Howtos, Rants, and Reviews
June 2011 - Posts
TuneSpan - Lets you Move iTunes Media to Different Storage Devices
Thursday, June 30, 2011 1:35 PM
iTunes by default copies all your music you add to iTunes and puts it into your iTunes music folder. It keeps it organized so you don't have music scattered all over your computer. The down side to this is you are forced to have all your music on one drive. You could decide to have multiple iTunes Libraries, but that too is a hassle. TuneSpan allows you to move music to another hard drive or storage device while maintaining it's iTunes connection.
You can manually move music from your iTunes folder onto another drive, but then you have go through and manually reconnect the media one by one in order for iTunes to be able to play it. You also could remove it from iTunes and re-add it from it's new location but that removes things like rating and play count as well as being annoying.
TuneSpan allows you to choose music to move and a destination. It then moves the files and updates iTunes Library file with the new location so files will not appear missing when you go to play them later. The application looks a lot like iTunes and is pretty simple to use. Just select songs you want to move, drag or browse to a destination folder and click the "Span…" button in the bottom left. It's that simple.
TuneSpan is a free application but they do accept donations, which is the right thing to do if you find their application useful as I'm sure you will.
HideAllApps - Keeps you Focused by Hiding Application that Distract
Thursday, June 30, 2011 12:44 PM
Certain applications require more attention than others. My email application for example requires a lot of attention. All it takes is that little red number to popup on the dock and I have to go and check it out. I don't want to close the application because I don't want to have to relaunch it and wait for mail to download. When working on important projects its key to stay focused and prevent these interruption like that caused by my email program. HideAllApps solves this problem by allowing you to hide application that are going to distract you.
HideAllApps is a little app that sits on your Dock. Right clicking on the icon shows a list of the open application and the preferences. The app will hide application windows other than the active window and any checked application at a given time interval. You set the time interval in preferences menu and check all the application you want to stay visible. When using a specific application other windows will automatically hide themselves so they don't crowed or distract you.
The app is free check it out.
What is Google+ and How to try it out!
Thursday, June 30, 2011 11:41 AM
Google+ is Google's latests attempt at a social network. Google doesn't have a very good track record for creating successful social networks, but many people have high hopes for Google+ which was a sentiment not shared with Google Buzz and Google Wave.So what exactly is Google+ and how can I get in to test it out for myself?
Google+ is a social network kind of like Facebook in it's function. It will allow you to do a lot of the same things but will look and feel different. Google+ is made up of 4 basic parts: +Circles, +Sparks, +Hangouts, and +Mobile.
Google+ wants you to put your friends into "Circles" aka groups. This allows you to share information with specific groups preventing you from sharing things with people who might not care about what you're posting.
The Google Blog
describes it this way "The problem is that today’s online services turn friendship into fast food—wrapping everyone in “friend” paper—and sharing really suffers." Though Facebook has the ability to create Friend lists and groups to share specific information with only a group of people or a list of friends, users rarely do so. Google+ puts the "+Circle" front and center to make sure users take the time to organize their friends to make sharing more effective.
Sparks "Sparks delivers a feed of highly contagious content from across the Internet." You add things you are interested in and Google will put together a feed of items that you can share with others and talk about. It's a way to Spark a conversation based on what you are passionate about.
Hangout is a way for friends to connect over video chat. The Hangout features allows multiple video chats to happen at once. It seems you can start a hangout session that other people can see and allows friends to drop in and "hangout" with you over video chat.
Mobile brings Google's social network to your phone and is made up of three main features: +Locations, +Instant Upload, and +Huddle. The +Location feature will probably look like Foursquare or Facebook Places. +Instant Upload will be automatic photos taken with your phone for quick and easy sharing. The photos upload automatically but it seems you have to post them yourself giving you freedom not to post everything you shoot. +Huddle is going to be a group messaging application much like
, which allows you to send messages to a whole group of people getting everyone in on the conversation.
How do you get a Google+ invite?
Well soon enough Google will open the Google+ social network to everyone, but in true Google fashion they are in a restricted beta with the usual Invite structure. You need someone to send you in invite from their account in order to get in. You can also sign up to get an invite here straight from Google.
The best way to get an invite is to use Twitter. Search for "Google+ invites" and respond to people's tweets offering their invites. You can also use invite threads like this one over at
All in all I think Google just might have a hit on their hands. We will just have to wait and see how it's accepted by the masses but I have high hopes for it. It seems like a well rounded service one that could give Facebook a run for it's money. Checkout the
World of Fourcraft - A Foursquare and the Board Game Risk Mashup
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 2:58 PM
Risk has been for years a game of strategy and betrayal, a classic is it's own right. Foursqare has only been around for a couple of years and has become the king of location based checkin social networks. So why not put the two together? This is exactly what a
sever person team
did at a weekend hackathon at New York’s General Assembly. They have basically turned New York City into the worlds largest game of Risk.
You sign into your Foursquare account and choose which team you will play for choosing from one of five major boroughs in New York. When you checkin somewhere in a specific neighborhood it's like placing a game piece on that country in the board game. An algorithm counts the checkins and determines who owns the territory. There are currently only about 100 players in the game, but I'm sure that's going to change as the news gets out about the game.
The “World of Fourcraft” team took the “Best Location Hack” award at the hackathon which doesn't mean much other than offer bragging rights and the pride that goes along with winning something. According to Robinett, a member of the team, they plan on adding a "level up" feature that gives player who checkin often a way to make their checkins more powerful in claiming neighborhoods.
I want the “World of Fourcraft” to go country wide! How cool would it be to play a game of Risk with your home city, state, or even the whole US? Checkout the website and see how the game is going.
World of Fourcraft
Swiffy - Google Labs Converts Flash Elements to HTML5
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 1:35 PM
Flash is everywhere, but it seems no one really likes using it. Everyone is starting to find ways around using Flash and now that all major Web browsers and mobile browsers like the iPhone support HTML5 in some manor people are starting to switch over. Google has made it apparent they don't care much for Flash converting all videos on YouTube into their own Webm format and making their website HTML5 compatible. Google has released a little tool called "Swiffy" in the Google Labs that can convert Flash objects into HTML5 objects.
The application is still in it's early stages and won't convert all Flash objects, but currently works well with ads and animations at the moment. The upload page has some tips to getting your Flash object converted. "Swiffy currently supports a subset of SWF 8 and ActionScript 2.0, and the output works in all Webkit browsers such as Chrome and Mobile Safari. If possible, exporting your Flash animation as a SWF 5 file might give better results."
The Google Blog has this to say describing how the Swiffy app works.
Pretty awesome if you ask me. Should be interesting to see how this tool develops. This could be the beginning of the end for Flash. I have to say I won't miss it eating up my RAM and slowing my system down one bit.
PlayLater - It's a DVR for the Internet!
Wednesday, June 29, 2011 12:52 PM
With the invention of the DVR it changed the way we watch programming on our TVs. Despite what people thought it didn't kill television and has even offered shows a way to gain more views who can watch their shows on playback. The internet now has all kinds of TV and video content available so why not have a DVR for the Internet?
PlayLater has set out to be just that, a DVR for the internet. The desktop application for Windows allows you access more than 25 different channels of online video content like Netflix, Hulu, Comedy Central, MTV, Cartoon Network, ESPN, CBS, Nickelodeon, Spike, and more. You can search and browse each of these website's available content and add videos you want to watch later to your queue where they are recorded and available for offline viewing later.
The application is free to download but requires a premium subscription in order to gain access to all PlayLater's content. The premium service costs $5 a month or $50 a year, which is pretty reasonable in my opinion especially if you don't have cable. The application is in a one month closed beta right now and only the first 5000 people to
join the beta
will get in.
I think this is brilliant idea and further makes the idea of pulling the plug on your cable a reality. The application comes from the people over at PlayOn a company that offer streaming of online video content over game console or mobile device. This seems to be the next step allowing people to record and watch the content later.
One thing I would really like to see them implement is a way to record all episodes of a specific show. I haven't seen anything that suggests that you can have PlayLater automatically add episodes to your record queue. It seems you have to go and add the shows manually each time they become available on the channel, which is okay, but would be better if you could just say record all episodes of a specific show and it would do so. All in all should be interesting to see how PlayLater preforms and if people are willing to pay for it.
Turtle Fly - Rocket Turtle Gameplay that's Super Addictive
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 3:10 PM
A new game has topped the free charts today on the App Store called Turtle Fly. Despite the broken english description and weird story that really doesn't make that much sense the game is actually a ton of fun and very addictive.
The game features a turtle that is genetically engineered to fly? I know weird right? There's a whole backstory that I didn't bother reading and really isn't important. You fly your turtle into the air gathering gems and cola that acts as fuel to take you go higher. You have to avoid other flying objects like blimps, jets, and other planes. You earn money for height and the gems you collect. You spend the money earned to purchase upgrades for your turtle after each run. You can buy all kinds of upgrades that make you faster, give you more fuel, and give you getter control over you turtle cola powered rocket.
Kind of like Tiny Wings you have goals that you have to complete in order go onto the next level which features more difficult goals. There are four stories and 7 levels in each story. You can control the turtle with the arrow keys or by tilting the device. You can pick up the game for free, but I have a feeling it won't be free for much longer so pick it up while you can.
Turtle Fly - j2sighte
Groovedown - Download Songs from Grooveshark
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 1:30 PM
Grooveshark is probably the best free online music streaming service out there. They have all kinds of music you can listen to for free and it's pretty awesome. If you want to download music on Grooveshark you would have to record your system audio with something like
or with a combination of
Soundflower and Quicktime
. Now there's Groovedown a Windows (Mac and Linux with the help of
) application that allows you to search and download any track on Grooveshark.
The application is pretty simple all you have to do is install it and search for songs you want to download. Double click the song and it starts downloading it. It's that simply! You can select multiple songs at once and add them to your download queue to save you from having to click them one by one. This is a lot simpler than trying to record the audio using the methods mentioned above.
Is this legal? No, of course not, but the software developer is more liable than the users in my opinion. That and Grooveshark will probably figure out a way to shutdown this applications's API access and other applications like it. It totally undermines their service and should make the music studios Grooveshark is partnering with very uncomfortable.
Anyway the application is free so go and check it out.
ScreenRecycler - Use an Old Computer as an Extra Screen
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 12:22 PM
Do you typically update your computer before your previous one wears out? Then why not use your old computer as a second screen for your new one? There's no such think as too much screen real-estate you can always find ways to use it all. Two 30 inch monitors seems like plenty of space, but when you have two 30 inch screens you can still find ways to fill it up. ScreenRecycler is a Mac application that creates a VNC server that configures your old computer as an extra monitor.
ScreenRecycler creates a VNC server that allows your other Windows, Linux, or Mac computer to connect to it via VNC. The difference between ScreenRecycler and a normal VNC session is that instead of seeing a mirrored image of your main computer you get a blank screen that acts as second monitor. This allows you to drag windows use it just like a second monitor.
Both computers have to be on the same Network to make the connection work. Once you install ScreenRecycler on your main Mac computer all you have to do is launch the application. Take notice of the VNC server options and the port number in use in the main connection window. On the other computer open your VNC application of choice and enter in any of the server name followed by the port number, wbimac.local:6900 for example.
If you don't know what VNC application to use for Windows I would suggest TightVNC and Mac JollysfastVNC, which is actually developed by the same people and designed to work well with ScreenRecycler. You can also try the Mac built in VNC app "Screen Sharing" if you would like, but remember to add vnc:// before the server name and port number. If you have any question check out
Cult of Mac's howto video
The performance isn't that great over Wi-Fi and that's because the bandwidth is too low. It's still usable but doesn't like you to move windows around as much. It works best with windows that are stationary. If you watch ScreenRecycler's
on their website they are using a crossover cable to make the connection faster. This is probably ideal for most situations. You can
purchase crossover cables
, or even make your own if you like.
Skii - Free App that Adds Push-To-Talk to Skype - (Mac Only)
Monday, June 27, 2011 2:12 PM
Skype is a great way to communicate with friends and family over any distance. They can be next door or on the other side of the world and you can use Skype to talk and video conference with them for free. Something that Skype doesn't do is allow you to use a feature called push-to-talk. This is were you have to push a button in order to speak just like a walkie talkie. This allows you to have the mic muted when you're not talking to prevent background noise or unintentional talking from interrupting other people's conversations. It also prevents the audio from other users from feeding back into your mic giving them an echo on their side.
Skii is a little menu application that solves this little problem and gives Skype a push-to-talk feature. You simply launch the application and assign a shortcut. It can be even be a single key to make activating the mic quick and simple. As long as you hold down the hotkey shortcut your mic will be active. As soon as you release the key your mic will go back to being muted again. It's that simple.
This is great for people who don't have a set of headphones handy for calls or have a lot of background noise to deal with. It's a simple solution to one of Skype's little problems and a whole lot better than clicking and re-clicking the mute button. You can get Skii for free over at MacUpdate check it out.
iPhone Rumor Mill Heating up! September Might Bring 2 iPhones
Monday, June 27, 2011 1:39 PM
The iPhone rumor mill is really heating up as analysts Chris Witmore of Deutsche Bank predicts that Apple will not only release a new iPhone in September but will release 2 new iPhones. One blogs are calling the iPhone 4S, an unlocked and slightly better version of the iPhone4 and the iPhone 5, the next generation in hardware and design for the iPhone.
According to the analysts, who was published in
, Apple needs to reach that mid-range market with a cheaper unlocked phone that, as some people have predicting, can even be a prepaid phone without a contract. This would allow Apple to reach markets that don't subsidize phone costs with contracts like we do in America. Markets like Africa, Asia and Latin America that operate on pre-paid phone planes without contracts. According to the analyst Apple is planning on releasing an updated and unlocked version of the iPhone 4 to fill this void.
This is not the first time we have heard people talking about Apple making their way into markets that don't use the contract structure. It seems last year around the time the iPhone 4 was rumored people began talking about the possibility of a smaller phone or Nano iPhone that could reach this market. I think Apple will do something like that in the future the question is when.
The big question is what will they release in September? Will there just be an iPhone 5 or two iPhones one being an unlocked mid-range phone available for $350 and the latest and greatest iPhone 5? Everyone seems to be talking about September as if it's a given that Apple is going to release something. That rumor only started like a week ago and already people are talking about it like it's fact. Apple may not release anything in September at all. Wouldn't that be a kick in the pants?
RedBox Now Offers Video Game Rentals for $2 a day
Monday, June 27, 2011 11:54 AM
RedBox and those familiar large red kiosk vending machines now offer video game rentals for only $2 a day. This makes it one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to try out video games you might be interested in purchasing. With Blockbuster going under and other video stores becoming scarce it's no wonder Redbox didn't offer this sooner.
Video games are being offered in 21,000 kiosks to start off with and will be offerer games for the Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360. Redbox locations will hold anywhere from 22-28 different game titles across all platforms. Redbox is currently shows 18 titles for Xbox 360, 16 for the Wii, and 19 titles for the PS3. Now only a fraction of these titles will be available on any given machine so you will have to search and find a kiosk that has the game you're looking for.
Games will cost $2 a day to rent which is the most expensive offering from Redbox with Blu-Ray movies costing $1.50 and DVDs priced at $1. Current game titles for Xbox include Cars 2, Duke Nukem, Brink, Red Faction, COD Black Ops, and Transformers.
I think this move by Redbox is brilliant. How else are you going to try out a video game? You could get Gamefly, but that costs at least $8 a month and it's a service that you have to pay for each month. I don't have a video game I want to try out every month so that would be a waste of money for me. Most games can be beaten in 5-15 hours anyway so you could get through most games in one day if you had a lot of time to play. For the price of a fountain drink at Mcdonald's you could rent a game for the day play it and return it. If you have a day off and nothing to do this is a perfect way to spend a lazy day at home.
You could try and get a free game rental with the Redbox promo code
. I haven't verified that it works, but if anyone can post it in the comments.
Min.us Now Allows you to Embed Photo Gallories
Friday, June 24, 2011 12:00 PM
I have been using Min.us for a while now and have seen them grow into a great web application. Min.us makes uploading and sharing photos and files as easy as it can be. All you have to do is go to Min.us, drag some files from your desktop into the browser window, and Min.us's HTML5 magic takes over. Now the people over at Min.us have added the ability to embed their albums into your website or blog.
To embed an album all you have to do is click the share button on any of the files or photos and copy the code in the "Embed" box in the bottom left. Then you just have paste it into the body of an HTML document and your done. In addition to adding the ability to embed galleries they have also added a grid view and support for public image and file search.
This is by far the easiest way to create share and embed a photo gallery. Don't forget that minus supports and displays all kinds of files so it doesn't just have to be pictures. Min.us can upload any file and preview PDFs, text documents, music and video files as well as css and php files right in the gallery view. This makes Min.us very versatile and a practical way of storing and displaying images and files on your website, blog, forum, or anywhere you can use an iframe tag. Is it the prettiest gallery you have ever seen? No, but I would challenge you to find a faster and more hassle free way of uploading and embedding something of that quality. Check out Min.us if you haven't already. I'm sure you can find a use for it no matter who you are.
Team Fortress 2 Goes Free with In-game Purchases
Friday, June 24, 2011 11:33 AM
Team Fortress 2 is a multiplayer FPS game developed by Valve. The game is known for it's capture the flag and king of the hill type matches and it's cartoon like graphics. The game is well known and critically acclaimed as both a PC and console game featured in the Orange Box, a collection of Valve PC games ported over to the Xbox. Team Fortress 2 is now going free, according to a statement by valve today, leaving the game to be supported by in game purchases like new guns, hats for your character, and other cosmetic items.
Valve has made every game modes, classes, and maps available for free and nearly every gun through achievements, drops, or crafting. According to Valve players that choose not to purchase guns will not be at a huge disadvantage to those who do. This is a smart move in my opinion. I have played too many free games that make purchased weapons a must. So I appreciate Valve making a point to avoid this issue.
Team Fortress 2 is such a great game and has been around for so long that it's a proven classic. The game is only available on Steam, Valve's online game network and store.
Team Fortress 2 Now Free
Boom - Boost your MacBook's Speaker Volume
Thursday, June 23, 2011 3:19 PM
If you have a Mac laptop like a Macbook or Macbook Pro you have probably noticed that in large noisy rooms you really can't hear the sound coming out of your speakers. Most of the time the volume is fine because you are either in a quite place or are using headphones. For those times that you need loud speaker volume there's Boom, an application that seeks to fix this problem by boosting your systems volume.
Boom can boost all audio coming from your system as well as apply an equalizer. Boom sits up in your menu-bar and provides you with a volume slider much like the default OS X one. When activate Boom you can turn the volume up to 100% and them some to give it that boost. The equalizer has presets that include Flat, Bass Boost, Treble Boost, Soft, Loud, Music, Vocals, and Movie to make the output audio sound a little better depending on what you are doing.
You can also use Boom to boost the volume on audio and video files so they retain the audio boost when you sync them to devices like you phone or iPod. iTunes protected files don't work with Boom but that shouldn't come as a shock.
Boom is a great simple application that solves one of life's little annoyances. The application normally retails for $9 for a single user license, but right now you can pick it up for $4.99. I have to say for what the application does it doesn't really seem worth $9. iTunes and applications like VLC offer ways to boost volume within their apps, but i guess if you need your system audio or other application's audio boosted, Boom is really the best option.
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