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Archive for the ‘How To’ Category

How to set Google Chrome as your default PDF viewer

Posted by Sumpm On July - 10 - 2011

Google Chrome PDF

Google Chrome browser is probably the best PDF viewer I’ve used.  If you have Adobe Reader installed–as most PC users do, since it’s often included with other software, or even installed by your PC manufacturer at the factory–there’s a good chance it’s left you open to serious security risks.  I won’t bother linking to all the security issues it has going for it because a) I don’t feel like wasting so much time, because b) your security is your job, not mine.  But I will suggest you do a Google search for Adobe Reader security issues and do some reading.

One alternative many people began using after the Reader security flaws were made very public, is Foxit Reader.  It’s a great PDF reader, but also has a few security concerns, often the same ones as Adobe Reader.

So, why not get rid of both of those, and just use Google Chrome browser instead?  Late in 2010, Google announced every future version of Chrome would have PDF viewing built in:

A few versions later, it’s working better than ever, and I’ve yet to find a PDF it doesn’t render perfectly.  There’s just one small issue that we have to look at when it comes to setting Chrome as your default viewer:  how the hell do you do it?  Unlike most programs, Chrome isn’t in the Program Files folder of Windows.  Instead, it’s hidden way down in the AppData folder, which is, by default, invisible.  So, what I’m here to do is show you how to find the Chrome.exe file, and then set it as your default PDF viewer.

Obviously, before you proceed, you need to install Google Chrome, so do it here:

Once you’ve install Chrome, proceed…

First, open up My Computer (or just ‘Computer‘ on later versions of Windows), and click on Local Disc (C:).  Next, click on Users, and then on your name (or whatever you’ve named your account).  Inside this folder is AppData, but you probably can’t see it.

In Windows 7, click on Organize at the top-left of the window.  Next, click on Folder and search options, which will cause another small window to open.  Click the View tab, and then click the small circle next to Show hidden files, folders and drives.  Click OK and a bunch of folders will now appear in the window that were never visible before.

Find the folder called AppData, and right-click on it, then select Properties.  On the General tab, near the bottom, you’ll see there’s a checkmark next to Hidden.  Uncheck it, and hit OK.  A smaller window will open that gives you the option to apply this unhide action to all subfolders and files.  Make sure you click the small circle next to it, then hit OK.  Now, go back to Organize > Folder and search options > View tab > and click the small circle next to Don’t show hidden files, folders or drives.  All the other hidden folders will disappear again, but the AppData folder will remain.

Now, you need to go find a PDF file saved on your computer.  When you find one, right-click on it, then hover over Open with, and click on Choose default program.  You’ll see a Browse button at the bottom of this window, so click it.  Now, it’s time to find the Chrome.exe file, so you can set it as the defaul.

Click on Local Disc (C:) > Users > your name > AppData > Local > Google > Chrome > Application > chrome

Click on chrome and hit OK.  That window will close, leaving you back at the Open with window.  Be sure to put a checkmark next to Always use the selected program to open this kind of file, and hit OK.  That PDF will now open inside of Chrome browser, and the icons for all other PDFs will change to reflect that Chrome is now their default program.  You’re done.

Super-simple Pseudo HDR

Posted by Sumpm On April - 3 - 2011

We’ve all seen HDR photography by now.  Some of it looks absolutely awesome, while a lot is ridiculously over-processed.  Many photographers actually put time and effort into getting multiple exposures, while a lot of others (me) just take one shot and then fake it.  Why?  ‘Cause fuck it, that’s why.  I don’t have all day to edit a single photo, and I often take 10s or 100s at a time.  Fortunately, I just accidentally figured out a way to get more dynamic range, without the photo looking too horribly over-processed (in some cases).

When editing my photos, I typically use the Smart Sharpen tool in Photoshop, set to a value of 20, while leaving all other settings at default.  It works well for its intended purpose of compensating for a digital camera’s inherent lack of sharpness.  Then the other day, I decided to change a single value:  Radius.  I don’t remember the default setting, but it was fairly low.  I adjusted the slider to a value of 50.0, and suddenly my photo looked a crap-ton better.

Smart Sharpen

Click for larger image

I didn’t mess with brightness or contrast, curves, or even adjust colors.  I was so pleased with the results, I made a default action, so now I can just apply it to any photo with one click.  However, today I discovered something else… what if I do it a second time to the same photo?  The result is an HDR-ish(y) look, without all the effort.

Click for larger image

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work equally well for all photos; in fact, many come out looking completely retarded.  But for some, it works extremely well, without the super-over-processed look that some HDR photos end up with.  Obviously, opinions and results will vary, so use it at your own risk.


How to Turn an MP3 into a Podcast in iTunes

Posted by Sumpm On September - 29 - 2010

I have a ton of old radio shows that I put on my iPod, only they always go straight to the music section.  The only issue with this is, music tracks don’t hold their place when you’re in the middle of a track and skip to something else.  Starting over at the beginning of an hour-and-a-half track and skipping somewhere to the middle not only wastes time, but also puts extra stress on the battery.  Fortunately, I found a very simple way to turn those MP3 tracks into podcasts, so now I can stop in the middle of one and return later on in the same place.

(click the images below for a larger view, since it’s difficult to make them out at a small resolution)

The first thing you do is select all the files you want to convert.

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Right-click, and select ‘Get Info’ from the drop-down menu.

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If you’ve selected more than one, a prompt may come up asking you if you’re sure you want to edit more than one track at a time.  Click ‘Yes’ to continue.

In the window that opens, click the ‘Options’ tab.  Look for ‘Media Kind’.  It’ll be set to Music, so click it, and in the drop-down menu, select ‘Podcast’, then hit ‘OK’.

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That’s all there is to it.  Now go to the Podcast section of iTunes and you’ll see your tracks over there.  Sync with your iPod and you’re ready to go.

Click for larger image

Skydrive and Gladinet – Free Online Storage

Posted by Sumpm On February - 18 - 2009

A few months ago, Microsoft introduced free online file storage through their Windows Live service, called Skydrive.  In December 2008, they upgraded it from 5GB to 25GB of storage (read more here), with reports that they’ll give you even more space once you hit the 25GB limit.

Considering how much other services are charging for online storage space, Microsoft definitely gave us something great with all this free storage.  In fact, you can even use it to share photos with friends and family (or anyone, for that matter), if you’re not a Flickr user, or just have more photos to store and share than Flickr’s free account will allow.  However, as is usual with everything Microsoft does, there is a downside…

Windows Skydrive Uploader

As you can see from the picture above, you’re allowed to upload exactly 5 files at a time.  Considering many of us have digital photos–not including all our other files–in the thousands, this creates a bit of a problem.  A way around uploading 5 photos at a time would be to put multiple photos in a single zip file, and then upload 5 zip files at a time.  However, as you can also see in the above photo, no file can exceed 50MB.  Assuming each photo averages about 5MB, you’re still looking at only uploading around 50 photos at a time… and they’ll all be inside zip files, which makes sharing them and viewing them more of a hassle.

As you can probably tell, this makes using Skydrive just about useless.  It’s on par with winning the lottery, and being told you can only purchase 5 items at a time, with a max $50 limit per item.  Thanks, Microsoft, you almost got it right, once again.


Fortunately, this is where Gladinet comes to the rescue.  It’s a free utility that creates what is basically a non-existent drive on your computer–inside your My Computer folder–which they label the Z: drive.  I call it non-existent because the drive is only available while Gladinet is running, and inside it, you’re not viewing files that are saved on your hard drive, but files saved to Skydrive.

Skydrive Folder

After you install Gladinet, you’ll see a new folder inside My Computer, under Network Drives.  When you open this folder, you’ll see all the folders that are online in your Skydrive account.  The interface lets you easily browse through the folders to get to files, but even better, it lets you upload files simply by dragging and dropping as many as you like over to the Skydrive folder of your choice (i.e. Pictures, Documents, Public, etc…).

It will take some time, depending on the number of files you transfer and your upload speeds, for the process to complete, but just give it time to work.  I’ve found that it’s best to do this before bed, because it totally bogs down my internet bandwidth (the same thing happens anytime I upload to any online service).

If you’re interested in keeping track of upload progress, you can right-click on the Gladinet icon down by your system clock, and click on ‘Task Manager’…

Gladinet Menu

A new window will pop up showing total tasks, as well as progress for each file.  As you’ll see, only 5 tasks at a time will run–the same number as you’re allowed via the Skydrive Uploader like I mentioned above–but it’ll all be automated, so once each task (file upload) finishes, new ones will begin.

Gladinet Task Manager

All you have to do now is sit back (or go to bed) and wait, while Gladinet takes care of uploading your files for you.  When it’s finished, all your files can be accessed wither through the Z: drive on your computer, or via your Windows Live account.


Windows Live Skydrive:

Update:  I just discovered that you can right-click an image on a web page, go to My Computer, browse to the whichever folder on the Z: drive that you’d like, and save the image directly to Skydrive.

Disable AVG 8.0 Safe Search

Posted by Sumpm On May - 25 - 2008

I upgraded to AVG Free 8.0 yesterday and all seemed to go well.  Then while doing a typical Google search, I saw a little swirly logo to the right of every search result title.  It turned out to be a new feature in AVG 8.0 called "Safe Search", and it was scanning all the search results to verify none of the pages that Google was linking to contained harmful code.

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How to Extract a Jammed Disk

Posted by Sumpm On March - 3 - 2008

A few days ago, I popped a software disk into my DVD drive, shoved the drawer shut, and then heard a horrible banging noise.  In my haste, I apparently didn’t seat the disk properly, and it ended up at an angle inside the drive.  The banging noise was my drive’s drawer repeatedly trying to open and close as it was confused which it should do.

I shut off my computer and stuck a paperclip inside the manual over-ride for the drawer, giving myself just enough room to jam a screw driver inside in a sad attempt to knock the disk down onto the drawer.  All I ended up doing was scratching the disk to the point that it was unreadable.  No big deal since it was free software which could be downloaded from the web.  After I stopped being driven by frustration and thought the process out a little bit, I was finally able to very easily get the disk out using the following method.

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$1 Image Stabilizer for Any Camera

Posted by Sumpm On January - 29 - 2008

I just found this video and had to share it.  I have a couple cameras I use:  a Fuji S5200 and a tiny Nikon Coolpix L2.  The Fuji takes great shots, but I occasionally get blurry photos when zoomed in at 10x.  The Nikon, on the other hand, is extremely susceptible to shake, even when not using the optical zoom.  After watching this video, I’m going to have to give this little trick a shot and see how well it works with the Nikon.



12 Volt Battery Hack – Video

Posted by Sumpm On August - 21 - 2007

I don’t have any use for these tiny batteries, but I’d give it a try if I did.  Cool trick.







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