windows

How To Convert ZX Spectrum Programs From Cassette Tape To TZX Files

How To Transfer ZX Spectrum Programs From Cassette Tape To Computer TZX Files

This article describes an effective method to transfer ZX Spectrum programs from cassette tape to a computer and  convert those files for storage in the TZX file format.

C15 Computer Cassette

ZX Spectrum Programs Stored on a WH Smith C15 Computer Cassette

Once preserved as TZX files, ZX Spectrum programs can be enjoyed on modern hardware capable of running ZX Spectrum emulators.


About This Guide:

This file transfer and conversion guide is based on a PC running Windows 10 in conjunction with the MakeTZX decoding engine by Ramsoft.

It records the steps I took to salvage all of my ZX Spectrum BASIC programs from tape that I wrote in the early eighties.

Hopefully, in following this guide, you should avoid the stumbling blocks I encountered and save yourself a lot of wasted time.

You are advised to read through this document in full before commencing in order to understand the process and gather the materials you need.

Enjoy this archiving process and looking through your old code!

Good luck!


1. What You Will Need To Transfer ZX Spectrum Programs From Cassette Tape To Your Computer And Convert Them To The TZX File Format

  1. A cassette tape containing ZX Spectrum games / programs.
  2. A cassette tape player with an amplified output connection; a headphone socket or similar.
  3. A computer running Windows or a Linux operating system. The computer must have a Line-In connector.
  4. A suitable cable to connect your cassette tape player to the Line-In connector on your PC.
  5. Ramsoft’s MakeTZX  software, appropriate for your operating system.
  6. Software to analyze and edit audio wave files.
  7. A ZX Spectrum emulator for your operating system.

1.1 Cassette Tape Containing ZX Spectrum Programs

Your cassette tape may be more than three decades old if it has had the good fortune of surviving from the early eighties. Certainly, you need to treat it with care as it is unlikely that you will have the data it contains  backed up on another tape.

Assess the condition of the cassette and the tape itself by inserting a pen into one of the spools and rotating it in the direction of normal tape transport. Repeat the process with the pen in the second spool to transport the tape in the opposite direction. Before proceeding, look for loops of tape that may have been thrown off the wound spools during storage.

Ensure the tape is wound properly on both spools before inserting it into a cassette tape player.

Turning a Cassette Tape Spool With a Pen

Turning a Cassette Tape Spool With A Pen

With the cassette inserted in a cassette tape player, fast forward the tape fully to one end, then rewind the tape completely.

1.2 Selection Of Cassette Tape Player

I found this to be the largest obstacle in achieving reliable data transfer from tape to computer. Why?

  • Households today are no longer abundant with cassette tape players, so choice is limited.
  • More recent cassette deck technology, that was not around in the eighties, may interfere with the signal being played back. Disable features such as Loudness, Mega Bass, DSGX, EQ, etc…
Disable Modern Features Such as Mega Bass

Disable Modern Features Such As Mega Bass

  • Less expensive cassette players may be built from cheap electronic parts that introduce noise and cause errors during data transfer. This particular issue cost me lots of time during this project. Shown below is an example of DC offset and noise caused by a poor tone control circuit of a cassette player that I tried to use.
Signal Errors | DC Offset and Noise

Signal Errors | DC Offset and Noise

  • Avoid using a hi-fi separate cassette deck without an amplifier. The output is unlikely to have sufficient and controllable gain on its own for good data transfer.
AKAI Stereo Cassette Deck HX-1

AKAI Stereo Cassette Deck HX-1

1.3 Identify The Line-In Connection Of Your Computer

Computer Line-In connections are typically made to accept 3.5mm stereo jacks.

Computer Line-In Connection

Computer Line-In Connection

Line-In connections are normally labelled on your computer and are therefore relatively easy to identify. Examine your computer / motherboard manual if you are unsure of the location.

1.4 Connect The Cassette Deck To Your Computer

Using a suitable cable, connect your cassette tape player to the Line-In connection of your computer.

3.5 mm Stereo Phono Jack Cable and Adapter Plug

3.5 mm Stereo Phono Jack Cable And Adapter Plug

It is best to connect to an amplified output of the cassette deck so that signal levels can be adjusted with the volume control prior to data transfer. The headphone socket is usually a good choice.

Headphone Socket to Line-In

Headphone Socket To Line-In

You may require phone jack adapters or a cable with specific jacks to enable the connection.

1.5 Download The MakeTZX Software

Visit Romsoft’s MakeTZX Homepage and download the appropriate software for your system.

Versions of MakeTZX are available for Windows, DOS, Linux x86 and Amiga from the MakeTZX Download Center.

If you have a Windows operating system, download the two compressed files, MakeTZX and WinGUI.

Download Both MakeTZX Files for Windows Operating Systems

Download Both MakeTZX Files For Windows Operating Systems

Uncompress both zip files. This will result in two separate folders. Then, move / copy the contents of one folder to the other so that all the following files are contained in one folder.

Merge The Contents of Both Folders | MakeTKZ Windows

Merge The Contents of Both Folders | MakeTKZ Windows

Make a note of the folder’s name or rename the folder if you prefer. This will be your working folder. This software requires no installation and can be run directly from this folder.

The file mtzxwgui.exe is a Windows graphical user interface designed to simplify configuration of the DOS-based sampler and TZX encoder, maketzx.exe

The file mtzxman.htm is the user manual for MakeTZX and can be viewed in your default web browser by double-clicking it.

1.6 Audio / Wave Editor

Although not essential, it is beneficial to have an audio / wave editor installed on your computer to assist with signal analysis, fault finding and editing.

Audacity is free, open source, cross platform software for recording and editing sounds. Audacity will run on Windows, Linux, Mac and other operating systems. It is highly recommended.

1.7 ZX Spectrum Emulator

There are many, free ZX Spectrum emulators available for all types of hardware and operating systems.

Recommended ZX Emulators:-

Download the ZX Spectrum Emulator – Spectacol – Android Apps from the Google Play store.

Download FUSE – ZX Spectrum Emulator for Linux, Windows, OS X and many other operating system.

Alternatively, use your favorite ZX Spectrum emulator. Just make sure that it is able to load TZX files.


2. How To Use MakeTZX To Transfer ZX Spectrum Files From Cassette Tape To Your Computer And Convert Them To TZX Files

2.1 MakeTZX Help File

The help file, mtzxman.htm,  as described in Step 1.5, is comprehensive and explains everything you need to know about MakeTZX. You may need to refer to this document if the conversion process fails at some point.

2.2 MakeTZX | Sampling Your Cassette Tape & TZX Encoding

Double click mtzxwgui.exe to launch the Graphical User Interface (GUI).

Enter a name for your Output file (TZX), i.e. OUTPUT.

Enable DirectMode and check Save WAV file.

Change the sampling rate to 48000 Hz.

DirectMode means that MakeTZX will use the Line Input of your sound card to capture and convert the input signal in real time.

MakeTZX WinGUI | Configuration for Sampling and Encoding

MakeTZX WinGUI | Configuration for Sampling and Encoding

Press the Start button. This will launch maketzx.exe in a console window with the configuration set in the GUI.

Upon launch, you are invited to set the input signal level from the cassette tape player to an appropriate level; a level high enough to have a good signal to noise ratio but not so high that signal clipping (distortion) occurs. Press Play on your cassette tape player and you should start to see the signal strength of the recording displayed dynamically on the text-based vu-meters.

MakeTZX VU Meters

MakeTZX VU Meters

Adjust the volume of the cassette tape player so that the signal strength is high but does not exceed the text Volume] within the vu-meter.  Signal strength greater than this will result in clipping and is detrimental to data transfer.

Once you are satisfied with the signal levels, Stop and Rewind the tape.

With the console window selected, press Return to start the sampling and conversion. Now press Play on the cassette tape player.

MakeTZX will now search for pilot header tones and data as the tape recording is played back. Details of program headers, and data blocks will be reported as the cassette tape plays. It is recommended to keep the cassette tape playing until you are certain that no more data exists on the tape. At that point, press Stop on the cassette tape player and with the console window selected, press a key to terminate sampling.

The output in the console window should look something like this:

MakeTZX Console Window

MakeTZX Console Window

The information displayed includes where data blocks start and stop, header lengths, the gap duration between data blocks (in milliseconds), program names, data files (“Bytes”) and any errors encountered.

At this point it is worth noting down these details by either copying the text in the console window to a text file or by capturing the console output as an image for reference later.

Notice that two files have been generated in your working folder; one is an uncompressed audio recording of the playback  (.wav file) and the other is a .tzx file.

MakeTZX Output Files

MakeTZX Output Files

Opting to save a digitized audio file is beneficial in removing any encountered errors without the need to re-sample from the cassette tape again. Details are provided towards the end of this document in section 2.5.

2.3 Testing The TZX File

TZX files store programs and data in the same sequential order that they were stored on cassette tape.

If a file association exists between your ZX Spectrum emulator and the extension .tzx, double-clicking a TZX file should open your ZX Spectrum emulator and then load the first program it encounters.

If no association exists, open your ZX Spectrum emulator, File > Open > your.tzx will load and run the first program in the sequence of programs.

If you want to load a program other than the first, open your ZX Spectrum emulator and go to Media > Tape > Open

Select the TZX file.

With the ZX Spectrum emulator window selected, press J , Ctrl+P, Your Program Name, Ctrl+P

This results in:

LOAD “Your Program Name and the flashing L cursor.

ZX Spectrum LOAD Program

ZX Spectrum LOAD Program

Press Return to load your program.

2.4 One TZX File For One Program

If you would prefer to make a TZX file for just program, this can be achieved by either:

  • Re-sampling that one program from cassette tape.
  • Cutting the program data from the digital audio file and submitting that data to maketzx.exe to make a new TZX file.

I found the latter to be the easiest and fastest method as it is time consuming to position the cassette tape accurately to sample a program mid-tape.

Using your preferred audio editor, load your sampled audio (.wav) file.

ZX Spectrum Programs & Data Sampled From Cassette Tape By MakeTZX

ZX Spectrum Programs & Data Sampled From Cassette Tape By MakeTZX

Using the output that you saved  earlier from the maketzx console window, you should be able to determine where your program resides in the wave form, based on the gaps between data blocks.

Highlight the section of the wave form that you wish to save and File > Save Selection As… to save an audio file of your selected program.

Alternatively, rename your file then delete portions of the wave form you don’t need until you are left with your program data.

Tip! Remember that a header precedes any program or data block and all associated data needs to be saved. The example below depicts two ZX Spectrum programs as audio waves. The top trace consists of a program header, which contains the name of the program. It is then followed by the program itself. This is a typical example of a simple ZX Spectrum BASIC program.

The bottom trace is one program but is more complex than the previous example as it consists of many data blocks and headers:-

  • Program header containing the name of the program
  • A short BASIC loader
  • A bytes header
  • Binary data (this could be a full screen picture, graphics data or machine code)
  • Program header
  • Program data
  • Bytes header
  • Binary data

All of these need to be selected to produce a working TZX file.

ZX Spectrum Data

ZX Spectrum Data

Launch the MakeTZX Win GUI and press the Browse button. Choose the modified audio file that you wish to convert. Ensure DirectMode is Disabled and click Start.

MakeTZX Win GUI Convert Audio File

MakeTZX Win GUI Convert Audio File

MakeTZX will then convert your audio file to a TZX file and output the details in the console window.

MakeTZX | One Program One TZX File

MakeTZX | One Program One TZX File

Test the generated TZX file by double clicking it or by loading it as tape media in your ZX Spectrum emulator.

2.5 MakeTZX | Removing Errors

MakeTZX incorporates an arsenal of powerful digital filters that are able to rectify many of the problems found on old tapes. The filters are explained in detail in section 11 of the user manual.

R Tape loading error, 0:1

R Tape loading error, 0:1

If you encounter a R Tape loading error, 0:1, load the wave file into MakeTZX WinGUI and enable the Digital Filter with the default settings. Ensure DirectMode is disabled then press Start to generate a new TZX file.

MakeTZX Digital Filter Enabled

MakeTZX Digital Filter Enabled

Refer to the accompanying documentation to determine what digital filters could work for your situation.

Also note that if you are attempting to transfer and convert a commercial game with this method, check Autodetect loader to circumvent the multitude of protection schemes that were used to prevent piracy.

If all else fails, re-sample the cassette tape recording with a different output level.

Kodi Not Scraping

Kodi Not Scraping

If the System Attribute flag is set on a Windows folder containing a movie, TV shows or music, then Kodi (XBMC) and Mediaportal will fail to register that these folders even exist during a scrape. This means that media inside them will not show in the integrated file managers and will be missing from the relevant media libraries. These folders are simply ignored during scrapes.

This problem seems to be specific to the Windows operating system. Scraping the same media from a Linux-based Kodi installation will work perfectly.

My Specific Problem

I have three media centres around the house, all being fed by a Synology Network Attached Storage (NAS) that stores all my media files. Two machines have Kodi installations on Linux operating systems. The main machine has a Kodi and Mediaportal installation on Windows 7 64-bit. On this machine, access to the NAS media is obtained by a network mounted drive under a local drive letter, “Y:”. That drive source has been added to Kodi and Mediaportal.

Initially, the addition of new media to the NAS caused no problems until I began to use a computer running Ubuntu to rename media files before moving those files to the appropriate folders on the network attached drive.

FileBot, the file renaming tool for Linux-based operating systems, seemed to be causing the problem by generating the Windows System attribute on renamed folders.

Although the two Kodi installations on Linux were able to scrape this new media successfully, the Windows installations of Kodi and Mediaportal were unsuccessful. The video files were missing from media libraries and could not be seen in the file managers. Windows explorer however, showed the folders and their contained files. The folders were there in the directory listing but were being ignored during the scraping process.

Solution

1) Go through the steps outlined in  the Kodi wiki for Incorrect and Missing Videos.

2) Determine if the System Attribute flag is on for missing videos:

By default, folder and file attributes are not displayed in Windows Explorer, but they can be enabled quite easily. Navigate to your media library. Right click on the column header and select Attributes. If Attributes is not visible, click on More… and select it from the list.

File Attributes Enabled in Windows Explorer

File Attributes Enabled in Windows Explorer

Look down your list of folders while paying attention to the attributes column on the right. Identify the folders that have the System attribute switched on. This will be denoted with an “S”.

The basic attributes list:

  • R – Read Only
  • H – Hidden
  • A – Archived
  • S – System
  • D – Directory

3) Deselect the System Attribute flag on folders:

There are two ways to remove the System Attribute flag on a folder.

i) The first way is to use the DOS command attrib in an elevated cmd window to change file and folder attributes. Due to the complexity and length of some of my file paths, I opted not to use this and use the next option instead.

ii) Download Attribute Changer, a very useful tool to do the work with just a few simple clicks.

Once installed, a simple right click on a folder or file displays the option to Change Attributes…

Selecting this option and then the Folder Properties tab shows the available attributes that can be removed or added.

Remove the folder’s System Attribute flag by unticking System in the Folder Properties tab. Click OK.

Refresh the directory listing to ensure that the flag has been removed.

Launch Kodi or Mediaportal to update your media library.

References:-

Tech Support Forum – Folders Stuck On Read Only

Speed Up DNS Propagation

Speed Up DNS Propagation by Ensuring DNS Cache is Purged

DNS Propagation Taking Too Long | DNS Replication Problems | How To Clear DNS Cache | DNS Troubleshooting | DNS Benchmarking | Changing DNS Provider

Modified DNS entries can take hours or even days to replicate across the internet. And often, this delay can be extended unnecessarily by old DNS cache residing on your computer and slow, Public DNS servers.

This article details the checks you should perform after updating DNS records to ensure that cached DNS lists and slow-to-refresh Public DNS  servers are not misdirecting your browser and causing unwanted delays.

This article is useful in these circumstances:-

  1. Moving a web site from one host to another: When name servers or DNS records have been updated to point your domain to a new hosting company. The hosting company confirms that the DNS transfer is complete and that your site is working normally but your domain name still directs to your previous host and old website.
  2. Pointing a domain name to a website: When name servers and DNS records have been set to point your new domain name to your new web site. You are still waiting for DNS records to propagate throughout the world’s networks for your new web site domain name to be resolved.
  3. Troubleshooting a problem with DNS.
  4. Learning how to clear your DNS cache.
  5. Making browsing speed faster. You could benefit by changing your ISP’s default DNS servers.
  6. Benchmarking DNS servers in order to choose the one optimal for you.

What is DNS?

The Domain Name System (or Service or Server) is a look-up table that resolves internet web addresses like Facebook to their respective IP address, i.e. 173.252.110.27 – the backbone on which computers are able to connect and communicate.

Without a DNS directory, we would all have to remember meaningless numbers instead of easy-to-remember names.

When a web address is requested in a browser, it’s equivalent IP address is sought by these steps and in this order.

1. Local hosts File

On a Windows Operating System, the hosts file in:

c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\

is the first port of call. If the web address is recorded in that file with a corresponding IP address, then the browser will be directed and the search ends there.

2. Locally Cached DNS

If there is no record of that web address in the hosts file, then locally cached DNS is searched next. This can be stored on the computer itself and / or inside the router. If a suitable record exists in stored DNS cache, the search will conclude there and the browser will be  directed to that stored IP address.

Some routers are capable of storing a cached copy of Domain Name System lists. If one does exist, this cache will be the next list to be searched to enable fast interpretation of the web address, instead of requesting that data from a Public DNS.

3. Public DNS

Only when the previous two steps cannot be fulfilled does the request go to a Public DNS to resolve the web address to an IP address.

How Web Addresses are Resolved with a Domain Name System

How a Web Address is Resolved to an IP Address with DNS

 

How to Clear Cached DNS

Follow these steps to ensure that you are not waiting unnecessarily for DNS replication and propagation after updating DNS records and name servers of your website.

Check the hosts file

It is always worth checking your hosts file in notepad to see if there have been any redirects added in the past that you may have forgotten about – or indeed, not known about.

Tip! notepad has to be opened with Administrative privileges if you are going to make any changes to your hosts file.

If there is a reference in your hosts file to your problematic site, then  make a back up of the file; remove that entry and save the hosts file. You may need to re-boot your computer for the new hosts file to be read by the operating system.

Clear Local DNS Cache

Open a command console with Administrative privileges by clicking on the Windows START icon (bottom left) and typing cmd into the search field. Do not press Enter.

cmd.exe will appear at the top of the list. Right click on it and select Run as administrator. The command console will open.

In the command console type:

ipconfig /flushdns

and press Enter.

Windows Command Console: Ipconfig /flushdns

ipconfig /flushdns

The console will report Successfully flushed the DNS Resolver Cache. Close the console window.

Check and Clear Router DNS Cache

Some routers are capable of caching DNS lists. You should determine whether or not your router does this and if it does, purge that list.

Log into your router and look for for an option or something that resembles Advanced DHCP Settings or DNS Settings.

The example shown below is of a NetGear router with the option to clear router DNS cache.

Clear Cache DNS NetGear Router

NetGear Router Configuration: Advanced DHCP Settings – Purge DNS Server List

Change the Public DNS Primary and Secondary Addresses in your Router

By default, most routers are programmed to obtain and use your ISP’s Primary and Secondary DNS addresses automatically.

However, these servers could be slow to replicate changes in DNS records and therefore slow to propagate the changes you have made. They might be over loaded too, causing substantial look-up delays that decrease browsing speed.

There are many alternatives to DNS servers supplied by ISPs. The benefits of using an alternate provider include:-

  • Faster refreshing of DNS record changes
  • Faster browsing speeds
  • Improved security
  • Family filtering

Google Public DNS is a free Domain Name System that can be easily configured for use in your router without having to install any software. OpenDNS is another free Domain Name System that is commonly used.

To configure your router manually to use another Public DNS, log in to it and find an option similar to this: Domain Name Server (DNS) Address and select Use These DNS Servers. Enter the two IP addresses given by your chosen provider.

OpenDNS Router Configuration

Manual Configuration of Primary and Secondary DNS Addresses | OpenDNS IP Addresses Shown

Save the changes if necessary then re-boot the router.

Once all these steps have been completed, try to access your domain again.

DNS Benchmark – Chosing a DNS Provider that is Optimal for you

DNS Benchmark

DNS Bench,ark by Steve Gibson | Gibson Research Corporation

The DNS Benchmark by Steve Gibson at the Gibson Research Corporation is a valuable tool for finding the DNS  provider optimal for you. It is a free and small, stand-alone program that requires no installation. Try it and discover faster browsing speeds and all the other benefits that are gained by changing your DNS provider.

Unable to Open Gentle.config Root Element is Missing – MediaPortal Error

Unable to Open Gentle.config Root Element is Missing – MediaPortal Error

Cannot connect to TV Server  – MediaPortal

This error is produced when exiting the MediaPortal Configuration program. The file

c:\ProgramData\Team MediaPortal\MediaPortal\Gentle.config

is corrupt and MediaPortal cannot write to it to save your configuration settings.

MediaPortal Configuration Error

Unable to open Gentle.config Root element is missing

The corrupt file also causes a problem in MediaPortal itself, where MediaPortal cannot connect to the TV Server even though the TV Server name is correct. This will prevent access to the EPG and your recordings, even though the TV Server is running normally and capable of making recordings.

However, testing that same connection in MediaPortal Configuration will report success.

MediaPortal Configuration | Test TVServer Connection

MediaPortal Configuration | Test TV Server Connection

MediaPortal error logs will also report:

Gentle.config could not load because no XML root node was found

The solution is to replace the Gentle.config file with a working one from another MediaPortal installation you may have in your home. If you don’t have one, download the Gentle.config file from here. Right click the link and select Save Link As… Gentle.config

The file is approximately 6Kb in size, so will download quickly. Overwrite the corrupt file by copying the new file to:

c:\ProgramData\Team MediaPortal\MediaPortal\Gentle.config

Launch the MediaPortal Configuration program to adjust your settings and then close it. The error will no longer appear and your settings will have been saved. The MediaPortal to TV Server connection problem  will have been resolved too.

File corruption can be caused by a number of circumstances, normally associated with system crashes, hibernation failures and the Blue Screen of Death.

I get them a lot.

Make the Sky Blue Paint Shop Pro

How to Make the Sky Blue in Photographs With Paint Shop Pro

Modify, Remove, Erase or Change the Sky with Corel Paint Shop Pro

How to make the sky blue | How to fix the sky | Graduated filter | Hazy dull landscape | Background removal | Image transparency

This tutorial outlines two methods to modify the sky in a photographic image by either:

  1. erasing the sky to create transparency, then adding a stock background to replace the sky
  2. modifying the sky by applying a graduated filter effect

Of course, these methods can be applied to any area in your image and are not confined to just skies.

For the basis of these tutorials, the following image will be used for modification. The sky is pretty lackluster due to the haze and fog on the morning that I took this picture.

Original Image to be Modified

Original Image to be Modified

1. Erasing the Sky to Create Transparency

For this exercise, you will need:

  • A copy of your original image
  • A stock background picture

1. Create a folder and put both image files in that directory.

Place Both Image Files in the Same Directory

Place Both Image Files in the Same Directory

2. Launch Corel PaintShop Pro and select the Edit tab.

Corel PaintShop Pro | Edit Tab

Corel PaintShop Pro | Edit Tab

3. Go to Window > Tabbed Documents and ensure it is un-ticked.

4. Go to File > Open… and navigate to the contents of your folder.

5. Select both image files at once by left-clicking the first one, then holding down Ctrl and left-clicking the other file. Click Open when both files have been highlighted. Both photographs will be displayed in your Workspace.

Both Images Loaded into Corel PaintShop Pro Workspace

Both Images Loaded into Corel PaintShop Pro Workspace

6. If the two images are not the same size, it is important to crop the larger image to the exact same size as the other. If both your images are the exact same size you can proceed to Step 9.

How to Crop An Image to the Same Size as Another | Corel PaintShop Pro

7. Select the smaller of the two images. Select the Crop tool. Select Original proportions from the Crop tool’s drop-down menu. The crop tool marquee will encompass the exact dimensions of your image. Select the green tick to crop the image. Of course, the image will remain the same size but the purpose of this step is to register that photograph’s dimensions with Corel PaintShop Pro.

Select Original Proportions With the Crop Tool

Select Original Proportions With the Crop Tool

8. Now click the larger image and then the Crop tool. This time, select Last applied from the Crop tool’s drop-down menu. A marquee, the same size as your smaller image, will be displayed inside your larger one. Move the marquee around to frame an area in that image that you would like to keep. Click the green tick to crop the image.

Select the Area You Wish to Keep on the Larger Image

Select the Area You Wish to Keep on the Larger Image

Both your photographs will now be the same size.

The Larger Image is Cropped to Match the Smaller One

The Larger Image is Cropped to Match the Smaller One

9. Select the photograph for modification – in this case, the original shot of the tractor.

10. Go to Selections > Select All (or press Ctrl + a). Dotted white lines will appear around the edge of your image. Then, go to Edit > Copy (or press Ctrl + c).

11. Click on your background image. Go to Edit > Paste As New Layer (Ctrl + L). A new raster layer will appear in the Layer Management Window.

A New Layer is Created Containing Your Original Image

A New Layer is Created Containing Your Original Image

Note: The background window still contains the background image, but it cannot be seen because a copy of your original photograph is sat on top of it.

The Raster Layer Prevents the Background From Being Seen

The Raster Layer Prevents the Background From Being Seen

12. Select the Background Eraser tool.

Background Eraser Tool

13. Select a suitable sized diameter brush for the eraser tool.

14. To create transparency in your original image and let the background show through,  Left click and hold while brushing the sky area.

Note: Allow the area of the brush to overlap buildings, mountains etc… This mode has auto edge detection. However, don’t allow the center of the brush to cross these items, else the background image will bleed into unwanted areas of your image.

15. Right click and brush to undo any mistakes.

The Finished Project

The Finished Project

16. Once the bulk of the sky has been erased, the quality of the interface between sky and land can be improved by reducing the diameter of the brush and zooming into the image to continue brushing and creating the meld.

2. Apply A Graduated Filter To The Sky

1. Launch Corel PaintShop Pro and select the Edit tab.

Corel PaintShop Pro | Edit Tab

Corel PaintShop Pro | Edit Tab

2. Open the file you wish to work on by going to File > Open… and selecting the desired image.

3. Go to Layers > New Raster Layer… and give it a memorable name if you so wish like “My Sky Graduation”. Then click OK.

Create A Raster Layer

Create A Raster Layer

The new layer will appear in the Layers management window.

New Raster Layer

New Raster Layer

4. Go to the swatch tool and select the gradient option by clicking on the black circle and selecting the gradient option from the drop-down menu (2nd option).

Selecting a Gradient

Selecting a Gradient

5. Click on the transparency area to open Material Properties and create a new gradient fill.

Create a New Gradient

Click Here to Create a New Gradient Fill

Material Properties

Material Properties

6. Here, you can use a pre-made gradient or make a customized one. Select Edit and then New… and name your new gradient. Chose the foreground and back colors. And use the sliders to determine the amount of gradient applied.

Making a Custom Gradient

Making a Custom Gradient

7. Next, reduce the Opacity from 100% to a value like 50%. Then select Close and Close the Material Properties box.

8. Select the Flood tool (or press F). Click in the layered image to flood fill with your gradient.

9. In the Layers management window, chose a blend method: Normal, Darken, Multiply or Burn to give the best desired effect for your picture.

The Original Image:

Original Image to be Modified

Original Image to be Modified

Different Blend Methods – But The Same Gradient Applied:

Blend Method: Normal

Blend Method: Normal

Blend Method: Darken

Blend Method: Darken

Blend Method: Burn

Blend Method: Burn

Blend Method: Multiply

Blend Method: Multiply

Tim Wolverson Photography

WordPress.org – File is empty error – Please upload something more substantial

WordPress.org – File is empty error – Please upload something more substantial

Today, I installed the WordPress.org blogging software on the little bit of free web space my ISP give to me so graciously. The 5 minute install was exactly that. But then I lost hours of my life with this error:

File is empty. Please upload something more substantial. This error could also be caused by uploads being disabled in your php.ini or by post_max_size being defined as smaller than upload_max_filesize in php.ini.

Every time I attempted to upload a media file I was confronted with this problem. And the WordPress version refused to update; the update screen seemed to just freeze every time I tried.

The theory on how to fix this problem is complicated, yet the solution is simple.

Right click on the link below and select Save Link as…. php.ini

Download this file: php.ini

The contents of the php.ini file are this:

<?php phpinfo() ?> memory_limit = 128M

Essentially, it overrides the settings set by your ISP as to what file sizes you are allowed to upload.

Upload the file via ftp to your /wp-admin/ folder on your ISP

Then everything will burst into life and work as normal.

Happy blogging!

Check out my business-card-blog! It’s awesome!

How To Forward Your Personal Domain Name To Your LinkedIn Public Profile

How To Forward Your Personal Domain Name To Your LinkedIn Public Profile

LinkedIn Public Profile | Domain Name Forwarding | Domain Redirect

So, you’ve purchased your own domain name yourname . com and want to associate that with your public LinkedIn profile. This can be done with Domain Forwarding tools. They should be available to you in your account with your domain & host supplier.

However, it should be noted that associating your personal URL with your LinkedIn profile page:

  • Can only be done as a vanity exercise, since LinkedIn prevent permanent masking (or cloaking) of their address. This means that typing yourname . com in the address bar of a  browser will direct traffic to your LinkedIn address, but the messy LinkedIn address that you want to replace will still be shown in the address bar once that page is displayed.
  • Your LinkedIn profile may be removed from Google searches if you use the cloaking mechanism for re-direction. (See the paragraph entitled Quality guidelines – specific guidelines on Google’s Webmaster Guidelines Page)

The message here is don’t use any sort of masking or cloaking technique when associating your domain with LinkedIn.

If you still wish to proceed and use your domain name for vanity reasons (because it’s easier for other people to remember & it’s cool):-

Log in to your domain account and select your domain name, yourname. com

Look for an option similar to DNS Tools, Web Forward or Domain Forwarding

Select that option.

Under Domain Forwarding, you will have the option to enter the destination Web Address (URL) that you would like your domain name to point to. Enter your LinkedIn public profile address there.

www. yourname. com              >       Forward to: {paste your LinkedIn public address here}

If there is an option to Cloak or Mask, do not select it.

Make a second entry under Sub Domain Forwarding, leaving off the www before your domain name:

yourname . com                       >        Forward to: {paste your LinkedIn public address here}

Again, do not select any Cloaking or Masking options.

Save the changes and wait a few hours for the DNS active records to update across the global network.

After a few hours, typing www . yourname . com or yourname . com into the address bar of your browser should take you to the URL you specified.

The Effects of Cloaking / Masking a Redirect

It prevents the destination address (URL) from displaying in the browser’s  address bar. This means that
www . yourname . com will always be displayed in the address bar – even though you’re accessing your LinkedIn page at http: // uk . linkedin  .com / in / yourname

This causes chaos in most browsers because the destination page is displayed in a hidden ‘frame’ to conceal its original attributes, such as it’s web address. And certainly, LinkedIn pages do not want to be displayed in this manner.

The Firefox browser will display a blank white screen, for example.

The Opera browser is more specific and produces this error:

The website does not permit its content to be displayed in a frame. It must be displayed in a separate window.

However, the Chrome browser seems to handle the redirection with aplomb.

It is best not to cloak or mask when domain forwarding to prevent these errors and your page not being shown.

At best then, your personalized domain name can only be used as a vanity URL when associating it with your  LinkedIn profile page.