Archive for December, 2008
Windows will run soon on the iPhone using Citrix Receiver, a remote screen software that connects to a PC and gives you the illusion you are running Microsoft’s operating systems, including copy and paste functionality.
Why is this useful? It will give you the ability to run full Windows apps in your iPhone over the network. According to Citrix, you will have full Windows capability, including cut and paste inside Windows.
Windows only: BitTorrent super-host The Pirate Bay claims its ViO MobileConverter tool reduces nearly any video’s size by 20 percent and converts it for mobile devices faster than anything else. Let’s see about that.
Why the speed and quality test? Simply because ViO, with all the nuance of the typical Pirate Bay communication, claims this on its home page:
Converts virtually any web video format file into a file that’s 100% compatible with your portable media device, compressing it up to 20% of its original size without any reduction in image quality. ViO converts your media faster than any tool on the market today.
I decided to try out ViO on converting a DiVx-formatted episode of Mad Men ("The Benefactor" from season two, in case you’re a fan) for my iPod touch. I’d previously been using the free version of Freez iPod Converter, which, while somewhat wonky and rough, got the job done faster and at acceptable quality faster than anything else I’d tried. I used Robin Keir’s timer to clock the conversion speed.
So! Here’s the results of plugging in a 350MB, 45-minute AVI file into Freez and letting fly with the default settings (which converts to MP4):
Freez iPod Converter
Conversion time: 7 minutes, 10 seconds
Finished size: 251 MB
Quality: Good, easily watch-able, only the same quirks as were present in the original.
I then ran ViO through the same process, plugging in the AVI file and asking it to convert to an MP4 for the iPhone (same video screen as iPod touch):
Conversion time: 7 minutes, 7 seconds
Finished size: 54.7 MB
Quality: Lots of pixel "ghosting" (blocky pieces left behind when scene jumps), general muddiness to multi-color scenes. Like a YouTube video that nobody selected "High Quality" or "HD" for.
I then realized that ViO’s "Advanced Options," tucked away by default, let you change pretty much anything and everything about the finished product, including a target file size.
So I set ViO to re-encode that video to a 251MB MP4 file, and it instantly upped the video bitrate and other features. Here’s the results of that second pass:
ViO (Take Two)
Conversion time: 7 minutes 10 seconds
Finished size: 181MB
Quality: Noticeably better than the first run, with no detectable ghosting. A small bit of jerky-ness when characters are moving quickly or scenes jump-cut (especially in well-lit situations), but watch-able.
So there you have it. ViO did—despite my wishes, even—make a smaller video file than Freez in the same amount of time, reducing its final size by about 30 percent with only a small amount of detectable difference. Given its more polished, somewhat easier-to-grasp interface and the huge range of devices it can convert for—HTC, Samsung, LG, Nokia, Apple, and many more devices are covered—it’s definitely worth checking out.
ViO Video MobileConverter is a free download for Windows systems only. Make sure to watch for the toolbar option if you don’t want a browser add-on; it’s checked for installation by default.
This newest version control over the margins of any PDFs you create from your browser. A screenshot at the developers’ page shows Evernote functionality. Firefox users have a wider range of PDF tools than Internet Explorer through the add-on community, of course, so the Internet Explorer extension is a valuable tool for anyone who feels chained to a slow-loading, multi-nagging Adobe Acrobat installation.
Trying to use Google’s new browser, Chrome on your work computer? Chances are that not a single web page is getting loading in it. All you see is a message having the text:
Something went wrong while displaying this webpage. To continue, press Reload or go to another page.
Here’s how you can make Google Chrome work:
- Close Chrome if it’s already running. Right click on Chrome’s desktop icon (create one if not present) and select Properties
- At the end of the value in ‘Target’ field, paste
--no-sandboxand press OK.
That’s it. Now launch Google Chrome by double clicking on this shortcut and watch it work.
So last week, winfuture posted about Windows 7 build 6954 having a new boot screen. Ever since then, people have been wanting to see exactly what this new boot screen looks like. I can tell you it looks pretty nifty. It is basically 4 animating balls that come together and form a glowing windows flag, making for a pretty cool effect.
I recently had a chance to film this boot screen in action, so without further ado, watch the video of the new Windows 7 boot screen below. Excuse the iffy quality, had to do this with my digital camera.
So, looks like Microsoft removed it from soapbox, so now a youtube video is available below. Thanks to whoever uploaded this for me, I tried last night but it wasn’t processing.
What you will need: WinRAR or 7-Zip and Orca (download Orca here: http://www.softpedia.com/get/Authoring-tools/Setup-creators/Orca.shtml)
and the 64bit Download page. The standard iTunes page will point you only to the 32bit version.
1. Extract iTunes64Setup_v188.8.131.52.exe using WinRAR or 7-Zip
2. Right click on iTunes64.msi and click Edit with Orca
3. In the Tables (left), right click on Error and click Drop Table… and click yes.
4. Save the file.
Enjoy iTunes 8.0.2 x64 on Windows 7
There’s a new web clipping service now available from Microsoft Live Labs: Thumbtack. With this online notebook, you can collect links, media like photos and video, and text snippets, and store them in collections for later reference. The tool, ideal for those doing research on the web, also allows you to collaborate with others by allowing them to also add clips and notations to the collected items.
To use Thumbtack, entries can either be cut and pasted in manually, or a browser bookmarklet can be used. The bookmarklet works in both IE and Firefox and is platform agnostic. Everything you save is stored in “Collections.” You can make the collections either private for your use only, or you can invite others to join them. The Collections can also be published via RSS and/or embedded on your web site or blog.
A unique feature called “Gadgets” let you work with the items you’ve saved in ways that other similar web clipping services do not. At launch time, there’s an Address gadget that finds addresses in your web clippings and maps them out, a Layout gadget that helps you rearrange items on the Thumbtack canvas, a Plot gadget that looks at all the properties and values on the items in your collection and allows you to create a scatter plot or a bar chart, and a Properties gadget that lets you add any property and value (such as ‘price’: 25) to any item.
In the future, developers will be able to create their own gadgets and the Thumbtack team will release some gadgets that allow importing or exporting the data from spreadsheets and other Office applications.
Although the service feels a little raw at the moment (the UI needs some tweaking), its those differences mentioned above – especially the promise of being able to develop for it – make Thumbtack a promising new service worth keeping your eye on.
You can learn more about Thumbtack in this video:
Windows only: Lots of folks rave about Microsoft Office 2007′s ribbon interface, but now you can have it for free in Microsoft Word’s younger sibling, WordPad. A developer over at deviantART—not Microsoft, mind you—has released "Wordpad 2009," which offers multiple documents in tabs, Windows 7 icons, and yes, the ribbon interface. While this is yet another way you can get Windows 7 features for free right now, Wordpad 2009 doesn’t look exactly like Windows 7′s WordPad. Check out the difference.
Here’s a screenshot of WordPad in the Windows 7 preview. Notice that the ribbon here is laid out to match Microsoft’s authentic ribbon, but Wordpad 2009 has one thing that Win7 WordPad does not: the ability to edit multiple documents in tabs
A beta edition of Service Pack 2 for Windows Vista is now available for anyone willing to put pre-release system fixes on their desktop. Vista SP2, previously available only to certified testers and due out in final form in April 2009, aims to put the wrench to numerous areas of user complaint, such as toning down the resources needed by the Sidebar, a smarter wireless connection dialog, baked-in Blu-Ray support, and others. We’re loading SP2 on our Vista box at the moment at Lifehacker HQ, but it’s taking some time to both download and install. If you’re taking the plunge, tell us what you notice that’s improved (or newly broken) in the comments.
Windows only: Zscreen is one of a long line of screenshot tools we’ve checked out at Lifehacker HQ, but it’s got a few unique features that set it apart. First off, it’s an open-source project, helmed up mainly by one programmer. More important to most, however, is its flexibility in working with other screenshot and image tools, both through its configurable hot keys (working Shift, Alt, and Ctrl keys to good effect) and being able to send screenshots to an FTP server, the clipboard, a custom-named file, or any other image program you’ve got. If you’re pushing your screens to a file, you can set its JPEG capabilities to scale—after a pic is 100K, for example, you tell ZScreen to scale its quality down to 80 percent. ZScreen lacks the features that blog publishers might want baked-in, like annotation and highlighting, but for straight-up grab-and-edit, it’s hard to beat. ZScreen is a free download for Windows systems only
Often it is useful to create charts which compare different types of data. For example, you might want to compare share price with trading volume, or revenue with number of units sold, or poverty rate with unemployment and consumer confidence, or any number of other things.
To quickly and clearly display data of different types, it can be helpful to plot some data series either with different chart types, on different axes, or both. Let’s look at an example.
Suppose I work at a manufacturing company and I’d like to analyze the number of units we’ve sold over the last few months and the total dollars sold each month. I’m hoping to identify trouble spots, such as high unit sales but low dollar transaction amounts, which may indicate that the units are being discounted too deeply.
I could make two different charts – one plotting units sold by month, and one plotting transaction dollars by month. However, it will be challenging to analyze the two charts separately. I’d much rather create a chart like the one pictured below.