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.

Macs never have the problems Windows PCs have? BS!

A little while ago I got my first Mac: a second tier, 13-inch MacBook Pro. I’ve really been enjoying using it, and, due to the faster speed in booting up and the portability, among other things, I have been using it more than my Windows desktop.

 

Yesterday, I decided I was going to go ahead with my plans to dual-boot Ubuntu Linux onto it. So I went onto my desktop, and did a little bit of research, and came up with this site. Armed with the comment by “cyberdork33”, I went to my MacBook Pro and opened Boot Camp. I

 

started following his instructions, until it came time to install Ubuntu. I chose to install it, rather than run it off of the disk, and it started doing something that looked like it must be installing, but then it came to a black screen with white text. It had some code, and said to type “help” for a list of commands I could give. I did this, but none of the commands seemed useful.

 

I gave up, and decided to forget about Ubuntu — I’m happy with Mac OS anyway, all I was going to do was mess around with Ubuntu, I had no plans to use it as my primary OS. So I held the power button, and it didn’t shut down. After a few times of doing this, it finally did loose

power, and I booted up again under Mac OS X. Using boot camp, I restored the disk to a single partition under Mac OS X. I continued using the computer until I went to bed, shut it down, and left it on to charge over night.

 

The next morning, after I get up, I go over to it and turn it on. I notice it stays on a blank white screen for longer than it should, but I’m doing other things, so I ignore it and let it boot up as normal. When I get to the computer, I notice it has a black screen with white text, saying

 

No bootable device — insert boot disk and press any key

 

Typically, given this screen, pressing any key would get it to do something, and even if there is no disk inserted, it will tell you as much. However, when I press any key (in fact, I pressed every single key on the keyboard, from the function keys, to letters, to modifiers), it simply ignores my press. I notice that pressing “caps lock” does not cause the light over the caps lock key to turn on.

Because there is a disk in the drive — and I can’t eject it — I try to power down the device by holding on the power button. But no matter how many times I do this, or how long I hold the button down for — short, long, or just tapping it — it won’t power off.

 

If I could get it to power off, there are many things I could try. From holding down option to make sure it’s booting off of the correct partition, to holding down “d” to run the Apple hardware test, to make sure there isn’t a problem with the hard drive. However, all of this is irrelevant, since I can’t get the computer to turn off in the first place. I can’t even follow the instructions and insert the restore disk, since there’s a disk in the computer I can’t get out.

 

I’m trying to power down the computer by killing its battery, but if that doesn’t work, I’ll try taking it into an Apple authorised repair service, and hope that all those people who talk about how great Apple Care is are right.

 

Don’t read on if you’re concerned about inappropriate language.

So to all you people who say Macs don’t suffer from the same problems that Windows PC users get, I say to you: Bull. Shit.

Let me know if you have any suggestions, or if you’ve had a similar experience. As always, any comments are appreciated.

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.