Thursday, May 19, 2011

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [May 18th]” plus 10 more

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [May 18th]” plus 10 more

Link to MakeUseOf

Cool Websites and Tools [May 18th]

Posted: 18 May 2011 08:31 PM PDT

Check out some of the latest MakeUseOf discoveries. Most of the listed websites are FREE or come with a decent free account option. If you want to have similar cool website round-ups delivered to your daily email, subscribe here.

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Team Crossword – created by Microsoft FUSE labs, is a way to group-solve crossword puzzles (though you can play individually too). Connect your Facebook account, log in and get started with any of the crossword puzzles listed on the site. You can also invite your friends to play the same crossword. Read more: Team Crossword: Solve Crosswords With Friends Online

 

Junkyard Jumbotron – If you have a very large image and you want to cut it up and show it on many different displays, now you can with Junkyard Jumbotron. It is a browser-based app that lets you join multiple screens (smartphones, tablets, laptops) into one big combined visual display. Read more: Junkyard Jumbotron: Join Multiple Screens Into One Big Virtual Screen

 

 

HelponClick – This web service lets you easily add a live chat to your website through an embeddable HTML code. You can customize the chat interface to a great degree. For instance you can decide whether to pop up the chat dialog immediately after somebody visits your website or after a few seconds have passed by. New chat notifications to you are delivered through a desktop client.Read more: HelponClick: Get A Live Chat For Your Site To Assist Visitors (10 Free Accounts)

 

 

Fat Booth – When it comes to beginning a new diet, we all procrastinate. Thinking that a 'few extra pounds' would not hurt, we keep on ignoring our diet plans. FatBooth is here to provide that extra bit of motivation we require to begin our diet plans. FatBooth is a free Android application that lets you visualize what you would look like with a 'few extra pounds.' Read more: FatBooth: See How You Would Look Fat [Android]

 

 

Tiki-Toki – Presenting with timelines is a great way to tell a story or narrate how things changed or evolved. It makes stories more powerful and puts things in perspective. Tiki-Toki is a simple web app for generating interactive timelines from your browser. Sign up takes less than a minute, where you can instantly start uploading your photos and videos and then map them to a specific date. Read more: Tiki-Toki: Create Seamless & Interactive Timelines

 

These are just half of the websites that we discovered in the last couple of days. If you want us to send you daily round-ups of all cool websites we come across, leave your email here. Or follow us via RSS feed.


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7 Best “New” Web Browsers With A Chance Against Chrome & Firefox

Posted: 18 May 2011 06:31 PM PDT

new web browsersMany people swear by either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, but there are a myriad of other new web browsers that are definitely worth a look. Truly, neither Chrome nor Firefox are perfect. There are some features we would like to see built into Firefox (that meanwhile, we'll just have to satisfy with addons), and others that we still wonder why Chrome hasn't bothered to include such as RSS feed detection (which meanwhile can also be satisfied with an add-on).

A lot of the following browsers ship with addons that you would otherwise have to obtain yourself, so they may make for a fresh breath of air.

Chromium [Cross-Platform]

Since Google Chrome is a fork of the open-source browser project, Chromium, anything that applies to Chromium can be applied to Google Chrome, while not everything that pertains to Chrome can be applied to Chromium.

For instance, to illustrate the very first point, both Chromium and Google Chrome offer Search Suggest, which presents you with a list of suggestions as you pause when you're typing in your search query. An area where the two browsers differ is in crash reporting or usage statistics; by default, sending these reports is opt-in and disabled in Chromium. Chromium also comes without a PDF Viewer and Adobe Flash Player, but all is not lost since you can actually utilize any of the extensions in Chrome’s Web Store in Chromium.

Acquiring this browser takes a bit more than just finding the Download section and clicking on the installer link. You can follow these instructions here or you can use the unofficial, portable version on SourceForge.

new web browsers

Chromium-Based Browsers: SRWare Iron & RockMelt

SRWare Iron [Cross-Platform]

latest web browsers

If you like Google Chrome's speed, but are concerned with privacy, SRWare's Iron web browser might be for you. Since Google Chrome and SRWare Iron are based on the open source Chromium project, you'll spot few differences. On the internal side of course, Iron doesn't include Chrome's information-collecting features, such as URL-tracker, error reporting, etc. Aside from those internal differences, Iron works pretty much the way you're used to in Chrome. Chrome extensions and themes will also work on Iron, just like Chromium.

To check out the portable version and the regular install in Windows, head to the website. Mac users can download Iron here, while Linux users can go to this thread.

RockMelt 2 [Windows + Mac] + iPhone Sync

latest web browsers

If you're big on sharing interesting news on Facebook, Twitter and/or email, RockMelt (in beta) might be worth a look. It's similar to Flock, the social browser derived from Mozilla Firefox, in that it targets the die-hard social media addict so it integrates notifications from sites like Facebook and Twitter. It comes with a few tricks of its own though, the iPhone app [iTunes link], which syncs your items marked to read later, as well as bookmarks.

latest web browsers

Though RockMelt doesn't support Google Sync, you can sync your RockMelt browsers across PCs and Macs with your Facebook account.

Wyzo 3 [Windows + Mac]

what new web browsers are there

A few things have changed since we last reviewed Mozilla-based Wyzo, but it remains the most useful browser for the frequent downloader since it comes with FireDownload, a download accelerator, and FireTorrent, an extension that turns this browser into a torrent client. One new feature in Wyzo 3 is the inclusion of SkipScreen, the extension that allows you to skip waiting screens from popular file-sharing sites, such as MegaUpload and the like, while it no longer seems to ship with CoolIris and FireGestures.

Maxthon 3.0 [Windows/Android]

what new web browsers are there

We first took a look at Maxthon in 2008, where we noted that Maxthon began as an extension of Internet Explorer and so, it uses the same rendering engine. These days, Maxthon supports both the Trident rendering engine (which is the layout engine for IE, so you can still view IE-optimized websites) as well as Webkit, which powers Google Chrome and Safari and renders Maxthon's Ultra Mode, loading pages almost instantly.

In addition to its dual display engines, Maxthon also has a sea of nice features, such as mouse gestures, bookmark sync with Maxthon Passport, speed dial, popup blocker, online notepad, RSS reader, instant translator, screen capturing tools, and resource sniffer, which detects all video, image, and audio links on a website. The Android app also has a few of these features, namely the RSS reader, speed dial, download manager and gestures.

Opera 11 [Cross-Platform]

what new web browsers are there

In addition to extensions, Opera contains a few more impressive features that make it stand out from the crowd. With Opera, you don't need another desktop mail program, torrent client, or web server, as Opera offers these services. Since Opera also offers browsers for mobile phones and tablets, you can use Opera Link to sync your bookmarks, speed dial, custom searches, etc. Opera users also get a free space on the My Opera community, that they can use as a blog or to share files.

One additional cool feature that we should mention is Tab Stack, which is one among many other tab management features Opera has, and can help you not only group tabs, but also streamline your workflow.

Internet Explorer 9 [Windows 7/Vista]

new web browsers

IE9 is heaps better than its predecessors, and sports a more minimalistic look, but perhaps the biggest feature it has over other browsers is, without a doubt, its integration with the Windows OS. Jumplists definitely take advantage of sites like Twitter and Facebook, which behave more like applications, and make some functions more seamless.

Have a favorite new web browser that wasn't listed? Share it with us in the comments!

Image credit: RockMelt, Shutterstock


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6 Free Apps To Try Out Augmented Reality On Your iPhone

Posted: 18 May 2011 04:31 PM PDT

augmented reality iphoneAugmented reality is way cool. Using your camera, location and the right apps, it is possible to overlay useful, relevant information on top of live camera images to provide an enhanced view of the world around you.

AR (as we’ll be calling it from now on) is set to become big business in the next few years, with more and more of us carrying potential AR units around with us in our pockets, everywhere we go.

You can try out some impressive AR technology right now, for free, with these 6 great augmented reality apps for your iPhone. You might be surprised at just how smart your smartphone can be! All have been tested on an iPhone 4 running iOS 4.3.2.

Theodolite Free

augmented reality iphone

Traditionally a theodolite is an age-old instrument used by surveyors and meteorologists for the precise measurement of angles. In a similar vein, Theodolite Free is a multi-functional app designed for surveying, navigation and all manner of outdoor pursuits.

The app serves as a compass, GPS (displaying longitude, latitude, elevation and so on), zoom scope and a two-axis inclinometer. Theodolite Free reports back with real-time information about position, bearing and horizontal/vertical incline data, live on your screen.

There are also Basic and Pro versions available for $1.99 and $3.99 respectively, which add advanced features such as an A-B calculator for judging height, distance and so on. If you have a need for this kind of thing, Theodolite Free (or a paid version) is an absolute must-have.

Layar

augmented reality

We’ve mentioned Layar before, but as it’s a thoroughly exciting and promising app I’m going to highlight it again. Layar takes what the project refers to as "layers", and places them on top of your iPhone’s field of vision.

These layers usually refer to a theme or specific point of interest and can be downloaded within the app. Layers serve different purposes – for example, buying cinema tickets simply by pointing your phone at the cinema and touching a button, or finding nearby grocery stores simply by thrusting your phone into the air.

By switching between your favourite layers, you won’t be swamped with irrelevant results all over your screen, something some (paid) apps haven’t cracked yet. There have been reports the current version is buggy, though it worked fine on my iPhone 4 (3GS is a minimum requirement).

SnapShop Showroom

augmented reality applications

Do you ever have trouble deciding on furniture? Is it partly because you’re in IKEA and not your own living room? Well now you can check before you leave the house with SnapShop Showroom, an AR app designed to make buying furniture less of a whim.

Simply download, launch and choose a room. Choose your item of furniture and line it up as best you can with the image shown on your camera. Happy? Snap the shot and take a good look.

You can make further alterations to your shot by moving, scaling and rotating your furniture till you’re happy or persuaded otherwise. You can then buy the exact item you’re toying with from within the app (US customers only), or simply use it as a guide before hitting the shops.

WorkSnug Pro

augmented reality applications

Here’s a great concept – ever tried getting some work done in a noisy, unproductive city environment? Fancy some way of finding the best spots to work, grab a coffee and check Twitter? You need WorkSnug, now fully operational in 15 cities worldwide!

WorkSnug assembles reports from fellow mobile workers regarding the best spots for free wifi, a quiet workspace, access to power and the quality of the coffee (amongst others). Using AR you can see these local results in realtime through your iPhone’s camera.

If your city isn’t listed yet then hop on board, start visiting and rating ideal local workspaces and you’ll have a network of ideal workspaces in no time.

buUuk

augmented reality applications

If you live in, or plan to travel to Asia, Australia or certain parts of Africa then you’ll probably benefit from using buUuk. The app will find you food and drink in an incredible range of countries, including: Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Cambodia, New Zealand and everywhere in between.

Enter your criteria and results will be shown on-screen, via the wonders of AR. There are a vast number of categories to choose from, so whatever you fancy for dinner this app is bound to find something that suits.

On a slightly more serious note this one is probably quite useful if you have any specific dietary preferences (such as vegetarian food) or are strapped for cash (the app also highlights local offers).

AR Matrix

augmented reality iphone

This one has absolutely no genuine uses whatsoever. Simply put – this app allows you to turn everything you see into a Matrix-like stream of code and take pictures based on the results. Using one finger you can distort reality, or try pinching with two to alter the on-screen colours.

Whilst it’s not useful, it’s still a nice little tech demo of how your phone can process, manipulate and distort camera images on the fly.

Conclusion

There should hopefully be a couple of augmented reality iPhone apps here that have at least highlighted the usefulness of AR, and your phone’s ability to enhance the world around you. Despite many of the best AR apps costing money, at least with these few you can check out the fuss without spending a thing.

Have you made use of an AR app yet? Geeky fad or next big thing? Help us decide in the comments, below.


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KMPlayer – The Best Media Player Ever?

Posted: 18 May 2011 03:31 PM PDT

KMPlayer, also known as K-Multimedia Player or KMP, is a free media player for Windows. It natively supports a myriad of audio and video formats, meaning the regular user will never have to worry about codecs. In addition, it offers many advanced features, is extremely customizable, and is available in multiple languages. If you are looking for a versatile multimedia player for Windows, KMPlayer may be just the one.

Do not confuse this KMPlayer with KMPlayer from KDE.org, which was developed for Konqueror / Linux and first released in 2010. The original KMplayer was first released in 2002.

Despite being a powerful tool, KMPlayer has long been an insider among geeks and never gained widespread attention. This may in part be due to its Korean origin and a lack of a professional web representation and English user manual or help files. On the other hand, KMPlayer does have a very strong user base and an active forum. Yet it is notorious for its bad documentation, which is especially discouraging for novice users. However, using KMPlayer is not as challenging as it sounds and this article will shed some light.

First Impressions

KMPlayer has a functional and unpretentious interface.

best media player

The basic player controls are located in the bottom left. To its right you can view information about the file and filters, set the audio streams (left, right or both channels), and control playback sections (from point A to point B). The elapsed time (or system time if no file is loaded) is displayed on the far right and you can also set repeat and shuffle options. The volume control is situated in the bottom right.

The Menus

A left-click on the KMPlayer logo in the top left corner opens the basic file menu.

free media player

From there you can open the file navigator, as well as individual files, DVDs or Video CDs from your CD/DVD drive, and load subtitles or external audio.

A right-click anywhere onto the player opens the Main Control window.

free media player

This menu grants access to KMplayer’s extensive features. Almost every item in the list is a major menu of its own. For example while the basic file menu allows to load subtitles, the subtitle item in the Main Control menu lets the user define every little subtitle characteristic, including its alignment, font size or rotation. It takes a while to grasp the full depth and potential of these sub-menus and gain an overview.

Feature Overview

The endless list of features is what KMPlayer is famous for. It really is a shame that the developers have not released a proper manual for this advanced media player as many features are not self explanatory. Below is a summary of some of the most prominent features, which should give you a taste:

  • Screen Controls: extensive control of player screen size, ratios, window transparency, and window on top features
  • Pan & Scan: control window and frame position and size
  • Playback: move between frames, jump back and forth, set repeat section, control repeat mode, re-sync audio, time shutdown
  • Subtitles: search and find subtitles online, add multiple subtitles, control position and orientation of subtitles, re-sync subtitles, modify and merge subtitles
  • Bookmarks / Chapter: bookmark positions within a file

Experienced users of KMPlayer will notice that this list only touches the surface. There are far more features and options available than mentioned above. The preferences window alone (> Main Control > Options > Preferences) hosts a myriad of settings, for example filter control, audio, video, and subtitle processing, color controls, and much more. Users can save their settings in presets and launch them as required or exchange them with other users for common projects.

If you are craving immediate access to even more features, you should launch the advanced menu to have many more options available at your fingertips, including audio and video effects, filters, capture options, and skins. To enable the advanced menu, open the > Main Control (right-click on player), go to > Options and check > Advanced Menu.

best media player

The Superficial Verdict

The KMPlayer interface is simple enough for the average person to use it as a basic media player. This, however, would be a waste because one thing KMPlayer doesn’t do is save system resources. Playing the same video file requires about 80% more system resources than VLC Player and even a little more than Windows Media Player. But if you are eager to play with your media files and get the best out of them and if you are willing to go through trial and error, then KMPlayer is a dream come true.

If KMPlayer did not convince you, I recommend you give VLC media player a spin. Get started with these articles:

Although KMPlayer has been mentioned many times over on MakeUseOf, we haven’t written a lot about it. If you’re going to make the switch to KMPlayer or are already using it, however, you might want to know How to Bookmark Movies To Resume Where You Left Off. What other features should we highlight or where do you think documentation is lacking badly?

Do you think KMPlayer may be the best media player, or could become your favorite? If it already is, what do you love about it? If you don’t think it could replace your current favorite, why not?


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Create Your Own Hosted Auction Website With WeBid

Posted: 18 May 2011 02:31 PM PDT

hosted auction websiteMostly everyone has either used or heard of eBay. Although it may not be quite as popular as it used to be, it still remains the single largest online auction site in the world. It’s still a great place to earn some income selling rare items, or to get a great deal on that hard to find gift.

Here at MUO, we love auctions, and we love bringing you cool auction tools. For example, sniping tools like Gixen and goSnipe.  We also brought you SoLow for mobile auctions. Most of the auction tools are based on eBay of course.

For all its value, eBay isn’t much help when your needs are a little bit smaller. There are many cases when non-profit organizations want to create their own online hosted auction site where they can list items for auction – with proceeds going to charity. Or maybe you’d like to host an auction site on your own website that’s focused on niche items related to your site. Whatever your need, you can install a really useful script on your web server called WeBid that lets you host your own fully-functioning auction site.

You can download WeBid at SourceForge for free, and extract all folders and files to a sub-directory in your public hdocs folder. Configuring and installing WeBid is actually a whole lot like installing WordPress, and like WordPress, the system is based on PHP and MySQL.

Installing WeBid On Your Web Server

After downloading everything to the auction folder (in my example I used /hdocs/WeBid/) locate “config.inc.php.new“. Open this file and edit it with the name of the MySQL database you created for your auction site, as well as the userid and password you created with full privileges.

hosted auction website

Don’t use “root” – this was run on my local test web server, so I’m not very concerned about security. In your case, you’ll need to set up a secure user using PhpMyAdmin. Save the file and rename it “config.inc.php“. Next, just open up your site and go to the directory where you placed the WeBid files. If your domain is “mysite” then it would be something like “http://www.mysite.com/WeBid“.  When you open this in your browser, you’ll see the installer configuration.

hosted auction site

Fill in all of the fields according to where you placed your files, and the name you gave your database. If everything is correct, you’ll see the following confirmations shown at the bottom of the install configuration page.

hosted auction site

If you’ve got everything green, then go ahead and click “Install“. After the install script runs through its routine, you’ll be prompted to delete the install folder. Once you do, the next time you visit the WebId folder with your web browser, you’ll be logged into your admin account.

The admin panel is where you will customize and manage your entire auction site. It’s where you manage users, how auctions are set up and run, and everything else to do with what your auction site is like. The main admin page shows you all of the current settings for your auction site.

hosted auction site

As you can see from the tabs, there is a lot about this hosted auction site that you can customize to make it unique for your own use. You can change the fee structure, what the user interface looks like, and more.

host auction website

You can customize the user experience by enabling or disabling authentication, how accounts are activated (whether you want to be part of the process), and you can also customize the message the user sees when they first submit for a new user ID for your auction site.

host auction website

The fee structure can look however you like – from absolutely no fees, to fees for everything the user wants to do. Or, in the case of a charity, you may not even set up any fees at all.

host auction website

Once new users set up their accounts, adding a new auction is pretty simple. In the case where you are running a charity and most users are buyers, then you’ll just set up one seller account and you’ll be the only person in charge of entering auction details. In either case, the entry process is all on one page. First, you’ll fill in all of the details about the item.

At the bottom of the form, you submit pictures, add pricing and select features like highlighting, and then submit. The auction becomes active immediately (or whenever you’ve scheduled it to activate). The format of each auction is pretty slick, and not a whole lot unlike the eBay auction formats that you may be used to.

hosted auction website

There are plenty of auction sites out there where you can list your items for sale, but wouldn’t it be pretty cool to have your own hosted auction website? All you need is a web hosting account and about 30 minutes to an hour, and you could set up this system and host your own auction site for your small group, or for the entire world. How you use it is completely up to you!

Do you have any ideas for your own auction site? Give WeBid a try and let us know how easy it was for you to set up and what you used it for. Share your experiences in the comments section below!

cc licensed flickr photo shared by bloomsberries


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Hot Tech Deals – Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 1TB Portable External Hard Drive $79.99 + more

Posted: 18 May 2011 01:30 PM PDT

A couple of interesting random deals today. We have the Klipsch home theater speakers at $199.99 — that’s half off! And maintaing the spirit of audio systems, the Polk Audio RM85 5 channel home theater speaker system is also $199.99. Or if you’re a cheapskate, spend $19.99 on a pair of Sennheiser HD 201 cans.

For more fresh hot deals, visit our Hot Tech Deals page, which is constantly updated.

  1. Dell Vostro 3300 Intel Core i3-370M 2.4GHz 13.3in Laptop (Aluminum, 2GB/250GB) $459
  2. Dell Vostro 3750 Intel Core i3-2310M 2.1GHz Sandy Bridge 17.3in Laptop (Aluminum) $499 via code F28935J46S3QT4 (Exp 5/24)
  3. Olympus Stylus Tough 3000 12MP 3.6X Digital Camera (Waterproof) $99.99 Free Shipping
  4. Klipsch HDT300 (or HD300) 5.1ch Home Theater Speakers $199.99 Free Shipping via code KLIPSCH5X7 (Exp 5/19, See discount at checkout)
  5. Asus ML239H 23in IPS LED-Backlit LCD Monitor w/ HDMI $209.99 Free Shipping
  6. Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 1TB Portable External Hard Drive $79.99 Free Shipping via code EMCYTZT471 (exp 5/19)
  7. Polk Audio RM85 5ch Home Theater Speaker System $199.99 Free Shipping via code EMCYTZT472 (Exp 5/19)
  8. Sennheiser HD201 Lightweight Over-Ear Binaural Headphones $19.99 Free Shipping via code EMCYTZT475 (Exp 5/19)


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3 Cool Things You Can Do With Windows 7 Cloud

Posted: 18 May 2011 12:31 PM PDT

windows 7 cloudIf you’re running Windows 7, it’s entirely possible you’ve never even heard of the Windows 7 Cloud. Beyond being the thing that came installed with your new computer, there’s actually an awful lot of incredibly useful technology built into Windows 7 and the entire Microsoft product line. The Windows 7 Cloud is Microsoft’s way of promoting and tying together a range of different technologies, so let’s take a look at some of the awesome things you do with the Cloud.

Here’s a brief overview of some of the apps we’ll be looking at today:

Mesh

Sync files and folders across the Internet, between both your own PC’s, your Live Skydrive, or friends and family PC’s too. This also works with Mac OSX.

Remote Access

Control your PC from anywhere in the world!

PhotoFuse

Make perfect group shots by combining the best bits of various shots.

There’s a whole suite of apps included in the download that actually do a whole lot more besides, but I’ll leave that up to you to discover them all or for future articles.

Getting Started

Head on over to Windows Cloud and hit the large Get Started button at the top right. If you’re running Windows 7, you should be shown a download button, so go ahead and do so.

windows 7 cloud

I’ll be installing the full selection of apps on my main PC, as well as adding just the Mesh app to my Windows Home Server and Mac, so you’ll get a good overview of all the cool stuff included.

You’ll also need a Windows Live ID, so sign up here if you don’t already have one. You can use an existing email address – you don’t need to sign up specifically for a Windows Live one.

For those of you wanting to interact with your Mac too, there are OsX versions of Mesh, Remote Desktop Control & Messenger for HD video chat.

Mesh: File Syncing Across Computers

Once it’s all installed and you’ve restarted, open up Start Menu -> All Programs -> Windows Live -> Windows Live Mesh and sign in using the details you signed up with earlier.

The first thing I’ll do is choose a folder to sync, and set it up so that my photos folder is synced across PCs as well as my home Mac. Do this on each PC you wish to sync, and start with just one folder to test it out.

windows 7 the cloud

Once you’ve added one folder to sync, it should be listed when you sign in on a different machine. You can choose to either sync it to the same location (like My Pictures), or choose a specific folder to keep it in sync with (the screenshot below is from the Mac version).

windows 7 the cloud

Once you’ve a got a few machines set up, Mesh will start automatically syncing them all. You can see a progress report if you click on the folder to expand the view:

windows 7 the cloud

My test set of about 300MB of photos took less than 5 minutes to sync across 3 local systems. Of course, syncing across the Internet may take longer – but that’s still a pretty incredible speed, I must admit.

To share the folder and sync to friends and family instead of your own Windows Live account, you need to expand the view as above and click on the Shared With: Just Me link. You’ll be taken to the Live Devices site when you can invite up to 9 other users to sync the folder with, where it will then appear on their Mesh app.

what is windows 7 cloud

Remote Control

Also available for Mac in the form of Remote Desktop (you’ll need to know the IP address to connect to though). On the Windows side you can manage this also using the Mesh app. Just click Remote at the top of the screen to be shown which devices are available and how to enable it on the current computer.

what is windows 7 cloud

Be aware that when you connect remotely, the user is logged off on that PC locally in order to prevent concurrent access. Once connected, you’ll be presented with a regular login screen.

what is windows 7 cloud

Understandably there is a little lag when connecting over the Internet, but on a local network for upstairs/downstairs PC control it’s incredibly responsive. If you’re using Internet Explorer, you can even connect directly from within the browser by using the Windows Live Devices online management portal.

PhotoFuse

Though I do love my Mac for full photo management, it’s little features like this that make Live Photo Gallery that little bit more appealing. PhotoFuse is designed for group shots, and allows you to take the best bits of two photos and merge them together. To do so, open Photo Gallery and locate the group shots you want to use, then highlight them and select PhotoFuse from the Create menu.

Use the selection tool to highlight which bit you’d like to change, and the popup will show you the choices you have.

windows 7 cloud

The results are pretty good, allowing you to ‘fix’ those precious memories. Of course, the software can’t make someone smile, but it can take the best bits and merge them all together.

Conclusion

That’s all we’ve got time for today, but I would encourage you to download the full Windows Live Essentials / Cloud pack and see all the other goodies in there. The file syncing functionality is perhaps the best around, and you aren’t limited to whatever Dropbox gives you. I’m also impressed that Microsoft has included certain Mac versions of the apps, something which would have been unheard of in the past – great news for any of us running a mixed device network.

Do you make use of any other Windows Live apps or Mesh in your home network? Let us know how you use it, and what your favourite app is in the comments!


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Quickly Summon Bookmarks In Your Chrome Browser Using Quickmarks

Posted: 18 May 2011 11:31 AM PDT

manage bookmarks in chromeThere are millions of pages on the web, but how many of their URLs can you remember? Not many, I guess. You would be a very extraordinary person if you could memorize a few hundreds URLs. To help users remember all of those great websites that they stumbled onto, browser developers came up with various bookmarking features.

Thanks to extensions, users can add new abilities and improve almost all the existing features of a browser – including bookmarking. If you are a Chrome user and you want to expand the ability of your browser’s bookmarking feature, you could try Quickmarks – an extension that will help you to quickly open and manage bookmarks in Chrome using simple keywords.

It Takes Two Steps

You could say that Quickmarks is a bookmark launcher, comparable to application launchers on your personal computer. You can get it by going to the Quickmarks page in the Chrome Web Store and clicking the “Install” button.

manage bookmarks in chrome

The extension will then be added to your browser and a notification window will pop up.

chrome bookmark manager

The basic usage of this extension is fairly simple. Just type “b” (sans quote) in the Chrome address bar (or the “omnibox” as some call it), click “Tab“, and type in the name of the bookmark you want to open. A list of possible bookmarks will appear as you type the name. You can navigate the list by using the up and down arrows on your keyboard. To choose an entry, hit “Enter“. Everything is done without the need to touch the mouse.

chrome bookmark manager

In the spirit of a mouse-free environment, some may ask how to get to the omnibox without using the mouse. You can use the tab button to move between the fields on the open page. By hitting tab repeatedly, you will finally arrive at the omnibox. But the simplest way is to use the “History – Home” menu (Ctrl + Shift + H on Windows or Command + Shift + H for Mac). This menu will put the focus on the omnibox so you can quickly type in the Quickmarks’ shortcut.

chrome bookmark manager

More Tricks Under The Sleeves

Even though the basic usage of Quickmarks is just “b – tab – name“, there are a few more tricks you could apply to make the whole process even swifter. The first one is adding shorter shortcuts to your bookmarks.

To do that, open “Bookmarks – Bookmark Manager” (or Control + Shift + B / Command + Option + B).

chrome bookmark addon

The Bookmark Manager will open in a new tab, and you can look or search for the page that you want. To assign new keyword(s) to your bookmarks, select one, and right click on it. After that, choose “Edit” from the pop-up window.

chrome bookmark addon

The bookmark name and URL will be editable. All you have to do to assign a keyword(s) to the bookmark is to add your preferred characters between square brackets. For example, I wanted to add “dk” as the keyword to summon the “Discovery Kids” page, so I added “[dk]” after the site name.

chrome bookmark addon

Using keywords like this, you can summon any bookmark page quicker by using “b – tab – keywords“. Still using the example above, if I wanted to open Discovery Kids, I only have to type “b – tab – dk” and hit “Enter“.

There’s another trick you could do with Quickmarks: to quickly summon bookmarklets. In Safari, users can open a bookmark/bookmarklet by using the shortcut keys Control + Number / Command + Number, where “Number” is the order of the bookmark location in the bookmark bar.

We can use Quickmarks to achieve the same thing. Just add a number as the keyword for your bookmarklet, and you can quickly summon it using the number.

manage bookmarks in chrome

For example, I added “[1]” to Quix. So every time I want to open Quix, I just use “b – tab – 1“. You can use the trick to open other useful bookmarklets like Joliprint, Instapaper, or Evernote.

Have you tried Quickmarks to manage bookmarks in Chrome? What do you think about it? Can you think of other practical ideas for Quickmarks? Please share using the comments below.


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Make Professional Looking iPhone 4 & iPad 2 Videos Using Videolicious

Posted: 18 May 2011 10:31 AM PDT

make iphone videosOne of the best features about the iPhone 4 is the nifty built-in video camera which you can launch, shoot, and edit on the go. As most of you may know, Apple produced a mobile version of its video editing application, iMovie, about the same time it released the iPhone 4. The movie editing application works great, but if you want a really simple, fast, and almost professional way to produce a video on the fly, you should download a free copy of Videolicious. It is, or is going to be, the rave app of the Spring season.

Videolicious enables you to select from a group of photos and videos (or create new ones) in the Camera Roll of your iPhone or iPad 2, and produce up to a 50-second video with voice-over narration and cool background music, or songs from your music library. The magic of Videolicious is that it does all the editing work for you. Once you learn how it works, you can put together a Videolicious production in three easy steps. But before we get to that part, let’s explore some ideas for shooting video.

Video Ideas

Not only is Videolicious a neat video editing studio, it also provides 20 awesome ideas for shooting mini video productions. They include:

  • General Video
  • Video Thank You Note
  • My Day in Video
  • Trip Documentary
  • Restaurant  Review Video
  • Auctions or Sales Video
  • Product Review Video
  • Kids and Family Video
  • Birthday Party Video
  • Sight Seeing Video
  • Shopping Haul Video
  • Event Documentary
  • Personal Profile Video
  • Video Resume
  • Real Estate Listing Video
  • Business Profile Video
  • Hotel Review Video
  • New Report Video
  • Sports Game Video

Even more awesome, the app includes video projects for sending your productions directly to Lucky Magazine, Martha Stewart Video, ReadMade Magazine Video, and Self Magazine Video. The app includes videos on how to produce related projects for these websites. Other online businesses will surely want to get on board with this type of project after they see what their iPhone 4 and iPad 2-using customers can do with this app.

Creating A Video

The following short video explains well how to put together a Videolicious video. After you watch it, I will follow up with some suggested tips that may help you with the slightly tricky parts of the narration.

Suggested Tips

make iphone videos

As you can see in the tutorial, a Videolicious production consists of what are called in the movie profession cut away shots (the ones you select) that reflect the voice-over narration you provide. Your selected shots are what are called the B-roll, and the shot of you and your narration is the A-roll.  The format of the video productions consist of a brief opening shot of you starting your narration, and it continues with a voice-over narration  followed by a series of short videos and/or photos based on the order you selected them.

Videolicious somehow analyzes your narration and content and puts in transitions between shots. That’s the magic part. The duration of shots are not evenly divided. The last transition of the video jumps back to a shot of you concluding your narration. The editor has sense enough not to include the shot of you turning off the camera. Note however that the sound, if any, in your B-roll shots is muted in the editing and final production. Your original videos are retained.

The tricky part, if you are a perfectionist, is to tell the story so it keeps the photos and/or video shots in sync with the narration. You have no control over where the transitions go, so you may have to redo your narration a few times to get more accurate transitions. It may mean shortening or extending your narration, or taking a shot to make everything fit.

For videos and photos you already have on your iPhone 4 (I have not tried it on the iPad 2), you will want to keep in mind the duration of each video. If they are longer than the allotted 50 seconds, you can copy and slice them up in the built-in editor of your iPhone.

make ipad video

If you use photos, you'll notice that Videolicious produces a cool little soft panning effect – just the right amount to keep some motion in the clips.

For new video productions I suggest you choose the type of project you want to do, such a Birthday Party video. Plan ahead of time the shots you will need to tell your story. Try to make each of your video shot last no longer 15 seconds. That may seem short, but in the world of video it’s not. Videolicious will cut off some of your footage to make everything fit.

make iphone videos

Next, this may be obvious to many, but when you videotape yourself using the iPhones 4′s Front-Facing camera, be sure to look at the camera lens itself when you talk. Don’t look directly at yourself in the phone’s retina display.

Also, be sure to hold your videocam iPhone as steady as possible. When you click the start button, allow a second or two of recording before you begin panning the camera. Remember, good video includes lots of purposeful pans and zooms, but be deliberate in your actions. Don’t make your viewers dizzy with erratic shots. See here for a few additional ideas about shooting home videos.

In step 2 of the process, you can reshoot your narration as many times as you need to. However, you have to save your narration along with the background music before you can view the final production. The finished video is saved on your iPhone's or iPad 2 Camera Roll, and you can view it inside the app itself. If you're not satisfied with the results, just re-shoot the narration and delete shots you don't like or that don’t fit.

Videolicious is the magic app that Apple probably wishes it created. The app doesn't give you the advanced editing controls found in iMovie or Final Cut, and it’s not a replacement for these programs, but it’s great for short, mobile, off-the-cuff productions. Future upgrades to this app will undoubtably enable users to add titles, select from several different transition effects, and perhaps preview productions before they are saved.

Let us know what you think of Videolicious. If you create a project you would like to share, include a link to your video.


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SteadyFlow Simplifies & Manages Your Downloading [Linux]

Posted: 18 May 2011 09:31 AM PDT

manage downloads linuxManage your downloads on Linux, outside of your browser. SteadyFlow is a lightweight, simple piece of software that makes managing downloads on Linux a snap.

Every browser can download files, and for small files this is fine. If you’re downloading a large file however, your browser may not be the right tool for the job. You might restart your browser, or your browser may crash, causing you to lose all progress on your file. With your browser’s downloading tool the result is a download you need to restart, wasting precious bandwidth.

This is when download managers come in handy. These programs handle large downloads so your browser doesn’t have to, and SteadyFlow is a download manager for Linux that tries to stay out of your way.

Clean, Usable Interface

Fire up SteadyFlow and you’ll quickly see a very clean window:

manage downloads linux

Here you can see your current downloads. You can also add and remove downloads, and pause downloads in progress. If this seems simple, that’s because it is; that’s part of the point of this program. Close the SteadyFlow window and it will continue its progress in the system tray. You’ll even get notifications when a download is done.

linux download manager

Preferences are kept simple, but there are a few things you can do. For example, you can tell the software where to put your downloads and what to do when a file is completely finished.

linux download manager

Close SteadyFlow and it will remember where it left off.

Chrome Integration

You can download a very simple Chrome plugin for SteadyFlow, if you wish. This add a new menu option when you right-click a file.

linux download manager

Click this button and you’ll be shown a couple of options.

manage downloads linux

Set where you want the file to go and what you want to have happen when it’s done. Then get back to browsing, knowing your download is running outside of your browser session.

Install SteadyFlow

Ready to install SteadyFlow? Doing so in Ubuntu and Ubuntu-based variants is easy; just add the SteadyFlow PPA to your installation and install the “steadyflow” package. The simplest way to do this is with the command line and these three commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:sikon/steadyflow
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install steadyflow

Users of other Linux distros will have to settle for source code for now; find it at the SteadyFlow Launchpad page to get started. If you’re not sure how to compile software you may be out of luck; sorry about that.

More To Come

Of course, there’s a good chance SteadyFlow will be in your distro’s package manager very soon. There are also certain to be many improvements to SteadyFlow, which I’m excited about: this is already a very useful piece of software.

Know of something better? Share it in the comments below, along with your thoughts about SteadyFlow. Oh, and if you’re not a Linux user, check out these alternative download managers for Windows and Mac OS X:

The Best Free Download Mangers for Windows
SoMud, Cross-Platform Download Manager
Folx, A Mac Download Manager


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Top 10 RSS Feeds For Medical News & Alerts

Posted: 18 May 2011 08:31 AM PDT

rss medical newsHealth is definitely one of those things we don't notice till it starts to ebb away. Isn't it also true that medical news is the last thing you like to read or see in newspapers and television? That is, if you do not have any illness in the family. I pray you don't, but if you do then the web has always been a secondary source of some great information. The first source should always be your general practitioner and physician.

There is no harm in arming yourself with information when you need to talk to a doctor. A better informed patient (or a patient's guardian) makes for a wiser decision maker. We are living on the cutting edge of great medical leaps. Medical news and alerts help us to keep pace with these leaps. Let's look at some top websites for RSS medical news feeds and stay alert with the help of their feeds.

MedicineNet

rss medical news

MedicineNet.com is an encyclopedic medical website that looks at health information across the board. The site has five types of health and medical RSS feed channels – Daily Health and Medical News, Weekly Health and Medical News Digest, MedTerms Medical Word of the Day, Specialty topics, and 36 other channels on general topics. The link to the site takes you straight to the RSS page where the channel services are explained in more detail. Simply know that a topic with the RSS icon next to belongs to one of the channels and is available for subscription via your RSS Feed Reader.

WebMD

medical news

The site is closely allied to MedicineNet and provides medical news, features, reference material, and online community programs. The medical news site is very reader friendly and one of its best features are the communities that are grouped around health conditions. WebMD Health syndicates award-winning Medical News covering health-related events. Health care workers can also freely subscribe to the Medscape podcasts and reference content.

Medline Plus

medical news

Medline Plus is a public information service from the U.S. National Library of Medicine and its parent organization – The National Institute of Health. The site also culls global medical news from Reuters and Health Day (the health news syndication service), and more from the press announcements of major medical organizations. So when you subscribe to the RSS feed, you can expect the information to be reliable and update.

MedPage

medical news

MedPage is more for practicing physicians and medical specialists, so if you are either, you can benefit greatly from their coverage of breaking news in different medical fields. MedPage Today is a joint effort of The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the web company. News headlines via RSS feeds are grouped by topic and you can subscribe to the one of your interest.

Reuters

latest medical news

If it's global breaking news, you can always see that Reuters is on the ground following it. The health section of the news website is always kept fresh with the latest studies, medical news, health issues, and any news on healthcare reforms that might be taking place. A lot of other health sites also collect their information from Reuters. So grab the feed by clicking on the small RSS icon that can be found towards the foot of the page.

OnMedica

latest medical news

Onmedica.com is a well regarded online medical publication for daily news, views, blogs and medical learning. The site says that the content is aimed at doctors, but it can also be a valuable resource for nurses, pharmacists, medical students, and other healthcare professionals. Grab the latest news on your feed reader by clicking on the RSS feed icon. You can also grab the feeds of the blogs and opinion pieces separately.

BBC Health News

latest medical news

The latest health news is just one of the many things the broadcasting corporation covers. While you are grabbing the RSS feed link, you might as well also catch the video & audio news feeds on health and medicine too.

Healthline

This well designed medical and health site empowers consumers with up-to-date, easy to digest information. Interactive maps and videos also help you to understand the basics of a medical condition. Catch the Healthline news daily with the help of their RSS feed.

New Scientist

New Scientist is one among the respected scientific magazines in the world. The magazine looks at scientific discoveries and how they impact us and our society. Health gets a section all of its own and you can read about the latest medical discoveries here. You can jump to the different Topic Guides that are made for deeper reading. Even better, with the RSS feed, you won't have to visit this site daily and can catch up on all the latest medical news.

Yahoo Health

rss medical news

Google and Yahoo both aggregate RSS medical news feeds from other sources. I have a personal preference for Yahoo because of the page layout. You can browse the most common conditions from the list on the left, look at 3D body maps, watch videos, and catch the top health news stories on the site or via the RSS feed.

These ten medical and health websites show that if you care enough about your health, knowledge is not a problem. Then you have these three posts for some more –

5 Health Websites You Can Tap For Online Support On Depression
10 Nutritional & Health Websites For Kids To Help Improve Their Health
3 Sites to Get Your Medical Questions Answered by Experts for Free

Prevention is better than cure. Do you read up on medical news now and then? Tell us about your favorite RSS medical news feed.

Image Credit: Shutterstock


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