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Notices for 8th November 2006 to 1st November 2006

Wednesday, 8th November 2006

Well, another step along the road to optimising all the images on the site. Some people may be aware of how badly JPEG compression copes with fine detail and with anything bright red in the image. I wrote to Thorsten Lemke, the developer of GraphicConverter, about this problem and he told me that the answer is simple: switch off subsampling in the JPEG compression options. Subsampling is the process responsible for breaking all your images when you compress them. It does a good job of reducing file size further for most images, but if you need bright red, text at small point sizes or other fine details, it is beneficial to switch this feature off.

I don’t know how many programs offer this as an option. GraphicConverter on the Macintosh does, as does IrfanView for Windows (I just checked). But it is definitely worthwhile. Switching off subsampling allows you to bring the compression quality back down to a sane level with tricky images, as you don’t have to ramp the quality up to 100% in a vain effort to preserve red areas and fine detail: it is never lost in the first place. The ThinkNerd images directory was 1.2 MB before this process, and just under 1 MB afterwards, a saving of over 200 kB in total. I saved nearly another 100 kB hand-optimising a few more images. The file size did increase slightly though as a result of adding one more t-shirt :)

Sunday, 5th November 2006

Okay, this is going to be the mother of all notices entries. In the past, theTED posted some of the strange search terms by which their site was found, including “German Sheitze Porn”, and, “hello kitty toaster”, which is not as scary as Hello Cthulhu.

Looking at this month’s list of search terms that led people to my own site, I think I have them beat. With “child porn”.

Yep. And three more instances of it last month. What the hell? Child porn on my site? Back in 2003 I was offered a chance to look and feel 20 years younger; had I gone for it, I’d be nearly six now, but unless you get off on photos of Mr Spock as a kid then I can but do my best Iraqi Information Minister impersonation at this point.

Allegedly there are also hot teen girls on my site. Allegedly. That could have been argued back at the time I had my old photos page up (skylar was still teenage at the time). But otherwise, I don’t see any. There’s a photo of Anna Venishnick but she’s too old to qualify. But no, not hot teen girls, just a scabby computer nerd.

In this context, even a search term like “doggy cursors” seems quite filthy! Of course, I get plenty of total nonsense, too, like (and these are all from last month):

There are plenty of interesting terms too, though, including “watford electronics eprom” (do they want a blower, or a software ROM image?), “the first computer”, and “resume hints and tips” (oops – they wanted résumé tips, not tips on resuming downloads in iCab). Someone was looking for “another word for gold digger”.

Someone found my site through searching for “micro user ram and buffer”. Many searches seem to be where some nefarious bot has collected phrases from a site and used them to seed further searches, but that exact phrase is not on my site. It would warm my heart if by scanning in that rather amusing story, someone else was able to find a copy of it once again. Lots of the searches I see suggest that something I posted was exactly what someone was looking for. While I get effectively no mail from any visitors, it’s nice to know that my site has been useful to people somehow. That is, after all, why it is here. That, and to amuse and disturb you all.

And of course, some searches are just plain daft:

I’ll leave you with a sad tale of someone trying very hard to find QBasic Gorillas:

gorilla program -monkey -zoo -film -endangered -conservation

Wednesday, 1st November 2006

Well, for the first time in something like four years, I have some REALbasic code on my site. I stopped caring about publishing any specific re-usable code after my copy of REALbasic fell year upon year out of date. Using the REALbasic 2006r4 demo, I have been able to port my latest mini-project – a class to place a size grip control into the corner of a window in Windows – to the latest version of the language.

After the grief of trying to write such a thing I am glad to be able to offer a nicely wrapped up version for other coders to use. It does have a couple of problems, one of which is due to REAL having screwed up the keyboard handling event model so that a window cannot filter keys before controls get them. Hopefully someone on the REALbasic forum will have some idea how to work around that, so that I can allow the user to press the escape key to cancel a resize.

But, there, my first REALbasic 2006 code. Actually, my second: I ported DragBar to REALbasic 2006 a while back for someone who’d requested it be added to REALbasic in their Feedback system. So I have finished off that job and posted it officially too.