Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pixolu Finds Images By Similarity

Web-based application Pixolu helps you find images by their similarity to each other. Enter a search term and Pixolu searches the image indexes of Google, Yahoo, and Flickr. Once Pixolu returns results, you can further refine them by dragging images to a holding area on the lower right corner of the interface. In my test run, I searched for pumpkins. I specifically wanted pictures of lots of pumpkins gathered together but not pictures of Jack o’ Lanterns or pumpkin pie. By dragging and dropping pictures of multiple pumpkins from my initial search into the sidebar and refining the search, Pixolu narrowed down the remaining images into just those of tons of pumpkins clustered together.

Pixolu [via MakeUseOf]


Keep It Simple With Calorie Counts

Complex diet equations involving fat, protein, and carbohydrates get re-spun every other day, it seems, but calorie counting remains the basic math of weight maintenance, according to nutritionists. How much do you care about calories (or kilojoules if you’re being sensibly metric)? How do you track your intake, and output, when you’re eating on the go?


Will You Miss Print Newspapers When They're Gone?

The Christian Science Monitor, a Pulitzer-winning daily newspaper, announced yesterday that it will stop printing daily editions and focus on its online edition, as well as use the savings to keep foreign bureaus open. Media pundits have been claiming the End of Print for decades, but the CSM is the first large-scale news operation to really take the plunge. We’re obviously pretty keen on free digital information at Lifehacker, but also wondering if we, and maybe our readers, will some day miss the portability, the lack of battery power or Wi-Fi connections, and the general look and feel of print newspapers. Are you in the same boat, or do you think the writing is on the wall when it comes to news delivery? Would you settle for a half-way solution, like a Kindle-esque news reader or print-on-demand papers? Tell us your take on the future of print in the comments. Photo by Matt Mattila. Christian Science Paper to End Daily Print Edition [New York Times]


Show Your Car's Maintenance Manual At The Garage

Consumer Reports’ Tightwad Tod blog espouses the value of holding onto your clunker car rather than trading up—a well-maintained, reliable clunker, that is. The magazine’s auto writers suggest that despite whatever your friends, parents, or mechanic tells you, the best rule of thumb for needed service is the recommended maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. What are the non-essential items that you can usually do without? They include radiator flushes and new fuel filters … To avoid getting unnecessary work, make a copy of the recommended service page, show it to the service manager and say, “this is what I want.”

Simple, yet something most car owners have rarely considered. Hit the link for other tips on knowing when your clunker is past its prime. Photo by berzowska. Hold on to that clunker! [Tightwad Tod]


Use A Reward Label On Your Mobile Phone

Lifehacker reader Tom D writes in with this sensible suggestion:

I use a passcode lock on my iPhone, which means if it’s stolen or lost the person who finds it probably won’t be able to make use of it. Obviously this is good, however it means apps like private-i and other “I’m lost, here are my details” apps won’t work either. Also anyone who finds it can’t get into your address book to call “me” or “home” or “mum” or whoever to report it. So I used a label maker and printed out “REWARD IF FOUND “, trimmed it down and stuck it to the back of my iPhone (or any other valuable gadget). Not terribly aesthetically pleasing, but at least if the phone is stolen or lost, the person finding it has instant access to the owner’s info and hopefully the offer of a reward is enough to get their good nature to kick in and make an attempt to return it.

As an obsessed label maker user, I’m surprised this didn’t occur to me before. Got any other neat hacks for dealing with the inevitable moment when your phone gets lost? Share them in the comments. Thanks, Tom D!


How To Customise Your Outlook Calendar View

Microsoft’s Outlook Team Blog kicks off a series on making Outlook your main working environment by noting how you can customise the calendar view. Say it’s Thursday and you want to see what’s on for the next seven days: week view is no good because the days are split, but month view may not offer enough detail. The secret is to hold down Ctrl and select the days you want (which don’t even have to be consecutive) in the date picker in the top-left corner. The method isn’t perfect — you can’t pick across multiple months — but it’s a handy way to see just the entries you want. Something not mentioned in the post: there are some less-than-entirely-intuitive keyboard shortcuts for switching between standard calendar views (Ctrl-Alt-1 for day view, Ctrl-Alt-2 for weekday view, Ctrl-Alt-3 for week view, or Ctrl-Alt-4 for month view).

Living In Outlook: Multi-Day Calendar Views [Microsoft Office Outlook Team Blog]

Switchwise Helps Pick Cheapest Electricity Provider

If you’re trying to trim the family budget in lean times, the electricity bill is a good place to start. More sensible use of appliances is always a good approach, but with competition now at least a partial reality, it also pays to work out if you could get a better deal on your existing service. Recently launched web comparison service Switchwise takes your location (by suburb name or postcode) and then suggests alternative suppliers that might come out cheaper (and gives you the option of switching if you want). Answering additional questions like house size and current consumption patterns refines the list, but not having to answer those questions up front makes it easier to get started. Switchwise is currently Victoria-only (like similar and previously mentioned GoSwitch), but you can sign up to be notified when it’s available in your area. SwitchWise


New French Science Experiment To Dwarf Old French Science Experiment

The Large Hadron Collider may be out of commission until April due to a helium link problem, but that doesn’t mean the French have pulled the plug on all oversized international science experiments. A $8.8 million experimental thermonuclear reactor is currently being built in the south of France, in an attempt to solve the world’s ever-increasing energy turmoils. Said to dwarf the LHC, the project has been funded by seven of the world’s largest economies, including the EU and US, and will look into such issues as desalinisation, recycling and the long term viability of fusion as a source of power.

Is this new experiment doomed to the same fate as the LHC? This month’s issue of tech mag Popular Science (on sale today) takes a closer look at the ground-breaking experiment and it’s attempts to make fusion reality.

Press release after the jump.


Android Phones Hit Australia Via eBay

There may be no officially announced plans to sell handsets based on Google’s Android mobile phone OS in Australia just yet, but that doesn’t mean enthusiasts can’t get their hands on them. Suzanne Tindal at ZDNet reports that HTC Android phones from the States are being sold to Australian customers via eBay, with prices ranging from $500 to $1,000. While the lack of official support from carriers isn’t necessarily a showstopper (it certianly didn’t stop there being a healthy iPhone import market before the official 3G release), it does mean that Android users are restricted to the older 2G networks. Given the importance of online Google apps in the phone’s design, that’s a pretty major restriction.

Android phones hit eBay Australia [ZDNet]

First Azure App Links Bluetooth, Social Networking

Microsoft’s Azure cloud version of Windows may only just be out the door, but it already seems to be attracting application developers. First cab off the rank is social networking application Bluehoo, which lets you connect up to other mobile phone users with Bluetooth connections. Admittedly it sounds a bit like the fake ‘toothing’ craze from a few years ago, but it’s a good example of network-dependent development. We haven’t yet given it the run-through, so if you’ve got experience to share, let’s hear it in the comments.

Bluehoo [via Windows Mobile Team Blog]