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The Computer Page — Not just games!

• See my Xine review too!
»»»Computer Related Stuff Up Gallery. «««
Windows XP Tweaks.

Are you looking for software to download? You’re on the wrong page. You need to go here:

GAMES:



• Morrowind Tips & Recommendations.

Some Of My Other Recommended Games Of Goodness:

• RollerCoaster Tycoon — some bonus tracks / rides here.
• Diablo 2

Check out the NFS Porsche 2000 Page and the NFS High Stakes Page for some cool replays of mine!

OTHER STUFF:

Sometimes I refer to various software running on one of my computers, so here are the current specs! (All hard drive sizes are in true GB, with the base 1024 thing.):

1st Tower (Main) Computer
CPU:
64 bit AMD Athlon 3800+ (Single core - 2.4 GHz)
Motherboard:
Asus A8V-MX
RAM:
1 GB DDR type
Video Card:
ATi Radeon 9550 (AGP type with 256 MB of RAM.) (Was a nVidia GeForce 7600 GT [AGP type with 512 MB of RAM] until it died.)
Hard Drives:
931.5 GB Seagate Barracuda (Green) (Primary) & Serial 465.76 GB Western Digital (Blue) (Secondary — In a USB connecting caddy)
DVD Writer:
Lite On 8-ish × speed. Not quite sure. (Was a Pioneer 16 × speed [DVR-111D] up until it died.)
CD Writer:
Lite-On 48 × speed (24 × speed re-write)
Floppy Disk Drive:
Standard 9 cm type
Sound Card:
Creative Sound Blaster Audigy
Video Capture Card:
Pinnacle Systems Studio 500 (PCI) with Studio 10.5
Modem:
Netcomm Roadster II (Ultra) 56 (No longer using this now, because of the broadband Internet connection.)
Keyboard:
Logitech Internet Keyboard (104 keys I think.)
Mouse:
Microsoft basic optical mouse
Monitor:
51.05 cm Hewlett Packard LP2065 LCD. (Maximum Resolution: 1600 × 1200 pixels.) It’s about 40.5 cm × 30.5 cm.
Control Pad:
XBOX 360 Controller
OS:
Windows XP Professional (32 bit)

Laptop Computer (MacBook)
CPU:
2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
RAM:
1 GB DDR 2 type
Video Processor:
Intel GMA 950 with 64 MB of shared RAM
Hard Drive:
465 GB serial type
Optical Disc Drive:
8 × speed for DVDs, 24 × speed for CDs. (16 × speed re-write for CDs.) (CD burning only.)
Sound Processor:
?
Keyboard:
78 key American style layout, I fink
Mouse:
Microsoft Basic Optical Mouse
Screen:
33.782 cm thin film transistor liquid crystal display (Maximum Resolution: 1280 × 800 pixels.)
Camera:
iSight — appears to do 640 × 480 pixels
OS:
Mac OS X Leopard
Modem:
External Apple Modem (Probably won’t need this again.)

Desktop Computer (iMac G4)
CPU:
800 MHz IBM PowerPC G4 (7445)
RAM:
512 MB
Video Processor:
nVidia GeForce 2 MX (32 MB of DDR RAM)
Hard Drive:
55 GB
Optical Disc Drive:
6 × speed for DVDs, 24 × speed read for CDs, 8 × record, and re-writes at 4 × speed. (CDs recording only.)
Sound Processor:
Some Texas Instruments thing
Keyboard:
109 key Apple Keyboard
Mouse:
The same one I’m using for my MacBook if it’s free.
Screen:
38.1 cm LCD (Maximum resolution: 1024 × 768 pixels.)
Modem:
Dash2
OS:
Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X Tiger

2nd Tower Computer (Now dead-ish)
This computer is partially working, but is probably quite unreliable.
Motherboard:
Gigabyte B75M-D3H (Ultra Durable 4 Classic)
CPU:
3.2 GHz Intel Core i5 (Quad core)
RAM:
4 GB - DDR 3 type
Video Card:
Removed for the replacement (4th tower) computer
Hard Drive:
Some old ~465.76 GB one that is mostly working.
DVD Writer:
Removed for the replacement (4th tower) computer
Sound Card:
Creative SoundBlaster Audigy
Keyboard:
Removed for the replacement (4th tower) computer
Mouse:
Removed for the replacement (4th tower) computer
Monitor:
None
OS:
None
Control Pad:
None

3rd Tower Computer (Power Mac G5)
CPU:
2 GHz IBM PowerPC 970MP (Dual core.)
RAM:
2 GB
Video Card:
nVidia GeForce 6600 LE (128 MB of RAM. PCI Express.)
Hard Drive:
~ 149.1 GB Western Digital (now dead) & 931.5 GB Seagate (ST1000DM003-1SB10C)
Optical Disc Drive:
Pioneer (DVR-115) 18 × speed DVD burner
Sound Processors:
Burr Brown PCM3052 & Crystal Semiconductor CS84xx
Keyboard:
The same one I’m using for my 4th tower computer. (Shared via the KVM switch box thing.)
Mouse:
The same one I’m using for my 4th tower computer. (Shared via the KVM switch box thing.)
Screen:
My HP LP2065 monitor.
OS:
Mac OS X Tiger & Leopard

2nd Laptop Computer (HP Compaq nx7400)
CPU:
1.66 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
RAM:
2 GB
Video Processor:
Intel GMA 945 (Possibly with 224 MB of shared RAM)
Hard Drive:
~ 55.8 GB
DVD Writer:
?
Sound Processor:
ADI SoundMAX
Keyboard:
(The built-in one)
Mouse:
Microsoft Basic Optical Mouse 2
Screen:
1280 × 800 pixel LCD
OS:
Windows 2000 Professional
Control Pad:
None at the moment.

4th Tower Computer
Motherboard:
Gigabyte H67MA-USB3-B3
CPU:
3.4 GHz Intel Core i7 (Quad core)
RAM:
8 GB
Video Card:
nVidia GeForce GT 640 (1 GB of RAM. [May share another 3 GB of system RAM.] PCI Express)
Hard Drives:
~ 465.76 GB HGST
DVD Writer:
Super WriteMaster (Not sure how fast.)
Sound Processor:
Some kind of built-onto-the-motherboard dealie (RealTek or something.)
Keyboard:
Generic Microsoft keyboard
Mouse:
Microsoft Basic Optical Mouse 2
Displays:
My TV (A 68 cm Philips 29PT3323 model) using a Gefen converter, and my main computer’s monitor, on connection 2.
OS:
64 bit Windows 7 Professional (NT 6.1)
Control Pad:
My XBOX 360 one.
Scanner:
Epson Perfection V370 Photo

2nd “desktop” type computer (iMac G5)
Motherboard:
Apple iMac G5 type, I presume.
CPU:
2.1 GHz IBM PowerPC G5
RAM:
1.5 GB
Video Processor:
ATi something
Hard Drives:
~ 238 GB
DVD Writer:
Not sure at the moment
Sound Processor:
Dunno that either
Keyboard:
Logitech keyboard
Mouse:
Dell optical mouse
Displays:
1680 × 1050 pixel LCD.
OS:
Mac OS X Leopard. (Tiger on an external drive.)
Control Pad:
None.

• I did a comparison between my computers rendering the same scene with the same settings in Art Of Illusion 2.5. The setup was an image size of 1600 × 1200 pixels with the raytracer renderer, a surface accuracy of 0.01, maximum anti-aliasing, 4 rays minimum per pixel, 16 rays maximum per pixel, gloss & translucency on, soft shadows on, maximum ray tree depth of 16, no HDR background & everything else on default. These are the times each computer took to complete the image. (Please note that the longer time mentioned at deviantArt was a resolution of 3000 × 2250 pixels.)

1st Tower Computer (AMD Athlon 64 based one):
24 minutes & 8 seconds
2nd Tower Computer (Intel Core i5 based one):
2 minutes & 40 seconds
Laptop Computer 1 (MacBook):
13 minutes & 28 seconds
Laptop Computer 2 (H.P. Compaq nx7400):
17 minutes & 57 seconds
Desktop Computer (iMac G4):
1 hour, 48 minutes & 48 seconds
3rd Tower Computer (Power Mac G5):
17 minutes & 32 seconds
4th Tower Computer (Intel Core i7 based one):
1 minute & 17 seconds
iMac G5:
32 minutes & 45 seconds.

So my “new” Power Mac G5 only just scraped in a quicker time than my HP laptop computer. It goes to show how much more efficient the Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs must be, even at slower speeds. See this chart for a more visual comparison.
• One thing I have a beef with in terms of computers, is the ambiguity of the new “solid state drives,” as regular hard disks all used solid state components as well. Computers haven’t used valves for decades. So how can you distinguish between 2 types of “drive,” when the term applies to both? (When radios first began to use transistors they correctly mentioned that they used solid state components instead of valves [which have a vacuum] and this really did give a more correct distinction.) If anything, the distinguishing feature of the new storage is that it uses static components, because there’s no moving parts. A disk is still solid. It isn’t a vacuum, a liquid or a gas.
• I also hate how Microsoft has the tendency to refer to zip files as folders, because of the stupid way Windows XP handles them by showing them as a folder. Maybe they think people can’t get their head around a file containing other files.

Tips For Firefox / Pale Moon!

Since web browsers are not always OS specific, I’ll put this bit separately. (Although Pale Moon is only for Windows. And now Linux too apparently.)
• To disable image smoothing in newer versions of Firefox / Pale Moon, go to the chrome sub-directory of your user profile directory. (In Windows, it should be something like: C:\Documents and Settings\User\Application Data\Moonchild Productions\Pale Moon\Profiles\blahblah.default\chrome. You may have to make the chrome directory in later versions.) If you don’t have one already, make a text file there called “userContent.css” and in it, put:

img { -moz-scaling-method: fast }
img { image-rendering: -moz-crisp-edges; }


I got this info on a forum, which you can read here. It will work in Pale Moon 20 & 27, as I’ve tried it. Of course, all resized images you see will then be pixelated at larger sizes. Smaller images will look unfiltered too. In some instances this can be beneficial to pick up on images which have not had their size correctly set in the web page, and for images which are meant to be shown at twice the size without filtering, which my site uses in a couple of instances.
• In the advanced settings, (which you access by putting in the address “about:config”,) you can also disable high quality down scaling. There will be an entry called image.high_quality_downscaling.enabled. If you set it to false, images which have been shrunk won’t have the sharpening effect applied. This can improve performance a bit and stop the refresh flickering which sometimes occurs.
• One of the most powerful ways to block specific content, is an add-on / extension called BlockSite. It can be used with asterisks (*) to block multiple stuff from the same domain, and it can also disable links to such sites. It’s great for removing common advertising sites and anything you might find offensive. Some sites use a lot of external tracking and statistic gathering sites, which can be stopped, and thus speeding up loading times.
• If you don’t want sites to set cookies, you can set the “Keep until:” part of the privacy tab in the regular options to “ask me every time.” The only thing about this you need to be aware of, is that every site you then visit which uses cookies will be halted until you choose whether to accept the cookie or not. Some sites also expect cookies to be allowable.
• If you’re finding some web sites are using fonts which are just way too thin for their size, one trick you can use is to disable sites from using their own fonts. However, this may present problems for some sites which rely on particular fonts to achieve a certain look. In any case, go into the usual about:config dealie, and type in “font” in the search box. Next, find gfx.downloadable_fonts.enabled and set it to false, by double clicking it. When you restart Pale Moon (or Firefox), only fonts installed for your OS will be used.
• If you’re finding you’re tweaking a lot of advanced settings, create a bookmark for about:config, or place it in your bookmarks toolbar.
• If your browser is whinging about “vulnerable” plug-ins, but you still want to use the version you have installed, you can skip the warning message by changing the “extensions.blocklist.enabled” setting to false. (Do this in the advanced settings by using the about:config address.)
• In Windows, to force Firefox to start with the profile selector, add a “-p” to the end of the command line, either in a shortcut to the program or a batch file.
• To disable Firefox 52’s (and probably surrounding versions) built-in font rendering method (in Windows), go to the “about:config” address, and search for “azure”. Change the settings of “gfx.canvas.azure.backends” & “gfx.content.azure.backends” to “direct2d1.1,cairo” without the part that says “skia”. Fonts will then be displayed how Windows normally does them. Smaller fonts will have no anti-aliasing at all, and larger fonts should be sharper now, horizontally.

Tippy Tips For Mac OS X (Tiger & Leopard)!

Mac OS X isn’t anywhere near as annoying as Windows XP, so this section will probably be a bit sparse.
• If you don’t have an iPod, you can disable the iTunes Helper application on start up. Go to the System Preferences, and then Accounts. Go to the Login Items section, select iTunesHelper and click on the “-” button. Then restart your computer. (No this isn’t an annoyance.)
• Mac OS X Leopard (& probably later versions,) puts extra junk onto external drives to do with Spotlight. If you want to prevent this, put a blank file in the root level of the drive called .metadata_never_index with no name apart from the extension. This will make ejecting the drive faster too.
• Mac OS X Leopard’s folders are nowhere near as good as the old shiny blue ones in my opinion, so if you’re like me and you have an earlier revision of the OS still, you can change them back. The directory where they’re stored for Leopard is: /System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/
You can find several in there for different special directories too, like the Utilities folder, Developer, Public, Pictures and Music folders. You will most likely need your administrator password for this too.
• If you’re looking for your Finder icon, that’s located in /System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/Resources/
It should be the same for Tiger too. (Make sure you retain the file name as finder.png, with a small “f”, because it is case sensitive! If you don’t, the icon won’t appear on the Dock.) You may need to delete your Dock icon cache file for the change to take effect. You may need to find it manually, because I think the directories have different names under different installations. The file has a weird name called: “com.apple.dock.iconcache.” If you want to change things often, make an alias to the directory it’s located in. I think Tiger & Leopard have it in different spots.
• If you want to change your Leopard energy saver icon back to the original type, instead of that butt-ugly spiral thing, it’s: /System/Library/PreferencePanes/EnergySaver.prefPane/Contents/Resources/EnergySaver.icns. You should replace this with one from Tiger, unless you know how to do the 2 icons inside the one file.
• If you prefer the Tiger preferences icon too, you can simply find this inside the System Preferences.app directory in your main Applications directory. It’s called PrefFile.icns, inside /Contents/Resources.
• In Leopard, if you go to your main library directory (not the one under your user name), you’ll find a printers sub directory, with a HUGE amount of printer drivers. Unless you actually have all these printers, you can pretty much delete everything here which you don’t have, and clear up some hard drive space at the same time.
• There’s a huge amount of dictionary related stuff also in YourDrive/Library/Dictionaries, which you can also sod off if you don’t need them. If you use the dictionary program though, you might want to keep them. Obviously.
• In Mac OS X Tiger, (and probably other versions too,) to get an eject item on your Menu Bar for your optical disc drive, go to /System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras, and then “double click” on Eject.menu. If you have more than one drive, I think you’ll get a list of choices.
• If you’ve got a file off the Internet, you will often get a warning message when you try to open it, even if it’s not an executable file. To remove this entirely, open the Terminal and enter: “defaults write com.apple.LaunchServices LSQuarantine -bool NO” To change it back, replace the “NO” part with “YES”. This may only apply to Mac OS X Leopard and above. I’m not sure about Tiger. You may also have to restart or relaunch Finder, although I can’t remember now.
• Here’s a tip for burning a CD / DVD with its own icon. Make a new disc image from a folder with Disk Utility, and when it’s done, open it and go to the information for the root level (of the image file). Along side that, open the information for the icon you want to use, so that the icon is visible in the information window at the top. Select it so that it has a glowing border and select copy from the menu, or press + C. Then select the information window for the disc image and select its icon at the top left. Then paste! The icon you want to use should appear there at the top now, and a larger version below, if you have the preview section open. “Eject” the disc image, and re-open it just to make sure the icon has stuck. If so, you can then burn it. The icon should then appear for the CD / DVD instead of the usual generic optical disc icon. (Discs burnt in this fashion may not be readable outside of Mac operating systems.)

John’s Tips For Windows XP!

Windows XP and other versions can have some really annoying “features” and problems. So here are some pointers to make it more bearable:
• Windows XP seems to think that zip files are folders, so to disable this weird handling, type this in to your Run box: regsvr32 /u c:\windows\system32\zipfldr.dll and do an immediate reboot after any messages. You will then simply need to re-associate zip files to your fave archiving program.
• Another annoyance is all that Windows Media Player junk in the context menus, especially if you don’t use it. To sod this off, enter this: regsvr32 /u wmpshell
• To remove NetMeeting from Windows XP, enter this text in your run box, or put it in a batch file for multiple uses: RunDll32 advpack.dll,LaunchINFSection C:\WINDOWS\inf\msnetmtg.inf,NetMtg.Remove When you reboot, a message will ask you about tidying up settings. Just click on Yes.
Here’s one from The Elder Geek website on removing your CD drive from your Send To menu: Run GPEDIT.MSC, which is the Group Policy Editor. Then go to User Configuration —> Administrative Templates —> Windows Components —> Windows Explorer, then find Remove CD Burning features on the right, and set it to Enabled. This will work in Windows 7 as well.
• On some occasions Explorer will chuck some kind of various wobbly — for me usually to do with the Task Bar. To restart it, press Ctrl + Alt + Del to bring up the Task Manager. On the Processes tab, find explorer.exe and press the End Process button. This will take out all the icons on your desktop, the System Tray and various other business, but don’t fret! Just go to the File menu on the Task Manager and choose New Task, then type in explorer and it will all kick back in. :-)
• Sometimes you may run into a file that just won’t get deleted, even after you restart your computer. One trick is to close Explorer and then use the command prompt to delete the file. (Having the Open Command Window Here Power Toy add on makes this quicker to do on folders with long names too.)
• If you have shortcuts to your optical drive(s) on the desktop, depending on the disc you have inserted, Windows won’t always open this in the same fashion when you double click on the icon. Sometimes in worse scenarios, it will fail to update the contents and when you think you’re opening a normal folder, Windows might try and open up a DVD player instead. If you simply want to have access directly to the root folder, and not attempt to start playing an audio CD or the like, you can create a simple batch program with the contents of: Start (your drive letter): So if your disc drive was D, you would put: Start D: You can then make a shortcut to this batch file.
• Download Tweak UI also to sort out a lot more options and get a few tweaking programs made up ready to go by me, that do some of the above tips.
• To get rid of the “eBooks” folder from My Documents that is created by Adobe Acrobat Reader every time it loads, simply move the eBook.api file from C:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat version\Reader\plug_ins\ to the Optional folder on the same level, or delete it entirely.
• You can remove the “throbber” animation from windows, with ThrobOff by Nathan Lineback.
Here’s another beauty on removing the excess search entries in the Start menu: Open the Registry Editor and go to:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FindExtensions\Static. Under WabFind, WebSearch, and (if you have RealPlayer installed,) RealSearch, you can delete the sub branches of each one. You may want to leave the ShellSearch one there if you still want to use Windows’ built in search feature.
• I had enormous troubles getting various media files to open with Media Player 6, in that they kept on asking what program to use EVERY time. The solution / kludge I came up with to solve it was to make a copy of mplayer2.exe and call it mplayer3.exe, and then associate the files with that. Problem solved!
• To run a program in a different priority, you can make a batch file with the following example contents: %comspec% /c start /BELOWNORMAL program_name.exe
Change the program_name part to the name of the executable file you wish to run. Change the BELOWNORMAL part to HIGH, LOW, ABOVENORMAL etc. I like to do this with Firefox and PowerDVD, because Firefox can be a big sweaty hog on some sites when you’re playing a DVD, so I give higher priority to the DVD player and lower to Firefox. It saves you having to do it every time with the Task Manager then. You can just put the batch file with the program in the same folder.
• To change the oddball way that Windows somehow thinks that the week starts on Monday (!) instead of Sunday, go into the Registry Editor, to HKEY_CURRENT_USER -> Control Panel -> International, and change iFirstDayOfWeek to 6, instead of 0. This’ll work in Windows 2000 & Windows 7 as well.
• Pictures & audio files can be a pain when they don’t show consistent details in Explorer. So, in the registry, go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\SystemFileAssociations\audio, and set the Details to “prop:Name;Size;Type;Write” to show the modification date. Do the same for the Details part of the image section.
• To edit your Open With list, which appears when you right click on a file, go to: “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\.extension\OpenWithList” in the Registry Editor. (Replace the .extension bit with the one you’re looking for.) In here, you can remove programs you don’t want to have shown. I changed mine because I accidentally kept clicking on the wrong programs for certain files, when I was opening videos with VLC instead of QuickTime, which is my default for various extensions. It can be a good idea to export the branch of the file extension to a .REG file, which you can use again later, if programs change the entries again.
• To edit your optical disc drive names (& possibly others), go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\DriveIcons\ in the Registry Editor, and make a new key which matches the drive letter you want to change the name of, if you don’t already have an entry there. Then off that, make a key called DefaultLabel. So, in my case, for my DVD drive, I have a registry entry of: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\DriveIcons\D\DefaultLabel
On the right side, where it says (Default), set the string value data to whatever name you wish. I just put DVD Drive in mine.
• Make use of the Favourites menu in the Registry Editor too. That stuff is just an insane collection of settings, so if you want to find a particular place again, this is a great feature to make use of.

John’s Tips For Windows 7!

Windows 7 (which is really NT 6.1,) isn’t quite as bad as I imagined, but there are some things you can change about.
• Get yourself the Ultimate Windows Tweaker. It has a stack of options you can change in a flash.
• Grab yourself Classic Shell to change around that slow old Start menu and make it like the tried and tested ones in previous Windowses. It’s a piece of pee to install, and such a relief!
• Microsoft have made “security” of Windows 7 a pain, and even as an administrator, which most of you who own your computers are, you can’t access certain files and folders. So, the answer is a registry file called something like “GrantAdminFullControl.reg.” And you can download it here. (I’m not sure if this is different at all for the 32 bit version of Windows 7 or not. But this is the one I use for the 64 bit version of Windows 7 Professional.) After you use it (at your own risk), you can just right click on a file or folder, and choose to have control of it. I had to use this to buzz off the horrid version of Wordpad and Paint, in order to put in the Windows XP version. On a side note to this, be aware that gaining access to junctions may produce confusing results to those who don’t understand how they work. (Such as the Application Data one, which will trick you into thinking there are more copies of it inside it that go on forever.)
• Microsoft really screwed up the wallpaper feature this time, with your images being changed to a lossy JPEG image no matter what you choose. The work around is thankfully simple. Convert any PNG or TIF files you may have to BMP, and then change the extension to JPG. Yes, the file is still a Windows Bitmap, but it will not suffer the conversion, as Windows will think it’s been done. You will then have no compression “artifacts” on your wallpaper.
• Unless you like your display looking like an out of focus rear projection screen or a monitor with poor convergence, here’s how you turn off Clear Type: Go into the Control Panel, then Display. Next find the bit about adjusting the Clear Type Text. Uncheck the box about it being turned on, and then choose any old sample until you get through the whole “wizard” dealie. It should then be off. Easy as pie really. (See more below.)
• To enable “God Mode,” which is just a collection of a large range of settings, create a directory called: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} It will automatically change icons and when you open it, there will be multiple system options inside.
• To enable “What U Hear” for recording with a SoundBlaster sound card, go into the Control Panel and then to the Sound icon. Choose the Recording tab, then right click in a blank area of the window. Next choose Show Disabled Devices. Set “What U Hear” to Default, and you can record from stuff like games and whatever else you’re listening to.
Here is an article on restoring your task bar’s quick launch feature to work how it used to in previous Windowses. Follow it carefully — it does work, and it causes no issues with Classic Shell as far as the way I have it set up. You may not want to use the large icons option though if you’re using the Classic style. You can then use the quick launch icons to start multiple copies of programs just like you should have been able to, without the icons vanishing and becoming the task bar buttons.
• Unlike Mac OS X, (apart from the fizzing password dialogue box issue,) if you disable ClearType in Windows 7, it still leaves traces of it behind. (What do you expect from MS?) If you’re sick of seeing the remnants of ClearType in parts of Windows, even with it disabled, you can prevent SOME of it by changing the font substitute of Segoe UI to a bitmap font, like MS Sans Serif. The location to change this is in the registry in: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\FontSubstitutes. Where it says Segoe UI, double click on the entry and then type in MS Sans Serif. As this is a bitmap font, it will have no edge anti-aliasing at all, but I think that’s a better choice than suffering with Clear Type. You may have to delete the Segoe entries of the Fonts branch of the tree above too. Just find all the Segoe fonts, and change the entries to nothing. You may want to backup your registry before doing this! Stuff such as where it says “Documents Library” in the open dialogue boxes will now have no Clear Type rainbow effects on the text. It will also change your Start menu text where it says what edition of Windows you’re using, the welcome text on the loading screen and the help text, although strangely it will still seem to be anti-aliased, no matter what. But it never forces Clear Type on you, unless you specifically want it. Now let’s all cheer and say “Death to ClearType!”
• If you’ve used earlier editions of Windows before and you’re looking for your “SendTo” directory, it’s now located at:
C:\Users\YourName\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo
You can also just type in shell:SendTo in the usual Run dealie.
• Here’s a new one I just discovered. (5 March, 2018.) After getting some pictures off the ’net, I noted that Windows was putting this block thing on the files, because it’s too dumb to realise that picture files pose no threat. Anyhoo, to turn this nuisance off, open the Group Policy gizmo (run “gpedit.msc”) and then go to User Configuration. After that, go to Administrative Templates, Windows Components and then Attachment Manager. On the right, find the part which says: “Do not preserve zone information in file attachments.” Double click on it, and set it to enabled. What’s odd, is that it sounds more like something to do with e-mail than anything, but it still seems to affect files from your web browser as well. The information is part of the NTFS, and can also pass the setting to other computers running Windows XP & up. I was surprised to find the setting in Windows XP also, but it’s never affected me.
• If you’re not using Windows Update, you should also be able to disable the Windows Modules Installer service, which sometimes loads a strange, irrelevant Trusted Installer program when running certain other programs.

Other Tips

• To have your icons displayed in full colour in Windows ’95, without the Plus pack, simply go to the registry editor and make your way down to: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\desktop\WindowMetrics\. If there isn’t a key there already called “Shell Icon BPP”, make one up as a text type, with the spaces between the words. Then, set the value ideally to match your display’s colour settings. I put mine on “24,” but you can also do “16” as well. Those icons which have more than 16 colours will then display them in the greater range.
• In Windows, QuickTime installs a load of extra language support, whether you speak all those languages or not. Fortunately, you can delete all the ones you don’t need. Find all the directories that have a “.lproj” extension, and just delete all the ones you don’t speak. As I only speak English, I just deleted all the ones that didn’t start with “en.” I saved about 24.5 MB doing so.
• To turn off the image smoothing in Opera, like my tip above for Pale Moon / Firefox, edit or create your user.css file under \Opera\styles, (in Windows anyhow,) and put in it:

img { -o-scaling-method: fast }
img { image-rendering: -o-crisp-edges; }


This worked for me with version 12.
• In various versions of Windows, if you have an ATi video card, you may end up with a context menu that allows you to access the settings from just about anywhere. Sometimes this can be a bit annoying when you accidentally click on it, especially when you never fiddle with the settings anyhow. If you wish to remove it, find: HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{5E2121EE-0300-11D4-8D3B-444553540000}, and delete it. Check first that it mentions the ATi Catalyst dealie, before you clear it off. The “Prog ID” bit should say: “Catalyst Context Menu.”

Video Tips

• Do you want to convert an interlaced video into non-interlaced / progressive with double the original frame rate? Here’s how you can achieve this with JES De-Interlacer. (Which is for Mac OS X Leopard and up, on both Intel & PowerPC CPU based Macs.) Normally if I’m doing DVDs, you’re going to be using interlaced videos anyway, because you can’t have 50 f.p.s. video on a DVD. Not that fits the DVD standard anyhow. But what if you want to have a non-interlaced video that you don’t want dropped back to 25 f.p.s.? Well, here’s how to go about a conversion! Start JES De-Interlacer, and make sure you select the correct field order. (DV files are bottom field 1st. MJPEG is usually top field first. But you may have a video that got muddled up, so you can manually specify it.) Next go to the Project tab, and choose Custom. Set the blend method to Telecine. Set the video size to 768 pixels wide and 576 pixels high, unless for some reason you need to keep the 5:4 aspect, in which case it should then be 720 × 576 pixels. Set the frame rate to 50 Hz. In the Output tab, set the Progressive (out) tick box to be on. Also tick Use Canvas, and set the same dimensions of 768 × 576 pixels. (Unless you aim to scale to some other size.) Choose “fit within” and then choose the compression. If you choose to use Export instead, which has more compression options, you can scale the movie from the options listed in that section. You may need a LOT of disk space for this as well, from my experience, and this method is quite slow, as it seems to make up a temporary movie 1st, which is probably uncompressed. So I would say the Photo JPEG option is probably better from the Direct choice. But this uses a shed load of disk space too. (Like about 422 MB per minute. Or 24.7 GB for an hour. So this would hopefully seem better than DV quality, but yeah, a bit much space really.) Of course you can then use FFMPEG or MPEG Streamclip to compress down to a small MP4 or MOV file.
I thought that only newer versions of FFMPEG could do this, but the versions I have from 2011 can do it after all! Hooray! So this may be a better choice for really long videos that are over a couple of minutes in duration. As FFMPEG is available for multiple operating systems, it’s probably the more flexible choice. Here’s an example of converting a MPG file from a DVD to a MJPEG video at 50 Hz:
ffmpeg -i Input.mpg -vf "yadif=1:-1" -vcodec mjpeg -r 50 -b 16000k -ac 2 -acodec pcm_s16le Output.avi
The -1 seems to determine the field order. If you change it to 1, I think it swaps it. You need to put “-r 50” to set it to 50 f.p.s., and I put the bit rate up to a higher level of 16000 kbps, which made it less blocky for this codec. This makes it more suitable for me to put into VirtualDub to crop, trim and finalise with DivX compression.
You can also use later versions of HandBrake to do this method of de-interlacing. Probably from around version 0.99 or so. The older 0.93 one won’t do it. You need to select “bob” as the de-interlace method and then set the frame rate to 50 Hz. But your source video must have the correct field order to begin with. There’s no option to swap fields. You’ll know if it’s wrong, because the output video will look shaky / stuttery.

• If you have a video camera with those quirky MOD files, well no, they’re not music modules, but actually MPEG 2 video, with the audio also. And if you want to get them into iMovie on your Mac for editing, this can be a big fat pain, because it won’t recognise them from a bar of soap. At least version 6. Better quality video cameras will provide a DV stream, which is of a much higher bit rate, and is the standard that iMovie accepts, but alas, you need to convert MOD files, if you want to add them to your project. The best way I found, is to use FFMPEG, which is completely free. It’s also for Linux and Windows, and no doubt other OSs as well, so you can even convert elsewhere. I had a copy already from another Windows front end, so I just used that. And with a simple batch file in the same directory as the program and source video, it’s a breeze to convert. Just make a usual text file, and rename it to have a .BAT extension, then open it in Notepad. Next, in the actual file, enter something along the lines of: ffmpeg -i Source.MOD -vf "fieldorder=bff" -target pal-dv Output.dv
You need to put the field order part, because DV is in reverse to most other videos which are interlaced. And it will flicker if it’s played in the wrong order.
VLC should be able to play MOD files also, if you change the extension to .MPG
On Mac OS X, your best bet is to probably use MPEG Streamclip, and if you’re desperate enough, buy the MPEG 2 component for QuickTime. You may be able to use Perian with it, but I heard that some people had issues with it disturbing your DivX installation, and also issues with iMovie. For those who are interested, I made a “front-end” program for FFMPEG for Mac OS X. You can check my Downloads Page to get it. It’s called AV-Friendly. It does not come with FFMPEG though.

• To convert the DCT or MAD videos from the Need For Speed games, such as N.F.S. 2 and High Stakes, you can use FFMPEG as well. Here’s an example of a line you can use in a batch file for instance: ffmpeg -i "Source.MAD" -vcodec msmpeg4v2 -b 4000k -acodec pcm_s16le Output.avi You can also convert to DV for the likes of iMovie. (This will do it as NTSC for instance: ffmpeg -i "source.dct" -target ntsc-dv Output.dv Put pal-dv obviously for PAL.)

• FFMPEG can pad out videos to a larger size, which is useful to add a video of a different aspect ratio to the likes of iMovie projects. To add a colour of your choice to the border area, do so in this manner: -vf "pad=960:720:0:88:9900CC"
This example will add an extra 88 pixels at the top & bottom to bring it up to 960 × 720 pixels, and give a purple border. The last 6 digits are basically the hexadecimal representation of the colour.

• To have FFMPEG strip the audio out of a video without recompressing the video, you can do so like this:
ffmpeg -i InputVideo.mp4 -vcodec copy -an OutputVideo.mp4
If the video is short, the processing time should be super fast. It may even seem instantaneous. This can be useful if you just don’t want the audio, or intend to add other audio tracks later.

• Here’s how you can extract the audio stream from a MP4 file:
ffmpeg -i InputVideo.mp4 -vn -acodec copy Output.m4a

• You can also convert M4A files into WAV for easier editing:
ffmpeg -i InputAudio.m4a -acodec pcm_s16le Output.wav
Remember that you’ve still converted a file with lossy compression into a non-compressed wave file. It won’t magically make the quality better. Use “pcm_s16be” for big endian instead. It doesn’t really matter all that much though with most software. (Although this may only work for AIFF files, rather than WAV.)

• You can use newer versions of VLC to record video, which is handy if you want a portion from a DVD. The output in this case will be a MPG file, often with multiple audio streams. If you want to convert it to say, a MJPEG video in just stereo for editing, here’s an example you could try:
ffmpeg -i Input.mpg -vf "fieldorder=bff" -vcodec mjpeg -b 8000k -ac 2 -acodec pcm_s16le Output.avi
You can leave out the part that says: -vf "fieldorder=bff" if your source isn’t interlaced. I found that this was the correct way to do it though for interlaced sources when I was converting up to 50 f.p.s., non-interlaced, with HandBrake, during my testing of different methods.

• Here’s an example of how you can scale a video to a different size, while using a lossless audio stream (in stereo):
ffmpeg -i Input.mp4 -vcodec mpeg4 -b 18000k -s 1280x720 -acodec pcm_s16le Output.mov
You could drop the video bit rate if you didn’t want it that high, but if you want really good quality, FFMPEG will tend to use this as the upper limit. In some cases, it may not reach that high anyhow.

• You can add multiple filters to FFMPEG’s command line by separating them with a comma. For example: -vf "filterblah=2, filterdoodad=3", but obviously you’d use the correct filter names.

iMovie Tips

I’m using iMovie 6 on my Macs, but some of these tips may apply to other versions as well.
• iMovie has a tendency to make pictures you drag in, a little bit brighter. Actually, it seems to notch up the gamma level. If you want to get your still images a little closer to normal, drop their gamma level to about 0.8 in a bitmap editing program. (Or 80%.) When you put them into iMovie, the original colouring should return.
• To get still images to fit nigh on perfectly to your video size, without black borders, resize 4:3 aspect pictures down to 786 × 576 pixels and 16:9 aspect ones to 1049 × 576 pixels. (For PAL DV projects.) It’s always best to scale down to these resolutions from a larger image of the intended aspect ratio.
• If you want to add some cool animations to announce new chapters or segments in your projects, check out my titler programs, which I can send to you for free!
• If you want to convert videos of a different frame rate to use in your iMovie project, and don’t want them coming out jerky, a very useful program which can deal with this, is JES DeInterlacer. (Which is freeware.) You can choose whether to re-interlace to 50 f.p.s. or non-interlaced at 25 f.p.s. (And no doubt the NTSC rates, if you’re doing it the other way.) It can handle pretty much any weird frame rate you throw at it, and will blend it into the finalised result. It can also crop videos and add borders for aspect ratio changes.
• See the Other Tips above for dealing with MOD (video) files.