Me and Google Chrome had another falling out this week. This time it wasn’t about bookmarks but speed.
For some reason, over the last couple of days Google Chrome suddenly felt very sluggish. Whenever I opened a new tab it would take a few seconds to open and a few more to load the page—notably longer than usual.
And a similar experience after closing a tab: the cursor would change to the ‘progress’ cursor (arrow with egg-timer) for a few seconds.
Having put up with it for a couple of days I couldn’t stand it any longer.
Things I tried that didn’t fix it
Running system file checker (sfc /scannow) from an elevated command prompt.
One forum suggested installing the latest NVIDIA graphics card drivers. Another pondered whether it was related to the recent Windows update. Plenty of people advised switching off hardware acceleration (I’d tried that, it didn’t help).
What I tried that did
The Chrome software removal tool — still currently in beta — is a clever application that scans and removes any software that may cause problems with Google Chrome.
I ran it. I waited, and hoped, and it worked! I have my whizzy Chrome back. I guess that something was corrupted.
As well as scanning for typical malware that can corrupt your installation of Google Chrome it also kindly offers to perform a ‘factory reset’ and return your browser settings to defaults.
In a way I find it curious that Google are only now offering this as a currently beta standalone application when Microsoft Internet Explorer (for all its criticism) has had this built-in for years.
I ran the software removal tool which quickly returned this dialog:
Nothing suspicious found. I clicked Continue and was invited to reset my browser.
That’s what fixed it.
This is definitely another useful tool in my diagnostics toolkit. Thanks Google.
It’s a relief to have had this fixed. That said, I’ve said it before that if there were the same Trello plugins available I would move to Opera tomorrow.
I’m not a particularly keen, or good, gamer. My PC games are mostly limited to a few Call of Duty titles (for the interactive, cinematic experience), a few variations of the Chinese game mahjong, chess, the magnificent Dear Esther (which has unfairly been described as ‘a walking simulator’), and quite a few LEGO games.
A couple of weeks ago I downloaded Valiant Hearts via Steam; it was on special offer. I finished it last week—it was brilliant!
Valiant Hearts is set during world war one, which ties it in nicely with the centenary of its outbreak.
It follows the journeys of four ordinary people’s experiences of war.
Emile is a French farmer who becomes a prisoner of war, and later escapes.
Karl is Emile’s (I guess) son-in-law. He’s a German, living in France, who gets recalled back to fight for Germany.
Freddie is an American soldier who is fighting to avenge the death of his wife in a German bombing attack.
Anna is a Belgian nurse who attends to wounded soldiers (both German and allied forces) on the battlefield.
Besides the playable characters there is also a dog, Walt, who can be used to solve puzzles. You can also stroke him, and tickle his tummy, which is a really sweet addition.
I found the game entirely gripping. From the artwork, to the music and sound effects, to the puzzles, to the characters, to the historical detail. While the characters and story line is fictional, it is based on historical fact which makes it all the more moving.
I love that one of the main characters (Anna) is a woman, and a strong woman at that. She is brave and compassionate.
I had read quite a few reviews before I played the game where people confessed that they cried at the end of the game. As the final level was loading I considered this. I had been moved by the stories, I had identified with the characters, but I didn’t feel this was enough to make me cry.
I was wrong. As the final level progressed, I cried.
If you’re looking for a great adventure-style, puzzle game, then I can thoroughly recommend Valiant Hearts. It gets a 10/10 from me.
My Google Nexus 4 has been playing up lately: taking ages to connect to WiFi and burning up battery extra quickly. Time for another factory reset, I thought, so plugged it into my PC to backup my ebooks, music files and photographs only to discover that it no longer showed up in Windows Explorer.
It turns out that a recent Windows 8.1 update has prevented many Android users from connecting their devices.
This afternoon we had a visit from Isaac’s godfather, the fabulous Mike McQuaid. As we stood in my study watching the boys playing LEGO® Marvel™ SuperHeroes on my PC I remarked to Mike that I wished that there was an option to use both my monitors, rather than squeezing the two-player co-op onto one 1920 x 1080 screen.
Mike was pretty certain that should be possible and after a quick ‘google’ he unearthed information about NVIDIA® Surround, which “joins multiple displays into a single immersive viewing surface”, typically used for full-screen gaming or watching full-screen video. However, we soon discovered that it requires three displays and I have only one.
This evening, not taking no for an answer I did some internet searching of my own and discovered SoftTH which claims to do the same thing as NVIDIA® Surround but on any number of monitors regardless of whether their resolutions match or not, and so long as they are plugged into a PCI Express graphics card.
I read somewhere that configuration could be a bit cumbersome but it actually turned out to be fairly straightforward. The trickiest bit, to be honest, was locating the game files (see below).
\Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment\LEGO® The Lord of the Rings™
I have a fairly decent graphics card (NVIDIA® GeForce GTX 660) so this worked for each LEGO game I tried. I didn’t play each game for long so I couldn’t attest for how reliable this is played over hours, but I couldn’t see anything that might suggest that it wouldn’t. A few notes from my 30 minutes experience of this…
Taskbar on monitor two
I discovered when returning to the games that if I had any other applications open on monitor two (I’m running Windows 8 here) then once SoftTH was running it still showed the taskbar.
My workaround was to right-click the taskbar before the game started and select “Auto-hide the taskbar” which slid it safely out of the way.
The first real niggle I had was when selecting a new character why does the game present the character table in such a squashed-up way?!
The same is true when both players change characters at the same time.
Not suitable for one player
My second caveat is that as beautiful as the periphery scenery looks while playing, game play isn’t very sustainable if you are playing a single player game because your character stands right in the middle of the screen, and so is divided between the two monitors.
My last word of warning is more of a hunch than from experience: I imagine that certain pre-rendered cut screens throughout the game may display in a strange way as they are not optimized for such a wide screen.
UPDATE: Actually, the cut screens on the whole were okay. You do lose some detail as you’re essentially viewing them through a huge letterbox, but it’s mostly viewable.
Targeting is disrupted a little
UPDATE: One thing I’ve noticed is that targeting with certain objects is now a bit off with the double-screen set up. For example, on the opening level with Hulk and Iron Man you need to target a water cannon at Sandman: where you direct the cannon and where it actually sprays are two different locations. On the next level you need to target one of Captain America’s locks, but it’s near impossible to line it up properly without quickly nipping back to a 1920 x 1080, single-screen resolution.
On the whole, I was really impressed. It was simple to set up, with absolutely no configuration from me.
I’ll show this to the boys tomorrow and see what their verdict is: usable or not? Then I’ll report back.