Tip Tuesday: Manipulating Graphics files for your blog

When working with graphics files on your blog, it is always smart to optimize their size for their targetted use. A simple corner picture does not need an original size of 8.1 mega pixels. On a windows machine, MS Paint can handle that sort of transformations, with a little pain and bloodshed. I’ve also written and posted here a console app to do the dynamic resizing. Gimp is awesome, but it is over kill.

I strongly encourage Windows users to check out Infranview. You might look at the site and say “Oh it is just a viewer”, but it is soooooo much more than that. Though it is the one of the best picture viewers out there, it also handles basic graphic manipulation better than most other software out there, even the pro stuff.

File resizing is very simple. However following their “It is trying to be simple for beginners and powerful for professionals.” goal, it allows you to, in the advanced menu, choose from various resampling methods in case the image just looks wrong when you resize it. Most programs use the 1 method the programmer preferred and you are stuck with it.

You can get it here:
http://www.irfanview.com/

and once you load the plugins from here:
http://www.irfanview.com/plugins.htm

(I prefer this mirror for downloads.)

You’ve got a powerful graphics manipulation tool that can even accept any photo shop 8bf plugins that you have lying around.

(BTW xnview is a infranview knock off, but it does have pocketPC and Smartphone support and works nicely as a viewer on those platforms)

A new way to support your in-laws

It’s happened to you.  You know it has.  You were just starting to relax when the phone rings.  It’s you father/mother/in-laws/girl who you knew in highschool that kept asking for your new number each time you moved.  And they, sounding kind of guilty, say “I’m having a problem and I was wondering if you could help me…”  And so begins a 3 hour long discussion involving phrases  like”OK tell me each letter you typed” and  “No I meant hit the space bar, not type s-p-a-c-e” and ending with philosophical discussions of which button really is the “right” mouse button anyway. 

While up in New York at my in-laws, I even got a support call from their neighbor down the street.  Because they knew I was out visiting and had heard so many good things about me and couldn’t I help them with one quick thing?

No don’t get me wrong, I am glad to help and am eager to do it.  But that doesn’t mean it is without pain!  I have even gone to extent of installing Ultra VNC on my both of the computers at my in-laws house.  I’ve modified their router to route a custom port to each and created a custom page so they could tell me their current up address.  (http://myip.thecodecave.com btw.  Feel free to use it and even scrape it for use in custom apps for determining the external port if  you like.  It will always only return the ip.  No ads or other junk.)

That works swell, but had to wait till I was there to put everything in place.  Now there is another solution

Citrix has started a public beta of a program called GoToAssist.  This application goes pretty far beyond what all other custom solutions can do. Benefits include

  1. All is started from a single url that can be emailed to a person.
  2. No software pre-install is required (There is an app that sends the invites to the computers to be controlled – available only for Windows).  The person needing help only clicks on the url, accepts the certificate and a small client is automatically installed.  1 startup registry entry is added.
  3. You can view/control not just PCs but MACS! from your Windows computer.
  4. No firewalls were harmed during the production of this program.  You don’t need to open any ports.
  5. Advanced features like send/pull files and request diagnostic report are available across all platforms.  (I don’t even know how to determine which programs start automatically on a Mac, but the report can tell me which they are)
  6. Permanent/unattended sessions are supported.  There does not need to be any interaction to resume sessions if that’s how you want it to be.

So, the public beta is open at http://express.gotoassist.com and you should go check it out!  They are wide open to accepting new testers at this point and chances are that strong beta testers will get a good discount on the software.  And really good beta testers might get a really good surprise.  Citrix even has a good paid tester program that is worth your investigation.

Hat tip to Chris Pirillo for pointing out the beta program.

Here’s something neat… a screen shot of me supporting my own machine as it shows me supporting my own machine which shows me… well you get the idea…

image

 

I decided to report that one, but it actually handled it fairly well.

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52 books in 52 Weeks

I’ve recommended Rob Miller’s plugins before. I’ve had his Now Reading plug in installed on this blog for a while but some how, in a way neither of us understood, the authors and the titles got mixed beyond my desire to fix.

While browsing his blog, I came across a 52 books in 52 weeks challenge reference. And like others, I took up the challenge.

I didn’t record many of the books I read, but I know that I did easily pass the count of 52. Here in fact are 56 books that I read since Jan 1 of last year:

Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Game
Speaker for the Dead
Xenocide
Childeren of the Mind
Enders Shadow
Shadow of the Hegemon
Shadow Puppets
Magic Street
A war of Gifts

Fred Saberhagen
Berserkers
The Empire of the East

Sara Paretsky
Bitter Medicine
Blacklist
Fire Sale

David Eddings
Pawn of Prophecy
Queen of Sorcery
Magician’s Gambit
Castle of Wizardry
Enchanters’ End Game

Guardians of the West
King of the Murgos
Demon Lord of Karanda
Sorceress of Darshiva
The Seeress of Kell

Catherine Asaro
Primary Inversion
Catch the Lightning
The Last Hawk
The Radiant Seas
Ascendant Sun
The Quantum Rose

Anne McCaffery
Changelings: Twins of Petaybee
Maelstrom: Twins of Petaybee

Freedom’s Challenge
Freedom’s Choice
Freedom’s Landing
The Tower and the Hive
The Rowan
Damia
Damia’s Children

Cornelia Funke
Inkheart

Kevin J. Anderson
Eragon
Eldest

Terry Goodkind
Phantom

Ben Bova
Mars

Kate Jacobs
The Friday Night Knitting Club

Philip K. Dick
Minority Report and Other Stories

Johann Wyss
The Swiss Family Robinson

J. M. Barrie
Peter Pan in Scarlet

Josepha Sherman
Vulcan’s Soul

Robert A. Heinlein
The Rolling Stones
The Star Beast
Double Star
Starship Troopers
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
Variable Star
Voyagers

BTW I have since found out that the original challenge was to write and review 52. We’ll see if I can do that next year. I met the challenge I had set for myself for this year.

Cheers all!