Archive for Tech Notes

Why Is Wi-Fi Coverage So Bad in My House, and How Can I Fix It? [Ask Lifehacker]

// October 7th, 2010 // No Comments » // Tech Notes

Why Is Wi-Fi Coverage So Bad in My House, and How Can I Fix It? [Ask Lifehacker]: “

Dear Lifehacker,
For reasons unknown to me (Physics? Global warming? Witchcraft?), my router’s reach is terrible. My house has all kinds of Wi-Fi dead zones, and I have no idea why. What could be the cause, and how can I fix it? More »

 

HOW TO: Undo “Send” in Gmail

// September 8th, 2010 // No Comments » // Tech Notes

HOW TO: Undo “Send” in Gmail: “

Did you know you can undo a sent e-mail in Gmail? It’s a lesser known feature, but Google just made it even better than it was before. When it first launched, you were given a 5-second window during which you could hit ‘undo.’

Now that’s up to 30 seconds, Google Operating System discovered.

The feature is hidden from most users who don’t know where to look, so here’s a quick guide to avoiding social and workplace faux pas with the click of a button. Be aware that the feature is part of Gmail Labs, though. That means it’s still in testing and it might not always work as intended.


Go to Gmail Labs


Since the Undo Send feature is part of Gmail Labs, you’ll have to navigate to the Gmail Labs page to activate it. Load up Gmail and look in the top-right corner of the page. Between your e-mail address and Settings you’ll see the green Labs icon. Give it a click.


Enable ‘Undo Send’ and Save Your Changes


You’ll be presented with a list of features Google is testing in Gmail. Some are very useful and some are just fun. We’ve gone into more depth on all Gmail Labs has to offer in previous articles, but this time we’re here just for the Undo Send feature.

You’ll usually find it close to the bottom of the list. We’ve included a picture of it above so you know what you’re looking for. Just select Enable then scroll down and save your changes.


Customize Undo Send’s Duration


By default, Gmail gives you a 10-second window of time in which you may undo a sent e-mail. You can change that to five, 20 or 30 seconds by going to Settings (in the top right corner of the main Gmail page, right next to the Labs icon) and finding the Undo Send section inside the ‘General’ tab.

There you can enable or disable Undo Send and change the duration with a drop-down selection box as pictured above.


Write and Send Your E-mail


Now that Undo Send is enabled, it works each time you send a new e-mail. You don’t have to do anything unusual beforehand to make it possible to use Undo Send with that e-mail.


Click the ‘Undo’ Button After You Send


Now you have either five, 10, 20 or 30 seconds to undo your sent e-mail, depending on what you selected under Settings.

As soon as you hit Send, a subtle line of text will appear above your Inbox saying ‘Your message has been sent.’ It will be accompanied by a few extra options. Among them is ‘Undo.’ Click that within the allotted time and your faux pas will be prevented.

Note that you can hit ‘Z’ on your keyboard, the Gmail shortcut for undo. Just don’t navigate away from or close this page, because once you do, you’ll lose the opportunity to undo your sent message forever.


‘Sending Has Been Undone’


You’ll immediately be taken back to the e-mail composition page, and your e-mail will be in draft form, unsent and ready for further editing — or deletion, if writing it was ill-advised to begin with!

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, budgetstockphoto


Reviews: Gmail, Google, iStockphoto

More About: email, gmail, gmail labs, Google, google labs, Guide, how to, labs, send, undo send, webmail

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HOW TO: Undo “Send” in Gmail

// August 23rd, 2010 // No Comments » // Tech Notes

HOW TO: Undo “Send” in Gmail: “

 

Did you know you can undo a sent e-mail in Gmail? It’s a lesser known feature, but Google just made it even better than it was before. When it first launched, you were given a 5-second window during which you could hit ‘undo.’

 

Now that’s up to 30 seconds, Google Operating System discovered.

The feature is hidden from most users who don’t know where to look, so here’s a quick guide to avoiding social and workplace faux pas with the click of a button. Be aware that the feature is part of Gmail Labs, though. That means it’s still in testing and it might not always work as intended.


Go to Gmail Labs


 

 

 

Since the Undo Send feature is part of Gmail Labs, you’ll have to navigate to the Gmail Labs page to activate it. Load up Gmail and look in the top-right corner of the page. Between your e-mail address and Settings you’ll see the green Labs icon. Give it a click.


Enable ‘Undo Send’ and Save Your Changes


 

 

 

You’ll be presented with a list of features Google is testing in Gmail. Some are very useful and some are just fun. We’ve gone into more depth on all Gmail Labs has to offer in previous articles, but this time we’re here just for the Undo Send feature.

You’ll usually find it close to the bottom of the list. We’ve included a picture of it above so you know what you’re looking for. Just select Enable then scroll down and save your changes.


Customize Undo Send’s Duration


 

 

 

By default, Gmail gives you a 10-second window of time in which you may undo a sent e-mail. You can change that to five, 20 or 30 seconds by going to Settings (in the top right corner of the main Gmail page, right next to the Labs icon) and finding the Undo Send section inside the ‘General’ tab.

There you can enable or disable Undo Send and change the duration with a drop-down selection box as pictured above.


Write and Send Your E-mail


 

 

 

Now that Undo Send is enabled, it works each time you send a new e-mail. You don’t have to do anything unusual beforehand to make it possible to use Undo Send with that e-mail.


Click the ‘Undo’ Button After You Send


 

 

 

Now you have either five, 10, 20 or 30 seconds to undo your sent e-mail, depending on what you selected under Settings.

As soon as you hit Send, a subtle line of text will appear above your Inbox saying ‘Your message has been sent.’ It will be accompanied by a few extra options. Among them is ‘Undo.’ Click that within the allotted time and your faux pas will be prevented.

Note that you can hit ‘Z’ on your keyboard, the Gmail shortcut for undo. Just don’t navigate away from or close this page, because once you do, you’ll lose the opportunity to undo your sent message forever.


‘Sending Has Been Undone’


 

 

 

You’ll immediately be taken back to the e-mail composition page, and your e-mail will be in draft form, unsent and ready for further editing — or deletion, if writing it was ill-advised to begin with!

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, budgetstockphoto

More About: email, gmail, gmail labs, Google, google labs, Guide, how to, labs, send, trending, undo send, webmail

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12 Beginner Tutorials for Getting Started With Photoshop

// August 12th, 2010 // No Comments » // Tech Notes

12 Beginner Tutorials for Getting Started With Photoshop: “

This series is supported by Ben & Jerry’s Joe, Ben & Jerry’s new line-up of Fair Trade and frozen iced coffee drinks. Learn more about it here.

 

Adobe Photoshop, the ubiquitous and industry standard graphics software for photographers, designers, digital artists, as well as casual enthusiasts, can be a baffling application to understand the first time you fire it up. Luckily, littered across the vast space of the web are tutorials in all shapes and sizes that will help you get up and running in no time.

In this post, I’ve pieced together 12 excellent Photoshop tutorials geared toward beginners. If you’re a complete novice or a casual user of this software, you’ve stopped by the right place.

Because this is specifically for beginners — and because Photoshop’s robust set of features is near-bottomless — I’ve skipped intermediate and advanced topics such as drawing with the Pen tool and working with 3D effects.

If you have tips for aspiring Photoshoppers, share them in the comments below.


1. Getting Started with Photoshop


 

 

 

This tutorial on SitePoint, a popular site for web professionals, will guide you through the Photoshop fundamentals and the basic tools available at your disposal. It’s an excellent jump-off point that will give you an understanding of what you’re up against.

The tutorial starts with a bird’s-eye view of Photoshop’s workspace to get the reader familiarized with the lay of the land. Then it goes on to cover essential concepts such as saving files (and the various popular formats for the web), an introduction to shortcuts that all Photoshoppers should know, how to choose colors, and much more.


2. Photoshop’s Toolbox


 

 

 

If you’re just starting out with Photoshop, you will no doubt be spending plenty of your time using the Tools panel, which contains various tools for working with type, painting, drawing, moving objects, and so forth.

In this Photoshop tutorial, you will get a beginner’s overview of the various tools contained within the Tools panel. From the selection tools to the retouching tools, you’ll learn all about them and their uses.


3. Photoshop For Beginners: The Power of Layers


 

 

 

The most important concept you should understand about Photoshop is its layering system. Layers allow you to stack different objects and images to keep your work separated, ordered, and easily editable.

This guide will walk you through the utility of layers using a hands-on, step-by-step approach (so fire up Photoshop and get ready to get your hands dirty before diving in).


4. Photoshop’s Filters


 

 

 

In photography, filters are camera accessories that you place on your lens to capture photos that will have fascinating effects. This concept is digitally incorporated into Photoshop and is a convenient way of editing your images quickly. Filters can be functional (such as the Sharpen filters to help you correct blurry photos) or stylistic (such as the Texture filters that give your images unique texture effects).

By reading through this tutorial, you will uncover the power of filters in Photoshop.


5. Layer Styles in Photoshop


 

 

 

Layer styles are one or more effects that alter a layer. For example, if you wanted to make a layer semitransparent or if you wanted to give your text one of those slick ‘Web 2.0’ gradient effects, you can do so by applying and adjusting layer styles.

Adding layer styles, using layer style presets that come with Photoshop, what the various layer effects do, and more are covered in this tutorial.


6. Photoshop 101 – Adjustment Layers


 

 

 

Adjustment layers are Photoshop layers that affect all other layers beneath them (unless you use an adjustment layer as a clipping mask — but that’s an advanced topic for another day). It’s typically used to enhance a graphic, such as if you want to adjust the colors of an image (which you can do with the Color Balance adjustment layer).

This crash course in adjustment layers shows you what you can do with them in Photoshop.


7. Retouch and Healing Tools


 

 

 

For most casual Photoshop users, the most enticing and important utility is the software’s ability to correct, digitally enhance, and fix photos.

This Photoshop tutorial covers the various tools and commands that you can use to retouch and enhance your image, including a run-down of the Patch tool, sharpening tools, and more.


8. A Comprehensive Introduction to the Type Tool


 

 

 

Whether you want to add a text caption on a photograph, lay out a brochure’s copy, or create your typographical poster masterpiece, the tool that will help you get the work accomplished is the humble, but powerful, Type tool.

Creating text layers, resizing and modifying text, and adjusting text characteristics, such as tracking and line-height, are a few of the topics covered in this tutorial.


9. Photoshop 101: How To Use The Free Transform Tool


 

 

 

The Free Transform command is going to be your go-to tool for resizing, rotating, and modifying your graphics. This Photoshop tutorial will show you just how handy Free Transform is in your image editing workflow.


10. Master Photoshops Selection Tools in Under 30 Minutes


 

 

 

Maybe you want to remove the background from a photo, or select just a certain object in an image and use it in another Photoshop document. Whatever the case, selecting things inside your canvas is a task you should expect to do plenty of times in your ’shopping career.

Set aside 30 minutes, follow this Photoshop tutorial, and you’ll know all there is to know about the assorted tools and techniques for selecting areas in your work.


11. Installing And Managing Brushes And Other Presets


 

 

 

If you’d like to speed up your workflow and extend Photoshop, it’s best to understand how to manage presets. This tutorial specifically covers installing and managing Photoshop brushes, but will also get you started into exploring various other presets such as patterns, custom shapes, and so forth.


12. Photoshop Actions


 

 

 

Do you find yourself repeating certain tasks in Photoshop over and over again? Maybe you’re constantly resizing your images manually to a certain width and then saving them as a JPEG for use on your blog. Or maybe you’ve unearthed the perfect combination and sequence of filters and layer styles, and would like a way to automatically apply it to a batch of images. Check out Photoshop actions, a feature that enables you to record and save a sequence of actions.

In this 6-part tutorial, you will learn about the built-in Photoshop actions as well as how to record and save an action.

These 12 tutorials will have you on your way to Photoshop mastery. If you’ve had success with other tutorials not on this list, let us know about them in the comments below.


Series supported by Ben & Jerry’s Joe


 

 

 

This series is supported by Ben & Jerry’s Joe, Ben & Jerry’s new line-up of Fair Trade and frozen iced coffee drinks. Learn more about it here.


More Dev & Design Resources from Mashable:


40+ Web Design and Development Resources for Beginners
10 Free and Fun Twitter Bird Icons for your Website
11 Ways to Speed Up WordPress
10 Free Wireframing Tools for Designers
10 Beautiful Free Hand-Drawn Icon Sets

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, izusek

More About: beginner, getting started, List, Lists, Photoshop, tips, tutorials, web design series

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Visual Guide: 22 Great Ways to Improve Your Home Movies [Summermodo]

// July 2nd, 2010 // No Comments » // Tech Notes, Uncategorized

Visual Guide: 22 Great Ways to Improve Your Home Movies [Summermodo]: “

Your summer videos don’t have to be boring. Now that everyone has great inexpensive cameras, you can make them a lot more interesting by keeping this simple guide in mind: 22 good ideas to frame, stage, and light your videos. More »

The Best, Cheapest Ways to Upgrade Your PC [Parts]

// June 30th, 2010 // No Comments » // Tech Notes

The Best, Cheapest Ways to Upgrade Your PC [Parts]: “

Upgrading your PC can be a head-spinning process. Our Lab experts help you sort through the chaos with 18 products that won’t break the bank. More »

 

SD Cards Get High-Performance Indicators [Sd]

// June 23rd, 2010 // No Comments » // Tech Notes

SD Cards Get High-Performance Indicators [Sd]: “

Shopping for SD cards has gotten a little bit easier, assuming you keep up-to-date on the latest SDXC/SDHC product iconography. Henceforth, products with bus-interface speeds up to 104MBps will carry a UHS-I symbol, while products that allow real-time video recording will have UHS Speed Class 1 symbols. Here’s how they look: More »

 

Why You May Not Need a Mobile App

// June 10th, 2010 // No Comments » // Tech Notes

Why You May Not Need a Mobile App: “

mobile app imageKevin Nakao is the Chief Operating Officer for WhitePages, a Top 40 Web and Mobile Publisher. You can find him on Twitter, and on the Whitepages Blog where he writes about mobile, local, and social media.

Ever since Apple launched the iPhone app store, the company has been pushing its apps to get all of the attention. But when was the last time you read a review about a new mobile website? Thousands of apps and billions of downloads consistently steal the headlines, while the mobile web is largely ignored by everyone but the consumer. Yet, despite what the marketing would lead you to believe, consumers use the mobile web just as much as apps.

At my company, we raced down the same road, putting pedal to the metal on our apps while leaving our mobile website on cruise control. Our iPhone app has been a Top 10 iPhone reference application for almost two years with almost six million downloads, and even with all of the great chart positions and visibility – just as many iPhone consumers use our mobile website as the application. We are not alone; Comscore reported in April that 72 million mobile users accessed a website compared to 69 million users who used an application. Both are showing more than 25% year-to-year growth.


Mobile Web Gets Better


When the app store first launched, only apps could use and access the device’s location. Last July, Apple launched OS 3.0 which provided Safari with GPS/location functionality. Apple’s HTML5 agenda continues to advance the mobile web browsing experience with video, audio, and a limited amount of caching or offline storage of data. The lines between apps and mobile web are blurring and converging.

Here’s a quick comparison of capabilities offered by applications and the mobile web:

 

iphone infographic image

 

 


But Apps Make Money


Apps make more money because iTunes makes it easier for consumers to pay. Similar to Amazon’s one-click check-out, iTunes is a virtual wallet used by 125 million consumers. But a mobile website can’t integrate with iTunes billing — you need an app for that: We tested a premium offer via our iPhone app which achieved a 50% higher conversion rate than the same offer on the mobile web.

However, for advertising revenue, the rates we receive on the mobile web are similar to in-app advertising. In terms of performance, a study on the mobile web versus app for a major travel advertiser showed the mobile web out-performing advertising on the application. Apple does place restrictions on in-app advertising and has the right to block out ad networks they deem competitive. There are no such restrictions on the mobile web.

So which should you choose for your business: A mobile web site, or a mobile application?


Why the Mobile Web Makes Sense


 

taptu image

 

 

Even if an app is still the right choice for you, consider building a mobile website first since it will allow you to build and refine a great consumer experience, optimizing touch screen navigation. Mobile search provider Taptu has highlighted the importance of this through its listings of ‘touch-friendly’ mobile sites.

Another benefit of the mobile web is that you can write once to be read everywhere. With the mobile web, you can reach more devices with a single development effort. Unfortunately, mobile app platforms are fragmented, meaning you have to build specific apps for iPhone, Android, RIM, and Palm Pre. A mobile website can be built to standards that works on all these devices. There are also some fairly easy implementations that allow you to manage device profiles and optimize for different screen sizes.

 

google voice image

 

 

One of the most satisfying benefits of the mobile web is the freedom to rapidly innovate and refine without approval or requiring the user to update and download. When Google could not get its voice application approved, for example, it responded by building a web version that required no approval process and used HTML5 for audio playback and SMS/Email for alerting.


When To Create An App


Once you’ve optimized the experience, you can use your mobile website to graduate users to a more robust native app.

One of the most important differences between a popular app and the thousands you’ve never heard of is the merchandising from the iTunes App chart. Hitting the Top 4 on the Free App chart drove over 250,000 downloads for the WhitePages Mobile App. Download volume and positive ratings are important factors needed to get onto the chart. We achieved first week download velocity by promoting the app on our mobile website, which we had steadily built an audience for. Learning and optimizing our mobile website helped us create a better app that led to better reviews and ratings. It helps to think of the mobile web as a beta, and the app as gold.

On-device placement is also important, and a bookmarked site gets the same favicon placement on your iPhone as a downloaded app. Social media will continue to be an important distribution engine, and sharing the URL for a mobile website provides one-click gratification.

Whether you are just starting to put your mobile strategy together or have been at it for some time, don’t just chase the shiny lure of an app before catching the mobile users that are already surfing your site. Let me know about your experience and best practices for building a mobile website in the comment section below.


For more mobile coverage, follow Mashable Mobile on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook

 



More mobile resources from Mashable:


Top 8 iPhone Apps for Self-Help
27 Ways to Find Amazing New Android Apps
10 Free Android Apps to Boost Your Productivity
8 Best Android Apps for Photo Editing
7 Ways Journalists Can Use Foursquare

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, jonya


Reviews: Android, Facebook, Safari, Twitter, iPhone, iStockphoto

Tags: app store, apps, ComScore, HTML5, iphone, Mobile 2.0, mobile web, safari, taptu, whitepages

 

How To: Recover From a Soda-Spill Disaster [How To]

// June 1st, 2010 // No Comments » // Tech Notes

How To: Recover From a Soda-Spill Disaster [How To]: “

There are few moments in life quite as sickening as realizing that you’ve spilled a beverage on one of your gadgets. Because of that, we’ve put together a simple disaster plan for dealing with beverage-soiled electronics. More »

 

VMWare Releases 3.1 Fusion Update – 35% Faster App Performance, 5X Faster 3D Graphics

// May 26th, 2010 // No Comments » // Tech Notes

VMWare Releases 3.1 Fusion Update – 35% Faster App Performance, 5X Faster 3D Graphics: “
New in 3.1: Support up to 8-cores (Up from 4)
VMWare has just launched the latest update to their popular virtualization program for the Mac. VMWare Fusion allows users to run Windows applications alongside Mac OS X applications on th…”