Tag Archives: how to

PC deep clean and a new video

I didn’t intend to deep clean the inside of my pc today, but it was starting to overheat a bit, and the fans were becoming a little too loud, so I dragged out the paint brushes and the vacuum cleaner and got stuck into it. Now I’m knackered. If anyone wants to know how to clean their own desktop pc [can’t do it to a laptop] you can find the post here.

One reason I had to reduce the noise of the fans [in the pc] was because the microphone was starting to pick them up when I recorded my latest how-to video. That’s the one down below:

The how-to is for gaming, but I’m slowly honing my skills for the creation of self-publishing videos. The one above may look simple but the editing was brutal. I stopped counting the snippets of video at 50 and didn’t count the voice-over and overlay snippets at all. I did, however, learn how to make my own circles and arrows and overlay them on segments of the video I wanted to highlight:

Unless anyone particularly wants to hear the -cough- dulcet tones of my Aussie accent, leave this one for the gamers. 😉

Time for a long delayed breakfast,

cheers,
Meeks


Why, and how, to use the Youtube video editor

I’ll start with the ‘why’. Once you upload a video to Youtube, any changes you make will require that you:

  1. delete the original video, and
  2. upload the new, updated video

Why is this a problem? Because any views or comments you get on the old video will be lost.

The only exception to this is if the changes you want to make are minor. In that case, you can use the in-built Youtube video editor to make small changes to the existing video.

What kind of changes? Let me show you in this 4 minute, how-to video that I created:

I decided to have a little fun with the ‘speaking bits’ so used one of my gaming avatars to ‘animate’ the boring bits. Ahem…

In the example shown, the ‘tail’ of the video was too long. The tail is the bit right at the end which is where you want to display end screen information:

These ‘elements’ encourage viewers to see other videos you’ve created, or subscribe to your channel. The last thing you want is for viewers to switch off without seeing more of your content.

So the end screen elements are very important, but they can only be added after you upload your video. This makes getting the timing right a bit of a challenge. I’m sure professionals know precisely how long to make the ‘tail’ of the video, but I always seem to make them too long.

According to my research, end screen elements need to be on-screen for a minimum of 5 seconds. Anything less than that and they simply don’t appear. The maximum time they can appear is 20 seconds, so you need to find the sweet spot and time your ‘tail’ to match.

After much messing around, I finally got my end screen elements to appear just after the ‘blow kiss/goodbye’. And I had to use the method shown in the video to do it. 🙂

And finally, this is the video that made me scoot down this rabbit hole in the first place:

I’m having a lot of fun creating these gaming walkthroughs, but I’m also learning the skills I’ll need once I start making how-to videos in earnest.

cheers,
Meeks


The Making of a Tukti, (or digital collage with bitmaps and Corel)

In my previous post I showed you the finished Tukti graphic (shown on the left). In this post, I want to show you a few of the techniques I used to create the graphic.

I call this style of making graphics ‘digital collage’, but real digital collage involves taking whole photos, making them very small and then building an over-arching image out of them. Think tiled mosaic. If you zoom in far enough, you can still see each image in its entirety.

My version of digital collage is rather different. I cut snippets of shape and colour and texture out of photos and then build up a multi-layered image out of all those snippets.

To give you some idea of what I mean, these are some of the 40 snippets I used to create the Tukti:

And those bits don’t include the many transparencies I used to blend the colours and textures into an apparently seamless whole. But before I confuse you too much, let me show you what I mean by some of this terminology.

First up, you need to get an idea of the difference between bitmap images [derived from photographs] and vector images [derived from geometry]. The image below is part of the original concept drawing and shows the Tukti eye blown up so you can see the pixels:

Pixels are tiny squares of colour which is how digital devices represent an analogue image – i.e. a photo, drawing or painting. There are literally millions of pixels in an average photo, and the gradations of colour help to create both smooth colour transitions as well as ‘outlines’.

By contrast, vector graphics are all about outlines. You have lines, closed shapes and solid colours like the image below:

The beauty of vector graphics is that images have transparent backgrounds. That means they can be layered, one on top of the other. Bitmaps can’t.

In the example shown below, the two images on the left look as if they have a transparent background, but that’s only because the page is the same colour as the background. When you place the bitmap on top of a darker coloured background, like the image on the right, it becomes obvious that the red circle sits inside a white background.

Luckily, Corel has a couple of ways of creating a hybrid vector image out of a bitmap. The first method uses nodes to draw the outer perimeter of the bitmap into the area of interest, node by node:

If anyone’s interested, I gave a fairly detailed explanation of this technique in a post entitled How to vector a bitmap. This is the technique I’ve used for most my graphics, but for regular shapes there is another way of ‘hiding’ the background of a bitmap:

Using the example of the eye again, you draw a vector circle on top of the eye image [white circle on top of left image above]. Next, you select the circle, hold down the Shift key, and select the eye image so you end up with two objects selected.

The sequence in which you select the objects is important because it tells Corel which object is the ‘do-er’ and which is the ‘do-ee’. In this case, the circle is the ‘do-er’ and the eye image is the ‘do-ee’.

Next we click the Object function and select Intersect from the Shaping menu:

The Intersect function uses the circle to create a duplicate of the image, but only of the bits inside the circle. The new object is still a bitmap, but all the bits outside the circle are hidden.

Hidden but not deleted.

This is important because each ‘snippet’ you create still has the entire bitmap image in it. That means Corel is working with the whole image even though it looks as if it’s only working with a small part of it. That can, and does, chew up computer resources.

Despite the issue of resources, I love this technique for the images it allows me to create. I hope you enjoyed this small insight into my techniques and how vector graphics work. 🙂

cheers,
Meeks


How to disable autorenewals…BEFORE you buy

This is the third, and I promise, the last post on this autorenewals saga. I’m posting it because I received some new information from Kaspersky tech support today and I decided to check it out. According to Kaspersky, you can disable autorenewals from your shopping cart, before you buy:

Sure enough, there it is: ‘Auto-Renewal: ON – Details’. Believe me when I say that I did not see that at all when I bought Kaspersky Anti-Virus back in November 2021. My guess is that the design of the interface, including the size of the font was the result of advice from an industrial psychologist familiar with human behaviour: once you reach the shopping cart, you have already made up your mind to buy so checking for the fine print is very unlikely.

Okay, not super impressed, but let’s see if BitDefender used the same tactic:

The answer is…yes and no. As you can see from the screenshot, there is a link to ‘Auto renewal’, and it’s in the same position in the same small font, but there’s no mention of whether it is on or off. Assuming that I even saw that link, I would assume it lead to a window where I could choose to turn autorenewal on.

Apparently not:

Autorenewals are on and you can turn them off by logging into your Bitdefender Account [if you have one] or by contacting Customer Support. Unfortunately, you have to buy the product before you can do either of those things.

By contrast, this is what you get with Kaspersky:

That screenshot is telling. With Kaspersky, you are told that autorenewals are on and you are given the opportunity to turn them off before you buy. I still HATE the fact that autorenewals are turned on by default, and I also HATE that the opt-out is not presented in great big letters that you can’t miss, but at least you can turn it off before you buy. With Bitdefender you don’t even get that.

I wonder if the difference between these two companies has something to do with the fact that Kaspersky is a Russian company, so by definition it has to meet the expectations of the EU rather than the US?

I’m going to put that theory into practice when I start research for a new anti-virus. What I’ll be looking for is an EU based company that not only provides a way to turn autorenewals off but maybe never turns them on in the first place.

To the Bitdefender sales team, if they deign to read this post: ‘I will never buy a Bitdefender product again, and I will do my best to dissuade others from buying from you as well. If and when you stop making autorenewal opt-out, I may consider buying from you again.’

Thanks to all of you for sharing your experiences about autorenewals-by-default. Let’s hope we can make enough of a stink to put a dent into some sales. 😀

cheers
Meeks


Mini House Artist

I blame Widds for this, I really do! I had such good intentions until I saw the diamond pane windows and the guttering…and downpipes.

And there are others, lots of others… -cries-

Meeks


How to download… SAFELY

We’re all aware of the need to be careful when we download something from the internet, but how does ‘being careful’ actually work?

In this short post, I’ll show you how to enjoy the benefits of the internet as safely as possible. The screenshots in this how-to are all taken from Windows 7, so if you’re not running Windows 7 the details may be different, but the core principles will be the same. Onwards!

Step 1

Do not rely on your Windows firewall etc to keep your computer safe. Buy a good, reputable antivirus software and install it. I alternate between Kaspersky antivirus and BitDefender antivirus, which are both reputed to be the ‘best’ at the moment. From memory, both cost under $50 US for 12 months protection. That price includes both the software itself and the updates that keep it current with information about all the latest viruses. Antivirus without updates is like a car with all four tyres deflated.

Step 2

Install your antivirus and make sure it can access updates automatically. You may think you’ll do it every day, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions…right?

Step 3

Once your antivirus software is installed and updated, it will work quietly in the background, keeping your pc safe. BUT! You can also use it to ‘manually’ check every app you download from the internet.

This check should be carried out before you actually ‘run’ the app or install it. How? So glad you asked. 😀

Step 3a

Download the app and save it to a location on your computer. It should look something like this:

Step 3b

Once you download and save the app., use Windows Explorer to find it. My location will look different to yours. Don’t worry, just keep looking until you find the app on your computer.

Step 3c

Once you’ve found the app, right click on the thumbnail [picture] of it. This will open the right click menu as shown below:

Again, my computer will look different to yours, but every version of Windows I have ever used has a right click menu, and on it you will find the name of your antivirus software.

Step 3d

Click the name of your antivirus software and you should see a little sub-menu. On that little sub-menu you will find an option that allows you to scan the app. Click the scan option.

Most reputable apps will only take a short time to scan and the scan will come up as ‘clean’. When it does, you’re ready to use the app. If, however, the scan comes up with an error of some sort – DO NOT USE THE APP!!!! Delete it immediately because you’re better safe than sorry.

If the app is one you’ve paid good money for, contact the publisher and explain that your antivirus has found an error. A good publisher will thank you and send you a ‘clean’ version.

Okay, that’s it. Learn to love your right click menu. It really can save your bacon. 😉

cheers
Meeks


Flying…

I meant to do a marketing post today, but when I read this post by OBT, I just had to share:
https://myonebeautifulthing.com/2021/01/30/sydney-kennett/

Seriously, who hasn’t had the flying dream? I had them quite a few times as a child, and I remember thinking [in the dream] that it was so easy, I’d have to remember how to do it ‘when I woke up’. The weird thing is, like champion flyer Sydney Kennett, I’m scared of heights too. Sadly, that’s where any comparison ends! lol

I found a how-to video of sorts that’s kind of interesting:

Okay, that’s enough play time for me. I’ll write the last Favourite Bits post for The Godsend…tomorrow. 🙂

cheers
Meeks


Coffee and banana muffins

Today’s delicious offering was baked by the Offspring based on a recipe given to me by a fellow kindergarten mum, Diana. I won’t tell you how long ago she gave it to me. 😉

The thing I like about this recipe is that it’s very easy. It’s also very forgiving of variations. In the following recipe, our variations are shown in italics after the base recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup soft butter [we used Lurpak Slightly salted spreadable butter which contains a small amount of vegetable oil],
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar [we used caster sugar],
  • 1.5 cups of self raising flour,
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of plain yoghurt or milk. Yoghurt makes it rise more. [We only used 1/2 a cup of yoghurt so we could add more banana]
  • 1 cup fresh fruit [we used 2 cups of bananas, chopped into decent sized ‘chunks’. NOT mashed]
  • a little extra butter to grease the muffin tins [we used paper cupcake thingies? to save on clean up]

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C [392 F]. If using fan bake, lower the temperature a couple of degrees.
  2. Grease muffin tins [or use paper thingies for easy clean up].
  3. With an electric mixer, blend the butter with the sugar until it changes colour and looks ‘creamy’.
  4. Beat in 2 whole eggs. If the mixture starts to separate or ‘curdle’, add a tablespoon of the flour.
  5. Beat in the yoghurt.
  6. Remove from beater and fold in the chunks of banana. [This is a trick I learned by accident. If you mush the banana the flavour will be very bland. If you leave the banana in chunks, you’ll get a burst of strong banana flavour whenever you bite into a piece].
  7. Fold in the flour [no need to sieve].
  8. Spoon mixture into the muffin tin [or into the paper cupcake thingies inside the muffin tin].
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  10. Remove from the muffin tin and place onto a cooling rack

You can eat these muffins straight from the oven with a bit of butter, just watch out for the chunks of banana, they are hot! Or you can eat them plain, hot or cold. Either way they’re delicious with your beverage of choice.

Bon appetit!
Meeks


Masks – how NOT to fog up

Yes, I admit it, I wear glasses, and yes they do fog up when I’m wearing a mask, so I thought this method looked promising. I haven’t tried it, yet, so I’d love some feedback:

cheers
Meeks


When the computer won’t start…

Don’t panic!

That’s what I said to myself at 8am this morning when I turned my desktop computer on, and it promptly turned itself off again.

Actually, if I’m to be completely honest, I said quite a few things, most of which only had four letters, but let’s not get too precious about it. I was panicked, and my second thought was…how on earth would I live without the internet? And my writing? And my music? Oh god…and no ESO?

Then I thought to touch the top of the computer, near where the CPU is located. It was warm. It should not have been warm, not after less than a minute of being switched on.

And this is when the baby geek in me stepped up and said, “Dust.”

Baby Geek was right. There was dust all over the top of the computer. Not surprising really, considering that it sits on the floor, surrounded by small, hairy beasts:

Those two small beasts, plus Harry, another small feline beast, share the office with me, and they all shed. And if that wasn’t enough, my window faces north. When it was open over the summer, it let in a lot of smoke and dust, all of which would have been sucked into the desktop via the fans [internal] designed to keep it cool.

For those who don’t know, the average desktop computer is air cooled. Mine has two large fans located under those grills, which circulate air inside the box. I also have a small fan that sits on top of the CPU [the brain of the computer] and two more that sit on top of the GPU [graphics processing unit or video card]. Those two units are the most critical components of a pc, and if they overheat, the computer will automatically shut down.

I knew all this, but I still wondered, would this be the time when it wasn’t the pc overheating? If it was something more serious, how would I get it fixed?

After fortifying myself with a second cup of coffee, I set up the vacuum cleaner and my paint brushes and got to work. For those who are interested, this is a post I wrote some time ago about how to safely clean the inside of a desktop computer. If any of you are in the same predicament, please read the post carefully. You do NOT want to just stick the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner inside the guts of a pc. That would be a very, very bad idea!

To cut a long story short, I cleaned the computer, and it started up like a dream. Now, it’s purring away as if it had never tried to give me heart failure. Beast

I hope your start to the day was better than mine. Have fun and stay well. 🙂

Meeks


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