Keep in touch with all of your Facebook friends with fTalk

Let’s face it. You use Facebook to keep up with your friends and family. You share pictures, stories, and stuff, and it’s a lot of fun. When it comes to connecting with friends, sometimes, getting the cute fluff out of the way so you can chat with yo’ peeps is just what is needed. This is the reason why I really like fTalk. It’s a multiplatform chat client, specifically designed to work with Facebook.

fTalk enhances your social media experience by taking Facebook to the next level. With fTalk, you can chat with your Facebook friends directly from your desktop, without having to run a browser and surf to Facebook. fTalk enables you to chat with your friends even when you’re at work or in a public environment where you don’t necessarily want to; or can’t open Facebook.  You can see which of your friends have logged in, you can change your status, use emoticons and even video chat! fTalk offers a fun and light Facebook chat experience; and its free.

fTalk is a decent app. It allows you to chat with your FB friends even without having an active FB session going in your browser. It’s very much like Skype for Facebook; or something similar. The app is great. I like it. However its only real value is that it automatically integrates with your FB account and pulls in all your FB Friends.  You could manually do that with Skype Windows Live Messenger, AIM or any other chat client that also supported video. While this doesn’t kill the application’s usefulness, it does limit you to just chatting or video calling to only your FB friends, and if someone does want to chat or video chat with you, they have to be your Facebook friend first.

download fTalk

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Create web banners for your websites with Banner Maker Pro

I love websites. Information is the key to getting specific points across to people and communicating that message in the right way, can be very important. That’s why I really like Banner Maker Pro. It’s a website banner tool for Windows; and its really easy to use.

Banner Maker Pro is software that allows you to create web-based banner ads, Facebook banners, web buttons, web headers, animated gifs, logos, image ads and other web graphics. Its wizard-like interface makes the process very simple and easy to complete. Simply follow the tabs at the top of the program to go step-by-step in the image making process. When you’ve completed the banner, you can slice it, if needed or just save it as a GIF, JPEG, or PNG and add it to your website.

Creating a banner with Banner Maker Pro is really just that easy.  You don’t need any graphics expertise.  With it, you can create banners for Facebook Timeline and then quickly upload it to Facebook.  The application contains over 20 new animated background and 100 new background images in a variety of sizes.

Banner Maker Pro is good at what it does. It allows you to quickly and easily make banners for your websites and then upload them where they need to be.  The process is easy to complete and the software, equally as easy to use.  The biggest problem with the application is not what it can or can’t do, however. At nearly $40USD, the application is expensive for what it does.  Getting value from the software is going to depend on the number of banners you create and the revenue, if applicable, they generate.

read full review | download Banner Maker Pro

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My Facebook Account is MINE, not Yours

Employers and Facebook

The House of Representatives crushes the FCC’s ability to protect end user privacy; and now the public is paying for it…

Last week, the House of Representatives in the US, struck down an FCC legislation amendment that would have protected end user privacy by forbidding employers or prospective employers from demanding Facebook credentials. I find this problematic, as there have been a couple different examples (1, 2) in the media recently.  Unfortunately, a couple different EASY internet searches can quickly get you a dozen or more similar results, where students have been sent to detention or suspended for exercising what amounts to, free speech.  Additionally, as noted in example number 1, above, one person has lost their job, also for exercising their US Constitutionally granted and protected rights of free speech.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not going to go on some freakin’ tirade here about first or fourth amendment rights. However, I am going to make a pretty harsh statement here:

Attention ALL US school districts, school board members, superintendents, principals, assistant principals, deans, councilors, teachers, etc.  – Grow up!

As a tax payer, I spend  a lot of time as well as money funding your activities.  Let’s not go into how many Americans feel that their tax dollars are misused, abused or misappropriated when school district after school district contend that they simply don’t have enough money to fund <pick a program or curriculum>.  That’s another rant for another time. However, just because a student has taken you to task or has made a “I don’t like <school employee> because of <event that happened to me>” statement on Facebook doesn’t mean that you automatically have the right to  1) demand they take it down, or 2) demand their Facebook (or any other social network) credentials so you can delete the comment/Fan page yourself or see what ELSE they may have said.

Who the HELL do you think you are?!?

The LAST time I checked, this was still America.  The last time I checked, I was afforded the right to speak my mind (First Amendment).  The last time I checked, I was protected from unlawful search and seizure or demands on my privacy (Fourth Amendment). I’m confused and, understandably, very concerned.

Reading between the lines, it appears that in both of the cases that I’ve cited, someone got embarrassed either because they behaved badly (example 2) or because something was brought to their attention that may have seemed harmless and/or funny to some (example 1), and the embarrassed persons complained to someone they work for.

Continue reading…

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Pinnacle Studio HD the Homemade Hollywood

Choice is a good thing.  With the 2011 Holiday Season fast approaching, I know that many are going to be taking a lot of video and digital pictures, and are going to be struggling with the best way to share the memories.  Yes, online services like Facebook, Flickr, Picasa Web Albums, are nice; but not everyone has or wants to create an online media account. This is why I like applications like Pinnacle Studio HD. It’s a media editing and sharing application for Windows.

Pinnacle Studio HD makes it easy to edit your movies and digital photos like a pro. With it, you can quickly import videos and photos from a wide range of devices, and then edit scenes and create professional-looking HD movies with over 1,800 included effects, titles, and other content. When you’re done, you can export complete projects to today’s most popular formats or burn them to DVD, and share them with the world. If you make a mistake or your PC crashes, don’t worry. Pinnacle studio HD has a unique new Archive and Restore tool that conveniently backs up projects to preserve your work.

After you have your video and pictures imported and have created a project, you can access over 1,000 unique, professional-level transitions and effects with themes from Pinnacle’s Hollywood FX Volumes 1–3. The app also includes HFX Editor for creating custom effects.  Best of all, the app includes the ability to edit HD video on your computer-with ultra-fast performance when using AVCHD and H.264-based formats.

read full review | download Pinnacle Studio HD

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Make and share screenshots with Ashampoo Snap 5

Making screenshots is one of the tasks that can be part of your everyday computer activity. Whether at work, school, or at home, you might need a tool that can take screenshots for you. While there is a huge range of products that can do the same thing (for example SnagIt, PicPick, Quick Screenshot Maker) Ashampoo Snap 5 comes as the optimum solution for taking and sharing screenshots.

This program allows you to easily take screenshots of various regions, websites, or even specific windows on your desktop with just a few clicks. Within the same interface you can use several tools for editing. In this way you can easily add images, notes, texts, markings, and watermarks to your screenshots. Even for saving or exporting the screenshots you’ll get a complete set of tools. You can share your screenshots within the program by email, by saving them to the clipboard or a file or just print them. Moreover, you can now upload your result directly to Facebook or YouTube.

The list of new editing tools goes even further with gradient fill support, text notes that can be added with a single click, support for text effects including gradients, outlines, mirror effects and other complex text objects, numbering support and BlurPen support for pixelate areas. There is an obvious change regarding the interface design. It has that touchy feeling that goes very well with the touchscreen support for Windows 7.

For the first time in its line of products, version 5 of Ashampoo Snap provides tools for recording videos. Whether is your desktop that must be captured or even your webcam with audio, Ashampoo Snap can do this easily. Now video greetings have never been so easy to be done and uploaded to YouTube within the program.

download Ashampoo Snap 5

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Google+ now open to everyone – no more invitation required

After three months of being invite-only, Google+ is now open to everyone. All you have to do is to go to plus.google.com and Sign in with your Google account and you’re in. If you’re already a Google+ user, you’ll be able to invite your friends, family and anyone who wants to join the service. During those months of been invite-only, Google made over 100 different improvement but it’s still in the early stages. Actually, Google itself says it’s “nowhere near done”, and improvements are still on the way. However, the new social network is growing at a really fast pace and it will be a real competitor to Facebook.

Best new Features

  • Hangouts for smartphones – you can now join Hangout video chats from your smartphone
  • Live broadcast – you can now broadcast your Hangout to as many people as you want with “Hangouts On Air”
  • Share your desktop in a Hangout – you can now share your desktop live as you chat
  • Scribble notes in Hangouts – you can now doodle live as you chat with your friends
  • Live Google Docs collaborate – you can now open up your Google Docs during a Hangout and you and your friends can edit it together
  • Search on Google+ – you can now search for anything on Google+ such as people, topics, articles and so on

Well, it is clear that Google+ is one of the most ambitious social project to date, and it comes with a lot of cool features and great interface but right now what needs is simple more people to join.

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Roku 2 rocks the TV world

Meet Roku 2, the second version of the best-selling streaming player, a small gadget that can make you enjoy the best movies and TV shows, live sports, music and lately games all instantly on your TV, without the need of a PC. Forget about antenna or cable TV, cause Roku needs only an Internet connection.

Like its predecessor, Roku 2 can be connected to your TV, or wireless to your network at home in order to stream your favorite channels in minutes. With Roku you can access you existing subscriptions like Netflix, YouTube, AOL HD, Facebook, Major League Soccer, Live streaming FoxNews.com, etc.

The company brings the second generation of Roku again in three different models:

Roku 2 HD is the base model and can be acquired for $59. It has Bluetooth, and plays back resolutions up to 720p;

Roku 2 XD is an improved version of Roku 2 HD, costs $79, and features Bluetooth connectivity, but supports up to 1080p playback resolution.

Roku 2 XS is the ultimate Roku product which costs $99. It comes with Ethernet and USB inputs, supports 1080p playback resolution and features the new Roku motion remote very similar to the Wii remote controller. With its double functions, the Roku motion remote can be used also as a gamepad while playing the games supported by this gadget. At the moment you can only play Angry Birds, but there will be a complete list of games to be distributed through Roku network, games that will not surpass the $5 limit.

Roku 2 can be acquired only online, so in case you want to buy one, go to http://www.roku.com.

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Facebook will conquer the mobile dumb phone market

Facebook announced this week that they will release a new stand alone application for all the mobile phones that support Java. In this way the giant social network will conquer the rest of the mobile phones market covering a staggering of 2500 different mobile models.

With the help of this application, the users with low-end mobile phones will be able to perform same operations on the social network as the ones with much smarter phones. They can upload pictures, update statuses, view their news feed and messages and search through their phone contacts to find their friends on the network.

The application is already available for free at d.facebook.com/install or at major Java app stores as GetJar, Appia, and Mobile Weaver.

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