30 September 2008

Have your say: Preferences tidy-up

I've just posted a list of ideas for re-organising parts of Opus's Preferences window. Before formally submitting the list to GPSoftware I thought I'd share it with the community in case anyone wants to add to or refine it.

If you'd like to have your say then please join the thread over at the Resource Centre:

(Update Jan/2010: Thread has been archived now. If you have any feedback feel free to post it at the forum.)

28 September 2008

Solid State Drives won't speed up your compiles

NOTE: This was written in 2008. SSD hardware is better now...

(If you don't want to see off-topic stuff like this then use the on-topic filter.)

(Since this was written, affordable SSD tech has improved a lot, so it may no longer be true.)

I bought one of the new SATA2 solid state drives (SSD) in the hope that it would speed up compilation of the project I'm working on. The project is a large and complex financial system. I've been given quite a powerful machine (quad core Xeon, four gig of RAM) to work with but compiling the beast still takes about 1.5 hours.

With the normal HDD I heard a lot of disk thrashing. By default Visual Studio was compiling four projects in parallel (one per CPU) and it seemed to build faster (or at least no slower) if reduced that to two. I thought that the HDD's seek time may be a bottleneck when those parallel compilers/linkers were writing so much data in parallel. SSDs have great seek times so I ordered one to see if it would speed things up.

It didn't. At least not this particular SSD (a new model which only just came out), with the particular project I'm working on and the hardware it was combined with. It didn't make things any better or worse. I tried moving the temp directory to the SSD as well (since Visual Studio writes a lot of data to TEMP) but that made no difference either.

I took the SSD home and tried it with some of my Opus-related projects (plugins etc.) in case it fared better with different hardware. The SSD seemed faster in my home machine than my work machine, probably due to a better SATA2 controller (or maybe a less imposing real-time anti-virus scanner?), but it made no difference to compilation times compared to my existing HDDs. (That said, I've got quite fast HDDs.)

I've got no benchmarks to show because it never made any difference whether the SSD was used or not.

I'm just posting this to warn people not to waste money on an SSD if the aim is to speed things up. You'll get better value out of a fast HDD.

I've heard that some SSDs don't even use less power than laptop HDDs, on average. (Since they don't have a low-power state they are always on. HDDs use more power when active but when they are inactive they use less. So, if what I read was correct, HDDs use less power on average unless you are reading/writing a lot of data.)

This isn't to say that SSDs are useless. They're silent and don't produce heat (which means less fan noise and less power spent on spinning fans). The one I have seems about as fast as an HDD, too, and it's probably difficult to get 2.5" HDDs at this kind of speed. I'd like one in my laptop. (Sadly, my laptop only takes PATA drives so I can't put the SDD I bought into it.) Just don't buy an SSD thinking that the improved seek times will benefit your desktop because chances are they won't.


It's an OCZ Core Series V2 drive. They've only just come out this month (yes, just a few months after the previous generation) and I failed to find reviews that compare them to other drives, or the older Core Series ones. Maybe other types of SSD are better. A friend posted me an interesting article showing that the OCZ Core Series (not V2) and some other SSD models had some big problems due to the controller chip they used but I don't know if the V2 uses the same chip or corrects those problems.

Someone also said that compilation isn't disk intensive so the whole idea was stupid... Uh, it can be disk intensive and seek intensive, especially with the amount of data both written and read by four huge debug builds running in parallel. (Large PDB and SBR files are read and written. Large binaries, too, and all the header files, source files and lib files have to be read, of course.) (It can also be memory and CPU intensive. Where the bottleneck is will depend on the project and other hardware.)

25 September 2008

Directory Opus version

Directory Opus version - September 25th 2008

A free update for all Directory Opus 9 users is now available for download from GP Software.

Bugs fixed / minor changes:

  • Fixed crash that could be caused by reading folders containing certain types of TTF fonts with the Description / Font name column on
  • Fixed problem viewing partially corrupted jpeg files (will now try to display as much as possible of the file)
  • A command that combines Select ALLFILES with Copy ZIP now correctly includes all files in the folder – previously the first file would be omitted.
  • Fixed cosmetic problem with focus item in List mode with file color blending enabled
  • FTP: Fix for Linksys NAS server returning illegal 451 error for remove directory command

22 September 2008

Directory Opus version

Directory Opus version - September 22nd 2008

A free update for all Directory Opus 9 users is now available for download from GP Software.

Bugs fixed / minor changes:

  • Fixed crash introduced in when using the Copy ZIP SENDMAIL function (and some other functions). Sorry about that! :)
  • Fixed cosmetic problem with long labels overwriting other columns in List mode when auto-size columns turned off.
  • The Power mode drag-and-drop configuration option for ‘immediate action’ now works correctly.
  • Updated ActiveX Plugin to Version
    • Improved handling/restoration of input focus when you change files while inline renaming and the ActiveX viewer is open.
    • Increased the amount of time that the plugin waits for focus to be taken from 5 seconds to 60 seconds.

(The ActiveX Plugin update really happened in; it was just missing from the change log.)

20 September 2008

How to view Open Office documents

You can use Open Office to view documents within Directory Opus via the ActiveX plugin.

To do this you must include the ActiveX Control option when installing Open Office. It is not part of the default install.

With that installed you can add the Open Office file extensions (and the Microsoft Office ones as well, if you like) to the Internet Explorer part of the ActiveX + Preview + Office + Web plugin's configuration.

18 September 2008

Directory Opus version

Directory Opus version - September 18th 2008

A free update for all Directory Opus 9 users is now available for download from GP Software.

Bugs fixed / minor changes:

  • The Properties command did not correctly display a multi-file Properties dialog if multiple files were selected.
  • The Remove All function in the Find panel did not correctly clear the list of locations.
  • When viewing fonts in thumbnails mode, an incorrect font could sometimes be used (e.g. a Serif font would sometimes be shown instead of a Sans-Serif font).
  • A line in an InfoTip definition can now be completely suppressed even if it doesn't actually display any fields itself. For example, {!coords}Location:{!} will display a line saying Location: if the image contains GPS EXIF tags, and will be completely hidden if it doesn't.
  • With two or more toolbars on the one line, the first button of all but the first and last toolbars would be slightly cut-off on the left hand side.
  • Fixed a problem where Opus could get confused about the shift-select start/end position when pressing Home/End followed by Shift-Home/End.
  • The Capitalize All Words Rename function now correctly handles accented / non-Latin characters.
  • Several problems have been fixed to do with image handling:

    • Scaling greyscale RLE8 bitmaps resulted in garbage.
    • The viewer now allows cropping of RLE4 and RLE8 bitmaps.
    • Scaling 1-bpp bitmaps forced the colour palette to black & white.
    • Fixed problems cropping 1-bpp, 4-bpp and "565" 16-bpp bitmaps.
    • Higher quality scaling of some indexed-color image types.
    • Fixed indexed color bitmaps having their palettes quantized to 16-bpc after some operations (e.g. rotation of RLE4 / RLE8 compressed images).
    • The viewer's Save As dialog now remembers the type you last used even after you close the viewer. The Save As dialog also now sets the initial file extension to match the initial type.
    • Fixed invalid bitmaps being saved if the input was RLE compressed. For example, some bitmaps could not be set as the Desktop wallpaper using Opus.
    • Fixed clipboard image copy not working if the viewer was set to Tile mode and was exactly the right size for the image.
    • Fixed problem that could cause some TIFFs to not be read.
    • Reject BMP files with invalid compression/bitcount combinations.
    • Fixed numerous problems converting low bit-depth images between formats.
    • Opus now saves PNG images using indexed-color mode, with the lowest required bit-depth, if there are few enough colors in the image that it makes sense to do so.
    • Opus now saves GIF images using the minimum color palette based on the number of colors actually used in the image.
    • Fixed image-conversion error number being overwritten by clean-up code.

  • Opus now supports legacy ID3v2.1 MP3 tags (e.g. written by very old versions of iTunes).
  • Fixed more problems when @set is combined with {sourcepath} in functions.
  • In Print Folder, the date/time column is now padded for 12 hour time formats to make sure it lines up when printing to a text file.
  • When the font of the Styles toolbar is set very small (e.g. 6 point) there is no longer an unwanted line displayed underneath the tabs.
  • The Paste AS command now allows you to specify the full path of the file to paste into when pasting clipboard text / images.
  • When two or more Toolbars share a row their buttons are now expanded so they are all the same height/width as the largest buttons on the row.
  • When dragging and dropping, the Target tooltip is no longer drawn over the top of the drag image in Vista.
  • Dropping files on Go BACK or Go FORWARD buttons (or those generated by Go BACKLIST etc) now works correctly.
  • Dragging a .dcf file directly from a zip file to a toolbar (in Customize mode) now works.
  • The Folder Tree Collapse non-selected branches option now works on the Favorites section of the tree.
  • Zip file extensions that have been hidden from the Tree are now really hidden.
  • The mycomputericon option for the Breadcrumbs field no longer causes the FTP site name to be hidden when on an FTP site.
  • Fixed graphical glitch in Collection Properties window when editing the collection's description.
  • When dragging a button without a label to a folder in Customize mode, the file created now correctly has a .dcf file extension.
  • Fixed refresh problems when renaming files to sub-folders (using "/") in inline rename mode.
  • Fixed quotes problem with + sign in {dlgchoose} command.
  • Fixed a problem that could cause MSN Contacts listed in the Contacts pane to double-up at times.
  • The EXIF Rotation option in the Image Convert function did not work correctly for images from some cameras.

The new ActiveX plugin (see the next post) is also included.

ActiveX Plugin

A minor update to the ActiveX plugin, version, can be downloaded from its page.

Changes in v3.1.0.6 (18/September/2008):

  • Requires Directory Opus or above.
  • Improved handling/restoration of input focus when you change files while inline renaming and the ActiveX viewer is open.
  • Increased the amount of time that the plugin waits for focus to be taken from 5 seconds to 60 seconds.