Hmm. We’ve hit our deadline at work (yay!), and now there’s a lull in the project. I might be able to go home at a normal hour this evening. Also, we currently have Scott & Ange’s car while they’re on holiday. So I’m thinking about going out to see a film after Alex has gone to bed. But what to see?

Should I go down the comedy route, with Anger Management or A Guy Thing, or would it be more enjoyable to take in a thriller like Ripley’s Game or Identity?

(Hmm… Jack Nicholson, Jason Lee, John Malkovich, or John Cusack. Modern popular cinema seems to be entirely populated by lead actors with “J”-names.)

Alternatively, I could take the easy way out and see Reloaded again. Maybe it’ll make more sense the second time round.

95% of Americans of age 65 are broke or deceased

The funniest piece of spam I’ve seen so far this year:

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This is one time mailing. No need for removal. You are not on any mailing list.

If that doesn’t trigger your funny bone, you’re not reading enough junk mail.

Paint Shop Pro 8 watercolour effect

The more I play with Paint Shop Pro 8, the more I like it. While I was messing around with our Rome holiday photos, I discovered that the “One Step Photo Fix” action can do far more than just tidy up photos. The image below is what happens when you run the One Step Photo Fix several times on the same image: it applies a kind of watercolour effect. (Click on the image for a bigger version to see it more clearly.)

Paint Shop Pro 8 effects

The exact sequence of actions I applied to the original image was:

  1. Soften
  2. One Step Photo Fix x 4
  3. Soften
  4. One Step Photo Fix x 4
  5. Soften
  6. One Step Photo Fix x 2

The “soften” steps are necessary because the One Step Photo Fix sharpens up edges in the image, and unless you give it a bit of a blur every now and then, you get a lot of pixellation artefacts at the boundaries of blocks of colour.

The cross-eyed method of comparing lists

Am I the only one who uses the cross-eyed method of comparing lists? I mentioned this to someone at work today and they looked at me like I was a space alien.

The way it works is this: you take the two lists you want to compare, and line them up side-by-side. You can do this with sheets of paper, or on-screen with columns of data in spreadsheets.

Next, slowly cross your eyes so that the two lists are superimposed. The hardest part of this is crossing your eyes and keeping them focussed at the same time. But if you can get the two lists exactly overlapping in your cross-eyed view, it becomes very easy to spot any differences. Items that are identical will overlap precisely, and will look normal. But items that are different will never properly line up, and so will look strange.

Continue reading “The cross-eyed method of comparing lists”

Chroma sub-sampling and JPG image quality in Paint Shop Pro 8

If you’re using the new Paint Shop Pro version 8, watch out for some new settings when you’re saving JPG images. In Paint Shop Pro 7 you could only select the compression value for JPG images:

Paint Shop Pro 7 JPG image quality settings

In PSP 8, you can now also select what level of “Chroma subsampling” you want:

Paint Shop Pro 8 JPG image quality settings

The default setting is for some Chroma subsampling (2×2 1×1 1×1) to be used. Be careful with this, though. In particular after using the “One Step Photo Fix” script, the default setting can result in noticeably poorer images at the same compression setting than the “none” value (1×1 1×1 1×1).

For an explanation of why this is the case, see the page Chroma Subsampling in JPG Compression. Basically, although all programs read and display JPG images in the same way, there are multiple algorithms for generating them. Some algorithms work better then others, and they also tend to work differently on different types of image.

Generally I’m finding that saving photos with a higher compression setting but no chroma subsampling makes them look better than a lower compression with the default subsampling. But if you’re picky about image quality, it’s worth tuning the settings to find the finest settings for each picture you save.