How to remove watermarks from photos (Basic)

Uploaded by on Oct 24, 2010
Get rid of some of those annoying watermarks!
RyanKnowsTech: http://www.youtube.com/ryanknowstech
Gimp: http://www.gimp.org/

Absolute and Relative Paths

Absolute and Relative Paths

By , About.com Guide

Writing URLs

When you're creating links to documents and images on the web, you need to think about how you're going to link to them. There are two standard ways to create links:
  • absolute paths
  • relative paths

Absolute Path URLs

Absolute paths are called that because they refer to the very specific location, including the domain name. The absolute path to a web element is also often referred to as the URL. For example, the absolute path to this web page is:
http://webdesign.about.com/od/ beginningtutorials/a/aa040502a.htm
You typically use the absolute path with the domain to point to Web elements that are on another domain than your own. For example, if I want to link to the Graphics Software Guide’s site — I need to include the domain in the URL: http://graphicssoft.about.com/. So a link to her Photoshop review would look like this:
<a href="http://graphicssoft.about.com/od/productreviews/gr/Photoshop.htm"> Review of Photoshop</a>
If you’re referring to a web element that is on the same domain that you’re on, you don’t need to use the domain name in the path of your link. Simply leave off the domain, but be sure to include the first slash (/) after the domain name.
For example, my article “How to Create a Web Page with HTML” has the URL:
If I were to link to this URL from another page on my site, I could link to it in this way:
<a href="http://webdesign.about.com/od/beginningtutorials/ss/aasspagehtml1.htm">How to Create a Web Page with HTML</a>
It is a good idea to use absolute paths, without the domain name, on most websites. This format insures that the link or image will be usable no matter where you place the page. This may seem like a silly reason to use longer links, but if you share code across multiple pages and directories on your site, using absolute paths will speed up your maintenance.

Relative Path URLs

Relative paths change depending upon the page the links are on. There are several rules to creating a link using the relative path:
  • links in the same directory as the current page have no path information listed
  • sub-directories are listed without any preceding slashes
  • links up one directory are listed as
How to determine the relative path:
  1. First define the URL of the page you are editing. In the case of this article, that would be http://webdesign.about.com/od/beginningtutorials/a/aa040502a.htm
  2. Then look at the directory path for the page. For this article, that is /od/beginningtutorials/a/
  3. Get the URL of the page you want to link to. For this example that would be the “How to Create a Web Page with HTML” article: http://webdesign.about.com/od/beginningtutorials/ss/aasspagehtml1.htm
  4. And look at the directory path for that page: /od/beginningtutorials/ss/
  5. Compare the two paths, to determine how to link to it. From this article I would need to step up one directory from the /a/ directory and then go back down to the /ss/ directory using the code ../ss/aasspagehtml1.htm.
  6. Write the link: <a href="../ss/aasspagehtml1.htm">How to Create a Web Page with HTML</a>
Current Web Design/HTML Articles


Map a Network Drive on a Mac, Remount mapped network drive with a click

Map a Network Drive on a Mac

Sep 20, 2010 - 25 Comments
map network drive mac

If you frequently access a file server from a Mac it’s pretty helpful to map the network drive to your desktop. There’s two ways to do this, one method is just mapped for one time use and will reset after a reboot, and another method is a more permanent route that allows the mapped network drive to always appear and mount on your desktop after system reboots and user logins.

Map a network drive to Mac OS X

This method maps a network drive that will disappear if the network connection drops or if you reboot your Mac:
  • From the Mac OS X Finder, hit Command+K to bring up the ‘Connect to Server’ window
  • Enter the path to the network drive you want to map, ie: smb://networkcomputer/networkshare and click ‘Connect’
  • Enter your login/password and click “OK” to mount the network drive
  • The drive will now appear on your desktop and in the Finder window sidebar

Map a network drive to Mac OS X that re-mounts after system reboot

This method allows you to reboot your Mac and have the mapped network drive automatically remount and appear on the desktop, this is more persistent than the above method:
  • From the Finder, hit Command+K
  • Enter the path to the network drive you want to map, ie: smb://networkcomputer/networkshare and click ‘Connect’
  • Enter your login credentials and click “OK”
  • The drive is now mounted, but continue on to map for system reboot persistence
  • Now enter into System Preferences, from the Apple menu
  • Click on ‘Accounts’
  • Click on “Login Items”
  • Click on the + button to add another login item
  • Locate the network drive you previously mounted and click “Add”
  • Exit out of System Preferences
Your network drive will now be mapped and automatically remounted when you reboot your Mac.

Make the mapped network drive visible on the Mac desktop

It’s possible that the mounted drive will not appear on the desktop due to a system setting. If you want the mapped drive icon to be visible on the Desktop, be sure to do the following additional steps:
  • From the Finder, open Finder Preferences by hitting Command+,
  • Click the General tab
  • Select the checkbox next to ‘Connected Servers’
  • Close Finder Preferences
Selecting the checkbox next to Connected Servers ensures that you’ll see the icon on your Mac Desktop, otherwise it will only be visible in the Finder window sidebars and Open/Save dialogues.

Remount mapped network drive with a click

A great additional step for either method is to create an alias of the mapped network drive. This allows you to reconnect to the share with just a click. Here’s how to do this:
  • Right-click on the mapped network drive on the Mac OS desktop
  • Select “Make Alias”
Now you can double-click that alias to reconnect to the network drive instantly.
As you may have guessed, shared network volumes are treated differently by the OS than external drives and disk images, which is why this a different technique than what you use to mount an ISO in Mac OS X. You can also access and mount smb shares via the command line which allows for scripting possibilities, if you’re interested in a more technical approach.


Create FaceTime URL shortcuts — Apple News, Tips and Reviews

Quick tip: Create FaceTime URL shortcuts — Apple News, Tips and Reviews

On both iOS and OS X, there exists an URL scheme that Safari supports that will launch FaceTime directly. It’s a great way to let you provide others with a quick and easy way to get in touch via video chat, or to manage FaceTime contacts.

On both iOS and OS X, Safari supports a URL scheme that will launch FaceTime directly.  The schema is “facetime://” followed by your contact’s Apple ID, email address, or cellular phone number (depending on what info they’ve provided to FaceTime). So, you could make a call by typing the following in either mobile or desktop Safari’s address bar (with the example Apple ID, email and phone number replaced with real ones, of course):

OS X Lion FaceTime desktop and Dock icons

FaceTime Desktop Icon
The useful trick is to create a clickable desktop icon that will launch FaceTime for Mac and connect to your friend automatically.  One way to do this on OS X is to type the URL into Safari’s address bar, and before hitting return, drag and drop the typed URL onto the desktop.  Once it’s on the desktop, you can edit the icon’s image, replacing it with a photo of your contact if you want. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
  1. Launch Safari in OS X Lion and enter your contact’s FaceTime URL (as described at the beginning of this article) in the address bar.
  2. Before hitting return to launch to the URL, drag and drop the URL onto the desktop.
  3. Right click on the desktop shortcut you just created and select “Get Info.”
  4. Use preview to copy the image you want to use into your clipboard.
  5. Select the default image in the Get Info dialog until it is outlined blue.
  6. While the default image is selected, use Command + V to paste the image.
As an added bonus, the shortcut you just created can even be added to the Dock.  You just have to add it to the far right side of the Dock, where all of the folders are located. You can’t move it to the side of the dock left of the divider, which is reserved for applications.

iOS FaceTime Bookmarks and Favorites

FaceTime Safari Bookmark
Things get a little more tricky when it comes to iOS Home Screen icons.  The problem is that Safari needs to be viewing the URL in order to save the URL to the Home Screen. This isn’t possible in this case, because Safari launches FaceTime immediately once the custom URL is entered.

But all is not lost. You can always add a contact’s FaceTime ‘number’ to your list of Favorites in the Phone app. But it’s also possible to create a list of Safari Bookmarks with URLs for your FaceTime contacts.
  1. Launch Safari in OS X and select “Show All Bookmarks” from the Bookmarks menu.
  2. Manually type in the FaceTime URL(s) to your list of Bookmarks.
  3. Use iCloud to sync your OS X Safari Bookmarks with your iOS device.
  4. Alternatively, use iTunes to sync your OS X Safari Bookmarks with your iOS device.
FaceTime iOS Possibilities

This can be handy if you prefer to manage your list of favorite FaceTime contacts separately from your list of favorite Phone contacts. Something else to keep in mind is that since this is a valid URL to Safari, anywhere you embed or type this URL can become a launch point for FaceTime. So you could keep a list of FaceTime URLs in a document stored in your Notebook, or even add your own FaceTime URL to the signature of your email. Pasting your FaceTime URL into iMessage will also give the person you’re chatting with a quick and easy way to start a FaceTime with you.  You can go one step further by creating an iOS keyboard shortcut for “ftm” (short for FaceTimeMe) which will expand to your FaceTime URL. So now through FaceTime, everyone has their own dial-in number for quick and easy video chat.

jek2kdotcom » Blog Archive » Building a custom Skype-me button with status icon

jek2kdotcom » Blog Archive » Building a custom Skype-me button with status icon

Building a custom Skype-me button with status icon

a simple PHP solution

I’m not a big fan of Skype and I usually don’t use it. However, in a recent project, I was asked to add a “Skype Me” button in the contacts section of a client’s website.

I guess you all know Skype provides a bunch of free buttons and even an online wizard to build custom buttons. This works pretty good, except it only allows to use the default Skype buttons and icons and images are PNGs.

What to do then if you need to use custom-designed buttons? Or if you’re targeting IE6 and have no transparent-PNGs support? I scored 2 on 2, having both those problems.
So I decided to search for some Skype documentation and build a script myself.

Some basic information on creating custom Skype buttons and links can be found here. This explains how to code links, but still doesn’t address my problem. Then I found some more in-depth documentation on building web-services and apps interacting with Skype, that can be downloaded from here.

This way I found out that you can call a remote Skype URL, passing in your username and some parameters, to retrieve a status button, a status code or a status string.

The numeric status code is easier to use. Here’s a short list of numeric codes and their meaning:
  • 0 – unknown
  • 1 – offline
  • 2 – online
  • 3 – away
  • 4 – not available
  • 5 – do not disturb
  • 6 – invisible
  • 7 – skype me
Then I coded a short PHP script to take advantage of this function and retrieve the status code for a given Skype username.

01function getSkypeStatus($username) {
02    $remote_status = fopen ('http://mystatus.skype.com/'.$username.'.num', 'r');
03    if (!$remote_status) {
04        return '0';
05        exit;
06    }
07    while (!feof ($remote_status)) {
08        $value = fgets ($remote_status, 1024);
09        return trim($value);
10    }
11    fclose($remote_status);

Half of the job was done. Now I needed to link each code to a custom-designed status icon.

1function getSkypeStatusIcon($username) {
2    $status = getSkypeStatus($username);
3    // change the path of the icons folder to match your site
4    echo '<img src="/skype-icons/'.$status.'.jpg" alt="call '.$username.'" />';

So that calling the PHP function with the desired username…


…returns the necessary HTML code for the icon image.

1<img src="/skype-icons/1.jpg" alt="call nicolovolpato" />

Of course I had then to go back to Photoshop and design my custom icons. I simply named the files like the status codes, where 1.jpg is the icon for offline, 2.jpg is the icon for online and so on.

I’ve tested this script using my Skype account and other accounts and seems pretty reliable. This is not the only method and I’m pretty sure this is not even the best method available, but it’s just the solution I have found to this problem and wanted to share it.

Download the source code (4k ZIP)

Create Custom Skype Buttonsfor a website

Create Custom Skype Buttons

Create Custom Skype Buttons

skype logo button Create Custom Skype Buttons

Recently we  implemented Live Help for our paying customers. We based it on Skype, so our customers can call us or contact us as they are working on their websites, especially  if they need instant advice. The main challenge we had was creating custom Skype Call Me buttons. You see, Skype provides a bunch of free custom buttons, but you are then tied into their default Skype buttons images. For most people that might be fine, but you also might find yourself not happy with being tied to “Call Me” buttons. So how do you get custom Skype buttons to work? The solution we found  was this great script which we have slightly modified.
Basically it ties into the status codes of Skype as below

* 0 – unknown
* 1 – offline
* 2 – online
* 3 – away
* 4 – not available
* 5 – do not disturb
* 6 – invisible
* 7 – skype me

Simply create images in JPG or PNG and number them 1 thru 7 for each status. The next step is to change your username to your personal one and you are good to go. It’s that simple. Get the full script here with our notations. Make the changes you need, and save as .PHP  file type.  Have fun!

Send and email from a webpage,sample code

Send and email from a webpage,sample code

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To send and email from a web page, there are two options. The first uses the visitor’s own default email program; the second utilizes a process available with asp called CDOSYS. The sample code that follows will allow a visitor to send an e-mail to an e-mail address associated with the website.

Using the visitor’s email program.

Two methods that will be demonstrated using the visitor's email are the use of a link and the use of a button.

Using a link.

This is by far the easiest methodology but also the least pleasing to look at.

Sample code for an email link.

<A HREF="mailto:support@mywebsite.com?subject=Support Request ">E-mail Support</A>

This will appear on the webpage as:

E-mail Support

Using a button

This method definitely looks more professional.

Sample code for sending an e-mail using a button.

<INPUT TYPE="button" value="E-mail Support" onClick="parent.location='mailto:support@mywebsite.com?subject=Support Request’">

NOTE: The code for the button should be placed on a single line as follows:

<INPUT type="button" Value="E-mail Support" onClick="parent.location='mailto:support@mywebsite.com?subject=Support Request’">

This will appear on the webpage as:

Using CDOSYS and a webpage form

Using CDOSYS to send an e-mail from a website requires the use of asp and a webpage form. This method does NOT use the visitor’s e-mail program, it uses your website.

The webpage form

<form method="post" action="sendmail.asp"><br>
Your name: <input type="text" name="visitorname" size="20"><br>
Your e-mail: <input type="text" name="from" size="40"><br>
<center>Questions or Comments</center><br>
<textarea cols="40" rows="6" name="msgBody"></textarea><br><br>

<input type="submit" value="Send Email"><br>

This will appear on the webpage as:

Your name:
Your e-mail:
Questions or Comments

The sendmail.asp page

Sample code:

<% visitorname = Request("visitorname")
from = Request("from")
msgBody = Request("msgBody")

Set ObjSendMail = CreateObject("CDO.Message")

'This section provides the configuration information for the remote SMTP server.

ObjSendMail.Configuration.Fields.Item ("http://schemas.microsoft.com/cdo/configuration/sendusing") = 2 'Send the message using the network (SMTP over the network).
ObjSendMail.Configuration.Fields.Item ("http://schemas.microsoft.com/cdo/configuration/smtpserver") ="relay-hosting.secureserver.net"
ObjSendMail.Configuration.Fields.Item ("http://schemas.microsoft.com/cdo/configuration/smtpserverport") = 25
ObjSendMail.Configuration.Fields.Item ("http://schemas.microsoft.com/cdo/configuration/smtpusessl") = False 'Use SSL for the connection (True or False)
ObjSendMail.Configuration.Fields.Item ("http://schemas.microsoft.com/cdo/configuration/smtpconnectiontimeout") = 60

' If your server requires outgoing authentication uncomment the lines bleow and use a valid email address and password.
'ObjSendMail.Configuration.Fields.Item ("http://schemas.microsoft.com/cdo/configuration/smtpauthenticate") = 1 'basic (clear-text) authentication
'ObjSendMail.Configuration.Fields.Item ("http://schemas.microsoft.com/cdo/configuration/sendusername") ="somemail@yourserver.com"
'ObjSendMail.Configuration.Fields.Item ("http://schemas.microsoft.com/cdo/configuration/sendpassword") ="yourpassword"


'End remote SMTP server configuration section==
ObjSendMail.To = "support@mywebsite.com"
ObjSendMail.Subject = "Support Request"
ObjSendMail.From = from & "@mywebsite.com"

ObjSendMail.TextBody= msgBody

Set ObjSendMail = Nothing
Response.Redirect "Enter the url you want the visitor to go to."

Obviously the use of a webpage form is more desirable, it's much more professional in appearance.

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SiliconFilter | Hands-On With Windows 8 on the Desktop: A Confusing Jumble of UIs

SiliconFilter | Hands-On With Windows 8 on the Desktop: A Confusing Jumble of UIs

Posted September 14th, 2011 by

Today, Microsoft made the first developer previews of Windows 8 available to all who would like to try them out. I couldn’t help myself, of course, and immediately grabbed a copy once it was available to install it on my test PC. During its public keynote demos, Microsoft mostly focused on showing the Windows Phone-like Metro UI and tablet devices. How does this first public build of Windows 8 work on a traditional desktop (or laptop), though?

Two UIs and No Way to Isolate Them From Each Other

I have to admit that I’m about as torn about it as the two user interfaces Microsoft decided to bake into Windows 8. The Metro interface is slick, fast and surely works well on a tablet, but its full-screen apps feel like they are mostly a waste of space on a large desktop machine (I basically never use full-screen apps in OS X Lion for the same reason). The traditional Windows 7-like interface got some polish and is still as useful as always. Overall, though, as I feared, the two feel disconnected and there is currently no way to just use one or the other .
As Microsoft took away the traditional Start menu from the legacy desktop, a click on the new Start button now inevitably invokes the Metro-styled Start screen. Run an app there, though, and you won’t find it running on the legacy desktop – and vice versa. Thanks to this, for example, you may start Internet Explorer on the desktop and then find that the instance of IE running under the Metro UI doesn’t talk to the other one, so that none of your tabs are transferred between the two. Try to explain that to your grandparents when they get a PC with Windows 8 preloaded.
Obviously, this is still a developer preview and many things can still change . Chances are that, we will see plenty of Metro-enabled apps soon, so that switching between the two experiences won’t be necessary most of the time. I can see how Microsoft would restrict tablets to running tablet-style apps and give desktop users the option to switch between the two. This weird hybrid that forces you to use both systems on the desktop, though, just doesn’t really work in its current iteration.

More First Impressions

Here are a few more of my other first impressions:
  • the chromeless version of Internet Explorer 10 in the Metro interface is fast and capable (and doesn’t come with Flash pre-installed). Like so many other apps in the Metro interface, though, it feels like Microsoft put looks over usability – at least for desktop users – as you now have to at least click the right button once to do anything more advanced than clicking on a link. Oh – and you have to make sure you click it on the right spot on the screen, as you invoke the context menu otherwise. Hopefully, a next version will invoke other functions by just allowing you to move the mouse to the edges of the screen (maybe similar to Apple’s Mission Control/Expose).
  • the Metro interface looks slick – no doubt about it. Everything is fluid, well animated and just looks good. Nobody is going to accuse Microsoft of copying this interface from somebody else. On a traditional, non-touch enabled desktop, though, it feels more like a gimmick that gets in your way than a useful feature.
  • why did Microsoft kill the regular Start menu in the legacy interface? Starting an app now feels like work, as you have to dig through multiple layers of Metro UI – or use the keyboard – to find what you are looking for. Even if you really just want to use the desktop, the Start menu will inevitably bring you back to the Metro experience.
  • it feels like you really need to use the keyboard a lot more than ever before to get things done. Hopefully, Microsoft will, for example, make it easier to switch between apps that you started in the Metro UI. For now, using the good old ALT-TAB combination seems to be the only way to do so. The only way to quickly start an app from the legacy UI, too, is to just start typing after you bring up the Metro Start screen.
  • the much-maligned new Windows Explorer with the Ribbon UI isn’t actually that bad.
  • boot times are fast – less than 30 seconds on this machine after the BIOS had booted up (with an older Intel Core 2 Quad processor and an IDE hard drive).
  • installation was easy (same procedure as Windows 7), fast (under 30 minutes) and everything worked out of the box (graphics, sound, etc.)
  • how do you turn this PC off? Given that there is no Start menu anymore, there is also no way to turn the PC off from there. You currently have to CTRL-ALT-DELETE to find the power off switch…
  • as promised, legacy apps generally ran fine, though we found some issues here and there: Firefox had some problems displaying its user interface, for example. Other apps like Paint.net and the Windows Live Essentials installed and ran without problems, though. Shortcuts to newly installed apps now appear at the right end of the start menu now, by the way.
  • the system was very stable. No crashes yet, but I didn’t try to install any games or other apps yet that would really tax the system. Your mileage may vary depending on the components and the drivers available for them.

Verdict: Mixed Emotions

Overall, then, I come away with very mixed feelings after a first evening with Windows 8: it looks like Microsoft is really trying to shake things up, but I’m not convinced that the Metro UI is a good interface for desktop users and the Windows 8 team should find a way to just hide it from desktop users. I’m all for innovation, but in its current form, forcing users to go into the tablet interface just puts unnecessary roadblocks into the users path. I just want to start an app – not see a pretty little block with the current weather.
Microsoft still has plenty of time to fix these issues, so I’m not too worried yet, but for now I don’t see any good reasons why users will a regular desktop or laptop should update to Windows 8 (and it pains me to say that, as I ran Windows 7 exclusively once the first builds were publically available).

Metro (design language) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Metro (design language) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The new Windows 8 Start Screen, making use of flat, colored live tiles and a laterally scrolling canvas as used in Windows Phone and Xbox 360 Dashboard.
The design language was designed specifically to consolidate groups of common tasks to speed up usage. This is accomplished by excluding superfluous graphics and instead relying on the actual content to also function as the main UI. The resulting interfaces favour larger hubs over smaller buttons and often feature laterally scrolling canvases. Page titles are usually large and consequently also take advantage of lateral scrolling.

Animation plays a large part, with transitions, and user interactions such as presses or swipes recommended to always be acknowledged by some form of natural animation or motion. This is intended to give the user the impression that the UI is "alive" and responsive, with "an added sense of depth."[11][12]

Internally, Microsoft has compiled a list of principles as core to the design language.[13]
Close to the official launch date of the product (Oct 25, 2012), more developers and Microsoft partners started working on creating new Metro applications, and many websites with resources related to this topic have been created, as well as the Microsoft's UX guidelines for Windows Store Apps.


Dynamic Drive DHTML Scripts- Encrypted Password script

Encrypted Password script - Dynamic Drive DHTML Scripts

Encrypted Password script

Last updated: July 23rd 2001 by Mike to include username field
Description: JavaScript password scripts have improved substantially over time, with the latest enhancement being an encrypted password, archived using "fuzzy" algorithms. The result are password scripts that won't crumble as soon as the user views the page's source. Use this script to password protect your webpage; based on a simple yet effective encryption method, it's one of the best of its kind.
Important: In general JavaScript password scripts are significantly less secure that their CGI counterpart. If your server supports CGI, the ideal method of password protection is via that route.
Demo: Username is "john" & password is "good":
Enter username:
Enter password:

Step 1: First, generate the encrypted username/password set by typing the desired selections in the box below (ie: "john" and "good") and press calculate (the generator is NOT case sensitive):
Choose a UserName:
Choose a Password:
  Encrypted Usercode:
Encrypted Passcode:
Step 2: Once you have the encrypted set, name the secure page what your password is .htm (i.e. "good.htm"). Then, add the following script to the page leading up to the protected one, replacing the numbers inside the script (where indicated by the comments) with the numbers generated above:
Select All
You're done.
Let's replay everything, just to make sure everyone's on the same page:
Step 1: Use the generator to create the encrpted, numeric versions of your username/password (ie: "good" becomes 126906300) Step 2: Name the page you wish to password protect what your password is, prefixed with .htm (ie: "good.htm") Step 3: Inside the code of Step 2 above, change the two numbers to the numbers generated by the generator Step 4: Finally, insert the code of Step 2 into the proceeding page visitors will login using.
Free free to rewind at this point...


Why I won’t be buying the iPhone 5 - Owened by Owen Williams

Owened by Owen Williams

Why I won’t be buying the iPhone 5

I want to explain why I’ve decided not to buy an iPhone 5, rather than fighting off people on Twitter. I’ve decided not to buy the iPhone 5 because Apple still hasn’t improved the way that I can interact with their phone. It’s just the same thing, again.

The iPhone 5 hardware is incredibly gorgeous, and has some pretty impressive new features to match, but Apple hasn’t addressed the one thing that’s always bothered me about iOS. The iPhone just isn’t personal. It doesn’t know me and allow me to adjust it to make it my personal phone. I don’t think they understand that their end users aren’t a big faceless group of people.
Everyone has one, and they all look the same. Go out in a public place, right now. Look around, and observe all the people tapping away into their iPhone. They are literally everywhere you turn.

When you review phones on a regular basis, you go down one of a few paths. You either go down the path of most who crave big numbers on paper to make their smartphones incredible, or you are worried about how the phone improves your life (the hardware is still important, but in different ways). I want my phone to know me. I want it to be personal to me, and I want it to feel like it isn’t just another device that gets pushed out once a year. I don’t think Apple truly understands how personal the phone can be to the end user.

When Nokia made it’s announcement about the Lumia 920 last week, I wasn’t too impressed, but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Windows Phone 8, and it hit me all of a sudden when I saw this video published by Microsoft which illustrates my point perfectly.
The thing is, Microsoft gets it. They’re completely right. Live tiles make the technology disappear.

Windows Phone may have been riddled with a slow launch and a few missing features, but they truly understand how a phone relates to an actual person. It’s something the user is going to spend a lot of time with, and Microsoft understands that it should try as hard as it can to intimately get to know the user. Windows Phone 8 takes this even further.

They do this through a combination of basic stuff too. Customizable colors. Big pictures of their friends. Social Integration. Start screen customization. The list goes on and on.
I was an early adopter of Windows Phone 7, and had one of the first handsets released to the world, but I grew tired of the platform because updates were slow and unexciting (and generally just added features everyone else already has) and there were a lot of applications coming out I really wanted to use on other platforms, so I switched. Despite that, I want to point out that I don’t think I’ve ever been happier with how consistently well Windows Phone works.
It’s not about specifications; they shouldn’t even need to matter anymore. How many gigahertz or cores a phone has, or memory it has onboard is irrelevant. We’re at the point where it doesn’t matter at all and I don’t care about that stuff.

Android may offer customization, but my experience with it so far is the manufacturer skins are horrible, and third party widgets and apps that actually look remotely good on the platform are few and far between. It’s tiringly inconsistent.

With the announcement of Windows Phone 8, Microsoft has all of its eggs in one basket. Their feature set matches that of competitors. They’re in a position to finally be able to influence the market for good, and I am gunning for them. It doesn’t matter anymore if all the major applications aren’t there yet. This phone is good enough to stand on it’s own, and because of that the applications will come.

I want Windows Phone 8 to succeed, because Microsoft is the only one who truly understands that end users are real people.

Line2 | Add a new phone line to your mobile device

Line2 | Add a new phone line to your mobile device

Add a new phone line to your mobile device

Get 2 numbers on 1 phone with Line2

Stop carrying around two phones

Keep your personal and professional lives separate on one phone, or turn an iPad or iPod into a phone.

Get a dedicated line for your business

Pick a new number or transfer an existing number to add business-grade features to your mobile device.

Save money on your cell bill

Place and receive calls over WiFi, 3G/4G data, or cellular voice networks using your Line2 number.
"Top 10 Favorite App" — David Pogue, New York Times


HOW TO: watch Hulu, BBC iPlayer and more in Australia

HOW TO: watch Hulu, BBC iPlayer and more in Australia

Antonio Morris
28 June 2010, 10:48 AM


Frustrated by limits on who can watch what online? Here's how to use proxies, VPNs and assorted anonymisers to keep your surfing identity secret and work around limitations.

With credit card and identity fraud on the increase, we all want to surf the net securely and privately, but if you google “private surfing” you’ll find a nightmarish list of services promising to keep your identity and web surfing secret.

It’s hard to know where to start. While the services come in under various names, they basically fall into two categories. Some “anonymiser” services provide a mixture of both.

Go from this...

... to this

Proxy services

The simplest way to make your surfing anonymous is to use a proxy service, in which you connect to the net via a computer (proxy) set up by a third party. Any site that tries to capture your IP information or location finds the proxy’s details.

To connect via proxy you download a browser plug-in or set up a direct connection to the proxy via Windows networking. There are free and paid services. If you choose free, be prepared to trawl through lists of free proxy servers to find ones that work.

Good free proxy servers quickly get swamped so you need to be constantly on the lookout for new ones. While paid proxies have better uptime, proxy services in general aren’t good for watching geographically restricted television, since they can rarely handle streaming videos.
A big problem with proxy services is proving their legitimacy, since they are very easy to set up. Forums abound with stories of poor tech support and of paid proxy services taking people’s money.

You can check out a frequently-updated list of open proxies around the world at proxy.org.

VPN services

VPN services provide you with a an encrypted “tunnel” into a VPN server that completely hides your identity and location. Unlike proxies, VPN servers can set aside a lot of bandwidth for you and will handle streaming video.

If you select a VPN server in the country with the restricted web TV services you want (say, in the UK for the BBC’s iPlayer or in the US for Hulu) the content provider has no way of knowing you are from abroad and the video will play as if you’re local.

But search for VPN providers in Google and, like for proxies, you get an endless list of companies whose legitimacy is virtually impossible to check. However, amongst them are some well-known names that provide VPN services as part of a larger suite of networking and security services.

These include names like Steganos and the one we eventually settled on, Comodo, a US security software vendor. We signed up to Comodo’s TrustConnect service, which costs US$6.99 a month for 100GB of data (or US$49.99 a year). You download a small client, install it and it automatically connects you via VPN to a Comodo server.

The critical part is that it also lets you choose from a list of geographically disparate VPN servers, so we changed the connection to a UK-based one. We went to the BBC’s iPlayer site, and pronto, the content streamed as if we were in the UK.

We connected to a US-based VPN server, went to Hulu, and it worked too.

We must stress that we don’t condone Australians accessing content that is restricted to them, but we are concerned that British or US visitors to Australia are unable to watch their favourite shows on the BBC’s iPlayer or the US network’s Hulu service.

About Antonio
Antonio is a geek whose primary aim in life is to migrate all of his computer and web usage to his BlackBerry (since the company pays for it!). He’s one of several BlackBerry users who will write about their Crackberry addiction.

Australia: a video on demand backwater - Good Gear Guide

Australia: a video on demand backwater - Good Gear Guide

Online streaming of TV in Australia is far from perfect
Australia is in the dark ages when it comes to online video on demand services, with users tied to redundant cable TV subscriptions or forced to pay high prices for new content.
Video on demand in Australia  
A taste of what Australians can expect when trying to access US video streaming sites.

US streaming giants Netflix and Hulu are pinnacles of video on demand. Both services have massive video libraries with extensive back catalogues of movies and TV, and movie release schedules that closely follow US cinemas. New TV shows are mostly added at the same time as they are broadcast on US cable TV.

Netflix broke new ground in February when it premiered Lillyhammer, a series that it commissioned to show exclusively online. Hulu did the same with Battleground. The fourth and final series of cult hit Arrested Development will be released on Netflix next year with all 10 episodes available at the same time.

Netflix and Hulu Plus each cost just US$7.99 a month.

Visit Netflix.com or Hulu.com though, and you'll be presented with the error messages above — these services aren't available in Australia. The closest approximation Australians have is Foxtel On Demand, at nearly 10 times the price of Hulu Plus or Netflix.

The state of playback

A week ago, Foxtel announced that it would offer its On Demand TV show back catalogue to any subscriber with an Internet-connected iQ or iQ HD set-top box. It’s a good move — more shows to watch, whenever customers want to watch them.

The service requires an Internet connection to the set-top box, though — instead of running through the Foxtel cable, it’s an IPTV service delivered independently through users’ home Internet. Unless the connection is a Foxtel-partner Telstra BigPond one, On Demand use counts toward the user’s monthly Internet quota.

On Demand is also available through Foxtel’s website, and has been since October 2010. It’s also available via a Xbox 360 app. 

Like the iQ-based service, On Demand on the Web and Xbox is subscription-based, but here’s the problem — there’s no subscription purely for online. To use the On Demand website, you have to be a fully-fledged Foxtel customer with an installed cable connection and set-top box.

So, for example — If you don’t want to pay Foxtel’s $45 a month minimum, plus $16 for the Movies package, plus $10 per month for HD, plus a $150 one-off HD fee, plus a $100 setup fee, you’re not able to use the On Demand service to watch a show like Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones: Online in Oz, but not in the US

TV on demand

Australia has recently undergone a music on demand epiphany, with Rdio, Sony Music Unlimited, Microsoft’s Zune Music, JB Hi-Fi Now and others streaming music tracks to thousands of users.

Spotify also launched yesterday with plenty of fanfare, further democratising the market — unlike Rdio, it's got an entirely free ad-supported streaming service for PC and Mac users.
But where music is making leaps and bounds, TV on demand is a different story. At the moment, local IPTV-based video on demand is largely restricted to TV networks’ catch-up, as well as Foxtel and iTunes. There’s no subscription-based, all-you-can-eat service like Hulu Plus or Netflix in the US.

Here are the free services we’ve got in Australia:

ABC iViewonline, iPad, iPhone soon, many Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players, Xbox 360

SBS On Demand — online, some Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players, Xbox 360

Channel Seven PLUS7 — online, some Internet-connected TVs and Blu-ray players

Channel Nine Ninemsn Videoonline, Xbox 360

Channel TEN catch-uponline, Sony TVs

These are all run by the free-to-air networks, and only deliver the content that those networks have individually licenced — and not a great deal of that is popular international TV. The ABC runs some BBC content, and the commercial networks feature some US first-run TV like Revenge, Glee and Big Bang Theory. Release schedules are generally at least a week behind US TV, and are sometimes much slower.

Plenty of popular TV shows aren’t available for free in Australia. Game of Thrones and Dexter, two of the most popular and most-pirated shows in the US, are only broadcast on Foxtel’s Showcase cable TV channel. If you want to stream them here you’ll have to pay.
Here are Australia's pay-per-view or subscription-based IPTV services: 

Foxtel On Demand — set-top box, online, Xbox 360, T-box
iTunes — PC/Mac, iPad, iPhone, Apple TV
FetchTV — set-top box on some broadband ISPs
BigPond TV — PC/Mac, mobile, some Internet-connected TVs, Telstra T-Box
Quickflix: — PC/Mac, iPad, iPhone

Foxtel On Demand requires a very expensive and redundant Foxtel cable subscription. FetchTV (at least $10 per month) and BigPond TV (at least $11 per month) don't really belong in this list, as they mostly stream traditional channels of content rather than supplying it on demand, and content is limited anyway. Quickflix has some TV series, but its focus is mainly on on demand movies. 

Strangely enough, iTunes is your best choice for watching international TV on demand, but prices are high: $2.99 an episode, or $3.49 for HD. Buying season passes usually garners a slight discount, but not much: the 22-episode series of Revenge in HD costs a massive $71.99.

These choices aren't great. Two HD episodes of TV off iTunes in Australia could buy an entire month's subscription to Hulu or Netflix in the US. A month's Foxtel could pay for almost ten Hulu subscriptions.

There won’t be any new players on the market for the time being. Hulu is branching out internationally, but Australia’s not on the roadmap. Five positions in Beijing, China have been advertised, to design and test a online video new service in that country. Search for any news of Australia and Netflix, and the closest you'll get is the Baz Luhrmann film.

Movies on demand

Strangely, Australia does slightly better when it comes to watching movies online and on demand. The reason for that is Quickflix, a company which started out in the DVD rental by mail service but has now pioneered a local subscription-based movie streaming service.
Quickflix is the sole company that provides an unlimited, subscription-based movie service — but with the caveat that it’s only standard definition, and new release movies cost extra. Video is delivered in DVD resolution, but because it's streamed it's not nearly as detailed as watching a proper DVD, let alone a Blu-ray.

BigPond Movies on Demand, Foxtel and iTunes all offer SD and HD movies on demand, but none of them can offer them within a monthly subscription package — even Foxtel, which is a subscription service, charges a la carte for its Box Office movies. Prices are also high, no matter where you're watching:

Quickflix — $14.99 per month, unlimited SD (new releases cost $5.99, 48 hour rentals)
BigPond Movies on Demand — 48 hour rentals from $3.99 for SD, $6.99 for HD (higher for new releases)
Foxtel Box Office — 48 hour rentals for $5.50 (SD or HD depending on Foxtel package)
iTunes — 48 hour rentals from $3.99 for SD, $4.99 for HD (higher for new releases)

Buying just a couple of on-demand movies on any of these services could pay for a whole month of Hulu or Netflix. With prices this high, it's no surprise that Australia is one of the largest pirates of TV shows and movies through BitTorrent.

So when will other companies follow the Quickflix or Spotify model, and finally offer Australians a truly unlimited approach to watching TV and HD movies online and on demand?

It's working out well for Hulu: the company's revenues grew 60 per cent in the last year, and it's adding subscribers at double the rate of 12 months ago. Netflix is suffering the costs of international expansion, but it's got almost 24 million subscribers in the US — that's got to count for something.

GoodGearGuide has contacted Hulu, Netflix and HBO for comment on the companies’ Australian plans.


How to Embed a YouTube Playlist into your Website | Connecting Up

How to Embed a YouTube Playlist into your Website | Connecting Up

So, you've managed to secure a YouTube for Nonprofits account and you've made some great looking videos, but how do you share them on your website?

YouTube has the great feature of being able to create playlists filled with your organisation's videos. The benefit of this is that instead of hunting down all of your videos, they can just check out your playlists. They're also a great way of keeping track of your favourite YouTube videos.

It's well known that you can embed a single YouTube video into your website, but did you know you can embed a YouTube playlist into your website too? It doesn't take up any more room than a single video, and brings all of your YouTube playlist videos into one place.

Why would you want to embed a YouTube playlist into your website?

Here are some great reasons why you would want to embed a YouTube playlist into your nonprofit organisation's website:
  • Everytime you add videos to your playlist, they will be automatically added to your website.
  • Keep people on your website longer by offering them more relevant content that you hand-pick.
  • Avoid unrelated or inappropriate videos being displayed after a video has been watched
  • Easy way to create a portal to your YouTube content
  • Highlight videos from your supporters - the playlists can contain any videos, not just yours!
Part 1: Create Your YouTube Playlist

There are a range of ways to create a YouTube playlist for you to embed. Here's one, straightforward option:
  1. From any page on YouTube, click on your account name (next to the "Sign Out" link) to open the "My Acocunt" box.
  2. Click "Videos" under "My Account"
  3. In the left hand column click the "+New" button next to "Playlists"
  4. A box will pop up asking for: Playlist title, Playlist description and Playlist tags
  5. Once you've filled these out, click "Create playlist"
Now you can add videos to your YouTube Playlist, simply click the "+" buton you see under every YouTube video. For example, for videos from the Connecting Up 2011 conference, we added all of our videos to one playlist.

Part 2: Get the YouTube Playlist Embed code

Now that you're all set up, the next step is to get the code to embed your YouTube playlist into your website.

  1. From any page on YouTube, click on your account name (next to the "Sign Out" link) to open the "My Acocunt" box.
  2. Click "Videos" under "My Account"
  3. Choose your YouTube Playlist from the left hand column (under the "Playlists" heading)
  4. Click the "Share" button
  5. Copy the "Embed code"
The code is now in your clipboard. If you want to save it, you can open up your wordprocessor (e.g. Microsoft Word) or text editor and paste it into there. Otherwise, it's in your clipboard ready to be pasted into your website!

Part 3: Embed the YouTube Playlist into your website code

Great work! You now have the necessary code to embed your YouTube playlist in your clipboard. The next part requires you to embed this into your website. Now, this will be different for everyone as the platforms you use for your website are different, but here are a few things to remember:
  1. What you have copied is HTML code, and will have to be inserted with this in mind. If you're using a WYSIWIG editor, you may need to click "source" or "Disable rich-text" or "HTML" to see the HTML code.
  2. You can change the size of the embedded YouTube Playlist by changing the "width" and "height" properties (defaults are: width="480" height="385")
  3. If you want more advanced options you can see the YouTube Embedded Player Parameters
  4. Be creative! With this code, you can embed your YouTube Playlist just about anywhere - e.g. Facebook Tabs, blogs, etc
  5. If you can't embed your YouTube Playlist, you can always link to it by copying the "Playlist URL" instead.

Here's a finished example!

Below is the playlist from our Connecting Up 2011: Reboot Your Nonprofit conference, enjoy!

YouTube Gives Embedded Video Playlist Player A Facelift

YouTube Gives Embedded Video Playlist Player A Facelift

playlist player1 200x161 YouTube Gives Embedded Video Playlist Player A Facelift
YouTube has been tinkering a bit lately with the design and interface of their video player. In fact, they seem to change things up pretty frequently, as far as redesigns go. But the embeddable playlist player has remained relatively unchanged for quite some time. That all changes today, as YouTube has released a brand new playlist player that much more closely resembles the latest version of the standard single-video player.

Playlists are a fantastic tool for anyone that needs to share multiple videos at once all in the same embedded player. You simply create the playlist in your YouTube account--you can even create playlists including videos beyond just those that you've made yourself--and then generate the embed code.

It's a great way to incorporate multiple pieces of video content, centered around a theme or topic, without the viewer having to do anything more than click the original "Play" button one time. Tons of people use playlists, so this new updated player ought to be a very welcome surprise.

Here... have a look (this is just an image, not a clickable video):

playlist player YouTube Gives Embedded Video Playlist Player A Facelift

Notice the red toggle at the bottom of the player, which allows the user to have the rest of the playlist clips pop up with thumbnails.

The new player is available immediately to publishers who wish to use it. And it's retroactive too, if you want. All you need to do to turn on the new playlist video player is change the tail end of the URL string from "fs=1" to "version=3".

For now, YouTube is encouraging publishers and developers to test the new player. Should you find anything with it to be buggy or problematic, they're asking for your feedback over at the YouTube API Google Group. However, if you don't feel like being one of the guinea pigs, and would rather not edit a bunch of URLs... then just hold tight a few days. The new playlist player goes live on July 20 for everyone.

Source: YouTube Gives Embedded Video Playlist Player A Facelift http://www.reelseo.com/youtube-embedded-video-playlist-player-facelift/#ixzz25XsyJJ72
©2012 ReelSEO

How to Embed YouTube Video Playlists in Web Pages

How to Embed YouTube Video Playlists in Web Pages

If you are planning to embed multiple YouTube videos on a web page, you may even consider putting all these videos into a single YouTube playlist and then embed the playlist into your page. This offers two advantages:
1. You can squeeze in more video content in the same amount of (visual) space.
2. A video playlist will reduce the (byte) size of your web page considerably because, technically, you now have to embed the YouTube Flash video player only once on your page.

How to Embed YouTube Video Playlists

The default embed code for any YouTube video playlist looks something like this (remember to replace the word “ID” with the actual YouTube playlist ID) :

<object width="480" height="385"> 
 <param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/p/ID"></param> 
 <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param> 
 <param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param>
 <embed src="http://www.youtube.com/p/ID" width="480" height="385" 
 type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" 
If you find the above code confusing, there a much simpler way as well.
YouTube offers an IFRAME option for embedding individual videos and the same code can be extended to embed video playlists as well.

<iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/videoseries?list=ID" 
width="100%" height="500" frameborder="0"></iframe>

You may have to modify the value of height and width attributes to make the video player fit your page.

What’s the advantage? The code looks clean and, going forward, Google could make these playlists HTML5 ready. Then your existing video playlist will play on browsers that don’t have the Flash plugin without you having to change the embed code.

Here’s a sample YouTube playlist embedded using the new IFRAME style.