Monthly Archive for April, 2008

Content owners: Use web-based distribution now

(This post is for content owners, such as recording and publishing companies and independent artists, as well as for consumers. While it is aimed primarily at content owners because they are ultimately the people who decide how content is distributed, it is important that consumers also read it so they know how to facilitate the changes I propose.)

The Internet and its widespread availability to the general population (not yet true in many countries, but hopefully changing soon) have made distributing digital content to large numbers of people very easy. Books, academic journals, music, videos and many other creative works can be transferred from one computer to many others in a matter of minutes or often just seconds. However, most of that content is not allowed to be transmitted in that way. Why not? What can content owners and consumers do about it?
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A call for sensitivity to copyright sticklers

I am a copyright stickler. I try to discourage infringement of copyright laws whenever possible. As a result, my wishes often directly clash with the wishes of others that I socialize with. I suspect other copyright sticklers can relate. Though I wish more people cared about not infringing copyright, it’s difficult to change people’s minds on this issue so I won’t attempt to do that here. Rather, I will outline a situation where I felt uncomfortable discouraging copyright infringement in hopes that it will show you the social influences that make such a situation possible and how you can avoid encouraging such a situation.
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Wine refresh rate override feature available

When games run in Wine switch to full screen, Wine chooses the first available refresh rate for the requested resolution by default. This can be problematic because the first refresh rate is often the lowest. For example, Wine may choose 60 Hz when 85 Hz is available for the same resolution because 60 Hz appears first in the list of display modes. On CRTs, 60 Hz is quite flickery so it hurts the eyes after a while.

Why does Wine do this? Because Windows does it, or at least it used to. More recent versions of Windows default to 75 Hz if it’s available and then try other modes if 75 Hz is not available. In any case, a default resolution is selected that the user may want to change. Microsoft added a feature to dxdiag that lets the user specify an override refresh rate which is used instead of the default. This feature is documented in KB315614 (main article), KB230002, and KB217348. However, Wine did not include this feature…until now.

I wrote a patch to implement the above dxdiag functionality, which allows Wine users to specify an override refresh rate. The patch has been implemented in the most recent version of Wine (0.9.58), which is available in the Wine Ubuntu repositories, Debian unstable, and the other usual download locations. Instructions on how to use it are available on the UsefulRegistryKeys wiki page. The key to look for is “ForceRefreshRate” in HKLMSoftwareMicrosoftDirectDraw.

The commit information for the patch, including a diff, is available on the wine-cvs list.