Axis: App Shortcuts on your Lockscreen!

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App Shortcuts from your Homescreen!

App Shortcuts from your Homescreen!

One of the cool features of the iPhone is the camera button on the lock screen. The camera is just a swipe away from the lockscreen, meaning you won’t miss anything while fumbling for your Camera app.

Well, here’s a jailbroken tweak that will allow you to add more shortcuts to your homescreen just like the Camera shortcut for any app you so desire.

The app is called Axis, and it is available from Cydia for $0.99. This means that you need a jailbroken device.

Once installed, open the Settings app and find the Axis settings pane. Change around which shortcuts you want to do what, and the next time you unlock your iPhone you’ll notice that… it looks the exact same. What?

thing3Now put your finger on the little Camera shortcut. You’ll see the “slide to unlock” slider is replaced by all of your shortcuts. Slide your finger over one of them and swipe up to open it.

And don’t worry about your passcode – Axis will request your passcode before you open up an app.

Personally, I like to have my Phone, Messages, Spotify, and Google Maps at my fingertips. You can play around with the Axis settings and customize the shortcuts to any app of your desire. Enjoy!

OmniCleanz: Screen Cleaning Never Sucked Less

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Computer screens will get dirty. That’s just how it is. Hyper-salivating friends, sloppy dogs, and fingers all contribute to the inevitable film that will build up on your beloved machine.

Nobody likes dirty screens. They just plain get in the way.

Usually, cleaning a screen is a whole to-do: Get some household cleaner and a cloth, turn off your computer, and start wiping. Gosh, I hope this stuff is okay for my screen. Crap, there’s streaks. Circular motion? Back and forth? Why didn’t it get that spot?  In the end, you’ll spend half an hour trying to get your screen clean, and in the end you probably won’t succeed.

Not anymore.

OmniCleanz is a screen cleaning solution that actually works. Using it is really, really simple: Spray it on, polish around until it’s all gone. No need to turn the computer off, no need to go in straight lines across. No more worrying about chemicals damaging your screen or residue being left behind. This stuff just plain works.

A 1oz bottle  will cost you a whopping $7, however you can get a 4oz for $10 and an 8oz for $15.

I recommend getting the 8oz bottle; it’s not much more expensive and will last you for years.

Trust me, you need a bottle of this stuff. If you spend a lot of time in front of your computer, having a clean screen will make your life dramatically better.

OmniCleanz by RadTech

Gizoogle: A Gangsta Google Search

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Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 12.42.34 AMGoogle Search is a wonderful utility: type in what you want, and you’ll probably get it.

 

Well, Gizoogle is a parody on Google searches that really spruces up the search results. It has an alternate dictionary which it switches out various words in the search for. Examples include (but are not limited to) hair=afro; love=ludd; good=phat.

The best part is that the search is still completely accurate. If compared to a Google search for the same thing, the results will be identical (other than Gizoogle’s alternative dialect). This is because Gizoogle still uses the Google Search API, meaning you’ll get Google’s same accurate and reliable search results, just in a different dialect. For example, if you type “good morning geek” into Google Search, the first result will go something like this:

 Here’s how to turn it into an “I’m Feeling Lucky” box, so that if you type Good Morning Geek into the bar, it will take you straight to GMG!

Here’s the result for the same search on Gizoogle:

Here’s how tha fuck ta turn it tha fuck into a “I’m Feelin Lucky” box, so dat if you type Dope Mornin Geek tha fuck into tha bar, it will take you straight ta GMG, muthafucka!

 

When a link is clicked, you’ll get the Gizoogled translation of the page, but it will still be the correct page. One of my favorites for this is the Alpaca article on Wikipedia. Normally it will say:

Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes of southern Peru, northern BoliviaEcuador, and northern Chile at an altitude of 3,500 m (11,500 ft) to 5,000 m (16,000 ft) above sea level, throughout the year.[1] Alpacas are considerably smaller than llamas, and unlike llamas, they were not bred to be beasts of burden, but were bred specifically for their fiber. Alpaca fiber is used for making knitted and woven items, similar to wool.

The Gizoogled translation:

Alpacas is kept up in herdz dat graze on tha level heightz of tha Andes of southern Peru, northern BoliviaEcuador, n’ northern Chile at a altitude of 3,500 m (11,500 ft) ta 5,000 m (16,000 ft) above sea level, all up in tha year.[1] Alpacas is considerably smalla than llamas, n’ unlike llamas, they was not bred ta be beastz of burden yo, but was bred specifically fo’ they fiber. Alpaca fiber is used fo’ bustin knitted n’ woven items, similar ta wool.

Enjoy! http://gizoogle.net

 

Google Maps for iPhone is Here!

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With the release of iOS 6, the biggest complaint was the new maps app. And I don’t just mean people were whining a bit; I mean that it was such a big deal that many people refrained from updating to iOS 6 just for the bad maps. It was such a big problem that Apple even created a special section on the featured page of the App Store with alternative map apps. And it’s not just the Apple addicts noticing – a slew of memes have popped up mentioning iOS maps as well.

There’s been quite the uproar, but finally Google has fixed our problems. Introducing the official Google Maps for iPhone!

I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t that what we had before iOS6? Well, kind of. Before iOS 6, Apple had created their own maps app that used the Google Maps API. This new Google Maps app is completely built and maintained by Google, no Apple involvement.

The app is just how you’d expect it to be: A nice, clean google interface with sans-serif fonts and light colors. The zooming is very smooth and font sizes change like water. The “3D” effect is less than that of Apple’s maps, but it is still adequate for getting a general idea of the terrain.

The app also comes with Google’s voice navigation, which is a nice addition for many.

Overall, it’s what you’d expect – a good, solid, full-featured maps app that is a free alternative to the laughable iOS maps.

Click here to download it from iTunes. 


The Sphero

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When I arrived at my first CES, one of the first things that I saw and experienced in depth was the Sphero. They had a medium sized booth, with a little track and some ramps. There were all of these tiny little white balls rolling around on it, and I must say – it looked pretty cool. A chat and a demo later, I saw what it was. It was a little ball that rolled around and was controlled by your iPhone or iPad. That was about it. The people at the booth told me that they would be evolving it and making it into an API for any developer to use, and that the product would be sold eventually for under $100. The prototypes at the stand were functional, but barely. A small drop and they would fall apart. Upon pressing the “boost” button, they would go crazy and lose their bearings. Not to mention that those were all they had with them, so when one broke down beyond repair they were simply down one. It looked promising. The concept was cool, it seemed flexible, it could definitely be something cool. After all, it was just a ball – which left plenty of room for the imagination of customers and developers.

It’s one year later. I’m back at CES. Upon walking into the convention center, I can see a giant rotating sphere that seems to be a giant model of the sphero. Upon arriving under said banner, I saw something big – much bigger than the year before. The booth was much larger, there were tons of spheros everywhere, and there were video presentations on TV monitors and banners and everything. Much, much, MUCH bigger than last year. It looked like they had really grown. Here they had these balls that were made out of a very solid plastic, had inductive chargers, sphero logos embedded on each one, and none of them were out of control. Heck, they were rolling them down concrete stairs! I checked over and they had really gotten somewhere.

The Concept

As I said before, this thing is a ball. It now has open APIs that any iOS or Android developer can use to integrate the sphero with their apps. The range of applications has grown, and there are apps available that can make the sphero a fake golf ball or even take advantage of the sphero’s accelerometer and gyroscope to use it as a game controller. The range of applications is constantly growing, so buying a sphero isn’t just buying a ball – it’s like buying a phone, who’s functionality will keep growing with more applications and updates.

The Ball

The Sphero itself doesn’t take up much space. It’s white, hard plastic that has no spaces or anywhere that the plastic snaps together or comes apart. In fact, it doesn’t have a charging port. If one were to look inside of a sphero (which would be very difficult considering that they would need to saw or melt open the outer shell), he would find an array of devices. There’s some motors as well as a main motherboard which contains a compass, accelerometer, gyroscope, bluetooth card, and a bunch of other robotic computing stuff. They would also find the multicolor LED that lights up the ball in any color you want. The sphero contains a standard lithium-ion rechargeable battery, which is charged through an inductive charger. For those of you who don’t know what an inductive charger is, it’s basically a charger that charges a battery through a material without having any physical contacts. These are sometimes found in electric toothbrush chargers, emergency flashlight chargers, and more recently on electronic devices such as the Palm Pre or the duracell powermat. To charge the sphero, just set it in its dock with the heavier part of the sphero on the bottom. Like magic, the sphero will start charging. Cool! To wake the ball up, just shake it. Yup. No switches here, just shake it as if it were a two week old container of orange juice and it will light up and be ready to play. Set it down on the ground, open up your iOS or android device, and start rolling. The sphero connects to your device through bluetooth. A user will notice a tail-like figure on the top of it. This shows the orientation of the sphero relative to the control mechanism in the application. If one picks up the sphero and spins it, she would notice that the mechanism inside would constantly adjust to maintain the set orientation. That’s part of the robotics at work. Overall, the sphero is one intelligent, intuitive ball.

The Interface

Sphero provides a few apps to demonstrate the basic functionalities of the sphero. The main app, Sphero Drive, simply allows the user to drive the sphero around. Here you won’t find any steering wheels or throttle nonsense – just a circle with a little sphero-shaped control in it. This eliminates the confusion that often comes when you’re driving a device towards you. With a steering wheel, it ends up becoming reversed, but with this interface, it’s not a problem. Put two fingers on the screen and rotate them, and you’ll see a blue dot on the sphero. Point it right towards yourself, then pushing the sphero in the app forward will cause the sphero to roll forward. Pushing it right will make it roll right. It’s as simple as that.

Apps

At the moment, Sphero has been releasing many different apps. One of them is the standard “Sphero Drive” application that I was mentioning up there. Others like Chromo use the sphero as a controller, and one app allows the user to play golf with it. At the moment, there are many different applications being developed and there’s always new ones available. Conclusion The Sphero is available from both Sphero’s website and now many brookstone stores for $130. I will say, that it is not a cheap toy – but think of it as a console, where there’s always new games out that you can buy. If you’re a developer, you can use Sphero’s open API to integrate it into your applications for free. Check out the sphero website for available apps, purchasing the Sphero, and using their free API. http://gosphero.com

P.S. Thank you Sphero for sending me the finished product!

SelfControl: Goodbye Procrastination

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Selfcontrollogo

Okay, so you have a ton of stuff to do. Emails to respond to, presentations to finish, proposals to complete. Calls to make, appointments to schedule, packages to deliver, documents to sign. 

But that one tab… it’s flashing. It beckons you. 

“Bob sent you a message!”

Bob. He sent you a message. 

All of the sudden, your entire agenda turns to nothing as you get sucked in to this pointless conversation with Bob. 

But wait – you have a new notification. Someone commented on your cat photo. You need to respond. If you don’t, then your opinion wouldn’t be expressed to the world! Oh, that post, it must be liked. Oh, there’s Bob again – Gotta reply to that. Oh, new comment on that cat photo. What?! They don’t think cats are better than dogs? I need to google why cats are better than dogs. Oh, there’s that flashing tab again! It’s Bob. Oh, I have a new chat. I have to respond to it. Oh hey, there’s my old high school friend! I should say hi. Oh, that post is cool, I should like it. Oh, I need to respond to bob. Oh, someone liked my status. Oh, I have to respond to my chats. 

Three hours have passed. You’ve gotten absolutely nothing done. 

This, my readers, is a daily phenomenon that affects almost 100% of active Facebook users. The term for it is “unconscious procrastination, meaning that you procrastinate and you don’t even realize it until you actually take a look at the clock. And thanks to many sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and more, unconscious procrastination is a problem that affects the productivity of the entire world. 

Well, thankfully, there is indeed a solution: SelfControl. 

SelfControl is very simple: Add the sites you don’t want to it’s blacklist, set a timer, hit start, and goodbye procrastination. Any of the sites that you added will no longer work for that amount of time! So no matter how much you might want to get to Facebook to see if Bob responded, you can’t – so I guess that gives you the opportunity to get something done!

One of the beautiful things about SelfControl is that once you set the timer, you can’t stop it. Even if you restart your mac, uninstall the application, whatever, you won’t be able to visit your blocked sites until the timer is up. 

Okay, now for the technical part (those who aren’t interested, skip to the next paragraph). On your Mac there is a file called the hosts file. Basically, it contains a local DNS registry, which usually only consists of localhost being 127.0.0.1. What SelfControl does is adds an entries to the hosts file that direct whatever sites you blacklisted to 0.0.0.0. This means that if you try to visit a site that you blacklisted, you will be redirected to the server at the address 0.0.0.0 – which doesn’t exist. Now for the spoiler: if you really want to get your Facebook and other social networks back before the timer is out, you can use the Terminal to edit /etc/hosts and delete the SelfControl entry.

So say goodbye to Bob, your friends, and your admirers alike; you have work to do. 

SelfControl Website

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