Archive for February, 2007

Review – Pantone Huey.

Posted in Ajax Links on February 28, 2007 by Shaun

I don’t think I’ve posted a hardware review on the blog before so this is  first.

I attended the Focus on Imaging show at the N.E.C. in Birmingham (UK) on Monday.  This is a pretty bi event aimed at graphic designers and photographers, mostly photographers.  Quite a few big names attend and companies like Adobe, Apple, Nikon , Epson et al are all there giving talks and demos of their latest products.  Apple even had a stand dedicated to training this year, I don’t think I’ve seen so many powerbooks in one place before.

I had a few ideas of lenses and filters that I wanted to buy but couldn’t settle my mind on anything particular and there didn’t seem to be any major offers available this year.

On walking by the Pantone stall though I noticed that they were demonstrating their latest colour calibration tools and the Huey was among them.

The Huey is their entry level calibration tool and it can be purchased after a cursory search on the web for around £60.

The device itself attaches to the computer (PC or Mac) via USB, and an extension cable is supplied in case your monitor is, like mine, quite far from the monitor you are calibrating.  The Huey is slightly slimmer that a USB stick and about as long as 1.5 USB sticks. there is a handy stand supplied as well and I’ll reveal what that if for in a moment.

installation is a breeze, install the supplied software, plug in the Huey and follow the on screen instructions.  the calibration software tells you where to place the Huey and it’s all automatic once you set it off.  At the end of the calibration you are given the option to enable a very nice feature of the Huey that monitors the ambient light of the room you are in and will automatically adjust the colour profile as lighting conditions change.  If you enable this and  sit the Huey in the stand I mentioned above and place the stand in a decent position near the monitor you’ll be sure to have accurate colour representation despite changes in light levels in the room.

Being unable to calibrate my main computer thanks to the issues I’m having plugging in USB devices, I decided to try the Huey out on my laptop.  An very good wizard walks you through the steps starting with the placement of the Huey on the screen, click go and the Screen flickers with different colour’s and the huey does the checking.  At the end of the process you get to see the before and after calibration effect.  you also get to choose different profiles depending on your current usage from a list that includes Gaming, Web browsing & photo editing, and different contrast levels as well as many others.  If you want to you can enable automatic room light monitoring and through the preferences panel you can adjust the frequency of the monitoring from 10 seconds up to 4 hours.  if you choose not to monitor the room light you can complete the process and unplug the huey.  Calibration remains and you will be reminded when it’s time to re-calibrate.

I’m really impressed with the Huey, it’s a fantastic option for amateur photographers and graphic designers like me and at £60 you can’t go wrong.


(picture) Pantone huey


Windows XP Disaster…

Posted in Ajax Links on February 28, 2007 by Shaun

I think I’m experiencing a minor disaster with the Windows XP installation I have on my main machine at home.  For some strange reason it has stopped recognising new devices that i plug into the USB slots.  In fact, I think it’s possibly worse than that as moving existing devices to diferent USB slots on the machine is not a pleasant experience either.

the basic issue is that Windows pops up a dialog informing me that it has found a new device, offers me that chance to let it search for a driver.  If I let it search it fils to find a driver and the device is unuseable.  If I don’t let it search there’s no driver and the device fails to work.  The upshot of it all is that I am currently unable to plug in any device via a USB slot on my PC.


I’ve been searching for a solution to this online but there is nothing forthcoming and I’m fast becoming convinced that I may be going through the re-organisation and re-install phase that I have been avoiding for the best part of 18 months after I did a repair install of Windows.

I have a plan to use software virtualisation this time though and I will defenitely stick to my plan of not installing an application until I first need it.  Hopefully this will all help me to maximise my performance for as long as possible.

Software virtualisation is pretty cool; using the Software Virtualization Solution from Altiris, I can install applications into a virtual layer and turn them on or off depending on my need.  the upshot of this is that when the software is effectively turned off, it’s as if it’s not installed.  The official blurb from Altiris themselves is:

Altiris® Software Virtualization Solution™ (SVS™) software is a revolutionary approach to software management. By placing applications and data into managed units called Virtual Software Packages, SVS allows you to instantly activate, deactivate or reset applications and to completely avoid conflicts between applications, without altering the base Windows installation.

This is defenitely the way I’m going this time.  the bit I’m not looking forward to is not finding my slipstream disk and having to nstall windows from scratch… all the patch updates… Ah well what else is a weekend for?

Some cool stuff for Friday

Posted in Ajax Links on February 23, 2007 by Shaun

Adobe Ship Lightroom V1.

Posted in General Blah! on February 21, 2007 by Shaun

Adobe have announced today that they have shipped Lightroom V1. The Beta Versions of Lightroom are due to expire on Feb 28th so if you have been using it prepare to stop using it or go get the full version.

The full release is available for purchase before April 30th at a £50 discount. The bad news from my perspective is that Lightroom costs £175 at full retail price. I would have liked to see a much more realistic pricing around the £75 – £95 mark to encourage more amateur photographers to take on the superb Adobe product.

I know that Adobe have put a lot of time and effort into Lightroom and thanks to the beta test program V1 should be a very stable and much more polished product both in useability and functionality. Add in the extra expertise brought in through the purchase of pixmantec and the excellent Rawshooter. But a near £200 price tag seems like a mistake somehow. Rawshooter retailed at around £75 before the buyout, and of course it’s not available anymore so Adobe have taken the leading product that retailed at an affordable price out of the market. This leaves those of us that take photographs in RAW and want the best possible processing tool to get the most out of our valuable pixels only one choice. Stick with the RawShooter app you already own or spend a fortune on Lightroom.

Sure, Lightroom does more than simply develop RAW files, it does a damn good job at organizing your images too, and gives you some nice creative options including easy slideshow creation. But again I think that £75 – £95 is a much fairer price to pay. I think it’s time Adobe thought more about volume and less about profit.

One other point of madness I think I should raise is the bizarre pricing structure between Boxed copies and Downloads. In the Adobe online store I can get a boxed copy of Lightroom sent to me for £146.88 Inc. VAT while the 64mb download will cost me £151.25. What the hell is that all about? Surely it costs more to produce a CD a box and all the paperwork that goes with? I have to pay a £4.37 surcharge to download a copy? Come on Adobe…

More and more people are taking photos in RAW these days, or at the very least, thanks to some great camera technology, more and more people have the ability to take pictures in RAW. Since most software that comes with the cameras is pretty poor, and bordering on useless thanks to a lack of features and imagination by the developers. Many people will be looking for something better. Rawshooter was the product of choice for many, and always my top recommendation, unless someone already had Photoshop or Photoshop Elements (costing £69.32 at Adobe but I’ve seen it available for £60.99 at I can’t recommend Lightroom to most of the people I know, they just can’t afford it!

Damn shame coz it’s a fantastic product. I’m disappointed and I expect Adobe will keep their prices high like they do with almost everything they sell.

Get more details on Lightroom here.

Virtual PC 2007 available for download – Free

Posted in Uncategorized on February 21, 2007 by Shaun

Although I am a daily user of VMWare at work and I do enjoy VMWare, Microsoft have recently released the final RTM version of their Virtual PC 2007 application. If you have never used VPC or VMWare you are probably not aware of the benefits of such an application. Basically think of it as a machine within a machine. These apps allow you to set up a whole environment with your choice of Operating System and software installed. This is achieved by creating a Virtual Computer environment within VPC and VMWare. The benefit for you would be that you could test an application within the virtual machine and if it goes wrong or crashed the installation, you can simply throw it away and start again without losing all your normal software because the virtual environment is isolated.

VPC 2007 is 30 MB download if you have Broadband that should not be an issue.

Find out more details here

Enable back button support in ASP.Net Ajax

Posted in Ajax Links on February 21, 2007 by Shaun

Nikhil Kothari has updated a couple of his controls including the fantastic Update History Control in Nikhil’s own words:

This is a non-visual control that allows you to add history entries to the browser’s navigation stack selectively for some post-backs, and not for some others. This helps fix the back button to make it work, and allows you to implement Ajax patterns such as “logical navigation” and unique URLs.

There is also a cool StyledUpdatePanel control and an AnimatedUpdatePanel Control up for grabs.
Theres a load of detailed info on Nikhils blog about these controls including a video of them in action.

Without a doubt the UpdateHistory control is going to be a very valuable addition to your toolkit.

Aptana catches fire!

Posted in Ajax Links on February 16, 2007 by Shaun

I know that I have spent a lot of time writing about Aptana and almost as much time raving on about Firebug. Well now you’ll be happy to hear there will be almost a 50% reduction in posts on these apps.
Not because I have been put off or stopped using either app but simply because Aptana have announced that the latest nightly build of Milestone 8 has an embeded version of Firebug included.

Web development just got a king size caffeine rush.

I’ve yet to get a propper opportunity to play with the latest build but rest assured as soon as I do I’ll post my experience.

If you have missed any of my other posts on Aptana and are wondering what all the fuss is about, you can pop over to Aptana’s web site for more info and take a look at the excellent sister site that hosts where you can view screencasts of Aptana in action.

Aptana will improve web development I am certain of it. There are many reasons I love Aptana and have chosen it as my tool of choice for developing my web applications. I’ll detail a few for you here.

  • ÂAptana is free
  • Aptana is lightweight – That is to say that it will not use up half your hard drive or take hours to download.
  • You can easily manage projects of various sizes using Aptana.
  • Starting a new project based on one of the many Ajax libraries available is easy and many of the most common libraries are included with Aptana so you need not go hunting for them.
  • You can add your own Ajax library or core library in easily so that your dev team can create a new project with all the right core files in it and get up and running much quicker.
  • Debugging is built in and is getting better – Now includes Firebug!
  • You can add ScriptDoc tags into your code and then get intellisense easily on your own libraries.
  • There’s a nice browserÂpreview feature so you can get a split pane view.
  • Aptana is free.

So, if you haven’t downloaded it yet and you develop Javascript you might want to give it the once over 🙂