Archive for the ‘PNG/MNG Construction Set’ Category.

Version Six Upgrades

pictureThe 2015 major upgrade for Alchemy Mindworks’ software – stepping up to version 6 – will initially embody most of its changes “under the hood.” We’ve devised an improved software architecture to allow our applications to make better use of contemporary multi-core microprocessors, larger memory footprints and Windows 7, 8 and 10.

The most notable feature of this upgrade for most users will be full Windows 10 compatibility.

You can’t really see a new architecture unless you work here and read the source code, but it will enhance the performance of the upgraded software – the version six applications should run faster, and consume fewer system resources while they’re doing so.

The updated architecture will also allow us to add new features to Graphic Workshop, GIF Construction Set, Presentation Wizard and the other Alchemy Mindworks applications that were impractical or genuinely impossible under version 5.

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Error Creating the Specified File during Version 6 Validation

pictureWhile it’s thankfully uncommon, we have encountered instances of the version 6 Alchemy Mindworks software refusing to validate, and displaying a message that says “There has been an error creating the specified file.” We’ve yet to reproduce the beast in house.

Contrary to rumors and innuendo in this matter, this problem does not lie with either frenzied weasels creeping into our offices late at night in search of leftover pizza, or with the depredations and treachery of left-wing politicians… although you can never be entirely certain of the latter.

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Classic Windows Paint for Windows 7 and Windows 8

pictureEarlier releases of Windows – most notably the much-beloved Windows XP, now something of a fond memory – included the elegantly simple and occasionally berated Windows Paint application. For the most part, it was about as useful as a left-leaning politician in a riding with absolutely no bribable voters – but there were situations in which its childlike simplicity and twentieth-century dearth of features made it the ideal software for manipulating a few pixels.

By comparison, Windows Paint under Windows 7 and Windows 8 resembles the drooling idiot offspring of a cheap date in which neither participant was demonstrably human. It’s just sophisticated enough to allow its imperfect antialiasing, questionable drawing tools and counter-intuitive user interface to get in the way.

Long-time users of Paint from a bygone era can often be heard mourning its loss.

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A Word About Updates

Most of the Alchemy Mindworks applications are updated several times a year. A few of the more active ones – Graphic Workshop, GIF Construction Set, PNG MNG Construction Set and so on – have seen upgrades once a month.

Users of these products have at times inquired whether it’s necessary to install all the updates, and how important these updates really are to the functioning of the great cosmic clockwork that drives the universe as we know it.

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Version 4 Updates in 30 Seconds

The process of installing updates to Alchemy Mindworks’ version 4 applications is somewhat more involved than was the case for their ancestors. While doing so will unquestionably entail more clicking than users of our products may be used to – for which we’re suitably contrite – you can minimize the additional work required if you understand what the little man behind the curtain is up to.

Earlier releases of our software used a custom installer that we wrote, and as such, that we were able to nuance into being a fairly effortless installation experience. It was typically done with an installation so quickly as to make describing its activities as an “experience” just this side of pretentious.

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Is There a 64-Bit Version?

The transition from 16-bit Windows software to 32-bit Windows software over a decade ago was an event that future archeologists will no doubt write papers about and bore people at parties with until they all make up excuses about having forgotten to hypnotize their ferrets and leave. Admittedly, archeologists get excited about the damnedest things.

It’s been our experience that neither archeologists nor most of the people who use Windows software actually know why 32-bit applications are preferable. This is arguably as it should be – well-written software should allow its users to do whatever they bought the beast for and never concern themselves with that’s going on under the hood.

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Building Animation Objects for Animation Workshop

While you can create sophisticated banners and other complex animations using Alchemy Mindworks’ Animation Workshop – and nothing else – adding animated objects to Animation Workshop will unquestionably drop it into hyperspace. Alchemy Mindworks offers a suite of inexpensive, easy-to-master tools to build animations.

Animation Workshop will import animations from a number of popular formats. The two you’re most likely to get involved with are GIF and MNG. While conceptually similar, it’s important to understand the distinction between them.

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Building an Alpha-Shadow Animation

PNG/MNG Construction Set and the newly-updated animation plugins with alpha-channel support – the 3D Effects #1 plugin set, as of this writing – allow the creation of animations with sophisticated translucent shadows. Place such an animation over a textured surface or a photograph and its shadow will darken the details of its background, but not obscure them.

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An Introduction to Alpha-Channel Animations

While its sounds like a fragment of dialog from a 1980s science fiction flick shot on a budget in an unnamed eastern European country, alpha channels are actually a profoundly useful feature of graphics… as long as you know what they’re really up to.

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Quest for the Missing Paint

Many of the Alchemy Mindworks applications – including GIF Construction Set Professional, Graphic Workshop Professional, Animation Workshop, PNG/MNG Construction Set and Presentation Wizard – have internal Paint functions that call Windows Paint. At least, they do if it’s been installed.

Should you click on Paint in one of our applications and discover that nothing much happens – or if the application hangs – you’re probably looking at a total absence of the Windows Paint application.

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