Archive for the 'Mac Compatible' Category

Oct 15 2010

Anki Flash!

Slang flash cards (i want!)

I’ve always noticed students taking science or language classes running around campus with a stack of cards in front of their faces. Flash cards are awesome for studying terms, but when you are broke buying cards is just not an option. Sure, you could spend that few dollars, just use some notebook paper, or even still your roommate’s printer paper, yet wouldn’t it be better just to skip the whole process and move away from paper and ink? Let’s not forget that after a while the cards that you write get to such a high volume that you can easily get overwhelmed and no rubber band is strong enough to contain your flash card might. So let me tell you what I use to get around all that.

I’ve been using a sweet free tool called Anki. Anki is an easy to use flash card program that tracks your progress and times when you need to look at cards given how well you remember them. The snazzy buzz word for this process is called “space repetition flash card program.” I used it while studying Chinese in Harbin. The program comes with some great features including easy to make cards, reminders to study, progression tracker, and oh wait…it is open source and shareable. From plug-ins to other people’s uploaded decks.

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Jun 16 2010

Get Some Chrome For Your Internet Ride

Google Chrome RideA long long time ago, in a blog post far far away we discussed the virtues of the Firefox browsing experience. We still stand by Firefox as a great browser (especially when put up against something like Internet Explorer) but recently Firefox has come against some good competition from Google Chrome. Chrome is fairly similar to Firefox in terms of features it provides. It has add-ons for extending the capabilities of your browser and while it may not have as many as Firefox, the library of add-ons is growing at an increasing rate and many of the popular ones can easily be found. Right now Chrome’s claim to fame (besides looking pretty slick) is that it is fast and from my intensive research (read: me using Chrome) I have found that it does move quicker than Firefox for most things. YouTube seems to load faster but, of course Google does own YouTube so who knows what crazy tricks they can pull.

For some people what browser they are using doesn’t matter much but, if you are open to the possibility that there may be something better out there then Google Chrome may be your answer. Test it, try it, love it (?) and let us know about your experience if you give Google Chrome a go!

4 responses so far

Mar 09 2010

Free(Your)Mind

"Free your mind, Neo." (Use FreeMind!)

When Morpheus from The Matrix instructs his pupil Neo to “free [his] mind”, it’s doubtful he was referring to FreeMind–the  online Java program that allows users to form easily editable mindmaps–but I bet Neo would have benefited from using the software, and maybe even figured out he was The One before Switch, Dozer, Apoc, and Mouse had to died.

Alas, Neo chose to do it the hard way.

FreeMind makes it easy to organize your thoughts, letting you construct something reminiscent of the brainstorms your primary school teachers introduced to you.  With FreeMind, however, you’re upgrading from pen and pencil to a digital format that doesn’t require your erasers to shed when you run out of room on carbon paper. And if you haven’t used the brainstorm format since those elementary

FreeMind Screenshot

FreeMind's Digital Method of Brainstorming

school days, it’s a disarmingly simple exercise that’s worth returning to for a try, especially when you’re juggling multiple ideas for that essay due tomorrow.  After all, an overabundance of ideas can crowd the smartest head until a new idea is impossible to generate.

The freeware (yup, free) is a fantastically light addition to your hard drive–4mb for the MS Windows lite version, and 9mb for the all-inclusive package (SVG and PDF export capabilities); and if you’re running a Mac or Linux OS, they’ve got you covered, too.

Stand-out features include the ability to “drag’n drop” nodes (information concepts), the fold- and unfolding of node trees, smart copying & pasting, and a plethora of means to highlight node importance or change its design (icons, background color, bubbles, clouds).  Check out an excellent introduction to FreeMind on YouTube here: FreeMind Tutorial.

So if you’re finding your brain overloaded by your university courses, try freeing up some mental space by dumping it onto your computer’s–and get it all organized at the same time!

Trust me and maybe you’ll find yourself bending some intellectual spoons of your own someday, too.

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Feb 12 2010

You Are What You Annotate

Now that the semester is moving forward you are probably trying to focus on being a productive student. So you came here to find some help in, right? Of course right. If you spend a lot of time researching on the internet there is a site called Diigo that you should check out.

To put it briefly Diigo is a highlighting, bookmarking and site sharing tool.

One of the reasons I started using Diigo was, it gave me the ability to highlight and place sticky notes on webpages. When I have to read a long online text for class a tool like Diigo gives me the option to directly annotate (take notes) on those pieces. So instead of printing out a bunch of pages I just bring my laptop to class and read my (searchable) notes. Plus, I am saving the environment, right? The notations have different setting: private, public, or shared with group. So depending on your need there are different settings. A fun little bonus to using Diigo is if anyone else has it installed on their computer and they place a sticky note on a webpage and make it a public note then anyone else who also has diigo can see it too.

Another great feature of Diigo is the ability to archive webpages in html and image formats. This is more than just being able to bookmark a page for later use, it gives you the ability to capture a site at a moment in time. This can come in handy for websites that have an ever changing face, like Wikipedia. Once you have saved a page in this format through Diigo they become searchable within your personal archive. So, if you can’t remember what words you used to tag a bookmark (or didn’t tag at all, shame on you!) you can find the page by remembering words that appeared on the page itself.

Whether it is strictly for your own personal use or for building a list of resources in a community, Diigo is a powerful way to organize and annotate the content on the web.

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Jan 15 2010

Fun Foto Effects

Maybe you are still thinking about the awesome winter break you had and my suggestion to create collages wasn’t enough for you. Perhaps you are feeling creative and want to spiff up some of you favorite photos. Why not try some fun photo filters? Before you complain about not having Photoshop or even the knowledge on how to create cool filters, why don’t you take a look at Rollip?

Rollip is a professional online photo effects site with 40 photo filters. Say you have a picture of NYC and you want to get artsy with your photo you can go easily go from this:

Rollip NYC Pic

to this:

Rollip NYC Effect4

Now you look like a professional photographer that knows how to change saturation and hue (insert other photography words) to create a new image, with a new feel. Rollip has an easy to use interface, it is all done online so you don’t have to worry about downloading any software to use and of course best of all it is free.

So, grab some favorite photos, try out some filters and tell your friends you worked for hours to get the right white balance…or something. Happy filtering!

3 responses so far

Jan 11 2010

Collages Made Easy

It is a new year and school is starting back up for starving students everywhere.

I’m sure during your winter break you took plenty of pictures of family, friends and perhaps some tropical locales you were lucky enough to visit. Now that you have all these lovely pictures I bet you are thinking about all the cool ways you can display them, right? You could spend your time printing pictures out and arranging them in a neat collage like you did back in middle school or you could head over to Photovisi and make a collage there.

Photovisi gives you lots of great template options to choose from and you can crop images inside the site too.  Best of all you don’t even have to sign-up to use their very easy to use  free tool. When you are done it creates an image perfectly sized for wallpaper on your desktop background. In a few minutes I made this:


cc licensed flickr photo shared by umwdtlt

Ok, so maybe I am not the most creative person in the world (yes that is a pizza box as the background) but, I am sure someone like you could make a collage much better than mine in no time at all. So go ahead and make that collage of you and your friends making fools of yourselves or maybe a secret collage of your celebrity crush. Also, if you happen to make a collage worth putting on everyday items you have the option personalize various products with your collage. Didn’t you always want a mug with your mug on it?


cc licensed flickr photo shared by umwdtlt

So try it out and let us know how it goes. If anything, the best part about online collages is not having to worry about getting glue all over the place or maybe that is just a personal issue…anyway happy collaging!

One response so far

Oct 26 2009

What is in a Resizing?

Since it has been awhile since we pointed out the handy work of new media specialist Andy Rush, I figured it was time again to give him props.

While it seems like a deceptively simple question, “How do you resize an image?” if you stop and think about it for a moment you will realize this is no easy matter. Sure you could bust out your MS paint and and do terrible things that new human being should ever do with it or you can take a look at a great resource list Andy blogged about.

So now that you have some tips from the new media pro himself go out and properly resize that blurry image you have on that social networking tool you use, we are tired of staring at pixelation.

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Oct 21 2009

Awesome Aviary Audio

The last time we discussed aviary, SfSS told you all about Aviary (http://aviary.com/home) and its ability to be your photo editor, for free.  Well, while Aviary is still all about that, it has some new functions that you should know about.  Let me introduce you to Myna, Aviary’s new free audio editor.  Have you ever had a dream about being that awesome DJ, spinning incredible tracks with laser lights going off all around you?  This could very well be your first step to realizing your ambitions, you go getter, you!

To start off with let’s talk about the layout:

Picture 5

It looks straightforward and comes with the same basic options that you would find on the older program Fruitloops, for those who have been in to making your own tracks for a while now.  Although the snap shot only shows a few of the tracks it carries ten tracks that you can test.  My favorite thing about this stuff is how absolutely painless it is for me to use.  Everything can be simply snapped to the grid and edited within there.  You have a whole host of options, creating fading in and out transitions, changing the gain, editing the clips, and more.  The best way to get yourself acquainted to this fun tool is to just start playing with it, although there is a helpful quick screencast to get you started.

Clips for this program come from three possible sources.  The library within Myna, which comes with a user’s agreement, boasts a wide range of clips from different cds, all of a techno genre or another.  Next, your own media library can be used as a resource for clips.  However, if you have say a part of a song that would fit so nicely into your mix, unless you have a clip prepared, it will generally pull the whole song, major buzz kill.  Oh and that third source of clips?  Well that is you, of course.  You can record directly into Myna, instruments, your voice, a baby crying, whatever.

Aviary as a whole is really awesome, especially with its support.  I had some funky saving issues when I created my first song, but I dropped aviary a line, got a response in no time flat and straightened the issue out.  So give it a whirl already!

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Sep 14 2009

Do the Doodle

Have you ever tried setting up a meeting with a lot of people via e-mail? If you have you probably know the confusion that can occur as people reply, reply-all, change their minds and never respond. Or maybe you already have a day picked out but your group can’t decide where to eat or what movie to see. Is there a web 2.0 solution for your problem? Why yes, yes there is.

Let me introduce you to a lovely site called Doodle.

So how does Doodle work? Let me quote directly from the site
1) Create a poll
2) Forward the link to the poll to the participants.
3)
Follow online what the participants vote for.

I used Doodle to help set up a meeting for those students interested in writing for this site (and if you are let me know!) and with a few clicks I was able to give them many time and day options. A nice feature of Doodle is that it will show you how many votes there are for each day/time combo. It may seem simple but this can give you a visual view of what day/time may be better and if you have more than one option for your get together. Another idea is creating a list of things you need people to bring to a party and have people sign up for what you need.

Give it a try and you will find that is much easier than the back and forth of e-mails and allows for many more nuances than simple e-mailing can’t get at. So throw a party, have doodle help you set it all up and don’t forget to invite your favorite starving students.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Joe Shlabotnik

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Aug 28 2009

Media Converter

Converter Magic!

Converter Magic!

Have you ever had a song that you can’t find on itunes and you really want to get it? I have, and this is the way I figured out how to do it for free! A friend of mine introduced me to this website and I think that it is really cool. so the website itself is http://www.mediaconverter.org and this is how I have been using it. First of all this website as far as I can tell is open to anyone and you don’t even have to sign up or give any information. The purpose of this website, or what I have been using it for is to rip the audio track off a video (I use Youtube) and then be able to transfer it to your ipod or musical device. So, this is how you do it (keep in mind there might be easier ways to do this but this is what has worked for me)  When you go to the website on the home page there is a box in the middle of the page that’s called the conversion wizard. Click the “enter a link button” and then copy and paste a link from a video of which you want the song and then hit “ok”  Now the screen should look a lot like it did when you started but now on the far right there is a green arrow that says “go to the next step” click on it. Now it’s going to ask you what output file type you would like select mp3 there are a lot of options here and you could probably play around with it and get it to do something else if you wanted to but I haven’t gone as far to do that yet. So, hit ok and now it should say that there is one file in the queue, hit “start” now there should be a loading bar on the lower half of the page telling you how far along it is. Once that is finished loading then a link should appear that says download, click on that. A screen should pop up asking you what program you want to open it with, this works with itunes however it does have a few quirks. The song title will be whatever the title of the video was and you can’t change it. Also, I have found that once you exit Media Converter that the song becomes unplayable. My suggestion is to put it on your ipod while you still have the site open. This may seem like a hassle but it does work and if you really want a song it is free! One more thing, you might notice that at the top of the box on the home screen it tells you that you have a certain number of conversions left I have been using this for a while and I have never run out**. I also tend to only download one song at a time so maybe if you download say five songs in a short span of time it will make you wait a while before you can download any more. I hope this is helpful to people and if you have any questions I will try and answer them. Thanks!

**The counter lets you know how many conversions you can do in a day.  If you’ve got a free account, which is what we are all about, then you get five conversions per day.  But!  Don’t let that fool you, you can get five conversions a day, which should work just fine.  If dealing with that restriction isn’t for you, check out the cash-money version.  The “pro” isn’t too expensive, but I like it free.

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