Improve Video Playback

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mbrazil
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Improve Video Playback

Post by mbrazil » Thu Aug 01, 2013 1:49 am

How to Improve Video Playback

When watching videos in Avant with quite a few other tabs open (20 or more), I sometimes have problems with interruptions in video playback for buffering (and some other occasional unexplained interruptions). I happened to observe that, when watching videos in a second instance of Avant that's running with only one tab open (the one for the site sending the video), these problems are almost completely eliminated (except, of course, when the problem is caused by a slow or overloaded server or some other influence outside of Avant), even for 1080P HD video. The first Avant instance does not have to be shut down, but none of the tabs open in the first instance should be active (auto-refreshing, playing audio, showing video, etc.) while you're watching a video in the second instance.

Even though the rendering engine and the video plug-in for that engine are handling the data stream and the video playback, the job of managing the other tabs apparently causes Avant to somehow interfere with the engine's and/or plug-in's ability to maintain smooth, constant playback (the Avant processes themselves may be reaching the limits of their capacities). By loading a second instance of Avant with only one tab open just for the video, you are running a separate process that does not have to handle management of any other tabs except the one in which the video is playing. Of course, the second instances of Avant and of the rendering engine and plug-in do use some additional memory and CPU cycles, but unless these resources are almost completely consumed, the video will still play better than it would in a tab under the first instance of Avant.

Keep in mind that, if your computer's processor is already loaded down and/or a large percentage of your memory is already in use, this trick won't do any good. The only way to improve video playback under these circumstances is to close most or all of the other tabs to free up memory and reduce the load on both Avant and the computer itself.

Also, the rendering engine you use has a big effect on both CPU usage and memory consumption, so trying the video in a different engine may help too (be sure to shut down the other tabs, though). In general, recent versions of the Firefox engine require the least amount of memory and create the smallest load on the CPU, followed by the IE engine and then recent versions of the Chrome engine, especially when more than one iteration of the engine is running at the same time (one in each Avant instance).

I use the USB (portable) version of Avant for the second Avant instance so that if I make any changes to the Avant UI, configuration settings, etc. while running it, these changes do not affect my main, installed Avant version. The USB version keeps all of it's files and settings in the same folder with the program itself and never applies changes to the Avant Profiles folder specified for the installed version. This can be useful in that you might also prefer certain Avant settings to be different for video playback, and with the USB version as a second instance, you don't have to bother to change these settings back when you're done watching videos. You can download the USB version at Avant USB version

If you're not familiar with running a second instance of Avant, make a copy of the shortcut that you currently start Avant with and place it on your desktop or wherever you prefer. Right-click the shortcut, and choose Properties. In the Target field of the Shortcut tab, add " -runextra" to the end of the command line (without the quotation marks and with the space before the dash). If there's a quotation mark at the end of the current command line, make sure you add the space and -runextra after the existing quotation mark.

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Tinman57
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Re: Improve Video Playback

Post by Tinman57 » Tue Aug 06, 2013 1:24 am

My biggest problem is an excess of Avant.exe and ybrowsers open in the background eating up CPU cycles and memory. I'll exit Avant and it will close all the ones that it needed, and only then can I see the ones that were hung up in memory. Then I have to go to RMC> Kill Task for each and every one that's hung up. I was never notified that there was any kind of issue during my surfing, it's like the extra .exe's and ybrowsers were opened up to take over and the ones that were hung up were abandoned by Avant.

I'll sure be glad when they get all this crap sorted out and fixed, if they ever do that is. I may wind up going back to Maxtor or another front end.... :(
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mbrazil
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Re: Improve Video Playback

Post by mbrazil » Tue Aug 06, 2013 2:20 am

I use Chameleon Task Manager, which I have running all the time (it's set to start with Windows). One of its features is the ability to detect hung processes and notify you about them with a message in the corner of your screen. It has other notifications you can use if you want to, and they can all be turned on or off in the program Preferences. Unfortunately, this feature isn't included in the free version, but you can download the Standard or Pro version for a 30-day free trial. I've got the Pro version, because there are some things I really like about this task manager compared with some of the others, and because there's only $5 difference between the Standard and Pro versions ($24.95 vs $29.95). I have a number of other task managers installed (Process Explorer, Process Lasso, System Explorer, Anvir, etc.) that I use when I need a feature that Chameleon doesn't have, but most of the time, Chameleon is all I need. If you want to check it out, it's at http://www.chameleon-managers.com/windows-task-manager.

Two caveats: First, I don't know for sure that it will detect hung instances of avant.exe and ybrowser.exe that aren't visible elsewhere, since I hardly use the IE engine at all, but since you can try the Pro version free for 30 days, you can see if it does the job. The other caveat is that I don't like the new UI the developer used for version 4 of the program (sound familiar?), so I've continued to use the last 3.x version that he released (3.1.0.447). You might like the current UI, though.

One of the many reasons I prefer and use the Gecko engine is that there is never more than one instance of firefox.exe, one of plugin-container.exe, one of avantvw.exe. There is only rarely more than one instance of avant.exe, and that second one closes by itself very quickly. Both the IE and Chrome engines run multiple instances of their processes. As a result, they consume a lot more resources (CPU and memory), they're not as fast, and in my opinion, the multiple instances of their processes detract from stability and create some otherwise unexplainable anomalies.

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Tinman57
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Re: Improve Video Playback

Post by Tinman57 » Tue Aug 06, 2013 9:16 pm

I read that it's also a memory and startup manager, and I've already got commercial software that does that now.
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mbrazil
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Re: Improve Video Playback

Post by mbrazil » Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:48 am

Well, it was just a suggestion.

Actually, it's not a startup manager except in a very limited sense. The only things it can do regarding program starting are to automatically kill a process that you want to prevent from running, automatically kill a process except on certain days, automatically kill a process if another specified process is not already running, automatically restart a process if it crashes or is inadvertently shut down, or automatically force a process to close when Windows is shutting down. All of these capabilities are turned on or off and configured on a per-process basis unless you create a template that you set to apply globally. It doesn't provide the ability to add or remove programs from the Start menu's Startup folder or from any of the registry keys that start programs automatically, and it has no ability to control the order or timing of when programs start. Neosoft has a separate program (Chameleon Startup Manager) that is a full startup manager.

Its CPU, memory, and hard-drive management capabilities can also be enabled either on a per-process basis or globally (in a template). Overall, it's a process manager and a process monitor, but it's not really a startup manager or a memory manager.

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