Monthly Archives: November 2008

10 Top iPhone Video Apps

Written by Paul Glazowsk

Since its debut in 2007, iPhone owners have been capable of consuming video in two ways: via iPod software as well as a YouTube application. And these options presumably remain the exclusive utilities employed for viewing clips.

But they are other methods available now. The launch of the App Store this summer enticed a number of third-party developers to make use of the iPhone’s video playback capabilities. The Web-based television outfit Joost [iTunes] is the latest to joint the fray. Naturally, we thought it’d be fitting to see what’s what in that part of the iPhone market as a whole. Here are ten free highlights. We invite you to share your favorites, too!

Truveo Video Search

For roughly a year’s time, the iPhone’s native YouTube application was pretty sole purveyor of video search on the mobile platform. Given the immensity of the YouTube archive, it works to great effect. But perhaps you’d like to search elsewhere for content. Truveo Video Search [iTunes URL], issued by AOL, gives you another option. The company claims a high six-figure view count via the application to date.


Maybe you like the idea of download applications to your iPhone directly over the air. But a part of your might like to get a quick preview of what those applications might be like. AppVee [iTunes], a service we ourselves reviewed not long ago, presents its app reviews and video walkthroughs both for desktop browsers and iPhone owners.


Remember when the world of how-to videos took the Web by storm? The fact is, the depth of material has only grown with time. And Howcast [iTunes], one of the premier outlets serving the instructional, educational, and DIY market just so happens to provide iPhone and iPod touch users with videos they can really do stuff with. User reviews for the application are nothing short of stellar. This freebie is a definite winner.

The Weather Channel

Yes, you can use the free Weather Channel iPhone application [iTunes] for quick local map forecasts and text weather reports and things. But if you have a particular love for the Weather Channel’s ever-popular video readings, you can playback the latest news at your leisure.


We’ve all done it. At one time or another, we’ve all searched the Intertubes for footage captured in near-real-time by webcams all across the world. Well, there’s no need to fire up Firefox or IE or whathaveyou to get your fix on Berlin, Germany’s street scene from your home perch in West Coast USA. WorldView [iTunes] makes it happen right on your iPhone. A purported 6,000 webcams are searchable. Want a random view of some place on the map? Just shake. Literally.

FOX Sports

Delivered by Fox Sports Interactive Media, the Fox Sports iPhone application [iTunes] puts video on the backburner, but for coverage of athletic events, that’s somewhat understandable, especially when dealing with the dimensions of a handheld. But video is promised, with a running Top 5 FOX sports clips provided for many a replay.


The baseball season in America is over for now, but the media managers at MLB promise great things in 2009 to carry the torch left idle in 2008. Suffice it to say that video highlights will be included in MLB at Bat 2009 [iTunes]. That goes for gameplay and offseason items like award announcements, free agent signings, etc.

IGN Game Reviews

Speaking of gaming, IGN [iTunes], another FIM property, offers a rundown of videogame reviews reaching beyond the iPhone playground. You can set preferences to your favorite gaming platforms and get easy access to new titles and big hits. Hey, it’s a free download. What’s there to lose?

The iPhone itself is a marvel in design, so it seems fitting that [iTunes] presents its readers with a collection of news, blogs, and videos to follow while on the go. You could go so far as to watch clips while stationed alongside a fashion show runway. Nothing live, however. Though, how weird cool would that be?

vSNAX Videos

Taking the world of fashion and high culture to a more broad perspective, an application by Rhythm NewMedia called vSNAX Videos [iTunes] gives users access to clips from the likes of Ford Models, the Style Network, VH1, Young Hollywood and more. Many customers report having superb video quality on hand.

Honorary Mention: Joost

It’s the most recent one to land in the App Store’s database, but it receives bonus status here as the final pick in this iPhone video app mix. Because, well, why not? It’s Joost [iTunes]. The company recently debuted its browser-based video archive. And now it’s taking things mobile.

A word of warning: the iPhone app currently available for download has shown some playback and search errors in the 24 hours or so that it’s been live. The company acknowledges the problems and is working to better users’ experiences, according to MG Zeigler of VentureBeat.

Image source: iPhonelife

6 Ways World of Warcraft is Worse Than Real Life

Written by Christina H

article image

If you don’t play World of Warcraft, you have friends that do. And while we can’t begin to explain all the ins and outs of this 11 million-member community, we can bring out a few fascinating aspects of the WoW lifestyle … some of which you might wish you could go back to not knowing.

Did you know…


WoW is a Lot Like Work

In World of Warcraft, like real life, you need money. WoW uses in-game gold as currency and to do the fun stuff (“raiding” and killing huge monsters) you’ll need a lot of gold. And getting it isn’t a whole lot more fun than working at Burger King.

You earn gold by “farming,” which is the slang term for the monotonous quests players slog through each day, that generally involve killing X monsters, or collecting X items and getting gold in return. Over and over and over again. For hours.

Active players will need to do this tedious farming about two days a week, to fund the actual fun part of their game. So basically not only do you have to work a day job to pay for the game, but your character also has to have a day job to pay for his raiding.

Even stranger, enterprising gamers can make gold in a sort of commodities market that has formed in the WoW world. There is an in-game auction house where items are bought and sold between players. So you can sit there among the elves and monsters and act like you’re on the floor of the stock exchange. Buy low, sell high, get rich.

There are even complex software plugins people use to track price histories and trends. There is speculation, price fluctuations, and selling panics. If you’re asking why this is superior to, say, getting a similar job in real life, we suspect the answer is that in WoW you get to dress like this the whole time:


WoW is Also a Lot Like Job Hunting

You know how during your first month in prison you want to find a gang to join, so somebody’s got your back in case you get shanked in the yard? Well in World of Warcraft those gangs are called guilds.

Either fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, guilds have plenty of people lining up ready to sacrifice their social lives to the group. Aspiring members are so eager that they are willing to go through a ridiculously involved guild application process. So you…

1. Register on the guild forum and fill out an application like this one.

2. Guild officers then go over your application, check out your equipment and contact you if you meet their standards.

3. If you measure up, you’ll be allowed to go on some raids (missions) with them as an “app”, where you’re allowed only limited participation. This could go on for weeks.

“And you say if I do this, you’ll let me in your guild?”

4. You will go on some more raids with them as a “trial”, now with limited access to forums and guild chat. Again this could last for weeks or months.

5. Finally you will be made a full “member”, assuming you’ve not been rejected at any of the previous steps.

You might have noticed that most political offices don’t have that kind of vetting process. There are even websites featuring guild application tips and applicants often spend insane amounts of time putting together biographies or even animated presentations touting their skills.

And when applicants get turned down, it gets ugly.

At this point, guild shopping might sound suspiciously like job hunting to you, but it isn’t. When you apply for a job, employers not only don’t mind you applying for other jobs at the same time, they expect it. In WoW, you are expected to only apply with one guild at a time. So if the months-long trail period ends in failure, you start over.

And you do it all for the privilege of wearing the guild’s proud name over your head everywhere you go.


Prejudice is Alive and Well in the Game World

Like in any social environment, WoW has stereotypes. Of course the players can’t see your actual race, but that’s okay. You choose a race and class when you start the game, and you’ll be stereotyped based on that instead.

For instance, you can choose to play as a Hunter. People will promptly refer to you as a “huntard” and start speaking to you loudly and slowly. Are hunters dumber on average than any other class? It’s impossible to prove that kind of thing with hard facts or statistics, but yes.

It turns out a lot of new players and/or kiddies choose hunters when they first start playing (it’s an easy class for the novice) so the “Hunter=Dumbass” stereotype was born and deeply entrenched in the culture.

Another class, Rogues, have a reputation for being assholes. Again, there’s a reason for this. When playing against other humans, their most effective means of attack is to sneak up on people before they’re ready, kill them very quickly, and use their abilities to run away before their victim’s friends can get revenge.

Thus, players have figured out that many people select Rogues specifically because they enjoy this kind of hit-and-run behavior. Again we’re not saying that all rogue players are bad people, but they are.


A Whole Lot of Play Time is Spent Doing Things That Have Nothing to do With the Game

You would think that with raiding and guild duties and farming WoW players would be happy to have a free hour to sleep or possibly shower. Some manage to scrape the time together, but others take that free time as a challenge.

So, you wind up with activities like group dancing. In WoW, every player can dance, via the /dance command, and every race has a unique dance (male blood elves do the Napoleon Dynamite dance for example).

Druids can shapeshift, and their shapeshifted animal forms all have their own dances. Get a few dancing bears together, and everybody joins in, often leading to spontaneous dancing bear parades through the streets of a city, or massive dancing bear circles. Seriously.

Others spend time–a lot of time–coordinating group pictures, such as this masterpiece:

If you’re not sure what you’re looking at there, 25 or so players gathered around this shaft of light, summoned “mounts” (flying creatures) to fly to various heights, then all jumped off simultaneously so they could take this snapshot of them suspended in the beam, a split second before they all plummeted into a broken pile on the ground.

If that’s not your thing, you can get a pet. Sure, WoW has companion creatures that will help you in combat and such, but others… they’re just there.

“Stay. Good. This is a fun video game.”

Some are bought, others can only be won by buying packs of the accompanying WoW trading card game until you get an extra rare card that gives you an in-game code for the pet. Some can only be obtained from attending the yearly WoW convention in Southern California.

And they’re worth a lot of money. Not WoW gold, either. Real money.

These pets don’t even have the interactivity of Nintendogs or Tamagotchis. They follow you around. They occasionally make noises. That’s it. You can’t pet them or feed them or tell them to do anything. But god damn will your guildmates be jealous when you show them what you did with your $750.


You Have to Learn a New (Retarded) Language

How many bits of jargon can a single game create in just a few years of existence? Well this site lists over a thousand bits of terminology and slang specific to WoW. Some interesting (and telling) examples:

Bio break: Apparently it is rude to say “pee”, and “restroom” is too long to type, because when WoW players need to take 30 seconds to dash to the toilet and empty their bladders, they say “Bio”, or if they hope to sneak one in while other people are talking or getting ready, “Ninja bio”. As in, “biology has interrupted my game, and I must tend to it.”

Ninja Bio Receptacle.

RL: “Real life”. It seems kind of depressing that you need a qualifying term to point out when you’re talking about real life. Especially when that the term is most used as a negative competing priority. “I’m sorry I couldn’t make the raid tonight, RL got in the way.”

Wife/Girlfriend Aggro: “Aggro” is itself a game term, used on boss fights (when you’re getting “aggro” from the bad guy it means he’s focused on attacking you).

Hard as it may be to believe, sometimes a WoW player may have a significant other who does not play WoW. Sometimes this person (usually female in these cases) tends to be a crazy, unreasonable harpy who wants their husband/boyfriend to spend time with them sometimes instead of going on WoW raids all night.

“Sorry, guys, my girlfriend’s being unreasonable again.”

When these demands become extreme, sometimes the raider will joke to his fellow raiders that he has “pulled wife aggro” and has to go appease that crazy broad.


The WoW World is Plagued by Sexual Deviants

Like any online community, WoW has its share of perverts. One particularly odd manifestation of this is people approaching Night Elf female characters–that’s these things:

…and offering WoW gold to take off their clothes and dance. Why they can’t make their own Night Elf female character, take off its clothes, and dance, is going to have to remain between them and God because we don’t really want to know.

Incredibly, WoW’s programmers didn’t seem to anticipate any of this and so the game doesn’t give players a lot of ability to perform any sexual actions. But horny people with lots of spare time can get pretty creative.

Apparently male night elves have two penises.

Then there’s the Deeprun Tram, an automated tram running between two major WoW cities, which has gained a reputation as a place for perverts to secretly have cyber sex (and sometimes they get caught, as relayed in this infamous tale).

Probably the most famous WoW pervert went by the character name “Bronze Mustache”. Whether this is some kind of porn reference or not, we don’t know, as we don’t really know much about the intricacies of the Chinese language.

Googling “Bronze Mustache” is much safer than “World of Warcraft Sex Pervert.”

This WoW soap opera carried out among some Chinese players is pretty long and convoluted, but the basics are that “Bronze Mustache” stole another guy’s wife, “Quiet Moon”, and the Chinese WoW community became so upset over it that there were mass server-crashing protests eventually culminating in a mass in-game suicide:

Their sordid tale is recounted here, including original posts from the aggrieved husband and international newspaper accounts. Sample chat log:

Finally there’s this thoughtful blog post and discussion about in-game sex that offers some insights possibly better left unexplored. From the comments:

“On my server in particular we had a swingers guild, where the players would meet with each other IRL, slam it, and then return to their regularly scheduled lives. There were women characters, played by women , that were known to be cyberers. I had more than one girl actually want to call me up and have phone sex. More than one naked photo sent to me.

So what am I trying to say? Through it all, MMO’s are sometimes a very clear mirror of Real life.”


25 websites to sign up to before Christmas

Written by Katherine Hannaford

25 of the best social networking sites and services you should check out before Christmas hits

Christmas is a time of being with your loved ones, of focusing all your attention on them and sharing good times.

But what if you can’t stand your family, and would much rather be chomping your turkey dinner down in front of the green-ish glow of your computer monitor, instead? Good thing we’ve highlighted 25 websites you should sign up to before Christmas, so you’ll have many networks of strangers to escape to when your aunties start arguing about how to make gravy.

1.) Qype
– have you ever felt so enthusiastic/loathing of a restaurant, bar, hair dresser or cobblers, that you want to tell the whole world? Now you can, as Qype is an addictive site that allows users to post reviews of any public service, rewarding users with prizes the more they post.

2.) Mallplace – not keen on braving the crowds of Westfield? Shop from the comfort of your home, but still get that shopping mall feeling, by walking around this massive virtual mall, with all the major high street brands, designers, and small indies all gathered under one URL. You’ll find discount codes and vouchers here that you won’t find anywhere else.

3.) Flickr get revenge on your family and friends this Christmas, by posting photos and short videos of them arguing over the last Quality Street choc, and see what all your contacts are getting up to as well.

4.) Twitter highly addictive, this micro-blogging site has the ability to suck hours out of your week, as you update your friends on your actions in 140 characters or less. Think of it as being similar to updating your Facebook status, but several times a day. Just try and avoid the Fail Whale (pictured) and you’ll be fine.

5.) Dopplr heavy traveller? Tell the world where you’re visiting next, and see what your friends have been up to lately as well. You’ll also find recommendations for each city you visit, along with…how much carbon you’ve racked up along the way. Gulp.

6.) Blogger continuing on the over-sharing theme so far, Blogger is a free service that allows you to set up a personal blog in under five minutes. Customise your blog to the nth degree, and become an expert on whatever niche subject you wish to write about.

7.) a British start-up that has been described as a ‘Digg killer’, is a news aggregator, pulling in content from thousands of blogs. You can comment on the posts right there on, which are then ported over to the original blog post.

8.) Stumbleupon
another news aggregator, Stumbleupon gives users the power of selection, much in the same way as Digg, with a simple ‘green thumb’ submitting an article to the site, which thousands of other users can discover, and in turn give a green thumb too. The stories tend to be very quirky, making for an interesting read every time.

9.) Vimeo rather similar to YouTube, Vimeo caters for the art schoolers amongst us, with all the user-generated videos being of the more creative ilk. The bitrate and resolution is far superior to YouTube, and with the recent addition of 720p support, it’s for the more discerning video viewer.

10.) MyMall just like the aforementioned Mallplace, MyMall is another virtual shopping mall boasting 500 shops and 36 categories. You need never be wanting for a shopping experience on a rainy day again.

11.) Tumblr blogging for those who just can’t be bothered, Tumblr can pull in feeds from any of your online accounts, including Flickr and Twitter. Share photos, music, videos and text, and see what your Tumblr friends are getting up to at the same time.

12.) ThinkGeek T3’s favourite online shopping haunt, the US store offers bizarre gadgets and geek objects including lolcat magnets, a recent purchase for our office. Sadly the international shipping is quite high, so buy in bulk to make your single purchase of a paper email pad seem more justifiable.

13.) HotUKDeals a must-read for the current economic climate, Hot UK Deals is a forum for credit crunch-dodgers to post vouchers, sales info and freebies.

14.) LinkedIn a social networking site for professionals, think of it as Facebook for suits. Entirely valuable for anyone who wants to network, it’s a brilliant tool for staying in touch with past, present and potential colleagues.

15.) Where Is Your Username Registered not so much a site you sign up to, more a site that helps you choose a username for the aforementioned sites. Type in your name, or preferred alias, and it will bring up a list of sites that already have users with the submitted name, and those that don’t.

16.) Sumopaint we have no idea how this site is still in operation, as it’s such a blatant rip-off of Adobe’s Photoshop, however that hasn’t stopped us from using the photo editing site when in dire straits. Edit photos just like you would in Photoshop, using the exact same tools and lay-out. Perfect for netbook owners.

17.) Qik you can’t carry a camcorder every day, so instead take video on your mobile phone, and live-stream it to the internet for all to see. It’s a free application for a variety of mobile phones (we recommend using it on Nokia N95s), and is perfect for shooting videos at gigs, which are then uploaded instantly to a live-streaming site.

18.) 12seconds a relative newcomer in the online video world, 12 seconds works like Qik, and allows users to live-stream video from their mobile phone or webcam straight to their 12seconds profile. As the name suggests, all videos are under 12 seconds in length.

19.) we’re assuming most of you use at least one computer every day, so you know there’s nothing more frustrating than bookmarking something on your work PC, only for you to get home and forget the link. is a social bookmarker site, letting you take your bookmarks with you wherever you go.

20.) founded in London’s trendy Shoreditch, is an online music radio service, which builds up information on each user, streaming songs to their musical taste. Create custom radio stations and playlists, and even listen to tracks on demand – all for free!

21.) Friendfeed manage all of your above accounts and profiles on one handy page, which will pull in every footstep you make online. Use it to track your friends’ activities, and save hours of time and mouse clicks.

22.) Hungryhouse a UK takeaway delivery service, you simply type in your post code or address, and a list of nearby takeaway restaurants appears. Search by category, and once satisfied, view the menu and book your order on the site. Sit back and wait as your takeaway order is then given to the restaurant, and delivered to your front door.

23.) Imeem
another media sharing service, Imeem has jumped on our radar recently thanks to the terrific music-streaming app for the Google Android G1 phone. Interact with your friends by sharing videos, photos and music.

24.) Joost it’s been around the block for a few years now, and was founded by the creators of Skype and Kazaa. Live-stream popular TV shows legally, along with movies and music videos.

25.) ThisNext a social shopping experience, users bookmark products available to buy online, and thanks to the tags applied are easily browsable with a quick search. The electronics section in particular unearths plenty of random gadgetry, and it takes only a couple of clicks to go straight to the shop to purchase one for yourself.

15 Things Every Web Developer Should Be Thankful For

Written by Glen

developer thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving only a couple days away, it’s appropriate to look back on the things that we appreciate best about our jobs. Let’s face it: Web Developers have the best jobs around, right? We’re incredibly lucky to have the professions we do.

Here are 15 things that we all should be thankful for. These are the technologies that we couldn’t live without, or that have previously paved the way and allowed us to be web developers.

1. Mosaic

Graphic designers everywhere should reserve a day in November to give thanks to the software that’s enabled our careers. Without Mosaic’s picture support, the Internet doesn’t need good design. The 1993 launch of this web browsing software opened up a brand new world to web developers and web browsers alike.

Photo by Marc_Smith.

2. Firefox

Firefox ended the long tyranny of IE oppression for experienced web users. The extension-enabled browser has forced IE to play catch up and improve their lukewarm browser, which hadn’t seen an update for 5 years.

Aside from pushing a standards-based browsing initiative, the ability to extend Firefox has made the developers life much easier. There are oodles of extensions that are nearly essential to the developer.

Photo by psd.


Every web developer knows the awful pain that is making designs constant across different browsers. Thanks to Browsershots, we can easily see a screenshot of any page across a multitude of different browsers, showing potential problems that might arise across different browsers, and giving new reason to invent curses for legacy IE versions.

4. Firebug

Thanks to Firefox, we now have a browser that is also an important tool for the web developer. Firebug is a must-have extension for the web developer. With this nifty little extension you can view just about any aspect of the web page, visible or behind the scenes, and modify it real-time. It’s incredibly useful for designers and programmers alike.

Photo by zeroK.

5. Google Code

If you’re trying to find a useful snippet of code, there’s no place better than Google Code. Not only is it a great place to search for entire libraries, you can find useful bits of code that might be hard to find otherwise. If you’re wanting to house a project, you’ll be especially thankful for G Code, as it’s a free and easy way to have a working community for a project without hosting costs.

Also, with Google Code you can use Google’s bandwidth for the javascript libraries included in your projects. Using jQuery? Just call Google’s hosted version and be on your way. No need to slow your own server down with Google’s gracious offer.

6. Frameworks

Frameworks have given developers a major reason to be thankful. Gone are the days of building websites around repetitive code. Using frameworks like Rails, Django or CakePHP on websites needing database interaction and user permissions takes a major burden off of the programmer. They can spend less time on common, tedious code and more on the interesting and unique. It’s a powerful paradigm shift in programming.

Here are some of the major frameworks used today, in no particular order.

Photo by Nathan Borror.

7. Open Source projects

Mad props should be bestowed upon the Open Source Initiative and all the software it promotes. It is a fact that we wouldn’t have a) the Internet or b) much of the technology that it runs on without open source projects. Most of the biggest and best projects are open sourced software, and they all run on the basis that the people building and contributing to them are doing it for free. Granted, these folks might make a hefty profit on consulting services and other opportunities around the projects, they’re still opening up the code base for developers to modify and improve, as they see fit.

Open Source is the Internet’s best contribution yet. The free exchange of ideas encouraged by Open Source is the best thing that’s happened to the web, especially for web developers. Show of hands: Who hasn’t ever used open source software to build a site or project? I’m guessing none of us. That is plenty to be thankful for.

Photo by Josh Parrish.

8. Creative Commons

On the heels of Open Source is Creative Commons licensing. You can modify, reuse and redistribute Creative Commons-licensed material, in exchange for (at the most) attribution. Ultimately, Creative Commons protects the original work, but allows people to modify and reuse at will.

Creative Commons is a very big benefit for designers and bloggers alike. The pictures seen in posts on this blog? Creative Commons licensed. There is absolutely nothing better for content producers than free media that can be reused and remixed.

9. Paypal

Love ’em or hate ’em, Paypal and other payment gateways have made collecting payments a much friendlier task on the web. Sure, there are horror stories and bad experiences using their product, but Paypal has revolutionized the way money is exchanged on the Internet. They have an easy to use API, and if you’re wanting something even simpler, they offer a painless web interface to receive money from.

If Paypal has done you wrong in the past and you’re looking for a better alternative to send and receive money, you might check out a CNN article on five Paypal alternatives. Definitely worth the read.

10. Javascript Libraries

Javascript is always one of the most popular aspects of web development, and a big reason for that is the advent of Javascript libraries. Javascript libraries, (like frameworks), have eliminated the much of the need for custom Javascript programming. Aside from the fact that the core files in the Javascript libraries do a great many functions themselves, the ability to use custom plugins gives even more functionality to the library.

Not having to do custom Javascript programming for specific effects has given me a much greater respect for Javascript libs this holiday season. Here are some of the more popular Javascript libraries:

11. Amazon S3 and EC2

Amazon’s on demand services S3 and EC2 have developer’s lives a lot simpler. Not only do they not have to worry about traffic influxes and scaling headaches, they don’t have to spend buckets of cash on reserve servers. The pay-what-you-use business model to web hosting and file serving is a godsend for developers.

The launch of these “cloud” services has also spawn the change of many hosts to move to the pay-as-you-go model. Amazon’s innovation has helped spurn change for the betterment of web development.

Photo by Nicholas T.

12. Anti-RSI software

There is no friend like RSI-preventing software. RSI (or Repetitive Strain Injury) is typically in the form of carpal tunnel for web developers and typing zealots. Because the typical developer or designer spends at least 8 hours sitting in front of a computer screen all day, there is a likelyhood that RSI will creep into the wrists, hands, forearms, elbows, shoulders, back… and the list can go on and on.

Thanks goodness for RSI software that forces you to take breaks on a regular basis. Many times I’ll find myself fixated at the computer until I finish xyz, and consequently it’s over 50 minutes before I’ve gotten out of my chair away from the computer. With RSI software, you can have a reminder flash on your computer at set intervals that ensures you’re moving your limbs and warding off RSI. If you’re on a Mac, try AntiRSI, Windows and Linux users can try Workrave.

Photo by Dave Parker.

13. Advanced Text Editors

Advanced text editors have sped up the development time by adding a myriad of useful features that can benefit nearly anyone who writes in code, blogger to advanced programmer. Whether you prefer Textmate, Emacs, Vim or some other editor, text editors can save plenty of time on the development cycle.

Photo by D’Arcy Norman.

14. CSS

CSS seems to be one of those technologies that is taken for granted. Can anyone remember what the pre-CSS days were like? It wasn’t pretty. Modifying a web layout’s design meant going through each page and changing each inline style. Ugh. Thanks to the wonderment that is CSS, we can make one change in a single file, and Poof!, it’s reflected across the entire site. Simple, clean, and much less involved.

There are times when I’m not that thankful for CSS (see: Internet Explorer), but for the most part it’s a technology that we’re much better off having.

CSS editor CSSEdit.

15. Coffee

Ah, coffee. I don’t think I’m in the minority when I say that coffee is a staple to my day. Web workers in general crave the bean, and without it the day doesn’t go as well. There’s something about the smell of a fresh pot of coffee that makes the senses come alive. Many a cup of joe has sustained me through long nights of writing and coding deadlines. I doubt I would have made many of those deadlines without the aide of our caffeinated friend.

Photo by Chris Owens.

Bonus: Laptops

Laptops can completely change the effectiveness of a developer. Instead of being confined to the same room, chair, keyboard and monitor each day, the laptop allows for a much-needed change. While the screen real estate may not be as big as your office setup, it offers one thing the other can’t: Variety. Laptops enable you to work from anywhere.

I’ve found that since switching to a laptop, my RSI (see #12) has essentially gone away. I’m constantly working in different chairs and have my hands resting in different positions, which in turn is continuously working different muscle groups. I’m extra thankful for laptops.

Photo by Johan Larsson.

How About You?

What are you thankful for? What should be included on this list? Reply below!

Top 14 Top Gear Moments

Collectted by David Schwartz

Now, here at Hecklerspray sometimes even we have to hold our hands up and give begrudging praise where it is due.

So it is with a heavy heart that even we have to concede that Top Gear is a fantastic TV show. It’s so good even people who aren’t particularly interested in cars like it. For God’s sake, even our mums like it. It’s that good.

In fact, it’s so good, it can even afford to have that annoying, smug, pubic-haired twit Jeremy Clarkson in it – and still be good. It’s that good.

But don’t just take our word for it. Take a look at the show’s best moments and judge for yourselves. And if you have some suggestions of you own, please let us know.

14. Beating the Germans

OK, but beating the Germans should always be enjoyed.

13. Killing a Toyota pick-up

Toyota – the Rasputin of pick-up trucks.

12. Car darts

Darts with cars – brilliant.

11. Crossing The Channel

The only way to cross The Channel.

10. The Ariel Atom

Clarkson becomes even more grotesque than normal.

9. Bugatti Veyron v Eurofighter Typhoon

A car racing a plane? Doesn’t seem like a fair challenge.

8. Football, with cars!

Cars and football – genius!!

7. Richard Hammond’s return

It’s an emotional return for The Hamster after he almost died in a high speed crash. Hankies out.

6. The Top Gear Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympics was never this interesting.

5. The car v the tank

We’d all like to shoot Jeremy Clarkson with a tank.

4. The Arctic adventure

Richard Hammond by sled, Jeremy Clarkson and James May by car. Who will win the race to the North Pole? Are we the only people who wished Jeremy Clarkson had frozen to death?

3. The Reliant Robin space shuttle

A Reliant Robin suddenly becomes interesting.

2. Turning a car into a boat

Turning cars into boats! Water a great idea!! Get it?

1. The American road trip

Welcome to the United States. Welcome to TV gold! For the full episode, click below.

The Top 10 Reasons Why Kanye West is a Douche

Written by schmutzie


Kanye West is a douche for many, many reasons, but it is easy to falter and find yourself thinking “Man, that Kanye’s a pretty wicked dude”. It happens to the best of us, we falter at times, but it shouldn’t have to happen. I have narrowed the proofs of his douchiness down to a ten-point emergency checklist that folds easily into your pocket or wallet for those times when his blinding douchebaggery eludes you.

1. He douched out at the Grammy’s when he took the stage to accept his award, refused to leave the stage when his time was up, and then actually told them to stop playing the get-off-the-stage music so that he could keep talking. Me Kanye. I bes vewy, vewy important.

2. His new album, due out on November 24th, is a departure from his usual style, as he sings more than he raps. That is all good and well, because he is a talented musician, but then he had to go and douche it up by saying that this change in style is an attempt to challenge the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Paul McCartney, who he describes as “those artists in black and white photos”, because taking a crap on music legends serves to make Kanye’s genius obvious to all and sundry.

In a recent interview, Kanye said, and I am not kidding: “I realize that my place and position in history is that I will go down as the voice of this generation, of this decade, I will be the loudest voice. It’s me settling into that position of just really accepting that it’s one thing to say you want to do it and it’s another thing to really end up being like Michael Jordan.”

In that same interview, he showcased his inveterate respect for other performers by slamming Justin Timberlake: “There were people who had the potential to do it but they went on vacation, so when Justin went on vacation I made albums, and it just came out to be that.”

Kanye pulled the race card when it was announced that Britney Spears would be hosting the 2007 Video Music Awards. “I can’t believe she would perform. She hasn’t had a hit record in years. Maybe my money’s not right. Maybe my skin’s not right.” Riiiiight, that’s it.

In an interview with Tim Westwood, Kanye said “I’m doing pretty good as far as geniuses go… I’m like a machine. I’m a robot. You cannot offend a robot… I’m going down as a legend, whether or not you like me or not. I am the new Jim Morrison. I am the new Kurt Cobain… They feel like, yo, you know ‘he’s got a God complex, because he said if they wrote the Bible again that he would be in it’. Duh, yeah, I would be in it. I feel like I’m one of the more important people in pop culture right now… The Bible had 20, 30, 40, 50 characters in it. You don’t think that I would be one of the characters of today’s modern Bible? And people have their own forms of bibles now. It’s a new day and age…”

Watch the interview here.

Somehow, I just don’t think Kanye’s going to be my new personal Jesus.

7. In a display of extremely douchey poor sportsmanship, he now claims that the MTV awards shows are fixed, because how could the “voice of this generation” lose otherwise?

There are ten Facebook groups that come up when you use the search terms “Kanye West douche”.

Kanye West blogs up a storm. Mostly he’s fairly boring, but he drops these gems once in a while that turn being a douche into a spectator sport.

10. When his video for “Touch the Sky” did not win at the MTV Europe Music Awards, Kanye publicly expressed his incredulity. “It took a month to film; I stood on a mountain; I flew a helicopter over Vegas. I did it to be the king of all videos and I wanted to walk home with that award,” he complained. Kanye? Whining about how you are not the most popular will not work to make you more popular, but it will get you a “Top Ten Reasons Why Kanye West Is a Douche” checklist. Congratulations.

7 Financial Tips From the Great Depression

Written byy Jason Lankow

Having lived through the depression, our grandparents and great-grandparents formed a lack of trust in banks and turned to burying cash in the backyard or hiding it under the mattress. Our current economic downturn doesn’t yet call for such drastic measures but there are things we can learn from those who went through this challenging era and prospered.

Food: Grow a Garden

Source: BW/Color

Growing at least some of your own food can save a lot of money and provide the satisfaction that comes from eating local, really local. Consider starting a community garden such as the Depression-era community relief gardens, or the World War II Victory Gardens. For step-by-step instructions on growing your own relief garden at home, check here, and apply those same basic ideas to any project that you can implement on someone’s vacant lot (with permission) and organize some friends, family and neighbors. If you are more interested in developing a community garden, here is an in-depth overview.

Entertainment: Enjoying the Simple Things

Source: BW/Color

Not everything about the Depression was actually depressing. In hard times, we can sometimes find a lot of pleasure in remembering to enjoy the simple things in life. During the 1930s, games like Monopoly became popular because they gave people hope and allowed them to dream of a better life. Remember some of the board games from your childhood, and plan a low-tech outing with friends and family. It will also help you remember that you don’t absolutely NEED every single gadget that hits the store shelves, and on top of that it will be a bit cheaper than spending the day at Disneyland.

Transportation: How Many SUVs Does Your Family Need?

Source: BW/Color

Hitchhiking was prevalent in the Great Depression, and this is one area that can at least offer some creativity, although Mint absolutely does not recommend that you sell your car and get to work each day by holding up a thumb next to the freeway, nor should you become a hobohemian and hop trains to get around. However, since owning a car is more of a luxury than a necessity, we can learn from the community aspect and form carpools, walk to the store if it’s only a mile away, and if you are lucky enough to have a half-decent public transportation system, Google Maps now shows your time and cost to drive relative to taking a bus or walking. Consider moving closer to where you work and walk or ride a bike instead. Like Dave Ramsey, author of Total Money Makeover, says: “If you are willing to live like no one else now, you can live like no one else later.” Essentially, by defying convention, even for a relatively short amount of time, you can save a hefty sum of money.

Housing: Downsize or Rent a Room

Source: BW/Color

We all have different situations, and this is one of the most pressing issues facing our nation and the world right now. You might be just out of college and trying to make it on your own, or you might be paying for your child’s college now, but there are definitely lessons to be learned from the Depression. In some cases, it may be beneficial to sacrifice a bit of privacy in the short-term in order to get back on track financially. Rent an extra bedroom to a friend, have your child move back home if you are struggling to send him or her rent money every month, or downsize your home. You don’t have to necessarily make a gut-wrenching decision overnight, but do yourself a favor and at least check out some listings on Craigslist for rentals, or have a real estate agent email you listings in a cheaper price range. If a great deal pops up that piques your interest, you can at least bat around the idea with your family. If you are single, just go for it!

Jobs/Entrepreneurship: Nothing Left to Lose?

Source: BW/Color

Due to the extensive public works projects in the 1930s, there was at least a bit of relief for the unemployed masses. People simply took any work they could, and often worked 12 hour days. If you are looking for employment, you might consider looking for a position that is slightly below your ideal salary, but that seems to have the most potential for advancement. If you are entrepreneurial, and perhaps have already fallen behind on bills, one positive thing about the current economic climate is that you are starting over at a time when many other people are also faced with starting from scratch financially, and perhaps you may even be in a position where you literally have nothing left to lose, which can be a great time for personal innovation and taking the risk to start in a new industry or implement an idea that’s always been in the back of your mind. It’s time for boot-strapping!

Credit: Redefining What You Can Afford and Need

Source: BW/Color

If you have credit available, you might be tempted to use it before the bank cuts the credit line. Don’t do it. Going into debt will only hurt you in the long run. Instead, remember the words of your grandmother and heed this simple, age-old advice – “if you can’t afford to pay cash, you can’t afford it.”

Money Management/Budgeting: Simplify Your System

Source: BW/Color

When you simply have no money, it is easy to keep spending under control because it is impossible to spend. In many cases, one spouse saved money in the cupboard and even hid it from the other spouse. There is a good trick to be found here that requires a lot of discipline. If, for example, you are getting hit with overdraft fees, you need to establish a barrier that you absolutely will not dip below (even if it means paying a bill late). Take the cue from the 1930s and use cash rather than debit for your petty purchases, especially when you are close to zero in your account. This will help avoid paying $36 for that pack of gum if an unexpected payment goes through your account and causes an overdraft fee.

For our grandparents and great-grandparents who lived through the 1930s, many months surely consisted of living in survival mode, and there were much fewer recurring expenses and bills to be paid, so it was possible in a lot of cases to keep track of spending without even necessarily writing it down. Today, we have several types of accounts, in many cases at different institutions, with new types of debt and monthly payments to keep track of, so take a look at Mint’s free software today and start tracking your spending automatically to find areas where you can save money.