Welcome to the 478th issue of the PC Improvement News. PCIN consists mainly
of news highlights and tips. There is something for everyone, and if this is
your first issue, I'm sure there will be something for you. If you give me
two or three issues, I know that you will come back for more!
As I mentioned last week, I'm on vacation this week. We've spent the week
so far working on our bathroom. We've replaced the bathtub and had to deal
with all of the unexpected things that go along with that. Actually, it's been
easier than I thought and it looks good.
Tomorrow we are going to stay at a hotel in Niagara Falls. We've never stayed
there before, but it is a nice-looking hotel, so hopefully it meets our expectations.
The kids are going with us, so Andrew gets Friday off school.
Speaking of school, after this week there is only 1 week left of school, and
then the Christmas break starts. We still have a lot of presents to get. We'd
better get a move on!
Like a first love or a first car, a first computer can hold a special place
in people's hearts. For millions of kids who grew up in the 1980s, that first
computer was the Commodore 64. Twenty-five years later, that first brush
with computer addiction is as strong as ever.
"There was something magical about the C64," says Andreas Wallstrom
of Stockholm, Sweden.
He remembers the day he first laid eyes on his machine back in 1984.
"My father brought it home together with a tape deck, a disk drive, a printer,
and a couple of games... I used to sneak home during lunch to play [on it] with
my friends." Learn about the components of the C64 system...
Wallstrom is the webmaster and designer for C64.com, a Web site dedicated
to preserving the games, demos, pictures, magazines and memories of the Commodore
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has said teachers who refuse students access
to the site are "bad educators".
Speaking at the Online Information conference at London's Olympia, he dismissed
the long-running controversy over the site's authority.
He said he now thinks that students should be able to cite the online encyclopaedia
in their work.
Previously, Mr Wales believed that the website, which is edited by users,
lacked the authority for academic work.
As long as an article included accurate citations, he said he had "no
problem" with it being used as a reference for students, although academics
would "probably be better off doing their own research".
"You can ban kids from listening to rock 'n' roll music, but they're going
to anyway," he added. "It's the same with information, and it's a bad
educator that bans their students from reading Wikipedia."
No one would set a scrapbook filled with pictures and memories on the tombstone
of a loved one. But what about a high-tech, weatherproof version, with digital
images powered by a solar cell?
That innovation is available now - but finding customers so far has proven
"haven't sold any," said Doug Ellis of Riverview Monuments, who has
been offering the so-called "serenity panel" system for about $2,000
One of my co-workers, John, received a Christmas card this week and asked
me how he could replicate the image on the card. The image was a black and
white photo with a colour Christmas wreath hanging from a bridge and a river
running under the bridge in a pastel blue. This is easy to do using a few tools
I have talked about it the past, layers, opacity and layer masks.
In both Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Photoshop, the process is almost
identical, and very easy in both programs. Below are the instructions:
Duplicate the background layer of your image. To do this, right click on
the background layer in the layers palette and choose duplicate layer.
In Photoshop - Create a channels adjustment layer and convert the image
to black and white
In Photoshop Elements - Convert the duplicate layer to black and
white (CTRL-ALT-B) Create a layer mask on the black and white layer
you created. You can install a utility to enable layer masks for Photoshop
With the layer mask selected, select a brush and pick the black colour
from the colour selector.
Next, set the opacity of the brush quite low, 10 or 15%. This will let
you paint the colour back in to selected areas in small increments.
Painting successively over the same area will paint the colour back into
the image more and more with each successive stroke.
If you restore colour to a selection of the image you still want to remain
in colour, change your brush colour to white and paint back over the area
you wish to remain in black and white.
The layer masks blocks the effect of the black and white layer, where you
have painted black on the layer mask, the effect is blocked and as I already
mentioned, setting the opacity of the brush lets you work in small increments
for better control.
If you do not want to add the colour back in from the original image, but
wish to paint your own colours in, then follow points 1 and 2 above then create
a new layer and on that layer, again using a low opacity brush, paint the colours
you want. One final step when painting this way is to change the blending mode
of your layer to overlay which will make your colours transparent and let the
image below show through your colour.
There are many ways in which you can uses these techniques. A little imagination
and creativity can open up a new layer of your own photography.
The digital photography tip of the week is written by
the PCIN Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Chris is a long time photographer
and is currently the President of the Niagara
Falls Camera Club. You can see more of his photography at his Photo
of the Day website.
If you have a tip to send Chris, or a question about digital photography
he can address in the newsletter, send it to email@example.com.
PCIN.net Site Update
Check out these new or updated pages on the PCIN.net site:
The package includes the DivX Pro codec, the DivX file converter, content
upload, video player and web player. The free download comes in Mac and
Windows flavors. You'll need to enter your email address to get a free
I've downloaded and registered my copies of all 3 titles... have you?
Sure, we love iPods, TiVo, and fancy-schmancy digital cameras, just like
everyone else. But let's talk about advances that make a difference where
it really counts: in the PC.
While myriad best-of lists have ranked the greatest gadgets, software
products, and videogames ever made, here we turn our attention to advances
that have impacted the development, enjoyment, and raw power of the personal
PCIN is brought to you by Graham Wing. The opinions expressed are those of
the Editor, Graham Wing and the Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Graham Wing
and Chris Empey accept no responsibility for the results obtained from trying
the tips in this newsletter.
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