Extension for creating sunburst effect in Fireworks

20110427-sunburst

For ages, I’ve been looking for an easy way to create a sunburst effect in Adobe Fireworks —because I’m lazy like that!

How delighted was I to come across this Adobe Extension recently called Sunburst by Aaron Beall:

This AutoShape creates radial sunburst patterns, with control over the inner/outer radius, the number of rays and the spacing between rays. You can add a single gradient fill and get a nice, feathered edge.

Decoding driver versions

I’ve never had a great deal of success with my PCs at work. I’m currently on my 5th machine and even this one isn’t behaving itself.

Graphics cards issues

The issue appears to be to do with my graphics cards.  I have two running under Windows 7 Professional (64-bit):

  • NVIDIA Quadro FX 1400
  • NVIDIA Quadro NVS 285

And every couple of days when I boot up my PC at the start of the day I get a Blue Screen of Death complaining that there is an issue with my graphics card.

Of course, it took Windows 7 about 6 months of doing this before it gave me a clue that it was related to my graphics card.

So this morning I took the plunge and upgraded my graphics card drivers. After the post-install reboot everything appears to be OK; even the NVIDIA Control Panel is working again, which is good.

Versions

But the thing that often confuses me is the numbering system of a lot of hardware drivers.

For example, today I downloaded “Quadro driver release 265”, which also describes itself as “version 267.17” but once installed Windows reports that version “8.17.12.6717” has been installed.

Which is a bit like running the installer for version “banana” and then discovering that version “coconut-chipshop-apple-hamster” has been successfully installed.

Why do hardware manufacturers do this? Aren’t computers complicated enough? All I wanted to do was to make sure that the drivers had updated successfully.

It took a minute or two of staring at the two groups of numbers and a little Googling to discover this:

  • Installer version 267.17
  • Installed version: 8.17.12.6717

There are the installer version numbers at the end of the installed version numbers.

How obvious!

Dates

At least the dates should be the same, shouldn’t they?

  • Installer release date: 02 March 2011
  • Installed driver date: 17 February 2011
  • Release notes date: 22 February 2011

Maybe I should just go back to using my Psion 5mx for everything.

Problems activating Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3

Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3

A couple of weeks ago I decided to upgrade my photo editing application to the latest version: Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3. However, I ran into a fairly fundamental problem: I couldn’t get it to activate.

It was a couple of days before I went to Glen ’10 (the Scottish Episcopal Church’s summer youth camp) when I realised that I didn’t have a photo editing package on my laptop (which I’d be using to produce the daily newspaper at Glen) and being a good boy and not wanting to violate the license terms by installing my old copy on more than one PC I decided to upgrade and obtain a shiny new license for my laptop.

Corel offer two “delivery methods” for PaintShop Photo Pro X3: download or DVD.  I needed it fast so rather than waiting for a disc to arrive in the post I selected the download option.

But that’s where the troubles began!

I purchased the software, downloaded it, installed it, ran it and this is what I saw when I clicked on the Activate now button:

PaintShop Photo Pro X3 activation window is blank
PaintShop Photo Pro X3 activation window … hmm, something is wrong here.

Erm … ok.  I had a blank dialog window and nothing that I did would get me past that.  I then wasted a couple of hours fruitlessly surfing the Web looking for a solution. But nothing I tried would activate it.

How frustrating!

Corel Support – excellent customer support

I quickly got on to Corel Support, initially demanding my money but their customer support was so good, and I eventually calmed down about it (!), that I gratefully accepted their help.  Even though this was now the week after Glen ’10 had finished!  This was now the week after the week that I actually needed the program!

I got a call from a support advisor who walked me through the activate by phone option.

“Could you please read out the long installation code on that dialog?”

“It’s blank,” I said.

“Ok, you must be using Windows Vista or Windows 7 then,” she said. “Windows must be blocking the installation code.  We’ll send you a DVD in the post.”

A couple of days later I received a DVD in the post.  Using the DVD Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 installed in minutes with no online activation required.

What I learned

  1. I need to plan further ahead when preparing for Glen ’11 and check that I have all the software I need on my laptop, and not just do two nights before I leave!
  2. Don’t send support calls when you are really tired and grumpy from failing to activate your new software for a couple of hours. Go to bed, sleep on it, then contact them.
  3. Don’t select the download delivery method the next time!  Almost every time I’ve selected the Corel download method I’ve ran into problems, not just with PaintShop Pro (as it was then) but with other Corel applications too.  From now on I’ll go for DVD only.