Category Archives: Computer

EVGA 600W 80 Plus Power Supply Installed into Computer

On October 13, 2016 while I was in the middle of playing EverQuest II my computer all of sudden shutoff and I heard a “fizz-pop” kind of sound. 8-O I about had a heart-attack! It would not turn back on. No fans would spin or POST code beeps generated. I was hoping the only problem was a fried power supply and not anything else.

The power supply that came with the system was HEC-550TEB 550 Watt 80 Plus Bronze model so I went looking for a replacement. In my rush to get a new power supply I first got the Apevia Jupiter ATX-JP600W 80 Plus Bronze power supply from Computer Connections. After I got home, installed it into the computer and reconnected everything. I then looked towards the heavens and hit the power button. WOOHOO!! Everything worked! Thank the Lord. :)

After a few days, however, the power supply was just making more noise than I would have liked. I went looking online and eventually settled on an EVGA 600W 80 Plus power supply from Best Buy that happened to be on sale.

EVGA 600W

I’ve been running it a few days now and am satisfied with the noise level and it’s performance. :) I will keep the other power supply as a backup.

New Epson XP-520 Printer for Computer

Well, over the past couple weeks, my Epson Workforce 645 printer failed to operate normally after replacing the black ink cartridge. The printer would keep displaying a generic “printer error” and all I could do was turn it off and on to retry which never worked. I had received this error before but this was the first time it never came back alive.  I even unplugged it for awhile with no positive results.  So, I went to the Epson support site and found the nearest authorized service center at AAMComp Computer Technologies in Oklahoma City. After a few days it was determined to be a bad printhead that would cost $185 to fix as the printer was 4.5 years old and out of warranty. Yeah.. uhm, no.

As it happens, they had an Epson XP-520 Printer that some other customer had given them that was still under the original warranty and in working order.  I decided to buy it for the reduced price of $74 (total). Here’s what it looks like:

Epson XP-520 Printer

It seems to work well and the color print-outs actually look a little better than the Workforce printer did in standard/normal mode.  Scanning also works well.  I did lose the fax capability that the Workforce had but I never used it and had actually disabled the Windows services that controlled it a long time ago. Hopefully this one will last awhile.

I have updated my hardware page to reflect the addition. :)

How to Make MIDI Files Sound Better in Windows 7

For those that might remember, my old computer system had a melt-down of sorts and I had to get a new one. This new system has Windows 7 Pro/SP1 64-bit and has a Realtek ALC892 Audio chipset in it. Regular MP3s and other digital music formats sound fine on it but MIDI files sounded like crap for the most part compared to my old system. I do still have the Sound Blaster X-Fi Elite Pro that was in my old system; however, I just never felt like going through the effort of trying to get it to work in this system due to its age and probably limited support in Windows 7 64-bit. Anyway, I knew the problem wasn’t so much the audio chipset (well, yes, it does have an impact) but the lack luster MIDI instrument samples that ship with Windows 7 which the included “Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth” uses. I also looked at the Sound Control Panel Applet and noticed that there was no option to set a default MIDI playback device like Windows XP had (which I still find rather odd.)

So, I went searching on the internet and found an article aptly titled: How to Make Midi Files Sound Better on Windows, which led me to CoolSoft’s VirtualMIDISynth. So I thought I would try it out and, what do you know, it works great! I was even able to load the SoundFont that my Sound Blaster X-Fi Elite Pro was using.

Anyway, since my website uses Windows Media Player to play its MIDI files with, I did need to use this software to change MIDI Mapper’s Default MIDI Out Device from Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth to CoolSoft VirtualMIDISynth:

MIDI Mapper Tab

Then, I loaded up the Soundfont my old card was using in the Soundfonts tab:

Soundfonts Tab

While it doesn’t sound exactly like it did before (due to the differences in audio hardware and drivers), it is now much closer because it is using better base sound samples to work with. MIDI files can sound much different simply by changing the Soundfonts used. I tried a few of the ones linked to at those sites and some of them aren’t too bad. Short of getting a new sound card that puts more emphasis on how MIDI sounds, this is a good compromise, and it’s free! LOL :)

Oh, for those using Firefox, the amount of memory that the associated plugin-container.exe process uses while playing a MIDI file will roughly match the size of the Soundfont(s) selected as it has to load them into memory. So, a 256MB Soundfont will cause it to use that much memory.

For those like me that also use Winamp, since the default device has now been changed for all of Windows, it will start playing MIDI files using the improved instrument sounds as well. However, you can directly change the MIDI playback device by going into Winamp’s Preferences -> Plug-ins -> Input -> Nullsoft MIDI Player -> Devices Tab and select the second midiOut / Microsoft MIDI Mapper choice (this is the one that came with Winamp v5.63):

Winamp MIDI Device Setting

Note: If you change the default MIDI Mapper device back to Microsoft GS Wavetable Synth in the VirtualMIDISynth Configurator then Winamp will show two entries for midiOut / Microsoft GS Wavetable. In this scenario, pick the second one. Why it doesn’t list VirtualMIDISynth specifically I do not know. I may send feedback to Coolsoft and/or Winamp about it.

Just for the heck of it, I swapped out Winamp’s current MIDI plug-in with a really old one that supported auto-loading Soundfonts. Its device listing is somewhat different and lists VirtualMIDISynth by name:

Winamp MIDI v2.63b Device Setting

I tried the auto-load Soundfont option that this plug-in has for MIDI files that use a specific Soundfont; however, it didn’t work. Pretty sure that option only works with Sound Blasters (this did work in my old system).

Anyway, I’m still playing with different Soundfonts to get the best sound. Now I need to install a virtual MIDI keyboard so I can play specific instruments. Hope this information helps someone out there. :)