Category Archives: Uncategorized

XBMC Is Now Available for Apple TV 2 Running iOS 6.1

XBMC Is Now Available for Apple TV 2 Running iOS 6.1If you’ve been waiting for XBMC media center to finally be available for the latest jailbroken Apple TV 2 running version 5.2 (iOS 6.1), you no longer have to wait. You can now install XBMC with the latest stable update.

XBMC offers instructions on how to do the install on its wiki. You just need to enter a few commands in the command line, reboot, and you’ll have that kickass, open-source media center running on your Apple TV 2. Unfortunately, ATV3 owners, your Apple TV still isn’t supported.

In case you missed it, you can see what’s new in the Frodo 12 release, which this update was built upon, here.

HOW-TO: Install XBMC on Apple TV 2 | XBMC Wiki via XBMC blog

Say What Dialer Adds Subject Lines to Your Android Calls

Android: Calls don’t offer subject lines, so we often avoid them because we don’t know what the call is about. Say What intends to solve that problem by telling the person you’re calling the reason why.

Say What replaces your normal dialer but works in a similar way. You pick who you want to call and choose a number. Before dialing, however, Say What will ask you what the call is about. Tell it, and the app will send that message to your friend before the call rings. If your friend has the Say What app, too, their phone will ring with a subject line. If they don’t have the app, however, Say What will send them a text message with the subject line. This isn’t ideal, but it’s not like there’s a reasonable alternative. Say What also only offers a handful of preset messages to send, which might be fine in most cases but takes some time to go through. A custom option would make a big difference. Nevertheless, it’s a good start on improving upon the standard phone call and you can use it for free.

Say What Dialer (Free) | Google Play Apps via Swissmiss

Unlock Old School Arcade Games in Your Mac’s Terminal

Unlock Old School Arcade Games in Your Mac’s TerminalWe here at Lifehacker are all about staying productive, but sometimes you just need to take a break. For those times, there’s this old-but-fun tip: with a few terminal commands, you can open up games like 5×5, Pong, Solitaire, Snake, Tetris, and others in your Mac’s terminal.

To start them up, just open your Terminal app (in /Applications/Utilities) and type emacs into the prompt. Press Enter to open it up, press Esc then x. Next, just type the name of the game you want to play and enjoy (note that different versions of OS X have different games, so see what you have first!). The games are simple and the graphics are not great but it is a perfect way to power down and relax without getting so engrossed in a game that you end up spending hours on it. Hit the link to read more, and have fun (but don’t forget to work)!

How to Activate Hidden Mac Games in Terminal | Make Tech Easier

Top 10 Underhyped Windows Apps

Top 10 Underhyped Windows AppsSome apps are essential, and everyone who’s anyone knows to have them on their computer. Some apps, however, are fantastic, yet fly under the radar. Today, we look at our top 10 underhyped apps on Windows.

We’ve shared our favorite underhyped webapps a few times before, but we were shocked to find we hadn’t done the same for our beloved desktops. So, this week, we’re tackling Windows. Come back next week to see our favorite underhyped Mac apps!

10. WizMouse

Top 10 Underhyped Windows AppsWizMouse is that app you never knew you wanted until you use it. It allows you to scroll in windows when you mouse over them, not just after you click on them—something OS X and Linux have built-in, but Windows is seemingly missing. It may seem trivial, but after using it for awhile, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. It’ll even enable the mouse wheel in applications that don’t support it, or even reverse the direction for the “natural” scrolling some people prefer. Check out our original post on it for more.

9. Skitch

Top 10 Underhyped Windows AppsSkitch isn’t necessarily the best screenshot tool around, but it’s long been our favorite screenshot annotation tool for the Mac, and now it’s on Windows. It’s amazing what a few well-placed arrows, text, and shapes can do when you’re trying to explain something—and, while you could just do it in Microsoft Paint, Skitch makes it look good (and easy). If you use Evernote, the Evernote integration is pretty great too.

8. PotPlayer

Top 10 Underhyped Windows AppsYou’ve probably heard of PotPlayer before—after all, it’s our App Directory pick for the best video player on Windows. Despite that, however, it seems to be a much lesser-known app that deserves more attention. It’s fast, lightweight, and has more settings for tweaking your video than you can shake a stick at (plus it can play just about any video you throw at it). As such, it earns higher praise from us than more popular players like VLC, at least if you want those advanced settings. If you’ve been using another player and want more, PotPlayer is where you’ll find it.

7. Bins

Top 10 Underhyped Windows AppsWindows’ taskbar is still the best taskbar around, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Bins is a simple $5 app that adds a few really handy features to the taskbar, most notably the ability to group multiple apps into one square. Click on that square and it’ll launch the primary app, but hover over it, and you can choose which app to launch. It’s perfect for those that have multiple music players, photo editors, or other things that you don’t want taking up space on your taskbar. Check out our post on it to see even more stuff that it can do.

6. Chocolatey

Chocolatey brings Linux’s lightning-fast, super configurable package management to Windows. What does that mean? It means you can install a ton of apps at once (perfect for clean installs) with no effort. Or, you can try out that new app without having to find its site, download the file, and install it yourself. Everything happens with just a few keystrokes. Check out the video to the left to see it in action.

5. Dexpot

Dexpot is an awesome little utility that adds a ton of features to the windows on your desktop—and gives them all sorts of shortcuts. Its main purpose is to split your desktop up into four different workspaces, much like the Spaces feature on OS X or the Workspaces feature on Ubuntu. It can also make windows transparent, give you an Exposé-like view of all your open windows, and more. If your desktop is starting to feel a little cluttered with Windows, Dexpot is the perfect app to save your productivity.

4. Growl

Top 10 Underhyped Windows AppsGrowl is an incredibly popular program on the Mac, but its Windows version doesn’t get a lot of attention—despite the fact that its grown into quite the notification system. Growl essentially puts all the popups, balloons, and other notifications on your desktop into one unified system that you can control, customize, sent to other machines, or even forward to your phone. It supports a ton of popular apps, and it’s very easy to set up. Check out our guide to Growl for Windows for more info.

3. MusicBee

Top 10 Underhyped Windows AppsAt first glance, MusicBee seems like just another music player for Windows, but it’s actually the perfect balance between the existing programs out there. It’s fully-featured, like Winamp, but much lighter weight, and 100% free. It’s not quite as customizable as foobar2000, but is much easier to use, and has more than enough customization features for the average user. It’s even got a lot of tagging features for those that might be considering something like MediaMonkey. Plus, it syncs with Android phones superbly. Does it beat out any of these players at their specialty features? No, but it has a little bit of everything, is super lightweight, and is sure to fit into anyone’s workflow. If you haven’t found a music player you truly love, try it out. It was a contender in our Hive Five on desktop music players, but barely scraped together 6% of the final vote, so we’re still considering it very underhyped.

2. Nircmd

Top 10 Underhyped Windows AppsNircmd isn’t an “app” in the traditional sense of the word, but it’s something we think every life hacker should have on their Windows computer. Essentially, Nircmd is a command line tool that performs all sorts of system functions with really easy-to-understand commands. Sound boring? Combine it with AutoHotkey—one of Windows’ most deservedly hyped apps—and you can perform nearly any system task with one keystroke. You can open or close your CD drive, start your screensaver, put your computer to sleep, change the volume, speak the text on the clipboard, kill instances of any program, or perform over 70 other tasks. Check out Nircmd’s full list of features to see what it can do, and check out our guide to integrating it with AutoHotkey to really make it awesome. Photo by Neil T.

1. OneNote

Top 10 Underhyped Windows AppsMicrosoft’s note-taking application OneNote is one of those apps no one really talks about much, but is absolutely loved by everyone who uses it. Heck, you guys even voted it your favorite outlining tool, personal project management tool, and minutes meeting service, not to mention third place for best note taking app. It’s available for a ton of platforms, too (despite it being part of Microsoft Office), so if you’re finding that Evernote just isn’t quite powerful enough for your organizational needs, give OneNote a shot—you might be surprised at everything it can do given its lesser-known status.

How We Work: Alan Henry’s Favorite Gear and Productivity Tricks

How We Work: Alan Henry's Favorite Gear and Productivity Tricks Every week, we share the shortcuts, workspaces, and productivity tips of our favorite experts and internet personalities. This week, however, we’re giving you guys a glimpse into how we work, and all the tips and tricks that keep our blogging wheels spinning. Today, I’m running through my favorite gear, gadgets, apps, devices, and tricks to stay productive when I’m on, and to have fun when I’m off.

The last time we did this series I was a pretty cross platform guy. Nothing’s changed there, and most of my hardware is still the same, but I’ve been making some small changes here and there as I get more comfortable with my flow.

How We Work: Alan Henry's Favorite Gear and Productivity Tricks Location: Washington, DC
Current Gig: Writer, Lifehacker
One word that best describes how you work: Efficient
Current mobile device: Motorola Droid Bionic, running Android 4.0.4 (Ice Cream Sandwich.) Also in the drawer: an iPad 3 (iOS 6.1), a Motorola Droid (Original), running MIUI (Gingerbread), and a rooted Nook Simple Touch.
Current computer: Ganymede, my 15″ MacBook Pro (2010), Deneb, my custom-built Windows PC (Win 7), and when I’m really bored, Europa, my 15″ MacBook Pro (2008) running Ubuntu.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

On the desktop side, it would be a pretty bad day if I couldn’t use Google Docs/Drive, or fire up Sparrow (Postbox on my Windows machine) to keep my multiple Gmail accounts under control. Luckily, all it’s taken up to this point is an itchy delete finger and effective Gmail filters. It’d also be a pretty bad day if I couldn’t use Dashlane to manage my passwords and logins. I gave it a trial run not too long ago, and really fell in love with it. I still love LastPass, but I’ve been loving Dashlane’s secure checkout options lately, and it’s free.

Reeder keeps me up to date on the news both on my Mac and on my iPad, and if I have a choice, I tend to read my feeds on my iPad. On the Android side, I don’t know where I’d be without Camera ZOOM FX, since I use it far more often than I carry my beloved Sony Alpha NEX-5N around with me. Oh, and of course Pandora, since I plug my phone into my head unit in the car anyway—Pandora has all but replaced the radio at home and on the road for me. Yay for unlimited data!

What’s your workspace setup like?

How We Work: Alan Henry's Favorite Gear and Productivity Tricks

It’s a little cleaned up for this photo (I usually keep a few toys on my desk just to fiddle with when I’m thinking) but I try to keep it as tidy as possible. The lamp there pulls double duty as a light source and a webcam stand—my Loigtech HD C920 (which I bought on the Hive’s reccomendation) is mounted there using a Joby Gorillapod, so when I do Google Hangouts or Skype calls the camera is close to my face instead of on top of my monitor.

The core of my setup hasn’t changed, but I added a couple of Space Bar organizers (When they were much cheaper and still in stock) to get a little extra space for keyboards to slide under when I’m not testing a new one. On my Mac, I swapped out my Apple Wired Keyboard for a Logitech Illuminated Keyboard and rather like it. Still rocking the Performance Mouse MX though.

How We Work: Alan Henry's Favorite Gear and Productivity Tricks On the Windows side, I upgraded to a 256GB OCZ Vertex 4 SSD last year, and can vouch for how much of a performance improvement an SSD makes. My Logitech G9x has taken a backseat to the wireless Razer Mamba, and my old Logitech G19 finally died, so I opted for a more modest Logitech G510 instead (although here you see the Moshi Luna I’ve been testing, which is a really nice keyboard if you like scissor keys—it’s not even bad for gaming, which surprised me.)

Out of frame is my home server/HTPC. I got into the nitty gritty there last year, but I’ve been meaning to rebuild it or buy a NAS instead. Also out of frame is my Herman Miller Embody office chair—probably the most expensive purchase I’ve made for my workspace (especially considering I got the desk at a University surplus store 10 years ago for $30—bonus, it has great cable management channels on the top and in the back!) but when you sit in front of a screen all day for work and play, you need a good chair.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut/life hack?

Being fearless with the delete key. Seriously, I was pretty good at keeping my inboxes trim and responding when I needed to, but when I joined the team at Lifehacker those skills were put to the test. I still try to reply whenever I can, but if I didn’t have such an itchy delete finger, I’d be drowning in email. My biggest time-saver though, one I suggest everyone use: Chill out, relax, and do your thing. Angry at something, or someone on the internet is wrong? Resist the urge to engage and think instead about how much time you’d waste on it. Then move on and do awesome stuff instead. It’s a better use of our limited time.

More pragmatically, I happily pay to automate tasks I’d rather not spend the time or money to do myself. Whether it’s Amazon Subscribe and Save deliveries, regular vegetable boxes from my local door-to-door grocery delivery service, (something I’ve discussed in the past) I’m happy to spend as the time I get back from the task is worth it. After all, that’s what being “productive” is really about: getting the things you have to do done quickly so you can spand time doing the things you want to do.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?

How We Work: Alan Henry's Favorite Gear and Productivity Tricks I’m currently using Astrid on my Android phone (Astrid notifications are pretty much the only ones I allow, and I’ve gotten accustomed to calling a line of tiny Astrid icons in my notification bar a “squid attack”) and iPad. I even keep it open as a pinned tab. I still use Wunderkit as my personal idea bank, even though it’s going away soon. I’m still looking for a new idea bank—considering Asana or even Wunderlist, since many of Wunderkit’s features are in Wunderlist 2, but I’m always on the lookout for a better to-do app.

I also use Springpad to keep track of things around the web that I want to make note of—recipes, gadgets to look into, products to save up for, things like that. The only list I tend not to use something digital for is my grocery list—I’ve tried, but for some reason I just can’t get into it. For that it’s pen and paper, every time.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can’t you live without?

How We Work: Alan Henry's Favorite Gear and Productivity Tricks Even though I have a (sorely underpowered) XBMC HTPC, I use my Xbox 360 to stream Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand, and Hulu. I’m more of a PC gamer, but when I need to get away from the keys, my consoles are there for me. I have an Apple TV in the bedroom, but it sees less use. Other than that, my newly-acquired Fitbit has been instrumental to getting me off my butt more often, which I definitely need to do. Oh, and I can’t leave out my Sony Alpha NEX-5N, one of the best purchases I’ve made in a long time. I love that camera.

What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?

I don’t know if I’m better than everyone else, but I’m a pretty mean typist. I mean, I type really fast, and touch-type at that. I can hold entire conversations with people, making eye contact, and my fingers fly across the keyboard at the same time. It’s pretty handy.

I’m also kind of a clean freak—I clean as I go along when I’m cooking, I’m a little obsessive about mise en place, and I’m pretty well known for having all of the dishes in the dishwasher and ready to clean by the time I’m finished plating dinner. The same is true for everything else: I try to do things when they occur to me and as quickly as possible so I can get them off my plate, so that’s how I tend to approach everything: life, work, play. That way I can free up my mind to think about something else.

What do you listen to while you work?

How We Work: Alan Henry's Favorite Gear and Productivity Tricks Pandora fills the quiet gaps for me, and I happily pay for a Pandora One subscription. When I’m not listening to one of my 15 or so Pandora stations, I head over to the previously mentioned Noon Pacific (if you don’t get his weekly playlists every monday at—you guessed it—noon, pacific, you’re missing out) or another favorite, This Is My Jam. I also really dig Relaux‘s curated playlists, which I’ve also praised before. If I’m head-down writing, I’ve probably saved a two-hour Freefall Radio podcast or two to help get the words flowing. Give it a try and subscribe—you won’t be disappointed.

When I’m not in the mood for music, I usually try to fill my time with some of my favorite audio and video podcasts from the folks at TWiT and Revision3. I subscribe to entirely too many to name, but you can see them in this iTunes snap here.

What’s your sleep routine like?

I have the early shift at Lifehacker, so I’m up every morning around 6am ET (3am PT) so we can start our broadcast day at 7am ET (4am PT.) For that reason I try to be in bed around 11pm or so the night before, just to get a decent amount of sleep. That’ll probably surprise my old coworkers considering how I hated being in the office early—I tend to be a night owl, and definitely stay up late on the weekends. I tend to feel more creative and connected after dark, so I tackle most of my personal projects in the wee hours.

Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

I’m the most talkative introvert you may ever meet. I used to think I was an extrovert because I enjoyed being around people so much, but even though I love it, I need to retreat to a private space to recharge, not the other way around. When I plan trips to visit friends or go to a party with people I don’t know, I’m usually stressed out beforehand, even if I actually really want to go. You wouldn’t know it once I’m there, but I probably agonized over it before I left. That’s not to say I don’t love it once I’m there—I just need a kick in the pants to get out the door and have a good time sometimes.

Is there anyone you’d kill to see answer these same questions?

How We Work: Alan Henry's Favorite Gear and Productivity Tricks We’ve had some really incredible people do How I Work, but I’d love to see how Maya Angelou or Nikki Giovanni works, or maybe current NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, since all three of them are people of note that I’ve looked up to since I was a child. Speaking of science, I’ve been following Brian Greene’s work since I was an undergrad. I’m curious how he gets things done, and if it’s anything like the offices of other physicists I know.

I’d also love to see how Alton Brown works, partially because I hope he’d answer our questions on Post It notes like he does on Twitter. Oh, and just for kicks? I’d love to know how Hayao Miyazaki gets things done. He’s extremely prolific and very busy, but also makes time to recharge and nurture his creativity, even when he has a billion things to do and projects to work on.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Back in 2006, I was struggling with living a kind of double life. On the one hand, I was working in tech and going to grad school, trying to decide if I wanted to work in an office with enterprise technology for a living. On the other hand, I was already writing on my own, and really wanted to that into a career. I reached out to Xeni Jardin, founding partner and co-editor of Boing Boing (still one of my favorite sites), on a whim for advice as a fledgling writer looking for tips from someone more experienced. She replied:

Find untold stories, things that fascinate you, and do your best to tell them honestly. There’s so little truth in the world these days, any small morsel of it is a precious thing that will be appreciated, and find a grateful audience.

Don’t look for “big” stories, just look for ones that matter to you. The more you work at it, the better your work will be, and the more people will see it.

I’m still working on it, but every day I appreciate her words. I’d also share a quote from the 8th century father of Zen, Shitou Xiqian: “The vast sky is not hindered by the floating clouds.” Something else I try to remember, especially in this line of work.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers/fans?

I’ve often been accused of being a robot. Mostly it’s because I have a nasty habit of responding to emails in the middle of the night, staying up late working, writing dozens of articles on multiple sites, and in general looking like I never sleep. I have no comment on these baseless accusations.

Double the Number of Shortcuts on Your Home Screen with Swipe Actions

Crafting the perfect home screen can take a lot of work, but if there’s one Android feature we think everyone should try out, it’s swipe actions. With the swipe of your finger, you can add an extra shortcut to every icon on your home screen, doubling the number of things you can do.

This isn’t a feature of stock Android, but you can get it in nearly every launcher out there (I’m using Nova Launcher Prime myself—yes, it’s a feature only available in the paid “Prime” version). It isn’t a new feature, either, but it is one that a lot of people forget about, so we’ve decided to take a closer look into its awesomeness.

The basic idea: Every icon on your home screen has an action associated with it when you tap it. Tapping the Chrome icon opens up Chrome, and tapping the Contacts icon brings up your contact list. Swipe actions let you give those icons a second action, that you access by swiping up on the icon. For example, I’ve set up the following shortcuts:

  • Swiping up on Chrome opens Chrome and goes directly to Lifehacker, my most frequently visited site
  • Swiping up on the Contacts icon directly calls my girlfriend, my most frequently called contact
  • Swiping up on the Maps icon immediately navigates me home, so I don’t have to type in the address every time
  • Swiping up on the Google Voice icon toggles whether I use Google Voice to make calls

You see the pattern.

How to Set It Up: To assign a swipe gesture in Nova launcher, just tap and hold on the icon in question, and choose Edit. Under Swipe Action, you can pick from a launcher-based action, launch another app, or choose from one of Android’s many shortcuts (direct call or message a contact, navigate you to a location, open a Gmail label, and so on). Assign these to the icons on your home screen and you have double the shortcuts, without having taken up any more space. Check out the video above to see it in action.