Tag Archives: Tutorial

Tutorial: Use Google Maps to Measure Distances

If you have used the internet at all, you have probably at some point used Google maps. It is probably the most fascinating and under utilized tool on the web. It is great for getting directions from here to there. You can also use the satellite view to get a real life picture of an area on they map. Street view is pretty handy to if you want to know what the landmarks of an area you are visiting look like. Today, I would like to show you a neat tool for measuring distances using Google maps.

I work in the construction industry and we are constantly looking at large buildings and parking structures. So often when you’re bidding work for someone, they don’t have a good blueprint with accurate measurements. Fortunately, Google maps makes this pretty easy. First thing we need to do is have a Google account. If you don’t have one, go to http://gmail.com and sign up for an account. The reason for this is you need to actually login to Google maps to use this tool. Once you have a Google account, go to http://maps.google.com. You should see something similar to the picture below. Beside the “Google” logo there is a search box where you can type an address or significant landmark and do a search. In my first example I typed “Golden Gate Bridge” because I thought it would be neat to see how long that bridge is. Once you type in your search, you will notice a button that says “My Places”. You will need to click this to get to the measuring tools.

Once you click on “My Places”, you will see what is pictured below. To use these tools, you actually create a custom map. Don’t worry, you can delete it later if you don’t want to keep it. Click the red “Create Map” button to start using the measuring tools.

Create Map

Below, you can see my screen. The Golden Gate Bridge is pictured in the middle. In the upper left corner of the map, you will see three buttons. The little hand tool lets you move the map around. The middle tool that looks kind of like a push pin allows you mark places on a map. This is handy for travel planning. The last tool looks like a squiggly line. This tool lets you draw a line on the map and is what we will use to measure distance.

Golden Gate

Below, you can see up close where I selected the “Draw a line” option on the Google map.

 

Line Tool

Below, you can see where I have drawn my line across the bridge. Here’s what I did. I clicked on the first point where I thought the bridge started. Now you can drag if you want to. What I did was just find the ending point of the bridge and clicked there. You will notice when you click, you get a little white square indicating a point where you clicked. Straight lines are easy. If you have something that is curvy or oddly shaped you will need to do several small clicks at a time. Once you have finished drawing your line, you will need to click the last point of your line to indicate you are finished.

Line Drawn

Once you have completed your line, a little box will pop up like the one pictured below. This is where you can give your line a description. Notice at the bottom of the box that it tells you how long the line is. In this case it was 1.05 miles.

description

Now you may be wondering how accurate this measurement is. Well, I was a little skeptical. One problem for me on the Golden Gate Bridge was I didn’t know how far down to click to get an “official” measurement. So I decided to my own little test. I decided to do a search for the place where I work. In the back of our building we have this huge dumpster. I went out and measured and got 21.5 feet on my tape measure. Notice in the picture below, I have a red arrow pointing to the measurement of my dumpster. That is pretty darn close if you ask me!

Dumpster Measurement

There are so many applications I could see this tool being used for. For instance, in the electrical industry it is always important to have an accurate measurement of cable runs so you order the appropriate amount of cable. Copper is expensive and having good measurements can save you a lot of money. Maybe you need to reseed your lawn but you’re not sure how many square feet you have. Google maps would be an excellent way to measure that distance. I hope you have enjoyed this little tutorial. As always feel free to comment or as any questions.

Tutorial: Use Word 2013 to Edit Your Blog

Office 2013 sports some pretty nifty features. One them is the ability to edit your blog directly using Word 2013. In this tutorial, I will show you how you can create a short blog post, insert embedded video, and save it as a draft on your WordPress website. Let’s get Started!

Word 2013 Splash Screen

When you first open Word 2013, you are presented with some gorgeous templates to help you get started. Pictured below, you can see that I am choosing the template called “Blog post”.

Blog Template
Select the Blog Template to get started.

The first time you open the “Blog post” template, it will ask you information about your blog’s URL, as well as username and password. Once you get that out of the way, you can start typing as I have below. Notice that I have typed “A Day at the Races” in the title section of the blog post. Below that you can see that I am typing about an experience I had with my son that weekend. You will also notice that some of the text is underlined in blue. This denotes that I have made that text a hyperlink. All I had to do was highlight the text and click the button at the top that looks like a little globe and is labeled “Hyperlink”. Things were moving along pretty smoothly until I decided I wanted to use this great new feature that Word 2013 is touting, which is the ability to embed videos. However, when I clicked the “Insert” tab, it was nowhere to be found, hence the giant red question mark I put in the picture.

Missing Embed
Notice we’re missing the embed video button.

Well, I decided to do a little digging. It hadn’t been that long ago that I did a tutorial on how to add buttons to the quick access toolbar in 2010, and fortunately Word 2013 sports that bar as well. If you look at the picture below, you will see where I clicked the downward pointing arrow on the quick access toolbar. I then selected “More Commands” from the bottom of the menu.

Quick Access Toolbar
Add Commands to Quick Access Toolbar

Next, I knew that I wanted to insert a video. By default, the “Popular Commands” category is chosen in the selection area. I clicked the dropdown arrow and chose the “Insert Tab” category because I suspected this is where I would find the insert video command I was looking for.

Insert Tab
Insert Tab

Under the “Insert Tab” heading was listed the option “Online Video”. I selected that video, clicked the “Add” button to move it to the right column of the dialog box. Lastly, I clicked OK at the bottom.

Now, I was in business. Circled in the picture below, you can see the “Online Video” button on the quick access toolbar. I clicked that and it opened the dialog box you see below. I simply had to copy the embed code from my YouTube video and paste it into the box to the right of the field that says “From a Video Embed Code”. You will also see circled in red to the right, the button that you need to click to insert the video.

Embed Video
Embed Video

Pictured below, you can now see I have my YouTube video embedded in the body of my blog post. To the right of that, you see a little box that says “Layout Options”. This is where you make the video box bigger and configure how it aligns with the text.

Layout Options
Layout Options

The last thing I want to do is save this post as a draft on my main blog so I can see how well it transfers over. I click on the “Blog Post” tab, then under the “Publish” button I click the downward pointing arrow, and select “Publish as Draft”. The reason I am doing it as a draft is so I can make final edits on my blog host.

Save As Draft
Save as Draft

If you look in the image below, you can see where my post was successfully published to my WordPress blog. Well, almost everything successfully published. Unfortunately, I found a nice little bug in this feature. The video didn’t actually transfer. For some reason, during the act of publishing, my video was converted into a PNG file. So basically, it’s now just a picture. This may explain why the insert video link was missing in the blog template to begin with, but I feel like this is a big flop if Microsoft didn’t consider the fact that some would want to publish videos to their blogs. Be mindful however, that the video works great embedded in the Word document. It just didn’t carry over.

WordPress Screenshot

I sent a note to Microsoft regarding the bug, but have yet to hear back. I will be sure to update if I do hear from Microsoft. You can notify Microsoft of bugs in any of the Office 2013 Consumer Preview apps by clicking the frown face in the upper right corner of the programs. Honestly, I like the ability that Microsoft Word 2013 gives me in the blog template. Unfortunately, it’s not perfect.

IORAD Lets You Record Like A Video, Present Like A Powerpoint

Planning for a quick video for your friend on how he can configure his network setting or how he might be able to start a download from YouTube? Or planning for a tutorial for your next blog post. For all the practical reasons you would have done a screen video or a presentation. This time let’s try something in between, something equally(if not more) better, let’s try IORAD.

iorad-intro

Sign up for a free account and you will be taken to a page where you can start creating a tutorial. You will be required to start by naming your tutorial first. Next steps involve window selection and then just doing what you wish to demonstrate. As you complete the tutorial you can press “Done” to finish the recording or you can pause the recording midway as well. The recorded clips will now be loaded and you can edit them a slide at a time. Add action buttons from the left which includes Read, Click, Type and Hover. For most of the slides, however, the action buttons are already added. So all you need to do is rectify the mistakes or include a few more.

Be advised that Internet Explorer and Firefox browser are recommended to get the action balloons to be added automatically. IORAD is something in between video and Powerpoint presentations. You get to record the screen just like you would normally do a video screen grab. However, the end result is based on slides and the illustrations are more interactional as the viewer can actually perform the similar actions(demonstrated in the tutorial) on the presentation to move on to the next slide. Although, a streaming slideshow would have been a great addition to the features on the platter. There is also an option to embed any tutorial on a webpage. The size restriction only allows you to add an iFrame of 1000px wide which is quite high for most blog layouts. Take a look at a demo tutorial I created with IORAD.

Apart form browser windows, any window from the PC can be recorded with the tool which would definitely help any presenter to create comprehensive tutorials. One downside is that the fixed window size for the recording is a bummer if tried on many dynamic websites where the elements fall apart once the window is resized. The tool has been there for a while. The older version used to have additional flexibility while recording/editing that are removed in the latest edition. The new interface is simpler and more task oriented. Nevertheless, it’s still a quick and nifty way to create interactive tutorial presentation with precise brevity for anything that happens within a computer screen.

What Are Magnet Links? How Are They Different From Torrents?

So you heard about Magnet Links and were terrified? What Are Magnet Links? How Are They Different From Torrents? How to Download files using Magnet Links. Are Magnet Links Safe?

Magnet Links

In a world of peer-to-peer sharing, Torrents have come along a long way along. However, Torrents are being deemed as less safer these days because of people being able to easily track them. This has led several websites including "The Pirate Bay" from changing the way they allow users to download files.

Also Read: 6 Tools to Download Torrents Anonymously

The Pirate Bay recently switched from torrents to magnet links marking a big change in how it operates. In a nutshell, magnet links change how users download content. We’ll take a look at what has changed and what you will need to change in order to download files using Magnet links.

What are Magnet Links? What’s the Difference Between Magnet Links and Torrents?

Magnet Links change the fundamental way in which we download from peer-to-peer networks. Unlike Torrents, which needed a centralized server for tracking purposes, magnet links directly download content from other peers thus getting rid of the centralized server for tracking seeds and peers.

Also Read: What Are Web Seeds? 

Magnet links make use of DHT, which is a form of decentralized distribution which allows a group of users to share a file faster amongst themselves without having to rely on a server. There is not much difference between how a file is downloaded from a torrent vs how it is downloaded from a magnet link.

Do I Have to Change How I Download Using Magnet Links?

No. Magnet links are similar to torrent files and if you have a P2P torrent software installed, you will be able to download the content using magnet links without having to change anything. However, you might have to upgrade your P2P software to the latest versions so that the browsers are aware that they should handle those links.

How to Download Files Using Magnet Links?

There are couple of ways in which you can download content using magnet links. The first is pretty straightforward. Just click on the link that is provided and it will launch your default torrent software as shown below. You might want to check the checkbox next to "Remember my choice for all links of this type" or "Always use this software to open such links" so that it will automatically open magnet links in your favorite torrent client.

Download Magnet Links

Clicking on the "Get This Torrent" link in Pirate Bay will automatically launch your Bittorrent application.

downloading_through_magnet_links

Once you open the magnet link, your torrent client will start downloading the content just like a regular torrent. Alternatively, you can also copy the magnet link and add it directly to your torrent client just like you used to do for regular torrents.

Are Magnet Links Safe?

Downloading through magnet links is as safe as downloading a torrent file. However, make sure to download legitimate content and you will be safe. There have been several cases of infected torrents so the files you download through magnet links could be unsafe as well.

Install Windows 8 from a USB Drive

A short while back, Microsoft released Windows 8 Consumer Preview, which features more than 100,000 changes. Go ahead and grab the download link and product key, if you haven’t already. Windows 8 is available as a simple installer, as well as an ISO image. The installer is simpler to use, and it automatically downloads the right version for your system. However, it also requires constant high speed internet connectivity on the system on which you wish to deploy Windows 8. If you want to use the ISO image, but don’t want to go through the hassle of burning it to a DVD, here’s a quick guide for installing Windows 8 from USB media. You will require an USB device with at least 4 GB free space and NTFS file system. Formatting it before proceeding with the creation of a bootable device is recommended, but is generally not necessary.

  • Mount the image using a freeware like SlySoft Virtual CloneDrive or extract it using WinRAR (or other similar software).
  • Open Command Prompt as Administrator. You can do this by typing cmd in the Run dialogue box (Win+R) and pressing Ctrl+Shift+Enter.
  • Type the following commands:
     
    diskpart
    list volume
  • From the list that is displayed, note the volume assigned to your usb device, and select it as shown in the screenshot.
     
    select volume 5
  • Next, we need to mark it as the active volume.
     
    active

Windows-8-Diskpart

  • Now the disk is ready, and we can proceed with the creation of the boot sector. Exit diskpart.
     
    exit
  • Browse to the location where you extracted/mounted the ISO, and open the boot directory, as shown in the screenshot below.

Windows-8-USB-Bootable

  • Execute the following command. In my example, D: is the drive letter of my USB device. Replace it with the appropriate value.
  •  
    bootsect /nt60 d:

    Windows-8-USB-Bootable

Finally, the USB device is ready to be used as a bootable media. All that remains to be done is to copy the contents of the Windows 8 setup directory into your usb device. Once this is completed, reboot the system and enter the BIOS. Change the boot priority to assign highest priority to Removable Device/USB Device. Save changes and restart again to proceed with Windows 8 installation. Don’t forget to reset boot priority settings after Windows 8 installation is completed.

Easily Pin Your Websites in Internet Explorer 9

If you are on Windows 7, Internet Explorer 9 allows you to pin a website to the Windows taskbar, and access the website pages directly without having to open Internet Explorer first. The unmatched visibility on users’ desktops results in increased traffic for a website. This also gives an app-like feel to the website or web app.

To pin a website, just grab the tab and drag it down to your taskbar. Apart from the one-click access, a pinned site also allows you to right-click on the icon to get a list that directs you to particular content on the site. Some pinned sites can also notify you that content has changed on the site. While pinned Facebook alerts you of the Facebook notifications for your account, pinned Hotmail notifies with a number corresponding to the new email in your inbox.

ie9-pinned-site

Microsoft has now launched a new service Pin My Website to encourage website owners to add the pinned site functionality to their websites. The site provides an online wizard to guide you to few steps that would give you a code snippet that you can use on your website to take advantage of this function. Microsoft claims that pinned sites gain traffic, and these steps take an average of only 36 seconds to complete!

In the first of a total of four steps, all you need to provide is your contact details and basic site information like site’s name and URL. You will also need to provide an icon for your main site.

PinMyWebsite - Basic Site information

Jump List items act as entry points into the website even when the browser is not running. The next step requires you to list the commonly used destinations and tasks that apply to the whole site.

PinMyWebsite - Jump list tasks

A dynamic Jump List can contain items that will automatically change over time, to give access to periodically updated information like news updates. To use this feature, your site must expose an RSS feed with the items that you want to show on the Jump List.

PinMyWebsite - Jump List tasks and Notifications

The last optional step enables you to add a pinning notification bar on the  top of your webpages. This bar prompts IE9 users to pin your site.

PinMyWebsite - Drag-and-drop site pinning bar

Once you complete the four steps, you can generate the code to use on your site and allow IE9 users on Windows 7 to pin your site to their taskbar.

[Tutorial] Long Exposure Photography: Writing Your Name

In my previous article, I explained about long exposure photography, the technique involved and the important features and materials you require while shooting photos in slow shutter.  In this article, I’ll show how you can take long exposed photos. In this simple tutorial, you’ll learn how to create the following effect – Writing your own name

Long Exposure Photography

Materials Required

Tripod
Flashlight or LED

You can use any kind of light source, but make sure that you can control the light. For best results, stick to a flashlight or an LED.

Setting Up Things

First things first. Get your camera and set it on your tripod or on a flat surface (make sure it does not shake). Set the focus of your camera using the auto-focus mode or AF mode. Once the camera is focused, switch it to manual mode and do the following changes:

ISO
Set your camera ISO to 100 or 200. Always use lower ISO when doing long exposure photography. It reduces the noise.

Shutter Speed
Since we’re writing a name, we require ample amount of time. Therefore, we need to keep the camera shutter open for a longer period. I took about 20 seconds to write my name. I suggest you to set the shutter speed to at least 30 seconds.

Aperture
Aperture completely depends on your lens/zoom, focal, exposure etc. I generally use f/11. Depending on the conditions, figure out what aperture suits best and set the aperture.

Once you’ve changed the above mentioned settings, you’re now ready to go.

Turn off the lights and press the shutter-release button. The camera shutter is now open. Without shaking the camera, slowly go and stand in front of it. Turn on the flashlight and start writing your name in mirror image (or you can draw/scribble something). The shutter will close after 30 seconds, so you need to be as quick as possible.

You may commit a few mistakes, but repeating the steps several times will definitely give you a result.

Now you can start experimenting with different colored flashlights to get some nicely exposed pictures. Use your art and make it look colorful! Here’s something you can try as well. Turn yourself into a ghost!

Long Exposure Photography

P.S. You need to remotely trigger the shutter-release button to do this, so you will need a wireless remote.

iOS 5 Jailbroken Already

Within a day of its unveiling, and months before it will be launched, iOS 5 has already been jailbroken.

MuscleNerd, a member of the iPhone Dev Team announced on Twitter that he has already jailbroken iOS 5.

“iOS5 jailbroken on ipt4g: http://is.gd/7GxIcK http://is.gd/BwPvfh via limera1n + tethered boot..not too many surprises :)”

The jailbreak was done using Limera1n, but there is a catch. It is a tethered boot jailbreak, which means that you would need to connect your iPhone to a computer every time you reboot it.

Cydia works well on the jailbroken device running iOS 5, and he was also able to install iSSH successfully.

Since Apple won’t be launching iOS 5 until Fall 2011, this exploit isn’t very useful now, but MuscleNerd says that it can be used to jailbreak the final version of iOS 5 as well, when it launches. It would be quite realistic to expect a much more usable and convenient version of the jailbreak within a day or two of iOS 5’s launch.

Here are some images of iOS 5, jailbroken, with Cydia installed.

Apple iOS 5 Jailbreak

Check out our detailed coverage of iOS 5 – iOS5 Everything You Need To Know About It

How to Build Your Own IBM Watson

If you have been following the news keenly, you might know that the IBM-built Watson artificial intelligence supercomputer trounced two of game show Jeopardy!‘s most famous contestants recently. Developed under researcher David Ferrucci, the Watson supercomputer trounced Brad Rutter (winner of the biggest all-time money on the show) and Ken Jennings (record holder for the longest championship streak) in a two-game combined point match. All this is known to you, reader of Techie Buzz. But have you felt the urge to actually make your own supercomputer in your basement, provided you have enough money for the enterprise?

Watson's_avatar

If you did, then you have come to the right place. Tony Pearson, Master Inventor and Senior Managing Consultant for the IBM System Storage product line at the IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, has written up an easy-to-follow article on how to build your own supercomputer, called the “Watson Jr.. The system incorporates 3 host servers (as opposed to the senior Watson’s 90 servers) and will approximately have 1 terabyte of storage in total. The supercomputer might not be as fancy as the Jeopardy! winning artificial intelligence but it does promise to be a fun summer project if you have enough time and money to invest in (and, of course, a large-enough space to house the computer in).

The basic needs of this computer are as follows:-

  • Three x86 hosts, with the following:
    • 64-bit quad-core processor, either Intel-VT or AMD-V capable,
    • 8GB of DRAM, or larger
    • 300GB of hard disk, or larger
    • CD or DVD Read/Write drive
    • 1GbE Ethernet
  • Computer Monitor, mouse and keyboard
  • Ethernet 1GbE 4-port hub, and appropriate RJ45 cables
  • Surge protector and Power strip
  • Local Console Monitor (LCM) 4-port switch (formerly known as a KVM switch)

I can see your hands itching to get to the meat of it, so do check out the tutorial on IBM’s website before going shopping!

Learn to make your First PHP WordPress Plugin in 10 Minutes

WordPress is fantastic. Take out word for it. Even Techie Buzz runs on WordPress! One of the reasons why this blogging platform is so famous is due to its vast and vibrant community that creates, shares and modifies plugins.

grey-m

Plugins are tiny (or large) pieces of code that extend your site to do a lot of things. According to WordPress itself, Plugins can extend WordPress to do almost anything you can imagine, from sending your new posts to Twitter automat[t]ically to having HTML5 MP3 players with a minimal interface.

Now, Jay Harley, the founder of Heaven Interactive and an avid web programmer has put up a very short primer on making your own WordPress plugin in PHP within ten minutes. This Graphical User Interface (GUI) plugin works off your WordPress Admin Dashboard.

The tutorial assumes that you have a solid grasp of PHP and some experience with WordPress. It also builds up on concepts introduced by a few WordPress plugin-authoring books such as WordPress Plugin Development (Beginner’s Guide)

While the tutorial is not as fleshed out as a real introductory class on plugin development, it sets the stage for further development by you, the developer. If you have always wanted to write your own WordPress plugin, this is that ignition that you have always wanted!

Start making your own PHP WordPress plugin in ten minutes.