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About this blog

Stuff I can't put on the front page :op

Entries in this blog

 

Moving iPad Backup from boot drive

in Windows 7 type in the start menu cmd.exe
right click on cmd.exe and run as administrator
cd "%APPDATA%\Apple Computer\MobileSync"
move Backup folder to x:\Backup (the whole folder)
then type mklink /d Backup <drive:new backup location>\Backup

Rocky

Rocky

 

iPhone 5!

So I got the new iPhone 5, yep I was sad enough to queue up for it on release morning, The whole thing was very painless! Queue Buy phone Go home Apply Screen protector install protective case Phone myself from landline to check number has transferred across! Now all the software stuff. Settings - usage - battery as a percentage - ON Add Twitter and login! Add Facebook and login! Connect to gmail account! Check Calendar has picked up all my data. This is going waay to smooth lol. Hmm, how to get my iPhone contacts appearing... Checks iTunes for contact settings - it says they are synching over the air to icloud! Wow, never knew that. So, set ew iPhone to sync contacts from the cloud and BANG, there they all are on the new phone. That is very cool.

Rocky

Rocky

 

Evernote

I've been using Evernote for a long long time, but it has always bothered me that I couldn't use it for ALL my notes, because some data you just don't want out there in the cloud i.e passwords and bank details. So what I did was have one Note called "Secure" and marked it as "Do Not Sync.", so that data stayed on my HD and off the cloud. That still left it insecure on my own PC though. So I let this bother me for about a year, maybe more, and today, finally, I googled it. It was quite an interesting read, not only did I discover there was a very very simple way to secure that data with Evernote, I discovered a whole bunch of other stuff about Evernote that was really cool, very cool. Put it this way, if Evernote was my car, I just discovered today for the first time that my car has more than 1 gear. Stuff about Evernote I need to remember. Securing your sensitive data. Evernote can encrypt sensitive data within a note. Highlight the sensitive data, right-click, select "Encrypt selected text." Enter a password. In order to view that information in the future, you (or anyone else) will have to enter the password to do so. This is awesome, now I can password any section of text and it remains hidden from view until a password is entered. What's very cool is that this desktop feature syncs perfectly with mobile versions (ie iPhone). The password request is handled exactly the same on the mobile device, ie the text is hidden until the passphrase is entered. Backing Up DataThere are so many different apps for handling lists, passwords, memos these days. Many options too for webmail, contact lists etc. Where most of these things all falldown though is backup and retrieval. I have list manager apps on my phone and if it was to crash and burn, I have no clue how I would recover that data. Even webmail contact lists used to be difficult, although generally you can at least export to a CSV file these days. With Evernote though, there is an abundance of options. The biggest safety net of course is that your data is always in two places, on your local HD, and on the cloud - so that's a good start. But backing up is a simple export away, with four different export types, including HTML! Finally, I just love this quote from their blog.. Check out all the different ways of getting data into Evernote. Type It Email it (to your evernote address) and it appears in Evernote as a note. Use snapscan to scan stuff straight into Evernote Drag and drop any filetype into Evernote Photograph it, Evernote will even make any text in the photo searchable. My Evernote is a right old MESS of notes, with lots of junk surrounding some really important notes, so now I am sure about it's security, I'm going to tidy it up and start using it more! If you have never seen Evernote, it's one of the big players out there right now, check it out. http://www.evernote.com/ http://michaelhyatt.com/is-your-data-safe-in-evernote.html

Rocky

Rocky

 

Checking DVDs

Here's a handy tool for checking your burned DVDs for errors. http://www.mediafire.com/file/cozzwmowze2/CDSpeed.zip This is the free version before it went paid!

Rocky

Rocky

 

Yottube Stutters Stopped

Earlier tonight I was watching youtube clicks and getting annoyed but that persistent pause that catches your eye every so often. Then by pure chance I stumbled upon the fix in another website, result!

Rocky

Rocky

 

Panorma Stichers

Trying to find a panorama stitcher I used back in March 2008! ADG Pano ramaProfessional http://www.albatrossdesign.com

Rocky

Rocky

 

System Restore doesn't work.

For sometime now my system restore is out of action. I get a message about being unable to restore. I very very rarely use this function (like maybe once every two years or something), but it annoys me to think something is not working correctly. CNET have a really good solution filled discussion about the issue here, worth bookmarking.

Rocky

Rocky

 

Youtube Tricks

Youtube is starting to get its act together with stuff like Hi-Res videos etc, but it's not always easy to know how to take full advantage of some features, here's a handy list of the ones I use. To link to a video with an HD option you need to add &hd=1 to the end of the url. For region limited videos remove the watch? text from the url, like this.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=<somecode> to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=<somecode> To download a video just go to the address bar and add the word "kick" to the start of the url and hit return. (i.e. kickyoutube.com/video code here) and one I have not tried yet but sounds cool, link to a specific start point in a video by appending the following to the url.. #t=03m22s

Rocky

Rocky

 

Checking DVDs

Handy (free) tool for checking the surface of a DVd for errors after burning. Nero Disk Speed

Rocky

Rocky

 

Beyonce - If I Were A Boy

Beyonce performed If I Were a Boy on the X Factor final last night, an absolutely stunning performance, never seen anything like that before, just plain remarkable. Browsing around it looks like I'm late to this party (again lol), nevertheless, this is a timeless performance. I'd heard that song on the radio before, but didn't even now who sung it until recently. But after seeing that performance I've been browsing around to find other live performances, found some good ones below with HQ viewing options. X-Factor Final Live HD (big box link to stopid video in bottom left unfortunately) If I were a Boy Live (spanish subs, but still amazing). MTV Awards Official Footage Live at MTV in HD It's shaky cam and the audio suffers sometimes, still good though, pity the guy didn't focus in more on those keyboard players though. Crazy in Love Live, awesome, check the drummer out at the end. Strictly Come Dancing.

Rocky

Rocky

 

Flash Photo Galleries - Pay

DYNAMIC FLASH PHOTO GALLERY Live Example. DFFG is a pay product (quite expensive), but there is a free example download from Template Monster. Template monster have some pay-to-use photography websites that use the same technology as this free download, and it's very impressive. For example, there's a php Admin centre where you can control the various options for your photo galleries. The free version is for trial only and not suitable for a live gallery, as any changes you make in the admin section are not saved. However, if you are willing to pay for a template for your portfolio, it is well worth checking this out, I've never seen anything quite like it. There was a lack of instructions, and considering the download was a fairly hefty 106Mb I thought this was going to be too much trouble to get going. However, it's just one of the folders that needs uploaded, and it was only 15Mb so not too bad. The sample gallery worked right out of the box which was a good start. To get the full use of the admin section though, you do need to FTP in and set some CHMOD permissions. The Admin section (login is admin/admin) is amazing. You can add new galleries, upload photo's from your hardrive, label them and even edit the actual photo's (cropping, rotating etc etc) all using a very smooth flashy control panel. If you have the money, and like the sound of having a Admin Control Centre for managing your gallery, then this really is the product to get. View their dynamic photo templates here.

Rocky

Rocky

 

Flash Photo Galleries - Free

There are heaps of flash photogalleries to choose from these days, so I' decided to try a few out and see which is the best. To do this I used the same 9 photos in each example, to see which was easiest to set up, and which gave the best end effect! TILT VIEWER Live Example. TiltViewer has a free and a pay version. The only difference is that the pay version has extra customisations for colours etc, the free version is perfectly suitable for most applications. TiltViewer has a couple of options for image location, you can have it pull images from Flickr, or from your web space, which is the option I went for. I only had to check the instructions once briefly before I had my gallery online and working great, so TV is a quick way of getting a flash gallery online easily. It's xml driven, so it's a simple case of editing the sample xml file and changing the filenames, and file descriptions, and that's pretty much it. You don't even need to create thumbnails, just have a folder full of the images you want to use, and you're good to go. The full upload package is less than 150Kb, so this is a lightweight system. As far as configuration goes, you can change all the colours (borders, background, text etc), and the descriptions support html. In fact the xml file is very similar to slideshow pro. On the plus side the author does permit users to download the fla file, so if you know a bit of flash, you can customise the effect all you like. It's a pretty clean cut layout in use, but still instinctive. You click an image to expand it, click it again to reduce it, or click the bottom icon to flip it over and find a description and option to link to another webpage, which could be the full uncompressed image is you like. So, TV is good for quickness, config, and useability FLASH GALLERY Live Example. Next up is the top Google result, Flash Gallery. This is a TINY system that will take up only 15Kb on your server, plus photo's. The swf file is a tiny 10Kb compared to Tilt Viewers 120Kb. There is more work required than with TV though, as Flash Gallery needs thumbs to work, so you have to create thumbs yourself. There is free software available to download that will batch process thumbs for you though, so no biggie really. The presentation is virtually identical to SlideShowPro, with a row of thumbs to select from lined up beneath the main image. Like Tilt Viewer there are a couple of icons, one to go full screen, and one to link to the actual image. In Tiltviewer you can set the link to go anywhere though, with Flash Gallery it only links to the actual image in the gallery, not even a full size version of it if you so wished. Where Flash Gallery falls down is two threefold. 1. There's been no updates from the developer since summer 2007. 2. It has a watermark on the bottom left. 3. Lack of customisation. I guess the tiny 10Kb size has something to do with complaint number 3, but when weighing up against a 120Kb TiltViewer with more options, it's a bit of a no brainer. Unless you are deadset on this kind of layout and want a very small footprint, there isn't really much to recommend Flash Gallery. It works fine, but the limitations and watermark put me off. Shame really, to command the number spot on Google for flash photograph galleries is an opportunity to say the least. CAROUSEL Live Example. Initially I thought Carousel was going to take a little more time to get set up, as the download didn't come pre-stocked with a sample gallery that could be easily substituted with my own pictures. You even had to create the xml file that holds the image data from scratch! Luckily there is a wiki to assist! Eventually I found that the author's website had template downloads that were easily edited to create a new gallery in seconds. The whole thing is under 300Kb, so it's another lightweight system. As the title suggests the layout here is different from most other photogallerys as it presents the photo's in a rotating circle, the further the mouse moves left or right, the faster it rotates. Click on an image to have it open in a new window, or indeed open anything you like in a new window as the link is fully customisable. There's quite a lot tat can be customised, so if you like the basic premise, this is all free so dive in and have fun. The example I have linked above uses Lightbox technology for the very cool image popups. This required editing in two files, the xml file and also the html file. It only takes a few minutes and care to make sure you reference the images correctly. The simpler templates do not use this effect and simply link to the image in a new html page. Simple Example. The only downside is that all the Carousel shows have a small watermark link in the bottom left. FLASH PHOTO BROWSER Live Example. This is a neat presentation that stacks your photo collection up as if it's a pile of photos on a desk, lying askew to show just a little of each of the photos below. As you click on the top photo it makes its way to the bottom of the pack and the next next rotates slightly as it comes to the front. There's a button top right to switch to a more conventional layout of rows and columns. Getting this online and working is about as simple as it gets. You don't even need to edit any files, just have a folder of images, and a folder of thumbs (only used for the alternative rows/columns layout). There is not really much customisation that can be done, hence it comes in at an incredible 17Kb in total, including the readme lol! This is a great way of getting a gallery online fast! POLAROID FLASH GALLERY Live Example. Here's another very fast way to get a flash photo gallery online, Polaroid Flash Gallery. The interface here is laid out like a batch of polaroid photo's scattered across a surface. The photos can all be clicked and dragged to any location on the screen as if shuffling around the table, and expanded by double clicking. I'd have really like to see the blow up image a bit larger, or an option to see the full size image, alas this is not an option with the current version at least. A neat way to display images, and although it allows for a text description for each image, that is about as far as customisation goes. To get up and running you just have to edit a simple xml file with your file names, and upload the sub 400Kb suite of files to your webspace. No need to create thumbs, it could hardly be any easier really! SIMPLE VIEWER Live Example. From the same developer as the cool Tilt Viewer comes the more reserved Simple Viewer flash gallery. This is a row and column gallery with the main image being displayed to the right of the thumbs. No special effects here, just a nice clean layout. The free version has a small image link bottom right, back to the author's website. You do need to create thumbs for this gallery though, so a little more prep is required than some of the other flash galleries. As usual there is an xml to edit with the filenames for each photo, with a few colour options available too. Each photo can have a description (caption) associated with it, which is displayed beneath the thumbs and can be formatted with simple HTML tags. A bonus here is that the description can contain a link, to another site or even the full image, it's up to you. A simple design, piece of cake to install. AND THE WINNER IS To win this little group test the gallery needed to show custom text for each photo, and have a nicely sized blow up photo when the thumb was clicked. Less important but taken into consideration would be the ability to have a hyperlink for each photo, a nice effect, and no watermark/logo. Flash Gallery was a bit Plain Jane. Flash Photo Browser and Carousel were both a nice effect but not very practical. Polaroid Gallery was neat, but the clicked photos were a bit small. Tiltviewer and Simple Viewer both managed to pass almost all those requirements easily, the free versions have a small logo present, but apart from that these are the best and it's hard to choose between them. In the end the nice big photo's and additional sound effects make Tiltviewer just that little bit more attractive and it wins the day, with Simple Viewer a very close second. Hope this helps someone select their next online photo gallery!

Rocky

Rocky

 

Missing Hal.dll

So I had the joy of trying to repair a freinds PC with the dreaded missing hal.dll error preventing a boot. There's a tonne of google reading on that error, so for future reference, here's where I am at on this particular computer. Microsoft Support hall.dll Page In summary : 1. Configure the computer to start from the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive. 2. Insert the Windows XP CD-ROM into your CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive, and then restart your computer. 3. When you receive the "Press any key to boot from CD" message, press a key to start your computer from the Windows XP CD-ROM. 4. When you receive the "Welcome to Setup" message, press R to start the Recovery Console. 5. If you have a dual-boot or multiple-boot computer, select the installation that you have to use from the Recovery Console. In this case there was one install and no passowrd, therefor it went straight to C:/ 6. When you are prompted, type the administrator password, and then press ENTER. 7. At the command prompt, type bootcfg /list, and then press ENTER. The entries in your current Boot.ini file appear on the screen. In this case there were none... 8. At the command prompt, type bootcfg /rebuild, and then press ENTER. This command scans the hard disks of the computer for Windows XP, Microsoft Windows 2000, or Microsoft Windows NT installations, and then displays the results. Follow the instructions that appear on the screen to add the Windows installations to the Boot.ini file. For example, follow these steps to add a Windows XP installation to the Boot.ini file: a. When you receive a message that is similar to the following message, press Y: Total Identified Windows Installs: 1 [1] C:\Windows Add installation to boot list? (Yes/No/All) b. You receive a message that is similar to the following message: Enter Load Identifier This is the name of the operating system. When you receive this message, type the name of your operating system, and then press ENTER. This is either Microsoft Windows XP Professional or Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition. c. You receive a message that is similar to the following: Enter OS Load options When you receive this message, type /fastdetect, and then press ENTER. 9. Type exit, and then press ENTER to quit Recovery Console. Your computer restarts, and the updated boot list appears when you receive the "Please select the operating system to start" message. So Now I could get a partial boot, partial because at boot I was presented with two XP installs and had to select one. The first choice meant it proceeded to the WinXP loading screen, and hing, the second choice booted to the original hall error message

Rocky

Rocky

 

Online Image Editing

It's remarkable what developers can achieve in a browser these days - how about full image editing!

Rocky

Rocky

 

Photo Panoramas

Microsoft have released a photo photo stitching app, haven't tried it yet though. MS Panorama Tool.

Rocky

Rocky

 

Skinning Grid Cars

Here's how to skin your own BMW in GRID. Tools Required DxtBmp PSSG Pack of both files HERE. Extract dds files 1. Backup and keep safe the folder grid\cars\bmw 2. Start PSSG 3. Browse to \Codemasters\GRID\cars\bmw\livery_00\textures_high\bmw_tex_high_00.pssg and click extract. 4. Browse to \Codemasters\GRID\cars\bmw\livery_user\textures_high\bmw_tex_high_user.pssg This creates two new folders called bmw_tex_high_user_pssgfiles with all the dds files we need inside. Import 3 dds files 1. Start DXTbmp (MW Graphics in start folder) 2. Do Prefs > Select Editor and point this tool at your preferred image editor (i.e. photoshop or paintshop pro). 3. Open bmw_main.dds" (in the folder "bmw_tex_high_00_pssgfiles). You can drag that file into the editor if easier. 4. Select the "send to editor" icon in the bottom row. 5. Do the same for the bmw_main.dds from the livery_user folder 6. Do the same for the main_m1.dds alpha channel using the "send alpha to editor" option deom the drop down menu. Go to this image and resize it to exactly double the size. Depending on your setup you will either have 3 images in your paint editor, or 3 instances of your editor opened each holding one of the images. We need to get one image now, with each of those images as a seperate layer. So copy and paste two of theimages as new layers in the first image. You should now have one image, with three layers showing different parts of the cars design. Edit Your Design 1. Redesign your car as you like! 2. Save the design in a format that retains the layers, so you can re-edit it easily later. For example psp format for paint shop pro or psd for photoshop. 3.

Rocky

Rocky

 

Dvd Ripping

Here's an awesome addon for backing up your DVDs (assuming it's legal where you are ) Lifehacker have an article and link explaining it all, basically it's a set of macros someone came up with that when applied to DVD Shrink automatically make all the selections so that backing up your DVDs really is a one click process (after the first time, which needs settings defined). Very cool.

Rocky

Rocky

 

Youtube Sucks

Youtube has revolutionized streaming media on the web and made sharing video something that the general public at large could never have done on such a large scale before. Why then does it suck so bad? It's usability is simply appalling. Here's my top 5 reasons why Youtube sucks and they should get their act together. 1. There's no flash player control other than play and pause! When it comes to flash players Youtube is trailing way behind any other streaming media site you care to mention. Not only is there a lack of fast forward and rewind, but you can't click on any point in the time line and expect it to play from that point, it jumps back to a predetermined point! In actuality, this is a very poor excuse for a flash movie player. 2. Layout. The layout is so bad it is hard to believe. The five basic items of information you want is (a) Summary (2) Views (3) Date uploaded (4) Uploaded by (5) rating. But they are not grouped together, some is under the video player, and some to the side. Worse still, the Summary Information is a further click away. This information should be length restricted and shown at the side without the need to click again. 3. Private Messaging. This feature is bust, every time I send a PM I get a message saying that there was an error, leaving me unsure whether the message got though or not. Maybe this is just me, I doubt it though. 4. Sound. Why is the sound out of synch on so many of the videos? Is it the source that's been poorly encoded, or is it Youtube's encoding that's doing it? Youtube is the only site I see this issue on, but without further testing the jury os out on this one admittedly. 5. Video quality. Although steps are being made to improve the quality, the resolution stays the same, that tiny window really isn't up to todays broadband capabilities. The option of a larger viewing area with better quality playback is long overdue.

Rocky

Rocky

 

Spam, the war begins.

I'm so mad about the amount of hastle spam is causing me that I am declaring war. If I am going to end up losing my primary website address because of low life spammers, damn straight I'm going to get some revenge. It starts by reading up on spam, how they do it, and understanding how e-mail works. This will be phase 1. And it starts now.

Rocky

Rocky

 

Backing up Outlook Express Rules

Other Mail Rules 1. Click Start, and then click Run. 2. In the Open box, type regedit, and then click OK. 3. Locate and click the following registry subkeys (save each key to a different file): HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities\{Identity Number}\Software\Microsoft\Outlook Express\5.0\Rules\Mail 4. On the Registry menu, click Export Registry File. 5. In the Save In box, change the location to your desktop. 6. In the File Name box, type mail rules.reg (for the mail rules key), and then click Save. 7. On the Registry menu, click Exit.

Rocky

Rocky

 

Accessing Region Locked Websites

I stumbled upon a really great, legal, website for watching TV shows today - hulu.com. The problem is, just as I settled down to watch the very first epsiode of The Rockford Files, it gave me a message saying that it was only available in the USA. Turns out the entire website is only streaming to US residents. Well, that just won't do. A quick google, first result and viola - http://www.hotspotshield.com. Download, install, run, job done. It gives you a different IP number that hulu will accept. Here I come Jim!

Rocky

Rocky

 

Adding a mp3 ringtone to a Palm Device.

Adding a mp3 ringtone to a Palm Device, an aid memoir. * Use file encoding tool Super to re-encode the mp3 in mono at a constant bitrate. * Start RealPlayer on PC * Connect Palm to PC * Start Realplayer on Palm * On Realplayer on PC, click on Media Library Tab * Click on PalmOne Device. * Drag mp3 from file manager to RealPlayer and click Transfer * On Palm, open Minitunes and select the mp3 * Click ADD * In Contacts, edit contact to use new Ringtone. That's it.

Rocky

Rocky

 

2nd Dan.

I've been doing a fair bit of training for the last few weeks. I always train a minimum of 4 nights a week anyway, but for the last six weeks it's been more like every night. That's because today was my 2nd Dan grading, and I've been preparing for it like mad. It's been 12 years since I passed my 1st dan, and I've never stopped training since, so the thought of going for a grading after all that time was a tad stressful to say the least. Chief Instructors from Europe were over for a 3 day course this weekend, Fri - Sun, culminating in the dan gradings. Today was a killer, a 3 hour course with no break, getting tiny errors pointed out so we could correct them prior to the grading, hopefully. Then 2 hours later back to the honbu for the grading. Five sitting 2nd Dan and 2 sitting 3rd dan. A few pounds of sweat and a thick lip later, I was left with the others for what seeemed about 45 minutes during the deliberations. Then we were called back in and given the news - all passed, apart from one. I passed and was awarded my 2nd Dan certificate, so at long last my stress levels can return to normal

Rocky

Rocky

 

Bye Bye X360, Hello Wii!

So I eventually got around to getting rid of my disapointing X360. Nobody wanted to buy it, so I traded it in for a new Wii - and after a day playing the Wii I wish I had done it a long time ago. The games I got were 2 family type games where the kids could playing bowling and boxing etc, and two for me I just went for two of the highest rated games, RE4 and the latest Zelda game. I have never played Zelda in my life, so I was keen to see what all the fuss was about, because I understand the game is HUGE. Off the bat it reminded my of Final Fantasy, back in the day. It looks pretty easy going so far, so it might provide a welcome respite from the horrors of Bioshock on the PC. RE4 looks very promising. I loved the very first one, I think that was a PS1 release? Surprisingly, the whole aim and shoot process is a bit easier than with a joypad, I seem to find, so that's a bonus. I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised with the quality of graphics too, I didn't expect much, so to find them more than adeqaute was another bonus. They do look a little "washed out" I suppose, but it's kind of atmospheric, so it's all good. I can see many afternoons of hilarity playing bowling with the kids though, neat stuff. The controller is VERY accurate. I have to admit when I initially saw the idea behind the controller when the Wii was released, I was in the "sounds great but I bet it won't work worth a dime" crowd, well, it does work, very very well. I'd love to find a game like the arcade shooters, where you reload by shaking the gun off screen, and take on a house of zombies etc, I don't think I saw anything like that in the top rated Wii games though. Impressive piece of kit though.

Rocky

Rocky

 

Widescreens Cleartype

This week I joined the widescreen gaming community with the purchase of a 20" Samsung 204BW. While games are really awesome, there was one thing bothering me, and that was text ; reading text just isn't as easy or comfortable as it was on the trusty old CRT. Trying to resolve this "issue" led to an educational Google chase and an interesting call to Samsung support. Anyway, in my usual fashion, I got a strange impulse to document the whole thing, so here goes - if anyone stumbles upon this while googling for "cleartype", maybe the following will save you some further search time. The Problem The issue was that text just looked too faint in desktop work, like reading e-mails in outlook, or some text in webpages. Obviously at my new native resolution of 1600x1050 fonts were going to appear smaller, but that aside, the text was quite "faint". If I wasn't going to start suffering from eye strain, it was obvious a solution was required. Equally, if this was a fault with the monitor, then I needed to identify and confirm it so I could pursue an RMA and replacement. Obvious Stuff First The first thing was to make sure the monitor was set up correctly. I don'tknow about other flat screens, but this Samsung has a ton of options, including 6 presets for things like internet, games, movies etc. Additionally there's the usual brightness, contrast and other settings to tweak. I had already read that these monitos ship with the brightness up at 100, so that was the first thing I toned down. There is also an Nvidia tool for setting up the colours correctly, that was a useful tool and it did make a visible difference to the display of colours, but not any difference to text. However, after playing around with everything from brightness to sharpness, I couldn't really say that text was any easier to read. The other obvious thing was drivers, so both graphics card and monitor drivers were checked and the latest versions installed. Cleartype This is where things started to get interesting. I remembered using Microsoft's cleartype technology on my CRT, and also on my Palm PDA - in both cases the text was very much improved, much bolder, without actually being "bold". Here's the confusing thing about cleartype and LCD monitors though, one the one hand you will find sources like wikipedia saying that cleartype will "improve the appearance of text ..., especially LCD flat-panel monitors" On the other hand 5 minutes Googling will reveal user comments like "Most people have found that ClearType reduces readability of text on LCD monitors. Best not to even try it in most cases." So what do you believe? Well, what you believe is your own eyes, so the only thing you can do is test it out yourself and see how your monitor responds. To activate cleartype in Windows XP, right click on the desktop and select Properties, then the Appearance tab, then Effects. There's a smooth edges setting there, that's where you'll find cleartype. Once you click apply, you'll probably see windows do a quick display restart, and then the effect should be quite obvious. The problem for me, was that while text did become easier to read due to the cleartype effect, it also gained a new attribute, bleeding. I found that the vertical strokes of small point text had a quite uneasy, almost un-nerving colour tinge that put me on edge. It was like, is it there, or am I imagining it? So the investigating started full force... What Does Cleartype Do? I wanted to check what this color bleed was, so to convince myself I was not seeing things, I took a screengrab of some email text, zoomed in (not enlarged), then took a screengrab of the zoom, this is what I found... As you can see, the vertical strokes do indeed have a coloured line, remember, this is black text on a white background. Even worse, in applications that had white text on a black background (like XFire for example), when I switched cleartype on, exclamation marks and also the number "1" changed from white to red and green!! That's just plain wrong. So by now I am wondering if this is normal behaviour for cleartype, more Googling confirmed that this is in fact exactly how clreaytype works, and it's called subpixel rendering. "Like most other types of subpixel rendering, ClearType actually involves a compromise, sacrificing one aspect of image quality (color or chrominance detail) for another (light and dark or luminance detail). The compromise improves text appearance because when viewing black and white text, luminance detail is more important than chrominance. The compromise works because it takes advantage of certain peculiarities of human vision." That small extract from Wikipedia ticks my issue box - the issue of colour bleeding or as it is called elsewhere color fringing . Cleartype uses colours and anti-aliasing to remove the sharp edges that individual pixels on flat panel monitors cause. This confirmed that I was not imagining the effect, but I already knew that because of anecdotal evidence gleemed from google again, like this random quote... "Oh yes and PLEASE do not copy the ClearType thing as it sucks big time! On good LCD screens it leaves the impression of red and blue lines alongside the characters " Here's another thing though, if this is an issue, and it's bugging me, why is cleartype heralded the tech world over as such a god send? the clue is here in this quote (thanks again to Wikipedia). "ClearType and similar technologies work because human vision is much more sensitive to variations in intensity than it is to variations in color. The human eye can discern contrasts in intensity about three times better than it can discern contrasts in color; thus, when ClearType sacrifices color accuracy in order to increase level of luminance detail, the overall effect—as seen by human eyes—is seen as an improvement by most people." Notice the bit I bolded. Most People. This explains why when I asked Mrs Rocky to look at the screen and tell me what she wrong with the text, she replied that it looked alright to her, and why it probably looks alright to the majority of the LCD using world - some people just don't pick up on it. Bad news for me, I notice it - not so much easily, but occasionally, and it's annoying. So with the issue confirmed, what to do? Tweaking Cleartype I didn't want to give up on cleartype, as it did look like it was a solution to faint text, only that it came with an overhead. This could be the reason why Microsoft also have a cleartype tweaking tool available! You can either download a version that becomes available in the Control Panel, or you can do it online through a web interface. Note that you need to use IE for this, it doens't work in Firefox. Surprise surprise. The online tuner works by asking you to select which sample text looks best. Some will clearly have color fringing, those are the ones to avoid, select which ever text looks best to your eyes. The download version is better though, because in the Advanced tab there is a slider that lets you select the exact amount of smoothing that you find comfortable. For me, that was basically all the way down at the minimum setting. At that setting there is a slight improvement over normal text, and not much in the way of colour fringing. If you find you can tune it higher up the scale, lucky you - you are getting a higher definition text - without any side effects. For me though, my monitor "upgrade" comes at a price, and not just the £170 it cost me. Text is not as readable as it was on a 1024,768 CRT, plain and simple. And it's not just me, here's another random Google quote.. "Once you setup your shiny new LCD, you may have noticed that a lot of characters in email or word documents are harder to read than before. " One other thing (and this wasn't mentioned in Wikipedia), but you might already be using cleartype and not even realise it. Why? Because Microsoft have it on by default in Internet Explorer 7. you can read about that from Mr Cleartype himself, in his blog, where he lets slip that it is also on by default in Vista. So that's where I'm at, on the plus side though, GAMES LOOK AWESOME IN WIDESCREEN!!!!! If anyone actually read all that, well done.

Rocky

Rocky

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