Idea: Partial fullscreen

Both Microsoft (with Windows 8) and Apple (since OS X 10.7 “Lion”) are moving towards a paradigm in their desktop operating systems that encourages the use of full screen apps. Whether you love it or hate it, this seems to be the way things are moving in the near future.

Even for those that like it, there are certainly some drawbacks. Some programmes just work better when they can be used on top of others. Note-taking apps like TextEdit or Notepad can work great over the top of a full-screen web browser, and it would be nice to be able to call up an IM window without having to switch over to another space if you’re working on a full-screen document.

Apps could use a partial fullscreen API to specify that they are suitable for being used on top of fullscreen applications, and then any windows open in them would appear in a menu after opening a drawer that is on one edge of the screen (perhaps some form of gesture or keyboard shortcut could also be used, or it could auto-hide, to preserve screen real estate).

In Windows 8 this could be added to the Charms menu, in OS X, I would say a three-fingered swipe from the very edge of the touchpad, but really any method could be used if the drawer were to be hidden when not in use.

When you pull out the drawer, a menu of all installed apps that can use partial fullscreen would appear, and upon clicking on the one you want, it would appear in the place of the drawer at the edge of the screen. Perhaps there could also be a simple tabbed system to switch between different partial fullscreen apps, such as different text windows, IM windows, etc.

People could benefit from something like this in a variety of ways:

  • Note taking while browsing websites for research purposes
  • Instant Messaging/chat while browsing the web
  • Audio libraries during fullscreen production or web browsing
  • Watching video while browsing the web

Fullscreen applications are great. You get more screen real-estate, they can help to minimise unwanted distractions. The problem is there are some cases where you want to be able to see more than one window at a time, for a variety of purposes. Partial fullscreen would help get the best of both worlds.

What do you think about partial fullscreen? Leave a comment down below.

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Creating Panoramas in Photoshop CS5

How to create a panorama in Adobe Photoshop CS5 using photo-merge and content-aware fill.

  1. Open Photoshop
  2. Open the photos you want to use to create the panorama (this is not essential at this point, but makes it easier)
  3. Go to File -> Automate -> Photomerge
  4. If you have opened the files already, click “Add Open Files”; if not, locate them now by clicking “Browse”
  5. Usually “Auto” is best, however you may want to experiment with others, especially spherical, if you have taken a 360° panorama.
  6. Allow Photoshop to chew through that and create a rough panorama
At this point you have two options to fix the panorama to a perfect rectangle
  • Crop it
  • Use “Content-aware fill”
    1. Merge all the layers into a single layer
    2. Use Magic wand tool to select transparent background
    3. On Mac, press “Shift F5” (or fn Shift F5, if your function keys are set to the Apple functions, such as altering brightness); on Windows, press delete.
    4. Make sure it is 100% transparency, with Content-aware fill: these should be the default option. Press OK
    5. Repeat steps 2-4 as necessary for other sections of the background.
Be aware that content aware fill may take a long time to complete, and will slow your computer down as you do it. If the blank area is large enough you may need to break it into smaller sections — Photoshop will tell you that you do not have sufficient RAM to complete the task. I had this occur with 4GB of RAM on the larger of my two panoramas.
Comments are greatly appreciated. If you have any suggestions, queries or just a general comment on the post please leave a comment.

My most used programs

Software tracking

Well, I was hoping that it would add this as a permanent and dynamic widget thing on the side. Oh well.

I’ve been using Wakoopa for just a couple of days now, and for the most part this seems like a fairly valid result. The only anomalies are:

  • Battlefield 2, which I have not played very much in the past (in fact, I haven’t done much gaming at all in the past), but have started to play a lot more recently — it coincides very nicely with my IGCSE exams. Oh joy…
  • WordPress, which I also have only recently started using
  • Wakoopa — this one pretty much speaks for itself. Obviously I’ve been on their website a lot lately checking things out.

Anyway, if you’re interested, Wakoopa is a neat little program that monitors which programs and websites you use most often. You can choose to make this public, as I have, or you can keep it private, if you’re that way inclined. It’s available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.