May 262010
 

Another Habs season is over, one that contained a 100th year celebration. What it produced is what can be called a semi-historic playoff run that included eliminating the President’s Trophy winner and the reigning Stanley Cup champions. This was achieved albeit missing arguably the second (after Jaroslav Halak?, a goalie who else?) most important piece of the team in Andrei Markov.

The summer brings another barrage of questions which, despite the run to the conference finals and last summer’s make over by then general manager Bob Gainey, still exist or have arisen since. Starting next season Tomas Plekanec, if he does indeed stay, will eat up more of the salary cap pie and deserves at least some of it. This may highlight the quality, or lack thereof, of the defense corp which even with a present Markov needs improving.
The decision to sign several high profile yet undersized forwards were made last summer and the results have been both positive and negative, perhaps more positive considering the playoff run and the character showed by the said players. The defense was overhauled as well with the likes of Roman Hamrlik and Jaroslav Spacek, yet questions remain. The defensive zone was conceded very easily to many opposing teams and defensive liabilities like Marc Andre Bergeron, who was originally signed as a stop gap measure, continued to play despite it. Sometimes voices were calling for Bergeron to be replaced by Ryan O’Byrne but that in itself remained hardly a solution. Playing Bergeron as a forward, in the hopes of an added offensive spark, didn’t solve much if any of the defensive (including but not limited to toughness and size) problems.
The team which eventually eliminated the Habs, the Philadelphia Flyers, was allowed to skate and handle the puck far too often and easily take advantage of the territory or zone it gained, but surprisingly not regularly out shoot (another regular feature of Habs teams since…forever) the team. How two more offensively gifted teams in Pittsburgh and Washington were not able to this or did not take advantage of this is a question few might be able to answer. Perhaps the brave Habs ran out of gas by the third round or the flawed system by the sometimes criticized coach just worked in the first two rounds because of the outstanding goalie and the other players.
Looking forward, I believe the major question remains: how to improve or perhaps how to balance the team on the defensive side in these salary cap days when a good amount of the cap room has and will be allocated elsewhere. Time will tell. Go Habs Go.

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May 212010
 

MyPaint is described by its author as

MyPaint is a fast and easy open-source graphics application for digital painters

The aim of MyPaint is to keep distractions to a minimum. It has an unlimited canvas size, so a drawing can be as big as needed. The most important feature of MyPaint however is the number of brushes it provides, the list is big and therefore the possibilities extensive.

Basic and usual drawings or paintings start by choosing a color – from the color ring for example – and then choosing a brush. Note that many brushes are available by default and can be seen via the different headings on the Brush Selection window. If the selection window is not visible one can bring up the window using the Brush menu and choosing Brush List. Brush sizes can be increased and decreased by repeatedly clicking the D or F keys respectively. The canvas can be set to different forms and backgrounds using the Layers—>Background menu. Layers can also be created and moved above and below each other using Ctrl+PageUp or Ctrl+PageDown or by using the Layers menu. MyPaint can save and load images in PNG, JPG and ORA formats. It is also possible to create one’s own brushes by following this tutorial.
MyPaint is a useful open source software available for Windows and Linux and is at version 0.8.2 as of this post. Painting or drawing skills not included!

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May 182010
 

In this edition of New Version News I will highlight two new versions of freeware downloads reviewed earlier on RGdot.com.

dirhtml featured here and here is at v.4.851 now with some improvements such as:

  • Config and XML files are now UTF.
  • Ability to create HTML5 doctype files.
  • New variables such as %%ROOT_FOLDER% and %%FNAME% simplify and improve file creation.

SysPad which is now also in its own home at Serysoft has newer versions, for example:

  • One can now start typing in FolderPad’s text box to filter and easily find the folder entries or destinations one is looking for.
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May 152010
 

There is not a lot to say about RBTray other than it is a small (total size of the unzipped program which includes RBTray for both 32 and 64 bit systems is 220KB) program that once double clicked will run in the background and adds one useful function to the minimize button of almost any Windows program.
Instead of left clicking the minimize button right click it and the Window is minimized (iconized) to the system tray instead of the task bar. This saves valuable space in XP and Vista systems. RBTray can be added to the Startup group (a how-to example http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/setup/hwandprograms/autorun.mspx) to start with Windows and can be terminated via any of the minimized icons – right click the icon and choose Exit RBTray. Alternatively RBTray can be terminated via the command line or in the system’s task manager.

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May 122010
 

Krento is described by its author as

Krento is an application manager and widget engine for Microsoft Windows

Krento is a lightweight launcher that is not too unlike Radian featured earlier here. Upon installation a circular set of ‘stones’ and a ‘pulsar’ appear on the desktop (see image above). The pulsar which fades into the desktop if the mouse is away from it offers one way to activate the stones or the main interface of Krento. By right clicking on each segment or stone of the program it can be changed to one of the pre-configured settings like the ability to show, in the center of the program interface, the current time, IP address or to shut down the computer. Alternatively stones can be configured to open programs with command line parameter support. Win+C is the default keyboard method of opening the program, this and other settings, for example to activate Krento via the mouse, are available in the program’s option (right click the tray icon). Using the Ctrl key with any one of F1 to F12 keys is the keyboard method of opening each of the 12 stone targets (the stones are numbered as seen in the image above).

Krento supports and includes many skins and is compatible with Rocket Dock and Object Dock skins as well, as explained here. One point to note is that as with any program with mouse and keyboard shortcuts this can interfere with other programs’ settings but since the defaults can change Krento of course remains useful.

Krento requires the .Net Framework (2.0) and works with Windows XP, Vista and 7.

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May 092010
 

Jotx is a minimalist note taker or perhaps word processor that does little but could be useful in taking quick notes with something other than Notepad.

It comes with a built-in spell checker, a ‘task list’ pane and a pane to keep track of a favorite folder or two. The latter can be useful for immediate navigation to a folder for opening or saving notes. Jotx works and saves in plain text and RTF formats and via its options, among others, one can change the background color and the font used. It is also possible to set a default folder for immediate access when opening files.
Jotx is somewhat unusual in that it includes links to a religious book and blog in its menu options (both within the program and the windows start menu).

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May 062010
 

As another football (soccer) season nears its end AC Milan fans are realizing that their beloved club is at a cross roads.
For years financed and saved by billionaire Silvio Berlusconi the financial excesses seem to have ended for the said owner. Expectations however have not and as much as the fans are entitled to demand a continuation of the previous spending ways to compete not only in the Serie A but also in European leagues (Champions League and its wealth) it is up to the owner to do as he wishes and if he is unable or unwilling to do so to consider selling the team.

The major issue and complaint is more than just the (lack of) spending however, it is how the club is run day to day and how the motto of ‘the most successful club’ (in terms of number of domestic and European trophies won) is used as a justification that the team can remain successful. The club is also notoriously stubborn in remaining loyal and to hold on to some players whose best days have passed. Some of those players have high wages which is not helping in these days of restrained spending. At the same time some highly useful assets have been sold (Kaka to Real Madrid) and the threat of further departures (Pato to any one of Chelsea and Real Madrid), to ‘balance the books’ remains.
The 2009/10 season brought a new and inexperienced coach, following the departure of the sometimes maligned but mostly successful Carlo Ancelotti to Chelsea, in Leonardo. The former player who had been at the club as a scout and major negotiator for South American transfers since 2002 was thrust into the coaching position and showed a great deal of intelligence and calm not only in tactics and formation but in dealing with the meddling management and owner wanting to not only dictate lineups but to demand wins despite an aging and weakened squad. Of course there was stubbornness from the coach in insisting on an attacking 4-3-3 formation that resulted in an (early) exit from the Champions League at the the hands of this writer’s least favorite team, Manchester United and an almost as embarrassing wipe out by one of this writer’s other least favorite teams, Inter Milan, in the league. Both teams exploited the team’s weakness and tactics’ naivety to counter attack and kill any chance of a good result.
Recent days have seen reports, not officially confirmed, that the said coach Leonardo might leave because he is being pushed or otherwise and he has admitted to a rocky relationship with the owner. The future of the team is even further in question, the owner is thought to be searching for a yes man type of coach and as mentioned may be tempted into selling Pato and others for even more cash. The squad meanwhile is depleted because of injuries and that has not helped the team when it almost seemed like they may even have a chance at the title this season. This exasperated situation has come despite the daily rumour mill linking highly useful players like Milos Krasic (from CSKA Moscow) and Edin Dzeko (from Wolfsburg) to Milan but it seems unlikely the money for such transfers will be made available and even if they are the team requires more depth and defensive help as well.
It is perhaps time for a new ownership, one that knows the value of investments. It is not necessary to go into a Chelsea or Real Madrid type of spending spree but a more intelligent yet sustained approach at presenting a team worthy of the traditions and value of the club, incidentally one that is still among the top earners in the world. One can name players who perhaps should be let go and others that would serve the team well but above all else this team has the wealth and power to remain among the elites of Europe and the world, if it wants to.

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May 012010
 

OrangeNote is a clipboard and notes manager that will ease and extend the use of the Windows clipboard. OrangeNote provides an interface to keep the contents of each clipboard entry forever. Additionally one can enter notes or keep clipboards as notes that can be fully searched and optimized for easy retrieval later. Left clicking the tray icon of the program brings up a bar like interface to add notes and the ability to not only tag them but add titles to them too.

PhotoScape

A left click shows all the clipboard entries OrangeNote currently holds and all or more recent notes as well. In this area one can favorite or star a note. The Additional Commands option gives access to a number of options some of which are executed via a command line like a console or a terminal. This terminal allows changes to many program settings, looks and other properties. The Options themselves, a few of which are restricted to the Pro version of the program, control such things as program update checking, database maintenance and boosting the program’s process priority. The latter is worthy of an additional observation because the program can sometimes consume excessive, almost Firefox type, amounts of CPU and RAM (OrangeNote tested on a XP computer). This does not seem to coincide with any optimization or other background action the program is undertaking so it is a mystery as to why the program’s CPU and RAM usage varies so much over short periods of time. OrangeNote also has a number of (global) hotkeys such as Ctrl+Win+N to create a new note and others that can be accessed and modified via the Options menu or the aforementioned terminal.

The requirements are listed as “Microsoft Windows XP or Vista with .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 and 512 MB RAM” and one would presume Windows 7 as well. It should be noted that OrangeNote is WPF based program and that there is a Mac version available as well.

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