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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Photoshop CS4 Will Use Video Cards to Render

DailyTech - Photoshop CS4 Will Use GPU Power

Even now, most people think that all discrete video cards have no other purpose than gaming. Quite a petty view, needless to say. With the advent of nVidia's CUDA platform and AMD's FireStream GPGPU initiative, your graphics cards will have a lot more to do than just playing games - think protein folding, video encoding, even password cracking! Now, with Adobe's recent announcement of Photoshop CS4, GPU acceleration meets photo editing. Adobe claims that zooming in/out, canvas rotation, and 3D manipulation will all be helped by your GeForce or Radeon hardware.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Phoenix 4.0 game for TI-82/83/84 calculators released

Phoenix 4.0 -

Good old Patrick D has released the latest update to his ever-popular calculator shoot-em-up game, Phoenix.
I can attest from my junior high and high school experience that this is a must-have game...blowing up
those little ships just never gets boring, especially when you teacher launches into an infinitely long lecture
on conic sections or something.

From the changelog:
In-game money display
Horizontal scrolling on 82/83/83+/84+
Updated in-game contact addresses

Quick Tip: Use ConvertXtoDVD to re-encode PAL into NTSC

The United States is all cool with DVDs using the NTSC format of 720x480 and 29.97 fps, but for our foreign buddies the reigning standard is PAL, which specifies a 720x576 picture at 25 fps. Naturally, this causes headaches if you pick up discs in another country and find that your crappy DVD player back home can't handle it (technically, it wouldn't take much to build a dual-format player, but Hollywood and the MPAA freak out.)

Someone was nice enough to lend me an official Chinese version DVD of the Beijing Olympics. I found out the hard way that it was in PAL format - my Sony player spazzed out with a "cannot play" error.

Since I had to return the discs, the only permanent solution was to...err, copy it (yeah, that's right - the IOC or its fanboys better not give me any crap over that.) Browsing through the various DVD-related programs I had at hand, I noticed that ConvertXtoDVD 3 (everyone's favorite DVD making software!) could directly add an IFO/VOB video file from a DVD! How useful indeed. Thanks to ConvertX's one-click simplicity and lightning speed, my quest for PAL-to-NTSC conversion came to a very fast ending. Kudos to the developers - they've created a very user-friendly program that also happens to be extremely versatile and powerful.


ConvertXtoDVD 3 displaying the source (PAL) and the output (NTSC)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

WhiteHat's Guide to the Top Firefox Add-ons

Mozilla Firefox has gained much respect (as evidenced by its ~20% market share) as a free and open-source browser platform. Widely acclaimed for its extensive tweakability, Firefox now has a myriad of available add-ons in the forms of visual themes and extensions that add new features. They exist for every possible purpose and task you could think of. I am a hardcore web surfer and consequently, I have come to rely on several add-ons. These are the ones I always install first on a fresh Firefox and the ones I use and keep day in and day out:

  • Adblock Plus: Internet ads are now everywhere ranging from relatively unobtrusive text boxes to huge, obnoxious flashing banners. ABP effectively removes all ads from a page, regardless of type; it supports pre-configured "subscriptions" that contain the latest blocking rules. You can also add your own custom rulesets and block specific Java and Flash page elements as well. By blocking ads, you improve your browsing experience and page load times too. Ads - gotta catch 'em all! (Did I just type that?) Note, though that by getting rid of ads you are essentially ripping off one of the website owner's sources of revenue.
  • Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer: Great for anyone who uses Firefox in multiple locations or on-the-go. This extension has one purpose: to keep your bookmarks sync'ed across all your Firefox installs and profiles. Foxmarks can run both in automatic and manual mode, and its conflict checking is extremely intelligent. It's easy to use, too - simply type in your username, choose what you want to do, and voila! Your bookmarks are suddenly there on that brand new Firefox installation.
  • DownThemAll!: Although Firefox's built-in download manager has seen great progess, it still can't hold a candle to a full-fledged download manager. That's where dTa, as it's called, comes in. Since it's an extension, it integrates seamlessly with Firefox. It's also much more elegant than using FlashGot and a separate download manager. With support for complex filters and one-click downloading, dTa makes grabbing files a quick and easy process.
  • FoxyProxy: Proxies often come in handy when you need to access an offsite resource - say, an academic journal. Perhaps you maintain a large list of proxies. Or maybe you need a streamlined way to facilitate the circumvention of internet filtering. FoxyProxy provides a neat and unobtrusive way to manage and select proxies for use.
  • ColorfulTabs: As its name implies, ColorfulTabs adds color to the Firefox tab bar. A simple yet extremely productive tool since colors work better than text as labels.

Keep in mind that these particular add-ons are those I find more useful. Different people have different needs, and I'm confident that you will be able to find many more add-ons that suit you.