Make Tech Easier » Software http://www.maketecheasier.com Uncomplicating the complicated, making life easier Thu, 07 Nov 2013 06:45:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.7.1 CheatSheet For the Updated Evernote Apphttp://www.maketecheasier.com/evernote-cheatsheet/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/evernote-cheatsheet/#comments Thu, 17 Oct 2013 23:25:33 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=81242 The keyboard shortcuts used for the desktop versions of Evernote have been deleted, added to, and changed. Download the Evernote Cheat Sheet here for the updated keyboard shortcut.

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evernote-logoEvernote has recently gone through some changes to streamline the service and make it easier to use. All of the versions – PC, Mac, and Mobile – have seen these changes. It’s still the same great app/service, with all of your notes being saved and synced between devices.

With these changes, you will see a completely new interface that offers a quick glance at everything – including your notes, notebooks, and tags. It make it much easier to find everything. Another big change is replacing the Favorites bar with Shortcuts. Instead of setting your favorites, you can just drag your notes, tags, saved searches, etc., into the Shortcuts area.

Because of all of these great changes, the keyboard shortcuts that are used for the desktop versions of Evernote have been deleted, added to, and changed. Follow the Evernote Cheat Sheet below to find your way around Evernote on the PC and Mac.

Evernote’s keyboard shortcuts for Windows

Evernote Shortcuts (Windows)
Function
Ctrl + Alt + NSwitch to Evernote and open a new note.
Ctrl + Shift + NCreate a new notebook.
Ctrl + NCreate a new note.
Ctrl + Shift + TCreate a new tag.
Ctrl + Alt + TAssign a new tag.
Ctrl + PPrint
Ctrl + Shift + PPrint preview.
Ctrl + FOpen a “Find” box on the open note.
Ctrl + GFind Next
Ctrl + Shift + GFind Previous.
Ctrl + HReplace within note.
Ctrl + Shift + AClear the previous search
Ctrl + Shift + SCreate a new search that can be saved.
Ctrl + SpaceSimplify the formatting in a note
Ctrl + Shift + SpaceRemove all of the formatting in a note
Ctrl + Shift + CAdd a checkbox to the note on the line with the cursor
Ctrl + Shift + XOpen the encryption menu for highlighted text
Ctrl + QQuit Evernote
Shift + Alt + NJump to Notebook list
Shift + Alt + TJump to Tag list

F10
F11
Ctrl + F10
Ctrl + F11
F8
Show or hide (toggle on or off):
- Left Panel
- Note List
- Search Explanation
- Note Panel
- Note Info
F7Run spell check on your open note

Ctrl+F5
Ctrl+F6
Ctrl+F7
Set view:
- List view
- Snippet view
- Card view
Ctrl + DOpen the Font dialog
Formatting
Ctrl + LParagraph align left
Ctrl + RParagraph align right
Ctrl + EParagraph align center
Ctrl + JJustify paragraph
Ctrl + MIncrease indentation
Ctrl + Shift + MDecrease indentation
F9Manually sync with the Evernote cloud
F6Begin a new search
F7Run spell check on your open note
EscClose all notes and minimize Evernote
Ctrl + EnterOpen in a new window
Ctrl + ZUndo
Ctrl + YRedo
Ctrl + XCut
Ctrl + CCopy
Ctrl + VPaste
Ctrl + Shift + VPaste as text
DeleteDelete
Ctrl + ASelect all
Ctrl + +Increase font size
Ctrl + -Decrease font size
Ctrl + Shift + BBulleted list
Ctrl + Shift + ONumbered list
Ctrl + BBold
Ctrl + IItalic
Ctrl + UUnderline
Ctrl + TStrikethrough
Ctrl + Shift + HHighlight
Ctrl + Shift + -Insert horizontal rule
Ctrl + KAdd hyperlink
Ctrl + Shift + KEdit hyperlink
Ctrl + Shift + RRemove hyperlink

Evernote’s keyboard shortcuts for Mac

Evernote Shortcuts (Mac)
Function
Cmd + NCreate a new note.
Cmd + Shift + NCreate a new synchronized notebook.
Cmd + Ctrl + TCreate a new tag.
Cmd + Alt + NOpen in a new window
Cmd + YQuick look at attachments
Cmd + Ctrl + SManually sync with the Evernote cloud
Cmd + Shift + MMerge highlighted notes
Cmd + WClose Evernote
Cmd + SSave
Cmd + Alt + FSearch all notes
Cmd + :Show spelling and grammar
Cmd + ;Check spelling
Fn (tap twice)Start dictation
Cmd + PPrint
Cmd + FOpen a “Find” box on the open note.
Cmd + GFind Next
Cmd + Shift + GFind Previous.
Cmd + RClear the previous search
Cmd + Shift + FSimplify the formatting in a note
Cmd + Shift + TAdd a checkbox to the note on the line with the cursor
Cmd + Shift + XOpen the encryption menu for highlighted text
Cmd + QQuit Evernote
Cmd + Shift + AShow all notes
Cmd + JJump to Notebook list
Cmd + Shift + JJump to Tag list
Cmd + [Back
Cmd + ]Forward
Cmd + /Copy shared URL to clipboard
Cmd + Ctrl + Alt + CCopy note link
Cmd + LEdit note's title
Cmd + 'Edit notes's tag

Cmd + Shift + S
Cmd + Shift + T
Cmd + Shift + C
Cmd + T
Cmd + Shift + I
Show or hide (toggle on or off):
- Sidebar
- Toolbar
- Color panel
- Font Panel
- Note Info
Cmd + Ctrl + MMove to another notebook
Cmd + Shift + MMerge notes
Cmd + Alt + {Paragraph align left
Cmd + Alt + }Paragraph align right
Cmd + Alt + |Paragraph align center
Cmd + Shift + ]Increase indentation
Cmd + Shift + [Decrease indentation

Cmd + Alt + 0
Cmd + Alt + 1
Cmd + Alt + 2
Cmd + Alt + 3
Cmd + Alt + 4
Cmd + Alt + 5
View
- Announcement
- Notes
- Notebooks
- Tags
- Atlas
- Market
Cmd + EnterPresentation mode
Cmd + Alt + EnterPresentation mode on another screen
Formatting
Cmd + ZUndo
Cmd + Shift + ZRedo
Cmd + XCut
Cmd + CCopy
Cmd + VPaste
Cmd + Shift + VPaste as text
Cmd + ASelect all
Cmd + +Increase font size
Cmd + -Decrease font size
Cmd + Shift + UBulleted list
Cmd + Shift + ONumbered list
TabIncrease list level
Shift + TabDecrease list level
Cmd + Shift + LInsert Table
Cmd + BBold
Cmd + IItalic
Cmd + UUnderline
Cmd + Ctrl + KStrikethrough
Cmd + Ctrl + HHighlight
Cmd + Ctrl + +Superscript
Cmd + Ctrl + -Subscript
Cmd + Shift + TInsert To Do
Cmd + Shift + DInsert Date
Cmd + Shift + Alt + DInsert Time
Cmd + Shift + HInsert horizontal rule
Cmd + KAdd hyperlink
Cmd + Shift + KRemove hyperlink

Can’t get enough of these? You can now download the PDF version of this cheatsheet (newsletter subscription required).

Download Evernote Keyboard shortcut cheatsheet here.

Evernote is the kind of app/service that has so many applications that it’s impossible for one individual to tap into all of them, yet it also means that it can be completely adaptable to any one person. These keyboard shortcuts should make it much easier to get around on the improved interface of Evernote to make it even more adaptable and easy to use.

Evernote Keyboard shortcut cheatsheet.

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Print From Your Mobile Device Anywhere with Breezyhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/print-from-mobile-device/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/print-from-mobile-device/#respond Thu, 17 Oct 2013 14:50:44 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=81757 While Google's Cloud Print allows you to print remotely from mobile device, it is not perfect. Breezy is one of the best alternative remote print app that we have found.

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breezy-printer-iconPrinter technology has moved forward with  the times, going networked and then wireless. But now, more and more people are working from smartphones and tablets, which creates a dilemma when it comes to needing a physical copy of a document. Google attempts to solve this with Cloud Print, but despite having been around for a couple of years, it remains a beta and is less than intuitive for any users.

Other technologies exist that are much simpler and more efficient. Today we’ll be setting up Breezy, which is compatible with Windows, as well as iOS and Android.

Before you can go off and print from your Nexus 7 while in a hotel room, you will need to prepare everything at the home-end, where your printer resides. Head to the Breezy web site and download a little app called “Personal Connector”.

breezy-desktop-install

If you have already registered a Breezy account then go ahead and enter your email address and password when prompted to do so during the setup process. If you don’t yet have an accountm then you can create one right from the same prompt.

breezy-setup

You will now be presented with a list of available printers attached to the computer you are on, including those virtual ones supplied by apps like Office and Acrobat.

breezy-select-printers

With the setup behind us, we arrive at the rather simply and easy to understand desktop app interface. There are four self-explanatory options here.

breezy-desktop

“Account” allows you to change your password if you find it necessary; “Printers” lets you add, remove or change the printers you wish to have associated with your account; “Settings” contains three options governing how the app runs and “Help” speaks for itself.

Settings may be of mild interest here – it contain only three options, once of which is enabled by default. That lone one tells Breezy to start when the computer starts up – a necessity in case your computer is restarted while your out. The other two are “automatically minimize Breezy when it starts” and “do you want to use and HTTP proxy?”. Choose these if you see fit.

Breezy produces mobile apps for iOS, Android and Blackberry – sorry Windows Phone users. The apps are all free and easy to setup, as you need only enter your Breezy account login information.

Once setup, you will find a simple home screen that allows you to choose files and photos for printing, as well as view the list of your recently printed items.

breezy-android-app

Once everything is all setup, then you can send files to Breezy from other apps on your device, such as Office 365, Google Maps and more. Then simply open the app, set preferences such as portrait or landscape and more to get them going to your printer back at home or the office.

As I stated earlier, this is not your only option for printing from a mobile device, but I have found it to be the best of the ones I have used. If you need something printed right away while you are on the road, you even get the option to send it to any of the thousands of locations in the network – places such as FedEx stores and others.

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How to Clear Spotify Cachehttp://www.maketecheasier.com/quick-tips/clear-spotify-cache/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/quick-tips/clear-spotify-cache/#respond Mon, 16 Sep 2013 19:00:16 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?post_type=quick-tips&p=80698 If you are running low on hard disk space, you can clear Spotify cache to free up some space. Here is how you can do so in Windows, Mac and Linux.

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If you have been a regular user of Spotify (on desktop), you should know that it caches your playlist in the local hard disk so it can quickly playback the songs without having to stream from their server again. However, if you are running low on hard disk space, you might want to clear the cache to make way for more important documents. The Spotify desktop client doesn’t come with a way to clear the cache. Here is how you can clear Spotify cache in Windows, Mac and Linux.

In Windows

Open Windows Explorer and paste the following line to the folder address bar:

C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Spotify\Storage

Replace “USERNAME” with your Windows login username. Note that this folder is hidden by default, so you have to use the direct link to reach the cache folder. (Alternatively, you can go into the Settings and turn on “Show Hidden Files, Folders and Drives.”)

Delete all the files in this folder.

In Mac

Open a terminal and type:

sudo rm -fr /Users/USERNAME/Library/Caches/com.spotify.client/Storage/*

Replace “USERNAME” with your login username.

In Linux

Open a terminal and type the following:

sudo rm -rf ~/.cache/spotify/Storage/*

Note: The above methods only work if you didn’t change the destination of the cache folder. If you have changed the cache location, you have to make amendment to the filepath to reflect the new location that you have set.

Once you have cleared the cache, the next time you run Spotify, it will re-cache the songs to your system. You might want to go to the “Preferences -> Cache” section to change the maximum cache size that it can use.

spotify-cache-size

That’s it.

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How to Send Encrypted Emails in Thunderbirdhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/send-encrypted-emails-in-thunderbird/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/send-encrypted-emails-in-thunderbird/#comments Mon, 09 Sep 2013 14:50:15 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=80449 To protect your privacy and prevent others from viewing your emails, it is best to encrypt them so only the intended recipients can view them. Here is how you can send encrypted emails in Thunderbird.

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thunderbird-encrypt-email-thumbPreviously, we have shown you how you can send encrypted email in Gmail. However, some of the comments in the article mentioned that this is dependent on the Chrome extension and is not a failsafe approach. An alternative way is to manage your emails using a desktop client, like Thunderbird, and manage the encryption from your desktop. Here is how you can send encrypted emails in Thunderbird.

Thunderbird, by itself, does not come with the capability to encrypt your email. However, with the help of PGP/GPG and enigmail, you can easily encrypt your email in Thunderbird.

PGP

PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) is the protocol used to encrypt emails.

GPG

GPG (GNU Privacy Guard) is the software that implements PGP.

Enigmail

Enigmail is a Thunderbird extension that connects to GPG to implements the encryption.

To get started, we need to first install GPG and Enigmail on our computer.

For Linux

In Ubuntu and most Linux distro, GPG is installed by default. In fact, the “Passwords and Keys” (aka. seahorse) app in Ubuntu is already an implementation of GPG.

To install Enigmail, simply search for it in the Ubuntu Software Center, or use the command in the terminal:

sudo apt-get install enigmail

For Windows

Installing GPG in Windows is as easy as installing the GPG4Win app.

For Mac

Similarly, install the GPG Suite for Mac to get started.

Installing Enigmail in Thunderbird

Once you have installed GPG for your OS, open up Thunderbird and head to “Tools -> Add-ons”. Search for the extension “Enigmail”. Install it and restart Thunderbird for it to take effect.

thunderbird-install-enigmail

You should now see an “OpenPGP” option in the menu bar.

thunderbird-openpgp-menu

Click the “OpenPGP” menu and select “Setup Wizard”. Select “Yes, I would like the wizard to get me started” and click Next.

thunderbird-setup-openpgp-wizard

If you want to sign all your email, select “yes, I want to sign all of my email”. For selective signing, choose the “No, I want to …” option instead. Click Next.

thunderbird-sign-all-email

For the encryption, decide if you want to encrypt all your outgoing email or on a per-recipient basis.

thunderbird-encrypt-all-email

Next, the wizard will prompt you to change a few email settings to make OpenPGP work more reliably. This includes disable HTML message, view message body as plain text, disable loading IMAP parts on demand etc. If you have made a specific settings to Thunderbird that you need to use for all emails, select “No”. Else, you can safely select “Yes” and let it configures your mail settings.

thunderbird-change-mail-settings

The next step is to create a new key pair for signing and encrypting your email. If you have already created a keypair, you can select it from the list. If not, select “Create a new key pair” option.

thunderbird-create-keypair

You will then have to enter the passphrase.

thunderbird-enter-passphrase

And lastly, click Next at the Summary page and it will start to create the keypair.

thunderbird OpenPGP Summary

Once the keypair is generated, it will prompt you if you want to generate a revocation certificate. This certificate can be used to invalidate your private key in case it gets lost or stolen.

thunderbird-generate-certificate

Open a new Compose window and start to enter your message. To encrypt/sign your message, click “OpenPGP -> Encrypt Message” in the menu bar. You can also select “Sign Message” as well. If necessary, attach your public key in the email so the recipient can add it to their library.

thunderbird-compose-encrypt-email

If you receive an encrypted email in Gmail, you can make use of Mymail-Crypt for Gmail for Chrome or WebPG (available for both Firefox and Chrome).

Thunderbird is used by many people and thanks to its open-source nature, adding an encryption mechanism to it is very simple as well. Once you have set it up, you will be able to receive and send encrypted emails without much issue.

Image credit: Computer security by BigStockPhoto

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Alternative to Skype: 3 Free Apps That Bring Better Audio/Visual Qualityhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/alternative-to-skype/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/alternative-to-skype/#comments Tue, 20 Aug 2013 14:50:42 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=79405 Skype may be the most popular voice/video call service that most people are using, but it is definitely not the only player in the market. Here is a list of alternative to Skype that bring better audio/video communication than Skype.

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skype-alternatives-thumbWhen it comes to audio or video communication through the Internet, Skype is the one that most people have heard of and are using. However, other than Skype, there are other similar services that also provide audio/video communication features. In this article, we will look into some free apps which offer better audio/video communication than Skype.

skype-alternatives-VSee

VSee is a video conferencing and screen sharing service which works very similar to Skype. VSee uses less bandwidth and offers higher quality video and audio as compared to Skype. The greatest advantage of VSee over any other video communication service is that the users can share their screen with other users and use annotation tools for meetings and discussions.

The free version of VSee supports only one screen share per day with unlimited group video calls.

skype-alternatives-oovoo

ooVoo tries to give the user a lot more options mainly for video communication. ooVoo provides high quality video and audio experience for the user. The user can see videos in full screen mode making good use of the screen real estate. Probably the biggest features of ooVoo, which also differentiate it with other competitors, are video call recording and video messaging.

With ooVoo, users are able to send video messages to each other while recording live conversations. Another exciting feature of ooVoo is the watch together feature. With watch together, the users are able to watch movies together while remotely connected to each other.

The free version of ooVoo allows up to 12 people to connect to each other in a group call.

skype-alternatives-Viber

Viber first started as a free mobile voice call service, and has recently venture into the desktop market as well. It is now available for Windows and Mac alongside the various mobile platforms that it supports. The biggest advantage of Viber is that once you are connected to it from your mobile, all your contacts in the phone are added to your Viber account and you can access them right from the desktop too.

If none of the above three interest you, here are more alternatives to Skype that you can use.

Google Hangouts – Especially useful for group video calls. Each member needs to have Google ID in order to log into Google Hangouts.

UberConference – A specialized conferencing service with social integration.

Tokbox – A highly configurable tool for website owners who want to integrate video communication right inside their own websites.

Jitsi – A good alternative to Skype as well as various instant messaging apps.

Voxox – An all in one communications app that comes with integrated faxing service.

Facetime – Facetime can be termed as the Skype for Mac. Apple offers Facetime service which is compatible and free only for Mac/iPhone users.

Tinychat - A very simple service with no registration required. Provides video conferencing up to 12 people at a time.

While there are tons of alternatives to Skype, you may not have heard of them. Hopefully this list of apps and services can give you a better insight of the various voice/video call apps that you can use and not limiting yourself to only one choice.

Which is your favorite app or service for audio/video communication?

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Send Instant Messages Over LAN With LAN Messengerhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/send-instant-messages-over-lan/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/send-instant-messages-over-lan/#comments Sun, 11 Aug 2013 14:50:07 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=78742 Most instant messenger app requires Internet connection. LAN Messenger allows you to send instant messages over LAN, making it suitable for large house or workplace.

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lan-messenger-logoWe reside in an old three-story Victorian home and the office is on the third floor, resulting in my wife and I frequently use our smartphones to text one another, despite the fact we are in the same house. That may sound weird, but it beats walking up or down flights of stairs.

However, there is an app that can make this simpler. Now my wife and daughter and I can send instant messages over LAN, anywhere in the home.

The app is called LAN Messenger, and it can be found, free of charge, over at Sourceforge. It also works cross-platform – Windows, Mac and Linux.

The app is currently at version 1.2.35 and is an 11.5 MB download. Once you have nabbed it and done the quick installation, it is time for setting things up. Obviously, for this to work, you will have to do the same installation and configuration for each computer within your network.

lan-messenger-download-page

Features include, not only the ability to chat with others on your network, but also secure chat, broadcasting messages to all users, exchange files with others and no need for a server in your home.

Once installed, the app will make a home for itself in your system tray. Right click it and choose “Show LAN Messenger” to launch the service. From the small, Google Talk-like window you can control a number of options.

lan-messenger-main-screen

There is a short menu across the top of the window. Messenger allows you to open chat rooms. Tools provides the ability to attach files,view history and set preferences.

The third and final item is, unsurprisingly, Help. This provides the usual array of the actual help page, the about and the option to check for updates.

Of all of these, perhaps the most useful are the preferences and the chat options. These are probably where most users will be heading to, though preferences will likely be set once and left unless there is a necessary change.

lan-messenger-preferences

Preferences has a number of options arrayed down the left column, including general, account, messages, history, alerts, network, file transfers, appearance and hotkeys. All of these allow you to track history and tweak the service to do exactly as you wish. For instance, appearance has an option for the look of the contacts list, while account allows you to give your name and even write a short biography in the about section – in case your family doesn’t know you, I guess.

Chat lets you open a new chat window and choose what contact you wish to include. Alternatively, you can make the message public so that everyone gets to participate.

The app is free, and things could not be more simple to use. Setup is easy and chatting with others on your local network can be figure out by even a novice user. The software is also open source, meaning it is vetted and should have no loopholes, not spyware of any kind. In the end, if you live in a home with multiple computers and users, or a workplace with hundreds of staff, then this is a service worth considering.

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How to Send Offline Video Messages in Skypehttp://www.maketecheasier.com/send-offline-video-messages-in-skype/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/send-offline-video-messages-in-skype/#comments Sun, 21 Jul 2013 21:25:16 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=76291 Do you know that other than video conferencing, you can send offline video messages in Skype as well? As long as you have a web cam, you can send anyone an offline video message for them to receive when they login to Skype.

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sending-offline-messages-in-skypeSometimes making a call on Skype just can’t do your message justice. While most Skype users only take advantage of video messaging when someone’s online, you can send offline video messages in Skype. As long as you have a web cam, you can send anyone an offline video message for them to receive when they login to Skype.

If you don’t have a web cam, you won’t be able to send offline video messages in Skype. If you have a web cam, even if the person you’re sending the video to doesn’t, you’ll still be able to send offline video messages to them.

This’ll only work with those who are offline in Skype. If they’re online, then you’ll just be video calling them as opposed to leaving them an offline message to watch when they login.

1. Once logged into Skype, right-click on the offline contact you want to send a video message to.

right-click-offline-contact-in-skype

2. Click “Send Video Message” to get started with your video message.

send-offline-video-message

You’ll be given a preview of what you look like to ensure your web cam is functional. Offline video messaging is limited to a maximum of three minutes, so use your time wisely.

3. When ready, click the “Record” button to start recording your video message.

4. Whenever you’re ready to end your message, click the “Record” button again to stop recording.

preview-offline-message-in-skype

You’ll be able to preview the message by hovering over it and clicking the “Play” button.

5. If you don’t like your video message, click the “X” and choose either to Re-record message or Cancel message.

re-record-or-cancel-offline-video-message

Re-record message lets you start the recording process over again. Cancel message lets you cancel the whole video message and you’ll need to follow steps one through four to begin an offline video message again.

You can do this as many times as necessary to get your offline video message on Skype perfect.

6. After you’re satisfied with your video, click the “E-mail” icon to send it to your offline contact.

send-offline-video-message

You’ll be directed to the instant message box for the contact. Depending on the size of the video and your Internet connection, it can take a few moments for it to be sent to your contact.

watch-offline-video-message-after-sent

Once received, you can actually play the video again for yourself but you won’t be able to retract it so make sure you’re happy with it before you click send.

watching-sent-offline-video

Unfortunately, you also can’t stop the sending process once it starts.

When your offline contact logs on next, they’ll be able to play the video and see what you had to say when they were away from Skype.

Being able to send an offline video message to Skype contacts has its advantages. Sometimes you just can say what you want to say over video better than an instant message. Now that Skype lets you send offline video messaging, you can use this feature to send your offline contacts video messages anytime they’re not using Skype.

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How to Play Youtube Videos in VLChttp://www.maketecheasier.com/quick-tips/play-youtube-videos-in-vlc/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/quick-tips/play-youtube-videos-in-vlc/#respond Fri, 12 Jul 2013 19:00:45 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?post_type=quick-tips&p=77927 Do you know that you can watch Youtube video in VLC, without having to go to the browser? Here is how it can be done.

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Instead of watching Youtube videos in the browser, do you know that you can also watch Youtube video in VLC?

1. Open VLC and go to “Media -> Open Network Stream”.

2. Paste the Youtube video URL into the field. Click Play.

play-youtube-video-vlc

That’s it.

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How to Get VLC to Download Subtitles Automaticallyhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/get-vlc-to-download-subtitles/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/get-vlc-to-download-subtitles/#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2013 14:50:00 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=77694 VLC is a great media player that can play almost any media format. It also comes with a subtitle feature where you can load the subtitle file for the video file. The thing it doesn't do is to find and download the subtitle automatically. Wouldn't it be perfect if VLC can download the subtitle automatically?

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vlc-iconVLC is a great media player that can play almost any media format. When you have a video file (for example, .mkv) that your usual media player can’t play, simply play it with VLC and there is high chance it can play it without installing additional codec. VLC also comes with a subtitle feature where you can load the subtitle file for the video file. The thing it doesn’t do is to find and download the subtitle automatically. Wouldn’t it be perfect if VLC can download the subtitle automatically?

VLSub is an extension for VLC that can search and download subtitles from opensubtitles.org using the hash or name of the currently playing video.

1. Download VLSub from its Github page. Extract the compressed file. You should find a “vlsub.lua” file in the folder.

vlsub-extension-file

2. Assuming that VLC is already installed in your computer, the next thing to do is to move the “vlsub.lua” file to the VLC extension folder.

In Linux, the extension folder is at ” ~/.local/share/vlc/lua/extensions/”. (Note: this filepath does not exist by default. You have to create the “lua” and “extensions” folders in the “~/.local/share/vlc” folder)

cp vlsub.lua /usr/lib/vlc/lua/extensions/

For Windows, copy/paste the file to

%ProgramFiles%\VideoLAN\VLC\lua\extensions\

For Mac OS X:

/Applications/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/share/lua/extensions/

3. Open the VLC and load a video. Under the View menu, you should now see a “VLSub” option.

vlsub-under-view-menu

4. In the VLSub window, you can select the subtitle language and add the title of the movie. Click the “Search by name” button to fetch all the related subtitles from OpenSubtitles.org. If you prefer, you can use the “Search by hash” button where it will calculate the hash for the video and find the subtitle that matches this hash. If you have converted the video from one format to another, or modified it, the hash method won’t work well.

vlsub to download subtitle automatically

5. When you found a match in the result list, highlight it and click “Download selection”. It will prompt you to select the location to download the subtitle file (the default location is the location of the currently playing video). Once that is done, you will be able to load the subtitle file in VLC.

VLSub is a useful extension that makes VLC even better. Now you can watch video without wasting time searching the Web for the correct subtitle file. Try it out and let us know if it works for you.

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MTE Explains: What Is The Difference Between Free Software, Open Source Software, and Freeware?http://www.maketecheasier.com/free-software-vs-open-source-vs-freeware/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/free-software-vs-open-source-vs-freeware/#respond Fri, 24 May 2013 14:50:56 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=73262 Free Software vs Open Source Software. Most people are always confused over them. Here are the differences between free software, open source and freeware

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for-Free-thumbThere are many terms out there that all refer to software that doesn’t cost money, and many of them sound roughly the same. Open source sounds straightforward enough, but what’s the difference between free software and freeware? And why do these labels seem to matter so much? That’s because regardless of how they sound, they all refer to very different things.

Free Software

Free software is by no means a new term. The phrase was coined by Richard Stallman in the 1980s when he started the GNU Project (to create a free operating system) and founded the Free Software Foundation (to advocate on behalf of free software). The phrase refers to software that users can safely run, adapt, and redistribute without legal restraint. The Free Software Foundation provides these “four essential freedoms” that software must respect in order to be considered free:

  • The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1).
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3).

The foundation created the GNU General Public License, commonly referred to as the GPL, as a copyleft license that developers can distribute their software under to qualify it as free and ensure that it stays that way.

Open Source

Open source software is software with source code that is publicly available under a license that gives users the right to study, change, and distribute the software as they wish. The term was coined in 1998 when a group of individuals pushed for title that was less ambiguous than free software. They changed the emphasis from freedom to security, cost savings, transparency, and other pragmatic benefits. The term is more palatable for the corporate world, even though it refers largely to the same software. While the GPL isn’t the only supported license, it remains one of the most prominent. Like free software, open source software can be distributed for free, but it doesn’t have to be.

Yes and no. Software available under the GPL generally qualifies both as free software and open source software. If you use a Linux distribution, most of what you get through your package manager satisfies both sets of requirements.

But I currently use Chrome OS. It, like Android, are open source projects, but they don’t satisfy the four freedoms necessary to be considered free software. The growth of these two platforms lend weight to the argument that changes were needed to make free software acceptable within the corporate world. Android is now the most popular mobile operating system and can be found in everything from refrigerators to watches. Yet underpinning all of this is the Linux kernel, a piece of software that satisfies the four freedoms necessary to be considered free software. No other operating system has been ported to more devices.

Free software vs Open Source Projects

“Free and open source software” refers, unsurprisingly, to software that is both free and open source. The term is the closest thing to a compromise between the two models. It’s worth noting, however, that any software that qualifies as free software could also be considered free and open source software, so the situation remains a tad ambiguous.

Unlike free software and open source software, freeware does not refer to or emphasize freedom in any way, nor does it have a clear definition. In general, freeware is software that is available at no cost. Such software is still generally closed source or proprietary, such as Adobe Reader and Skype. Sometimes game developers will re-release old games as freeware, meaning they’re still keeping the code under wraps, but the game is now free to play.

Why does this all matter? Anyone could produce code and release it to the public without a license, but such a model is not sustainable on a wider scale. Adopting a free or open source license applies legal protection to code, preventing others from taking free code and repackaging it as their own, restricting others from using it again. And for those of us who care about software freedom on either a philosophical or pragmatic level, it is important that we understand the progress that has been made by the giants who got it all started.

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10 Things You Never Knew You Could Do With A USB Flash Drivehttp://www.maketecheasier.com/10-things-to-do-with-usb-drive/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/10-things-to-do-with-usb-drive/#comments Tue, 21 May 2013 14:50:00 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=72613 USB flash drives are a cheap and portable way to back up files and move them around between machines. If you want to breathe new life into your old USB flash drives, here are ten things you may have never known they could do.

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FlashDrive-smallUSB flash drives are a cheap and portable way to back up files and move them around between machines. But as cloud storage becomes cheaper and WiFi more accessible, flash drives aren’t as necessary as they once were. You probably now have a couple sitting around in a drawer that rarely ever get used. If you want to breathe new life into your old USB flash drives, here are ten things you may have never known they could do.

Linux USB

Most Linux distributions can be booted from live CDs as a means of trying them out before giving them a full install. In recent years, the trend has shifted towards creating live USBs instead. You can download the appropriate software for your distro of choice and burn an image to your flash drive, creating a means of testing out and installing Linux that is more durable than a CD-ROM. USB drives can hold more data than CDs, allowing you to boot up distros that are too large to fit on a disk.

Persistent OS

If you want something more permanent than a live USB, which do not save any changes you make, you can install several distributions directly to your flash drive. This way you can boot up your own personal operating system on other peoples’ computers and still have access to the files you’ve created and the programs you’ve installed. Pendrivelinux is one option, but at this point in time, even the major distributions such as Ubuntu supported persistent booting.

Drive Portable

PortableApps.com allows Windows users to bring their favorite programs and files with them on a flash drive without having to boot into a new operating system. When you plug in your flash drive, you can open what amounts to a separate, portable “Start” menu. Not every application is supported, and you may still have to transition to using open source applications to fully take advantage of Portable Apps. If you would prefer an alternative, there’s also LiberKey and winPenPack.

RAM In a case where you have a computer that’s slowing down and a flash drive with extra space, you can use the latter to give the former a speed boost. Using a flash drive to provide your computer with extra memory helps it to manage applications better, giving you a faster experience. Microsoft provides ReadyBoost as a means of speeding up your computer using your flash drive as RAM under Windows.

Hard Drive

Installing Parted Magic to a flash drive helps you more easily re-partition your computer’s hard drive. Partitioning is difficult and dangerous to do when an operating system is running from the hard drive in question, but booting from a flash drive removes some of risk and makes the entire process much more straight forward.

USB Gaming

While it’s not exactly portable gaming, you can install certain games to flash drives, allowing you to get your gaming fix regardless of whose machine you’re using (granted they’re using the same operating system). Not every game supports this functionality, but Minecraft does. Considering how expansive that game is, it might be all you need.

Drive Private

You can turn your entire flash drive into an encrypted partition as a means of keeping private files safe from prying eyes. You also have the option to have your flash drive boot normally but containing a separate partition that encrypts any file placed in it. For an extra layer of security, you can also password protect your encrypted partition. Bitlocker To-Go makes this easy to do.

Drive Unlock

If you don’t feel that using a password alone is secure enough, and your computer doesn’t have a biometric scanner, you still have alternative options for securing your computer. Just turn your flash drive into a key and set your computer to only unlock when the drive is plugged in. If you use Windows, Predator is a popular tool for making this happen, but it’s not the only one out there.

Infected PC

You have the ability to install virus scanners onto your flash drive driver to search for malware on infected computers. You can find offerings to restore your computer after a malware-related crash from well-known companies such as AVG and Kaspersky.

Files

You probably manually drag and drop files onto your flash drive, but there is a simpler means of transporting files. By automatically syncing files between your computer and your flash drive, you can make a it nearly as convenient to use as Dropbox or Google Drive. SyncToy and SyncBack SE are two Windows tools that can make this happen. GoodSync2Go is a solution that works with Mac OS X.

USB flash drives are immensely useful tools capable of fixing computers and booting operating systems. They drop in price each year at the same time that their storage capacity continues to double, making them great for any tech enthusiast on the go. And if all else fails, they’re still good for storing files, too.

What other uses do you use USB drives for?

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Use the Webcam of Your Computer as a Surveillance Camerahttp://www.maketecheasier.com/use-the-webcam-as-surveillance-camera/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/use-the-webcam-as-surveillance-camera/#respond Tue, 30 Apr 2013 23:25:40 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=70656 Are you sick and tired of your roommate or simply anyone at your home using your computer? How about turning your webcam into a surveillance camera and control the recording from your smartphone? We will show you how.

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Athome-streamer-thumbAre you sick and tired of your roommate or simply anyone at your home using your computer? Installing a CCTV camera in your room may not be the most feasible solution. Thanks to modern technology and smartphones, there are a handful of applications available that can help you track down and record who uses your laptop using your smartphone.

However, most of the apps you will come across will cost you or may not work properly. If you want to use the webcam of your computer as a surveillance camera with the aide of your smartphone, try AtHome Video Streamer.

Athome Video Streamer is a very handy tool that is available for all popular platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. After installing the app on both your computer and smartphone, you can use your computer as a surveillance camera. In the free version, you can record up to 15 minutes of recording per day, and it’s limited to one connection ID. If you want to make use of more CIDs and unlimited recording, you have to purchase the Pro version. The Pro version is currently available for iOS devices only, but the developer plans on releasing it for other platforms as well.

Point your web browser to the download page of Athome Video Streamer and download the software. Installing the software is pretty simple and straightforward; just launch the setup and follow on screen instructions.

When you launch it for the first time, it will ask you to give the computer a name and set up a username and password.

athome-streamer-set-up-cid

After registration it will take you to the main Athome Video Streamer page and will give you a Connection ID (CID) that will be used later.

athome-streamer-main-window

Install Athome Video Streamer Free on your device (I will be using my iPhone to view the surveillance video). After installing, it will show you a welcome screen from where you can add the camera. Tap the Add button.

athome-streamer-welcome-screen

Enter the CID from the application and login with the credentials you created in step 1.

athome-streamer-signup

It will show you the list of cameras. In the free version, you can only add one CID. Tap on it and you will have access to your computer’s camera to view live streaming of your webcam.

athome-streamer-camera-list

athome-streamer-camera

If you want, you can even schedule recording for a certain time period. Additionally, it can work via the motion detector. When the motion exceeds the specified sensitivity level, it automatically start the recording and will stop thirty seconds after the motion falls below the specified level.

athome-streamer-timed-recording

From the settings, you can change the name of the camera, change frame rate and other basic settings as well.

athome-streamer-settings

Athome Video Streamer is a very handy app that can help you use your computer as a surveillance camera instead of having to purchase other costly equipment. Additionally, you have the option of remaining totally free with that version, or you can purchase the Pro version for $7.99.

Feel free to share your thoughts if you tried AtHome Video Streamer or a similar app setup.

Image credit: Webcam

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How to Create A PDF With Fillable Forms in LibreOfficehttp://www.maketecheasier.com/create-a-pdf-with-fillable-forms-in-libreoffice/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/create-a-pdf-with-fillable-forms-in-libreoffice/#comments Mon, 29 Apr 2013 21:25:36 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=71110 You may also have seen PDF files that come with form that you can fill in. In case you are wondering how you can create a PDF file with fillable form, here is one easy way you can do so, and it is free of charge.

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libreoffice-form-teaserPDF is a very popular format for static document that doesn’t require changes. You may also have seen PDF files that come with form that you can fill in. In case you are wondering how you can create a PDF file with fillable form, here is one easy way you can do so, and it is free of charge.

The tool that we are using to create PDF with fillable form is LibreOffice, specifically Libre Writer – the document editing tool of the LibreOffice suite.

Assuming that LibreOffice is already installed in your PC (it is pre-installed in most Linux distro, and for other OS, you can download it here).

1. Open Libre Writer and create your document.

2. On the toolbar, go to “View -> Toolbar -> Form Control” and click it. This will add the Form Control toolbar to your Libre Writer interface.

libreoffice-open-form-control

You should see something like this:

libreoffice-form-control-toolbar

This toolbar allows you to drag and drop the various form fields to the document.

3. Now, drag the “Text box” to the document. You can size it to be an one-line input field or a multi-lines text box.

libreoffice-form-textbox

4. Next, right click at the text box and select “Control” (or you can simply double click on the text box). This will bring up the Control window. This is where you can edit the meta-data of the text box, such as its name, label field, max length etc. You can also add events such as changing text on mouseover, focus, keypressed etc.

libreoffice-textbox-metadata

Once you have got the hang of it, you can proceed to add various form fields to your document. This is a simple form we have created.

libreoffice-form-layout

5. After you have finished with the document, go to “File -> Export as PDF”. Make sure the “Create PDF Form” checkbox is selected. The most commonly used format for data submission is FDF, but you can select PDF, HTML or XML format as well.

libreoffice-create-pdf-form

Click “Export” and you are done creating the PDF form.

Now open the PDF file in your PDF viewer and you should see all the form fields in the document. To test it, you can fill up the form and save it. Close and reopen it again. You should see your form data intact.

libreoffice-form-in -pdf

Isn’t it simple?

Image credit: Filling in personal details on an application form
by BigStockPhoto

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5 Tips to Improve Netflix Playback On Your PChttp://www.maketecheasier.com/5-tips-to-improve-netflix-playback/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/5-tips-to-improve-netflix-playback/#comments Thu, 25 Apr 2013 23:25:47 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?p=70686 Netflix is one of the most popular streaming services around. Depending on how you watch Netflix on your PC, you may have performance issues. This guide will give you some tips on how to optimize Netflix playback on your PC.

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Netflix-logoNetflix is one of the most popular streaming services around. Depending on how you watch Netflix on your PC, you may have performance issues. Everything from whether you use a wireless connection to your Internet speeds to your window size can make a difference in having the best picture quality possible when streaming. This guide will give you some tips on how to optimize Netflix playback on your PC.

Whenever possible, connecting your PC to a wired Internet connection will always offer the best Netflix playback. Wired connections can get up to 100 Mbps depending on your ISP, modem and/or router configuration. Wireless connections, however, can be fickle depending on the weather and interference, and often have performance issues. The wired versus wireless scenario can vastly change the quality of streaming in Netflix.

Netflix automatically adjusts playback based on your Internet speed. If you have two computers in your home, depending on the circumstances, one could have better playback than the other. If you notice the picture in particular beginning to degrade as you are streaming, it is possible your Internet speed has slowed below what is required for optimal playback.

Netflix has recommended the following speeds for certain aspects of playback:

  • 1 MB/s: Streaming on a laptop
  • 2 MB/s: Streaming on a standard definition television
  • 4 MB/s: Streaming in HD
  • 5 MB/s: Optimal audio and video streaming

Testing your Internet speed through a service like Speedtest.net can give you an idea of what your download speed is so you can see if you meet the requirements of Netflix’s.

using-speedtest.net

If your download speeds are low, you will want to check your hardware first, and then contact your ISP to see if there’s anything they can do on their end to increase it. This could involve a change in hardware or a better Internet plan.

After logging into Netflix, click “Your Account.”  Then, click “Manage video quality” under Your Streaming Plan.

OptimizeNetflix-settings

Netflix offers users a chance to control how much data is downloaded to offer better streaming quality. You can choose which quality you want; Netflix will not choose one by default for you. If you are not capped by your ISP, you can increase the quality for better overall playback.

Window size can impact playback for many Netflix users utilizing monitors or screens 20″ or higher. If you are using two monitors or more, this can also affect playback, and at the moment, there is not many ways to combat that issue.

However, you can reduce the window size of Netflix in your browser for better playback. This will take some tweaking, as no two computers will have the same configuration. You will have to play with the Netflix window size to find the right streaming playback.

finding-the-right-window-size

For example, on my desktop PC, I use two 27″ monitors for my setup. Coupled with the amount of temporary memory and Internet connection I have through Comcast, I have found if I reduce the Chrome browser window to about 1024 x 748 in size, I can get optimal playback as long as my wireless connection is steady.

When you stream through Netflix, part of the video you are watching is temporarily stored in your computer’s memory. If you are using a lot of programs, playing games or doing other things while trying to stream, this can impact the quality of playback from Netflix. Ideally, you want to run the bare minimum when streaming Netflix, especially if you want to use full screen mode to watch a program.

There is no catchall solution for fixing Netflix streaming performance that will work on all PCs. It takes some time to find the right setup, but these five tips can help optimize your Netflix playback on your PC.

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How to Import/Export OVA Files in VirtualBoxhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/import-export-ova-files-in-virtualbox/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/import-export-ova-files-in-virtualbox/#comments Tue, 09 Apr 2013 21:25:50 +0000 http://www.maketecheasier.com/?post_type=post-ideas&p=68762 In this tutorial, we will show you how to import and export an OVA file into/from Virtualbox.

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virtualbox-logoIn Virtualbox, when you create a new virtual machine, the default file format is .VDI. While there are options to use the VMDK (for VmWare), or VHD (for VirtualPC) format, there doesn’t seem to be a way to import in an existing VM of OVA format.

In case you are not aware, OVF, also known as Open Virtualization Format, is one of the way to standardize virtual appliance so they can be imported and use in different virtualization software. A virtual appliance in OVF format usually consist of a series of files. The OVA format is merely a single file distribution of the OVF, stored in the TAR format. In this tutorial, we will show you how to import and export an OVA file into/from Virtualbox.

Assuming you already have your OVA file ready, in Virtualbox, you just have to go to “File -> Import Appliance” in the menu bar.

virtualbox-import-appliance

Click the “Open Appliance” button to select your OVA file. Once you have selected the file, click “Next”.

virtualbox-open-appliance

The next window will show you the configuration of the current virtual appliance. You can scroll through the configuration list and double click on any item (or check/uncheck the box) to make changes to it. Lastly, click “Import”.

virtualbox-appliance-configuration

Virtualbox will proceed to import the virtual machine into your library. Depending on the size of your OVA file, the import process could take quite a while.

Once the process is completed, you should be able to see the new VM in your list.

virtualbox-imported-appliance-in-list

To export a VDI file (the default format for Virtualbox) to a OVA file so you can re-import in another virtual machine, you just have to go to “File -> Export Appliance” in the menu bar.

virtualbox-export-appliance

It will then prompt you to select the disk image that you want to export. In this case, I select the “Windows 7″ image. Note that you can select multiple image at the same time.

virtualbox-select-appliance-to-export

Next, select the path and filename where the OVA file will be exported. You will notice that Virtualbox will automatically append a .ova extension to the end of the appliance. You can, if you wish, change it to the .ovf extension. In this case, multiple files will be created instead of a single file.

virtualbox-export-path-format

The next screen is the Appliance Settings page where you can review and edit the appliance configuration. In most cases, I will just leave this as the default.

virtualbox-export-appliance-settings

Lastly, click the “Export” button. Note that Virtualbox will first convert your image to vmdk format (the default in VMWare) first before packaging it in OVA format.

virtualbox-export-vmdk

That’s it.

What other ways do you use to import and export OVA files in Virtualbox?

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Understanding The Differences Between the Various Audio File Formats (and Which One Is The Most Suitable for You)http://www.maketecheasier.com/differences-between-the-various-audio-file-formats/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/differences-between-the-various-audio-file-formats/#comments Wed, 27 Feb 2013 22:25:15 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=66120 You probably know which are the most used audio formats across the Web, but do you know the differences between them, or how are they produced? And have you ever thought on which format is more suitable for your needs?

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audioformats-iconYou probably know which are the most used audio formats across the Web, but do you know the differences between them, or how are they produced? And have you ever thought on which format is more suitable for your needs?

Even though man has the ability and the means to record sound, that record will never be an exact representation of the original sound.

The following image shows the waveform for analog and digital sound wave. As can be seen, the analog sound wave (1) is rather different from the digital one (2).

audioformats-wave

The analog waveform is continuous and have successive crests and troughs that represent highs and lows of our voice whereas a digital waveform is like a barchart where the highs and lows are represented as number. The quality of a digital sound wave is often linked to its “sampling” rate. CD has a quality of 44100 samples per second (44.1 KHz), which is a quite good representation for our ears.

There are two different kinds of digital audio file formats – the lossless and the lossy. As the name suggests, the lossless file is made without any losses relatively to the original tracks. For example, when you rip an audio CD to your hard drive in lossless format, the files you get are the exact same tracks contained within the CD. However, if you select the lossy format, some information that is unnecessary for the listener, such as sounds that we cannot hear, are discarded.

Lossless formats include WAVs, FLACs, AIFF, and Apple Lossless. Inside this group, the first two are probably the better-knowns.

Inside the lossy formats, other than the popular MP3, we still have WMA, AAC, MP2 and OGG. The main difference between these formats is the multiple encodings technology used.

There is still another thing to consider: whether the format has a variable (VBR) or constant bitrate (CBR). Some formats have variable bitrates, since they use higher bitrates for complex segments of the file, and lower for the other segments. VBR formats have a better quality-to-space ratio, compared to CBR ones. Even inside each format, there are different kinds of bitrates. For example, MP3 is usually found in V0 (~245 kbps), V2 (~190 kbps) and 320 kbps.

If you have noticed, FLAC files are usually much bigger than the MP3 ones (usually about 10 times bigger). This is because their bitrate is higher. “Bitrate” is the amount of information processed per second whenever you play a file. So, the higher the bitrate, the higher amount of information will be processed and the better sound quality will be presented (the same happens for images and photos). In this case, a sound file created with a higher bitrate (such as FLAC) will be bigger in size than a sound file with lower bitrate (such as MP3).

audioformats-size

In the above image, I compare 2 folders from my music collection: the first is a FLAC album, the second is an MP3 (128 kbps), and they have, respectively, 14 and 13 songs plus the album cover. As you can see, the FLAC album is much bigger in size than the MP3 one. Lossless formats such as FLAC give a better music quality, but they take up much more space than the lossy ones.

There are many factors that can affect which format you should choose for your music:

  • If you have plenty of storage space, be it offline or online, you will want to go for the lossless format (such as FLAC).
  • If you are an iPhone, iPod or Mac user and you purchase your music from iTunes, you are mostly stuck with AAC.
  • If you purchase music from Amazon or any other source, you will be mainly dealing with MP3.
  • WMA is a proprietary format by Microsoft. It is usually smaller in size (than MP3), but not well supported in other platforms.

For MP3, the 320 kbps files are really the better ones, but again a regular person won’t tell the difference between those and the V0 ones. A regular V0 album with about 15 songs is about 65 MB in size, so I personally believe that V0 (VBR, if possible) really is the best quality-to-space ratio option for your music collection.

Is this article helpful? Let us know in the comment.

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Is Piracy A Necessary Evil?http://www.maketecheasier.com/ethics-of-pirating-apps-music-and-other-media/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/ethics-of-pirating-apps-music-and-other-media/#comments Wed, 23 Jan 2013 22:25:34 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=63491 Are you looking for a new app or a new album download but don't want to pay for it? Pirating that app or music is a really attractive solution, saving anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred, but is it ethical? We asked the staff here at Make Tech Easier to chip in and tell us how they feel about the ethics of pirating apps, music, and other media. Let us know your comments too.

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Pirating-mainAre you looking for a new app or a new album download but don’t want to pay for it? Pirating that app or music is a really attractive solution, saving anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred, but is it ethical?

For some people it’s easy to skirt the topic by just telling yourself everyone does it, so why shouldn’t you. But for others, they find it hard to do something they know on some level is wrong. Is it really harmless or are there some people being hurt in the process? We asked the staff here at Make Tech Easier to chip in and tell us how they feel about the ethics of pirating apps, music, and other media.

I like to say that I’ve probably built a wing on Steve Jobs’ home with all my iTunes downloads. That wasn’t always the case though. I started out acquiring my music through some email groups that operated under the guise of “sharing music with friends.” Once the Napster “scandal” (or is it not?) hit, I began to see the issue a little differently and realized if everyone obtained their music that way, the musicians wouldn’t be able to support themselves. As a fellow creative person, it had an effect on me. I pay for my music now, as well as all my apps and movie downloads. Aaron used to participate in “the free-for-all that was Napster,” but has also changed his stance since and even began replacing his music with legitimately paid copies.

Neither Emmanuel or Bertel pirate music or software. Emmanuel feels “the ease and quality of just buying the song or movie is worth it instead of just hopping on a pirate website.” He admits to being very paranoid about his computer and fears viruses that pirated media could have attached to it. He’ll preview music on YouTube before spending money to buy it. Bertel doesn’t pirate out of principle and will go to Creative Commons to find free music instead of pirating.

steal_this_comic

For Ruji, “the ethics of pirating vary according to the nature of the pirated material and the pirate’s intentions.” She doesn’t support pirating independent music, but does see it as excusable for a poor graphic design student to pirate a copy of Photoshop. She feels Adobe will be harmed far less by pirating than the musicians would be. Like Bertel, she recommends finding free and open source alternatives before pirating. I understand this one, as when I was a graphic designer, I “borrowed” software from my employer, as I couldn’t afford several hundred dollars to buy it, yet now I will find cheaper alternatives, even if they aren’t as good.

Soumen and Miguel look at pirating more from a business standpoint. Soumen believes piracy is needed for the industry to thrive. “While purchases grow a business, piracy makes it popular.” Miguel believes it’s the very act of piracy that makes software expensive. He likens it to electronic cigarettes, saying, the only industry that wants them banned are the pharmaceuticals that could lose money over them, suggesting the industry just doesn’t want to compete. When it comes to software, he doesn’t feel it will even be an issue soon, with more and more software being available to use over the Internet as opposed to it being available in hard copy form, suggesting that it’s the act of piracy that has taken the industry to this point.

Pirating-bittorrent

Once pirating is looked at in these terms, it makes me compare it to healthcare in the United States, yet another hotbed topic. Prescription prices are so astronomical, because the pharmaceutical companies know the insurance companies can pay for it. This leaves uninsured people forced to look for other alternatives, such as buying medication from other countries. Likewise, Adobe knows they can charge astronomical prices for their software, knowing the big graphic design companies can afford it, yet this leaves freelance designers to find other alternatives, such as open source or pirated software.

While many people treat piracy as evil and condemn those who did so, others treat it as necessary for the industry to thrive. There will always be a thin fine line between what is correct and what is wrong. How do you view the ethics of pirating apps, music, and software? Is it a necessary evil or one act that should be eradicated forever? Let us know in the comment section below.

Image credit:Young boy in pirate outfit by BigStockPhoto, XKCD

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Make a Pretty Résumé with LaTeX: The Easy Wayhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/make-a-pretty-resume-with-latex-the-easy-way/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/make-a-pretty-resume-with-latex-the-easy-way/#comments Wed, 16 Jan 2013 00:25:04 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=61310 Have you ever spent hours trying to perfect your résumé in Microsoft Word, only to want to throw your computer out the window? Today I'm going to tell you about a better, and ultimately easier, way to design a professional résumé with LaTeX.

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latex-teaserHave you ever spent hours trying to perfect your résumé in Microsoft Word, only to want to throw your computer out the window? If your experiences are anything like mine, you know how frustrating it can be when a word processor ignores your intentions and formats everything its own way, messing up all that tedious line-spacing and alignment you just did. As if job-hunting weren’t painful enough already!

Today I’m going to tell you about a better, and ultimately easier, way to design a professional résumé with LaTeX. It will look something like this:

latex-resume-final

For those who aren’t in the know, LaTeX is an open source typesetting system and document markup language used often in scientific publishing and academia. It is based on the older, lower-level markup language TeX. LaTeX is known for producing attractive, high-quality documents of all sorts.

LaTeX is commonly associated with the initialism “WYSIWYM” – What You See is What You Mean. WYSIWYM is an alternative to WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get), which is the style of graphical editing used by most word processors to show you exactly what the final product is going to look like as you type it. WYSIWYM, in contrast, is a paradigm that emphasizes deliberate structural choices, generally through the use of a markup language and style sheets. The computer does the work of exporting it into a readable document, such as a PDF.

For example, try typing this in Microsoft Word:

latex-logo

Not happening, right? In LaTeX, all you have to do to generate that symbol is type \LaTeX. Similarly, LaTeX has built-in commands for many mathematical symbols and will semi-automatically handle the presentation of equations for you.

Needless to say, LaTeX has a learning curve. Consider this article a cheat sheet, because I’m going to show you how to use a LaTeX résumé template without even knowing LaTeX.

To follow this tutorial, you’ll have to download a few things:

Go ahead and install TeX Live, Texmaker, and your fonts. Now open up cv_3.tex in Texmaker, which is a graphical editor for TeX/LaTeX. You should see something like this:

latex-texmaker

If you’re a get-straight-to-the-point type and you noticed the “Quick Build” and “View PDF” buttons at the top, you might be tempted to run them and turn the sample résumé into a PDF right away. If you run Quick Build now, Texmaker will respond with an error message in the bottom console:

latex-error-console

That is because this particular template relies on the XeLaTeX compiler, which is not used by default in Texmaker. To fix this, you can add a custom command. Go to “User::User Commands::Edit User Commands”:

latex-user-commands

In the dialog that opens up, fill out the following:

latex-custom-xelatex-command

Now you will see XeLatex in the User Commands menu, which will run your document through XeLatex rather than the standard pdftex. If you have the non-free fonts Hoefler Text, Gill Sans, and Zapfino, running the XeLatex command followed by clicking the arrow next to “View PDF” should produce PDF output. To see it, click on “View::Pdf Viewer” in the top menu:

latex-pdf-viewer-menu

If you used the free fonts instead, you’ll have to make a few adjustments to the source code. Right now, lines 35 and 36 look like:

\setromanfont[Mapping=tex-text]{Hoefler Text} % Main document font
\setsansfont[Scale=MatchLowercase,Mapping=tex-text]{Gill Sans} % Font for your name at the top

Edit those lines to change the names of the fonts like so:

\setromanfont[Mapping=tex-text]{Linux Libertine} % Main document font
\setsansfont[Scale=MatchLowercase,Mapping=tex-text]{Sans Guilt DB} % Font for your name at the top

Now scroll down to line 75, where the Zapfino font is called for, and change it to Freebooter Script (I have also modified the code to fix a sizing issue with the font substitution):

{\color{headings}\sffamily\Huge\fontspec{Freebooter Script}Curriculum {Vit\fontspec{Freebooter Script}\ae}\\[15pt]\par}

Now that you’ve substituted your fonts, you can hit “User::User Commands::XeLatex”. If the build goes according to plan, you’ll get encouraging output in the lower console, and you can now build the PDF. In split view mode, you’ll see something like this:

latex-pdf-build

The technical part is behind you. Now that Texmaker and your template are set up to work together, you can start the actual hard work: filling in your résumé.

Knowing a bit of LaTeX syntax couldn’t hurt for this part, but you will be able to figure out a lot of it simply by copying and pasting. The source code of this particular template is also filled with helpful comments (anything following a % is a comment in LaTeX).

LaTeX is a powerful typesetting tool, and I recommend that you use it for your serious documents. If you followed this tutorial to make your résumé with LaTeX, good luck with the job search, and may you never resort to Microsoft Word for your C.V. needs again!

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6 Cool Spotify Apps You Should Check Outhttp://www.maketecheasier.com/6-cool-spotify-apps/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/6-cool-spotify-apps/#respond Sun, 23 Dec 2012 15:50:51 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=60999 Spotify is an awesome on-demand music player for all platforms and what makes it even better is the ability to install apps. Here are 6 cool Spotify apps you should really check out.

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spotify-logoSpotify is an awesome on-demand music player for users of Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows (and hey, if you’re a BSD or Haiku user, why not work on porting it?). One of its cool features is the ability to install plugins, also known as “apps” in Spotify-land. Today I’m going to round up six cool Spotify apps I’ve discovered through my usage.

To install any of these apps, just go to the App Finder section on the left-side menu:

spotify-app-finder

Any karaoke fans in the house? TuneWiki displays the lyrics to the song you’re currently playing and scrolls through them in real-time. If no one has synced the lyrics to that particular song yet, TuneWiki gives you the option to sync them yourself (hence the “wiki” concept).

spotify-tunewiki

I don’t see any significant differences between TuneWiki and MusiXmatch except that (A) TuneWiki is more popular, and (B) MusiXmatch seems to have more lyrics available for the assorted music tests I’ve put it through. This varied, though; for example, TuneWiki was more keen on Leonard Cohen’s lyrics than MusiXmatch was. Oh, and MusiXmatch automatically features artist photographs in the background of the lyrics display. Like TuneWiki, MusiXmatch gives you to option to sync lyrics that aren’t already synced, as in the screenshot below.

spotify-musixmatch

Last.fm is a wonderful music service unto itself, dedicated to tracking your music listening habits and suggesting related music. The Spotify app for Last.fm lets you “scrobble” – the Last.fm term for recording the tracks you listen to – and access most other features of Last.fm, such as artist information and similar artist recommendations, straight from the Spotify interface. To get the most out of this app, you should make a Last.fm account.

spotify-lastfm

Moodagent is a mood-dependent playlist generator. It’s great if you just so happen to be in a sensual, tender, happy, or angry mood, as those are the four pre-defined moods you can click on. Alternatively, you can enter a song of your choice into the search bar and find other music that matches its mood. Moodagent will also recommend recent songs you’ve listened to that are popular enough to have gathered playlist data.

spotify-moodagent

The results screen gives you a playlist along with the ability to manipulate the five-factor control curve. This lets you base the generated playlist on Moodagent’s assessment of your base song’s sensuality, tenderness, happiness, angriness, and tempo.

spotify-moodagent-02

So how did it do? Pretty well, I thought, though it didn’t have data for all of the songs I tried it with. I don’t know exactly how their algorithm works except that it takes into account your starred songs, top tracks, and current playlists as a starting point for gauging your tastes.

Tastebuds is a social app for meeting people in your area with similar music tastes. To get started, scan your library:

spotify-tastebuds-01

Next Tastebuds will present you with your matches, which you can filter by age, gender, and location.

spotify-tastebuds-02

After you log in, you can edit your own profile. This is what mine looked like after I logged in through Facebook; as you can see, it guessed on some of the details:

spotify-tastebuds-03

I found the interface a little buggy at times. For instance, I would try to type information into the form fields, but no characters would show up. This may be a bug in my version of Spotify, though, which is the beta for Linux.

Tastebuds presented me with an impressive number of matches in my area, proving that it has an active userbase. If you’re rebounding from an epic breakup or just looking for some new friends in your area, this is a nice alternative to traditional online dating and meetup services.

Songkick has a simple goal: To show you upcoming concerts by the artists you listen to.

spotify-songkick

By default, it seems to only show mainstream artists on your front page, but you can log in at the Songkick website to edit your tracked artists if you’d like to switch the focus.

Did we miss your favorite Spotify app? Which ones do you use?

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How to Stream Media From Your Desktop To PS3, Smart TV, Smartphones And Many Other Deviceshttp://www.maketecheasier.com/stream-media-from-desktop-to-external-devices/ http://www.maketecheasier.com/stream-media-from-desktop-to-external-devices/#respond Fri, 21 Dec 2012 00:25:45 +0000 http://maketecheasier.com/?p=61153 It is easy to stream media from portable devices to desktop, but not the other way round. Here is a simple way for you to stream media from desktop to PS3, Smartphone, Smart TV etc.

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media-streaming-thumbAre you planning to use your PS3, Smart TV or smartphones to play media from your desktop computer? It’s actually wonderful that way as those devices are sure to give you a better multimedia experience than your desktop PC. Universal Media Server, built on the PS3 Media Server, will help you turn your desktop PC into a media server to stream content on DLNA compliant supported devices.

ums-device-search

To get started, download and install the freeware on your PC (tested on Windows 8). During the installation, you will be prompted to install AviSynth 2.6 MT, go ahead and click Yes. The graphical interface provided by the Universal Media Server is more comforting than other popular UPnP media servers for any average user.

ums-preferences

First of all, you will need to take a look at the Navigation/Share Settings tab. This is where you will have to add folders to share with other devices. To add a folder, you need to use the folder icon at the bottom. A new dialog will open where you will be required to add folders that contains the files to be shared. You can also choose a drive as a whole.

Once you have added the folders to share, you will need to configure the HTTP settings and the network for your media streaming server. There are other options in this tab which controls several preferences to tune UMS to meet your needs.

ums-transcoding-settings

The plugin management tab lets you install additional features with plugins like streaming music from services like Grooveshark, Google Music etc. Last but not the least, the Transcoding settings lets you control the file transcoding for proper playback on the rendered devices. If you are unsure of what it does, the default settings work just fine on most devices.

Supported devices are Sony PlayStation 3, Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony Bravia, Google Android, Freebox HD, Freecom MusicPal, Pioneer Kuro, Nokia N900, Philips Aurea, Philips Net TV, Yamaha RX-V671, OPPO blu-ray players, DirecTV HR, Popcorn Hour, Asus O!Play, Xtreamer, AC Ryan PlayOn!HD, Brite-view CinemaTube, Samsung televisions, Philips Streamium, Western Digital WD TV LiveXBMC Media Center, Boxee, LG Smart TV Upgrader, Samsung UPC Horizon and more.

One thing to be noted here is that your devices should be DLNA compliant else this freeware won’t work as expected.

Being a JAVA application, the freeware is available for Windows, Mac and Linux platforms. The media server is powered by MEncoder, FFmpeg, tsMuxeR, AviSynth, MediaInfo and more. It supports all major audio and video file formats. Packed with advanced features the media server app promises a better experience than other similar tools. Follow this link to take a sneak peek at quick overview of features UMS provides compared to others.

ums-comparison

On a concluding note, the easy installation and configuration UI of UMS sets it apart from other tools that only provide command line setup which is a little tricky for average Joes. Considering the wide range of supported file formats and devices, the tool is a one stop solution. For those who are willing to set up a desktop media server, UMS is definitely a choice to consider.

Download Universal Media Server for Windows 2.2.0

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