Nora delayed start

Official support for: www.squaredheads.com
knossos
KVRer
18 posts since 20 Feb, 2010

Post Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:48 am

Hi, it seems that I have a rare problem, especially with Nora, as it is nowhere mentioned here.
I tried to use NoraCM (from CM243) on Windows 7-32, but after installing it, it seemingly won't start in several hosts, like Ableton Live Lite (9.73), Reaper (5.40), Tobybear Minihost, and Cantabile 2 Lite, but using full capacity of at least 1 CPU (I have an i7-2640M Dualcore Laptop with SSD that is fast enough for a lot of tracks with demanding vsti's). Then I realized that Nora just takes a few (about 2 and a half) minutes to start (I thought that the hosts were frozen by Nora, so I task-killed them before). After that time, Nora seems to run fine in those hosts. I then tampered with the xml styled .ini and changed all paths to absolute, referencing to the real paths, with no success. I also tried the Demo from the Squarehead website, but it is completely the same.
It's not recognizable what Nora does during the waittime, since it doesn't read or write much Disk or I/O, at least what Process Explorer shows, but only increases memory consumption slowly (as seen in TB Minihost).
The scan process for Nora also does take this long time, at least in Reaper.

I do not use the standard Plugin Folder but simply C:\Program Files\Vstplugins.
I have a few MIDI Devices along with LoopMidi, and I always use ASIO4All.
The graphics card is CPU integrated Intel.
I am on 32 Bit and I will stay there.
Since Nora has given me some instant results with its presets, I would like to integrate and use it, but the waiting time isn't acceptable.
Any ideas ?

squaredheads
KVRian
623 posts since 8 Apr, 2014

Re: Nora delayed start

Post Mon Jul 31, 2017 1:44 am

Hi,

The only delays that Nora can generate are the custom skin loading and the config file creation. Since you are using Nora CM and Nora Demo, skins or mods shouldn't be the cause.

Once you start Nora it wants to create a Nora.ini file in the same folder where you have the Nora.dll with the factory settings. If Windows is preventing it anyhow, that could be the reason of the delay.

So, you should test this:
1. Check if there is any Nora.ini in the same folder where Nora.dll is placed, and check it has contents. You can open it with Notepad.
2. If it exist, manually delete it, then start your host and load a Nora instance. Check how much time your computer need to create the ini file since you loaded Nora in your host. If it's inmediate then we have to look for in another place.
3. If Nora.ini doesn't exist or after you delete it it needs a lot to be generated, then try to start your host using admin rights (or changing the folder permission).

Let me know the results!

knossos
KVRer
18 posts since 20 Feb, 2010

Re: Nora delayed start

Post Tue Aug 01, 2017 6:28 am

Thank you for the quick answer. I appreciate that kind of support.

Sadly, it didn't help. If there is no nora.ini, nora runs high on CPU for those 2.5 minutes I mentioned, and in thelast second the .ini appears and then the Nora GUI comes up suddenly and then everything is fine. I started Minihost in Admin-mode, changed the folder permissions, I changed Nora's installation path to c:\program files\steinberg\vstplugins\squareheads (starting the nora installer as admin) and to an external hd, also to a thumb drive with fat32...to no success. I also deactivated the Avast virus scanner and the Windows firewall.

Could it be a .NET or msvc runtime problem ? I remember that I had to tamper with one of those (d/l + install from MS) for the Helm vsti (and another freeware vsti) some time ago.

The only success I can report is this: I installed Nora to a pretty clean Virtual machine (Vbox, 32-Bit, running on the same computer with only 1.5GB virtual memory), where it starts in an instant in Tobybear Minihost.

squaredheads
KVRian
623 posts since 8 Apr, 2014

Re: Nora delayed start

Post Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:37 am

It may be. I highly doubt it is a .NET problem, since Nora is coded in pretty a basic C++. Try to reinstall x86 MSVC runtimes.

But before you do nothing, try to do this: Open NoraCM or Nora demo (and wait...) and do these tests:

1. Save a project or save a preset in the default preset folder + another random folder + Nora.dll folder. What does it happens in those folders? Obviously, Nora demo will not be able to save those data, but you can try it with NoraCM.

2. Open any instance of Nora, then, once it's created, delete the Nora.ini file (while the plugin is running!). Now open the preferences panel and randomnly modify any option. Nora.ini should be regenerated in 1-5 seconds, how much does your computer delays? does Nora freeze meanwhile? This option uses exactly the same routine that Nora does when it starts to create the INI file.

knossos
KVRer
18 posts since 20 Feb, 2010

Re: Nora delayed start

Post Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:24 am

I followed both recommendations and in both cases the files (projects and presets, ini) appeared immediately after saving, NoraCM has no problems to write to those folders. It appeared that I had removed all restrictions from some symlinks (like those for Appdata/Local or Program Files) by having taken over ownership, but reinstating them had no effect on Nora.

I also revived the still existing predecessor to the actual laptop, from which I directly migrated via harddisc copy 3 years ago, with much less vst and other software on board. I installed NoraCM there, but it has the same starttime waiting there, a little slower (3 minutes delay), maybe because it is an i3 with a normal hd. I Updated the latest visual runtime 2012 (because only this was newer on the VM where Nora works fine), but it had no effect on NoraCM. Also no difference with other ASIO drivers than ASIO4all.

Could it be a graphical issue ? Or a response from a service that is Nora waiting for/searching ? Or some Midi Devices ? I have at least 12 installed, Keyboards (M-Audio Venom, Roland JD-Xi), Controllers (M-Audio, Arturia, Akai, Qnexus, Korg, Behringer), Midi interfaces (Midilink, noname), all of them via usb (most of them driverless, but some not), except software devices like loop midi. Some of them are connected, some not.

Or does Nora read the registry for some reasons, searching for device inputs or something ?

Endless possibilities...

squaredheads
KVRian
623 posts since 8 Apr, 2014

Re: Nora delayed start

Post Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:01 am

Could it be a graphical issue ? Or a response from a service that is Nora waiting for/searching ? Or some Midi Devices ? I have at least 12 installed, Keyboards (M-Audio Venom, Roland JD-Xi), Controllers (M-Audio, Arturia, Akai, Qnexus, Korg, Behringer), Midi interfaces (Midilink, noname), all of them via usb (most of them driverless, but some not), except software devices like loop midi. Some of them are connected, some not.
No, Nora has no need to look for audio/midi/other devices or windows registry, it's totally self-reliant. It's only based on its core files, it's a clean install (it may be done portable).

However, I was thinking into something... how many VSTs do you have? Could you try to open a host with just Nora as VST? I mean, the host shouldn't find at all any other plugin. It's weird but it could be a conflict - since you installed it in a clean virtual device and it worked.

knossos
KVRer
18 posts since 20 Feb, 2010

Re: Nora delayed start

Post Thu Aug 10, 2017 9:19 am

Sry for the delay, I was busy at my dayjob. I indeed have a lot vst plugins placed in the c:\program files\vstplugins folder, about 3000 mostly freeware and magware, so a newly installed daw takes a very long time to go through them...and also crashes often....luckily I don't often install a new daw ;-)

So I moved the complete folder to another location under c:\tmp\ which doesn't take very long on the SSD, and created the \vstplugins temporarly, copyied then the squareheads folder into it, deleted the .ini....but sorry to say, the delay stays as it was at 2.5 minutes.

I have to mention that my ProgramData folder is also quite populated, but I didn't dare to manipulate it likewise, because that seems a bit dangerous for my systems' health. But since the delay is present whether there is a .ini or not, I would say the source of the problem is not there. Except of course, if Nora is ignoring it's own .ini, and additionally browses (everytime) AppData\local etc.

squaredheads
KVRian
623 posts since 8 Apr, 2014

Re: Nora delayed start

Post Mon Aug 14, 2017 7:15 am

I'm from the opposite school, I only have 10 vst as maximum, and they are barely moved out :D

knossos wrote:So I moved the complete folder to another location under c:\tmp\ which doesn't take very long on the SSD, and created the \vstplugins temporarly, copyied then the squareheads folder into it, deleted the .ini....but sorry to say, the delay stays as it was at 2.5 minutes.
When you tried, was c:\tmp\vstplugins the only folder your daw had to scan? If you don't want to risk to lose your settings you can download any portable host and test, like Reaper, install it in any folder with the portable option enabled and I will do not have any problem with your current configuration.
knossos wrote:I have to mention that my ProgramData folder is also quite populated, but I didn't dare to manipulate it likewise, because that seems a bit dangerous for my systems' health. But since the delay is present whether there is a .ini or not, I would say the source of the problem is not there. Except of course, if Nora is ignoring it's own .ini, and additionally browses (everytime) AppData\local etc.
Nora is quite complex in the sense it has some shared data to save CPU/memory usage and for consistency. If you open a second Nora instance, instead creating such data, it will take it for the first instance. In that way, the options and the skins are always in sync. It would be interesting to know if when you open a second instance it last 2.5 min too, or it's instant (as it should be). Logically, this second instance will not re-write the ini file, or will try to cold-load nothing from files, since the first instance did that for it!

knossos
KVRer
18 posts since 20 Feb, 2010

Re: Nora delayed start

Post Wed Aug 16, 2017 3:24 am

I know there is a lot of "trash" in my vst folder, which means for me unneccessary instruments, but I do like to randomly select a vst, explore it (in Tobybear Minihost or Cantabile Lite for stacking purposes) and then, after that, starting a DAW, which would be Reaper or Ableton Lite, or sometimes Cubase 8 LE. I rarely delete a vst, since they often only need something like Diversion, GlaceVerb etc. to sound interesting.
When you tried, was c:\tmp\vstplugins the only folder your daw had to scan? If you don't want to risk to lose your settings you can download any portable host and test, like Reaper, install it in any folder with the portable option enabled and I will do not have any problem with your current configuration.
I moved the c:\Program Files\Vstplugins completely to c:\Temp\Vstplugins, recreated c:\Program Files\Vstplugins and put only the Squareheads folder with Nora CM in it. So, there was no other vst Instrument. And no other plugin folders. But I did not open a DAW in this environment, I opened Nora in Tobybear Minihost, which doesn't scan any plugins folder. Since Minihost opened Nora very fast in the clean VM, I felt the use of a DAW would be not necessary for this experiment.
It would be interesting to know if when you open a second instance it last 2.5 min too, or it's instant (as it should be).
Every following instance of Nora in a DAW opens instantly, as you expected, I tried it in Cantabile 2 Lite and Ableton Live Lite.

squaredheads
KVRian
623 posts since 8 Apr, 2014

Re: Nora delayed start

Post Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:30 am

This is a small summary what may be happening. Since others instances after first one work fine, and you can write files using Save commands inside NoraCM, I really think the problem is with the creation of the memory space that are common to all Nora instances.

I wasn't still able to find the cause, because I need to reproduce the problem to figure it easily. I do not surrend, but since I did a lot of changes for a new patch, once it's out (cannot confirm a date), I would suggest you try it again. Anyway, if I think in something else that could cause the problem I will let you know writting here or PM'ing you.

knossos
KVRer
18 posts since 20 Feb, 2010

Re: Nora delayed start

Post Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:23 am

Thank you for that idea. When I watch Process Manager while waiting for Nora, it does increase memory consumption slowly. I thought, it may have problems to allocate memory, but why, I couldn't imagine. The machine I use is always very fast (for its age). Maybe it has to do with the shared memory Nora provides for any further instance.However, I will also try to investigate further, when my time allows it.
I think Nora is a very versatile tool, since I got good results from the first moment I used it in a DAW, even without reading any manual.
Thank you for your patience and help.

squaredheads
KVRian
623 posts since 8 Apr, 2014

Re: Nora delayed start

Post Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:54 am

Yes, it is only the first instance the one that the higher memory need, after all, it's the only one that load those shared data which have the skin's PNGs, etc. The others ones are really light on memory usage.

I hope you can find the problem (and solution!). If I would know something about how to reproduce or fix this, I'd PM you.

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