Wednesday, September 29, 2010

IE9 hardware acceleration not working

I downloaded the IE9 beta a week or so ago. Though it looked pretty good, the performance was less than stellar. When I looked at the options dialog, I saw that ‘Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering’ was checked and also disabled, which made unchecking it quite difficult. Apparently it will be disabled if Internet Explorer decides your graphics card isn’t good enough. I’m not exactly sure what the minimum requirements are, although I have heard rumours that the card must support DirectX 11.

Anyway it seems my old Radeon X600 wasn’t up to the job so I purchased a Radeon HD5450. I have no idea if it’s a good graphics card, but it’s pretty cheap and it does support DirectX 11. After installing that, IE9 was still pretty slow. Until I remembered to uncheck that checkbox…

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Structured storage viewer

Before the advent of .NET, Windows development involved a lot of fiddling around with COM interfaces and trying to figure out HRESULT error codes. One prime example of this is the interfaces used to access structure storage. Structured storage is a strange beast itself, providing a way to stitch together composite files, sort of like a seriously complicated version of ZIP files. Of course this was a solution in search of a problem, it turns out ZIP files are pretty much adequate for most situations, which is probably why Office now uses them.

But these technologies have a habit of sticking around (I guess Windows will continue supporting structured storage for the rest of time or until Windows no longer exists, whichever comes sooner). So I was faced with writing some code that had to interact with structured storage. .NET wisely doesn’t have any support for it, so I was faced with dealing with the really horrible COM interfaces. And I was even thinking I’d have to write a little application to let me see inside these composite files, so I’d have a clue what was going on. But fortunately I discovered somebody had already done the job for me, and I finally get to the point of this post. If you need a structured storage viewer, download it from here.