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- The Thumbs Up! Performance Monitor (PeMon) exists primarily to demonstrate, explain, and help you live with the Casio E-10x Slowdown problem. PeMon has a main screen, and a small screen that it places in the TaskBar. Both show the current availability of your system. The main screen also shows the amount of Program Memory and Main Memory that are currently in use.
- When the system is just idling along, with complete availability, the red area will remain small and low. When the system becomes busy, the red area will grow upward, to show that work is being done by the machine, and there's less computer time available for it to respond to you.
- The Casio units suffer from "Bit Storms" of activity that occur from time to time and render the unit nearly unusable for work. The good news is that they tend to pass with time. The bad news is that we have only partial solutions for working through them.
- With the Performance Monitor, the Storms are easy to see. They often occur after closing an application, and show up as extreme activity for a period of up to 20 seconds or so. During this period, the Performance Monitor shows essentially solid red, and the machine is virtually unresponsive.
- If you use a Casio, you undoubtedly know what we're talking about. Under normal conditions, these Bit Storms occur at random and unreproducible intervals. For the sake of tracking down the problem, we had to come up with a reliable way of causing them. Don't try this at home, unless you have a backup of your unit that you have confidence in.
- Hard reset the unit. Restore a large number of files (we've been using 6MB). Do a soft reset. Run Performance Monitor. Even now you can see that the unit is doing considerable work, even though it's not doing anything obvious. After 10 or 15 seconds, the activity will probably return to the idle level. Now, from the Start Menu, run Settings / Buttons, and then OK out of it.
- At this point, the machine usually goes nuts, and works with high activity for about 20 seconds or so, during which time it's somewhere between sluggish and unresponsive to user input.
- Buttons will have this effect on the machine for about 2 or 3 times, and then it seems to "get the hang" of it, and the excess activity no longer occurs. The Dialing applet seems to have a similar effect.
- Please note that at this point we have not run StarTap! In the countless complaints that we've received, this has always been described as a StarTap problem. It's not! It's a Casio problem! Sorry! If it were a StarTap problem, we could do more about it!
- Anyway, so just who is causing all this activity on the Casio? For that, you have to use the Threads button from Performance Monitor's main screen. This function is available on the Casio, and all the other color units, but not on the older (Gryphon) B/W models. On those, the "Threads" button is disabled.
- This list shows all of the "threads" that are currently running on your machine. Each "process" or program that is running has at least one thread, and may have many (device.exe has about 18 threads). Each thread is a single sequence of execution, and is really very similar to what we think of as a program. It starts, it does a sequence of things in some particular order, and sooner or later it stops. Most application programs use just a single thread.
- The Threads button shows the Thread Times dialog, which displays each of the 50+ threads that are currently running, how much computer time they've consumed (in seconds), what program started them, and what Priority they've been given. The times that are shown are the total amount of computer time that each thread has consumed since the last soft reset. This means that you'll have to do a little arithmetic to figure out how much time a thread has consumed since the last time you looked at it.
- The culprit in the Bit Storms is "filesys.exe". After a Storm, you'll find that after your machine has been unresponsive for 20 seconds, that the time shown for filesys.exe has increased by about 20 seconds. What this means is that during the Storm your machine was about 100% occupied with some sort of internal housekeeping duties being performed by filesys, rather than being available to your use.
- In the popular models of PPCs, the Casios seem to be the only units that suffer from these Storms. For example, although the Compaq doesn't have the horsepower that the Casio has, it doesn't spend anywhere near as much time doing filesys housekeeping.
- The only workaround that we've come up with is built into the current version of StarTap. In Control Panel / StarTap / StartUp, there's a new check box. Putting a check mark next to Boost Me! will cause StarTap itself and all of the programs that it launches to run at a Priority of Above Normal, which makes them better able to compete for processor time with filesys.exe running at Normal priority.
- When you do have a Storm, we advise that you wait it out. Filesys.exe has decided that it has some real important things to take care of, and if you preempt it by doing a soft reset, chances are that the same slowdown will occur again in the near future. Just wait until PeMon's TaskBar icon has returned to white, and the machine will be free again. On the other hand, if you can see that the PeMon icon is not updating any more, then that means that the machine has probably gone off into the weeds, and only a soft reset will bring it back.
- Until Casio will admit that A)They have a problem, and B)Fix it, this is the best that we can do.
- Good Luck, but right now, I've gotta go PeMon!
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