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TagCow LogoTechlife had the chance to try out TagCow, an automated photo tagging service, while it was still in beta. TagCow has now emerged from beta and is open to anyone. Automated photo tagging is equivalent to Google Search for your personal digital photos. From professionals to amateurs having quick and easy ways to sift through millions of images that are accurately tagged makes this service truly amazing.

What makes TagCow a bit more unique is the method of tagging, it is automated. Other services such as Picasa or Flickr rely on your efforts to tag photos, while Google is using a pseudo-game to help improve its tagging search results. This is what sets TagCow apart.

Tagcow’s “how” tagging is accomplished is a bit hidden on the website, but in speaking with Michael Droz, CEO and co-founder, he revealed it is part automated and part human-based. I would even venture to suggest different humans were assigned to my photos, as the results were slightly different for each image I uploaded. There was even a typo! Due to this tagging says it will take 24-48 hours, mine took about 55 hours.

TagCow's automated tags

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Google Docs Goes Offline - a Techlife Illustrated How ToGoogle’s inviting all their users to become trapeze artist’s and work without a net, an Inter-net connection. The innovation machine that is Google just keeps on rolling, and their newest trick is using a tool called Google Gears to let users work untethered.

One of the bigger drawbacks of Google Docs is now a thing of the past. Techlife Illustrated has put together this easy to follow guide to getting Google Docs offline. (This is our first Illustrated How To, leave a comment with your thoughts.)

Step 1

Step 1 - Techlife Illustrated - Installing Google Gears

While in Google Docs, in the upper right hand corner is a link to “Offline.” Which gets Google Gears on your computer.

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nuart 3 by Slinkachu

In Techlife’s day job we advise clients to, “Get a fresh perspective, take a unique look at things.” Most of the time clients ask us for help in this effort. After all, it isn’t easy to achieve a fresh perspective, but when you do, LOOK OUT! because the effect can be startling and eye-opening.

nuart 7 by Slinkachu

We love that feeling. When the world turns over on itself. It is exciting to realize things can be different with just a shift in perspective.

Dear Son 1 by Slinkachu

For a few years, an artist in London, known as Slinkachu has been providing a fresh perspective on life, by placing his art all over the city without permission and then photographing it. Interesting you say, but how does that provide a fresh perspective? View the following pieces and then keep reading and see how your perspective changes.

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OLPC on 60 minutesWayan Vota from OLPC News

While writing a recent article, on the OLPC XO Laptop, one of the all time most popular articles on Techlife, we got to meet Wayan Vota the founder of OLPC News. Wayan’s a strong, independent voice in the community of OLPC and the XO Laptop. He was featured on 60 Minutes for his work. (see 7:06 mark on Techlife TV for Wayan) I appreciated his grasp of both technology and non-profits and how the two mesh, so we sat down with him to learn more about what makes Wayan tick (tick, tick.) (unabashed 60 Minute pun for the OLPCNews readers who know me.)

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Lesley Stahl discusses the 60 Minutes piece on the OLPC on Techlife TV.

Techlife: Wayan Vota. Interesting name, what are the origins?

Wayan Vota: Born on Bali to hippie folks. Got a local name in the process.

TL: Why did you start OLPC News?

WV: In the summer of 2006 I noticed there was much hype around OLPC, but little thoughtful analysis of its proposed methods and assumed impacts. I wanted to explore the details of OLPC’s implementation plan – how it expected to actually get laptops in the hands of children worldwide – in public form of open commentary and discussion. With ~5,000 daily readers, over a dozen writers, and too many contributors to count, I feel that OLPC News is successful beyond my wildest dreams.

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CentSports - Bet on sports

People everywhere are excited for MLB’s Opening Day. It is a day when everyone has a clean slate. Everyone has an even shot (at least the media gives that impression.)

We all know the owners and players are in this to get paid. Well once again, loyal reader Dan writes in with an Opening Day gem to give Techlife readers their shot at a payday. (Pete Rose, this one’s for you!) I was a bit skeptical at first, but it’s free money and fun too. Nearly as good as fun at the old ballpark.

CentSports is a new kind of social gaming site where you risk nothing but can win real money. First off the site gifts you $.10 to bet on sports. Lose that and get another gift of $.10 and so on. (Yep, they are unlimited in their generosity.) Start winning and you can cash out as soon as you reach $10. Sound to good to be true? Sounds more like spam you might get, right? Trust Techlife it isn’t. It is actually a lot of fun

Do you like hardwoods, frozen ponds or field of dreams? CentSports has NCAA, the NCAA Tournament, the NIT Tourney plus the full slate of NBA games. They also have NHL hockey and starting today they have baseball’s MLB all ready for Opening Day action. They are planning on adding soccer and bringing back boxing and tennis. (Apparently those pesky tennis players will retire mid-match which screws up the betting a little.)

As a person with little knowledge of sports betting it is a lot of fun to learn on someone else’s dime (pun intended). They have all the standard bets including point spread, money line, over/under and let you parlay or combine these bets to get higher payouts.

The best part is the social aspect of the site. You can see what others bet, invite friends, publicly chat about each bet made and send private notes too.

How can CentSports fund the payouts? Advertising. They have a unique feature after placing a bet you will get the chance to see an ad which can give you bonus cash if you win. (Hint: Always hold out for near the top tier of the bonus.) There are other ads scattered around the site as well.

Overall: If you like sports and are too chicken to try using your own money, you can’t lose. Literally! CentSports is sports gambling for the rest of us. No skill required.

I hope you try it out and see if you can beat me, I was up to nearly $2. Let us know in the comments what your user name is and we can add you to our friend list on the site.


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Line RiderA winter wind whips a lone rider on his trusty sled. With only a small hat and a candy cane scarf his entire existence is to ride the line. Can he keep it up? Will he make it? Only you will determine it. Only you can make the flight of the Line Rider.

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It’s been a while since Techlife has brought us another in the series of Friends of Line Rider. Can you tell we missed the little guy? Today we find ourselves enjoying Line Rider Zada v1.3.

A modded Line Rider version with everything that is missing in the first Line Rider. Use the eraser, speedups and zoom for a better Line Rider experience.that is Zada!

Line Rider Zada is really quite the fun afternoon and perfect for adults and kids alike.

Line Rider Zada v1.3


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Techlife OLPC XO Laptop Gallery

As loyal readers know Techlife is an early adopter, but we don’t always write about things immediately. Our readership appreciates the pace, as the our reports give a real “lived in” flavor. For example we have had a Nintendo Wii in our office for well over a year, as we snagged one early on. But our first Wii article was about something that puzzled us, and we thought might help others.

We have had an OLPC XO Laptop (One Laptop Per Child) in our offices since late last year. For those unaware, these are those little green laptops originally billed as the $100 laptop (ended up closer to $200), and intended for children globally, but with special focus towards countries where computers are few and far between. The idea that if children had the chance to use a computer regularly, their own computer, they would grow up and be able to implement technology into their country with more ease. A noble pursuit.

Click “more” to read how the OLPC XO Laptop Saved the Day… and see the image gallery.
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Techlife TV has a double feature today with videos on Android the Google operating system for mobile phones. These videos demo simple text messaging and chat, rendering of the earth, the videogame Quake, Google Maps and Street view and much more.

As a long time user of the Sidekick by Tmobile, also known as the Hiptop, Techlife TV was excited to see Apple’s iPhone be released and now Google’s Open Handset Alliance operating system Android in the wild. These mainstream devices will help provide competition to RIM’s Blackberry Operating System and Microsoft’s Mobile platform along with the other manufacturers of smart phones like Nokia and Palm. It was interesting to see Microsoft buy Danger the makers of the Sidekick mostly because Danger founder Andy Rubin left a few years ago to form a company acquired by Google and now turned into Android. So all this means more for the consumer.

Which smart phone will win is anyone’s guess? But with Apple moving into the top ten in sales of the iPhone it will be exciting to watch the future unfold in this segment of the marketplace.

Google’s Andy Rubin demos Android for the BBC – Blip.tv video via Gizmodo


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Nintendo WiiTechlife was talking to Nintendo support (new site design) yesterday and picked up a great little nugget. As many people know there are all sorts of old console games in the Wii’s Virtual Console. One thing they all lack is “save game” ablity.

If you click on the blue house button while playing a Virtual Console game, and then from that screen click on Wii Menu, the Virtual Console game is paused and you can play other games, disc or Virtual Console games and then come back to your “pause game”. It’s a pretty hidden trick.

The rep I spoke with had not heard of it this hack or trick until after they started working with Nintendo. Seems like a great idea. Thanks Nintendo Support Guy Matt!

Also of note, with the tens of thousands of Wii’s being sold a month, the support rep said they are lucky if they field a thousand calls a month, the Wii is pretty easy to use and pretty durable. I thought that was a pretty interesting comment.


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Reading by Christine RondeauFrom the sweet sound of your iPod, to the burning of CDs, to your car radio finding music is never a problem?  Even finding music you like is pretty easy these days.  But new musical search tool Songza allows you to find that one song stuck in your head or have been jonesing to hear.  After Techlife published that article we were reminded about how our office rocks to various music using a few different solutions, including Pandora, Slacker and Jinzora.  So after reading this article, you might want to unplug your iPod and try your hand at some other options.


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HEMA: Brillant Design and Execution

To be unique in today’s business environment you need more than creativity. You need management willing to take a risk, and top notch people to bring the idea to life. HEMA, a Dutch Department Store has what it takes. HEMA gets it.

As many longtime readers know Techlife has a day job, providing marketing and technology consulting which includes web site design. We are always looking for unique examples, that really engage the user. We got this email from Charlie S., a reader and customer.

HEMA is a Dutch department store. The first store opened on November 4, 1926, in Amsterdam. Now there are 150 stores all over the Netherlands. HEMA also has stores in Belgium, Luxemburg, and Germany. In June of this year, HEMA was sold to British investment company Lion Capital.

Take a look at HEMA’s product page. You can’t order anything and it’s in Dutch but just wait a couple of minutes and watch what happens on the page.

Charlie’s email proves something that HEMA executives figured out. Make something unique and people will help virally market for you. HEMA’s site has attracted positive attention, just look at these headlines. Who wouldn’t want these types of things associated with their company?

Creativity Matters

Hema – Greatest Store Ever

Great Website

HEMA: Breaking Through The Clutter of Online Retail

Cool Site of the Month

Cool Online Catalog Promo

HEMA: Innovative Error Page or Advertisement – You Decide

HEMA has people touting the greatness of their products, talking about their company, using words like creativity, greatest, cool, and innovative. People don’t mind marketing when it has an entertaining purpose. They embrace it.
Have you seen a great Rube-Goldberg or unique marketing idea? Let us know in the comments.

One of my favorites is Honda’s Rube Goldberg. What sets these apart from other ads is the time and energy in the productions, people appreciate the clever, hard work that makes a few seconds of enjoyment, but a lasting impression.
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History of Religion by MapsofWar.com

A reader emailed me MapsofWar.com and I was intrigued. But the mystery only starts with the amazing visuals spanning 5,000 years of religion or imperialism.

Many clients I work with ask me to visually simplify complex problems and we use various techniques to deliver stunning solutions. Maps of War has used history as the backdrop for an artist who’s medium is Flash and large data sets. Techlife interviewed the creator and artist of Maps of War, who wished to remain anonymous.

Techlife: MoW is a dynamic project, why did you create the first MoW? Which one is it?

Maps of War: The first map was Imperial History of the Middle East. This map was the original idea I wanted to share with everyone, and the overall site was created to showcase it.

Imperial History by MapsofWar.com

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Ballistick - new features include, custom spinners, pets, a store, a map maker and editor

Techlife has just learned that XGen Studios is now a developer for the WiiWare program.  Might Stick Arena or Stick Arena Ballistick be released for the Wii one day? We were pretty shocked too. Nintendo has a developer program with the Wii, known as WiiWare for smaller developers to build content for the platform. Combined with all we know about Stick Arena‘s long awaited title, it appears a multi-platform release might be in the works at some point. While we can’t confirm this, a recent press release from XGen says:

XGen Studios is developing an original title for Nintendo’s upcoming WiiWareâ„¢ service…

It goes on to say:

…inspired by an existing cult classic from the studio, and will allow up to 4 simultaneous players while leveraging the unique capabilities of the Wii Remoteâ„¢…

and

…classic game play enjoyed by Millions is coming to your living room in the form of a new title with compelling additions…

and finally

…jump-in, jump-out casual style appeals to a broad audience for both quick and extended play sessions…

Reading between the lines it would appear that we are in a for a treat. The real question is will the 6.3 million Wii owners be able to interact with the PC gamers, I would think they won’t. But your username might port between the two, allowing a character to travel with you. Imagine playing Stick Arena Ballistick on your Wii online and on your PC online.  Once we all are playing Ballistick on the PC, imagine having a party and Grandma slices Uncle Charlie, only to find herself on the end of a barrage of gunfire.  Brings a whole new meaning to “The war at home.”
Ballistick with new weapons - Chainsaw, Gattling Gun, Lightsaber, and that red triangle item??

And in other Stick Arena Ballistick News…there is an impatient group of loyal Techlife readers who have logged over 700 comments about how excited they are for Ballistick. For all of them, I want to give them a heads up, an exciting announcement is coming shortly. We are targetting next week on Techlife and TechlifeTV the news. As a teaser, we have confirmed that there are 6 new weapons for Ballistick. For a bit of fun, we are going to release their initials…

  • CG
  • LS
  • TH
  • FT
  • CS
  • RG

Got any guesses? Let the comments begin!

union bettendorf credit alcoaaccredited blood thc lab levels onaacsb accredited taxation phdschiller illinois park credit aa unionthe stylistics credits album anduniversity accredited not almeda orunion allegiance okc creditiloilo city accredited agencies travel in Map


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Screenshot of Doodle PollLoyal Techlife reader Alan wrote in asking if we knew of a solution to run a simple office pool about when the CEO’s wife was going to give birth. This is actually a really good problem and we jumped in with two feet.

Alan shook off our first two attempts which involved loyal stand-by Google Docs and their spreadsheet application. I suggested he create a spreadsheet, invite everyone in the office to share it, have them add their guess for dates and times. I also suggested Google Calendar. He could create a shared calendar and everyone could input their dates and times. As I said, Alan was pushing for something better. That’s when I remembered Doodle.

Doodle Logo

Doodle is a free service that is designed to do one thing very well, schedule people to a single event. It really shines when those people don’t use the same shared calendar. Doodle was created by Michael Näf and Paul Sevinç and their company Inturico Engineering out of Zurich, Switzerland.

Since the launch they have been written up by 43folders among others. Development is constantly continuing, Doodle is available in 16 languages and also has a polling tool. It is a simple site and the Techlife friends have used it to organize parties, a trip to a winery, and a fantasy football draft, as well as the boring and mundane meetings and conference calls.

The reaction from first-timers usually is, “So easy. I am going to use it for the next meeting.”

In Alan’s case he would need to just “schedule an event.” Give it a title, most likely, When will the CEO’s wife give birth? Add a description like, enter you name and check the date, and drop $5 off at my desk. Each person’s name may only have one checkbox checked.

The best thing to do is try Doodle so we created a poll to help you get started. Visit our poll to answer, and leave a comment below about how you have used Doodle.


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Tip of my Tongue by Chirag Mehta

Leonardo da Vinci was a master of hidden messages and code. The label of genius could be applied easily. But how would Leonardo cope in today’s world of the interconnected web? Techlife has uncovered a few gems that would make Leonardo da Vinci drool.First one of Leonardo’s favorite things is codes and hidden messages. And what better way to show that off than this:

Ë™sʃıɐɯǝ ʍǝɟ ɐ ɥʇıʍ Êžsɐʇ-ıʇʃnɯ oʇ pǝǝu I ‘ɐsı⅂ ɐuoW ǝɥʇ ʇuıɐd puɐ ʇıs I s∀

BoingBoing was clever when they brought Leonardo this trick, originally from here. But another idea Leonardo would like is the collaborative nature of people improving on other people’s work. This developer took it one step farther and added capitalization, to allow upside down or flipped text that looks nearly 100% accurate based on unicode.

da Vinci would also love the organic search of the internet, and while researching his upside down text, he might have found Local Font List from the same programmer who added capitalization to the flip text. This unique utility can show all the fonts on your computer using your browser and flash. It works for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Local Font List by FileFormat.Info The screen shot is a great help to understanding this. Those are some of the fonts on one of the Techlife machines. Local Font List even includes a “print” button to get a useful list of all of the available fonts.

Finally da Vinici was a master linguist. He loved wordplay and using words in code and creatively. Friend of Techlife TV, Chirag Mehta, a modern day Renaissance Man himself, would probably have loved to show off Tip of My Tongue to da Vinci.

This online web application can help decipher partial words that begin or end with letters, help unscramble a word, find synonyms all in real time. Try it today and see the cool, way it starts filtering based on what you type.

My request would be to see Chirag develop this same interface for Wikipedia.

Do you have any cool Leonardo da Vinci web tools? Tell us in the comments.

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