You’d think everyone in computing knows about ClearType. Everyone does, except my occasionally not-too-swift editor, bless her heart. (Did you ever notice how you can insult someone, say “bless her heart,” and you’re off the hook? Try it sometime.)
She just sent me this note:
“I finally bought a new notebook, a nifty ThinkPad T61. But I didn’t research the graphics specs on this wide-screen notebook, just naively assumed the resolution would be comparable to the older notebook. Well, it’s much lower–only 1280 by 800. The pixilated text is a serious bummer…. I seem to recall hearing about a text-smoothing app for just such cases. Do you recall this?”
I’ve written about ClearType at least a dozen times, but sometimes when editors edit, they miss what they’re reading.
Clearing Up ClearType
ClearType is an essential feature of XP (which is turned off by default) and Vista (on by default) that makes the fonts on LCD monitors sharper and clearer. Some people say it also works on CRTs. I’m not sure it does, but there’s no harm in trying.
Here’s how to get to turn it on: Right-click the desktop, choose Properties, Appearance, Effects, then check “Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts,” and select ClearType from the drop-down list. Click OK twice.
I recommend, though, that you fine-tune ClearType. There’s a quick summary on how to do it in You Oughta Be Using ClearType. That blog also has an interesting comment about Linux and ClearType.
If you’re curious about the history of ClearType, read Steve Gibson’s The Distant Origins of Sub-Pixel Font Rendering.
BTW, if you’re recently picked up a machine with Vista, you might look over our Windows Vista FAQ–which includes info on ClearType.
Take a break: You’re missing out on something worthwhile if you think text messaging is just for 16-year olds. Learn more here: 10 Killer Texting Tricks.
Fix “Folder Opens Upon Boot” Hassle
In might be the phase of the moon, but a couple of readers e-mailed asking why a folder pops open every time they boot up.
There are a few reasons it could happen, but it’s usually a corrupt Registry Entry. If you’re facing the problem, get the background–and maybe the solution–by reading two of my Hassle-Free PC columns. Start with “Program Folder Opens at Startup” in Simple Fixes for Hard Drive and Folder Annoyances and “Pinch a Persistent Folder” in Got XP Annoyances? Try These Four Smart Fixes for Windows Woes.
Or you could try a nifty little tool called Foldey Freeware. The program will attempt to find the errant Registry entry (most times a string that’s not wrapped in quotes) and correct it. There’s no installation–just download and unzip the tool, and then run it.
But listen, play it safe: Set a Restore Point before running Foldey Freeware–or, in fact, any program that fiddles with the Registry.
Quick aside: What’s a Restore Point? Funny you should ask… I just got the same question from my editor. I’ll answer in full next week, but for now I’ll tell you that it’s a Windows XP applet that backs up and restores the Registry. From the Start menu, head for Help and Support and choose “Undo changes to your computer with System Restore” to call up the System Restore Wizard. Choose “Create a restore point” and you’re set. (Stuck with Vista? Read BleepingComputer.com’s tutorial.)
Tune in next week for more details, plus tips.
That’s all the productivity you’re going to get from me this week. The rest of this newsletter is dedicated to time wasters.
Even cats say it: “You never listen, do you?” Watch these two videos in order: Cat Talking, then Cat Talking, Translation.
Take a gander at these clever ads.
The year was 1918 and it took 18,000 men to create this human Statue of Liberty.
If you’ve got a spare 7 minutes, watch A Gentlemen’s Duel, a very cool animation from the creative minds at Blur Studio. Fair warning: This isn’t necessarily for kids.
It’s silly, I know, but sometimes when I’m on a conference call and an editor’s endlessly talking about who-knows-what, I want to take a cursor and, well, see for yourself.
Interactive Flash creations, no matter how weird, are ideal to while away the time. From the site with the cursor and the guy in the white shorts, try Creatures and Hello Piexl.
Steve Bass writes PC World‘s monthly “Hassle-Free PC” column and is the author of “PC Annoyances, 2nd Edition: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Your Personal Computer,” available from O’Reilly. He also writes PC World’s daily Tips & Tweaks blog. Sign up to have Steve’s newsletter e-mailed to you each week. Comments or questions? Send Steve e-mail.