Tuesday, October 11, 2011

NAB 2011 Camera News

Life in the desert takes on a new meaning every spring, alternately freezing us to the bone, or pummeling us with a vicious wind that constantly propels us across the expansive parking lot of the Las Vegas Convention Center. One thing holds true year after year, though: you are going to be desiccated and exhausted when the show is over.

This year's NAB Show brought new things to consider. I wondered as I walked between the postcentric South Hall and the camera-centric Central Hall how much the earthquake and tsunami in Japan would affect the products being shown. The destruction of the factory that is the only source for Sony HDCAM SR stock has been widely discussed, including of course in Debra Kaufman's extensive coverage in this issue, but manufacturing facilities for lithium Ion battery and disc media manufacturing and assembly were also lost.

There are also a vast number of small but critical suppliers to the industry that have been affected. One of the few public confirmations of production hobbled by the loss of some of these sub-component manufacturers was RED Digital Cinema's delayed release of the production model of their EPIC camera, but there were others as well.

In any case, it was not a camera year like we saw last NAB, where eight new top-of-the-line cameras were announced. Far fewer new products were announced than I anticipated, but companies showed off the largest number of camera prototypes I think I have ever seen on the show floor. The desert was definitely bringing winds of change.

The camera stories this year were 3D and 4K or more, or as Sony proclaimed in their booth, "Beyond HD," starting with the newest addition to the CineAlta line, the F65. It features an 8K sensor (8768 x 2324, or 20MP per frame), and Sony was showing the camera's live output at 4096 x 2160, the true 4K DCI projection spec.

Sony F65 CineAlta™ Digital Motion Picture Camera.

Sony really upped the bar overall, complementing their newest flagship camera with the SR recordable media lineup, from the lowest cost SR-R1 tapeless recorder to match with the PMW-F3, to the SRR3 designed as a dockable replacement for the SRW1 on the F23/ F35 camera system. At the top of the line, the new SR-R4 unit is designed to mate with the F65, allowing for 16-bit 4K or 2K RAW recording when attached to directly to the camera.

Sony's PMW-F3

Sony has also joined the high-end independent digital disk recorder companies like Codex and S.two. The entire file-based SR product lineup records to either 500G or 1T versions of the SR2 Media. The brand new SR-R1000 is part of that lineup, a desktop unit that allows up to four pieces of SR media to be transferred or backed up at one time.

Sony SR-R1000 is a desktop unit that allows up to four pieces of SR media to be transferred or backed up at one time.

The NXCAM line was also updated, with Sony showing the NEXFS100, an ultra compact full frame S35 imager camera designed for the indie and prosumer market. Sony's Juan Martinez showed me the 3D masterpiece of the NXCAM line, the HXR-NX3D1. It offers both 2D and 3D recording modes, in addition to full frame packed 3D output via HDMI.

A 3D shoulder-mount addition to the EX camera line, the PMW-TD300, uses ½" Exmore CCDs and records right and left eye data to separate SxS media cards. It also uses a more reasonable 45mm interocular preset that allows a minimum convergence distance of 1.2 meters (47 inches). Sony also showed off the PMW-F3 camera. My review is coming but let me say I really love what Sony is doing with the F3. Offering not only a large imager, but to additionally give true 4:4:4 dual link recording and native 3D sync capability in a camera this compact is just outstanding.

One of the most remarkable things to see at the show was hidden at ARRI, and it was literally a last minute addition to their booth: an Alexa, burned to a crisp in a camera truck fire, powered up and producing pictures underneath a Plexiglass cover. It was the ultimate testament to the toughness of ARRI cameras.

ARRI also announced a soon-to-be released Alexa software update that will allow Alexa owners to record 4:2:2 ProRes files internally on SxS media, at 120fps! Details on external recording at that frame rate was limited, but I am going to assume that the ARRI-branded Codex recorder being built to record ARRIRAW might be able to handle the same at some point in the future.

Other innovations at the ARRI booth included the Alexa Studio model. This is the tricked out, top of the line version of Alexa that finally allows access to imagery using the entire 4:3 sensor, a necessity when working with the anamorphic lenses popular in big budget Hollywood productions. The Studio model also showed a new optical viewfinder for the Alexa that eliminates the delay associated with digital electronic viewfinders. (All EVFs lag at least one frame, with some ENG cameras suffering more than a 5-7 frame delay.)

The ARRI ALEXA M was shown at the Cameron-Pace Group (CPG) keynote and press conference.

The Alexa M model was shown at the Cameron-Pace Group (CPG) keynote and press conference. The team led by 3D pioneers James Cameron and Vince Pace will have exclusive commercial access to the first systems to be made available in September 2011, pioneering its use in a variety of exciting 3D productions during which the design will be enhanced and optimized with new 3D application features unique to the CPG/ARRI.

Pace's Shadow 5D rig

When I showed the web's first walkthrough of the Alexa's menu structure at CreativeCOW.net last summer, I hinted at major changes coming in the camera's architecture. At this year's NAB, we saw it: the Alexa imager block separated from the camera body, allowing for smaller, remote operations, especially designed for 3D production.

L-R: Dr. Martin Prillmann (ARRI), James Cameron, Franz Krause (ARRI), Vince Pace of Cameron-Pace.

With 3D the focus of the CPG announcement, ARRI has certainly taken the lead in 3D production tools on the high end. I cannot wait to see some of the other compelling 3D companies like 3ality Digital and Element Technica to also take advantage of the Alexa M for handheld 3D production's next generation.

RED's presentation booth at NAB 2011.

RED returned to NAB this year, tattoo parlor and all, to show off both the EPIC M camera -- this is the handmade version available to existing RED ONE owners only. More than one working Scarlet prototype was also seen, heightening the buzz about an impending release date.
RED EPIC with Shoulder Mount

RED announced a partnership with Band Pro Inc. to market the EPIC camera with Leica Summilux-C lenses under a package agreement. RED also jointly announced with AJA the Ki Pro Mini as the preferred 1080 ProRes recording option for EPIC, speeding the TV and industrial workflows when using EPIC for noncinematic production.

RED announced a partnership with Band Pro Inc. to market the EPIC camera with Leica Summilux-C lenses. Photo courtesy Band Pro Inc.

Lastly, as I was writing this article, the Cameron/Pace Group, announced that, in addition to the Alexa M investment that they had already announced, they had purchased 50 of RED's EPIC cameras to help them accommodate their upcoming 3D production schedule.

There were an unbelievable number of digital disk recorders shown this year.

In addition to the ones I just mentioned, I noted the Gemini 4:4:4 unit from Convergent Design. However, I was not allowed to view the Gemini unit in their booth next to the mango smoothie stand in the Central Hall, having been blocked by one of the booth personnel because I had on my AJA exhibitor badge.

Notable too, was the new Apple ProRes/Avid DNxHD recorder from audio recorder company Sound Devices Inc. In addition to recording, it uses the camera's timecode connection to provide visual feedback, in-camera, as to the status of the recorder -- something not possible with any other digital recorder that I am aware of.

The true gem of the show was tucked away in the far reaches of the noman's land between the South and Central Halls, one of the most ground breaking pieces of technology I have seen in years: 3aility Digital's booth showed more of the future of 3D than anything else at the show.

From their command center next to a basketball court, 3ality ran a live 3D production multiple times daily.

From their command center next to a basketball court, 3ality ran a live 3D production multiple times daily, showcasing the most advanced 3D tech for live broadcast that I have ever seen or even heard of. Because I was given hints a couple of months ago, I thought I knew what to expect, but what I saw far surpassed what I had imagined.

The real innovation for me was the 3space™ technology suite. IntelleMatte allows real-time keying of 3D graphics with accurate control of those mattes in Z-space. I have to tell you, the optical flow processing to handle this type of key in real time will change the future of live mattes and key in sports and broadcast. IntelleScene automates the process of transitions and scene convergence that are the bane of every 3D live broadcast -- those cuts between scenes in live broadcast are among the greatest sources of discomfort. Shown to the audience without a single convergence operator, the live footage being shot and transmitted was well received by everyone that I talked to, with IntelleScene automating the smoothing and even prevention of many of those painful live-action scene transitions.

Lastly, I saw IntelleCam, their automated camera and rig control alignment tools. 3ality's presentation at the show was running eight 3D rigs, controlled and maintained from a single processing unit taking up less than 10 RU of rack space in the truck.

The 3space suite is a real leap ahead for 3D production, addressing the key issues of cost and complexity. It reduces the equipment and manpower costs to set up 3D rigs for broadcast or cinematic productions, and simply makes those productions easier to run, thereby reducing the overall cost entry for future live 3D productions.

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Chicago Illinois USA

Friday, July 29, 2011

Panasonic AG-AF100 Camera

Love the bank abyss of acreage you get from DSLRs, but absence all the video-oriented appearance those still cameras lack? Panasonic’s AF-100 merges a big DSLR-style sensor with all the video camera appearance you’ve taken for accepted over the years. See how this cocktail turns out...

DSLR cameras, decidedly Canon models, accept become hot items for video shooters over the aftermost brace of years, but their allowances the bank abyss of field, the affordable lens selection, and the baby admeasurement additionally came with a agglomeration of headaches that accepted video cameras apparent years ago.

Panasonic AG-AF100

So I was actual absorbed back Panasonic started aircraft the AG-AF100 ($4,995), which is the aboriginal video camera that offers a large-DSLR-like sensor and changeable lenses, but affiliated with abounding video-camera functions that shooters expect, such as:

* The adeptness to attach two XLR mics (two channels total), adviser them through headphones, and see akin confined during recording.

* A congenital ND clarify caster (3 stage) for bound accepting you to the f-stop you want.

* Zebra patterns for highlighting key IRE levels in your viewfinder or LCD.

* Virtually absolute blow lengths (as against to a Canon DSLR's 12 minute absolute per clip).

* High-res rotating, swiveling LCD viewscreen so you can see what you're cutting no amount area you authority the camera.

* The adeptness to accelerate an 1080 HD arresting to outputs like HDMI or HD-SDI, so you can see what you're cutting on a bigger adviser (the Canon 7D can adviser up to 720p, but the 5D and 60D alone adviser in SD resolution).

* Metadata to pre-name clips (for instance, "Interview_Jack_Black"), or admit appearance title, ambassador names, and added advice which can advice beat break organized.

* The adeptness to admit markers in footage for important moments, to advice producers/editors acquisition highlights bound already they get the footage.


The AF100 annal video to the AVCHD format, in either 1080 (24p, 25p, 30p, 50i, 60i) or 720 (24p, 25p, 30p, 50p, 60p). Either resolution looks acutely crisper than you'd get from a Panasonic HPX170 or an HPX500. Panasonic says the AF100 has 800 TVL (TV Lines) and I've apparent an absolute analysis that appropriate it was afterpiece to 680 TVL, but it still feels absolutely in the "HD" camp, against a camera like the HVX200/HPX170, which generally acquainted bendable by HD standards (especially on advanced shots).

The AF100 uses a best bandwidth of 24 Mbps, with 4:2:0 blush sub-sampling, and 8 $.25 of blush depth. You can additionally beneath or overcrank your anatomy rate, in 20 increments, from 12 fps to 60 fps. Off-speed recording is annihilation fresh for a camera like this, but what is fresh is that you can shoot offspeed in 1080p, instead of accepting to bead bottomward to 720 like the all-inclusive majority of cameras assert you do.

You can acquisition formats like DVCPRO HD or AVC-Intra that accept added breadth for blush alteration or keying. You can acquisition formats that accept college abstracts rates, like the 48 Mbps MPEG4 acclimated in Canon DSLRs. But the AVCHD architecture is a decidedly acceptable and ample advantage that does the AF100 justice. It delivers a actual crisp, apple-pie angel that suffered from none of the macroblocking you would see in an earlier prosumer codec like HDV. I additionally carefully attempt footage with the amiss white balance, and underexposed by a stop or alike two, and begin abundant breadth to color-correct or stylize footage after it breaking down. One thing's for sure: AVCHD is far added good than HDV, which is still acclimated to shoot a lot of shows you see on advertisement networks like Investigation Discovery. AVCHD has alert the abstracts amount of HDV, and additionally uses a far added able codec (H.264 vs the age-old MPEG2), and a college resolution (1920x1080 vs 1440x1080). Hopefully, the AF100 will advice assuredly retire a lot of Sony Z1 and Z7Us out there.

AF100 main controls

The AF100 uses a MOS sensor, which is declared to amalgamate the aerial sensitivity/low babble ancestry of accepted CCD sensors, forth with the low-power burning of CMOS chips. In the absolute world, best shooters apperceive that any dent with "MOS" in its name can ache from adverse angel quirks--for instance, warping vertical curve back you bound pan the camera. One of the affliction examples I've apparent of this alleged "jello" aftereffect came from Panasonic's old HPX300 camera, which additionally acclimated a MOS sensor. If you bound panned the camera beyond a city skyline, you'd see skyscrapers angle as if they were accomplishing side-stretches. The AF100 is far added acceptable behaved than that -- quick pans do appearance slight jello warping, but it won't be audacious for the all-inclusive majority of situations.

The camera additionally exhibits actual little to none of the aliasing or alive moire patterns that you frequently see on Canon DSLRs back cutting baby elements that are abutting together.

Dynamic ambit seemed to be about what you get from an HPX170 or HVX200A, but a little decumbent to draft out highlights a bit eventually than expected. A Panasonic rep told me that this is aloof a amount of ambience gamma controls differently, but I did apprehension that back I accompanying recorded footage in AVCHD (to SD cards) and a Ki Pro Mini acreage recorder, that the Ki Pro's footage seemed to handle the highlights smoother (see beneath for added about recording to alien units). As for low ablaze performance, it was acceptable but not amazing like a Canon 5D. At the camera's absence ISO (400), I could see some ablaze babble in blacks -- again, about area I've apparent lower-end P2 cameras. But blame up the ISO (aka Gain) on the AF100 captivated up a lot added acceptable than those earlier cameras could manage. I was cutting central on a apathetic f/5.8 lens and begin myself about 2 stops underexposed. I upped the camera's ISO from 800 and again to 1600, and was afraid to see how able-bodied the footage captivated up, abnormally in the blacks, already I was able to attending at it on a 25" monitor. It was a little rougher than the 400 ISO footage, but not that much.

So technically, the AF100 produces admirable adumbration for a $5K camera. It additionally gives you amazing ascendancy over the image, with altered gamma modes, blush matrixes, and added settings such as adept pedestal, detail level, detail coring, blush level, blush appearance and bark accent detail (along with arena files to bound about-face amid them). That's the mark of a able-bodied imaging system.

Aesthetically, I begin the AF100 to aftermath a attractive image, but one that looked a little "digital" to my eye, abnormally appropriate out of the box. Personally, I've consistently gravitated appear Panasonic cameras because of their filmic, accurate look. Cameras like the HVX200 or the Varicam didn't alike film, but they could feel like they were "inspired" by film. The AF100 doesn't absolutely bear the aforementioned accurate look, in my experience. I would use words like "bright" or "poppy" to call the camera's out-of-the-box aesthetics, but it's absolutely not as "cinematic" or "filmic" as added Panasonic cameras (or conceivably alike a Canon 5D). This is abnormally accurate for scenes in ablaze light. You can get added acceptable after-effects by tweaking the camera's gamma, cast and detail settings. Sure enough, if you browse a lot of the AF100 footage on a armpit like Vimeo, you'll generally see filmmakers citation their highly-customized settings. I've apparent some footage that approaches the added "cinematic" attending I prefer, but still anticipate the camera leans appear a added "digital video" look.

The added affair I noticed with the AF100 is that handheld movement suffered a bit from attenuate micro-jitters, the aforementioned way abounding added "MOS" cameras assume to (Canon DSLRs included). I'm not talking about the archetypal strobe aftereffect you get back animadversion at 24fps. Instead, it's a awe-inspiring little jitter aftereffect that you can see in hand-held footage. You don't consistently apprehension it back watching video in a baby window on Vimeo, but it gets added apparent back the footage is played at beyond sizes.

Using a advanced bend lens can advice abate the jitter, axis off optical angel stabilization on your lens is additionally a acceptable idea, and ascent the camera on a bigger, added rig additionally helps. But in my tests application both the AF100 and an HVX200 I had handy, it was bright that the HVX200 acquainted smoother as I panned it about handheld (using the aforementioned bang settings).

Anyway, the AF100's hardly less-cinematic image, and the slight micro anxiety I tend to see in handheld movement are hardly deal-killers. Abounding bodies artlessly won't see them, or care, accustomed their projects.

LENSES for AF100

The camera takes any Micro Four Thirds lenses natively, but you can use adapters to attach accepted Four Thirds lenses, Nikon lenses, Canon lenses, and PL lenses. Aback the camera's imager uses a Micro Four Thirds mount, you should bifold any lens' focal breadth to get the still angel 35mm agnate of how it will behave on the AF100. That agency a 50mm lens on the AF100 will accord you the aforementioned framing of a 100mm lens on a 35mm still camera (such as the Canon 5D Mark II). A 24mm advanced bend lens on the AF100 aback looks added like a 48mm lens would on a still 35mm camera.

This 2x "crop factor" is bigger than what you'll acquisition in the DSLR world. A Canon 5D has a 1X crop agency (a 50mm lens absolutely behaves like a 50mm lens) and a Canon 7D and 60D accept a 1.6x crop factor, axis a 24mm lens into added like a 38mm. If you shoot wildlife or sports, area you're far from your subject, again the AF100's crop agency can be actual useful, aback it gives your lenses added reach. For example: you'd charge a whopping 400mm lens on a full-frame camera to get the aforementioned framing of a 200mm lens on an AF100.

On the added hand, aback you go to use a wide-angle lens on the AF100, you'll acquisition the AF100's 2x crop agency to be a absolute limitation, aback so abounding advanced angles lose their aftereffect (a 17mm - 35mm Nikon zoom now becomes 34-70mm). If you appetite to assignment with advanced angles, your best bet is to use a lens advised for the Four Thirds or Micro Four Thirds architecture (they accept the aforementioned framing). For instance, you can get a 7-14mm f/4 Four Thirds lens from Olympus, which gives you an agnate 14-28mm focal ambit on a 35mm camera. Panasonic additionally makes some advanced Micro Four Thirds zooms, forth with a brace of primes, such as a 8mm angle eye and a 14mm f/2.5.

One added affair about the AF100's crop factor, which relates to accomplishing a bank depth-of-field. Alike admitting the AF100 finer doubles the focal breadth of any lens you put on it, you're not activity to get the aforementioned bank depth-of-field you would accessory with a lens at that angled focal length. Here's what I mean: if you put a 100mm lens on a full-frame Canon 5D, footfall aback several feet, and anatomy a talking-head interview, you'll get a actual bank depth-of-field which puts the accomplishments accurately out of focus (assuming you're application a low f-stop...a bank abyss of acreage comes from application a best rather than beneath focal length, and a lower rather than college f-stop). But that doesn't beggarly you can put a 50mm lens on an AF100, and apprehend to get the aforementioned bank depth-of-field that you get with a 100mm lens on a Canon 5D. You'll get the aforementioned framing, but the AF100's depth-of-field will be what you get from a 50mm lens, not a 100mm one.

That's article to accumulate in apperception if you're, say, planning to shoot in bound spaces, but still appetite to get the accomplishments accurately out-of-focus. You'll accept abundant added adaptability with a full-frame Canon 5D, or alike a 1.6x crop-factor Canon 7D/60D/etc. On the added hand, you can try to aerate bank DOP by application actual fast (low f-stop) lenses with the AF100. One abundant lens would be Olympus' absurd 14-35mm f/2 Zukio zoom lens (the downside is that the lens costs able-bodied over $2000). And you can get 1.8 and 1.4 f-stops by activity to prime lenses as well. But cutting in bound spaces with a archetypal f/2.8 lens will apparently be disappointing.

* The AF100 lets you bake-much of the same metadata supported by the P2 format (user clip names, program titles, producer titles, etc., though there are no text or shot markers). You can use Panasonic's P2 CMS app to set up that metadata, and then save it to an SD card.
* You can bring in AVCHD footage into all major editors. Adobe's Production Suite (Premiere, After Effects, etc.) works with AVCHD footage natively, with no transcoding to another format. Avid's Media Composer transcodes AVCHD into its DNxHD format, and Final Cut transcodes AVCHD into ProRes. However, as I was finishing up this piece, Panasonic announced a new Apple QuickTime plug-in that lets QuickTime-supported apps (like Final Cut) import AVCHD footage natively. That means you should be able to import AF100 footage into Final Cut without doing a Log and Transfer conversion into QuickTime. Panasonic's plug-in is scheduled to ship in "summer", so we'll see how it works then.
* The camera records to SDHC cards instead of P2 or CF cards, which makes the AF100 the first pro-ish video camera where you don't have to wring your hands over the high cost of solid-state media. I was able to start shooting immediately by using a cheapo 4GB SD card (class 6) I bought 2 years ago in some Paris convenience store (you'll need class 6 or 10 cards to shoot slow motion in 1080). And a 64GB Class 10 card costs about $150, while recording 12 hours of footage on the AF100's highest quality setting. In other words, media costs are no longer an issue. And one more bonus: there's no need for proprietary card readers that cost hundreds of dollars. I used a $10 card reader to Log and Transfer my footage into Final Cut.
* The AF100 also includes a waveform display. That's a great tool for judging exposure, and Panasonic's $30K cameras don't have it.

* A little annoying: the AF100's battery (which lasts about 2-3 hours, and costs about $170 on the street) looks just like the batteries used by the HVX200 and HPX170. And yet, it's ever-so-slightly-different enough to prevent you from using your old HVX/HPX batteries with the camera. On the plus side, the AF100 will take batteries from Panasonic's HMC150 and other AVCCAM cameras.
* If you're shooting interviews or action that can benefit from two or more cameras, you might consider getting Panasonic's newish DMC-GH2 as your second body ($999.95). It has a similar look to the AF100 (it actually appears a little sharper), also records in AVCHD, uses the same lenses, and supports full-res HDMI out, so you can monitor it in HD. With the AF100 handling audio duty, the GH2 can give you a lot of bang for the buck as a B/C camera.

Helmut Kobler

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Moment you are in Tension..

The moment you are in TENSION.

You will lose your ATTENTION.

Then you are in total CONFUSION.

And you'll feel IRRITATION.

This may spoil our personal RELATIONS.

Ultimately, you won't get COOPERATION.

And get things into COMPLICATION.

Then you may raise CAUTION.

And you have to take MEDICATION.

Why not try understanding the SITUATION.

And try to think about the SOLUTION.

Many problems will be solved by DISCUSSION.

Which will work out better in our PROFESSION.

Don't think this is a free SUGGESTION.

It is only for our PREVENTION.

If you understand my INTENTION.

You'll never get into TENSION !!!

Usefull Tips For Windows XP Users

You've read the reviews and digested the key feature enhancements and operational changes. Now it's time to delve a bit deeper and uncover some of Windows XP's secrets.

1. It boasts how long it can stay up. Whereas previous versions of Windows were coy about how long they went between boots, XP is positively proud of its stamina. Go to the Command Prompt in the Accessories menu from the All Programs start button option, and then type 'systeminfo' . The computer will produce a lot of useful info, including the uptime. If you want to keep these, type 'systeminfo > info.txt'. This creates a file called info.txt you can look at later with Notepad. (Professional Edition only).

2. You can delete files immediately, without having them move to the Recycle Bin first. Go to the Start menu, select Run... and type 'gpedit.msc' ; then select User Configuration, Administrative Templates, Windows Components, Windows Explorer and find the Do not move deleted files to the Recycle Bin setting. Set it. Poking around in gpedit will reveal a great many interface and system options, but take care -- some may stop your computer behaving as you wish.

(Professional Edition only).

3. You can lock your XP workstation with two clicks of the mouse. Create a new shortcut on your desktop using a right mouse click, and enter 'rundll32.exe user32.dll, LockWork Station' in the location field. Give the shortcut a name you like. That's it -- just double click on it and your computer will be locked. And if that's not easy enough, Windows key + L will do the same.

4. XP hides some system software you might want to remove, such as Windows Messenger, but you can tickle it and make it disgorge everything. Using Notepad or Edit, edit the text file /windows/inf/ sysoc.inf, search for the word 'hide' and remove it. You can then go to the Add or Remove Programs in the Control Panel, select Add/Remove Windows Components and there will be your prey, exposed and vulnerable.

5. For those skilled in the art of DOS batch files, XP has a number of interesting new commands. These include 'eventcreate' and 'eventtriggers' for creating and watching system events, 'typeperf' for monitoring performance of various subsystems, and 'schtasks' for handling scheduled tasks. As usual, typing the command name followed by /? will give a list of options -- they're all far too baroque to go into here.

6. XP has IP version 6 support -- the next generation of IP.

Unfortunately this is more than your ISP has, so you can

only experiment with this on your LAN. Type 'ipv6 install'

into Run... (it's OK, it won't ruin your existing network

setup) and then 'ipv6 /?' at the command line to find

out more. If you don't know what IPv6 is, don't worry

and don't bother.

7. You can at last get rid of tasks on the computer from

the command line by using 'taskkill /pid' and the task

number, or just 'tskill' and the process number. Find

that out by typing 'tasklist', which will also tell you a lot

about what's going on in your system.

8. XP will treat Zip files like folders, which is nice if

you've got a fast machine. On slower machines, you

can make XP leave zip files well alone by typing

'regsvr32 /u zipfldr.dll' at the command line..

If you change your mind later, you can put things

back as they were by typing 'regsvr32 zipfldr.dll' .

9. XP has ClearType -- Microsoft's anti-aliasing font

display technology -- but doesn't have it enabled by

default. It's well worth trying, especially if you were

there for DOS and all those years of staring at a

screen have given you the eyes of an astigmatic bat.

To enable ClearType, right click on the desktop,

select Properties, Appearance, Effects, select Clear

Type from the second drop-down menu and enable

the selection. Expect best results on laptop displays.

If you want to use ClearType on the Welcome login

screen as well, set the registry entry

HKEY_USERS/. DEFAULT/Control Panel/Desktop/

FontSmoothingTyp e to 2.

10. You can use Remote Assistance to help a friend

who's using network address translation (NAT) on

a home network, but not automatically. Get your pal

to email you a Remote Assistance invitation and edit

the file. Under the RCTICKET attribute will be a

NAT IP address, like 192..168.1.10. Replace this with

your chum's real IP address -- they can find this

out by going to www.whatismyip. com -- and get them

to make sure that they've got port 3389 open on

their firewall and forwarded to the errant computer.

11. You can run a program as a different user without

logging out and back in again. Right click the icon,

select Run As... and enter the user name and password

you want to use. This only applies for that run.

The trick is particularly useful if you need to

have administrative permissions to install a program,

which many require. Note that you can have

some fun by running programs multiple times on

the same system as different users, but this can

have unforeseen effects.

12. Windows XP can be very insistent about you checking

for auto updates, registering a Passport, using Windows

Messenger and so on. After a while, the nagging goes

away, but if you feel you might slip the bonds of sanity

before that point, run Regedit, go to

HKEY_CURRENT_ USER/Software/ Microsoft/

Windows/Current Version/Explorer/ Advanced and

create a DWORD value called EnableBalloonTips

with a value of 0.

13. You can start up without needing to enter a user

name or password. Select Run... from the start menu

and type 'control userpasswords2' , which will open

the user accounts application. On the Users tab, clear

the box for Users Must Enter A User Name And

Password To Use This Computer, and click on OK.

An Automatically Log On dialog box will appear;

enter the user name and password for the

account you want to use.

14. Internet Explorer 6 will automatically delete

temporary files, but only if you tell it to. Start the

browser, select Tools / Internet Options... and Advanced,

go down to the Security area and check the box to

Empty Temporary Internet Files folder

when browser is closed.

15. XP comes with a free Network Activity Light, just in

case you can't see the LEDs twinkle on your network

card. Right click on My Network Places on the

desktop, then select Properties. Right click on the

description for your LAN or dial-up connection,

select Properties, then check the Show icon in

notification area when connected box. You'll now see a

tiny network icon on the right of your task bar that

glimmers nicely during network traffic.

16. The Start Menu can be leisurely when it decides to

appear, but you can speed things along by changing

the registry entry HKEY_CURRENT_ USER/Control

Panel/Desktop/ MenuShowDelay from the default

400 to something a little snappier. Like 0.

17. You can rename loads of files at once in Windows

Explorer. Highlight a set of files in a window, then

right click on one and rename it. All the other files

will be renamed to that name, with individual

numbers in brackets to distinguish them. Also, in a

folder you can arrange icons in alphabetised groups

by View, Arrange Icon By... Show In Groups.

18. Windows Media Player will display the cover art for

albums as it plays the tracks -- if it found the picture

on the Internet when you copied the tracks from the

CD. If it didn't, or if you have lots of pre-WMP music files,

you can put your own copy of the cover art in the same

directory as the tracks. Just call it folder.jpg and

Windows Media Player will pick it up and display it.

19. Windows key + Break brings up the System

Properties dialogue box; Windows key + D brings

up the desktop; Windows key + Tab moves

through the taskbar buttons.