Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Unstick Those Stuck Pixels

If you've got an LCD monitor, then you're probably aware of the dreaded stuck pixel condition. If this is news to you, then a stuck pixel is one that simply won't change colour so can be appear red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, or yellow, although stuck red, green, or blue pixels are most common. These are usually the result of a manufacturing defect that leaves one or more of the three sub-pixels (red, green and blue) permanently turned on or off.

Unfortunately some manufacturers won't reject a screen with only a few stuck pixels and some screens come with a leaflet stating how many dead pixels they are allowed to have before you can send them back to the manufacturer. Bit of a bummer if you've just shelled out for a new screen for it to have a colour defect and the makers don't want to know about it.

However, there are a couple of options available to try and unstick a stuck pixel (say that quickly)…

JScreenFix is a Java applet solution that can fix stuck pixels, reduce screen burn-in and improve the quality of images displayed on a screen. It runs in your web browser under Mac OS X, Linux and Windows and can fix most stuck pixels on LCD screens. It can also remove image persistence effects on LCD screens and reduce burn-in on plasma screens.

killdeadpixel.com is another online utility that displays a constantly shifting graphic to try and unstick stuck pixels. The graphic will try to massage the dead pixel back alive again by getting it to change rapidly. They also offer full-screen versions (800x600 and 1024x768) for a more intensive attempt at a fix.

Neither of the above solutions will fix all dead pixels but they're certainly worth trying if you've been unlucky enough to have been saddled with a defective screen.

There are also some utilities available that will allow you to check a monitor for dead or stuck pixels. Very useful if you're thinking of buying a second-hand monitor.
  • LCDTest - a small application for Mac OS X and Windows that can aid in detecting dead or stuck pixels. It won't help fix them but it could be useful if you want to check a monitor out.
  • PixelFix - a Mac OS X Dashboard widget that colour-cycles a small rectangle that you can move over a stuck pixel to try and cure it. They also provide a browser-based version that does the same thing using a small movie.
  • Dead Pixel Tester - a small Windows utility that will display various colour and pattern tests to try and help detect bad pixels.
  • IsMyLcdOK - a small program to easily check for dead/paralysed/stuck pixels on LCD monitors.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Windows Live Skydrive Out Of Beta And Upgraded

Microsoft's online file storage service, Window Live Skydrive , is now out of beta and has been upgraded to a much more useful 5GB of storage space.

Windows Live SkydriveThere are still other options for free and larger online storage services out there but it'll be worth keeping an eye on Microsoft's baby to see what happens when Google's much rumoured GDrive ever materializes. Well, Google say it will but they've been saying that for a while now.

Related Posts: ADrive - 50Gbs Of Online Storage For Free, Windows Live SkyDrive, Unlimited Online File Storage, Free Online File Storage

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

doubleTwist Desktop Launches

doubletwist desktop, a free application to simplify the flow of media across devices and social networks, has been launched. doubleTwist desktop enables you to sync iTunes playlists with your Nokia N Series phones, Sony Ericsson Walkman & Cybershot phones, LG Viewty phones, phones using the Windows Mobile 5.0/6.0 platform (e.g. Treo, HTC, Palm), the Sony PSP, and the Amazon Kindle. You can also share media files directly from your device with your friends when you connect it via USB and the developers are working to add more devices and formats as well as integration with other media playing applications.

doubleTwist was setup by Monique Farantzos and the notorious DVD Jon, the man behind the cracking of DVD encryption and Apple's FairPlay DRM. It currently supports the following media formats:
  • Video: 3gp (used by most cell phones), MPEG4 (.mp4, .m4v), wmv, avi and MPEG2 (.mpg, .mpv, .mpeg)
  • Audio: mp3, aac/m4a, wma, wav
  • Images: jpg, gif, png, bmp
To give an example: say you shot a video with your Nokia N95 cellphone. How do you send that video to your friend and make sure he’ll be able to play it on his iPod or Sony PSP? With doubleTwist, you’ll be able to share and sync digital media without worrying about codecs and bitrates.

There's no Mac version yet but hopefully coming soon.

PdfMeNot - Online PDF Display

PdfMeNot is an online PDF document display service that claims to do do away with the need for a stand-alone PDF viewer. You can either enter the URL of a PDF to view or upload it from your hard drive and PdfMeNot will render and display it in your browser.

They do offer a few added bonuses such as a browser bookmarklet and a Firefox extension and web developers can use the service to link to and display an existing PDF file. On the downside, there's no way to search through a PDF displayed this way, you can only do it page by page in the browser. Saying that, it's still in beta so they may add search facilities later on.

Related Posts: PDF Hammer - An Online PDF Editor, Free PDF Creation

Sunday, February 17, 2008

iNetWord - Online Word Processing

iNetWord is a free web-based word processor that will allow you to format and compose documents in a very similar way to how you would in Microsoft Word. Word does have a few things that iNetWord can't do yet like a built-in grammar checker and custom character styles but then Word can't do online folder sharing and instant web publishing. Of course, Office Live should offer some of that functionality but iNetWord is free.

But iNetWord isn't the only free, online word processor, far from it. There are lots of them out there such as Google Docs , Zoho, Ajax13 and ThinkFree. All of these have word processing applications and then there's Adobe's BuzzWord, which is still in beta but it's looking pretty good too.

Friday, February 15, 2008


I've been playing around with FotoFlexer, yet another in what seems to be a growing raft of free online image editors but definitely one worth checking out.

Basic tools include Auto-Fix, Fix Red-Eye, Duplicate, Crop, Resize, Rotate and Flip. On top of that there are an amazing 22 customizable effects such as blueprint, color sketch, fresco. invert, etc. These really have to be seen in action and each has variable parameters you can adjust. The images on the right were created in seconds using these built-in effects.

FotoFlexer not only has effects but an array of tools to distort and beautify your image - Smooth, Sharpen, Fix Blemishes, Smooth Wrinkles, Twirl, Bulge, Pinch, Stretch and Twist. Then you can also decorate the image by adding text and shapes and you can draw, erase, fill, add a face or even a border.

FotoFlexer is also a multi-layer tool so you can add images in separate layers and then move these up or down and even merge or group them. Then there's their pièce de résistance, the Geek Tools. These allow you to do things like smart resizing using seam-carving, smart recolouring, do smart cutouts and use smart scissors or apply modifications to the colour curves. They also let you modify hue, saturation and brightness, lightness and contrast. There's even a tool to morph multiple images.

FotoFlexer works seamlessly with most of the more popular photo sharing sites and social networks. e.g. you can import and export photos directly to and from Facebook, MySpace, Photobucket, Flickr and Picasa. You can even search for clipart with Yahoo! image search or just grab an image directly from the web. Hard drive users aren't left out though and you can batch upload and download your photos with one click from Mac or PC.

FotoFlexer is up there with the best of these kinds of image editing service and one with some fairly unique functionality so it's worth adding to anyones list of online tools. Now all I need is a time machine to allow me to play with all this stuff.

Related Posts: More Online Image And Photo Editors, Image Resizing Grows Up (or Down), Online Image Editing With Wiredness, Phixr: Another Online Image Editor, PikiFx, Online Image Editors

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Where's Chuck Norris?

If you do a search for "find chuck norris" on Google and then select the I'm Feeling Lucky button you'll get a humourous spoof answer. I thought it was quite funny anyway.

For anyone that doesn't already know, then Chuck Norris is a well-known actor and martial-arts expert who's movie heyday was probably back in the mid-eighties and nineties.

Unfortunately doing a similar search for Steven Seagal doesn't produce anything close but then, who on earth would want to search for Steven Seagal?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Easy Password Generation

If, like me, you use a large number of online services such as email, banking, shopping, photo sharing, social sites, etc., then you might be interested in a few easier and free ways to generate random but secure passwords.

PassPub is a free, online service that generates unique passwords to give individuals increased security. As well as basic 6, 8, 10 and 12-character passwords, it offers ar range of themes to help generate the passwords - keyboard combinations, postcodes, map references, mnemonics, vehicle registrations, WEP keys and chemical elements.

PC Tools Random Password Generator lets you specify a password length from 4 to 64 characters and lets you choose wheter to include letters, mixed case, numbers or punctuation and whether or not to block similar characters like i, l, o, 1, 0 and I.

The Online Password Generator creates random pass phrases consisting of 3-character, 4-character and 5-character words and you can choose to include or even require numbers, include or even require special characters. It also lets you set the minimum password length and you can opt to randomly capitalize letters.

That's just a few to highlight what's possible but there are lot of these out there. Here are a few more…
It's always so difficult to think of system and account passwords when deploying desktops and laptops or creating user accounts so these sites are also useful if you manage an estate of networked computers.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Scotsys Closes Glasgow Store

As predicted way back in November 2006, long-established Apple reseller Scotsys have announced that they are to close their Glasgow store. To quote their site…
We are disappointed to inform you that, as from close of business on Saturday 9th February, Scotsys will no longer trade from our location at 164 Great Western Road, Glasgow.

By taking the difficult decision to close our Glasgow retail location, Scotsys can use the resources released to focus on providing services and solutions to businesses, public sector clients and the creative industries, through our operations centres in Bellshill and Edinburgh.

However much of a brave face they may be putting on it, Apple opening up their store in Buchanan Street must have hit Scotsys's consumer sales pretty hard. The Apple Store is much more conveniently located for us average purchasers and it's well sited for so much more passing trade.

I've had a pretty good relationship with Scotsys dating way back to the mid eighties when I worked for Glasgow University. I even had a short stint at working for an Apple dealer myself so I know how difficult it can be to make a living selling computer hardware. They've always been reliable dealers with me over the years so I hope they continue in the Apple business.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Find Out How With Apple!

Apple have posted a new set of online tutorials covering Mac OS X and all their standard applications for working with Photos, Movies, Web, Music and Documents. Obviously these videos only cover working with Mac OS X 10.5, iLife '08 and iWork '08 but you can also download online manuals for these and some of the earlier versions and there's Switch 101 for those fancying moving to Mac.

If you're new to Mac OS X or thinking of changing over from Windows or even Linux, then this is a useful resource. The videos can also be downloaded straight into iTunes for viewing offline if required.

Who Is Hosting This?

If you've ever wondered who is hosting a particular web site, then have a look at Who Is Hosting This?

Who Is Hosting This is a simple web utility that enables you to find out who is hosting any web site. Simply type in any domain name, and you'll get a link to the company that's hosting that particular domain.

It might not be a lot of use for the general public but us nerdy geeks sometimes need that kind of information.