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Archive for the ‘Tech’ Category

PotShot 1.2 now available

Download (all in .zip files)

New

  • Persistent directory saving. You can enter a custom directory and it will be saved for the next application launch so you don’t have to type it again.
  • Press Enter when typing a custom directory manually and it will be saved automatically too.
  • Pause button to stop capturing screenshots without resetting the image numbers.

Fixed

  • Better error handling with invalid paths and file names.

Removed

  • The UI elements for “Automatically stop after.” This will take a while to implement and in the meantime it clutters the interface.

Known issues

  • The error handling isn’t quite up to par so it might still crash when opening or saving to an invalid file or directory.

The fixes from the 1.1 beta version still apply. This includes the duplicated image bug fix. There was no non-beta version for 1.1.

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potshot1.1screen

Downloads (all except installer inside a zipped folder)

PotShot requires .NET Framework 4.0. It should work on Vista and later without any extra installation. For Windows XP, you need to download this.

Please take note of the known issues below.

New

  • Custom manual directory entry
  • Minimize to tray
  • Tray icon has menu options for “Maximize” and “Stop!”
  • Program optionally hides on “Start!” to avoid capturing the window
  • More time options–now you can choose from milliseconds, seconds, minutes, hours, or days
  • Enable/disable “Start!” and “Stop!” buttons as visual cues that a capture is or isn’t in progress
  • Better button labels and layout
  • Help text for the “Custom” button

Fixed

  • Memory leak. It should now use a stable 15 to 20 MB
  • Image counter not resetting to zero
  • “Unable to find suitable framework” error on Windows XP–both the installer and standalone executable should work now

Soon

  • E-mail photos
  • Automatically stop after a certain time period

Known issues

  • The photo count is still messing up and will save multiple copies of the same photo if you start and stop capturing more than once without restarting the app.
  • Images saved without the option to use the date and time in the filename will be overwritten if the next capture also does not include the date and time.
  • While I have cut down on RAM usage, the CPU usage will jump up if you set the capture interval to more than once per second.
  • Some of the new time settings (hours and up) may be off.
  • It doesn’t capture the mouse cursor.
  • The “Maximize” option in the tray icon doesn’t consistently bring the program to the foreground. It appears in the taskbar as an icon, though.
  • The tray icon requires a double-click instead of a single-click.
  • The tray icon option to stop capture works, but is not reflected in the buttons. Click “Stop” again in the app once you bring the window up.

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Ever since iOS 6 was released, the Japanese to English dictionary has been non-functional. Even when your regional preferences were all set to English, it would only offer a monolingual Japanese definition. It seems there is a problem when iOS tries to determine which dictionary to use when multiple dictionaries are available. In iOS 6, multiple new language dictionaries were added and this has caused a conflict. Inspired by playing around with Flex, I thought I’d try to remedy the issue. I couldn’t do it with Flex, so when all else fails, just delete your problems and they’ll go away.

Here’s how to fix this:

  1. You need to be jailbroken on any iOS 6.x firmware.
  2. Download a program to access the root file system on your device (iFunBox, DiskAid, or iFile from Cydia).
  3. Navigate to /User/Library/Assets/
    com_apple_MobileAsset_DictionaryServices_dictionary
    . You should see a bunch of folders with names that contain a lot of numbers and letters.
  4. Find the folder that contains the Sanseido Super Daijirin dictionary (you can see its name under the AssetData subfolders)
  5. Copy the folder (the one with the really long name that contains the above files) to your computer, or rename it.
  6. Delete it from your device.

Now, when you select a Japanese word and tap Define, you should get an English definition. However, this will disable the monolingual Japanese definitions until you add the folder back (or perhaps redownload it when you switch your language settings). If you’re curious, the bidirectional dictionary that we just restored is called the Sanseido Wisdom English-Japanese Japanese-English Dictionary.

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The thought occurred to me the other day: what if you’re in an accident and your phone’s screen breaks? What if you fall and can’t move; you have your phone and it’s charged but the screen won’t respond? Older phones with keypads could probably still call with broken screens, but with touchscreen technology becoming prevalent and keypads disappearing, what needs to be done?

My idea is this: One single hardware button can make a call to a number you set up. By default it’s 911, but it’s adjustable. Maybe on the iPhone it could be a home-button tap pattern. On Androids where the screen contains the buttons now, maybe it could be a combination of volume rockers and the power button. Easy to do on purpose but hard to do by accident.

Now I know what you’re thinking: Siri and Google’s voice recognition. Yes, you can tell it to call emergency services. But what if you’re out of data range? What if you don’t have your backup phone with you?

Really though this is more of a firmware thing, especially for Apple. I think it could be part of a future iOS release and could be backported to older phones.

I don’t know. To me it just seems like an oversight.

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I want to make this post because I’m feeling overwhelmed with choice. There are way too many services for me to try and keep up with — to the point where I need a service to keep up with the services I’m using! I’m on an eternal hunt to find the best, and it’s costing me more time (and occasionally money) than if I were to just stick with one. So here is my drawn-out methodology for how I use and collect notes, data, and articles, and how I use and interpret social media. I hope this helps other students but to be honest I’m writing it out of selfishness so I can clear my head! Inspired by the recent book The Information Diet by Clay Johnson, I thought I would attempt to itemize my communications and research because I’ve found myself trying too hard to stay on top of things. I’m not sure the book is worth paying ten dollars for, as Amazon reviews seem mixed, but nonetheless an information diet is a sound idea.

To do research:

  • Library online catalog/PDF full text journals from home (through a proxy which they allow).
  • Bing/Google to find good primary and secondary sources that are old and out-of-print or just not in print but online instead, social media (I’ll come back to that), print books, magazines (of course, but not often).

You’ll notice I don’t mention Wikipedia. That’s because I refuse to look at it while researching so I don’t get suckered into using it. I will sometimes use it as another fact check, to glean the meaning of something quickly, or to see if there are other sources available.

To read research: Interesting news articles and analysis (and other nonfiction longform pieces that are not journalistic in nature–web-based HTML) go to ReadItLater. Articles that I want to save for citations go into Evernote via Evernote Clearly or ReadItLater’s “Send to Evernote” function. PDF journals go into a folder on my Dropbox account. I read them with FoxIt Reader (for PC) and GoodReader (for iPhone/iPod) so I can make annotations.

To write about research: Make an outline either in Word or on paper first (or do an ink note diagram with OneNote or Evernote). Word is used for writing papers and doing citations. I don’t use automatic citations because they’re never quite right. I always have the OWL Purdue site handy so I can see how to format them correctly. On larger papers I may look into something like Zotero or NoodleTools to keep my citations aligned with my quotations, but I have yet to need them and will pretty much always do manual footnotes and bibliography regardless.

To save assignments: Dropbox. Dropbox Dropbox Dropbox. You can set it up so you have a local copy of all the files on Dropbox as well as a server copy so you will almost always have at least one way to access your data. You can do this, and have it automatically sync new documents to their servers, if you install their Windows program.

To take notes in class: I use pencil and paper, starring key terms, and putting dates or other small tidbits in the left margin (I’m a history major). I later type them using Evernote and clean them up so they’re easier to search later. Complex stuff merits an ink note (although I haven’t had to use any yet). I can export Evernote notes as PDF files using CutePDF Writer instead of printing them, if anyone else asks for them and doesn’t have Evernote. I also record the lecture audio with my iPod and sometimes listen to it while I’m retyping notes to be sure I don’t miss anything. I’ll occasionally listen to it while studying for an exam. Obviously, this works better in some classes than others. If the professsor uses PowerPoint slides or handouts then I may not need to record it (but I still take handwritten notes). If the professor is relatively freeform then I do both. This works better in lecture-style classes. Classes centered on discussion or hands-on participation are more difficult to capture (although capturing a good debate can be a fantastic resource).

To stay on schedule:

  • Wunderlist for quick to-dos that I can get done in a week or so (read this chapter, do these questions, talk to the professor). Also for paper due dates and my bucket list.
  • Outlook Exchange calendar for repeated or long tasks (exams, special events, and the class schedule if I can’t remember it and until I get used to it).

To use social networking: Here’s the biggie.

  • Facebook is for friends and Words with Friends.
  • E-mail is for close friends, support, online orders and slower form newsletters than RSS. Mailing lists are for staying in touch with projects I follow (like ReactOS) more closely and with less noise than the forum’s RSS feed and less interaction than IRC. Newsletters and DailyLit are for when I want it to be more personal and/or the RSS feed is lacking.
  • Texting is for quick emergency messages.
  • Forums are for relatively moderated slow discussion publicly.
  • IRC is for relatively unmoderated live discussion privately (and tends to be more technical).
  • Instant messaging clients are last resorts.
  • Skype is for emergency calls to others without landline or cell service; also useful for class discussions and study groups although I haven’t had to do that yet.
  • Reddit is for fun, intelligent discussion of niche topics mixed with stress relief.
  • Metafilter is for a more serious specific set of questions and with much less noise than Twitter or Reddit. It’s not divided by topic, but instead organized by user-specified tags. You never know what you’ll get, but you know it’ll almost always be quality content.
  • Twitter is for emergency messages, following the scene, and keeping up with stubborn people who don’t have an RSS feed for their site. Twitter is too much noise! Let me repeat that if you didn’t hear me. TWITTER IS TOO MUCH NOISE. Hashtags and business-ats make it look busy and when something moves as quickly as it does, almost impossible to read.
  • Flipboard is for Facebook and RSS on the go.
  • Zite is for interesting curated content not necessarily from another curated site. Many articles from Zite make it into my ReadItLater queue.
  • WordPress and blogging is for expanding on the things I read, and sharing them in a personable manner, but with more control than a forum.
  • StumbleUpon is for finding stuff that Zite, Metafilter, Flipboard, Reddit, or RSS misses and that you may not think to search for (e.g. “Reading” is one of my categories in Zite, but SU can bring a twist on that by giving me a website about, say, pictures of cats holding books, or a reading comprehension test, or a blend of bookcovers made into a collage, which is not something I would necessarily search for but something I would enjoy. It’s something that’s not noteworthy enough to appear in the news or as a front page post on Metafilter or Reddit (although both have a long history with cats), but something that is relevant.
  • Tumblr is indescribably fantastic.
  • Flickr is for Creative-Commons licensed images I can use for presentations or nontraditional assignments.
  • Downcast is for catching podcasts.
  • Usernames and passwords are scattered in text files here and there, or in Evernote, or memorized.

Phew. See what he means? There are way too many choices. You really have to make sure you use all of what you signed up for. If not: get rid of it. Maybe I should practice what I preach, though.

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I have a jailbroken iPod Touch 4 running iOS 4.2.1. If you use SSH or an application like iFunBox or DiskAid to access your iDevice’s folder structure from your computer, you may find that one or more of the default apps that come with iOS go missing (for me, I lost the Calculator app). It could be that the app has genuinely been deleted off the device but there is another plausible explanation.

It turns out that I didn’t delete the Calculator app at all–it had been accidentally moved into another folder. This took me months to figure out and just today I found it sitting in the folder for the Camera app. If you can’t find it nested in another folder, you can use iFunBox’s search capability. All you have to do is move the app’s folder back to the root of your Applications folder (DiskAid is easier for this) and restart the device.

  • To do this, copy the folder to your computer in DiskAid or iFunBox and note where it is saved
  • Delete the app’s folder from your device
  • Drag the folder on your computer to the “Applications” folder on the device and restart.

Or, in DiskAid, drag the folder from where it is on the device to the “Applications” folder at the top of the folder list–that’s where it needs to go.

This seems more likely to occur than actually deleting it from the device. If that is the case then you’ll need to do a firmware restore or find a copy of the app’s folder online that matches your iOS version.

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Update: A comment from Michael Johnston reports that it might be disabled by doing the following:

For what it’s worth, you can allegedly disable it by visiting http://fastesttube.kwizzu.com/#congratulations and clicking “Disable Adlesse Lite.” Appears to do the trick.

FastestTube, a Chrome extension to download YouTube videos, now uses a service called “Adlesse Lite” which is supposed to exchange ads with useful content and widgets, such as weather and Twitter feeds. But, Adlesse appears to be a statistics tracker itself. FastestTube is a fantastic extension (the best YouTube downloader yet), but this partnership has made me concerned and curious.

It has a login page at http://stat.adlesse.com/dashboard, and subpages for the different widgets. There is no mention of this page publicly visible. This could be for internal use by the company, but why is there a need to track?

Adlesse has little contact information (there is an e-mail form, but I like to have addresses and names), and is also “patent pending” which is not a good sign to me (no bearing on the extension, I’m just inherently suspicious of patents). They are very protective of their “algorithm”. They have a social media presence on Twitter, but their feed is empty.

The Adlesse extension, and the FastestTube extension with Adlesse Lite, insert custom HTML. The custom-injected HTML is on-par with other extensions that customize sites. This isn’t surprising, and is the desired behavior. The issue is that I have seen tracker images (one-pixel GIFs) inserted as well, which made me suspicious. Finding these is how I discovered the above tracking URL.

It could be that this tracking is to help retain the preferences set on the Personal settings page (which is online and not part of the extension — meaning it saves a cookie, probably). While this is an odd configuration, it would seem this was done because the service is cross-browser. Internet Explorer 9 doesn’t appear to have a way to edit extension options if the extension doesn’t provide a GUI element, so this is a way to address that.

The difference between Adlesse and Adlesse Lite appears to be that Lite is an all-inclusive installer, whereas the plain version is an extension (per-browser). One would tend to assume the opposite. The terms of service are only available if you install the executable version. Both appear to use a variation of “Wombat” – a JavaScript library. WombatBHO.dll for IE, and the Chrome extension links to Wombat with JavaScript inline. Wombat itself appears harmless. It is a strange find, but not the cause of concern.

From the privacy policy section of their EULA included with Adlesse Lite (emphasis mine):

6.1. Privacy Policy. You hereby expressly consent to Adlesse’s processing of your personal data (which may be collected by Adlesse or its distributors) according to Adlesse’s current privacy policy as of the date of the effectiveness hereof which is incorporated into this Agreement by reference. By entering into this Agreement, you agree that Adlesse may collect and retain information about you, including your name, email address and credit card information. Adlesse employs other companies and individuals to perform functions its behalf. Examples include fulfilling orders, delivering packages, sending postal mail and e-mail, removing repetitive information from customer lists, analyzing data, providing marketing assistance, processing credit card payments, and providing customer service. They have access to personal information needed to perform their functions, but may not use it for other purposes.

I do not know why this service would need any of this information. What does this company do? I wonder if this is boilerplate EULA or if this is specific to Adlesse. I do not know how they would obtain this information, either, unless it later becomes a service that is charged for, or they read cookies from other sites. How else is it that I can get the “Latest tweets from [my] friends” if there is no way to inform Adlesse of my details?

Curiously, none of these three extensions are on the official Chrome Webstore.

Also,

Adlesse publishes a privacy policy on its web site and may amend such policy from time to time in its sole discretion.

I have not found one, neither on the site of Adlesse nor of Adlesse Lite.
Both sites now have privacy policies (Adlesse and AdlesseLite), and Adlesse has an e-mail feedback address. Both privacy policies are currently thus:

This a temporary privacy policy. The complete and final version of our privacy policy is coming soon and will be available on this page. For now, we would like to inform you about some key points.
Adlesse uses a number of subsystems on our various sub-domains. For instance, stat.adlesse.com is a statistics system we use to gather important data that is used to optimize our operations. We assure you that all the hits on stat.adlesse.com are anonymous. Cookies are used there only to count the number of the unique users.
The subdomains lite.adlesse.com and dispatch.lite.adlesse.com are used for the internal system organization, we anonymously collect statistics of clicks on the elements of our widgets in order to make the widgets more convenient for you. Statistics is collected anonymously and can not be tracked to an individual user.
We respect and protect your privacy.

I appreciate their effort to disambiguate some misunderstandings on my part.

Should you not want these extensions, they seem gracefully easy to remove. When bundled with FastestTube, you can uninstall the extension or disable the Adlesse part of it by going to a site that has replacement content by Adlesse (such as a Google search page), clicking “AdlesseLite is on” and choosing your options from there. The installer version can be uninstalled. Removing per-browser BHOs/extensions might prove to be a bit more difficult but all modern browsers make this process pretty painless via some sort of extension manager interface.

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