All posts by Tehseen Baweja

Tehseen likes to write about Internet tools that make life easier. Check out his blog at Ijaar.com for more good stuff or follow him on Twitter @tehseenbaweja

Twitter HoverCards: Preview a User Profile Without Leaving Your Timeline

Even though a lot of people prefer using third-party apps in comparison to the actual Twitter website, the Twitter team is bent on enhancing the user experience at Twitter.com. The latest in a series of efforts is a new feature announced recently by Twitter Spokesperson Jenna Sampson, called hovercards. As the name pretty much suggests, hovercards are virtual cards that pop-up when you hover your mouse over a Twitter handle.

The hovercard includes a preview of the user’s profile including the profile picture and location. The hovercard also tells you if you are following the person or lets you follow them from within the hovercard. More information about the user can also be seen through an expanded version of the hovercard. Moreover, they will also allow you to send direct messages to your Twitter friends without leaving your timeline.

In short, this feature will add a lot more interactivity to the Twitter website and will allow you to do almost everything without going to different web pages. The feature is being rolled out in stages so don’t worry if you don’t see it for a few days. However, do tell us what you think about this feature. Do you think some of the recent features introduced at Twitter.com might lure you to ditch your favorite third-party app for Twitter.com?

Google Plans To Launch An App Store

Following the rage of app stores, Google announced it would open another one focusing on Google Apps. This would probably be the first app store not focusing on a mobile device and geared towards enhancing web services already being offered by Google. These web services such as Gmail, Google Docs, Google Books and more, can use a lot of third party applications to provide more integrated services and enhanced features. The apps would be directed more towards enterprise users who can pay a small premium to utilize these apps.

Google already has something similar in place called Google Marketplace Solutions, but the upcoming app store would be a revamped version featuring more apps. The store would be launched as soon as March 2010 and would allow Google to keep a cut of the price customers pay for premium apps. In addition to increasing revenue directly, the store will tremendously help Google fight Microsoft applications by offering a broader range of features.

Along with other things, this app store will also make users more vulnerable to security issues since third party apps may not be as reliable as Google’s own services. Google estimates that currently 2 million businesses are using free or paid versions of Google apps.

Google Books Get a New Home Page, Couple Of New Features

Google Books is one the most popular platforms to browse through books, read them online and even download them. With millions of titles available, all you need is a good interface to find what you need. Google realized that and just revamped their homepage to provide a smoother navigation and browsing experience.

The homepage now showcases several categories of books including interesting, magazines, classics, medical, cooking and others. Each showcase is a horizontal scrolling frame that lets you jump to more titles by a single click, without reloading the page.

Another huge change comes to the My Library feature. Firstly, your personal library is now focused on the homepage for an easier navigation. Secondly, your library collection is now split in various tabs such as favorites, reading now, to read, have read and reviewed. Your library is now also split between different virtual bookshelves. You can add books to different bookshelves and decide to keep a bookshelf private or public. This new feature replaces the previously used labels feature. If you used labels before, they are now automatically converted into bookshelves.


Cut and Split MP3 Files Online

There are many good software for cutting and splitting MP3 files, however, they don’t help when you are on a different computer or you are not allowed to install any software on the machine you are using. This is where MP3Cut comes in. It is a dead simple tool that lets you cut MP3 files without any hassle.

To start, simply go to MP3Cut.net and upload the file you want to cut. Once the file is uploaded (might take a few minutes depending on the size of the file), select the desired interval. You can do that by simple moving the sliders: the left slider should be at your desired starting point while the right slider should indicate your ending point. Once done, click on split and download, and the tool would cut your MP3 to your desired interval. You can then download the file to your computer. You can also use the tool to play the MP3 file so you know which parts to cut out.

You can use it to create melodies for your cell phone or even just grab a particular sound or line from an audio file. If you are just looking to reduce the size of your MP3 file without cutting the content, you can do so by just altering the bitrate of the file.

Techie Buzz Verdict:

MP3Cut is a great tool that saves you from installing any software on your computer. The only thing that can be improved to make the tool even better is the speed.

Rating: 3/5

Firefox 3.6 Tip: Open New Tabs On Far Right

Firefox 3.6 was released a week ago and it has already been downloaded over 21 Million times. It is a great update with lots of new features and more efficient processes. One of the new features of 3.6 is the opening of new tabs when you click on a link. By default now, these new tabs will open next to the tab in which you click the link, hence, making it more relevant in position.

However, if you do not like that and want to go to the old way of opening new tabs on the far right, here is a little tweak to achieve that:

1. Open Firefox and type about:config on a new tab.

2. Filter the field type by typing browser.tabs.insertRelatedAfterCurrent.

3. Double click the entry to select it.

4. Change the value from True to False.

5. Restart Firefox to implement the changes.

Your new tabs will now open on far right. Remember, you can also see other tweaks for Firefox 3.5 tabs and read about other features offered in this latest version.

[Via FFExtensionGuru]

Watch President Obama’s ‘State Of The Union’ Speech Online

State of the union speech by a President is one of the most important addresses he ever makes. The purpose is to provide a report on Country’s condition and outline the agenda for the next twelve months. President Obama will give the speech next Wednesday Jan 27, at 9 pm EST. According to analysts his speech would focus on health care reforms, homeland security and the relief efforts in Haiti.

If you want to watch ‘State of the union’ speech live on your computer, you don’t need to go to any third party website to watch the event live. It would be streamed live on the official White House website. It is an advertisement free platform that allows you to watch live events from the White House for free. No membership or registration is required. On the other hand, if you want to watch ‘State of the union’ speech live on your mobile phone, you can simply download the official White House app for your iPhone or iPod Touch and watch the speech live on your mobile device. Download the app from here.

This is the first time White House will be officially streaming the speech on the web. Previously, it only used to be available at third party websites like YouTube. If you want to read the previous speeches, The American Presidency Project has an archive going back to George Washington (1790).

HP May Integrate Projector Technology In Tablet PCs

Do you hate to struggle with projectors during important business meetings? Do you think they are too old-fashioned and a pain to carry? All this may change very soon with the upcoming HP tablet PCs.

Gizmodo reports that HP may integrate a mini projector in the new tablet and notebook PCs. According to Monty Wong, the VP of personal computing systems group at HP Taiwan, HP is working on a tablet PC and a notebook launch for 2010, both with integrated pico-projectors. Wong further claims that the projector would potentially be placed at the top of a laptop screen, close to where the web cam is traditionally placed. If successful, this would establish HP as the market leader in mini and portable projectors as they are already one of the biggest players in the home office projector market. Ideas similar to these have previously been rumored for upcoming Apple tablet and actually demonstrated by ASUS in one of their laptops.

With increasing importance of portability, it is only fair to see more and more technologies being integrated with popular portable devices like mobile phones, notebooks and tablet PCs. We have already seen cameras, microphones, scanners. video players and projectors becoming a part of portable devices, what do you think is next on the list?

How To Make Kontera Ads Open In A New Window

Kontera is one of the leading advertisement solutions for contextual in-text ads. When you implement Kontera ContentLink ads on your blog or website, a lot of relevant keywords get double underlined and clicking on them takes the user to the advertised website. It is a pay-per-click advertising solution that lets you make money from your website without inserting messy and large images.

By default, when a user clicks on these ads, the advertised product or webpage opens in the same window. A lot of webmasters don’t like that and would rather have it open in a new browser window. Here’s a little trick to achieve that without any hassle. Simply add the following line of code to your Kontera code:

var dc_open_new_win = 'yes';

After doing this, your Kontera code will look like following:

This little tweak will open your ads in a new browser window when clicked by a user and help you retain visitors on your website. However, one should be careful in implementing this tweak as some pop-up blockers might create an issue. A good strategy would be to test the website in different browsers and with different kinds of pop-up blockers after implementing this change.

[Via MyDigitalLife]

AppStore Coming For Amazon Kindle

With Google and Apple constantly stealing the show, everybody thought Amazon is just going to sit in the backseat and stay out of the tablet wars. They were wrong.

Amazon has every plan to make Kindle a strong rival for the upcoming Google and Apple tablets. It plans to do so by opening up the Kindle API for developers. The story first broke unofficially on blogs, but has been confirmed by an official statement from Amazon. The app store will be launched later this year but a guide to developers toolkit is already available at http://www.amazon.com/kdk/ and a limited beta will be launched next month. Developers will be able to download the actual toolkit starting next month that will also include a Kindle simulator to test developed apps on the Kindle devices as well as Mac, PC and Linux desktops.

Kindle

Amazon will split revenue with developers at 30/70 with developers keeping 70% of it. Amazon is hoping this will make Kindle more customized and expect to see all kinds of apps including utilities and games. Reportedly, EA Games is already in talks with Amazon to develop games for Kindle.

Amazon is hoping to make Kindle an intermediate device between your cell phone and your computer, something which Apple and Google are also aiming to achieve with their upcoming tablets. With a 3G network, Kindle would see some really useful and unique apps that might give Apple and Google a tough competition. This piece of news also puts Amazon ahead of all other upcoming e-readers that are supposed to launch later this year.

Apple Tablet: Face Recognition & More Features Revealed

The much-hyped Apple Tablet, rumored to be announced soon, looks even more tempting after a few more features were revealed in a recent Wall Street Journal article. According to the article, Apple envisions the tablet to be shared by multiple family members rather than being a personal thing. The tablet may also be able to recognize different users via the built-in web cam. Reportedly, users will also be able to leave virtual sticky notes on the tablet and use a virtual keyboard for text input.

Apple’s tablet is also speculated to be geared towards reading newspapers, textbooks and even watching television on the device. For this purpose, Apple has been in talks with a number of newspaper publications and television networks such as CBS. According to sources, Apple may launch a subscription service for users to watch on-demand shows on their tablet. These details support Apple’s growing role of being the content middleman for everything digital ranging from music and news to television shows.

Another, much talked about news from Apple is the launch of a cloud-based iTunes store where users could buy songs without using the traditional software. Apple’s recent acquisition of Lala.com is a strong indication of a move in this direction. Based on other sources, Apple and Microsoft may partner up to make Bing the default search engine for all Apple devices including the Tablet.