Friday, February 22, 2008

AMD Dual Core Optimizer

Ever since I bought my AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core, I've regretted it. Don't get me wrong: I love AMD chips, and have never had a problem before this one. Turns out, that the AMD Dual Core just doesn't play nice with a LOT of things, and this just KILLS all kinds of applications, games, movies, etc.

The typical problem is this: you start an application, and it appears to run very very slowly, or jerky. You get impatient, and pull up the task manager, which takes FOREVER. You discover that your application is utilizing 100% CPU ON BOTH CORES!!! DAMN!!!

My most recent problems have occurred within a cool game called "The Movies", and in Microsoft's XNA Game Studio. After doing some searching, I came across something called an AMD Dual Core Optimizer. The heck is that? Apparently, it helps control the behavior of the chip, when software vendors decide to go around the windows API, and do direct calls (which apparently is the reason for the issue).

Well, I can tell you, I installed this puppy, and all is wonderful again! My XNA is working (mostly), and "The Movies" appears to be playing nice again. If you have an AMD Dual Core, I recommend taking a look at the link above. Be sure you know what chip you have before installing anything though: I can't be held responsible for anything that you might do wrong!! (whew, disclaimer out of the way)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

BPPV is the cool acronym you can use, but it still means dizzy dizzy dizzy.

About three nights ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and the room was spinning around me. Unusual, but not the first time its ever happened to me. A couple of years ago when I had a sinus infection, I was quite dizzy for several days, until I finally got smart, and got some antibiotics.

The odd thing this time around, is that I knew I wasn't congested. I decided to ignore it, and go back to sleep. The next morning, I got out of bed, and the room spun out of control. Before I knew what was happening, I was lying on my back in the middle of the bed, trying to focus on the fire detector on the ceiling. Round and round and round it went for a few seconds, and then everything settled down, and I was back in control.

I got up slowly, and though there was still a little dizziness, it went away quickly. The rest of the day I was fine, and had no further episodes. That is, until I went back to bed that evening. Once again the room spun out of control, and I'm left feeling disoriented and light-headed.

This has continued happening to me now for three days. Of course I'm worried, so I decide to make a fool out of myself, and head to the Urgent care clinic. I explain my condition to the doctor, and he surprises me by immediately recognizing it as a form of vertigo.

To test his theory he applies a technique that is called a Semont maneuver (see link above for details). Essentially, he has me sitting facing the wall, and then lies my head back, and then quickly turns my head to the right. That does it! I'm swimming in vertigo for a good 10 seconds before I land.

The doctor explains that this indicates the problem is in my right inner ear. To prove this, he repeats the procedure, but turns my head to the left. To my surprise, there is no dizziness at all. After allowing me to sit up, and suffer the dizziness again for a few seconds, he explains that I have a mild case of BPPV or Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo.

The cause? One common cause is the formation of small crystals of calcium carbonate in the inner ear (also known as "Ear Rocks" - dude, I have Ear Rocks?), and the motion of these particles mess up the normal sensation of balance. One of the most common things that leads to this is a head injury, but since I've not had any such injury, this is unlikely. It is also possible that a virus is infecting my inner ear, though this is less common.

The cure? Its very likely it could go away on its own. Still, the primary treatment for BPPV, is physical therapy. The article linked above describes the therapy (Semont and Epley maneuvers) and is probably what I'll have to undergo, once I have a chance to see my primary physician.

Of course, that's going to have to wait until I return from my trip to Washington DC to install software for clients. Wait until they find out I have Ear Rocks!! Dude!!