26 December 2011

Yes! ASUS Laptop Resolution Fixed [by me]

You may recall the last post about ASUS support saying that my laptop didn't support Windows 7 and there was no help available for changing the resolution or recognising the ATI card instead of some default PnP monitor...

... a colleague said 'just get the driver from ATI (now AMD). Tried that but still couldn't get Windows to recognise it and spent a while going round in circles. Then I had a look at an identical laptop that had been running Windows 7 fine for ages and I did know what graphics card it had and what to do with it. Diving into Display properties you can eventually find Driver details which lists all the files apparently required. I copied those from one machine to the other. The next time I hit Update Driver, instead of being told that I already had the most up-to-date driver for a PnP monitor, Windows proceeded to get what it reckoned I needed and a few moments later I see this screen.

So I'm afraid that ASUS support haven't exactly excelled themselves on this query and, presumably, have left a whole pile of customers languishing in XP or Vista land or with ovals where there should be circles.

I'm not quite sure whether my efforts actually helped or whether Windows just took its time realising the ATI card was there. Either way, job was done in time to give the youngest son his brother's previously ailing but now looking and working great laptop on Christmas morning. As few people will have more than one of these laptops, if you have a similar problem and need the driver file list just drop me an e-mail.

23 December 2011

ASUS: Is this problem solved? ME: No. Obviously not.

I have bought two ASUS F5V laptops in 2008. Both have done good service, one being carted everywhere with me and often used in class when the software I wanted wasn't available on College machines. The other started off with my daughter who passed it on to my son and now it's going to his younger brother. I'd put Windows 7 on mine, initially the trial version Microsoft issued and later an N version from work. That's been fine although I did have to fiddle around to get the web cam working again. So I thought I'd put a similar version on the younger son's to spruce it up a bit and, in the process, clear out all the rubbish that had accumulated as only a clean installation can achieve.

All went well, running like new except for a couple of minor-looking things. There were only two settings available for the screen resolution as Windows only puts on a PnP generic driver without the settings I need for the widescreen monitor. So I have oval icons instead of round ones. The other was the web cam again but otherwise no worries.

So I dropped ASUS suupport a line, having found nothing on their site of much use. Today I get this e-mail:

That can't be right. I know it's old but surely a driver for a screen display isn't that difficult to provide, especially as my other identical machine works OK. If anyone knows where I can find it on one machine then perhaps I can somehow copy it on to the other one.

I could also do with the registry amendments required to convince the machine that it has a DVD drive, not a CD drive. Having said that, it did just manage to read the installation DVD so that might be a dirty reader rather than a driver problem.

Suggestions welcome.

19 December 2011

"My Program Files Look Quite Lonely..."

A clean installation of Windows 7 left my son with just a few, lonely-looking applications in his Program Files folder. "What else do you think I should get?" he asked. I was tempted to say "Nothing - you can do everything on-line these days" but I just know he won't be capable of leaving half a terabyte of space empty so before he starts downloading this, that and probably the other too, I decided to list what I had lying around and which did actually get used. And why. And, by the way, they're all *free.

It may be a useful guide to others too so I thought I'd publish it here. That also saves me typing it in an e-mail. (I've omitted games which you'll know far more about than me!)

Security stuff:
CCleaner helps tidy drives up and remove rubbish
WinPatrol (Scotty) keeps an eye on changes you may not want applications to make
Microsoft Security Essentials (it may be there already) jolly good anti-virus and general protection from Microsoft getting it right for a change
Prey (for mobile phone protection link) activate a camera and GPS or shut down if you think it's stolen

Design / photos etc
Irfanview open anything, quickly.
Picasa Google's brilliant album and editing application
JAlbum Another excellent on-line album maker
Sketchup make shapes, be an architect or just have fun
ColorPix get exactly the colour you need
Rasterbator make huge pictures and cartoon effects
Serif DrawPlus design
SerifPhotoPlus edit
SerifWebPlus publish
ArtRage draw, paint, splash around

Windows MediaPlayer (if not there already)
Spotify one of the first in the on-line music field
VLC Media Player play anything
Total Recorder record anything

Nuance PDFReader better PDFs
Skype communicate
7Zip compress and extract
LibreOffice if you haven't got Microsoft Office

Rockmelt or just Chrome
Firefox (English UK) still useful to have around
(and ensure Internet Explorer updates automatically even if you never use it!)

*Serif offer free older versions but students can get the latest versions for about £10.
Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote are all freely available on-line via SkyDrive.

20 November 2011

Another on-line photo editing tool

It's been a long time since Microsoft Word crashed on me. Thereagain, it's been a while since I did much with the Edit Wrap Points feature that has been in Word for as long as I can remember but hardly ever used by any students or colleagues I know.

But that's not the point I intended to write about. That's another entry in the on-line photo editing tools that are getting better and better and with more and more features. This one is called FotoFlexer and seems pretty effortless to use. The image above was grabbed from another blog, edited and downloaded in about 3 minutes with no log-in required.

One cautionary note - there's a big 'Download' button staring at you on the main page after you've done your editing. I should have known better but it isn't the 'download my image' button or 'download a local version of the application' button but, annoyingly, something quite different that I only caught a quick glimpse of but looked like one of those tools like Vuze that search for on-line stuff and control the downloads. Probably nothing bad, just very unnecessary and it certainly should be displayed with some accompanying description.

Fotoflexer claim to have more features than any other on-line application. That I doubt, although this does have a lot, including layers management and quite a few resources that some others I've recommended before lack. So it is worth a look but just beware the green button. I'll update all the editors that I am happy to recommend shortly on the webtools site.

25 October 2011

Web display - some statistics to bear In mind these days

Windows 7 overtook Windows XP at last a little while ago. Mac and Linux maintain a small but constant share and it will be interesting to see how Android and mobile browser use statistics grow.

There are three clear leaders in the browser field: Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer. Google and Mozilla continue to eat away at Microsoft's domination. Will IE9 halt that decline? Will Chrome take over the No.1 spot?

Time was when we designed web pages for users with 800 pixel screens with some nods towards the 1024 folk with nice backgrounds to occupy the space either side. Now, it would seem safe to move to utilise an extra 25% of monitor estate although we may have to make mobile versions more readily available too. Unless your site is going to appear as a small box on the screen it may be time to look again at all those 760 pixel pages! But let us hope text lines don't start stretching.

These charts have been made using Google Documents' Spreadsheets and feature data from W3Schools. The nice thing about Google Charts is that now you can add them to sites not as a mere image but as an interactive feature where you can move the mouse to see more data and if I change the 'home' spreadsheet these will be automatically updated too. That is just so cool.

Google Charts are still in development and I noticed that I wasn't able to add a text box (for the thanks to W3Schools bit, for instance) and the Spreadsheet is still a bit clunky compared to Excel. Try as I did, changing the dates so that they would actually be interpreted as dates not text proved impossible (unless I added 1 to each which would have been a drag) and percentages seem to have to be either 0 or 2 decimals (or umpteen, perhaps) just not 1 decimal point as I wanted. No doubt someone will tell me how to fix these things under the bonnet before long!

Beware! Statistics Are Often Misleading

You cannot - as a web developer - rely only on statistics. Statistics can often be misleading. Global averages may not always be relevant to your web site. Different sites attract different audiences. Some web sites attract professional developers using professional hardware, while other sites attract hobbyists using old low spec computers. Also be aware that many statistics may have an incomplete or faulty browser detection. It is quite common by many web-stats report programs, not to detect the newest browsers. (The statistics above are extracted from W3Schools' log-files, but they are also monitoring other sources around the Internet to assure the quality of these figures).

12 October 2011

I Need Islands In My Stream

My goodness, things are changing so quickly! I am doing my best to keep up but doing so is my excuse for not having written anything here for ages. I will try and make up for that with some posts about all sorts of exciting new applications and web tools in a while. For now, though, I thought it might be a good idea simply to share this feeling of being overwhelmed - excitedly overwhelmed, I should add, but also slightly exhaustingly so too!

I blame Google Plus. A little while ago it was a pretty but pretty dead area where one or two posts would appear in my stream, like a few headlines in a newspaper. Twitter was my main source of morning news and E-mail is something that I'd look at as apart from a very quick scan by phone to make sure I wasn't missing something important.

My Rockmelt browser would advise me if there were any Facebook messages so, unless my daughter was panicking about something, I didn't need to go there which had somewhat brought my incoming stuff back into some sort of order. Rockmelt also lets me mark tweets to read later if a first glance wasn't enough or a link needed to be clicked so that was vaguely under control.

Not so, Google Plus. I now have a genuine stream of fascinating, interesting and other complimentary adjectives I could apply to the posts that are arriving from all over the place. Really talented people in mainly Tech or Educational fields, mostly, but, for my sins and probably much to the annoyance or frustration of some people who follow me, also things to do with X Factor now that I am writing the reviews and recaps for both the USA and UK programmes and getting featured in various web magazines. I cannot keep up with it all. I want to. I try but I am staying up until the early hours of the morning most nights now just browsing through the steam and adding comments as and when I can.

Retirement would be brilliant because I could do this in the normal, sensible part of a day. However, there's too much interesting work to do to even envisage such a concept just yet. there's also the small matter of needing income. But there Google Plus offers hope too as I may well find that one or two of the new people who are reading the stuff I write might actually like me to write or do a bit more and pay me for it. The main problem is that everyone is just too damn interesting. Google Plus is not like Twitter or Facebook. Twitter shows you very short bursts of views, ideas or whatever from people that you follow. Facebook is a bundle of comments and status changes, mostly, amongst my 'friends', of a social nature and which can be smiled at, grunted at and I can move on without my brain being unduly challenged. Google Plus provides me with much longer items, usually well-written too, from experts in their fields about subjects that interest me and offering advice which I'd like to take or at least try out or asking for help which I'd like to provide.

And these posts are coming from far and wide, people I've never met, seen or passed in a conference corridor. They're in Circles that I've added to my Circles because they seemed just as deserving of being there as those I do know and I also get the comments and ideas and links that people in their Circles have added. At this rate I shall have vast numbers of posts flying down my screen and I don't have a clue how to handle them all and, more importantly, remember the ones that either I remembered wanting to remember or, even more importantly, remember that I had said I would respond or do something for some of those that I have now drifted past and into the first or second stream hidden under a More button.

LinkedIn people don't stand a chance of hearing from me more than once a month at this rate and I have completely abandoned Plaxo and Plurk. They had their uses but they used too much time that I no longer have spare.

I am also beginning to wonder if I should get a vertical instead of horizontal screen as, at it stands now, a few hours' worth of e-mail occupies the whole of a screen and, unless I am really fast archiving, labelling or deleting in GMail, someone's message has disappeared from view only to emerge several days later when I do eventually either remove its successors on the page or press the Next 25 button. In fact, I am beginning to wonder whether I shouldn't start displaying them in reverse date order. I wonder if I can?

I have now managed to get Google Plus to show me Twitter and Facebook streams without leaving its environs which is a good start. I can also post to whichever I choose or to the whole damn lot from there which is marvellous. That uses an add-in called SGPlus. Google must surely eventually come up with their own but, until they do, SGPlus is worth a a look for Chrome users.

On the occasions when I do have to dive into Facebook it seems that I have a new learning experience each time with ever-changing (and, I must say, quite impressive) displays of whatever is there. With its new Active Display my blog tool of choice, Blogger, is also now threatening to take over my daily news with a display that looks remarkably like a ruddy newspaper in some options too. But I already have paper.li aggregating all that it thinks I might want to read anyway.

I now learn that Google Goggles can solve my good old-fashioned Daily telegraph suduko, crossword and it won't be long before it does the balancing birds too. So maybe that will give me more time to read the rest. and perhaps catch up with my article writing on what is going on. Maybe. We'll see. Watch this space.

24 August 2011

Good tutorial videos from Google Privacy

Some nice explanations by Google Privacy people of terms like HTTPS and VPN can be seen at Digital Inspiration's really useful site. When I viewed this on YouTube I found a whole pile of others too. Well worth a look if you're either teaching or studying this sort of thing and need simple, Plain English (well nearly), tutorial material.

Not too sure about this young lady's pronunciation of S but once the novelty wears off you'll stop giggling and learn something!

27 July 2011

Groovy: Google Image Chart Editor

Google Image Chart Editor is a really nice tool to put charts on-line. Choose a type of chart from a gallery. Edit the labels and whatever else is available to change for that type. Copy the code and add it to your site, blog or whatever.

There are also post-it notes and other things too.

just one of many charts that you can edit and publish

17 July 2011

Experimenting with slidestaxx

No idea what this is all about but just trying to see what it does...