hippo's n00b adventures

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Archive for the ‘n00b adventures’ Category

“Please, no more Comic Sans!” Google Web Fonts & Typekit

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Phew!  I recently got a new domain name and web host and gave a fresh look to my website (one could say that I’m lazy with my designs, I prefer to call it “minimalist”).  The portfolio part is still incomplete as I have not yet determined how it will be organised (and what I should put in there, for that matter – is there anything really? Haha) but (fingers crossed!) I will complete it before uni starts again.

Anyway, while I was doing all of this I came across this cool tool to add fancy open source fonts to your website.  It’s called Google Web Fonts and it is currently a free service.

Fonts available include the standard open source fonts such as Open Sans, Droid Sans (found on the Android OS) and Ubuntu.

There are also some fancy unique fonts available.  My personal favourites are Questrial and Leckerli One, which I used on my new website (see below!)

It’s quite easy to install these fonts too. There’s no need to upload the font file onto your server and link to them into your code like in the good ‘ol days – just choose the fonts you would like to implement (there is also a handy guide to tell you how much time it will take for the chosen fonts and your web page to load), and copy and paste in the code snippets that they give you into your HTML and CSS code.

If you’re looking for a wider range of fonts and extra features, Typekit is a great service, which has recently been acquired by Adobe.  Typekit offers a wider range than Google’s service.  Corner Store is my personal favourite – reminds me of signs for a milk bar or diner in the 50s.

Typekit offers several pricing plans, including free trial plan. Fonts are installed onto your website in a similar way to Google Web Fonts.  This service also has the option of integrating your custom corporate font and fonts from other foundries.

The range of fonts and features on Typekit is ideal for professional web designers.  But if you’re like me – your typical stingy uni student – Google Web Fonts provides excellent fonts for you to use at your disposal for your website for free.  There’s nothing wrong with your standard Arial or Helvetica, but try these services out if you would like to go beyond your standard Sans-Serif font for your web design.

Just – whatever you do – please stay away from Comic Sans.

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GIMP/IOGraph experimentation

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So lately I’ve been playing around fun apps – one of them is IOGraph.  It’s a Java app which records your mouse movements and turns them into “art”.  It gives you an interesting perspective on your typical computer routine.

Once you stop recording, you can save the image on your computer.  You can do whatever you want with it – make it your desktop wallpaper, post it on your blog/Twitter/Facebook, etc.

I also used GIMP, an open source and totally free graphics program and a great alternative to Adobe Photoshop.  Years ago I wouldn’t have used it – I found it wasn’t as user-friendly as PS, Paint Shop Pro or even Macromedia Fireworks (do they still make that nowadays?).  Thankfully it’s improved, saving poor uni students like me.  You can even add really cool plugins to enhance your work in GIMP – I’ll try and review one in a future blog post.

A few days ago I used IOGraph to record the mousepaths used in my mockup design work.  I thought the end result was worth experimenting in GIMP.

What I did was use the “Sunset” gradient as a separate layer on top of the original picture, then played around with the Blending Modes (I think I settled on “Grain Merge”).  I found that the background was a bit too “chaotic” as a desktop wallpaper (it clashed with icons) so then I added a white layer on top and reduced its opacity (to be honest, it might still be too “chaotic”, but try it). This is the result below (click on it for a full picture):

GIMP/IOGraph Experimentation

Et voila – a free, decent, “arty” wallpaper using free programs.

Written by Hippo

July 19, 2011 at 4:46 am

The Quest to Uninstall MagicDisc

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So sometimes I play tech support to my dad.  He reckons it’s good practice for me, which is a pretty valid reason.  I often call it my n00b adventures, because I don’t know what causes the problem, but I can find out how to fix it (thank you Google, my friend).

Recently he decided to download a perfectly legal tool – or so we thought.  It’s called MagicDisc and it’s used for opening ISO files (after he discovered WinRAR didn’t do the job he wanted).  My dad did a bit of research of it and found plenty of good reviews (which I’m doubting that they’re real reviews at all at the moment).  Once he installed it, he found it didn’t work.  So he decided to uninstall it.  But he couldn’t.  His computer froze.  He rebooted, and tried again.  Still frozen.

As it turns out, he wasn’t the only one with this problem.  There were heaps of forum posts on this error.  But after much searching it all came down to the MagicISO SCSI Host Controller, also known as mcdbus.sys.  To fix it, he had to do:

  1. Enter Safe Mode (by pressing F8 during reboot)
  2. Go to C:\Windows\System32\Drivers
  3. Delete mcdbus.sys
  4. Reboot.

Now he could uninstall the MagicDisc program.  Another way (and probably more simpler) is a System Restore. However the above process shows which system file is the cause of the problem.

I’m not even sure why it happened.  It’s not even malware – but it’s considered to be 32% dangerous.  It could possibly be because it was an older version of MagicDisc.  However, dad’s now decided to search for more trustworthy software.

More useful resources:
http://www.sevenforums.com/software/3263-cant-uninstall-magic-disc-causing-crashes-2.html

Written by Hippo

July 15, 2011 at 1:53 pm