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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sound Blaster Advanced MB & DELL Laptop

Dilemma: Mediocre sound quality on a DELL Laptop running Windows XP, Vista, or 7. (Sigmatel HD)
Solution: Creative Sound Blaster Audigy ADVANCED MB

Screenshot of Creative Sound Blaster Audigy ADVANCED MB on Windows 7

After installing the Creative Sound Blaster Audigy ADVANCED MB I didn't realize I would have the audio quality comparable to the desktop version of Sound Blaster Audigy cards.

The following settings are available in the Audio Center:
* Speakers
* EAX Effects
* Graphic Equalizer
* Mixer

The test was performed watching an episode of Castle on the Hulu website (

The following settings were used in the Audio Center application.

* Speakers
-Bass Settings -> Bass Boost -> Enable Bass Boost
-Bass Settings -> Bass Boost -> Level 5dB
-Optimize speaker output for headphones (Checked this option when testing with headphones)
* EAX Effects
-Enable EAX Effects
-Enable CMSS-3D
* Graphic Equalizer
-Enable EQ (EQ Rock)
* Mixer
* Volume
-Speakers: 50%
-Headphones: 10%

Process Monitor: The average total process CPU usage was between 15%-20% including Google Chrome and audiodg.exe. Other Creative process were running at 0% CPU usage.

* Adds audio improvements via software that is priced reasonably (19.95). No additional hardware required
* No adverse performance degradation with an average of 5% usage for the audiodg.exe process
* Don't need to max out the volume using laptop speakers or headphones

Lessons learned:
* I had issues where I could not get the DELL audio driver (Sigmatel HD) and originally downloaded Sound Blaster Advanced HD driver to be recognized. This is due to the fact that I had upgraded from XP to 7 and the SB Advanced HD driver was designed for Vista only.
* The following steps work for Windows and XP and Windows Vista. (Check the link before for an additional step for Windows 7):
1. Install the DELL supplied laptop audio driver
2. Install the Integrated Sound Blaster Audigy ADVANCED HD Audio XP to Vista from DELL Support Site. (

Weird Behavior:
* The only weird behavior I got was when I selected Optimize speaker output for headphones under Speaker setting in the Audio Center; I could not uncheck it.

Helpful links:
* In case you've misplaced your Sound Blaster ADVANCED MB license, you can request it here:
* To get an updated BETA Sound Blaster ADVANCED MB driver, you can check here:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Facebook and Twitter

The feeds on A Decision to Love blog will automatically update the Facebook page feed and Twitter feed. More ways to keep track of news, insights, and technology posts.

Facebook page link:

Twitter page link:!/adecisiontolove

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pacquiao, the Ringmaster, and His Traveling Circus -

Pacquiao, the Ringmaster, and His Traveling Circus -
Pacquiao continues to make global press. Here are some interesting quotes from the article:
* "boxing’s most talented fighter and certainly its only legislator."
* "On their last training trip to the Philippines, Roach visited Pacquiao in the national legislature, where he had a motion passed that Roach said made him a citizen. Roach...watching Pacquiao in a fancy suit, how serious he was, Roach saw the future. “One day, he’ll be president,” Roach said."
* "A man approached and asked if Pacquiao was a movie star. Told he was a boxer, he said, “Oh, yeah, the little one with the hair!” A few minutes later, he returned and said, “That’s the one Mayweather won’t fight, right?”"

The U.S. refers to Pacquiao's entourage as a traveling circus. On the other hand it could be a physical representation of Filipinos' support for the country's and one of the world's greatest boxing legends.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

elive Linux Distribution

elive is Linux distribution based on Debian using the Enlightenment Desktop engine. This article will detail the choices made in selecting elive as the appropriate operating system for older machines.

Project Aim / Test machine
I had a personal project of choosing an appropriate operating system for an ancient Gateway Core Solo laptop. It is a Pentium II - 300 mhz with 256MB RAM with a DVD/CD reader and a 20GB hard drive. Specs are decent and most of the distributions listed on would be capable enough of running on these specs. The list includes: DSL Linux, VectorLinux, Crunchbang, among others. Some of the newer distributions would not install and would return errors along the lines of CPU not supported; requiring a Pentium III processor and above. The troublesome factor for many distributions was the graphic card. In this case a Neomagic 128XD. Interestingly enough, the first operating systems I tried were Windows XP, where I was able to install everything successfully except for the video card and Windows 2000 where I had a similar issue. In addition, Windows 2000 just had an "aged look".

Speed versus look
This brings up the next point. It seems that with old machines the choice is either to install an older operating system and lose out on newer versions of applications and have an older look versus installing a newer operating system turtle slow.

Enlightenment E17
The last time I experienced Enlightenment 17 was on a powerbook g4. This is using Yellow Dog Linux 6.2. I had such a good experience where Enlightenment didn't waste the excellent display of the powerbook g4. And since it was not an Intel processor based machine Snow Leopard and more current operating systems were out of the question. Enlightenment is not the same as the MAC OS X desktop. It has a dock bar as well (no zooming icons); Enlightenment is very clean and light and will not disappoint even the most refined desktop critic.

I believe Enlightenment E17 is a wonderful solution to this dilemma. It can make any old machine look brand new; even with a screen resolution of 1024x768 and unsupported graphic cards. Enlightenment has little shiny graphic on-screen elements (e.g. stars in the sky that glimmer). The window borders also have a great polished look. Running this on an ancient machine may also serve as the next topic of discussion for friends that are interested in beauty and speed on older hardware.

Debian Foundation
The foundation of the operating system gives the user a very stable back-end and access to very large number of downloadable packages.

It has been a great experience working with the live cd version of enlightenment on my machine. Some wonderful experiences include: using the built-in trackpad and USB mouse at the same time, pretty graphics, stable system, easy wifi-connection to public, hidden, open, and encrypted wifi hot spots. Linux is great for techies; however, connecting to a wifi connection shouldn't be a project in itself.

I would highly recommend using elive live or installed on your old ancient machines. This test was also to look at options for my project of setting up computers to benefit those less fortunate and would not otherwise have Internet access.

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