12 Best Google Chrome Extensions for Web Design Students

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As a Web design student you’re constantly learning new and often complex concepts that can sometimes seem overwhelming. You’ll need all of the tools possible in order to help you learn and to also make your job easier. With Google Chrome’s speediness and growing popularity, it’s a perfect browser for Web design students to get their feet wet with. This list of extensions are especially great for Web designers just starting out. They’re not only easy to use, but they will also help inspire students and make learning fun.

1. Chrome Palette

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Lets you create a color palette from any image. This is useful for finding out the different colors used in an image that can then be used for your website. You can use these colors to make everything blend and look aesthetically pleasing.

2. Google Font Previewer

A great way to preview different fonts in different variations before using them on your own website. This is useful for finding a font that will look good with the design of your site. The fonts are taken from the Google Font Directory.

3. Window Resizer

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The concept is simple: it resizes the browser window for you so that you can see what the page will look like at other resolutions. This is important because not every computer user will have the same screen size. You’ll need to know what your website will look like to those with smaller or larger monitors as well as those on mobile devices.

4. Web Developer

An easy way to add numerous advanced Web developer tools to your browser in an organized format. You can edit CSS as well as display and disable other types of information and elements on the current Web page. Great for doing extensive developing and debugging.

5. BuiltWith Technology Profiler

Are you wondering what the currently website you’re viewing was built with? Wondering how they got that cool feature to work? This extension can tell you all of that by looking up a page and telling you all of the technologies used on it. This is great for learning about new technologies that you may be able to implement on your own website.

6. Eye Dropper

A very handy tool that can pick colors from any Web page and show you the exactly what the hexadecimal and RGB values are for it. This is great for matching colors on a website without having to look through the code. If you see a color that you like as you’re browsing the Web, you can just use this to find out what it is and then use it on your own site.

7. MeasureIt!

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With this you can draw a ruler around any element on a Web page to find out its exact measurement in pixels. Web design is all about measurements and making sure everything fits perfectly without overlapping and this extension can help you with that.

8. Firebug

Another great Web development tool that is meant to be used in conjunction with other development tools for modifying and debugging websites. “Provides some cool features like inspecting HTML elements with your mouse, and live editing CSS properties.”

9. Lorem Ipsum Generator

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A very easy way to create the ever-popular “Lorem Ipsum” dummy text for your website templates. “The main purpose of this is to use the less amount of code (and also memory) and help the developer get the job done.”

10. Validity

The easiest way to validate the HTML coding of any website. Just click on the icon and within seconds you’ll be given any validation errors for the page. Since it’s so important to have valid code for performance as well as SEO, this is a must-have extension.

11. Webpage Screenshot

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They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, so does that mean a screenshot is too? Well with this extension you can take screenshots and then save, share, print or edit them. Sometimes you may come across a Web page that will inspire you or give you a great idea to use on your own site. With this you can capture it, add notes and then save for later reference.

12. Code Cola

A great tool for modifying the CSS styling of any Web page. “Operators can type the generated code in the cms’ node style properties; no need to open Photoshop, Axure and other tools, but directly open the tools to edit, save and then throw the file to front-end; front-end check the code, then coding based on the generated code.”
If you’re also looking to enhance your productivity while working, StayFocused may be your best bet. It’s normal to get frustrated and give into distractions, but StayFocused can help you overcome all of that by blocking out those distracting sites and forcing you stay focused on work – thus increasing productivity. With all of these cool extension though, it should be pretty easy to stay focused on Web designing. Good luck!

This guest post is written by Lior Levine, a marketing advisor for an online company specializing in a to-do list app. Lior also advises at a cancer treatment center that specializes in personalized oncology exams.

5 Free Ways to Encrypt Your Files on the Go

In our world, where information is constantly being plugged into one device after another and frequently changes hands, many people don’t realize how vital it can be to safeguard their digital information from sniffers and malware – destructive programs which can steal sensitive information. Here are 5 free software encryption tools for your on-the-go use.

1. How To Encrypt Your Files On The Cloud, e.g. Dropbox

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It may be all smooth and easy going encrypting files on your own hard drives, but what about files on the cloud? As we become increasingly dependent on the cloud for storage, we also become more and more wary of the fact that all our personal, and potentially important files, are floating on some foreign server, exposed to the vulnerabilities of that server.

So if you have files on Dropbox, for instance, what’s a person to do? Thankfully, there’s BoxCryptor, a great free program which allows you to encrypt files even on cloud servers. The free version works great with the standard AES-256 encryption, but does not allow commercial usage and is only limited to encryption of files up to 2 GB. Still, that’s plenty enough for most of us, and is an excellent solution towards solving file encryption on the cloud.

2. What To Do If You Want to Encrypt Entire Hard Drives

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The issue: Enabling encryption on one machine disables it from being read on another unless they both have the same encryption software installed; which is sometimes not practical when you have to constantly switch between PCs in an environment, such as a school setting.

Enter TruCrypt, a truly real-time encryption program which encrypts data as it is being written onto the file partition (e.g. folders), and decrypts it in real-time as it is being removed. Impressive feature aside, this gives you the peace of mind that you won’t ever find yourself stuck with an inaccessible file simply because you were trying to be careful.

TruCrypt also allows you to encrypt entire hard drives, which can be useful if you run your own company, and has a hundred and one other fancy uses such as enabling hardware acceleration during encrypting on modern processors. It is by far the most highly recommended free encryption software on the Internet, customizable for nearly all but the most specific uses.

3. How to Encrypt Your Entire USB Flash Drive Without Installing Anything

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PenProtect doesn’t give you any excuse to not use file encryption while transferring files. There’s absolutely no hassle in using it – all you have to do is copy the downloaded file to the home folder of your USB drive – no installation required! It really doesn’t get any simpler than this, and it provides full 256-bit key AES encryption to your entire USB flash drive, hiding files from being interpreted by the host computer.

4. How To Plug In Your USB Drive With Peace Of Mind at Internet Cafés

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By now, we should all already have recognized how dangerous it can be to plug in your flash drive into a port of a computer at a cyber café. Since you never know what the computer has been uploaded with, the potential for your information being compromised is mind boggling; there could be key-loggers to trace your passwords, malware to read your Word files, trojans to sneak onto your device… the list goes on and on…

Add to this the fact that most of the time, you don’t get administrator privileges in a computer at such places, disabling the option to install a “safe” encryption program on-the-spot. So what can you do? Well, there’s a solution with FreeOTFE Explorer, an encryption software which not only does not require installation, but works even on PCs where administrator privileges have been disabled! It works by creating a “virtual disk” on the computer in question, where everything that is written to that “disk” is encrypted securely before being stored.

5. How To Enable File Encryption using Tools Already Within Reach

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Some people just don’t like having an extra program hanging around on their computer, especially something like encryption which isn’t visible enough to warrant having to stare at its icon every time you access My Computer. Well, did you know that you probably already have a fully sufficient encryption program sitting on your desktop?

7-Zip, the great file compressor, is also a decent file encryptor.  Providing only AES-256, it’s really solid. Whether it’s sending work documents over email, or personal items to your loved ones, if you really don’t want to deal with the hassle of an extra program, 7-Zip may just be the perfect file encryptor for you.

This post was written by staff writer Aaron Pek

6 Ways To Make Your Windows PC More Like A Mac

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There has always been two major camps in the personal computer sphere – the PC and the Mac. So defined is this distinction, that Apple itself draws upon this fact to make hilarious ads. But all the passion and glitter aside, the truth is that Windows and OSX work and act in highly different ways, and that they both offer significant advantages in their own measure over the other. If you’re reading this, chances are you already have a PC running Windows; so how does one make your PC feel more like a Mac? Here’s how:

1. How to emulate Mac Spaces : Dexpot

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Spaces is Mac’s answer to having multiple applications open at once cluttering up your workspace. Anyone who has ever had to juggle different duties at the same time – like managing Youtube, iTunes and a bunch of minor tasks while you’re doing an assignment on Microsoft Word and Internet Explorer, perhaps – will find that compartmentalizing the two categories will yield better results. PC users, however, do not have access to this feature natively; but they do now.

Dexpot is a nifty little third-party program which allows you to implement a Spaces-like function to your screen. While it’s not the only function of the program, it certainly is the best – with it, you can open 4 separate desktops and, for instance, write your assignment in one, and switch to the other when you’re doing miscellaneous stuff. Here are all the new functions (including Spaces) which are present in the newest revision of Dextpot.

2. How to emulate the Mac Dashboard : myBoard

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Dashboard is an apt name for the Mac OS functionality – it dims the screen and opens a dashboard of sorts where your collections of widgets sit waiting for you. By itself, Dashboard comes with a few useful native apps included, including a weather widget, a calculator and a clock, but the real deal of widgets arrive in the full-blown third party support developers have injected into the functionality.

For Windows, Dashboard arrives in the shape of myBoard, and instead of widgets, they’re now called magnets. It’s hardly surprising that there is a lot less third-party support given that this isn’t a native application in Windows, but the basics are there; calculator, weather, notepad, clock, calendar etc.

Tip: After you install myBoard, you’ll be prompted to click the middle mouse button to bring up the empty ‘Dashboard’; look for a “+” sign on the bottom-left side of the screen. That brings up the option to access the Magnet Store, where you can obtain magnets.

3. How to Emulate the Mac Dock : RocketDock

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Dock is a solid, unique way of getting around Mac OS in the way Windows does with shortcuts, except prettier, and is one of the most defining features of OS X. Windows Vista and 7 both have taskbars which allow you to pin items to them, but it’s just not the same as having a row of icons which ‘pop’ when you hover over them.

Being one of the most famous functions of the Mac, there are many third-party iterations of Dock; but my personal favorite is RocketDock. RocketDock behaves exactly like Dock does in OS X, just less snazzy-looking; you can place customizable shortcuts in it, the Recycle Bin, and it has the familiar ‘pop-out’ effect as you hover over it.

4. How to Emulate Mac Expose : Switcher

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All of us who have used Windows before should now be familiar with the Alt+Tab function, which surprisingly hasn’t been given a dedicated name besides its key presses. Nevertheless, it’s a practical way to get around; but it still can’t beat OS X’s Expose though. That’s why it’s Windows alter ego exists – in the form of Switcher.

Anyone who has used Expose will instantly relate to how mind-blowingly profound the visual representation of tasks arranged in sizes according to their importance is – it takes every lesson of human psychology in the book and applies it to the simple function of task-switching. It just feels right. And more and more importantly, that has become what we as users are increasingly looking for. Just using Switcher for the first time has got me utterly convinced that I’ll be using it for a long time to come.

5. How to emulate Mac Stacks : 7Stacks

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Stacks in OS X is precisely what its name supposes it to be – a way to stack programs into one icon to save space, which pop out like a pop-out book upon clicking. There are so many ways this could be done wrong, but Apple has managed to make it not only eye-catching, but functional as well. There’s no greater joy than the convenience of watching all your Microsoft Office shortcuts unfold neatly into a list of choices.

The third-party Windows alternative that you’re looking for here is 7Stacks. Developer Alastria wasn’t able to incorporate the pop-out aesthetics into 7Stacks, but what they’ve done is pretty close and equally as practical. 7Stacks is definitely worth a shot, as it accomplishes what it sets out to do.

6. How to Emulate Mac Multi-task Scrolling : KatMouse

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One of the biggest complaints about Windows is that despite its maturity as an operating system, it still misses out on a few elementary functions – the ability to maintain different screen resolutions for different users, the ability to run .ISO files out of the box, and among the most glaring, the ability to scroll through open programs when they’re not being selected as the primary application.

For instance, if you’re doing some research on your Internet browser, you can’t scroll through your open Word document unless you click on it first. And then you’d have to click on your browser again to scroll through your research material, and back and forth.

KatMouse does away with this concern by bestowing the all-empowering function – of middle-mouse scrolling just by hovering over the application – upon your Windows computer, which has been on Macs since eons ago. I can’t tell you how much time this little third-party software that runs quietly in the background has saved for me. If you’re a student or someone whose work involves looking for information online, be sure to get this.

This post was written by Aaron Pek

5 Best Hard Drive Management Tools

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Hard drives are often only as good as the care and maintenance you put into them.  Here are 5 hard drive management tools you can put to use  to maximize its performance your computer.

1. Best Hard Disk Space Analyzer

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Are you the type that frequently checks on the contents of your hard drive? Maybe you’ve got a beast of a media collection, and want to find out how much space those cat videos are robbing from your enormous iTunes playlist and work documents?

Well, WinDirStat takes the entire contents of your hard drive, digests its files, and regurgitates the unidentified chaos into a colorful tree map which shows you a visual representation of how much space a particular type of file is taking up. It’s pretty speedy too; the entire process took about a minute and a half for my 500 GB partition.

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If you’re not a fan of blocky shapes or you just prefer a more ‘Apple’ solution, Disk Space Fan does an equally good job of representing your system. Or, if you’re a Mac user, DaisyDisk offers more of the same.

2. Best Partition Manager Tool

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All of us have come to know the pain of losing your documents or music collection to viruses, malware or plain system failure, and partitioning your hard drive is one of the best ways to quarantine fatal software failures.

In case you didn’t know, partitioning is the act of dividing the space on your physical HDD into individually recognized disk drives by your computer (i.e. C: drive, E: drive). This not only serves as an effective compartmentalization tool (such as designating space between family members), but also plays a crucial role in restricting the travel of malicious code (viruses, malware etc.) from one partition to another. Think of it as having a moat in between two castles; the enemy might get into one castle, but the treasure in the other castle stays safe.

I’ve tried a number of hard disk partition tools in my days, and by far the most efficient free solution is Windows’ very own Disk Management tool. To access it, just go to Control Panel -> System and Security, and under Administrative Tools look for Create and format hard disk partitions. Here, you can enable or disable partitions, make new partitions from free space, or even format a partition in case you ever want to.

3. Best File Compression Software

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There are many flavors of file compression software out in the wild, but none of them is as popular as the well known WINRAR software. Winrar has been around long since the early days of the Internet, and at the time was the only viable challenger to the king-at-the-time, Winzip. Today, Winrar has claimed the crown from its rival, and boasts the .rar extension as recognizable in nearly every tech community.

The amazing thing about file compression is just how much file space you can save from it. In my daily use, Winrar often reduces file size by 40% – 50%, and it’s been a lifesaver in transferring huge amounts of important data over the internet to my peers. You can also use it to herd multiple files into one group, then send the entire batch over in one fell swoop instead of dragging-and-clicking each file one by one.

4. Best Disk Cleanup & Disk Defragmenter

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Just as dust often collects in an oft-used room, so does waste bits of data and temporary files which get strewn around on your hard drive go unnoticed. In the course of our computing activities, the hard drive frequently writes, removes, and rewrites data hundreds and thousands of times a day, so metaphorically speaking, there’s bound to be junk lying around. Unfortunately, this junk can accumulate to the point where it slows down our computer or disrupts smooth execution of data, and cleaning it up is akin to spring cleaning your room.

For the job, I have to recommend the recommendable CCleaner. It’s a community supported software which has become the McDonalds of the disk cleanup utilities, and it does its job rather well. The free version cleans up all the famous Internet browsers, including IE, Firefox and Chrome, and also does a number on your temporary files and the Recycle Bin. As a bonus, CCleaner is capable of investigating your registry for redundant data, which can potentially speed up your system by miles depending on the clutter.

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When you’re done with cleaning up your system, it’s time to defragment it. What’s disk defragmentation? To use an anology, the hard drive is like a map of the world. When you save a Word document to your hard drive, it can be saved to America as well as Japan. So when it tries to retrieve the file, it has to go back and forth over the Pacific Ocean to retrieve the two parts of the file. Disk defragmentation, hence the name, moves the data next to each other so that retrieving the data is sped up much faster.

Disk Defragmenter is Windows’ built-in software for the function. In my opinion, it works pretty well, so it’s good enough without having to rely on third-party software. From the Start Menu, just navigate to Accessories -> System Tools -> Disk Defragmenter, select Analyze disk, then select Defragment disk.

5. Best Backup and Recovery Tool

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Backing up one’s hard drive is a precious reminder which we should all adhere to, in the event of a catastrophic system failure or a malicious attack from virus-like code. It saves us the hardship of having to restore the system to its original state, and the very real consequences of losing irreplaceable files related to our work or school life.

To accommodate this need, Paragon Backup & Recovery (Advanced) Free accommodates this just nicely. Unlike many of its command-line brethren, its pleasing user interface will hold your hand throughout the entire process. It provides support for more files than the default backup utility on Windows, and makes use of complicated algorithms with fancy names (but which are ultimately useful) to save your backup. You can also image your backup onto removable media, such as a flash drive or a DVD, if you ever feel the need to.

This post was written by Aaron Pek

How to Do More Pushups [FREE Android App]

Pushups are an excellent way to get in shape. They require no equipment and provide your upper body with a good workout.  So naturally, I was quite pleased when I stumbled across this free app on the Android market aptly called – Push Ups Pro.

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When you start the app, it will access your current ability by asking you to do as many reps as you can, then design an appropriate program to fit your fitness level.

To make sure you don’t cheat, the app requires you to actually go down low enough to have your chin touch the screen before it registers as a successful pushup.  What I like about it is that it also logs your pushups, and enables you to slowly progress as your fitness improves.

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… And for lazy exercisers like me, it provides you reminders and notifications so you don’t slack off :)

Two thumbs up for this app!

Download the Push Ups Pro Android App here.