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Where is my computer memory going?
posted 1/21/2012 2:31:53 PM

Is your memory storage lower than a five inch floppy disk’s? -Kyon

A common complaint I've seen from users concerning two products I want to hit:
1. Windows Vista/7
2. Mozilla Firefox

So let's explore these shall we?

The above is a screenshot of my total Windows memory usage captured at the time of this writing. I have a grand total of 4 GB of RAM to use and well over 50% of it is used up. Would you consider this to be a lot of memory consumption?

It actually is not. I have 4 main programs open (Firefox, Explorer file manager, Encoding software, and Opera) and a ton of background ones (Anti-Virus, Status on my personal server, f.lux are a few of them). The internet browser is the main one I'm using now. I could launch a game such as StarCraft II as well as X-Split (used to capture my gameplay) and really go to town on my resource usage quite comfortably.

So why is this not a big deal? After all over 50% means that I'm on the last 50% to use. Well here's where the quirks of Windows comes from. For starters we have what is known as the Page File. Every user here has one that acts as a temporary storage in addition to your RAM. It's part of your hard drive reserved to emulate RAM and can be found as a file named "pagefile.sys". Very few users have this turned off and they often have a ton of RAM installed.

If you turned the pagefile off, you would see your RAM usage spike and probably warn you that you are using way too much. This is also the reason for the phenomenon that your RAM always tends to use 50% whether you have 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB (because you have more RAM to take out of the pagefile).

Here's the big thing of why higher memory is preferred: Information stored and retrieved from RAM is always faster than information stored and retrieved from the page file. Once you install RAM, you can instruct Windows to not use a pagefile anymore and you will see a significant increase in performance (note: 4GB is not enough if you're thinking about it right now).

Windows does store up to 50% of your commonly used programs into memory so that it does load quickly. Instead of being reactive, your OS uses your memory proactive based on its own internal connection of most frequently used programs and functions (don't worry, the OS does not send this information to anyone unless you opt into the Windows Improvement Experience). If you do not like this at all, you can disable the SuperFetch service (make sure you know what you're doing before you go tinkering in the advanced options though).

So onward to the next piece of software known as Mozilla Firefox.

Yes we know quite well how much of a history that this browser has with memory complaints. Here's a thought though: Have you measured how much usage your browser uses without any addons installed?

Version 9 is the currently released version of Firefox and it is actually quite decent in management without any addons installed. In fact, the resource management rivals Internet Explorer (which on average consumes the fewest resources due to it and the OS being made by the same company). Version 12 further increases memory management but that's not quite ready for everyday usage just yet.

So where does this memory go? The most common enemy is the addons. The most popular addons such as Ad-Block and Greasemonkey often have higher-than-average code support behind it but even these programs have their problems every now and then. But these are the tip of the iceberg in terms of addons.

There are tons and tons of addons that many people use that are unknown and often have poor support (and sometimes even outright abandoned). Firefox loads these components into the main process (firefox.exe) when it is instantiated (such a fancy term that means startup). When just a single addon has one fatal memory leak, it leaks into this process resulting in one hell of a bloated firefox.exe in your task manager and none would be the wiser and just assume that the browser had a major hiccup.

Using the above theory, I have successfully crashed Pale Moon, Waterfox, other various branches of Firefox, Firefox on Linux, and many more. The Mozilla team is actually really good at refining performance than you think. If only the addon developers could keep up.

Note that I did state Pale Moon and Waterfox above. There are claims that these perform better than Firefox and those claims are indeed true. The reasoning behind it is that the people who maintain these versions use Microsoft specific tools to build the source code for Windows and only for Windows. This means that the compiler can implement several functions rooted deep with the OS can be used with the exe file that is generated resulting in even more refined management of resources. Whether you want to use these or the standard Firefox is up to you (the obvious advantage that Firefox has over those are faster updates and the ability to use pre-released versions which may or may not appeal to you).

And that is my little blurb on memory usage.

   1 comment 

The Square Root of 2
posted 1/11/2012 9:06:55 PM

So we've reached a contradiction: although we assumed that m and n cannot both be even, it now turns out they both are. It therefore follows that √2 cannot be expressed as the ratio of two natural numbers, and must therefore be in another class of numbers

Everyone knows about the Square Root of 2. Your calculator will happily display 1.41421356 for your viewing pleasure and a computer will show you an absurd amount of numbers in estimation. On a technical level, this number is classified as an Irrational Number (a number that cannot be expressed in the form a/b where b is not equal to 0). Tonight before I go to bed, I share with you a chilling story of the origins of this magical number. It does come with bloodshed.

Back in the yonder days of early Earth, was an ancient group known as the Pythagoreans. This was an elite group of mathematicians who studied mathematical theory in ancient times and taught it to schools. They held themselves with such high pride because they were always right and were considered by the many cities and societies to be top scholars for their time.

Back in these days it was accepted as absolute fact that the number line only contained rational numbers (we now know that this is false). This conclusion came from a special property of rational numbers in that you will always find a new rational number between two of them by taking the average of those two (in simple terms, the middle spot between the two). This can go onward into infinity and was inferred from this simple conclusion that every point on the number line is a rational number.

One man by the name of Hippasus, a fine mathematician, took it a step further. He stated that if the Square Root of 2 (a common number that appeared with their studies of right triangles) is rational then it can be reduced to some fraction a/b. His thought process and with some algebra he arrived at the following conclusion:

√2 = a/b
2 = a^2/b^2
2a^2 = b^2

Hippasus noted that it is not possible for both of these numbers to be even all the time and that he had found a contradiction to the statement that all numbers on the number line were rational. He had proven that there were in fact many more numbers lurking among the rational ones.

The rest of the Pythagoreans were not happy about this. It not only meant that they were wrong, but that they were wrong about a fundamental point in mathematics. They knew that if such an event reached the commoners, they would be the laughing stock of their time and they would lose their elite status.

They refused to accept that fate. They made Hippasus swear an oath to never share his proof with anyone. He was sad that he could not but obliged. Eventually he could not take it anymore and decided to tell his wife about it as after all she was the one person he could trust.

But once a secret is spread, it becomes known. She told others about it. Those others told even more others. Eventually the Pythagoreans found out that the proof was leaked. The last moment ever recorded for Hippasus was that he was found dead floating in the waters after the Pythagoreans found out he leaked his proof.

Hippasus paid with his life so that the world can know about the true nature of the Square Root of 2. The nature that everything about it is irrational.



The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
posted 1/1/2012 10:58:40 PM

As I graduated from middle school, I also graduated from those childish dreams and became accustomed to the routine of this world. -Kyon

If you're not into anime at all then feel free to completely ignore this blog entry. Likewise this blog may contain some spoilers if you do wish to watch the movie (though I'll try not to do so though some knowledge of the anime series will be needed).

This has been my favorite movie up to this point so far. The movie follows the same story line (in fact merges itself somewhere within the anime series timeline) and follows the same style of delivering as episodes do.

The movie takes place a week before Christmas with the SOS Brigade planning a party their style. Suddenly, without warning, Kyon wakes up to find that the world around him had changed overnight into an alternate reality (though with him still in the same high school and same classmates). In this alternative reality, it seems that Haruhi never existed. So our narrator has to see if he can go back to his original reality or be doomed in this new one.

This movie gives a perspective of a young man who had his mundane world (that he had finally came to accept and embrace) turned upside-down by whimsical Haruhi...only to have it suddenly yanked out of his grasp. He may have been annoyed by having to do so much to keep her in check but after going back to his definition of "sane" we see that he misses what he did have and that he actually did have some fun that was worth what he didn't like.

Gives a new meaning to being able to tolerate life because few moments are worth it to people whether they don't realize it immediately or in denial because of ongoing angst (I should know as I am a Grand Master of public angst).

If you can tolerate anime and like movies, then I'd recommend this movie for you to watch (though you may not get everything if you're not knowledgeable about specific events in the anime series).

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