May 15, 2012

uTorrent -- the fairy godmother algorithm

I don't understand what it was that they did to the algorithm that decides where to spend its allocation of uplink.

Back in the days of uTorrent 2.2, it would try to divide its bandwidth equally among a large number of recipients. My usual traffic when I wasn't downloading was to have maybe 15 uplinks active, and each of them was being sent maybe 14Kbytes per second.

What seems to happen now is that the scheduler picks one particular guy, taps him with a magic wand, and gives him nearly everything. As I write this, I have 139 torrents enabled and seeding. Five of them are active, and 95% of my bandwidth is going to one particular guy in the Netherlands who is grabbing Chu-bra. Nine other leeches on the other four torrents are getting about 2 KB/s each.

If it actually stayed that way, and saturated my uplink, it would still be fine. Over the whole swarmiverse it would even out. But it doesn't. Once the NL guy gets done, then uTorrent may wait as much as half an hour before finally finding someone else it thinks is worthy of being tapped with the wand. In the mean time, my uplink will be about 30 KB/s, with 170 KB/s going to waste.

It's really strange.

Ah! The guy in the NL is off my charts now, and some guy who is downloading Satoshi Urushihara is getting about 180 KB/s. At least he has better taste than the NL guy.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 01:23 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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May 14, 2012

Logging into BakaBT?

Before I get very far, I need to make sure I'm not doing something stupid.

How do I make sure that BakaBT knows that this instance of uTorrent is me? In other words, how do I log in?

I thought that if the browser was logged in when I downloaded the torrent file and started it, that would do it. But I'm not sure that's right. Is there something I have to do in uTorrent itself in order to be logged in to BakaBT?

UPDATE: This changeover has turned out to be a lot less painful than I thought it was going to be. I figured it was going to take days to achieve what I've already done.

Merope is an amazing value for just $450.

UPDATE: OK, I have about two thirds of my previous torrents running, and I'm going to let the others go.

uTorrent 3.1.3 is acting the way the earlier version of uTorrent 3 did when I tried it before. It's doing something odd in how it decides when and to whom to do uploading. uTorrent 2.2.1 routinely saturated my uplink. I had an uplink cap of 200 KB/s and that's what it used.

But uTorrent 3.1.3 doesn't do that. It's also got a cap of 200 KB/s but it's been averaging less than half that, and I can't figure out why. I've tried messing with the various setup options but I can't find anything that makes any difference.

UPDATE: Maybe one of the things I did made a difference, because now it's saturating the uplink bandwidth.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 03:27 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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New member of the pack

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UPDATE: Windows Update is now complete. And I think I've decrufted enough for the time being. It's time to download uTorrent.

UPDATE: Dammit. I told uTorrent's installer that I didn't want their toolbar in IE, and they installed it anyway.

UPDATE: I need Firefox.

UPDATE: I need for Firefox to not slide out a "download complete" notification at the lower left corner of the screen when I get a torrent file. How do I make it not do that?

UPDATE: uTorrent 313 only calculates the hash on one torrent at a time, and it only uses one CPU thread to do so. And it only uses about half of that one. I suspect it's limited by the rate that it can read the files from Deneb, which is where they're all stored.

But I can start a whole bunch of torrents, and it'll hash them in turn. Which is good enough; it means I don't have to babysit the thing and start each one only after the previous one is complete.

They made a bunch of changes to the UI. Again. I don't like how it looks. It may be possible to get the older version, but for the moment I'll live with it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 12:57 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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Merope arrives!

Getting it connected to my LAN and getting Windows set up was really very smooth and easy, given that the homegroup and the LAN are already set up. It got an IP from Railgun, my hub, which is running DHCP. So what am I waiting for now?

It's installing a huge bunch of HP applications. I have no idea what they are; it isn't telling me. But it's taken five minutes so far.

Ah! It's done!

But now I'm seeing a blue screen and nothing else. Wonder what it's doing?

Setting up the Homegroup was very nice. I told it it was a Home LAN, and it went out and looked around and found Alcyone. It told me to ask Steven on Alcyone to open the "homegroup" applet in the control panel, so Steven did that, and found the 12-character gobbledegook password for the home group.

HP's setup just begged me to turn on Norton Internet Security. No fucking way.

It also told me I wasn't connected to the internet. So how in hell did it contact Alcyone? Maybe it didn't use TCP/IP for that.

UPDATE: What in hell is Arcsoft Total Media Suite? Do I want it? (Sampleware that I have to pay for later if I start using it?)

UPDATE: Job 1: set up a quick launch bar. Why did Microsoft get rid of that, anyway? Directory is:

C:\Users\Steven\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch

And, by gum, it's already there. That's weird.

UPDATE: Jesus Christ, IE comes with a lot of cruft installed. bing bar, Norton bar...

UPDATE: IE is decrufted. Now to tell it to stop displaying fancy-schmancy windows. (If I wanted a Mac, I'd buy a Mac.)

UPDATE: In the "Personalization" applet, change to the "Windows Classic" theme.

UPDATE: Uninstall Norton Internet Security. And reboot. (Bastards!)

Arcturus's display had a distinct yellowish tinge to it. Merope has the same kind of display (LED backlight) as Alcyone, a beautiful blue-white.

UPDATE: According to the uninstall directory, there's one hell of a lot of stuff on here. I seem to have Winzip, for instance. Probably sample-ware, and anyway I prefer 7-zip, which is free.

What in hell are Cisco EAP-FAST, Cisco LEAP, and Cisco PEAP? googling...

UPDATE: Some sort of non-standard wireless authentication stuff. "If you're not using wireless, you can remove them." Off they go.

Oh, and a quick detour: turn off all the sounds.

UPDATE: Before I go any further, it's time to install Microsoft Security Essentials.(I'm cheating. I am putting this link up using Acyone. Then I can access it from Merope. Copying a URL from one side of my desk to the other, via Texas.)

UPDATE: That's interesting. Merope's task manager shows four CPUs. Are the i3 cores hyperthreaded?

UPDATE: And now to visit Windows Update. Oh joy.

UPDATE: AutoUpdate is currently enabled. gotta turn that off. And then gotta tell the security center that I really mean it and don't want it to bitch at me about it.

Good Lord. 42 important updates and 16 optional updates. I think it's time for a nap.

UPDATE: I just did some googling, and the i3 cores are hyperthreaded. Now I really wish uTorrent was multithreaded!

UPDATE: You know, with all the gawdawful shit that comes loaded in one of these, it's almost enough to make me go buy a Win7 install disk, wipe the drive, and start from scratch. When you install Windows that way, it's almost entirely clean. But it would be a couple hundred bucks.

HP included their own security manager. I have no idea what it's doing, but from the look of it I really don't want it. So far it's popped up twice unexpectedly and asked me to turn it on -- and that, my friends, is more than enough to get it killed.

Looks like I need to install Autoruns. But it'll have to wait until Windows Update is finished.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 11:31 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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May 13, 2012

Almost a brick in the wall

Saten, my HP Slate 500, almost got bricked today when I ran Windows Update. Yikes!

It needed a reboot after loading all the patches (there were an unusually large number of them) but the reboot didn't work. It was trying to restore from hibernation, or something, and it said it couldn't do so. Popup on screen and ignored the stylus.

So I plugged in my USB keyboard, and caught it during the boot and told it to ignore the hibernation file and reboot from scratch. Fortunately, that worked fine. Relief!

The new computer is supposed to be delivered tomorrow. It's going to be named Merope.

Someone here mentioned that all the uTorrent status information is stored in its directory. I'm not going to try to use that, though. Right now my torrents are divided between two different directories on Deneb (the Windows Home Server) and I'm going to take this opportunity to reorganize and merge them.

Also, the existing structure has uTorrent using a network address to access those files. On the new machine I'm going to set up a virtual drive. It just makes everything easier, but it also would change all the paths.

Thing is, a lot of programs get confused by paths that look like \\Deneb\fansubs or \\Deneb\uTorrent. Z:\\fansubs and Z:\\uTorrent are more compatible. uTorrent handles both forms, but the former don't always work very well. I've had problems with that in the past. In particular, when you're starting a torrent and trying to find a place for it, it'll take the former if you directly enter the path, but you can't use the inborn directory searching mechanism on paths like that.

I considered upgrading Merope to Win 7 professional, and running uTorrent in XP mode, but that's too complicated and there really isn't any gain. And it would cost me about $90 for the upgrade IIRC.

So getting all my torrents running again (there are currently 194 of them) will take a few days. And I suspect I'll trim that back a bit; there are several that I really have no interest in continuing to support. For instance, I'm not even sure why I started seeding Bleach season 4. And I am sure I don't need to be seeding two different versions of High School Girls, let alone two different versions of G-On Riders.

It's amazing the crap that builds up when you aren't being careful. Every few months I go in and trim back, and it looks like I'm due again.

Even though Merope is inexpensive, it's got four times the RAM, and maybe four times the CPU power. Arcturus, the current uTorrent machine, has 1G of RAM and uses something called a Turion (ML-34) as its CPU, running 1.8 GHz. That's clock speed is deceptive, partly because it's sharing its RAM with the display chip, and partly because the Turion was a low-power slow CPU designed maybe ten years ago for notebook computers.

Merope's CPU (2.3GHz Core i3) is also designed for notebook computers, but these days those chips don't make so many concessions. Merope's display also shares the RAM, but the RAM is a lot faster so that won't affect the CPU so much. Merope's CPU is dual core. And it'll be running in 64-bit mode, whereas Arcturus is in 32-bit mode. (uTorrent is still a 32-bit program, but Merope's OS stuff will be 64 bit.)

When I go onto Arcturus to start a new torrent, and fire up IE or Firefox, sometimes it takes ten seconds or more for them to start. That's because all the RAM that uTorrent isn't using is taken up doing disk caching. The CPU has to thrash for a while to clear enough memory for IE to run. I suspect Merope won't have that problem to anything like the same extent, since it'll have four times the RAM.

Another place where Arcturus's weakness comes in is when I need to restart a torrent. Someone updates the torrent on BakaBT and I get a message saying I need to download the new one. That happens every couple weeks. Every time that happens, uTorrent needs to calculate checksums on the existing files to decide if it needs to download them again. That's very CPU intensive, and that Turion just doesn't do it that fast. If the torrent is 4-6G, and a lot of them are bigger than that, it can take it ten minutes or more to decide that my files are fine and don't need to be downloaded again. (My biggest torrent right now is 43G, but I used to seed one that was 81G.)

I assume Merope will be doing that a lot faster, too. (I sure hope so; it's going to have to do that for every torrent I restart.)

As part of this, I'm going to upgrade to the latest version of uTorrent. V3 has gone through a lot of changes, and it seems that uTorrent 3130 has become the consensus standard. Given that Merope is dual-core, it would be nice if uTorrent 3130 was multi-threaded, so that rehashing existing files could take advantage of both cores. I can't find anything on the web page which says so either way, though.

But first, before I can do any of that, I'll have to spend a couple of days deMacifying the GUI, and uninstalling all the crap sampleware that I'm sure will be on it (No, I do NOT want Norton Antivirus!), and otherwise decrufting everything in sight. What a pain.

Getting a new uTorrent machine was something I'd been thinking about doing for a long time, and I wanted to get it before Win 8 comes out (next summer, I've heard). Microsoft is going to do major violence to the GUI next time because they want to make it support tablets, and I don't feel like being a pioneer. (Old Oregonian joke: you know what pioneers get? Arrows in the ass.)

You know what Microsoft could do that would make me a really happy camper? Put an applet in the control panel with a single button that said, "Make everything in the GUI look like Win2K".

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 03:50 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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May 08, 2012

RIP Arcturus?

I think that Arcturus, my torrent machine, is dying. Ten days ago Deneb, the Windows Home Server, complained that it couldn't back up Arcturus because of disk problems.

At the time I assumed it was just a file that was busy, so I deactivated the error, assuming it would get fixed the next day. But this afternoon I was logged into Deneb, and it said that it had been ten days since it had been able to back up Arcturus.

So per its recommendation, I tried doing a disk check. And it told me it couldn't be completed. I did some messing around and finally figured out how to get it into safe mode, but even there the disk check couldn't completely. Finally I figured out that after it fails, if you tell it again to do one, it will schedule a disk check during the next boot.

Well, it found some bad sectors. And fixed some things. And then it rebooted, so I tried another disk check from within WinXP -- which failed again. Another reboot and disk check there, it fixed some other stuff. And after XP came up, disk check still failed.

As I write this it's trying yet again. This time, though, I told it to look for bad sectors.

This isn't a catastrophe. There isn't anything on that computer I care about -- except my torrent program, and all the records about which torrents it is currently supporting. I don't have the slightest idea where uTorrent puts that. (For all I know it's in the registry.)

But it probably means that the HD is dying, and I'm going to have to get a replacement.

Or maybe not: this check isn't over yet, but it hasn't found anything wrong so far. Maybe, just maybe, this time it'll get it right.

UPDATE: Man, a bad-block scan sure does take along time. 72% and still going. But it's stage 4 of 5, and it hasn't complained about anything yet, so that's a good thing.

UPDATE: Four hours it took to complete an absolutely full disk check. And after the reboot, the XP disk check said the drive was fine.

So I tried the backup again, and it failed again. Looks like I need to get a new computer.

UPDATE: This isn't really a disaster. If I was going to pick one piece of equipment around here to be the one to die, that's the one I'd choose.

UPDATE: Order placed for a replacement machine.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 02:31 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
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March 30, 2012

Kindle Fire Update

Amazon just pushed out an update for the Fire. Apparently it phones home regularly. It took something like four minutes to complete.

And now they've changed aspects of the user interface. For one thing, if you highlight a word now, it automatically looks it up in the dictionary. I'm not positive that's a new feature, but I never noticed it before.

Used to be if you highlighted a lot of words, well, they were highlighted. Now you get a popup menu that says "Note   Highlight  Share   Search".

Another thing is that once the update was complete, it downloaded all my books again.

I wonder what else changed that I haven't yet noticed?

UPDATE: By the way, the dictionary wasn't very good. It didn't know what a cestus was.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 05:37 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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February 27, 2012

Ripping CDs

It's been going on for a long time, so there must be tools out there. What program do I want to use on March 9 to rip files from the Mouretsu Pirates OST?

Ideally it would separate the tracks into separate files, without me having to figure out where the gaps are, or having to enter track lengths manually.

This is on a PC. And "iTunes" is the wrong answer.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 05:09 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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February 24, 2012

Kindle -- gaps

Glory Road, Space Cadet, Citizen of the Galaxy are all available for the Kindle. But The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is not. I wonder why? (I want to read it again!)

Dream Park is available, and I just bought The Gripping Hand. Which is the sequel to The Mote in God's Eye, and is also a lot better story.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 09:50 AM | Comments (20) | Add Comment
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February 21, 2012

Kindle books -- a pricing plot?

I'm beginning to wonder if the book prices I'm seeing are being adjusted.

I've bought four Rex Stout mysteries so far. The first, The Golden Spiders, cost me $5.99.

Some Buried Caesar and Gambit were $7.99. And then Too Many Cooks was $11.99.

Some computer program going, "Ha! We got a live one here! Hooked on this author, so let's hike the price on him!" ?

I'm thinking I should go through all the others I'm considering and write down their prices, just to see if they change on me later.

I can't really think of any other reason why Too Many Cooks would cost twice as much as The Golden Spiders. They're nearly the same length.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 10:21 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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