Howtos, Rants, and Reviews
July 2010 - Posts
Crush the Castle 2 - Angry Birds set in medieval times
Thursday, July 29, 2010 2:27 PM
If you don't have an iPhone or iPod but want to play a game like Angry Birds then crush the Castle 2 is the game for you. Instead of using a sling shot to send angry birds flying though the air at pigs, you use a catapult to throw a variety of ammo at your medieval enemies.
The goal of the game is to kill all the people in or around the enemy's structure. You want to do it in as few shots as possible and by using physics to place your shots you can accomplish your task. Once you have destroyed all the people in the castle you move in to the next one as you gain new kinds of ammo to sling at them. The more castles you destroy the more levels you unlock.
It's a pretty simple game and a lot of fun.
Play Crush the Castle 2
crush the castle 2
How to get Google to index a web page instantly
Wednesday, July 28, 2010 2:24 PM
There comes a time in every bloggers life that you write something that is time sensitive. You want people to know about a concert or an event that his happening soon. The only problem is you have no idea how long it's going to take for Google to make it's rounds and index your urgent message to the world.
There is a very simple way to make sure that Google indexes your site instantly and I'll share my little trick with you. There are several ways to do it one of which is to submit it to a site that Google does index frequently like Digg and others of the like. The way I prefer to do it is by using Google Buzz.
I don't have much use for Google Buzz except that any link you put into a buzz is instantly indexed in Google. So if you have a post that you want Google to index right away just open gmail, click the buzz tab, and paste in your link. Avoid using a URL shortener or a forwarded URL, because I don't know how this would effect the outcome of the impending Google index.
It's that simple I have tried this out for myself and it works like a charm. Literally seconds after you buzz something Google's spiders are on it like white on a paper plate in a snow storm. It's a pretty handy little trick and could be of some use to you. I don't think it will help the over all frequency of Google indexes of your entire site but at least your latest urgent message to the world is out in the wild.
Apple's New Magic Trackpad - I'm confused on this one!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010 3:44 PM
I'm confused by the new Apple Magic Trackpad. So it's a giant trackpad for your desktop, but why would you want or need a trackpad for your desktop? It's not as practical as using a mouse, and sure you get all the cool gestures but that's why you buy a mouse with buttons to perform those kind of tasks.
I can't imagine replacing my mouse with a trackpad and if your not meant to then it's a supplemental device that would function only for special gestures. Now if you could use it as a mini graphics tablet then that might be cool, but it doesn't seem to be meant for that either.
So I am all around confused about what the major purpose of the device is and how practical it is. I have a friend that prefers his trackpad to a mouse, but he is the exception rather than the rule. From an ergonomic perspective it can't be better for you, and it make sense to put one on a laptop because how else would you control the cursor without desk space for a mouse.
I'm sure it's cool and works well, but like I said it wouldn't replace my mouse. I suppose I could program it to perform some costume function but would that be worth another thing sitting on my desk.
Promote Yourself on Google – Get your name out there!
Monday, July 26, 2010 4:08 PM
When you Google your name what comes up? Maybe a linkedin link or some other person's website. If you are looking to build a brand behind your name there are a couple things I would suggest doing to get your name out there and ranked well in Google.
First of all I would recommend having a website preferable one with your name in the URL. You can use it as an online resume or profile on yourself. If you are a professional and want your business to popup when someone Googles you then us that URL. You can also use your Facebook profile or other social network pages.
Promote your site by leaving comments on websites related to your field or interests. Many websites allow you to put your URL in a comment, and even though these links are often times nofollow links I still think they help even though they aren't going to pass Google juice to your site. So do some research and find the highest ranked blogs related to your interests that allow comments with your URL. Some sites, like the ones in the gawker network, have profile pages that have follow links to your site. Your comments link to your profile page which has the link and I think this helps. Even if it's not passing PR to your site it still lets Google know that your name is associated with that site.
Submit your site to social bookmarking sites. There are some great social bookmarking sites that will allow you to put “Your Name” as the title and “yoururl.com” as the URL, which will further confirm in Google's search results that your name is associated with that site. There are several “dofollow” social bookmarking sites that can help you out in your quest.
Don't us a lot of dofollow links especially to spammy sites. If you want to keep your PR and be trusted by Google then you need to only use outgoing dofollow links sparingly. If you write a post you found on another site then give them a follow link, but don't start linking every other word out some random website. To make a nofollow link just add rel=”nofollow” to the <a> tag.
Writing good content and submitting it to bigger blogs for post consideration. I always suggest having a blog on your site, whether its a business or your personal blog. Having fresh good content is key to getting backlinks to your site. If you don't have anything that people would want to link to then there will never be a reason for someone to link to you. Make good, preferably original, content and submit it to big blogs that might post it to their site. Look for the tips link or email address on their site and keep a list of them. When you write a post submit it to the blogs that would most likely post it to their site.
After a period of time of commenting, bookmarking, submitting, and writing you are sure to find that your name will popup on the search engine for your target URL. It of course depends on what your name is and what kind of competition there is for it. It could take years to accomplish this or maybe just days, it just depends on how well other people with your name have established themselves in Google. So my suggestion is to get going today. Good Luck and happy Googling!
Speed up Final Cut by using a Different Video Codec
Monday, July 26, 2010 1:35 PM
Final Cut is a great video editing program, but my computer is getting old and it can't always handle large HD video for editing. With the new iphone 4 and other hand held HD video cameras you will at some point want to edit videos you take all over the place. The problem is many of these video cameras use H.264 as the video codec, which isn't great for editing. It's very memory intensive for Final Cut to use and my older computer just wasn't having it.
So after discussing the problem with my professional videographer friend, he informed me that H.264 is a terrible format to edit in and that you will get a much better editing performance with a different format. So he pointed me to an application called MPEG streamclip. It allows you to batch process several files at once and convert them into a different format.
I used Sony's XDCAMEX format, which my friend suggested as a very efficient format for editing. After sending the H.264 clips through MPEG Streamclip and converting them to XDCAMEX, Final Cut went from barely working to editing like a pro. Before changing the format I couldn't even play clips in the timeline and scrubbing through the footage was impossible.
If you have a HD pocket camera like an iPhone 4, Kodak Zi8, Kodak Playsport, Flip Mino HD, and others you might want to try using streamclip and XDCAMEX when editing your clips. It worked wonders for my computer and Final Cut. I had no idea that H.264 was such a beast to edit in, so if you are having problems like I was give it a try.
MPEG StreamClip Download
final cut pro
Play Classic Snake Game using YouTube Easter Egg
Monday, July 26, 2010 12:17 PM
I'm sure you remember the classic cellphone game snake? It was a game that came on several cellphones, but the most popular was the Nokia phones. Someone discovered a little Easter Egg on YouTube that allows you to play a similar version of the game snake by loading a video on youtube, and pausing it and holding down the left arrow on your keyboard. After a couple seconds you will see a little snake take off to the left. You will also find a little dot flashing which is your target that must be eaten by the snake. It seems it only works on non-embedded videos as well as video that are not part of a playlist.
Try it out on my video
ParkWhiz – Pay and Reserve your Parking Spot Ahead of Time
Monday, July 26, 2010 11:43 AM
When you are planning on going to a sporting event, concert or some other big event finding parking can be a real pain, especially if you are not familiar with the city or with the event. Wouldn't it be nice if you could just call ahead and reserve a spot that way you know exactly where to park and that you have a spot reserved for you? Well that is pretty much what ParkWhiz does for you.
Using ParkWhiz's online webapp and mobile webapp you can reserve a parking spot online ahead of time. So no more driving around wondering where to park and whether or not you need cash, it's all taken care of. You can also sell parking on the site as well. If you own a parking garage or just your driveway, you can register your spots on ParkWhiz so you can sell them to ParkWhiz customers and turn those empty spots into money.
It's a pretty good idea and seems to work pretty well. The only thing holding them back is the simple fact that they need integration into more parking lots. If they could become a standard for parking reservations, like Fandango is for movies, then ParkWhiz could be a big success. I will be interesting to see how fast they grow and see if they get to the point where they can offer you parking just about anywhere.
Dragon Dictation Now can Update your Facebook and Twitter
Friday, July 23, 2010 2:00 PM
Dragon Dictation is a great iPhone app that will allow you to dictate something and it will transcribe it with pretty good accuracy. The app has been very useful and has been a staple on my iPhone for some time now. The only problem was that everything you transcribed had to be copied and pasted into the desired app. The new update, that was released today, allows you to update your Facebook and Twitter accounts without leaving the app and with no copy/paste. Something I had wanted for some time. This is something I am definitely going to use.
You can also send a text message with your spoken text without leaving the app. Before the update to send a text with your message you were forwarded to the messaging app where you had to paste the text into your desired message. Now it automatically fills in your message and all you have to do is type the persons name which is a lot easier. The same applies to sending an email as well.
This makes the Dragon Dictation app just that much better. It's more streamlined now and at the price of free it's something everyone can enjoy.
I want an iPad just for Flipboard iPad App
Thursday, July 22, 2010 12:42 PM
So everyone is talking about this new application for the ipad! It's called Flipboard and is being marketed at a personal social magazine. You can flip through the pages just like a magazine except the content is pulled from your Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can view post from people, comment and reply as well as use features like Facebook's “Like” feature.
Sounds like many other social aggregates right? Wrong the interface is so fresh and clean you will actually think you are looking at a magazine. Twitter and Facebook links show up not as links, but as the actually page. So you can read the comments and view the link all at once without having to click it and be forwarded to webpage.
It's a great interface and I almost want to buy an iPad just so I can play with it. There are other reasons I want one as well, but the idea of a social magazine where you don't have to follow links and can just browse what your friends are posting is great. If you have an iPad I would definitely check it out, and it's free which is another bonus.
Flipboard App Link
AppWall – Free Screensaver with iPhone App Icon Wall
Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:12 PM
I thought this was a pretty cool screensaver, it's an wall of App Store apps icons like at WWDC. You may have seen something similar in the Apple Store window displays. I know talking about screensavers is is a bit archaic, but if still use one or care about what saves your screen when you are absent then this is a pretty cool one for you Apple fans out there.
Security Export to Reveal Hack that Works on Millions of Home Routers
Wednesday, July 21, 2010 1:02 PM
Seismic's Craig Heffner claims he has built a tool that uses a new version of the old DNS rebinding vulnerability. This vulnerability will allow him to crack millions of routers including the ever so popular Linksys WRT54G and other popular home routers from companies like Dell, Verison Fios, D-Link, Netgear, Linksys, Belkin, ActionTec, and Asus.
Craig Heffner is planning on release the details of his hack at the up and coming Black Hat 2010 conference next week. He has already tested his hack on thirty different router models and over half of them are vulnerable to this attack. Routers running alternative firmware like DD-WRT and OpenWRT are also vulnerable.
According to Forbes “Users who connect to the Internet through those devices and are tricked into visiting a page that an attacker has set up with Heffner's exploit could have their router hijacked and used to steal information or redirect the user's browsing.” The exploit still requires the hacker to gain access the router setting which can be accessed by using a vulnerability in the device's software or by simply trying the default login password. The majority of people don't change their router logins, so concerned users should make sure their firmware is up to date and patched. Also make sure you have a password, other than the default, on the wireless as well as the router admin login.
List of tested routers
Free Derek Webb Show July 21 at Robert Morris in Pittsburgh
Wednesday, July 21, 2010 10:32 AM
If you live in the Pittsburgh area you are in luck because according to some tweets from
and others there is going to be a spur of the moment concert at Robert Morris University just outside of the Rogal Chapel at 7 PM.
If you live in the area and want to go it's a free show. I wanted to find out more about this show but it seems Twitter is the only place that talks about the show. It's a bit strange but leave it to Derek Webb to just play a free show spur of the moment only talked about on Twitter.
if you want to go checkout this
about the concert. It was created by one of the guys on twitter talking about the show. I have included a Map of the campus, I didn't know where the Rogal Chapel was so I assume other people would also have the same problem. click the image to enlarge
MOG - Launches Music Streaming Service for iPhone and Android
Tuesday, July 20, 2010 12:50 PM
MOG, a music on demand service, has launched a mobile version for the iPhone and Android. The app lets you stream or download music to your phone on 3G and wifi. The service is not free of course, but only cost $9.99 a month and they are offering a three day trial of their service with no credit cards required.
MOG launched last December and got pretty good reviews from several different sources. The only thing that was missing was mobile functionality. Now that they have that they are a pretty complete music service offering over 8 Million songs that you can download and stream for $9.99 a month. You can also use MOG like Pandora allowing you to make a radio channel based on a artists.
I personally am not a big fan of paying for music that I don't get to keep, but it would be nice to have instant access to all that music. AT&T got rid of their unlimited data package for their iPhones so you will really have to watch your usage with a service like this. All in all I think it's worth a look at. They offer the three day trial so if you want to try it out you can for free. Of course in order for MOG to succeed they will need to compete with Rhapsody, a giant in the industry, that offers a 10 million songs library, mobile apps, device integration, and for the same price of $10 a month.
Apple Performing a Silent Recall - They Fixed the antenna problem without telling anyone!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010 12:12 PM
So it seems that Apple is preforming a silent recall for their new iPhone 4. From what I have read from blogs like Gizmodo and heard from friends with the iPhone 4 Apple has started to coat the antennas of the newer iPhone 4's with something that helps to prevent the antenna problem.
Customers who have been having problems with their iphone's reception have been given a replacement from the Apple store that mysteriously no longer has the problem. I had a friend that purchased one a couple weeks after the release and he has had no problem with his iphone.
It seems Apple has fixed the problem by most likely coating the antenna with something that prevents you from connecting the circuit with your death grip. Apple of course didn't say they were going to do this because they don't what everyone returning their phones.
If you have an iphone 4 and it doesn't have the coating I would take it to the Apple store and exchange it for one that does. It seems as if Apple started doing this pretty soon after the release because like I said my friend ordered one a couple weeks late and it doesn't have any reception problems.
This is of course speculator, but it seems Apple has done something to the newly produced iPhone 4's that prevent the problem from happening. They would never admit it, but they have done something, whether its a coating or something else they have remediated the problem some how.
Read what Gizmodo has to say
How to Find Great Gifts Ideas for your Parents in 3 Easy Steps
Monday, July 19, 2010 2:52 PM
Buying your parents a gift has got to be one of the hardest things to do. If your parents are like my parents they pretty much have everything they want or need. Even if they need it, getting your parents something practical is still kind of lame. They may like their new set of measuring cups or their new Dustbuster, but it's not exactly something they didn't think of buying for themselves. I also feel gift cards are simply something you give someone when you don't know what to give them. It's like "Here you go buy a present for yourself" it's the gift that comes with an errand attached, and you don't want that. I think the best gifts are things that someone would love to have but didn't know it excited or didn't think of buying for themselves.
So I have come up with a great way to stir up gift ideas for your parents or anyone else. I find this method is great for discovering gift ideas you would have never thought of on your own.
1. I would start by making a list of keywords that describes your parent's interests. For example my mother would be: antiques, vintage, home decor, decorative, gardening, flowers, and stained glass. I would keep the keywords to something that could describe a possible gift. Keywords too far off the beaten path will most likely result in failure.
2. Then I would suggest going to Ebay and plugging in one of your keywords or a combination of them. Because Ebay has just about everything and is so keyword rich you can find all kinds of stuff that qualify for your search that you would never see using a search engine. You will most likely get a large assortment of items depending on how broad your search terms are. I would suggest flipping through several pages of the results and see if anything hits you as a good idea. Many times I find there's something I like and will use it to modify my search to find more stuff like it.
3. If you don't find anything you like try different keywords or try making your search a little wider. When you find a search that returns a large assortment of items spend the time to look through them and let the items in the results spawn new ideas and new searches that could result in a great gift idea.
You don't have to actually purchase anything on Ebay, but use it to find what you want to give as the gift. Sometimes Ebay is the best place to purchase a particular item and other times it's not. Once you know exactly what you want you can use a search engine to find a websites selling the item. Many times you can find it at a better price and from a more reputable source.
So this is my method for buying gifts for my parents and anyone who is hard to buy for. i hope it helps you find some awesome gifts for your loved ones and if you have any tips for buying gifts for people leave a comment or shoot me an email at willburns1 at GMail.
buy gifts for your parents
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