Sunday, February 21, 2010

Make your own Fun with FunFacer

As you may guess by the site name, FunFacer is a website for creating photo montages with which you can create funny images, caricatures, or even compile a simple game, all using your own pictures to be uploaded to the site.

First, you will need to register on the site and upload a photo of the face where we can differentiate it from the front. Then you will have to cut the picture by adjusting to the different frames offered to you and add extras, if you want add-ons like a hair or facial expressions.

Then, you will be able to choose one of the available frameworks. There are two categories: funny pictures and funny games. The new frames are added almost on the daily basis.

You can share your artwork with your friends through Facebook or blog, embedding generated code to your website or sending the provided link through email.

Site is still in beta, but very soot there will be customizable flash games, animations and e-cards.

Access website and have some fun: http://www.funfacer.com/


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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Using Skype Web Camera as Home Security Monitor

Skype is great as is. It helps you to cut home phone bills, while establishing quality video communication with far away correspondents. As for every popular platform, there are tons of free and commercial applications available, enhancing the standard Skype capabilities. Review the listing of 74 freeware utilities and free services at RateItAll:

The following trick will require neither extra software, nor other online services. Just applying the embedded Skype functions unusual way, you can get the security observation camera capabilities.

You probably have webcam on your home computer, so the necessary hardware is already installed. What else you need for these arrangements?

  1. Computers - both with broadband - 'Home' and 'Away'.
  2. Skype software installed version 2.5 or later version on both computers.
  3. SkypeIDs - one for each computer. We recommend creating a separate ID for the security cam purposes. You will need to change the default settings, so that might be undesirable for your main account.
Procedure

  1. Install Skype: Install Skype 2.5 or later version on the Home and Away computers. (Get the latest Skype at the website http://www.skype.com).
  2. Check Webcam. Ensure a webcam installed on the “home” computer correctly, and pointed at the subject/area you want to monitor.
  3. Enable Skype Video: On the Home computer, go to Skype > Tools > Options > Video (BETA), enable Skype Video.
-        Turn On: Enable Skype Video
-        Turn On: When I’m calling, and activate the “start my video automatically” function (see image)

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  1. Enable Skype to auto-pickup Incoming Calls: On the Home computer, go to Skype > Tools > Options > Advanced > Call, and activate the "Automatically answer incoming calls" function.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

  1. Setup Privacy: On the Home computer, go to Skype > Tools > Options > Privacy, and limit the people who can call in.

    Now, you can call the Home computer from Away location through Skype. The Skype program in the Home computer will pick up the call automatically, to start the video session. Just remember that the Home computer needs to remain on, while you are not at home. And, the webcam needs to be pointed to the location that you want to monitor.
By this point you might have this in mind: You want to have the Skype security cam always on. But, you still want to be able to receive other Skype incoming calls.

No problem. You can activate multiple Skype accounts or sessions at the same time on a Windows XP machine. See the instructions here. You can set up a new Skype account dedicated to working with the security application, and you can have your personal Skype account open to other incoming calls at the same time.

Important note: please keep your Skype ids for video security/observation limited to those Skype users you know. See below on how to limit calls in.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

But if you would like to make the security observation more automatic, you can find a different solution online. Using freeware Yawcam utility, you can turn the camera triggered by the motions nearby, converting webcam to motion sensing security camera. Software can be downloaded from the developers’ website: http://www.yawcam.com/

Sources and Additional Information:


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Create funny collages online with Funny Photo Editor

Do you want MORE fun with your photos?
Want to create cool photo montages, but have no idea how to use those complicated photo editing software (like Photoshop, Gimp, etc.)? Just start using Funny Photo! and get ready for fun! Funny Photo! lets you create cool, funny, and attractive collages with your own photos with simplicity of a simple mouse click.

There are multiple competitive free service on the market like this, so authors should bring something new and fresh to get the respectable market share. And it seems that this new site has indeed something significant to offer to its users.

The service is based on the Online Photo! Enhancement Platform, a web-based image editing solution letting you enhance your photos and have fun with them – easily, anytime, anywhere. The developers’ site offers several image editing tools and services, based on the Platform, that you can use for free, online or offline, and Funny Pho.to is just one of the offerings.

Visit the main page of the editor and check the proposed templates: http://funny.pho.to/. Together with simple and straightforward framing templates, site offers more sophisticated algorithms, like face recognition, adding multiple images to a single collage, and images with animated effects.

Here are several samples of what I did with my own profile picture:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


Among other services, offered by the authors are:
-        http://makeup.pho.to/
Make a person in your photo look like a model in a glossy magazine! Apply eye and skin makeup, whiten teeth, remove imperfections, and add a special touch to your photo with a dreamy soft focus effect. All enhancements are made automatically - just upload a photo and enjoy the magic change!
-        http://enhance.pho.to/
Want to make a quick enhancement to your photo? Go no further. Correct all common digital photography problems with one click. Just upload your photo and get an enhanced image in seconds. The service corrects color and saturation in your image, performs denoising and sharpening, and removes red eye in photos of people. Use it for free and share results easily!
-        http://editor.pho.to/
Advanced online free photo editor. Enjoy easy and efficient image enhancement. Correct photos, apply artistic effects, and more!
-        http://cartoon.pho.to/
Make a caricature by changing facial expressions in photos of people with one click! Make a sad person smile, or make a most cool-headed one wear a surprised expression. No face control here - all kinds of faces are welcomed! :)
-        http://avatar.pho.to/
Create a cool static or animated avatar from your photo in seconds!

The service is integrated with Facebook, and you can access the widget through the following link: http://www.facebook.com/tos.php?api_key=70831944d6dabfaa918d436d61c46ff7&next=http%3A%2F%2Fapps.facebook.com%2Ffunny_pho_to_widget%2F&v=1.0&canvas

Cool thing about the site is that you can actively enhance the site performance by offering your own templates. Create and upload your own fun template for Funny Photo!


After moderation it will appear in the list of Funny Photo! Effects.

Service is fast and really simple.

If you enjoyed the post, you can check other free fun photo image editors from my previous publications:
-        JPGfun
-        PiZap
-        Photo505
-        FunPhotoBox
-        Dumpr
-        Photofunia
-        Deefunia

Friday, February 12, 2010

15 Tax Filing Tips from IRS

If you file taxes yourselves, you have to be very careful to avoid any potential danger of unreported income, however, you should be persistent in looking for any ways to reduce legally your taxable earned funds. If you are relying on professional to complete your package, it would be still good to have some ideas on where and how you can save.

We would like to offer several tips from IRS in the following categories:

Your Unemployment Benefits
Taxpayers who received unemployment benefits in 2009 are entitled to a special tax break when they file their 2009 federal tax returns. This tax break is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Here are five important facts the Internal Revenue Service wants you to know about your unemployment benefits.
  1. Unemployment compensation generally includes any amounts received under the unemployment compensation laws of the United States or of a specific state. It includes state unemployment insurance benefits, railroad unemployment compensation benefits and benefits paid to you by a state or the District of Columbia from the Federal Unemployment Trust Fund. It does not include worker's compensation.
  2. Normally, unemployment benefits are taxable; however, under the Recovery Act, every person who receives unemployment benefits during 2009 is eligible to exclude the first $2,400 of these benefits when they file their federal tax return.
  3. For a married couple, if each spouse received unemployment compensation then each is eligible to exclude the first $2,400 of benefits.
  4. You should receive a Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments, which shows the total unemployment compensation paid to you in 2009 in box 1.
  5. You must subtract $2,400 from the amount in box 1 of Form 1099-G to figure how much of your unemployment compensation is taxable and must be reported on your federal tax return. Do not enter less than zero.

Recently Married or Divorced Taxpayers
If you were married or divorced recently, there are a couple of things you’ll want to do to ensure the name on your tax return matches the name registered with the Social Security Administration.

Here are five facts from the IRS for recently married or divorced taxpayers. Following these steps will help avoid problems when you file your tax return.
  1. If you took your spouse’s last name or if both spouses hyphenate their last names, you may run into complications if you don’t notify the SSA. When newlyweds file a tax return using their new last names, IRS computers can’t match the new name with their Social Security Number.
  2. If you were recently divorced and changed back to your previous last name, you’ll also need to notify the SSA of this name change.
  3. Informing the SSA of a name change is a snap; you’ll just need to file a Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card at your local SSA office.
  4. Form SS-5 is available on SSA’s Web site at www.socialsecurity.gov, by calling 800-772-1213 or at local offices. It usually takes about two weeks to have the change verified.
  5. If you adopted your spouse’s children after getting married, you’ll want to make sure the children have an SSN. Taxpayers must provide an SSN for each dependent claimed on a tax return. For adopted children without SSNs, the parents can apply for an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number – or ATIN – by filing Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions with the IRS. The ATIN is a temporary number used in place of an SSN on the tax return. The W-7A is available on IRS.gov, or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Offset Education Costs
College
can be very expensive. To help students and their parents, the IRS offers the following five ways to offset education costs.

  1. The American Opportunity Credit This credit can help parents and students pay part of the cost of the first four years of college. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act modifies the existing Hope Credit for tax years 2009 and 2010, making it available to a broader range of taxpayers. Eligible taxpayers may qualify for the maximum annual credit of $2,500 per student. Generally, 40 percent of the credit is refundable, which means that you may be able to receive up to $1,000, even if you owe no taxes.
  2. The Hope Credit The credit can help students and parents pay part of the cost of the first two years of college. This credit generally applies to 2008 and earlier tax years. However, for tax year 2009 a special expanded Hope Credit of up to $3,600 may be claimed for a student attending college in a Midwestern disaster area as long as you do not claim an American Opportunity Tax Credit for any other student in 2009.
  3. The Lifetime Learning Credit This credit can help pay for undergraduate, graduate and professional degree courses – including courses to improve job skills – regardless of the number of years in the program.  Eligible taxpayers may qualify for up to $2,000 – $4,000 if a student in a Midwestern disaster area – per tax return.
  4. Enhanced benefits for 529 college savings plans Certain computer technology purchases are now added to the list of college expenses that can be paid for by a qualified tuition program, commonly referred to as a 529 plan.  For 2009 and 2010, the law expands the definition of qualified higher education expenses to include expenses for computer technology and equipment or Internet access and related services.
  5. Tuition and fees deduction Students and their parents may be able to deduct qualified college tuition and related expenses of up to $4,000. This deduction is an adjustment to income, which means the deduction will reduce the amount of your income subject to tax. The Tuition and Fees Deduction may be beneficial to you if you do not qualify for the American opportunity, Hope, or lifetime learning credits.

    You cannot claim the American Opportunity and the Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits for the same student in the same year. You also cannot claim any of the credits if you claim a tuition and fees deduction for the same student in the same year. To qualify for an education credit, you must pay post-secondary tuition and certain related expenses for yourself, your spouse or your dependent. The credit may be claimed by the parent or the student, but not by both. Students who are claimed as a dependent cannot claim the credit.

    For more information, see Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education, which can be obtained online at IRS.gov or by calling the IRS at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Free Text to Phone Call with Selectable Voices

Using the latest in VOIP and Text to Speech technology, AfterVoice allows you to conduct free text to speech phone calls with changeable voices. The technology takes you recipients phone numbers and places a call from the number you specify and with the caller ID details you specify. You also get to select the voice you want the message replayed in. There are a variety of different voices, so you might want to find which one works best for you message. 

The first thing comes to mind, that the service allows you to make easy and funny phone calls, giving pleasant surprise to your recipients. As any technology, it can be misused by callers, but it is your personal responsibility to avoid steps, which could lead to unforeseeable consequences. Do not misuse this interesting service for illegal and unethical phone tricks.

It's as easy as enter a few details about you and your recipient and your call will be instantly sent for processing.

Registration is not required to use the service.


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Thursday, February 4, 2010

IRS Listing of Free Tax Filing Sites

Tax season is coming fast. And if your budget does not allow spending hundreds dollars on tax adviser, do not rush filling the forms by yourselves. You may find free assistance online.

The United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) lists about twenty sites that offer free E-Filing. Some also include free tax preparation. Each site has its own qualifications, but most allow a maximum income of $57,000 and also have age range restrictions.

An easy way to find the ones you qualify for is to use the "Help Me Find a Company" button. You fill out a form with your age, income, etc. and you get a list of the free tax filing sites that you qualify for.

Free TaxACT: Free federal online tax return preparation and e-file if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $57,000 or less and you are age 19 through 55 years old. This federal offer is valid in all states. Extensions e-filed for free. Free extension.

FreeTaxUSA.com: Free federal online tax return preparation and e-file if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $57,000 or less and you live in one of the following states: AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MO, MS, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, UT, VA, WI, or WV. Free extension.

CompleteTax: Free federal online tax return preparation and e-file if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $32,000 or less. This federal offer is valid in all states. Free extension.

eSmart Tax by LibertyTax Service: Free federal online tax return preparation and e-file if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $57,000 or less, and you are 50 years old or younger. This federal offer is valid in all states. Free extension. En EspaƱol.

TaxSimple Ultimate Version: Free federal online tax return preparation and e-file if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $57,000 or less and you are age 66 or less and you live in the following states: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, HI, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, VT, WI, WV, or WY.

H&R Block's Free File: Free federal online tax return preparation and e-file if your adjusted gross income is $57,000 or less and you are age 51 or younger. This federal offer is valid in all states.

FileYourTaxes.com: Free federal online tax return preparation and e-file if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $57,000 or less and you are age 15 through 52 years old. This federal offer is valid in all states. Free extension.

OnLine Taxes at OLT.com: Free federal online tax preparation and e-file if your adjusted gross income is $57,000 or less and age 51 or younger. This federal offer is valid in all states. Free extension.

Free1040TaxReturn.com: Free federal online tax return preparation and e-file if your adjusted gross income is $57,000 or less and you are age 71 or younger and live in AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, UT, VA, WI, WV. Free extension.

ezTaxReturn.com: Free federal online tax return preparation and e-file if your adjusted gross income is $57,000 or less and you live in the following states: AL, AR, AZ, CA, GA, IL, LA, MA, MI, MS, NC, NJ, NY, OH, PA, VA, and WI.

1040NOW.NET: Free federal online tax return preparation and e-file if your adjusted gross income is $57,000 or less, your age is 67 years or younger and you live in AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, HI, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, UT, VA, VT, WI, or WV.

Free Tax Return: Free federal online tax return preparation and e-file if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is $57,000 or less and you live in the following states: AL, AZ, CA, CO, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, NC, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, VA, WI, or WV. Free extension.

TaxSlayer: Free federal online tax return preparation and e-file if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than $57,000 and you are age 25 or younger, age 65 or older or active military. Also, if you qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit or if your adjusted gross income is less than $10,000. This federal offer is valid in all states. Free extension.

TurboTax® Freedom Edition: Free federal online tax return preparation and e-file if your adjusted gross income is $31,000 or less or if you are active military with an AGI of $57,000 or less or you qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit. This federal offer is valid in all states. Free extension.


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