I’m feeling very unlucky today

Oh, please Google, stop, for the love of search, make it stop!


I can’t see an option to remove the background image and switch back to the default. I tried replacing it with a tiny transparent image, but I was denied …, as it requires an image at least 800×600. So, I tried a white 800×600 image:


Weak though. I liked the fact that the image was tiny (around 600 bytes), but it’s too washed out. Apparently, Google doesn’t have an algorithm that can make a smart decision about text contrast and the photo being used. Too bad.

So, I tried a black image:


Not too bad. Passable.

I’d prefer however an option to switch back to the simple white background. The default background image today is absolutely awful (IMHO). I’m sure I’m not the only person this morning shocked by the change.

This option is such a tease:


As it just removes an image you selected, and switches back to the default image. :-P

If you’d like the black background I use as a temporary fix…, just click on the black rectangle below, which should open the original file. Right click on that and “save as” to your desktop.


Today, I will start using Bing more. I like the way they do background images. Hand picked. Not too large. Easy to read text…


Silverlight Analog/Retro Flip Numbers

I’m not sure what to call these exactly. I’ve created a relatively simple Silverlight 4 control that emulates the old mechanical flip style numbers (or letters) displays found at airports and in old clock-radios.


I call it the RetroFlipper.

It’s easy to use (at least for my needs). Declare an instance of the control in XAML:



        <wpcontrols:RetroFlipper Margin="5,20" 
                                 x:Name="numberFlip100" Grid.RowSpan="1" Grid.Column="1"/>

And then respond to the “Flipped” event and set the “Text” property as needed.

            numberFlip0.Flipped += new EventHandler(numberFlip1_Flipped);
            numberFlip0.Text = "0"; //(0, 0);

The default animation speed can be adjusted:

numberFlip0.AnimationSpeed = 1;

It’s a percentage – 1.0 is the default. If you want the animation of the flip to be half speed for example, just set it to .5.

The class that drives the demo is really simple:

public partial class MainPage : UserControl
    private DispatcherTimer _timer;
    private int _inc = 0;

    public MainPage()
        numberFlip0.Text = "0"; //(0, 0);
        numberFlip0.AnimationSpeed = 1;
        numberFlip10.Text = "0"; //(0, 0);
        numberFlip10.AnimationSpeed = .7;
        numberFlip100.Text = "0"; //(0, 0);
        numberFlip100.AnimationSpeed = .4;
        _timer = new DispatcherTimer();
        _timer.Interval = TimeSpan.FromSeconds(.5);
        _timer.Tick += new EventHandler(_timer_Tick); 

    void _timer_Tick(object sender, EventArgs e)
        int current = _inc;
        int next = ++_inc;
        if (next % 10 == 0)
            numberFlip10.Text = Math.Floor(next / 10 % 10).ToString(); 
        if (next % 100 == 0)
            numberFlip100.Text = Math.Floor(next / 100 % 100).ToString(); 

        numberFlip0.Text = (next % 10).ToString();            

    private void Button_Click(object sender, System.Windows.RoutedEventArgs e)

(And no, it doesn’t handle numbers > 1000).

Building the control required a few tricks.

The most interesting was that I decided to use 4 layers to actually represent and animate the flip cards:


Using a few OpacityMasks

    <LinearGradientBrush EndPoint="0.5,1" StartPoint="0.5,0">
        <GradientStop Color="Transparent" Offset="0.5"/>
        <GradientStop Color="Black" Offset="1"/>
        <GradientStop Color="Black" Offset="0.5"/>
        <GradientStop Color="Transparent"/>

and some creative PlaneProjection and animations,

<DoubleAnimationUsingKeyFrames Storyboard.TargetProperty="(UIElement.Projection).(PlaneProjection.RotationX)" Storyboard.TargetName="backBottom">
    <EasingDoubleKeyFrame KeyTime="0:0:0.17" Value="270"/>
    <EasingDoubleKeyFrame KeyTime="0:0:0.27" Value="180"/>
    <EasingDoubleKeyFrame KeyTime="0:0:0.30" Value="220"/>
    <EasingDoubleKeyFrame KeyTime="0:0:0.32" Value="180"/>

it’s possible to create the illusion of the mechanical parts moving.

Any text may be set into the Text property – it’s automatically sized to fill. So, it could be words, double digits, anything you’d like, as long as it’s text.

In any case, the demo is here.

The source code, licensed under BSD, is here.