28 February 2011

Twipho: Twitter Photo And Video Search Engine

twipho logo

By now I already have seen and used a dozen of Twitter focused image search engines. From that dozen i have even posted about 6 of them. From those, only 3 can be considered very good or even excellent in my opinion. Twipho is one of those three.

twipho.net screenshot

Twipho is a great Twitter focused photo and video search engine with a simple but great looking design and user experience.  It supports searching from Twitpic (photos and video), Twitvid (video), img.ly (photos) and yfrog  (photos and video). The most unique features are its translucent card-like match controls and floating filter  settings sidebar. Plus the fact it searches as you type and can search for photos taken or uploaded close to wherever you happen to be when doing a search.

twipho.net search query screenshot

The way I see Twipho is as a direct evolution in experience of Twicsy. from the fact it is a straightforward search engine, to the kind of base design and layout both use.

twipho.net query results hover controls screenshot

Twipho search results are very good as it concentrates in giving you the 100 most recent relevant search result matches to any query.  But also lets you tweak how you do the search query by specifying the numbers of results you want, what Twitter Photo or Video Host to search and to also reduce duplicated results by filtering RTed photo matches. All of this in a floating filters settings sidebar.

The search result matches displays (when cursor hovered) a card-like controls that contain the twitter username of the sharer, tweet text,  time mark, point of origin (app and host)  and proper links (tweet link, photo/video link and RTing link)

When you  activate Twipho “photos near me” in the search form, it will search for results based on your location also asking you to confirm the location it detects you to be in or specify yourself the location manually if it is not the right one.

Finally also worth mentioning is that video results are aggregated to the bulk of results when you do any query. These video results of course only come from Twitpic and Twitvid.

Twipho is simply great. Totally recommended and worth your time to use it. 

Linkage

Twipho

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PicFog: Quick Image Search

PicFog logo

Someone suggested me to take a look at this twitter image search engine over E-mail.  Thing I found incredible after trying it,  since it  is actually pretty bad compared to Twicsy and horrendous when compared to Twipho or Hashalbum.  But I decided to post about it because to appreciate the good you have to experience the bad. And also so anyone thinks twice before mindlessly trying to push me a service or app that is nowhere near good or works in any way compared with similar services or apps.

PicFog.com Screenshot

PicFog is a Twitter focused image search engine. Claims to search and show images from Twitpic, yfrog, plixi and Twitgoo. Unfortunately based on the 30 different search queries I tried, either it was not working on the two different days I tried to use it. Or it just don’t works right anymore.  Not worth the time to tryout being there are way better alternatives.

PicFog wp7 image search showing a single result

              (a search showing one result when others show hundreds, something is certainly not right)

 

Beyond the fact it didn’t worked right the times I tried to use it, it also got this plain and boring design that don’t does it any favors either. Avoid for the moment, use Twicsy, Twipho or Hashalbum instead. But will give it the benefit of the doubt in the case it gets updated and manages to get any good.

Linkage

PicFog

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64bit Checker: Know If Your PC Can Run A 64bit Windows OS

64bit Checker - 64bit Detection Screenshot

There is no doubt that a 64bit Windows OS is  better than one of 32bit for many reasons we will not get into here. But the problem is knowing for sure if your PC can support its installation or not. Windows 64bit rise started once Vista reached SP1, but with Windows 7 launch it finally reached the point where it could almost grasp for mainstream availability and usage. Last week release of Windows 7 SP1 should make that a reality this year, as its adoption accelerates even more thanks to that milestone.

64bit Checker  by igorware is a tiny (68kb) portable app that makes checking if your Windows PC got 64bit compatibility a breeze.  How much of a breeze? enough for me to tell you that it can be downloaded and used right away in 15 seconds.

For example, here below is a screenshot of it running in my Asus 1201n telling me that the machine does support and can run a 64bit OS if I so want to, while at the same time giving me the quick data of what I am running and what kind of processor it is running :

64bit Checker - 32bit detection screenshot

Beyond telling about the 64bit compatibility of your PC, the only other thing it does besides that,  is to generate a report snippet. That you can Copy to your clipboard, Save to a .TXT file or as a .HTML file.

64bit Checker - Report Panel Screenshot

A report from 64bit Checker  would read as the text that follows:

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Your Windows is detected as 32bit (x86).


Name:        Windows 7 Home Premium
Version:    6.1.7601
Service Pack:    Service Pack 1
Type:        Multiprocessor Free
Install. Date:    Thursday, March 18, 2010
Processor:    Your CPU supports 64bit (x64) operating systems.

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64bit Checker does what it says and does it well while being a zero friction app that is almost data weightless and runs instantly without any need of installation. Only observation of what could be better is if it could extract and offer more data about the system as a plus to what it does. Other than that, it is good as it is. Works on any Windows OS (desktop or server) from Win 95 up to Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2

Linkage

64bit Checker Info                                 <— Homepage

64bit Checker                                          <—Direct Download Link

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27 February 2011

Windows 7 SP1

tmp6B

One of the best things about Windows 7 compared to XP and Vista is how integrated and in a sense simple and almost unnoticeable to the common user Windows  Update is. So while many gigs of info have been blogged about it, the truth is that you don’t actually really need to be told much about it if you already have a PC running Windows 7. So, yes I am also part of that particular blogging problem.

So what is new in Windows 7 SP1 ?

As explained by Microsoft:

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is an important update that includes previously released security, performance, and stability updates for Windows 7. SP1 also includes new improvements to features and services in Windows 7, such as improved reliability when connecting to HDMI audio devices, printing using the XPS Viewer, and restoring previous folders in Windows Explorer after restarting.

Why it is important to install it now than just wait for it to be a mandatory update?

Because it makes your system a bit more secure if it is updated and thanks to all the updates up now being included and revised in it, it will also make your system slightly faster because of the improved software performance and stability it also gives to your system. And if we try to keep things straight here: Because you are gonna need to install it anyway, so why to delay something that is a good thing anyway?

Is there anything that should be done before installing it?

Yes, actually there is.  As with any Service Pack, no matter what anyone else tells you, the order of the updates DOES matter. In Windows 7 nothing will actually break (if your OS is correctly configured of course), it is just about having things right and as smooth as they can be. And installing things in order does make that small but important difference.

So, before you install Windows 7 SP1 in your system, please make sure to check all the updates for your system, including the optional ones and install them all BEFORE you get to install Windows 7 SP1. This is specially important for 64bit users. As a few bad installations reported are almost only from those using the 64bit version of Windows 7.

Is that it?

No, while you are at it updating your OS, maybe you should also take the time as a personal favor to yourself to update your drivers and installed apps if you can. Now, that is it. Go and launch Windows Update and get Windows 7 SP1. And if you don’t see it,  then you also can get it via this post.

Depending on your Windows version, it should weight 50-70mb and should occupy 150-250mb in your HDD/SDD.  Installation time depending on your PC specs should take anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes if all goes well, requiring a reboot. 2 if you do as I recommend and install other updated before it.

Linkage

Windows 7 SP1

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17 February 2011

Unshorten: Online Short Url Checker

unshorten.com logo

Shorturls are now everywhere. And if you see one in a comment, forum or blog not of your trust, then you should check where it leads before clicking. Just to avoid the hassle of seeing something unpleasant or load some spyware/adware/malware.

unshorten.com screenshot

Unshorten is a online short url checker to resolve shorturls and see where they lead without having to click them. A simple website with a url input form for you to paste the shorturl you want resolved. One click after and it will show you in a little box below where that link goes. That is it.

A good alternative to X-Ray URL.

Linkage

Unshorten

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Adobe Flash 10.2: Accelerating RIA’s And Online Video

Adobe Logo

The title I settled with is not the original one I first had in mind. But I thought that “Flash 10.2: The Red Empire Strikes Back” read too cheesy, so I discarded it. That said, I still had to  put it in this post intro because it is partly what Flash 10.2 is all about.  Adobe fighting back to keep their edge.

Flash 10.2 took 8 months from the release of Flash 10.1 to appear in stable form. But unlike 10.1, Adobe  is no longer in the need of saving face. 10.1  has been a great Flash release so far and this 10.2 release just advances what Adobe started with 10.1.

This new release is all about advancing, accelerating and improving  RIA’s and  online video streaming for those using a Flash/Flex/AIR backend.  While this post is about the desktop version, it is clear to me that Flash 10.2 was designed with both Mobile and Desktop scenarios in equal priority. 

New Features

    • Stage Video lets websites take advantage of full hardware acceleration of the entire video pipeline. This builds on the H.264 hardware accelerated decoding in Flash Player 10.1. Stage Video hardware acceleration means that Flash Player can play even higher quality video while using dramatically less processing power, giving users a better experience, greater performance, and longer battery life. In our testing across supported systems, we’ve found it’s up to 34 times more efficient.
    • Video at its best is immersive, so Flash Player allows you jump to true full screen playback with one click. With multiple display full screen support in Flash Player 10.2, you can now easily watch your favorite videos in true full screen on one display while you multitask on another and get some work done (or not).
    • Added support for custom native mouse cursors lets designers and developers create their own static or animated cursors with silky smooth responsiveness, enabling richer game and application interfaces.
    • New sub-pixel text rendering enhancements leverage Adobe typography research to further enhance text readability, especially for complex character-based languages.
    • Support is included for the GPU rendering technology in Microsoft’s upcoming Internet Explorer 9 browser
    • 64-bits support for Windows.

The Effects

  • 1.-Smoother (no jerking or FPS drops) HD video playback even if still loading a buffer in the background. 
  • 2.-Faster and more accurate responsiveness in Flash/Flex made experiences in general.
  • 3.-Better Performance overall. I would say there was a increase in 10-15% in that area.
  • 4.-Better battery life. If you are using a Laptop, Netbook or ultraportable, you will be happy to now that I noted a increase of 10% more battery life across a Laptop and a Netbook. while anecdotal, I do have read other opinions stating the same. So there is that.
  • 5.-Faster AIR apps.  If you got AIR 2.5 installed, remember to install both IE and Non-IE versions of Flash 10.2. I noted a very perceivable 25-35% performance increase in the AIR apps I use. Which is awesome because AIR 2.5 has already been a serious  speed booster.
  • 6.-Lower RAM consume. Not by much, just something like 10-15% less. But still note worthy.

The Bottom Line

Flash 10.2 is better, faster and richer as it should be when compared to 10.1, but what is even better is that you will immediately notice it (specially if you are a Windows user with IE8 or IE9 as your main browser). Flash is and will continue to be a integral part of both the full web and desktop app experiences (Thanks to AIR). While the march of web tech progress continues, there is no question about Flash still been way ahead of it for rich experiences, faster development and testing. Something that taking in count Adobe’s gloating of their new found momentum in mobile, said lead should continue for more years to come.

In the end, only other RIA techs like Silverlight and Unity compete with Flash, Shockwave and AIR.  And thanks to that other competition, I don’t expect Adobe to fall sleep at the wheel either, that and also the push for mobile computing.

Linkage

Adobe Flash                                                                    <—Official Homepage

Adobe Flash for IE                                                        <— Quick Download Page

Adobe Flash for Other Browsers                             <— Quick Download Page

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12 February 2011

Yahoo Messenger For Vista: A Portable WPF Based Yahoo Messenger You Can Use in XP, Vista and 7

Yahoo Messenger for Vista Splash Logo

Ok, this is an oldie but goodie for WPF fans. Back in late 2006 when Yahoo was still mighty and a tad bit pretentious, they decided to start making a version of Yahoo Messenger only for the still somewhat new Windows  Vista, or so they thought then. They released if I remember right 1 alpha and 1 beta during 2006-2007. By late 2007  after some months of silence on the subject, they announced they were discarding the idea altogether.

Yahoo Messenger for Vista is a .NET/WPF 3.0  based Portable (Folder Contained) Instant Messenger Client for the Yahoo IM Network.  Originally artificially limited to Vista Users, it is one of the most interesting explorations by a big IM network to make a premium Windows Only client in .NET tech considering the year it was originally thought out.

You can now run it without installing it and not just in vista but in XP and 7. One of the most interesting aspects of this Yahoo exploration of WPF was that it was a dynamic and rich but easy and simple  client that was meant to integrate the best with a Aero Enabled Vista Desktop. Thing it achieved in spades I must say. Even when seen from a Aero Enabled Windows 7 Desktop, The thing just looks nice with its WPF Lush colors and Aero Transparent borders. 

How To Run It

It is really easy, just download the ZIP file from the download page linked from this post. Then locate the file named Yahoo.Messenger.YmApp.exe  inside the Yahoo Messenger for Vista folder you first need to extract from the already mentioned zip file.

Now you can decide to just run it from wherever or move the whole folder to Program Files in C: and add a shortcut to the executable in your desktop or start menu. Things you can do confidently as the program will show a proper icon for the App. Once you decide, just double click it and the app will run as it is.

Yahoo Messenger for Vista Sign In

Yahoo Messenger for Vista Signing In

As a plus to the Yahoo Messenger for Vista being able to just be executed, is that it even comes with a companion Windows Gadget. You can execute its installer too and add this gadget in your desktop (also works in XP) to track your Yahoo Favorite Contacts connections. Alternatively the gadget also works as a launcher for the Yahoo Messenger for Vista in case you don’t want a shortcut in your desktop or start menu.

Yahoo Messenger for Vista Sign In Animation + Windows Gadget Companion

Yahoo Messenger for Vista signed in + a Chat Window Open

Yahoo Messenger for Vista + a invite notification dialog open

The setup of the client it is a simple one by design. the real thoughtful touches it got are in its minimalism and customization. You can customize the size of the app window, the contacts look and the color of the app in a very swift way.

Yahoo Messenger for Vista Chat Window with Live Color Chooser Opened

As you start using it and activate a chat window, you will note that I comes with the most important features for a IM client:

Yahoo Messenger for Vista Emoticons Window

Emoticons, that show in a transparent display with a animated selector preview,

Yahoo Messenger Chat Text Settings Window

Text Chat Customization and Controls and a simple default send file dialog.

Some Notes

The reason why Yahoo Messenger for Vista was never advanced past beta are many. One of them was because Yahoo then later felt it was not featured enough and another was because by the time they finished  the client, the .NET/ WPF 3.5 framework came out, the client design was no longer something special and for some reason they felt a bit too embarrassed by that. Stupid, really, as the release of .NET/WPF 3.5 solved the problems it had while it was in Beta Testing running under .NET/ WPF 3.0 : It was slow and ram hungry while running in Vista.  How slow and ram hungry it was when it was running on .NET/WPF 3.0 on a Vista machine?.  Felt like something moving at 12FPS and it could get to consume 250-350mb of RAM. Even today in 2011, that is a huge lot for it being just a IM client, so imagine how people reacted to that kind of RAM consume in 2007.

But then  .NET/WPF 3.5 came out and it felt good enough (3 times as fast than before)  and it’s RAM consume reduced just as dramatically to 50-150mb in Vista.  But Yahoo still decided to not finish it and discarded it. A shame because it had some interesting ideas and it was a really advanced (in style) IM client for the time it was being developed. At least certainly more clean and uncomplicated compared to the regular YM client.

Also a good example of how .NET/WPF optimization has progressed is that the very same thing running with .NET 4.0 has a very fast responsiveness with only 10-100mb of ram consume no matter if you are using it in XP, Vista or 7.

The only warning of course is that in the end it is still a beta level software so it does has bugs and glitches. So consider this just a novelty app now, that comes with no guarantees of it being fully stable.  When used in 7, please run it in Vista RTM compatibility mode to minimize its glitches. Ironically for the times I tested and used it, i found it runs the best in Windows XP with either .NET 3.5 SP1 or .NET 4.0.

Linkage

Yahoo Messenger for Vista                      <— Download Page

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gbrainy 1.62 For Windows

gbrainy logo

It took over 4 months for a new Windows version of Gbrainy to appear, but now it is here with the following updates and changes when compared to the 1.51 version:

  • Better I18N (string concatenation and plurals)
  • 7 new logic games, 1 calculation and 16 verbal analogies
  • PDF export support
  • 26 bug fixes
  • Updated and new translations (Romanian language has been added)

 

gbrainy: A Game App To Exercise Your Brain

 

Along with this update for the desktop version, you can now also access a web version of gbrainy:

gbrainy Online Web Client

 

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10 February 2011

gbrainy Online Web Client

gbrainy logo

Usually, when anyone talks about gbrainy they are referring to the Mono (Open .NET) based brain game app for the desktop. Now, it is just not a desktop game anymore.

gbrainy.com is the online web client version based on the gbrainy desktop game app. This web version of gbrainy runs not only in any desktop browser, but also in any smartphone level mobile browser too.

gbrainy online web client

gbrainy online offers a streamlined, start right away version of the original game. you still got the same 3 game categories than before (Logic Puzzles, Mental Calculation & Verbal Analogies) but they are served randomly in the same game session. You only need to choose the language (18 different languages) of the game session and click a button to start a new game.

gbriany online web client game session

gbrainy.com on Opera Mobile 10

The gbrainy online web client is all about the core game. no flash, no dazzle to be found on it. just the confidence you will be able to play a quick game session of it anywhere you feel like it, be it on a desktop or smartphone mobile browser. 

Linkage

gbrainy online

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via Jordi Mas

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Click here if you were looking for gbrainy for windows.

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01 February 2011

Microsoft Mathematics 4.0: A Free Graphing Calculator For Math Students

Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 logo

Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 is the new version of Microsoft Mathematics, a desktop graphing calculator for math students and pretty much anyone who is looking for a good graphing calculator for Free.

Or as Microsoft writes it up:

Microsoft Mathematics provides a graphing calculator that plots in 2D and 3D, step-by-step equation solving, and useful tools to help students with math and science studies.

Microsoft Mathematics provides a set of mathematical tools that help students get school work done quickly and easily. With Microsoft Mathematics, students can learn to solve equations step-by-step while gaining a better understanding of fundamental concepts in pre-algebra, algebra, trigonometry, physics, chemistry, and calculus.

Microsoft Mathematics includes a full-featured graphing calculator that’s designed to work just like a handheld calculator. Additional math tools help you evaluate triangles, convert from one system of units to another, and solve systems of equations.

Previously it was not a openly free product, it was usually bundled with Microsoft Office promotions for students, added as a plus for schools and colleges that are enrolled in Microsoft volume licensing deals or sold for a fee. But now it is available for free for all from Microsoft. And If you are in the USA, you can even ask for it at Microsoft Stores in a CD for free IF you are a student or teacher with the only requirement of showing your ID. At least that is what someone told me, so I offer no guarantees on that working every time. Yet worth a shot just for the hell of it.

Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 Graphing Calculator screenshot

Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 is .Net 3.5 SP1 based and comes in both 32 & 64 bits flavors with support for XP, Vista & 7.  The 3 most clear updates in this new edition beyond whatever they had done to improve its core functions are:

1.-It now sports the Fluent UI-UX, more commonly known as The Ribbon. First included in Office 2007 and that now it is in pretty all of Microsoft new software where they can include it in and even in many Non-Microsoft apps where it made sense for the developer to add it in.

2.-Direct X default use for the graphics or Direct3D if not available, this last only in Vista and 7. And only really works great in Windows 7. Otherwise in the case of XP and Vista Direct X is and should be considered a obligatory basic requirement.

3.-Improved input. MM 4.0 comes with stylus input support and since it uses The Ribbon, it also works better by default with Windows Touch for when used in a Windows powered Tablet or Slate.

Even if MM 4.0 had not been released for free, it is clear that it has improved when compared  with its previous version in many ways. But as it now an app offered openly for free. There is really nothing better than it for the price that you can get right now in Windows.

Linkage

Microsoft Mathematics 4.0                                                 <—Download Page

Microsoft Mathematics 4.0  (32 bits)                          <—Direct Download Link

Microsoft Mathematics 4.0  (64 bits)                       <—Direct Download Link

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