31 March 2011

Microsoft Virtual Academy: A Free Access Training Portal For Microsoft Technologies

Microsot Virtual Academy MVA logo

Microsoft Virtual Academy is a free access training portal site from Microsoft, that is focused on helping those in IT to easily learn about Microsoft technologies. It consist of several courses you can study at your own pace. The courses are worth a determined amount of points depending on their depth level. The MVA site in turn works on a  points based system and scoreboard as way of encouragement and as way to rank you in the site.

Microsoft Virtual Academy site screenshot

All courses got self-assessment at the end.  There are 4 levels of memberships for students in the Microsoft Virtual Academy site:

  • Bronze: 0 to 370 points.
  • Silver: 371 to 699 points.
  • Gold: 700 to 999 points.
  • Platinum: 1000 points or more.

Beyond the points and scoreboard within the MVA community. Finishing courses and getting points get anyone enrolled in the MVA discounts for Microsoft Certifications and access to special Microsoft promotions related to Microsoft technologies with courses on the MVA. 

The Microsoft Virtual Academy is free for anyone wanting to enroll in, the only thing needed is a Live ID and being interested in a specific course.

The Microsoft Virtual Academy site in itself is very well laid out and as something worth of pointing out, it happens to sport a Metro UI-UX styled design. Something that looks to be spreading over all Microsoft web properties now. And I must say it works very well to make things fluid and pleasant.

For further questions about the MVA, the site got a fairly clear F.A.Q page you can take a look at.

Microsoft Virtual Academy results in a very interesting hybrid of e-learning portal and promotional vehicle from Microsoft as its main function beyond promoting Microsoft Tech is to help as a easier to follow and use learning aid for those interested in Microsoft Certifications. But that thanks to it being well balanced, works pretty well. 

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Microsoft Virtual Academy

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URLtestr: An Adobe AIR based Domain Monitoring Tool

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Domain monitoring is a the kind of very useful tool to have if you have blog where you are constantly posting about sites and apps, as it is with Appatic. And so it is for other blogging gigs I happen to do in my case.  The way I do that right now is a bit messy. I use AM-Deadlink, a tool I posted about quite awhile ago here in Appatic. This tool detects dead links from your bookmarks, and it is messy because it has to check every single thing I have bookmarked, and trust me, I bookmark a hell of a lot of things on a daily basis.  

So, on and off I had been looking for a simple but pleasant looking Domain Monitoring Tool that can track only the links I want to track.  I used to use one for many years that was actually developed for windows 95 and up to XP it still worked ok.

Then in the move to Windows 7 it just stopped working and it refuses to work even if put on a XP compatibility mode. Technically, I know i could still be running it.  just that using a XP Mode instance for a super old 1mb app from the mid 90’s is kind of a overkill doesn't it? But I think I may have finally found something just like it, I could want to use from now on.

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URLtestr is a FREE Adobe AIR based domain monitoring tool by Rich Tretola.  That gives you a very simple table board where you can add links to track and monitor their uptime. This way you will know when a site goes down and if a site stays down and it is no longer available.

URLtestr is very simple to use and got no limit for as how many links you can track, can be used in the desktop on Windows (XP, Vista & 7), Mac (Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard), Linux (Any current Ubuntu or Suse related distro) and it also can be used in a mobile device running Android 2.2 or later. As a plus it should also available for Blackberry’s The Playbook Slate, as soon it comes out.

App Screenshots

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(If you view/edit a link, you will see a preview of the site for the link you are tracking. you can then completely change or correct any link.  Full links as in http//www.site.com are the best case in order to track a link properly when adding or editing a link)

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(If a domain is no longer resolving to a page or the site is giving a 404 error, the link for the domain will get highlighted in read showing a warning sign instead of the green check mark)

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(If you decided to erase a dead link or a any link, a warning confirm dialog will first appear so there is no accidental erases)

Some Notes

Overall, must say I really like URLtestr, it is simple, clean and easy to use. It  also looks good and I know that as long Adobe AIR is installed, I will be getting updates to the app right away and the app will work.

The only problem with the app right now is  that it lacks some features I would like and I think it should have:

  • 1.-Importing links from .txt or Bookmark files. Since I find having to add links one by one quite a bother.
  • 2.-Export to .txt. Currently it lets you export to .CVS, but why not also to a .txt file since that is the norm with most log reports?
  • 3.-Controlling the monitoring schedule. Let me decide how often I want the site to be pinged from a set of parameters.
  • 4.-Desktop Notifications. Maybe they didn’t work while I was testing the app, but I didn’t see any desktop notification while using it.
  • 5.-Multiple Deletion. Let me select more than one link for deletion at the same time. 

Lets hope that Rich can add those features for the 1.0 release of URLtestr to make it something truly great. In the meantime I can say it is a good app, well worth a download and a keeper if you were looking for something like it.

Linkage

URLtestr for Desktop

URLtestr for Android

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28 March 2011

Adobe AIR 2.6: Adobe’s RIA MultiScreen Play Materializes

Adobe AIR logo

Separated by less than a month from the release of Flash 10.2, A new Adobe AIR update is now out and while it is not a major release by itself, it is what should have also been released with Adobe AIR 2.5.  In fact Adobe AIR 2.6 got released broken in several releases; From the release of AIR 2.6 for Android that was released in advance of both the Desktop SDK and Runtime of Adobe AIR 2.6, and of course the actual update for currently installed Adobe AIR runtimes that just went live last week.

The reason for the advanced release of AIR 2.6 for Android had all to do with Adobe’s strategic partnership with Google, as Adobe needed and more than likely was demanded for this release AIR to spice up Google’s own release of Android 3.0 A.K.A Honeycomb and Android 3.0  based slates like the Motorola XOOM.  This way AIR for Android could then fully support the Content Viewer for Android and Adobe’s new Digital Publishing Suite.

Adobe AIR 2.6 is all about pushing forward the dream of Adobe to go Multiscreen and do so with good performance. Reason why I guess all that it is in AIR 2.6 could not had been released with AIR 2.6 as Flash 10.2 advancements were integral to realizing this.

With AIR 2.6, Adobe goes back to truly supporting iOS in the SDK, and they are going back on iOS with a vengeance, as they are now offering a end to end solution akin to what Novell’s MonoTouch does for  iOS. Giving Flash, Flex and WebStack devs the comfort of developing in the way they know they are faster with. Leaving it to the AIR for iOS solution to integrate the developed code as a native iOS App via the “new” AIR Developer Tool instead of the OS X Packager for iPhone; Native iOS apps with the RIAness of Adobe but without sacrificing performance anymore.

So AIR 2.6 starts truly delivering Adobe AIR as a MultiScreen solution. In the same way you can say Microsoft is working on making Silverlight run everywhere. AIR 2.6 actually puts Adobe once again completely in the lead, by making it possible to deliver RIA apps that run in the Desktop (Win, OS X, Linux), the Web (Via the Flash plugin) and in two mobile platforms (Android and iOS) with two different form factors. And with the additional promise of AIR being able to deliver Apps to two extra Mobile platforms sooner than later. Starting with The Playbook from RIM and potentially following with HP WebOS later on. You could also wonder why am not also counting Adobe AIR for TV’s. And the simple reason for that, is because it is not truly there yet. But just like in the case of The Playbook, that should soon change.

Features

(specific to AIR 2.6)

iOS 4 support for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch Enhanced

Take advantage of new features in iOS 4 like multitasking, retina display for higher screen resolutions up to 960x640, and front and back camera support. Capture audio with the microphone and build applications with an integrated development process when packaging to the IPA format.

USB debugging for Android NEW

Conveniently debug your applications on an Android device through a USB connection with no Wi-Fi setup required. Android USB drivers for Microsoft® Windows® are now included with the Adobe AIR software development kit (SDK).

Hardware graphics acceleration NEW

Maximize graphics rendering performance for Android and iOS by taking advantage of the device's graphics hardware acceleration.

StageWebView Enhanced for iOS

Display web links inside an application (for example, your Facebook application) to quickly access web content without having to leave your application. No need to switch to your web browser.

Automatic soft keyboard support NEW

Simplify the development of multiscreen applications when soft keyboards automatically appear when required. Desktop applications originally designed for physical keyboards are more easily optimized for mobile devices when you don't have to modify the content or application to display the soft keyboard.

A Look Into Adobe AIR 3.0

Is in a sense what Adobe AIR 2.6 brings now, An Adobe that shows they are playing to win by bringing their best RIA game into fruition, in as many screens and platforms they can manage. Making the plight for the RIA a dead serious statement on why Runtimes and Plugins are here to stay and got a solid place in the future.

But if words are not enough, here is a video showing what AIR 2.6 brings and the potential of what Adobe AIR 3.0 could then mean in the future.

AIR 2.6 game shown running in iOS, OS X, Android 2.3 and Android 3.0

 

Linkage

Adobe  AIR 2.6

Adobe AIR 2.6 SDK

Adobe AIR Development Center

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FilesBay: A Torrent Search Engine

FilesBay Torrent Search Logo

Prior to this post, I had avoided posting about Torrent Search Engines. But in the past months I have been getting requests from readers that I should post about them if I happen to find any good one enough.  So what the hell, I will start covering them too.

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FilesBay is a Torrent Search Engine that takes a bit on the model and look of online hosted file search engines.  Filesbay in particular concentrates in a clear and easy to follow layout and in offering torrent searching by categories. 

FilesBay search categories filter are:

  • Audio
  • Video
  • Applications
  • Games
  • Other

FilesBay take on bringing a Torrent Search Site in the vein and style of a Online Hosted File Search Engine, got more clear to me when I saw that they were the same team behind Filester. A file search engine for which they also offer a alternative look to it under the FilesBay brand. A brand name that is obviously scraping off its familiarity and brand cred from the famous and infamous PirateBay.  But the result is simply a good and clear Torrent Search Engine.

I do must state that the way you use it and the content you download while using it falls under your own judgment and responsibility. By clicking in the link in this post, i consider you aware of that very fact.

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FilesBay

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Filester: Search For Files In 16 Different Online File Hosting Sites At Once

Filester.net logo

Because when it comes to File Search Engines is better to have many options to choose from. This proven by the fact sites like Filespump and most of its clones went down, FilesBoox is now a File Hosting Site and other sites like Shufs and Music & Files have not changed since they were put online. 

Filester is a online file search engine that can search simultaneously or individually on 16 different file hosting sites at ease. And as a plus it can also search for a specific kind of file in the same manner.

Filester supports the following file hosting providers:

  • Rapidshare
  • Hotfile
  • Megaupload
  • Storage
  • Uploading
  • Netload
  • DepositFiles
  • FileFactory
  • MediaFile
  • Easy-Share
  • Zshared
  • 4shared
  • Uploaded
  • Badongo
  • Sendspace
  • Filefront

Filester also supports search by file type in the following categories:

  • Archive
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Doc
  • Picture
  • Apps
  • CD,DVD

Filester results in a File Search Engine that while straightforward and without any dazzle to it, delivers a good experience and good results while searching for files. Recommended

I do must state that the way you use it and the content you download while using it falls under your own judgment and responsibility. By following the link in this post, i consider you aware of that very fact.

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Filester

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22 March 2011

Marklets: A Bookmarklet Search Engine

marklets.com logo

Before there were proper browser add-ons, there were Bookmarklets. These allow you to perform a function you would usually use a browser extension or userscript for.  And they are named bookmarklets, because they can be saved in the same way as a simple bookmark, while at the same time they are not bookmarks at all. In order to use them you need to click them in the same way you would click any other bookmark. Usually best to access them from the favorites bar or Bookmarks toolbar in your preferred  browser for a improved convenience.

marklets.com site screenshot

Marklets is a simple bookmarklet search engine and index, from where you can search for all kinds of these smart bookmarks, as the marklets site aptly calls them.

Right now there are 99 bookmarklets, but the number should be able able to grow well beyond that as anyone can add a bookmarklet to the site or rank the existing ones. Site is well structured, while sparsely designed in order to make the ads in the site a bit more effective from what I can gather. Not really a bother just a make the site a bit uneven.

So what kind of functions can you get by using bookmarklets? Anything from a one click link capture twitter share to a one click website element remover for a easier website screenshot capture, etc, etc.

Bookmarklets are a good way to not having to install unnecessary browser-addons and easy to use and share because they will work in pretty much any browser. Marklets makes for a easier way to get them.

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Marklets Guide        

Marklets

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via Andrea Tavazzani

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21 March 2011

Brief.ly: A Great Burst Linking Online Tool

brief.ly logo

Burst Linking is  a concept that always attracted my attention from the times it was only possible via a desktop tool running in Windows 95 (circa 1997 . Now the concept is being used along with Shorturl sharing as a web app, which makes this old concept fresh once again.

brief.ly site screenshot

Brief.ly is a great free burst linking online tool, that allows you to share multiple links in a single shorturl link. Going also beyond what other similar online tools did by giving you a better landing page for your pack of links with free analytics and even multiple shorturl providers for you to choose from.

Features

  • Link editing
  • Link re-routing any time, any place
  • Share many web pages at once
  • Instant switching between the shared sites
  • A dozen of catchy and short URLs to choose from
  • Conversion into a blog or a private site any time, either way

Previously, I had posted about BridgeURL, which was to my knowledge (at the time I posted on it) the best online burst linker tool around. With only a really big flaw: the shorturl it gave you linked to a website viewer first instead of linking to a landing page with the pack of links you had shared. Which struck me as odd as it goes against the purpose of burst linking.

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Brief.ly don’t does that and gets it right by giving you several shorturl providers to choose from and linking  you first to a landing page with the pack of links you shared as it should be! Secondary to that come the iframe based website viewers, they also give you and even the need of you having to be registered to the service.  You don’t have to be registered to use brief.ly. But if you do register, they give you some simple analytics for the links you are sharing as an extra.  You can join brief.ly by registering a account or by logging in with Facebook. The choice is put at your discretion.  I personally recommend registering an account. It is a really great online tool for sharing multiple links in one go, the best one yet.

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Brief.ly  Tour                                 <—Site Info Guide

Brief.ly

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17 March 2011

Ireland Desktop Backgrounds And Custom System Sounds For Windows XP & Windows Vista

Windows Flag Logo Icon

Taken from the Ireland Windows 7 Theme, here I bring you 17 Desktop Backgrounds (wallpapers) of Ireland plus 22 custom system sounds made for that theme you can also use if you want.

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If you want to use the custom system sounds in Windows XP just follow this path of user action:

Start > Control Panel > Sounds, Speech, and Audio Devices > Change The Sound Scheme > Sounds and Audio Device Properties Window > Sounds Tab > Program Events

Then you just select the sounds you want to change one by one, match accordingly to the file names of the .Wav files included in the zip file linker in this very post. That should give you the same “Celtic” sounds scheme that is added automatically in Windows 7, but in your Windows XP installation.

In the case you want to revert to the default sound scheme, just go back to the Sound Tab in the Sounds and Audio Device Properties Window and select the default sound scheme under the sound scheme selector, then click apply. Easy.

If you want use the custom system sounds in Windows Vista there are paths of user action you can follow:

First Windows Vista User Path Of Action

Start > Control Panel > Hardware & Sound > Sound >  Change System Sounds > Sound Window > Sound Tab > Program

Second Windows Vista User Path Of Action (Quicker)

Start > Start Search Query: Change System Sounds + Enter > Sound Window > Sound Tab > Program

Then you just select the sounds you want to change one by one, match accordingly to the file names of the .Wav files included in the zip file linked in this very post. That should give you the same “Celtic” sounds scheme that is added automatically in Windows 7, but in your Windows Vista installation.

In the case you want to revert to the default sound scheme, just go back to the Sound Tab in the Sound Window and select the default sound scheme under the sound scheme selector, then click apply. Easy.

 

Linkage

Ireland Desktop Backgrounds And Custom System Sounds       <—Download Page

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Ireland Windows 7 Theme

Windows Flag Logo Icon

While it was mainly a coincidence, what better day to post a Windows 7 Theme focused on Ireland than in Saint Patrick’s Day right? Right.

This way you can easily extend your thoughts of the contemplatively beautiful Ireland from a day to a week. And as the official theme write up says, why would you not if it is all so pretty and nice?

Green landscapes, gorgeous seaside cliffs, and mysterious rock formations—it must be Ireland. Download images of the Emerald Isle, as well as Celtic sounds, in this free Windows 7 theme.

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This Windows 7 Theme comes with a green tint (of course), 17 desktop backgrounds, but more importantly 22 custom sounds for the OS with an awesome Irish folklore music touch to them apply called Celtic. Simply a very well conceived Windows 7 Theme. Above the average for sure.  I wonder if it was put up by someone actually Irish, certainly hope so and if not, lets pretend it was to make it feel even more authentic. 

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Ireland Windows 7 Theme                         <—Direct Download Link

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Full Text RSS Feed Builder

FullTextRSSFeed.com logo

Some websites and blogs offer intentionally only cut-up feeds in order to make to you click to their sites and make you leave the confines of your favorite feed reader. A practice I personally dislike and disagree as you can easily check from Appatic’s own feed. For that reason I want to offer all of you that happen to agree with me a way to convert cut-up/truncated/limited feeds into full feeds.

FullTextRSSFeed.com Screenshot

Full Text RSS Feed Builder is a free online service that does exactly what its self-explanatory name implies. It allows you to input any cut-up/limited/truncated feed that only offers a little part of a blog post instead of the full content, and convert into a Full Text RSS Feed.

Features

  • fast-fetching
  • completely free
  • full text of truncated feeds
  • no ads
  • constantly updated
  • works with your reader,
    autoblogger or kindle

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Once you have converted your truncated/limited/cut-up feed, you get a instant preview of how your converted feed will read along with the link for it. Fast & Easy.

This is not the first time I tell you about a service like this, before I had posted about WizardRSS and FullFeeds. But Full Text RSS Feed Builder just seems a better option right now. WizardRSS was recently updated but not upgraded. And FullFeeds looks to be now down all the time, maybe even for good.  For those reasons I thought that Full Text RSS Feed Builder was worth a post of its own since it resulted better and multiples choices are always good even if for the same kind of services.  Check it as it well worth a bookmark if you are a feed reader user.

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Full Text RSS Feed Builder

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15 March 2011

Ding It’s Up: Get Notified If Your Website Goes Down

DingItsUp.com screenshot

Ding It’s Up is a FREE website downtime monitor online service. That can alert you if your website or any of your favorite websites goes down via Email, SMS (USA only) and Twitter.

Load up the site, fill the form at the site and then click on the “kthnx” to start using it. You also get a link to cancel if you no longer want to monitor the website uptime.  And that is it.

The only caveat about the service is that you will not know if it actually works for you, until the site you put on lookout goes down. But given it is a free and hands off service you only need to setup once,  there is nothing to lose, so there is no danger in using it. However if you don’t trust it with your number or E-mail. you can limit it to only send you a tweet or e-mail but via a alias.

This is also a service that somewhat replaces the now defunct Hootmonitor.

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Ding It’s Up

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12 March 2011

Antarctica Desktop Backgrounds For Windows XP & Windows Vista

Windows Flag Logo Icon

Taken from the Antarctica Windows 7 Theme, here you got 15 different Desktop Backgrounds (wallpapers) for those of you with a Windows XP or Windows Vista PC.

This set of Desktop Backgrounds goes hand in hand with those from the Arctic and of the Winter.

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Linkage

Antarctica Desktop Backgrounds                        <—Download Page

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11 March 2011

Antarctica Windows 7 Theme

Windows Flag Logo Icon

The Winter is coming down to an end on this side the world. And with that in mind, Microsoft released a Windows 7 Theme  for the other side of the world where Winter is not a season,  but the state of how things always are and should remain: Antarctica. 

This theme shows with great delight, how their inhabitants pass the time and how an Antarctic  Sunset and Sunrise look in this frozen land.

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This theme comes with 15 desktop backgrounds (Wallpapers).

And for those keeping the score, this is theme is the last part of a loosely stringed series of 3 W7 themes from which Winter was the first and Arctic the second.

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Antartica Windows 7 Theme                                   <—Direct Download Link

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10 March 2011

FilesBoox: Now A Quick Online File Sharing Service

FilesBoox logo

Previously, FilesBoox was a File Search Engine based on FilesPump. But looks like it faced either some pressure or a change of heart and now the service has reinvented itself by jumping in the mirror, while at the same time conserving its name and domain.

FilesBoox.com screenshot

FilesBoox is a quick file sharing and hosting online service. With it you can share any kind of file of any size for quick online delivery. There is no leaderboard of recently shared files or anything like that, so you can either share the file publicly or privately. It is at your own discretion. 

Now, given that the site got not F.A.Q or Guide, that usually means the service comes without any promise of a fixed timeframe for the hosting of the files you upload. When that is the case, you have to think in common terms of use of file hosting. That means knowing your file can  be hosted anywhere from 24hrs to a month without any real way of knowing what is the criteria for a file to last the less possible or the longest possible. I recommend to use it only for non-critical, non-important files you want to share for a brief period of time publicly or  intent to easily deliver to one or more individual in quickly manner. If later on FilesBoox gets a F.A.Q or guide, I will update this post accordingly. In the meantime please consider my advice as guide of use.

Usage

Just load the site and you will see a Browse Files button. Click it and a Windows Explorer dialog will pop up, select the file you want to share and then click Open.

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After you click Open, you will instantly see a upload progress bar that will show you the name of the file you are sharing, its data weight and the % uploaded. If you need to cancel, just click the red x button to abort the upload.

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Once your file has finished uploading, a window frame will appear showing the Direct Download Link for the file you have just share along with a HTML and Forum code with that link for quick copy-pasting use. Finally, it will also show you a remove link in case you need or want to have the file erased.  Now you got what you need to share your file.

Quick, Simple and Easy.

FilesBoox makes for a good uncomplicated online file sharer and temporary file host.

Given the ease of use and size of the usable site. FilesBoox also makes for a good candidate to be used as a SSB app, if you want to consider that option, I recommend you to use Bubbles for that end.

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FilesBoox

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09 March 2011

IsUp.tk: Check Whether Ur Website Iz Down Or Up

isup.tk logo icon

IsUp.tk is a simple and utilitarian online website uptime checker.  It is just does what it said it is going to do and nothing else.  Works as a good alternative to downforeveryoneorjustme as they are on the same page in style and on just offering a service without any thrills or frills.

isup.tk screenshot

You just load the website and all there will be is a one input form. Add the address url you want check if it is up and click “check”.  It then will instantly show you if it is down or up without even reloading the page.

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If you want something a lot more featured, then check out DownOrNot 

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isup.tk

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07 March 2011

Topickr: The Social Messaging Network With A Spice Of Quora (10 Invites)

topickr logo

Up to now, not a single one of the true (as in not artificially limited by design) Social Messaging Networks has managed to make it big. Pownce by Leah Culver entered the scene introducing this model inspired by Dodgeball  and failed because the backend first got messed up and because they lacked any clear direction. Then the glorious Rejaw came in introducing a real-time Social Messaging Network months before Friendfeed did it and with some seriously solid tech and concept. But it failed as it was partly only a tech demo for a parent company without vision and execution, plus the fact it was also direction less on a long term mark. Finally Simler came in guns blazing with a admirably well done marketing, swag and concept focused around tags and discussions. But it failed as it got its backend messed up and it could never execute their strategy. Now, it is time to see if a fourth attempt can make it where its predecessors failed.

topickr.com screenshot

Topickr is a Social Messaging Network focused on the element of discussion and debate.  Discussing and socializing any kind of personal interest or topic at all. That is the hook for you join this new SMN entry.  Besides being a true social messaging network and focusing on discussions, Topickr  also brings it in a package infused with Twitter inspired conventions, in a Quora like design, on a Facebook reminiscent coat of paint and with a Web 2.0 styled name.

And not that there is anything wrong with that if it is well executed. On this, Topickr don’t disappoints as it all very well played. To the point where it could feel familiar and inviting to the casual user. But in the case of a old internet wolf like me, the experience feels almost eerie. A deja-vu shock if you will.

Topickr is all about discussion, threads and reply ranking.  In this respect is a mashup of the experiences you would have in a Disqus powered comment thread, a Facebook Update and Digg v3 entry.  If you take the basics of the experiences of those 3 things and then throw it into a  thread, it is exactly what Topickr aims for.  Where the title-quoted Quora comes is in the design style as I think it must be there just not because the founder Santiago Sarceda thought it is a good design, but as a way to set the mood for users and instantly try to convey a sense of use into Topickr. 

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Now, lets be clear that this is not a review and just a preview post meant as a first impression on a BETA web project that could rapidly change in Focus, Design or even in core features. So for that reason I think it is better if i  stop ranting about what I feel Topickr is like now and let anyone that wants to try it out to get their own first impression of it. So, on that note, I got 10 invites to giveaway so you can try it out. Just leave your Email in a comment in this post using the following format:

YourEmail(at)YourEmailProvider(dot)com

If you are already using Topickr let me know what you think of it too.

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Topickr

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05 March 2011

TheIE6CountDown: Moving The World Off Internet Explorer 6

Internet Explorer 9 - IE9 Logo

It was back in 2009 with the release of IE8 that Microsoft first started to publicly declare the need for the world of letting go of IE6. From then to now things have only got more and more direct and since last week, the breaking point has finally been reached. Now Microsoft is not just saying it and supporting others declarations for the phase out of IE6. They have decided to put up a site for that goal, and that goal only.

www.TheIE6CountDown.com Screenshot

TheIE6CountDown.com is a educational and promotional site that calls for the phase out of IE6 educating with the numbers of the current IE6 usage around the world and the basic info on why not use IE6. It is also a promotional vehicle for the close to be released IE9 in the case of Vista and 7 users or as a Microsoft sanctioned upgrade path to IE8 for those still using XP as their main Windows OS installation.

As of Feb 2011, approximately  12% of the connected world is still using IE6 as the main browser. The goal of Microsoft is to make that 12% a 1% as soon as possible. Something not as hard to do when it comes to common users, meaning those not accessing the internet from workstation.  From the detailed stats screenshot below combined with the profiled one above, It is clear that the average percentage of IE6 usage around the world if not counting China, South Korea and India (the top 3 countries using IE6) is already at 5-6%. So the goal of only a 1% of usage is reachable from that perspective, even if I see 3% on average as the most realistic figure for 2011. But counting everyone in, then I would put the reachable target for 2011 at 9% and maybe maybe 7% if things go extremely well.

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With all this said,  it will be a good thing if you want to collaborate and check out on the site to know how you can accelerate the IE6 phase out. 

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TheIE6CountDown.com

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FlashCards.Show: A WPF Based Educational Kids Game App

FlashCards.Show Logo

Ok, this one is pretty much only for those that either got a little kid (7yrs old or less) or happen to like and hunt for WPF based (.NET fans) apps.  In my case I got a little nephew constantly around and I do like to hunt for .NET based apps, so since I had both reasons, I decided to post about this little App.

FlashCards.Show is a ClickOnce enabled, WPF based educational kids game app focused in flashcard  styled games designed by IdentityMine. Made for Microsoft to be used as a fleshed out illustrative example of a App that went from being a WPF desktop app to a Silverlight based one for WP7 and how the same app can be faithfully transitioned to different mediums. But since it was so fleshed out, I decided that it should not just be used by those doing tech demos at Microsoft, but by anyone that would want it.

FlashCards.Show Screenshot

FlashCards.Show comes with 3 different Card Deck classes: Alphabet, Animals and Flowers.  In turn each Card Deck class got 3 different kinds of game: Leaning, Matching and Memory.

Learning

FlashCards.Show Learning Game Screenshot

The learning games will show a card a time and if clicked, the card will turn showing the name of what the card is showing. Plus to that it will also show a play button with the audio of the correct pronunciation of the name of what was shown by that card.

Matching

FlashCards.Show Matching Game Screenshot

The matching games will show a wall of shown cards separated by demonstrative cards and name cards. Matching a demonstrative card to the name card will make both disappear and that will be marked as a correct match. 

Example: White Puppy Photo with the word Puppy

Memory

FlashCards.Show Memory Game Screenshot

The memory games will show a wall of unshown cards. Clicking or touching one card will show either a demonstrative or name card for 5 seconds and will turn around if left untouched or if  a match is not made with another card.  A memory match should then consist of a demonstrative card and a name card. If the match is made,  both cards will disappear and that will be considered a correct match.

Conclusion

A simple, well designed and free educational game app for kids easy to enjoy. Only drawback about it is that you truly wish it had a lot more card decks and more games. But given the price and the easy 3 clicks install, there is really no much to complain about.  App works in XP, Vista and 7.

Linkage

FlashCards.Show                         <—Direct Install Link

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via Yochay Kiriaty at Channel9

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