Posts tagged ‘Microsoft’

Why I won’t bing

In a word – “ego”. I was listening to a podcast about Microsoft’s Windows 7, bing and Windows Security software. (podcast embedded below)

One of the opening comments was “bing yourself”. So I did. I rank much lower on bing than I do on Google. Like I said, “ego” … at least for a weak moment. I understand why the search results are so different. Google has been pinging blogs – mine and those of people I know for a few years now. Before I started blogging, all you would find from my name is the latest stats and performance of a South African footballer – definitely not me as I’m middle aged and graying and not a threat on any pitch.

Have you “binged” yourself ?

Download this MP3 – (right click)

Microsoft’s Image Composite Editor – decomposed

I?ve been using Image Composite Editor (ICE) for a while now to stick together the farmhouse project pictures. Until just recently I did not notice I could export the results as a multi-layer Photoshop file. I don?t use Photoshop but GIMP, my graphics editor of choice, can import Photoshop files. Here is the utility room image and I?ve slid the layers apart so you can se exactly where ICE did the stitching. Unlike some old tools, ICE does not use straight lines at the stitch boundaries.

Image Composite Editor layers

Microsoft freebie does very respectable photo stitching

s mentioned previously, I’ve been taking a number of fractional images and then having to stitch them together on the computer. I was using a utility that came with my Canon point-n-shoot. Simply put, I have not likes the results. But, given I am frugal (outside of the farmhouse project), I was not about to splurge on one of the nicer professional tools.

I found a solution with YAFMU- yet another free Microsoft utility. It’s called the Microsoft Image Composite Editor (the marketing guys had to work hard to make that name!).

First things first – it works.

To elaborate a bit – it does a rather good job, and given the price point I’d say it does an excellent job. In the example below, I threw 27 fames at it and didn’t both to tell it the layout. ICE took about 4 minutes to work everything out but the results can be seen. The only GIMP (aka the other Photoshop) work I did was to fill in a bit of sky that was missing (because I forgot to take one of the necessary frames) and fix a little parallax error. I should point out that ICE had to work hard to bend the images to line up so the parallax error was not the fault of ICE but rather the natural result of stitching a panning image.


WARNING: only click on the image if you have a high speed internet connection as the image is 8470×4494 pixels. I compressed it to 75% but that still leaves a 2.8MB file.

Windows XP thumbnails for web pages

I may be late to the party as I just discovered, if you have a Windows folder of links to websites and you switch to “thumbnails” view, you actually get thumbnails of the web sites !

I like a clean desktop. However, I occasionally want to grab a URL off a website to be used over the next few days. I don’t want to bookmark it because I will be throwing it away after a short time. Also, putting them on my desktop (directly or indirectly) serves as a reminder or to-do. Today I was looking at the 7 or 8 URLs and they all just blurred together on me. It was not quickly evident which was which. Then it struck me – “what are the odds that switching the folder view to thumbnails would actually show me the website?” – IT DID !

Here is a folder of 30 links. I used the Windows XP Power Toy, TweakUI so the thumbnails are 128 px. If I am doing research, I occasionally have a temporary fold for links. I’ll be using this same trick for those as well.

The irony of advertising


I’ve been told that in the broadcast media, there are contract clauses that stipulate what ads can run side by side. For instance, if you are Honda, you probably don’t want the TV network running a Toyota Prius ad right next to your Civic Hybrid spot.

I’m guessing the same rules do not apply to web advertising. I don’t think it was coincidence that sitting right next to the article about IBM/Lotus Sametime telephony integration was a video ad spot for Microsoft VoIP. Something tells me the marketing guys are both sides will get an earful – The blue team may want to call in sick while the red team is probably getting high-fives.

Call me a “Vista Hater”

Yes, I finally decided to give an evaluation copy of Microsoft Vista a try. 28 hours later, I am SOOOOO ready to re-install Windows XP Tablet !

The target of my attempt was my “new to me” Toshiba M200. I rally like the machine but I discovered the Toshiba Hard Drive was failing. Fortunately I had an old 40GB laptop hard disk from a long ago Thinkpad T20. There were a few hardware challenges but that is a different story.

I got Vista installed pretty easily and to be honest, easier than Windows XP. Then the fun came when I tried to get everything working the way I wanted it. Even with 32MB of video memory, Vista was not happy. WHAT A PIG! I tried a number of suggestions from the internet but eventually uninstalled all of them. Trying to the get the screen rotation to work from the buttons was another trial that ended in failure.

Memory usage and disk thrashing was another problem for me. I never was able to reduce the chatter.

The straw that broke my back was trying to get pressure sensitivity to work. The default drivers do not provide the support. The solution is to install the WACOM drivers. They install easily (with the requisite reboot). But then you can’t calibrate the pen. It only maps to about a third of the screen. Lots of searching and lots of suggests and lots of reboots and nada, ziltch, zippo.

So, I am going back to my copy of Windows XP Tablet edition. It may not have all of the newest handwriting recognition but it works for drawing and it has good stable dirvers.