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Notices for 10th June 2007 to 3rd June 2007

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.

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, 3rd June 2007

I was fortunate to encounter the Personal Audio Display Device 2293 classic Winamp skin back when it was still available. It has since disappeared from the Winamp skins gallery, along with many other classic skins, and I’ve decided to make it available. I’ve made various modifications to it including mp3cue support, and renamed it Personal Audio Display Device 2294. I was simply going to archive it in case I lost my copy, but decided I would share it with everyone.