Ezine 126 – Guy the LCD Luddite
Nobody likes to be thought as old-fashioned, or labelled a Luddite. But last week I got caught out with a stick-in-the-mud attitude. While I have upgraded my computer’s system unit 3 times in 11 years, each time, I kept the same fat old Iiyama CRT* monitor. My dislike of LCD** monitors comes from experience with computers in our local library, and also from working with flat-panel monitors that training companies supply for my delegates.
Last week my wife’s computer screen went ‘bang’, and consequently she needed a replacement. Now she DOES like the latest fashion items, therefore, she wanted a new 19in Iiyama monitor, and she insisted on the modern, flat-panel, LCD design. When my wife’s new flat-panel monitor arrived, it was my job to get it working. As the device was a monitor, I was looking forward to a straightforward plug and play job. However, when we turned on the new flat-panel monitor we were desperately disappointed with the blurred appearance of the fonts.
I resisted saying, ‘I told you the flat-panel monitors were rubbish’, and got down to troubleshooting the display. Firstly, I downloaded the latest Iiyama drivers. Then I updated the monitor driver by drilling down through this path: Control Panel, System, Hardware, Device Manager, Monitor and Update driver – still no real improvement in the clarity of screen fonts.
Well if all else fails, I don’t mind reading the instructions. Unfortunately, there was nothing of help in the readme file, but I persevered, and as usual found a few rewarding sites on the internet. One site article explained that LCD monitors are sharpest at their native resolution, while another site told me the native resolution for my make of flat-panel monitor.
This was not my day. Solving one problem only led to a new problem – my wife did not want to work at the native resolution of 1280 x 1024, she wanted her usual 1024 x 800 screen. Moreover, native resolution only made a small difference to the font clarity.
Eureka! Thank Goodness for ClearType.
Here is my ClearType tip: in both XP and Vista, look for the keyword: ‘Appearance’. In Vista start with Personalize, click on Windows Color and Appearance. Look for Effects. (See screenshot.)
In XP right-click the desktop, Properties, Display. From the Appearance screen select, Effects and then select ‘Use the following methods to smooth edges of screen fonts’, – now switch from Standard to ClearType.
Hopefully you should see a faint black border around the text which gives the letters a crisper, easier-to-read appearance.
If I were buying I would take a laptop to the biggest box store I could find and hook up the LCDs and test. Many look great at their max setting 1200×1024 but deteriorate when you drop them down to 1024×768. Probably a side-effect of the anti-aliasing.
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Guy Recommends: The Free IP Address Tracker (IPAT)
Calculating IP Address ranges is a black art, which many network managers solve by creating custom Excel spreadsheets. IPAT cracks this problem of allocating IP addresses in networks in two ways:
For Mr Organized there is a nifty subnet calculator, you enter the network address and the subnet mask, then IPAT works out the usable addresses and their ranges.
For Mr Lazy IPAT discovers and then displays the IP addresses of existing computers. Download the Free IP Address Tracker
Will and Guy Humor
This week we have a topical theme,for the 4th of July we have this amazing video.
Meanwhile, here in England people are caught up with Tennis mania and Wimbledon fever, everywhere you look kids are hitting tennis balls. Will and Guy have topical jokes and funny tennis pictures.
The Story of Guy’s AutoResponder
From time to time I like to take you behind the scenes and explain what happens in the course of running a website. This week I have a tale to tell about the AutoResponder which emails out this very ezine to the subscribers.
This story hardly sounds like an endorsement for an AutoResponder, but sometimes the truth is more persuasive than all the usual advertising hype. For more than a year, I have lost about 250 subscribers from subscription list. I wondered why people kept writing to me saying their ezine was not getting through. Although I tried all sorts of experiments, nothing short of re-deleting the account and re-registering seemed to work.
Then last week I contacted Neil the AutoReponder’s owner. He gave me a simple SQL query which changed the status of those 250 accounts from ‘null’ to ‘active’ and thus cured the problem. The fact that the AutoResponder runs on top of a MySQL engine may be an attraction if you already know that database. Alternatively, my story indicates that you can run for 4 years at 95% efficiency without ever needing to touch MySQL. It seems that the initial problem occurred when my site was moved from one server to another, and as such, was not the fault of the AutoResponder.
So if this ezine is a ‘bolt from the blue’ then you know the reason why your subscription has been suddenly restored.
There is also a hidden message here, I don’t endorse many products; but those that I do must meet certain criteria, not only must I like the owner, but also they must be accessible to prospective purchasers. In the case of the AutoResponder, I actually use the product every week. If you have the need to email lots of people, or manage a subscription list, then check out Neil’sAutoResponder
See more interesting Windows desktop tips