Archive for the ‘Presentation Wizard’ Category.

Windows Speedup: Disabling Defender’s Real Time Protection

pictureThe Windows Defender application that installs with Windows 10 is an estimable security application, with a rigorously-maintained database of threats. That it costs nothing to use has a lot to be said for it as well. Like most security software, however, it likes to wander into the insanely-paranoid section of the theater from time to time.

Left to its own devices, Windows Defender will avail your computer of a laudable degree of protection from malware and other intrusions by cybercretins. It can also substantially reduce the usefulness of the system it’s running on.

You can make your computer still more secure by the simple expedient of turning it off and leaving it that way… but few users of Windows 10 would consider this to be a workable precaution.

One of the more questionable features of Windows Defender is its real time protection. Real time protection scans every file that arrives on your computer – in real time, as its name implies – to defend you against invading e-mail attachments, venemous downloads and malicious web browser plugins, among many other things.

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A Quick Introduction to Animated PNG

pictureThe GIF format – the animation standard for web page animations for pretty much as long as there have been web page animations – was originally created in 1987. While there were technically computers back then, chances are you’re presently wearing a watch with more processing power than a circa-1987 PC.

The GIF format was designed using late twentieth-century compression technology, for use with late twentieth-century display hardware.

It’s also probably worth mentioning that GIF was never intended as a medium for storing web page animations… there having been no web upon which to launch pages back in 1987. They did have electric lighting back then, apparently, so there’s that.

The first web browsers to support animation arm-twisted the GIF format to store them because it was kind of close to what was needed at the time, and it actually existed. Web page designers – and everyone else – have been stuck with it ever since.

Cue gratuitous profanity.

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Security Issues and Software Vulnerabilities

pictureFrom time to time, Alchemy Mindworks releases software updates to deal with security issues. This sounds a bit scary – with good reason in some cases – and as such, it probably deserves an explanation.

Regrettably, the world includes a substantial number of flakes, idiots and malevolent swamp-dwellers who spend their mean little lives trying to attack the computers of the rest of us. When they’re successful in doing so, they can:

  • Install malware to steal personal information, such as credit card numbers and banking passwords.
  • Connect the afflicted computers to botnets, such that they can be used to attack other networks.
  • Encrypt the files on your hard drive and demand a pile of bitcoins for the key to decrypt them.
  • …and probably a lot of other stuff we’d rather not know about.

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Version Six Upgrades

pictureThe 2015 major upgrade for Alchemy Mindworks’ software – stepping up to version 6 – will initially embody most of its changes “under the hood.” We’ve devised an improved software architecture to allow our applications to make better use of contemporary multi-core microprocessors, larger memory footprints and Windows 7, 8 and 10.

The most notable feature of this upgrade for most users will be full Windows 10 compatibility.

You can’t really see a new architecture unless you work here and read the source code, but it will enhance the performance of the upgraded software – the version six applications should run faster, and consume fewer system resources while they’re doing so.

The updated architecture will also allow us to add new features to Graphic Workshop, GIF Construction Set, Presentation Wizard and the other Alchemy Mindworks applications that were impractical or genuinely impossible under version 5.

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Error Creating the Specified File during Version 6 Validation

pictureWhile it’s thankfully uncommon, we have encountered instances of the version 6 Alchemy Mindworks software refusing to validate, and displaying a message that says “There has been an error creating the specified file.” We’ve yet to reproduce the beast in house.

Contrary to rumors and innuendo in this matter, this problem does not lie with either frenzied weasels creeping into our offices late at night in search of leftover pizza, or with the depredations and treachery of left-wing politicians… although you can never be entirely certain of the latter.

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Classic Windows Paint for Windows 7 and Windows 8

pictureEarlier releases of Windows – most notably the much-beloved Windows XP, now something of a fond memory – included the elegantly simple and occasionally berated Windows Paint application. For the most part, it was about as useful as a left-leaning politician in a riding with absolutely no bribable voters – but there were situations in which its childlike simplicity and twentieth-century dearth of features made it the ideal software for manipulating a few pixels.

By comparison, Windows Paint under Windows 7 and Windows 8 resembles the drooling idiot offspring of a cheap date in which neither participant was demonstrably human. It’s just sophisticated enough to allow its imperfect antialiasing, questionable drawing tools and counter-intuitive user interface to get in the way.

Long-time users of Paint from a bygone era can often be heard mourning its loss.

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Building an Alpha-Shadow Animation

PNG/MNG Construction Set and the newly-updated animation plugins with alpha-channel support – the 3D Effects #1 plugin set, as of this writing – allow the creation of animations with sophisticated translucent shadows. Place such an animation over a textured surface or a photograph and its shadow will darken the details of its background, but not obscure them.

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An Introduction to Alpha-Channel Animations

While its sounds like a fragment of dialog from a 1980s science fiction flick shot on a budget in an unnamed eastern European country, alpha channels are actually a profoundly useful feature of graphics… as long as you know what they’re really up to.

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Quest for the Missing Paint

Many of the Alchemy Mindworks applications – including GIF Construction Set Professional, Graphic Workshop Professional, Animation Workshop, PNG/MNG Construction Set and Presentation Wizard – have internal Paint functions that call Windows Paint. At least, they do if it’s been installed.

Should you click on Paint in one of our applications and discover that nothing much happens – or if the application hangs – you’re probably looking at a total absence of the Windows Paint application.

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