The View from Landmark

Trends and issues in personal computing from Bud Stolker, a long-time PC consultant. The View from Landmark features tips and techniques to make time spent with your computer more productive and rewarding, commentary on new personal computer policies and trends, plain-English explanations of new hardware, software, and network designs and their relevance to you, and answers to common questions. There may be personal material interspersed if Bud believes it is of general interest.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Free panorama software

I've been looking for years for a program that will take a series of linear photos and blend them into a panoramic image without warping the ends down into a horseshoe shape -- quite a trick.

I found Panowarp last year -- an interesting page. Panowarp does what I need it to do, but you have to be a rocket scientist to run it.

Then this week I found Panorama Factory the day the new version was released. (Check out the slide show.) Its older free version probably works all right, but the paid version is just what I need. Trouble is, I don't want to spend sixty bucks for it.

Today, while waiting for a haircut, I dug down through the pile of magazines -- Vogue, Stylist, Haircut, Fashion, Beauty, Brides, etc. and finally extracted a copy of Digital Photography (can't find its Web site). The feature article mentioned Autostitch in passing. The program is free with no strings attached, and it's awesome! Just feed it pictures and it sucks them up and spits out a perfect job with a flat horizon and no stitch marks in the sky or on the ground. Landmark panoramaSo I'm playing with it. Its default output is a little light on content, but I fiddled with the controls and came up with a 50 Mb. JPG that was beautiful -- much better than my wobbly, ghosted last effort. The settings are extensive and just need a little tweaking for the right output size.

So . . . that's all. Get yourself a copy of Autostitch and try it! This small panorama lacks detail, but has a perfect horizon. Once I get the hang of the settings, I'll have the Web site banner head generate randomly selected panoramas. (It will be similar to the banner head at

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Domain notification renewal: A scam?

Hi, Bud.

This document looks like a scam to me. Do you know anything about them? I had renewed my domain registration through something like 2011. If it is a scam, is there some fraudbusting outfit I can forward this to, to alert them?

The general impression I get from Googling for comments about this outfit is that it's a scam, but they haven't broken any law. It's just a carefully worded sales pitch. They want you to buy a new domain name.

Notice that they're not referring to (yourdomain).com, but to (yourdomain).us -- a different domain entirely. I cannot find any registration for (yourdomain).us, which means you could -- and probably should -- register the name.

In a way they're doing you a favor by bringing this to your attention. It underscores the need to nail down domain names similar to yours before somebody else grabs them. Your domain name is (yourdomain).com. But in a lot of minds, .com, .net, and .org names are pretty much interchangeable.

Although (yourdomain).org and (yourdomain).net are already taken, there are new extensions available: dot-us, dot-info, dot-name, dot-biz, etc. None has the recognition factor that dot-com has, but it may be worth grabbing the top 3 or 4 new extensions to hedge bets against confusion with another company, or against someone who intentionally wants to siphon off traffic from you.

I regret not having grabbed my domain name sooner. Six months earlier (in 1995), was available. But mid-'95 when I got to the Internet the name was taken, so I took Now all the landmark extensions are taken -- dot-net, dot-biz, dot-us, dot-tv -- all of them. So I added LandmarkComputer as a domain name and use only as a backup. Go to any popular variation on my domain name --, .org, .net, .biz, .us -- and you'll find that it belongs to me. That to me is the right way to ensure the continuing value of an Internet domain name.

So no, don't respond to this scam. You could report them to the BBB or the FTC; I doubt that would do any good. But do consider grabbing (yourdomain).us before somebody else does!