Monthly Archives: September 2010

Labor Day – History and Tradition

Labor Day is a U.S. federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September. The first Labor Day in the United States was celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City, it became a federal holiday in 1894, and all 50 U.S. states have made Labor Day a state holiday in the years following.

Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer. The holiday is often regarded as a day of rest and parties. In U.S. sports, Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and college football seasons. NCAA teams usually play their first games the week before Labor Day, with the NFL traditionally playing their first game the Thursday following Labor Day.

The enactment of the federal holiday in 1894, followed the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland put reconciliation with the labor movement as a top political priority. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The September date was chosen as Cleveland was concerned that aligning an American labor holiday with existing international May Day celebrations would stir up negative emotions linked to the Haymarket Affair.

The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday: A street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations,” followed by a festival for the workers and their families. This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civil significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

adapted via Wikipedia

Top 10 Facebook Fixes

Facebook may be the de facto social network of, frankly, almost everyone, but that doesn’t mean you have to use Facebook exactly the way its creators, or your Farmville-addicted friends, want you to. Here are 10 tweaks to make Facebook better.

10. Access Facebook Chat Through Your Preferred Client
Feel free to set that little box in the lower-right hand corner of the Facebook page, the chat box, to “Go Offline.” If you really want to have even more up-to-the-second chats with your Facebook contacts, you can do so through your own favorite client: Pidgin, Adium, iChat, Trillian, Digsby, whatever you’d like.

9. Back Up Your Account with SocialSafe
There’s a whole lot of data, and photos, in your Facebook account, and getting them all out is no small feat. SocialSafe, which costs just $3, lets you save all your photos, friends, photo albums, and even friends’ photos that you’re tagged in, along with your status updates. It doesn’t grab everything in and around your account, but enough to liberate you from feeling chained to the service.

8. Have a Plan for Your Account After Death
It could be more than a little awkward for friends, distant relatives, and others to leave you messages on your Facebook account, then find out you passed away. Even more awkward for those around you when people go digging through your account, or when your account can’t be deactivated. All pause for thought, and a motivator to set up a post-mortem plan for Facebook. There are services that offer professional account-after-death services, like Entrustet and Legacy Locker, but really, just thinking through a system where somebody you trust has the keys to your account and instructions on what you want done with it. Officially, Facebook offers a “memorialized” account for relatives that can prove their loved one is deceased, but won’t hand over the keys to anyone on their own part.

7. Prevent Sites from Auto-Customizing Content with Your Facebook Login
You can turn off Facebook’s “Instant Personalization” service in your settings, but the reality of your Facebook login status following around the web, and occasionally allowing less scrupulous sites to glom on, is still there. Shut down access to your Facebook credentials from anyone except Facebook using Adblock Plus and custom filters.

6. Filter and Compress Your Activity Alerts
If you let Facebook dictate how it emails you about status updates, replies, “Likes,” and other changes, it will overwhelm you. If you leave it to yourself to check, you can just as easily overwhelm your willpower to avoid distraction. Compress all your Facebook notifications into one or two emails per day with NutshellMail, a social media aggregator that we recommended for filtering and managing your online social life and never missing important events—that last one set up so that event invitations come through right away, but friends tagging you in old college photos waits for your end-of-day web checks.

5. Find Out When Anyone Else Logs into Your Account
Maybe you left yourself signed in at a friend’s house. Perhaps you found out too late that you should have given your old cellphone a better wiping clean. However it is that you’re concerned about other people getting access to your account, you can wipe the slate clean and pin it down from your Facebook settings. As the Trouble Fixers blog explains, there are settings to get email or SMS notices whenever your account is accessed from a “new” device, be it a browser, phone, or other gizmo, once you wipe the slate clean and register your computers and phones as authorized.

4. Get Back the Basic Privacy You Signed Up For
If you’d wanted everything you posted to be public, you’d use Twitter. If you wanted all your co-workers to see it, you’d send it over email. You signed up for Facebook to give a select group of friends access to the more private side of your life and thoughts, and you can get back to that kind of small-circle feeling. We’ve previously posted guides to Facebook’s simpler privacy controls, as well as getting back to what you first signed up for. Even with Facebook’s latest round of comprehension improvements, it’s still worth looking at what you might not know you’re sharing.

3. “Quit” Facebook While Still Staying in Touch
Facebook can be more trouble than it’s worth, especially for those who have anything approaching privacy concerns. Still, it’s becoming the world’s phonebook replacement, and some people still want to get messages and sign in for events when necessary. So go ahead and quit Facebook without actually quitting Facebook, by wiping out one account and building another with very limited access to prying eyes.

2. Strip Out Annoying Facebook “Games,” Quizzes, and Other Cruft
Sure, you can click on every single one of your friends’ indulgences to hide them, but there will always be another questionnaire, turn-based addiction machine, or other viral thing right around the corner. Wipe them all clean from your account with F.B. Purity (technically “Fluff Busting Purity”), a user script that installs on nearly every major browser and cleans away all those status updates you never want to see again.

1. Stop Your Friends from Revealing Your Location
Facebook’s new Places feature? Yeah, it’s a lot like Foursquare, Gowalla, and other I’m-here-right-now apps. The big difference is that your Facebook friends can, by default, check you in somewhere without your knowledge. To prevent letting everyone else publish your social calendar, you can disable Facebook Places, or just disable your friends’ ability to geo-tag you.

adapted via

  • 09/03/2010
  • OS

Apple announces OS fixes and new features

Apple announced iOS 4.1, addressing many bugs (like iPhone 3G performance) as well as bringing new features like HDR photography, HD video upload and TV show rentals. Additionally, Apple previewed iOS 4.2, bringing this and more to the iPad.

iOS 4.1 – focuses on photos, videos, and games.

  • HDR Photos – Creating high dynamic range photos has been a popular photographic technique that combines three exposures to create a single image with a greater amount of detail in the highlights and shadows. Apple’s added HDR photography to the iPhone’s camera in 4.1, letting you create HDR images automatically without any of the hard work in post.
  • HD Video Upload Over Wi-Fi – Previously, apps were required to upload HD video from the iPhone. Apple’s made the change in iOS 4.1 to allow HD video uploading over Wi-Fi, removing the annoying cap that required sending your HD video in standard definition.
  • TV Show Rentals – TV shows have always been available for purchase in iOS devices, but now you can rent them to save a little money and storage space on your device.
  • Game Center – Like the XBOX Live of iOS, Game Center provides APIs for developers but is also a new app on the iPhone (available soon via the App Store). You can play with friends, inviting them with a push notification, or be randomly assigned to other players when your friends aren’t available.

iOS 4.2 – brings the features of iOS 4 to the iPad. Multitasking, app folders, and other features will be available in November.

  • Wireless Printing – While there are a few third-party apps that bring printing functionality to iOS devices, Apple’s building printing functionality into iOS itself. Print Center will live in the multitasking drawer and let you choose printers and manage print jobs wirelessly from your iPad.
  • AirPlay – Formerly AirTunes, AirPlay is taking over wireless streaming on iDevices and will let you stream audio, video, and photos over Wi-Fi. Along with the new Apple TV, you’ll also be able to shift streams between your devices so you can, for example, finish watching a TV show or movie on the go.

How to Avoid Friend Spam on Facebook

With Facebook’s ever-growing popularity, it’s not surprising that fake accounts are after your online friendship. Here are some tips for detecting and avoiding friend spam.

Check Recent Activity
When you receive a friend request and you’re not sure if it’s real, check the person’s profile to see their recent activity. If they’ve added an inordinate amount of friends very recently, there’s a good chance they’re spam.

Do You Have Friends in Common?
One good thing Facebook does to help you out is let you know who else is friends with anybody else. If you don’t know who someone is but your friend approved the request, send them a message to find out before you add this person to your list. Perhaps your friends know them and can give you some background information, or maybe they just added him or her arbitrarily. Either way, it’s a quick means of finding out who might be at the other end of the request.

Be Wary of Suggested Friends
People You May Know is Facebook’s way of identifying some possibly worthwhile friends. While it’s been pretty accurate for me about half the time, the other half is filled with people that seem to have sprouted out of nowhere. Inevitably you’re going to have a friend who has a friend who’s really just spam. As a result, you’re going to get friend spam suggestions here and there. Be sure to check out people you don’t know before you add them.

Be Wary of Actual Friends
While a lot less common, spammers have actually taken data from real people and repurposed it in a fake account. When you receive a friend request from somebody you know, it takes about ten seconds to visit their page and see if anything looks a little off. If it does, send them a message first and make sure it’s really them. Chances are this isn’t going to be an issue you run into very often, if ever, but it’s always a good idea to check out friend requests before you approve them.

adapted via

  • 09/02/2010
  • OS

Five Great Text Recognition Tools

Working with text on your computer offers a range of possibilities in searching and editing that simply aren’t available with hard copy text. Check out these five text recognition tools to get your printed text into your computer.

1. Adobe Acrobat (Windows/Mac, From $130) – A solid OCR system is one of the most overlooked featured of Adobe Acrobat. Included in all versions from Adobe Acrobat Standard to Pro Extended and tucked in a sub-menu, the OCR functionality in Adobe is robust and works with both scanned and already saved documents. Many people already have a copy of Acrobat at home or at work and find that the OCR quality is high enough that they have little reason to invest the money in a dedicated OCR tool.
Read more

2. Evernote (Windows/Mac, Free) Evernote was not designed to serve as a standalone OCR tool, so the OCR capabilities are intended simply to supplement the primary purpose of the tool—taking great notes. To that end, however, if your OCR needs are few and mostly centered on pulling in hard-copy text to your note-taking/research workflow, Evernote is a great solution. If you need text recognition with a large volume of documents with high page counts, however, you’ll likely want to find another OCR solution, as this app is not particularly well-suited for dealing with anything bigger than indexing the text of business cards and low-volume documents.
Read more about Evernote

3. OmniPage (Windows, From $149) – At this point we’re getting away from products that serve the needs of infrequent OCR users and moving into products that are feature-packed and exclusively focused on OCR. OmniPage has a powerful OCR engine, excellent format and layout recognition and preservation, and integration with popular applications—including one-click text-recognition support in Microsoft Office and a send-to-Kindle function. OmniPage supports multiple languages, batch processing, and exports to multiple common document formats.
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4. ABBYY FineReader (Windows/Mac, $399.99) – ABBYY FineReader has an astounding number of features and OCR tricks—as it should, for the hefty price tag of $399. FineReader excels at recognition of text and formatting across a wide range of inputs—scanned text, existing documents, camera captures, and more—with support for over 180 languages. It can recognize text in images, barcodes, and other elements most basic OCR tools would miss. FineReader integrates with popular office applications and comes programmed with “quick tasks” to make common scanning workflows a one-click affair. ABBYY FineReader is available for both Windows and Mac OS X, although Mac users are limited to the FineReader Express package ($99) a light version of the full FineReader package.
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5. Readiris (Windows/Mac, $129) – Readiris technology is the OCR engine behind the OCR features in popular applications like Adobe Acrobat, but it’s also the same tech that powers their standalone OCR software. Readiris supports over 120 languages—with additional packages available for Asian and Middle Eastern languages. The application scans and sends documents directly to your favorite application, creates and converts PDF files, and generates smaller documents by using their propriety compression techniques to radically shrink documents for easy transmission and archiving. Readiris also supports text recognition in images and handwritten notes.
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adapted via

  • 09/01/2010
  • IT