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When it comes to web browsers, the one that stands out the most is Firefox. It has a wide variety of add-ons, themes, and settings which are very customizable. The most powerful part — the add-ons — is where the true beauty lies within Firefox. One add-on in particular — Greasemonkey — is extremely useful. It can change any website to display extra information, re-organize site layouts, and unlock “hidden features” of a site to make it easier to use. For example, a website like Grooveshark has a humongous advertisement panel on the right side of the screen. In my opinion, it gets in the way when using their site. With Greasemonkey’s Grooveshark script, it completely removes that advertisement panel so you’re free from distractions. That’s just one example of how you can use Greasemonkey. Other Greasemonkey scripts that I use almost daily include De-Sidebar Facebook, Remove Digg Ads, Flickr Buddy Icon Reply, Flickr Ad Removal, Flickr Titles + Descriptions Batch Tools. For more Greasemonkey scripts, please visit Userscripts.org.

Screenshots: Grooveshark without Greasemonkey script Grooveshark with Greasemonkey script

Last month, I made the choice to upgrade from the free version of Flickr to the Pro version. For only $24.95/year I figured, why not? Do not think that I made this purchase without first researching other online services comparable to Flickr. Most noteworthy being SmugMug. In fact, I know at least 2 other photographers who have been more than happy with SmugMug’s services which include custom page layouts and pricing/selling your images. I’m not going to give a list of pros and cons for SmugMug and Flickr because you can easily look those up on Google. Instead, I’m just going to mention a few things that are important for me and how that impacted my decision to go with Flickr.

Being a hobbyist, I wanted to keep things as simple as I can for my photography portfolio. Flickr allows me to keep a basic portfolio with albums (a.k.a “Sets“) of all my pictures. Taking into consideration the fact that I am by no means a professional photographer, I like exploring other photographers’ Flickr photostreams to see their styles of photography. In my opinion, aside from going out to take pictures, looking at other photographers work is one of the best possible ways to get better. SmugMug, is not nearly as “explorable” as Flickr in terms of being able to look at millions of other people’s pictures. For me, one of the biggest benefits of being able to look at other people’s photostreams on Flickr is that I can find local places that I never would have imagined of going to. It’s great being able to get ideas from other people and learning of places to travel. Another useful feature of Flickr is how accessible it is. Whether you’re on a mobile device or a desktop computer, as long as you have an internet or mobile connection, Flickr can be easily displayed. After uploading images, you can make them more accessible (search-able by online users) by adding “tags” (e.g. “Myrtle Beach”, “Uncle Sam”, Olympics) and uploading your images to Groups. Even data (EXIF) that gets stored within your images is displayed on Flickr (Exposure settings, camera model, date). For under $25, Flickr is a very powerful tool that allows users to share their photography around the world in an easy way.

This past year, I’ve been doing lots of reading mostly from two of my favorite authors: Daniel Silva and David Baldacci. Due to how books are printed nowadays, I find it much easier read a hardcover book than a paperback. The font size and line spacing is much larger with hardcover books. The only setback with purchasing hardcover books is the hefty price tag. Thanks to the online store, Amazon, purchasing hardcover books has never been easier. This is more of a personal experience I’m going to share with shopping on Amazon. First off, let me tell you that buying used books is not a bad thing. In fact, I’ve purchased over 15 used books these past two years on Amazon, saving me well over 200 dollars.  Here are several pointers I have about finding the best deal for used books for when you go onto Amazon.

  1. Search for the book that you would like to purchase.
  2. When you go to the page that shows the book you want, look for a round box that says “Also Available In”.
  3. If there is not a box, then just click the used link.
  4. The reason I like to use the box is that is where you can find the hardcover versions.
  5. When you see the version of the book you like, just click the link next the type of book you want.
  6. For example, if I wanted Hardcover, I’d click the link in the Other Offers column that is directly across from “Hardcover”.
  7. After you click that link, a new page will load with all of the used, new, and collectible versions of the book.
  8. If you want the best deal, browse through the used/new selection and try to find one under a dollar — most of the time you will.
  9. Even is if it is a used book, most are in readable condition (just read the user comments to make sure).
  10. Once you’ve found the book, just add it to your cart.
  11. If you do the math, buying a brand new hardcover would have cost me about $25 at a local bookstore. Instead I payed $4 for a used book ($0.01 for the book + $3.99 for shipping). Pretty good reason to use Amazon, right?

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Recently I purchased a set of Anti-Glare Film for my refurbished 16GB iPod touch. First, I must say my refurbished iPod touch came in the mail without a scratch on the front or back. It came with new packaging, documentation, earphones, and a cleaning cloth. I was stunned at how my first refurb product from Apple turned out so well. In the end, I payed $219 for a 16GB iPod touch that costs $299 retail.

Now back to the Anti-Glare film set I bought. There was a slight problem — I ordered the one for the 2nd generation iPod touch, when I have the 1st generation. The thing is there was no clear way for me to know this until I applied the film set and noticed it didn’t fit correctly around the home button (square button). After about five attempts at applying the film set, I gave up and just took it off. I threw away the package when I got it originally (thinking that I would not need to keep it). So, when I called Apple’s Customer Service hotline, I wasn’t sure they would allow me to exchange or return the item. After waiting for less than two minutes on the phone, Customer Service picked up. I told them what happened about getting the wrong film set. Then I told them honestly that I threw away the package and was not sure how I could do a return. They placed a next-day order of the Anti-Glare film set for the 1st generation iPod touch for no charge at all. I couldn’t believe it. After this experience, I now understand why Apple has such a high-ranked customer support.

A few pointers that I should mention, I used eight Apple gift cards on Black Friday when I made this purchase over the phone. I made it over the phone because Apple gift cards beyond 3 years do not have a PIN and therefore are not valid with online purchases. Apple kindly helped me out on the phone with the order. The mistake was that the agent ordered the wrong Anti-Glare film set (which is not so easy to find on Apple’s online store).

Just a few things I learned after applying the film onto my iPod touch twenty times. The first time will rarely work perfectly, there is always a small particle of dust. What I learned is to take it off the iPod using a post it note on one of the corners and place the film sticky-side up on top of something like a magazine. Then get three strips of masking tap to cover the sticky side of the film. That strips the dust off. Then reapply the film. Start towards the bottom, lining up the home button and the hole on the film and use a credit card to slowly press the film down. When you’re done you will see the bubbles made from the masking tape. If you wait about 1 hour they completely go away and it looks perfect. If you do notice dust later on, just follow the masking tape trick. Hope that helps.

A few weeks ago, I purchased an Airport Express at the local Apple Store. I wanted the ability to print to my Epson R320 wirelessly from any Mac. The setup was incredibly easy as with most Apple products:

  1. Connect the ethernet cable (from the wall) and the USB printer cable into the AirPort Express.
  2. After that, load up AirPort Setup Assistant in Applications >Utilities.
  3. Once the window shows up, click on continue.
  4. Then click on Setup A New AirPort Base Station.
  5. Make settings for your AirPort Express and that’s it.
  6. To edit the settings later, open up the AirPort Admin Utility in Applications >Utilities.
  7. The picture quality was very good considering that it’s wireless printing.
  8. If you notice that your picture quality isn’t that good, then check the maker of the printer’s website for driver updates.

screenshots: 2 3 4 5 6

I pay for tips, because last week I bought an iGo auto15 elite. What the heck is an iGo auto15 elite? First off, iGo is a brand of power adapters sold online and at RadioShack. You may ask, “What makes this power adapter so cool”? The answer is, your one power adapter will work with all of your mobile devices. No more hauling around a bunch of different chargers: one for the cell phone, one for the iPod, one for the laptop, one for the PDA, and one for the digital camera. The iGo auto15elite has interchangeable tips, which allows you to charge all of your mobile devices with the same charger. Just snap on the tip to your charger and that’s it! The power adapter uses rapid charge technology for quick charges, and you can use your mobile device while it is charging. To ensure that your iGo product is working, there is even a built in light letting you know it’s charging. The iGo auto15 elite uses A and B-series power tips and plugs into the cigarette lighter. Setting me back about 30 bucks from RadioShack, the iGo auto15 elite is a very good deal. If you want more tips you can get them at a very affordable price of $9.99. For anyone who hates the drag of carrying extra chragers/cables for their mobile electronic devices, I highly suggest checking out the iGo auto15 elite.

Thanks To Randy Joy For The Article!

The day you purchase your first Mac, you’re probably excited and ready to go play with it. Without even thinking of buying the AppleCare Protection Plan, you head out of the Apple Store and drive home. The included warranty only lasts a year for technical problems and 90 days for AppleCare phone support. I’ve heard several stories where people had to pay a fee if they needed to call Apple because they didn’t have the AppleCare Protection Plan or the included warranty was expired. Shelling out the money for AppleCare Protection Plan saves you a lot if there appears to be a problem with your Mac. If you are still hesitant to buy the AppleCare Protection Plan, here are some nice features included with it: an additional 2 years of AppleCare phone support and technical support, repairs from Apple-authorized technicians, global repair coverage, and much more. If you have to send your Mac in for repair, AppleCare will take care of the whole process, so not even a nickel comes out of your pocket. If you are worried about losing the data on your hard-drive if your Mac needs a new hard-drive, Apple will take the same exact data on the old one and transfer it to the new hard-drive all for free with the AppleCare Protection Plan. Almost all of my questions have been answered through AppleCare’s phone support. The people with AppleCare have a specialty with every Mac OS version and applications. It should be pretty easy when you call AppleCare to find what you are looking for. It’s never too late to get the AppleCare Protection Plan, so go check it out on Apple’s Support page.

Many Mac users, including myself, know that Finder’s CD/DVD burning capabilities are just not there yet in terms of user-customizable options. When it comes to CD and DVD burning some highly useful options include: multiple burning sessions, CD-Text for MP3 files, DVD-audio, adjusting permissions, personalized DVD-menus, conversions, and much more. With the fantastic Mac app called Burn you may do all of the above at a very nice price — free — and it’s open source as well, which is nice for any developers out there willing to help. If you would like a copy for yourself go check it out — you won’t be disappointed. There are other Mac apps like Roxio Toast which have similar features, yet the options are more advanced and carry a larger variety of media types. For the price tag, you really cannot beat Burn.

Some of you may have an old or outdated iPod that you want to sell for money so you can go buy a newer, better iPod. I was in this situation, where I didn’t want to deal with eBay because there are not buyers that really want an outdated or old iPod. I searched around and somehow came across this website called NextWorth. I checked out one of their programs called the iPod Exchange, which basically tells the company how well your iPod works and looks. After filling out this form, I sent them my shipping address and I got this pre-paid UPS shipping box with bubble packaging for me to put my iPod in. The box also included shipping instructions and a phone number to call for any issues. I waited one business week for Nextworth to check out my iPod and compare it to what I put on the form, and then they sent a valid Bank of America check. So far, I have had a good experience with NextWorth and if you are interested in getting your money’s worth for your iPod, you should go check it out.