7 Free Alternatives for Windows Media Player

While Windows Media Player is a suitable software for very basic music player functions, it has several limitations. Most music player users would want a far greater degree of flexibility in music controls. For those of you who want greater control over your music files, there are many excellent free alternatives to WMP, some of which I have compiled in the list below:

1. VLC Media Player

vlcmediaplayer

One of the best free multimedia players on the block, VLC Media Player is highly portable and supports a majority of audio and video formats. It can also be used for media file conversions as well as streaming protocols. I would personally recommend VLCMP for its great performance, light interface and flexibility.

[Download VLC Media Player for Windows]

2. Songbird

songbird

If you want an Open Source-customizable alternative to WMP, Songbird is the way to go. It is highly customizable with a host of plug-ins and offers the user endless hours of seamless playback. Clarity and customization come naturally to this software, which is true to its name and easily syncs with most media players and smart phones.

[Download Songbird]

3. Foobar2000

foobar2000

Now if being experimental is your kind of game, you needn’t look further than Foobar2000. It is an advanced Windows-based free audio player, which may not seem like much at first glance but can be completely   customized according to your wishes right from the interface itself! However, this is an audio-only software.

[Download Foobar2000]

4. KMPlayer

kmplayer

Another great freeware for playing a variety of audio and video files is KMPlayer. Adding to its ability to support a large number of formats is its ability to capture screenshots of audio and video.

[Download KMPlayer]

5. Media Player Classic

mediaplayerclassic

Although Media Player Classic looks like an older version of WMP, it has several additional features such as a built-in DVD player, AVI subtitle support etc. It is also light and can play various formats without needing any special codec.

[Download Media Player Classic]

6. GOM Player

gomplayer

GOM Player, or Gretech Online Movie Player is a Windows-based free media player. It scores over other traditional media players in that it can play most media files without having to obtain a codec and can also play broken, damaged or incomplete media files.

[Download GOM Player]

7. WinAmp

winamp

Finally, to conclude the list, there is good ol’ WinAmp. This player has been around for a long time indeed and supports most audio and video formats while also syncing to portable media players. It be customized and give excellent sund quality with the use of enhancing plug-ins. However, it runs a little slow, and I’ve seen from personal experience that it crashes when used with GoogleTalk.

[Download WinAmp]

Tell us what you thought of the list and do go ahead and add more free alternatives to Windows Media Player that you have used and liked! Enjoy!

15 of the Best Free WordPress Magazine Themes

In recent times, the manner in which blogs present their content has undergone a very noticeable transformation. Gone are the days of “the flashier the better”. Right now, minimalistic is in! With that in mind, there has been a rise in popularity of magazine-style WordPress themes that score high on readability as well as aesthetics.

Although many of these WordPress magazine themes are not free, there are quite a few good ones that are! In this post, I’ve put together a list of some of the best free WordPress magazine themes available as of now:

The Morning After Theme

themorningafterthemeSource | Demo

WP Gold Theme

wpgoldthemeSource | Demo

Hybrid News Theme

hybridnewsthemeSource | Demo

Magazine Basic v2.5 Theme

magazinebasicthemeSource | Demo

Arthemia Theme (Free Version)

arthemiathemeSource | Demo

Magasin Uno Theme

magasinunothemeSource | Demo

Magasin Cuatro Theme

magasincuatrothemeSource | Demo

Masipag Theme

masipagthemeSource | Demo

Matipid Theme

matipidthemeSource | Demo

Rebel Magazine Theme

rebelmagthemeSource | Demo

Mimbo Theme

mimbothemeSource | Demo

Hamasaki Theme

hamasakithemeSource | Demo

Jello Wala Mello Theme

jellowalamellothemeSource | Demo

Scarlett Theme

scarlettthemeSource | Demo

Androida Theme

androidathemeSource | Demo

Have any more to add to this list? Email me!

10 Facebook Parodies Which Will Make You Laugh

Facebook is a guilty pleasure that so many of us cannot do without. We may forget all about the assignments that are due, all the deadlines to be met, or the people we should have conversations with in real life, but we simply cannot ignore Facebook. Whether it is to carry out the daily ritual of poking friends, to catch up on the latest gossip within the circle, to take endless quizzes that will miraculously tell you who your soul mate is, or simply to let your inner farmer take over, Facebook is certainly an indispensable part of our daily lives.

However, what is life without a good laugh? In this post, I have compiled a few Facebook parodies, covering the many aspects of Facebook, as a tribute to all Facebook addicts —

Facebook and Staying Connected:

Now you will always be in the loop!

Facebook and Friendship:

Good Samaritan, anyone?

Facebook and Gossip:

You would think this is enough to make a successful soap-opera!

Facebook and Dating:

Who said matches are made in Heaven? They’re made on Facebook!

Facebook and Farming:

FARMVILLE! Need I say more?

Facebook for Gangstas:

This is as elite as it gets!

Facebook for Senior Citizens:

You are never too old to Facebook!

Facebook for the Digitally Suicidal:

Never fear, for help is always near … or on Facebook, at least!

Facebook for Cats:

I can haz Facebook? LOL!

Facebook for Stalkers:

Every status update,
Every person you date,
Every single poke
Every keyboard stroke
I’ll be watching you!

Got any more Facebook parodies to share? Let me know!

Use Foobar to Combine Firefox Address and Search Boxes

Google Chrome has become one of the most widely used web browsers within a short span of time. One of its many user-friendly features is that the address box also doubles as a search box. For those of us who unfailingly type in a search command into the address bar of a browser by mistake, this feature is nothing short of a life-saver!   However, all the Firefox loyalists out there needn’t feel left out. With Foobar safely installed, you can now have the benefit of integrating Firefox’s address and search boxes, combining them into one functional box!

Once you install this add-on, every time you type in anything other than a valid URL, (an address having HTTP, FTP or ABOUT), your address bar functions like a search box and you are also given a list of possible choices to select from. Typing in a recognized address, on the other hand, takes you directly to that page. Very handy, right?

Moreover, when using the address box for searches, you also get to choose the search engine to be used. The featured search engines include Google, Yahoo, Amazon and Wikipedia among others. Thus, you experience great flexibility along with dual functionality!

Foobar has the capacity to easily become one of those extensions that you grow so used to that you take them for granted. It is simple, yet rather appealing in its effectiveness. I would highly recommend it to all Firefox users!

Get Real-time Feedback on your Writing with Paper Rater

Today, communication is one of the major keys to survival. The ability to communicate effectively, however, is partly inherent and partly learned. Therefore, it is possible for even the most diffident of us to improve our communication skills with effort and dedication. Since writing is one of the most crucial modes through which the exchange of thoughts and ideas takes place, even the best of us can greatly benefit from feedback on our writing skills.

Paper Rater, which is a free, web-based tool, is very handy in this regard as it provides real-time analysis of your writing and gives you feedback on your style of writing, originality, grammar and spelling.

To use Paper Rater, you simply have to copy and paste the text which needs to be analyzed into the provided field and also mention the nature of the text by choosing from the options given. Once you submit your text for reviewing, it takes only an instant for your report to be compiled.

Your report will not only highlight errors in spelling, grammar and word usage, but will also provide you with feedback regarding your vocabulary usage and writing style. Another useful feature of Paper Rater is that you can check for possible plagiarism. The application compares the text that you have submitted with other writing available online and gives your submission an originality percentage. This is especially helpful to students writing their research papers.

However, one of the limitations of this service is that it cannot analyze short documents. Nevertheless, it is hardly a bad option for cross-checking one’s work!

Create Abstract Fractal-like Wallpapers with Flame

There are currently several programs that let even novices create abstract wallpapers without prior knowledge of complicated design tools. These programs have friendly interfaces and are generally rather easy to use. In one of my previous posts, I had talked about the wallpaper creator tool by X3Studios, which lets you create abstract vector-based wallpapers. Now, if you have a weakness for abstract fractal-like wallpapers, then you will find the free Flash-based Flame nothing short of addictive!

Compared to X3Studios, Flame does not provide you with as many options. Yet, there is tremendous potential for variety within its limited options. You have either a black or a white background, and are also provided with a brush tool which can be customized. Apart from color, saturation and opacity, you can even adjust other options such as size, softness, chaos and noise to change the nature of your brush strokes. All that you have to do to create fractal-like shapes and doodles is move your mouse around!

The trick lies in exercising control over your mouse movements. For smoothly flowing sheer color strokes, it is best to move your mouse quickly without keeping it in one spot for too long. Slow mouse movements simply translate into a harder, more intensely focused color, which may not be a bad thing if that is what you’re aiming at in the first place.

Finally, once you deem your masterpiece completed, you can save your artwork to your computer. There is, however, one rather crucial limitation. Your wallpaper can only be saved at a resolution of 1680 × 1050 pixels.

In spite of this, you can easily find yourself whiling away your time with Flame, enthralled by the sheer diversity present in every entrancing endeavor of yours!

Here, I have shared a couple of wallpapers that I made using Flame and would love to see the ones you create! I hope you have as much fun as I did!

The Musical “Tin Man”

The modern age is more attuned to technology than any other era before it. For instance, you don’t need pen and paper to express your thoughts any more. We are quite content with the use of technology for taking pictures with a digital camera or even creating digital art. Essentially, in the latter case at least, we are letting artificially generated images be considered the fruits of creativity. In such a case, is it truly unnatural to give music composed artificially the same respect that the compositions of the musical masters of yore have commanded?

It is this very debate that has puritans squirming and composer-cum-computer programmer David Cope and his innovative approach to creativity searching far and wide for vindication.

Cope’s brainchild is Emily Howell, a composer who is one of a kind. She is actually a computer program. Through Emily, Cope carries out what he calls “algorithmic composition” — studying classical music composed by the masters, working out the seamless manner in which the notes were brought together, and then applying that knowledge to create new variations in notes. In other words, composition with the help of algorithms.

Emily whipped up a storm of controversy when word spread about her existence. However, those who had heard her compositions without knowing that she was not a human being, found the music indistinguishable from the pieces composed by human maestros. They even went on to say that the music was deeply moving.

So is Emily plagiarism or pure genius? Is she grossest disrespect to human creativity or a triumph of art, science or even both? Emily may be condemned and her creator called the heartless “Tin Man” from The Wizard of Oz.   Her compositions may be called soul-less by those who know of her origins in the hands of man. It is clear however that, in spite of everything, she cannot be ignored.

Visit this site to hear some of Emily’s compositions first hand!

[via podcomplex]

Stream Music, Images and Video according to your Mood with Moodstream

Given the number of hours most of us spend at the computer, it isn’t hard to assume that we go through a range of moods and emotions during that time. Also, we often have music playing in the background while we multitask at the computer. Usually, it is nothing short of a pain to come up with a music playlist that perfectly complements your mood.

Moodstream by Getty Images is a simple but great interface that effortlessly provides you with a blend of music, images and video based on your mood. All you need to do is select your present mood from the given presets of Inspire, Excite, Refresh, Intensify, Stabilize, and Simplify and be treated to a beautiful and satisfying audio-visual amalgamation!

Moreover, you can further customize your stream by altering the mood spectrum present on the Moodstream mixer. After you have changed the mood spectrum settings of happy/sad, calm/lively, nostalgic/contemporary etc. to your liking, just refresh the stream for the changes to take effect. You can even play around with the image transition type, duration of images and video or even the presence of more or less vocals in your music selection.

The best part about Moodstream is that it adds another dimension to your stream by incorporating the visual aspect. However, unlike some other mood-based services available, Moodstream does not play the entire song. Instead, it plays short 30 second segments which blend or cross-fade into each other, depending on your settings. Nevertheless, if you come across a particular image or sound spippet that you really enjoy, you can always save it to your Moodboard for future use!

Do you know of other great mood-based music services? Come forward and share!

[via Lifehacker]

10 Worst Photoshop Disasters

Have you ever wondered whether the oh-so-impeccable images that you see in posters and magazines are real? Many of these perfect shots have been retouched, or “airbrushed” using Photoshop before being unveiled for the whole world to see. However, sometimes these manual manipulations go a little too far. This post will be taking you through some of the worst Photoshop disasters in recent times.

Disaster #10: Head or pelvis? Which is smaller? I dare not hope for either.

Disaster #9: Whose arm is it anyway? Julianne Moore may have lost her clothes but she sure has made up for it with a very flexible right arm, not to mention the perfect legs.

Disaster #8: Talk about entwined legs!

Disaster #7: What happened to all the water?

Disaster #6: Who said that working out was the only way you could get a six-pack?

Disaster #5: Looks like it was a bad hair day.

Disaster #4: Warning! Do not splash into unknown waters. You may have your face transplanted.

Disaster #3: Talk about generating crowds!

Disaster #2: Oh, you have to crane your neck to spot this one!

Disaster #1: And finally, at the top (or in this case, bottom) of the list we have: Two sunsets for the price of one! Can there be a better holiday package?

These were only a few of them. Know of more Photoshop disasters? Let us know!

[pictures from Photoshop Disasters]

Top 5 Sites for Printing Digital Photographs

Didn’t we all love those afternoons in which we would take a walk down memory lane, tangibly helped along by a photo album? While the online albums popular at present are a great way to stay connected with friends and family scattered across the globe, sometimes we do want to hold a cherished picture in our hands. Thus, a need often arises to have all the numerous photographs, ranging from candidly captured moments to arty snapshots, in a printed form.

To address that very need, several websites have mushroomed in the past few years, which offer users a host of printing options for their digital photographs. Many of these sites not only allow you to take photo prints but also let you create beautiful mementos and other gift items with your digital photographs.

In this post, I will list some of the best sites for printing digital photographs, which ship to India and the United States of America.

One great website for digital printing is Picsquare, which lets registered users print photographs, greeting cards, calendars, T-shirts, mugs, laptop skins and a host of other items that make great gifts filled with sentiment! Registration is free and a user can make online payments via credit card. Apart from printing uploaded pictures there are also options to print photographs from Facebook, Flickr or PicasaWeb. Users can easily create personalized orders with prices starting at as low as Rs. 2.95 for a 4″ x 6″ photo print.

Snapfish is another excellent website that offers its services in over 20 countries. The site offers users the options of ordering high quality photo prints, greeting cards, stamps and even customized stationery gift items. Pricing here also starts at Rs. 2.95 (9 ¢ for US users) for a high quality 4″ x 6″ photo print, regardless of whether the finish is glossy or matte.

Another top site for digital photo printing is ZoomIn, which delivers quick shipping of the ordered prints to any place in India, the US or Canada. With free registration, unlimited storage, integration with Flickr and Picasa and a range of print formats at reasonable prices, a user is spoilt for choice.

Apart from dealing in digital cameras, G.K. Vale also offers very good digital printing services in India. Marginally more expensive than Picsquare or Snapfish, this site offers 4″ x 6″ photo prints for Rs. 3.99 along with various other photo gift options.

To round up the list, there is iTasveer, which lets registered users order a wide variety of customized photo gifts, from T-shirts to Teddy bears! iTasveer offers Flickr and Picasa integration, unlimited storage and India-wide shipping.

Hope you find these useful! Lastly, do let us know if you come across some more great sites for digital printing!