Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dude, I Hope You're Not Getting a Dell

A few years back I bought my first laptop, and at the time, Dell was the popular choice and I didn't know nearly what I know now about laptops. Without having anything to compare it to, it seemed like a great laptop at first; then the problems started. A couple months in my battery failed. I was still under warranty so I sent it in and they sent me a replacement. Of course it wasn't the nice 9-cell battery you buy with the laptop, it was the cheaper 6-cell. Well then about a year after I got my laptop, I had issues with the power-supply. The cord was undamaged but I must have been getting surges or amperage issues, which destroyed my battery again. So I bought a new power cord and bought an off brand battery instead of shelling over $150 for the Dell brand. Things were ok for about another year until my hard drive failed. I am always very careful to power off my laptop before transporting it (unlike many college students) and used several advanced programs to protect my computer from things that could harm my computer from the software side. That didn't really matter because it was a physical issue anyways. So I bought a new HD and even upgraded to Windows 7 (a great decision). My laptop worked for several more months until the screen started to flicker. I was worried so I backed up all my data and a couple days later the bottom right corner of the screen stated to turn black and very hot. Soon I smelled and saw smoke coming from the screen. It was an issue with my LCD inverter, which can only be replaced with the whole screen. This was it, my laptop was completely done, but I actually felt a little liberated from Dell. Although it was an expensive lesson, I did learn not to buy a Dell. Those were just the major issues I had, not to mention tons of driver issues that Dell was very reluctant to help with. I am on the search for a new laptop and I think I have settled on an Asus, which is a relatively unheard of company, but has been putting out some really solid laptops lately.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

How to Make a Panoramic Photo

I just recently was on a vacation and took in some breath taking views. Like many of you, I thought to myself: I wish I could capture this moment. While it can't take the place of the real thing, panoramic photos are a good start. Here's any easy way to make a panoramic photo on your computer with any digital camera. Some photo editors such as Ashampoo do a great job with creating these wide view images, but its not free. Here's the easy way to do it for free:

  1. Using a digital camera, "paint" the view you want by taking many pictures of what you see. Keeping the camera level, take side by side pictures, overlapping them by about 1/3. Don't get stingy though, pictures are free, but if you miss a gap you will have to start over. I have made good pictures from just 3 pictures, and some from 20 snapshots, as seen below (for that I had to take pictures from side to side and up and down).
  2.  Upload the pictures from your camera onto your computer. Download the free Window Live Photo Gallery.
  3. On the top bar under the "make" menu scroll down to "panoramic". You will be asked to select your pictures, then click "go". In a couple seconds to a couple minutes, depending on the amount of pictures and megapixels of your camera, the software will stitch together the photo.
  4. You now have a photo that has uneven edges due to the pictures not all being exactly in line. You just need to crop off the black edges. You can just use Microsoft paint or an editor such as Gimp (which is the best free editor out there).
As you can see, the end product is worth the time, and just makes you want to make more creative photos. Scenic photos like this go great in custom frames. Here is my latest attempt, with final dimension coming out to be 12834x3538!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why Lady Gaga Sucks

Everywhere you turn Lady Gaga is there and making news. With her singing career just underway, she already has 7 Billboard Top 100 songs to her credit, and her popularity is just getting started. I do have to give her credit, she has taken her hype and made the most of it for herself. Lady Gaga started off by writing songs for Britney Spears, Fergie, Akon, and the Pussycat Dolls, and then launched her music career. While I generally just ignore people like Lady Gaga, it is hard to when she, along with her fans, are so in your face and convinced oh her greatness. Her songs are all based around weak lyrics and catchy hooks, much like Akon, who signed her. Of particular annoyance is the song Telephone, which intentionally is an offbeat song, which is the look that she loves to embrace. Lady Gaga tries her best to be as far out there and "original" as possible.  She, along with her fans, equate unusual as creative and artistically inspired, but they aren't the same thing. Those of you familiar with the Fountain by modern artist Duchamp know the difference:

A urinal is a urinal, even if you place it on its side and call it a fountain, it's still just crap; but somebody just might fall for it and believe you. Not to mention she must likely is just a copycat anyways.