20 August 2009

Block annoying Flash sounds

Flash is one of the most popular browser plug-ins these days, not only for design, but for rendering music and videos also. Although it brings a lot of new features and interactivity, there are times when you just don't want to be disturbed by it. A classic case is when you open a new page in the background and you're immediately bombarded with loud adds or music. Not good it you have more than a few tabs opened and have no clue which one started all that noise. And don't forget the videos that play automatically on the YouTube pages!

Unfortunately, there's no easy way to control the sound output from Flash, either from the browser or from the plug-in itself. I have come across this problem a few years back, when I wanted to play some browser-based Flash games and listen to music at the same time. The games had no mute button... and so I began searching the net for a solution.

18 August 2009

Another Google Reader "Send To" trick

Less than a week has passed since the Google Reader team launched a new feature to improve sharing directly from the app and there are already lots of tips on the web showing how to extend the range of build-in services.

The feature is extremely flexible and easy to use, almost like having a collection of bookmarklets. Of course, there are some advantages over bookmarklets: you don't have to load the original page to use them and if you are using multiple browsers these small links in Google Reader stay with you when you switch. On top of that, I usually keep the bookmark bar hidden to save screen space, so to use a bookmarklet I must also show the bookmark bar, which takes another second or two.

Better imagery for Romania on Google maps

Hot news from twitter: Google maps has (finally!) improved the map detail for Romania. There was lots of buzz around this issue a few months ago, with petitions on both twitter and Facebook to bring my country to the same quality level as other European countries. Thousands of people signed those petitions, and a lot of them were first time twitter users, as I recall.

08 August 2009

Mythical Dune planets become tangible places on Titan

Titan’s mysterious dark plains will be named after planets in the series of “Dune” science fiction novels by author Frank Herbert. The US Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center announced the first plain or “planitia” given a name will be designated as Chusuk Planitia. Chusuk was a planet from the Dune series, known for its musical instruments. Chusuk Planitia on Titan is located at 5.0S, 23.5W, and in the picture here is the small, dark area next to the “C” of Chusuk. Nancy Atkinson

This piece of news is so cool it's almost unbelievable: the plains that the Cassini probe discovered on Titan will be named after the planets from the very popular Dune series by Frank Herbert. Here is a .pdf map from the U.S. Geological Survey with Chusuk Planitia in the western hemisphere.

Since Titan is wet, although not with water, I think Mars would be more suited to be associated with the great desert world, but most of Mars was baptized centuries before. So this is as good as it gets for the Dune universe until we fly to other stars to find a real Dune replica.

Until then, Titan just climbed up several spots in my list of "Places to visit in the Solar System" and I have another reason to await impatiently the blooming of the space tourism industry.