Tag Archive 'stuff'

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 22 2009

Ubuntu Update!

Published by under Uncategorized

Last week theYeahNo added a post to sfss about the amazing Ubuntu.  I thought I’d let you all know that if you don’t want to take the time to download Ubuntu on your computer, say you want to take this baby for a test drive, you can come down to the third floor of Dupont and pick yourself up a copy.  If you like it, keep it on your machine, but if not, that’s okay too!  So I have lots of copies, check it out.

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Sep 18 2009

Linux for Human Beings

Published by under Software Stuff

What do you have on your computer? Check it out, we’ll wait.

If our stats are correct, odds are good that it’s Windows. Maybe Windows XP, but probably Windows Vista. Maybe you’re getting ready to upgrade to this “Windows 7″ that Microsoft is hyping recently. Want to save your money? Get Ubuntu instead.

Whoa. Whoa. Wait.

WTF is Ubuntu? Ubuntu is a distribution (basically a version) of an operating system called Linux (sometimes GNU/Linux). Ubuntu is built completely open source by people who love what they do and distributed absolutely free (free as in beer and free as in speech ).

You don’t need to be a geek to use Linux. Ubuntu is easy to install, and just about everything you need is a few clicks away. It comes with Firefox and a complete office suite and everything else you need to get up and running right away. It’s not a virus-magnet like Windows (remember how you had to install antivirus software to get onto the network?) because it is stable, reliable and secure. The support community is huge because it’s open source, and the people who know it really know it. Ubuntu and most (if not all) of the software bundled with it is released under the GNU General Public License.

Check out Ubuntu here. Talk to someone about it. Above all, be free.

-A

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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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Sep 14 2009

IObit SystemCare

I’m one of those people who looks online continuously for computer programs that will help my computer become more lean.  Be it defragging, antispyware, firewall, or antivirus software, I’m always looking for the greener pasture, and although this robs me of work time every now and then, it does mean my computer doesn’t have any viruses.  When I think of computer programs that have improved my productivity, I sometimes actually think of an entire company–IOBit.

IOBit has three major products:  Advanced SystemCare, Smart Defrag, and Security 360, which just left beta testing recently.  These three programs will clean your registry, delete spyware, optimize settings, defrag, and protect your system from threats that one can easily pick up while downloading the latest Jessica Biel screensavers.  While there are paid versions offered, the free versions work pretty much the same except with a few gimped settings, including their periodic scans being locked.

As said earlier, Security 360 is the latest addition to their arsenal and acts much like other anti-malware products do (except better).  Being as the main selling point of these programs is how easy they are to use (and they really are), it only takes one click to scan your system for spyware, and another to protect your computer from malware actively, much like Spybot Search and Destroy uses the its “immunize” function.  It also includes a scan for security holes and a privacy sweeper.

There really isn’t anything like trying these programs out for yourself though, and if it makes you feel any better, they are clean and easy to uninstall, too.

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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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Aug 19 2009

Help Is On The Way

Like we stated many many months ago when Stuff for Starving Students was first kicking off, we are huge fans of Firefox. One of the best features of Firefox is that ability to use add-ons to extend the functionality of your browser. We have discussed a couple of add-ons in the past, like Zotero, Delicious and Aviary. Today we present another add-on to decorate your browser – Video DownloadHelper.

Video DownloadHelper Icon
cc licensed flickr photo shared by umwdtlt

Video DownloadHelper is capable of searching a site you are on for videos and allows you to download the video off the site so that you can repurpose them in ways you need. Nothing illegal going on here (unless you choose to use the content you download illegally of course) it just gives you easier access to content that your browser is downloading anyway. Wondering how you might use this neat add-on? New Media Specialist Andy Rush has a post on embedding YouTube videos in PowerPoint presentations offline using the DownloadHelper add-on.

After enabling the add-on in Firefox whenever you see the DownloadHelper icon (it looks like a molecule) light up and rotate you will know that there are videos on that site available to download. YouTube is just one of the many sites that this add-on supports. So if you find that perfect video for your next project you no longer need to worry about the internet working in your classroom that day if you have already downloaded it.

There are many more possibilities with this add-on and we are curious to know how you use it in your travels, so leave a comment!

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Aug 12 2009

Zotero-iffic Redux

As a dedicated Stuff for Starving Students reader I’m sure that you remember the post we did a few months ago on the Firefox add-on Zotero. So I am assuming you know the basics and have been using that add-on for many months now. If not, I would definitely take a look at the post then come right back here for the latest update to one of the sweetest Firefox add-ons.

When we first talked about Zotero it could only live on one computer but the upgrade that everyone has been waiting for has occurred. Now, Zotero allows you to access your library from any computer so you no longer have to worry about being at your computer to access your research information. Even better is you can now collaborate with other users through group libraries, so sharing the information you have come across in your research is even easier.

Zotero Groups Screenshot
cc licensed flickr photo shared by umwdtlt

Now with the access to your library anywhere and collaborative group libraries you have no reason not to use this add-on for your research. I know you are probably so used to doing things a certain way but, try it for at least one paper or project and I am sure you will see what all of us at Stuff for Starving Students love so much about Zotero. If you are not satisfied we have a money-back guarantee so what are you waiting for? 😉

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Aug 04 2009

ResearchGATE: Get Your Science 2.0 On

Attention all you budding young scientists (and you older ones too!), here is your chance to make some scholarly connections. If you’ve been around the internet you’ve probably noticed the plethora of social networking websites, tools for collaboration, discussion, and search engines. If you are a scientist and have been looking for a place that brings all the previously mentioned tools together (and more), pull out your microscope and take a closer look at ResearchGATE.

First of all ResearchGATE acts as a social networking site that allows you to create a profile that lists all your important information (your papers, interests, skills, etc). You can then add other researchers and scientists as contacts. This opens the door for possible research partners in the future. Like other social networking sites ResearchGATE allows the users to create groups around interests and topics. The significance of have such a feature for researchers has already been seen during the current swine flu crisis. At the end of April 2009, ResearchGATE blogged about a group that had formed to discuss influenza research. Within a short time the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) contacted ResearchGATE to offer their support for the activities of the research group.

A key feature of ResearchGATE is its ability to allow researchers to collaborate more effectively and efficiently over the web. It enables easy document sharing and participation so there is limited confusion on edits and saves time on e-mailing documents back and forth.

Lastly, ResearchGATE’s powerful search engine gives you the semantic advantage when searching. There is not only internal access to the documents other researchers put up on the site but, it also can search externally with access to over 30 million documents publication metadata. In addition, the Similar Abstract Search Engine (SASE) lets you submit an entire abstract and the intelligent design of the search algorithms will bring up relevant and related research, very cool. The search capabilities of the site allow you to easily discover other peoples work and keep track of the research you are most interested in.

Signup is free and most basic services come at no charge and as you know, we like free.

ResearchGATE brings many robust features together in one place and is encouraging more thoughtful and effective collaboration between researchers. We here at Stuff for Starving Students have to wonder are sites like this the next step in the evolution of research? If so, what are the implications of this paradigm shift in communication between researchers? Only time will tell but, it is exciting to see the glimmer of what the future might hold.

Image in post is cc licensed flickr photo shared by pheezy

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Jul 23 2009

Jing Thing

Now Jing might sound like the name of a  Chinese dynasty but, it is actually a free piece of software that allows you to do screen captures, create screencasts, and share it all easily. So lets break Jing down.

As a screen capturing software it is great. As some of you Windows users probably have experienced, taking screenshots is a pain in the behind. Jing allows you to capture a window, pane, or region so you get just what you need. Jing also has a simple markup feature so you can add a text box, arrow, rectangle, or highlight what you want. After you have your screenshot you have several options for sharing it. Either creating a link, sending it to Flickr, or just saving it to your desktop. One of Jing’s aims is to make sharing of your stuff as easy & quick as possible and they do this well.

Jing also can let you record up to 5 minutes of video of the window or region of your choice. Creating a quick and cheap screencast is simple with the features that let you narrate on the fly and allow you to upload your product as soon as you finish recording. Along the same lines as screen captures Jing makes it easy to share your screencasts with the world. So before you know it you will be screencasting like Andy Rush!

Now I’ve been speaking strictly about the free version of Jing but, if you find the service useful you may consider upgrading to the pro account for $14.95 a year. With that you have more uploading and encoding options for your screencasts, lose the logo on videos and add webcam footage into your screencasts. If that is not for you Jing still has the basic account for free (and we like free).

Like we always say here at Stuff for Starving Students, try it and see what you think. And if you’ve done something really cool with any “stuff” we have talked about (or haven’t!) let us know and we will feature you.

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