Saturday, October 10, 2009
You've misplaced your cellphone in your house and you don't have a land line or friend handy to call your number and make it ring. If you've got internet access, WheresMyCellPhone can fill in for your friend.
The site is no-frills, for sure. You plug in your phone number, hit the "Make it Ring!" button, and WheresMyCellPhone dispatches a call to your wayward phone. You can only use the service once every few minutes—presumably to prevent less honorable uses—so make sure you're ready to dash towards the ringing when the call comes in.
Have a trick or two for finding a misplaced cellphone or ensuring it doesn't get misplaced in the first place? Let's hear about them in the comments.
Posted by Augustine at 8:58 PM
Tweak your workflow and inboxes all you want, but your mental memory might always be the weakest link in your day-to-day life. These 10 tools take some of the workload off your brain, and prevent a few forehead slaps.
Photo by cogdogblog.
Note: We've previously listed some whole-brain, memory-boosting tips and systems in our Top 10 Memory Hacks. This list is geared at smaller-scale tips for remembering those little things that you'll regret forgetting just as soon as it's too late.
10. Remember that thing you're trying to think of
Oh, shoot, what was that show? The one with the dad who worked at a robotics firm and created his own little robot girl, and she had super-strength, and it had really cheesy effects but catchy theme music? Anyways, if you're trying to remember something that seems like it's right there, but just out of reach, a pair of Canadian researchers suggest you stop, and either look it up right away or send yourself a note for later. The harder your brain cranks on trying to pin down that barely-there memory, the less likely you are to get it, even if you come back two days later and try running down the same mental path. In other words, your mental efforts are best spent elsewhere, and on other things, rather than tryin—Small Wonder! I knew it! (Original post)
9. Automatic thumb drive reminder
At best, you leave your thumb drive plugged in at work or home. At worst, the easy-to-lose memory sticks get left in a computer lab, a far-away friend's place, or somewhere it can be easily pocketed. Grab the Flash Drive Reminder, make sure AutoPlay is enabled on the Windows system you're working with, and you'll be reminded when you go to log off or shut down that you've still got your drive plugged in. If you're doubtful you'll actually respond to that kind of prompting, you could label your drive with a name and number to pop up in the "My Computer" view. For more anti-leave-behind tools, check out the comments on our original post—they're chock full of carabiners, cap hacks, and other suggestions.
8. Do Not Forget doorhanger
You can find a retail version of the Do Not Forget doorhanger design gem at a few different places, but it's not that hard to knock off for yourself. Put the things you need to do when you're heading out on one of the pull-off paper tabs—like mailing a package or picking up bread—and you'll hopefully catch it when you're heading out the door. Since our brains can tend to get used to sights and ignore them, make sure to pull your reminder off the doorknob when there's nothing to do. Next time you see th! at brigh t-colored hanger, you'll know there's something worth dropping the keys and thinking about. (Original post)
7. Always attach the file you meant to
Sending out an email promising to offer correspondents an attached document or file without that file attached is akin to showing up at a pot luck with just a plastic fork. If you're a Gmail user, you can enable the attachment detector in Labs that'll pop up a notification when it looks like you've forgotten to include your attachments. Working on Outlook? Reader Troy whipped together a little Outlook Attachment Reminder macro from a previously posted script, and Troy's can work with signatures that demand mandatory attachments.
6. Keep your lawn and garden watered
Don't let your faulty memory, dry weather, or a week's vacation ruin your perfectly green lawn or your burgeoning vegetable garden. Do what Matt Haughey did and install your own automated drip system to give gardens and plants enough water at all times to get by. If it's mostly grass you want to keep green, and you don't relish the idea of waking up at 6 a.m. to do so, you could take a cue from Jason and asse! mble a D IY automatic sprinkler system.
5. Create fall-back birthday greetings
Seriously? It's already Oct. 11, and you don't have a card for your sister already? If you've got a Mac, there's no reason to let the entire day go by without at least an email that says you're thinking of them (even though you totally weren't). Check out the Unofficial Apple Weblog's how-to, and you'll never be caught entirely off-guard. If you'd rather just get the reminders, you can have fbCal export your Facebook friends' birthdays to an iCal feed, or enable Google Calendars' "Birthdays" calendar (in your Settings), which pulls in whatever birthdays you've noted in Google Contacts. (Original post)
4. Don't let rebates pass you by
Retailers love rebates because a lot of people seemingly love to forget about them after the purchase. Tools that keep you from letting them pass into expiration, or sit incomplete at a service center, range from the simple to the sublime. Consumer Reports suggests immediately printing online forms and sending them in, as they can be removed from web sites after a very short period. Lifehacker reader Evan Fredericks suggests using Gina's Trusted Trio with an old Gmail trick to keep rebates high on your to-do list. Finally, if you traffic mostly in online rebates, do as Consumerist recommends and set up a free online account at Backpack, where you can have specific rebate links emailed to you at a time of your choosing. (Original post)
3. Pack without fear
The worst part about forgetting to pack something on a long trip is that you'll likely remember exactly what you forgot when you're 10,000 feet in the air. Guard against your most forgetful tendencies with packing utilities that anticipate what you might need and print out helpful lists. We've dug on the Universal Packing List for its minimal but functional interface, Don't Forget Your Toothbrush for comprehensive coverage of necessities, and PackWhiz as a nice alternative that sits between those extremes. Rather craft your own list? Feel free to create a reusable packing list, and peruse Adam's Power Traveler's Checklist, part one and part two.
2. Capture gift ideas with Evernote
Your spouse, your parents and siblings, your friends—they tell you about neat things they've heard about, considered buying, or just ca! n't find anywhere all the time, but never when you're looking to actually buy gifts. We consider Evernote to be a fairly universal, go-anywhere capture system, since you can send it cameraphone pics, text or email messages, or more advanced web uploads at any time. It's also got a tagging system that's perfect for gift ideas. As soon as someone's done telling you about something you might want to gift them, and you can be sly about it, upload a camera pic or text note about it to your account, and add both "gifts" and a separate tag for their name. When the holidays and birthdays roll around, head to your note stash, perform a search for everything tagged both "gifts" and "Diane," for example, and you've got a list that seemingly traveled forward in time. For a beginner's primer on Evernote, check out Adam's walkthrough, or dig on Jason's OneNote power user's guide if the desktop suite is more your style.
1. Keep track of strong passwords
We've hit upon this tactic a few times in a few different contexts, but until webmail users stop using 123456 and other terrible passwords, we will continue to suggest this technique. Build a secure base password that isn't in the dictionary, one that mixes up letters, numbers, and special characters. Adapt it to fit different sites and uses—use the first three letters of the site name, or only the vowels, or some other rule. You've now got a strong password, you can remember it for all your sites. Even better? Offload the effort altogether and securely track your passwords with KeePass. If you do go the KeePass route, do yourself a favor and check out these eight must-have plug-ins to get the most from your password manager.
How do you remember things that you know you're going to try and forget? Tell us about your own smarter-than-you'd-normally-be system in the comments.
Posted by Augustine at 8:58 PM
Things Easier to Understand Than Google Wave: Metaphysics, Parseltongue, Our Own Existence [Google Wave]
Don't understand Google Wave, even after Google's helpful video and Lifehacker's review? You're not alone: Some jokester created a site where users vote on how confusing Wave really is. Interestingly, while death is easier to understand, women are far harder.
Some of the items are pretty clever, from super esoteric scientific theories (the Meyer-Overton Hypothesis) to political jabs (the healthcare bill, Obama's Nobel Prize). But was it really necessary to embed a ringtone version of an Avril Lavigne song? [Easier to Understand]
Posted by Augustine at 8:53 PM
T-Mobile Sidekick users have been holding out hope that their data might be recovered after T-Mo issued an optimistic message of hope. But the carrier just updated users and admitted the truth: Your shit's gone. Sorry, guys.
It's been more than two weeks without data for Sidekick users, and T-Mobile finally bit the bullet and announced that it probably isn't coming back. The quote:
Regrettably, based on Microsoft/Danger's latest recovery assessment of their systems, we must now inform you that personal information stored on your device - such as contacts, calendar entries, to-do lists or photos - that is no longer on your Sidekick almost certainly has been lost as a result of a server failure at Microsoft/Danger. That said, our teams continue to work around-the-clock in hopes of discovering some way to recover this information. However, the likelihood of a successful outcome is extremely low.
This is pretty crappy of T-Mobile and Danger, and while it's probably unfair to make this connection, doesn't give us any new confidence in Project Pink, developed by the remnants of Danger after Microsoft acquired it. (After all, Microsoft bought Danger specifically because of their software services. And now, it just goes kablooey?) Renowned Sidekick user and a-hole Perez Hilton, while normally hysteric about just about everything, has the right tone here:
To add insult to injury, the ONLY thing T-Mobile is offering their customers, whom they obviously don't value or respect, is one month of free data service.
One month of free data service (which is not the same thing as one month of free phone use) for SEVEN DAYS of heartache and no access to contacts????
Posted by Augustine at 8:53 PM
[Via BBC, thanks Jim]
Filed under: Peripherals
Mizzou's nuclear battery to power things smaller than your brain can imagine originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 10 Oct 2009 11:52:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted by Augustine at 8:52 PM
Update: Apparently T-Mobile has paused the sale of new Sidekicks, as all models are now listed as "temporarily out of stock" on the company's site. Additionally, a warning as been added to the post on T-Mobile's forum which reads: "Sidekick customers, during this service disruption, please DO NOT remove your battery, reset your Sidekick, or allow it to lose power." Scary stuff, Sidekickers.Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted by Augustine at 8:50 PM
Filed under: Displays
Mitsubishi's modular, scalable OLED display goes 155-inches at CEATEC, could go way bigger (video) originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 09 Oct 2009 22:24:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted by Augustine at 7:43 AM
Eye-Fi bringing trio of WiFi-enabled SD cards to UK originally appeared on Engadget on Sat, 10 Oct 2009 02:12:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
Posted by Augustine at 7:43 AM
Friday, October 09, 2009
Google Sites, the visual web site builder that's been fairly quiet since it launched publicly, just picked up a laundry list of features. Easy importing from Picasa, Docs and other Google apps, site RSS feeds, and templates have all landed.
For a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) web editor, having to manually insert HTML embed codes for a Picasa album slideshow, YouTube video, Google Doc, or other related apps seemed kind of perfunctory, and Google's obviously gotten hip to that. From the Insert menu on Sites' page editor, it's now pretty simple to drop any of those objects into a page or site element.
Google also allows Sites creators to offer up feeds for any page that regularly changes by adding
posts.xml to the end of that URL. And if you're happy with what you've created on a Sites page, you can save a template to work off for other sites, or create sub-templates to maintain a consistent look across a site.
Posted by Augustine at 8:57 PM
Resume-making tools are a dime a dozen, but free webapp CeeVee has notable advantages. Auto-filling from Facebook profiles, easy print and PDF export, and simple editing tools make it more convenient than manhandling Word for an hour.
If you've filled out your work history on Facebook and connect with CeeVee through a Connect log-in, your resume is auto-filled with the most pertinent contact and experience portions. You'll definitely want to tweak those lines a bit, and CeeVee makes that easy, offering sectional editing that leaves the page looking good, even after you yank out that whole section about what a joke your internship was.
If you'd like to share your resume online, you get a
ceevee.com/yournamehere URL, and embeddable badges for your site. The employer looking at your resume can easily print or save it to PDF, and you control what's seen publicly. All in all, it's a clean-looking edit tool that produces crisp resumes, and it seems worth the small time investment to try out. One complaint from a quick test, though—don't require the "Position at Company" structure. As you can see in the example, it requires freelancers to work "at will," or something similarly creative.
CeeVee is a free service, requires a sign-up to save a resume.
Posted by Augustine at 8:56 PM
Mashups can be fascinating, layering data over maps to provide insight into trends and patterns. That kind of data manipulation would seem beyond the scope of the merely curious, but thanks to DataMasher you can instantly create a mashup.
DataMasher pulls from the enormous amount of data compiled and released by the U.S. Federal Government—data which often collects dust or makes brief appearances on charts stuffed in newspaper corners.
You can browse through mashups created by other users—like High School Education and Health Care Coverage or Federal Spending per Representative in Congress—or you can create your own mashup from the thousands of data sets available.
DataMasher won't guarantee the statistical validity of your mashups, if the data sets are available for number of toaster owners and number of dog owners nothing is stopping you from creating a mashup of the two, but nonetheless the service provides a simple and fascinating way to access large amounts of data usually too unweildy and tucked away for the average person to bother with.
Posted by Augustine at 8:56 PM
Researcher Mohd Abubakr says that his circular periodic table is better than Mendeleev's. I'd have given him the Nobel in chemistry—if Obama hadn't got it first for mixing himself a whiskey with Red Bull onboard Air Force One.
Abubakr—who works at Microsoft Research in Hyderabad—says that if you arrange the table in circular form it gives you an idea of the size of the atoms. The closer to the center, the smaller the atom element would be. That's why hydrogen and helium—with less atomic weight—are the nearest to its center. His table also preserves the periods and groups, and manages to look neat and pretty at the same time.
The Physics arXiv Blog at MIT's Technology Review disagrees. They said that the table is flawed because it can only be read by rotating it—which doesn't make much sense, since you can easily rotate an image on the screen. Their other criticism is valid, however: They say that the genius of Mendeleev's table is that it can "predict the properties of undiscovered elements," arguing that Abubakr's table is not as intuitive.
Whatever MIT people, you chemistry dorks you, I just like how it looks. [Technology Review]
Posted by Augustine at 8:49 PM
Tweetie 2 is so far ahead of every other iPhone Twitter app, it's astounding.
It's the most polished Twitter app yet, oozing slickness with every swipe. Yet, it's exploding with new features, and still really fast. It manages to cram in every possible feature you could possibly want in a Twitter app—offline reading!—without feeling too complicated or bloated. Truthfully, it's a brand new, totally different app from the original, down to the core. If you already own Tweetie and don't buy Tweetie 2 because you feel like you shouldn't have to spend another $3, Alyssa Milano, it's your loss.
Form, Oh Shiny Form
The main Tweetie 2 interface feels just like the original—awesome—with two big differences: The chat bubbles are dead, replaced by a solid stream of tweets, and glowing notification orbs tell you when new tweets, mentions or direct messages are waiting for you. That's a huge functional leap over the original Tweetie, where you had to click over to each section to see if you had new messages. Plus, the orbs just look cool, like they're cut off by the bottom of the screen. The one flaw here is that sometimes it doesn't register you've read a message, so you'll wind up clearing the orb for the same message twice.
How do you refresh? When you hit the top of a timeline and keep pulling down, an arrow pops into sight that tells you to pull down, and as you down, it smoothly spins upward, telling you to release to refresh. It's simple, but slick. There's also a search bar up there, so you can look through all the tweets you have pulled up for something that caught your eye.
S! o Much F unction
The greatest new feature in Tweetie 2 is its offline powers. They're great. Not only does it cache tweets to read offline, but you have other Twitter capabilities, like adding favorites, which are synced up the next time you go back online. A basic drafts manager lets you store and edit tweets to send later.
You can set up virtual push notifications so you can see whenever somebody you follow drops a Tweet bomb, like RealTracyMorgan. (They show up as a text message from 40404, i.e., Twitter.) Sadly, this doesn't extend to @replies, but it's for following a particular person (or persons, if you want a lot of messages about tweets). Other new functional awesomeness includes auto-complete for @replying and direct messaging people who have confusing-ass usernames you can't remember (though you have to go to the user, and then compose a message to them), the ability to link people with address cards, a very pretty nearby tweet search, and integration with multiple services like Instapaper and Tweet Blocker.
Buy It Now
If you've never paid for a Twitter app or even if you have, Tweetie 2 is well worth the measly three bucks it costs. It's fast, it's got full offline powers and it's so polished your iPhone will slip out of your hand while you're using it. It's not perfect, but it's the closest yet.
Super smooth UI, gushing with polish and animations
Exceptionally good offline powers
Feature-packed without feeling bloated
No real syncing with desktop app
No real push notifications
Posted by Augustine at 8:47 PM
• The 160GB Archos 5 tablet is leaving Amazon's warehouses now, but you'll have to wait if you want to pick up other capacities. The guys at T3 posted a review that out own Joanna Stern summarized. T3 called the Archos "pocketable" and "well-built," but the lack of a real app marketplace is a bummer. If that doesn't bother you, go ahead and grab one now for $390. [I4U]
• Garmin's nuvi 1690 is shipping, and comes bundled with 2 years of nuLink service. That gets you access to traffic, weather, and other internet connected goodies through AT&T's network. After the two years are up, though, you'll have to start paying $5 per month for the service. Keep that in mind as you stare down the 1690's steep $500 asking price. [GPS Track Log via Ubergizmo]
• A quick note to Best Buy Rewards Zone members: you can grab an HTC Hero on Sprint two days before the wide launch. (Thanks Charles!)
Posted by Augustine at 8:40 PM
In this week's net-neutral iPhone app roundup: Wild Things, physics games, Photoshop!, Twitter again (but that's ok!), horse music, human music, and much, much more.
Where the Wild Things Are: Promotional apps are normally garbage, and in a few areas, this is a little fluffy (though there's some neat media in here—it's fairly generous). But hey, the people marketing this movie know exactly whose heartstrings they're pulling at, and how to pull them. And the 3D monster toy is genuinely cool. Free.
iBlast Moki: A visually stunning physics-based platformer, with bombs. The levels are puzzles, but they don't feel like work at all. A very, very safe buy at a dollar.
Photoshop: This app bears almost no resemblance to the Photoshop we all know and
steal love. That's fine though, because it's a serviceable photo-editing (on the iPhone, this means filters, cropping, and a few other tricks) app that is free, unlike virtually all of its competition.
Tweetie: Few people like Twitter as much as Matt, and Matt likes few things as much as Tweetie 2: The $3 app is described as
the most polished Twitter app yet, oozing slickness with every swipe. Yet, it's exploding with new features, and still really fast.
"Tweet tweet?" "Who's there?" "THE WORST JOKE YOU'VE EVER HEARD."
Weight Watchers: I've never thought about my diet too much, which means my life will be short, brutal and tasty. But I have seen people using WeightWatchers, and they seemed to sorta like it, and sometime get less fat! An iPhone app pretty much seems like the ideal tool for keeping a food journal, plus this one's free.
Pet Acoustics: Excuse me everyone, I've got an announcement: People write muzak for dogs. And cats. And horses! Then they put it in iPhone apps, so you can use it to soothe your stable of animals, uh, on the go? This makes me laugh, which makes me happy. (Though I have absolutely no idea if it works, because my Labrador only listens to gangsta rap.) Two dollars.
Command & Conquer: Red ! Alert: This one isn't out yet, but I defy you to name a game franchise that needs an iPhone title more than C&C. TouchArcade got an early hands-on, and they say it's fantastic—and surprisingly faithful to the original.
Rock Band: Another long-overdue addition to the store, Rock Band, the app, is kind of a jerk: While it was taking foreeever to show up, companies like Tapulous stepped in an made decent rhythm games to fill the void. Now that it's here, and it looks great—multiple instruments, a decent song list—it's going to poop on everyone else's party. It'll be here in a few weeks, price TBD.
MotionX Drive GPS: It's not brand-new, but it's too good a value not to mention here. $3 a month, or 25 per year is amazing for a turn-by-turn nav app, and Wilson enthusiastically deemed it to be fine:
I am not going to tell you this is the best turn-by-turn road navigation app in the world. The designers made some funny UI choices, there's no multi-destination or point-on-map routing, it doesn't have text-to-speech, and it only runs in portrait mode, taking up awkward space on my dashboard. Still, there's almost no reason not to get it.
iLickit: This app deserves more ! credit t han I can give it for being the first designed for use with the human tongue. Ho ho, you wacky app developers, what's next!? Wait, ugh, don't tell me. Not in the store, yet.
• PewPewPew (With Your iPhone): Ahem:
pewpewpewpew, bangbangbang boomPEW, swishpewpewpewpew.
Also, augmented reality. A dollar.
• iSheriff: It's a lot like that PewPew AR app above, rebalanced: It's free, which is cool; and it's not quite as playful: it puts people in zoomable crosshairs, and has gore effects, which makes it a little creepy.
• FHM: DUDE MAG, in an app. Lots of near-nakedness here, with daily updated FHM non-boob content too. $2.
• Let's Draw Some Sheep: No, really, let's draw some sheep! Because that's just about all you can do with this moderately charming little app. $1.
Other App News on Giz
• ChilliX, who makes all kinds of neat, usually paid iPhone apps, is giving away their entire ca! talog fo r free this weekend.
This list is in no way definitive. If you've spotted a great app that hit the store this week, give us a heads up or, better yet, your firsthand impressions in the comments. And for even more apps: see our previous weekly roundups here, and check out our Favorite iPhone Apps Directory. Have a great weekend, everybody!
Posted by Augustine at 8:37 PM