I love being from Canada — but due to licensing issues and the imaginary line I live on the wrong side of, I’m blocked from or limited in using streaming media services that my global neighbours rave about. Fortunately for those of us so geographically challenged (or those of you travelling outside the US or UK and missing your favourite music and video streams), there are services out there that try to solve this problem.
The best one I’ve come across so far, in terms of ease of use and quality of delivery, is UnoDNS.Read more
Today is the deadline for most NCAA March Madness brackets — the first game of the second round. If you’ve been invited to participate in a pool or some other sort of friendly competition, you need to get your college basketball stats together in a hurry. It’s a bit of a bear of a project though, isn’t it? Especially if you’re busy, don’t follow basketball like it’s your religion, or statistics make your eyes roll into the back of your head.
Not to worry , though… PickMyBracket.com has come to your rescue! It’s bracket generator algorithm will create a full bracket for you in seconds — and you might even win a “Brand New iPad,” to boot.
PickMyBracket.com was developed by Information Systems students Jerry Potter and Nick Walter at Brigham Young University. The site pulls statistical data on NCAA teams from ESPN and runs comparisons to pick a winner. To make sure everyone has their own bracket flavour, and to keep things interesting, there are random factors you can choose from, as well, such as hotness of coeds, partying reputation of colleges, SAT scores, mascot type, etc.
The idea actually originated with Walter’s father.
“For around the past 10 years he made an excel file that filled out your March Madness bracket for you based off of team’s ranks and some randomness. He called it ‘The Pickalator,’” said Walter. “I thought this would be a great chance to bring The Pickalator to the whole world!”
If you want to participate in this year’s March Madness bracket competitions, but figure you’re out of time or don’t have the know-how, think again! PickMyBracket.com can have you up and running with a good bracket in just a couple of minutes. Get on it now, so you don’t miss out. Who knows… you might win.
Today, I discovered the Evernote Clearly extension. Today, my life changed. If you’re a fan of saving articles for later — or just of reading them in an uncluttered, easy on the eyes format — your life might change too. Clearly brings all of the minimalist beauty of iReader and Readability, does it better, and then sweetens the pot with the ability to send a nicely formatted copy of the article to Evernote with a single click.
It’s awesome. You must try it!
A few screenshots of Clearly in action:
To make things even more fun, Evernote Clearly offers customization capabilities so you can set up your own look and feel, as well as some smooth transition animations, and the ability to preset a tag for the articles you decide clip to read later.
You don’t need an Evernote account to use Clearly, but if Evernote was trying to find a way to get free users to increase the likelihood of needing a paid account, they’ve definitely succeeded.
Clearly is currently available as a Google Chrome extension. Other browsers will be supported soon.
Every once in a while you try to download or install something, only to be told by your impertinent machine that you don’t have enough space. You try and try to resolve the issue, but, for the life of you, can’t find the files that are hogging up your hard drive. Everything seems accounted for. You’ve even emptied your Recycle Bin and cleared your temp folder, but all you get from your computer is some digitized, maniacal laughter — or maybe that’s just me.
Potential crazy aside, there is an easy and very handy free tool that you can use to smack some sense into your Windows PC. It’s called SpaceSniffer, and it will help you find and destroy what’s eating your computer’s storage space. You’ll probably be surprised by what you find.
I’ve tried a few different HDD analyzing tools. Many of them are ugly and not very fun when it comes to usability, and they are usually packed with features that you probably don’t need, because they take away from your singular goal: to find and delete what is keeping you from getting that new file or program on your machine.
SpaceSniffer’s interface gets to the point. Every button has a point, and the display is clean and easy to understand — in it’s simplest form, the bigger the block, the bigger the file. There are a few simple animations that happen as the files populate, or when you double-click to zoom in on a folder or block, but they don’t distract or have any major impact on speed. If you’re in a hurry, though, you can decrease the graphics refresh rate in the Configure/Effects panel (or remove the animations completely in Configure/Colors). It won’t be as pretty, but it will be faster.
Basically, what SpaceSniffer does is go through your folders and analyzes how your disk space is being used, then presents it in a dynamic grid. From there, you can drill down into folders, tag and filter files to get a more specific look, and use the Windows context menu by right clicking to open folders or get right to the deleting part. You can even navigate during the scanning process, and SpaceSniffer will react to file system events (like clearing your Recycle Bin or deleting a file) to always stay in sync.
There are a few other tips and tricks such as printing customized reports and creating batch files for automation, but chances are you won’t really need them — if you do, check out the Tips and Tricks page of the SpaceSniffer website. You can also get a full list of the features here.
I have to tell you: I love this program. I used it to clear a whopping 50GB of space from my hard drive. 50 frickin’ gigabytes!! Of course, I immediately cut that down by half after installing the free-to-play MMORPG Age of Conan… but that’s another story. Bottom line: 50GB, man! I found files that made no sense, a bunch of space taken up by the mysterious $Recycle.Bin (even though my Recycle Bin was empty), and decided that, since I never use Hibernate in Windows, there was no need for me to allow the OS to reserve 4.5GB for it. I turned that off…
Check Out These SpaceSniffer Videos:
Running a Simple Scan
SpaceSniffer is a portable program that plays nice with your machine, and doesn’t clog up your registry. Download it here, and see what’s taking up space on your hard drive.
My little girl is three. Three-and-a-half, to be exact — and before now, we never had to worry about her putting things in her mouth. I’m not sure what changed, really, but now we have to watch her like a hawk. And we do — but, unfortunately, it was already too late for my iPad stylus. For both of them…
The first one, she chewed on. It was pretty much a write-off. The second one, she decided it would be fun to see what the business end tasted like. Now I’m down two pens. They were the cheap kind, thank the tech gods, but that’s still about $40 down the drain! So I decided: the next stylus will be one of my own making. One that will cost me nothing to make, and that I can easily repair. And thanks to the wonders of the internet, making that happen was easy peasy.
There are several articles on the subject of the DIY touchscreen stylus. The ones that caught my eye were those talking about using a real pen. The basic touchscreen stylus isn’t exactly known for it’s ergonomic feel, so working one up from a real pen seemed like a good idea. I found a few iterations, but the basic concept can be traced back to a video on Make Magazine’s Makezine Blog. All you have to do is connect some light-gauge wire to some conductive foam — which can be found in the packaging of computer and electronic components such as microchips and CPUs — feed it through the empty body of a comfortable pen, and then wrap the wire around the outside, where your hand will come into contact with it. Trim the conductive foam tip to desired size and shape, and voila: instant iPad stylus.
The whole project can be done very quickly, and you can spruce it up a bit by drilling small holes to lock the wire inside the body of the pen, so that you don’t have to use tape. If you happen to have a pen with a metal body, even better. All you’ll need in that case is the conductive foam and you’re good to go! The wire method isn’t so bad, though. It’s not always pretty, but it works.
Here’s a (somewhat blurry) shot of my rough prototype:
I made this on a whim, entirely from things I had on hand. I was able to use the original stylus head for the conductive foam, which was nice — we caught her before she swallowed it. I also used some very light speaker wire (all I had, at the time), and the head of an old 1/4 audio jack to provide support for the tip. It fit snugly into the point of the pen, once the pen’s original head was taken off. Note that the wire is only on one side of the pen. I did that because speaker wire is ugly, and wrapping it all the way around would have been a total atrocity, potentially involving metal splinters. The way I hold a pen would have me almost always in contact with it, anyway, and the next round will be prettier.
Looks notwithstanding, due to the ergonomic grip of the pen, I’ve already found that the DIY iPad stylus is much more accurate than those that are up for sale. I’ll never go back.
Looking for a fun, easy project? Make your own stylus! Then tell us all about it. Post pictures, even!