BotHack

BotHack makes getting things done easy and fun. Delving deep into the technoweb, BotHack brings back simple and totally life-altering tips and tricks for managing your information and time. At this wild moment in the development of human-oriented technology, BotHack is your own personal early adopter, here to guide you through the onslaught of the new. The world is full of fascinating problems waiting to be solved: BotHack can help.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Download of the Day: TrayIt

Windows users can save space on their Taskbar by downloading the nifty little program TrayIt. While viewing a maximized window, press CTRL as you minimize it on your taskbar. The program will no longer show up as a regular rectangle on the taskbar, rather, it will be a little icon in your tray. Just double click on the icon when you want to maximize the program again.
Die Dulci Fruere

Evening News Round Up

Die Dulci Fruere

Old Versions of Software

Did you prefer the older version of a program you are using? OldVersion.com is a collection of previous releases for many widely-used programs such as Acrobat Reader, America Online, AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Winamp, Winzip, Yahoo! Messenger and more.

Die Dulci Fruere

Take Five

It’s only Wednesday, but who couldn’t use a break already? Putting everything aside for five minutes can help refocus your attention. Five minutes are only 300 seconds, everybody can find that amount of time during even the busiest of days.

Put everything aside, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Concentrate on clearing your mind of everything. Undoubtedly a million thoughts will come rushing at you. Take each one and swing at it with an imaginary racket or bat and push it aside. Your breathing is the only action of interest for these fives minutes.

Set an alarm so you are not distracted by figuring out when five minutes are up.


Die Dulci Fruere

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Quickie: Weekly

Google Talk - Hack...Talk Logo

OK, here's the actual Google Talk client. It's pretty nice, does IM, can email contacts very quickly (Gmail) and the VOIP feature is crystal clear. The freaky part- Google Talk uses the same voice technology as Skype it seems, but uses an open standard for IM. I'm working on a way to record for podcasts, we'll see how that goes...You can get the Google Talk client for PCs here HACK: The play numbers on the about screen translate to, "wumpusgame"... so, "play wumpusgame" If you invite wumpus.game@gmail.com and IM that user, "play" you can play 'HUNT THE WUMPUS'

Puzzle of the Month: Popular Science, April 1960

Popscipuzzles1960-TmMark posted a fun puzzle from the April 1960 issue of Popular Science. Head on over to BoingBoing and solve it- it would be great to have a BOTHACKER solve it first! Link.


HOW TO make a desktop Line Following Robot

Ltc03 Cute project - Recently many kind of robot contests have being opened and some interesting reports of the challenge are found on the web. The Line Following is a kind of the robot contests to vie running speed on the line. I build a tiny line following robot which can run on the desk, moving the key board aside will do. It is for only a personal toy reduced its size less than one fifth compared to typical line following robots, not in formura. Link.

Geoblogging audio and video...

Gedel-1 Rev Dan Catt is up to some neat stuff - In much the same way you can add audio (.mp3) and video (.mov) links. Geobloggers places audio and video in enclosure tags in its RSS and geoRSS feeds, making it possible to easily use geobloggers to create your own Podcasting feeds. Needless to say this turns PodCasting sideways. You don't need to subscribe to single users or site, you can subscribe to an area around your home, regardless of who the podcaster is. Same of course applies to Video, again a How To is coming up. All this throws out to Google Earth, CSV and normal RSS too. Link.

HOW TO Broadcast MP3's, Podcasts and other audio over Google Talk

Talk Logo-1Yes, it is possible to broadcast music, MP3's, Podcasts, etc. from your itunes, computer cd or whatever. Don't limit yourself to a boring microphone... share your music! Link.

HOW TO build a Permanent magnet generator...(power from wind)

Pmg Wouter writes "...an excellent, 49-page step-by-step how-to with photos on how to make your own pancake generator. It shows how to make jigs, a winding tool etc. The site also contains PDF's on how to make your own generator blades. Mr. Piggot is an enthusiastic wind generator man who's not afraid to share his extensive knowledge. More power to him". Link (PDF).

iPod scrubs. Animations for your iPod Photo and HOW TOs!

Images-22Digital artists and animators using applications such as Maya, or even Flash, can test their animations by “scrubbing” the playhead backwards and forwards on the timeline. A podscrub takes the same mechanism and applies it to the functionality of an iPod. The playhead is your finger and the clickwheel is the timeline. Simple as that. Link.


The Packet Sniffers - Maker friendly web show!

Ps Logo03...a web based TV show that showcases technology and other things of geek interest. Episode 4 covers automotive technology - Laptop stand for your car, Zach explains EFI, Bumper mounted video camera, Zach's Axiom Industrial Computer, ECU & the body computer, Retrieving trouble codes from your ECU - 3 key turn method, Zach rants about auto tech, Commodore - aka Holden Automotive, ECU modding tools, OBD Scan Tools - what are they?, Scantool.net OBDII scan tool and Digimoto software, DIY EFI - Mega Squirt, Remote Keyless Entry - how it works (KeeLOQ) Extending the range of your RKE. Link.

HOW TO Integrate Google Talk with Google Sidebar

Talk Nice HOW TO if you use Google Sidebar and Talk...After you install both Google Talk and Google Sidebar, you can select an option to integrate Talk into the Sidebar. (Then you can dock it to the side of your screen.) Do you think Windows is slowly becoming a bunch of device drivers to run Google apps on?... [via] Link.

Add A9 images on Googlemaps!

A9Gmaps0 This is one of my new favorite google map hacks - Why not take A9 Local images and insert them into Google Maps search results? (A9 Local images are storefront snapshots - taken by Amazon's A9.com - of 15 major US Cities) How does it work? Greasemonkey lets me inject script into any page (viewed in Firefox), and the script I injected is set up to fetch an Address Search from A9.com, looking for a corresponding image. If an image is found, it's displayed in the "Info Balloon" on Google Maps Link.

Free Hydrogen Generator Plan with videos

Hydrogen06Hydroman writes "You might say I am a shade-tree scientist. I am doing a research and development project of my own. I am making hydrogen from beer cans, water and sodium hydroxide. Visit my website to see the plans, watch the videos and leave comments in the forum. I had a lot of fun making the videos. This is an opensource project. Join in the fun!" Link.

HOW TO conference call with Google Talk

Talk Logo-1-1Open up a copy of google talk on all computers with which you wish to conference. After one copy is opened make a new shortcut for google talk but at the end of it add /nomutex. If you installed it to the default folder then your shortcut should read "C:\Program Files\Google\Google Talk\googletalk.exe" /nomutex. Open 2 instances of the software on every user's computer. After this start a chain: User 1 should connect on one instance to user 2. User 2 will connect on his second instance to user 3. User 3 will connect using his second instance back to user 1. With this chain everyone is connected to everyone. [via] Link. Or install Skype.

HOW TO Water-cool your PC

WaterTwo parts water, one part coolant, and one part guts are all it takes to water-cool your PC. It may seem a little extreme for a garden-variety desktop, but if your CPU runs hot or you've overclocked parts of your system, nothing beats the cooling power of classic H2O. Water conducts heat far better than air, and you don't have to be a turbogeek to perform the conversion. Modern kits make installation little more challenging than swapping a fan or a heat sink. [via] Link.

HOW TO strip down your computer for playing games

Images-12 Turn that old Win machine in to a gamer box - This article describes how to use a clean boot to start your Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition (Me), or Microsoft Windows 98-based computer. When you use a clean boot to start your computer, Microsoft Windows loads only basic devices and services when it starts. [via] Link.

Die Dulci Fruere

Download of the Day: Snippy

Use free Snippy (Windows) to copy a part of your screen. Instead of grabbing the entire screen or window like the print-screen key does, Snippy just grabs the freeform section you specify with a marker. For a rectangular selection hold down the shift key while dragging the marker across a portion of the screen.

Snippy resides in your tray, just click on it to activate or press the hotkey you specify. Then right click on the scissors icon and Save As without having to open the image. You can save the image in different formats.


Die Dulci Fruere

Tips for Public Speaking

Berkeley’s Office of Educational Development has a helpful guide for making your public speaking more effective. They list numerous points for consideration, here are some of them.

  • Keep the audience in mind as you prepare.
  • Stay away from predictable beginnings, rather, start with an intriguing question or set up a clear problem.
  • You won’t be able to cover everything you’d like to so set some clear goals regarding the most important points and focus on those.
  • Talk about your material instead of lecturing about it. This is easier to achieve if you are not reading your script, rather, use notes.
  • Interact with the audience - ask questions, get people involved - since people learn better when they are actively participating.
  • Leave time for Q&A and address everyone politely.

The site offers many more details.


Die Dulci Fruere

Weekly News Round Up


Die Dulci Fruere

Grouped Email Addresses in GMail

Although there is no built-in feature to create group lists in GMail, there is an easy workaround. Click on Contacts (left-side menu) and choose Add Contact (top right corner). Enter a name for the group in the Name field. Then in the Primary Email field start inputting the addresses of group members. Here is the trick: leave out the first and last brackets. This is how you should do it (substituting the appropriate email addresses):



Then Save the address. Once you save it, you can see that GMail puts a bracket around the list of addresses. You can try it out by clicking on Compose. Next time you want to send a note to this group, just start typing in the group name and the address list will come up as an option.

Creating a Pseudo Address Group

Die Dulci Fruere

Calculate Your Life Expectancy

Academics Dean Foster, Choong Tze Chua and Lyle Ungar at the University of Pennsylvania created a mortality calculator. Answer some questions about your lifestyle and family health history, and the calculator gives you an estimate for how long you will live. This may sound dark, but it is an interesting exercise especially since the site then gives you suggestions for introducing changes to your lifestyle that may help increase your life expectancy.


Die Dulci Fruere

Monday, August 29, 2005

Sonos Digital Music System

Sonos is the first and only multi-room digital music system that lets you play digital music all over your house - and control it from the palm of your hand. Best of all, you don't need a PC in every room, a music server or a wireless network. Just place Sonos ZonePlayers and speakers in the rooms of your choice and grab a wireless Sonos Controller for instant access to all your digital music, no matter where its stored - on your PC, Mac or Network Attached Storage box.

For more info, visit http://www.sonos.com/us/landing/all_lp2.htm?ovmkt=J8NG88H93Q11DMPPC951SBDNRC

What makes me creative?

If you are a regular reader of BotHack, you know I am into creativity researching - finding what are the tips and ways to improve my creativity. I believe creativity (and/or innovation) is one of the key factors to drive you to success on any front. This is something that I need to improve on as well.

Bruce DeBoer at Synthesis has written a fantastic article on creativity. It surely answered many questions on what makes one creative, and it also answered my question - am I borned with creativity or developed by education and environment - I used to think it’s former but it is definitely the latter which has more weights than former:

"… Society teaches the creativity out of our students. If X, then Y is easy to teach. If X, then Y gets results. It generates tangible and immediate ROI. Do this and get that result. Take an alternative path and risk failure or – even worse – ridicule. Research creative history and learn what got rewarded and what was ignored. Teach high craft and call it high art. Creativity is too soft and round; there is nothing to grab onto. There are often no clean results to judge. Creativity is messy but we all crave the rewards.

When do we begin to fear our own creativity? I believe it is the point at which we began to market ourselves. True creativity is deeply personal because we have to create new streams – new run-off paths in our souls. Risking creative rejection is terrifying. It’s rejection that cuts so deep it’s worse than a High School crush laughing when you finally get the nerve to ask her to the movies (I digress, forgive me). Creativity takes courage. Being vulnerable takes guts. Needed is a willingness to be rejected for what is among the most personal of expressions. The stakes are high…

Usually I won’t quote two sections but here is what I like (as a geek):

"… For those of you in need of concrete illustration, this should keep you busy:

Creativity x Craft x Emotion = Art
Creativity x Craft x Function = Innovation

[…]
However flawed you may find these equations; my point is that emotion and function are the human relational elements to art and innovation. Without emotion, art appears dry and mechanical. Without function, innovation is pure Rube Goldberg. Craft is the vehicle of creativity. Crafting the creativity allows the emotion and function to “sing” …"

I like these formulas - I am going to stick them on my door.

What makes me creative? - [Synthesis via Slacker Manager]


Die Dulci Fruere

Gmail Conversation Preview Bubble

Try this! This is a new Greasemonkey script that can change your experience on Gmail. I always thought the normal conversation preview is not too useful as it shows one sentence only.

Over Persistent.info has a Greasemonkey script that able to add a preview bubble which shows the first message and last message for preview. It is extremely useful:

"… One of the things touted by the upcoming Yahoo Mail and Hotmail releases is that they will have a preview/reading pane which will let you see message contents at a glance without having to navigate to an entirely new view. Gmail offers a lightweight version of this already, by showing the first hundred or so characters of each message as a snippet next to the subject. While this is handy for one-liner emails, a full-blown preview pane is often more appropriate.

Given my past experiences with Gmail and Greasemonkey, I figured that adding a preview area to Gmail may just be possible. Ignoring the technical aspects, the first issue was deciding what it should look like. My main issue with traditional preview panes is that they take up a lot of room, even when they aren’t needed. Eventually, I was inspired by Google Map’s bubbles and decided to try that approach…"

Make sure you have Greasemonkey 0.5 installed. It is needed to get this work.

Gmail Conversation Preview Bubbles - [Persistent.info]


Die Dulci Fruere

List of Photoshop Tutorials

Desperately Wandering has made a list of sites that you should visit if you want to increase your Photoshop skills. I especially liked these tutorials and sites:

Become a Photoshop Expert - [Desperately Wandering]


Die Dulci Fruere

Cell Phone Finder

Finding a cell phone that meets all of your needs can be a real pain. Make it easier with the Cell Phone Finder. Input your zip code and it will show you all of the providers in the area and the brands of phones that they carry. You can also select options like phone design, color, data access, Bluetooth, camera resolution and text messaging. Maximum height and weight as well as minimum talktime are options too.

Cell Phone Finder then displays the phones that meet your needs, making it simple to select one.


Die Dulci Fruere

How to Sing Better

All of us have to sing at some point, even if it’s just a simple ‘Happy Birthday’. Use these simple tips and techniques to improve your voice and your confidence.

After the jump…

1. Keep your arms slightly away from your body. Clasp your hands out in front of you or bring your arms to your sides and a bit forward, raising them about 6 inches in a flexible, relaxed fashion. This will allow your ribcage to fully expand and your lungs to fill to capacity. More air allows you to project your voice more strongly and clearly.

2. Keep your feet about shoulders’ width apart. If you like, one foot can be further forward than the other. Make sure you’re solidly balanced, but still flexible. Slightly bend your knees. If you must sing while sitting, make sure both feet are flat on the floor and that you’re sitting up straight, but not stiffly.

3. Relax! Tension destroys vocal tone. Try not to let your shoulders hunch up and keep your neck from tensing. Don’t force your chest out and up when you breath in. This will actually constrict your air flow. Stay in motion, however slightly. This will relax your body and your tone will sound more natural. Try gently swaying from side to side with the rhythm. You’ll look better, too!

4. When you inhale, push your stomach out. This will allow you to more completely fill your lungs. As you exhale, bring your stomach slowly in, using the muscles of your diaphram (which is just under your ribcage) to control your notes.

5. If you have to hit a high note or you hear yourself singing flat (that is, your notes are a tiny bit too low), raise your arms a little higher and smile slightly. For very high notes, try closing your eyes and turning your face up slightly.

6. Conversely, if you start to sing sharp (a tiny bit too high), bring your arms down a little lower and open your mouth slightly wider by dropping your lower jaw. Don’t dip your chin towards your neck, however, as this will cause your air flow to become constricted, which will show up in your voice.

7. Enjoy yourself!


Die Dulci Fruere

Weekly News Roundup


Die Dulci Fruere

Upload to Flickr from Your Cameraphone

Photo-sharing site Flickr makes it easy to upload pictures directly from your cameraphone to your account. Your phone has to be capable of sending emails. Flickr generates a unique email address to which you are to send the photos. Note that if you don’t like the address the site displays, you can get another one by refreshing the page.

You can save tags that will be added to all of your photos uploaded by email. The subject line of the email specifies the photo’s title, the body of the message will be added as the description. No worries if you forget to specify these, you can always add/edit them later.

If you have never downloaded pictures from your cameraphone, I recommend giving this service a try since it makes the process very easy. I was surprised at how reasonably some of my phone photos turned out. Judging from what they looked like on the phone (Treo 600), I was expecting the results to be much worse.

Flickr Uploads by Email (you have to be logged on to your account for this to work)
Flickr Upload Tools

Die Dulci Fruere

How to Save Money by Maintaining your Fridge

Cleaning a refrigerator periodically can reduce food safety risks, help reduce energy costs and minimize food losses that can drive up overall food costs.

A clean refrigerator typically requires less energy to keep cool. Also, cross contamination of foods is less likely to occur if an appliance is free of spills and leftovers or other foods past their prime.

Die Dulci Fruere

How To Pick Sunglasses

Sure, summer’s almost over, but you still may need a new pair of sunglasses.

Choose shades based on your face shape

Don’t try to match your shade colors with your outfit

Don’t Spend a Ton of Money on Shades

Die Dulci Fruere

iPod Accessories for the Gym

Listening to music while you’re working out is a great way to stay motivated. About.com’s Nino has a list of some great iPod gym accessories including cases and earphones.


Die Dulci Fruere

How to Clean Your Mouse

This tutorial is not intended for wireless mice, which have more sensitive components. Do this when your computer is off. Turn your mouse over on its back. You should see a circular plastic piece surrounding a rubber ball in the bottom. Turn the plastic piece (usually clockwise) and take it out.

Remove the ball. Put it someplace where it won’t pick up extra dirt. The ball tends to stay clean even when everything else is dirty, but double-check. Remove hair, dust or lint by lightly pressing office tape to it and quickly pulling the tape off.

The challenge is inside your mouse. You’ll probably see dark marks on the center of each roller. Very gently scrape the dirt off with tweezers or a similar object. Take care not to damage the fine wires surrounding the rollers.

Angle the mouse so that dirt won’t fall deeper into it once it’s scraped off. You can tap the mouse right side up on a flat surface occasionally to knock out any dirt accumulated out of reach.

When done, simply replace the ball and slide the plastic piece back into place. Before testing your mouse, make sure that your mouse pad is clean and on a flat surface. Your pointer should now be good to go.


Die Dulci Fruere

How to Tell a Joke

1. Avoid announcing “a joke.” Just tell it.

2. Keep it clean. It’s better to tell clean jokes rather than risk offending someone.

3. Tell “smart” jokes, not “dumb” ones. Smart jokes have a bigger payoff because listeners have to work a little to be rewarded.

4. Tell jokes that inform. Humor is more rewarding when it informs. Try to tell jokes that are based on a true-life scenario.

5. Know when to quit. Learn two or three really good jokes and always tell the best one last.

Die Dulci Fruere

Guide to Free Internet Calls

With Google Talk’s launch and Skype offering more features, the Guardian has written an internet phone Q&A.

Surely phone calls can’t be free?

Well, not entirely. Callers need to pay for a broadband internet connection. Beyond that, though, calls to other Skype or Google Talk users are free. Think of it like email: you can email as much as you like for nothing as long as you pay for the internet connection. VoIP is the same: you can chat as much as you like as long as you have broadband. And as with email it doesn’t matter where in the world the person you are contacting is based.

So what do I need to make calls over the internet?

You need a computer, a broadband connection and, if you don’t have speakers and a microphone, or want to avoid the feeling that you are talking to your computer, a specially adapted headset or telephone.

But what if the person I am calling is not on the system?

You can still call landlines or mobile phones, but you will pay for the calls as you do now.

Die Dulci Fruere

How to Call Another Country

Are you confused about what you need to dial in order to call another country? Between country, area, city and local codes, it can get pretty complicated.

This resource is very helpful: first select where you are, then select where you want to call and then type in the number without any international prefixes and this site will tell you exactly how to make the call.

Die Dulci Fruere

Organic and Frugal?

Eating organic food and saving money are seemingly on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Pat of About.com begs to differ. “You may never be able to buy organic food as cheaply as other foods, but you certainly can lower the cost with a little sleuthing and determination.”

How?

  • Raise your own meat, if you can.
  • Buy in bulk.
  • Cook from scratch to an extreme degree.
  • Join a co-op.
  • Find coupons on the web.
  • Grow as much of your own food as possible.

Die Dulci Fruere

Basic Toolbox

Before a problem occurs, why not have a basic toolbox at your home that can get you out of just about any household dilemma?

  • Hammer - a 16 oz., curved claw hammer is best.
  • Screwdrivers - It’s a good idea to have two screwdrivers: a standard slotted and a #2 Phillips.
  • Handsaw - An 8 or 10 point handsaw makes a good all-purpose saw.
  • Hacksaw
  • Pliers - Any kind of pliers will do. Linemans pliers are especially good because they have the capability to cut wire.
  • Vise Grips
  • Tape measure - A 12 or 16 foot tape is long enough for most jobs. Get one that is at least 3/4 inch wide, so it won’t bend easily.
  • Level - An 18 or 24 inch level is a good size to have around the house.
  • Utility knife - a knife with a retractable blade is the safest and doesn’t get dull as quickly.
  • Crescent wrench
  • Apron - A canvas apron will hold your tools, leaving your hands free.
  • An assortment of nails and screws of various size and type.
  • Choose a prepackaged assortment or pick out a selection of the most used sizes and types.
  • Tape - Both electrical and duct tape have numerous uses and are essential for minor fix-it jobs.
  • Square
  • Nail punch
  • File
  • Putty knife
  • Pry bar
  • Wood glue
  • WD-40
  • Flashlight
  • Safety glasses
  • Gloves
Die Dulci Fruere

Outlook 2003 Tip: Saving Custom Searches

Are there searches that you do all of the time in Outlook 2003? I often search by size or by person, but occasionally I have unique searches that were so helpful that I want to make them one of the Advanced Find options.

1. Open the Advanced Find dialog box (Control+Shift+F)

2. Search for what you want (for example, all mail received yesterday)

3. Once the search is completed, go to the File menu, select Save Search and name the search something descriptive like “mailyesterdaysent”

4. Close out of Advanced Find

5. Open Advanced Find again

6. Go to the File Menu and select Open Search

7. Select your saved search

The Advanced Find dialogue box will automatically search for what you want.


Die Dulci Fruere

Turn Your Hobby into a Career

From MSN: Experts say that many of today’s small businesses are a result of a person following their passion. So don’t waste another day doing something you don’t enjoy.

1. Explore the possibilities.

2. Get expert advice.

3. Conduct simple market research.

4. Draft a simple business plan.

5. Just do it.


Die Dulci Fruere

Download of the Day: Google Talk Beta

Google Talk, a Google IM client. Integrates with Gmail, XMPP (used by Jabber, Adium, iChat, etc.) and supports audio chat. Requires a GMail account and Windows (for now).

Die Dulci Fruere

How to Appear Smart About Wine

Knowing more about wine is certainly a skill on my long-term to-do list, but in the meantime, I use a pocket vintage chart. There are PDA versions, but I like the ability to refer to a small laminated card in my wallet. These charts lists regions and years in a grid. You can quickly let your fingers do the walking to find a higher quality wine. For example, in 2001 California and Oregon had a great year.

Do a Google Image search for “vintage chart” and you’ll see a number of different options in different languages and sizes. A more specific search of “vintage chart” 2004 will take you to the most current lists but only by region.

I like this 2004 chart.

Die Dulci Fruere

Master Class

Leadership for Dummies has an excellent idea for a team building exercise that can spread knowledge between members of a team.

"Have each person on your team teach a “master class” in some methodology that has varied nuances. This exercise will force the person doing the teaching to think more about the “how” of their job, and less about the “what.” It will also give people an opportunity to ask all sorts of questions, many of which may appear superficial, but all of which are useful."

Die Dulci Fruere

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Stick Cricket

If you're a cricket fan, Stick Cricket is for you!

Stick Cricket is a popular online cricket game - developed first by an Australian as a way of learning flash programming. It has grown from strength to strength and now gets more than 1 million visits a month!

What's more, there's live on-line betting for all major matches, an on-line store that sells t-shirts, caps, mugs and more, and free Windows wallpapers!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Evening News Round UP



Die Dulci Fruere

Quickie: Round Up--DIY special

Free Neighborhood Wi-Fi

The Fourth Street hotspot is part of a communal wireless project called Neighbornode, started by then New York University grad student John Geraci as a way to add a community-building aspect to the common practice of using a neighbor’s Wi-Fi network to get online. Anyone with a broadband connection can start a Neighbornode. When someone uses the node to access the Web, he is first directed to a home page with a message board, classified section and photo page to help locals recognize one another. Here's how to do it in your hood' Link.

How to Make a "Live" Transparent Desktop

ZaphodB42 writes "We've all seen that spiffy "transparent" desktop hack on the net. But thats ancient history. Here is a quicktime movie of a "live" transparent desktop. Ok, you've probably figured out that its not a "real" transparent desktop. For one thing, I did not have all the camera angles perfect, so things do not line up exactly. The video cameras I have do not have a wide enough zoom lens. But with a little more time, I'll get things aligned and post a new video. Still a neat trick". Link.

Google Desktop 2 Beta - Sidebar!

Wow, I liked the sidebar in the demos I saw of the next version of Windows, you could "roll your own info bar" - but you don't need to wait for Windows now - Google today introduced Google Desktop Version 2 with a Google Sidebar, a panel on your desktop which provides convenient, one-glance access to all sorts of personalized information that is similar to the sidebar that you are going to see in the upcoming Windows Vista (previously Longhorn)... [via] Link.

Play a game only for people - computers can't do it...

Arimaa is the first game designed specifically to be hard for computers to play, while easy for people. With its billions of combinations and push-me-pull-you gameplay conditional value strategy, it's too much for brute force computing. And yet, it's simple enough for a child to play [via] Link.

Instant Labeling Tape

Very clever...simple, customisable, do-it-yourself signage system. By "blacking out" elements of a 14-segment display font on the tape, all you need is a black permanent pen to create your own temporary signs, labels and installations. Think moving house and labelling boxes, putting up official-looking signs or teaching your kids how to make letters. [via] Link.

DIY solar bike light

...a solar-powered bike light, modified from a solar flashlight. (I did find one product that is advertised as a "solar bike light", but it's not good: it uses an incandescent lamp rather than LEDs, and it's a one-piece unit so the whole big thing has to mount on the handlebars). With my home-made version, the solar cell and batteries mount on the rear rack, as you see here. Link.

Unlock the PSP to full resolution with the PMF Player

Some caveats, but this is nice. Are you angry that Sony has limited your memory stick videos to "Nintendo DS" resolution? (320x240). Well, a PMF player has finally been released, allowing you to view clips at the PSPs Native Resolution (480x272). Link.

HOW TO - ROM hacking...

G4's Attack of the Show has a short guide and software listing on how to edit game ROMs (the programs that run on Nintendo cartridges, emulators, etc). The really neat thing is you can change the graphics of games, add your own, as well as edit parameters in the games. Link.

Flying insect highspeed photography

This website shows a hand made set up for taking highspeed inflight pictures of insects. Included is a pdf of the circuit board layout and a series of improvements and different photos illustrating improvements. The gallery of pictures is truly inspiring. Link.

Circuit Bending Games

...examples of game cartridges and portable systems that have been circuit bent to create a nice glitch aesthetic & sound...Jumpstart has been bending the Gauntlet game on Sega Master System II here. Link.


Easy mount speakers

Mike writes "Many people may already be aware of this mounting method. It is very old, but very useful as well. It is cheap, easy to do and very strong. I post it here for the newbie that has yet to get into the do-it-yourself scene in hopes that it may inspire them to get some power tools and make something. Something as simple as mounting your surrounds with a mount you made could be just the spark they need to begin an adventure into the wonderful world of do-it-yourself". Link.


Die Dulci Fruere

Audiobook from DVD

Going on a roadtrip and want to “listen” to a movie? With our favorite, VLC and iTunes, you can turn a DVD into an audiobook! MacSIG details the steps to take to make any DVD into an audiobook to listen to on your iPod.


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Ask Metafilter Roundup


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How to Confront Someone

From time to time we all have to comfront people. We often try to avoid this type of interaction. Hagop at Healthy Escape has some strategies for making confrontations more constructive, calm and an opportunity for frank communication.

"Positive confrontation can be a learning experience for both parties, because it involves openly and bravely facing an issue. When most effective, both parties will come away from a confrontation feeling satisfied that they can move forward, changed for the better."

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50 Mac Gems

MacWorld has published Part 1 of 3 of its list of 50 Mac Gems of the month.

Highlights include:
  • Netflix Freak 2.1.3, an interface for working with your Netflix queue
  • Volumes Menu 1.0, an app that allows you to browse a mounted volume in a hierarchical menu
  • Spark 2.0.1, an app that allows you to manage shortcuts and hot keys
  • RadioLover 1.4, an app that allows you to record MP3 based Internet radio
  • syncOtunes 0.95, a sync helper for iTunes to help keep all of your different mac iTunes libraries in sync

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Download of the Day: SyncToy Beta

If you’re like me, you have a number of different computers, drives, and folders to store information. Sometimes I download images on my work laptop, sometimes on my home computer or perhaps the documents that I want are on an external harddrive. I try to keep everything as organized as possible, but it sure is a hassle.

Microsoft has released a new PowerToy called SyncToy that manages multiple sets of directories at the same time. It can combine files from two folders and keeps track of file renames and rewrites.

SyncToy is relatively easy to use and in just a few minutes I backed up all of my digital photos from 3 different computers to an external hard drive.

SyncToy v1 Beta for Windows XP

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Monday, August 22, 2005

Selecting a Digital Video Camera

Ten Tips for Selecting a Digital Video Camera From Small Dog’s Pro Area

1. Consider a digital video camera over an analog video camera. Specifically, choose a camcorder that records to the MiniDV format. MiniDV camcorders offer the best combination of price, performance, and flexibility. MiniDV cameras use CCDs (charged coupling devices) to capture light. In general, a camera with larger CCDs will have better color quality, resolution and ability to selectively focus.

2. Current MiniDV camera offer the ability to capture still photos. Some create a still frame on the video tape, while others can capture a photo to a removable memory card. You will get better, higher resolution results by using the memory card. If snapping still images is important to you, look for models that can take a memory card. However, at this time, no video camera can rival the quality of a dedicated still digital camera. Currently, a $200 3.2 megapixel still camera will take better photos than a $5000 video camera.

3. Look for at least a 10x optical zoom. Digital zoom can be useful, but it does degrade the quality of the image. Many MiniDV cameras are offering 18x optical zoom and higher.

4. Image stabilization is essential in these cameras. Optical stabilization is preferable to digital stabilization, but both work well.

5. On larger cameras, look for at least a 2.5” LCD viewfinder. This can make shooting more fun and flexible, though it does use up the battery faster.

6. On-board camera microphones can be decent, but for best audio quality seek a camera with an external microphone jack and purchase an external mic. Audio is 50% of your video presentation!

7. Look for a camera with analog-to-digital pass-through capability. This feature allows you to transfer your old VHS tapes to your computer for editing and burning to DVD.

8. Consider a camera with accessible manual controls, such as large buttons, knobs and dials. As your skills and experience grow, you will appreciate the extra control over your images. You will also appreciate not having to hunt around for a tiny button as you set up a shot!

9. Find out what expansion options exist for the camcorders you are interested in. These include specialized lights, filters, and extended batteries. Accessories can make awkward shooting situations much more enjoyable.

10. Finally, if at all possible, pick up the camera and try it out. The feel of the camera can make a big difference in your selection, especially if you plan on using the camera frequently.


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Google Maps Brings Genealogy to Life

MapYourAncestors.com will turn your family tree into a free Google Map if you email them a completed Excel spreadsheet. The site gives you an example of what the finished map would look like by showing the family tree of George Bush.


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Use your iPod as an Alarm Clock

The folks over at MacSIG explain how you can use your iPod as an alarm clock and awake to your favorite music.

"Step 1: Select Extras > Clock from the main menu. Then choose Date & Time, and use the Click Wheel to set the Time Zone, current time, and date.

Step 2: Go back to the Clock menu and choose Alarm Clock. Toggle the alarm “On”. Select Time and set the time you’d like iPod to wake you up. Then use the Sound menu to pick the playlist you’d like to wake up to.

Step 3: Connect iPod to any of the scores of available speakers or to your stereo system and settle in to a comfy night’s sleep."

You could probably do this with your earbuds as well, but making it through the entire night with the buds in your ears is likely difficult.
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eHow To Quickie


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Scratch Pad

From The Big Sister’s Guide to the World of Work: The Inside Rules Every Working Girl Must Know, a guide to keeping track of of the favors that you do for others around the office and if they are really paying off. Be more conscious of all the favors you do in the workplace, not only to become more aware of all you do in a single day and pat yourself on the back for being such a swell person, but also because consciousness will lead to a personal strategy and great efficiency.

"1. Turn a notebook into a Scratch Pad. For one week, write down every single time you do someone a little favor and how long it took. That means every time you make the coffee run, help someone get a dinner reservation, answer a question that has nothing to do with your own job, or have a conversation that is totally irrelevant as your workday tick-tocks away, you jot it on your Scratch Pad.

2. After a week, circle all the favors that you think could somehow elevate you in the esteem of your boss. Chances are that those circles are pretty few and far between.

3. Put a check mark next to all the items that were done for people who are in a position to potentially help you in return. That is to say, people who could either advance your career someday or make your current job significantly easier. How did you do on that score?"


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Weekly News Round Up

  • Keeping Your Computer and Its Contents Safe
    Tips for backing up your hard drive and protecting your computer can help minimize the risks of traveling with your laptop.
  • Google updates search software with Desktop 2
    Google Inc. updated its software for searching PC hard drives and the Internet, giving the free program a new look and adding tools that deliver personalized information based on a user’s Web surfing habits.
  • How Quickly Google Maps Staked Its Claim In The Online Mapping Space
    We were just talking about how the new interesting online mapping offerings seemed to come out of nowhere, and much of the credit for that has to go to Google — who breathed new life into the space, since it launched Google Maps in early February of this year. Considering that Yahoo Maps and (AOL’s) Mapquest had absolutely dominated the space for years, it’s impressive in that in only six months, Google has managed to take 10% of the market.
  • New and (not) improved
    Newer equals better. So say the world’s vendors of home electronics gear, and billions of us have believed them.

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How To: Weekly Round Up


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iTunes, Podcast, iPod : Round Up


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NitterBog's Best Posts of the Week


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Download of the day: Weekly Round Up


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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Try Tacking This to a Wall

Fuji Xerox plans to start selling these E-Paper Visual Index Cards sometime next year. The e-paper is ultra-thin and does not need electricity for its display, according to CNet. The article—a photo caption, really—goes on to talk about “photoconductivity seats that contain an LCD layer.” I’m hoping that someone reading this can decipher what that means. All I know is, I want a stack of them.

“The way the E-Paper works, is it requires electricity to set the image, but once it is set, it is held there by a static charge. Bit like an Etch-A-Sketch. You ground the charge to reset the screen to blank.”

“…the photoconductivity implies that you set the e-paper down on a table and shine a negative of what you want on it and then the spots on the paper that are light have the LCD turned on and the ones that are dark don’t, so you get the positive of the what you wanted on the paper.”

Fuji Xerox Announces Power-Saving E-Paper [TreeHugger]
E-Paper Chase [CNet]
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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)

PBS, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, is a private, non-profit media enterprise owned and operated by the nation's 349 public television stations. A trusted community resource, PBS uses the power of noncommercial television, the Internet and other media to enrich the lives of all Americans through quality programs and education services that inform, inspire and delight. Available to 99 percent of American homes with televisions and to an increasing number of digital multimedia households, PBS serves nearly 100 million people each week.

It has a lot of geek stuff. For Eg: Watch The Elegant Universe

The link above gives a three hour video of the universe and string theory. It details on newton's and Einstien's theories.

PBS [Via Stumble! upon]

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Ask Metafilter Roundup


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Gtkboard

Gtkboard is a generic board game engine into which various games are fitted as plugins. Games share the user interface, move parsing and strategy code. At the moment, more than 30 games have been implemented in the same program.

Anybody who's a coder can write new games to be incorporated into Gtkboard.

Currently, Gtkboard has the following games:

1. Chess
2. Antichess
3. Breakthrough
4. Pacman
5. Fifteen Puzzle
6. Samegame
7. Tetris
8. Blet
9. Eight Queens Puzzle
10. Tower of Hanoi
11. Hiq
12. Plot 4
13. Quarto
14. Rgb
15. Pentaline
16. Dots and Boxes
17. Stopgate
18. Capture Pentominoes
19. Balanced Joust
20. Othello
21. Othello 6x6
22. Wordtris
23. Four Letter Words
24. Maze
25. Hypermaze
26. Infiltrate
27. Knight's Tour
28. Mastermind
29. Ataxx
30. Checkers
31. Memory
32. Nine Men's Morris

Household Tip: How to fold a shirt in under 2 seconds

The video is in Japanese but you really don't need to understand any of the commentary. See it to believe.
If only there is a faster to get the ironing done...

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Saturday Firefox Roundup

A list of Firefox extensions: useful but still could live day to day without.


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The GIMP

GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program that can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.

Although GIMP is written and developed under X11 on UNIX platforms, the same code also runs on MS Windows and Mac OS X.

Debunking the scam called Vedic Mathematics

Vedic Mathematics, according to its followers, is the ancient system of mathematics which was 'rediscovered' from the Vedas, between 1911 and 1918, by Swami Shri Bharathi Krishna Tirthaji, the Shankaracharya of the Govardhan Math in Puri.

However, 'Myths and Reality: On 'Vedic Mathematics'', an article by Prof. S. G. Dani, School of Mathematics, TIFR, aims to expose the lack of evidence of any sutras from the Vedic period consistent with the system, the inconsistency between the topics addressed by the system (such as decimal fractions) and the known mathematics of early India, the substantial extrapolations from a few words of a sutra to complex arithmetic, and the restriction of applications to convenient cases.

This article - 'Neither Vedic nor Mathematics' - makes for interesting reading too.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Prepare a Gutenberg text for eReading

I’m a big fan of the Gutenberg eText project. Their online royalty-free texts preserve a great literary heritage. Unfortunately, their standard 80-character wide ASCII format makes the files hard to read, particularly on PDAs. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to convert the text into a PDA-friendly format with a simple text editor and a little know-how.

Follow the jump for the steps to convert a Gutenberg Text into a normal textwrapped file.

To follow these steps, you’ll need to know how your favorite text editor searches and replaces text that includes carriage returns. I like to do my conversions on a Mac, using TextEdit; you can cut and paste carriage returns right into the Find box. Other text editors use the escape sequence \r. You may want to google for the name of your editor and “carriage return” to determine the replacement details for your program.

  1. Start by stripping the top introductory portion of the book. This material, which is placed there by the Gutenberg organization, must remain for redistribution but not for personal reading. Select it and delete it.
  2. Use your Find/Replace dialog to replace all double carriage returns with an easy-to-recognize string that does not occur in normal words. I use the uppercase sequence EOPEOP.
  3. Replace all single carriage returns with a space. This wraps the 80-character lines into a single flow of words.
  4. Replace all of your end-of-paragraph markers (i.e. EOPEOP) with a single carriage return.
  5. Save your work. You can now read it directly on your PDA or convert it to an eBook using software such as ReaderWorks Standard

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eHow To quickie

  • How to Zap an Acne Breakout
    If you awake on the morning of a special day to discover a red pimple on the tip of your nose, all hope is not lost. Here's how to remedy an unwelcome pimple.

  • Tell One-Liners
    What's the shortest distance between you and a career in comedy? A one-liner, of course!

  • Eliminate Bad Breath
    Nothing zaps the romance from a smooch quicker than bad breath. Here are some tips for keeping your breath nice and fresh.

  • How to Rip Your Own Jeans
    Aren't you sick of going to stores and seeing these awesome ripped jeans and wishing you could have them, but they are just too expensive? You could get the same pants without holes for half the price. Here's how you can get the cool look for a lower price.

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Download of the Day: WackGet

Have you ever wanted to download a whole bunch of links from a single webpage? Did you get annoyed by the pain of having to right-click each one and then Save to Disk? You’ll be pleased to learn about WackGet.

With a simple copy/paste WackGet will download it all for you. It even figures out what parts of the page are links and what parts are text. All you have to do is select the part of the Webpage you want, copy it and paste it into the WackGet window. Choose File —> Open Download Folder to see all your newly downloaded files. The program is tiny, light on system resource usage, ad-free and open source. And best of all, thanks to the good folk at Millweed, it’s free. [Windows, Free]


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Upload Large Files

Big is in. Video, audio, pictures—they all take up lots of space, particularly as quality increases. Up until now, it’s been a huge problem sharing these resources with friends, family and business associates. But now, there’s a solution. Any number of file sharing sites have sprung up over the last year. These sites allow you to upload and share files in the tens and hundreds of megabytes.

Most of these sites are funded by ad revenue (although some better-quality fee-based websites are making inroads). Unlike providers that offer for-fee online disk-space, services like ShareBigFile.com and YouSendit.com provide strictly temporary solutions. Links (and the online files they point to) expire after a few days. You send the link, your recipient must download the file within the given time limit. Other limits include file size (250 megabytes is a common upper limit) and concurrent downloads (many sites allow only one download at a time to save bandwidth).

Be aware that your files will not be “secure”. Anyone who finds a copy of the download link can grab a copy of your uploaded data. If you need to transfer information securely, consider sending a CD or data DVD by express mail or courier. Also, make sure to follow copyright law. Most of the terms of service expressly forbid illegal transfer of copyright material.


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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Ansearch.com - Fast Rising Search Engine

The Ansearch search engine was initially designed to offer Australians relevant and truly localised search results. Results are ranked according to usage popularity and demographic significance, ensuring the most relevant answers to common searches. Gave it a shot and initial results were quite relevant...keep an eye on this one.

Quickie: Weekly Round Up

The LifeStraw – the invention of the century?

More than one billion people – one sixth of the world’s population - are without access to safe water supply. At any given moment, about half of the world's poor are suffering from waterborne diseases, of which over 6,000 – mainly children – die each day by consuming unsafe drinking water. Recently after the Mumbai floods, the aptly-named LifeStraw is an invention that could become one of the greatest life-savers in history. It is a 25 cm long, 29 mm diameter, plastic pipe filter and purchased singly, costs around US2.00. [via] Link.

HOW TO Build A Computer

Building a computer is a very rewarding experience. You can learn more about computer hardware by building a computer than you can by reading every computer hardware textbook ever written. Aside from that, you get a totally personalized computer that no OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) could match, and there is also the opportunity to save a lot of money in the process. The only downside is that you won't have any technical support number to ring, or any warranty service, so there may be a chance that you will have to pay more for service (if you don't repair yourself). So now you've been sold on the merits, read on to find out how... [via] Link.

HOW TO create your own optical wallpaper

Here's HOW TO create your own optical wallpaper for your room...If you put a magnifying glass a few inches from a wall that is opposite a window, you will see the outside view projected upside down on the wall. But if you put a lens on the window and cover the rest of the window with opaque material, the lens will project the outside view over the entire opposite wall, of course you must have the proper size lens for the room. Link.


Booting an OS from an iPod...

IBM has taken the next logical extension of booting Linux from a flash drive. Researchers were recently able to boot Knoppix from an iPod and run an x86 virtual machine in VMware, which provided an easy way to encrypt the whole operating environment. The tests were conducted on a 60GB iPod photo using Knoppix. [via] Link.

Blog from Word - Blogger for Word

Blog from Word - Blogger for Word...free plug-in for Microsoft Word that works with Blogger. We call it Blogger for Word. Catchy? Maybe. Useful? You bet. With this little number, you can work in Word like you normally do and then save your document as a post to your Blogger blog. Once you install the plug-in and restart Word, some buttons will appear. These buttons allow you to publish, edit, and save as draft from within Word. Link. Last year I had proposed "blog printers" you just install a MT, LiveJournal, Word, etc plugin...and they show up as printers.


Turn your Mac in to a phone...

Cool tool- need to try this out-- Jon’s Phone Tool (JPT) uses a Bluetooth mobile phone, your Mac’s modem, or speakers to dial the phone. JPT can also make calls via Vonage, CallVantage, Skype, Ovolab Phlink, Parliant’s PhoneValet, an Asterisk PBX server, IP-based telephony devices, or SIP softphones by Xten Networks, Inc. for use with many VoIP services. Link.


DIY Fume extractor

...a very cheap fume extractor for solder fumes to avoid breathing this nasty stuff in all the time. Not only is it a nice 'make' hack, it also is a perfect tool for many more 'make' adventures. What you need: a slot type cooling fan, a vacuum cleaner hose, some zip ties, hot glue, cardboard or flexible plastic sheet and a power supply. Link.


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