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Category Archives: Software

Google Maps Rally

Google MapsBy Andrew Liszewski

I saw this game played a week or so ago on G4′s ‘Attack Of The Show’ and it made me yearn for the days of working in an office environment. (Not really.)

Google Maps Rally is a fun way for you and a coworker to waste a couple of hours with nothing more than your PC (or Mac) and a web browser. Here’s how it goes down;

1- You each choose a mutual destination somewhere in the world.

2- You then each choose a starting point. While it doesn’t necessarily have to be the same location, you’ll need to make sure they’re both the same distance to your destination to make the race fair.

3- Using the Google Maps ‘Get Directions’ feature you each plan the optimal route between your 2 cities. (It’s best to select a start and end city on the same continent.) Google Maps will then show you a nice blue line connecting your two locations on the map VIA various roads and highways.

4- You then each zoom-in to your start cities. (The zoom level is up to you, however in interest of fairness ensure you’re both at the same level.)

5- Then simply start panning the map (using a click and drag motion) along the route as laid out by Google Maps as fast as you can.

5- The first one to arrive at their destination can then claim the title of king of lost productivity!

While it may not appeal to some as much as Solitaire or Minesweeper, the plausible deniability ranking is quite high if and when you get caught by a superior. Enjoy!

[Matter of fact, Bruce and Andrew huff paint thinner together. They're weak, forgive them. -Ed.]

[Google Maps] Originally Seen On [Attack Of The Show]

PawSense Stops Your Cat’s Typing

By David Ponce

Looks like these days we’re fixated on software, what with all the hoopla over TopDesk and such. Well, it doesn’t stop there. You have to hear about PawSense. For $20, you can allegedly fix whatever problems might be caused when your cat confuses your keyboard for a Dance Dance Revolution mat. As soon as erratic typing is detected, the program freezes all input and simultaneously emits a “sound that is annoying to cats”, to teach them to stay away.

And yes, yes, the year 2000 called and it wants its news back. AND, the site peddling this stuff looks like it was designed by a blind martian, which doesn’t bode well to the quality of the program… but nevertheless, perhaps someone somewhere dropped the $20 and can tell us if this thing works at all.

[PawSense] VIA [No Puedo Creer]

Move Over Windows Vista, TopDesk 1.4.1 Is In Town


By David Ponce

A few days ago, we brought you news of TopDesk 1.4, a great piece of software that reproduced on Win XP the nifty “Expose” functionality found on OSX. For those of you who only rarely come out from under your rock, “Expose” is a feature that lets you dynamically tile all the windows you’re using so you can find the one you’re looking for more quickly. It looks great, and helps with productivity.

Well, the guys at Otaku Software just kicked it up a notch with the release of TopDesk 1.4.1 The main difference? It integrates “Flip 3D”, a feature to be found on the upcoming Windows Vista. Matter of fact, some say that along with some cosmetic changes, Flip 3D is just about one of the few good improvements over XP.

Anyway, the software works like this. Upon the press of a button, or a mouseover of a predefined region of the screen, all your windows will resize, line up in the middle of the screen, and tilt sideways (like on the picture). Then, you simply flip through them (hence the name) with your scrollwheel until you find the one you’re looking for.

The animations are smooth and look pretty freaking slick. I’ve been using it for half an hour, and I have to say, I’m excited to have this piece of software on my PC. If any of your windows are minimised, then these will be transparent when lined up, and this too looks very nice. All in all, it’s definitely worth a try. It’s not freeware, but at $10, it is cheapware. Or perhaps, a-lot-cheaper-than-Vista-ware.

A couple of small things before you install. If you’re using Firefox, there is a small issue with keyboard shortcuts unintentionally activating the “find” feature. But this can easily be fixed with a quick workaround. Go to “Tools -> Options -> Advanced”, and under the “Accessibility” section, disable “Begin finding when you begin typing”. For more on this, go here. Also, try to make sure you’re running Firefox 1.5.0.1.

[TopDesk 1.4.1]

TopDesk 1.4 Bring “Expose” Functionality To Windows

By David Ponce

In my rather inelegant opinion, the most fascinating feature of Mac OSX, is “Expose”. For those (very unfortunate) of you who’ve never seen Expose, it’s this feature that lets you tile, at the press of a button, all the windows you’re using so that you can quickly jump to the one you need. It’s very appealing, visually, and also happens to help, productivity-wise.

Well, Windows lubbers rejoice, for company Otaku Software has released TopDesk 1.4. This program purports to do the same. It requires Windows XP, so, um, if there ever was a reason to upgrade, here you have it.

You can set the program to tile on the press of one of three hotkeys. Alternatively, you can set hotspots that will trigger the tiling function or, finally, via one click on a floating button.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I will right after I publish this here article. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Maybe.

[TopDesk 1.4] VIA [Digg]

Kingston’s Tax Time ThumbDrive

kingston H&R tax driveBy David Ponce

Tax time is looming. And paper returns are so passe. Kingston, makers of all things memory, have partnered up with H&R Block to make a 256MB thumb drive that comes pre-loaded with TaxCut software. Simply insert the drive in your PC, fill out as much as you can, and bring the drive to your closest H&R Block. They’ll take care of the rest.

For $40 (after a $10 mail-in rebate), you get a little thumbdrive, and a relatively easier way to pay the taxman.

[] [H&R Block] and [TaxCut]

Ted, Automates TV Show Downloading

By David Ponce

I haven’t tried this program, so I can’t endorse it. If anyone ends up doing so, let us know how it went.

And before I tell you about it, here’s the disclaimer. Your soul is mortal. It feels pain. It will be pricked by a thousand burning needles in hell should you ever download anything that’s copyrighted.

Oh, and your kids will be ugly, too. Ok?

That being said,Ted is a little piece of software that lets you automate your bittorrent TV downloads. Simply enter the shows you’re addicted to, and it will constantly monitor Torrentspy and Torrentmonitor for their release. When it finds them, it will automagically download them for you.

Nifty.

Who said you had to pay for cable?

[Ted] VIA [Waxy]

Hands Free Speakerphone For Skype

By David Ponce

I’m surprised it took this long for me to come across a product like this. It’s nothing groundbreaking or lifechanging, but it could be useful. US Robotics chose CES to launch the USR9610 USB Internet Speakerphone, a $50 speakerphone for Skype.

With powerful echo cancellation technology, convenient volume and mute buttons, and full-duplex operation, the USR9610 works just like a traditional speakerphone, only without the costs of a long distance call.

Like I said, I won’t be writing letters home over this, but I thought y’all should know about it anyway.

[USR Press Release] VIA [Gizmologia]

CES 2006, Netgear Skype Phone

By David Ponce

This is an interesting tidbit floating out of CES this year. Netgear has announced a Skype mobile phone, which would allow you to place free calls (or cheap ones with SkypeOut) whenever a Wifi hotspot in range. Simply insert your Skype username and password as soon as you turn the phone on, and you’re good to go.

It also would work as a regular mobile phone whenever there are no hotspots available.

Go Skype (and Netgear).

There’s no word on price or availability, though you can sign up to be alerted to when it is.

[Netgear Skype Phone] VIA [Gizmologia]

Update: Hrmph… So it looks like I might have jumped the gun on this one. After actually reading the material, it looks as though this phone will not work as a regular cellphone. It only works when there’s a hotspot in range. As Julian in the comments point out, that would actually have been pretty awesome. As it is, it’s only kind of cool

foXpose, A Great Firefox Extension

By David Ponce

If you haven’t downloaded Firefox 1.5 yet, you really should. NASA has. And when you do, you’ll discover among many of the wonderful features, the joy of tabbed browsing. Now, fun as it is, when you have fifteen of the buggers open, it’s easy to lose track of what’s what.

That’s where Viamatic’s foXpose (try this link if that one is giving you trouble) extension comes in handy. After install, you get a little button in the lower right-hand corner. Click on it, and it’ll rearrange all your tabs into clickable thumbnails, very much like Mac OS’s Expose feature.

While not as visually appealing as Apple’s implementation, it’s definately handy.

[foXpose] VIA [Viamatic]