Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Chrome: Imgur took the crown as our favorite image host for it's speed and ease of use, and imgur Extension by Metronomik takes a few extra steps out of the process for Chrome users.Once the extension is installed, you'll see a "rehost image" option when you right click on any image file in Chrome. You can also click the imgur icon in your extensions list to open up a new tab where you can drag and drop multiple files from your computer to automatically upload to the service. Once they've uploaded, just mouse over the thumbnails and click "copy link" to get direct URLs for the hosted files. If you have an Imgur account, you can also connect it from this page to enable uploading into specific albums.Imgur was pretty fast to begin with, but this distills the process to a simple right click or drag and drop, without ever having to visit imgur's site. It's fast enough that it will probably replace Bloodrop as my quick image link generator of choice.imgur Extension by Metronomik (Free) | Chrome Web Store via CNET
Exercise: most of us hate it and wish we did it more often. The key? Finding a routine that doesn't take too long but also doesn't try to pack two hours of work into four minutes, leaving you feel like you're lucky to be alive. Over the last couple of years, tons of of quick exercise routines you can actually stick to have surfaced. Pick one and get started this weekend.Circuit training workouts are great because you can pick a few key exercises for the day and just keep doing them for 20 minutes (or until you can't go on anymore). The downside, of course, is that these workouts tend to be a little difficult in the beginning but if you stick with them and don't expect too much of yourself right off the bat, you'll get in better shape with a small time commitment.Our guide to getting a complete workout with nothing but your body features plenty of simple exercises you can start with. Just pick three to five that focus on different parts of your body and swap them out with other routines during the week. You can also spend different days concentrating on specific parts of your body (e.g. arms, legs, or core) when you want more focus but try to work in some sort of cardio whenever possible. For some assistance, check out previously-mentioned mobile and webapp Sworkit. It creates randomly-generated circuit training workouts, walks you through them, and tracks your progress. The app is free to use, but a pro version offers additional features.Interval training proves that you only need about 20 minutes worth of exercise per day to get in shape. Like circuit training, interval training tends to require harder work for a shorter amount of time but it can be a lot easier than you might think.Researchers found that the single most effective exercise regimen may be spending 20 minutes on a stationary bike performing micro intervals. You simply pedal slowly for 12 seconds, pedal as fast as you can for 8, and then repeat this process 60 times (for a total of 20 minutes). The exercise itself isn't that hard, but it requires a lot of attention. Thinking about exercising for 20 minutes can feel like torture even when it isn't. To help solve that problem, I developed an app to keep you on track with this specific flavor of interval training. That way you can watch TV, listen to a podcast, or engage in a variety of other activities and only sort of pay attention to the fact that you're working pretty hard.SA full body workout doesn't require a gym or much time at all. In fact, you can manage on in just seven minutes. The American College of Sports Medicine's Health and Fitness Journal highlighted an effective, quick routine that uses your body weight to provide a comprehensive work out and help you get you in better shape. Like the bike interval training method mentioned about, this routine was essentially developed in a lab to find a simple and quick way for people to exercise on a tight time budget. If you're in a rush, this is the routine for you.Exercise is only one piece of the puzzle. A healthy diet matters just as much. Different diets work better for different people, so you'll have to find the right one for you, but you should be able to make a significant impact by simply limiting your portion size to only what you need and making healthy substitutions for unhealthy foods. Whatever you do, don't expect exercise to turn you into a Greek sculpture. Diet matters, too, so don't make it an afterthought!Good luck, and happy Friday everyone!
A lot of people are uncomfortable with haggling, but just one quick question at a hotel's front desk has a great chance of earning you a better room on your next vacation or work trip.Consumer Reports recently published the results of a huge survey of hotel guests, and the results were impressive. Only 28% of respondents reported asking for upgrades or a lower rate when they checked in, but a whopping 78% of those who did were successful. Even if you can't get a bigger room, you might be able to get Wi-Fi or parking fees reduced or eliminated if you just ask nicely.There are a few things you can do to tilt the odds even further in your favor. As we've mentioned before, you shouldn't ask for any special treatment when other guests are within earshot. You should also try to check in late, if possible, which will give the front desk clerks a better idea of available inventory. And if you're traveling for a special occasion, you should always call ahead of time to inform the hotel in case they have any special packages available. Even if none of these are possible, it never hurts to ask; your odds of success are better than you might think.Hotel room buying guide | Consumer Reports via Real SimplePhoto by kzenon (Shutterstock).
Cooking at home can save you a lot of money, but you can also rack up a huge grocery bill learning to make certain dishes that don't always turn out better than their cheaper counterparts. What are your favorite inexpensive, home-cooked meals?Personal finance blog Wise Bread shares a number of recipes that cost as little as $2 each to make. That seems a little on the excessively cheap side, however one of my favorite cheap meals—which comes out to about $2—is just rice, beans, and veggies. What's yours? Share a recipe if you've got it!Best Money Tips: Dinner Recipes for $2 or Less | WisebreadPhoto by wavebreakmedia (Shutterstock).
OS X: If you see a color on the web or in an app that you particularly like and want to save for later, Sip makes it incredibly fast and easy to store it for later use.Sip lives in your menu bar, but you can invoke it at any time with a customizable keyboard shortcut. Activate the app, and you'll get a magnifying glass to zoom in on any pixel on you screen. Click on the one you like, and its color code will copy to your clipboard to use in the image editor of your choice. You can choose your preferred color code format (CSS Hex values, CMYK, RGB, etc.) in the app's settings, and switch between your favorites quickly in the menu bar dropdown. If you're looking for something similar on Windows, Instant Eyedropper is an oldie but goodie.Sip ($.99) | Mac App Store via One Thing Well
Your Android phone isn't just for widgets, talking, Google Now and photos. It can also be one of the world's best gaming platforms, if you're willing to spend a little time on it.Once the domain of tinkerers and super-nerds, Android devices have exploded in popularity over the last couple of years, spurred on by the emergence of superphones like the Samsung Galaxy S 4, HTC One and Google's own Nexus 4.Despite this increase, there remains the perception that - at least in terms of gaming - Android phones are somehow a step behind the iPhone. That things like piracy, a lack of apps and convoluted system specs are hindering the development of games on the platform.I'm here to tell you this is bullshit. Chances are that if you own an Android phone, and picked it up within the last 18 months, you've got in your pocket a silent killer in terms of portable gaming.Below you'll find four steps you can follow to turn that humble little smartphone into something a little more gamey.1. USE GOOGLE PLAYWell, duh. But if you're a new user, or someone contemplating making the switch, this is important.Android users have a bad reputation for pirating software, including games, and in many ways that's a fair assumption. Pirating games for the platform is way too easy.Don't be that guy.SBe the guy that visits the newly-redesigned Google Play Store (Android's equivalent of Apple App Store) and sees that, hey, nearly every big (and small) iPhone game is there too. Just as cheap. Just as plentiful.To get you started, here are ten of the best games available in the store.You'll even find some hot exclusives. Kairosoft's entire catalogue of addictive-as-hell management games is on the Play Store, for example, while only a handful have ever made it to the App Store.Seriously, there are enough quality games on there already that we could end the guide right here and you'd be set. Luckily, we're not ending the guide here.Those remaining developers who either delay bringing their games to Android, or don't do it at all, usually cite piracy as one of the big concerns. The more people actually pay for apps and games on Android, the more of these developers will be encouraged to bring their wares to the platform. So do it.2. GO RETROLet's say you want to play something more substantial than most mobile titles can offer. Or a classic game from your childhood that, for better or worse, isn't available on the Play Store. The great thing about Android phones is that you can still play these games, and it's a lot easier - and more legal - than you might think.Two of the most popular means of running old PC games on modern systems - DOSBox (for old DOS games) and ScummVM (for old adventure games) - both have versions available for Android devices. Before we go any further, then, you're going to need install these three applications:While that last link isn't necessary, you're really going to want it. What DOSBox Manager does is let you create a quicklaunch screen for the games, so instead of having to enter command prompts every time you want to play a game (which is normally how DOSBox works), you just tap some box art, same as a regular app/game.The quickest, easiest and most legal way to get hold of old PC games is to visit a site like Good Old Games. Many titles you can purchase there are supported by DOSBox, so all you need to do is download the game to your PC and copy the files over to your phone.Tom DuPont has written a great in-depth guide to this process which you can read here.If you need help using DOSBox Turbo and/or getting your games running, the best place to start is the app's site, which has helpful (and easy to understand) walkthroughs and guides.ScummVM is an easier proposition, but if you have trouble setting it up, the official guide gives you a great walkthrough on getting set up.A word of caution, though: be careful which games you bring over. Your phone has limited inputs, most likely just a touchscreen, so trying to play a fast-paced RTS or shooter might not be the best idea. Slower, mouse-driven genres like adventure and turn-based strategy are a good place to start.Unless, that is, you want to...3. GET A CONTROLLER (OR USE A MOUSE)It sounds crazy, I know. Buying an external controller for your phone defeats the entire point of playing games on a portable device. But the fact of the matter is, as phones become more powerful, phone games become more powerful, and it's a tragedy that people try to play something like Real Racing using touchscreen or tilt controls. Stick a pad on there and some of these newer games will feel like a console game, instead of just looking like one.There's also the benefit it brings to the retro games you'll be playing. Use a gamepad and suddenly all those amazing old shooters are playable. Connect a bluetooth mouse to your phone and anything you can't play with a pad, you can probably play with it.Doing this is pretty simple; provided they don't need drivers, Android natively supports bluetooth peripherals, including keyboards, mice and control pads. It'll even display a mouse cursor if it detects one. Just find your phone's bluetooth settings and pair it up.To save you buying a gamepad, there's an app that lets you connect a PS3 pad to an Android device (though note: your phone needs to be rooted for this to work). Alternatively, you can sync a Wii Remote, since it also connects via Bluetooth (and can be configured with this app).If you don't have a spare controller or mouse already lying around, or are looking for something a little more tailored, you can always try dedicated controller solutions like the MOGA Pro.Again, this might sound crazy since you can do this a lot more easily on a regular computer, but consider this: old PC games weren't designed to run on giant 23" desktop monitors. You either stretch their visuals until they look like garbage, or run them in a window.Phone screens, though, are at the cutting edge. Relatively tiny yet packing amazing colours and now sometimes even 1080p resolution, they breathe new life into your old games. Trust me, fire up something like Colonization or X-Com on a contemporary phone and it'll look better than ever.4. GET A BIGGER BATTERY (OR BATTERY PACK)The one major downside to the crop of modern Android smartphones is that, almost to the last, they've got terrible battery life. Most can barely last a single day, even with infrequent use. If you're planning on playing a game at home, that's not a problem, but let's be honest, how often will you be playing a phone game at home?Running 3D graphics - or even just leaving a big bright screen on for long stretches - will kill your battery. So if you're serious about gaming on your Android phone, you should think about getting a bigger battery (if your phone supports removable batteries) or an external battery case/charging pack (if it doesn't).5. SIGN UP TO ONLIVEIt's easy to forget about the company these days after all the problems it went through last year, but streaming service OnLive is still around, and it works on Android devices. Your mileage may vary depending on your device - it's more suited to tablets than phones - but if you've got a gamepad solution for your phone, and your connection is fast enough to pull it off, you can play all kinds of games that would normally never be available on the platform.OnLive runs through an app you can get here. It's currently only available in North America and the UK.—-That should about cover it! There's enough here to get you started on turning your Android phone into a go-to games platform. If you've got something to add, though, let us know below!Howtu is Kotaku's guide on how to get the most out of your gaming.