Saturday, September 20, 2014

df audio DAC1 (My DIY DAC Design)

If you've been watching the DIYaudio forums, you might have caught a glimpse of my audio DAC design - the df audio DAC1. After building the PupDAC and O2 amp, I wanted a bespoke solution that fit my needs - with the prime factors being 24/96 support and SPDIF connectivity. My PupDAC is a nice device, but albeit only supports 16/48 audio due to the PCM2707 USB receiver chip used. Also, I wanted to be able to use this DAC with both my computer system and standalone equipment like DVD players and game consoles. The  SPDIF standard supports 24/96 (actually 24/192 in my case) and is found on many electronic devices.

As mentioned earlier, the DIYaudio thread contains many posts regarding my DAC and how it was tweaked and polished with the help of their members. If you would like to go through my design process or want to ask questions, that's the place to go. This article is mainly a summary of what I did (and to save you from reading nine pages of text).

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Using Guides (Rulers) In Scribus

Misaligning your images or text by several millimeters might not look like much, but a watchful eye could catch your mistake - and suddenly put your work in an unprofessional light. Professional editors often spend hours before production making sure everything is all lined up and ready. In the old days, this meant using your eyes (and a ruler) to make sure the plates were properly aligned. This method did not always work well, and caused the slightly skewed words and pictures you sometimes see in older publications.

We live in the digital age now, and Scribus has some tools to keep your borders exact and the columns lined up. The Guides feature can produce  vertical and horizontal lines that object edges can be "snapped" to and held in place. Let's look at an example below:

Scribus Guides

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Can't Open Files/Send Attachments in Firefox? Check Your DEP Settings (XP)

As support for Windows XP officially ended on April 8th, you kind of need to rely on yourself now to ensure that your machines is still secure. Like many people, I've got an old computer that still gets some occassional use - and therefore needs as much security as it can get. But oftentimes, safety doesn't go hand in hand with compatibility.

After looking around on the Internet, I decided to enable DEP (Data Execution Protection), an anti-exploit mechanism, for all programs. This method has been encouraged by sites such as Tom's Hardware and Pc Mag, and after weighting the pros and cons decided to enable the feature on my computer. Simply right-click on My Computer, select Properties, Advanced, Performance, and Data Execution Prevention.The picture below shows it turned off - click the appropiate box to enable it for all programs and services.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Windows System File Checker in Repair Mode - and Fixing the Pending Repair Error

If you're just looking for how to fix the "Pending Repair" error, scroll straight down.

The System File Checker (SFC) feature in Windows is an automated utility that scans Windows system files for possible corruption, and replaces damaged or missing files. Malware or even power outages can damage such files, and running the following code in the command line can sometimes be a quick remedy for BSODs (Blue Screen of Death) and other crashes.
sfc /scannow
If your machine is all good, it should display the following. If not, it should fix the problems and create a status report.
Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Censor An Image In GIMP

Maybe it's your license plate number. A friend who wants to keep their picture private. Someone's email address that you want to hide in a screenshot. Cropping isn't the most effective way every time, and sometimes you need to censor it neatly and unobtrusively. There's a bunch of ways to do so - I'll try to help you find the one that fits you best.

I'll use a public domain image of an F-35 with identification markings on the tail wing. Let's try to (for whatever reason) hide them. Open your image up in GIMP.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Open SVGs In Microsoft Office (Using Inkscape)

The SVG file format is an open standard for vector imagery, supported by many apps and practically all browsers. Strangely, Microsoft Office apps like Word, Excel, and Powerpoint don't. I've got no idea why.

Now, many places like OpenClipArt and Clker deliver public domain (free, no copyright) vector artwork that you can use for any purpose. You might also have done some vector designs yourself and want to include it in your work.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Using An Adapted Lens On Your DSLR

Let's face it: the stock lenses on your DSLR aren't the very best. Their quality is decent for most jobs, but when you start enlarging your images to 100% resolution, you start seeing some slight artifacts and loss of detail that aren't always due to your image sensor. Megapixels aren't everything - and it's sad to see that even expensive cameras today come with a cheap 18-55 kit lens that can't really do much.

Now, some of you might have those old film SLRs at home. Or your parents might have them, gathering dust in the basement and with a bunch of different lenses included. They were quite popular in the '80s and '90s before being replaced by digital - and no one really cares much about them.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Repairing Noisy/Humming PC Speakers

When most people start getting some unbearable noise in their PC speakers, they just chuck them in the trash. It's true that you can get a new pair for next to nothing, but there's no point in doing so when you might be able to fix it for free. There's no guarantee that it'll work, but what's the harm in trying?

I've had an cheap pair of CA-2012 speakers for years, and yes, they do sound like garbage. Their quality was then affected even more when the speakers began suddenly emitting a loud, buzzing hum. The sound is similar to a 200Hz tone, but much more distorted. I remember (I was much younger back then) putting the speakers away and hooking up my computer to the AUX jack of a boombox instead. At that time, it seemed much simpler to put the problem aside and get a temporary fix. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Blogger Errors - And How To Fix Them

I've only been blogging for a while, but what really ticks me off is the annoying messages I sometimes get while trying to publish, save, or preview a post in Blogger. Maybe you've got one of these problems before:

1.  Save Error

"An error occurred while trying to save or publish your post. Please try again."
Oftentimes, getting this message meant that I had to copy all my HTML code into Notepad, sign out, close my browser, and open it again. If I'm lucky, it disappears after a browser restart. (Figure 1)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bring Your Open Source Apps Everywhere

Face it, many people don't have your favourite open source programs installed. It's a pain to see that your school computer has the entire Creative Suite Master Collection, but not a single copy of GIMP or Scribus. Maybe you're at a friend's house and need to print a photo in GIMP's .xcf format, but they don't have the program installed. Let's just say that in this case you aren't able (or allowed) to install a copy on the spot.

I've been using portable programs for many years now, and I thought that it would be a good time to share this with you. Basically, these apps do not require installation and directly run off a USB drive. You simply click on the executable and the program starts instantly, loading itself into the RAM without writing any registry keys or traces. When you close the program, it disappears completely from the host computer. It's not in any way permanent or damaging.

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