Monthly Archives: November 2011

How to Make Your Windows PC Boot Faster

 How to Make Your Windows PC Boot Faster

Back in the old days of 2010, I used to walk into my home office in the morning, hit the power button on my production system, and then head back upstairs to have breakfast. by the time I returned to the office, my system had fully booted up and was ready to go.

Then I upgraded to a solid-state drive RAID array–and now my system boots in about 30 seconds. However, not everyone is willing to spend $700 on PC’s storage, so I decided to find out how much I could speed up a PC’s boot time without spending a dime. After several hours of tweaking and testing, I managed to reduce the boot time of a PC from 69 seconds to 47 seconds. Here’s how I did it.

Rather than artificially creating a slow-booting system by installing a bunch of glop from the Web, I decided to use an existing system–one that I use almost daily. It’s not my speedy, SSD-equipped production system, but my system for performance-testing add-in graphics cards. since that system also serves as a backup content editing system, I’ve installed Adobe Master Collection 5.0 on it, along with all of the extraneous stuff Adobe likes to add to a system. Microsoft Office is another major software component.

Among its hardware components are a Core i7 965X quad-core CPU, 6GB of RAM, and a 7200-rpm Seagate 7200.11 1TB hard drive.

This setup allowed me to test real-world improvements in boot times on a system that reflected real-world usage. over the years, I have installed numerous graphics cards on it, which also means numerous driver installs and uninstalls. Games and applications have come and gone, too. what you won’t see from optimizing a gradually cluttered real-world system are insanely big improvements, as you might with some of the artificial tests that are floating around.

When you fire up your PC, the processor performs some initial startup steps and then looks for a specific memory address in the boot loader ROM. next, the processor starts to run code that it finds at this location, which is the system boot loader. the boot ROM enumerates all of the hardware in the system and performs a number of diagnostic tests. Then it looks for a specific location on the first storage device–probably your hard drive, assuming that the system isn’t set up to boot from a network–and runs code found in that location. That’s the start of the operating system load process.

For Windows, the code that your processor loads is the Windows Boot Manager. the boot manager then begins the process of loading Windows. at some point during this process, the core of the Windows operating system–the kernel–loads into memory along with some key drivers and the hardware abstraction layer. the HAL functions as the interface between the operating system and the underlying hardware. After this, the Windows Executive, a collection of essential services such as the virtual memory manager and the I/O manager, fires up and loads the Windows Registry.

The Registry contains information about what services, drivers, and applications load during boot. the Registry is actually a database that stores configuration settings, options, and key locations for both high-level applications and low-level OS services. over time, as users install and uninstall apps, the size of the Registry can balloon, thereby increasing load times. Boot times are also affected by the loading of key services and startup applications.

This summary is by no means a detailed description of the PC boot process. Consult a detailed tutorial on the Windows boot process–such as this one–if you want to dive deeper.

In view of the PC boot process, we can explore several areas to reduce boot times:

  • The system BIOS or Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI)
  • The Windows Boot Manager
  • System Services
  • Application Services (helpers)
  • Startup Programs
  • Windows Registry

Let’s consider each of these Windows functions individually.

Before proceeding further, I needed to measure my system’s pretweak boot time. one way to do this is to create a text file containing the text “Stop the Stopwatch.” Drop this into the Windows startup applications folder in C:Usersyour usernameAppDataRoamingMicrosoftWindowsStart MenuProgramsStartup. This allows you to time the boot process with a stopwatch and know when to stop the watch. the boot process isn’t completely finished at this point, but the system will be in a usable state.

Measured by this method, my system took 69 seconds to boot–far too long. It was time to nuke some services.

First, I looked at the startup services that opened when my system booted. you can check the list for your PC by running msconfig, a built-in Windows utility. Click the start menu, type Run, press Enter, and then type msconfig in the Run box. Click the Services tab. in the accompanying screenshot you can see that, for simplicity’s sake, I ticked the checkbox next to ‘Hide all Microsoft services’; nevertheless, I did plan all along to disable a few Windows services.

List of services that open at startup on a typical working system, as identified by msconfig.

In addition to disabling all of the services shown in the above list, I disabled six Microsoft Windows services from starting on boot:

  • Windows Media Center receiver
  • Windows Media Center Scheduler service
  • Microsoft Office Groove Audit Service
  • Microsoft Office Diagnostic Service
  • Smart Card Removal Policy
  • Smart Card

Since I don’t use Windows Media Center on this system, disabling the first item on the list was an easy decision. and these changes only scratch the surface. Another item that you might disable on startup is Remote Login (if you never use it). the right choices depend on your needs.

After disabling the extraneous application services and a handful of Microsoft services, I found that the system now took 68 seconds to boot–not much of an improvement. the next step was to disable a few startup applications.

Next: Disabling Startup Applications

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How to Remove Malware From Your Windows PC

 How to Remove Malware From Your Windows PC

Is your computer running slower than usual? are you getting lots of pop-ups? have you seen other weird problems crop up? If so, your PC might be infected with a virus, spyware, or other malware–even if you have an antivirus program installed on it. though other problems, such as hardware issues, can produce similar symptoms, it’s best to check for malware if you aren’t sure. but you don’t necessarily need to call tech support or the geek across the street to scan for malware–I’ll show you how to do it yourself.

Keep your PC disconnected from the Internet, and don’t use it until you’re ready to clean your PC. This can help prevent the malware from spreading and/or leaking your private data.

If you think your PC may have a malware infection, boot your PC into Microsoft’s Safe Mode. in this mode, only the minimum required programs and services are loaded. If any malware is set to load automatically when Windows starts, entering in this mode may prevent it from doing so.

To boot into Windows Safe Mode, first shut down your PC. Locate the F8 key on your PC’s keyboard; turn the PC on; and as soon as you see anything on the screen, press the F8 key repeatedly. This should bring up the Advanced Boot Options menu; there, select Safe Mode with Networking and press Enter.

You may find that your PC runs noticeably faster in Safe Mode. This could be a sign that your system has a malware infection, or it could mean that you have a lot of legitimate programs that normally start up alongside Windows.

Now that you’re in Safe Mode, you’ll want to run a virus scan. but before you do that, delete your temporary files. Doing this may speed up the virus scanning, free up disk space, and even get rid of some malware. To use the Disk Cleanup utility included with Windows, select start, All Programs (or just Programs), Accessories, system Tools, Disk Cleanup.

Now you’re ready to have a malware scanner do it’s work–and fortunately, running a scanner is enough to remove most infections. If you already had an antivirus program active on your computer, you should use a different scanner for this malware check, since your current antivirus software may have not detected the malware. Remember, no antivirus program can detect 100 percent of the millions of malware types and variants.

There are two types of antivirus programs. You’re probably more familiar with real-time antivirus programs, which constantly watch for malware. Another option is on-demand scanners, which search for malware infections when you open the program manually and run a scan. You should have only one real-time antivirus program installed at a time, but you can keep a few on-demand scanners handy to run scans with multiple programs, thereby ensuring that you’re covered.

If you think your PC is infected, I recommend using an on-demand scanner first and then following up with a full scan by your real-time antivirus program. Among the free (and high-quality) on-demand scanners available are BitDefender Free Edition, Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool, Malwarebytes, Norman Malware Cleaner, and SuperAntiSpyware.

For illustrative purposes, I’ll describe how to use the Malwarebytes on-demand scanner. To get started, download it. If you disconnected from the Internet for safety reasons when you first suspected that you might be infected, reconnect to it so you can download, install, and update Malwarebytes; then disconnect from the Internet again before you start the actual scanning. If you can’t access the Internet or you can’t download Malwarebytes on the infected computer, download it on another computer, save it to a USB flash drive, and take the flash drive to the infected computer.

After downloading Malwarebytes, run the setup file and follow the wizard to install the program. Once installed, Malwarebytes will check for updates and launch the app itself. If you get a message about the database being outdated, select yes to download the updates and then click OK when prompted that they have been successfully installed.

Once the program opens, keep the default scan option (‘Perform quick scan’) selected and click the Scan button.

Starting the scan in Malwarebytes.

Though it offers a full-scan option, Malwarebytes recommends that you perform the quick scan first, as that scan usually finds all of the infections anyway. Depending on your computer, the quick scan can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, whereas the full scan might take 30 to 60 minutes or more. while Malwarebytes is scanning, you can see how many files or objects the software has already scanned, and how many of those files it has identified either as being malware or as being infected by malware.

If Malwarebytes automatically disappears after it begins scanning and won’t reopen, you probably have a rootkit or other deep infection that automatically kills scanners to prevent them from removing it. though you can try some tricks to get around this malicious technique, you might be better off reinstalling Windows after backing up your files (as discussed later), in view of the time and effort you may have to expend to beat the malware.

If Malwarebytes’ quick scan doesn’t find any infections, it will show you a text file containing the scan results. If you still think that your system may have acquired some malware, consider running a full scan with Malwarebytes and trying the other scanners mentioned earlier. If Malwarebytes does find infections, it’ll bring up a dialog box warning you of the discovery. To see what suspect files the scanner detected, click the Scan Results button in the lower right. It automatically selects to remove the ones that are known to be dangerous. If you want to remove other detected items, select them as well. then click the Remove Selected button in the lower left to get rid of the specified infections.

Removing infections in Malwarebytes.

After removing the infections, Malwarebytes will open a text file listing the scan and removal results; skim through these results to confirm that the antivirus program successfully removed each item. Malwarebytes may also prompt you to restart your PC in order to complete the removal process, which you should do.

If your problems persist after you’ve run the quick scan and it has found and removed unwanted files, consider running a full scan with Malwarebytes and the other scanners mentioned earlier. If the malware appears to be gone, run a full scan with your real-time antivirus program to confirm that result.

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Router Tips to Make Your Wireless Faster

 Router Tips to Make Your Wireless Faster

The router is the technological workhorse of the modern home, bringing Internet to your many devices. a router’s wireless speed is usually a user’s main concern: unlike wired networks, wireless networks seem to suffer interference from objects in our everyday lives–should the router be above the dryer, or below; next to the microwave, or above? Wireless speeds can also be affected by too many devices sharing the same access point as well. Your device is fighting for limited bandwidth. many basic ways to improve your Wi-Fi network are available, such as placing the router in the center of the area you want it to cover, keeping the router away from metal objects that could block the signal, or making sure there aren’t too many other radio-enabled devices broadcasting on a 2.4GHz signal (standard for most older routers). but other ways to improve your signal may be a little less apparent. Here are some of those tricks (feel free to add your own workarounds in the comments below).

Check Your Speed

Although most people can gauge if their home wireless is too slow or not, checking the speed of the connection will let you know for sure whether you’re within range of the speed promised by your provider. Downloading a lightweight piece of software like LAN Speed Test gives you upload and download speed numbers in megabits per second (mbps), which you can check against your ISP’s promised speed to see if your network is actually slow or if you just need to pay for faster service. You’ll probably need to run the test multiple times and at different times of the day to get a real sense of how fast your Wi-Fi is overall, as crowding on the 2.4GHz spectrum could cause slowdown during the busiest times of the day for Internet traffic. Change the Channel

If your wireless is weaker than it should be, you can try manually adjusting the broadcast channel to find one with fewer wireless routers competing for space. If your router is relatively new and automatically chooses which channel to broadcast from, then you won’t get too much use out of pinning your wireless down to a single channel, but for older routers it’s worth looking into. First you’ll want to go into the router’s graphical user interface (GUI), by typing the router/gateway address into the address bar in a browser window while your computer is connected to the router’s wired or wireless network. you can usually find the router’s address on the router itself, in the instruction manual, or online if all else fails. For example, if you have a D-Link router, you’ll type 192.168.0.1; if you have a Linksys, you’d type 192.168.1.1. The browser will prompt you to enter your user name and password. The exact navigation through the GUI for each router is different, but once you find the router’s wireless options (usually under headings like “LAN” or “Network”), you should see a “wireless channel” option. in North America, you can broadcast from channels 1, 6, and 11. try switching to one of those three channels that’s not currently in use and see if it speeds things up. Add Some Hardware

Changing the actual hardware that makes the wireless signal waft through your house is an easy way to strengthen a wireless signal throughout a larger area. While most routers come with omnidirectional antennae (meaning they broadcast signal in all directions), you can also invest in a single-directional antenna that should double the strength of your signal, but only in one direction. this is great if you must place your router by a wall, and you don’t want to waste resources transmitting half of the wireless signal through the wall or window. Single-directional antennae can cost anywhere from $20 to $120.Wireless repeaters do a similar thing, basically just repeating the signal put out by your router and helping you cover more space with Wi-Fi. These also cost around $20 for a low-end repeater, but if you’re up for a little DIY you can make your own wireless repeater for free by uploading custom firmware from DD-WRT to an old router (step-by-step instructions here, and an explanation of DD-WRT below).another hardware-related change: if you have multiple rooms you need to cover with your signal, consider buying a hybrid Homeplug/ wireless router device. Homeplug technology uses the AV line in your house to transmit broadband signals to other rooms, and if you include a wireless router on the adapter, you’ll have a Wi-Fi signal right there in the room with you.

Check Who’s on Your Network

You never want to leave your wireless signal without at least some sort of protection, and it’s worth noting that there are different levels of security on every router. Again, you’ll want to go to your router’s GUI and check its wireless security settings. Often, there will be a drop-down or click-to-select menu to allow different levels of security. WEP is the weakest form, and is easily broken; WPA is much more secure; and while WPA2 is the most secure, it can sometimes be incompatible with older devices on your network, so WPA is probably the best bet if you’re not sure what you want. Again, somewhere in your router’s configuration (under “wireless” or “status”) there should be a list of devices that connect to your system. keep in mind that this list of devices will also include the laptops and smartphones of any guests who used your Wi-Fi recently, or any cameras, printers, or other Wi-Fi enabled devices that you might use around the house. If you’re unsure, you can match the Media Access Control (MAC) addresses listed on the router GUI with the MAC addresses of your various devices. If you do find intruders, you could change your wireless password, or some routers will allow you limit the number of devices that can connect to your network. of course, there are programs out there that will allow you to triangulate the location of the moochers based on network signals. While the legality (and sanity) of trying to track down people who are using your Internet is questionable (and not sanctioned by PCWorld) there would probably be nothing wrong with knocking on your downstairs neighbor’s door and politely asking them in person to get off your Wi-Fi. there is, of course, the famous “Upside-Down-ternet” gag, where you turn the Wi-Fi thief’s browser pages upside down, or make their browser pages blurry, or replace them with kittens! While it sounds fun, it’s a pretty advanced trick, so the average user might want to switch to WPA security and password-protect the network instead. Adult Site Blocking with Open DNS

OpenDNS can block phishing attacks and adult sites.many new routers come with parental control options built into the device’s features. If you have an old router, however, you can use a service like OpenDNS. When your browser receives the command to retrieve a URL, it must go through a DNS server, which will look up the site’s numeric IP address. OpenDNS uses it’s own DNS lookup technology to resolve your browser’s page, meaning it can often bring up a web page faster. but one of the big perks for parents is that it also can block phishing attacks and adult sites that might get your kids in trouble. OpenDNS doesn’t even require that you subscribe with them (the free version is ad-supported). Simply go to your router’s GUI and switch from an auto-generated IP address to a static IP address; then in the fields for DNS (there are usually 2 to 4 spaces for you to add a DNS lookup number), enter OpenDNS’s look-up numbers, which you can find on the OpenDNS site. doing this from the router, rather than just configuring OpenDNS on a specific computer, will protect all the computers connected to that router. Install Updated or Custom Firmware

If you have an older router, or the settings on your new router don’t offer all the functionality you’d like, try upgrading your router’s firmware. Often, your router manufacturer will have firmware updates that you can easily download from the manufacturer’s website. And if you really want to supercharge your router, you can even upload custom firmware provided by DD-WRT. While a lot of newer routers offer out-of-the-box DD-WRT compatibility, you can check on the DD-WRT website to see if your older router is compatible with the custom firmware. Upgrading can mean better firewalls, the ability to designate how much bandwidth each device on your network gets, and even client isolation, so that wireless users can connect to the network without being able to see each other (an important part of hosting a public access point). Follow the directions on the site to flash your router with DD-WRT, and then use it to modify your router to fit your needs. Hybrid Modems/Routers Aren’t off Limits

If your Internet service provider requires that you install a hybrid modem/router, you can try adding another router onto the system to get different functionality. When I moved into a new apartment recently, I decided to subscribe to AT&T Uverse, which uses fiberoptic cable to bring the Net to your computer. AT&T requires subscribers to use a hybrid router/modem, and in my case the company installed a 2Wire 3800HGV-B modem/router. The Wi-Fi was okay, but the device had an 802.11g wireless access point, and I wanted to try my newer TRENDnet TEW-691GR router, which had an 802.11n access point. in order to broadcast wireless from the TRENDnet router, I modified the two routers to work with each other. First, I went to the 2Wire’s summary status page, and under “Internet Details” recorded the primary and secondary DNS numbers, and also the range of the IP addresses listed under “Private Network DHCP info”, which in this case happened to 192.168.1.64 – 192.168.1.254. A TRENDnet router’s settings page. (Click for larger image.)Then I connected an ethernet cable to a LAN port on both the 2Wire modem/router and the TRENDnet router, connected the TRENDnet router to my computer with another ethernet cable, and entered the TRENDnet configuration page. I navigated to “network” and “WAN setting” (although with other routers you might just look for the option to change the connection type and the DNS server setting). I changed the connection type to “Static.” in the field for IP address, I entered a number within the range given above; in the “subnet mask” field, I entered 255.255.255.0; and in the “default gateway” field, I entered the original 2Wire router/modem’s gateway address, as found on the router itself. then, under DNS Server Setting, I entered the primary and secondary server settings that I found in the 2Wire’s configuration page. I saved everything, then went back to the 2Wire device. A settings page of a 2Wire modem/router for AT&T’s U-verse service. (Click for larger image.)In the 2Wire’s configuration page, I first went to “system info,” then “Event Notifications,” and checked “enable detection of router-behind-router conditions.” then, I navigated to the “Broadband” tab and clicked “link configuration.” under “add additional network,” I checked “enable” and gave the TRENDnet router’s address (which I had used earlier to enter the TRENDnet’s GUI ) and the subnet mask 255.255.255.0. Don’t forget to keep saving your settings. with the TRENDnet router still connected by a LAN port to the 2wire’s LAN port, both devices should be on and giving a wireless signal. When you can connect to both wireless networks successfully (you may have to close out of your browsers or do a “power cycle” by turning both the routers on and off), then you can go into the 2Wire’s modem/router menu and disable the “wireless” tab.At this point, no wireless signal is coming from the 2wire, and all of the wireless transmitted in my apartment is at 802.11n standards. this workaround seemed to make my wireless slightly faster, but more unreliable. The network connection would suddenly crash, but when it was up and stable I seemed to be able to download videos faster. I would recommend activities of this type for experimentation only, as I ultimately just went back to the more stable 2Wire wireless network.

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Video – Is this the ultimate bachelor pad? – The Age

 Video   Is this the ultimate bachelor pad?   The AgeReturn to video Help with videos Streaming media

Websites in the Fairfax Digital Network offer streaming video and audio in the Flash format. Streaming media allows you to watch video on a website as a continuous feed, as opposed to waiting for an entire audio or video file to download to your computer before you can use it.

Download the software

To play a video or multimedia clip, you need to have the Flash player installed. you can download one for most systems (including Mac OS X) for free if one is not already installed on your system.

Which Speed?

Our automated system will test your connection speed and send the best video stream so it plays smoothly and continuously.

Alternatively, you can manually choose the speed setting that corresponds most closely with your network connection. we produce clips in a range of speeds to deliver the best quality possible– the better the quality the faster connection you’ll need.

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Click here for Classifieds for November 4

 Click here for Classifieds for November 4

To place your classified ad email or call 972-875-3801FREEMale Labrador retriever puppies, 6 wks old. 469-285-0776 or 972-825-2468

LOST, FOUNDLost: My billfold has disappeared. if you have seen it please call 972-875-7194

Keys found at” Lights of Ennis Gala” on Oct 14th. Can be pick-up at Ennis Daily News

BUSINESS SERVICESHUFF’S MOWINGLots & Acreages972-875-6123972-935-2233

House Cleaning: Experienced,      Reliable, References. 214-980-2521

SPADE WELDINGLight Welding: Farm & Residential. BBQ Pit Repair. Reasonable rates. 214-980-2786

CONCRETE WORKCommercial/ Industrial/ Residential. Joe Muirhead Concrete Services.214-536-8320

MOWING YARDS, edging, trimming, gutters, flower beds, gardens, scrap metal, clean up & removal. 972-875-2030

EXCAVATION SERVICES: Dozers, Loaders, Backhoes, Dump Trucks, and Trenchers. Building/ house pads, roadways ROW and fence clearing, lakes, ponds, driveways. No job to big or small.  214-803-7988

ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORResidential / Commercial. 25 years experience. Joe Matous: 972-875-8005 leave a message.

GEORGE HORNIK PAINTINGSince 1973: Residential Homes, Interior & Exterior. 972-935-7678, 972-875-3704

Need “Winterizing” on Doors, Windows, Cracks & more? in business 25 years, ISOM General Construction. 214-734-8910

ProfessionalTREE SERVICEFree Estimates! Serving Ellis, Hill, and Navarro Counties. Call Dean Takats, 214-912-5507

AUTOS, TRUCKSPay cash for used cars. No Title, No Running, No Problem. CAll 972-754-0825

2005 Chrysler 6 passenger crossover. White 4 door, current inspection, registration. $6,950 includes transfer. 214-478-1540

1995 Blue Silverado in good condition. $3500, OBO. 469-261-2027 or 469-285-8245

RVS, CAMPERS, BOATSCyclone Toy Hauler, 2008 Model. 3 slides, generator, 12 ft garage. great condition. 214-300-5455

EMPLOYMENT29 Serious People to Work from Home using a computer. up to $1500 – $5000 PT/ FT Free infoBDBglobal.com

Private Fleet Needs Dedicated Regional Drivers. .42 for all dispatched miles, Hourly pay for trips under 400 miles, 100% Company paid Employee Medical & Dental Insurance, 401K, .03 per mile Satety/Performance Bonus Program, Assigned tractor, No slip seating, Paid weekly, Home on Weekends. Call 1-877-905-9161 or email

Help Wanted: Person to pick up and deliver building plans in the Dallas area. Must have a good driving record. we furnish transportation. Call Jake @ Ennis Steel for an appointment for interview. 972-878-0400Looking for company and owner operators local, regional, and OTR. Must have at least 1 yr verifiable flatbed experience in past 3 yrs. Drivers pay based on day rates and/or mileage pay, o/o high percentage of gross revenue payout. come join our team. 972-544-2733

Drivers: Regional. Home every Weekend. 40-45 CPM. Must be 24 w/ CDL-A. Load Securement training available. 1-800-992-7863 x185

CHILD CAREAre you seeking childcare for your infant or toddler? I am now accepting applications for my home childcare service. Cost is $150/ week; hours of operation are M-F 7:30-5:30. I have openings for children ages newborn – 3 years. Experience caregiver; references provided. please call to set up a meeting/ interview. 214-399-3701

Do you need a weekend babysitter? After school math tutor? 1st-7th grade. Call or text 469-285-1060

MISC FOR SALESnapper riding mower. 8hp., 319cc, 38” cut, 5 speed. Pull or battery start, engine in rear, $350 OBO. Murray push mower. 21” cut 5.25hp., self propelled, $65. 972-938-1454

70 inch Hitachi LCD HD projection TV with stand and surround sound $1000 obo, Roger 972-268-5795

FUEL, FIREWOODFirehouse FirewoodDependable, honest off-duty Firefighter. 100% Oak, split, seasoned. All size stacks available. 214-536-0242

Oak Firewood: Available for pickup or delivery. Dozer & Bobcat work also available. 972-921-6675, 214-241-9287

FEED HAYHay for Sale. Coastal & Braum/ Alfalfa mix. Fescue/ Johnson Grass mix. Call Dicky 903-879-1511

WANTED TO BUY/RENTWE BUY JUNK CARS & TRUCKS. 214-535-5441

APARTMENTS FOR RENTCourtyard & Lancelot Apartments1 & 2 bedroom, 1 bath. 2 bedroom, 2 bath. 972-878-2505.

Nice furnished small apt. EZ access to Ennis, Waxahachie & Corsicana. 972-875-9208.

2 Bedroom Duplex: 500-A W Waco. $600 month, $300 deposit. Owner/ Broker 972-303-2177, 469-831-9612

HOUSES FOR RENT3/2/2 Brick, CHA, by Austin School. $1,200 month, $1,200 deposit. 972-878-2505

RENTALS AVAILABLEResidential, Commercial &StoragesCall 972-878-RENTleased by: FBMfbmproperty.com

1503 Laru. clean, 2 bedroom, den, lr, brick. Fenced, mature quiet neighborhood. new paint & flooring. $900 plus deposit. 972-878-7478

For Rent: 3/2 bedroom with 10 stall barn, barn apartment, mare pens, machine storage, covered arena and approximately 10 acres. $1700 month with one month deposit. Credit and background check. Call Jennifer 214-923-1030

3 BR, 1.5 Bath, CH/A. $750 mo + dep. Call 972-875-7341

Newly remodeled home, 3/1.5. CH/A, fenced yard. $900 month, $500 deposit, 1103 Sunset. 972-878-7300

Clean 3/1.5, fenced yard. 1602 Nichols St. $850 month plus $425 deposit. 972-875-4969

2 Bedroom on 6 acres with horse barn. $700 month, $400 deposit. 903-326-4851

LOTS, ACREAGE FOR RENTFor Lease to Tree Farmers, 50 acres. Sandy loam with space for mobile home, $400 month. Call 903-326-4851

HOUSES FOR SALEGORGEOUS COUNTRY home on 3.52 acres less than 1 mile from I-35. 3BR/ 2BA, formal dining room, beautiful tile floors in kitchen, baths and dining room. OWNER FINANCING. 469-525-8444 or 817-983-5332

3/1.5 Brick, fenced yard, new carpet. 907 Phillips Dr. $79,900. Call 214-535-3859 for appointment

4/2, FSBO, 1.4 acres, possible 5 acres, Hillsboro, I-35E. Low down, $475 plus tax, ins. Owner, 254-580-5692

MOBILE HOMES FOR SALE3/2 Mobile Home in Rice to be moved, $3000. 903-326-5000

COMMERCIAL PROPERTYFor Rent: Office Space, 903 W Ennis Ave or 972-875-0200

LOTS, ACREAGE FOR SALE28 Acres, Owner Finance. Trees, fenced, pond. Cross Country Land co. 214-803-5152

$303 Per Month buys 6 Acres, Owner Finance, Richland lake. Jerry Davis- Broker, 903-874-8512

Ellis County: 1 to 20 acres. Owner Finance, Low down, No Credit Check. Agent 214-317-3164

50 Acres, Owner Finance, Minutes South of Ennis, Jerry Davis, Broker 903-874-8512

5 Acres, new fence, trees, pond & utilities available. Good home site, $32,000, $2,000 down, $330.33 month. Call 903-326-4851

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Click here to view Classifieds for November 2

 Click here to view Classifieds for November 2

To place your classified ad email or call 972-875-3801FREEFree to family. Scooter likes to play. Chihuahua, 2 yrs old, brown & white. 972-875-6620Male Labrador retriever puppies, 6 wks old. 469-285-0776 or 972-825-2468

LOST, FOUNDLost: My billfold has disappeared. if you have seen it please call 972-875-7194

BUSINESS SERVICESHUFF’S MOWINGLots & Acreages972-875-6123972-935-2233

House Cleaning: Experienced,      Reliable, References. 214-980-2521

SPADE WELDINGLight Welding: Farm & Residential. BBQ Pit Repair. Reasonable rates. 214-980-2786

CONCRETE WORKCommercial/ Industrial/ Residential. Joe Muirhead Concrete Services.214-536-8320

MOWING YARDS, edging, trimming, gutters, flower beds, gardens, scrap metal, clean up & removal. 972-875-2030

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The 8 Worst Fonts In The World

 The 8 Worst Fonts In The WorldIn “Just My Type,” Simon Garfield counts down his least favorite typefaces. and Comic Sans isn’t among them.

We’d need another book, of course, to do this justice. and where would one start?

Fonts are like cars on the street–we notice only the most beautiful or ugly, the funniest or the flashiest. The vast majority roll on regardless. there may be many reasons why we dislike or distrust certain fonts, and overuse and misuse are only starting points. Fonts may trigger memory as pungently as perfume: Gill Sans can summon up exam papers. Trajan may remind us of lousy choices at the cinema (you’ll see it on the posters of more bad films than any other font) and grueling evenings with Russell Crowe. there was a time when it looked as though he would only appear in films–A Beautiful Mind; Master and Commander; Mystery, Alaska–if the marketing team promised to use Trajan in its pseudo-Roman glory on all its promotional material (There is a funny and rather alarming YouTube clip about this.)

Simonson believes that some typefaces are “novice magnets.”Most of the time we only notice typeface mistakes, or things before or behind their times. In the 1930s, people tutted over Futura and predicted fleeting fame; today we may be outraged by the grunge fonts Blackshirt and Aftershock Debris, but in a decade they may be everywhere, and a decade after that we may be bored with their blandness. Fortunately, choosing the worst fonts in the world is not merely an exercise in taste and personal vindictiveness–there has been academic research. In 2007, Anthony Cahalan published his study of font popularity (or otherwise) as part of Mark Batty’s Typographic Papers Series (Volume 1). he had sent an online questionnaire to more than a hundred designers, and asked them to identify: A) the fonts they used most B) the ones they believed were most highly visible C) the ones they liked least.

  1. Frutiger (23 respondents)
  2. Helvetica/Helvetica Neue (21)
  3. Futura (15)
  4. Gill Sans (13)
  5. Univers (11)
  6. Garamond (10)
  7. Bembo
  8. Franklin Gothic (8)
  9. 9. Minion (7)
  10. 10. Arial
  1. Helvetica/Helvetica Neue (29)
  2. Meta (13)
  3. Gill Sans (9)
  4. Rotis (8)
  5. Arial (7)
  6. ITC Officina Sans (4)
  7. Futura (3)
  8. Bold Italic Techno; FF Info; Mrs Eaves; Swiss; TheSans; Times New Roman (2)

The least Favorite survey contained brief explanations. Twenty-three respondents said the fonts were misused or overused; 18 believed they were ugly; others found them to be boring, dated, impractical or clichéd; 13 expressed either dislike or blind hatred.

This was not the first such survey to be conducted. there seems to be a new one every year online, but they tend to concentrate, rightly, on best fonts. Occasionally a novel theory emerges, such as the opinion expressed by the designer Mark Simonson on the Typophile forum. Simonson believes that some typefaces are ‘novice magnets’, possessing properties that draw in those with an untrained eye but a desire to impress. ‘To the average person, most fonts look more or less the same. But, if a typeface has a strong flavour, it calls attention to itself. It’s easy to recognize and makes people feel like they know something about fonts when they recognize it. and it looks “special” compared to normal (i.e., boring) fonts, so using it makes their documents look “special.” To the experienced designer, such typefaces have too much flavour, call too much attention to themselves, not to mention the fact that they often carry the baggage of being associated with amateur design.’

The choice of the worst Typefaces in the World that follows may appear to be purely subjective, like the choice of most reviled pop singer or most hilarious fashion crime. and so it is. But there is also a broad consensus about what constitutes awfulness in type. as we have seen, the one thing that most people (type professionals and laypeople combined) agreed on is that Comic Sans is no good at all. But it is harmless and even benign, and, on account of its unassuming beginnings, perhaps does not deserve the loathing that has been heaped upon it. But what can you say about the virtually illegible outer-limits fonts: Grassy, for example: a type with hair; or Scrawlz, which looks like writing by a 3- or 103-year-old?

These targets, though, are just too easy, and it would be like criticizing your child’s acting in the nativity play. by contrast, the names in the list below, designed by professionals for reward and approval, have had it coming for a while. here then, in reverse order, are my nominations for the eight worst fonts in the world.

There is a broad consensus about what constitutes awfulness in type.

One ought to approve. Ecofont is designed to save ink, money and eventually the planet, but heaven save us from worthy fonts. Ecofont is a program that adds holes to a font. The software takes Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman and prints them as if they had been attacked by moths. they retain their original shape, but not their inner form, and so lose their true weight and beauty. they also usually go no bigger than 11pt, although at this size or smaller they may save you 25 percent of ink consumption.

The plus side: In 2010 Ecofont won a European Environmental Design Award. The downside: a study at the University of Wisconsin claimed that some Ecofont fonts, such as Ecofont Vera Sans, actually use more ink and toner than lighter regular fonts such as Century Gothic (although one could, of course, always print Century Gothic using Ecofont software).

The verdict: the string vest and Swiss Cheese of fonts; a nice idea for printing large documents in draft–but do you really need to print them at all?

“Real men don’t set Souvenir,” wrote the type scholar Frank Romano in the early 1990s, by which time he had already been performing character assassination on the type for over a decade. at every opportunity in print and online, Romano would have a go. ‘Souvenir is a font fatale . . . We could send Souvenir to Mars, but there are international treaties on pollution in outer space . . . remember, friends don’t let friends set Souvenir.’

Romano is not alone; Souvenir seems to infuriate more type designers than practically anything else. Peter Guy, who has designed books for the Folio Society, wonders, ‘Souvenir of what, I would like to know?’ he has a possible answer: ‘A souvenir of every ghastly mistake ever made in type design gathered together–with a few never thought of before–into one execrable mish-mash.’ and even the people who sell it hate it. here is Mark Batty from International Typeface Corporation (ITC) on one of his best-selling fonts: ‘A terrible typeface. A sort of Saturday Night Fever typeface wearing tight white flared pants . . . ’

Souvenir was the Comic Sans of its era, which was the 1970s before punk. it was the face of friendly advertising, and it did indeed appear on Bee Gees albums, not to mention the pages of Farrah Fawcett–era Playboy. Oddly, though, Souvenir was far from a seventies face. it was cut in 1914 by the American Type Founders Company, one of the many fonts of Morris Fuller Benton. After a bit of attention it died away, and that would have been that, had it not been revived by ITC half a century later and given a big push in the heyday of photocomposition.

Souvenir has been in the wilderness for two decades, hiding from a design community critical of anything once described as “warm and fuzzy,” but bizarrely it is almost hip again, at least in the pages of the design magazines. One may be rightfully suspicious of ironic retro patronage, but in this case there is genuine enthusiasm. “Every character is a graphic icon, but as a typeface it is still harmonious,” believes Jason Smith, the founder of the Fontsmith foundry, who once chose the lowercase g of Souvenir Demi Bold as his favourite single character of all time (“the soft terminals and rounded organic body—gorgeous”).

This font pleases the taxman and no one else.

Gill Sans Light Shadowed is the sequel that should never have been made–a font that pleases the taxman and no one else. It’s hard to believe that this is what Eric Gill had in mind when he first picked up chisel and quill–a type design that would combine the look of both but ultimately end up redolent only of crackly Letraset on a school magazine.

Gill Sans Light Shadowed is an optical font defined by its black dimensional shadow, designed to suggest the effect the sun would cast over thin raised letters. like an Escher drawing, it will soon induce headaches, the brain struggling to cope with the perfection and exactitude.

There are a great deal of similar three-dimensional effects on the market, the majority from the late 1920s and 1930s–Plastika, Semplicita, Umbra, and Futura only Shadow–and many digital shaded fonts such as Refracta and Eclipse suggest the trend has not worn itself out. like the many fonts designed to resemble old-fashioned typewriters–Courier, American Typewriter, Toxica–the effect amuses for a very limited time, leaving cumbersome words that are difficult to read and lack all emotion.

If, during the 1940s, you were ever persuaded by government posters to bathe with a friend or dig for victory, the persuading was probably done in Brush Script. if, during the 1960s or ’70s, you worked on a college or community magazine, then Brush Script screamed, use me, I look like handwriting. if, during the 1990s, you ever perused the menu of a local restaurant (the sort of restaurant opened by people who on a starlit evening thought, “I’m a pretty good cook–I think I’ll open a restaurant!”), then that menu had a good chance of featuring Pear, Blue Cheese and Walnut Salad on a Bed of Brush Script. and if, in the twenty-first century, you ever even momentarily considered putting Brush Script on any document at all, even in an ironic way, then you should immediately relinquish all claims to taste.

No one you had ever met actually wrote like that.Brush Script was made available by American Type Founders (ATF) in 1942, and its designer Robert E Smith gave it a lower case with joining loops, creating a quaint and consistent type that looked as if it was written by a fluid, carefree human. The problem was, no one you had ever met actually wrote like that, with such perfect weight distribution and no smudges (and of course every f, g, and h exactly the same as the last one). But it seemed like a good type for corporations and government bodies to get what they wanted across in a non-corporate way, which is why advertisers used it so much for three decades. it was also the type that introduced Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan and Neighbours to the world in 1985, a rare instance of opening credits that looked as though they had been written by an elderly member of the cast.

Brush Script inspired a hundred more handwriterly alternatives–Mistral, Chalkduster, Avalon, Reporter, Riva. Many of these are rather nice, and some (Café Mimi, Calliope, and HT Gelateria) are lavishly beautiful. Every leading digital foundry offers an extensive list, ranging from childish scrawl to technical precision. But they all have one thing in common: they are trying to fool you into thinking they are not made on a computer, and they never succeed.

There are also a number of companies that offer you the chance to create a font from your own handwriting. With a site like Fontifier.com this is almost instant: you fill in an alphabet grid, upload it (with your payment) for digital rendering, and you’ll be able to preview your own uniquely named type with hundreds of professional script fonts, and perhaps discover that it’s better than many.

Avatar cost more to make than any other film in history but it did its best to recoup whatever it spent on 3-D special effects and computer-generated blue people by using the cheapest and least original font it could find: Papyrus, a font available free on every Mac and PC. they did tweak it a little for the posters, but they used the standard version for credits and the subtitling for the Na’vi conversations. and it seems to have been a very conscious move from the top. on the website iheartpapyrus.com you’ll see James Cameron briefing star Sam Worthington in a T-shirt proudly asserting “Papyrus 4 Ever!”

Cameron’s choice was baffling. Papyrus is not a bad font on its own, but is so clichéd and overused that its prominent selection for a genre-busting movie seems perverse. it also seems geographically inappropriate: as everyone who has written a school project over the last decade will tell you, Papyrus is the font you use to spell out the word “Egypt.”

Papyrus is the font you use to spell out the word “Egypt.”Designed by Chris Costello and released by Letraset in 1983, Papyrus suggests what it might be like to use a quill on Egyptian plant-like material. The letters have notches and roughness, and give a good account of a chalk or crayon fraying at the edges. The primitive letters leave the impression of writing in a hurry but there is also a consistency to the style, with E and F both carrying unusually high cross-bars. The lower case seemed to be modeled closely on the early twentieth-century American newspaper favourite Cheltenham.

The font soon became a favourite of Mediterranean-style restaurants, amusing greeting cards, and amateur productions of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (long title–good in Papyrus Condensed), and its digital incarnation proved perfect for the desktop publishing boom of the mid-1980s. it said adventurous and exotic, and marked its user out as a would-be Indiana Jones. its use in Avatar was a remarkable notch up–and another example of growing typographic literacy as moviegoers scratched their heads and wondered where they had seen those titles before.

Are you out this evening to see an amateur stage version of a musical involving an animal called Pumbaa and another called Timon, with songs performed by a junior Elton John? Good luck! while you’re there, take a look at the poster. more likely than not it will be in Neuland or Neuland Inline. The Neuland family says Africa in the same way as Papyrus says Egypt, albeit the it’s-all-good safari/spear-dance side of Africa rather than the shantytown or Aids side. it is a dense and angular type, suggestive of something Fred Flintstone might chisel into prehistoric rock. The inline version is bristling with energy and a quirkiness of spirit, a bad type predominantly through its overuse rather than its construction.

Neuland was created in 1923 by the influential typographer Rudolf Koch, who also made Kabel, Marathon and Neufraktur. at the time of release it was so far removed from other German types (both blackletter and the emerging modernists) that it was widely regarded with derision – too clumsy and inflexible. But its individuality soon became its strength, and by 1930 it had been adopted to advertise products that thought of themselves as special: the Rudge-Whitworth four-speed motorcycle; Eno’s Fruit Salts; American Spirit cigarettes. some time later, as with Papyrus, Neuland hit the big time in the movies–with the type almost as prominent in Jurassic Park as the dinosaurs.

Neuland and Papyrus are both theme park fonts.Both Neuland and Papyrus are classifiable as theme park fonts, more comfortable on the big rides at Universal Studios, Busch Gardens or Alton Towers than they are on the page. there are many other display types that share this dubious attribute, and the enterprising man behind a site called MickeyAvenue.com has spent a great deal of time at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida noting them all down. We now know to expect Þ at the Corner Café on Main Street, and w at the Haunted Mansion, while x, which was put on this earth to spell the word y, is at Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland. The classics, too, show up in places their designers could never have envisaged. Albertus reigns at the Animal Kingdom Oasis area; Gill Sans provides signage at the Epcot Imagination zone; Univers does its usual information duty at transportation and ticketing areas, while Futura is at the Animal Kingdom’s Dino Institute.

You may write to the MickeyAvenue webmaster thanking him for his sterling endeavours. You will receive a reply thanking you for your communication written–of course–in Papyrus.

As you might expect, Ransom Note consists of letters that look as if they have been hurriedly cut from magazines to form unnerving messages. there are various styles of such fonts available, many of them downloadable free of charge, and you might use them to write such things as “Pay up or the kitten gets it.” Inevitably these menaces don’t look very realistic, and Ransom Note is a font best used for comic effect, perhaps to say “Christian is having another bloody paintballing birthday party–please do come.”

The names are often better than the type–BlackMail, Entebbe, Bighouse. None of them, however, have a genuine ransom note’s sweat, glue, and menace, nor the cut-up shock-art of those original Sex Pistols record sleeves.

Precisely 800 days before the Olympic Games were due to start, the Official London 2012 shop began selling miniature die-cast taxis in pink, blue, orange and other shades, the first of forty such models, each promoting a different sport. The cabs are not like the lovingly crafted ones you can buy from Corgi, with opening doors and jewelled headlights, more the lumpy ones sold in Leicester Square to tourists in a hurry. why should this matter? Because they are an example of very bad design, something London has largely begun to shun in recent years. what makes them doubly bad is the packaging, which comes with a bit of trivia about all the Olympic and Paralympic sports, each heralded with the question “Did You Know?” in what is surely the worst new public typeface of the last 100 years.

The font is based on jaggedness, not usually an attribute where sport is concerned.The London 2012 Olympic Typeface, which is called 2012 Headline, may be even worse than the London 2012 Olympic Logo, but by the time it was released people were so tired of being outraged by the logo that the type almost passed by unnoticed. The Logo was the subject of immediate parody (some detected Lisa Simpson having sex, others a swastika), and even the subject of a health warning–an animated pulsing version was said to have brought on epileptic fits. In the International Herald Tribune, Alice Rawsthorn observed that “it looks increasingly like the graphic equivalent of what we Brits scathingly call–‘dad dancing’–namely a middle-aged man who tries so hard to be cool on the dance floor that he fails.”

Like the logo, the uncool font is based on jaggedness and crudeness, not usually considered attributes where sport is concerned. or maybe it’s an attempt to appear hip and down with the kids–it looks a little like the sort of tagging one might see in 1980s graffiti. it also has a vaguely Greek appearance, or at least the UK interpretation of Greek, the sort of lettering you will find at London kebab shops and restaurants called Dionysus. The slant to the letters is suddenly interrupted by a very round and upright o, which may be trying to be an Olympic Ring. The font does have a few things going for it: it is instantly identifiable, it is not easily forgettable, and because we’ll be seeing so much of it, it may eventually cease to offend. Let’s hope they keep it off the medals.

From Just My Type by Simon Garfield. Published by arrangement with Gotham Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) inc. Copyright © 2010 by Simon Garfield.

Click here to buy the book on Amazon for $17.

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Link Discussions On Iranian Nukes To Israeli WMD – OpEd

 Link Discussions On Iranian Nukes To Israeli WMD – OpEd

Reuven Pedatzur has an interesting article in Haaretz about challenges posed internationally to Israel’s nuclear program.  While it doesn’t break much new ground, there is an interesting fear that he warns Israeli policymakers about, which could prove quite fruitful if added to a progressive agenda concerning nuclear weapons in the Middle East:

Israel’s nuclear potential will not disappear from the international agenda. The position of Egypt, which through the years has led the moves to expose Israel’s nuclear capability, is likely only to become more extreme. if there is one issue that all Egyptian parties can unite behind in the election campaign scheduled for the end of the year, it is Israeli nuclear capability. More and more voices are calling for a link between pressure on Iran about its nuclear program and Israel’s nuclear program.

I think this is a brilliant idea.  Probably someone’s already thought of, or written about this.  But why not approach the problem of nuclear weapons in the Middle East in a comprehensive, rather than country-by-country basis.  Instead of singling out Iran, why not say we’ve got to deal with every country in the region which has, or threatens to gain nuclear weapons.  This may mean we have to take much more seriously the notion of a nuclear free zone, which currently is something that the nuclear-haves scoff at.  Why not tell those nuclear countries that if you want to keep your nukes, then be prepared to admit new members to your club.  Members you might prefer to bar, rather than welcome.

On the other hand, if you’re willing to de-nuke along with all other nations in the region, you’ll render the Middle East a lot less volatile place, which will increase your own national security.  I don’t think this will work sans peace treaty resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  But it’s a target worth aiming for.

Someone needs to tell Israel in no uncertain terms that if it wants to maintain a few hundred nuclear warheads, then it will also encourage nations like Iran to follow suit.  If Israel wishes to remain outside the non Proliferation Treaty, then it will have no right to criticize the actions of a country like Iran which is inside NPT.  It’s really an issue of hypocrisy.  Israel simply cannot make demands of others which it isn’t willing to respect itself.

This article appeared at Tikun Olam

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