Monday, July 30, 2007

Migratr - A Painless Way To Migrate Your Photos

If your fed up with Flickr or tired of Picasa Web Albums and want to move to another photo hosting service, then Migratr is a little free utility for Windows that you may find very useful.

Okay, moving the photos is easy, you download them and then upload them to the new service but what about all those titles, descriptions and tags you've spent countless hours entering? Well Migratr handles those as well so you needn't have to worry about them.

Migratr supports migrating to and from Flickr, 23HQ, Zoomr, SmugMug, and Picasa Web Albums and it preserves the titles, descriptions, tags and even albums.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Simple Spark - Search For Web Applications

If you're new to the Web 2.0 world of online applications or just want to have a search or browse around for new and interesting online solutions, then you should have a look at Simple Spark.


SimpleSpark
SimpleSparkSimple Spark is a place to find and share in the new world of web applications. It has a comprehensive catalogue listing of all of those really cool apps that keep popping up in blogs and news articles and it's also a good place for developers to promote new applications and tools. If you use the web to do all the things you did with traditional applications like write papers, keep your calendar, play games and keep in touch with friends, then this is the place to sstart looking for solutions.

Entries in the catalogue are tagged and there's also a browsable catagory list so it's easy to search for things that might interest you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pikifx

PikifxPikifx is another online image editor/enhancer to add to the roll that includes Phixr, Fauxto, Picnik, Wiredness, Preloadr, Pixenate and Snipshot.

Basically, much like those other sites, Pikifx allows users to upload a JPEG or GIF image from their hard drive or from a URL and add a range of effects to it.

With Pikifx you can resize and crop your photo and add creative effects, text, shapes and borders to it. The range of effects and borders available is pretty good. You can…
  • Convert to colour, sepia, black and white and greyscale.
  • Adjust exposure, hue, tint, colour balance, colours and saturation.
  • Apply sketch, oil painting, comic, charcoal, edge, emboss and shade effects.
  • Apply halftone and newspaper dithering.
  • Apply radial, motion and normal blurring.
  • Add a few fun effects like money, tiles and fade to black.
  • Add from a list of 42 different border styles.
  • Add text with gradient, stroke, shadow, glow, fisheye, expand, wavy, squeeze and rotation effects and with a range of background effects.
That's not a bad list to choose from and you can adjust effects after they've been applied. Pikifx certainly looks worth checking out if you're in the market for a free image editing solution.

Related Posts: Online Image Editing With Wiredness,
Phixr: Another Online Image Editor, More Online Image And Photo Editors, Online Image Editors

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Screencasts - The Jing Project

TechSmith, the people behind screen recording software Camtasia Studio and Screencast.com, have released a free, experimental version of the technology, for both Windows and Mac OS X, called the Jing project.

JingJing makes it easy to grab screenshots and videos from your computer and then share them online via its integration with Screencast.com. It's still early days for Jing and the creators say Jing is a concept that they’re evaluating to see if it can improve everyday conversations and to see if it will be a viable product.

Simply select an area of your screen, capture it as an image or record it as a video, and then click Save or Share. Jing conveniently places a URL to the newly created content on your clipboard ready for you to use and share. Your recorded content is hosted on Screencast.com, which is providing a complimentary account to all participants during this project. Users have 200MB of space for storing screenshots and screencasts and 1 GB of bandwidth that renews monthly and that account will remain available to you for the duration of the project.

The program installs itself as a fairly unobtrusive blob at the edge of your screen, where you can easily activate it when required. Image capture is simple and, once you've selected the image, you can add highlights, arrows, rectangles and text to it before saving as a .png file or uploading it. That's pretty straightforward but, while the video capture also works wonderfully well, there are a couple of downsides. The first is the locked-in link with Screencast.com as the hosting service. Screencast hosting isn't free so it would be much more desirable to allow the user to select from a wider range of hosting services. However, that brings us to the next problem - videos are saved as Flash .swf files, which most free services like YouTube can't handle as uploads so it would mean having to go through another step and converting the video to something like .mp4 files before uploading.

Obviously there's nothing stopping you saving your video, converting it yourself and then uploading it elsewhere but having a one-stop solution would be so much more user-friendly. Obviously TechSmith are pushing Screencast as the hosting service as that's where they'd make any revenue from this product, should it ever see a final release, but it's a bit like giving you an iPod and then saying you have to buy tracks from the iTunes Store; definitely an off-putter.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

How To Break DRM

I just stumbled across a useful web page that describes, in fairly simple steps, how to break the DRM systems protecting such things as DVDs and music purchased online. It was written with non-technical or "average" users in mind in a nice step-by-step manner.

Obviously I'm not condoning piracy here but when you do buy a music track or DVD legally, you should be able to enjoy it on whatever platform you want. For example, how do you transfer a DVD to an iPod or PSP or how do you convert a track purchased on the iTunes Music Store to play on a Creative Zen or Microsoft Zune? If a DVD gets scratched or broken or your computer decides to melt down, where can you get a backup from and how would you make one in the first place? This page covers all of that…


Fair enough, I already know how to do most of this stuff but not everyone does and even I picked up a few extra bits and pieces here as well so it's useful even from an experienced users' point of view.

It also covers downloading videos From YouTube, Google Video, DailyMotion, MetaCafe, iFilm, etc. and using BitTorrent but it's a bit light on the "how to do it on a Mac" side so maybe I'll do a Mac one myself at some time in the future.

Related Posts: Access Your iPod!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Intelways

If, like me, you've got a pile of separate browser bookmarks for searching for different things like images, news, video, files, etc., then you might be interested in Intelways.

IntelwaysIntelways is a web search aggregator, a one-stop shop for you to find almost anything on the internet in different formats, topics and media types. Search categories available are images, video, news, social, files, reference, academic, business and technology. All you do is enter your search query, select a category and pick a search site from the list. It's pretty much a one-click task so you can search multiple sites quite easily and without having to re-enter the query each time.

Dozens of search services or channels are available, organized in different categories according to formats, topics or media types. They also claim to try and keep the site up to date by adding new services as they come along and removing old and stagnant ones.

NB: It's not a meta-search engine so it won't return results from all engines at once but it's still useful for selected searches.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Need An Invite?

It's annoying isn't it? You find an announcement about a really interesting new Web 2.0 beta site and, when you dive over there hoping to try it out, you find it's by invitation only.


InviteShare
Well, someone's had the bright idea of opening up a web site to allow users to exchange invites for such services. InviteShare lets you give and get invitations to closed web sites. All you need to do is log in and add your name to one or more of the lists of services and it'll be passed to someone who has indicated that they have invites to spare.

Of course, if you get invitation to give out yourself, then passing the details on to InviteShare helps the site grow and you also get to pass those invites on instead of letting them stagnate. There's no guarantee that you'll get the invite you're looking for but with almost 10,000 members, the odds are better than waiting in the queue. There are currently 41 sites listed and the site is a bit clunky at the moment, probably being hammered as knowledge of its existence spreads.

Friday, July 13, 2007

OWL Music Search

Came across another music recommendation site…


Owl Music Search compares your favorite songs to thousands of others to find similar songs for you to listen to, enjoy, and purchase. Owl has currently indexed over 98,980 songs from commercial and independent song catalogs, including the music sites ccMixter, Magnatune, and Jamendo.

OWL
Briefly, you pick a track from your own collection of music or sounds, select a small segment of the track to use as a seed and hit search. If all goes well, OWL should return with results of related sounds. Their engine uses proprietary algorithms to characterize sound based on the actual features of the sound signal. These features include spectral information (such as values and ranges in pitches and harmonies), as well as information about the structure of the sound over time.

Obviously their focus is on selling you music to add to your collection but the service is limited to analyzing MP3 files and, since I only have AAC music files, I wasn't able to try it out.

Related Posts: Music Recommendation Sites and Tools, Playlists? Na, Life's Too Short!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Apple go with O2 for iPhone in UK

iPhoneO2 have won the deal to provide telephony services for the Apple iPhone in the U.K. Speculation is that they may only have this exclusive deal for a short while and then it might get opened up to other providers

Well, I might have considered getting an iPhone but I think I'll wait and see what the data tariffs are likely to be for the iPhone contract. O2 currently charge £3/Mb for browsing the internet via their monthly phone contracts so there's absolutely no way I'd pay that kind of rate for browsing the net at EDGE speeds.

The whole idea of adding phone and wireless capabilities to an iPod was to make it a one-stop device. No more carrying around a phone/PDA and an iPod, the iPhone could do the lot. However, while O2's voice rates may well be competitive with other U.K. providers, their current data rates are seriously expensive and that simply doesn't make the iPhone a viable web browsing device in the U.K.

Jon Lech Johansen (DVD Jon) has stated that he's already hacked iTunes so that it can be used to activate an iPhone without signing it up for an AT&T contract so maybe it's only a case of waiting to see if that also works for the U.K. and then enables you to use it with a decent tariff like T-Mobile's Web'n'walk.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Podcast Your Blog For Free

Odiogo

Ever fancied providing your blog readers with an audio version so that they can listen to your musings and witterings whenever they want to and on whatever device they want?

Odiogo empowers you to do just that by converting your blog posts into an audio podcast. They provide an automated podcast convertion, boasting “near-human” quality text-to-speech, of your site's RSS feeds so your subscribers can download and play them anywhere, anytime and on any device. The podcasts are compatible with both iTunes and Juice, both of which can be used to manage the subscription and downloading automatically.

Odiogo monitors the feeds to be podcast and whenever a change is spotted, it processes the new content, automatically excluding "non-content" parts of the page (such as links, images, ads, etc.) to ensure that they will not be included in the generated MP3 file, which is held on Odiogo's servers. It's even possible to get it to exclude certain parts of your blog text by using HTML tags in the content.

It generates the following files…
  • A new RSS feed enriched with the Odiogo produced MP3 files. This is the feed your end-users would include in their podcast software such as iTunes or Juice.
  • An M3U file used to stream all the news item of your feed. This file can be opened with multimedia players such as Windows Media Player or Winamp.
  • "light" XHTML and WML pages. These can be accessed to download and listen to the mp3 files on a mobile phone over an Internet connection.
  • An HTML page that provides…
    • buttons to automatically subscribe to the podcast feed.
    • a link to the M3U streaming file.
    • a list of all articles in the feed with a link to play each of the MP3 files.

Odiogo is compatible with all blog engines that publish RSS feeds such as Typepad, Blogger, or WordPress. Publishers get detailed statistics of downloads and can even make money via embedded ads.

Fastladder

Fastladder is yet another online RSS/Atom feed aggregator, similar to Bloglines and Google Reader.

Where it scores over those is its integrated search facility. Basically you can search Fastladders feed repository for, well anything you like.

It's also got the usual features like allowing you to categorize feeds by puting them into folders and it also lets you rate feeds as well. You can even sort your feeds by name, folder, rating or subscription size. I quite like the rating idea as you can then sort your feeds based on your own perception of their importance. Definitely worth checking out if you use either Bloglines or Google Reader or just want to move on from an installed reader.

Related Posts: Free RSS Readers



Thursday, July 05, 2007

Megawhat.tv

Pocket-lint.co.uk, a leading gadget website in the UK, and Flawless Media, a pioneer and leading specialist in branded content, have teamed up to launch a brand new gadget IPTV channel online called Megawhat.tv, which focuses on gadget reviews straight from the box.

There will be one new episode a week and it will feature the low down on the latest pieces of kit from the world of gadgets and technology as well as featuring news, features, tips, tricks, opinions and much more. If you watch Channel 5's Gadget Show, then you'll almost certainly find Megawhat.tv worth checking out.

Megawhat.tv
Megawhat.tv is presented by Stuart Miles, editor in chief of pocket-lint.co.uk. Stuart has been a technology journalist since 1998 and written for a number of publications both in the mainstream media and IT Press in the UK. He currently writes a weekly column in The Times on gadgets and is a regular commentator on technology for Sky News, as well as being a judge for the Mobile Choice magazine awards.

Pocket-lint.co.uk is one of the leading gadget and technology websites in the UK. Far more than just another blog writing about technology, the site is visited by over 20,000 people every day and covers everything from digital cameras and mobile phones to home appliances, boys' toys and much more.

There's not a lot of content on the site at the moment but it is growing and what is there now is quite useful. Pity Stuart isn't Suzi Perry!


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Music Recommendation Sites and Tools

You know what you like to listen to but how do you discover new stuff? It used to be recommendations from friends, borrowed CDs or you might have heard something playing in a store or on radio but things have moved on. Having discovered online music recommendation and streaming radio site Pandora (see below) and tools like The Filter and Audiobaba a few months ago, I thought I'd have a look around to see if there were any more sites or tools of a similar nature.

Pandora
Pandora is an attempt to put what they call the Music Genome Project online. This is a database that attempts to categorize music by assigning it "genes" for things like melody, harmony, rhythm, instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics and of course vocals. They've been building the database since 2000 so it should be a pretty rich resource by now.

Once you sign up, you can build your own streaming radio stations based on your selection of artists and/or tracks. Just give it a few samples of what you like to listen to and Pandora will feed you a stream of tracks it thinks you'll like and, you can give each of them a thumbs up or down, which will further fine-tune your listening preferences.

There are a few software utilities available to make living with Pandora easier.
  • Pandora Boy Apple Compatible allows you to control your Pandora music with global hotkeys or your Apple remote.
  • PandoraBrowse Windows Compatible a mini browser for Pandora that lives in your Windows systray and gets off your taskbar while still playing music.
  • Pandora Widget Apple Compatible a Dashboard widget that displays information from Pandora.
  • PandoraMan Apple Compatible a small Cocoa app to run the Pandora mini player using WebKit, which allows you to quit your browser without killing your music stream.

Last.fmLast.fm

Last.fm is a UK-based internet radio and music community website and is one of the world's largest social music platforms with over 15 million active users worldwide. With Last.fm on your computer you can scrobble your tracks, share your music taste, listen to personalised radio streams, and discover new music and people. Last.fm builds a detailed profile of each user's musical taste by recording details of all the songs the user listens to, either on the streamed radio stations or on the user's own computer or iPod.

Their Audioscrobbler Apple CompatibleLinux CompatibleWindows Compatible utility builds a profile of your musical taste using a plugin for your media player (Winamp, iTunes, XMMS etc..). The Plug-ins send the name of every song you play to the Audioscrobbler server, which updates your musical profile with the new song. Every person with a plugin has their own page on this site that shows their listening statistics. The system automatically matches you to people with a similar music taste, and generates personalised recommendations.


MOGMOG

MOG comes at this from a more social angle. much like MySpace or Bebo, and covers video as well as music. Basically, users can upload music, video and discussion items and you can listen or watch the stuff other people post. You can also rate these items as well and get recommendations based on the stuff you've already listened to or watched.

It allows you to share your songs, music library, videos and thoughts on music with friends and other moggers. With the addition of a small utility called MOG-O-MATIC Apple CompatibleWindows Compatible, it can figure out what you listen to, give recommendations and share out your music collection and listening stats onto your MOG page.


iLikeiLike

Another social music dicovery site, iLike lets you check out what your friends are listening to, browse the libraries of people with similar tastes, and get Free MP3 downloads by new artists matched to your own music tastes.

You can also share music libraries with your friends, browse and sample their most played songs, and compare your compatibility scores.

The iLike Sidebar Apple CompatibleWindows Compatible scans your music library, recommends new music, and helps you connect musically with your friends and the broader iLike community.

Critical Metrics

Every week, artists, DJs, music TV networks, newspapers, magazines, retailers, and bloggers recommend hundreds of their favorite new songs. Critical Metrics keeps track of those recommendations and playlists across all media so you can easily find, try, and buy the best new music.

This is really just a review and recommendation aggregation site, which is very useful if you want to keep on top of what's new and making the reviewers happy. You can list the top 10, 25 or 50 tracks and filter by source, time period and/or music service and you can also play those tracks and any music videos, if available.


AddituneAdditune Apple Compatible

Additune is a companion utility for iTunes that recommends songs that they think will work well with your playlists. Let Additune find the next song for your playlist. Just select a playlist from your iTunes library and Additune will recommend songs that extend your playlist. Additune can also recommend songs that fit your current mood by looking at what songs you’ve been listening to lately. Additune can recommend songs you don’t yet have or if you just want to mix something up fast, it can recommend songs that are already in your library.


PS The aforementioned Audiobaba, which started out as a plug-in utility, has evolved into a music search engine that allows you to find songs by acoustic similarity. Audiobaba lets you tell it what kind of music you like and returns results that sound like it but are in fact different.

PPS The Filter has also progressed a bit and now works with iTunes, Windows Media Player and Nokia Mobile Phone, allowing you to create playlists you can transfer to your iPod or portable player.

Related Posts: Pandora: Discover New Music, Playlists? Na, Life's Too Short!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Wyzo, A Media Lovers Browser

FireTorrentYet another browser based on the Firefox core has emerged! Wyzo bills itself as a browser that focuses on optimizing your online media experience.


Wyzo gives you easy access to all your favourite media sites, downloading media content and informing your friends about your discoveries. The developers claim to be a small group of people building a web browser that lets them download and manage media files from a single application.

While most browsers will let you download media files and, with the help of a few extensions, you can even get most of the embedded stuff as well, Wyzo is aiming to let you download BitTorrent files as well by bundling in an extension called FireTorrent.

FireTorrent is a BitTorrent extension for the Wyzo and Firefox web browsers. The FireTorrent extension strives to offer the most user-friendly BitTorrent experience. The torrents manager is integrated as a seperate tab in the browser's download manager, and torrents can be downloaded from any website with a single click. It includes the very latest technologies and standards to ensure that your download completes quickly and reliably, including advanced features such as STUNT connections, uPnP NAT traversal and uTorrent compatible peer exchange.

Windows and Mac OS X versions of Wyzo are available now and a Linux version is in development. The FireTorrent extension is only available for Windows at the moment but, again, other platforms will be supported soon.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Online Mind-Mapping

Mind-mapping is one of the more modern business methodologies, somewhere between brainstorming and an organizational chart. Basically, it's a way to organize your thoughts and jot it all down on, well a virtual chart.

If you don't want to go the full hog and shell out for an expensive, commercial mind-mapping tool like MindVision Mindmanager, Freemind or ConceptDraw Mindmap, then there's an online solution called MindMeister that might just suit your needs.


First, the basic version is free and that allows you to create up to six mind-maps that you can share with others or even collaborate on with them. You can also import maps from Freemind and Mindjet MindManager, Export maps as RTF or images and publish your maps online.

It even comes with downloadable tools to let you edit your maps from the Mac OS X Dashboard or Windows Vista Sidebar and there are browser extensions for Firefox and Internet Explorer that let you add web content to your default map as you browse.

Stepping up to the paid version lets you create unlimited maps, export them as Freemind or Mindjet MindManager, embed your maps in blogs or websites and it comes with full SSL encryption.

Picasa Web Albums Goes Mobile

Google's Picasa Web Albums can now be viewed from your mobile device/phone web browser.

Flip through your latest photo albums and view any photo stored on Picasa Web Albums. Pictures are automatically re-sized to fit your mobile device's screen, so they download quickly and look their best.

One-click access to your Favorites keeps you in touch with your friends' latest snapshots. You can also post comments directly from your phone and the built-in search lets you retrieve any photo you've posted online. Find photos exclusively from your friends and community, or have fun exploring the public photos shared on Picasa Web Albums.

To access Picasa Web Albums for mobile, just visit http://picasaweb.google.com/m from your mobile device.

The browser must be XHTML compliant and both the browser and network must allow cookies and secure SSL traffic. At this time, Picasa Web Albums doesn't support direct uploading to your web albums from mobile devices.