How To: Hack Gmail Notifier to use SSL

WikiHow explains how to configure Gmail Notifier to use SSL to retrieve your email account information. This addresses a glaring issue that seems to have been swept under the rug for a long time: why use a secured connection (as is setup when you use Better Gmail) when actually checking your Gmail account if Gmail Notifier is passing your email info back and forth in the clear? The tutorial is specific for Windows and requires the use of freeware app VirtualDub. This will secure Gmail Notifier's connection and take less than five minutes to get going. Thanks, Justin!

Featured Linux Download: Google Desktop now available for Linux

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Windows, Mac and now Linux: Search your Linux computer's files and applications with Google Desktop, which now runs on Debian 4.0, Fedora Core 6, Ubuntu 6.10, SUSE 10.1, and Red Flag 5. The big advantage Google Desktop has over built-in search solutions (like the Mac's Spotlight) is its ability to include Gmail messages in its results, and the use of Google's advanced search operators, which are nice to learn once and use both on the web and desktop. For more on Google Desktop power usin', see how to get more from Google Desktop. GDesktop is a free download, now truly cross-platform.

Online Storage:

Microsoft offers 500MB of online storage in their new Windows Live Folders service. The beta is limited (I wasn't able to get in, but others were) and you need a Live ID (nee Passport) login to try it out.

Featured Firefox Extension: Prevent history tracking with SafeHistory

All platforms with Firefox: Open-source extension SafeHistory bolsters your browsing security by protecting you from visited-link-based tracking techniques.

[SafeHistory] restricts the marking of visited links on the basis of the originating document, defending against web privacy attacks that remote sites can use to determine your browser history at other sites. A link on a.com pointing at b.com will only be marked visited if you previously visited the b.com page with a referrer in the domain of a.com.

Developed by the creators of previously-mentioned SafeCache, SafeHistory is a free download that works anywhere Firefox does. Thanks, iqag!

How To: Choose an accountant for your online business

Web entrepreneur (and Lifehacker guest editor) Matt Haughey offers good advice on how to find an accountant for your online business who understands the internet. After 8 years of using TurboTax and a few so-so accountants, Matt says the person with the right know-how can save you piles of moolah. This year he had his taxes done 3 ways: by a local accountant, a big city accountant, and TurboTax online.

In the end, the big city accountant asked me the right questions and figured out a couple deductions I didn't know I qualified for, and saved me $1500 below what TurboTax came up with. I probably could have gotten my TurboTax return to match but I probably mis-read one of the hundreds of questions lobbed at me during the online process. The local accountant I wasn't a fan of turned out to be the worst option, coming up $1200 over my own TurboTax return. I suspect she left off a few business expenses I listed.

We've been around the should I hire a tax accountant? block before, and Matt makes a strong case for internet pros to do it. How did you find your killer accountant? Let us know in the comments.

Screencast:

If Google Analytics makes you go "huh?", blogger Beth Kanter screencasts a primer. For more on how we use Analytics, see my previous feature, improve your web site with Google Analytics.

Book Recommendation: Find out how to do anything online with Rule the Web

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BoingBoing founder Mark Frauenfelder's new book, Rule the Web, answers every question anyone might have about how to get things done online. From security to travel to finance to productivity, this tome's chock full of Lifehacker-style tips and tricks. Mark says:

Writing about technology for BoingBoing and a variety of print publications for nearly twenty years, I've spent a vast quantity of time scouting out the very latest, the very coolest and the very best of what's out there, and translating those discoveries into concise and clear tips for my readers.... There are so many things you can do online today beyond paying your bills and searching for good prices on digital cameras, but there's no single resource that a.) makes readers aware of the possibilities and b) culls out only the most effective tools.

I had the pleasure of contributing a small bit to the "Tips from My Favorite Bloggers" chapter, too. While much of the book's material might not be new to lifehackers in-the-know, it would make a great gift for less savvy friends and family.

Mozilla releases Sunbird and Lighting 0.5

SunbirdIt's been a long time coming, but Mozilla's Sunbird and Lightning calendar programs have hit 0.5. Sunbird is a standalone calendar application, while Lightning is an extension for Mozilla's Thunderbird email program.

While neither program gets as much attention as their big brothers Firefox and Thunderbird, they're pretty robust calendars, and the 0.5 releases include a ton of new features and bug fixes.

  • Refined user interface
  • Automatic migration of data from Sunbird 0.2, iCal, and Evolution
  • Improved printing function
  • Lightning works better with Thunderbird (when it comes to things like copying and pasting or printing)
  • Support for Google Calendar (via the Google Calendar Provider extension)

Sunbird and Lightning 0.5 are available for Windows, OS X, and Linux. Version 1.0 is scheduled for an early 2008 release.

[via Mozilla Calendar Weblog]

Why is Google really buying DoubleClick?

googel doubleclick dealDo we care why Google bought DoubleClick? Well, it could be nice to know a little background history on the deal in progress.

Alex Kinnier, Google's Group Product Manager made a blog post yesterday as to why they decided to buy Doubleclick. Basically, DoubleClick has been a leader in the online advertising game from the beginning, helping advertisers get onto large sites such as AOL, Yahoo, MSN, CNET and ESPN.com.

Google's display advertising was seen as a little speck compared to the giants of online display advertising, AOL, Yahoo and MSN, and they wanted to change that. Google feels that DoubleClicks products and technology complement their own quite nicely, that paired with DoubleClicks delivery mechanisms can help current AdWords customers obtain more precise metrics enabling them to get a better idea how their advertising campaigns are fairing out. DoubleClicks superior knowledge in the industry will also be able to help Google's initiatives out by communicating with agencies and publishers to create more innovative ad serving technologies. Through the DoubleClick deal Google will also be able to help out with unsold media using DART, a hosted enterprise-class advertising management and serving solution for publishers.

So there you have it. It's all about helping the advertisers out. And maybe a little about lining Google's pockets with some extra R&D and Engineering dollars, judging from all of the new releases lately.

iPhone-only RSS reader coming to .Mac



It seems that Apple is taking the first sip from the web 2.0-only-iPhone-apps kool-aid while simultaneously injecting their stagnating .Mac service with a little pep by introducing what looks like an RSS reader just for the iPhone. Going to

SpeedScript for UMPC or Tablet PC - 1 year free trial

SpeedscriptSpeedScript is an innovative program (one of many) aimed at making it easy to enter text on mobile devices. With all the talk about whether the iPhone's lack of a physical keyboard is an advantage or a detriment, it's easy to forget that folks have been struggling with on-screen text entry methods ever since the days of the Apple Newton. See how it all comes full circle back to Apple?

Anyway, as we've mentioned before, SpeedScript is available for Windows Mobile devices for about $13. But SpeedScript is also testing tablet and UMPC versions of the software. And when we say testing, we mean if you download a copy today, they're not going to charge you for a year. That should be more than enough time to figure out whether SpeedScript actually saves you any time.

[via jkOnTheRun]

Developing applications on the iPhone with Morfik

morfik iphone developer platformThe iPhone isn't even out yet and there are scheduled conferences, iPhone specific applications and now an iPhone developer's platform.

A company called Morfik has created a platform that will give developers the ability to build applications on Apple's new iPhone. This new platform is said to be the first of its kind, and usually the first ones to market hit it big with consumers. Morfik has said that its WebOS AppsBuilder will be able to make web applications that are optimized for Safari running on iPhones. Don't have a technically included background? Morfik will also enable everyday users a way to make their own AJAX powered web applications with writing any code.

Morfik already has one application ready for the iPhone called ichess. http://ichess.morfik.com

It's been said that Google Gears and Adobe's AIR could also be big with iPhone developers.

Unofficial HP iPAQ hx4700 update

HP hx4700Now that Windows Mobile 6 is shipping, let's take a stroll down memory lane and reminisce about the problems users had upgrading their Windows Mobile 2003SE devices to Windows Mobile 5.0.

Specifically, Dell Axim X50 and HP iPAQ hx4700 users found themselves in a bind. They'd already purchased some of coolest PDAs on the market. They had blazing fast 624MHz processors and high quality VGA screens. But since they didn't use the same type of RAM as newer Windows Mobile 5.0 devices, it turned out that when you tried to "upgrade" either model, you'd wind up with a much slower system.

Late last year, Dell released a fix for the Axim. And while the X50 series still feels more responsive running WM2003SE than WM5.0, the difference is much smaller than it used to be. And you get updated versions of Mobile Office and the ability to run newer third party software.

Unfortunately HP hasn't released an official patch for the hx4700. But it appears some Russian hackers have. Werner Ruotsalainen reports that the unofficial ROM upgrade vastly improves performance on hx4700 PDAs running Windows Mobile 5.0. However, the upgrade does not include support for A2DP Bluetooth audio, so if that's important to you, it might be worth waiting (possibly forever) for an official update from HP.

Tiny Drum Machine - Today's Time Waster

Play the Tiny Drum Machine

Created by the food folks at PixelPlanet, this half-time-waster-half-technology-demo is all fun. The Tiny Drum Machine (now in its fifth version) is a music maker where you control the notes that are played as well as the tempo of your piece. Use the simple grid to pick notes to be played and drag the bar below to set the speed. The song endlessly loops, but if you are clever you can mingle the start and end of your song so that it sounds like one long repetitive chorus. For a technology gifted but musically deficient individual such as myself getting the perfect tune has prove quite addictive.

Feeling uninspired? Hit "P" to hear a serious of random arraignments.

Google Desktop released for Linux

Google DesktopGoogle has released a version of Google Desktop for Linux. While the PC version of this software includes a gadget engine, Google Desktop for Linux, like the relatively new Google Desktop for Mac is pretty much just a desktop search engine.

Google Desktop will index OpenOffice.org files, HTML, PDF, PS, MAN, and INFO documents among others. It'll also track your web history if you use Firefox, and emails from Thunderbird and Gmail.

Google had previously released Google Earth and Picasa for Linux.

This isn't the first desktop search product for Linux. But the ability to integrate with Firefox and Gmail is nice. And while we don't expect anyone to switch from PC to Linux solely because Google Desktop is now available, it's always good news for those who have made the switch when a Windows application is ported to Linux.

[via Google Desktop Blog]

Creating Google Gadgets for cash

google gadget venturesGoogle has launched an interesting new program that sees developers who design and develop sustainable Google Gadgets, sizable funding grants.

The Google Gadget Ventures funding program is open for businesses and individuals who apply to a $5000 grant, not a load, for further developments on their creation. So what's the catch? To be considered into the program, your gadget must have more than 250,000 pageviews per week. Together with those stats, you must also write a one page proposal on the improvements that you would add to your Gadget.

If you pass those tests, Google has another $100,000 in seed investments for companies that start a Gadget, or rely on the Gadget for their business.

So what are you waiting for? Here are some links to help you get started:

And if DLS readers need some extra pageviews, submit your gadget to the tips line!

MySpace TV v. YouTube: If you can't beat them, become them

MySpaceTV and YouTube
MySpace TV is up and running, and there's something kind of familiar about it. In fact, if you look at the screenshots aove, you can see that it looks an awful lot like YouTube.

That's not surprising, seeing as YouTube is the most popular video sharing service on the web, and MySpace wants a piece of the action. But as the folks at Mashable point out, there's more than a superficial resemblance here.
  1. The videos, categories, and channels tabs at the top of the page look pretty much identical. MySpace adds a home tab, and YouTube has a community tab, but still...
  2. The relate videos and more from this user box is located in pretty much the same exact space on both sites.
  3. The far right column is reserved for "director videos" on YouTube and "featured videos" on MySpaceTV.
  4. Even the subscribe button looks identical to YouTube's.
There are plenty of other similarities. And that might not be a bad thing for MySpace. But we haven't seen one site rip off another so blatantly since... well, April.

NewCo ramping up to battle YouTube

NBC and News Corps NewCo shopping for financingNot happy with how YouTube deals with copyrighted materials, NBC and News Corp. have been on the move to create a joint venture that would crunch YouTube for what seems like ages. Now they are shopping around to raise cash for their currently unnamed product.

NewTeeVee has the scoop on the NewCo team hitting up VC's from New York to Silicon Valley to fund their venture, and reportedly looking to get at least $100 Million, on a $1 Billion valuation. So far, no luck on investments for, what was believed by these companies, to be a killer online video channel showcasing their own material.

Will this new company be able to come close to the popularity of YouTube? Chances are no. YouTube's traffic is increasing daily, and growing across all markets, while this new company is still having troubles even getting started.

Launch: Google Docs & Spreadsheets makeover

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The Google Docs & Spreadsheets beta is sporting a new look with a couple of slick new features, like folders. (Click on the image to take a look.)

In addition to a prettier interface with new icons and expandable trees on the left, the old tags have been replaced by good old-fashioned folders. Finally, the search box offers Google Suggest as-you-type docs and spreadsheets results suggestions for faster getting at what you need. Log in to your Google Account to check it out.

Featured Firefox Extension: See Windows stats with StatusbarEx

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Windows with Firefox: StatusbarEx adds system stats to the Firefox status bar, like Firefox's memory usage, your overall CPU usage, your network adapter's speed, your power status, and the time the page you're visiting was last updated. StatusbarEx makes excellent use of a portion of the Firefox UI that traditionally goes unused - the only bummer is it requires the Microsoft Visual C++ runtime to work. Otherwise, StatusbarEx is a free download for Windows (with Firefox.)

Digital Photos:

Yahoo! integrates Flickr photos into their Image Search results. I think I just switched image search providers.

Wikipedia:

Wikipedian Steve Rubel runs down how to surf the 'pedia using keyboard shortcuts. Had no idea there were so many.

How To: Make KDE apps look like Gnome apps

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Linux users: The Nerdica weblog walks through how to re-theme your KDE apps to blend nicely into the Gnome desktop. KDE has bunches of awesome applications, however, the KDE and Gnome default themes are so different running KDE and Gnome apps side-by-side creates a major eyesore.

The tutorial uses the KlearLook KDE control theme and the Human KDE icon set to match KDE apps to the Ubuntu theme -- giving you close to flawless integration of your KDE apps into your Ubuntu desktop. Although the tutorial demonstrates how to make KDE apps blend to the Gnome desktop in Ubuntu, you can apply the general principle to any Linux distro that uses drastically different themes in Gnome and KDE.

Screensaver: Make your own GTD screensaver

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Getting Things Done practitioner John created a screensaver that displays his next actions, so he doesn't lose track of what he should be working on. Using a PowerPoint file, John updates slides with his tasks, and exports them to bitmap files. Then, Windows XP's built-in screensaver gets the images up on his screen after a few minutes of inactivity. I keep my to-do list in front of my face with GeekTool (Samurize on Windows). Same concept, different tools.

Version Control:

The Cranking Widgets Blog reviews previously-mentioned FileHamster, easy version control on Windows. For less-easy version control, here's how to set up a home Subversion server.

How To: Recover lost Word documents

Maker of data-recovery applications Ease Us offers several approaches to resurrecting a lost Word document. The tutorial goes from the obvious -- look in the Recycle Bin -- to more complex searches, like looking for a backup file with the WBK extension, to looking for files that start with a tilde (~), plus a few more. They sprinkle in several recommendations to use their shareware apps, but if you ignore these, there are quite a few good tips you can try next time a Word document goes MIA on your PC.

Windows Vista Tip:

The How-To Geek runs down how to navigate Windows Vista Explorer using keyboard shortcuts.

Geek To Live: Separate your email from your to-do's

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Your boss needs the updated PowerPoint presentation file by Tuesday. Your spouse wants to know how many vacation days you've got left this year. Your co-worker needs your office pool picks. Everyone gets task requests via email all day long, and it's so easy to let these messages slip through the cracks. Whether your inbox is stuffed with two-year-old fwd'd kitten photos from Aunt Edna, or if you empty it every day and diligently file away actionable email to a "TO-DO" folder - it's still not easy to track the messages you've actually got to DO something about using email.

Let's face it: email is not a task manager. One of the biggest leaps I made towards keeping on top of all my pending to-do's was making a clean, mindful break between email and tasks.

Why email isn't a good task manager

Yes, most email programs have flags and stars and labels and color-coding and folders, but email was built for messaging, not task management. Now, lots of lifehackers have decided to make email their one-stop shop for everything and have come up with systems using those stars and labels and folders and flags to do so. Them I salute. As for the rest of us? Email isn't good for to-do's.

For example, you receive an email from a friend and the subject line is "hi." The two of you go back and forth a dozen times, then decide to make plans for dinner, and suddenly it's up to you to make reservations at Rosarita's House of Tacos on July 14th at 7PM. Stick that into your "TO-DO" folder, and you've got a task that reads: "Re: re: re: re: re: re: hi." That doesn't tell you much, does it?

There's a better way.

How you process email

You've probably already got a system (or lack thereof) for dealing with email. That subject is beyond the scope of this article, but for a rundown on my system, check out my feature on emptying your inbox with the Trusted Trio of folders: ACTION, ARCHIVE and HOLD. The ACTION folder contains messages that you've got to do something about, something that takes more than a couple minutes to complete. Essentially, it's a folder full of to-do's.

After a year of following this system religiously and reveling in an empty inbox on a regular basis, the big gotcha revealed itself. The problem with filing task email away in an ACTION folder is that the messages are out of sight - and for most, that means out of mind. It's mortifying to open your ACTION folder to find it's full of messages you needed to do something about that have been ignored for months.

Now, don't get me wrong. As I said back in 2006, the key to using the ACTION folder is reviewing it regularly. But that's a habit productive people more evolved than I have developed. I just don't open up that ACTION folder often, if ever. I pay attention to my regular to-do list while that folder full of email messages that need something done about them gathers dust.

You should only have ONE to-do list

David Allen's productivity system, Getting Things Done, recommends keeping only one inbox minimizing the buckets you use to collect all the "stuff" that comes into your life every day. This same principle applies to to-do lists. Multiples confuse and fragment. Two lists of tasks - an email ACTION folder and a regular to-do list - is the sure road to dropping the ball on something.

So from here on in, when you get a to-do via email, you will add the task to your to-do list, which is separate from your email client. When you do this, word the task to be as specific and doable as possible - like "Make reservation at Rosarita's House of Tacos for July 14th at 7PM." For more on how to assign yourself actionable to-do's, see last week's feature, the art of the doable to-do list.

I can already hear the cries of protest rising up from computer screens all over the globe. "Life hacking is about being more efficient, and this adds a whole extra step!! What do you mean, MANUALLY move information from email to my to-do list? That's more work!"

Here's the thing:

The extra step makes you think

Last week I discussed how a good to-do list removes all the thinking from the action. The extra step of moving your task from email to to-do list helps you do this, with a built-in review and thought process. It forces you to articulate what has to be done (make dinner reservations) instead of making your self re-open that "Re: re: re: re: hi" message and re-read everything to remember that, oh yeah, you're supposed to make reservations for dinner.

The extra step also reinforces the "One Minute Rule." In short, while you process your email messages, if something will take you more than a minute to complete, you'll add it to your to-do list. Otherwise, you should just do it. Now that you've got to transfer the task from email to to-do list, you're more likely to just do any tasks or write any quick replies that will take less time than the transfer, because what's the sense in going through all that and cluttering up your list with something you can knock out right now?

Separating out your email tasks also gives you all the nice benefits of a good to-do list: the ability to prioritize, sort and search your tasks. The bosses' request for the PowerPoint file update on Tuesday is more important than the office pool picks (or maybe vice versa), and your task manager will be better at letting you see that than the ACTION folder.

Rename the ACTION folder to FOLLOWUP

So what do you do with those email requests if you don't put them in ACTION? All of those messages should get a reply when the task has been completed, so rename your ACTION folder FOLLOWUP. When you move your task from email to your to-do list, make a note in the task to dash off a reply when the task is complete. So your task might look like "Make reservations at Rosarita's for July 14th at 7PM (followup)." That "followup" notation tells yourself to grab the email out of your FOLLOWUP folder and dash off a reply to the person the request came from once you've made those dinner reservations.

While regularly reviewing your to-do lists is still a habit that takes practice to develop, it's a lot easier when the to-do list is the ONE place you've got to look for aging tasks that need action, instead of pawing through old email figuring out what needs what done.

How do you deal with the constant stream of email requests every day? Let us know in the comments.

Gina Trapani, the editor of Lifehacker, firmly believes in the separation of messages and tasks. Her weekly feature, Geek to Live, appears every Wednesday on Lifehacker. Subscribe to the Geek to Live feed to get new installments in your newsreader.

Launch:

Picasa Web Albums integrates geotagged photos with Google Maps and launches a mobile browsing interface. Our question: are any of you using Picasa Web Albums? [via Official Google Blog]

Gmail Tips: Expand filter input, get serious about your filters

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Blogger and Google Reader developer Mihai Parparita details how to expand Gmail's one-line "Has the words" input field to a full textarea so that you can more easily build complex and powerful Gmail filters. His method requires editing Firefox's userContent.css file and adding the following:

@-moz-document domain(mail.google.com) {
input[name="cf1_has"] {
display: none;
-moz-binding: url(http://persistent.info/files/gmail-filter.xml#filter);
}
}

Not sure how to do that? Get the details after the jump.

Firefox's userContent.css file allows you to change and customize display rules for web pages. If you haven't created the file, it may not already exist, so you'll need to create it yourself. To do so, you need to open your profile folder. Windows users, hit Start -> Run and type %appdata%\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles and head into your current profile (if you have only one that ends with default, that's the folder). Mac users can find it at ~/Library/Application Support/Firefox.

Now that you're in the profile folder, go to the folder called chrome. Rename the userContent-example.css file to userContent.css, open it in your favorite text editor, and paste the code above. The larger textarea does bork the Gmail interface a bit when you're click the Create a filter link, but it's a completely acceptable tradeoff; creating complex filters in Gmail just got a helluva lot more readable.

Featured Firefox Extension: Enhance inline search with Search Marker

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Windows/Mac/Linux (Firefox): The Search Marker Firefox extension places tick marks along your Firefox scrollbar to indicating the location of all matches for an inline Firefox search.

Using it is easy. Just search a web page using Ctrl-F or the backslash and watch as Search Marker marks off all the matches. Move the scrollbar to the location of one of the ticks and you should find a match. This extension may not be for everybody, but if you do a lot of inline searches, especially of long documents, it's really handy. Search Marker is free to download, works wherever Firefox does.

How To: Prevent noisy camera videos with a band-aid

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Web site PopPhoto has a simple hack for avoiding the ubiquitous windy-audio compact camera video: just use a band-aid.

I made a windscreen for my compact's microphone from the gauze-like padding of an adhesive bandage. Taped over the mic's tiny port, the "screen" does an admirable job of muffling, even eliminating, the sound of wind from my videos.

This isn't rocket science, but it's a smart idea that should help improve the listenability of those outdoor, in-camera video tremendously.

Mac Tip: Quickly restart any program

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For various reasons, blogger Paul Stamatiou needs to regularly restart Firefox on his Mac. In order to streamline the process, he's created a shell script to be run by Automator via Finder's right/Control-click context menu.

That may sound heady, but the step-by-step is easy to follow. Once you've set it up, just right-click your desktop, go to Automator and then Restart Firefox. There's actually already a pretty good Restart Firefox extension, but the good thing about Paul's method is that it could be tweaked to work with any application, giving you quick access to restart your troubled apps whenever you want—like Quicksilver, for example.

DIY: Convert your unused laptop to a second monitor

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DIY web site Instructables has a very intense but very cool tutorial for converting a laptop into a second monitor.

This is a "roll up your sleeves and hope you don't screw it up" project, but it's also a great way to repurpose an unused laptop for a cheap second LCD monitor. For a non-DIY approach, you can use a software like MaxiVista to transform a second laptop without the hardware tweaking, but the Instructable will take the repurposing to the limit. On the other hand, if you're just looking to share a mouse and keyboard, check out previously mentioned Synergy.

Featured Download: Get the feel of Photoshop in GIMP with GIMPshop

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Windows/Linux/Mac: Open-source app GIMPshop is a modified version of GIMP designed to give the feel of Photoshop.

GIMPshop modifies the menu structure to closely match Photoshop's, adjusts the program's terminology to match Adobe's, and, in the Windows version, uses a plugin called 'Deweirdifier' to combine the application's numerous windows in a similar manner to the MDI system used by most Windows graphics packages.
As any Photoshopper will attest, GIMP is generally not as easy to work with as Photoshop out of the box. The premise behind GIMPshop is that Photoshop users will be able to dive right into GIMP while facing only a minimal learning curve. GIMPshop is a free download for Windows, Linux, and Mac.

How To: Avoid getting ripped off by a mechanic


VideoJug put together a nice tutorial that debunks five common car maintenance myths. While the rule of thumb should always be read the frackin' manual first, you can snag a couple of quality car care tips from the video that can save you money. On the other hand, if you're not an auto expert and you don't feel like becoming one, it might be best to find an honest mechanic.

Map your photos with Google's latest feature in Picasa Web Albums

google picasa web albums image mapping

No more forgetting where you took that picture on your vacation, Google has now made it possible for users to pinpoint the exact places they took their photos by mapping photos.

A new feature called "Map My Photos" was released on Tuesday in Picasa Web Albums, lets users show exactly where on a map pictures were taken. When creating an album, fill out the Place Taken field, or drag and drop individual photos straight onto a map. It's that simple.

You can then share these maps with friends either through Picasa Web Albums or through Google Earth (by clicking on the "View in Google Earth" button on the top right). Google has set up a test gallery you can take a peek at.

Google updates Docs & Spreadsheets

Docs & SpreadsheetsIs it too much to ask for a day without Google related news? The company's always buying another startup, redesigning its search page, or launching a new service, and frankly we'd be getting sick of it if we didn't find so many of these services so useful.

The latest update is an overhaul of Google Docs & Spreadsheets. The online office suite has undergone a major redesign, with a much more polished look and feel, including new icons and an easier at-a-glance view of all documents you've worked on in the last day, week, month, and year.

Probably the biggest change is that labels have been replaced with folders. All your old tags have been automatically converted to folders, and you can place documents in multiple folders So what's the difference between a label and a folder? Basically the fact that you can drag and drop your files into folders.

The Google Docs & Spreadsheets search feature has also been updated so that it now shows matching results as you type.

Take your pictures wherever you go with Google's Picasa Web for Mobile

google launches picasa web albums for mobileShowing off pictures on your mobile device just got a whole lot easier with Picasa Web Albums, and care of the innovative team at Google.

Google has just announced that they have launched the first version of Picasa Web Albums for mobile devices. When in the mobile Picasa, photo albums are tiled across your screen, clicking on them expands into the set, broken down into chunks of 12 (auto resized to your screen - 12 were shown on a Blackberry) that can then be expanded and saved to your device. You can also keep track of your friend's photos by selecting "My Favorites" from the home screen. You can also post a comment on their photos

The website can be accessed on your mobile device through a web browser by visiting http://photos.google.com and entering in your credentials.

For more information you can check out http://www.google.com/mobile/photos/ (down at time of posting)

HassleMe sends you annoying emails

HassleMeSure, your inbox is already filled with annoying emails asking if you'd like certain parts of your anatomy to be larger. But if you're like most Download Squad readers (and writers, for that matter), you probably spend a fair bit of your day sitting in front of your computer with your email application of choice open in one window.

And so sometimes a quick email can be more effective on the short attention span set than a post-it note or even an Outlook reminder. That's where HassleMe comes in.

All you have to do is enter a note to self, your email address, and how often you'd like to be hassled. HassleMe will then send you a reminder at regular intervals.

And when we say intervals, we mean days. The website has a no-frills layout, and the service is pretty no-frills as well. Right now, you can't sign up for hourly or twice a day reminders -- although that feature is coming, along with hassles via instant messenger. But if you need to remember to wash the car, take out the trash, or pick up the kids from school on a regular basis, HassleMe might help jog your memory.

Our favorite feature is the list of popular hassles on the main page, including "Call your mother roughly every 7 days," and "go for a walk in the park roughly every 10 days," you know, just to see if they're both still there.

[via AppScout]

Flickr photos now in Yahoo search

flickr photos in yahooSo now that Yahoo owns Flickr why not integrate all these crazy, top notch, up to the second, newsworthy photos into Yahoo's image search? It only makes sense.

We wrote about this happening, and it's taken quite a while to do, but Yahoo has finally included Flickr photos in its queried search results. When images are uploaded to Flickr accounts worldwide and tagged, Yahoo gains access to these additions via a live feed from the Flickr service. When users then search in Yahoo, Flickr images will be marked with a Flickr account name. Searchers can then choose to view and search all photos by that particular user.

So as long as images are tagged correctly, they should start showing up in searches on Yahoo's Image Search.

Navigate Wikipedia faster with keyboard shortcuts

wikipedia keyboard shortcutsGetting around Wikipedia could take shorter than you have been previously use to. For instance, do you know about the keyboard shortcuts?

Keyboard shortcuts aren't a well known feature for users of the popular online encyclopedia, but they do exist. I recently came across a post by Steve Rubel reminding me of this fact.

These keyboard shortcuts work with any browser, and on both PC and Mac platforms, and don't need to install any special Greasemonkey script, and will surely speed up your time when searching for useful content.

Depending on which browser you are in you will have to use hold down this combination of keys, then hit your access key:

  • Mozilla Firefox 1.5: hold Alt, press access key
  • Mozilla Firefox 2: hold Alt-Shift, press access key
  • Internet Explorer: hold Alt, press access key, and then press Enter
  • Opera: press Shift-Esc, then press access key
  • Mac OS: Control and a key
Check out a cheat sheet for the key shortcuts after the jump:

Continue reading Navigate Wikipedia faster with keyboard shortcuts

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Skype is shacking up with Toshiba

skype to be preinstalled on toshibasSkype announced a deal that will see their internet calling software loaded as standard applications on select Toshiba notebooks.

The software will be loaded onto four model lines of Toshiba computers that have built in webcams (Satellite X205, Tecra M8, Qosmio F45, and the Satellite A215 series), and will display a Skype logo on the case. Its always nail grinding, especially for techies, when we come to realize that applications we do not want have been loaded onto our new computers. However, Skype seems to be the exception here. Most of us use it, and most of us want our other friends to adapt to using it as well. Correct us if we're wrong, but this move will see people who have never heard about VoIP to be engaged by both the combination of the web cam in their new laptop, and the software that works with it.

With a major computer manufacturer introducing a leading edge VoIP software provider to potentially a whole new audience, could we finally see a drastic reduction in home and mobile rates?

Easily tracking invoices with Invotrak

easily tracking invoices with invotrakIf you're a small business looking for an easy way to store and manage invoices online, Invotrak could be the solution you are after. This simple online solution lets users input, track and issue invoices to clients. Its simple and straightforward navigational structures and tracking features make this an effective way to track past due invoices, and incoming revenue without using complicated software.

There aren't many steps involved in setting up a profile and getting up and running:

  • Create a login
  • Add client information - client name, contact name, address, email, and notes.
  • Record invoice - select client from dropdown, set date, amount, term, and upload an invoice from your standard application like word or excel.
  • Enter any invoice comments
  • Email to client
Through the user interface, companies can then track what invoices are out and waiting to receive payment on. When payment comes in, a simple click drops the payments to the received category, and adjusts balances in the right column.

The service was created by Draconis Software using Ruby on Rails to manage and keep track of their own invoices. Draconis says that they make every precaution to ensure information that is stored under your profile is secure. That's always great to know, but what happens if something goes wrong? Or, knock on wood worse case scenario, Draconis goes out of business? What happens to our information then? That's the main concern I always have when storing my data online. You can't get much simpler than Invotrak though, however, we would like to see a way to export information to a spreadsheet application for desktop storage purposes.

Mac users, check out the Dashboard widget so you can easily catch a glimpse of your invoices.

For another simple invoice option look at Freshbooks.

The Invotrak service is free, and super easy to use. Check out some screenshots of the interface.

Gallery: invotrak

invotrak - after user creationinvotrak - adding a clientinvotrak - client listinvotrak - Invoicesinvotrak - Recording invoice

Microsoft introduces Live Folders and Live Photo Gallery


Microsoft has been steadily rolling out new "Live" items since its introduction, there were two that got released late last night, with more planned to come out this summer.

Live Folders has been showing its face since around May, and are finally ready for some outside testing. The "storage on a cloud" Live Drive service, as it was coined earlier, will provide users with a free 500mb of online storage. (cough, cough...um... is that enough for the average user nowadays?) The storage was built for document storage only, so Microsoft isn't betting on the fact that people will be stuffing their spaces with multimedia materials like videos and music.

The Live Photo Gallery replaces the standard Vista Photo Gallery when installed. This allows users to control, manage, burn a picture or movie or create photo stitches, where photos are seamlessly stitched together to make a panoramic photo, relatively easy. It's an upgrade to the Windows Photo Gallery that comes standard with any Vista install. The main benefit to this application seems to be the ease of use for uploading images to Live Spaces, and videos to Soapbox.

More Windows Live services are said to roll out throughout the summer, as well as a Windows Live Suite that will include all of the Live services in one clean install.

Limited managed betas of the service will begin rolling out as of today with 5000 to 10000 testers, so look out for them if you're interested.

More coverage on this new release can be found here, here and here.

Take a look at some screenshots of the Live Folders interface:

Adobe Lightroom 1.1 in the dark, no wait, its online again

adobe lightroom 1.1

It was online, then it was offline, now its back up. Will Adobe Photoshop Lightroom ever see the light of day? Ok, it will, with a ton of cool new features.

Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom 1.1 was made available online, then quickly removed on Monday, not to be seen again until today. The new version of Adobe's professional photography toolbox, provides a way to easy manage, adjust and present large volumes of digital photographs. It was designed for professional photographers and offers and uncluttered space to get things done a lot quicker than with any other application on the market, including regular Photoshop.

The new version of the application that was released has a way to create and open catalogs, remembering and tracking the location of files. Synchronizing folders has now been made possible with the application checking catalogs and removing files that have been deleted, while scanning metadata for updates. DNG support has been enhanced, and now supports a full set of conversion options, with JPEG preview sizes set to a preset size. The metadata panel includes new options for large captions and location information, as well as spaces for emails and URL's. Hierarchical folders are now in place, so additional folders can be created with parent-child relationships. Labels, flags, ratings, develop settings, metadata and rotation settings can now all be applied to photos as well.

This new Lightroom seems like a photographers dream. Less time on the computer, and more time out in the field! There is a 30 day trial on Lightroom 1.1 application, with a regular cost of $299 for the full version for Mac or PC.

Check out some screenshots of Adobe Lightroom in action:

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