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.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Index/Sitemap

I thought I'd do a quick index containing all my posts, just to keep things organised. This page will be updated every time I write a new article.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Create Point Form Notes With Scribus

Scribus is an open-source program similar to Adobe's InDesign. It has an excellent feature set, but I'll admit that it's not the easiest program to learn. There are also some shortcomings that don't appeal to new users, such as the inability to add point form notes.

Also called "bullet points", those dots or symbols are a handy way to create lists of information. However, the process to create these notes is not a simple one, unlike the simple press of a button we are used to in Microsoft Word. The official website tells users to use Paragraph Styles, while a Python script is also available to complete this task. Both of those methods are confusing and really designed for advanced users.

Of course, I'm going to teach you a easier way do so in Scribus. Here's a sample document of gibberish I just made (Figure 1).

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Change Exposure in GIMP

The "Exposure" setting in Photoshop (Image → Adjustments → Exposure) is a feature highly regarded by photographers as a quick and easy way to change the lighting of a shot. Unlike the Brightness and Contrast sliders, the exposure control simulates the actual changing of the shutter speed of the camera. An example is below.

Brightness V.S. Exposure Settings
Original Photo, Brightness Adjusted, Exposure Adjusted (Using Photoshop)

As you can see, the brightness adjustment does not change the lighting of the scene realistically. It's almost like adding white paint to the image to make it brighter, which makes it look washed out and unrealistic. In contrast, the Exposure adjustment looks much more realistic - almost as if you made the shutter speed slower.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

GIMP: Using Transform Tools Properly

One of the major problems people face when using GIMP is their poorly designed Transform Tools. Compared to Photoshop, the tools seemed slow and not at all user-friendly. I've seen people quit GIMP just because those tools are too hard to manipulate. Nevertheless, there are ways to use the tools more effectively and quickly. Let's look at Photoshop first to see what's good about their setup.

If you select a shape in Photoshop using the Move Tool, handles on the sides of the bounding box make it easy to resize, stretch, or move the object. Meanwhile, additional tools are found in Edit → Transform, such as Perspective and Warp.

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