Monday, April 30, 2012

Stream Torrent Videos On All Platforms With LittleShoot [Mac & Linux]

Stream Torrent Videos On All Platforms With LittleShoot [Mac & Linux]:
stream torrent videoDownloading times have been cut short and shorter, but we are a typically impatient lot. There’s been a historical trade-off between streaming your films and series, and mustering up the patience for a decent download. With the ability to stream torrent video in full quality, the gap between these two is ever closing, bringing the best of both worlds.
Right now, uTorrent is one of the most prominent torrent clients that carries video streaming capabilities. Sadly, this is still limited to its Windows client. Users of Mac OS X and Linux are left with few alternatives. That is, except LittleShoot.


LittleShoot requires a small, cross-platform application to be installed as a back-end, but for all intents and purposes, LittleShoot is effectively a BitTorrent client that works directly out of your browser. This carries a number of advantages; not least the cross-platform compatibility when your technology arsenal runs with Mac and Linux, as well as the Windows operating system.
stream torrent video
On top of that, LittleShoot is riddled with interesting functionality. One of these features has earned our foremost focus today – torrent video streaming.

Streaming Torrent Video

As mentioned before, streaming video from your torrents is a relatively new niche, and one that has often been limited to Windows users. With the LittleShoot torrent client this is a thing of the past. You’ll have your video stream up and running in no time, regardless of your operating platform.
LittleShoot will automatically open torrent links from the most popular torrent websites. Alternatively, you can open an already downloaded torrent file in LittleShoot by opening it through the back-end application.
stream torrent video files
When enough of the torrent has been downloaded, you can start streaming the video. An important difference with other torrent streaming clients is that it will attempt to open these videos through your browser. Having a decent video client that can also handle in-browser video (like the DivX Player) is strongly advised. After the torrent has finished, the downloaded files will remain on your computer in your Downloads folder.

Searching In LittleShoot

In theory, LittleShoot can keep all your torrent activity in-house. LittleShoot is, above all, aimed at letting people publish their own torrents with other people. All of these files can then be found by using LittleShoot’s built-in search.
stream torrent video
As you may have realized, LittleShoot is not (yet) one of the big torrenting names. As such, the collection of published material remains relatively small. Some files, especially those that might violate copyright, will not be accessible through the built-in search, but will rather have to be added manually. If these restrictions are for better or worse, I’ll leave for you to judge.

Conclusion – Feature Tradeoff

I’ll be honest. On each separate platform, there are torrent clients available that are easier to use and have more advanced feature sets. The most important distinction for me is that LittleShoot appears to be one of the only ways to bring torrent streaming to Mac OS X and Linux platforms. For me, that’s enough to earn a spot in my Applications folder.
That being said, some features are still clearly lacking. Streaming a single video from a torrent collection is not possible. Deleting a torrent from your queue is also harder than it should be. LittleShoot is, in the end, a tradeoff; important torrent streaming functionality versus an interface that’s sometimes lacking.
What do you think? What features of LittleShoot make you want to switch, and what (if anything) keeps you from doing so? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Say Anything To Anyone With Say Anything – An Unusual App For iOS

Say Anything To Anyone With Say Anything – An Unusual App For iOS:
say anything appDo you remember sitting in school next to your friend and writing to each other on pieces of paper? I sure do. It was fun, yet time consuming, but I never imagined a different way to communicate when silence was required. So when I first discovered Say Anything, I finally had to believe in Apple’s “there’s an app for that” slogan.
Unless I knew it existed, I wouldn’t dream of anyone making such an app, and yet its simplicity and endless possibilities make it so incredibly useful. It’s actually amazing no one has thought of it before. So what does Say Anything do? Simple – it lets you say anything to anyone; get any message across to a person near you or far away, by using one iOS device.
The free version of Say Anything is usable, yet limited, and if you truly want to enjoy it, you can purchase the full app for a very affordable $1.99. If you’re after one specific feature, you can buy one of those for $0.99. More on those later.

What You Get For Free

say anything app
This is what Say Something looks like. It’s basically a banner app with the words of your choice moving on it from right to left. Remember those scrolling marquee screensavers everyone used to have? This is the same thing. The free version comes with 3 presets, which you can fill with any text you want. Start by tapping the text balloon at the top.
say anything apple
Now you can change the text to say whatever you want. You can swipe up and down to switch between your three different messages, or use the right-most button on the bottom icon bar.
say anything apple
From here you can also delete and add presets (but remember, you’re limited to 3 with the free version). The free version does provide some formatting, and you can change both the text and background color of your messages. Once you change the formatting for one message, all your messages change.
say anything apple
This is pretty much it for the free version. It’s entirely usable, although I find the letters to be a bit large, but it’s very useful for getting messages across a room on your iPad when you don’t want to shout.
Now that your message is ready, you can swipe from right to left to control its speed, and tap the screen to stop it. You can have it move across very slowly, or zap across blazingly fast. You can keep changing speeds according to your audience, your message and the distance.

The Full Version

If you like the Say Anything idea enough to shell out $1.99 for it, you’ll get access to the full list of features the app has to offer. These include a wide choice of fonts, scaling, mirror flipping and unlimited presets. This is an in-app purchase, and you’ll have no problem finding it. It pops up every time you try to use a premium feature.
The first feature I jumped on after buying the full version is the scaling. The free version’s scaling is just too big for most uses, at least on the iPad. Tap the magnifying glass icon to change the scaling. There is no pinch to zoom, although it’s very much called for.
say anything iphone
Another cool feature the full version offers is texture or image backgrounds. The texture backgrounds are downloaded as you tap them, so switching between them takes several seconds. You can also use images from your photo library as backgrounds by tapping on “Image” in the background changer.
say anything iphone
You can now move on to playing with fonts. There are dozens of those to choose from, and although it doesn’t make any difference to your message, it’s still nice to communicate in style.
say anything app
Tap the mirror flip icon the get a mirror image of your message. This is useful if you need to get a message across through a rear-view mirror, for example. Note that when your message is reversed, so are the gestures you need to use in order to move it around!
If you’re only interested in one feature, you can save a full dollar. Instead of unlocking all the features, you can buy scaling, fonts, backgrounds, mirror flip or unlimited presets for 99 cents each. You can purchase any of them from within the free app.
In the age of unlimited texts, multiple IM apps and a smartphone in every pocket, Say Anything might be more of a gimmick than a means to communicate, but as unusual as it is, I’m sure I’m going to find a creative use for it on my iPad. Here is Say Anything in action on my first generation iPad. Sorry for the low quality and background noise, but the action is what counts!

So next time you need to get a message across but can’t say it out loud, or you want to relay text in a presentable way, try Say Anything. I guarantee you will at least have some fun.
Do you know of any similar apps? Or other apps which are hard to believe are real? Can you think of creative ways to use Say Anything? Share your suggestions in the comments!

Add Personality & Complexity To Your Lock Screen With Photo Lock Screen [Android]

Add Personality & Complexity To Your Lock Screen With Photo Lock Screen [Android]:
android lock screenBeing able to customize just about anything in whatever way you please is one of the great perks of owning an Android phone. Not only can you replace entire pieces such as your home launcher, but you can also add new lock methods to protect your phone from prying eyes. But what could be better than PINs or lock combinations?

About Photo Lock Screen

With Photo Lock Screen, you can choose any photo you have stored on your SD card, and be able to use it as part of your lock screen. However, it’s different from simply switching the image as you already can with Android by default, but you can then create a combination lock based on that new image. In other words, the main idea is that you can choose items on your images and tap on them as part of your unlock combination.
Still confused? You’ll see what I mean in a bit.


You can install the app by searching for “Photo Lock Screen” in the Play Store or by following this link with your phone’s browser. Once installation completes, you’ll need to open your app drawer and launch “Photo Lock Screen Settings”.


android lock screen
The settings screen will tell you what you need to do, which is primarily disable any lock mechanism which you may currently have enabled, and then by choosing Photo Lock Screen as the default home launcher for your phone (don’t worry, it’s more of a mask that uses your regular home launcher except for when the photo lock screen is supposed to be active).
android lock screen app
There’s a button in the settings called “Set Default Home” that will launch a nice prompt asking you to choose between your home launchers, so it’s pretty easy to do.

Choosing Your Photo

Once you have made all the necessary changes, you can start with the customization of your photo and combination. You can select any photo that can be found via the Gallery, but if it’s possible you should try to crop and resize the image you want to 320 x 480 pixels (or whatever your phone’s resolution is, I haven’t figured out which one is the real determinant of the size).
This is important because Photo Lock Screen offers no mechanism to crop your desired photo on the phone itself, and it will simply use the top left corner of your image.

Setting Your Combination

android lock screen
After you’ve selected the photo you want, you can now choose your combination by tapping on “Configure Lock Screen”. From here, you’ll need to create a combination, which is done by tapping at any points in the picture, as many times as you want. Each tap will become an additional part of the combination.
So for example, say you have a picture with three people in it, you can tap on each person’s face (let’s assume middle, right, and then left) and then save that combination. When you want to unlock your phone, that image will appear and you’re asked to enter in the combination. Once you tap on the middle, right, and then left person’s faces in that order as you did when you set up the combination, the phone will unlock.
Of course, you can choose whatever areas of the image you wish, including a random place in the sky (as long as you remember the exact position of that random place).
The lock screen provided by Photo Lock Screen works just like Android’s locking mechanism in which you are locked out for a certain amount after a number of failed attempts, and after repeated lockouts you’ll be asked to log back into your Google account.


Photo Lock Screen is a pretty interesting app that makes unlocking your phone just that much more fun and safe. Since any image and combination can be used, it is theoretically safer than a simple dots combination or a PIN. Hopefully some more features will be added in the future such as the ability to crop images for use, but even then, why should you not use it as it is?
What’s your preferred way to lock your phone, if at all? How complicated should those mechanisms be? Is displaying the owner’s information on the lock screen risky or helpful? Let us know in the comments!
Image Credit: Lock Image from Shutterstock

Save interesting articles for later reading on your PC, iOS, or Android device, with ‘Pocket’

Save interesting articles for later reading on your PC, iOS, or Android device, with ‘Pocket’:
Pocket Screenshot1 - Desktop versionPocket Screenshot2 - Android
If I told you that ‘Pocket’ is the bookmarking service ‘Read it Later’, relabeled and relaunched, would you lose interest in this article? You shouldn’t, because with Pocket not only are the articles that you save bookmarked in the cloud in ‘Read it Later’ or ‘Instapaper’ fashion, but also downloaded in their entirety on your iOS or Android device, such that you are able to read them at any point, even offline.
Freewaregenius 5-Star PickMoreover, the new Pocket implements a handy tagging system, looks very polished and professional, and is completely free on both your desktop and device.
There’s lots to like about Pocket. Here’s my favorite 5 items:
  1. Download to device: no sooner than you save an article or website that it starts downloading on your iOS, iPhone, or Android. You can read articles offline; suitable, say on board planes or for devices with low bandwidth plans (see second point below).
  2. WIFI only: You can set it such that it only syncs when connected to WIFI.
  3. Tagging: you can now tag articles as well as save them.
  4. Filtering: type in a string to filter or filter by articles/videos/image posts. Note that video posts are not downloaded for offline viewing.
  5. iOS and Android apps are FREE: in contrast to most online bookmarking apps (e.g. Instapaper),
Wish list: the ability to share specific tags with other users.
Note that Pocket will work with legacy browser extensions that import/export ‘Read it Later’ data, although many of the new features, such as tagging and filtering may not be supported.
See in action (in this rather quaint promotional video):
The verdict: a wonderful service. One thing Pocket has going for it is the very large number of apps (Twitter apps, RSS clients, browser extensions) which already support it because of its earlier incarnation as ‘Read it Later’).
Pocket is an all-in-one bookmarking, tagging, and content delivery service to all of your devices. The tagging option specifically is one that quite welcome by this user, as I often get overwhelmed with all the articles I save for later reading. Moreover, unlike some of the more prominent similar services, Pocket’s mobile apps are FREE. Highly recommended.
[Thanks go to reader Panzer for the tip].
Compatibility: all major browsers; iOS (iPhone, iPad), Android, Kindle Fire, and others.
Go to the Pocket website to sign up and get apps. Get the Pocket Chrome extension here.

Optimize and maintain your SSD drive with SSD Fresh

Optimize and maintain your SSD drive with SSD Fresh:
SSD Fresh Screenshot
If you own a Solid State Drive (SSD), you may be interested to know that there are specific settings that you could use to optimize and enhance it’s performance, and, more interestingly, that many of the practices common to maintaining and optimizing regular drives are unnecessary with SSD drives. For example, did you know that unlike normal drives, there is no need to defragment your SSD drive at all? If you are defragmenting, you may be simply wearing your drive out.
SSD Fresh is a free tool that brings a number of settings that can optimize and maintain your SSD in one place. More interestingly, it is also an educational tool that can briefly and concisely explain each and every setting as you go through the list.
How to use: run the program, go to the ‘Optimization’ tab, and scroll down the list. You could choose to toggle any one setting via the “Optimize” link on the right, while the “Restore from Backup” link on the left will revert the setting back to the way it was before. Note that your settings will apply on all partitions of your SSD. Also check out the little gauge on top which shows the presumed status of your optimizations.
S.M.A.R.T data: in the ‘Overview’ tab, click on the ‘S.M.A.R.T data’ button (bottom right) to see that data for each of your partitions (optional, for geeks only). If you are not familiar with S.M.A.R.T check out this link on Wikipedia.
The verdict: I love this program. So convenient and so informative. If you have an SSD drive you should definitely check it out; your SSD hard drive will be better off for it.
Version tested: 2012.4
Compatibility: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7. 32 bit or 64 bit.
Go to the program home page to download the latest version (~2 megs).