Getting PNG Graphics to Display Correctly in IE

GRRR, Getting PNG graphics to display correctly in IE!

This article is for those HTML/CSS guru’s out there who are frustrated with IE. Particularly the minor problem of displaying PNG’s correctly. PNG is an image format that combines the best features of GIF and JPG/JPEG, the traditional and most common image formats used on the World Wide Web. PNG is supported by virtually all major and minor browsers that are in use today. Although all major browsers display alpha and transparent properties correctly, Internet Explorer has fallen behind. To implement PNG alpha and transparent properties correctly in IE, there are a few steps one must take. Nothing is wrong with the PNG format itself. PNG format compresses images in a similar way to GIF, but images can have up to 280 thousand billion unique colors (normally, a maximum of 16 million colors are used). PNG also supports binary transparency, as well as full Alpha, meaning that each pixel of the image can also have one of 256 different levels of transparency (or 65 thousand levels if you really want to). PNG format produces files with approximately the same file size as the equivalent GIF image, assuming they have the same number of colors. PNG does not support multiple image layers to allow animation, but its related format – MNG – does.

Here’s some sample code to get started:

<span style="width:400px;height:32px;display:inline-block; /* the height and width should match those of the image */ filter:progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.AlphaImageLoader(src='varyAlpha.png'); /* apply the background image with Alpha in IE5.5/Win. The src should match that of the image */ "><img style=" filter:progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Alpha(opacity=0); /* make the real image fully transparent in IE5.5/Win, so the Alpha image can show through */ " src="varyAlpha.png" width="400" height="32" border="0" alt=""/></span>

You will notice the largest key is using the AlphaImageLoader class (DXImageTransform.Microsoft.AlphaImageLoader). That’s the trick! Happy Coding!

Cause A Ruckus

Because of the availability of high-bandwidth networks at so many colleges and universities, and because college students are a notoriously poor and thrifty group of people, the number of college students charged with illegally downloading music is high.

More importantly, the RIAA has been serving schools with John Doe requests to force them to reveal the names of their students who are infringing on their copyright. Besides decrying the RIAA as a bully and a monopoly that anachronistically can’t fathom new business models, what’s a school to do? Many schools have begun to offer their students free subscriptions to subscriber services like Napster. Napster in particular was adopted by Penn State University, among others. However, students didn’t particularly like the service, and because tracks downloaded through it are impossible to burn to CD or transfer to say, an iPod, illegal peer-to-peer file sharing continued. Moreover, schools were paying vast sums of money for a service their students really didn’t use.

Enter Ruckus. The Ruckus Player is an actual download, but it alone is useless. However, once a user signs up (with a valid *.edu email address), s/he can download *.ruckusdownload files from, which the Player uses to track and download files. The service is ad-supported, but free to any student. Schools can optionally pay to have a server put on campus, which significantly boosts download speeds for students without straining the Internet bandwidth of the school. Win-win! Ruckus tracks are still encumbered with prohibited DRM (“digital rights management”) courtesy of Microsoft’s PlaysForSure initiative. Fortunately for the enterprising student, there are is an easy-to-use program that strips the DRM from these files, which can then be imported into iTunes/burnt to CD/put on an MP3/etc. Even for those unwilling to chart into the legal gray area of DRM strippers, Ruckus is an excellent source of completely free audio. Just watch out, because once you graduate…. your tunes expire!

Text Aloud

This software product quickly and accurately converts all written texts in to spoken words.

Text Aloud uses voice synthesis to convert text in to spoken audio. It can read Email, web pages and documents etc using your computer’s voice. By using this you can listen to email, online news or other documents while you are engaged in some other activities. Texts having MP3 or WMA conversion can be saved in audio format and can be easily downloaded.

Text Aloud is a simple and easy to use text to speech utility software that offers text editing, pronunciation and voice changing facilities. In brief, Text Aloud is the best audio reader suited for Windows.

pdftk: The PDF Toolkit

If you don’t own Adobe Acrobat it can be a bit of a hassle to work with PDF files. Sure, there are a number of programs to allow you to print to PDF files without using Acrobat, but how about a free tool to manipulate them?

pdftk is a command-line utility that runs on Windows, Linux, Mac, and other operating systems. It is slightly complex because of the number of features it supports, but works brilliantly for common tasks such as extracting pages from one PDF into their own PDF, combining PDFs, using password protection, and adding watermarks to documents.

pdftk should also be of interest to you if you are a programmer that might need to automate PDF-related tasks. Because it works on multiple platforms, pdftk can be a handy utility to call from web applications that need to manage PDF. The program also has the ability to fill PDF forms from FDF/XFDF formatted files or standard input, so if, for example, you find yourself in the position of wanting to fill a series of PDF forms from something like Microsoft Excel using a VBA macro, pdftk might be just what you need.

Are You A Disk Warrior?

Disk Warrior is Macintosh software that performs various tasks and recovery on hard drives.

This software can fix or repair drives that are corrupted or damaged. It obviously cannot fix all problems but it can fix many. Recently I used Disk Warrior 4 on a drive that had disconnected during copy. It would not recognize and it appeared that all the data on the drive was lost. After using Disk Warrior the drive was fixed! What a fantastic product. Disk Warrior will not fix all problems but considering how much sentimental and financial value exists in peoples computers these days, it is software that may be worth its weight in gold.


OpenVPN is an awesome implementation of a virtual private network, far superior to the traditional ipsec implementations.

Unfortunately, different vendors of networking equipment support ipsec to various degrees, making interoperability of devices an issue. OpenVPN runs on software and can be run on Linux, Mac, and Windows operating systems. OpenVPN Gui makes it a home run for Windows business users, who will find it just as good as Juniper Networks or Cisco competitors who charge a lot of money for equipment and licensing! Tunnelblick makes the Mac experience a breeze. Some DNS tweaks are required sometimes, however, whereas the Windows client is super-simple. After I installed OpenVPN, I through my old Netscreen/Juniper POS out the window. It’s never failed me. Its definitely an open source project to support.