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Entries From November 2008

November 28, 2008

WinSxS Disk Space Usage: It’s Not What You Think

Filed under Computers, Programming, Software

One common complaint about the winsxs folder is that it takes up too much space.

My winsxs takes up almost 9 GB!image

Or does it?

According to this post by Microsoft, WinSxS has many duplicated files. The files are are *not* copies, but are instead “hard links” that point to the same data, and thus do not take up any extra space. Microsoft says a typical WinSxS folder contains around 400 MB of data.

The problem is that DIR and Explorer are not aware of the difference between an actual file and a hard link to a file. The disk usage reported by these two programs is as if each hard link *is* an actual file.

I did my own test to verify Microsoft’s claim. I created a small file called “original.txt” that uses 10 bytes. Then I created 10 hard links to the original file via the command line:

mklink /h hardlink<NUM>.txt original.txt

As expected, both DIR and explorer report that I’m using 110 bytes instead of just the 10 bytes of the original file:



image Symbolic links, on the other hand, work as expected and are recognized by both DIR and explorer.

I created symbolic links using this command line:

mklink symboliclink<NUM>.txt original.txt

Here are the results of DIR:

image Notice that only the original file reports any disk usage. The total directory size is only the original file, even though 11 files are detected. Also note that all the symbolic links are listed as “<SYMLINK>” and have a reference to the source of the symbolic link in []’s.

Here is what explorer looks like with symbolic links:


Explorer does the right thing and lists that the directory only contains 10 bytes. The symbolic links have “shortcut” indictors on top of the source icon. The file size for symbolic links are listed as 0 KB.

November 15, 2008

SIGGRAPH Day 2: Softimage Party

Filed under Celebrity, SIGGRAPH


Softimage sent out a teaser for their party that indicated “special” entertainment related to their introduction of ICE (Interactive Creative Environment). The party was at a cool LA club called Seven Forty. This is probably the last SIGGRAPH Softimage party.

So what would the special entertainment be? Ice Cube? Ice-T? Vanilla Ice?

It turned out to be Vanilla Ice! What better way is there to get people excited about your new 3D software than with a washed up white rapper?

It’s fun to goof on Vanilla, but he did put on a good show.

I got *really* close…I had inside info on who was going to be the performer, so I wanted to be in the front row/center so I could get a fist bump from V-Ice.

The club filled with a bunch of smoke, so I knew something was about to happen…

P1010708I figured it was going to be the opening act. A guy emerged from the smoke and tried to shake my hand. I motioned to do a fist bump instead…which confused the guy at first and then he played along. I didn’t realize until the smoke cleared that it was actually Vanilla Ice. I totally dissed his handshake offer and instead made him do a fist bump. Hey…that’s how I roll.


My buddy Spaghetti (a.k.a. Trey) took all of these photos. Here he is with Vanilla in the background…



You can see my green shirt…which is covered in water. Vanilla Ice has a large supply of bottled water…not because he is really thirsty, but because he uses it to spray on the crowd. You can see the water in the bottom-left corner of the next pic…


P1010710The girl standing next to me was a reserved engineer from AMD. All it took was a look from Vanilla Ice and the next thing I know, she is on stage with a bunch of girls making out. It was like he brought out a pole at a strip club…amazing…


I am still practicing that Vanilla Ice look…so far it is not working.

Also in attendance, Vanilla Ice’s good friend, porn star Ron Jeremy (next to the girl in white)…


It was a fun time (although I learned nothing about Softimage except that they throw great parties). Maybe they already knew they were going to be sold at this point?

As is a tradition at SIGGRAPH, women were difficult to spot. See if you can find any…



November 14, 2008

Best Gadget Blog Post Ever

Filed under Funny, Gadgets, WTF

imageCheck out this post about a new medical robot from Japan. The comments are pretty good, too. Wow.

November 12, 2008

Kernel Panic is the New BSOD

Filed under Computers, Funny, Software

image Here is an iPhone window display in an AT&T store in Boston. The display is running on a Mac…that crashed.


That’s a Mac kernel panic, which is like a BSOD, except it doesn’t give you any information about why your computer locked up.

Here’s a Mac kernel panic caught on video…

This one is interesting…a Mac guy talking about working on a Mac…


I thought Macs didn’t crash! Where would I get that idea? Hmm…

Also, next time you visit an Apple Store, notice that they have no cash registers! Instead, employee’s have a wireless checkout device…that runs Windows.


November 9, 2008

SIGGRAPH Day 2: Image/Video Papers and Larrabee

Filed under SIGGRAPH

I started off the day in a technical papers session entitled “Image Collections & Video” which included 4 papers. This is probably my favorite session at SIGGRAPH…it always has new tech that will probably impact me in the near future.


The first paper was “Factoring Repeated Content Within and Among Images.” This is a new image compression technique that looks for repeating patterns in an image (an “epitome”) and only stores the pattern once. A “transform map” reconstructs the original image from epitomes.

Results of this technique compared to JPEG 2000 show significant improvements in image quality using the same amount of data (although images also had significant repetition). Also, this technique is useful for minimizing RAM utilization because you can render parts of an image without completely recreating the full image (see “Requires XXX for rendering” in photo above).


The next paper, “Finding Paths through the World’s Photos,” builds on an impressive paper presented at SIGGRAPH 2 years ago, “Photo Tourism.”

Photo Tourism takes a large collection of photos (from Flickr, for example) of a subject and combines them to allow 3D interaction.

The Finding Paths paper presents more natural ways to interact with these photos.

The best navigation depends on the types of photos. If photos are taken from many locations of the same subject, then “orbit” is useful. If photos are taken from mostly a single location, of various subjects, then “panoramas” are used.

Path planning used for the transition between photos takes into account routes where photos exist. Thus, the transition from outside a building to inside doesn’t go through a wall, but instead follows the path where people took photos via walkways.

Appearance stabilization fixed issues with different colors of photos of the same subject.

Check out the video above to see this in action…it is amazing.


Last year at SIGGRAPH, a paper presented a technique called “seam carving” that retargets the dimensions of an image without distortion. The least “important” parts of the image were removed to shrink the image, or duplicated to grow the image.

This year, seam carving is applied to video in the paper called “Improved Seam Carving for Video Retargeting.”

With this technique, you always have video that fits your screen without black bars (letterbox) or distortion (scaling). I prefer letterbox on my TV, but on a small screen (like a cell phone), I can see where this technique would be useful.

The last paper in this session was “Unwrap Mosaics: A New Representation for Video Editing.”

This technique captures a 2D texture representation of an object in a video (an “Unwrap Mosaic.”

Once you have the texture, you can update the texture to add/remove/change features. The modified unwrap mosaic is then reapplied to the video so that the changes look like they are part of object. Check out the video clip above to see it in action.

These types of operations typically require recreating a model in 3D to make the changes and then reintroducing the changes back to the video synchronized with the original object. Unwrap Mosaic greatly simplifies this process because all the work by the user is in 2D using a image editor.

Coming to your favorite compositing package soon (hopefully!).

imageThe next papers session I went to was called “Parallelism.” The main paper I wanted to hear was about Intel’s new GPU called “Larrabee.” The paper is here.

There is a lot of speculation about what Larrabee is and isn’t and how it may or may not change the graphics hardware industry.

From what I understand, Larrabee is a graphics card. But unlike all other graphics cards, its GPU is based off an x86 CPU.

The advantage of Larrabee: Software that works on a PC can be compiled to work on Larrabee unchanged. For GPU’s (like Nvidia’s GeForce series), PC software must be rewritten to take advantage of the GPU or avoid its limitations.

As you can see from the chart above, traditional GPU’s (DX8-DX10) let you program 3 stages of the graphics pipeline (vertex shading, geometry shading, and pixel shading).

Larrabee, on the other hand, allows full programmability of the graphics pipeline or a completely different graphics pipeline.

Of course, everything sounds great in theory. It will be interesting to see how perception changes once we see some real hardware.

Here’s my prediction for Larrabee…

  • GPU’s will be faster than Larrabee for graphics that fit in the standard graphics pipeline
  • Larrabee will be faster than GPU’s for tasks that don’t fit into the standard graphics pipeline (like ray tracing)
  • Larrabee will be faster than a CPU for tasks that involve lots of processors
  • Larrabee fits nicely in between a GPU at one extreme and a multi-core CPU on the other.
  • Larrabee will be most important to people that use racks of PC’s now to do their work


Larry Seiler from Intel happened to sit at my table for lunch one day at SIGGRAPH. He presented the Larrabee paper at SIGGRAPH (pictured on the left).

I asked him where the name “Larrabee” came from.

He said Larrabee was from the TV show “Get Smart.” The chief’s assistant, Larrabee, didn’t get much respect. The Larrabee project has been in the works at Intel for a while and didn’t get much respect initially.

November 7, 2008

Fett's Vette

Filed under Movies, Music, Reviews

I saw "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" last night. I loved it...very raunchy and funny.

The soundtrack is great...I preordered it from Amazon. My favorite song: Fett's Vette...


November 3, 2008

Windows 7 New UI

Filed under Computers, Software


At PDC last week, Microsoft revealed some major UI changes in the follow-on to Vista, Windows 7.

I watched two videos today that demo'ed the redesigned Taskbar and Explorer.

There is a lot to like. If you are interested in this stuff, definitely check out the videos.

WinSuperSite also has an overview of both the Taskbar and Explorer. The photos don't do the UI justice...you need to see the demo videos to appreciate the changes.


Things I liked about the new Taskbar:

  • Quick Launch Bar, Running App's, Application Notification, Toolbars (like Windows Media Player) all integrated into a single UI with large icons
  • Can rearrange order of icons
  • Jump Lists: without opening an app, you can pick the recent files or perform common tasks (like continue a playlist in Media Player)
  • When you hover on an app that is running, you get thumbnails of *all* the open documents for that app (not just one like Vista). If the app uses tabs (like web browsers), you can see complete views of each tab (see above photo of 3 tabs of IE).
  • Peek: When you mouse over one of the thumbnails, the actual window on your desktop becomes visible and all other windows fade away. This is better than other app switchers because the size and location of the app are unchanged and thus more quickly identifiable.
  • Thumbnails can have custom controls. For example, Media Player has play/fast forward/rewind buttons that you can press without switching to Media player (replaces functionality of the Media Player Toolbar)
  • App's can change their Icons for notification. For example, prior to Windows 7, Outlook used a notification icon in the bottom right to indicate a new mail message. With Windows 7, the Outlook icon for the running app can show the new mail icon.
  • Windows 7 icons are larger than Vista icons, yet take up less space because no text is shown.
  • Progress bars are integrated into the app icon...no need to keep track of an extra window dedicated to a progress bar
  • No "classic" Taskbar...this *will* be the Taskbar for Windows 7


Things I like about the new Explorer:

  • Search (in the upper-right corner) still uses properties (like "tag:SIGGRAPH" or "name:*.jpg"). Most people don't know about using properties for search. With Windows 7, a *super* slick UI helps you choose properties and shows you how to type the search directly as text (see the demo video for picking a date range)
  • Libraries: Libraries are a collection of locations with a common data type. For example, if you add a 2nd hard drive for video storage, you just add the 2nd hard drive to the "Video Library" and both hard drives appear as one in Explorer's views of the video library and search results. Libraries looks like the way Windows will move away from drive letters finally.
  • Search results highlight the matching content (both in filename or file contents).
  • Order of search results is more logical with filename matches before file content matches.

PDC has a *ton* of information on upcoming software from Microsoft and all of the presentations are available online here.


About November 2008

This page contains all entries posted to David's Blog in November 2008. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2008 is the previous archive.

December 2008 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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