Sunday, May 31, 2009

Genuine Original Windows XP Themes Collection

A number of genuine themes have been released for Windows XP over the years.

As a convenience to readers I'm listing the download links to the Microsoft sites below - I'll update this post if any more become available (and when I find them - there is a "Watercolor" XP beta theme lurking around somewhere but I can't seem to find a Microsoft signed copy).

ZuneOrange and black
Windows EmbeddedDark blue
RoyaleShiny blue Windows Media Center (note Microsoft removed the official link here and replaced it with just the wallpapers).
Royale Noir(Incomplete black theme NOT compatible if you have standard Royale - read the linked page first!)

Update: I've just found out Viperfang covered all of these with screenshots a few weeks ago - have a look

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fixing TFT Monitor Flicker

If like me you've got a TFT monitor and you've noticed flickering on some moire images (such as the one right) or high contrast colours it may not be the monitor at fault.

The good news is there is an easy way to fix it in Windows - just change the Display Mode Timing. Usually you can find settings like these on your graphics card drivers' control panel application see the NVidia screenshot below.

Switching Auto Detect off and selecting Coordinated Video Timing should fix the problem. If that doesn't - try another mode. I have no idea if this affects game performance or even if your monitor will blow up, but it worked for my 22inch LG.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Aerofoil 1.5?

Recently I've also been thinking of improving Aerofoil to include new features that greatly improve battery life for Vista and Windows 7. This is not to say I will produce an Aerofoil 1.5, but more a general gauge of user feedback as to features you'd like to see. With up to 240 unique hits a day on this blog I'm hoping some of you will be able to give me some info on features you think would be worthwhile and would save battery life.

Things I have already tried and dismissed:

FeatureExpected GainDismissed because...
Screen colour reduction (going from 32bit colour - 16.7 million colours to 8 bit colour - 256 colours)Lower power GPU usage since it is doing less colour workTests showed no real gain, possibly a few seconds, but importantly Vista is mostly blacked out and very hard to use
Auto process priority management - lowering task priority for heavy processesLower CPU usage should mean greater battery lifeUsage of a machine became unbearably slow. Conversely, trying to put the CPU priority up instead so a task was done faster is counter productive, since user input is slow and the application is waiting longer at high priority
Decrease the sound volumeLower power usage from lower volumeNot much to be gained here unless you play music constantly, and probably quite annoying

Features like hardware disabling I think are overkill and is potentially dangerous so I won't be considering that (e.g. switching Bluetooth off, disabling Bluetooth driver stack). Hardware disabling would also require a lot of manual configuration, and one of the design paradigms behind Aerofoil is to keep it as simple as possible.

So what can I do, how can I improve Aerofoil - I was pretty much resigned to 1.4.5 being the last version - but given it's success I'd like it to become the defacto must have battery saving application for Windows Vista and Windows 7 Notebooks?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Image to ZX Spec Released

Image to ZX Spec is now available for download

Before reading further, 1.1 has been released and 1.2 is on it's way, see here for Image to ZX Spec 1.1

Many thanks to Viperfang Networks for the hosting

Image to ZX Spec allows you to:

- Convert JPEGS or GIFs to a ZX Spectrum slideshow (tap file).
- Convert JPEGS or GIFs to a ZX Spectrum SCREEN image (.scr file).
- Create retro art work, any size image can be "Spectrumized" (.png file).
- Convert an entire directory of images, with previews.
- Choose from numerous processing optionsas to how the images will be converted.
- Change all processing options on-the-fly.

Here's a screenshot from 1.0.3 showing a comparison preview between the original image and the Spectrum image:


Download Image to ZX Spec 1.0.5

Download the Image to ZX Spec 1.0.5 (GPL 2) source code

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Retro Art Software "Image to ZX Spec" and Blog Issues

Many thanks to Viperfang Networks for the new download hosting - the site should be working normally. If you notice any broken links please drop me a comment.

I'm moving web hosting so my downloads and most other content will shortly be offline, although hopefully this should not be for too long (a few hours tops).

Unrelated, in the last week I've written Image to ZX Spec, an image converter that will take any photo and retro"ise" it, and can even create slideshows for use on the ZX Spectrum.

The downloads and source for this will be available in a few days.

Here's a sneak peak at what it can do (yes this is running on a real Spectrum emulator, and thus can be run on a real machine!)