Bye Bye Balloons

OK. Hands up everyone who hates the little ballon things down in the system tray?
Thought so, everyone.

Well over at Techie Corner is a fabulous little post entitled How to disable balloon notification in Windows XP – T

Here is the hype..

Sometimes notification are good to remind you if you forget something,
if the notification keep prompt you for something then it’s a bit frustrating.
It’s just like the balloon notification in microsoft windows xp.

To disable balloon notification in win xp, simply follow the steps below:-

  • Click Start => Run => enter regedit
  • Look for HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ Advance
  • create a DWORD value (or edit it if it’s already exists) named EnableBalloonTips with value 0
  • Click registry editor
  • Log off win xp and login again. (You sort of knew that one was coming)

The balloon notification should be disabled by now

The usual scary reminders about messing with the Registry apply. DO a backup, and be careful.
Remember, if it breaks “its all your fault”.

Is your PC slowing down?

So you use Windows (statistically 80% of you do) and like all Windows PC it’s getting slower. Now the really fun question is WHY?

Well over at TPCSv8 there is a thorough investigation of what the most likely culprits stealing your precious performance are. It’s entitled What Slows Windows Down?

Here is a bit of the hype…

Any computer user that’s owned and installed software onto their computer knows that the more you install, the slower the beast runs. Most also know that it’s not just quantity and that what you install plays a large factor in how slowly your computer runs.

The aim of this article is to find out what types of application slow down a computer the most. I’m going to be measuring the“speed” as the time it takes to shutdown, restart and get back to desktop (with auto-login) and start an application in the computer’s start-up settings.

The PC Spy web site ran several tests to determine which applications, when installed on your Windows computer, are doing the most to slow down your system.

The author (OliWarner, who usually hangs out over at Experts Exchange) installed a bunch of likely candidates onto a Windows virtual machine in order to determine how much slower the system become. Each new application was installed on a totally fresh machine, and the tests were repeated 3 times each. The results?

Well you need to read the article, but I’ll give you a hint, everything I thought about Norton’s AV has been confirmed)

eBooks for your PDA

OK lets get the luddite thing out of the way first up. I like books. Yep, always have and always will. Herr Gutenberg was onto one of the all time great little ideas when he invented movable type.

But (and you knew there would be a but) they can be a pain. They are heavy (dead trees… what do you expect) and bulky, you should see my bag… laptop, two dead tree note books, pen, assorted power supplies, hard drives, USB thingies, swiss army knife, headphones, client folder and the phone and PDA and the new Sanwa MP3 player. Where the hell do I fit a book.

So I load PDF’s and text files onto the PDA and read them there. My current PDA is an IPAQ H4700 which has a killer screen and is suprisingly easy to read. (My all time fav PDA was the PSION 5 but that’s another story).

Now for when the manuals get boring I just discovered a great source of stuff over at manybooks.net . There is the usual repackaging of the Project Gutenberg stuff, but there is also some recent Creative Commons releases, including Down and Out In the Magic Kingdom by Corey Doctorow.

Here is some stuff from wikipedia…

Doctorow’s first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, is a utopian novel set in a future Walt Disney World where scarcity has been abolished and economic transactions are mediated through a reputation system similar to Slashdot’s “Karma”, measured in units called Whuffie. It was published in January 2003, and was the first novel released under a Creative Commons license. The license allowed readers to freely circulate the electronic edition, and that electronic edition was released simultaneously with the print edition. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom was re-licensed under an expanded Creative Commons license in March 2003, to allow non-commercial derivative works such as fan fiction. Doctorow has argued that this commercial success has been due, at least in part, to the free licensing terms which build an audience for the books.

Anyway, go grab a “book” and load it up to your PC or PDA (or perhaps your iPod?) and have a read.

Update: When Google Print first started it was pretty obvious that it would end up being an amazing resource. It provided access to out of copyright books one page at a time. What we all wanted though was the “take out version”, the ability to download full PDF versions of the books. Oh, and could Google to provide this for free.

Google went ahead and did it. Books no longer in copyright are now available for download from the Google Book Search site.

Remember this only applies to older books, but it’s it’s still a great way of giving access to the world’s knowledge (in English, at any rate), and it can’t raise any objections from publishers. Books which were before available only on the shelves of large academic libraries are now available to anyone with a Web connection and some curiosity. Cool huh?

Rename and Shrink Photos in Bulk

A week or two back a client handed me 600+ photos that they needed placed on their website (don’t ask), and after a conversation which involved them basically venting about how bloody hard it was to manage that many photos and get the naming and sizing right, I endeared myself by telling them this first little trick AFTER they had finished the renaming job ( I would have told them before but that would have involved them telling me what they wanted to do do BEFORE they started).

Using Windows Xp Tools

So to rename a bunch of photos in Window XP, you use this trick give a to every picture in the folder.

  • Open the folder containing the pictures and select View > Thumbnails.
  • Click the last picture in the folder you want to rename, hold down the Shift key, and click the first picture; this will select them all. (Me, I just hit CTRL A )
  • Rightclick on the first photo, and select Rename from the drop-down menu.

Windows XP will highlight the filename for the first photo, enabling you to be a tad more creative in the naming than DSC1001 (eg. Presentation). After you type in the name, hit return or you can click the white space outside of the photo and watch as Windows applies the name with a sequential number to each picture in the folder. What you end up with looks like Presentation (1).jpg Presentation (2).jpg etc

So now we have them all renamed to something meaningful with consecutive numbers. That’s all well and good but we need to resize them

Hands up everyone who has had a “mate” send them a photo that has clogged up your mail box for an hour or two while the happy snap of them being stupid downloads? That’s what I thought. EVERYONE.

Now for the biggy, hands up everyone who has sent a “mate” a happy snap of their cat, car, kid whatever and clogged up the mail box for an hour or two. Thought so.

HardDriveBORING GEEK BIT:
Digital photographs are made up of pixels(it’s short for “picture elements”) and a pixel is a single point in an image. The total image resolution of a photo taken with a three-megapixel camera, for example, is about 2,048 by 1,536 pixels, which, when multiplied together, is more than three million pixels working together to make up the picture.

Your monitor is also measured in pixels, and most monitors these days use screen resolutions of 800 by 600 pixels; 1,024 by 768 pixels; or 1,152 by 864 pixels. All of these resolutions are somewhat smaller than a three-megapixel photo, so when the photo is displayed at its full size, it exceeds the monitor’s screen size.
END GEEK Bit:

But both Windows XP and Mac OS X give you the opportunity to shrink photos to resolutions that fit better on a computer screen, like 800 by 600 pixels.

In Windows XP, click to select the photos you want to send from the My Pictures folder or wherever you store the pics. After you have selected the pictures you want to send, click in the “E-mail selected items” option in the lefthand task pane or you can just right-click with the mouse and select “Send to Mail Recipient” from the pop-up menu.

You will get a box popup, click the button next to “Make all my pictures smaller” and then on the link for “Show more options” to see a selection of resolutions to use for the picture attachments. Choose one and click O.K.

You can now send photo’s that aren’t going to clog the mail box.

Google’s Picasa photo-management program for Windows and Linux (free to download at http://picasa.google.com) can also shrink photo attachments.

Using Irfanview To Process Photos

But for an all round “Swiss Army knife” image processing tool, my all time favourite is IrfanView

IrfanView is fast, small, compact, versatile and FREEWARE (for non-commercial use) for Windows 9x/ME/NT/2000/XP/2003.

I have a permanent page about how to resize photos over on the right .

Irfanview will also rename and resize the photo’s in one shot under it’s BATCH functions. Here are some quick and dirty directions for doing a batch rename using Irfanview…

  • File Menu > Batch Conversion/Rename
  • The Batch conversion window will pop-up:
  • Where it says Look in: Select individual files you want to convert or you click on the Add all button to the left of the files window
  • Under Output form: Check that JPG-JPEG Files is selected
  • Under Work as: Batch rename radio button is selected
  • Under Output directory: Click the Browse button and find the directory on your hard drive where you want to save your renamed images, such as C:\My Pictures\
  • Under Rename Options: Ensure Copy input files to output directory radio button is selected
  • Change Namepattern### to desired name, such as Presentation###
  • Under Starting index: Ensure you change the number if you want to start at anything other than 1 (i.e., if yopu want to start at 1000 Presentation###
  • Under Input Files: Click the Start button.
  • When complete, click the Exit button

You can find a flash tutorial with screen dumps and stuff over at the Coppermine Photo Gallery site or a more static version at mysticmusings that will give you an idea (if all that text has turned your brain to mush… I know it did mine just writing it).

A great tool, highly recommended.

UPDATE

I forgot tpo put in a Linux version… (my bad). I found this great post over at Rhosgobel: Radagast’s home. Radagast uses Gimp, Image Magick, Nautilus and a stone cold killer script.. Very cool and seems to work a treat.

Another UPDATE

I finally found in scrapbook where I read the XP Rename tip thanks Derrick
http://help.cnet.com/9602-12576_39-0.html?messageID=2505053&tag=tip-2505053

TEDTalks

Every year in the States there is a four day conference held in the States called TED ( technology – entertainment – design). It’s Go to this link and it will explain the rationale behind TED far far better than I can. But the really cool thing is that they are posting 15 minute plus selected presentations so we can enjoy what the presenters have to say without paying the $4500.

Here is the hype…

Each year, TED hosts some of the world’s most fascinating people: Trusted voices and convention-breaking mavericks, icons and geniuses. The talks they deliver have had had such a great impact, we thought they deserved a wider audience. So now – with our sponsor BMW and production partner WNYC/New York Public Radio we’re sharing some of the most remarkable TED talks with the world at large. Each week, we’ll release a new talk, in audio and video, to download or watch online. For best effect, plan to listen to at least three, start to finish. They have a cumulative effect…

So find an hour and here are my pick for three TEDTalks (audio, video)

Lets start with the talk by Jeff Han. I saw him demonstrate his touch sensitive screen concept on Beyond Tomorrow a month or so back. It just wiped me out the second I saw it, it was so intuitive, in 3 seconds you could see how it worked. I want it. By the way Jeff is an incredibly passionate communicator,

Jeff Han is a research scientist for NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and the inventor of an “interface-free” touch-driven computer screen. (Recorded February 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 09:32)
Audio
Download Video

Nicholas Negroponte is a amazing character, you tend to get dragged on board his vision or you run away. He doesn’t leave a lot of people in the middle ground.

Nicholas Negroponte is former Director of the MIT Media Lab, and founder of the non-profit, One Laptop Per Child. (Recorded February 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 18:21)

Watch Online
Download Audio

Download Video

Number three would have to be Amy Smith, the work she is doing in under developed countries starting with building a better charcoal and working up from there, is astounding.

MIT engineer Amy Smith designs ingenious low-cost devices to tackle tough problems in developing countries. (Recorded February 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 15:48)

Watch Online
Audio
Download Video

There is a talk buy Jimmy Wales about Wikipedia, some astounding musical prodigies and a bunch of other stuff. This is inspirational stuff.

Not to be missed.

Websites that changed the world

The Observer has a list of Websites that changed the world, I must admit that I am not really surprised to find Thatchspace there but some of the choices seem odd.

A lot of the usual suspects were there, Yahoo, Google, ebay, Amazon, slashdot and at number 11 was salon.com, a site that I read frequently and have done for a long time. I was unaware of how it came in to existence. Here is some of the post…

11. salon.com
Founded: David Talbot, 1995, US
Users: Between 2.5 and 3.5m unique visitors per month

What is it? Online magazine and media company Salon grew out of a strike. When the San Francisco Examiner was shut for a couple of weeks in 1994 a few of its journalists taught themselves HTML and had a go at doing a newspaper with new technology. They found the experience liberating, and David Talbot, the Examiner’s arts editor, subsequently gave up his job and launched the kind of online paper he had always wanted to work for. Salon was originally a forum for discussing books, but the editors quickly realised it had to be more journalistic than that. They aimed at creating a ‘smart tabloid’, not afraid to be mischievous while maintaining a rigour with news. Talbot believes that online journalism came of age with the death of Princess Diana and the Lewinsky scandal. It proved with those events that it could be nimbler and more gossipy, it could update itself continually and, crucially, let readers join in. Salon’s Table Talk forum established a new relationship between a news outfit and its audience, letting readers write themselves into the story.

What I find interesting is the omissions, for example where the hell is Sourceforge? The main repository of open source projects.

Where is CSS Zen Garden , every time I read an article by the people who write websites rather than the people who consume them, this site name pops up as a major influence.

The Mozilla website should probably get a mention as well, if FireFox hasn’t changed the the world (200 million downloads and forcing Microsoft to do something about fixing the browser 70% of the world uses daily) then I don’t know what has.