when using radio navigation. Below is a short guide on how to add any the GPS panel to any FSX aircraft.
Locate and open the panel.cfg file for you aircraft. Usually found in ‘Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\SimObjects\Airplanes\[AIRCRAFT]\panel’
Make a back-up of this file should you wish to go back to it at any point. I accept no liability for any damage caused by you following the guide below
Look for the section in the panel file (if it exists) that starts [window titles]
Find the next number in sequence and add (without quotation marks) ‘windowXX=GPS‘ (XX is the next number in sequence)
Underneath this now at the text:
Make sure that XX is the same number as you entered in step 2
Save the file, load up FSX and go fly! Pressing ‘Shift+xx’ should display the GPS in your cockpit.
Below are two screenshots showing the panel.cfg before and after I modified it for the Project Noratlas aircraft (click to open the image full size)
Posted by Rob Scott on December 15th, 2013 in infographic
, social media
and has Comments Off on Here’s to 2013