Archive for August, 2006

Tuesday, August 29th 2006

Windows XP/2000 Bug Number One

The most annoying bug of Windows XP and 2000 (?) has to be this: When you move a shortcut to a new folder on the startmenu it will NOT stay where you let go of it. It will ALWAYS jump down to the end. You then have to move it again to the wanted position.

This is with XP, fully patched with SP2 and the lot. Microsoft, how hard can it be? 11 years after launching Windows 95 and this kind of thing still* doesn’t work?

*) I’m not 100% sure that this bug always has been present. If you have any further knowledge about the older Windows versions, please leave a comment.

Tuesday, August 29th 2006

Wickid Firefox Extension

Just found my favourite extension! Googlepedia. This is a simple yet wonderful plugin which gives you a relevant Wikipedia article alongside your Google search results. Something like this:

Screenshot of the Googlepedia Firefox extension in action.

I’m speachless! Googlepedia, where have you been all my life?

Saturday, August 26th 2006

Windows XP/2000 Tip of the Day

Having installed four different IM/VoIP programs (Google Talk, Skype, Wengo and Windows Live Messenger), I felt it would clutter up my Windows QuickLaunch bar if I added one shortcut for each program. So I thought it must be possible to launch several programs in one go if I create a batch file.

It turned out it wasn’t as simple as I thought. You can’t just simply create a batch file (a text file named *.bat) with a list of paths to each exe file. You have to use the START command. And you have to use quotation marks if the paths contain spaces. And if you use quotation marks for the path, windows cmd.exe (which runs the batch file) will interpret the path as a title for the command window… so you have to add a random title to these lines, straight after the START command. To cut a long story short, my batch file looks like this:

@echo off
START C:Program FilesWengoPhoneqtwengophone.exe -b
START C:Program FilesSkypePhoneSkype.exe /nosplash /minimized
START “blah” “C:Program FilesMSN Messengermsnmsgr.exe” /background
START “whatever” /MIN “C:Program FilesGoogleGoogle Talkgoogletalk.exe” /autostart
exit

The @echo off on the first row is to keep the command window clean while running the coming rows of code. The exit on the last row closes the command window. Also, you should make sure you have each of the START command rows on single rows without line breaks.

As you can see, I’ve added a few tricks here too. Wengo, Skype and Windows Live Messenger all have switches that tell the applications to automatically minimize to the system tray. Google Talk doesn’t really, but the /autostart switch seems to do the trick some times. (Don’t ask me why it only does sometimes, but it does.) For the times that it doesn’t, I’ve added the /MIN switch to the START command, so it’ll at least be minimized to the Task Bar.

Screenshot of Windows System Tray with IM/chat applications. Google Talk, Windows Live (MSN) Messenger, Wengo/Wengophone.

It’s very nice not to have all the windows flood your screen when you launch them. I hope this little tip can be of help to someone!

Edit: I have noticed now that the /background switch for Windows Live Messenger only means that the signing in is done in the background. Once done, the contact list will show up on the screen unless you have a) set it to start automatically with Windows and b) unchecked Open WLM main window….

Wednesday, August 23rd 2006

New Lenses – EF 70-300 1:4-5.6 and EF 50mm 1:1.4

On Tuesday I got myself two new lenses: the EF 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 IS USM (phew!) and the EF 50mm 1:1.4 USM.

Canon EF 50mm 1:1.4 USM

I’ve been wanting the EF 50 1.4 for a long time, since it opens new opportunities in low light. On the 30D (with the 1.6x crop making it equivalent of 80 mm focal length with 35mm film) it also works great as a portrait lens.

Canon EF 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 IS USM

I previously had the EF 75-300 1:4-5.6 III, which I got in a kit with my EOS 300 and an EF 28-90mm 1:4-5.6. This combination was great for learning, but neither of the lenses were any wonders of sharpness, so now I’ve replaced them both for lenses which can make the most of the 8 megapixels in my 30D. (I have the Sigma 17-70mm 1:2.8-4.5 as my standard zoom.)

With the 70-300 IS I’ll feel more comfortable using the 300 mm end, since the 70-300 IS is very sharp throughout the zoom range, as opposed to the EF 75-300mm that I owned before. Both sharpness and chromatic aberrations when shooting at 300 mm are much better/less severe with the new lens, thanks to a UD lens element (made with Ultra-low Dispersion glass).

Then, of course, the 70-300 also has image stabilizing which can truly work wonders in low light. Or what can you say when you get a sharp picture at the equivalent of 112 mm with a shutter speed of 1/8 sec?

I’ll be adding some images I took with the 70-300 on Monday to my Photography website.

Edit: I have now added two new galleries at my photography website, Now and Then.

Edit: Since this post was made I have re-structured my gallery and the Now & Then galleries don’t exist any more.

Sunday, August 20th 2006

Windows Live Messenger Sucks (Rant Ahead)

Microsoft never cease to amaze me with their stupidity.

Windows Live Messenger opens all links and web searches in the default browser (as opposed to previous versions of MSN Messenger?), but still forces the user to use Internet Explorer when opening Hotmail. Why, Microsoft, why?

You would have thought that Microsoft, having devised the scheme of default applications in Windows, would respect them. What’s the #¤%&§! point of allowing the Windows user to specify a default web browser if not even Microsoft’s own programs respect the users choice?

Come on Microsoft – grow up and get with the times! Even my non-techie friends understand enough to realize that you’re being really stupid here.

And while I’m at it – it’s just so 2005 to have an advert at the bottom of Windows Live Messenger and every chat window.

Right now I have not one single reason why I should use Windows Live Messenger instead of Google Talk. Let’s see … Google Talk …

  • … has no ads.
  • … has better sound quality for the voice chat.
  • … has (much) faster file transfers (since 16 August).
  • … doesn’t open my email in Internet Explorer, ignoring my choice of web browser.
  • … has a very minimalistic and lovable user interface.

Why don’t you get it too?

Tuesday, August 8th 2006

Sony Alpha 100 – First Thoughts

The shop I work at now has the Sony Alpha 100 (DSLR-A100) in stock. After having just felt it briefly, here are some thoughts:

  • 10 MP – good!
  • Higher noise levels than Canon EOS 350D and 30D – not so good!
  • Anti-shake built in – good1!
  • Price: SEK 9900/USD 1340 (in Sweden) – as expected!
  • Included lens: 18–70 – good zoom range!
  • Plasticky feeling – not so good!
  • SATDOT – Shake-All-The-Dust-Off TechnologyTM – good!
  • Shutter release placed behind the controller wheel thing – not so good2!
  • Constantly auto-focusing left right and center – can someone please tell me this is possible to switch off!

1) However, having the stabilizer in the lens has one apparent advantage: You can see the effect, and thus it is easier to make the most of the motion dampening. Try a Canon lens with IS, and you’ll see what I mean.

2) This was one of the first things that struck me – the shutter release is in the wrong place!

All in all it seems a fairly good camera. Personally, I still don’t regret getting the 30D, which for 40% more money feels much more robust. I think it was worth it. Actually, it’s basically just the look and feel of the 30D that makes me prefer it over the Alpha 100. Not everone else will feel the same, of course. If I could have had one of the Alpha 100’s features on my 30D it would have been the anti-shake.

Monday, August 7th 2006

Commercial Website Using -moz-border-radius

I’ve just noticed that Prisjakt.nu, a commercial Swedish website, is using -moz-border-radius to make their design look a little more 21st century. That’s the first time I’ve seen that on a major website.

Screenshot of prisjakt.nu

However, it doesn’t look like they’re using the to-be-standardized border-radius… But then again, I guess that doesn’t have any effect in any browser as of today… Or does Safari understand border-radius?

The website is similar to Froogle et al.; it compares prices from different shops for whatever product you may be interested in.