Well I don’t really need a home server…but after coming upon two entire webpages describing how to get one I felt compelled. XAMPP is a server client which supposedly installs Apache, MySQL, PHP and everything else. I installed it, my intentions being to install a local wordpress, as a test server. Well the software looked pretty spammy. Great. But it’s free, I guess, so I shouldn’t be too picky. It didn’t install properly. I couldn’t understand why, so I uninstalled it. Apache wouldn’t be deleted. It was stubbornly refusing to be marked for overwriting. This does irritate me, when I install something and it won’t be deleted. It reminds me of ‘The Simpsons’ episode in which they invite carnival workers to live in their house, and they refuse to leave. I moved on. I tried to install WAMP. It installed perfectly, but unfortunately, denied me access. This is even more like the Simpsons. Irritated with local servers, I uninstalled it too. I no longer like local servers.

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I’m sure the cool stuff you can do with screenshots, icons and backgrounds are only limited by your imagination (and windows) but here’s one I just did.

Here is the desired effect.

Here is the desired effect.

*looks pretty cool*. Now for those of you who can’t guess how I did this in photoshop, I will briefly run you through it.

I screenshot the background (printscreen). I paste it into photoshop. Might I add, at this point, that you do need the actual file of the image saved in a place where you know where it is. For the sorry souls who use the windows backgrounds, the can be found in the WINDOWS folder in the C: drive. You may have to change the folder options to show hidden files and folders to find this.

Anyway, paste into photoshop (file>new, size:clipboard). Select the magic eraser tool. I’m not sure for other versions of photoshop, but you should be able to right click the normal eraser tool to find it. Select the ‘contiguous’ check box at the top of the screen, and click everywhere, the goal being, to erase the whole background. You don’t need to be too fine about it, everything that is left is being blurred so either it will disappear or you will have some parts of the background slightly shinier than the other bits (this is visible in my attachment).

Once you’ve erased most of the background, specifically around the icons (take care not to erase the actual icons), you can duplicate the layer by right-clicking it and selecting that option. On the first layer, apply filters>blur>motion blur at 45 degrees (you can choose length to taste), then on the second layer do the same thing at -45 degrees. This makes a sort of criss-cross kind of sparkly outline. You can change it to how you like, (of course) for example, you could change the opacity of the layers, or change the colours – whatever. This ‘tutorial’ is solely inspiration to do whatever you like with your icons.

Back to the point, you need to copy the original background into the background of the blurry icon picture you’ve made. You can do this by opening the file and selecting everything, then copying it and pasting it into the other picture. You may need to stretch the image to fit the screenshot. If it’s not selected already, click ‘show transform controls’ at the top and grab the handles to suit…the size of the image. You can save the file as a png and go to the containing folder, right click the file and click ‘set as background’. And there you are.

Yesterday my friends brother’s terabyte hard drive failed to work, after trying everything. Today my ipod is angry at my and refuses to play anything except Jamiroquai. No, it’s not a virus similar to the one described in this song, it’s a heat wave. It’s 45Ā° Celcius here in the Melbourne area, and all the hard drives are failing. So I look up the operating conditions for a *hard drive* ipod. I’m assuming the newer ones are the same as the old ones.

Like any good iPod owner would do.

Like any good iPod owner would do.

I'm Learning Python!

I'm Learning Python!

And there it is...

And there it is...

Bugging me lately is the way that whenever I boot up the computer, (windows xp) I get Nokia PC Suite things like this opening up in the system tray. Startup programs have been an issue with me lately, and this is one of the worst problems if you use a really slow computer, for a sole purpose, and it’s not *whatever quicktime does*. Specifically, my cousin and uncle play a game called Cossacks (back to war stand alone expansion, really great age-of-empires-1 style rts which i would recommend for online strategy goodiness). The computer is running on a pentium-3 600mHz core and 256mb of ram, and it starts a heap of programs on bootup.

Sorry for the intro, most of you will know what i’m on about with msconfig. But, that said, my worst issue with it was forgetting what it was called, so I couldn’t open it. If you know what msconfig is called, your problems are half solved (or in my case, completely solved). So if you are being bugged by startup programs, and you’ve already wiped clean the ‘startup’ folder in the start menu, go to run (win+r or start>run) and type in “msconfig” (without the quotes), then click the OK button (or press enter, of course). There will be a tab at the top saying ‘startup’. If you think this applys to you, which it does, click this particular tab. You will be presented with a list of programs running on startup. There are usually a lot. Deselect the appropriate ones and navigate your way out of this window, while still applying the options you selected. Congratulations. You have successfully completed the ‘removing’ part of the *title* of this post.

Now for the adding. A bit more advanced. Of course it isn’t if you just go for the start menu option, but if you are anything like me you will take any chance you can get to get into the registry to change something. It makes you feel better. Run>”regedit” (wtq) in the registry, on the side click HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE>SOFTWARE>Microsoft>Windows>CurrentVersion>Run. You made it. Through all that scrolling. So after having clicked on the Run folder, there should be a few entries you might recognise from msconfig. If you want to add something (of course it’s all obvious now and you’re already off blogging about it yourself) right click (in the right part) and go to New>String Value. Name it what you will, such as “firefox”, then double click on it and enter a path to the program you want (such as “C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\firefox.exe”. The quotes are actually neccesary, so don’t forget them this time). Have a reboot to check it out, and ta-da! There you are! It actually worked! You will notice it coming up in msconfig, and they all lived happily ever after. (yes, I have been reading eoin colfer books)

Yesterday I stumbled across an open source graphics project I had never heard of before called Pencil. I think it’s quite new, it is currently in version 0.4, 4th beta. In any case, it has a fantastic interface for an open source program. Yesterday I downloaded something similar (but very different) called Synfig. One look…Ewwwww… the interface is disgusting. It’s worse than what the GIMP used to be (and still partially is). Not to mention the not-too-simple install for it (I had to download the gtk, some gtkmm thing and two synfig installers). Of course, this could be because of the lack of support for the project (it does have a nice looking website though). From the look of it, Pencil is made by one person – an artist, animator. Artists would be sure to make a nice interface. In any case, the program itself is incredibly simple to use. It has tablet support, and it’s ever so simple to draw and colour in. However! Bewarned! It is surprisingly easy to start drawing crap (manga) so watch out! It is bitmap and vector based, apparently. I see it has two layers, a bitmap & vector layer respectively, but I haven’t figured out how to use the vector one yet. Animating couldn’t be simpler. Well, it could, but it has Flash rivalling frame usage (on that, it clearly states on the website that is is not a web based flash rival. However it does export to swf if you ask it nicely).

I’ve told you what I love, now what I hate. Frankly, there isn’t much, but I am picky about a few things. They all relate to the layers panel. I don’t like the colours of the layer panel, and the gradients remind me of other open source software (like audacity). Also, I would like to be able to right click on frames, and operate stuff like that. Remember, it isn’t flash, its like a flip-book. There are no symbols, no tweens, no actionscript, no inverse-kinetics (for cs4 users)…just pure traditional animating. It’s Cross Platform. It’s Open Source under the GNU/GPL (I think). It’s great.

http://www.les-stooges.org/pascal/pencil/index.php?id=Home

(btw, the code’s not in pascal, thats just his name. its c++. if this is obvious, ignore this, but it’s my first time looking at source code so bear with me)

This is worth blogging about. A friend of mine showed me this search engine based on natural language instead of keywords, like google. You can ask it questions, and it will realise your intent, and give you an answer, as well as web results it used to find that answer. For example, if I was to ask it “who is Jai Leeworthy?”, I would end up with the answer “website designed”. I am not assuming the engine is trying to tell me I myself was designed by a website, because websites lack the ability to design anything, let alone me. It should say “website designer”, but it got its results from a website saying “website designed by Jai Leeworthy”. So it’s not perfect, it is still an alpha. It was made by the chinese versions of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and they are based in Sydney. My dad, who is more well known on the internet, came up with the results “Diver and Association Scientist”.

So you can ask it questions, and get pretty good results, most of the time.

The search engine likes my hair

I will live to be one

The answer to life the universe and everything is NOT “life theto universe”

Is there a correct answer to 6 x 9? (it does say it is the “clusters” thing but)

Are you serious that is AWESOME

I can see the developers aren’t comedically intervening with these results

It does have a few flaws, but as I said, it is still an alpha, and it’s great technology. I’m looking forward to search powered by this is the future. Apparently there was another search engine like this, that was bought by Microsoft for $100 million. Microsoft might get into this before google (if it does at all) (also note the lack of capitalisation on the name of google. it has become a verb in the english language, unlike Microsoft, which ain’t good for nothing).

EDIT: Notice, that if you are clicking on my links by now, most of the answers will have changed. I’m even seeing this very post in the results, which I feel guilty about now because I’m not changing the results for the better.

I’ve been looking up new keyboards and keyboard layouts. I’m not talking about computer keyboards but musical keyboards. I have found two I like. The first one is the TERPSTRA keyboard, by Cortex Design. Annoyingly, their website has been down (or it has for me) and I can’t stare wishfully at the few images and small amount of descriptive text they provided. I mainly like the keyboard because if it’s design, which is fancy, and the fact it has 280 keys in an isomorphic hexagonal layout. The keys are “velocity-sensitive” and trigger any MIDI event. By velocity sensitivity I’m not exactly sure what they mean, but it certainly sounds like what my keyboard, and most keyboards offer, which is, by the button on mine “Touch” or touch sensitivity. It is meant to replicate a real piano in how the slower you press the key, the quieter the sound. If that is what they mean it certainly isn’t new, but then again, I’m not exactly sure how old it is. I have read other blog posts regarding it and they all seem to have been posted about october last year. But the other keyboard website does refer to it as having “failed commercially” in their FAQ, so I’m guessing it can’t be too new.

The other keyboard is called the “Thummer“. I like it better. It also has a hexagonal layout. The maker, “Thumtronics” seems to have put a lot more effort into it. And their website. It has multiple reasons they promote to make it look better than other new keyboards & synthesizers, such as it being “Easier to Learn”, “More Expressive”, etc. It is far smaller, with about two fifths of the keys. It also has a lot of controls on the back like expressive joysticks and sustain buttons and things like that. It was originally made here in Australia, but they have moved to the US for some reason (who knows?). It has the same fingering in every key, it is motion sensitive, it has a lot of YouTube videos, and it sounds cool. When’s it coming out?

The Thummer Jammer

The Thummer Jammer

I’m learning C right now, from “C for Dummies” by Dan Gookin. I…actually intended to read “C++ for Dummies” but I couldn’t find it at my library. So C is pretty similar, I guess it will help me learn C++ eventually, and it does mention C++. But anyway, in order to follow the book smoothly, I found myself setting up GCC for Command Prompt so I can compile my code in it, which isn’t that hard, I have discovered. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Download MinGW, the best way to do this, I think, is with Dev C++. You can download Dev C++ from Sourceforge: http://prdownloads.sourceforge.net/dev-cpp/devcpp-4.9.9.2_setup.exe (9MB)
  2. Dev C++ is a complete IDE for working with C and C++. Install it using…the installer which you just downloaded. There should be a Dev-Cpp folder on your C: drive.
  3. Now make a folder for all your C files. Don’t delve deep into your documents looking for a place to put this folder. I should think that the smaller the path, the less annoying it is. I recommend a folder in the C: drive. Read the rest of this entry »

Somehow, Center Com, the computer shop we had the PC repaired at, took a week and a half to fix the computer. I don’t see how it’s possible for it to take so long as all they had to do was backup the drive, reinstall windows and put everything back onto the drive in a little “backup” folder. But I’m back now and I’ll write another tutorial soon. I want to learn a programming language, because I had a “revolutionary” (according to Joel) idea for a program. I won’t reveal the idea right now, because the idea will probably be a financialĀ  investment eventually, but it will probably need 2d & possibly 3d (directX) graphics support, animations and the like, also it has to be able to access an internet host. I have Dev-C++ and I know a very small amount in that language. I know the smallest amount in PHP, also. So basically, I’m not experienced in any programming language. I think I need to learn more C++, if anyone could verify this it would be awesome. Me and a group of friends also want to make an MMORPG, so if I can use the same language to make that (look, I know making an MMO is a colossal task, so don’t mention it. We will probably make a non-online alpha before we even add multiplayer, sounds like a good way to go) it would be awesome.