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Date: Monday, 28 Jul 2014 10:01

Having one online article published is great, but having multiple articles published is awesome. And, often, the latter has less to do with your writing skills, and more to do with how you handle your articles before and after publication.

That’s not to say that writing skills don’t have their place, of course. If you want to make a living as an online writer or blogger, you should, at the very least, know how to write. This may seem obvious, but judging from the usual quality of online content, it’s surprising – not to mention alarming – how many people ignore this basic fact.

Anyway, let’s get back on topic. Suppose you are, in fact, one of those writers who can effortlessly churn out beautiful prose with your eyes closed. That’s all well and good… except there are also thousands of writers around the world who can do the same thing. Which begs the question: How do you stand out in such an enormous crowd, especially on a place like the Internet where everyone’s doing their best to attract attention? Glad you asked!

Find Websites In Your Niche

Your first order of business is to figure out what you want to write. What do you like to think about first thing in the morning, and before you go to sleep? What topic(s) can you go on and on about for hours without getting exhausted? Do you have any experience, skills, and/or knowledge unique to you?

Once you have a definite answer to those questions, that’s the time you start searching for websites to write for. Use keyword combinations like "(your favorite topic)" + "write for us" or "(your favorite topic)" + "guest post". During your search, you’ll notice that many of the websites turning up won’t pay for contributions. If you want to write for more than just the "exposure", you can add the word "paid" to the keyword combinations suggested above.

If you’re a generalist, or someone with multiple interests, think about one or two topics you can imagine yourself writing about at least once every day. Because, hey, if you’re going to write about things for a living, you might as well love what you’re writing about, right?

Read The Guidelines Carefully

If you want to know what kind of submissions a website accepts, the easiest way to do so is to read their writer’s guidelines. Here, they’ll specify what they’re looking for, what they’re not looking for, payment terms (if applicable), rights, and other policies.

Sometimes, a website posts its editorial calendar. Be sure to check that one out in order to come up with a timely pitch. Oh, and don’t forget to look up their reading period, which is usually specified in the writer’s guidelines as well.

If they don’t have a calendar, and you’re not sure whether your pitch is what they’re looking for at the moment, you can also…

Be A "Ninja"

Even after reading the guidelines, you’ll want to check out the site’s archived articles. They’ll give you an idea of the types of articles that resonate the most with the site’s target readers, and why. With that information, it’ll be easier for you to tailor your submission accordingly and increase your chances of getting accepted.

So how do you identify the old articles that "click" with readers? Look for the ones with the most number of shares on social networking sites, as well as those with the most active discussions in the comments section.

These numbers may not be the most accurate measures of whether those articles are "good", but in any case, they indicate an ability to engage readers, which is the main reason those articles were published in the first place.

Be Familiar With The Site & Audience

If that seems like too much work, you can always browse through the ones labeled "Trending", "Top Articles", "What’s Hot", "Popular Now", etc., and observe what they all have in common. You can also subscribe to their social media pages and/or e-newsletter.

Through these, you can:

  • Assess what kind of audience the website has;
  • See "patterns" in the type of content they’ve been publishing recently;
  • Evaluate their online marketing strategy, and the effectiveness thereof;
  • Based on the criteria above, decide for yourself whether they’re worth writing for; and
  • Learn something new on a regular basis. (What could be cooler than that?)

If you have friends who are online writers/bloggers, and are in the same niche you want to break into, you can ask them for feedback on the best/worst sites to write for. This is a good option if you don’t have the time or the energy to search for target sites on your own.

Wrap Up

Remember that the guidelines are there to help relay information to you before you have even made contact with the people behind the site. Rather than skim through the guidelines, analyze what the site is looking for before you make your pitch (which is another title on its own; don’t worry, it’s coming) so you can show them that as a writer, you really did do the homework required.

Coming soon, how to make a proper pitch of what you want to write, coming to terms with the site and what to do after your post has been published (to make sure you can get more writing jobs).

Bonus: More On Guest Blogging

Author: "Issa Mirandilla" Tags: "Web 2.0"
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Date: Monday, 28 Jul 2014 08:10

There’s a romantic mythology around certain cities. In fact, all you have to do is mention them, and a thousand images are conjured up in your brain, the product of decades of history and popular culture references. Paris. Milan. London. Rio de Janeiro. New York. No matter where you live, you’ve likely heard of these places, and you know exactly what they are famous for.

But which cities (or countries) are best suited for professional designers? Where can designers have access to the most potential clients, a great culture of design appreciation, and all the other accommodations that creative professionals need?

The question today is: where in the world should designers work? Let’s survey the options.

Home Is Where The Designer Is

The best place to work, hands down, for most designers, is wherever you feel “at home.” When a creative professional is grounded in a place, surrounded by inspiring people, places, and things, they are compelled to use this environment in the most productive way possible. You can “absorb” all the best, most inspiring things about your environment like a sponge, channeling them into more innovative designs.

Another thing to consider is the design community that exists wherever you choose to settle down. Are there many design professionals and organizations around you? This can either be a bad thing (“I need to move to a place with more designers!”), or a good thing (“I can be a trendsetter in this part of the world, yay!”). It’s up to you to decide what your priorities are as a designer, and whether or not you need to be in a “high design” or a “low design” area to produce your best work and find the most awesome clients.

Shaking It Up

For a certain minority of the world’s population, feeling “at home” is a negative thing, rather than a positive. These folks may feel a strong pull to be constantly on the move, and if they’re designers, that means packing up and roaming the globe in search of the next new source of inspiration.

If you find your greatest inspiration in Berlin for awhile, then decide you need to move to Vancouver, Tokyo, Sao Paolo, Sydney, or somewhere else, don’t ignore the pull of your design muse to pack up and go. It all depends on how you feel about the unique personality and culture of a city.

Read Also: How To Keep Your Design Skills Fresh

Networking From The North Pole?

Well, sure, why not? After all, the internet has brought the entire world virtually at everyone’s fingertips. More people are connected online than ever before, and the need to physically travel to a certain location because there is a larger community of creative professionals there is decreasing massively.

With Skype, social media, and email, just about any designer can work from anywhere in the world. It may take a bit more creativity to fashion just the kind of working life you want, but hey – you’re a designer. It’s your job to be creative!

Where The “Hot Spots” Are

There are some cities which are traditionally considered “designy” types of places – cities which embrace design on perhaps a greater level than others. New York City, Berlin, London, Tokyo, and Stockholm are among the more famous of these “design cities.”

There might be a larger design community living there, which provides greater opportunities for in-person networking (which, despite the popularity of the internet, is still very important to a designer’s career). Also, there are plenty of other cultural events going on in other creative fields – art shows, theatre performances, independent filmmaking, et cetera – that will undoubtedly give you plenty of inspiration for your design work.

But that’s not to say the rest of the world is simply uninformed when it comes to design. There are plenty of cities and countries with emerging design trends, which are busy incubating their own superstar designers. Also, it depends on your taste and your cultural expectations when it comes to great design. You may be from, say, a cultural background which is ambivalent about modern, European-influenced design, and may prefer the burgeoning design hot spots of Asia, Africa, or South America.

Design Is Everywhere

Design is all around us. After all, everything that has made our lives better is due to someone designing a solution to a common problem. In that respect, every place needs designers, and potentially any place can be an ideal incubator for creativity and inspiration. There may be some obstacles that you will need to overcome in smaller or less well known places, but it can certainly be done, and you can enjoy a fulfilling career pretty much from anywhere.

In the end, don’t worry too much about your location. Again, your job as a designer is to improve people’s lives – and you can (and should) do that from anywhere in the world.

What Do You Think?

Where in the world do you live and create? How does the city you live in influence your design work and your career mobility?

Author: "Hongkiat Lim" Tags: "Web 2.0, designers, career"
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Date: Friday, 25 Jul 2014 15:01

One of the things that the MacBook has going for it is its pretty solid battery life except if you have to be on the move a lot. It is not advisable to leave your MacBook plugged into a power source for long periods of time as it will shorten your battery’s lifespan. But if you are always travelling with your MacBook, it won’t be easy to find a power source to plug in, when you are running low on juice. That’s where portable batteries come in to save the day.

MacBook Portable Battery

Portable batteries power your laptops like powerbanks power your smartphones and tablets – giving you a constant power source, at your disposal. They are also compact and light, and thus easy to bring about. If you are looking for external power packs to keep your MacBook running for longer, here are 10 great battery backups you should check out. Note that most of the battery packs in this list do not come with the Apple Magsafe connector.

1. GreatShield LuminousPower External Battery Pack

GreatShield LuminousPower is a 7800mAh capacity external battery pack made for portability. It comes with a built-in short circuit to prevent your MacBook and the battery from over-charging or over-heating. There are 4 LED lights to show the battery level and charging status plus a dual-LED flashlight that can be used as a torchlight, if you need it. GreatShield is powered by a Samsung lithium-ion battery that promises over 500 charge cycles.

[Get one - $29.99]

GreatShield LuminousPower External Battery Pack

2. 52,800mAH Ultimate External Battery For Macbooks

This battery can power up your MacBook for days and has multi-voltage capabilities ranging from 9V to 20V plus two USB ports capable of charging 2 iPads at the same time. There’s even a multiple safety system protection to help you charge your MacBook safely. To know the battery’s current remaining power and what voltage it’s running at, just look at the smart display in the center of its body.

[Get one - $449.95]

195WH External Battery for any Macbooks

3. Lizone 40,000mAh High Performance Mac External Battery

The USB port on this battery will provide MacBooks with an output of 5 volts while the DC voltage output is around 15-24 volts. It uses Li-ion Panasonic cells, with overcharge and discharge circuits included for device protection. The main DC output port is compatible with all Apple MacBook Air series, MacBook Pro series and any other MacBook series. If you’re looking for a size bigger than 40,000mAh, Lizone has you covered here.

[Get one - $199.99]

Lizone High Performance Mac External Battery

4. Mobile Freedom External Laptop Battery

This universal lithium battery pack provides charging capabilities to most laptops, including the MacBook. It comes with a battery capacity of 130Wh. If your MacBook lasts for 3 hours, this external battery can provide your MacBook with another 9 hours of run time. If you’re looking for an external battery pack that can both charge your MacBook and your other laptops, this one will do the trick.

[Get one - $199.99]

Mobile Freedom External Laptop Battery

5. 12/16/19-100 External Battery Pack

This is another battery pack for both laptops and MacBooks that come with 100Wh battery capacity. It should provide around 4-6 hours run time. The LEDs indicate the current running voltage (12V, 16V and 19V) as well as battery life indicators. The battery weighs around 1.8 pounds, thus it is easy to carry around as a backup battery. This external battery pack is also capable of charging most of your USB devices.

[Get one - $199.99]

12/16/19-100 External Battery Pack

6. ChugPlug

ChugPlug is the perfect companion if you dislike having your MacBook connected to an outlet all the time. It charges and powers your MacBook Air and 13 inch MacBook Pro easily using your existing cables. The battery is based on lithium polymer. ChugPlug supports both 45 and 65W MagSafe power adaptors and it provides enough power for you to use your MacBook, even while it’s being charged.

[Get one - $159.99]


7. Hyperjuice 1.5

The Hyperjuice 1.5 is designed to support all MacBooks including those with retina display. It also comes with two 12W USB ports, which lets you charge your other USB devices plus a 4-stage LED light indicator. This means you can charge multiple devices simultaneously. Hyperjuice 1.5 is available in 4 different capacities which are 60Wh (16,000mAh), 100Wh (27,000mAh), 150Wh (41,000mAh) and 222Wh (61,000mAh); prices vary.

[Get one - $169.95-449.95]

Hyperjuice 1.5

8. Hyperjuice 2

Just like the Hyperjuice 1.5, Hyperjuice 2 is also designed to support all Macbooks including those that comes with retina display. It also comes with dual 12W USB ports plus an advance OLED battery status display. Moreover, Hyperjuice 2 comes with an upgradeable battery cell, casing and logic board. The Hyperjuice 2 is only available with a battery capacity of 100Wh at the moment.

[Get one - $299.95-399.95]

Hyperjuice 2

9. BatteryBox

BatteryBox is a portable battery pack that can fit in the palm of your hand yet can still power your MacBook. BatteryBox can provide up to 12 hours of power for MacBook Air and 6 hours for MacBook Pro, which is also equivalent to 8 iPhones. It runs on its own BatteryOS to ensure that the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries is properly controlled. Besides MacBooks, BatteryBox can also charge any device via its USB port.

[Get one - $139.95]


10. Energizer XP18000 Universal AC Adapter with External Battery

Energizer XP18000 is an external battery pack that weighs around 1 pound and can extend your MacBook’s battery life by doubling its running time. It’s even powerful enough to charge up to 3 devices at the same time. This external battery also comes with inbuilt short circuit protection to provide a safe charge. Its 18,000mAh battery capacity translates to up to 6 hours of battery life. You will need to get the MagSafe connector though, before you can start charging your MacBooks.

[Get one - $164.99]

Energizer XP18000

Author: "Nels Dzyre" Tags: "batteries, Web 2.0, macbook"
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Date: Friday, 25 Jul 2014 13:01

VLC is probably the most versatile video player you can download due to its amazing ability to play almost any codec you throw at it. This alone makes this app a worthy addition to your software suite. While most people use VLC as a simple video player, it is so much more than that. VLC is the Swiss Army Knife of video players with features that are hidden and unknown to the casual user.

VLC Playing Movie

These features include the ability to do video recording, playing Internet radio and video, simple editing; just to name a few. To go through the number of hidden features VLC has could fill an entire wiki (which it does). So instead of you reading through the incredibly technical wiki, we have gathered the best 20 VLC tips and tricks you may not know.

Note: The tips included here are done using the Windows version of VLC, unless specified.

1. Convert Media Files

Did you know that you can use VLC to convert your media files into a wide variety of formats? The app lets you choose exactly how you would like to convert them or you can simply use a given preset.

To start, go to Media > Convert / Save, add a file and click Convert / Save. From here you will select the desired codec to convert to.

VLC Convert

2. Play/Download Online Videos

You can actually use VLC to play and download online videos. You can use the full suite of tools to manipulate video playback or save them for later play.

To start an online video, go to Media > Open Network Stream. Press the Network tab, enter the URL of the video and click Play. To save it, instead of Play, choose Convert.

VLC Online Video

3. Record A Currently Playing Video/Audio

If you want to record and capture a snippet of a video that you are playing, VLC has an option to do so. To enable this feature, on the menu bar, click View > Advanced Controls. Extra buttons will appear on the app. While playing a media file, click on the Record button to start recording. Press again to stop.

Recordings will be saved in the Videos folder for videos while audio will go to your Music folder. On the Mac version, go to the menu bar and click Playback > Record or use the shortcut CMD + ALT + r.

4. Record Desktop

VLC is able to record a video of your desktop, acting as a screen recorder. To enable desktop recording, go to Media > Convert / Save. Go to the Capture Device tab and on the Capture mode drop down menu, select Desktop. Select your frame rate under Desired frame rate for the capture and click Convert / Save. Finally select your codec and the destination and click Start. To stop recording, click the Stop button.

5. Record Webcam

You can record a video in VLC using the webcam. Go to Media > Open Capture Device and select DirectShow from the Capture mode drop menu. From here you will select the video and audio device from where it will capture. Click Play and VLC will stream from your webcam. Use VLC’s ability to record currently playing video and you have yourself a webcam recorder.

(Image Source: AddictiveTips)

6. Rip A DVD

Did you know you can use VLC to rip your DVD’s into your computer? It’s a simple way to create an archive of your DVD’s for backup purposes or a way to view them when you do not have access to the physical disc.

Go to Media > Convert / Save and click on the Disc tab. Under Disc Selection, click on the radio button of the media disc you are using and check No disc menu. Make sure the selected Disc device is correct and click Convert / Save. Choose the codec you wish to save in and save it with the extension that is compatible with your codec.


7. Remote Control VLC From A Browser

There is an option available to use a web browser as a simple remote control for VLC. This is incredibly useful when running VLC on a media center PC, as you can control it using a laptop or your mobile phone.

To enable this feature, go to Tools > Preference, and click the radio box All under Show settings. Next, go to Interface > Main Interface and tick the Web check box. Then, under Interface > Main > Lua, set the Lua HTTP Password. Remote control through the browser should now be enabled.

To test this, on your browser with VLC installed, go to localhost:8080. It will ask for the password and once given, it should display a remote control interface for VLC. To use this on another device, you will need to find the IP address of your devices’s browser. Add the address on your device’s browser with :8080 appended to it, for example Your device is now a simple VLC remote.

VLC Remote Control

8. Video And Audio Effects

VLC gives you a multitude of tools that allows you to manipulate the video and audio of any given media. To see the tools available, go to Tools > Adjustments and Effects. From here, you will see tabs that contain the A/V manipulation tools. On the video side, you can adjust colors, crop, rotate video, add filters, etc. With audio, you get the usual equalizers to tune your music.

9. Subscribe To Podcast

If you are looking for a very simple podcast subscription app, VLC can fill that need. You can use the app to subscribe to your favorite video and audio podcast and view them all within the app.

To subscribe to a podcast, got to the Playlist sidebar, under Internet, there is a Podcast option. Hover your mouse cursor over it and a + will appear. Click on it and add the RSS for your podcast. On the Mac version, go to the Podcast option and press Subscribe to add the RSS URL.

VLC Podcast

10. Play Internet Radio

VLC provides Internet Radio channels on its Playlist sidebar for you to browse and search for online radio stations. If the provided stations don’t interest you, you can play your favorite channel by getting the station’s URL and opening it using Media > Open Network Stream.

VLC Internet Radio

11. Video Wallpaper

Ever wanted to have a video playing as your desktop wallpaper? There is a simple way to toggle this using VLC. Go to Tools > Preference. Click on Video and under the Output drop down box, select DirectX (DirectDraw) video output. Save and restart VLC. The next time you play a video, an option will appear on the right-click menu under Video to play as a Set as Wallpaper. Choose it and the video will then start playing as your desktop background.

VLC Video Wallpaper

12. Add Watermarks On Video

You can add your own watermarks on a video through VLC, bypassing a need for a dedicated video editor to do so. Do remember though that you will need to use VLC’s recording feature to save the video with the watermark.

To start, go to Tools > Effects and Filters. Click on the Video Effects tab and under the Overlay tab, you will get options to either add in your logo or a simple text to the video.

VLC Watermarked Video

13. Play Video As ASCII Characters

For a bit of fun, VLC allows you to display a video all in ACSII characters. To enable this fun feature, go to Tools > Preference and click on Video. Under the Output drop down box, choose Color ASCII art video output. Your video will now be displayed entirely in ACSII. Now try watching ‘The Matrix’ like this.


14. Play Media Contained In Archive Files

If you have a ZIP or RAR file that contains a media file, you can actually play them within VLC without extracting them. Simply open them with VLC and it will play all of the files contained within.

If the file is broken up into pieces, just open the first part of the archive in VLC, making sure all the files are within the same place. This is a good tip when you don’t want to waste space decompressing the video.

VLC Archive

15. Scrobble To Last.fm

If you are a heavy Last.fm user, you can scrobble the music you play through VLC. To enable it, got to Tools > Preference. On the Show settings radio box, click All. Click on Interface > Control interfaces and tick the check box for Submission of played songs to Last.fm. Then, under Interface > Control interfaces > Audioscrobbler, enter in your Last.fm credentials.

VLC Last.fm

16. Take A Snapshot

Ever need to take a snapshot of a video you are watching? VLC has a way to do so. Simply use the shotcut Shift + s on Windows and Linux or CMD + ALT + s on OS X. The picture will be saved in your OS’s respective pictures folder.

VLC Snapshots

17. Bookmark A Video

You can bookmark a part of a video so that you can return to it later on, if you feel like replaying a certain part of a video. To bookmark a video, go to Playback > Custom Bookmarks > Manage. The Edit Bookmarks window will pop up. Press the Create button when at a section of a video you would like to bookmark.

VLC Bookmark

18. Add Subtitles

If a video you have doesn’t come with subtitles, you can add your own by finding an SRT subtitle file for the video and adding it in. To add the subtitle, play your video and go to Subtitle on the menu bar and click Add Subtitle File. If you want VLC to play it automatically, place the SRT file in the same folder as the video and make sure it uses the same file name as the video file.

VLC Subtitles

19. Double Or Slow Down The Playback Speed

This feature is incredibly useful when you are watching a media file primarily for the content, such as podcast, audiobooks, recorded lectures, etc. To start, press ] to fast forward by 0.1x for each press. To slow it down, press [ instead. On the Mac, there is a slider to control playback speed, located in Playback.

20. Extensions And Plugins

Just like Firefox, you can extend the functionality and appearance of your VLC player. There are a variety of extensions and skins available on the VideoLAN site. Take a look and see what appeals to you.

Some of the extensions enable you to automatically get subtitles, info on the actors, as well as lyrics to songs, among other things. Skins, on the other hand, allow you to modify the look of your media player and there are many available that are sure to fit your taste.

VLC Skins

Author: "Azwan Jamaluddin" Tags: "Tools, vlc player, video players"
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Date: Friday, 25 Jul 2014 10:01

There are now plenty of geolocation-based WordPress themes available. They provide customized maps so that the users can easily find specific places like restaurants, event venues, hotels and more. I noticed that some of web developers have been including their themes with map support and often use it within the contact page.

They utilize maps, Google Map to be exact. And as you may have noticed, Google Map is one of most powerful map services on the web. Customizing the map can be easily done using map styles API control. But it requires one to understand javascript programming a bit.

Try this brand new Google Map Builder, a tool to easily customize your own Google Map. It has a pretty nice and friendly user interface. You can build the map with just a couple of selections from the select box and you don’t even have to code.

There are many options for you to control the look of the map. You may also insert your custom marker icon and places. And the best part is it has 75+ readymade map themes from Snazzy Maps.


Google Map Builder works exactly the same like customizing Google Map using map styles API. It gives you a User Interface (UI) that is nicer than what you can do with plain Javascript code. Within the tool, all options are located in the left panel, leaving the remaining space for the map.

At the top, you can provide the map with the API key which is useful for monitoring the application’s Maps API usage. The size and coordinates of the map center can also be defined easily.

The options on the left are used to customize the look of the map: zooming, map control, dragging, map type and map theme. All the changes will be automatically previewed in the map.

Adding Custom Marker

This tool lets you easily add your custom marker to map places. To do this, firstly you need to provide your marker icon URL and also the address of the place you want to mark.

With this Hospital Building icon from Map Icons, this is how to add the marker.

To start off, as the icon is about a hospital, then I will enter the hospital’s name to the Add Marker(s) text field. You may also give some addresses (one per line) here. When you add an address, the map will automatically locate it, so make sure the address and the map are as accurate as possible.

Then put the icon url in the Marker Icon URL field.

And here’s the result.

Get The Code

Now that you have customized the map, the next step is to put it on the Web. To get the code, scroll to the bottom of the page and you’ll see the Get Code button.

Just hit the button then the code will appear above the map. Here, you’ll get the javascript code inside the script tag and CSS style for the map size, like what you have if you styled the map manually. Easily copy and paste all the code and put them into your HTML before the head closing tag.

Final Thought

There are lots of options provided in the Google Map Builder, but most of them are only for map control. To customize the map’s look, you can only depend on themes from Snazzy Map, but if they are not to your liking, you can customize the map manually (this tutorial may help) or work with other tools such as Google Maps Colorizr or Google Styled Map Wizard.

Author: "Irfan" Tags: "Tools, google map builder, google maps"
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Date: Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 13:01

The whole do-it-yourself (DIY), open source maker electronics scene that’s really gained in popularity over the past few years has led to a lot of really interesting devices and kits appearing on the market. The great thing, of course, is that it isn’t just limited to computing and robotics enthusiasts: musicians have benefitted from this open source DIY movement too.

We’ve started seeing a lot of synths with open access to both the hardware schematics and the software or firmware (if any) at the heart of the synth.

PreenFM 2

DIY synths aren’t a new thing, but until a few years ago they used to be either super simple square wave toy synths or complex analog synths, with very little in between. These days, there’s a lot more to choose from, especially with the advent of microcontrollers running easily hackable firmware.

Here are 5 great open source and DIY friendly synths that you can play, build, modify or even use as jumping-off blocks for your own synth creations, listed in rough chronological order.

1. Mutable Instruments – Shruthi

Mutable Instruments’ Shruthi is a hybrid digital and analog monophonic synth that uses an 8-bit microcontroller to generate two oscillators plus a sub frequency oscillator. The Shruthi-1′s oscillators are quite capable, though, and aren’t just limited to the square waves that you normally expect from DIY synth kits. Since they’re digital, the oscillators are also capable of wavetable synthesis and a smorgasboard of weird and "out-there" digital tones, such as formant synthesis and bit-crushed videogame-esque sounds.

Mutable Instruments Shruthi

The filter is all-analog, and by default the Shruthi comes with a four-pole low-pass filter. However, the fact that the filter is on a separate PCB means that you can easily swap filters, and there are a lot of different flavors of filter available for you to buy or build. The Shruthi-1 also has an audio input, so you can use the filter to process external audio. The Shruthi-1 only comes in kit form and will require assembly. [$203 kit; $39.50 - $75 enclosures]

[ Buy | Source ]

2. Lush Projects LushOne

The LushOne is a system of small, low-priced synth modules, covering everything from base oscillator and filter combination, to sound-shaping envelopes to some effects and additional control. All of these modules are connected to each other using small patch leads, letting you route signals and create sounds totally from scratch. The base unit contains two digital oscillators with five waveforms coupled to an analog filter, like most other synths in this list.

Lush Projects LushOne

The Contour kit adds an ADSR envelope, a voltage-controlled amplifier (VCA) and a ring modulator. There’s also an Echo kit for adding echo effects to the LushOne. The LushOne can be controlled via MIDI, but it also can interface with other modular equipment, since it has control voltage (CV) inputs for elements such as oscillator pitch and filter cutoff. The LushOne base unit and the additional modules all come as kits, and requires intermediate soldering skills. [$117 - $129 modules; $76.50 - $119 cases]

[ Buy | Source ]

3. PreenFM 2

The PreenFM 2 is an open source, polyphonic, frequency modulation (FM) synth, with quite a lot of features packed into a small case. The PreenFM 2 actually consists of four separate and independent synth instruments in one little case.

Each of these instruments is quite well-equipped, with seven different modulation sources, a powerful arpeggiator sourced from Mutable Instruments’ algorithms, an effect slot for filters as well as one gate effect. Each instrument can be set to respond to different MIDI channels so they can be played independently, or set to respond to the same channel for really rich tones.

PreenFM 2

The PreenFM 2 has between 8 and 16 voices of polyphony, great for big chords. It responds to MIDI via USB, so you can plug it directly into your computer and control, sequence and play it directly from your digital audio workstation (DAW) of choice, without needing any MIDI ports or MIDI to USB converters. It also supports a USB stick for storing presets. It even supports presets from Yamaha’s classic DX7 synth. The PreenFM 2 comes as a kit, case included, and will need assembly. [$252]

[ Buy | Source ]

4. LittleBits Synth Kit

No list of open source synths would be complete without one of the highest-profile open source synth kits available today, the LittleBits Synth Kit. Designed in conjunction with Korg, the LittleBits Synth Kit is a collection of small synth modules that are completely modular – like the LushOne – and just snap together like Lego blocks, letting you create some reasonably full-featured synths from some basic building blocks.

Modules include a dual oscillator module, a filter module, a keyboard, an envelope and a micro sequencer, amongst others.

LittleBits Synth Kit

And, since the Synth Kit is built on the same platform as all of the other LittleBits kits and modules, it’s very easy to integrate a synth into other, more complex electronics creations. The LittleBits Synth Kit is a bit lacking in connectivity at the moment, but connectivity modules – MIDI, CV and a USB input/output module – are coming over the course of the year, letting you integrate it into your existing workflow a lot easier.

The circuits are all open source, although the connectors themselves aren’t. [$159]

[ Buy | Source ]

5. Meeblip Anode

The Meeblip anode is the latest synth in Create Digital Music’s line of Meeblip synthesizers, one of the biggest names in the world of open source hardware synths. The Anode is a hybrid digital and analog monophonic synth that combines square wave digital oscillators with a rich analog filter that covers a lot of sonic ground.

The Anode has a particular emphasis on generating bass sounds, and if you give a listen to the demos, you’ll find that the combination of 8-bit digital oscillators and an analog synth really help it create some rich and in-your-face bass sounds.

Meeblip Anode

The Meeblip Anode might seem toy-like, but it’s a very capable synth: beyond the oscillators and resonant analog filter, you have some basic envelope controls, pulsewidth control for the oscillators as well as a low frequency oscillator (LFO) that can modulate either the filter cutoff or pitch of the oscillators.

Like most of the other synths in this list, the Meeblip Anode needs to be controlled over MIDI; you can use a MIDI keyboard to do this, but you can also use an iPhone or iPad if you get a MIDI adapter. The Meeblip Anode comes fully assembled. [$139.95]

[ Buy | Source ]

Author: "Azzief Khaliq" Tags: "Web 2.0, hardware hacking, open source"
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Date: Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 10:01

If you need to create presentations for high-powered clients, or impress lecturers and professors in university, you may have heard of (or are already using) Prezi. Prezi is a cloud-based presentation tool and is known for its zooming user interface (ZUI) allowing you to easily break down or go into things in detail.

As it was created to replace slide presentations, Prezi’s interface and visual story-telling makes it ideal for conveying information interactively.


Prezi is not new but if you are just starting out, it may be a little disorientating to use, beyond the basics. Granted, it will also take you a while not to get over-excited with the zooming feature but that is a different topic for another day. But if you would like to give Prezi a try, we’ve compiled 15 tips and tricks to help you get started and make the most of your Prezi-making journey.

1. Importing From PowerPoint

If you already have a PowerPoint presentation ready and don’t want to build slides from scratch on Prezi, just import your slides over. You can even choose to do it either slide per slide or all at once.

  1. Select the Insert tab from the top bar in the Edit mode.
  2. Next, select PowerPoint from the drop-down menu.


  1. You can now choose the PPT or PPTX file you want to import. Wait for a bit for Prezi to load the slides.
  2. The slides will appear on your right hand side. You can either choose to drag individual slides to your Prezi or click on the Insert All button at the top.

2. Using “My Collection” File

If you foresee yourself using Prezi often or are a power user, you will be using the same symbols, logos and images constantly. Instead of copying and pasting them from previous Prezis, you can store them in ‘My Collection’ and easily access them for future Prezis.

  1. To add content to My Collection, first right-click on the element you want to save.
  2. Select Add to My Collection from the drop-down menu.


  1. To use the element in a Prezi, access the Insert tab on the top of the bar in Edit mode.
  2. Select From My Collection in the drop-down menu.
  3. Choose the content you want to add and click the Insert button.

3. Creating A Path

As there are no slides in Prezi, Paths determine the presentation order of your information. It contributes to the transition of one info to another. There are no set Paths, so it is highly flexible and editable.

  1. First enter Edit mode. Click Edit Path on your left sidebar.

  1. Now click on the objects in the order you want them to appear.
    You can also choose to drag items you want based on your order.
  2. If at any time you want to delete something from your Path, simply hover over the object until an X icon appears. Clicking on it will remove it from the Path.

4. Drawing And Using Frames

Having frames is a good way to group elements together. Like PowerPoint, Prezi allows you to adjust the size by drawing the frames. Prezi even has an invisible frame option, which organizes content without a visible frame and helps to add Path steps.

Frames, however, work best when it fills the whole screen without other elements from your Prezi creeping in. The normal screen or monitor aspect ratio is 4:3, although there are some that are 16:9.

Tip: To get your frame to fit within that ratio, hold down the Shift key whenever you are drawing a frame.

5. Moving Multiple Objects At Once

Most times when you are editing your Prezi, you are bound to accidentally move something and lose your formatting, especially when you are trying to move multiple elements together. By grouping them, you’ll be able to minimize this.

  1. To select multiple objects hold down on the Shift key then click on each object.
  2. Lock the objects by clicking on the Group button that appears on top of the selection.
  3. You can now move your group wherever you please.


6. Fade-in Objects

You don’t have to just rely on Prezi’s zooming effect to make your presentation interesting. Use the fade-in animation to make your points or objects appear.

  1. When in Edit Mode, click on Edit Path, which is at the top of the left sidebar.
  2. Select the frame that you want to animate. Click on the star symbol that appears in orange.
  3. When the animation wizard appears, hover over the element you want to fade-in.
  4. Click on the element to apply the fade-in effect. It will immediately play the animation.
  5. Click Done on the top right corner once you’re done editing.


7. Adding A Voice-over

A Prezi presentation can basically present itself when you add sound to it. This feature is ideal for tutorials or when you want to embed Prezis on your website. Take note that you have to record your audio file beforehand using external sound recording software.

  1. In Edit mode, first select the Path you want to add sound to at the left sidebar.
  2. Click on the Insert tab on the top bar. From the drop-down menu, select Add Voice-over to Path Step.


  1. Choose the audio file you want to add. The file will take a while to upload onto your Prezi.
  2. Once done, you can click on the triangle to test play the sound.
  3. When finished, click Done to resume editing your Prezi.

8. Editing Collaboratively

You don’t have to be physically next to a groupmate or partner to work on a presentation together. You can both edit it online and see each other’s edits in real-time. You can have up to 10 people collaborating with you on a Prezi.

  1. First, click on the Share button located on the top right in Edit mode.
  2. Select Share Prezi from the drop-down menu.
  3. A window will pop up. Type in the person’s email address in the Invite people field. Select Editor from the drop-down menu next to the field and click Add.


  1. The person will receive an email address linking him or her to the Prezi’s Edit mode.
  2. The full list of people working on a Prezi is located on the sidebar on the right.
  3. You can invite more people to edit as you go by accessing that right sidebar. Click Invite to edit when you expand the sidebar.

9. Printing A Prezi

Do you normally give out your slides as handouts? You can do the same with Prezi by first converting it into a PDF file. Each Path will be turned into a PDF page so you might need to edit your Path, as the flow of the document may differ from the presentation.

  1. Click on the Share button on the top right in Edit mode. Select Download as PDF from the drop-down menu.


  1. It will take a while for your Prezi to convert. Once it’s done, a new option will appear asking you to Save PDF.
  2. In the pop up window, type in the name of the Prezi and choose a location to save it in.
  3. You can now print the PDF file.

10. Presenting Remotely

Prezi has this function called Prezi Meeting. The function allows you to remotely conduct presentations for anyone, anywhere, in real time. You are allowed to invite up to 30 people to view your presentation.

  1. To use this, first, click on the Share button on the top right in Edit mode. Select Present remotely from the drop-down menu.


  1. A window will pop up with the link to your Prezi. Send it to whoever you are supposed to present to.
  2. The recipient who clicks on the link will be redirected to the live presentation you will be giving.

11. Set On Autoplay

You can set your presentation on autoplay and have the presentation loop on endlessly. You can then embed this presentation on a website as part of a product presentation or an explanation video. Here’s how to set your Prezi on autoplay. You can find instructions on how to embed the Prezi in the next section.

  1. If your Prezi doesn’t have a Path, create one first.
  2. Enter Present mode and click on the clock icon at the bottom right of the screen.

  1. From there, select the time intervals you want, to pace your Paths.
  2. To stop the autoplay, simply click on the clock icon again and select Off. You can also press the Left and Right arrow keys on your keyboard.

12. Embed Prezi Into A Website

You’ve written a blog post and made a Prezi to illustrate your points better. Or maybe you’ve made a Prezume (that is a Prezi as a resume) and would like to feature it on your website. You can do that by embeding the Prezi into your website.

  1. Click on the Embed button at the bottom of your Prezi.
  2. In the pop up window, set the settings you want on the size and interactivity of the Prezi.


  1. Once done, click on the Copy code to clipboard button to get the embed code.
  2. Insert the code on your website.

13. Sharing And Privacy Settings

If you only have a free account on Prezi, you can’t set your Prezi on private. You can however set your sharing settings to prevent people from saving a copy of your Prezi. By setting it to Public, people who search for your Prezi can only view it.

  1. After selecting your Prezi from the library, click on the Share button at the bottom of the Prezi.
  2. A pop up window will appear. Uncheck the I’m okay with people reusing my Prezi option.
  3. Alternatively, you can click on the second button on the far right bottom of your Prezi. You’ll be redirected to the same pop up window.

14. Bring Prezi Along Offline

Prezi relies on Internet connection for you to present, unless you’re using the Mac or Windows Prezi application. If you’ll be presenting in a place with low connectivity or do not want to risk getting your connection cut off, download a portable version of your Prezi. This way you don’t even have to sign in to your Prezi account to present and you can even save it in a USB drive.

  1. First select the Prezi you want and go to its Edit mode.
  2. Click on the Share button located at the top bar on the far right.
  3. In the drop-down menu, select Download as portable prezi.


  1. It will take a while for your Prezi to download. Prezi will confirm that it’s done and will save your Prezi as a zip file.

15. Keyboard Shortcuts

Make the most of Prezi by using keyboard shortcuts. Do note that if you want to use the keyboard shortcuts you have to turn it on. To do that, go to the options tab on the right hand corner and enable keyboard shortcuts by clicking On.

Shortcut Action
F Draw frame and change frame type
L Open new canvas
S Draw a shape and change a frame type
P Go to Path mode
1 Zoom in when editing
2 Zoom out when editing
3 Rotate object clockwise
4 Rotate object counter clockwise
Delete / Backspace Delete selected object(s)
Ctrl + S Save Prezi
Ctrl + Z Undo last action
Ctrl + Y Redo last undone action
Ctrl + D Duplicate selected object(s)
Ctrl + C Copy selected object(s)
Ctrl + V Paste copied object(s)
Ctrl + Shift + M Toggle screen ratio
Ctrl + Shift + C Open Prezi CSS editor
Ctrl + Shift + D Duplicate and flip images and arrows
Esc Finish current action or close open dialog
Space Enter between Edit and Present mode
Right , Left Move forward and back respectively along Path in Present mode
Up , Down Zoom in and out respectively
B Blackout screen when presenting (press any key to return)
Space Advance along Path
Esc End presentation

Bonus: For More Presentation Resources

Author: "Leanne Tan" Tags: "presentation tools, presentation, Tools,..."
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Date: Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 07:01

More and more designers are turning to blogging to get their ideas about design out there and be heard by the greater design community online. However, there’s one special problem that many of them have: they have nothing really interesting to say about design. They will blog about things that are unimportant, or boring, or that no one really cares about.

It’s essential that designers who blog have something interesting to say. If you don’t have this one down, you’re going to get nowhere fast in the blogging world. No one will stick around to read bland, uninformative content. Let’s explore some ways designers can develop an interesting blogging voice that keeps readers coming back for more.

1. Read, Read, Then Read Some More

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it until I can’t say it anymore: if you’re not reading, you are doing a great disservice to yourself as a designer. Books are the main portals through which everyone – designers and otherwise – gain wisdom which they can apply to their lives. Now, you may think that you need to read a lot of books about design specifically. And you do. But you also need to be reading about other topics as well.

Read about anything else you have a vague interest in, and, if you can manage it, things you know almost nothing about. Any unusual perspective gained through reading a book will certainly broaden your perspective as a designer, and also will give you an endless source of fascinating material to create blog posts about.

2. Travel

Dust off that passport and go sightseeing once in awhile. You never know what sort of inspiration is waiting for you in another city or country. It may surprise you to find inspiration in even the smallest villages in the most remote places.

Even at home in your own city, there are likely things you’ve never seen and places to explore. More and more people in recent years have started taking so-called “staycations” where they stay in their own towns and play the role of a tourist. They go to new areas they’ve never been, and learn some fascinating tidbits about the city where they live.

Travel can be an incredibly inspiring experience for the designer who is looking for things to blog about. All of the restaurants, shows, art galleries, parks, shops, and landmarks hidden in places most people never bother to look can provide you with a steady stream of content for years – perhaps even decades.

3. Make Friends With Designers & Non

It’s not called a community for nothing. Making friends with other people in the design community seems like an obvious thing to do, but you would be surprised at how many designers – especially freelancers – work almost completely in isolation. It’s easy, after all, to get into a rhythm of working at home in your pajamas, and not bother to get out and network with other people in your industry.

I will confess to falling victim to this one myself. Working at home definitely has its advantages, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have things any other way at this point.


But you really have to work hard to make those vital connections to other people in your line of work, especially when you’re not being compelled to work together on a team project. Send an email or two now and then to a designer whose work you admire, or contact them through social media. Chances are they could use the conversation as well.

People outside your industry can also provide you with much-needed perspective about the world outside of design. And if you’re going to be working with non-designers as clients, this is very valuable information for you to have.

Again, it can be hard for freelance designers to keep up steady communication with those outside their immediate circle of family and friends, but it’s definitely an essential step to having things to write about, both design-related and not.

4. Make it personal

If you’re not being yourself on your blog, there’s no point in blogging. Yes, it’s important to stay on brand and cultivate a certain presentation that your readers can appreciate, but it should all be genuine and unique to you. Clients and fellow designers want to see the real you – don’t be afraid to let your opinions be known. Even if they’re controversial or edgy – especially if they’re controversial or edgy.

Continuing on a similar theme, you should also be sharing the things you love with your readers in terms of design. Do you have a favorite style or design period? Or maybe there’s some contemporary designer who is doing amazing things in some obscure corner of the Internet. Let people know about it.

Do you use blogging to gain traction as a leading voice in the design industry? What are some of the things you’ve learned through increasing the spread of your ideas about design?

Author: "Addison Duvall" Tags: "Web 2.0, designers, brainstorming"
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Date: Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 15:01

The common idea most of us have when it comes to living space is that we are quickly running out of it. Rent and land is expensive in areas of vast opportunities and yet there are very creative people who went ahead and took the little space they have and made the most out of it.

We’re talking about smart micro-living where home owners make use of smart, stowable furniture, multi-purpose home fixtures, clever architectural designs or a combo of all three to cut down on the size of homes, without eating into the comforts we have grown accustomed to.

Tiny Home Project

In this post, we will be looking at 20 amazingly tiny houses, some at less than 200 sq ft area, that will make you ask yourself if you really need all that space in your home right now. From studio apartments to vertical houses, these designs showcase the amazing architectural feats that redefine how much space we actually need for comfort living.

Mini Dwelling Tower

Located in Nada, Japan this 3-story high house contains a parking spot, living room, 2 children’s room, one bedroom and plenty of storage space – all within 398 sq ft. [Visit Page]

Mini Dwelling Tower

Mini Dwelling Tower Top

Mini Dwelling Tower Living Room

River Side house

The house is build right at the end of a road, next to a river, and holds 312 sq ft area of living space. The 2-story house has 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, dining room and kitchen. [Visit Page]

Riverside House

Riverside House Lower Floor

Riverside House Top Floor

Gap’s House

So this architect found a space between 2 houses – okay, he found a gap, a 97 sq ft gap which he turned into a home with a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom spread across 3 story. Talk about extreme home designs. [Visit Page]

Gaps House

Gaps House Far

Gaps House Kitchen Bedroom

Keret House

This is probably the narrowest house you can find. With an area size of only 46 sq ft, this double-story house connects from one space to the next via ladders yet looks comfortable and homely enough for a home owner who doesn’t mind a daily vertical ascent. [Visit Page]

Keret House

Keret House Front

Keret House Bedroom

The Tiny Tack house

Prefer a rustic, more countryside style of living? Try the Tiny Tack House. At only 140 sq ft, every necessity and comfort expected in a home is compacted into this house in Snohomish, Washington. [Visit Page]

Tiny Tack House

Tiny Tack House Front

Tiny Tack House Back

Tiny house On wheels

In only 207 sq ft, this tiny hOMe project fully embraces the sustainable living lifestyle with a propane heat source and compost toilet. Inclusive of appliances, cabinetry and furniture, this is available for a little over $33,000. [Visit Page]

Tiny House

Tiny House Kitchen

Tiny House Bedroom

Cedar Park Tiny house

Made of bamboo, this tiny house fits a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room inside 250 sq ft. It is located in Texas, and if you are interested, you can buy it for $25,000 while it is still available. [Visit Page]

Cedar Park Tiny House

Cedar Park Tiny House Top

Cedar Park Tiny House Bathroom

Rhossili Shepherd Hut

This beautiful looking shepherd hut is a holiday house that you can rent for days or a week. The hut is located near Rhossili Bay, and inside you can find 2 beds, a kitchen, and a small living room. The only bad news is you need to share an outdoor toilet with other campers at the campsite. [Visit Page]

Rhossili Shepherd Hut

Rhossili Shepherd Hut Front

Rhossili Shepherd Hut Back

Tiny Project

If you think that rent is killing you, why not build one on a flatbed trailer like this guy Alek Lisefki, the proud owner of this tiny house. His house area size is only 8 feet by 20 feet, but it is a 2-level house complete with a kitchen, bedroom, shower, and living room. [Visit Page]

Tiny Project

Tiny Project Front

Tiny Project Kitchen

Tiny Vertical Madrid Apartment

If you don’t have enough space to go horizontal, then why not go vertical. This apartment has a 200 sq ft area and is found in Madrid. To get from one space to the next, expect to do a lot of climbing. [Visit Page]

Mini Apartment

Mini Apartment Bedroom

Mini Apartment Bathroom

130 Square Feet Micro Apartment

130 sq ft is close to Ikea level micro-living and yet this micro apartment still has enough space to house a workspace, a kitchen, a bathroom plus a rolling bed. Even the stairs and tables include hidden storage to fully utilize the space. [Visit Page]

130sqft Micro Apartment

130sqft Micro Apartment Back

130sqft Micro Apartment Sofa

Didomestic Apartment

Know any apartment that is full of trapdoors and moving walls? Well, now you know of at least one. This 621 sq ft has many slots to store away furniture and storage spaces inside the walls and ceilings. The tables and benches can be lowered via handles on the wall then stored away for extra space. [Visit Page]

Didomestic Apartment

Didomestic Apartment Kitchen

Didomestic Apartment Bathroom

Harbour Attic

This apartment is located somewhere in the fishing village of Camogli in Italy, a nice-looking 377 sq ft apartment that is smartly designed to make use of every available space. The quaint place known as Harbour Attic has enough space for 2 bedrooms, a studio, living room, bathroom and kitchen. Each room can be stored away for extra space. [Visit Page]

Harbour Attic Dining

Harbour Attic Back

Harbour Attic Room

AP 1211

AP 1211 is an apartment of 398 sq ft area that has been turned into 2-story apartment with almost all the necessities included. The lower floor has a large daybed, kitchen, refrigerator and some cleverly designed cabinets. The floor is connected via a black spiral stairway to the second floor where you can find the bedroom and the bathroom. [Visit Page]

AP 1211

AP 1211 Stairs

AP 1211 Bed

Barcode Room

This Barcode room can transform into many spaces: a bedroom, a workspace, a kitchen – all according to the needs of the resident. Thus, if you want to have a guest over, you may change the room layout according to your wish because the walls are on a track that you can move freely. [Visit Page]

Barcode House

Barcode House Workspace

Barcode House Bedroom

East Village studio Apartment

This studio apartment has 500 sq ft of space to play with and the amazing architect team changed the once-cramped home to a high-class, cleverly designed home complete with high-gloss cover over its wall and storage spaces. The place has a workspace, living room, kitchen and bed. [Visit Page]

East Village Studio Apartment

East Village Studio Living Room

East Village Studio Kitchen

Multi-functional Studio

Talk about storage central. This previously cramped apartment of 215 sq ft has been transformed into a multi-functioning studio to store the owner’s 2D art collection. There is a foldable bed and cupboards for storing books, photos and the likes. [Visit Page]

Multi Functional Studio

Multi Functional Studio Cupboard

Multi Functional Studio Shelves

240 Square Feet Apartment

A homely and comfortable design of 240 sq ft, this apartment in New York contains a bedroom, kitchen, living room, mini-library, plenty of storage space and even a hidden washing machine. [Visit Page]

240sqft Apartment

240sqft Apartment Kitchen

240sqft Apartment Top

237 Square Feet Micro Apartment

This beautiful micro apartment of 237 sq ft can house a family, and quite comfortably too. It has a kitchen, shower room, dining table and plenty of storage space kept high up, accessible by ladder. There is also plenty of storage space underneath their beds, talk about compact living. [Visit Page]

237sqft Micro Apartment

237sqft Micro Apartment Front

237sqft Micro Apartment Kitchen

Mini Studio Apartment

129 sq ft of space is more than enough for a single person, if you know how to transfrom your furniture from say a sofa into a full bed or to turn your staircase into makeshift storage space. In spite of the small size, this studio apartment has a kitchen, a dining place and a shower room. [Visit page]

Mini Studio Apartment

Mini Studio Apartment Back

Mini Studio Apartment Bed

Author: "Nels Dzyre" Tags: "Inspiration, interior design"
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Date: Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 13:01

When an e-mail pops up in your inbox, what do you usually do with it? Do you open it, ignore it, or shoot it straight into the “Trash” bin? It depends, right?

It depends on what’s written in the subject line.

See, the subject line tells you, at a glance, whether the sender’s message – or, more accurately, the sender’s purpose – is worth your attention. As a sender, you can either write the subject line right, or you can do one of the following things, which will definitely get your email pushed aside.

1. Get Too “Cutesy”

Example: Bet you won’t be able to resist opening this e-mail!

Why it doesn’t work:
It’s one thing to be witty. It’s another to come across as trying too hard, which is exactly the impression you’ll get from the sample e-mail above. When you’re in doubt about how to write your subject line, remember this: Clarity trumps cleverness. You can combine both, of course, but that takes some practice.

What can work:
This e-mail will help you [insert clear benefit for reader here] today

2. Type in ALL CAPS


Why it doesn’t work:
Your e-mail may be the most urgent in the history of urgent e-mails, but if your subject line looks like the online equivalent of shouting, it’ll still get ignored. Use the “CAPS LOCK” button only when necessary (e.g. proper nouns like John Doe, Empire State Building, World Cup).

What can work:
Very Important E-mail

3. (Ab)use Punctuation Marks

Example: Please, Please, PLEASE open this e-mail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why it doesn’t work:
Punctuation marks have their place, yes, but as with the “CAPS LOCK” button, that place isn’t the subject line (most of the time). Besides, a subject line that looks as though it was written by a drunk 15-year-old at 3 AM doesn’t exactly earn you points in the professionalism department.

What can work:
Please open this e-mail

4. Promote, Promote, and Do Nothing But Promote

Example: Random Product for Sale!

Why it doesn’t work:
Your recipient may be stingier than Ebenezer Scrooge, but if you at least specify a benefit in your subject line – rather than being a little too blatant in your attempt to part your recipient with their money – you’ll get a better response.

What can work:
Don’t Miss This 50% Discount on [Insert Product Here]

5. Be Vague

Example: E-mail

Why it doesn’t work:
Okay, I know it’s an e-mail (thanks, Captain Obvious!), but what kind of e-mail is it? Is it an uplifting message about getting through another boring day at the office? Or is it an ongoing promo about a product I’ve been dying to buy for the past few months? C’mon, don’t make me waste my next few seconds figuring that out for myself!

What can work:
A message about [insert e-mail subject here]

6. Be Generic

Example: News Alerts from The Daily News Deliverer

Why it doesn’t work: This one may be slightly more descriptive than a vague subject line, but it’s no better. Why? Because it doesn’t give the recipient an urgent reason to open your e-mail other than: “Hey there! We hope you’re willing to waste a few precious minutes trying to find something interesting in here!”

What can work: Breaking News: ‘Daily News Deliverer’ Figures Out How to Write Subject Lines

7. Write Kilometric Subject Lines

Example: This e-mail will help you ditch that soul-sucking corporate job, find a beautiful wife, buy an equally beautiful house in a swanky neighborhood…

Why it doesn’t work:
Yes, your subject line should be descriptive, but not to the point that it’s longer than the entire border of Russia. In fact, a study found that e-mails with 6-10 word subject lines are more likely to be opened than e-mails with 11-15 word subject lines. (Fun Fact: Most marketers are used to doing the latter.)

What can work:
This e-mail will help you live your dream life

8. Write Nothing

Example: [no subject]

Why it doesn’t work:
If there’s nothing written in an e-mail’s subject line, it’s reasonable for the recipient to assume that there’s nothing worth reading in the e-mail either. That said, if the reason you don’t have a subject line is an honest mistake (e.g. you clicked the “Send” button too soon), you can always resend your e-mail, along with a sincere apology and a polite request to disregard the previous e-mail.

What can work:
[insert a subject line here]

A (Parting) Reminder on How to Get It Right

Okay, we’re finally done with how not to write e-mail subject lines. Now what?

We start writing them right, of course. We start writing subject lines that (1) stand out, in a good way, from the usual drivel that clogs up people’s inboxes; (2) concisely describe the e-mail’s contents; and (3) clearly spell out to the recipient what they’ll gain from opening the e-mail.

If you don’t want to bother with subject lines, you can always communicate with others the old-fashioned way: either through snail mail, or through face-to-face conversations.

Bonus: More Things You Can Do With Your Emails

Author: "Issa Mirandilla" Tags: "email, Web 2.0"
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Date: Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 10:01

With 50,000 users uploading 5,000 photos each hour across the planet, Instagram represents a huge mobile photography movement that amazes and inspires. And honestly, what’s a better inspiration than food? A good plate of food doesn’t just satisfy your palate but presented right can be a feast for your eyes too.

Today I’m going to share with you 20 yummy Instagram accounts for foodies to follow. You’ll find tons of photographs featuring cookbooks authors, professional chefs along with food enthusiasts from all over the globe. These Instagram accounts will add to your experience, not just for food photographers but for anyone who’s keen on satisfying their food cravings.

@marika_collins. Marika Collins is a Toronto-based food and lifestyle photographer with a sweet tooth. Her Instagram feed has a classic polished feel to it, as it comes complete with beautiful, old silverware and paint-chipped tables.

@edibleliving. Sarah Copeland is the food director at Real Simple magazine. She is a New York city-based cookbook author and food expert. Sarah uses her Instagram to share new recipes and delicious photos of food.

@cooksmarts. Jess Dang’s feed is full of healthy vegetable-filled dishes from her Cook Smarts blog. With a big passion for cooking, Jess uses her Instagram to enlighten others on the benefits of eating healthier and delicious meals.

@sliceofpai. Joann Pai is a Vancouver-based food and lifestyle photographer. The nature of her work led her to sample and capture some exquisite and eclectic dishes.

@donalskehan. Donal Skehan is a 25-year old photographer and food blogger from Dublin, Ireland. With three cookbooks to his name, Skehan’s photos showcase his adventures in both travel and food.

@sundaysuppers. Karen Mordechai is a food stylist and photographer. She is the founder of Sunday Suppers, a communal cooking center in Brooklyn, which makes up a majority of her feed.

@kankana_saxena. Kankana Saxena blogs at PlayfulCooking.com and shares her food photography on Instagram. She has a big selection of delicacies on her feed ranging from Indian to Italian cuisine.

@jehancancook. Inspired by the culture of Guyana and the Carribean, food blogger Jehan posts photos of homemade food that comes from her heritage. Her blog features these traditional recipes as well as modernized versions.

@jamieoliver. More famously known as the ‘Naked Chef’ after his first tv show, Jamie Oliver is a chef, dad, food lover, and geek. His Instagram feed is full of photos to inspire anyone to spend more time in the kitchen cooking food that’s both delicious and nutritious.

@carolineadobo. Caroline was born in the Philippines and moved to Los Angeles when she was in her teens, where she now resides. Her Instagram feed is vibrant and is a representation of her love for food and her family.

@ashrod. Ashley’s cooking career began with her plating intricate desserts at Spago in Beverly Hills. These days she shares her food styling skills via Instagram and her ‘Not Without Salt’ blog.

@sarkababicka. Sarka Babicka is a London-based photographer and blogger from ‘Cook Your Dream’. Her passion for traveling and feasting is evident via the Instagram photos that she takes with her iPhone.

@carrieannpurcell. Carrie Purcell is a food stylist and photographer who shares her photos on Instagram. Her feed comprises of her assignments, food that she indulges in during her own time and her own personal photos.

@passportsandpancakes. Megan Fleiner is the creative photographer, adventurer, and blogger at passports and pancakes. She is inspired by creative minds, foreign places, new and challenging recipes, as well as the written word. She posts cool photos of food on her Instagram.

@heatherchristo. Heather Christothoulou is a photographer and blogger with her own website that’s dedicated to great food, drinks and entertaining. Her Instagram contains detailed pictures of food as well as snapshots of her life.

@yossyarefi. Based in Brooklyn, Yossy Arefi is a photographer and baker. She also writes on her award winning blog, Apt. 2B Baking Co., which celebrates seasonal baking and the art of preserving food items.

@loveandlemons. Jeanine Donofrio is the voice behind the Love & Lemons blog. She loves to cook and she’s inspired by seasonal produce. Her Instagram account is full of pictures from her blog.

@cannellevanille. The author of the cookbook “Small Plates and Sweet Treats”, Aran Goyoaga is a Seattle-based food writer, stylist and photographer. Her Instagram is a journal of all her recipes and her adventures in life.

@helenedujardin. Originally from Provence, Helene Dujardin is a photographer from Birmingham, Alabama. You can see how the photos on her Instagram embodies her passion for natural light, seasonal and fresh ingredients as well as her interest in travel and people.

@minimalistbaker. Dana Shultz documents her simple and quick recipes at the Minimalist Baker blog, as part of a team with her husband. Her Instagram feed features photos from her recipes as well as her own foodie adventures.

Author: "Nancy Young" Tags: "Web 2.0, social media, instagram"
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Date: Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 15:01

There is an argument as to whether or not video games should be considered an art form. Whatever side you’re on, there is no denying that video games do incorporate several forms of art into their narrative and gameplay as part of the storyline, art direction or audio.

Video games have also been known to use many forms of typography, to relay atmosphere or a timeline in the cutscenes or the gameplay itself. Its uses are varied but with it game-makers can greatly enhance the experience or gameplay.

In this post, we will showcase 18 different games and how they use typography to give players a better and more submersive gaming experience. Who knows, this may make you notice the use of typography in your next gaming session.

Alan Wake. In the end stage of the game and in the downloadable content, the main character will find words lying around, that when hit with a flashlight, will turn into the object the word is e.g. the words "telephone pole" (2:20) will form an actual telephone pole when shine with the flashlight.

Splinter Cell: Convictions. Instead of handing you mission objectives in a menu, the game will project the mission objectives on the wall so there can be no question on what you have to do next.

Remember Me. The player has access to a form of augmented reality: many items have floating information tagged to them in forms of items and what you can do with the items.

Max Payne 3. During cutscenes, certain dialogue will have their words appear on screen in order to put emphasis on a particular point or character.

Grand Theft Auto IV. In the opening cutscene, the credits will be projected and moved around the scenery while the scenes and dialogue continue playing out. Giving credit where credit is due.

Device 6. A visual novel that heavily incorporates typography into its gameplay and narrative. The developers wish to blur the line between game and literature in this title.

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. Like in Splinter Cell, info on the environment and mission objectives are reflected in augmented reality style in Ghost Recon.

XIII. The game emulates the look of a comic book and along with the use of cel shading, will draw in onomatopoeic words on screen to feature impacts as they happen.

Devil May Cry. The environment in the game is almost a character in itself and will communicate with the player by projecting words on the walls or floor.

Far Cry 3. After a story mission, the loading screen will feature quotes from the book Alice In Wonderland, symbolizing the protagonist’s slow descent into insanity.

Type:Rider. A game that is actually about typography, letting you learn history while letters and words are used to build the game world.

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. A visual novel where a portion of the game involves cross analysis in a trial setting. You literally have to shoot down your opponents’ arguments with your own.

Call Of Duty: World At War. The cutscenes between levels use kinetic typography, doling out expositional material and the storyline of World War II to the player.

Deadpool. Just like in the comic books, Deadpool’s multiple personality gets their own textbox which appears in the game.

Psychonauts. In one of the boss battle, the player character fights a critic, who uses critical words to harm the player.

Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. The character Phoenix Wright at first doesn’t seem well suited for a fighting game but in it he uses his signature ‘Objection!’ shout to beat his opponents.

Lollipop Chainsaw. Zed, one of the bosses in the game, will use insults that manifest as floating words to harm the player’s character.

Katawa Shoujo. In the scene where the protagonist receives a list of medicine he has to take, the game uses kinetic typography to emphasize the confusion the character is feeling.

Author: "Azwan Jamaluddin" Tags: "video games, typography, Inspiration"
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Date: Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 13:01

There’s a lot of things that goes on in our daily lives that can lead to a lot of stress and leave us agitated. It could be anything from working with certain clients on a particular project to a looming deadline. There are plenty of solutions but what about when you’re busy at your computer and have limited time to spare? This is where the Internet can help you out.

There are several websites that are designed to help you achieve a sense of inner peace. They do this through the use of captivating images and soothing sounds, among other things. If you feel like you could use some quick but efficient relaxation, here’s our list of 10 websites to help you calm down those nerves. Hopefully, they’ll work as well for you as they did for me.

1. Calm

Calm can help you achieve what the name itself suggests. You can choose between “guided calm” or “timer” to get there. The length of the session varies from 2 – 20 minutes. For the guided calm option, a voice will guide you on how to relax your tense body and mind. If you rather do a quick session without narration, just click the “timer” button.

The background music gets an added effect from the nature scenes depicted, such as a flowing misty riverside or sunlight streaming through moving clouds. Calm also offers a free iOS app with limited features. [Visit website]

2. Do Nothing For 2 Minutes

The title says it all. You will do nothing except listen to the waves for exactly 2 minutes. This website acts as a bit of challenge to see if you can restrain yourself from doing nothing at all. The best part of this website is that, if you do touch your keyboard or mouse, a fail message will pop up and the clock will reset again. I failed several times too before finally completing it.

It’s a simple idea but sometimes a quick 2 minutes break is all you need to reset yourself. Do nothing for 2 minutes is also available as an app (iOS). [Visit website]

3. Get Relaxed

If doing nothing for 2 minutes doesn’t really appeal to you, how about trying GetRelaxed? All you need to do is just sit back and yes, relax, while watching some beautiful images through a slideshow (it changes every 3 seconds). Add some soundscapes to choose from and you’re set.

There are 15 different tracks to choose from. Each of them lasts between 2 to 4 minutes. Getting back to nature may just be easier than you think. [Visit website]


4. LoungeV Studio

For those who are not content with still images, you could try watching some videos instead. LoungeV Studio offers relaxing HD quality nature videos, which you can enjoy for free. The website plays tranquil videos of beaches, waterfalls, underwater scenery and much more under various titles.

If you rather not get your dose of relaxation via the site, you can buy the full version of the videos or DVDs. What better way to refresh yourself than by watching the beauty of Mother Nature at work. [Visit website]


5. A Soft Murmur

A user-friendly website that lets you create your own mix of ambient noises. Your special mix can include the sound of rain, a singing bowl or my favourite, the comforting sound of a fireplace. You can have all 10 different ambient noises playing simultaneously or just pick a few that suits your needs.

The sounds will help you to focus on the tasks at hand. If you want to, you can also share your mix with your loved ones or friends on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. [Visit website]


6. Nature Sounds For Me

Here’s another great one for the nature lovers that like to mix things up. Nature Sounds For Me offers a mixer tool that lets you control the audio level and pan (which determines whether you hear the sound from the left or right channel of your stereo source). This makes it easy for you to choose between the low steady sound of crickets or loud buzzing bees, just to name a few. You can choose up to 4 different nature sounds to be played simultaneously and save your mix for your future use.

There’s also an iOS app for your convenience. [Visit website]


7. Noisli

This website produces background noises such as coffee shop chatter, the low sound of a blowing fan, white noise, and more. The volume of the sounds are adjustable to suit whatever mood that you’re in. The web page also changes its color according to the mood of the sound that you have chosen.

If you’re keen to multitask, it also includes a Text Editor function, so you can write without the usual distractions. Plus your work can even be saved. Noisli also offers an app (iOS) so you can keep calm wherever you are. [Visit website]


8. Soundrown

Using the “relax.focus.escape” tag line, it really does what it offers. It helps your body and mind relax with 10 ambient noises that range from a moving train, children playing in the playground and even the sound of a fountain. The clips last for 30 minutes, which is more than enough for you to “escape” from work and regain your focus. You can play two sounds or more at the same time. This and the sleek design of the website will surely keep me coming back. [Visit website]


9. The Thoughts Room

Need to vent but you don’t want the whole world to see it? Or maybe you just need a quiet place to write down your thoughts? The Thoughts Room is the perfect website for you. You can write anything into the status bar and then watch the words disappear before your eyes. It is as simple as that and the website plays calming music while you type your thoughts.

If you’re more comfortable using your native language, the website page has 37 different languages for you to choose from. The app for the website is available on iOS and Android. [Visit website]


10. Raining.fm

Sometimes, all we need is a little bit of rain to help soothe us. Raining.fm offers different variations on what the rain sounds like that helps you unwind. It’s so well done that you would hardly notice that the sound is actually looped. There are also extra features such as an image slideshow, a quick break reminder, and a timer to stop the sound altogether.

The reminder will help notify you when it’s time to go for a quick break and stretch your legs. There’s also a Raining.fm app available for both iOS and Android devices. [Visit website]


Editor’s note: This post is written by Gina Mark for Hongkiat.com. She likes to read, is interested in indie bands and loves to eat and travel.

Author: "Guest Contributor" Tags: "Web 2.0"
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Date: Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 07:01

During the development stage, you may deploy the website in a local server. There you can run, develop, and debug the website on a computer, locally. But when your clients need to get access to the website immediately, or if one of the applications you need uses a webhook that has to be online to function, you probably wish that your local server could be accessible online.

Making your local server available online is probably the fastest way to cope with this, especially if you have hundreds of files that you require access to. This is where a tool called localtunnel comes in. With localtunnel we can create a proxy that can tunnel to our local server, making it accessible from anywhere.

Let’s see how this tool works.

Installing Localtunnel

The localtunnel that we will be using here comes in a form of a Node.js package. So, you first need to install Node.js using the installer; you can download it in this page. Once Node.js installed, launch Terminal or Command Prompt and type this command below.

 npm install -g localtunnel 

This command will install localtunnel globally, so it can be accessed in any directories at any level of your computer. Once localtunnel is installed, you should be able to access the lt command. To test the command, you can type the following (in Terminal or Command Prompt).

 lt –version 

If the command works, it should return the localtunnel version installed in your computer, like so.

Alternately, you can also type lt –help. Like in any Help menu of an application, this particular command will return the list of options and guide on using localtunnel.

Using Localtunnel

You can use localtunnel MAMP or WAMP; two applications that are the most popular for Mac and Windows to run local server. Assuming that the URL of your local server is http://localhost/ without the port number that follows, you can type the command using 80 as the port number.

 lt –port 80 

The localtunnel will generate a randomized subdomain name, in which you can access your local server anywhere, like this.

If you want to make the subdomain easy to remember, you can add –subdomain parameter following the port number. This example below will generate hongkiat.localtunnel.me.

 lt –port 80 –subdomain hongkiat 

Localtunnel also support Virtual Host. By default, when you run lt –port 80 command, localtunnel will pick localhost as the address to connect with. If you have created a Virtual Host with the name of, for example, development.dev, you can tell localtunnel to connect to that address instead of localhost using the –local-host parameter.

Put it all together, and you can type:

 lt –port 80 –subdomain hongkiat –local-host hongkiat.dev 

The command above will proxy hongkiat.dev that can be accessed through hongkiat.localtunnel.me worldwide.

Author: "Thoriq Firdaus" Tags: "localhost, web server, localtunnel, Web ..."
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Date: Monday, 21 Jul 2014 13:01

Despite the lack of apps, the Windows Phone Store is steadily expanding its arsenal of great apps on a monthly basis. You can now find a number of official apps and alternatives that are similar to or even better than the regular culprits for your mobile needs.

The best thing about the Windows Phone Store is that we can try the apps before purchasing any; if it does not work as you expected, or you don’t like it, you can simply hit Uninstall.

After exploring the Store, installing, and uninstalling a bunch of apps, here is a list of essential apps you should be installing into your Windows Phone. Note that there are some apps like Files which need Windows Phone 8.1 to work. All apps listed here are free (at the time of writing), unless specified otherwise.

Tip: If some these apps may not available in your region (yet), you can change your phone region from the Settings > Region menu, and then restart your phone to install some of the apps.

Password Padlock

Having an app that lets you generate and save unique passwords is essential. Use Password Padlock to create unique password and manage them conveniently. This app also lets you manage passwords across the Windows app version for OneDrive. All passwords are encrypted with AES-256, the latest encryption standard. So, rest assured, your passwords are safe.


This app brings background images in various sizes and categories and lets you download them with ease. Use this app to have more background selections to attach in your Windows Phone Start and Lock screen.

Life360 Family Locator

As the name implies, Life360 Family Locator allows you to monitor your current family members’ locations in real-time. This app also lets you chat with your family in person with its built-in chat system. In a world full of uncertainty, this app is essential to help you keep tabs on your family members, with regards to safety, of course.


Photosynth is a Microsoft-owned app that allows you to capture amazing interactive 360 degrees panorama pictures. In the new version, aside allowing you to share your photos to Facebook and Twitter, it also ships with a Photosynth social; a niche community that shares panorama taken with Photosynth.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Adobe Photoshop Express gives you Photoshopping powers on your Windows phone. You can edit, crop, flip, rotate, and give your photos nice filters then immediately share your photos to your favourite sites. Note however that Adobe Photoshop Express would only run on Windows Phone 8 and 8.1 and requires at least 512 MB of memory.


This probably goes without saying but we’re pretty sure you are getting the Facebook app for our new Windows Phone. Luckily, Facebook is one of the social media sites that have made its way to Windows Phone Store with an official app. Additionally, a new version of Facebook app for Windows Phone dubbed as Facebook Beta has also been released. On Windows Phone, you can access the Facebook app straight from the lockscreen.

Other social media: Twitter, Instagram BETA, FourSquare, LinkedIn, Vine


WhatsApp has finally returned to Windows Phone after being pulled for having compatibility issues with Windows Phone 8.1. The comeback is accompanied by a number of long-awaited features such as Custom Chat Background, Custom Sound Notification, and Media Autodownload.

Other messaging apps: Messenger, LINE, KakaoTalk, Telegram Messenger BETA

Office Lens

Scanning your document is so old school, nowaays you can scan your documents with your phone. Office Lens not only lets you scan your docs, but also trim and resize your document automatically to an appropriate readable size. It’s a very handy app to take digital copies of your important printed documents like receipts and business card details.

Toib ($0.99)

The Google and Microsoft relationship is hot one minute, then cold, the next. Since Google axed Microsoft’s access to Youtube’s API, you should probably use Toib as an alternative for your video-related needs.

More video-sharing apps: MetroTube ($0.99) and PrimeTube.


Paypal is a superior service when it comes to payment processing, mostly because many people subscribe to its service. Check your current balance, send and request money straight from your Windows Phone when you get this app.

More financing apps: Finance, Mint.


This is one for power users who love to check out Amazon for deals. The Amazon app lets you browse products easily by category and department, search through products via filters and you can place your order easily, even without getting the Amazon smartphone.

More online shopping apps: eBay, Newegg, Yelp.

PDF Reader

You can’t avoid having a PDF reader on your phone hence this is a must-have app to get. Launch, read, add bookmarks easily to your PDF reading materials with the app. It also lets you share your PDF documents to social media sites via OneDrive.

Nextgen Reader ($2.99)

Nextgen Reader is a the nicest Feedly app in Windows Phone. It’s beautifully built and it implements the Windows Phone design principle, Modern UI, really well. It also comes with offline support, live tiles, image caching, Save to pocket and Instapaper. This app really well worth the price and you can run it on multiple devices.


Poki is an unofficial app client for Pocket, an application to save web articles to read it later. Poki, as you can see from the above screenshot, has a playful interface. It supports offline reading, tagging, Search, marking articles as favourite, live tiles, speech synthesis and more.


Files works similar to how Windows Explore workr. With Files, you are better able to manage the files or documents stored within your phone (as well as additional connected storage services) such as creating a new folder, moving as well as renaming files.

Network Speed Test

Network Speed Test is a minimalistic app to test your internet connection speed. It provides both the upload and download speeds of your internet connection and also records the result of the previous test in the History tab for comparison.

App Folder

iPhone users may be familiar with how easy it is to group certain apps within a folder. Windows Phone has no such thing built in the system. If you want to have similar functionality, App Folder would be the best app to use on that regard.

Bonus Apps You Might Like

Measures Mate is a unit converter suite. This app encompasses dozens of unit measurements ranging from temperature, length, volume, energy, velocity, and angle just to name a few. A handy converter can be of use for someone who is always on the move and may not have Internet access all the time to Google for the conversion.

Need a Stopwatch? This is one of the best and simplest stopwatch app to get from the Windows Phone Store at the moment. There are dozens of other stopwatch apps but you can start trying them out with this particular one frist.

Use World Clock to see the times at major cities worldwide. The app will also automatically switch to the time of your current location. It’s a handy app for those who often travel around the globe or for those who work with people across different timezones, and need an app to help them keep track of world times.

Unlike iOS, Windows Phone does not have a Compass app built-in within the system due to the varying devices it needs to support. If you need a compass, you can try this app. But make sure that your phone has Movement and Directional Sensor hardware support.

Flashlight Zero, in my opinion, is by far the best app in the Store to turn your phone camera flashlight to brighten your surroundings – in case of power cut. It’s simple to use and free, and you never know when you will be in a sudden need for a light source.

If you are looking for a Shopping list reminder app, then this is a free app that will help you manage your shopping priorities well. It’s a handy app that helps you remember details on what to pick up.

Author: "Thoriq Firdaus" Tags: "Tools, windows phone apps"
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Date: Monday, 21 Jul 2014 10:01

The new features that come with CSS3 won’t be applicable in Internet Explorer 8-6, and yet we can ignore this disadvantage as the effect will degrade nicely. For example, browsers without the support for CSS3 Box Shadow won’t see the shadow, but this is fine so long as the content remains readable.

However, one of the few things that you can’t ignore is when you apply CSS3 Background Size. We are able to control the size of background images added through CSS using the newbackground-size property. We can specify the width and the height in precise units and also let the background follow the container size using cover and contain values.

The cover value fills the entire area of its container and the width and height are proportionally adjusted. The contain value, will push the background to fit in the width of the container. This will sometimes result in a void when the container height is longer than the image.

1. Using CSS3 Background Size

Do note that the new background-size property cannot be included within the background shorthand property, background. They must be declared separately, like so.

 .container { background: url('img/image.jpg'); background-size: cover; } 

In the code snippet shown above, we attached an image with a width of around 3000px. The background-size that we have also added therein will prevent the background image from overflowing the content. As we mentioned above, the cover value will cover the entire container up proportionally.

This is what you will see in the browser.

Photo by Rafael Chiti

2. CSS3 Background Size in Internet Explorer

Unfortunately, this feature does not fallback nicely in Internet Explorer 8 and below. If you attach a very large image, it may overflow the container. On the other hand, if you attach a very small image, you will end up with a void within the container. From the same example above, you will get the following result in Internet Explorer 8-6.

On that account, we need a polyfill that can somehow replicate CSS3 Background Size in Internet Explorer.

3. CSS3 Background Size Polyfill

This polyfill is developed by Louis-Rémi. This polyfill replicates the same behaviour of background-size property with cover and contain values. This polyfill comes in the form of an HTC file named backgroundsize.htc, and an .htaccess file, which is required when the page is served from Apache server to send the .htc mime-type.

To use it, include the HTC file through the Internet Explorer behavior property, as follows.

 .background-size { width: 500px; height: 320px; background-image: url('img/image.jpg'); background-size: cover; -ms-behavior: url('http://example.com/js/backgroundsize.htc'); } 

Then, if you are using Apache server, place the .htaccess in the root folder of server or, simply add this line to the existing .htacces file, if available.

 AddType text/x-component .htc 

And that’s it. You can now view the page in Internet Explorer. Assuming that you set the background-size with cover as shown above, you should find that the background image is now resized and will fit in proportionally within the container; see the following demo in Internet Explorer 8-6 to see it in action.

Author: "Thoriq Firdaus" Tags: "internet explorer, Web Design"
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Date: Friday, 18 Jul 2014 15:01

Ever so often, a social media service would update its look and features to keep things running smoothly. Twitter is no different. Recently, Twitter profiles have seen quite a big change with the new layout being implemented with a bigger display picture and cover header (that’s similar to Facebook) among other changes.

Love it or hate it, the design change came with some new functions as well. Some are still in the process of being rolled out, so you may not have seen them. Others may not be new but have been hidden unless you’re the type to play around with your settings. If you haven’t, we did and here we’ve compiled 9 tips and tricks for you to make the best out of Twitter.

1. Following When You’ve Hit The Limit

Twitter limits you to following a maximum of 1,000 people a day and 2,000 in total. The number may increase when you have more followers than your following list. Instead of waiting for that time, you can get around this limit by following more people through Lists.


All you have to do is simply add the people you want to see tweets from in a designated list. As long as their Twitter is on public, you can read their tweets. Do remember that you can’t Direct Message people you don’t follow but you can still @mention them to communicate. You can have up to 1,000 list and follow up to 5,000 people per list. If you’re interested in other twitter limits, take a look here.

2. Turn Off Promoted Tweets In Settings

At some point of browsing your timeline, you would have come across a tweet that is not from anyone you are following. Known as Promoted Tweets and Promoted Content, these tweets pop up from time to time based on a combination of your web browsings and Twitter’s ad partners. If you prefer to not see them anymore, you can always opt to turn it off through your settings.


To turn off Promoted Tweets from showing on your timeline, first access your settings. Select the Security and Privacy section and scroll to the bottom. Once there, uncheck the Personalization and Promoted Content buttons repectively. Remember to save your changes once you’re done.

3. Request Your Twitter Archive

Did you know you can ask Twitter for an archive of all your tweets? Yes, even your very first tweet that would be hard to find with Twitter’s API search limits. All you have to do is to click on Twitter’s Request your archive button.


The button can be found in your settings under your Account section. Depending on how many tweets you have accumulated, it will take a few days for Twitter to send a zip file to your email containing your Twitter archive. If you don’t want to download the archive, you can also print it into a book, here’s how you can put your tweets into a published book.

4. Enable Or Disable Photo Tagging

Twitter’s mobile app now has a photo tagging feature. When you tag someone in a picture, that person will receive a notification that he or she has been tagged. Don’t worry, the tag will not take up your precious 140 tweet limit, as it would be in a separate section on its own. You can tag up to 10 people in a photo.


If you rather not have anyone tagging you in photos, just modify your settings. To do that, access your Security and Privacy settings under the gear icon. Check the option you want on your photo tagging preferences. Save your changes when you are done.

5. Modify Web Notifications

One of Twitter’s updates is that you now receive pop up notifications. The notifications alert you when someone has favourited your tweet, Retweeted from you, replied you or mentioned you, when you get a new follower and when you receive a Direct Message. The notifications even let you perform actions such as writing back a reply.


If you’ve been getting more notifications that you can follow, you can always adjust them. Access your Web Notifications settings from the gear icon. Check or uncheck which notifications you want to receive. You can even set who to receive notifications from by clicking on the drop menu for each section.

6. Muting followers

Do you have some people on your follow list that annoyingly tweet constantly? And it gets to the point that your timeline is made up of just their tweets? There is now a way for you to follow them and not have to see their tweets with Twitter’s new mute button.


To mute any of your followers, click on the More button on their tweet. You can also go their profiles to mute them by clicking on the gear icon on their profile page. There is currently no option to view all your muted friends but you can check if they are muted on your Following tab. If you change your mind, you can always unmute your friends by going to their profiles or your Following tab.

7. Turning Off Retweets

Okay, so maybe you’re not that annoyed by a friend’s tweets. But you are definitely annoyed by the things they Retweet or maybe they Retweet more than they tweet. In this case, just turn off their Retweets.


To turn off someone’s retweets, simply go to that person’s profile page. Click on their profile’s gear icon and select Turn off Retweets. If you want to do it from your timeline, click on their name. A pop up window will appear showing you their profile.

8. Filtering Search Results

Twitter’s search does more than just find hashtags. Especially when you use its Advanced Search option. Just think of all the possibilities of what you can search for like Retweets from a person, exact phrases and even multiple hashtags!


To access the Advanced Search option, first access the Search bar by typing in your query. Once at the results page, select the Advanced Search option on the menu which is located near the top left. You’ll be redirected to a window like the above picture. Fill up the fields you want to search through and hit enter.

9. Keyboard Shortcuts

Does anyone else miss the older Twitter platform, where all you had to do is type RT to Retweet a tweet and DM to Direct Message someone? While there are some things you still type by hand like @ to mention someone, Twitter has a new set of keyboard shortcuts that make it possible to operate Twitter using only your keyboard. You can access them by clicking on the gear icon at the top right of your timeline. Alternatively, you can look at the list below.

Shortcut Action
N New Tweet
F Favourite Tweet
R Reply Tweet
T Retweet
M Compose a Direct Message
U Mute User
B Block User
Enter Open Tweet details
L Close all open Tweets
/ Search
Cmd + Enter Send Tweet
? This menu
J Scroll to next Tweet
K Scroll to previous Tweet
Space Page down
. Load new Tweets
G + H Home
G + N Open Notifications
G + A Open Activity
G + R Show Mentions from other users
G + D Open Discover tab
G + P Open Profile
G + F Open Favorites
G + L Open Lists
G + M Open Messages
G + S Open Settings
G + U Go to User

Bonus: More Things You Can Do With Twitter

Author: "Leanne Tan" Tags: "Web 2.0, social media, twitter"
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Date: Friday, 18 Jul 2014 13:01

Whether it is a desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile phone, our eyes are fixated at one screen or another, be it for work, study or play. But let this happen long enough and you might suffer from ill effects from being in front of a screen so much e.g. blur vision, headaches or eye problems. Staring at a computer screen can also effect your sleep patterns due to the blue light that is emitted from these screens.

Flux Comparison

There are ways to help lessen the strain on your eyes, mostly by altering the color and dimness of the monitor as well as taking the occasional break now and again. If you are looking for apps to automatically reduce the brightness of your screen, here are 9 apps that will help you manage the glare from your monitor, without a fuss.

1. F.lux

The aim of F.lux is to adapt the color of the screen to the time of day. Example, F.lux will activate during sundown, gradually turning your screen a tint of orange as night falls. This helps negate the effect blue light has on sleep. F.lux is simple to use and set up, and you can change the "intensity" of the setting (how strong the effect will be).

Available for: OS X, Windows, Linux, iOS


2. Awareness

If you want a very simple app to remind you to take a break, then Awareness is it. Its only function is to tell you to take a break in the most unobtrusive way possible: by the sound of a Tibetan singing bowl. You set how long your work time is, the break time and the volume of the sound then let it do the rest.

Available for: OS X, Windows


3. Time Out Free

When this OS X app kicks in, it will dim your computer screen and display how long a break you should be taking. You can preset how long this break is, or set longer breaks under Normal mode, and shorter breaks under Micro mode. The display shown can also be adjusted, in terms of colors and transparency.

Available for: OS X

Time Out Free

4. Shades

When installed, Shades will reside in the system preference of OS X. When activated, a slider will appear on your desktop and the app will apply a colored tint to your monitor. The default color is black. If you want to change the color, there is a color palette to choose from.

Available for: OS X


5. Pangobright

Pangobright dims the lights on your screen based on your preferences. It is a lightweight app that uses very little of your computer’s resources. When activated, it will sit in your System Tray. The app is useful for those that have a setup involving multiple monitors, as it is able to control the brightness of each monitor independently of the other.

Available for: Windows


6. EyeLeo

EyeLeo lives in your System Tray, and has a mascot who will notify you of any incoming breaks you should be taking. The best part of this app is the eye exercises that it provides to relax and ease your eyes during your break. There is also a Strict mode, where EyeLeo will prevent you from skipping breaks; a useful feature for workaholics.

Available for: Windows


7. Calise

Calise uses your webcam to detect the ambient lighting around you then adjusts the brightness of your screen. Basically it draws information from your surroundings based on the time and possibly weather, to get the optimat brightness to display at for the moment. Calise will work with all versions of Linux and their desktop environments.

Available for: Linux

(Image Source: Admin Reso)

8. Protect Your Vision

Protect Your Vision is a web app that will remind you at certain periods to take a short rest. It comes with two recommendations: take a 20 second break every 20 minutes of work by focusing on an object 20 feet away (20-20-20) or take a 5 minute break every 60 minutes. If neither suits you, you can create your own custom break.

Available for: Chrome, Firefox Extension

Protect Your Vision

9. Twilight

If you like to check your smartphone in the middle of the night, or read your feeds right before bedtime with the lights off, you might want to get Twilight on your Android device. It works like F.lux and changes the screen color temperature based on the time of day. The intensity and color can be adjusted to your preferences.

Available for: Android


Author: "Azwan Jamaluddin" Tags: "Tools"
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Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 15:01

Developing and programming software and applications is never an easy task, and sometimes you need a bit of help, whether it’s for managing your workflow, refreshing your knowledge or learning a new programming language. Thankfully, there are a lot of resources on the Internet that can help, including free ebooks.

C++ Succinctly

Here, we’ve compiled a list of 20 free ebooks that should definitely be of use to beginner software developers and programmers. They cover a decent range of topics, from more general workflow advice to nitty-gritty code and quite a few things in between. Without further ado, here’s the list.

How To Become A Programmer

By Rob Wailing

The title says it all, really: this ebook should be one of your first reads if you’re just starting out, or even if you’re trying to decide whether programming is the right path for you. It’s not a deep ebook, but the author covers a decent amount of non-technical topics such as where to start, how to gain experience, and other real-world questions.

Available as: PDF

How To Become A Programmer

Lean Software Development

By David J. Anderson

This ebook sheds light on how the concept of "Lean", originating from the management structure at Toyota in the 1990s, can be applied to software development. It’s not a book about programming; instead, the ebook discusses how to approach and manage the process of developing software.

Available as: PDF

Lean Software Development

Back To Basics: Hype-Free Principles For Software Developers

By Jason Gorman

This ebook cuts through a lot of the hype and marketing speak that’s present in the software development world and tries to reintroduce some of what the author thinks are basic tenets of software development. Topics such as the need for testable goals, automating donkey work and the need for customer involvement are all discussed in this ebook.

Available as: PDF

Back To Basics: Hype-Free Principles For Software Developers

Don’t Just Roll The Dice

By Neil Davidson

This ebook tackles one of the most important parts for any software developer looking to sell their work: pricing. After all, there’s no use writing a great program if you don’t price it correctly; this ebook should help, and discusses issues such as economics, pricing psychology and pricing perception.

Available as: Free download

Don't Just Roll The Dice

Programming From The Ground Up

By Jonathan Bartlett

As the title might indicate, this ebook is really aimed at beginners to programming and development, teaching them how to think, write and learn like a programmer. The ebook teaches the principles of programming using assembly language for x86 processors and GNU/Linux operating systems.

Available as: PDF

Programming From The Ground Up

97 Things Every Programmer Should know – Extended

Compiled by Shirish Padalkar

This ebook is a collection of essays and articles from the 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know wiki that weren’t included in the book. There’s a great variety of contributions in this ebook, discussing a lot of topics ranging from explicit advice with code and programming to more general advice on being a programmer or software developer.

Available as: Pay-what-you-want download

97 Things Every Programmer Should know - Extended

Efficiency in Development Workflows

By Florian Motlik

This ebook shares and discusses the Codeship development team’s workflow in the hope that it will inspire you to also streamline your – or your team’s – own development workflow. The three chapters in the book discuss developing new features, pull requests and code reviews as well as deployment pipelines and zero downtime deployment.

Available as: Email download

Efficiency in Development Workflows

Foundations Of Programming

By Karl Seguin

This ebook, as the title suggests, tackles the basic foundations of programming and how to build better software. The author discusses topics such as ALT.NET, domain driven design, unit testing and dependency injection, as well as some simpler "back to basics" topic. Quite a good read to really get to grips with the foundations.

Available as: PDF

Foundations Of Programming

Hacknot: Essays On Software Development

By Ed Johnson

This ebook is a collection of essays written between 2003 and 2006, discussing and critiquing various concepts within the field of software development. From extreme programming and agile methods to debugging and maintenance to the software development industry itself, no topic is safe from Ed Johnson’s critical eye.

Available as: Free Lulu download

Hacknot: Essays On Software Development

Programmer’s Motivation For Beginners

By Rajaraman Raghuraman

This ebook is a collection of the author’s blog posts, containing mostly simple and practical advice about being a programmer. There’s no code in here; rather, the author discusses topics such as how to learn programming, thoughtful quotes as well as the attitudes and skills that a good software developer needs.

Available as: Email download

Programmer's Motivation For Beginners

Invent Your Own Computer games With Python

By Al Sweigart

If you’ve been interested in learning Python but never knew how, this ebook is a great place to start. It’s admittedly aimed more towards younger learners, but it’s still a great place to start, especially since it uses the process of making a game as a way to teach you some of the characteristics and intricacies of Python.

Available as: PDF

Invent Your Own Computer games With Python

Learning to Program With Python

By Richard Halterman

This ebook is quite an exhaustive guide to programming with Python 3.2. The author starts with the basics of Python, such as software and development tools, before going into more detailed territory such as Python’s iterative processes, using and writing functions, different types of objects and custom types.

Available as: PDF

Learning to Program With Python

Open Data Structures (In Java)

By Pat Morin

This book has a pretty noble goal, giving students free access to an open-source, updatable textbook related to data structures in Java. As you can imagine, the content is geared more towards learners of Java rather than seasoned experts, but it’s likely that even seasoned programmers will get some use out of this textbook, if only as a refresher.

Available as: PDF

Open Data Structures (In Java)

F# Succinctly

By Robert Pickering

This ebook is a to-the-point introduction of the F# programming language. The author devotes a few chapters to introducing F#, functional programming and why it’s important, before guiding you through the classic "Hello World!" exercise. Later topics include object-oriented programming, simulations and graphics as well as creating an application in F#.

Available as: Email download

F# Succinctly

Getting Started With Open Source Development

By Rachna Kapur, Mario Briggs, Pedro Carvalho, Ulisses Costa, Tapas Saha, Raul F. Chong and Peter Kohlmann

This thorough ebook is a great introduction to the world of open source software and issues related to it. Topics discussed include licensing, open source business models, the role of the open source community in development and starting your own open source project.

Available as: PDF

Getting Started With Open Source Development

Git Succinctly

By Ryan Hodson

GitHub is one of the most useful version control systems on the Internet right now, and is incredibly important for any software developer. This ebook is a great introduction to how GitHub works, discussing everything you need to know, from a general overview of GitHub to specific topics such as recording and undoing changes and remote repositories.

Available as: Email download

Git Succinctly

The Rook’s Guide To C++

By Jeremy A. Hansen

This ebook is pretty much a comprehensive C++ textbook that covers all you’d need to know about programming and developing software using C++. Topics discussed include variables, data types and conversion, loops, file I/O and dynamic data. The ebook also includes review questions and answers for each chapter to further aid learning.

Available as: PDF

The Rook's Guide To C++

C++ Succinctly

By Michael McLaughlin

This ebook was written with C# developers in mind. Specifically, it was written to help developers familiar with C# learn C++. It does this by trying to refer to prior C# knowledge as much as possible while it discusses topics such as types, namespaces, resource acquisition and strings.

Available as: Email download

C++ Succinctly

Programming windows Store Apps With HTML, CSS, And Javascript

By Kraig Brockschmidt

This is an essential ebook for anyone developing applications for the Windows Store. All the topics contained, such as the anatomy of Windows apps, web content and data binding, are all discussed in-depth and with great detail. The ebook also comes with companion files to help you with some of the tasks in the book.

Available as: PDF | EPUB | Kindle

Programming windows Store Apps With HTML, CSS, And Javascript

.NET Technology Guide For Business Applications

By Cesar de la Torre and David Carmona

This ebook’s main goal is to help you choose the right Microsoft development technologies and approaches for your .NET project. It does this by guiding you through a number of different application patterns and scenarios, with recommended technologies for each pattern and scenario, in order to help you make the right choice.

Available as: PDF

.NET Technology Guide For Business Applications

Author: "Azzief Khaliq" Tags: "ebooks, Web 2.0, software developers"
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Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 13:01

Google Glass was one of the first pieces of wearable technology to break into the mainstream. When it was announced, it was not only the tech world that was awed, but the general public as well. Now we are seeing Glass being used in cases that weren’t envisioned when it was just released. The bad news is, there were also some bizarre, unforeseen consequence of the tech as well.

From physical and verbal assaults, a shower selfie and even an interrogation session courtesy of the Department of Homeland security, Glass users are getting into all sorts of dangerous, weird and/or strange situations due to the wearable. Check out some of the more bizarre cases unsuspecting Google Glass readers found themselves in.

1. Attacked At Bar

Probably one of the most infamous incidents relating to Google Glass was the one where Sarah Slocum, was asked to remove her Glass while in a San Francisco Bar. The other patrons there had repeatedly told her to remove the wearable device, as they did not want to be recorded with the device. Eventually, one of the patrons took matters into their own hands and grabbed the Glass off her face. Though she managed to get that back, her purse and cellphone were stolen during this incident.

2. Assaulted In A Grab-And-Run

As Business Insider writer Kyle Russell was heading home after covering a protest against a Google employee, a man went up to him and grabbed his Glass. While in pursuit, the thief smashed the Glass on to the ground, destroying them. The incident may or may not be related to the protest but after Russell tweeted about it, a barrage of anti-glass and anti-Google replies came in, saying that he deserved it. Guess people didn’t like the idea of camera-weilding glasses.

Kyle Russell Glass
(Image Source: Business Insider)

3. Received Ticket For Driving With Glass

A Californian woman by the name of Cecilia Abadie received a ticket for wearing Glass while driving. She was charged for wearing the device as it was deemed to be a form of distraction from her driving. The good news is that the ticket was ultimately dismissed, as there wasn’t enough evidence to prove if the device was used or even turned on when she committed "the crime".

Glass Police Ticket
(Image Source: +CeciliaAbadie)

4. Glass Users Retaliate With Bad Reviews

Katy Kasmai, was asked to remove her Glass while in a New York restaurant, as some of the other patrons felt uncomfortable at the idea of potentially being recorded. She refused and left, posting about the incident on her Google+ page. The post received a lot of attention from other Glass users, some of which pummeled the establishment with bad reviews related to that one incident. Kasmai however felt that she owed the restaurant an apology for how things turned out, and offered to teach the restaurant how Google Glass works.

Glasshole Restaurant Review
(Image Source: Ev Grieve)

5. Cinema-Goer Interrogated By Feds

A Glass-wearing AMC cinema patron was escorted out and interrogated by agents from the Department of Homeland Security for 3 hours, as they suspected that he was secretly recording the movie for piracy purposes. The Glass user was cooperative during the interrogation, explaining that it was turned off, and that he needed them to see (the Glass he was wearing was the prescription version). The man was released, and as compensation was given 4 free tickets for his troubles.

6. Artist Kick Glass Users Off WiFi

After reading about a complaint from an NYU student who was afraid that art performances could be recorded with Google Glass, Berlin-based artist Julian Oliver created a program called Glasshole.sh. It will allow a WiFi hotspot to detect any Glasses that are connected to the network and boot them out. Of course, this won’t stop them from using their own wireless connection but at the very least, it makes it just a tad bit more difficult for Glass users who don’t get the "You Are Not Welcome Here" atmosphere in the room.

7. "Have Glass, Will Shower"

Tech evangelist Robert Scoble is a big fan of Google Glass (although he thinks it is doomed to fail in 2014 because of the price) and swore that he would never take them off. Well you better believe him, because he took a shower with his Glass on, then proceeded to share the picture on his Google+ page. The picture is now infamous. Even Larry Page, the CEO of Google knew about it, and had joked with Scoble saying that he “really didn’t appreciate the shower photo.”

Scoble Shower Glass
(Image Source: +Scobleizer)

8. Glass Banned Before Arrival

Google recently opened up its Explorer program to the general public. The project is still considered in its testing phase and opening up the program is still not considered a consumer release. Yet that didn’t stop some business owners to preemptively ban Google Glass from their premises, fearing the camera could be used to discreetly record video. The ban is in effect in small restaurants and even in large cinema chains, all in the name of protecting privacy and preventing movie piracy.

9. Assaulted For Using Wearable Tech

Perhaps the problem isn’t Google Glass, perhaps it stems all the way back to wearable tech itself. Steve Mann, inventor of EyeTap, a precursor to Google Glass, is widely considered to be the father of wearable computing. While at a McDonald’s in Paris, he was assaulted by a man who tried to yank EyeTap off him. The problem was the device were attached to his skull. Despite efforts to explain how the device work, Mann was forcibly removed from the restaurant and his EyeTap damaged during the ordeal.

EyeTap Assult
(Image Source: Steve Mann’s Blog)


These are just some of the bizarre situations that Glass users find themselves in, through no fault of their own, apart from wearing the device. The risk of being assaulted for having the device on them is real and present, and Google Glass users can no longer expect to wear Glass and not attract attention or animosity wherever they go.

Google has even come up with their own Do’s and Dont’s for Glass Explorers, which include tips like Asking for Permission to use Glass in public and premises, and to treat Google Glass like they would a cellphone camera. With the amount of attention Glass is getting, we’d probably be seeing more bizarre stories appear in the future.

Author: "Azwan Jamaluddin" Tags: "Web 2.0, gadget, google glass"
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