Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Build or Buy: How to Get the Best Boxee Box for Your Money

Build or Buy: How to Get the Best Boxee Box for Your MoneyThe Boxee Box and other set-top boxes like it promise to pipe the internet to your HDTV with little fuss, for about $200. But Boxee itself is still a free download. Here's why a DIY Box could still be your best bet.

I received a Boxee review unit to play around with, and I have to say, I really like it. Quite a bit more than our colleagues at Gizmodo, for sure, because I enjoy a lot of the non-mainstream web content, dig the remote and the box's look, and absolutely adore the "Friends" menu that lines up all the videos my Twitter and Facebook contacts linked for easy watching. In other words, I could totally see the Boxee Box as a solution for my household's non-cable TV needs—especially once it receives much-needed Hulu Plus and Netflix capabilities.

So why would anyone want to build their own Boxee Box, if Boxee's already put together the hardware they know can pump out 1080p video and be controlled from the couch? There are a lot of good reasons:

The Pitch for DIY

Build or Buy: How to Get the Best Boxee Box for Your Money
I have an ASRock ION 330 unit hooked up to my TV. It's gone through two different phases—as a Linux-powered DIY Boxee unit, then a Windows-based, non-geek-friendly media center. When Boxee releases the 1.0 software that powers its Boxee Box for free download, I'll likely install that and make it the main interface.

You can find cheaper devices to run Boxee or other media center apps—Adam's Acer Aspire Revo was about $200 when he bought it, and is one of Boxee's own hardware recommendations. And if you've got an older desktop or laptop you don't mind keeping near the TV, that's an even cheaper solution, providing the plugs are right. Beyond cost, there are a few compelling reasons to DIY your Boxee experience:

You Always Have a Path to Netflix and Hulu

At the moment, the two big ways to get mainstream television and movies streaming to your system are Hulu and Netflix. Many devices, including set-top boxes like the Roku series, already support Netflix, and are beginning to adapt for Hulu Plus, the $8/month subscription service that gives viewers access to full seasons of popular shows.

Netflix and Hulu Plus are coming to the official Boxee Box in the near future, through an update, but they're not currently supported. In the meantime, Netflix works on nearly any Windows or Mac browser, and Hulu works on any browser that supports Flash, along with offering a Hulu Desktop player that provides a fairly good lean-back viewing experience.

Netflix plays just fine on Boxee for Windows and Mac, while Hulu is hit or miss on all platforms. Then again, if you don't mind keeping a cheap USB mouse attached to your custom-built HTPC, or running a quick VNC job, it's not too hard to bring Boxee down and pull Hulu Desktop up. It's not ideal, but it works.

Local Storage and Automated Downloading

Build or Buy: How to Get the Best Boxee Box for Your Money

Boxee is built on XBMC and other open-source software, and it excels at playing back pretty much any video file you can find anywhere. That's true for both the Boxee Box and your own Boxee unit.

But how do you get your files into Boxee? The pre-built Box has no accessible internal storage, but it can can access shared files on your home network, on dedicated network-attached storage (NAS), or on any USB drives you connect or SD cards you slide into its side. None of this is outside the reach of your average Lifehacker reader, and if you've already got a good media storage hub set up, you may only need a thin client like the Boxee Box to play it back for you on a big screen.

For many Boxee admirers, though, the idea of a Boxee "box" is that it's just that—one object that does all the work. When you sit down to watch shows, movies, or internet content, you don't have to wonder whether your media servier is up, or if the laptop you stashed that one particular file on is powered on. Using your own device with a hard drive and full OS installed, you can set up a pretty convenient system, though—like, say, the one I've got going:

  • A "Magic Dropbox Folder": I'm working on different computers and smartphones all the time, but I always have Dropbox handy—and Dropbox is running on my own unit. Whenever I drop a .torrent (BitTorrent) or .nzb (Usenet) file into the Dropbox folder labeled "HTPC," either uTorrent or SABnzbd see them and start downloading immediately, or at least as soon as the next time I turn the device on.
  • VNC access: It's nerdy, sure, but with my HTPC connected by ethernet to my home's wireless router, I can always see what's on the screen, and fix issues, using a VNC client from any computer in the house (or even outside the house, using a DynDNS setup.
  • Amazon Video Integration: Amazon Video on Demand is too often looked over when it comes to television and movie rental and purchase. Just check the chart: its offerings are vast, and it's often cheaper than iTunes or any other competition. With a custom-built Boxee setup, it's pretty easy to set up your device as one of your authorized downloading devices, and have Boxee recognize and index the video files that roll in.

Upgrades and Replacements

It almost goes without saying, but when you buy a small computer and outfit it yourself with a media center, you're in charge of determining whether there's enough hard drive space, physical memory, processing power, and what kind of optical discs it accepts (or doesn't). Busted components can be replaced, upgrades don't require a whole new system purchase, and you decide from the start what the box's capabilities are.

Additional Points

  • Extra services: What can you do with a computer connected by LAN cable to your router? Plenty. Upgrade the hard drive and make it a home server. Make it your personal proxy server for getting around web restrictions. Serve web pages, software, or anything else you'd like from behind your cable router.
  • Your smartphone is the best remote: Sure, the Boxee Box has a nice remote with a semi-full QWERTY keyboard built in, but so does your Android, iPhone, or iPod touch—and you're probably a lot faster and better at typing in your searches with it.

The Pitch for the Boxee Box

Build or Buy: How to Get the Best Boxee Box for Your Money
As stated up top, I'm a fan of the Boxee Box—I'm just living a dual-HTPC existence (for the moment). If I'd never thought to buy my own box, here's why I'd recommend sticking with the pre-assembled Boxee Box:

Form Factor and Quiet, Cool Design

Not everybody loves the look of the Boxee Box, Gizmodo included. It's intentionally different than your standard black box—it doesn't sit square, and its face is so blank as to be mysterious when it's off. Some people may dig that, while others, especially those with lots of other TV-connected hardware, will simply wish they could stack it.

Either way, the Box has been designed to use a minimum of space, to run quietly, and to draw only as much power as it needs to show your stuff. It's also not likely to overheat unless something goes haywire in the software, and even then, only until a forced reboot. Your own HTPC might be smaller, and maybe even stack-able, but there's a good chance it's louder, less sleek, and occasionally involves grunt-inducing cable-switching.

Newer Software, Sooner

Build or Buy: How to Get the Best Boxee Box for Your Money
The team at Boxee has been very diligent and responsive to its users all along, and they make the bold effort to push out each major release to Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux users, simultaneously. But the Boxee Box is their baby. It's hardware they know all about, running the most up-to-date version of their screen-friendly software. So it's not a surprise that it was the first place Boxee's 1.0 version landed, and already has a bunch of bug fixes and new features.

Will DIY Boxee users get that 1.0 goodness sometime soon? Most likely. But that's not to say that certain features might start off as Boxee-Box-only at first, and that the Box's hardware won't get the most thorough review into the future. That's just how it is. If you'd like more certainty in your media center purchase, maybe the Box is the way to go.


For $200, you'll find it hard to assemble a device with the same kind of specs as the Boxee Box. D-Link is making thousands of the same unit for a single purpose, so they can buy components at a bulk rate. You'll pay a good bit more for the components in an HTPC, and if it comes with Windows pre-installed, you'll have to pay a nominal amount for that, too. Finding a Boxee/Windows-friendly remote control is another cost, as is the time you'll spend doing your initial setup and installation of Windows, Boxee, and, most likely, additional drivers needed to get everything in place and working.

Additional Points

  • It's really a nice remote: Boxee did something right with their remote, at least to our eyes. It's Apple-like in its simplicity on the main side, but a small keyboard is available for typing in your searches and Netflix demands when you want it. It also looks made for the Box, unlike most of the Windows Media Center remotes out there.
  • SD card convenience: At first, one wonders why Boxee made the SD card slot so prominent on the, er, front of the device. But for quickly showing off photos, digital camcorder videos, and quickly snatching a file from a laptop, SD cards are small and easy to shuttle around.

Making the Call

If I had to pick one or the other, I'd look around to see if I could find a good, powerful HTPC capable of 1080p playback, and buy it, whether or not it had a physical hard drive. I like the convenience of Boxee Box, but I love the extensibility offered by the DIY route.

That's one Lifehacker editor's take, anyways. We welcome yours, and especially invite your links to great HTPC boxes, in the comments.

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Root your Nook Color to make a DIY 7-inch Android tablet

Got a Nook Color? Want to use it as a tablet as well as a color LCD reader? Well now you can thanks to nookDevs and a bit of Android rooting action. With a 800MHz ARM chip powering a modified Android ROM, it was fairly obvious from the get-go that the Color could make for a decent, cheap, DIY tablet, and now that dream has been realized. Of course the actual process of rooting the Nook Color is pretty involved -- it's no simple unlock like Windows Phone 7 -- but anyone with a keen eye, access to a Linux machine, and a bit of terminal-fu, can turn their $250 reader into a 7-inch IPS-wielding, Wi-Fi-connected, Android tablet.

Head on over to nookDevs for full instructions, but be warned, just because it's technically legal to jailbreak your device doesn't mean you don't void your warranty in doing so, and of course you could brick your device. That said, let's get rooting!

Tags: android, barnes and noble, BarnesAndNoble, e-reader, jailbreak, nook, nook color, NookColor, rooting, tablet

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Microsoft Word XML patent case to be heard by Supreme Court

Microsoft struck out on two previous attempts in court, but it's not prepared to give up on Word just yet. Today, the Redmond company received a bit of welcome news: the Supreme Court has agreed to hear Microsoft's appeal in the case to decide who owns the patent for XML, the markup language that powers Word. That takes Microsoft off the hook for the $290 million in damages previously awarded to plaintiff i4i, and allows it to keep selling Word for now.

For the time being, then, it's business as usual for Microsoft. That's good news for all of us -- considering the Office Armageddon they warned us about back in 2009 when things were just getting started. As the Register points out, the tech world will be waiting with bated breath to hear the Court's decision -- if i4i's patent on XML is upheld, it could have major implications for future patent-related trials.

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NES Super Mario Bros. played using Kinect

Sprint 4G Goes Live In SF Next Month, LA, Miami, D.C., Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus Today

by Greg Kumparak on November 29, 2010

Just last week, we were watching as Sprint rather suggestively compared the size of their “pipe” to the size of their competitors “pipe” as part of their prep work for 4G in LA. Today, all that pipe-laying comes to fruition; Sprint 4G has just launched in Los Angeles — and they went ahead and flipped things on in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Washington D.C, and Miami as well, just for good measure.

Tucked into the announcement was some good news for San Franciscan’s, as well — hop behind the jump for that bit.

Short story shorter, Sprint’s going to be launching 4G in San Francisco on December 28th. If you’re an SF resident hoping that Santa brings around a Sprint 4G phone for Christmas, it looks like the deal just got a bit sweeter.

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New MacBook Pro could arrive in April 2011 with SSD, Light Peak, no DVD

macbook pro 2010

Update Put your checkbooks away, folks. Electronista has all but debunked this rumor. By crunching the numbers, they confirmed that (at today's prices at least), such a MacBook Pro could easily be priced out of the market. Read on and dream, but don't expect this machine to appear on your desk any time soon.


Three Guys and a Podcast
are reporting that the next-generation MacBook Pro will likely arrive in April 2011 with a new design inspired by the latest slim-line MacBook Air. That means that the high-end laptops will probably dispense with spinning drives altogether and come equipped only with solid-state drives of up to 512GB capacity. If you haven't yet finished ripping all of your CDs and DVDs, you'll want to complete that task before migrating to a new MBP because the internal optical drive will probably follow the floppy into the annals of history.

With the internal speed bottlenecks reduced by the flash memory drives and new Sandy Bridge CPUs, Apple will also work on speeding up the external communication interfaces. Light Peak may finally debut on the MBP, two years after it was originally announced by Intel. Whether or not Light Peak makes it to the party, we expect that USB 3.0 probably will arrive in an Apple product on these new machines. The fate of Firewire is unknown at this time, but it seems unlikely to make the cut, especially if Light Peak is included. The one exception may be if Apple keeps one of the current generation 15-inch machines in the lineup as an entry model. If the 13-inch MBP also remains in the lineup, the new interfaces, CPUs and perhaps a higher resolution display will be what set it apart from the similarly sized Air.

Users are expected to be able to put this speedy new hardware to work with a new version of Final Cut Pro that should debut around the same time. Not much is known about FCP at this time except that it should be faster.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Ultrasn0w unlock for iPhone 3G, 3GS with iOS 4.2.1 now ready

iphone dev team Ultrasn0w unlock for iPhone 3G, 3GS with iOS 4.2.1 now readyIf you’re rocking an iPhone 3G or 3GS with iOS 4.2.1, and you’re of the breed that likes to jailbreak and unlock Apple devices, you’re in luck. The Dev-Team recently announced that the iPhone 3G and 3GS running iOS 4.2.1 can now be jailbroken and unlocked. The new redsn0w jailbreak tool is now available, and the iPhone 3G and 3GS ultrasn0w unlock tool is almost ready for consumption. The bad news is that the iPhone 4 unlock is still in the works (since it uses a different baseband), so you’ll have to be pretty patient. Everyone else can enjoy the freedom of going from carrier to carrier. (There is also the micro SIM to deal with in the iPhone 4 if you plan on using a carrier that doesn’t use or offer micro SIMs.)

Here’s what the Dev-Team says:

ultrasn0w unlock: After redsn0w is officially released with the new Cydia and kernel patches, we’ll be able to assess the unlock situation.  It’s already looking very promising though, so expect the unlock for the 3G and 3GS to be coming this week.  The i4 unlock is taking more effort though, and no further concrete info is available about that yet.

I envy you iPhone 3G and 3GS owners, but only a little. While I’d love to take my iPhone 4 and run off with some other carrier and make AT&T jealous with rage, there is no way I’m going to give up my glass and steel iPhone for that freedom. So, while many of you are eagerly waiting for the iPhone 4 unlock, I’m just chillin’ for now and enjoying my jailbroken iPhone 4 and tethering it on AT&T’s network whenever I please.

If you’re going to attempt unlocking your device, you’ve probably already gone through the trouble of jailbreaking it already. However, if this is your first time meddling with this sort of thing, do exercise a little caution because there is always a chance you could do some damage. Just putting that out there before you go blaming me for anything.

To download the jailbreak, click here..

Since there seems to be a bit of confusion, I’ll clarify the unlock situation: It is ready. MuscleNerd confirmed that it is ready. However, it will still be a few days before it is released.

[Via: Dev-Team Blog]

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Email Sucks. 5 Time Saving Tips.

My stats:
938 unread work emails.
1002 unread personal emails. 

The madness has to stop. What was once a 30 minute annoyance is now my full-time job.  Here are 5 time saving tips:

#5: Add a http://three.sentenc.es/ email signature and keep them short.

"Treat all email responses like SMS text messages, using a set number of letters per response. Since it’s too hard to count letters, we count sentences instead.

three.sentenc.es is a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be three sentences or less. It’s that simple."

Example signature:
Q: Why is this email three sentences or less?
A: http://three.sentenc.es

#4: Type "Sent from iPhone" under your short responses.  People don't expect long responses when you're on your phone. Don't forget to mispell a few words.

This all looks graet +1!!
Sent from iPhone.

#3: Create a 'VIP' filter.  Add your boss, investors, and close friends. Flag them red and throw them in a separate folder. This is the first place I check every morning.

#2: (Gmail only) Keep the spam out.  If you're giving your address to a potentially shady website, tack on +spam to the end, example: yourname+spam@gmail.com. You can then filter those emails into a spam folder you check periodically. (ProTip: the +spam is a variable that can be anything you want, eg. yourname+football@gmail.com etc., make as many as you like)

#1: (Apple Mail or similar program) Setup an email bankruptcy filter.  This is a little bit of a dick move, but if you're getting hundreds of new emails a day, it just might work.

Step 1: Create a filter that auto-responds to all unopened emails > 14 days old w/the following message:

Your email (below) is now 14 days old and has not been opened.  To minimize email buildup your email has now been placed in the archive.  Should you still require a response simply respond back and you'll automatically be added to the priority queue.  Thank you.

Step 2: Setup another filter that looks for the text "Your email (below)", this will catch the email responses back to you from those still requiring your response.  Filter these into a special folder you check and respond to daily.

Good luck!

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

HTML5 drag-and-drop upload comes to Google Docs

You've been able to do it for a while now in Gmail, and now drag-and-drop uploading has arrived in Google Docs. If you're running a compatible browser like Chrome, Firefox 3.6+, or Safari 5, adding new files to your Google Docs storage is as easy as sliding them over from your desktop file manager.

To use the new drag-and-drop uploader you still need to click through to the Docs upload page. I'd like to see this added to the main screen, so I can drag right into a specific folder.

Tags: apps, docs, drag-and-drop, google, html5, office

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MobileMe Freebie: Find My iPhone Walkthrough with Screenshots

main MobileMe Freebie: Find My iPhone Walkthrough with Screenshots

Apple recently announced the availability of its Find My iPhone service for those who upgrade to iOS 4.2 but do not have a MobileMe account. That’s right. No more $99 annual charge if you want to keep a close watch on your iPhone, iPod touch (4th generation), or iPad’s location. This feature has been particularly interesting to me since I was once mugged in San Francisco (surprisingly good timing considering the 3GS became available a month later). And, now that the Find My iPhone service is free from its MobileMe subscription-based clutches, I thought I’d walk you through the ins and outs of locating, locking, and wiping your iPhone from the comfort of your couch.

After upgrading my iPhone 4 to iOS 4.2, I followed Apple’s simple instructions to set up Find My iPhone. Two minutes later I was all set up and ready to start tracking my iPhone on a convenient Google Maps-based map.

If this is your first experience with MobileMe then the above map is what you see after signing in. After selecting your device you have the following options:

  • display a message over your current task
  • play a sound
  • lock the device with a 4 digit code
  • wipe (erase) everything on the phone

Below is an example of displaying a message that gets displayed on your iPhone’s display:

popup copy MobileMe Freebie: Find My iPhone Walkthrough with Screenshots

Once Apple has confirmed that the message was delivered, a confirmation email is sent to your MobileMe account’s email address. Note: The screenshot below is from a hot new email application named Sparrow.

email MobileMe Freebie: Find My iPhone Walkthrough with Screenshots

If you’d rather take things one step further, you can lock your iPhone and prevent unauthorized access.

Remotely locking your iOS device is easy. Just tell Find My iPhone that you’d like to “Lock” your phone. After entering a pin code twice the device locks within seconds. A confirmation email also arrives similar to sending a message.

lock and screenshot MobileMe Freebie: Find My iPhone Walkthrough with Screenshots

In addition to the Map view you can also choose Satellite and Hybrid views just like Google Maps.

satellite MobileMe Freebie: Find My iPhone Walkthrough with Screenshots

hybrid MobileMe Freebie: Find My iPhone Walkthrough with Screenshots

So, there you have it. The above walkthrough should give you a good idea of what to expect when you fire up the Find My iPhone feature for the first time on your desktop or laptop computer. If you’ve been thinking about buying an iPhone for yourself, you’ll be happy to know that you now get all these phone-tracking features for free.

I presume Apple is trying a new strategy to persuade people to sign up for the full MobileMe service. Releasing the Find My iPhone feature for free should get new visitors to me.com and, in theory, more paying customers. As soon as you begin typing your username and password on me.com, a large set of icons appear for email, address book, calendar, photos, iDisk, and Find My iPhone. It feels like a tease. After signing in you only have one of those features. This will leave newcomers asking the question, “What are those other icons for?”

It also makes sense that Apple make this iPhone-tracking service free, as Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 handsets and select HTC-made Android phones offer similar services for free.

mobileme landing MobileMe Freebie: Find My iPhone Walkthrough with Screenshots

So, we want to know. Does the free Find My iPhone service make you more likely to pick up an iPhone this holiday shopping season? Sound off in the comments below!

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Find My iPhone: 5 Real-Use Cases - Thieves Beware - iSmashPhone iPhone Blog



Now that Find my iPhone is free for users with iOS 4.2, why there is little reason not to sign up. The service allows you to locate your device, send it messages, lock it or totally wipe the memory if it happens to get lost or stolen. It's much like HTC's HTCSense.com service.

There have been quite a few stories in the past of people finding their devices by using Find my iPad or Find my iPhone. Let's have a look at some of those fortunate individuals who have been able to track down their devices and been spared the hassle of having to buy a new handset or iPad:

Games - Go to Jail

1) Justice Served

About a year ago 15-year-old Dustin Simantob of Colorado was able to recover his and his father's iPhones using the service. On top of that, the police were able to capture the criminals that did it. Apparently, they had been trying for some time, but until then didn't have enough on them to make an arrest. 

“so, my dad and I went on a 3 day father and son river trip and parked the car where we get out of the river to leave, so we get up to the cars and all 4 cars had one window broken and all the valuables taken from the car, so we ended up submitting our case to the near by cop and started on our 5 hour journey home, when we got back i remembered that i had set up the “track my iphone” on the mobileme site and immediately got on and tracked it.

it ended up being at a house near by where it was stolen, so i called up the cop that had taken our case and told him where it was located. as soon as i told him the address, he started to laugh, apparently the family had done a few things like this before and the local police had been trying to catch and arrest them but could never get proof that they had been the culprits.

now they had proof. so 4 police showed up at the door of this house and ended up getting mine and my dads iphones back along with my wallet and the Garmen GPS, they also were able to recover the two phones and wallet that was taken from the other car that was broken into. so thanks to mobileme we will all be getting our belongings back and a family of criminals will be put in jail.”




2) Stop my if you've heard this one: someone loses an iPhone in a bar...

A fellow named Kevin and two of his buddies went to a Lego convention. At the end of the day, they hit up a dive bar to grab a bite to eat. Then it happened, he left his iPhone on the table and had forgotten about it when he left. On his way out, he remembered that he had left the handset on the table and returned to the bar to pick it up. Unfortunately, it was nowhere to be found.

Luckily, he had recently activated his MobileMe account along with Find My iPhone. They began the search, and at first it seemed hopeless. The next day, they were led around town by the tracking service and they eventually found it at a bus stop. One of the bar's employees had found it and said he was planning to return it. Of course that's what he said when caught with it.



Image Credit: She Knows.com

3) Mom busts the bad guys

This one happened when a Mom was at the store. She placed the phone down while being attending to her kids, and totally forgot about it, leaving the handset on a store counter.

She and her husband decided to track their iPhone using the service. The were able to pinpoint it down to an apartment complex and called the police. They found the culprit and said that if the thief agreed to give up the handset within five minutes, no charges would be pressed. Needless to say, she got her phone back.

Furthermore, the officer said that he had already found five phones in the exact same manner. In fact, he said that Apple works closely with law enforcement to improve the GPS abilities on the device.


4) Getting even

In Shadyside, a man was attacked by two robbers. They stole his phone and his wallet, asking for his pin number. After a game of cat and mouse, he and the authorities were able to track the thieves, three men with all the stolen property. They were all charged for the crimes, with the two assailants receiving additional charges for the robbery.


5) Amusement Park Idiot

A mom and her daughter were vacationing at a Busch Gardens amusement park. Before boarding one of the roller coasters, they put their belongings in a storage bin meant to safely store items while attendees ride. Unfortunately, someone decided he would run for the woman's purse while no one was watching.

The daughter bumped herself cutting her lip open on the ride. The injury was nothing serious, but in the confusion, someone swooped in and grabbed Mom's purse. The purse was found in the men's restroom, but their phones were gone.

Then, the daughter remembered her MobileMe account. She had the Find My iPhone service activated. Authorities were able to locate the phone, and the culprit and the dirtbag was put in jail. 



Thieves Watch Out

Now that everyone on iOS 4.2 can use the Find My iPhone service (even with an older iOS device, if you use a workaround) everyone can locate their lost iOS device. We suggest signing up. After all, it's free.

Isn't technology wonderful?

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

DODOcase Now Available For The Kindle (Finally!)

DODOcase happens to be one of our fav iPad cases and so we’re more than pleased to pass along word that there’s now a Kindle case done up in the same handmade style. The Kindle case is available starting today for $49.95 with a red lining and $54.99 for any other color choice. Just like the iPad flavor, the Kindle one is handmade in SanFran through classic bookbinding techniques and should bring a bit of life to the inanimate ereader. Click through for a video look at the manufacturing process. Who said quality products aren’t made in America anymore?

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How To Install Google Earth On Ubuntu 10.10

How To Install Google Earth On Ubuntu 10.10

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme <ft [at] falkotimme [dot] com>

Follow me on Twitter
Last edited 11/10/2010

In previous Ubuntu versions, there was a Google Earth .deb package available in the Medibuntu repository; unfortunately there is no such package for Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat). While it is possible to install the Google Earth package for Ubuntu 10.04 on Ubuntu 10.10 (as described in chapter 13 of The Perfect Desktop - Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat)), there is another way of installing Google Earth on Ubuntu 10.10. The method described in this tutorial will create a Google Earth .deb package for Ubuntu 10.10 from which Google Earth can be installed.

I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!


1 Building The Google Earth .deb Package

Open a terminal (Applications > Accessories > Terminal)...

(JavaScript must be enabled in your browser to view the large image as an image overlay.)

... and install the package googleearth-package (this is a utility to automatically build a Debian package of Google Earth):

sudo apt-get install googleearth-package

If you are on an x86_64 system, you must also install ia32-libs:

sudo apt-get install ia32-libs

Now you can build the Google Earth .deb package as follows:

sudo make-googleearth-package --force

falko@falko-GeForce-8000-series:~$ sudo make-googleearth-package --force
Package: googleearth
Section: non-free/science
Priority: optional
Maintainer:  <root@falko-GeForce-8000-series>
Architecture: amd64
Depends: ttf-dejavu | ttf-bitstream-vera | msttcorefonts, ia32-libs (>= 20080808), lib32gcc1 (>= 1:4.1.1),
 lib32stdc++6 (>= 4.1.1), lib32stdc++6 (>= 4.2.1), lib32z1 (>= 1:1.1.4), lib32z1 (>= 1:1.2.0),
 libc6-i386 (>= 2.0), libc6-i386 (>= 2.1.3), libc6-i386 (>= 2.3), libc6-i386 (>= 2.3.2),
 libc6-i386 (>= 2.4), nvidia-current , lib32nss-mdns
Description: Google Earth, a 3D map/planet viewer
 Package built with googleearth-package.
dpkg-deb: building package `googleearth' in `./googleearth_5.2.1.1588+0.5.7-1_amd64.deb'.
You can now install the package with e.g. sudo dpkg -i <package>.deb

If you don't see any errors, then you should find the googleearth package in the current directory:

ls -l

falko@falko-GeForce-8000-series:~$ ls -l
total 62876
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2010-10-22 13:47 Desktop
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2010-10-22 13:47 Documents
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2010-10-22 13:47 Downloads
-rw-r--r-- 1 falko falko      179 2010-10-22 13:39 examples.desktop
-rw-r--r-- 1 root  root  32932632 2010-11-10 15:35 googleearth_5.2.1.1588+0.5.7-1_amd64.deb
-rw-r--r-- 1 root  root  31406473 2010-09-02 18:30 GoogleEarthLinux.bin
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2010-10-22 13:47 Music
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2010-11-10 15:26 Pictures
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2010-10-22 13:47 Public
-rw-r--r-- 1 falko falko      910 2010-11-10 15:36 setup.txt
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2010-10-22 13:47 Templates
drwxr-xr-x 2 falko falko     4096 2010-10-22 13:47 Videos

As you see, my package is named googleearth_5.2.1.1588+0.5.7-1_amd64.deb.


2 Installing Google Earth

Instead of using dpkg, I want to use gdebi to install the package because gdebi also takes care of missing dependencies (dpkg doesn't). Therefore I have to install gdebi before I install googleearth:

sudo apt-get install gdebi-core

Now I can install googleearth as follows:

sudo gdebi googleearth_5.2.1.1588+0.5.7-1_amd64.deb

That's it!

Afterwards, you can find Google Earth under Applications > Internet > Google Earth:

(JavaScript must be enabled in your browser to view the large image as an image overlay.)

Here are a few screenshots of Google Earth in action:

(JavaScript must be enabled in your browser to view the large image as an image overlay.)

(JavaScript must be enabled in your browser to view the large image as an image overlay.)

(JavaScript must be enabled in your browser to view the large image as an image overlay.)


3 Links

Copyright © 2010 Falko Timme
All Rights Reserved.

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How to Crack Password-protected Zip Files Using Linux | TechSource

Posted by jun auza On 11/18/2010
How to Crack Password-protected Zip Files Using Linux: In case you or your friend has forgotten the password of your password-protected .zip file that may contain important documents, music, or non-porn movies, there is really no need to worry as there are plenty of password crackers available out there. If you are using Linux, I highly recommend you download and use FCrackZip.

FCrackZip is a simple, fast, free, and easy-to-use zip cracker that is similar to fzc and zipcrack. Partially written in assembler, it uses brute force or dictionary based attacks to find the password. Although you will need the Linux terminal to use FCrackZip, a simple command is actually required to crack the zip password.

If you are using any popular or major Linux distribution, FCrackZip should be available on the software repository, and you could download it using the package manager. You may also download the latest version from HERE.

Since I'm using Ubuntu, I quickly installed FCrackZip from the command line using this command:

$ sudo apt-get install fcrackzip

After installing FCrackZip, you can either use brute force or dictionary mode to crack the password.

Here is a sample FCrackZip command one-liner using brute force:

$ fcrackzip -v -b -p aaaaaa -u your_zip_file.zip

From the screenshot above, you will see that I've successfully cracked a password protected zip file using the brute force method. From my experience, it took around 30 minutes to find password, but it is worth the wait. That's about it. You may also see the manpage of FCrackZip for other options or for further documentation.

You may also like our post about hacking Windows administrator password using Linux.

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TeamViewer Beta 6 is now out, remote control freaks rejoice


Let me just come right out and say it: TeamViewer is the best remote control application for Windows PCs today. I've tried numerous apps, and nothing comes close to TeamViewer's performance on a WAN. For LAN situations, Windows Remote Desktop rocks. But when you've got the whole wide Internet between you and the computer you'd like to control, nothing beats TeamViewer. I use it several times per week, for extended sessions (hours on end), and it's always a joy to use. So yes, I'm a rabid fan, and I'm not ashamed.

And now, TeamViewer has announced a new beta for version 6. If you use TeamViewer 5, you'll notice the look and feel is different. But changes are more than skin-deep:

  • Custom QuickSupport is a feature that lets you connect to existing customers much more quickly, without getting their ID and password newly every time.
  • QuickJoin is a new feature that lets you send the session data to participants beforehand. This is great for presentations – the participants connect to your computer, and not vice versa. You no longer need to enter the data for each of the participants manually.
  • Reconnection after reboot makes sure TeamViewer will re-establish the connection even after the remote computer went down and came back up.

There are several other options; if you're not using TeamViewer yet, you really should start. But remember this is still a beta, so if you use it to control nuclear reactors or a personal army of killer robots, you may want to hold off on the upgrade.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Google Voice app for iOS available now

Filed under: Google, VoIP, iPhone, Mobile

Google Voice app for iOS available now

by Vlad Bobleanta (RSS feed) Nov 16th 2010 at 2:40PM

Google Voice for iPhone screenshots

The official Google Voice application for the iPhone has finally arrived in the iTunes App Store. After more than a year from Apple's rejection of Google's first Voice app for the iPhone, almost ten months since Google responded with an HTML5-based mobile Web app, and about 6 weeks since it was reportedly approved by Apple, it's here.

The app has all the features you'd expect, including getting cheap rates for international calls, free texts to US numbers, voicemail transcription, and displaying your Google Voice number as your caller ID when making calls. It also has support for push notifications, to instantly alert you when you receive a new voicemail or text message. Google says that 'most' of the calls made through this app will be placed via Direct Access Numbers -- Google assigns a unique phone number to each person you call, which results in the app not needing to connect to the internet every time you place a call, thus making the whole calling experience much faster.

To use the new app, a Google Voice account and an iPhone with iOS 3.1 or newer are required.

Download Google Voice for iPhone from the iTunes App Store

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Boxee Box Review: A Media Device Teetering Between Awesome And Odd

Short Version
The Boxee Box is here. I unboxed the device yesterday and have spent pretty much every moment since poking around and I’m impressed. It’s not the mind-blowing experience you get from the desktop app, but the dead-simple setup compounded with the clever dual-sided remote makes for a superb user experience.

It’s still Boxee at the core and that’s all that matters. The Boxee Box brings broadcast shows along with web video to your HDTV through the magical Internet tubes. Disney, News Corp, NBC Universal, CBS, they all work – not through Hulu but Fancast, and this is could be a problem (more on this later). People love Boxee because it is one of the best options for watching any sort of video on your computer. The program is the heart of many HTPCs. Sadly, the Boxee Box isn’t a true, ready-made Boxee HTPC. It’s still worth your time, but don’t expect to replicate the same experience of Boxee installed on an HTPC. That said, it is without a doubt the best stand-alone media streamer on the market and will only get better.

Video Review


  • Intel Atom Platform
  • RF QWERTY remote included
  • 802.11n Wireless built-in
  • Extensive file format support
  • $199 street price
  • Product Page


  • Plays all sorts of media file formats
  • Beautiful interface
  • Works with online content (right now at least)


  • Sluggish at times
  • A major feature set could be disabled by media companies

The Boxee Box is Boxee in a box

As soon as I turned on the Boxee Box, it hit me. This is different than the PC version. Well, it looks and feels slightly different. The interface is slightly retooled to better fit within the 10-foot interface rules, but the result makes it feel either a bit dumbed down or less cluttered — I have decided which yet. Either way, it feels super-sized in a way. Unlike the desktop version, which is smooth as TCBY yogurt, there’s an itsy-bitsy bit of lag on the Boxee Box. It’s by no means a deal breaker or even annoying, but it’s not nearly as fluid as the PC version.

The difference between the desktop and standalone platforms is very noticeable in the available content area . Hulu’s self-described evil overlords clearly hate consumers and so the Boxee Box is forced to use Comcast’s Fancast site instead. This creates two problems in that there isn’t an HD button on Fancast, meaning the video quality is poo, and two, there simply aren’t as many programing options. But this might not be Fancast’s fault.

Select The Office on the Boxee Box and one episode is available. At least it’s the latest one, but there are 11 episodes available through the desktop Boxee. This trend continues with How I Met Your Mother with only two episodes available on the Boxee Box with six on the desktop version. There are three Family Guy episodes to the desktop’s nine and so on. At least Star Trek Enterprise and MacGuyver are available in their entirety on both platforms, but don’t expect to get caught up on any modern show.

The amount of available shows on the platform is impressive even if they only have a few episodes each. Download the Boxee desktop and then imagine the same amount of shows with less episodes each. That’s the Boxee Box. Now, as long as the shows are available on Fancast.com, you can watch them.

Back to The Office example. Clicking on the one available episode launches the Fancast page in the Boxee Box browser where you’re free to navigate to the other available episodes. This says that there’s a good chance more episodes will be added to Boxee interface in time. Navigation is a bit of a pain though, as the Boxee remote doesn’t have a touchpad or any sort of natural controller scheme besides a 4-way navigation pad. It’s a bit hokey, but at least it works. Can’t say that for Google TV although the two platforms could end up in the same sinking boat.

Hulu doesn’t work on the Boxee Box like it does on the desktop platform. Fancast does, but the powers that be could shut off that feed just like they did on the Google TV leaving the Boxee Box somewhat dead in the water. Big media will decide the Boxee Box’s future. The $9.99 a month Hulu Plus service is launching on the platform shortly, but the subscription-based service (with the same video ads) only offers a tiny fraction of the free, ad-supported library. This is the one area that should make potential buyers pause. Will the Boxee Box work the same way in a month that it does today? Even Boxee doesn’t know that.

Long time Boxee users turned Boxee Box owners are screaming right now in the official Boxee Box forums. The latest software update moved the focus from local content to online content. I see their point, too. It’s a few extra steps to reach content storied either locally on an SD card or on a network share. However, the Boxee Box is just a few days old right now and the company is no doubt taking in all the feedback and will likely retool somethings in future releases. The UI could really use some user customization options overall anyway.

Local playback support

Great news, everybody: The Boxee Box plays everything. Well, where everything means the audio and video from every .AVI and .MKV along with a bunch of other files I tried. Boxee always had great file playback support, mainly because it relies on mplayer. I can’t find anything it won’t play, really. MOV, *Check* – FLAC, *Check* – OGG, *Check* – Full ISOs, *Check* – M2TS, *Check*!

The networking is either done through direct network browsing over Samba or through UPnP servers. It can’t be easier. Multiple file locations over a few computers? No problem. You can add them all. Once you select your file sources, the Boxee Box scans and adds the content to the library. It even adds artwork, relevant info and sorts by genre if it can find it. This is a real family-pleaser.

Playback is awesome too. I experienced nearly zero lag or jitters playing even 8GB MKVs wirelessly. Only Blu-ray ISOs and one particular high bit-rate 8GB MKV of A Christmas Carol gave me any issues at all. That very same file crashes my Seagate media streamer during the opening credits though so I’m marking this up as win for the Boxee as the file only stutters a bit. This is where the Boxee Box will make you smile. Not only does it play nearly everything. It does so with ease and zero effort from the user. No searching for codecs or file conversion software. Just select and enjoy.

So with the complete codec support and fancy automatic album artwork, it’s easy to put the Boxee Box at the very top of my recommended streamer list. The pretty UI puts it above even the WD TV in my mind since they have the same file support. No longer as your household’s nerd do you have to install random media jukeboxes on your media streamer so your family isn’t forced to use the ugly list view found on so many media streamers. Plug in the Boxee Box, show it where you store your files, and it does the rest.

Local network playback is gamble, it seems to me lately. Devices either play everything, like a WD TV or Popcorn Hour, but the interface often looks like it was made by a committee — or the interface is slightly better, like with Google TV, but the playback is done through transcoding and DLNA servers. That often means you’re going to spend long hours trying out new servers and transcoding settings only to find you’re missing some random audio codec. There’s none of that mess with the Boxee Box as it does both direct network browsing and DLNA/UPnP through a legit interface. Win Win Win.

Watching web videos on your HDTV is never going to look great. Sorry, the videos are simply compressed and presented with a smaller screen in mind. Still, the content is free, which trumps video quality in my book. Some web videos look better than others, but most of the Fancast-provided videos are subpar.

Content from local sources look great, though. 1080p or 720p files play without hesitation but the color levels seem a bit off. The blacks are a touch grey. Most users probably won’t notice, but load up a favorite video and you’ll probably see what I mean. If you’re savvy, you can set up a color balance preset on your TV to correct for this, but that’s asking a lot when the other parts of the device are so simple and family-friendly.

Yeah, it has apps

Boxee does apps right. Instead of launching directly into the Apps like Google TV, they live in their own little category, relaxing until you call upon them. The Boxee Box ships with 131 ready to be installed, but there are only a few notable ones here.

Pandora forces you to activate the service via your computer before it will start-up, but it’s worth the 2 minute hassle. 3D spectrum analyzer visualization, pretty artwork, a clever sidebar interface. It’s about the best implementation of Pandora out there. I’m not a Pandora user — I pay for rdio.com and love it — but this Pandora app is wonderful. You should know about YouTube Leanback. It’s the same thing here, but the QWERTY Boxee Box remote actually makes it useful and fun. Just start typing on the keypad to search and play. HD videos play just fine with no lag or jitters.

Flickr forces you to the web where you must activate the service in your user settings. While you’re there, you may as well turn on Facebook, Twitter, and others. Boxee is all about sharing after all. But once the Flickr setting is activated, the app launches and brings your photostream to the Boxee Box. It’s not nearly as fluid as viewing pics off of a local source, but the experience is satisfying enough that users may just log into here rather than locating photos to share on networked devices.

The rest of the apps are standard fare. There’s a Revision 3 app that works a lot like all the others, a channel for The Onion, MLB, Vice, Vimeo, and TED along with over a hundred more. Two biggies are missing right now though: Netflix and Vudu. Both, however are on their way and will only add to the available streaming content on the Boxee Box. Even Hulu Plus should hit the system shortly, but the $9.99 a month service leaves much to be desired in the available content department.

The sinking box

Oh, the form factor. Hate it? No, I don’t hate it, but it annoys me that I can’t stuff it in my office AV rack. I can’t even stick it with my living room equipment controlled remotely through an RF universal remote; the Boxee Box doesn’t have an IR power command for remote powering options. It really doesn’t fit in my whole AV scheme. But I think that’s by design.

The Boxee Box is designed, both inside and out, to be a showcase piece. The glowing Boxee icon, the sinking box design, the lack of IR — it all says, I want to be shown off. The good kids at Boxee created a wonderful device and they want you to display it.

Well, great, but in my house, all of my AV equipment is stored 15 feet below my living room HDTV in a basement room, which keeps everything away from sticky kid’s fingers and prying eyes. It’s wonderful in that there’s zero chance my kids can touch any of the equipment. This setup won’t work with the Boxee Box. I would have to put the Boxee Box on the TV stand, run an HDMI cable to the TV, a TOSLINK cable down to the receiver below and then setup a macro on my universal remote to switch everything. It’s a needless hassle. [Update: see comments below. The Internet somewhat solved this issue although I still feel it's silly that an IR sensor is not simply built-in. Perhaps that will be in version 2]

It’s still an impressive nettop though. Inside is an Intel Atom CE4100, which was selected over the NVIDIA dual -core Tegra T20 for codec support. This platform allows the Boxee Box to process even H.264 1080p60 streams. The front-end isn’t slip-’n-slide smooth, but it’s still nice and I didn’t experience any issues with media playback, which is the most important thing anyway.

The remote works great, although version two should have some sort of orientation markers to better distinguish the top from the bottom, and backlighting on the tiny QWERTY keypad would be absolutely genius. The RF range is impressive and I can get about 40 feet away and still operate the Boxee Box. The dual-sided form factor sound strange in theory, but it never felt weird using or hold it. The keypad isn’t in the way when you’re using the navigational pad. It’s a good remote.

Should you buy it?

$200 seems about right. Any less and the hardware would be compromised and any more, fully-powered HTPCs start to look attractive. The Boxee Box plays all sorts of locally-storied files, there’s online support through various media sites and hundreds of apps. The family will love the experience.

Post launch, Boxee Box isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot more polished than Google TV and I can’t find any deal breakers or even significant  downsides to delay your purchase. If you’ve never used Boxee before or are coming from a WD TV, Popcorn Hour or even an Apple TV new or old, you’ll absolutely love it and I can’t recommend it enough. However, current Boxee or even XBMC users should probably wait a bit to see if the software matures to the same point as the desktop version.

There is this business with Hulu, Fancast and the media companies though. There’s a good chance that these companies will simply disallow the Boxee Box from reaching their online content like they did for Google TV. However, unlike Google TV, the Boxee Box is a fantastic local media streamer with tons of media apps that are out of reach from big media. The Boxee Box wins in so many segments that my strong buy recommendation holds true even if one like broadcast media streaming gets cut off or restricted. Buy it and you’ll enjoy it. The Boxee Box is one of those rare consumer electronics that’s actually satisfying to use.

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Never Sync Your iPhone with iTunes Again [Sync]

Never Sync Your iPhone with iTunes Again

Never Sync Your iPhone with iTunes Again iTunes can be useful, but it can also be a huge pain. If you've ever used it for sync you've likely experienced problems. Fortunately, with the help of a few apps, you don't ever have to sync with iTunes again.


Never Sync Your iPhone with iTunes Again Regardless of how you want to view your photos and how you want them on your phone, you have quite a few options. Recently we looked at how PhotoSync for Lazy makes for quick, automatic photo syncing with your Windows PC. Photo Sync is a cross-platform solution that lets you wirelessly copy your photos from your iPhone's camera roll onto your computer. Apps like Dropbox are a good way of syncing photos cross-platform as well, but viewing on your iOS device isn't all that great since the Dropbox app doesn't provide any kind of thumbnail previews. You can flick through photos one by one, however. If you're a Flickr user, Photo Wallet will sync your Flickr photos wirelessly (called Photo Pad for iPad users). iPicasa does the same thing for Picasa users. While not every single base is covered with photos, chances are you use a service that'll easily let you avoid syncing your photos with iTunes.


Never Sync Your iPhone with iTunes Again Although you might think video's more difficult, it ends up being pretty easy. You can either use Dropbox to sync and save physical copies of video files on your iPhone or you can use video streaming applications like StreamToMe, AirVideo, and Libox (our overview) to watch your video (that's stored on a home computer) anywhere you have a decent connection.


Never Sync Your iPhone with iTunes Again Music is really where the most concessions come in, but you do have options. While, again, Dropbox will let you save files, that will get annoying fast when you have thousands of songs you want to store. StreamToMe will let you stream your music from your home machine, or you can use any of the several great music streaming services that have iOS apps (some of which are free). Unfortunately, though, if you want true music sync without iTunes you'll have to resort to jailbreaking your iPhone and hacking together a syncing process without iTunes using WinAMP and ml_ipod.

Podcasts and Spoken Word Content

Never Sync Your iPhone with iTunes Again Podcasts and spoken word content are fortunately a bit easier to handle than music. Recently we looked at AudioPress and found it's a great free app for managing all your podcasts, and some other spoken word content, directly from your iOS device. It'll keep track of your subscriptions and download everything for you. If you're an audio book listener, chances are you get your content through Audible. The Audible app lets you purchase and download audio books directly to your iOS device over Wi-Fi with no need for iTunes. Alternatively, Apple's iPod application, in conjunction with the iTunes Music Store, lets you update your podcasts manually and purchase much of Audible's audio book content. While these third-party apps tend to do a better job, when it comes to spoken work content you can get by with what's already included on your iPhone.

Other Information

Never Sync Your iPhone with iTunes Again For contacts, calendars, email accounts, tasks, and notes, you can always make use of Apple's $99/year MobileMe service or just use Mail2Web instead. There are plenty of individual app alternatives, however. Air Sharing lets you transfer and view files over Wi-Fi. Dropbox lets you access anything you keep in your always-syncing Dropbox, with the option to save files directly to your iOS device without trouble. Simplenote is a great option for syncing plain text and Evernote can handle richer text with graphics. The list goes on and on because there's really no shortage of apps for wirelessly syncing documents and similar content.

Got any great ways of breaking away from iTunes while still satisfying your syncing needs? (You know, besides getting an Android.) Let's hear 'em in the comments.

Send an email to Adam Dachis, the author of this post, at adachis@lifehacker.com.


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