Archive for the ‘Utilities’ Category

Just when we were about to drop a spare five hundred bucks on Adobe Creative Suite 5, along comes XtraNormal, this crazy cartoon movie maker — and it’s all free — that allows rank amateurs like yours truly to create animated videos just by clicking and typing.  So many funny movies on the site, but here’s one that caused us to laugh out loud.




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dog6So Saturday I took care of a friend’s three third-graders, all of whom wanted to watch Daddy Day Care at a high volume. Now I’m a big Eddie Murphy fan, but c’mon. It’s not exactly his best work. And I wanted to work on my book.  By the time we were past the first Angelica Huston scene,  I still hadn’t written three words.

The solution: Great headphones and Simply Noise — a white noise generator that masked Eddie and a room full of shrieking kids.  Simply Noise plays a continuous loop of, well, static fuzz. To my ears, the white noise and pink noise are annoying, but the brown noise is perfectly soothing. Low-pitched, oceany, and full enough to drown out pretty much anything. I may have just found the cure for Adult ADHD.

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iTunesApple Computer and I haven’t been on speaking terms since 1983, when it put Franklin Computer out of business with the lawsuit heard ’round the world. I really loved my Apple ][ clones, and did not take kindly to their mass murder.

But I’ve finally decided that Apple has done its penance. After all, it’s sort of single-handedly kept Microsoft from eating the planet. And it’s kept my kids so preoccupied with their iPods that they haven’t had time to get into trouble. So Apple, I hereby forgive you. And I’ve installed iTunes on my (non-MacBook) laptop as a gesture of my goodwill.

There. We’re friends again. I shall now go forth and partake of podcasting.

Do you have a favorite podcast resource? Help me love Apple again by clicking that Comments link, below.

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WikispacesWhen I’m not blogging, or editing, or having a life, I’m building my little Wikispace. Gotta keep all that research someplace. Wikispaces is made for creating your very own version of Wikipedia. Use it to plan events or build a community. Your club or co-op can use it to coordinate classes and activities, advertise for new members, and improve communication. I use it as a freestyle database for storing information and research. Endless possibilities.

How do you facilitate group planning? Surely you’re not still using email. Are you?

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GizmodoMy hubby and I are well and truly the original geeks. We met on line. Not impressed? It was before there was an internet. Before digital photography. Before cell phones. We courted cross country over a juryrigged electronic BBS via dial-up modems. And he’s good lookin’, too. Take that, eHarmony!

So when my egghead husband names Gizmodo as his favorite hangout spot, take it with a grain of salt. Who cares if Gizmodo has the inside scoop on every new toy and gadget on the planet? It’s still porn for geeks, and loving it is weird.

How do you choose the items on your Christmas wish list?

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SkypeSome people collect stamps. I collect children. Seven of ’em, spread hither and thither across the globe. How do I know where they are? I Skype ’em, of course.

We videoconference non-stop, for free, via our microphone- and camera-equipped computers. Because we Skype, the kid two states away in the boondocks of Idaho, or the one living two oceans away in the middle of a Chinese earthquake, seems just as close as the child two bedrooms down the hall, or the kid at college two miles down the road.

Now one son is arguing that we should switch to Yahoo Instant Messenger, since that’s the system they use in his office. What’s your opinion? Convince me to make the switch by clicking that comments link.


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It’s easy to get free high-speed Internet access — if you have a laptop and a willingness to travel.

WiFi Free Spot is a directory of public hotspots for wireless internet access. It’s organized by state, and lists only those spots that provide Internet access at no charge.

How do you get online when you’re broke?

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