Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sony's $1,100 dollar Digital Paper

Sony has now set the release date of their new EInk product for May. This technology is amazing.. and costly.

At around $1,100 dollars, it's not something everyone is going to be picking up at your local electronics store.

However, while the price is not impressive, the product is. These things are amazing. 

They are nearly as light as paper, are nearly as flexible as paper, and have a crazy long 3 week battery life.

Sony got away from using glass because of the rigidity and weight that comes with using glass.

They come with 4gb of storage space, which isn't really all that much, however, they also come with a sd card slot for expansion.

You won't see any colors on this display, but that's intentional. The idea is for this to be easy to read and crisp looking. And it is.

I am also a fan of the size being legal paper size. That means that documents will load with no scroll bars, because they will be at normal size.

Some quick facts:

The screen is 13.3-inches

It handles PDFs and accepts handwriting input

It only weighs 12.6 oz

It has a high resolution 1200 x 1600, 16-level gray scale display

The screen has touch controls and stylus input. but no back light.

For more information, Sony has created a nice little graphical presentation at:

Friday, March 28, 2014

The best Ubuntu screenshot utility?

After years of using screen shot utilities like Shutter (which is a beautiful, well made screen shot utility), I still find myself going back to a rather simple but very effective screen shot utility. 

That's right, XFCE's screen shot utility, "xfce4-screenshooter". (This is also the command for launching it.)

With the many options available such as Shutter, Snapper, Scrot, Screenie-QT, gtk-vector-screenshot, gnome-screenshot, gpe-screenshot (just to name a few, because I didn't include such options as gkrellshot with image magick, for instance)... why would I choose xfce4-screenshooter?

The simple answer is simplicity. All the options I need, none that I don't, and fast as a whip.

Shutter is beautiful, but takes a bit to load on my machine. xfce4-screenshooter loads instantaneously for me. 

And all the options I use are right at my fingertips.

Here's a screen shot of the utility in action:

I mostly use the "select a region" option. As you can see, it does not have the plethora of options Shutter has. It only saves as png, and as for options, you are looking at 'em.

Of coarse some people have very specific needs, and there is a lot to be said for fuller screen shot utilities like Shutter. But for my money, xfce4-screenshooter is the tops.

Here's what the xfce4-screenshooter team had to say about their software:

"The Xfce4-screenshooter is an application that can be used to take snapshots of your desktop screen.

This application allows you to capture the entire screen, the active window or a selected region. You can set the delay that elapses before the screenshot is taken and the action that will be done with the screenshot: save it to a PNG file, copy it to the clipboard, open it using another application, or host it on ZimageZ, a free online image hosting service." -

To install xfce4-screenshooter in Ubuntu, it as simple as sudo apt-get install xfce4-screenshooter in your terminal emulator, or use a package manager such as Ubuntu Software Center or Synaptic to install it.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Songza, a free music streaming and recommendation service

Looking for a good place to listen to music, I found Songza.

Considering the plethora of services out there, what makes Songza special?

A mix of great playlists and the fact that Songza attempts to mirror your current mood.
Rather successfully in my opinion, I might add.

Here's a blurb about Songza I found at Wikipedia:

"Stating that its playlists are made by music experts, the service recommends various playlists based on time of day and mood or activity. Songza offers playlists for activities such as waking up, working out, commuting, concentrating, unwinding, entertaining, and sleeping. Users can vote songs up or down, and the service will adapt to the user's personal music preferences. Users can find playlists not just based on artists, songs, or genres, but also based on themes, interests, and eras, such as "songs in Apple Commercials", "90s One-Hit Wonders", and "Music of Fashion Week". Songza is headquartered in the Long Island City neighborhood of New York City."

Here's a visual look at what Songza offered me this morning to try and figure my mood out:

I love this service. Free, geared to my current mood, and great song titles make this a 10 out of 10 for me.

Check it out and decide for yourself. Songza.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

101 Very Useful Websites

When stumbling around the internet (thanks to stumbleupon) I found this very useful list, and just wanted to share it with you.

While I disagree with the original forum post statement that these sites are the "most useful" sites available, they are very useful.

Here it is, as seen at

1. – record movies of your desktop and send them straight to YouTube.
2. – for capturing screenshots of web pages on mobile and desktops.
3. – shorten long URLs and convert URLs into QR codes.
4. – find the original URL that's hiding behind a short URL.
5. qClock – find the local time of a city using a Google Map.
6. – copy special characters that aren't on your keyboard.
7. – a better search engine for twitter.
8. – create flowcharts, network diagrams, sitemaps, etc.
9. – the best place to find icons of all sizes.
10. – download templates, clipart and images for your Office documents.
11. – the easiest way to setup email reminders.
12. – scan any suspicious file or email attachment for viruses.
13. – gets answers directly without searching - see more wolfram tips.
14. – print web pages without the clutter.
15. – reformats news articles and blog content as a newspaper.
16. – a search engine for RSS feeds.
17. – a simple online timer for your daily needs.
18. – if a site is down due to heavy traffic, try accessing it through coral CDN.
19. – pick random numbers, flip coins, and more.
20. – lets you can quickly edit PDFs in the browser itself.
21. – Preview PDFs and Presentations directly in the browser.
22. – simultaneously upload videos to YouTube and other video sites.
23. – your virtual whiteboard.
24. – share you email address online without worrying about spam.
25. – now get read receipts for your email.
26. – visualize and compare the size of any product.
27. – quickly determine the font name from an image.
28. – a good collection of open source fonts.
29. – find data hidden in your photographs – see more EXIF tools.
30. – broadcast events live over the web, including your desktop screen.
31. – helps you search domains across all TLDs.
32. – design from scratch or re-model your home in 3d.
33. – share you screen with anyone over the web.
34. – recognize text from scanned PDFs - see other OCR tools.
35. - Track flight status at airports worldwide.
36. – for sharing really big files online.
37. – best-sellers on all subjects that you can download for free.
38. – check your writing for spelling or grammatical errors.
39. – easily highlight the important parts of a web page for sharing.
40. – work on the same document with multiple people.
41. – planning an event? find a date that works for all.
42. – a less confusing view of the world time zones.
43. – the perfect tool for measuring your site performance online.
44. – print music sheets, write your own music online (review).
45. - chat with your buddies on Skype, Facebook, Google Talk, etc. from one place.
46. – translate web pages, PDFs and Office documents.
47. – create paintings and sketches with a wide variety of brushes.
48. – discover new sites that are similar to what you like already.
49. – quick summarize long pieces of text with tag clouds.
50. – create mind-maps, brainstorm ideas in the browser.
51. – get color ideas, also extract colors from photographs.
52. – share your photos in an album instantly.
53. – when your friends are too lazy to use Google on their own.
54. – when you need to find the name of a song.
55. – automatically find perfectly-sized wallpapers for mobiles.56. – send an online fax for free – see more fax services.
57. – get RSS feeds as an email newsletter.
58. – quickly send a file to someone, they can even preview it before downloading.
59. – transfer files of any size without uploading to a third-party server.
60. – setup a private chat room in micro-seconds.
61. – create text notes that will self-destruct after being read.
62. – track the status of any shipment on Google Maps – alternative.
63. – when you need to raise funds online for an event or a cause.
64. – find if your favorite website is offline or not?
65. – find the other websites of a person with reverse Analytics lookup.
66. – find the web host of any website.
67. – found something on Google but can't remember it now?
68. – an online audio editor that lets record, and remix audio clips online.
69. – create a temporary web page that self-destruct.
70. – find definitions of slangs and informal words.
71. – consult this site before choosing a seat for your next flight.
72. – download stock images absolutely free.
73. – view very high-resolution images in your browser without scrolling.
74. – quickly create custom Google Maps online.
75. – quickly setup email reminders for important events.
76. – Picnik is offline but PicMonkey is an even better image editor.
77. – you can ask or answer personal questions here.
78. – an excellent layer-based online image editor.
79. – find if that email offer you received is real or just another scam.
80. – master touch-typing with these practice sessions.
81. – send video emails to anyone using your web cam.
82. – create timelines with audio, video and images.
83. – make a movie out of your images, audio and video clips.
84. – check the trust level of any website.
85. – a beautiful to-do app that looks like your paper dairy.
86. – you'll need this when your bookmarked web pages are deleted.87. – quickly capture effective notes during meetings.
88. – Watch YouTube channels in TV mode.
89. – quickly create a video playlist of your favorite artist.
90. – Send tweets longer than 140 characters.
91. – create a free and simple website using your Dropbox account.
92. – find the technology stack of any website.
93. – research a website from the SEO perspective.
94. – broadcast live audio over the web.
95. – bookmark online videos and watch them later (review).
96. – add QR codes to your documents and presentations (review).
97. – the easiest way to write short text notes in the browser.
98. – send rich-text mails to anyone, anonymously.
99. – hire people to do little things for $5.
100. – easily manage your online files on Dropbox, Google Docs, etc. – create a connection between all your online accounts.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

SCM Music Player - seamless music for your website

I found this unique software while rummaging through Ubuntu blogs. It's a unique little player that will play the audio stream from many sources including YouTube right on your website.

Here's the blurb from, the home of SCM:

"SCM Music Player is a free and open source web music player, that brings a seamless music experience to your website. Support Tumblr, Blogger and various blogs.

Continuous Playback Cross Pages - Seamless playback throughout your website.
Full Featured Control - Play, pause, next, previous, seek, shuffle, repeat mode, volume and more.
Custom Skins - Match your look and feel. Choose or design your own skin with CSS.
Dynamic Playlist - Music from various sources: MP3, SoundCloud, YouTube, RSS in HTML5 or Flash.
Flexible UI - Dockable player on top or bottom. Playlist can be toggled.
Setup Wizard - Create your SCM Music Player without any pain."

You can choose from the default skins (which are pictured directly below this sentence), or you can create a custom skin.

Here is a list of more features, again thanks to :

"SCM Music Player provides full featured control on your music. Apart from predefined configurations in Setup Wizard, you can also control SCM Music Player in various ways:

Custom Skins
SCM Music Player skin is purely based on CSS, which is easy to customize. You can check over the source to see how they look like.

Javascript Methods
You can also control SCM Music Player via Javascript. The script exposes SCM to global scope with the following methods.;
Plays the current song.
Pause the currently playing song.
Loads the previous song in playlist.;
Loads the next song in playlist.
Queue a song title x url y to the playlist.{title:'x',url:'y'});
Add a song title x url y to the playlist and play it.
Sets the volume. Accepts an integer vol between 0 and 100.'x');
Change skin of SCM Music Player, with x being the link to a custom skin css file.
Change placement of the player bar. Accepts a string pos 'top' or 'bottom'
Loads the specified playlist url x.
SCM.loadPlaylist([{title:'x1',url:'y1'}, {title:'x2',url:'y2'}, ...]);
Loads the specified list of songs with their title and url respectively.
Set the repeat mode of playlist. Accepted values of no are:
0 (play playlist once), 1 (repeat playlist), 2 (repeat item).
Set whether playback order should be shuffled. Accepts a boolean x true or false.
Set whether playlist is being shown. Accepts a boolean x true or false."

The set up I saw was playing that new popular song from the Disney movie Frozen, thanks to the YouTube video's audio stream.

While this is not my style, it could make for a great addition to something like a gaming blog, for instance.

If you like the idea of a music player that can get content from somewhere besides your personal hard drive or cloud share, this is the player for you.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Write a letter to your future self

While stumbling around the internet I found an interesting website with a unique tool.

OhLife is a service that helps you keep a diary through your email. As neat as this service is by itself,
the other service they offer, aptly named "Time capsule" is the one I am writing about today.

Have an appointment you need to remember? Send yourself an email in the future letting yourself know about it.

There are many calendar services on the internet that will do this, but they all require you to have an account with them, and they are not as straight forward and easy to use as Time Capsule is.

If you would like to check out this service, it's available here:

If you are curious about the email driven diary/journal service, it's available here:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ubuntu wants your input on Unity

The Ubuntu community wants your opinion on what direction Unity should take.

Personally, if I had one gripe it would be that Unity is such a resource hog. Let's make Unity light as a feather graphically, so that regular office machines with mediocre graphics hardware can also run this desktop environment without being "as slow as molasses in January". (I'm from Wisconsin.)

But don't let my opinion sway yours. They need your unbiased opinion.

You can take the survey here:

Here's a little blurb about the survey, in case you are interested:

"Run annually since 2011, the survey is organised by Ubuntu community member Nathan Heafner.

The aim is to gather enough data on the opinions, trends and preferences of users to enable community resources and outreach to be ‘refocus[ed] where they are most needed’.

Noble in aim, and noble in action, too. The full results from the survey are published in the open for everyone to read, use and learn from. That may sound trivial but with no spinning of statistics, or fudging of findings to suit a pre-established edict, it’s a big plus.

Take the Survey
Completing the survey shouldn’t take more than three minutes, and no identifiable information is required.

Topics range from your choice of main OS to that of your preferred desktop environment; from your opinion of the default Ubuntu wallpaper to whether you shut off Unity’s semi-semantic smart scopes service.

In short, if you have an opinion about Ubuntu, Unity or the community as a whole then this survey offers the most fruitful place to register it.

Closing date is May 4th." -OMG Ubuntu