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

Microsoft Brand Gets a new Tagline: “Be What’s Next”

Microsoft hasn’t exactly been cutting edge when it comes to technology and innovation. However, in an effort to compete with rivals like Apple and Google, Microsoft has inititated a rebranding strategy with a new tag line. “Be What’s Next” is what you will see on many Microsoft promotions in a few days.

The announcement was made today at Microsoft Global Experience Conference in Atlanta. A video clip was also displayed at the conference with different logos for various Microsoft products. The spokesman Lou Gellos explained that the logos are not new logos but “directional examples” shown to the employees.  Many people think that the tagline doesn’t follow the approach Microsoft has adopted since last few years. With no game-changing products being introduced and slow rate of adoption for innovative technologies, it is hard to perceive Microsoft as the company of tomorrow; something which the new tag line hopes to achieve.

What do you think about this new branding strategy? Would it give Microsoft something a boost or would it be another object of ridicule for Microsoft?

[Via SeattlePi]

Mugtug Lets You Draw, Sketch and Edit Photos Online

If you are looking for a simple image editing tool but don’t want to go on a downloading spree, Mugtug offers something very useful. The web-based app by Mugtug is called Darkroom and is based on the latest HTML5 standards.  With Darkroom, you can edit images from anyplace in the world without the need to login.

Furthermore, it gives you the capability to quickly and simply perform essential edits of photos via full compositional tools like the crop, zoom and rotate. Darkroom also offers dozens of photo affects and each of them can be previewed by moving your mouse over it. You can also tweak photos by playing around and tweaking the exposure, contrast, saturation, brightness and even the white balance.  However, Darkroom does not seem to be designed for pixel level editing, so options like a clone brush or healing tool are offered.

In addition Darkroom, Mugtug also offers an online drawing and sketching tool called Sketchpad. The tool provides a classic painter’s tool set including  paintbrush, autoshape, texture stamp, and spiral brush. Every tool has an extensive array of modifications, together with flow, opacity, diameter jitter and many more. Each and every tool in Sketchpad may be employed in two diverse blending modes: paint and light. This immediately has a twofold effect on your color and texture combinations. A mixture of light, paint, stamps, and the spiral brush leads to the creation of dramatic and eye catching textures in your work.

There is also an option to import images from your computer or from your Mugtug account for those of you who do not prefer starting out on a blank canvas. Additionally, Sketchpad is completely incorporated into the Mugtug community, allowing you to save, tag, manage, and share your creations with others. For those of you who like to experiment with snapshots,  you may do so with this software by adding new aspects into the composition, inserting notes, or overlaying text.

Insert MP3 Files In PowerPoint Presentations Using MP3 AddIn

A popular hitch for the Microsoft PowerPoint user is that it is not possible to insert MP3-files in presentations. MP3 AddIn is a program which solves this problem by aiding you in implanting MP3 files into your PowerPoint without the necessity of converting them using external tools, such as MP3Converter and Quick Media Converter that would entirely convert the file.

When creating presentations, lots of users stumble upon the dilemma of integrating MP3 files into their presentations as PowerPoint requires the audio to be in the WAV file format. With MP3 AddIn, however, you dont need to lose sleep as it internally adds a header and modifies the file name of the MP3 file, tricking’ PowerPoint into dealing with it as if it were a WAV file.A major plus point of only altering the header of the MP3 file is the size.While a real file alteration will lead to great file size transformations,the new WAV file does not occupy much space (about 2 byte larger than the original MP3 file).

MP3Add In lets you relish the advantage of MP3 files while keeping your presentation super micro and tidy.Moreover, you no longer need to consider adding the different MP3files with your presentation when mailing it to friends or clients. It also has an idiot-proof interface with no snags or complex streaming options so you can embed MP3 files into PowerPoint very effortlessly indeed!

Download MP3 AddIn here

Use FTP On Your Android Phone With SwiFTP

With smart phones being an essential part of our lives now, it is critical to be able to transfer data between your phone and your computer. If you have an Android phone, there are many apps, paid and free, that let you transfer files between your computer and your phone, but nothing beats the simplicity and functionality of FTP. One of the best apps to use FTP on your Android phone is SwiFTP.

Once installed on your smart phone, SwiFTP allows you to access your Android device from anywhere and any system using the FTP connection. After the installation, you need to provide a username and password which will later be used to access the device via FTP.  The app also requires you to specify some basic FTP and phone settings and once completed, your Android phone can be accessed from a computer using any popular FTP client.

The app is open-source so you can completely tweak it or contribute to it by accessing the code. If your particular FTP client doesn’t work, you can send a request for support and it will be fixed. If your Android device is behind a firewall, SwiFTP will still work by routing the traffic through some proxy servers. Overall, SwiFTP provides a really simple solution to transfer music, documents and all sorts of files between your Android device and any other system using a secure FTP connection.

Download SwiFTP by searching the Android Marketplace or here.

Automatically Minimize InActive Windows With SweptAway

At any given time, an average computer user is working on several different things, switching from one software to another and minimizing and maximizing Windows. However, sometimes you are too lazy or forgetful to minimize all the inactive windows and they just sit there occupying space on your screen.

SweptAway is a small Windoes based application that has a simple solution tot his problem. Once installed, SweptAway automatically minimizes all the Windows that have been inactive for some time. By default that time is 300 seconds but it can be changed to anything you want by going into preferences. You can also have SweptAway run at Startup.

Swept Away

It is also understandable that some times you don’t want to minimize programs even if they have been inactive for a while. For that, SweptAway has an exclusions list. All the programs added to the exclusion list will not be minimized at all. Currently running programs can be added to the exclusions list by simply doing a right-click on the task bar. SweptAway only work with Windows based operating systems yet.

Download SweptAway from LifeHacker.

Lady Gaga Has More Fans Than Obama On Both Facebook and Twitter!

If you think President Obama has a huge following, think again. Lady Gaga beats Obama hands down, at least on Facebook. With 10.4 Million Facebook fans compared to the 9.7 Million for Obama, Lady Gaga’s Facebook page is a living proof of her ever growing popularity.

However, Facebook is not the only social media portal the singer has taken over. According to a social media analytics company Visible Measures, Lady Gaga is the only current music artist to reach 1 Billion views on YouTube. Some of her videos have individually reached hundreds of millions of views; for example video for her song Bad Romance currently has 238 Million views.  Not to forget, she also commands 4.7 Million followers on Twitter, again beating President Obama who just has 4.5 Million followers.

Lady Gaga’s fans on Facebook recently also organized a National Lady Gaga day that ended up having more than 100,000 attendees.With a pro-active social media marketing strategy, Lady Gaga has added millions of people to her fan following in no time. It is a great example of how cutting edge technology and real-time interaction with fans can help you even more than the traditional mediums of marketing.

[Via Mashable]

Forget Trident Gum, Would You Like To Be Paid In Tweets?

If the title doesn’t make much sense, you probably have not seen the latest Trident Gum commercial yet where people are happy to be paid in Trident Gum instead of money. Well, not sure how that’ll play out in the real world but somebody thought of a better idea. Why not pay and get paid in Tweets?

PayWithaTweet is a new web service that encourages transactions in tweets. As the service explains, sometimes a tweet can generate so much buzz about your product that it is worth more than the money you’ll get selling 1 unit of that product. This can be specially true if what you are selling is virtual like an article, a song, an e-book or any other creative thing where getting paid in tweets won’t cost you anything but instead work as a marketing strategy. To sell your stuff for tweets, you can use PayWithaTweet to generate a “Pay With a Tweet” button that will allow users to download your content once they have tweeted about it. Furthermore, you can specify the text of the tweet and include a short URL with it.

Pay With Tweets

For buyers, it wouldn’t hurt getting something for free if all you have to do is tweet about it. For sellers, it can be a really good tool to market your product for free and you always have the option to replace the “Pay With a Tweet” button with “Pay With $$$” button once you realize you have generated enough buzz about your product. As of yet, PayWithaTweet offers a very simple tool for a very powerful idea that can be developed into a more comprehensive marketing model over time. For example, if a business is able to filter out people who’s tweets would not help much, they would eliminate the risk of giving free products to people who won’t generate enough buzz. On the other hand, if you are a user with lots of followers and high Twitter reputation, you can get lots of free products like e-books, movie tickets and even gadgets and gizmos.

Twitter To Offer Shopping Deals Using @EarlyBird Account

TwitterRecently, Twitter has been experimenting with all sorts of strategies to monetize their network. It started with promoted tweets, followed by promoted trends and now it seems like Twitter is getting into the shopping deals business by offering early bird discounts. The @EarlyBird account was setup just a few days ago and has not seen any activity yet. However, it is not too hard to guess that Twitter will use the account to advertise shopping deals to millions of users who decide to follow the account.

It is a really good strategy given the fact that it will not be in users face like an annoying banner or pop-up ad. However, it is also  important  that Twitter uses a good strategical placement to highlight the account so users can know about it. Companies would love the extra marketing channel and users won’t mind it since it would be totally opt-in. While it won’t be a Woot or Groupon killer, this latest effort by Twitter should work well since it would be more useful and relevant to users than either of the previous methods.  A good example of this strategy in action is Dell. Using its various accounts on Twitter to publish deals, Dell has generated $6.5 Million in revenue from users who were directed to Dell’s website through these Twitter accounts.

What do you think about the chances of @EarlyBird being a successful monetization strategy? Would you follow the account?

Understand How Things Work With AnimatedExplanations

Reading informative how-to articles help to a certain extend but sometimes you really need to see an illustration to understand the topic. AnimatedExplanations is a new web service that aims to do exactly that. It is a collection of short animations that help you understand things related to health, technology and life in general.

The collection is still pretty small but the quality of content is top notch. The animations are all well made with a clear narrative. Topics include simple things like “What is Twitter?” and “What is a Migraine” as well as complex issues like ‘What is IPv6″ and “What is Multiple Myeloma?”. Most of the animations can also be downloaded, shared through social media and email and even embedded on web pages using the provided code.

Animated Explanations

With a clean and easy to use interface, browsing through the animations is simple and fun. Organizations can create custom channels to explain their products and reach large audience through some high quality content. If you have an organization but no time to spend on creating an animation, you can also sponsor one related to your industry. Over all, AnimatedExplanations is a neat idea that will grow tremendously with the number of animations of the site given that the quality of the animations is not compromised.

Is Tumblr The Next Big Thing?

Tumblr is nothing new; it has been around for a few years now and has gradually increased in popularity as a feature-rich yet quick blogging platform. However, something that has significantly changed for Tumblr in past few weeks is the entry of a number of traditional media giants.

After utilizing Facebook and Twitter for social media marketing and real-time interaction with users, lots of large newspapers, magazines and TV shows have created a Tumblr blog. Included in the list are Newsweek, NewYorkTimes, TheNewYorker, Life Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Travel Channel and even The Today Show. So are these prestigious media outlets really seeing something unique and useful in Tumblr as a platform or are they just trying to make an early entry in what they are guessing to be the next big thing?

Tumblr

One of the most important reasons for Tumblr’s popularity is the casual and easy-to-use platform, something which is really useful for an average user but is hardly important for a big organization with lots of resources. The only thing that makes Tumblr unique from other blogging platforms are the interactive features that let users follow other users and quickly re-post their content. Given the popularity of the following phenomenon seen at Twitter, these large organizations are probably convinced that Tumblr is going to raise in popularity over time and even if it doesn’t come close to Twitter and Facebook, it will probably be the next best thing.