Tuesday, February 24, 2009

iTunes Lyrics Importer Keeps Your Lyrics Database Updated

Windows only: iTunes Lyrics Importer makes sure the lyrics for your iTunes-managed music collection are updated and free from gaps. iTunes Lyrics Importer polls Lyricwiki’s extensive database to make sure you have an accurate and well stocked catalog of lyrics for your favourite songs. The application is simple to use, and the initial run will fill in any missing lyrics in your existing collection. From there on, any time you add new music (or whenever you remember to update), run iTunes Lyrics Importer to rescan your collection and update the new songs. You can specify whether you want it to automatically update the lyrics, or ask for your approval and allow for edits—a handy feature if you have obscure or foreign language songs and incorrect guesses are likely. iTunes Lyrics Importer is freeware, Windows only. Thanks Mark!

iTunes Lyrics Importer

Tasks More Likely To Get Done With Clear Fonts

Next time you’re drafting office memos or customising your desktop, keep this in mind: Researchers have found that instructions written in plain, straight-forward fonts are more likely to be completed—and better, too.

University of Michigan researchers gave two sets of subjects two different tasks, following an exercise regiment, and assembling a standard sushi roll. Half were given their instructions and task lists in the straight-up Arial font, while the others received their lists in brush-style, script-like typeface. Not only did the teams with Arial perform better in each task, they also had a more upbeat attitude about doing so:

Those who had read the exercise instructions in an unadorned, accessible typeface were much more open to the prospect of exercising: they believed that the regimen would take less time and that it would feel more fluid and easy. Most important, they were more willing to make exercise part of their day.

Few Lifehacker readers probably give themselves to-do lists or send important emails out in Comic Sans (here’s your dire warning, if so), but it’s worth noting the seemingly real impact of simple text on your productivity. If the text itself is challenging, the chances you’ll be geared up to tackle the tasks it describes seem to drop off. Can fonts make you want to exercise less? [counternotions via Digital Inspiration]


XML Notepad 2007 Is A Simple, Smart Editor For Web Code

Windows only: If you’re delving into XML programming for the first time, or want to tweak a few software files, Microsoft’s XML Notepad 2007 may be the no-nonsense editor you’re looking for. It’s not a beginner’s tool due to lack of features or context—we’re just assuming that most full-time or experienced programmers have their own platform preference for editing all sorts of code. XML Notepad 2007 is themed around the same kind of just-the-text-ma’am simplicity of Windows’ Notepad, but does add relevant features for markup language hacking. The left-hand pane breaks an XML document into a tree view of classes, tags, and their key values. All the text is color-matched to its identifier on the left, and writing in Tree View allows you to leave all the tag containers behind. If you want to see what your raw XML looks like, click “XSL Output,” and you’ll see what Internet Explorer would see when checking out the file. Copying and pasting are modified to ensure the nodes you shuffle around keep their contexts, and, well, that’s about it for basic features. There’s more to find in XML Notepad, but nothing more is required to get started. XML editing gives one all kinds of powers over a system. XML Notepad 2007 is a free download for Windows systems only.

XML Notepad [via Online Tech Tips]

CleVR Creates Photo Panoramas With Ease

Windows/Mac/Linux: We’ve shown you how to stitch photos into panoramas once before, but with new Adobe AIR app and web site CleVR, you get dead simple drag-and-drop photo stitching and sharing tool. To get started with CleVR, you’ll need to sign up for an account at their web site and then download the Adobe AIR app. From there, just drag and drop photos into the stitching tool, define some hotspots, and start stitching. When you’ve finished your masterpiece, you can save your progress or upload and share the panorama. Very cool!

If you give it a try, share your results in the comments. CleVR is a free download for all platforms, requires Adobe AIR.

CleVR [via MakeUseOf]

Firefox Mobile (AKA Fennec) Will Sync Tabs With Firefox On Your Desktop

Mozilla Labs highlights a very cool feature coming to Fennec, the mobile version of Firefox: Fennec now syncs browser tabs with previously mentioned Weave, so you can easily access any of the pages you were browsing on your desktop installation of Firefox from your mobile browser. Handy! [Mozilla Labs]


Understanding Word 2007's Compare Feature Options

Word 2007 includes a built-in comparison feature for working out what has changed between two documents, but the menu option for invoking the comparison includes so many options you can quickly get confused. The Word blog includes a comprehensive rundown on how the options work. While the default is to compare everything, unless you’re proofing a document for formatting it makes sense to de-select some options: who cares about white space if what you’re worried about is if text is changed or removed? For a cloud-centric way of comparing documents, check out how to compare documents in Google Docs.

Advanced Comparison of Word Documents [The Microsoft Office Word Team's Blog]

How I Cleaned 1328 Emails Out Of My Inbox In An Hour

I’m generally pretty organised with my email, and I like to have nothing in my inbox except stuff I haven’t acted on yet. However, a spurt of recent travel and work commitments meant I’d fallen into a familiar but dangerous pattern: grabbing information from emails I needed (and replying when necessary), but not filing or deleting them, and not checking out stuff that didn’t look urgent. The end result: I suddenly had 1328 emails in my inbox, and 401 of them hadn’t even been read. Sounds like a nightmare, but in reality it only took me an hour to get my inbox back under control.


DIY IKEA Cat Litter Box

Cat litter boxes stink, cats kick stuff out of them, and they take up valuable space in a cramped apartment. (Can you tell I’m not a fan?) However, if you do need an indoor toilet for your feline, then the IKEA Hacker blog has a pretty neat take on building one that can fit in your bathroom, by cutting a door into an $8 Snalis storage box from IKEA (and adding the $2 lid). If you’ve got another way of making pet toilets less intrusive, share it in the comments. Quick and easy cat litter box [IKEA Hacker]


Web Blacklist Already Under Fire

One of the key elements of controversial plans to filter Australian Internet access is the use of a “blacklist” maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to identify banned sites. While the list is supposed to be secret (since the content of the sites it lists is purportedly illegal), ACMA doesn’t seem to be going to particularly strong efforts to protect it, as Fran Foo points out in a report for AustralianIT. On the one hand, this is a kind of reassuring reminder that most attempts at censorship fail. On the other hand, the apparent willingness to embrace inconsistency isn’t a very promising sign for how policies might be applied if a full-scale filter is introduced.

Row over web blacklist [AustralianIT]

F.lux Changes Your Screen Brightness By Time Of Day

Windows/Mac/Linux: If you spend your entire day staring into the pit of an eye-burning LCD, free application F.lux may be right up your alley. This free utility adjusts the glow of your monitor—both the brightness and tint—based on the time of day, dimming your monitor later into the evening and tinting the screen colour based on the kind of lighting you employ. To get a better idea of what those changes will look like over the course of the day, F.lux has a preview option that runs through the dimming in a few seconds. The dimming and tinting seems drastic in the preview, but I’m giving this one a test run in real time to see how it really feels. Obviously this app wouldn’t work well for a designer or someone who relies on accurate screen colour (though you could use the Disable for one hour option), but as someone whose lost more than a few battles with insomnia, I do appreciate the idea that coming to the computer at 3am won’t burn my retinas. If you give it a try or have used it in the past, let’s hear how it works for you in the comments.

Flux [via Download Squad]