Friday, August 28, 2009

Microsoft posts PowerPoint 2010 slideshow teaser

Over the years, PowerPoint has gone through a number of graphic improvements. Our goal is always to provide the best environment for you to visualize and communicate your ideas. At the beginning of this release, we looked at how advancements in motion graphics have transformed visual storytelling in broadcast TV and movies. We knew we wanted to bring the same capabilities to presentations.

For PowerPoint 2010, we are making the biggest visual update to Slide Show in nearly a decade. PowerPoint's graphics engine is completely rebuilt using DirectX. Everything in slide show (text, shapes, animations, and more) is rendered in full 3D using your machine’s graphics card. Over the next few weeks, we’ll show you how to use PowerPoint 2010’s new tools and effects to improve your presentation.

Here are a few of the features you can expect to see:

· Fully hardware-accelerated rendering engine
· New transition effects and an updated user interface
· Revamped animation effects and a brand new UI (timelines!)
· Animation Painter (copy your animations between objects)
· Choreograph animations with multimedia

As we like to say here at PowerPoint, if a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a video is worth at least 24,000 per second:

Source: PowerPoint Team Blog

OpenShot is Video Editing Software for Ubuntu

OpenShot is Video Editing Software for Ubuntu: "

Video editing is an important aspect of our work. I was looking for some video editing solution for my Ubuntu machine and came across this useful piece of software which makes the editing of videos a very easy. The software is called OpenShot and is a free and open source solution for editing videos on Linux environment.

Earlier you had to compile the program on your Linux machine to be able to use it. However, the developer(s) have come out with an easy solution by releasing deb files for the same.

Features of OpenShot

  • Support for many video, audio, and image formats (based on FFmpeg)
  • Gnome integration (drag and drop support)
  • Multiple tracks
  • Clip resizing, trimming, snapping, and cutting
  • Video transitions with real-time previews
  • Compositing, image overlays, watermarks
  • Title templates, title creation
  • Solid color clips (including alpha compositing)
  • Support for Rotoscoping / Image sequences
  • Drag and drop timeline
  • Frame stepping, key-mappings: J,K, and L keys
  • Video encoding (based on FFmpeg)

Download and Install OpenShot on Ubuntu

In order to run and start using OpenShot on Ubuntu we will have to download the respective deb file and install it. Download the respective deb file based on the version of your Ubuntu and CPU from the download page (link below). You’ll also have to download the dependency package from the same page (dependencies_32_904.tar.gz)

Opebshot Download

Install OpenShot On Ubuntu

Once you have downloaded the respective deb files (The main package and dependency files) start the installation by installing the dependencies first. Double click the dependency package (dependencies_32_904.tar.gz) and install all the 4 deb files:

  1. openshot-ffmpeg_git-2623d8f-1_i386.deb
  2. openshot-frei0r_1.1.22-1_i386.deb
  3. openshot-mlt_0.4.3-1_i386.deb
  4. openshot-x264_0.67.1173-1_i386.deb


Once you have installed all the dependency package we’ll install the main package (openshot.deb). Double click the package to install it.


Running OpenShot

Once installed you can run the OpenShot video editor by going to Applications \ Sound & Video \ OpenShot Video Editor.


The main interface is nicely laid out and easy to use.


Importing the video in OpenShot

Importing videos for editing is very easy all you have to do is click File \ Import Files.



Exporting videos is very easy and you can export your video in multiple formats. Click the red button to export the edited video.


You can choose from several different effects and video settings.


List of Features

The following is an impressive full list of features for OpenShot:

  • Support for many video, audio, and image formats (based on FFmpeg)
  • Gnome integration (drag and drop support)
  • Multiple tracks
  • Clip resizing, trimming, snapping, and cutting
  • Video transitions with real-time previews
  • Compositing, image overlays, watermarks
  • Title templates, title creation
  • Solid color clips (including alpha compositing)
  • Support for Rotoscoping / Image sequences
  • Drag and drop timeline
  • Frame stepping, key-mappings: J,K, and L keys
  • Video encoding (based on FFmpeg)

OpenShot is a stable and easy to use video editor for Ubuntu and is also available in Spanish, French, and Italian.

Download OpenShot for Ubuntu Linux

Five Features We Want to See in Firefox [Lifehacker Wishlist]

Five Features We Want to See in Firefox [Lifehacker Wishlist]: "

It's no secret that Firefox has long been our favorite browser, but much has changed recently. The browser landscape is increasingly competitive, so with that in mind, we'd like to suggest a few features and improvements we're desperate to see from Firefox.

The Big Stuff

Let's start with the five features and fixes we're most eager to see addressed:

1. Better Memory Management

The bane of Firefox in recent years, climbing memory footprints reaching gigabyte proporitions have been common for many users. We've highlighted more methods than you can shake a stick at for speeding up Firefox and improving its sometimes out-of-control memory use, but it should behoove the folks at Mozilla to get to the bottom of this issue, one way or another—and users shouldn't have to learn 18 obscure tricks to take care of it themselves. It's not just about memory, either; if Firefox memory ran high but the browser stayed snappy, that'd be one thing—but that's just not the case. And even though some tests show Firefox winning the memory battle against other browsers, the fact of the matter is this: If users are commonly experiencing serious browser slowdowns because of a skyrocketing memory footprint over time, then all the tests in the world don't really make it better.

2. Syncing of Everything

Xmarks (formerly Foxmarks) has been around and helping us sync browser bookmarks for years (and now passwords as well); more recently, Mozilla Weave has added bookmark, password, history, and tab syncing—not a bad start. But the pie-in-the-sky sync we've never seen but have been dying for ever since Firefox was born is extension syncing. Beyond that, we'd love to see full preference syncing, as well. (We've done our best to sync our extensions and profiles across computers by rolling our own solution, but it's not perfect.) As Kevin put it when I asked him for his biggest Firefox wish: 'When I reinstall Firefox, or switch to another computer, I want my add-ons, settings, bookmarks, passwords, and even my last set of tabs open to come on over, or be brought in with a click.' Hear hear.

3. Backwards Compatibility for Extensions

We've performed the same song and dance every single time Firefox updates: We turn off compatibility checking in new releases of Firefox so that our old extensions will work with the new release even though they haven't specifically been updated for it. We understand what Mozilla is trying to do here—presumably good extensions are actively updated, right? And we want to make sure that all our extensions jive with new releases. But the fact is, some extensions are so simple that the kind developer who dedicated her time to creating the extension may not be interested in changing a version number inside the extension's source every time Firefox updates—leaving most to either come to terms with the fact that their must-have extension is now in the dead pool or hoping that some other generous soul will take on the extension as their own personal project. The point is, if Microsoft were making every program virtually unusable every single time Windows updated, people would be pissed. The folks at Firefox need to think of some way to address this issue and allow for backwards compatibility with their add-ons.

4. A Tool to Diagnose Bad Extensions

If it's possible, extensions are both the most attractive thing about Firefox while simultaneously being an enormous thorn in its side. We're often led to believe that Firefox memory problems arise as the result of bad extensions that leak memory and/or slow down the 'fox. That's all fine and dandy, but how is the general (or hell, even the power user) supposed to know which extensions are slowing his/her browser to a crawl—apart from the tedious-as-hell disable/enable troubleshooting dance (which, frankly, rarely works all that well under any but the most obvious of circumstances). We'd suggest Firefox look into something similar to what they've done in Internet Explorer 8 (yeah, you read that correctly—in IE): The Manage Add-ons tool in IE8 displays the load time for all your add-ons to give you an idea what toolbars and extensions are slowing down your load time. If it were possible (and I surely don't know if it is), it'd be even better to see an additional column displaying memory usage.

5. Tab Isolation à la Google Chrome

We know the folks at Mozilla are already working on this one, but when Google introduced Chrome and showed us how it isolated each tab as a separate process so that a bum tab wouldn't crash the entire browser, and how you can see how much memory each tab is using, they left Firefox (and every other browser) in the dust on this one—meaning we probably won't see content processes in Firefox for at least a year. Bummer.

Bonus Gripes

In addition to the five big ones we listed above, here's a quick rundown of some niggling little annoyances and much-desired tweaks we'd like to see addressed:

  • We want to see spellchecker suggestions that include items in your custom dictionary (i.e., words you've added to the Firefox dictionary by right-clicking and selecting Add to Dictionary).
  • I'd kill to see the keyword field in the regular bookmark dialog. It's there when you right-click on a bookmark and select properties, and it's a necessary component of my absolute favorite Firefox productivity booster. In contrast, the tag field is in the bookmark dialog by default, and I've never once used that.
  • I want to be able to right-click on bookmarks inside folders to delete or edit them in OS X. This may sound nitpicky (and it is), but it's also extremely annoying if you've ever butted up against this one. You can do it in Windows, but if you want to edit or delete a bookmark inside a folder on your bookmarks toolbar in OS X, you have to open the bookmark manager to do it—and that's a place I never desire to go.

So there's a quick look at our main Firefox wishlist. Our passion regarding what we'd like to see improved in Firefox is a testament to how much we love it, but some of our wishes—like the memory management issue—are things that need to be addressed if Firefox is going to remain in its privileged position. We certainly didn't hit every angle, so if you've got your own list of wishes and or gripes, let's hear them in the comments.

Yahoo announces Messenger 10, with better video chat

Yahoo announces Messenger 10, with better video chat: "

Yahoo is getting ready to roll out the latest version of its Yahoo Messenger chat app, and a beta version of Yahoo Messenger 10 is already available for Windows users. This time around, the focus is on new features for webcams. Now you can start a high-quality video call (with audio) from within an IM window, which is a step up from the low-quality video calls with no audio that Yahoo had before.

These improvements are only for 1:1 calls to other buddies who have Yahoo Messenger 10, though. If you're using Yahoo Messenger to broadcast video to multiple people, you're still stuck with no sound and lower video quality. Video calling also gets some of the features you might be used to from apps like Skype: putting calls on hold, entering full screen mode, and repositioning your video windows.

Yahoo's also jumping on the 'activity stream' bandwagon: you can put your buddy list in update mode, and see what your friends are doing on other social sites, like Twitter and You can start a chat from the updates view, and the update you're talking about will show up inline in your IM window, so your friends know what you're responding to. Yahoo Messenger 10 also finally has the ability to sort your buddy list by availability, so the contacts who are actually online and available will show up at the top.

Google Docs now supports translation into 42 languages

Google Docs now supports translation into 42 languages: "
Google Docs translate

Google has added a 'translate document' option to the tools area of Google Docs. This lets you translate the text of any document to 42 languages. You can either replace the original file with the translation or copy the translation to a new document which you can share with collaborators or export as a DOC, HTML, PDF, RTF, TXT, or file.

You could also use the tool to import documents written in another language and translate them to one that you speak. Of course, the machine translations won't be any better than what we've come to expect from the Google Translate web service. But garbled machine translation is better than no translation... usually.

Translation is available for documents, but not for spreadsheets or presentations.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Microsoft Signs Deal With WolframAlpha

Microsoft has reportedly struck up a deal with Wolfram Alpha that will see the Redmond-based company license some of the latter's data to display in Bing search results.

TechCrunch today cites sources close to Wolfram that say the two have finally struck up a deal after long talks. According to TC, Microsoft had been speaking with Wolfram for months, with discussions going as far back as May.

For those of you who are unfamiliar Wolfram Alpha, the site shares something with Bing in that it also refuses to believe it is a search engine. Preferring to call itself a computational knowledge engine, WolframAlpha aims to eventually have the kind of question-answering capabilities people always imagined computers would one day have. Instead of searching the web and returning links, WolframAlpha generates output by doing computations from its own internal knowledge base.

WolframAlpha is a lot of fun to play around with. Unfortunately, the site is still quite new, and so, many find that it's not as functional or simply can't find much use for it at all. Whether or not Bing can benefit from WolframAlpha data is pretty much a no-brainer. Already in a great position for search, adding more results and data can't do any harm. It could also help bring more people to WolframAlpha as the site improves.

How many of you have used WolframAlpha since it launched in May? Did you see any potential (for a standalone site or otherwise)? Let us know in the comments below!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Week in Geek: The Fun with Brain-Teasing Puzzle Games Edition

The Fun with Brain-Teasing Puzzle Games Edition: "

Only a few weeks have passed since I learned how to solve a Rubik’s cube for the first time, and now I’ve become completely addicted to puzzle games. It’s time to find a new puzzle.

I’ve spent so much time practicing with my Rubik’s cube that I started to get bored, and started figuring out how to do other tricks with the cube. The other night I tried to make a message for the girlfriend:


My accomplishment was quickly dismissed by Jeff, however, as he pointed out…

real nerd love is spelled out in 5×5 rubik’s cubes, my friend

And he’s right. The 3×3 Rubik’s cube is loads of fun, but it’s time to learn to solve the ultimate Rubik’s challenge: the 5×5 professor cube. Once I’ve learned to solve it (from memory, of course), I’ll have loads of pixels to work with when writing dorky love messages to my future wife. Yeah, I’m just that silly.


Rubik’s Professor Cube 5×5

What About Life Beyond the Rubik’s Cube? The Tetris Cube, of Course!

Learning to solve the Rubik’s cube has shown me that I simply LOVE solving puzzles, and I should really spend more time doing so. It’s not only a lot of fun, but it’s good exercise for your brain, and it’s a great way to take a break from work while still doing something useful, rather than the alternative… you know, watching Lost re-runs for the 4th time.

So I’ve resolved to acquire and learn to solve as many puzzles as I can possibly find, starting with the 5×5 cube, but after that… I’m going to learn to solve the Tetris Cube, which has 9839 different solutions.


If you are anything like me, you have probably logged hundreds or thousands of hours on Tetris, and being able to play it in “real life” is just going to be awesome. They’ve even got a Mini Tetris Cube to save space, or something.

The Gordian’s Knot

The Gordians Knot looks like a lot of fun, and would probably make a great addition to your coffee table—It doesn’t have the re-playability factor of a Rubik’s cube, but whenever guests come over you can show them how it works and see if they can do it.


The Rubik’s Twist

This snake-like puzzle toy can be twisted and turned into any number of different shapes. It’s not really all that tough to figure out, especially since there’s no real goal… it’s just loads of fun to mess with. Another great toy to have on your desk, or sitting on the coffee table for your guests to fiddle with.


The Rubik’s Magic

This one is a folding puzzle that can be twisted and folded different ways, and while it’s not as good as the old one from the 80s, it’s still a ton of fun to learn to solve. And yeah, you can grab your own Rubiks Magic over on Amazon, or probably at your local toy store.


The Sudoku Cube? Seriously?

My friend Steve has one of these, and I’ve made this my mission to solve. From what I’ve read, the key is to learn to solve the original Rubik’s cube, and then the Sudoku Cube is a lot simpler… although still insanely hard.

If you don’t know how Sudoku works… you have to make sure that the numbers 1-9 are on each side only once.


What’s Next?

So the question is… once I’ve solved all of these puzzles, what else is out there to solve? If you’ve got a great idea, share it in the comments.

The Best Threads From Super User


We’ve already mentioned the great Super User geek site, and we’re going to start sharing some of the more interesting threads with you. Hopefully you’ve already spent some time over there, and have seen them already.

Loads more fun comics on that first link…

Fun Stuff We Found This Week

Yeah, it’s been a while since the last Week in Geek, and we probably found way more than just these links. But this is all you get today, cause my fingers are tired.

Lifehacker Posts That You Should Really Read (If you haven’t already)

Yep, I’m still writing over there on that Lifehacker site. And while I didn’t write all of these, you really should check them out.

imageDigsby Joins the Dark Side, Uses Your PC to Make Money
imageRainmeter 1.0 Brings the Enigma Desktop to Everyone

Hack Your Wii for Homebrew without Twilight Princess

imageUse The Same Gmail Account for Multiple Online Accounts
imageHow to Fix Annoying YouTube Jumpiness in Firefox

Reviews and Such!

In the very near future, we’ll be adding the reviews to the main RSS feed, so we won’t have to bother putting them into the roundup. For now, here’s a bunch of reviews that we’ve added.

Blaze Media Player Pro

ESET NOD32 Antivirus 4

My Audio Studio

AnyBizSoft PDF to Word 2.0

BitDefender 2009

Audio Dedupe

Cheetah DVD

Paragon Encrypted Disk 4.0

Weekly Editor’s Note

Yeah, I know. It’s been like 2 months since the last Week in Geek. What can I say? Busy, busy, busy! But now, things have calmed down a bit, and we’re back to getting things done.

Access Hidden Regional Themes in Windows 7

Access Hidden Regional Themes in Windows 7: "

Windows 7 offers you location specific Aero themes based on the language and location you pick during installation. Here we will take a look at accessing other hidden themes from different countries.

When you first start the Windows 7 installation the first thing you will do is select a language, time and currency format. This is where Windows determines what themes you’re presented with by default.


Being from the US I’m presented with location specific themes from the United States with desktop backgrounds such as scenery from Maine, Idaho, Oregon etc.


To access the other international themes copy and paste the following path into the search box and hit Enter.



In the MCT folder you will find additional themes for Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Great Britain.


You can go in and grab just the Wallpapers…


Or go into the Theme folder double click on the the thumbnail to add it.


Here you can see I added all of them and now they will be available under the My Themes section for when you want to change them around.


This is a neat little trick that will let you customize Windows 7 with hidden themes already available. Also if you want to get more themes head over to the Microsoft site.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Introducing the Microsoft LifeCam Cinema

A few days ago you may have heard about a new webcam from Microsoft Hardware that does 720p High Definition widescreen video. Well… meet the new LifeCam Cinema!

LCC_AFront_FY10 LCC_Front_B_FY10

The LifeCam Cinema records video at 720p HD in 16:9 widescreen up to 30 frames per second (fps). It uses ClearFrame Technology for smooth, detailed video and has an improved de-noiser. The improved de-noiser reduces image graininess - especially in low light. It also has a faster image-processing technology that keeps video smooth at any resolution. The LifeCam Cinema also has a high-precision glass element lens for much clearer video quality. You know how some webcams have blurry corners in videos? Yeah – not here! Other features include taking 5.0 megapixel stills, a digital noise-canceling microphone, and a flexible attachment base bends to fit on most surfaces (like the top of LCD monitors and notebook screens, or simply on your desk desk).

Through the LifeCam 3.0 software (which can be downloaded here), LifeCam Cinema users will enjoy integration with both Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live Movie Maker which was released yesterday. To record video and take still photos with the LifeCam Cinema, you will need the LifeCam software installed. After recording a video, you can quickly launch Windows Live Movie Maker to edit that video and share with friends and family online. Using Windows Live Movie Maker, you can add transitions and other animations to videos recorded with the LifeCam Cinema as well as music, captions and more. When taking still photos, you can view those photos in Windows Live Photo Gallery and edit and add tags.

The LifeCam Cinema will be available starting in September 2009 for an estimated retail price of $79.95 (U.S.).

For more information on the LifeCam Cinema, click here for the press release.

I am currently giving the LifeCam Cinema a spin myself – courtesy of Microsoft Hardware. Expect to see some movies created with the LifeCam Cinema and edited with Windows Live Movie Maker in the very near future.

Windows 7 Drivers for Commercial Desktops and Laptops

The Windows 7 team at Dell is excited about the progress we have made to
get the OS ready for commercial customers and is looking forward to launch in just a couple of short months! Effective August 7,
2009 MSDN, TechNet and Volume License Customers with Software Assurance can begin deploying the new operating system. We have received many requests from our business customers that we post our Windows 7 drivers so they can begin testing and qualifying the new OS within their environments.

We've listened and recently, we have started posting Dell Certified Windows 7 drivers at where you will find the first set of drivers for many of our commercial systems.

Windows 7 Drivers - Latitude E6400

We will post additional drivers once they pass rigorous testing and certification standards--please check back if there is something you don't see. For customers without dedicated IT staff interested in evaluating Windows 7, check out Windows

Our services staff is also ready to help customers with the transition to Windows 7. We have a number of deployment tools and services for businesses and institutions to make the migration from Windows XP, which is what most commercial customers are running, to Windows 7 easier. ProConsult services that help customers understand how to best to deploy the new operating system, along with determining which features of the OS will benefit your business the most. After deployment, our ProSupport and ProManage services can help administer and support systems throughout their lifecycle.

Edit Albums Collaboratively in Picasa Web

As Picasa Web Albums gets closer to Google Docs (and the upcoming Google Drive), it's natural to add the most useful feature available in Google Docs: collaborative editing. Now you can create photo albums and add collaborators that upload photos, videos or edit captions.

To add collaborators, visit one of your albums, click 'Share' and make sure that the option 'Let people I share with contribute photos' is enabled.

'Contributors will need to sign in to their Google Account to add photos or videos. Their content will be attributed to them, and they can make edits such as adding captions to, rotating, or even deleting the pictures that they've uploaded. Of course as the owner of the album, you have complete control over who can contribute content. You also have the ability to edit this content as if it were your own. You can manage collaborative access for contributors on the 'Shared with' list by just toggling the 'plus' icon Add Contributors next to their name. A green icon means that user can contribute,' explains Google.

'A limitation worth noting: contributors won't be able to upload to collaborative albums from the Picasa software,' mentions the Google Photos blog.