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Starship Krupa

Wisdom of the ages

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I just had an audio engine dropout and clicked on the "Help" button on the blue flag that popped up to check out the troubleshooting recommendations.

The table is interesting reading, with the codes, and recommendations for tuning Cakewalk settings.

Right below it, however, is a veritable treasure trove of Windows tuning advice history. And by "history," I mean in the sense of something being dead and of no further use.

The very first bit of advice is that the user may wish to disable Microsoft Office FastFind, which was a fairly obscure feature that has not been included in Microsoft Office since Microsoft Office 2000.

The next piece of advice is to avoid scheduling tasks that are part of the Windows Plus Package, which was an add-on originally for Windows 95, and last marketed for Windows XP in 2005.

And I think I finally found the source of the superstition about network cards causing Cakewalk to glitch:

Quote

Discontinue use of any networking or communications applications on your computer. For example, don't run email programs (like Microsoft Outlook), Web browsers, or AOL client software while you are running Cakewalk. These programs send and receive chunks of information over a modem or a network connection; when one of these data chunks is sent or received, your CPU may be unexpectedly interrupted from Cakewalk audio processing to deal with the modem or network data. That interruption can disrupt the smooth processing of audio data, causing a dropout or glitch. If possible, you should disconnect your computer from a local area network, and/or disconnect from any dial-up telecommunications while recording or playing back audio in Cakewalk.

Okay, let me be the first to say, if this document is where you got the idea that having your Cakewalk DAW plugged into a LAN was going to negatively affect its performance, just consider the antique information surrounding it, none of which has been updated in at least 15 years, probably way more. Maybe there was some truth to it when it was written in 1997 and the network card and the sound card could have been sharing an ISA bus, but it hasn't been true for 20 years or so, and if you're still unplugging your Cakewalk DAW because you think network activity is going to glitch the audio, it's like the computer equivalent of your grandma keeping those "not to be removed under penalty of law" tags on her sofa cushions because she was sure she heard of someone somewhere who went to jail because they tore one off and got caught. You know that your computer's CPU and bus can handle LAN activity without barely even noticing in 2019. If you don't, you should learn more about modern computer hardware.

This item also explicitly warns against having the AOL client running while you are using Cakewalk. Having observed the reactions of some of the existing userbase to the announcement of the move to a freeware licensing model, I understand why special attention might be paid to the needs of AOL users. I know that some people get set in their ways, and AOL's where their email and Internet is, but really you shouldn't have your AOL running in the background while you're doing the Cakewalk. This is a good time of year to get some help from a visiting family member if you don't want to fool with it yourself.

A little later we have instructions for turning off CD-ROM Auto-Notification and disabling Start Menu Startup items, both sets of instructions applying to Windows XP. Since Cakewalk is not compatible with Windows XP and has not been for quite some time now, I think this advice has outlived its usefulness to Cakewalk users.

Further down the user is advised to try turning off hardware acceleration on their video card using the slider in Control Panel Display settings (another XP/98 feature). And if that doesn't do it, they can try using the generic VGA driver instead of the specific one for their graphics card. They are warned that graphics may become sluggish at the expense of smoothly functioning audio. Indeed. I can't see this as a permanent solution or workaround.

Next there is special advice on what to do if you have any of the following video cards:

STB Velocity 128 (rel. 1997)

Hercules Dynamite 128 (rel. 1997)

Matrox Millenium (rel. 1996)

While I would agree that anyone attempting to use any of those cards in 2019 does need special advice, the advice that I would give them is not on this page.

Immediately after this comes a set of instructions on how to solve IRQ conflicts by changing the physical slot your sound card is installed in. Playing musical card slots is something that hasn't been a thing since the ISA days, which ended about 20 years ago.

Further down we get to more ancient history with advice on upgrading one's system hardware. There is detailed advice on making absolutely sure that your drives are not operating in MS-DOS Compatibility Mode, which is something that Windows 98 used to use as a fallback when it had problems communicating with hard drives. I believe Cakewalk dropped compatibility with Windows 98 even before they dropped XP, so this advice is a bit moldy.

Finally, there's advice on souping up your hard drive controller by getting one of the newfangled UltraDMA IDE controllers that uses "bus mastering." This technology was supplanted by SATA in 2003.

There is nothing specific about adding RAM. Perhaps the last time the information was updated, 640K was the limit.

All kidding aside, a lot of the information on this page, both on the online documentation and the corresponding pages in the Reference Guide, is hopelessly outdated, by over 20 years.

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Indeed, Mr. P, hence my efforts to call attention to it.

In this case, it would surprise me if that text had been touched in 20 years and it wouldn't surprise me if it hadn't been touched since 1997.

Modems? AOL clients? Hercules cards? IRQ's? It isn't that this stuff belongs to the previous decade, it literally belongs to the previous century.

There should be an admonishment somewhere in there to make sure to keep backup tapes of your data.

"Someday, perhaps if the United States begins to openly trade with Communist China, we will see the cost of the large diaphragm condenser microphone fall below $1000, at which point even project studios will be able to afford one or maybe even a matched pair. What a fine day for computer recording that shall be!"

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@Starship Krupa,

May I humbly suggest you share your discovery with  @Morten Saether by personal message?

I've communicated with Mr. Saether by personal message several times to offer observations and suggestions about the Cakewalk Reference Guide (CRG).  Each time I've been pleasantly surprised at the quick response and positive reception I've received in return.

One observation I'll share here.  The last revision of the Sonar Reference Guide was more than 2200 pages in size while the first release of the Cakewalk Reference Guide was around 1700 pages.  So about 500 pages were culled.

I believe, but don't know as fact, that Mr. Saether is a documentation department of one. 

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Some small footnotes to the discussion:

(1) After seeing many comments to "widgets" in the forum, I decided to look for all references to "widgets" in the Reference Guide.  I also compared those with the actual software, esp. the track controls/widgets.  In the process, I saw that the definition in the glossary was seriously out-of-date.  I have mental notes (and plans to return to the issue) to try to sort out the terminology  and uses--for my own benefit and possibly to share with "the documentation department."

(2) I know the Reference Guide Version 25.09.00 is 1712 pages, the previous one (Version 25.07.00) was 1724 pages, but the one before that (Version 25.05.00) was 2188 pages. A few months back, I did a casual comparison** to see "what was missing" from the 2188-page version and saw  that the page number reduction was due to larger pages and more content on each page in the 1724 page version.

**I did not do a full page-by-page comparison, but if I recall correctly the "shorter" [newer] one was tweaked a bit and also had more content due to the New Features and Fixes.

Edited by User 905133
(2) to add a clarification about the Ref Guide comparison; (1) to remove an extra word (typo)

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It is a little-known fact that (prior to Mr. Saether's excellent curatorship) several hundred pages of documentation were lost in The Great Boston Molasses Flood.

Back then, Piano Roll View meant staring at an actual physical piano roll as it scrolled by.

Cakewalk was one of the first programmes that allowed you to import gramophone recordings. Pitch Correction was their method of slowing down audio via the application of tree sap to the surface of the disk.

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@Starship Krupa - thanks for pointing out all of those helpful tips in the OP! I've done everything mentioned and yet I still seem to be using an operating from the 21st century. Should I try to force my ISA soundcard into the "NVMe slot" thing to make it work? I am using a laptop. Please advise!

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Another argument for a wiki... updating a colossal manual by one person is tedious, and a lot of the tips, tricks, and recommended work flows that have been posted in the forums either get repeated or lost in archives (especially if they were in the old forum... like how to set up a compressor, or interleave advice just to name a couple since there are a LOT). It is convenient to have an active reference that user's can contribute to in a standard format, consolidated links, etc.

I personally do not get excited about massive volumes, since the computer has made it easy to be verbose without anyone ever editing anything to current relevance. The OP does remind me of a funny story from my Navy days where the CO's Standing Orders had a quarterly review requirement. It was a 3" notebook stuffed to the brim at first, but I found authorization in it allowing me to cycle a pilot valve next to the CO's rack that squealed like a pig (he was a light sleeper and I was always the mid-watch OOD). Long story short (he was a screamer too, which added to the comedic value), 3 days later the department heads abridged that all down to something that easily fit into a 1" notebook. My argument was simple... that reference needs to be concise, simple, and effective, so that people actually know what is in it. That valve getting cycled got moved to the afternoon watch too 😁.

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A wiki! That is an excellent idea. There are many who would no doubt love to contribute to such a resource. Transferring the accumulated wisdom of the OF to it would be a great way to start.

I shall investigate free hosting solutions. Do you know of any?

In all seriousness,  @Morten Saether might welcome the input of one or more tuning hotshots like @Jim Roseberry in coming up with a list of Windows 10 hints to replace the outdated ones on that page.

A concern I see  is how to prevent Windows 10 from interrupting a tracking session with updates, and one of the best performance boosts I got was when I disabled realtime Defender scanning, which may be done temporarily for mixing sessions. There may be ways to exclude the Cakewalk audio directories, sample directories, and plug-in directories from realtime Defender scanning. Such tips would be good ones to replace the ones that no longer apply.

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@Gswitz had researched some wiki solutions back in 2013 IIRC, but it never gained traction. Mediawiki seems to be the most commonly used free wiki engine out these days, but still requires setup, hosting, and management that can overwhelm a single person easily. The content formatting is a big hurdle to get off on the right foot so others can get involved and be successful. One of the other concerns back then was if it was okay to host a wiki in support of Cakewalk without the company buy-in, which I do not believe was ever received. It would make a lot more sense to have a supporting wiki located at wiki.cakewalk.com.

Some of the more impressive wikis are from games, since the number of potential collaborators is high. Probably the most impressive one I have seen is the one created for Guild Wars 2 (based on Mediawiki with 11 years under its belt). That has a truckload of contributors, so is maintained incredibly well. All-in-all it is very similar in many ways to the html version of the CbB reference manual pdf that exists now, but in wiki format that allows members to update the content (hence the company buy-in being important).

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