Thursday, June 2, 2011 “Is Your MacBook’s Bottom Peeling? Apple Has A Replacement [News]” plus 10 more “Is Your MacBook’s Bottom Peeling? Apple Has A Replacement [News]” plus 10 more

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Is Your MacBook’s Bottom Peeling? Apple Has A Replacement [News]

Posted: 02 Jun 2011 07:31 AM PDT

Is the rubberized bottom of your white unibody MacBook beginning to peel? Apparently you're not alone, as Apple is now offering free replacements, though only for users experiencing this very specific issue.

The problem, according to Cupertino's engineers, is that “under certain circumstances, the rubber surface on some MacBooks may separate from the bottom of the system“.  The MacBook Bottom Case Replacement Program has been set up to take care of customers who have fallen victim to this problem.

MacBooks that have shipped between October 2009 and April 2011 are covered. This is another way of saying “all white unibodies” as Apple didn't start shipping laptops with a white rubber bottom until the release of the white plastic unibody on October 20, 2009. MacBook Pros are not part of this program, as they have a different bottom.

A replacement can be ordered online, or can be obtained by setting up an appointment with a Genius at an Apple retail store. If you choose the do-it-yourself option you'll receive not only a replacement bottom cover, but also a screwdriver sized to fit the screws on the bottom of your Mac and a full set of new replacement screws. Instructions are included.

If you already had this problem and were forced to pay for a replacement, Apple can issue a refund.

Source: Ars Technica

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Cool Websites and Tools [June 1st]

Posted: 01 Jun 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.

Add Your Website Here!


Page Speed Online – We all want websites to load faster and so does Google, since faster websites translate into more visits and more Google Ad views. Therefore to help web developers speed up their sites, Google has launched a nifty suggestions tool called Page Speed Online, a free to use website that provides useful suggestions to improve the speeds of a webpage. Read more: Page Speed Online: Get Suggestions On How Improve Site Load Time


Otipo – Call centers, pharmacies, and hospitals often keep a record of employees' shifts in registers and on paper. This type of storage is inflexible and often to check a little detail you have to flip through a dozen pages. Here to offer a far better solution is an online service called Otipo, a user-friendly shift-scheduling online service that will serve all organization where employees work in shifts. Read more: Otipo: A User-Friendly Employee Shift Scheduling Tool



Spendbrite – To ensure that you will have savings at the end of the month, you need to control your spending. This can be helped by monitoring your savings targets and seeing how well you are doing. SpendBrite lets you do this in a very easy way. You start by entering your budget for different types of expenses. Read more: Spendbrite: Monitor Savings & Expenses In A Very Simple Way



TN3Gallery – Creating a slideshow of images on your site's homepage is a wonderful way to catch and hold a visitor's attention. While writing the code of such an image slideshow can be a tedious task, there are services on the web that simplify the process. One such service is TN3Gallery. Read more: TN3Gallery: Create Visually Appealing Slideshows For Your Site



DocsTeach – Just reading about historical events may not be an interesting enough learning exercise for many students. DocsTeach changes that by letting you access digital copies of thousands of original documents in the National Archive, as well as interactive activities that can help you learn from those documents. Read more: DocsTeach: Learn History With Thousands Historical Documents Online


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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3 Ways To Quickly Shorten URLs Straight From Your Browser

Posted: 01 Jun 2011 06:31 PM PDT

In a world of micro blogging and mega long links, URL shortening can be insanely useful. Not only can it help to simplify and save space, it can also track links and reveal how often they have been opened. But how simple is it really when you have to copy the original URL, head over to a URL shortening service, paste the link to shorten it, and copy it again to use it wherever you need it? This is where browser addons and bookmarklets for URL shortening come in: they make this process dead simple and quick.

In this article I will introduce you to three URL shortening tools that work with either Firefox or Chrome or any other browser that supports javascript bookmarklets. So whatever browser is your favorite, there is a handy URL shortening tool that will work for you.

Cutyfox (Firefox)

Cutyfox is a Firefox extension ‘made in Germany’ that currently supports the URL shortening services,,, and as well as the native URL shorteners of Flickr, YouTube, and Amazon (plus shorteners).

shorten url

Per default, the extension sits to the left of the URL bar, symbolized by a pair of scissors. Clicking it will shorten the current URL and automatically copy it to the clipboard.

shorten url browser

Via the Cutyfox Options menu, accessible through the Firefox list of extensions, the tool can be customized, for example to show the button in the address bar or status bar, to use a different shortening service, or disable the auto-copy to clipboard feature.

An alternative to Cutyfox is Shorten URL, a Firefox addon that supports over 100 URL shorteners. The problem is that it still lists a lot of sites that have since discontinued their service. (Chrome)

Google’s URL shortener is simply ingenious. Its button sits in between other installed Google Chrome extensions to the right of the smartbar. Once clicked, the URL of the present tab is shortened and automatically copied to the clipboard.

shorten url browser

Along with a short URL, also creates a QR code and provides further details on an information page for the short URL.

shorten url browser

Additional options can be configured via the extension settings menu, for example adding services to share shortened URLs with, adjusting preferences, or managing keyboard shortcuts. The URL shortener is also available in a lite version, which comes without keyboard shortcuts and context menu.

bitly (All Browsers)

If you use neither Firefox nor Chrome or both interchangeably and would prefer to use the same tool in both, check out the bitly sidebar bookmarklet. This little javascript-powered tool lives in your bookmarks bar.

url shortener

To shorten a URL, click the bookmarklet and the sidebar will launch with the open tab’s URL pasted in and automatically shortened. All you have to do is click > Copy next to the shortened link. If you wish to shorten a different link, simply paste it into the URL field, click the > Shorten button, and then > Copy the URL to your clipboard.

shorten url

You do not have to create an account to use bitly. However, if you do, you will be able to analyze and keep track of your links.

The above is only a small selection of the most easy and quick to use URL shorteners. There are many more services that may come in handy in special situations, for example the following ones that have also been profiled in the MakeUseOf Directory:

The downside of URL shortening is that it can hide the revealing path to a malicious website. For this reason, we have recently introduced you to 5 Browser Extensions To Expand Shortened URLs.

How often do you use URL shortening and do you ever re-use your shortened URLs or do you just create a new short link?

Image credits: YellowPixel

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Create Stunning 3D Panoramas On Your iPhone With Microsoft Photosynth [iOS]

Posted: 01 Jun 2011 04:31 PM PDT

iphone panorama appCreating a panorama from multiple images is no longer the arduous, drawn out tweak-fest it used to be. If you’ve got access to professional software like Photoshop or even basic freebies like Windows Photo Gallery then creating a panorama never takes more than a few clicks.

Microsoft Photosynth is technology you’ve probably seen before, as it kicked up quite a storm when the company announced it. Taking multiple photos of differing size, orientation, quality and so on; Microsoft (with help from some clever chaps at the University of Washington) released a tool that could make a 3D panorama automatically.

The technology is called Photosynth, and it really has to be played with to be believed. Luckily iOS users (iPhone 3GS & 4, iPad 2 and iPod Touch 4G) can now create panoramas on the fly. You don’t need a tripod, existing images or money – the iPhone panorama app is free and startlingly easy to use.

Creating A Masterpiece

Capturing the world around you in a 360-degree panorama is not as hard as it sounds, though there are a few things to remember in order to get the best results from Photosynth. The first screen you’ll see upon launching the app is your camera image and a "Tap to Start" message, and 3 tabs at the bottom of the screen.

iphone panorama app

The tab on the left takes you to your existing Photosynths, and the right hand tab allows you to connect sharing accounts and edit a few settings. One setting worth mentioning is Exposure Lock which will stop your camera adjusting for different light levels, delivering an evenly exposed shot (I’d recommend leaving it alone to begin with).

On the centre tab (a camera icon), tapping the screen will initiate a new panorama. Photosynth will start taking photos straight away, and as you move your camera around you will notice the program automatically building up a panoramic image of the scene.

iphone panorama

It is important not to move from your starting position when you are creating your 360-degree image as this will cause inaccuracies within the panorama. If possible try to stand perfectly still and pivot your phone in its current position. This is undoubtedly the best method for capturing a panorama, and you’ll see what I mean once you’ve messed a few up.

iphone panorama

As you pivot your phone new pictures will be added to the panorama. At times the green Photosynth capture box will turn yellow, and this indicates manual capture is required. At these points it is up to you to decide whether manual capture is going to add to or detract from the image. You can also overwrite existing photos by touching to take a new photo, or hit undo to remove your last shot. Each scene is different, but don’t forget to capture what’s above and below you!

When you think you’re finished, hit Done and the app will automatically stitch your images together for you. It can take about 5 minutes for a full 360-degree scene, not bad considering how long it would take by hand. A flat image of your panorama is also saved to the camera roll, like the one below.

iphone panorama

Photosynthing All Over The World

So you’ve got your panorama, and it’s awesome. You can pan around by swiping on the screen, pinch to zoom and there’s an enticing Share button in the bottom left corner. Touching this will give you three options: share to Facebook, publish to Bing Maps and upload to

iphone panoramic picture app

To share to Facebook you’ll need to link your account with Facebook Connect, and both Bing Maps and upload options require a Windows Live ID.

Here I’m going to upload to the Photosynth website as it’s probably the easiest way of viewing your panorama on a bigger screen, from anywhere on the web. After you’ve selected Upload To hit Sign In Now. Enter your usual Live ID and choose a public display name before finalising your decision with Create then Upload.

iphone panoramic picture app

To view the panorama on your PC sign in to with your usual login. You’ll be taken to the My Photosynths area where you can select your newly uploaded creation (here’s mine). You’ll need Microsoft Silverlight to view, though on my Ubuntu laptop the open source alternative Moonlight worked a treat.

iphone panoramic picture app

From the Photosynth website you can also explore the community’s creations, and this can be time consuming as there’s so many great scenes on there. I wouldn’t recommend browsing the website if you have work to do, put it that way.

iphone panorama app


Photosynth is currently only available for iOS, so if you’ve got a supported device you’re one of the lucky few. There is currently no evidence of an Android version in development, though we can always hope.

  • Microsoft Photosynth (iOS 4.0+ required) @ AppStore


I absolutely love Photosynth. Not only is it free, but it’s one of the most fun photography apps out there today. I’ve been using the app for weeks now and don’t remember a single crash, stitching is quick and the ability to quickly upload and share rocks. Not every panorama will turn out perfect but the more you practice the better they’ll get.

I’m struggling to find a reason not to recommend this iPhone panorama app to everyone with an iPhone. Download it. Do it now.

Have you played with Photosynth? Any awesome panoramas you want to share? Show us and discuss this top app in the comments below.

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Integrate Google Calendar Into Your Chrome Browser With Checker Plus

Posted: 01 Jun 2011 02:31 PM PDT

checker plus for google calendarThere are a lot of calendars and to-do apps out there, and to be honest, I think I’ve tried almost every one of them. The one difficulty that I’ve always had is that I don’t like the need to either open an application or to visit a website to check my calendar. In my opinion, any calendar system should be fully integrated into your normal Internet use, and it should be available at a quick glance.

When I think of any online calendar system, I definitely stuck with Google Calendar the longest. The reason is that it offers just about everything you’d need in a personal scheduling system – a to-do list, easy event and appointment creation and access via either a desktop app or the website. Google Calendar is even accessible from Google Mail, or other email clients like Outlook or Thunderbird.

After a while, I always tend to stop using my calendar because I’m usually too busy to check it! Well if you’re like me, then you’ll be glad to learn about a useful Google Calendar checker plugin for Chrome that brings your calendar right to your fingertips as you browse the net.

Installing Google Calendar Checker Plus

When you first install the Chrome plugin, you’ll initially see the options screen. Go through these carefully, because there are a lot of very cool features that you can enable on the screen. For examples, you can enable “voice activation”, which will alert you when an event or appointment is impending with an audio voice. This is pretty cool if you want to be able to step away from your computer but don’t want to miss any calendar notifications.

checker plus for google calendar

Once it’s installed, the plugin will insert a small calendar icon next to the location field of your browser. If you’re not logged in yet, left click on the icon and select “Sign In” to log into the Google account where your calendar is stored.

Once you’re logged in, all you have to do to get a quick glimpse of your Calendar overview for today and tomorrow is to hover your mouse over the icon. You’ll see a small pop-up listing all events for those two days. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that!

checker plus

If you want to see a full-blown version of your calendar, just left click on the icon. When you do, your entire calendar opens in a pop-up box right inside your browser. Unlike so many other widgets or plugins out there that integrate you with Google Calendar, this one doesn’t just send you off to the Calendar site, it actually gives you nearly full access to your Calendar right inside the browser.

checker plus

Want to change to weekly view, or view your agenda for the day? Just click on the View drop-down box and choose how you would like the integrated calendar to display.

checker plus

Another nice feature is if you want to view appointment details, you still don’t have to go to the actual Calendar website. Everything is available right inside the add-on. Just click on a Calendar item, and the appointment details will pop up on top of the calendar. If you click “more details>>“, only then will Google Calendar open in a new tab to the details for that event or appointment.

google calendar checker

You can also add new appointments by either quickly entering it into the “Quick Add” field at the top of the calendar, or you can click on any day of the month and a pop-up will appear where you can type in the event details. This means that even if you’re in the middle of browsing through Google results or reading an article, within just a couple of clicks this plug-in lets you add an event to your Calendar without even leaving the website that you’re on.

google calendar checker

There are a few additional little perks with this Chrome add-on as well. You’ll notice that today and the next several days have a little icon of the weather on the upper left corner of the month display. If you click on this icon, you can see a quick 3-day forecast of the weather – which certainly helps when you’re planning out those trips and adding your appointments and activities to the calendar!

google calendar checker

When you click on the “View” dropdown and choose “Customize” from the menu, you’ll be brought to the part of the Options page where you can customize your Calendar display using HTML code. Using this feature, you can modify the hight, width, colors and a lot of other display features for your pop-up calendar. Click on the “Calendar Helper” to come up with the code that will do what you want.

checker plus for google calendar

As you can see, Calendar Checker Plus is a pretty versatile add-on to Chrome that will pretty much wipe out any need to visit the Google Calendar page itself! From now on you can just glide your mouse up to the Checker icon in your browser, and in seconds have full access to your calendar and to all of your appointments.

Do you use Calendar Checker? Which features do you find useful, and what do you think is missing? Try it out and share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Image Credit: uwbobio

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Hot Tech Deals – Dell Streak 7 Touchscreen 7in 16GB Tablet Unlocked for $298 + more

Posted: 01 Jun 2011 01:30 PM PDT

Save $100 with today’s featured deal — get the 7″ Dell Streak 7 16 GB tablet (wifi only model, unlocked).

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Need Assistance? Ask questions to MakeUseOf staff and thousands of other readers on MakeUseOf Answers!


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Take A Look At James’ Home Setup [Show & Tell]

Posted: 01 Jun 2011 12:31 PM PDT

Taking a break from our regular awesome software reviews and tutorials, I thought it'd be interesting if myself and some of the other staff writers here at MakeUseOf show you our own home setups – whether that be in the form of fantastic custom desks, complicated home media-streaming networks, or just the apps and services we make use of on a regular basis and our favourite software tools. It's also a good chance to clean my desk up a bit.

Main Computer

My main work machine is a 27" iMac. Bored of sitting all the time and for health reasons, I switched the desk legs for some extendable ones at IKEA and I now have a fantastic simple standing desk that’s actually really solid. If you already have a suitable desktop, you can pick up just the legs for about $100. I do need to do something about the cables though.

I have a second monitor beside it which runs Windows 7 inside a virtual Parallels machine, mostly used for testing purposes and because it's much easier to take screenshots with a virtual machine.


With a total of about 10 clients, everything in my house is networked together – including the TV. Where possible, I run a wired ethernet connection. No matter how good your wireless router is, a wired connection is always going to be faster, especially important when shuffling around large files and streaming HD movies. The main router is a stock firmware device given to me by my cable company – it's good enough, and acts as both a 4 port switch and a wireless router. To extend the network upstairs, I then have a separate network switch connected via a simple crossover ethernet cable.

The number of devices is perhaps a bit excessive, but most are old laptops that wouldn't sell anyway, and like most geeks I can't bear to throw hardware away.

If you'd like to learn more about setting up a home network of your own, be sure to read our Easy Guide to Computer Networks for a great primer on the topic.

Home Server

Sitting in the cupboard is my home media, backup, and file server. Right now it's running Windows Home Server 2011 – I know we've covered a lot of free alternatives before (such as Amahi and all these), but ultimately I prefer the stability of a Windows server and the fact that apart from being a rock solid server, it can also run Windows apps at the same time. With 2 x 1TB drives, it's able to backup all the Windows machines on the network automatically, as well provides a remote time machine based backup for any Macs (though I don't use that). Apart from the usual Windows file-sharing, I also run Plex Media Server which I showed you a few weeks ago. That's then able to serve movies and TV shows around the house with full metadata information and covers automatically downloaded.

Of course, with all that space it also runs uTorrent. Rather than use the built-in uTorrent remote access, I prefer to have Windows Remote Desktop activated so I can use the entire desktop remotely. You can set this up on any Windows 7 machine easily using new features introduced in the Windows Live Mesh app. For security, any traffic to the outside world is secured across an anonymous VPN – I use VPN Tunnel (a paid, unlimited access service perfect for torrents).

Situated in a small room with a window upstairs, it's also ideal as a motion-sensing security system using a webcam and a suite of tools I showed you before. When activated, the system can send Growl alerts to my mobile and around the network. Learn how to set up your own free home security system here.

Media Center

Though the TV is able to read some files straight off the network, I prefer to use my media centre PC and just output to the TV. This avoids any format issues, and allows me to have wonderful metadata and covers from Plex as I said, streaming from the server – this is done through XBMC and the PleXBMC plugin. Last week, I hacked the Xbox360 Kinect camera into this Windows PC to let me control XBMC by frantically waving my arms around, but plugging the camera back into the Xbox got tiring quickly so I'm making do with a long-corded USB mouse until I get a chance to test out some remote control apps. Android owners have a free official app from XBMC, and here's a free app for iOS that handles Plex, XBMC and Boxee – I just haven't got around to trying them yet!

To be honest, there's quite a few Media Center apps you could use, and it's really down to personal preference which you choose in the long run. Some of the writers here prefer Boxee, which I've yet to try myself but apparently has great social features, while others go for a straight up XBMC install, with all the hacks and tweaks that involves.

Web Services

I must admit I'm quite minimalist when it comes to web services. GMail and Reader have permanent tabs in my Chrome browser, and I have the obligatory Facebook account. Other than that, I don't tweet, and virtually all my web browsing originates through various feeds in Google Reader. Sorry to disappoint, but I'm much more of a hardware and networking kind of guy.

That's it from me, but I hope you'll get to see what works for other writers in the coming weeks, so stay tuned and we can both look forward to reading those. As ever, feel free to comment or ask questions and I'll do my best to reply. For general questions, you might want to ask in the Q&A part of the site, where our regular contributors and eagle-eyed editors jump at the chance to share their computing knowledge.

Image credit: ShutterStock

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Build Loyal Visitors To Your Website Or Blog With The Help Of PunchTab

Posted: 01 Jun 2011 11:31 AM PDT

blog loyalty programVisitors are the lifeblood of any blog. No blog will have a meaningful life without any visitors, so getting people to come and read your web writing is essential for your blog to survive.

While getting many people to visit your blog is fairly achievable, turning them into loyal visitors is a bit more tricky. Producing great content is one way to achieve that. But you need more than quality content to keep your readers coming back for more. You need to entice them, and PunchTab might help you to do that.

Packing The First Punch

The idea behind PunchTab is more or less similar to the Facebook fan gate concept: you ask visitors to do something and reward them for it. If you can make the actions and rewards interesting enough, your readers will come back for more.

blog loyalty program

You have two options after signing up with the service. The first one is setting up a loyalty marketing program, and the second one is running a one time giveaway. Let’s look at the options one by one.

To start a loyalty program, click the “Begin” button.

blog loyalty marketing

Begin by choosing the type of site you have, then decide on the location of the “Reward” tab.

blog loyalty marketing

There are several types of site that you can choose from including Blogger, TypePad, and WordPress. Since all of my blogs are powered by WordPress, I chose it from the list.

blog loyalty marketing

Upon clicking the “Submit” button, PunchTab will generate a key for you. You’ll need to input the key in your site later.

02c wordpress install

WordPress users can download and install the PunchTab plugin directly from within their admin area.

03a punchtab wp plugin

To enter the key, go to the PunchTab settings menu.

03b wp settings

Other than the key field, you can also adjust the location of the “Reward” tab.

loyalty marketing

The Reward tab will appear on your blog at the location that you’ve specified.

loyalty marketing

If your visitor clicks the “Reward” tab, they will see the pop-up reward window, and they will go through the process that you’ve set to get the reward.

loyalty marketing

Managing The Rewards

You can give virtually any kind of rewards for your visitors. You can manage these rewards by clicking on the “Manage Rewards” button next to “Loyalty Program Settings“.

02d settings n reward

Create your own reward by filling in the brand and type of reward that you want to give.

02e create reward

Set the number of points needed to redeem the reward and click the “Add Reward” button.

02g choose points

All the rewards that you’ve created are listed on the reward table below. You can trash the reward(s) using the delete button.

02h reward list

Give Away The Second Punch

Besides the loyalty program, you can also create a one time giveaway. This type of incentive giving is perfect for contests or a time limited bonus.

01b one time giveaway

There are several fields you should fill in when creating the giveaway. Start with the name, description, and URL of a specific blog post.

04a create giveaway

Then continue to questions, Facebook page, and the end date. If you have a Facebook fan page, use the URL here.

04b question to answer

You can see how the “Giveaway Ticket” will look on the preview.

04c giveaway preview

The last step is copying the generated code snippet and pasting it in the HTML mode of your blog post.

blog loyalty program

There are many things that you can give as a reward to your readers, either in the loyalty program or as a one time giveaway, for example: (PDF) e-books, special short courses, exclusive memberships, shopping coupons, or even physical goods like mousepads, mugs, t-shirts, etc.

I think that if you are serious in your blogging business, you should consider using methods like PunchTab to build your loyal visitors. What do you think? Do you have any other ideas on how to keep them coming back for more?  If so, please share your opinions using the comments below.

Image credit: Zoom Zoom

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The Best Sites To Learn All About The Art Of iPhoneography

Posted: 01 Jun 2011 10:31 AM PDT

the art of iphoneographyPhotos taken with the camera app on the iPhone have become sort of an art form, typically referred to as iPhoneography. It's not that the iPhone camera is superior to other mobile camera apps; rather, it’s the assortment of artistic processing apps that make iPhone images unique, and sort of a genre of their own.

Not all images taken with the iPhone can put into the iPhoneography category, so what does an iPhoneographic image look like?

The Best Camera

My introduction to iPhoneography was probably based on Chase Jarvis's iPhone camera app, The Best Camera, and his website of the same name. The app is not free, but his site displays images that incorporate one or more of the dozen filters in the app, that enhance and transform iPhone images.

the art of iphoneography showcases tens of thousands of images users upload to the site from within the app. The subjects of shots vary (e.g. animals, cars, shoes, buildings signs, trees) and shots are processed using exposure and contrast filters to darken or lighten images, as well as an application of warming, vignetting, and other filters to give the images a more artistic style.

iphoneography, started back in late 2008, is a blog site featuring news and reviews of free and paid iPhone camera apps, tutorials, books, and iPhone camera accessories, such as Fisheye Lens case and Camera Plus Pro. His blog also features a fine collection of iPhoneographeres showcasing their work though video slideshows posted on YouTube.


The iPhoneography site and camera app, which we reviewed here, is an extremely popular and growing collection of iPhone images. While you can view Instagram images within the application, there’s no dedicated website for those images. But you can use a new site called Wallgram to download sets of images and display them on your iPhone or iPad.


The “Recent Popular” stream of photos display some of what is voted the best iPhoneography from users of the applications.

iphonography tutorials

iPhoneography Flickr Groups includes over a dozen popular iPhoneography groups, including Through the Lens of an iPhone, Life in LoFi: iPhoneography, iPhoneography (with close to 6,000 members), and fotogriPhone, an “iPhoneography lab” learning and sharing the photo processing of iPhone images. Each group includes useful discussion threads about iPhone camera processing and the art of iPhone photography.

iphonography tutorials

The Art of iPhoneography

Award winning photographer and author, Stephanie C. Roberts, has recently created a companion site to her book of the same name. In addition to her blog which discusses her work, she includes links to the individual sites of the nine photographers whose artistic iPhone images were featured in her book. Each of the contributors have galleries of some of the best artistic iPhone photo images around.

iphonography tutorials

iPhoneography Showcase vol.01

iPhoneography Showcase vol. 01 a iPhone and iPad slideshow app that features hundreds of images by The iPhoneography User Group Japan, and photographers who posted to the group’s Facebook site. The shots vary widely in subject matter, and all manner of photo processing are used by the photographers.


365 Per Day iPhone Project

Photographer Michael Sutton completed an iPhone photo per day last year, and his work is exemplary in depicting the art of iPhone photography. Completing such a challenge is seriously easy, but nearly every image in his collection depicts the art of iPhone photography.

the art of iphoneography

His images were created using one or more of over 80 iPhone camera apps, including 3D Camera, Darkslide, Genius, Hipstamatic, PS Express, and CP Pro.

Of notable mention are photographers Colin Vincent of and photographer Dixon Hamby who produced five self-published books of his iPhoneography work. Previews of his books can be seen on his profile page.

What you will notice in the all the works of these photographers is that they just don’t snap pictures. Many of the finest pieces of iPhoneography are based on the art of good composition, interesting subject matter, and of course experimentation with post processing. Based on the work I’ve seen through these sites, I’m sure iPhoneography will not be just a fad. It will have a strong tradition that will get even better as the iPhone camera and related apps improve.

Let us know what you think of iPhoneography. If you have a selection of iPhoneography images, please share them with the readers of our site.

As for tips on taking better iPhone photos, check out these how-to articles: Take Better Pictures With Free Camera Plus and Learn Digital Camera Exposure Settings Using Your iPhone.

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Easily Configure Ubuntu’s Unity Interface With Confity [Linux]

Posted: 01 Jun 2011 09:31 AM PDT

ubuntu unityCustomize Ubuntu’s new Unity desktop, all from an easy-to-use interface. Confity allows you to re-enable the Ubuntu system tray, resize or hide Ubuntu’s dock and remove the Fisher-Price color scheme.

I called Ubuntu 11.04 a big step foward for Linux, but not everyone agrees. Ubuntu’s Unity interface is brand new, and reaction to it has been mixed to say the least. Love it or hate it, however, most people agree that it could be a lot easier to customize.

It’s understandable that every element of Unity cannot yet be configured; the system is brand new, and programmers were focused more on stability than adding options. Confity, despite it’s stupid name, does make it possible for the average user to quickly change settings, however, so it’s worth a look.

System Tray

The first option seen: re-enable the system tray completely. Ubuntu is trying to eliminate the many incompatible icons in the tray gathered over the years, but you might not be ready for the transition to indicators.

Luckily for you, Confity gives you the option to completely re-enable the system tray.


There are quite a few options in Confity related to the Unity dock:

ubuntu unity

An obvious perk is the ability to re-size the docks icons, which can really make the dock bigger or smaller overall. You can also turn off or change the icon animations, which some will appreciate.

My favorite tweak, though, is the ability to turn off the “Backlight.” Not sure what this means? That makes sense; it’s not obvious. It means, so you know, turning off the lego-colored blocks that you see. Turn it off and the colors are gone. An improvement, I think.


You can make the panel transparent, if you want. I did, and I like the look, but this is certainly more nifty than useful.


You’ll notice a pretty big section for tweaks:

ubuntu unity customize

What are these tweaks? Basically, you can add items to the right-click menu of various things on your system tray. For example, you can add playback controls to Banshee’s icon:

ubuntu unity customize

Keyboard Shortcuts

You can change Unity’s three main keyboard shortcuts, if you like. Some may not like the “super” button being so prominent, so change away. If nothing else you might learn the keyboard shortcuts.


Ready to make use of Confity? Installing random crap you find online is never a good idea; it’s always better to install stuff directly from the repositories. Sadly, Confity cannot be installed from any repo. It can however be found on SourceForge. Head to Confity’s SourceForge page and you’ll find some downloads. The source code is there, but you’ll probably find the .deb file easier to install, so download that. When you try to install the .deb file, you’ll see a warning. Remember: you are installing this program at your own risk. I didn’t run into any problems but you might.


I had fun changing my configuration, and ended up with this:

ubuntu unity

I shrank the launcher icons, turned off the launcher backlight and made the panel transparent. I think it’s an improvement over the default, but then again I’m the one who made the tweaks. That’s the best part of software like this; you can make things you already love even better.

What changes did you make? Share them in the comments below.

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8 MORE Knowledge Websites With Free Online Video Lectures

Posted: 01 Jun 2011 08:31 AM PDT

free online lecturesThe online video world is more than music videos and somebody's cat chasing a laser pointer. It is also a treasure trove of knowledge nuggets and crowd wisdom. If you are searching for educational and informational lecture videos, there's a fair chance that YouTube is what you will type in; YouTube has those cool educational channels and its very own educational channel too. Apart from YouTube, names like TED and Academic Earth are household names for anyone interested in video lectures from around the world.

Our fixation on YouTube shouldn't allow us to miss out on some other great video sites out there. When it comes to video lectures we have seensix really good ones; now let's switch on to eight more and get some free courses on information and knowledge.


free online lectures

This website is a showcase for the ideas, challenges, and opportunities that are there before us as we try to shape our community and world. The 'Popcasts' are video presentations of interactive talks by thinkers, leaders, and innovators as they explore ideas that affect the way we live. Of course, behind the videos PopTech is also a large community involved in many social projects like the Accelerator Initiatives, which are multidisciplinary collaborations with corporate partners, thought leaders, and innovators helping to create breakthroughs on some of the world's toughest challenges.


free internet lectures

As the site explains – Ignite is a geek event in over 100 cities worldwide. At the events Ignite presenters share their personal and professional passions, using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds for a total of just five minutes. Most of the videos are hosted on YouTube. The Ignite Talks run with the Ignite Contest where technologists, entrepreneurs, DIYers make things on the spot. Both events are part of the O'Reilly media group.

60 Second Lectures

free internet lectures

If five minutes sounds less, how much of science can you stuff into a minute? University of Pennsylvania thinks it's just about enough as they cover science, sociology, history, literature, art, religious studies, and other interdisciplinary studies with 60 second lectures hosted on YouTube. Also check back on past lectures which are alphabetically arranged by speaker name.

Video Lectures

free internet lectures

This is a very well organized stockpile of video lectures from around the world. You can sift through the video lectures by subject, popularity, type of content, language, keyword, and time. Most of the videos are lectures on topics of academic study from architecture to technology given by scholars and teachers. The collection is quite vast with computer science dominating with nearly 2000 videos.

Forum Network

online lectures

This is a public media service centered on video lectures given by experts in a diverse range of fields. The service is brought to you by PBS and NPR public media services in collaboration with public stations and community partners across the United States. Audio podcasts are published weekly and can be subscribed for free via iTunes or the NPR Podcast Directory. Videos are also available on iTunesU and YouTube channels apart from the site.

The 99 Percent

online lectures

This collection of videos is courtesy the Behance Network. The video lectures are basically about ideas and how to make things happen. The central theme of the site is on productivity, so the video series can be a good learning resource for entrepreneurs and innovators who want some inspiration on how to carry their unique ideas forward.

Idea City

online lectures

Idea City is a bit like TED Talks but the annual event is hosted in Toronto, Canada. It is a select audience who get to hear 50 thinkers talk about any topic under the sun. You can watch some of the webcasts here on the site from Grammy legends to leading physicists.

Big Think

free online lectures

This video based website is again about ideas across diverse fields and how we can apply them to our present day. The videos are professionally produced with ideas sourced from the site's network of thinkers and experts. Big Think covers topics like art, culture, health, environment, love, sex, happiness, justice, beliefs, business, economics etc. It also runs a section called Special Series on other topical themes.

There are a couple of others like Free Video Lectures and TalkMiner we have covered in our directory that show that free online video lectures are a burgeoning tribe. All the better because when it comes to ideas and inspiration, more is definitely better. Are you interested in educational lectures? Which are your favorite ones?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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