Thursday, July 17, 2008

Add subtitles to YouTube vids with Subyo

Sometimes we find ourselves watching funny YouTube videos in a language we don't understand, and we feel like we're missing part of the joke. What did he say, and why did she drop that on his head? Maybe we'll find out now, thanks to Subyo. It's a service that lets you create your own subtitled translations of YouTube videos, and search for subtitles submitted by others (by entering a video's YouTube URL, naturally.)

The downfall of sites like these isn't the functionality -- Subyo works just fine, and we finally figured out what the rappers were saying in some of those music videos -- it's the challenge of getting widespread user adoption. The site's only as good as its users, so it will be interesting to see whether Subyo catches on and becomes an essential add-on to YouTube.

Add sound effects to your next project

If you're a web designer or someone that deals with audio or video, you know how important having the right sound effect is to your production. Sound effects should be given the same amount of thought and care as the other parts of your project. But if you're not in the business of sound, where do you go? You go to soundsnap.

Soundsnap is all about high quality, member created sound effects. With effects ranging from animals to transportation, you're bound to find something that will complement your own creation.

Using soundsnap is easy, either type in a search term or browse via the categories on the front page. Soundsnap also lets you audition the files prior to downloading. Sound effects are available in either mp3, wav or aiff audio formats to fit your production needs.

According to soundsnap, most of the members creating sound effects are either industry professionals or hobbyist. This may explain why we found most of the samples of high quality.

So if you're looking for that effect that will put your production ahead of the rest you may want to check out soundsnap.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Web based home design site Floorplanner adds 3D objects

Whether you want to design a dream home or figure out how to cram a new couch into your living room, Floorplanner can help. The site, which we first covered last year, lets you design, share, and export floorplans. The site recently launched a new beta version with a bunch of updates, including support for 3D objects. In other words, your couch, bed, table, or dresser might show up in 3D. Not every item in the library is available in 3D yet, but the company is working on adding more objects.

Here are a few of the other changes you'll find in the new beta:
  • Improved drawing of surfaces
  • Faster loading speeds
  • Option to hide the sidebar and maximize your work area
Floorplanner is free to use, and you can try it out without registering for an account. Eventually Floorplanner will offer free personal accounts plus paid professional and enterprise accounts.

All in one driver solution with DriverMax

Need to reinstall Windows but you misplaced your driver disks? Not sure you have everything you need? DriverMax has you covered. Backing up and reinstalling your drivers couldn't be easier.

After installing DriverMax, go into Driver Operations and click on Export drivers. A list of all your installed drivers will be displayed and you can pick and choose which ones to export, or simply export the whole lot in one go. Once you've reinstalled Windows, go back into Driver Operations, click on Import drivers, and point to the folder containing your saved drivers. The import can take a while, but in comparison to manually installing each driver individually, this is a walk in the park.

DriverMax is also useful even if you don't need to perform a complete reinstall - you can use the program just to make sure that your drivers are up to date or export a list of your installed drivers as an html or text file.

DriverMax is compatible with Windows 2003, XP and Vista and you have to supply your email address in order to receive a registration code.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Better than ebay

Tired of ebay fees?
  • No Listing Fee
    It's free to list. You only pay a reasonable fee when your item sells.
  • Free iOffer Store
    Free customizable store with integrated shopping cart.
  • Transfer Your Rating
    Your rating is important, no need to start from scratch.
This is not an auction. It's better! No bids, reserve pricing, auction end times, and last minute sniping. iOffer is a trading Community community that allows you to
Buy buy, Sell sell and Trade trade - just like you would in real life - by negotiating. learn more

Friday, July 11, 2008

Default Optimizing Vista on ASUS Notebooks: A Quick Guide

Optimizing Vista on ASUS Notebooks: A Quick Guide

Last updated: 18 May 2008

I have recently bought an ASUS A8He for a friend of mine (see the review). It came with Vista Business preinstalled and I didn't want to waste the OS price that was included in the notebook price. So, I decided to keep the Vista instead of installing a Windows XP for which I would have to pay.

The performance out of the box was absolutely horrible. More than half of the task bar was taken by the system tray icons. Installing Vista updates took more than an hour, and at that point I wished the notebook was mine so that I could throw it out the window and feel generally better about myself. So I started tinkering with Vista. At the end of the tinkering process, I got it to boot up and shut down much faster than my V6J XP, and run smoothly overall.

I will not give detailed information about how to perform the steps, see here for that: Flamenco's "Top Vista Tweaks". The language of that guide is a bit overenthusiastic but many of the tips are useful. See below for my selection of which of his steps to apply, and which not. You may also have your personal preferences of course. Some steps that are not explicitly stated as being his (like turning off System Restore, defragmenting the HDD etc.) are also in his guide, so I give him and his collaborators credit for that.

Step A. Run msconfig and disable all the preinstalled ASUS bloatware that you don't need. I was left when I finished only with autostarting: Power4Gear, Synaptics touchpad driver, Wireless utility, and ATK utility, HControl, and ATKOSD (+ some Windows services that I did not tinker with).

Step B. Reboot once so that the msconfig settings are enforced. Stop system restore. Then remove Norton AV (or Internet Security or whatever it's called on your system). Remove all the ASUS bloatware you don't need. I was left (besides the autostarting stuff listed above) with the Bluetooth stack, ASUS Lifeframe for the webcam, and of course Nero and the drivers (Audio, modem, GPU, LAN). I did not remove the Office trial installation, but if you don't plan to pay for it go ahead and remove it.

Here is an explicit list of what software you should probably remove:
  • ASUS PowerForPhone (what does it even do? it's a mystery to me...)
  • ASUS DataSecurity Manager (unless you absolutely need to use TPM; this software is known to cause stuttering and other issues)
  • ASUS Wireless Console. If your machine has dedicated WLAN and BlueTooth toggle buttons, removing this program will NOT affect wireless functionality; its functions, namely toggling Bluetooth and wireless on and off, can be more efficiently performed with the dedicated buttons. However, the program is necessary on machines where there are no separate buttons to toggle WLAN and BlueTooth, such as the ASUS W7S. On those machines, pressing the single wireless toggle button (usually Fn+F2)will cycle through WLAN and BlueTooth, but only if the Wireless Console is running.
  • ASUS Splendid (maybe you want to try it out, it's basically different profiles for your GPU)
  • ASUS MultiFrame
  • ASUS LiveUpdate (known to be very buggy, known not to update anything in most cases, and in isolated cases to kill computers by bad BIOS updates)
  • ASUS Net4Switch (or IP Switch whatever)
  • ASUS InstantFun
  • Norton Internet Security / Norton AntiVirus (resource hog, slows down the system, only trial installation); be sure to install a good antivirus afterwards, see Step C for suggestions. If the uninstaller does not remove the LiveUpdate component of the antivirus, remove it manually.
  • Microsoft Office Trial (unless you wish to keep it and pay for a serial number)

Step C. Download and install a good lightweight antivirus. AVG is a good free option, NOD32 is an excellent paid option. Do the updates. Also update the Windows Defender.

Step D. Connect to a network and install Vista updates. Turn off automatic update installation, but tell the system to notify you when updates are available.

Step E. Disable unneeded services. Use your own judgment to decide what to remove. A good starting point is my WinXP guide / Services Setup, since many of the services didn't change. Do not stop Task Scheduler though, it has become essential in Vista.

Step F. Reboot again to let above settings be enforced.

Step G. The numbered items below are taken from Flamenco's "Top Vista Tweaks". See his guide on how to do these.

1. Disable TMM
3. Cut Shut Down Time In Half!!
I used a value of 7000 instead of the 5000 Flamenco recommends since the computer is a budget notebook with lower-performing components, and will probably need more time to shutdown all the applications.
7. Turn Off Unused Windows Features (Tx and Rep LIVEFRMNYC)
Definitely recommended!
16. Get CCleaner!!! It Works with 32/64Bit (Click here!)
Very useful program. Definitely recommended. Use it after you're done removing applications!
19. Improve your Battery Life with Vista Battery Saver!!!!!!!(TY and Rep ScuderiaConchiglia)
I will say a few more things on this. I find absolutely mind-boggling the fact that ASUS hasn't included a way to set the Power4Gear Xtreme profiles as a function of whether you are plugged in or on battery! This software remedies that. I recommend you use the P4G Battery Saving profile on battery, and at the same time disable Aero and Vista gadgets. Leave them enabled for the Plugged-in state, and use the Power4Gear HighPerformance profile. Be sure to turn down the Min CPU State in Power4Gear for this profile though, it's pointless to always run the CPU at a high speed.

Step H. Things from Flamenco's "Top Vista Tweaks" that I did not do, and the reasons:

5. Disable Vista Search Indexing
I find it very nice that Vista offers this feature. Once indexing is complete, any file on the HDD should be a click-type-Enter away. It will decrease peformance during the first few days as the index is being built, though. Even more, I went and enabled indexing on the Data partition as well (by default it was disabled). Of course, it's up to you whether you want to leave indexing on or not.
11. Increase Performance by Adjusting Vista Visual Effects and Performance Properties!!!!
This is taken care of the Vista Battery Saver.
12. Remove that Annoying Security Center Notification!!
If you are not very computer-savvy, a bit of extra protection doesn't hurt. If you can take care of the updates for the firewall and antivirus, feel free to disable the notification.
13. Turn Off User Account Control (UAC)(Ty and Rep Sequoia225)
If you are not very computer-savvy, a bit of extra protection doesn't hurt. As long as you don't configure and install software each day and you don't work directly with files in the system folders, the notifications are not that annoying.
If you're sure that you know what you're doing with the software and on the system partition, feel free to disable UAC.

Step I. Do a defrag on the system partition.

Step J. Resize the system partition to be smaller than the indecent 60% of the HDD which is the default! I resized such that it was 55 GB or less than 40% of the HDD.

Step K. Resize the extended and the Data partitions within the extended, to include the space left after the shrinking of the system partition. You will need a separate partition manager for this as Windows can't do it. I suggest using the BootItNextGeneration software. See my WinXP guide / Useful Applications for how to get a hold of that software.

Step L. Disable automatic hibernation when the lid of the notebook is closed! This is one of the most stupid default settings I've seen. Screen lids can be closed for many reasons: privacy, going to lunch, needing to grab something from behind it like the phone -- and very few of these reasons involve hibernation!

Step M. Re-enable system restore on the system partition, and create a restore point with the optimized Vista you have just obtained. It is very useful to limit the disk space taken by System Restore (by default it is not limited, so it can just continuously grow and you won't know where your OS partition space is going). Here are the instructions on how to do that, posted by emedici on the Losing Disk Space thread:
a) Logon as Administrator or Go to Start>>All Programs>>Accesories>> and right click on Command Prompt and choose "Run as Administrator" when the User Account Control windows appear click on continue.
b) When you're at the Command Prompt window type: vssadmin resize shadowstorage /For=C: /On=C: /MaxSize=8GB (what I recommend). In the MaxSize option the least you can set is 300MB, if you leave it blank it will set no limit for the storages (as you have now). Don't for get to use the initials MB for Mega Bytes or GB for Giga Bytes at the end of the amount you want to set (e.g. 2GB or 500MB).
I recommend changing the 8GB to something that suits you best. Say that after doing the Vista install you have X GB left on the OS partition, I think a reasonable value for the system restore space would be X/3 (a third of this space) but, to be on the safe side, no more than 8GB and no less than 3GB.

(Fore more information about Windows Vista Shadow Copy, which is the component that manages the disk requirements of System Restore, see Where's All My Disk Space Going (Vista)? by orev.)

Step N. Optionally: use Acronis True Image to do a backup of your optimized OS installation. See my WinXP guide / OS Backup for how to do that; the procedure is the same for Vista and XP.

Step O. Optionally, if the computer is new: test the hardware: ports, ODD, HDD (use the manufacturer's utility, e.g., SeaTools for Seagate and Hitachi Drive Fitness tools for Hitachi harddrives), RAM (using RAM tester), webcam, to make sure everything runs smoothly. For how to get memtest and the HDD utility, see my SLAX guide.

Step P. Do a final reboot and hibernation, test some applications, and wonder at the uncanny speedup that you have obtained.

Hoping this helps,


Monday, July 07, 2008

Cheap long distance in Canada

I was looking for some cheap long distance rates and this is what I found on mighty Google:

I'll keep the list updated.

Friday, July 04, 2008

This message will self-destruct in five seconds

Imagine receiving an email and as soon as you've read it, the message burst into flames leaving no trace of its existence. Wouldn't you like that same type of power? Well now you can, minus the whole burst into flame thing with Privnote.

Simply type in your message on the website and Privnote note will generate a link that you can send to your operative. The link can only be used once, so if your contact wasn't able to retrieve the message you've got some security issues. But all is not loss since Privnote will display the IP address of the person that clicked the link.... traceroute anyone?

We doubt that you would actually want to send company sensitive information this way but we got to admit the whole "self destructing" message thing is pretty neat.

Noise of the white variety, right on the webernets

Have you ever been working somewhere and needed to focus on what you were doing, writing, saying, but there was too much ambient noise around you?

You know, peoples iPods crankin' or chitter chatter chattin'.

SimplyNoise is about to become your best friend.

At desk jobs (ewwww), they sometimes pump in "White noise" to push out sound and give you a bit more privacy, but you can't control how much of it you get.

SimplyNoise works kind of like an air conditioner in that you can amp it up to as much as you need. SimplyNoise's site states that white noise can help get you in a zen state, give you more privacy while on the phone, help you fall asleep, and even ease migraines.

Since we're all writers, and some of us have annoying construction going on outside of their condo during the day, we'll put it to the test and you should too.

Let us know in the comments if white noise is the right noise for you.