Meet: Backdrops for Your Life

19 08 2008

Yesterday I launched a new site entitled Backdrops for Your Life which is where I will be posting all of the wallpapers that I have created. I did this because I had been posting them here for a while but I didn’t think it really suited the site. Therefore, I moved them to this new site which I am very proud of.

Now you can enjoy both of my web sites! 😀

[Backdrops for Your Life]

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Scour Combines Top Three Search Engines, Pays You

10 08 2008

A recently introduced search engine by the name of Scour has surfaced and I, personally, am a fan. The first thing you may notice when you enter a search are the small icons next to each result with the Google, Yahoo! and MSN logos and a number next to each. This indicates the “rank” on each search engine. So for example, below, you can see that there is a 1 next to the Google logo. The “1” indicates that if you were to search the same phrase in Google, it would turn that link up as the first result. This is a great feature that helps to weed out the poor links and give you the best results from all of the main search engines. You also have the option to show the results as they would appear in each search engine separately, leaving almost no excuse not to use this as an alternative to your current engine.

Another feature used to help weed out the poor results is a voting system. Next to each result and the footer of each clicked result you have the option to give the page a thumbs up or a thumbs down. It is also optional to leave a comment as to why it was a good/bad site. After enough votes, the listings will move down in rank, placing the relevant ones where they should be, according to the users. When using Scour, you can read comments left by other users about websites based on your keyword. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of looking for the right link.

The way that Scour encourages you to vote and comment is by using a points system. If you sign up with Scour (it’s free and optional) you will receive one point for each search, two points for a vote and three points for leaving a comment. They also allow referral points where you receive 25% of the points they make. Once you achieve 6,500 points, Scour will send you a $25 Visa gift card.

They also have browser search plugins for Firefox and IE with Opera arriving soon; start page search widgets for Netvibes, Pageflakes and iGoogle (all arriving soon); and Desktop search widgets for Windows, OS X and Yahoo! Widgets (all arriving soon).

I honestly can find no good reason as to why not to use this browser as an alternative. If I don’t like the “Scour” results, I can change it to Google, Yahoo! or MSN-only results while being paid. I honestly can’t think of a better way of attracting users to a search engine than this.

The link for Scour is here.





Zenbe Review [Part One – iPhone & iPod touch]

24 07 2008

While browsing through the iPhone and iPod touch App Store, I found an application called “Zenbe”. Figuring I was just going to open it just to end up deleting it from my system minutes later, I didn’t give it much hope. Once the application finished downloading, I opened it up to find a beautifully clean interface that offers many more options than the other simple to-do applications. When you first start it up, you must create a free Zenbe account which you can input in the Zenbe Settings, under Settings.

The beautiful feature about this application is for one, because you now have a Zenbe account, you can sync anything you do on the Zenbe Lists in your iPhone or iPod touch to the web version, which is accessible on any computer with Internet access.

Another killer feature of Zenbe is that you can create multiple lists instead of a single To-Do list (e.g. Things to Buy, Places to Eat, Things to Blog On, To-Do, etc.) Also, once a list is created, you are able to share it with others so they can check off possibly completed items themselves and add more of their own. A great example of this would be having a shared grocery list between two people, so if one of them were to pick something up off  of the list, the other would see it and know not to buy it as well. Lists are also organizable by moving them up and down as you would with an On-The -Go playlist, and are just as easy to delete by swiping.

All of the information put on your Zenbe application is also accessible through their site here. I just wish that they would make some sort of widget or Adobe AIR application so I could see it on my desktop. Other than that, no problems whatsoever – flawless.

Stay tuned for part two of my Zenbe review, which will cover the web application portion.





1Password Review

9 07 2008

[OS X only] I purchased my copy of 1Password back during Macheist II and have fallen in love ever since. For those who don’t know, 1Password is a manager for web passwords, but with many more capabilities than one might expect. Firstly, it integrates into almost any modern browser, placing an icon at the top for easy access to all web passwords. Another neat feature of 1Password is that it will also store “identities” containing your name, occupation, address, email, etc. to make filling in forms online as easy as clicking a mouse button. It also contains a built-in password generator with a slew of options from the number of characters (from 1 to 50) to the ratio of digits to symbols. Also, (as though that weren’t enough) you are able to place all of your credit card information in a “wallet”. Not only can you put your credit cards in there, but also items such as memberships, passports, Social Security Numbers, iTunes accounts and much more.  Finally, you are also able to create “secure notes” which house any information that you would like to be kept confidential.

Not too long ago, Agile Web Solutions, the makers of 1Password, implemented a similar option for the iPhone and iPod touch which prompts a dialogue box overlaying the current web site, asking for the master password and the options available for the site. I found this feature helpful but not entirely as great of a solution as the one for desktop computers. But once again, 1Password has found out how to create a brilliant workaround – thanks to the iPhone and iPod touch SDK and the AppStore. The plan, according to Agile Web Solutions’ David Teare, is to create their own browser with 1Password built in. They were forced to do that because Apple has disallowed any modifications to their own applications. According to Teare, they’re including some “cool features” that will “make users not want to use Safari directly anyway.” Sounds good to me.

Last but not least, the 1Password team has just released a new feature to their killer application (like there weren’t enough features already) entitled “Bookmarks”. This opens up a well designed HUD panel that contains all of your passwords and with a simple click, directs you to the web site and logs you in. Also, it includes a search bar at the top for easy finding of all of your passwords.

Also to note: It protects against phishing sites by alerting you that you have never entered information on that site before. Also, their customer support is well beyond my expectations, replying to my email within the hour.





Why I Chose Opera Over Firefox, Safari

14 06 2008

Ever since I bought my iMac, I’ve debated between what browser was the best. At first I thought the choice was obvious and decided to go with Safari. I soon realized that it was not my favorite though, as the new Firefox 3 rolled into town and I gave that a whirl. I also tried Camino, based on some recommendations from friends, but I wasn’t very happy with it (I didn’t like the bookmarking system). Finally I thought Flock was the answer to my prayers – my favorite Web 2.0 sites built right in, but the interface soon became clunky and over-complicated. Yesterday, I read about the new Opera release, 9.5, and decided to try it out. To my amazement, it was almost perfect. Below are listed some of my favorite things about Opera 9.5 and some reasons why you might want to consider it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Firefox is incredible and I’m not surprised in the least that many people use it as their primary browser. I personally used to think this before I tested out Opera 9.5. The main things I’ve noticed in Opera are the sleek blending into the OS X interface, the minimalist look, and the incredible speed.

Firefox 3 has tried to blend their browser into the OS X and Windows Vista interfaces and have done a fairly good job of that – more specifically with OS X. I personally just feel that Firefox can get a little chunky at the top which may sound surprising, but just wait until you check out Opera’s sleek user interface. This is a similar point to it being very “minimalist”. And when I say minimalist, I mean it. Since there is no Bookmarks Toolbar in Opera, that space is eliminated. Also, the main header, which contains the main controls and address bar is extremely small and can fit two times over inside of Firefox’s. It is pretty much equivalent to Safari’s but once again, has no Bookmarks Toolbar. Now this feature may shock some of you, because I know it shocked me. Instead, Opera has opted to go with a “speed-dial” which basically places your favorite sites in thumbnails that are clickable when a new tab is opened. The initial amount of programmable sites is nine, but is easily modified to larger numbers (I will be covering this in a later article).

Finally, this brings me to my final point, which is speed; one of the most important aspects of a successful browser. Kevin Purdy of Lifehacker did some testing with the leading web browsers and came up with some great results that point to Opera. In every test that he conducted, Opera came in either first or second, which none of the other browsers can tote.

Now on to the favorite features!

As I previously mentioned, the Speed-Dial feature in Opera is really nice, though it does take some getting used to. It also gives each site a keyboard shortcut depending on which spot it is placed in, ranging from Cmd+1 to how ever high you set it to. Another feature which is great is the trash can, located on the right of the tab bar. This allows you to go through and find tabs that you may have closed accidentally and wanted to re-open – very handy. And yes I know Firefox has this capability as well, but its not as neat and welcoming as the Opera version. Finally, built into the browser are things called widgets, which are simply put, almost identical to Dashboard widgets – just from Opera. They are free-floating mini applications that handle everything from the weather to your to-do’s and they sit neatly on your desktop.

After reading this article, I hope you consider giving Opera 9.5 a chance, and it’s definitely far from last place in the browser war. You can check out there web site here and it will run on OS X, Windows and Linux. Happy browsing.





Amazing Website

23 04 2008

Check out this web site that I found out about from th Geekbrief.TV podcast; Its probably one of the coolest websites I have EVER seen in my life (I’m referring to the webcam portion)….http://hrp.com/








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