4 Fabulous Online Tools

When you're working online 10 hours a day as I do, you appreciate all the help you can get. Here are four great tools I've discovered over the last six months that make my job a lot easier. Have one of your own I probably don't know about yet? Feel free to enlighten all of us in the comments below.

1. Sliderocket

As freemium slideshow tools go, this is the best I've found. Long before my 30-day free trial expired, I was hooked and ponied up for a monthly membership. It's always better to show rather than tell, so here's just a small sample of what you can do with Sliderocket:

They've also got superb customer service and have called me on my cell whenever I've needed them.

2. Dropbox

My pal Alexis Ohanian, founder of reddit.com, turned me onto Dropbox. It's another brilliant freemium model that gives you 2GB of free cloud storage. Best part is: once you install the Dropbox folder on all your computers, whatever you place in that folder is automatically synced on all devices, even on your phone. No more emailing files to yourself or plugging in flash drives to transfer stuff! I use it often throughout the day.

3. Search Free Fonts

Picture 8Just as the name implies, this great site let's you not only search, but test free fonts before you download them. Once you find a font that looks interesting, you can type on the page and voila! they're transposed in real time. Check out how I did this sample here.

4. iPhone iCon Maker

Picture 10This one is just plain fun... You know how sometimes you get a lame icon when you "bookmark" a Safari page into your phone's app collection? Well this nifty site lets you upload any old image you want and turn it into an iPhone app icon. Try it out and have fun with it!

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Sensorwake, Kickstarter
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fun
Wake Up to the Aroma of Cappuccino With This Scent-Emitting Alarm Clock
Sensorwake, Kickstarter
Sensorwake, Kickstarter

Some people need an aggressive alarm clock to get them out of bed, like Simone Giertz's slapping robot, or the singNshock, which zaps you if you hit the snooze button. For others, a gentler wakeup call is what does the trick. That's what you get with Sensorwake, a new alarm clock on Kickstarter that gradually stimulates three of your senses to ease you into the day.

During the first minute of the alarm's three-minute wakeup process, it releases a pleasant aroma. You have your choice of scent cartridges, including cappuccino, peppermint, rose garden, chocolate factory, orange juice, and pine forest. A single cartridge lasts 30 days before it needs to be switched out.

After reviving your nose, Sensorwake activates its visual component: a soft light. For the final minute, the gadget plays sound like a traditional alarm clock, but instead of a blaring buzzer, you hear one of five upbeat melodies. If all that isn't enough to get you on your feet, you can hit snooze and wait for the cycle to start over in 10 minutes.

With more than three weeks left in its Kickstarter campaign, Sensorwake has already multiplied its original funding goal of $30,000. To reserve a clock and two scent capsules of your own, you can pledge $59 or more. Shipping is estimated for November of this year.

[h/t Mashable]

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Jason Dorfman, MIT CSAIL
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MIT’s New AI Can Sense Your Movements Through Walls Using Radio Signals
Jason Dorfman, MIT CSAIL
Jason Dorfman, MIT CSAIL

New artificial intelligence technology developed at MIT can see through walls, and it knows what you’re doing.

RF-Pose, created by researchers at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), uses wireless signals to estimate a person’s pose through a wall. It can only come up with a 2D stick figure of your movements, but it can nonetheless see your actions.

The system, described in a new paper [PDF], uses a neural network to piece together radio signals bouncing off the human body. It takes advantage of the fact that the body reflects radio frequency signals in the Wi-Fi range. These Wi-Fi signals can move through walls, but not through people.

Using data from low-power radio signals—1000 times lower than the power your home Wi-Fi router puts out—this algorithm can generate a relatively accurate picture of what the person behind the wall is doing by piecing together the signals reflected by the moving body.

The system can recognize movement in poor lighting and identify multiple different individuals in a scene. Though the technology is still in development, it’s not hard to imagine that the military might use it in surveillance, but the researchers also suggest that it may be useful for video game design and search-and-rescue missions. It might also help doctors monitor and analyze the movements of patients with disorders like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

This is just the latest in a series of projects using radio signals to mimic X-ray vision. CSAIL has been working on similar technology using Wi-Fi signals for several years, creating algorithms to recognize human forms and see motion through obstructions. In the future, they hope to expand the system to be able to recognize movement with 3D images rather than the current 2D stick figures.

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