Not only does Windows 7's upgraded Aero interface power up your taskbar, but it includes new gestures for managing your workspace — like shaking a single window to clear away background windows. Check it out in the screencast above. When you want to focus on the task at hand on a desktop cluttered with windows, just grab the window bar of the app you want to work in and shake it back and forth to clear away the rest. Another shake will restore the background apps to their former state. You can also drag and drop a window to the edge of the screen to maximise it, and click on its top bar again to restore its previous size. Hit the play button above to see the shake-shake-shake and the drag and drop maximisation in action. Unless you're a big fan of mouse gestures, you probably won't use this new feature a whole lot—unless, of course, you wind up running Windows 7 on a touchscreen device.
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Microsoft has already caught some flack for "copying" the OS X dock with the new Windows 7 taskbar; the video above from the Professional Developer's Conference both addresses that criticism and takes you on a guided tour of the new taskbar. Whether or not you think Windows 7 borrowed from OS X with the update, there's no question that Microsoft added its own flair and probably even improved the taskbar/dock concept, particularly with the peek feature. For a look at some of the other features you can expect from Windows 7, check out our Windows 7 first look. Thanks Jason!
iPhone/iPod touch only: You may be familiar with Orb for its music or TV-streaming abilities (it can even turn your Wii into a media center), but now the folks at Orb have taken on the iPhone and iPod touch with a new application called OrbLive. You can now stream live television to your device, in addition to music, videos, photos, and everything else Orb is known for. Hit the jump for a look at Orb's live streaming in action and a guide for installing OrbLive on your iPhone or iPod touch.
Windows only: Previously mentioned Microsoft Outlook plug-in Xobni (pronounced "zob-nee") is now available to the public for immediate download. Previously in invite-only beta, Xobni adds email analytics, better contact cards, fast search, threaded conversations, and more to your Outlook inbox. The NY Times explains one way Xobni makes your inbox more of a social network of connected contacts: Xobni recognises that if an executive sends a copy to someone else on each message he or she sends, it might be to an assistant or another colleague. When someone using Xobni searches for that executive in Outlook, the second person is listed as well. Huh-wha, you ask? Here, have a video demonstration of Xobni in action.
Windows/Mac/Linux (Thunderbird): Harness the to-do-managing power of Remember the Milk from inside your mail reader with an alpha extension for Thunderbird. Once installed and authenticated with your RTM account, the task manager provided by the Lightning extension will have bi-directional access to your tasks, which you can add, delete, modify, and prioritise from inside your mail manager. Hit the video above to see a few of the things you can do with the extension, and hit the via link below for step-by-step installation instructions. Remember the Milk Provider extension is a free download, but requires a free Mozilla Add-Ons account to download, needs the Lightning calendar extension, and works wherever Thunderbird does. Remember the Milk Provider
Online collaboration service PalBee integrates video conferencing and whiteboard sharing so you can meet up with co-workers over the internet. PalBee supports one free hour at a time for up to five collaborators, and it can record the session as its happening for later review—the results of which can be embedded on any web page (similar to the video above). Naturally, since PalBee is web-based, it works on all platforms as long as you've got a webcam. PalBee is currently completely free to use, though pay plans are likely to emerge. PalBee
If you've got a spare printer ink cartridge and a document you only want one person to see—or just some free time and a cloak-and-dagger kick—one helpful Metacafe post has a project for you. The tutorial requires a utility knife, some invisible ink pens and a syringe, and an empty ink cartridge, with black seeming to be an easier solution that the yellow-only solution the creator recommends. It's a fun way to cover up sensitive documents, and a guaranteed friend impresser as well. How Make Invisible Printer Ink
Few families made it through the 1980s without collecting one or more Nintendo Entertainment Systems, but many of them sit unusable today, no matter how hard you blow into them. Wired's Chris Kohler and his brother Dan show in the above video that given a screwdriver, a 72-pin connector available for a few dollars online, and a wee bit of patience, the garage-bound game system can be revived and made ready for duck hunting, Koopa-stomping, or whatever lies inside the cartridges you haven't sold off. How to Fix Your Broken NES
If you already liked the original CD/DVD spindle cable organiser, a creative user from DIY web site Instructables has taken it to the next level, cutting a couple of slots in the organiser and using it to conceal desktop cable clutter. We're no strangers to the cordless workspace around here, but this is easily another great option to add to our already extensive list of the top 10 ways to get cables under control. Even better, assuming you've got an unused spindle or two, this method won't cost a dime. Cables Box
The iPhone and iPod touch are almost indistinguishable devices except for one major difference—you can make calls from your iPhone, and you can't from your iPod touch. For the privilege of making phone calls with your iPhone, you have to pay $100 more upfront to Apple for the device itself, plus a minimum of $60/month to AT&T for the next two years (and that's only if you're in the US - AU editor) Let's say you didn't need that kind of firepower from your iPod touch, but that you would like to use it make a phone call every now and then. You can, and today I'm going to show you how to make VoIP phone calls from your iPod touch or iPhone using a freeware application called SIP-VoIP.
iPhone/iPod touch: Freeware application Simplify Media streams music from any shared iTunes library over the internet, effectively giving your limited-space iPhone or iPod touch access to your entire music library—no matter what the size. To use it, you'll need to install previously mentioned Simplify Media on your Windows or Mac desktop. Then, using a jailbroken iPhone, install the Simplify Media app for the iPhone from Installer.app. (Not yet jailbroken? Here's how.) You're limited to using Simplify Media to a Wi-Fi connection, and it's a bit buggy in the beta version, but as you can see from the video, it's got tons of potential. Ooh la la
Video DIYer extraordinaire Kipkay details 5 smart tips for the budding videographer in the video above. Some are better than others, but the tip that stands out for the cord organiser in me is the last, in which Kipkay details how he saves plastic bread clips and repurposes them as labels for his cords. It's a very quick and simple tip, but the result is a great method for keeping your cords organised on-the-cheap—sort of like the power plug ID labels with a DIY flair. Kipkay's Video Tips & Tricks 2
Google Docs is getting offline access baked in with Google Gears starting with a small number of users today, the Official Google Docs blog reports. We're not seeing it yet (are you?), but when we all do, it'll work the same way Gears works with Google Reader. Hit the play button above for a charmingly cheesy demonstration. (Bonus points to anyone who catches the Office Space reference in the video clip.) Bringing the cloud with you
DIY web site Instructables goes step-by-step on how to shave with old-timey style using a straight razor—you know, like Sweeney Todd but without the blood. The tutorial includes lots of photos and several videos (including the one above) demonstrating the straight razor methods. The video makes it seem daunting and a bit expensive, but you may be saving money in the long-run on disposable razors. Then again, my disposable razor turnover has slowed significantly ever since we highlighted how to extend the live of your razor blades. That said, if you've ever wanted to learn the art of straight razor shaving, this tutorial should have everything you need. Learn How To Shave With A Straight Razor
Readers are submitting their best life hack for a chance to win an autographed copy of our new book, Upgrade Your Life. Here's our latest winner. Reader CK uses neat automation trick when there's heavy-duty copy and pasting to be done: I have one very simple AutoHotkey script which I use when I need to do some massive copying and pasting work, which simplifies the task into just one keystroke: Win+C.
The Mac Tipper blog sings the praises of Finder's column view, and schools the rest of us on how to navigate files and folders in a flash using the keyboard. Hit the play button to see it in action. How to Quickly Navigate Column View
The video above details how to quickly throw together your own DIY stud finder on the cheap with nothing but a magnet and string. In essence, you're just using the magnet to find nails in the wall, which would indicate there's a stud there. The narrator seems a little confused about the purpose of the stud finder (he appears to suggest you don't want to drive nails into the stud), but the method would still work, and you can even go simpler if you don't feel like using string. Granted, stud finders themselves aren't that expensive, so this is more of a quick solution if you don't feel like heading to the store, but it's perhaps a bit more exacting than knocking on the wall. Cheapest Stud Finder
For the next week and a half, readers are submitting their best life hack for a chance to win an autographed copy of our new book, Upgrade Your Life. Reader Beth writes in with her favourite trick for keeping track of info on the road and at the gym—using the previously mentioned PocketMod print-yourself notebook. Beth says:
Web site BookLamp analyzes books by writing style, recommending new books you might liked based on how closely they match your previously loved reads, very similar to how music web site Pandora suggests new music you may like based on style. Do you like Stephen King's It, but thought it was too long? The technology behind BookLamp allows you to find books that are written with a similar tone, tense, perspective, action level, description level, and dialog level, while at the same time allowing you to specify details like... half the length.