Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Announcement: Shameless Self-Promotion

Yes, I feel terrible...not really. But I'd like to point my wonderful and loyal 6 readers...well, I'll admit, I wasn't expecting much, but only 6? Well, back to the point, I'd like to direct you to my new blog at 6point5.wordpress.com which is more...well, unspecific. More specifically (yeah, I noticed I just said "unspecific"...just bear with me here), this newer blog will be much more geared towards my literary pursuits. In fact, please read and comment on my first post, titled, "On the Benefits of Walking", in which I approach walking from a philosophical point of view and speculate on the origins of utter mindlessness when running, here's an excerpt of the 771 word essay:

Whether it is some primal instinct, or maybe it’s just because I’m slightly mentally retarded: I can’t think when I run. When I run, my mind simply disappears. It’s not like day dreaming, or even dreaming. I simply cannot think while I run. I would venture to say that it is quite possible that the reason I can’t think while I run may be due to some antediluvian impulse passed down through generations of homo sapiens that perhaps originated from an omnipresent desire to capture food. What I mean to say is...

Yes, I am cruel aren't I? You'll have to visit the blog to see exactly what I meant to say. But anyways, do not feel that your subscription to this blog has been in vain! I will continue to update this blog. I plan to update both blogs whenever I can. So again, thank you, 6 readers, for your subscriptions. I hope you decide to stick with this blog. I plan to cover a lot more websites and programs. It's taking a while because I am looking for unique websites and programs, not previousley covered by MakeUseOf, Lifehacker, or Mashable. Well, so long for now! Thanks again!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Stellarium: A Stellar Addition to your Desktop!

Well, it's summer now and if you're like me, the first few weeks of summer are the best. And what better hobby to take up than astronomy!? For those of you out there who can't find the moon with a telescope...well, same here. But no fear! Stellarium is here!

Stellarium is an open-source desktop planetarium that allows you to look at planets and stars in "real-time". Although the images are virtual renderings, the time will automatically synchronize with your system clock and show you exactly what you can see in the night-sky at whatever time your using the program! Which means, for those of you I mentioned earlier (who can't find the moon with a telescope), just bring out your laptop and problem solved!

The program itself is not complicated, there are many options that allow beginner users to customize the program to fit their needs. First off, you will want to set your location. Stellarium is automatically set to Paris, France (no idea why), so you'll have to change it to where ever you are. After that, you can play around with the background image and atmosphere. The background image is basically the surroundings. You can head over to the Stellarium website to download more background images which range from Stonehenge to Mars. There is also an option to turn off the background image so you appear to be floating in mid-air. In addition, you can toggle the atmosphere on and off. Personally, I like to keep it off. The atmosphere somewhat obscures your vision around the horizon, especially if your time is set to around sunset (this is a more relevant problem now, during summer, when the days are longer and sunset comes later); therefore, if you toggle the atmosphere off, you can get an unobstructed view of the stars. Stellarium can also be switched between equatorial and azimuthal mode. I'm not going to get into the details of this but basically, a telescope is in either one of those modes. When you select a star, galaxy, planet, or any other celestial object, the coordinates are shown as well as any other information about the distance, diameter, etc., meaning, if you can find an object with Stellarium, you can find an object on your telescope. And if you don't have a telescope, you can always use a pair of binoculars, or even the naked-eye! In fact, astronomy originates from naked-eye viewings of the sky.

For you amateur sky-watchers and professionals, Stellarium has more complex features. In addition to downloading "star-packs" which contain more stars and far-flung galaxies, Stellarium allows you to toggle "night mode" on and off. Basically, you won't want to be glancing at your computer screen often when you're outside sky-watching. The reason being, exposure to white light hinders your night vision, making it harder to notice faint objects in your telescope. You could wait 2 minutes after looking at your computer screen, but I doubt anyone has the patience for that. However, with "night mode" on, all the lighted areas, save for the stars, are turned red. The significance of this is that your night vision is not impaired by red light. Besides, it makes you look kind of sinister and cool when your bathed in red light and tapping away at your keyboard. Well, I could go on forever about all the features Stellarium contains, but why don't you check it out yourself?

As always, you can click on the screen-capture above for a link to the site. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me, or head over to the Stellarium wiki, which is linked to on the main page. Happy sky-walking...get it? Like Luke...Skywalker...sky-walking...kinda rhymes with sky-watching, but not really...?! Never mind. Upon further reflection, "sky-walking" makes no sense whatsoever.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Prison...uh, I mean, Prism

Yes, Prism. Prism is the latest project by Mozilla Labs to grace my desktop. I'm usually skeptical about new software and I'm not too fond of undeveloped projects, but, I just couldn't resist Prism. Prism is downloadable on a separate platform, or as a Firefox extension. What is does, is it turns any web page into a web application. Meaning, you can turn you Google Calendar page into a separate Calendar application; all with its own desktop icon, quick launch icon, and more! In fact, that's exactly what I've done; I've uninstalled Mozilla Sunbird and changed my gCal page into a desktop app! Prism allows you to save you login information so that I can quickly log in to my calendar page and email.

So...Prism is like a prison how??
Well, I guess that conceivably you could "imprison" yourself with Prism. You see, I have a detrimental habit of going off tangent when I'm online (Ah yes, FDR's New Deal of the 1930s...hmmm, "new deal on used textbooks"!). Thus, I have created a desktop application for almost every site I use extensively, i.e. Yahoo Mail, Google Calendar, Encyclopedia Britannica, etc. Because Prism operates like a program, there is no address bar which eliminates the possibility of getting off topic! Yes...it's a cruel practice...but necessary.

Yeah, that's how I reacted when I found out about it...well...sort of...okay, maybe that was an overstatement. Anyways, Prism is available for download on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Here are some links:

Download Prism for Windows
Download Prism for Mac OS X
Download Prism for Linux

Download Prism for Firefox 3.0b3pre or greater [extension]

Friday, December 12, 2008

Guess who's back...back again...

Yes. I'm "back" once more. After a long and uncalled for hiatus from writing, I have returned. Just in time for the holidays too! As I am in a Christmas-y spirit, I feel inclined to share my wish-list with you!

1) Nike+ iPod Sports Kit
2) Dell Inspiron 1520

Thats all!

Now, onto the more interesting stuff. As you may have noticed, I've changed the font size of my posts in order to benefit those who don't see as well (me included). I promise that this is the last time I change my font size. For those of you who are wondering, it used to be all small because I was using ScribeFire, a useful Mozilla Firefox add-on which I now cease to use due to my rediscovered love for Internet Explorer (fine, call me a Microsoft geek :) ). As the end of the year approaches, we all tend throw out the old to make room for the new, well, why not do the same for our computers! I'd like to introduce an amazing program which I currently own and use on a monthly basis to clean out my hard-drive: CCleaner.

CCleaner is from the company that created Recuva, a program recently outlined at MakeUseOf.com. The C in CCleaner stands for "crap"...how uncreative, why crap, when it could be SSweeper (and no, not shit), stool sweeper! Anyways, enough of the irrelevant information, CCleaner cleans...

Internet ExplorerTemporary files, history, cookies,
Autocomplete form history,
. FirefoxTemporary files, history, cookies, download history, form
. Google ChromeTemporary files, history,
cookies, download history, form history
. OperaTemporary files, history, cookies. SafariTemporary files,
history, cookies, form history
. WindowsRecycle Bin,
Recent Documents, Temporary files and Log files
. Registry cleanerAdvanced features to remove unused and old
entries, including File Extensions, ActiveX Controls, ClassIDs, ProgIDs,
Uninstallers, Shared DLLs, Fonts, Help Files, Application Paths, Icons, Invalid
Shortcuts and more... also comes with a comprehensive backup feature
. Third-party applicationsRemoves temp files and recent file
lists (MRUs) from many apps including Media Player, eMule, Kazaa, Google
Toolbar, Netscape, Microsoft Office, Nero, Adobe Acrobat, WinRAR, WinAce, WinZip
and many more

according to their website. With CCleaner, on my first use, I cleared over 1G's worth of useless data on my hard-drive! The great thing about CCleaner is that it allows you to select what types of files to clean and before deleting the files, the program will show you every file it is going to delete. It also includes a registry fixer; for those of you that don't know whatthat is...don't worry, I didn't til a month ago. It basically fixes or removes all registry errors on your PC that slow it down. CCleaner also gives you a list of all programs running on start-up so that if you find any programs you don't use a lot set up to run on start-up, you can remove that command and increase the speed by which your PC starts-up...hmm, "increase the speed by which your PC starts-up"...sounds awkward.

Onto the cons: CCleaner includes an uninstaller program which allows you to uninstall unwanted programs, but the feature is sometimes glitchy and shows programs you've already uninstalled. That's really all that I've found to be wrong with CCleaner, so, overall, its a great program! If you'd like to know more about CCleaner, either click on the screen-capture above to be re-directed to the website or click here to CCleaner - Freeware Windows Optimization !

Oh! And yes: the title of my post is from Without Me by Eminem.
Oh, and there's no particular reason why the quoted text is colored, it's just for better visibility.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

KompoZer: The New Nvu

Where were you!!!?
I admit, I've been lazy for the last month or so and haven't been posting, however, I do have a legit reason...in fact, a list of legit reasons, and better yet, at least half of them are true ;). Anyways, if you're curious, I had mid-term testing, for those of you in California, you should be familiar with the STAR test.

The irony's just soooo thick!
Back on topic. What I love about KompoZer, is that it is the new version of Nvu, which stands for New View. How ironic. What basically happened was that Nvu is owned by Linspire Inc. and therefore due to copyright infringement, the company that released Nvu cannot update Nvu with a bug-fix and therefore released KompoZer, an 'unofficial bug-fix release'.

So, what is this...KompoZer?
Like KompoZer claims to work, with 'no knowledge of HTML', I don't intend to delve into the technicalities of KompoZer, using intimidation acronyms such as WYSIWYG. KompoZer is basically a web-authoring tool designed for people who aren't that adept and adjusted to the modern web, with new programming languages coming out everyday, like Java and Python, and even LOLCODE (believe it or not). With its easy-to-use interface that allows you to view a page in HTML, with HTML tags, live-preview and edit mode, KompoZer is the ultimate tool for beginning web developers. KompoZer allows you to create password forms and buttons with a single click, and in addition to its speedy response, KompoZer is small in size and completely stripped of unnecessary features. And if you are an old user of Nvu, you'll find that almost all the old bugs are now fixed. There are however two things in which I think I'll have to critique Kompozer on: (1) Its interface is great for beginning scripters, but its power just doesn't even come close to that of professional programs like Adobe's Dreamweaver, and (2) It doesn't allow you to sync it with a MySQL database, at least not easily, making managing accounts extremely difficult. Otherwise, I found it easy and fun to use!

All you really need to know how to do with KompoZer is...type! After creating a page using a Microsoft Word-like interface, just click HTML and copy and paste the code into a blank web-page and 'ta-da!'. It is also fast to load and comes in a compact 7.6MB, making it ideal for storage on a portable flash-drive as I store my copy of KompoZer for on-the-go scripting.

KompoZer is just an amazing tool, and having used it for only 3 weeks, I can say that with full confidence; to download KompoZer for either Windows, MacOS or Linux, click here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Announcement: MyBlogLog

If you haven't noticed yet, there's a new addition to the blog! On the far right hand corner, there's a MyBlogLog widget. If you have a MyBlogLog account and you enjoy reading this blog, be sure to "Join the Community"! For those that don't have a MyBlogLog account, you can register for one with your Yahoo Mail account without any additional information requests and whatnot. Be sure to also subscribe to the blog through the link provided by FeedBurner which will allow you to add RSS or Atom feeds to MyYahoo, iGoogle, Live RSS, Demon Feeds, and a plethora of other feed readers. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment, I'll respond to it ASAP! Happy reading!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

ExpertVillage: A village for experts!

Expert Village, why does that sound so corny?
Well, I'd have to agree there, ExpertVillage is indeed, a corny name, this, however, does not affect the high regard in which their videos are held. ExpertVillage is a YouTube like site that hosts videos uploaded only be specific experts, this means no more poor quality home-made DIY videos. All the videos on their site are made and submitted by experts who have had their backgrounds checked and reviewed, the fact that these experts are paid to teach the public is an incentive to create easier to follow videos for people who like to have it their way.

Have It Your Way (haha, this better not lead to some multi-million dollar lawsuit against Radicitus...just for the record, I'm formally citing this as FROM BURGER KING).
With EV videos, you sure can "Have It Your Way", with easy to follow DIY videos on almost everything you can think of (from belly-dancing to playing the stock market), EV is a great place to go if your bored, or just want to learn something new. EV can be accessed without any registration and is completely free to browse and use. With contact information on the experts from EV, if you have any questions about any of their videos, you can easily contact and ask them questions.

EV is the ultimate resource for DIY geeks (like yours truly) who want it their way. In addition to it's free videos, EV also show-cases articles for those who learn better by reading, rather than hearing. So, what are you waiting for, pay EV a visit by clicking on the screenshot above. In case you haven't already figured out already, for every showcase, there is a screenshot, the screenshots are linked to the website, if the showcase is on a free web service, and an information site with a download link if the showcase is on an application.