December 1, 2007

How To Properly Hug a Baby


While stumbling I found an interesting web page titled "How to Properly Hug a Baby". It has four images each one with funny instruction on how to hug a baby. This was the last one and it reads

"If a camera is present, you will need to execute the difficult and patented hug, smile, and lean in order to achieve the best photo quality."

Source: How to Properly Hug a Baby

November 28, 2007

Tutorial – Creating Windows Vista Taskbar

Aight this is a very simple tutorial where I tried creating windows vista taskbar in Photoshop. Why you ask? Hmm... well you may want to create a skin, a theme for you cellphone or just want to experiment with layer styles like me. This is not an exact replication of Vista's taskbar it's just my way of doing things, so this is very simple and beginners' tutorial nothing fancy.

Step 1: Create a New Document

Create a new Photoshop document of any size but not too small of course :)

Step 2: Create a Rectangle

Create the taskbar using rectangle tool about 30px in height.

Step 3: Apply Layer Styles

Apply the following layer effects to the taskbar

Gradient Overlay
Click the gradient to open "gradient editor"
Double click on the left color stop (the bottom one) to open the "color picker" and select #131416 color
Double click on the right color stop to open the "color picker" and select # a3a3a3 color
Add an other color stop in the middle at about 53 position and add the #131416 color
Just about at 54 position add an other color stop with the color value of #343434

Stroke
Set the size to 1px
position to outside
and finally select #4e4e4e as the color

Bevel and Emboss
Style: Inner Bevel
Technique: Smooth
Depth: 91
Direction: up
Size: 2
Soften: 0
Angle: 90
Uncheck "Use Global Light"
Altitude: 20
Opacity for 1st Highlight mode with white color (screen): 71
Opacity for Highlight mode with black color (multiply): 0

Click Ok

And you are done with the taskbar!
If you want to add an application's window on the taskbar keep reading.




Step 4: Create another Rectangle

Yes but this time make a rounded rectangle with about Radius of 2px width: 155px and height: 24px
Align this in the center of our taskbar

Step 5: Apply Layer Styles

Go to the layer's palette and copy the layer style of the taskbar layer
Paste the layer style to the rounded rectangle
Remove Bevel and Emboss style instead add outer and inner glow with the following settings:

Outer Glow
Blend mode: Screen
Opacity: 38%
Noise: 0%
Select Pure White Color
Technique: Precise
Spread: 0%
Size: 2px
Range: 20%

Inner Glow
Blend mode: Screen
Opacity: 58%
Noise: 0%
Select Pure White Color
Technique: Precise
Choke: 0%
Size: 1px
Range: 67%

Hit Ok




Step 6: Add Text and an Icon

I have added Firefox's icon and the text "Gmail – Inbox (139) …" you could add what ever you like oh btw the font is "Segoe UI"-comes with Vista

Well that's basically it.

Tip: If you want to create an active window representation, simply create levels adjustment layer and move the left triangle to a little right to create the darker effect.
I have to admit that I am not good with numbers so experiment with your layer styles tweak the sliders a bit to get the effect you want.

Tip: To create transparent "Aero effect" simply add an image in the background and reduce the opacity a bit for both the taskbar and the rounded rectangle layer.

Tip: To create a mouse over glow effect you could do this:
Ctrl + click the rounded rectangle layer's mask to select it
Select a big soft brush with a light sky blue color (or use #597a9c)
Reduce the brush opacity to about 40 or 50 and set the mode to color dodge

While previous selection still turned on gradually paint on the new layer just below the rounded rectangle. As you do multiple passes you will see the glowing effect emerges due to the brush blending mode. You could add a layer mask to the paint layer to remove any unwanted blue cast on the rounded rectangle. And finally you can tweak the color of this glow with a few adjustment layers.

Background Photo is beautiful wallpaper from http://airbagindustries.com/

November 27, 2007

WHAT MAKES VLC SO GREAT?

VLC media player made my life a whole lot easier. Ever since I installed it on my system I never had a need to keep all those ad-bloated media players that sunk down my pc’s startup time with useless system tray icons.

Of course sometimes you do need those players but it’s rarely a case now, windows media player 11 + VLC is all I need. For average PC user, one that needs eye candy stuff on his desktop VLC may not appeal much but if you are seriously looking for a better player that does it all then VLC is a blessing for you.

In this post I am going to write about some of the marvelous features of VLC media player as well as give you a few useful tips about it. And did I mention it’s free?

Large Number of File Formats

This is one of the reasons why I don’t need a large number of players sitting on my system tray, VLC plays most of the multimedia file formats. It does that without needing a codec to be downloaded and installed, it has its own mechanism to play these files. It supports almost all the common files from QuickTime and Real audio, Hell! It even supports flv(flash video) files. Although most of the times it fails to FF or REW flv files.

For a complete list of features http://www.videolan.org/vlc/features.html

So Next time if you have any file format that you don’t even know try drag n dropping it into VLC’s window you might be surprised.

Plays Scratchy DVDs

It happens to me most of the times that a player like WinDVD fails to play a movie while VLC with some trick is able to play it. Most of the times the last titles seem to create problems. And WinDVD does a large post-processing probably because of the audio and video features built into it and thus caches the DVD content and as a result your Drive keeps on rotating the disc forever. On the other hand VLC sometimes is able to play the disc if you use file>open disc with title DVD option instead of DVD (menus) with added title field.

Magnify The Sound

If you drag volume slider with your mouse the maximum value it can go is 100, but if you use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + up arrow it can go up to 200.

That's not it! You can extend the interface by going to Settings>Extended GUI and in the Equalizer section moving the Preamp slider all the way to 20.0db. Still not enough? Move up all of the frequency sliders.

Plug in your microphone and headphones maximize the volume and you might hear voices you never heard before, it's like a hearing aidJ

Streaming Server

About a year ago me and a friend wanted to somehow setup a streaming server for video so that we can watch a movie simultaneously on our own PCs sitting at our separate homes. In an attempt we started searching for software that can accomplish the task. All of a sudden I remembered that VLC comes with streaming server option. Viola! All we needed was built into this compact player and all of sudden we and bunch of other fellas on our cablenet were watching movies together.

TV Tuner Card Support

If you have a capture device attached to your system or a TV Tuner card VLC is able to play through it. You might already have a utility that came with your TV Tuner card, but if you don't, VLC's file>Open Capture Device is your friend. Of course it's not a full fledged capture device utility but it's still quite useful.

Skin it up!

Just incase if you really want your VLC to look great there are a few skins available for you to download http://www.videolan.org/vlc/skins.php

To make the skin as the default look when VLC starts up go to settings>preferences, Find "Interface" section, it's the last entry on the left of the tree view. Expand it and go to "Main Interfaces" Check "Skinnable interface" on the right. Expand the "Main Interfaces" tree and select "Skins" section to define its properties check advanced options at lower right bottom and make sure in the "Skin to use" field the path of your desired skin is entered if not give it an absolute path to your skin and click Save. That's it.

I wanted my VLC to look like windows media player 11 so I tried Dalin Media Player and WMP11 Skin. But I like the control that VLC gives me with the default interface.

VLC Homepage: http://www.videolan.org/

November 20, 2007

A Little About Me

Hello, Welcome to Enchanted Voyages!
My name is Murtaza Chang, 26yrs old guy from Hyderabad, Pakistan. I am a web developer and designer. I did my graduation in Software Engineering (B.E.)
I am passionate about computer graphics and software development. Enchanted Voyages is where I share my thoughts and life experiences with people like you, who are my inspirational assets. I am grateful to you.
If you want you can drop me a line I will be glad to respond.