This page has answers to questions that I frequently field both via email and on the PC Magazine Utilities discussion forms. and via email. Please feel free to email me any comments you have regarding these entries.

Index

  1. After my monitor powers down, I can't exit CubeShow.
  2. What types of images does CubeShow support?
  3. Why doesn't CubeShow support GIF files?
  4. The images CubeShow displays on my screen appear to be fuzzy.
  5. CubeShow doesn't show any pictures, just colored faces.
  6. CubeShow tells me "Unable to find a display configuration that supports Direct3D".
  7. CubeShow reports an "Out of Video Memory" error.
  8. My pictures seem stretched or distorted.
  9. CubeShow is Blinking or Flashing.

After my monitor powers down, I can't exit CubeShow

CubeShow doesn't seem to interact properly with a few video cards when the power saving settings are enabled for the monitor. On these systems, if the monitor powers down after a timeout, and CubeShow is still running, moving the mouse or hitting a key will not restore the screen.

This is documented in the help file under Known Bugs. I am working on reproducing the problem, with no success so far.

What types of images does CubeShow support?

CubeShow is able to read JPG, JPEG, BMP, DIB, and WMF files. From time to time users report that CubeShow won't display their pictures - this usually means that the pictures are not in a format that Windows recognizes.

Why doesn't CubeShow support GIF files?

Rendering GIF files requires the use of an LZW decompressor. This algorithm is covered by US, Japanese, and European patents help by Unisys. It isn't practical to pay royalties on PC Magazine Utilities.

The images CubeShow displays on my screen appear to be fuzzy

The pictures are fuzzy and low resolution because they are preprocessed down to 256x256 resolution. If the cube is moving fairly quickly, this resolution usually seems adequate on most machines.

Older computers with underpowered (by today's standards) video cards have a real problem rendering big pictures; it slows CubeShow down terribly. It can be so bad as to make people think their computer is locked up because it takes as long as 15 seconds for the screen saver to disappear! Scaling those high resolution JPEGs down to a 256 by 256 BMP allows CubeShow to be responsive on a wide range of machines. That is why CubeShow preprocesses your images by default.

If you have a fast computer (faster then 1 GHz) you can probably handle much bigger images. The easiest way to do this is to change the Converti option in the INI file from 1 to 0, then reprocess your photo directory. (Use the Advanced dialog in you have CubeShow 1.1.) This tells CubeShow to not create scaled down copies of the images. This is worth a test on your machine, it is easy enough to change back if you find the result disappointing.

CubeShow doesn't show any pictures, just colored faces

When you select a folder containing pictures, you will go through a conversion process, where each file is converted to BMP format and stored in an Image Cache directory. After the conversion process is complete, CubeShow reports on the number of successful conversions. If this number is 0, it means CubeShow was unable to read any of your photos.

If you think CubeShow ought to be able to read the photos, you might want to see if Windows Explorer can read them. To do this, use Windows Explorer to browse to the folder containing your pictures. If they are in a valid format, you ought to be able to see thumbnail previews for selected folders.

You can also check file formats using PC Magazines FileSnoop utility, or by dragging the pictures into an Internet Explorere window.

CubeShow tells me "Unable to find a display configuration that supports Direct3D"

In order to run CubeShow, your video card needs 3D acceleration. The troubleshooting section of the help file will tell you how to test for 3D acceleration using Microsoft's DxDiag.exe diagnostic program.

The help file will also tell you how you can enable software acceleration. If you have a fast CPU (say 750 MHz or better), software acceleration can provide acceptable performance. By default this is disabled, as it is usually not needed on fast machines, and doesn't work well on slow machines.

If your CPU is relatively slow and you don't have 3D hardware acceleration, CubeShow might turn out to just be a bad fit for your system.

CubeShow reports an "Out of Video Memory" error

This error comes straight from Direct3D, and it means that there is not enough video memory on your display card to buffer up all the photo images that CubeShow is attempting to display.

The only workaround to this is to force CubeShow to run at a lower screen resolution, which requires less memory. You can do this by changing the value of INI entry LowScreenResolution from 0 to 1, as described in the Additional INI Settings section of the help file. If you have CubeShow 1.1 you can change the setting directly from the Advanced Settings dialog.

If you continue to see this error message after enabling the lower screen resolution, you are probably not going to be able to get CubeShow to work on your system.

My pictures seem stretched or distorted

CubeShow stretches most images to fill the entire face of the cube. If the aspect ratio of the image is less than 3:4 or greather than 4:3, CubeShow will not stretch the image (when INI setting PreserveAspectRatio is at its default value of 1), which prevents distortion but leaves black bars on the face of the cube.

The insertion of the black bars that cause preservation of the aspect ratio is done when the files are converted to the reduced resolution BMP format in the Image Cache from the Settings dialog. If you disable conversion by modifying the Convert parameter in the INI file (or from the Advanced Settings dialog in CubeShow 1.1), all images will be stretched to fit into the square cube face.

Without a better solution in Cubeshow, you might consider using a photo-editing program to either crop your pictures to a square format or add blank space on the tops and bottoms or sides.

CubeShow is Blinking or Flashing

If you have a task that is in the notification state, it normally operates by blinking its icon on the TaskBar. In some situations, this blinking will show through Cubeshow. CubeShow doesn't have any way to disable this flashing.
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