Jul 302010
 

Fotografix

Fotografix is very much a mini version of Photoshop with its similar menu structure and a good number of (perhaps more basic) features familiar to Photoshop users. It even supports Photoshop’s PSD image format and of course imports them with layers intact.

Looking at its menu Fotografix’s features are as follows:

The File menu contains the usual open, save and other operations with the addition of an icon extractor.

The Edit menu includes the likes of cut, paste, purge (current session’s history for example) and fill color with a choice of background and foreground colors plus black, white and gray.

The Image menu contains adjustments for image and canvas and also commands like crop, flip and rotate images or layers.

The Adjustments menu contains the brightness, contrast, color balance, levels, desaturate, invert, posterize, and threshold options.

The Layer menu is for adding new layers and layer masks, also duplicating, renaming, rasterizing and deleting layers.

The Filters menu contains a set including blur, emboss, offset, noise and others.

The Select menu is for selecting and working with specific regions within an image or layer or or inverting a selection.

The View menu is for zooming in and out or activating full screen mode.

The Window menu is for activating the colors, layers, tools and scripts ‘palettes’ within the program window and toggling the status bar on and off.

Fotografix also features the likes of magic wand, clone, color dropper and also a few gradient options.

All of the above work like Photoshop in a 355KB download. Advanced features may be missing and the result of the existing features may not always be the same but Fotografix is easily worth a download.

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Jul 272010
 

Mercedes SLS AMG E-CELL

The Mercedes SLS AMG E-CELL is a prototype and one of the cars in line to take Mercedes-Benz and it’s subsidiary Mercedes-AMG into its promised fully electric line. At one point it was mooted that Mercedes will be free of fossil fuels by, a now impossible, 2015 but a move in that direction is in the works and the “AMG Performace 2015” motto is now geared more towards big reductions in emissions.

A limited supply of the E-CELL line, featuring high voltage (400V) liquid-cooled lithium-ion batteries, will be ready for 2013. They will boast 526 horsepowers thanks to 4 electric engines which combined can achieve an equivalent maximum of 12,000 RPM with top speeds of 155 miles per hour. The cars also do 0 to 100Km/hr in 4 seconds, well in line with other non-zero emission cars. The one ‘advertised’ limitation, that of range, is around 90 miles on a charge for the first of Mercedes SLSs. This will improve in future generation green cars.

This Mercedes SLS is certainly a car with luxury specs but one with a giant step towards the green future where charging stations will be the norm instead of gas stations and the moving part monstrosity that is a combustion engine will be a thing of the past.

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Jul 232010
 

Listary is a windows program that helps the user search for and find files faster but it is not a normal search tool or utility. It is activated using the (customizable) Win+W keys and its interface consists solely of a small floating box (see image). When a list of files is open pressing the program hotkey and then immediately typing a few letters of the file name one can filter down to a file name and therefore locate it. The strength of Listary is that it supports many lists or windows, these include but are not limited to Windows Explorer, Task Manager, Registry Editor, Windows Desktop and the file Open/Save dialog box. The program options (accessible via the program’s tray icon) lets the user change the search mode to what it calls traditional search. In traditional search one must type the first letter of the file name – instead of any any letter in the file name, a feature of Listary’s Default search mode – to start a search. Listary also supports the use of wild card characters (* and ?) in its traditional search mode.

Typing / in the same floating box presents the user with a set of predefined shortcut or commands. These include opening the command prompt in the same directory as the open list or window, copying folder paths and others.

Additionally Listary reserves the Win+A keys to open the system’s default text editor so that the user can have quick access to a text editor. A good use of this Listary feature is when a text area (gmail’s compose email window for example) is active or in focus then the text editor will automatically contain any text already typed so one is ready to continue editing inside the text editor.

The aforementioned text editing feature doesn’t really belong to a program geared mainly towards search but is a welcome one. A video on the program’s homepage showcases its features with a few examples. The program runs on Windows XP, Vista and 7 and has a pro version with support for regular expressions and a few other extras.

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Jul 202010
 

Modi is described by it’s author as

Modi is a powerful and flexible batch image processor freeware with an easy to use interface…

Modi has a simple interface. Any number of images can be added via the ‘Add Files’ button or dragged and dropped into the program window. A preview of each image can be seen either on the top right hand side or by hovering over the file name (if the quick view box is checked). Then any number of ‘modifiers’ can be added. These include add frame, resize, crop, reduce noise, auto level, sharpen, convert to black and white and others. In addition to these print EXIF, add image or text watermark and print file name are available watermark options via the same Add Image Modifier window (see image), with each being very configurable in position and format. The output path and format can be configured in the bottom of the program and a preview is also available before proceeding with the modifications.

It is possible to save multiple operations as a preset for quicker future (batch) image processing. Modi requires the .NET Framework, does not require installation and should run on all Windows versions.

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Jul 172010
 

TyperTask is a small freeware executable that automates many common tasks. The most notable and perhaps immediately useful feature of TyperTask is that in can expand text. Often typed or repeated phrases can be automated with fewer typed letters. As a simple example one can define the “~hth” abbreviation for “Hope this helps!” (see image) saving several key strokes. This is what the program calls a Trigger. Any number of triggers can be defined and saved one per line in the program interface. The other example in the image is a trigger for an email signature. Triggers can be used to correct common misspellings by adding a trigger like “recieve=receive” and also auto completing single words like “compl=completely”

TyperTask does more than just simple text triggers and can act as a launcher with such definitions or triggers as “{Control}{Shift}{Alt}G=RUN: http://www.google.com”, where special or non-alphanumeric keys are sorrounded by {}. TyperTask also supports delays like “{Control}{Shift}{Alt}N=RUN: notepad.exe{Delay=1000}Hello! {Delay=500}World!”, here notepad is opened and the text typed in it after the specified delay (in milliseconds). This can be useful when one wants to make sure an operation (a fully loaded notepad in this case) is completed before doing anything else. The WINDOW operator brings an already open window in front or into focus, for example “{Control}{Shift}{Alt}C=WINDOW: Calculator” brings the calculator into focus. Mouse clicks are also supported, this is perhaps most useful if one wants to use a program but make sure the mouse is clicked inside of it so that its Window is activated.

A more thorough explanation is given in TyperTask’s help file (accessed via the Help menu) which includes a list of special key codes and other features such as the support for environment variables (%TEMP% for system’s temporary files folder for example) and the Remove Clipboard Formatting feature.

One notable example from the help file is very interesting for those who write (HTML) code manually. “<b=<b></b>{left}{left}{left}{left}”,  here the bold tags are completed faster and automatically but furthermore the cursor returns to in between the HTML tags ready to type the bold to be text.

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Jul 132010
 

XPad is a text editor with a compact interface and a good number of extra tools. The program can be run right after download with no need for an installation. The program’s menu surrounds its interface (see image).

The left hand side icons or menu are the usual New, Open File, Save, Save As, Print, Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete (the selected text), Find, Search Again, Replace and About. Of course all the usual keyboard shortcuts – Ctrl+P, Ctrl+S, etc. – apply as well.

The right hand side icons or menu is where the XPad extras can be found, they are as follows:

  • Word Wrap
  • Automatic Copy Selection To Keyboard
  • Multiple Clipboard, if activated or pressed it will hold a configurable number of clipboard items that are automatically pasted when they are highlighted or chosen from the generated list
  • Open system’s font selector
  • Text format, set any of Windows, Mac, UTF-16, Arabic Characters and many more for the text document
  • Filters for such tasks as removing spaces, converting HTML to text, converting tabs to spaces and more
  • Encode and decode Base64, UTF-8
  • Clean or remove clipboard content
  • Delete file securely
  • Open another instance of XPad
  • Open system calculator
  • Send current text as email, in my test the text was automatically copied to the email subject line with nothing in the body
  • Open (default) browser, if a URL is highlighted it will be loaded otherwise a blank browser window opens
  • Open an instance of Windows Explorer
  • Keep XPad on top, click the pin icon

    The final icon is for XPad’s configuration options. In it one can create a shortcut icon for the program, associate it with *.txt files (so all *.txt files open with XPad instead of Notepad or other system default text editor), remember last opened files and/or directory and the aforementioned multiple clipboard option. There is also a Window with a list of XPad’s hotkeys or shortcuts (see image).

    XPad is just over 1MB, it is only one single *.exe file (and one *.ini file to hold its settings) and should run on all Windows versions.

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    Jul 112010
     

    Spain World Cup
    Spain 1-0 Holland
    Andres Iniesta (116′)

    Fernando Torres was once again on the bench as Pedro got another start. Holland had their suspended players back and therefore had a full first choice side. The game started unevenly with small fouls, especially by the Dutch, dominating the proceedings. English referee Howard Webb was influencing the game somewhat with a succession of yellow cards. It was not so much a question of the cards themselves but if or not they would be awarded by all referees for the same fouls in a consistent manner. Despite the so-called chippy play neither team adapted a defensive stance but they did manage to almost neutralize one another. Spain’s Sergio Ramos was the first to produce and get good chances when he headed the ball once low and then crossed well into the Dutch area. The best chance of the first half fell to Arjen Robben but he failed to beat Iker Casillas in the Spain goal. The second half was more open with more chances but again neither team had a stranglehold. Spain continued to enjoy better possession stats however. The introduction of Jesus Navas for Pedro livened up Spain further as his wing play opened up space on more than one occasion. Robben had another clear chance but again failed to get it past the Spanish goalie. So extra time was needed with the threat of shootout looming yet again. Substitute Fabregas had a chance to end it before that but failed on a clear chance. John Heitinga somewhat inevitably received a second yellow and reduced the Dutch to 10 men. Torres finally came on very late, for David Villa, and was part of a move that freed Iniesta who in turn placed the ball well and just beat Maarten Stekelenburg for the winning goal.
    Spain became the World Cup champions for the first time and deserve a place in the best teams of all time list if for nothing else than holding the European and World Cup trophies at the same time.

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    Jul 102010
     

    Uruguay 2-3 Germany
    Edinson Cavani (28′) Diego Forlan (51′) Thomas Muller (19′) Marcell Jansen (56′) Sami Khedira (82′)

    The 3rd-4th places matches at World Cups have produced an average of almost four goals per game and the 2010 edition did not disappoint. As expected the game was pretty open. Germany started a changed side with Miroslav Klose on the bench with a knock and Dennis Aogo, Hans-Jorg Butt and Marcell Jansen starting in place of Lukas Podolski, Manuel Neuer and Philip Lahm. Uruguay were much closer to the full squad with (the constantly booed) Luis Suarez back. The game was open if not spectacular. Muller’s opening goal from a rebounded shot was followed by Cavani for a half time tie. Diego Forlan provided a lead for Uruguay with another rather long range shot that fooled the German goalkeeper. Marcell Jansen tied it soon after when a high cross was missed by both Fernando Muslera and Diego Lugano. The game was lively and saves were required by both goalies and before the game could go to extra time Sami Khedira headed in over the hands of Muslera and into the far corner. And so the Germans took third place for the second World Cup in a row.
    Of note, Klose was not able to attempt to tie or break the record for most World Cup goals scored and Brazil’s Ronaldo will probably be holding on to that record for a while yet. Also, Canadian Hector Vergara became the record holder for most World Cup matches as a referee, linesman or assistant at 14.

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    Jul 082010
     

    ClipMan is one of many utilities or programs that enhance the standard Windows clipboard (Ctrl+C). Often the main purpose of these kinds of utilities or programs is to keep more than one clipboard item on file and ready for future use.

    ClipMan or Clipboard Manager does not require installation and is accessed via the system tray. Its options are as follows:

    • Choosing a plug-in directory (None exist that I know of and the program may not be in active development so plug-ins may not happen at all)
    • Keeping its interface on top and choosing its level of transparency
    • Hotkeys to show and hide the interface (Ctrl+S by default), move between saved clipboard entries and choosing to send an entry to the active or current clipboard

    ClipMan’s major drawback is that it doesn’t always show the contents of the clipboard but only a description of it (see image).

    The program does seem to have bugs, for example pressing Enter on an entry can result in losing that item – instead of, as is supposed to happen, sending the item to the ‘current’ clipboard ready for use and pasting. Since it is not actively developed it may not really be recommendable for every day use but the available source code can perhaps be used for those interested in working with ClipMan.

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    Jul 072010
     

    Spain 1-0 Germany
    Carles Puyol (73′)

    Thomas Muller was missing from this second semi-final due to suspension and that put the so far successful German 4-2-3-1 in doubt. Piotr Trochowski got the start instead. Spain featured Pedro and David Villa with Fernando Torres on the bench. The early signs were not positive for Germany as they sat back and Spain deployed their possession and passing game. Jerome Boateng was not having a comfortable night as Sergio Ramos was taking advantage of the right wing. The game was slow with the Germans surprisingly not pressing for the ball. The first half featured very little real chances on Manuel Neuer and the feeling was that the Spaniards needed to convert their possession into something or regret it later. The second half showed glimmers of liveliness but again the Spanish were playing their game without getting their goal. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski were rarely seen and would perhaps be the disappointments of the night. Joachim Low, the German coach, seemed to realize mistakes and made two changes which he probably wasn’t expecting to need to. Marcell Jansen and Toni Kroos came on for Jerome Boateng and Piotr Trochowski. The game changed little however and it was left to Carles Puyol to show determination as he rose ahead of team mate Gerard Pique to head in from a corner. Germany woke up and opened up leaving wide open spaces behind them. Pedro could have easily made it 2-0 if he had taken advantage of one of the openings. Amid apologies to his team mates he was soon replaced by David Silva. Germany came close to punishing Spanish misses but never really too close and so Spain will play Holland for what will be a first World Cup crown for either team.

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