VLC Multimedia Player

If you’re looking for a media player that plays all media formats, then you should look into the VLC player. It’s available in Windows, Mac and Linux. It handles DVD, VCD, SVCD, Audio CD, web streams, TV cards and whole bunch more. VLC comes with every imaginable codec that’s ever built. Hence, the reason why it plays everything.

It even plays files that are damaged, missing or are broken. This open-source media player is a favorite for many. The VLC media player can be used as a server and a client. It can send and received streaming videos. If that wasn’t enough, VLC also comes with dozens of skins to match your desktop.

To download, visit VLC’s website.

The Chrome Webstore

The Chrome Web Store is an online marketplace where you can discover thousands of apps, extensions and themes for the Google Chrome. To start exploring the store, visit https://chrome.google.com/webstore or click the store icon in Chrome’s New Tab page.

Of course, you will need to download and use the Google Chrome browser for the extensions and the themes to work. Browse the Google Webstore and discover programs you never thought existed. Finally, watch this video to learn more about the Google Chrome Store.

250 Billion Tweets and Counting

Twitter had 250 billion tweets in 2010. It also added 100 million new users. An amazing growth for a company that’s only been around for a few years. Twitter has also improved its infrastructure exponentially, being able to support growth while minimizing downtimes. I haven’t seen or heard the fail whale for quite some time. That’s a good thing. The last I heard was during the World Cup this past summer. I might have missed one or two along the way.

So, what’s new this year? Twitter’s development team continued to innovate and add value to the Twitter’s experience, by cranking out new features, such as a new homepage, embedded media, tlists, and so on. And what do I expect next year? Twitter will probably double its record number of tweets. Maybe add a few more hundred million users. How about a trillion tweets. Why not.

Finally, there’s a nice story in the San Francisco Chronicle about the artist who drew the infamous fail whale.

Oracle Cloud Office

Oracle just joined the cloud, when it recently announced it will start Oracle Cloud Office, which allows users to create and edit documents without the need for desktop software. The Oracle Cloud Office 1.0 application can be viewed on smartphones, but lack the editing features. It’s also compatible with Microsoft Office and Open Office and is based on the open ODF format. It’s unclear whether Oracle plans to charge customers.

On a side note, Open Office which is also managed by Oracle, will release Open Office 3.3 which integrates well with Cloud Office. The Cloud Office can also connect with Oracle Business Intelligence, Oracle E-Business Suite, and Microsoft Sharepoint making it well positioned for enterprise use. From the looks of it, Oracle’s vision for the cloud just got clearer.

Now, it has two office suites. One is open-source that resides on the desktop. The other resides in the cloud and geared more towards the enterprise.

Bank Of America Sucks

I was reading this article in PC World called “Bank of America Buying Naughty Domain Names.” Apparently, the bank has been buying domains to protect its executives and directors from people who register offending domain names.

From PC World:

The bank has been feverishly registering domains that include the names of its directors and executives combined with “sucks” or “blows,” according to Domain Name Wire. Hundreds of domain names were registered by the bank on December 17 alone, Domain Name Wire said.

Among the names registered by the bank to protect its CEO Brian Moynihan, for example, were BrianMoynihanBlows.com, BrianMoynihanSucks.com, BrianTMoynihanBlows.com, and BrianTMoynihanSucks.com. In addition to the .com domains for those names, .net and .org versions were also registered (though .info seems to have escaped the bank’s notice).

But, this just shows you, that money can’t buy everything.

Despite its domain buying spree, there is one domain that it can’t buy, and it’s probably the most important naughty domain of all: bankofamericasucks.com.

That’s classic.

The Ubuntu Font

I have been checking the directory on occasion to see if there is a new font in town. To my chagrin, I was surprised to see the Ubuntu font family has finally made it to the Google Font Directory. Congratulations. This font will come in very handy in future projects.

If you’re not familiar with the Ubuntu font, you can visit the Ubuntu.com website to see it in action. There is also the Ubuntu Family Wiki that’s worth checking. It’s sleek, elegant, and open-source font that under libre-license. You will also find Ubuntu font also featured in the latest release of Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat.

From Ubuntu.com:

The Ubuntu Font Family are a set of matching new libre/open fonts in development during 2010-2011. The development is being funded by Canonical on behalf the wider Free Software community and the Ubuntu project. The technical font design work and implementation is being undertaken by Dalton Maag. Members of the Ubuntu core development team are packaging the font in .deb format. The font was released under a libre-licence and is now packaged in Ubuntu 10.10.

In addition, the Ubuntu font comes in different flavors.

From Ubuntu Font Wiki:

The Ubuntu Font Family will include Regular, Bold, Light and Medium weights, with italics. There will be a Monospaced member of the family for terminal applications, as well as a Condensed version for space-critical applications. A total of 13 variants!

This is one font I can definitely work with in future projects.

Get Extra Space from Dropbox

Dropbox is one my all-time favorite application. The file sharing application gives you the ability to synch several computers by simply dropping a file to a folder. All your other computers (Windows, Mac or Linux) that have Dropbox installed, will synchronize automatically and get the updated files.

When you join Dropbox, you probably selected a free account that came with 2GB of disk space. To increase space, you can refer friends, family and others to join Dropbox and you and your friend will get an additional 250MB of space. I’ve referred several friends and now have 4.38GB. It’s nothing compared to someone I read online that had 17GB.

While referral is great, there’s another easy way of getting extra space from Dropbox. If you connect your Twitter account with Dropbox, you’ll get an additional 128MB. If you connect with Facebook, it’s another 128MB. If you follow @Dropbox on Twitter, it’s another 128MB.

If you tweet how much you love Dropbox, it’s another 128MB. Hence, my tweet about Dropbox the other night. All in all, if you do all of the above, you’ll get an additional 640MB of free disk space. Mind you, these are services that you already have, since most people already have Facebook and Twitter accounts. All you have to do is activate your free disk space.

To get your free space, just login to Dropbox and access Dropbox for free. One more thing, if you haven’t joined Dropbox yet, use this link to join. You and I will get an additional 250MB for using that link.

Word Lens Is Amazing

Word Lens. I’m sure you’ve heard by now, but if you haven’t, you have to see this video. The name of the software is Word Lens, a perfect companion for travelers that need translation. Word Lens is able to read the text images from the iPhone camera and translate it to another language almost instantaneously. Watch!

Word Lens is free to download, but you’ll need to buy a language pack. Each language pack cost $4.99. If you need translation the other way, it’s going to be $9.99. That’s good, I guess, for English speakers. The coolest part about this application is that, you don’t need to be online for it to work. All you need to do is point the phone’s camera in the direction that need translation.

If you’re not iPhone user, don’t fret. Quest Visual, the company behind Word Lens, plans to have the software released to other phone platforms: Android, Blackberry and Windows 7, in the near future.

Just a couple more things worth mentioning. Word Lens’ text recognition software works optimally on well-lighted signs. Don’t expect Word Lens to work in the dark. The other limitation is, Word Lens is not designed to read eBooks, but it recognizes a few words. I’m curious how big the vocabulary is for each language pack. How accurate is it?

See What Google Docs Presentation Can Do

Kudos to Gizmodo for this. I saw this video this morning, of the Google Docs Presentation and what it can do. It’s very impressive. You just going to have to see it to believe it. See YouTube video below. The 450 page presentation was done only with Google Docs and no other software. Don’t expect your presentation to resemble the one below, because the 450 page presentation was sped up at least 5 times for all 450 pages to be displayed in about 45 seconds. Nevertheless, it’s pretty impressive.

Dynamic CSS Buttons

I was searching for buttons the other day that I could use for a project. I wanted something flexible, something that could easily be customized for any project. The buttons have to be dynamic and they need to be generated fairly quickly.

This means no buttons that contain text images, no buttons that contain color images. The text needs to be supplied from the source (HTML) as well as the background color from CSS.

This dynamic button needs to be generated on fly, with the flexibility to use it multiple times within a page or the whole website. This sounds like a tall order to me.

Enter a tutorial by Soh Tanaka, a web designer from Los Angeles that I found while searching online. He wrote “Liquid & Color Adjustable CSS Buttons.” The tutorial is actually quite good. He shares how a button can be quickly generated using the supplied anchor text and as well any CSS background color.

A couple of examples.

I love the buttons,  but I found a couple of issues. The buttons doesn’t really work as a Submit button. You’re going to have to use Javascript to send your form if you use this example. The other issues is you can’t really resize the button, since it’s constrained to single supplied image that’s generated for every button.

These buttons are definitely useful tools for creating sites, but it does have its limitations. One more thing, I want to try if this works with HTML4’s button tag as opposed to just using the input tag.