Sunday, December 5, 2010


Ok, after a bit more testing of IE9 PP7, it appears that you get wildly variable results depending on the hardware platform. I'll post the details later, but running on my Core2 Duo laptop, I got results that are more in keeping with what Microsoft is claiming. I guess that Microsoft has optimized for more modern processors. While this isn't unexpected, it is a bit of a disappointment. On my older hardward, GC and even Firefox are much faster than IE9. On a laptop that is only 2 years newer, the picture reverses--Strange.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Internet Explorer 9 may not be as good as Microsoft claims

I've been doing some testing of the latest version of the IE 9 Platform and I don't seem to be getting the same types of numbers that Microsoft is claiming. Ignoring for the moment that it still doesn't pass Acid 3 (and probably won't from the comments that I've read), here are the results of an admittedly un-scientific test using sun spider 0.91. IE8 8700ms, Chrome 7.0.517.44 481ms, IE9 5267ms or IE9 is about 1.65 times as fast as IE8 and 10.9 times SLOWER than chrome 7. Now, Microsoft claims 3746, 262 and 216 respectively or basically that IE9 is 17 times faster than IE8 and slightly faster than Chrome 7. Clearly they are testing on a much faster maching that I'm running (a Pentium dual core 3.2ghz, with 8GB ram--windows experience index of 4.9) but that shouldn't cause this much skew in the data.

I'll be testing this further on a rather newer machine in the near future and will post the results of those test when they are completed. Anybody testing this for themselves, I'd love to hear your results (just post a comment)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Video Codec detector

I just had my attention brought to an excelent utility for detecting exactly what codec that you need to install to view a video. Try it out and see for yourself.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Converting WMF files to JPG

Recently, I had call to convert .WMF files to .JPG.  Now there are any number of commercial and shareware solutions to this problem, but as a programmer, I wanted to do this myself.  This turns out to be fairly easy using C++Builder.  Here is the code:

TMetafile * mf = new TMetafile(); 
TJPEGImage * jpeg = new TJPEGImage();
Graphics::TBitmap * bmp = new Graphics::TBitmap();
jpeg->CompressionQuality = 50;
delete mf;
delete bmp;
delete jpeg;
And, of course, with very little change, this can be used to convert a BMP to JPG:

 TJPEGImage * jpeg = new TJPEGImage();
 Graphics::TBitmap * bmp = new Graphics::TBitmap();
 jpeg->CompressionQuality = 50;
 delete bmp;
 delete jpeg;

Friday, March 19, 2010

A great tool for designing printed circuit boards

I recently came across a great tool for designing printed circuits. That tool is DipTrace. ( In a market where a full function package can cost $5,000 or more, it is refreshing to see such an excellent product for just $695 for the full version. Add to this a limited use freeware version (This is what I'm using until I can afford the full version) and a 30 day trial of the full version, you have the makings of a great deal. All of the versions come with a great library of parts including some fairly new stuff, but if your part isn't included, the tools to create both the schematic symbols and the PCB pad layout are included. I find that this product is much easier to use than Eagle and nearly as easy as Protel 99se was. This after less than 2 hours spent learning the product.

Some random thoughts on Windows 7

Well, Windows 7 has been out for a while now and I've been using it since the public Beta program began. So, I thought that this might be a good time to post some random observations about the product. To satisfy some legal stuff: I am a Microsoft Partner and subscribe to the Action Pack.
In the course of my business, I have installed Windows 7 on quite a few computers, both new and old. Some of these were upgrades and some were "clean" installs. The upgrade from Vista certainly works, but be sure to set aside a good block of time. I've had upgrades complete in as little as 2 hours, but most take considerably longer. Of course, you can only do an upgrade from Vista. (And if you are running Vista, I suggest running to Windows 7.) The clean installs have all been wonderful experiences, generally taking less than 1 hours to complete. The down side to a clean install is that you will have to reinstall all of your software and reload your data. On the balance, I'd say that the clean install will work better and be faster.

Some neat features:
  • Gadgets can now be placed anywhere on the screen (or multiple screens) and not just on the sidebar.
  • The task bar combines the functions of the old task bar and the quick launch tool bar. I was resistant to this at first, but now wouldn't have it any othe way. While I'll still use the start menu for some things, my most often used programs are all pinned to the task bar. The only down side to this is it isn't clear at first how to launch another instance of, say, Internet Explorer.
  • It is faster. In every case that I've checked, Windows 7 is faster than Vista. Is many cases, it has been faster than Windows XP.
    XP mode. This is a virtual copy of Windows XP that is provided to the users of Windows 7 Professional and higher. Great for running programs that either won't install or don't run correctly on Windows 7. You have to download this feature from Microsoft's web site. Recently, it was announced that you no long need to have special hardware to run this feature.
And a couple of downers:
  • You can no longer run 16 bit programs (these were most often programs from Windows 3, 95, 98 and ME). Personally, I'm surprised that it took Microsoft so long to do this. Of course, if you really need to run one of these, you can use XP mode.
  • As with every other OS release, sometimes the support for older hardware is lacking. This really isn't Microsoft's fault, but rather the hardware manufacturer's. That having been said, most Vista drivers will work on Windows 7 without a hitch. The main problems that I've had with Windows 7 have been related to using the 64 bit version (to support more than 4 GB of RAM) and the general lack of 64 bit drivers for some products (of course, these product don't work on 64 bit XP or Vista either). I still consider this a downer for Windows 7 because it is much more likely that your new computer will be preloaded with the 64 bit version.
Well, that's enough for today.