Flickr Uploadr 3.0 Released, Pro Accounts See Stats [Featured Download]

f-u-3.pngTwo big announcements for Flickr lovers (or is it lovrs?) today: First, previously mentioned Flickr Uploadr 3.0 beta is all grown up and ready for your post-beta consumption. With tons of new and improved features like picture re-ordering, the ability to create your sets offline before signing in and uploading, and simultaneous set creation and picture uploading (i.e., you don't have to wait for uploads to complete before moving onto more pictures), you'll definitely want to upgrade to 3.0, which is freeware, Windows and Mac OS X only. For real Flickr die-hards rocking a Pro account, Flickr has added one more gem today: Stats.

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Since Flickr Stats aren't enabled by default on any account, you'll want to head to the stats page (linked below) and activate stats for your account. Once you do, you'll soon be bombarded by graphs and charts displaying your photos' popularity, how and where people found your pics, and oh so much more... just as soon as Flickr processes your stats, which could take up to a day, according to Flickr. I'm assuming that timeframe depends greatly on the size of your account, because with my personal Flickr account (which doesn't hold all that many photos) stats took just a few minutes to show up. If you're a lover of charts, graphs, and Flickr, you'll likely find a new addiction in Flickr Stats.


Use iTunes? One year ago we ran down our ... [Flashback]

Use iTunes? One year ago we ran down our best iTunes power tips to get the most out of your digital tunes.


Create Quick-Kill Shortcuts for Runaway Applications [Command Line]

taskkill.pngGot an unstable application that you can't give up for whatever reason that also freezes up on you regularly? Weblog CyerNet details how to create quick-kill shortcuts for specific applications using either the built-in Windows command line tool taskkill, or a third-party command line tool called taskill (notice one less 'k'). With the default taskkill, just create a shortcut that runs the following:

taskkill /f /im firefox.exe
Where firefox.exe is replaced by the the application you want to force to quit. Lastly, if you're a *nix user (Mac or Linux), you can use the killall command, so a similar command would look something like killall firefox-bin, though you can dig deeper when killing apps on your Mac if you want.


Email Your Calendar from Outlook [Outlook Tip]

outlookcalendar.png The Productivity Portfolio blog covers how send your Outlook calendar in an email in a format that anyone—even non-Outlook users—can open. Everyone's got wacky work and life schedules around the holidays, so you may want to dash off your calendar to a co-worker or client before you go. In short, Outlook attaches an .ISC file to the outgoing email, which the recipient can open in iCal, Google Calendar, or any app that supports iCalendar files. Handy.


Add Webapps to Your Dock with Fluid [Featured Mac Download]


Mac OS X Leopard only: Freeware application Fluid runs your favorite webapps in a dedicated, WebKit-based browser so you can run your most-used webapps just like they're native Mac apps. If this idea sounds familiar it's because Mozilla has tackled similar territory with an app they're calling Prism. The major difference is that Fluid uses the same rendering engine as Safari and gets that native Mac look that's still lacking from Mozilla apps. And since Prism doesn't really work with extensions yet, Fluid seems like the best choice if you're on a Mac. Fluid is freeware (though this beta expires in April, so it may go shareware in the future), Mac OS X Leopard only.


Watch Full-Length Television Online with OpenHulu [Television]

open-hulu.pngYou may have already heard of Hulu, a closed beta, on-demand TV service from NBC Universal and News Corp. designed to stream the latest new shows from NBC, Fox, Bravo, Sci Fi, and more YouTube-style. But you may not have heard of OpenHulu, a Hulu clone that's attempting to embed every video from Hulu (which is part of how Hulu is designed to work) so you don't need an invitation to Hulu to enjoy the free, on-demand TV. You'll still get embedded ads here and there, but the quality is high and the streaming quick. Seems like the list of ways you can catch your favorite TV shows is growing by the day.


See the Cost of Your Energy Vampires [Energy Conservation]

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Good magazine has an interesting chart in their latest issue that details how much energy your vampire devices use, and how much it costs you to keep them plugged in. The guide differentiates between devices that are in "active" (ready to leap to life) and "passive" (just plugged in) standby modes, and some items are real shockers. A plasma TV, for instance, can cost about $160 per year just to keep plugged in. That Wii you got your hands on? $25 before you even hit one virtual tennis ball. The takeaway for me, at least, is thinking about putting some devices on power strips and turning them off if I know I won't be using them for a day or more.


Create a Monitor Power-Off Shortcut [Linux Tip]

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If you're using a Linux-powered laptop with limited battery life, or you just want to darken your laptop screen for whatever reason, Tombuntu has a tip for you. To turn the monitor off and have it wake up at the touch of a mouse or key, create a shortcut using this command, or type it into a terminal:

sleep 1 && xset dpms force off
(Note: The "sleep 1 && " portion is only necessary for terminal commands). Any laptop can be set to darken its monitor after a certain amount of time, but even the quickest setting—15 minutes on mine—uses precious battery life if you need to look away. Adding this shortcut to a panel button or menu could come in handy.


Add Life to Your Workspace [Workspaces]

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Setting up a workspace—be it a cubicle, desk or home office setup—with a strict focus on productivity can leave it feeling a bit lifeless. You might not go to the semi-crazy extremes shown in Wired's photo gallery, but designer Kelly Moore has a few ideas you can pull from each concept. For example:

"If you think about it, the walls and floor are the largest spaces to transform," Moore says. Pre-printed corrugated paper (available from craft and party-supply stores) is inexpensive and easily affixed with Velcro. "It sets the scene," Moore says.
Other workspace ideas offered include keeping a folding chair for guests under a desk, keeping piled work in clean-line containers, and keeping a cotton ball dipped in essential oils nearby to counteract lingering office smells.


Google Brings Back Subscribed Links for Custom Results [Google]

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A Google feature that lets you pick and choose certain informational sites to show up in your first page of results has made an unannounced comeback. Subscribed Links, formerly known as Search Add-ons, has been enabled in at least the U.S. version of Google, so those with a Google account can now pick from nearly 50 sites to place in their results. If you subscribe to CalorieLab, for example, searching for "calories cheerios" will bring up an info box from CalorieLab as the fourth result. To enable Subscribed Links, click the "Preferences" link next to the main search box on the plain or iGoogle home pages.


Recover from Eight Cooking Disasters [How To]

It's 6:45 p.m., the guests are due in 15 minutes, and the carrots you'd cooked using that fancy recipe look like limp little symbols of failure. Real Simple has eight ideas for fixing food that, usually through neglect or distracted cooking, goes awry, including a few common ones like mushy potatoes, crumbly cake and flavorless tomatoes. You can help disguise those carrots, by the way, if you sprinkle some pepper and parmesan on them. For our more culinary-minded readers—what last-minute fixes have you used to salvage dinner parties or just fancy dinners? Share your recipe hacks in the comments.


YouTube Adds Visual Search Tool [YouTube]

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YouTube has quietly added a visual "related videos" feature that, while not as efficient as smart text searching, does help you find videos in the same realm as the one you're watching. To enable the feature (which doesn't appear on all videos), click the full-screen button on the lower right corner of the video. In the full-screen window, click the network-type button next to the play button. It functions similar to Musicovery in its methods—and probably in its potential for procrastination, so beware. For more non-standard YouTube search options, check out VDoogle and Qooqle.


Introducing Our New Associate Editor, Kevin Purdy! [Announcements]

This morning we're thrilled to announce that our guest editor Kevin Purdy's agreed to stick around permanently! As Lifehacker's newest Associate Editor, Kevin will continue to post up the best productivity and software news in the wee hours of the morning from the East coast while us West-coasties are still hitting the snooze button on our alarm clocks, plus cover Linux desktop news and tweaks. Yippee! Welcome aboard, Kevin!


Thanks to This Week's Sponsors [Love And Money]

Thanks to this week's sponsors for the waxy Advent calendar chocolate: Ask.com, AT&T, Bank of America, Belvedere Vodka, Canon, Casio, Ford Focus, Helio, HP, Lead Tools, Logitech, Mint.com, Mio, Nokia, OQO, Register.com, SanDisk, Shure, Sonos, Sprint, T-Mobile, Toshiba, TiVo, Verizon, Vista, and Zune. Got a better childhood tradition? Advertise with Lifehacker.


Slim Down and Speed Up Linux [Feature]

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While Linux is pretty efficient with a computer's resources out of the box, there are still ways you can make it run leaner and meaner on your desktop. Using a little bit of know-how, a willingness to run a few terminal commands and a mind for efficiency, you can get every last bit of power from your Linux box, or get more life from an older system. Read on for a roundup of ways to slim down and speed up Linux that any level of user can implement.

One quick note: Many of these tweaks require altering system files, disabling processes or otherwise changing how your system runs. Whenever you alter a system file, back it up. The easiest way is to open a terminal and create a ".backup" version of it. For instance, to back up the /etc/hosts file, open a terminal and type:

sudo cp /etc/hosts /etc/hosts.backup
More importantly, if you're unsure of anything, don't do it.

Prune your processes

The easiest and safest way to free up memory in any Linux system is to stop unnecessary programs and background processes from running, and then get your system to remember how you like it. Most Linux distributions have a tool in their "System" or "Administration" menus that let you see what's going on and halt things, if necessary—in Ubuntu, there are two of them: System->Preferences->Sessions, and System->Administration->Services.

linuxspeed1_1.jpgOn every computer I've loaded Linux onto, there are a few startup programs I almost always disable from the "Sessions" menu. I don't sync my phone to my computer and use Thunderbird instead of the built-in Evolution, so the Bluetooth Manager and Evolution Alarm Notifier are first to go. Before touching anything in the "Services" window, consult this ExtremeTech guide for pointers on what is and isn't safe to turn off. As mentioned in the guide, Ubuntu (like most distro GUIs) only sees a few of the many services your computer is running. If you really want to fine-tune your system, you can install the sysv-rc-conf package found in many distros and surgically remove unnecessary background programs -- but I'll reiterate that point made above about backing up and making only a few changes at a time.

Install Lighter, Faster Applications

linuxspeed2.jpgFull-featured, well-rounded programs like Firefox, OpenOffice.org and Amarok are a big part of the growth in Linux users. For computers running tight on memory, however, they can make Linux feel less like the streamlined system it's meant to be. For users who only need the basics, there are lighter-weight alternative applications that take up less memory and move a little swifter.
  • Office programs: AbiWord, Gnumeric, KOffice—OpenOffice, like its proprietary adversary, Microsoft Office, has more features, settings and tools than any one user is likely ever going to need. For those who just want to be able to type documents and make basic spreadhseet edits, AbiWord and Gnumeric are a nice compromise between speed and features. KOffice is a bit more full-featured and KDE-oriented, but seems to run faster OpenOffice.
  • File browsing: Thunar, PCMan—Both are fast, streamlined file browsers that don't try to offer up all the multimedia extras and graphical niceties that can bog down the default Nautilus (GNOME) and Konquerer (KDE) browsers. The PsychoCats site has a helpful guide for switching from Nautilus to Thunar; KDE users can also install Thunar or look into installing Dolphin from repositories, and any user can check out Google Docs, Zoho or other online office suites.
  • Web browsing: Opera, Konquerer—There are extremely light browsers that use far less memory than Firefox (Dillo, Epiphany and the like), but the convenience and ease of use are hardly comparable. Opera, however, offers a small memory savings, and KDE's built-in browser is extensible and noticeably lighter.

Remove extra virtual terminals

Virtual terminals are a good tool to have—they offer a last-ditch escape to command line for a chance to fix things in a crashing system. But many Linux systems come with six of them enabled, which isn't usually necessary. You can usually disable five of them with few consequences. If you're using Gutsy, open a terminal and type in the following commands:
cd /etc/event.d
sudo mv tty3 tty3.bak
sudo mv tty4 tty4.bak
... and so on, through the tty6 file. If you're still on Feisty or other Linux distros, you'll likely have to edit the file in /etc/inittab and add a # character in front of the lines ending with tty3, tty4 and the like.

Reduce swappiness

linuxspeed3_1.jpg If your system generally has enough memory to handle what you throw at it, your use of swap space should be minimal, but your system doesn't know that. To temporarily lower your swappiness, type the following command into a terminal (replacing "sudo" with "su" in some systems):
sudo sysctl -w vm.swappiness=10
To make that fix permanent, enter the following command (trading "gedit" for "kate" in KDE systems, or "nano" or "vi" if you have neither):
sudo gedit /etc/sysctl.conf
In the file that comes up, look for the line vm.swappiness=x and change the value to 10, or add the line if it doesn't exist.

Get good with the terminal

linuxspeed4.jpg You've heard us evangelize about the efficiency of terminals before, but it's especially true in Linux. Give your terminal a handy keyboard shortcut, keep a list of basic commands handy, and learn to write bash scripts, create command shortcuts and find anything from one no-nonsense interface.

Five more tips and guides to speeding up your system

How do you optimize your Linux desktop? Let us know in the comments.

Kevin Purdy, Lifehacker's newest Associate Editor, digs finding optimization tips. His weekly feature will appear every Friday on Lifehacker.


Create Custom iPhone Ringtones the Free and Apple Way [How To]

ringtone-in-itunes.pngApple has introduced a simple and free way to create and sync your own custom ringtones to the iPhone using GarageBand (i.e., Mac only). The first thing you'll need to do, if you haven't already, is download and install the latest update of GarageBand from Software Update (at the time of this writing, that's version 4.1.1). Once you've installed and restarted your computer, turning any song on your computer to a ringtone is a breeze. Here's how it works.

  1. cycle-region.pngIf you're using a song from your iTunes library, just open GarageBand, open iTunes, and simply drag and drop the song from iTunes to a new track in GarageBand.
  2. Now click the Cycle Region button pictured above, which will activate the region loop tool.
  3. change-region.png
  4. Now adjust the length of the region to the section of the song you want to export to iTunes as a ringtone (40 seconds long or less), again as pictured above.
  5. send-ringtone-to-itunes.png
  6. Finally, when you've got everything set the way you want it, just go to the menu bar and click Share -> Send Ringtone to iTunes. GarageBand will automatically convert the song to the proper format and sync it to your iTunes library as a Ringtone.

Simple, no? Likewise, if you prefer to create ringtones of your own music, just build your own tracks in GarageBand and repeat steps two through four. Unfortunately Apple hasn't provided a similar tool for Windows users yet, and I imagine that won't happen for some time, if at all. But if you're a Mac owner, creating custom ringtones for your iPhone just became dead simple.


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