Folders trick in Windows XP

Screenshot of my music folder in thumbnails view showing images of album covers
Now my Queen album MP3s are easier to find than when they were all in yellow folders.

Here’s something cool that I didn’t know until today — and me that knows everything! hehe ;): if you place an image file in a folder in Windows XP and rename the image file folder.jpg and then view the parent folder in Thumbnails view each folder shows the image file in the middle of the large yellow folder icon. Which is great for quickly finding music folders, for example. (See screenshot above.)

Finding the right font

Logo for Identifont website

The Identifont website has come to the rescue this evening as I’ve been retyping a few of the documents I lost when I accidentally trashed my hard drive in September of last year.

The idea is simple. You answer a number of questions about the font you’re looking for based on what the various glyphs (characters) look like and it will attempt to identify the font for you.

So, for example, the first question is “What type of tail does the upper-case ‘Q’ have? (Ignore the shape of the tail.)”:

  • Crosses the circle.
  • Touches the circle.
  • Below and separated from the circle.
  • Tail extends or lies inside circle.
  • Circle is open, tail part of same stroke.
  • Not sure.

As you progress through the questionnaire Identifont gives an update on how close it is to finding a possible match, eg “2441 candidates. Approximately eleven more questions.”

The documents I’ve been re-typing are for our holiday cottage in Cellardyke. Foolishly I’d not taken a back-up, but thankfully I did have a hard-copy of the Booking Form and Prices Summary Sheet and after trawling three times through my list of installed fonts I gave up and called on the help of Identifont, which after about 12 questions — and my squinting closely at the print-out — suggested that it might be one of

  • Gill Display Compressed
  • Gill Sans Condensed
  • Jigsaw Light
  • EF Lucida Casual T
  • Tantalus

“Ahhh … Gill Sans!” I exclaimed. “That’s it!”

It wasn’t.

But it was GillSans Light, a Type 1 Adobe font. Identifont had correctly identified the font family, which was a great help.

Thanks go to James Frost who first showed me the Identifont website.

Festive fireplace


Another photo of our Christmas decorations, this time our festive fireplace. Let’s just pray that it doesn’t go up in flames this year.

Not that it’s ever gone up in flames, but it’s a good thing to wish for, none-the-less.

You may notice that one of the ‘Christmas tree’ bulbs wound around the greenery is green (right-hand top corner of the mantlepiece). This replaced a bulb that had blown. Rather than using the ye olde tried-and-tested method of systematically replacing each and every bulb until you get to the one that’s gone I went to my toolbox and got out my pen-like voltage detector. (below)

A red, pen-like electrical-signal scanner.
My red, pen-like MK live-wire detector. Bought at B&Q, in exchange for money.

This is a small, handheld device that is usually used to check for electrical signals behind walls, bleeping and flashing when it detects an AC current. It occured to me that this might also work in detecting where the circuit was broken on these Christmas tree lights.

I started scanning at the plug end and followed the wire up and along the mantlepiece. Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, then nothing! I replaced the bulb at the point that the beeping had stopped and hey presto! (or any other 1980s UK supermarket chain) the lights worked.

My little festive tip for you all there.

Rapidly square any number ending in 5

Book cover for Rapid Math Tricks and TipsA couple of days ago I blogged about this book: Rapid Math Tricks and Tips: 30 Days to Number Power by Edward H. Julius (Wiley, 1992) ISBN 0-471-57563-1. I’ve had quite a few people saying how fun that last tip was (multiplying by 99). Here’s my favourite trick of all in the first book: how to square any number that ends in 5. (Remember that the symbol (^) means raise to the power, so 5^2 is 5 raised to the power of 2, or 5 x 5.)

Here’s what Edward H. Julius has to say:

Strategy: This trick is one of the oldest in the book, and one of the best! To square a number that ends in 5,

  1. first multiply the tens digit by the next whole number.
  2. To that product, affix the number 25.

The number to affix (25) is easy to remember, because 5^2 = 25. Although a calculation such as 7.5 x 750 is technically not a square, it too can be solved using this technique. This trick will also work for numbers with more than two digits.

For example: 15^2:

  1. Multiply the tens digit (1) by the next whole number (2): 1 x 2 = 2.
  2. Affix 25 to that answer: 225 (the answer).

Another example, 65^2:

  1. Multiply 6 x 7 = 42
  2. Affix 25: 4,225 (the answer)

How about, 450^2:

  1. Ignore the zero and think 45^2
  2. Multiply 4 x 5 = 20
  3. Affix 25: 2025
  4. For each zero initially disregarded in a squaring problem two must eventually be affixed to obtain the product.
  5. Affird two zeros to the end: 202,500.

And what about the not-squared problem? This method only works if the two numbers have the same digits, eg 65 x 6.5 or 950 x 9.5 but not 65 x 3.5. So for 65 x 6.5:

  1. Disregard the decimal point for now
  2. Multiply 6 x 7 = 42
  3. Affix 25: 4225
  4. Applying a test of reasonableness you can see that 65 x 5 would be 325, so x 6.5 must be between 325 and 650 (which is 65 x 10). So re-inserting the decimal point gives the answer: 422.5.

How cool is that! Now, go buy the book! It’s only £6.96 at Amazon UK.

I can now multiply quickly by 99

Book cover for Rapid Math Tricks and TipsLast night I was making some space on my shelves for a couple of books on PHP and MySQL that I’d got back from my friend Mike when I came across this book: Rapid Math Tricks and Tips: 30 Days to Number Power by Edward H. Julius (Wiley, 1992) ISBN 0-471-57563-1.

I’ve always loved maths; maybe something to do with Dad having been a draughtsman and electrical engineer. At high school the only Certificate of Sixth Year Studies (CSYS) I took was in Maths, Paper II: Calculus. I really wish that I’d had this book while I was at school. It’s brilliant!

The book is a 30-day self-teaching guide designed to help you master common maths problems without a calculator. It uses tips and techniques to teach the basics of multiplication, division, subtraction and addition as well as estimation and more advanced techniques.

Last night I learned in less than five minutes how to “Rapidly multiply any one- or two-digit number by 99 (or 0.99, 0.0, 990, etc.)”. Here’s how:

  1. Subtract 1 from the number to obtain the left-hand portion of the answer
  2. Then subtract the number from 100 to obtain the right-hand portion

For example, 15 x 99:

  1. Subtract: 15 – 1 = 14 (left-hand portion of the answer)
  2. Subtract: 100 – 15 = 85 (right-hand portion of the answer)
  3. Combine: 1,485 is the answer

Another example, 430 x 0.99:

  1. Disregard the zero and decimal point, and subtract: 43 – 1 – 42 (left-hand portion of the answer)
  2. Subtract: 100 – 43 = 57 (right-hand portion of the answer)
  3. Combine: 4,257 (intermediary product)
  4. Apply Test of Reasonableness: 0.99 is almost 1, so 430 x 0.99 must equal just under 430. Insert a decimal point within the intermediary product to obtain the answer, 425.7.

How cool is that!