Monday, June 30, 2008

Increase your internet speed: Really useful Windows XP and Firefox bandwidth-increasing tips

Increase your internet speed (bandwidth) by 20%

Prefer video directions instead? Scroll down…

Windows holds back a large portion of your internet bandwidth as part of it's network settings. But if you're not on a corporate network, if this is your home computer, free that up for greater bandwidth. Get that extra speed by making a very quick, simple and easy change in the Windows Group Policy editor (works just like looking through your files and folders) as follows:

  1. Click START, then click RUN.
  2. Type "gpedit.msc" without the quotes, then click OK.
  3. Browse to the highlighted area shown above -- the folder you want is Computer Configuration/ Administrative Templates/ Network/ QoS Packet Scheduler in the left-hand pane (shown above) then double-click "Limit reservable bandwith" in the right-hand pane. The dialog box shown below will pop up.
  4. Click the dot (radio button) for Enabled as shown below, and in Bandwidth Limit, type or click up or down until a number between 0 and 10 is shown.
  5. Click Apply, and click your way out of the open dialog boxes: you're done!

The lower the number you enter in Bandwidth Limit (where I have entered a "1" in the image below), the faster your internet connection will be. However, "5" is probably low enough, though you can play with this number:

However, realize if the if the network card has a specific limit set on it in registry, this would have no impact on it.
Here is a video with directions and an example of speed increasing:

Increase Bandwith by 20%

Speed up Firefox

If you have a high-speed (Cable, DSL, etc.) connection this change will give you a very noticeable speed increase for larger web pages. Inside the address bar on Firefox (where web page addresses/URLs go) type this and press enter:
and then find:
and set them both to "true". This adjusts the pipelining settings. For more cool settings available in about: config, go here.)

Then find
and set it to 8, as suggested by (though you can play with this number).

Finally, right-click anywhere (on any setting) and a menu will pop out: select 'new' and then 'integer'. Copy this (without the quotes): "nglayout.initialpaint.delay" and paste it in as the name, and then set the value to "0" (zero). This removes the render delay. You should experience a BIG speed increase!

More speed tips

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Is play much more important than we realized?

One of my favorite wildlife stories is the wild (and said to be very hungry ) 1200-pound polar bear that came to play--every night for a week--with tethered sled dogs. The director of the national institute for play gives a great presentation on the event.

polar bear hugs husky sled dog in snow
Great photos, inspiring moments

German photographer and frequent National Geographic contributor Norbert Rosing took these photos, and Stuart Brown on Speaking of Faith describes the play that happened in this inspiring video. Brown is a psychiatrist who specializes in the study of the evolution of human and animal play, and the founder of the National Institute for Play.

polar bear playfully reaches out to play with dog

What's so great about play?

Brown points out (Why Didn't the Wild Polar Bear eat the Husky?) that if you've ever thrown a Frisbee with a dog, you knows playfulness is inter-species. Play can be a universal kind of training and language of trust. Knowing you are safe with another is a trust formed over time by engaging in regular play. Trust brings about intimacy, cooperation, creativity, successful work, and more.

Play is also a great way to connect when there is an age difference. In my work with kids and youth volunteers through New Reality Delivery, Improv play has shown itself as a great way of connecting and communicating as equals.

polar bear lays down and invites sled dog to play
Video (from a different situation) of this kind of playing:

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Why work hard on your photo and quit before you're finished?

I see so many photographs that show evidence of lots of effort, and yet could still use some basic adjustments. Why is that? Take this popular cute bunny and kitten photo making the rounds:

While I understand that some soft focus is cute with furry pets, bringing out the natural contrast and color (and adding a background) doesn't hurt:

And remember, this is just a quick effort from the low-res artifacted JPEG. Just think how nice it could be done from the original. I don't know if the kitten's arm over the bunny is photoshopped, but it looks that way, and the whole image is very carefully staged regardless. Why go to all that work and not finish the image?

Another quick effort on a similar photo:

If you have familiarity with Photoshop shortcuts, this can be done very quickly. A couple of custom shortcuts I use (with Ctrl-Alt-Shift) are X for Unsharp Mask, B for Gaussian Blur, and Z for High Pass Filter, which I usually desaturate and use in linear light blend mode at reduced opacity. X and Z are next to Ctrl-Alt-Shift on the keyboard, so they are very easy to use this way.

For sharpening, I typically blend a HIRLOAM layer with LAB mode lightness channel oversharpening (Ctrl-Alt-Shift-E, Alt I-M, Enter, Ctrl-1, Ctrl-Alt-Shift-X, Ctrl-~).

I often take LAB mode changes back to RGB mode, copy merged, and then go back in history before the LAB changes to paste the changes as an adjustment layer (color or luminosity blend modes, typically). Or sharpen the black channel in CMYK and take the CMYK channel into RGB mode in Luminosity blend mode.

For sharpening I will also occasionally use a highpass (sometimes with noise reduction) duplicate layer in linear or hard light on top (reduced opacity, selective masking). For the web I reduce white sharpening halos with a layer style BlendIf lightness adjustment, sometimes selectively masked with a blur or heavy noise-reduction layer.

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