Feb 3, 2016

How to Use Animated GIF Images as your Mac Wallpaper

You may have seen web pages with video backgrounds but did you know that it is also possible to use videos and animated GIF images as backgrounds for your Mac desktop. OS X natively supports only static wallpaper images but there’s a little Mac utility called GIFPaper that adds support for animated live backgrounds to your desktop.

Animated GIF as Mac Desktop Background

Animated GIFs as Mac Background

It takes a few easy steps to inject some life in your Mac background.

Step 1. Download a GIF image. You can use Giphy for readymade GIFs, or create your own cinemagraphs with Photoshop or, if you are trying to use a video, convert to GIF using FFMpeg.

Step 2. Download the GIFPaper app from Dropbox (link found via Reddit) and extract the content to a local folder.

Step 3. Double-click the GIFPaperPrefs.prefPane file inside the extracted folder to install the preferences pane. Go to your Mac’s System Preferences and double-click GIFPaperPref to launch the actual app.

GIF Desktop for Mac

Step 4. Browse the computer, locate the GIF, set the Scaling to “Axes Independently” and the GIF will be set as the background of your Mac desktop. If you have a multiple virtual desktops, only the current screen will be changed.

You can place add GIFPaperAgent to your Mac login items to preserve your wallpaper preferences. Also, it might not be a good idea to use animated on older Macs since it does consume system resources.

The story, How to Use Animated GIF Images as your Mac Wallpaper, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 03/02/2016 under Apple Mac, GIF, Internet.

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The Directory of Twitter News Feeds

Twitter is the best source of news on the Internet but there’s no denying the fact that Twitter is both complex and confusing for most people. Unlike a newspaper website where you just open the homepage and read the news, you need to follow the right set of people before understanding the true potential of Twitter.

Twitter realises this problem and they are now trying to capture the audience that stumble upon Twitter just for catching up with news but may not be inclined to traverse the complex universe of Likes and RTs. Now when you open the Twitter homepage, they will show you to the top tweets across various categories without requiring you to sign up. The tweets are grouped in categories like Sports, Music, Food, etc. so it is easier than ever before to follow your interests.

Twitter News Source

See the Top Tweets for any Category

The Twitter news feeds surface the top tweets for any category but, for some unknown reason, they have made these available only to users who are not logged into Twitter.

Not a problem as here are direct URLs (links) that will help you access all the Twitter category feeds without having to log out of your Twitter account. The list covers both US and India specific Twitter news categories. You can bookmark the pages that pique your interest and access them anytime, anywhere.

Also see: The Best Twitter Tools

Twitter News Feeds (US)

General news sources Business news Journalists & pundits
World news Weather news & meteorologists Financial news & analysts
Tech blogs & reporters Tech CEOs, investors & startups Space news, Nonprofits & foundations
Designers & architects Authors, critics & publishers Photographers & photo agencies
NFL players, teams & personalities NBA players, teams & personalities College basketball teams & fans
MLB players, teams & personalities Soccer players, teams & fans NHL players, teams & personalities
NASCAR drivers & teams WWE wrestlers & personalities MMA fighters & personalities
Golfers, tours & commentators College football teams & personalities Celebrity news
TV shows & stars Actors & actresses Reality TV shows & stars
TV talent shows & contestants Industry news, film critics & festivals Video games & gamers
Science news & journalists Celebrity chefs & personalities Parenting experts & opinion
Home design & decorators Food, drinks & entertainment guides Travel guides, airlines & hotels
Health & fitness Automakers & reviewers Wedding guides
Inspiration & motivation Pop artists Hip hop \/ rap artists
Country artists Latino artists R&B soul artists
Classic rock groups Dance electronic artists Metal groups
Comedians, writers & late-night hosts Cute animals Cool & interesting photos
Art museums & publications Beauty & cosmetics brands Clothing brands & retailers
High-end fashion labels Politicians, pundits & parties US federal agencies

Twitter News Feeds (India)

Entertainment Sports Government and Politics
Music News Cricketers and Commentators
Youth and Music Women Comedy and Humour
South Indian NGOs and Social Good CEOs
Bollywood and Celebrities Food Hindi Music
Fashion Breaking News Indian Athletes
Politicians and Pol Parties Business and Financial News Punjabi Music
Government & Public Utilities Books & Authors Entertainment Channels
TV Personalities Leagues and Teams Sports News, TV and Scores
Journalists Indie & Electronic Music Brands

These semi-curated Twitter News Feeds are probably the best thing to have happened to Twitter in recent times. Content discovery has always been an issue in the world of Twitter but now you can easily find the top tweets for your favourite category without the chaos.

If you are curious to know how I found these Twitter feeds, the answer is web scraping and some trial-n-error. Also, I think Twitter is using geo-location to tailor the news feeds so if you are, say, in UK, your news feed links will be different from mine.

The story, The Directory of Twitter News Feeds, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 03/02/2016 under Twitter, Internet.

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Feb 1, 2016

How to Find and Replace Text in Gmail and other Web Pages

Web pages were essentially meant for reading and thus vendors never cared to include “find and replace” functionality in their web browsers. Websites have however evolved and they are no longer just blocks of static content. You can write lengthy emails or even dictate text inside web pages but if you are to fix those embarrassing spelling mistakes, you’ll have to correct them one-by-one.

You cannot automatically replace a word or phrase with another inside a web page without using browser extensions. The following tutorial discusses a simple technique that will help you search and replace text in web pages using the built-in Chrome Developer Tools but without any extensions.

Also see: How to Edit Web Pages

Search and Replace for any Webpage

We’ll take a popular Wikipedia page for this example and show you how to replace all instances of one word with another.

While you are on the web page, press Ctrl+Shift+J on Windows or Cmd+Opt+J on Mac to open the Console window inside Chrome Developer tools. Now enter the following command to replace all occurrences of the word ABC with XYZ.

document.body.innerHTML = document.body.innerHTML.replace(/ABC/g, "XYZ")

You can use Regular Expressions for more complex substitutions. For instance, if you wish to replace all common misspellings of occurrence, you could use either of these:

 document.body.innerHTML.replace(/(ocurrance|occurrance|occurance)/g, "occurrence")
 document.body.innerHTML.replace(/oc[\w]+nce/g, "occurrence")

The same technique can be used to format words inside a page as well. For instance, the next command will bold all instances of the word Hello on a page.

 document.body.innerHTML.replace(/Hello/g, "<b>Hello</b>")

Search and Replace Text in Gmail

Your changes aren’t preserved when you close the browser tab so you could be wondering why would anyone perform search and replace on a web page? Well, take the case of Gmail. You may have written a lengthy email but just when you were about to hit Send, you come across some spelling errors.

To fix the errors in Gmail, you can either copy the email message into notepad, perform search and replace and then paste the edited text back into Gmail. Or you can directly use Chrome Dev Tools.

In our previous example, we performed search and replace on document.body which in the entire web pages. However, in Gmail, we only need to replace text that’s inside the compose window.

The first step is to find the element on page where the search & replace should be done. This is easy as shown in the video above. Select the Gmail text, right-click and choose Inspect Element and make a note of the DIV ID that contains the editable textarea. It is “:h7” for Gmail.

Now all we need to is run the substitution command inside the Console window to replace word ABC with XYZ everywhere.

document.getElementById(':h7').innerHTML = 
  document.getElementById(':h7').innerHTML.replace(/ABC/g, "XYZ");

And your changes won’t be lost as Gmail will auto-save your Draft.

Also see: How to Learn Coding Online

The story, How to Find and Replace Text in Gmail and other Web Pages, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 01/02/2016 under GMail, Google Chrome, Internet.

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Access your Passwords from Anywhere with Google Password Manager

Google Chrome has a built-in password manager that offers to save your username and password whenever you sign-in to a website using Chrome. The stored passwords are synced with your Google Account and thus are available across all devices where you have signed in using the same Google Account.

Google Chrome is available for all platforms, including iOS and Android phones, and thus you always have access to your saved passwords. However, if you prefer using a different browser, like Safari on iPhone or Microsoft Edge on Windows 10, you can still access all your account passwords saved inside Chrome via passwords.google.com.

Google Password manager

Open the Google Passwords website, sign-in in with your existing Google Account that you are using on Chrome and you’ll find a list of every single account (and the associated password) that you’ve used to sign-in in Chrome.

The passwords are hidden with asterisks but they can be easily revealed by clicking the corresponding eye icon. You can also remove any saved password from the list but there’s no option to edit passwords.

How to Hide Your Passwords

This is another strong reason why you should to enable 2-factor authorization for your Google Account. If someone gains access to your main Google account password, they likely have access to your entire library of passwords through the Google Passwords website.

If you are not comfortable seeing your passwords inside the Google Passwords website, you have two options. Either don’t save your passwords in Chrome at all or just make them inaccessible from the Google website as explained here.

Open Google Chrome on desktop and go to Settings – Advanced Sync Settings. Alternatively, type chrome://settings/syncSetup in the browser address bar and hit Enter. Under the Encryption Options, choose “Encrypt all synced data with your own sync passphrase”, enter a passphrase and save the settings.

Disable Google Passwords

After a minute or two, your passwords will no longer be available through the Google Passwords website. If you have later change your mood, simply reset to default settings.

Also see: 10 Important Google URLs

The story, Access your Passwords from Anywhere with Google Password Manager, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 01/02/2016 under Google Chrome, Password, Internet.

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How to Make ASCII Art with Photos on Facebook and Instagram

ASCII art was a phenomenon in the Unix days much before Emojis and GIFs took over the Internet. These are pictures drawn using the characters on a keyboard and, because everything is in plain text, you can view the ASCII image in your browser or even inside a text editor.

You don’t have to have to be an artist to create ASCII pictures. There are readymade tools to help you convert regular images into ASCII art or, if you are on Mac, just launch the terminal window and say “banner {{text}}” to convert the text into ASCII.

There’s an even better way. Upload your photograph to either Facebook or Instagram, set the privacy to public, and you’ll have an ASCII version of the picture ready instantly. Thank you @Mathias for the discovery.

Convert Photos to Text with Facebook

Step 1: Go to Facebook.com on your desktop and open any photo that has the privacy set to public. I am using a picture of the Taj Mahal by @AshuMittal for this example.

Open Facebook Image

Step 2: Right-click anywhere inside the photo and choose “Open Image in new tab” – this will open the standalone image in a new browser tab outside the Facebook website.

Step 3: Go to the browser address bar and add .html to the photo URL. Press Enter and voila! Facebook will render a HTML version of the image (see example). You can press Ctrl+S in your browser to save the HTML image to your desktop.


Make ASCII Art with Instagram Photos

Instagram, which is also owned by Facebook, too supports image to text conversion. It however requires more work to get the photo URL since Instagram blocks right-click contextual menu. You can either use Chrome Developer Tools to get the URL or there’s a simple trick.

Step 1. Open any Instagram photo page. You should open the standalone photo page (like this one) and not an Instagram profile.

Step 2: Append “media” to the Instagram photo URL (example) to get the direct link to the JPG image. For instance, if the photo URL is http://ift.tt/1PPdhZ5, append /media and the URL http://ift.tt/1nyVlFc will point to the direct image.

Step 3. Once you have the direct link, append .html and the Instagram photo will be converted into colored ASCII HTML. Or append .text for plain ASCII text version of the image.

This trick will only work on “public” photos. If the URL of a photo doesn’t end with a .jpg, it is likely that the picture is not public and thus the ASCII conversion will not work. Also, the generated ASCII images are big in size (few MBs) so if you open a couple of them in your browser, it may begin crawling.

The story, How to Make ASCII Art with Photos on Facebook and Instagram, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 01/02/2016 under Ascii, Facebook, Instagram, Internet.

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Jan 19, 2016

How to Record your Desktop Screen with YouTube

Screencasting is simple. You download a software program, hit the record button and a video of your computer screen is created, ready for uploading to YouTube. There are a plethora of screencasting tools to choose from but did you know that you can also create screencast videos inside YouTube without requiring any desktop software? All you need is a YouTube account and a web browser.

Here’s a step by step guide on how you can make screencasts of your desktop windows with YouTube.

Create YouTube Screencast

How to Create a Screencast with YouTube

Step 1: Sign-in to YouTube with your Google Account, click the Upload button in the upper left corner and choose Events under Live Streaming. If you never done this before, YouTube make require you to verify your phone number to enable streaming.

Step 2: You are on the Create Event page. Give your screencast video a title, set the privacy of the video to either Unlisted or Private and click the “Go Live Now” button.

Step 3: This will open the Hangouts on Air page. You can click the camera icon to turn off webcam recording. Similarly you can toggle the microphone icon if you do not wish to record audio.

Step 4: Now click the Screenshare button in the left toolbox and select a desktop window that you wish to record for your screencast. Remember that if you using multiple virtual desktops, it will only show program windows that are active on the current desktop.

Record Desktop Video

Step 5: Click the Start Screenshare button to share your screen and then click Start Broadcast to start recording the screen. This is a private session so nobody can watch your broadcast while it is being recorded. When you are done with the recording, click the Stop Broadcast button and switch to the YouTube website.

That’s it. Go your YouTube video dashboard (http://youtube.com/my_videos) and you’ll see the new screencast video that you’ve just finished recording. You can download the video to your Google Drive or share it withe world.

The videos are recorded in 720p HD and this it would be a good idea to resize your desktop window to the 16:9 ratio before hitting the broadcast button.

The story, How to Record your Desktop Screen with YouTube, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 19/01/2016 under Screencasting, YouTube, Software.

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How to Use Pluralsight Training for Free

Pluralsight is among the best places on the web to learn programming through videos. Whether you are a complete beginner or a pro looking to advance your coding skills to the next level, you’ll find a video course at Pluralsight that will meet your needs.

They have courses on practically all programming languages from JavaScript to PHP to Java to the trending technologies like AngularJS and React (see complete list). It is a subscription based service and you have shell out $30 per month to get access to their entire video training library.

Pluralsight Video Training

Now here’s the interesting part. If you join the Microsoft Visual Studio program, which is also free, you automatically gain free membership to the entire PluralSight library for 6 months. No credit card or coupon codes required.

Here’s how you can activate your Pluralsight subscription in a minute:

  1. Go to signup.live.com and create a new Microsoft Account. Skip this step if you already have one.
  2. Go to my.visualstudio.com and sign-in with your Microsoft account.
  3. This will open the Visual Studio Dev Essentials page. Here choose Pluralsight among the benefits (see screenshot) and click Get Code.
  4. You’ll taken to the Pluralsight website to activate and redeem your 6-month subscription.

That’s it. Your subscription will be active for 6-months from the day you redeem the code. Pluralsight has iPhone and Android apps as well so you can learn on the go. And they have a desktop player that you can use to download videos and watch offline.

On a related note, you should definitely give Visual Studio Code a try. This is light-weight code editor from Microsoft that covers most programming languages and is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It feels snappy, supports themes & extensions and has most features you would look for in a code editor.

The story, How to Use Pluralsight Training for Free, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 19/01/2016 under Code, Internet.

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Twitter Guide: How To Do Everything With Twitter

The first tweet was published almost 8 years ago and Twitter has come a long way since then. There’s a whole ecosystem of apps and services available now that allow us to use Twitter in more ways than ever before. This guide curates the best tools that will help you get the most out of Twitter.

The Best Twitter Tools

1. Nuzzel – This works as an intelligent filter for Twitter and helps you discover the most popular news stories shared across your Twitter network. All signal, no noise.

2. Flipboard – Connect your Twitter account to Flipboard and it will create a beautiful magazine for all your Twitter feeds that you can flip through on the web (example), mobile and Windows 10 devices.

3. LifeOnTwitter – Get interesting statistics and facts about your Twitter account (example).

4. TallTweets – It lets you send tweets of any length by slicing your long tweet into multiple 140-character tweets (sample) and sending them in sequence.

5. IFTTT / Zapier – Whether you want to tweet by email, cross-post tweets to Facebook, or need a way to easily upload your Instagram pictures as native photos on Twitter, these tools can easily automate such tedious tasks.

6. Spruce / Canva / Adobe Post – Pick a photo, write some text and watch as these tools transform your text into a typographical masterpiece.

7. Storify – A web-based app that helps you find and curate tweets around topics and turns them into stories. You can also pull in YouTube videos, Facebook posts and other content from the social web in your stories.

8. Twitter Curator – This is like Storify for Google Docs (demo). You can search, filter and collect tweets right inside a Google Document.

9. Buffer – The best app for scheduling tweets. They offer useful analytics and the same tweet can be simultneously published to Facebook and LinkedIn as well.

10. Twitter Archiver – Specify a search phrase or an #hashtag and the archiver will pull in all matching tweets into a Google Sheet where they’ll live forever.

11. Twitter RSS – Easily create RSS feeds for Twitter search results and subscribe to them inside Feedly or any other feed reader.

12. CrowdFire – A handy tool to keep track of your unfollowers, send auto DMs to new followers, find dormant users in your Twitter timeline and more.

13. Egg Followers – Find all your Twitter followers that are still using the default egg as their profile picture. They are likely spam accounts.

14. TwitterCounter – See how your Twitter circle has grown over time. Some of this data is now available inside Twitter Analytics.

15. TweepsMap – It creates a Google Map of your followers so you know where they are coming from.

16. Daily140 – Get a daily email with most recent follows and favorites of any 5 Twitter users of your choice.

17. Tweriod – The tool analyzes the time when your followers are most active on Twitter. You can time your tweets accordingly for maximum reach.

18. Sleeping Time – Know the time period when a particular Twitter user is least active online.

19. TwitterFontana / VisibleTweets – Show tweets for any search term in real-time  on a big display. Useful for events.

20. PayWithTweet – Tweets are a form of social currency and some websites will happily give away design goodies, PDF ebooks, coupon codes, etc. in return for tweets.

21. ClickToTweet – The site will transform your text, say a quote, into a tweetable link. Useful for putting links in email newsleeters.

22. TheHash – It aggregates the most popular tweets around trending hashtags for the day and puts them in a beautiful visual design.

23. Direct – It brings a messenger-style interface to Twitter allowing you to chat with anyone through DMs.

24. Twitter Merge – Send personalized Tweets or DM multiple peope in one go from a Google Spreadsheet.

25. Twipho – A search engine for Twiter but limited to tweets with images.

26. Twitter Bots – Learn to write your own Twitter bots that can auto-reply, retweet or like tweets.

27. T4BP – Short for Twitter For Busy People, the site lets you quickly see updates from all your Twitter friends in single page.

28. Out Of Office – Setup an out-of-office reply bot similar to the one you have in your email program.

29. Web TweetDeck – The only reliable Twitter client that works in the browser without having to install any app. Includes tweet scheduling as well.

30. Instacurate / Vellum – These will turn your Twitter timeline into a visual Pinterest style news site.

31. Fake Tweets – With a little CSS, you can change the text of any tweet and create fake screenshots similar to the ones you regularly see on satire websites.

Bonus Tip: If you tweet labnol.org, Twitter will convert your text into a link pointing to the actual website. In order to prevent Twitter from doing so, insert a zero-width space after the dot. See how.

The story, Twitter Guide: How To Do Everything With Twitter, was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 19/01/2016 under Twitter, Internet.

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Dec 10, 2015

Install MATE 1.12.1 In Ubuntu MATE 15.10 Or 16.04 Via PPA

The Ubuntu 15.10 and 16.04 MATE PPAs were updated recently with the latest MATE 1.12.1.

MATE 1.12.1 Ubuntu Wily

According to Martin Wimpress, Project Lead for Ubuntu MATE, the PPAs use the same source packages that he's done for Debian, which are currently being reviewed by the FTP masters and should land in Debian Unstable in a couple of weeks, so they should be safe to use.

Among the changes in MATE 1.12 (released about a month ago) are various fixes (for example: panel applets are no longer reordered when changing screen resolutions) and improvements for GTK3, including GTK 3.18 support, better touchpad and multi-monitor support and more. Check out THIS article for a complete MATE 1.12 changelog.

In other Ubuntu MATE news:
  • you you shouldn't need the Ubuntu Xenial PPA for long because as soon as the MATE 1.12 packages are accepted into Debian Unstable, they should be automatically imported into Ubuntu 16.04.
  • the small MATE Dock applet I wrote about a while back was added to Debian Git recently by Martin Wimpress, and until Ubuntu and Debian reinstate the gir1.2-wnck-1.0 package (which was dropped a while back and is required by this applet), you can install this applet by using the Wily/Xenial Ubuntu MATE PPAs.

Upgrade to MATE 1.12.1 in Ubuntu MATE 15.10 or 16.04

To upgrade to the latest MATE 1.12.1 in Ubuntu 15.10 using the MATE Wily PPA, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-mate-dev/wily-mate
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

For Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus, use the following commands to upgrade to the latest MATE 1.12.1:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-mate-dev/xenial-mate
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

For both Wily and Xenial, to install the MATE Dock Applet I mentioned above, use the following command (after upgrading to MATE 1.12.1):
sudo apt-get install mate-dock-applet

How to revert the changes

If for whatever reason you want to downgrade MATE back to the version available in Ubuntu MATE by default, use the following commands:
- for Wily:
sudo apt-get install ppa-purge
sudo ppa-purge ppa:ubuntu-mate-dev/wily-mate
- for Xenial:
sudo apt-get install ppa-purge
sudo ppa-purge ppa:ubuntu-mate-dev/xenial-mate
The first command installs PPA purge and the second command purges the PPA (disables the PPA and downgrades all the packages installed from that PPA).

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Dash Online Search To Be Disabled By Default In Ubuntu 16.04 (Xenial Xerus)

With Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, the Dash online search feature will be disabled by default.

The online search feature won't be removed and users will be able to re-enable it via System Settings > Security & Privacy.

This isn't the only change though. Even after enabling the Dash online search feature, the Amazon and Skimlinks results will remain off by default and there will be an extra option to enable them.

Yet another change is the removal of the following scopes from the default installation (they will still be available for install from the repositories): Audacious, Clementine, GMusicBrowser, Guayadeque and Musique.

And finally, the Music Store will also be removed starting with Ubuntu 16.04.

Why change this? According to Will Cooke, Ubuntu Desktop Manager:

On Unity 8 the Scopes concept has evolved into something which gives the user finer control over what is searched and provides more targeted results. This functionality cannot be added into Unity 7 and so we’ve taken the decision to gracefully retire some aspects of the Unity 7 online search features.

He then adds:

By making these changes now we can better manage our development priorities, servers, network bandwidth etc throughout the LTS period.

It's important to mention that the only change that will affect previous Ubuntu releases is the removal of the Music Store, while all the other changes will only affect new Ubuntu 16.04 LTS installations.

What do you think?

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