Category Archives: Utilities
Skype colides with social media
Skype now has features to sign up with your facebook account. The latest version allows you to connect with facebook rather than creating a new account from scratch. The neat part is that, once you connect, skype will automatically fill out your account information with data pulled from facebook. However, you still have to create a skype username and password – you can’t just use your facebook info.
Build a Windows 8 App using free tools provided by Microsoft
Microsoft appears to be taking a different route than Apple when it comes to creating and selling apps. When Apple’s app store first opened, I (and probably you) spent hours going through apps, looking at the free ones, the ones that were replacements for websites/tools I already used, games for myself, apps to occupy my daughter…. well, just about everything. And while, at first, it seemed like most of these apps were made by big companies, I slowly discovered there were a lot of independent publishers out there. You probably know a few – the friend of a friend who made an app, naively hoping to strike it rich. For me, it was my cousin Andy, who released a few apps under Smooth Landon, while other creations of his were rejected. My personal favorite was probably a bobble-head Obama, which Apple rejected for being a negative caricature of a politician, or some other ridiculous crap. But I digress…. while Apple’s apps reach millions of users, the Metro / Modern UI apps for Windows 8 will hit a much, much larger audience. And Microsoft wants to teach you how to build a Windows 8 app – for free.
Yes, free. Microsoft has released everything you need to make your own Metro / Modern UI style app for Windows 8. All of the tools, and even the developer’s license, are available for free. Keep reading to find out how and where to get them.
It’s no secret that the iPhone is a huge success even in its current, highly-breakable, poor-signal-if-you-hold-it-normally incarnation, and like any other popular phone, people want custom ringtones for the thing. It’s not that the built in ones are crappy–well, it’s not just that–but more that we want to have something personalized, something that says something about us. Or, at the worst, we want to blare our favorite MP3′s ad-infinitum when we receive a call. But whatever your reason might be, there’s a single truth worth being conscious of: Apple’s iTunes store will bend you over and repeatedly rape you in exchange for the privilege of using music you already bought and paid for as a ringtone. Frankly, their fees are ridiculous, and we think you should avoid them wherever possible.
Luckily, that’s very possible thanks to a free downloadable app called iRinger, which will allow you to convert almost any audio format you can throw at it to an iPhone appropriate ringtone that’ll work with any version of the device, included the much-maligned (yet celebrated) iPhone 4. There is no application to install–you simply download the executable and run it. In my tests I found the app speedy, easy to use and virus free, though as a precaution I do encourage you to always perform a virus scan on any executable file you download from absolutely anywhere before you run it. You can never be too safe, after all.
The process is pretty simple. Open the program, click “Import,” and your music will appear on the timeline. By dragging the “In” and “Out” sliders at the bottom right of the app window (it’s a small app window, you can’t miss them) you can select the portion of the song you want to use as your ringtone. When you’ve got the clip you want to use (up to 30 seconds in length, which is the maximum the iPhone supports,) simply click “Export,” browse to the file location where you want to save the ringtone, click the checkbox that says “also export to iTunes,” and click go. In about 10 seconds your new ringtone will both save to the folder you specified and add itself to iTunes, making it quick and easy both to sync to your phone and to email your ringtone to friends, family, and of course to Steve Jobs, along with a note that says “Neener-neener-neener, I still have my $1.50!” Or something like that.
Price: Free, though they do ask for a donation if you like it.
Rating: Highly recommended if you prefer an app on your PC vs a web based solution like Myxer.
I’ve been going about this all wrong, evidently. For months I’ve been looking for a free utility to easily create Ringtones for my iPhone 3G (no, I didn’t rush out and buy the upgrade to 3GS) out of MP3′s I already have. On several occasions I’ve found some decent guides and a lot of free software, but that was exactly the problem: I needed a lot of free software to do what I wanted to do. As far as I’ve been able to locate, no single utility exists that you can download, install and use to create Ringtones for iPhone all within a single package. Without an unacceptable level of complexity, it just wasn’t going to happen.
That’s unfortunate, but hardly a deal breaker thanks to a free service called Myxer. It’s stupidly simple: Browse your nerdy ass over to the Myxer website and find the cute little box (snipped above so you know what to look for) that asks-no, demands-that you upload your very favorite non-DRM’d MP3. If you’re a self respecting nerd of any repute, all your MP3′s are DRM-free, but I digress. Moving on, upload your file (the speed will depend on your internet connection, obviously. I have a stupidly fast connection so for me it’s seconds) and wait while the site processes it for a few seconds.
Microsoft has finally released its Security Essentials Antivirus software onto the world, and man, let there be rejoicing. I’m always a fan of free software, especially if it can handle an essential task well (and make no mistake, antivirus is absolutely essential) without being too intrusive. Microsoft Security Essentials is exactly this kind of software, surpassing most other freeware options while using only a fraction of the system resources others like Comodo and AVG do. As a bonus, MSSE is legal to use on any legitimate copy of Windows (therefore you should expect to have Window Genuine Advantage validate your PC’s OS).
So what exactly is Security Essentials? Well, to put it succinctly, MSSE is Microsoft’s former “Windows Live OneCare” software, minus the feature bloat. Gone are such things as online photo backup, central management of multiple copies on different computers (some people may miss this feature), preventing other programs from adding system tray icons and so on. What it does do, though, is provide a robust anti-malware package that’s very small (about an 8MB download, less than a third of alternatives such as AVG and Comodo), very light and very fast, with a small memory footprint. MSSE makes use of a derivative of the antimalware engine in MS’s Forefront security product (marketed at Enterprises…no, not the ones from Star Trek) and like you would imagine (yet dare not actually hope for) it never nags you for, well, anything. I suppose if you get a virus it’ll pop up an alert to tell you, but luckily enough I have yet to actually encounter anything malicious.
So if you’re using one of the bloated freeware packages out there or just wish you had something less intrusive on your system, I highly recommend you get your free copy of Microsoft Security Essentials. Just be sure to uninstall your other package right away!