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Wednesday 7 February 2007

Free painting software

I’ve been looking at some free painting programs. In particular I wanted something that had realistic natural-painting tools (oil, watercolour, crayon, pencil, airbrush, pastels) to use with my graphics tablet.

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Filed under: Net & technology — GS @ 9:58 am
Thursday 18 January 2007

Flowplayer: a completely free Flash Video player for web pages

I think Flowplayer is the first decent Flash Video player that you can use on your website completely free of charge.

Flash Video Player is also nice, but free only for non-commercial use.

One issue I did have with Flowplayer, when I used the basic code for embedding, was that it seemed to ignore the setting not to loop the video. Eventually I solved the problem by using a simple playlist instead.

Playlists are a great feature. You can line up a series of videos and mix in still images too. If you don’t set a duration for a still, it will pause the playback until the user clicks.

Here is an example of the code I’m using to embed Flowplayer and you can see the player in action in yesterday’s entry.


Filed under: Net & technology — GS @ 9:53 pm
Thursday 11 January 2007

Dealing with email spam

It surprises me the number of friends who tell me that they get 200 spam emails a day or something similar. I get very few.

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Filed under: Net & technology — GS @ 7:08 am
Saturday 7 October 2006

Police use YouTube in appeal for information

Greater Manchester Police have put a video on YouTube in an attempt to get more information from the public about the murder of a 15-year-old schoolboy.

In the early hours of Saturday, September 9, Jessie James was shot three times in a park in the Moss Side area of Manchester. The clip includes a tribute from his mother and sister.


Filed under: Crime,Manchester,Net & technology — GS @ 4:53 pm
Friday 22 September 2006

AA batteries that recharge by USB

Here’s a great idea. The top of the rechargeable AA battery flips to reveal a USB plug. You just plug the battery into a spare USB port on your PC and it charges up. Nothing else needed.

AA batteries that can be recharged from a USB port

I love rechargeable batteries. If you take care of them, they can last for years. I have four NiCad batteries that I bought on Old Compton Street in 1992 (was that electrical shop called Rayners?). I think they cost about £10.

For years I used them in my flash-gun. Now I use them in my digital camera. They must have been recharged hundreds of times and still work perfectly.

Imagine the damage to the environment if I had used standard batteries all this time instead and what would the cost have been? Maybe £500?

There are two types of rechargeable AA battery. The older NiCad type and the more recent NiMH. The secret to getting long life out of Nicads is to make sure you always run them down completely before you recharge. Otherwise they develop a ‘memory’ effect, which means you never get a full charge from them again. Whereas the NiMH type can be ‘topped up’ whenever you like.

In fact, my experience so far has been that, if they are looked after, NiCads seem to survive much longer than their NiMH counterparts.

These USBCell batteries are NiMH and cost £12.99 for two. Which isn’t bad if you get a few years of use out of them.


Filed under: Net & technology — GS @ 10:37 am
Tuesday 19 September 2006

Skype says I ‘must’ upgrade and shuts down

Tonight a chat friend asked if we could talk on Skype, which I hardly use anymore. I started it up, but it told me I ‘must’ upgrade and then shut itself down. I tried again and the same thing happened.

What if I happened to be on dial-up right now and needed to have a quick chat with someone? Who wants to be forced to download a 10Mb file over a dial-up connection and install it before they can make a call?

I really don’t like control-freak companies. This is my PC and I will decide what ‘must’ be upgraded and when.

Furthermore new versions of software aren’t always better. They can be bloated, less stable and even have fewer features in some cases. In fact there are websites that provide old versions precisely for that reason.

I’ll think I’ll be sticking to voice chat on MSN from now on.


Filed under: Net & technology — GS @ 11:07 pm
Tuesday 22 August 2006

Free Download Manager

I’m using Free Download Manager with RSS Bandit.

Life is good. It’s the most painless method I’ve found for grabbing file enclosures from my favourite vlogs… RSS Bandit presents the enclosure link nice and clearly. Just right-click > copy link location (shortcut), Free Download Manager pops up, hit OK and the file is saved in my downloads folder.

Windows always seems to offer the wrong file location when I save a file the usual way. The worst is when you are opening from one location and saving to another.

However, for years I’ve been using a little utility called File-Ex, which enhances the file dialog with lists of favourite and recently-used files and folders. A big timesaver.


Filed under: Net & technology — GS @ 5:35 pm
 
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