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Feature-rich app upgrades iPhone's camera Add to ...

As cameras go, the one attached to the iPhone isn't bad - it has autofocus, something that many cellphone cameras don't have, and it can record video. And it's often said that the best camera is the one you have on you - because you're more likely to have your phone with you than even the smallest camera, you'll end up taking "right place, right time" shots you wouldn't get otherwise. But the camera is by no means perfect, or even great. Even the cheapest digital cameras have flashes and zoom capabilities, for example.

Free camera application for iPhone by Joby/AppTight

Some problems are inherent to the iPhone hardware, but some are just software issues - why can't Apple's camera app do something as simple as superimpose a grid on the display, for example? Gorillacam adds the features you thought were missing from the iPhone camera, and then some. For starters, Gorillacam can show you a grid - a welcome addition for followers of the rule of thirds. It's also got a bubble level to help you make sure your horizons are level. Two burst-mode options are available for taking multiple shots over time, and there's a self-timer function for self-portraits and group shots.

There's even an anti-shake option, though it doesn't actually compensate for shaky hands; it just waits until the iPhone is completely steady before it takes a shot, which is most useful for tripod use. Unsurprising, considering the application was commissioned by a company that sells iPhone tripods. But because it is part branding initiative, it's also free to download. With all the features it packs in compared to its competitors, that makes Gorillacam a great bargain.



Free newspaper-style reading application for Web-based, Windows/Mac/Linux (via Adobe AIR) by Anirudh Sasikumar

It seems like it doesn't matter who you are-student or CEO, clerical worker or politician, if you've used a computer to write a report, make a chart or build a slideshow, you've used Microsoft Office. Considering the productivity suite's use in so many industries for so many purposes, it's no surprise that the three core Office applications are now extremely complex beasts. The basic functionality at the heart of each is simple enough for new users to grasp, but there are entire layers of features that most users never touch-nor would they be able to figure out how they work without substantial assistance.

Traditionally, that assistance came in the form of lengthy help files or manuals. But not everyone learns well by reading instructions, and even fewer find it an interesting or-heaven forbid-entertaining. That's the problem Microsoft's Office Labs hopes to solve with Ribbon Hero. Instead of presenting users with pages of help text, Ribbon Hero keeps track of a user's ability by scoring them based on what features they've used. And that's not just a metaphor; various actions in Word, Excel and Powerpoint have point values, and you can see your point total in the Home tab in the Office ribbon bar.

Ribbon Hero also offers challenges that teach you about more advanced features. These, too, have game-like qualities to them; in addition to awarding you a star for completing the challenge, there are extra objectives like completing a challenge without hints or in the fewest actions possible. Just as reading manuals isn't for everyone, neither is Ribbon Hero-it might seem too much like playtime for a work environment. But if you enjoy playing video games to earn achievements and high scores, then Ribbon Hero should be right up your alley.



Newspaper-style reading application Web-based, Windows/Mac/Linux (via Adobe AIR) by Anirudh Sasikumar

Designers of many stripes know that it's incredibly hard to read really long lines of text. Try it yourself, if you've got a wide screen: copy and paste a newspaper article into Notepad and maximize the window. Then try reading the same article in a narrower screen. This conventional wisdom has long held sway in print design, which is why newspapers and magazines layout text in long, narrow columns. But largely because of technical limitations and the nature of the medium, narrow columns have never been in vogue when it comes to websites.

The International Herald Tribune website experimented with displaying articles in multi-column layouts once, near the beginning of the decade. Readefine is a revival of the multi-column display, but this time it displays content from all over the web. Any RSS feed, website or text file can be sucked into Readefine and reflowed into narrow columns so that it looks and reads like a newspaper page. If loading articles from an RSS feed or from Google Reader, additional items in the feed display across the top and left side of the page, also much like a newspaper would.

Designed to make the web more elegant and easier to read, Readefine has several options to make text easier on the eyes-font size and line height are easily adjustable, as are page layout settings like column width and paragraph spacing. Despite the customizability, Readefine occasionally exposes the limitations of imposing a print layout on web material-images in particular don't play nice with the columns, though there is a webcomic mode that kills the columns entirely but leaves the text settings intact. But there is still merit to reading text in narrow columns, and Readefine is the easiest way to do it on the web.

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