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Notices for 4th June 2007 to 13th June 2007


Monday, 4th June 2007

Adding to my public collection of crusty old code, I have posted my first ever fully-fledged utility application, Many Apps, to the overgrown Misc section. It is a multiple file association utility for Windows 3.1, written in Borland Delphi 1 while I was at university. It is nice to see that I have moved on, even if just a little :)

Sunday, 10th June 2007

Thanks to PhAtfiSh, I have just laid my hands on a new toy.

Which is all very well and good, but it’s my first colour flat screen device. And I thought I would better check to investigate my fears.

I work with images a lot on this site, and I have to make quite tough decisions. I try to keep my site as accessible as possible to dial-up visitors (of which there are still plenty out there), which is hard to balance with image authenticity. The smaller an image file becomes, the lower the quality has to go. I try to avoid any visible artefacts or dithering, but some screenshots, particularly of OS X, are impossible to compress no matter what algorithm you use. Thanks to Apple’s hopeless interface design, there are too many gradients for PNG and too many sharp edges for JPEG even with chroma subsampling disabled.

I base all my visual image inspection on how they appear on a rather overdriven 17″ tube. It’s quite astonishing how far out of focus and gamma my screens are. Given that flat screens are all perfectly sharp and clear (within the limitations of the sub-pixel arrangement), I feared that my image standards were in fact too low. That is to say, what looks good on a fuzzy, overdriven CRT may look horribly noisy on a flat screen. And it does.

However, what are my options? I could locate and install a live JPEG preview tool on the laptop and do all my compression on that, so that I can achieve higher quality standards for the increasing number of flat screen users. However, I would then begin to alienate dial-up users with larger and larger files, and having to work across two machines that don’t share a standard file sharing protocol would be annoying. (This is the same reason that I don’t run all my PNG images through OptiPNG, since OptiPNG is not available in OS 9.)

Fortunately, I do keep the uncompressed, undithered masters of many images, but not all of them by far. For now, I suppose it’s one of the down sides to using a flat screen along with horrible vertical viewing angle consistency. At least the horrible contrast has been fixed in the latest screens.

Wednesday, 13th June 2007

Much to my surprise, I just found an interesting subfolder in my Artwork folder on my hard drive, called “Telcontar’s Homepage”. It contains a sizeable portion of the Photoshop masters for Telcontar’s Homepage Mark II. I had no idea that I still had any of these. From the creation date, it appears to have been recreated to contain data recovered from my hard drive. I may have mistaken the images for being the graphics to my first (Mark I) site.

Thus, I have been able to put back some missing site graphics, namely the Links link image on the front page, and the title graphics for the About section.

I will likely never recover the whole site (since I was deleting swathes of it anyway after switching to this domain) but it is nice to increase how much of it is safely archived.