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If you’re a Mac OS X user who listens to music in iTunes, you may often add ratings to your songs. With iTunes, you can add a rating from 1 to 5 stars, but only whole stars – no half stars. If you have some songs that are in between (ie. 3 1/2 stars), why should you be forced to give a 1/2 star more or less than what it deserves?
The short answer is that you shouldn’t be forced at all to do that, and you no longer have to be thanks to this quick tip from Mac Tricks & Tips. They’ve shared a single-line terminal command which you can use to add this functionality to iTunes, and it’s really quick and easy to use.defaults
If you have iTunes open, you can now restart it, or open it if not open.
You should now be able to select a star rating and drag to the right or left to add a half star.
Charnita has been a Freelance Writer & Professional Blogger since 2008. As an early adopter she loves trying out new apps and services. As a Windows, Mac, Linux and iOS user, she has a great love for bleeding edge technology. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.
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There is something interesting about a rhombus. It looks like a square that has had its corners stretched out through a game of tug-of-war. When you put three of them together, you can make a three-dimensional object.
Isometric takes the interesting aspect of the rhombus and turns it into a fun art app. You can create simple design logos or abstract, chaotic drawings just by tapping your screen…Design
As is the new look of the year, this app features flat and white imagery that will fit perfectly with Apple’s new design. Flat is the new black for iOS.
Users start out with a completely blank, white canvas. Add rhombuses in three different angles to create your geometric masterpiece.
Using the settings section, change the color of each of the three angles so that all of the shapes facing one direction will be one color and all of the shapes facing another direction will be another color.
You can repaint individual rhombuses by tapping the paint can in the settings section and then tapping the shape that you want to change the color of. To revert back to its original color, tap it again.
When you are done with your masterpiece, or just want to take a break, tap the back arrow button at the bottom left of the screen. This will take you to the main menu.
In the main menu, you will see your various creations. You can rename your art piece, toss it in the trash, or prepare it for sharing. You can either send the final image directly to Twitter, or email it to someone. You can also print it, make a copy, assign it to a contact, or save it to your camera roll.App Use
When you first open the app, you will be given a quick tutorial of how to place a rhombus and how to change its direction and move it around. After learning how to change colors and use gesture controls to alter the angle of the canvas, you can continue your work.
To place a shape, tap the screen. To change its direction, tap the rhombus. To change direction again, tap it again. Each rhombus can be angled in three different ways. If you place them close together, you can create a cube.
Each direction of rhombus is a different color. The default colors are light gray, dark gray, and black. To change the color of all rhombuses in one direction or another, tap the settings tab at the bottom right of the screen. Select the angle that you want to change and your color options will appear. There are 64 different colors, divided by eight color palettes. Select a color and all rhombuses on the canvas that are angled in that direction will change.
To change the color of an individual rhombus, tap the paint can icon that sits below the three angles of rhombuses. This activates “Colorize Mode,” which lets you change the color of any rhombus you touch. To exit Colorize Mode, go back to the settings section. It will automatically shut off.
You can zoom in or out of the canvas. If you want to work in a tight area and need to be able to move cubes around close together, zoom in for a better view. If you are working with a large canvas and want the freedom to just drop a rhombus anywhere without having a specific spot in mind, zoom far out and just start tapping.
When you are ready to share your work of art, head back to the menu screen and tap the share button. You will be able to arrange the piece to show how it will look in the final frame. If you want your final image to sit in the corner, zoom out and move it. If you want a close up of a single cube, zoom in.
After you’ve framed the image, choose an effect style. You can either leave it flat, add a shadowed edge, put a light leak layer underneath, change the shading of the rhombuses, turn everything into lines, put a pattern on the page, or save it as a .svg file. This lets you send the drawing as a vector image so you can create logos and designs.
You can then share your drawing with others, or send it to Dropbox. If you’d like to manipulate the image further, open it in another editing app, like PhotoStudio.The Good
I could spend the whole day creating geometric art. The canvas is big enough that it would take hours to fill it. I love being able to change the color of individual rhombuses. It adds depth to the base look.
I also like that I can further alter the image in another editing app. This makes the possibilities endless.
This app is also universal and iCloud connected. You can start a drawing on your iPhone and continue it on your iPad.The Bad
There is no undo button. There were times when I meant to change the direction of a rhombus, but accidentally dropped a new one instead. I’d like the ability to throw away individual shapes.Value
Isometric is available for $1.99. It works with devices running iOS 6 or higher. Because you can save your work between devices, it makes this simple app worth the price.Conclusion
I think of this app as a sort of doodle pad. Except, instead of sketching out skull faces and unicorns, you are creating visually stunning geometric art. It is very entertaining and has a relaxing quality to it that could be very therapeutic for some people. If you like the way it looks, you’ll want to have this universal app for yourself. Download it in the App Store today.
LEGO Star Wars Cloud City: Why this one’s unique
The time at which Star Wars and LEGO have reached peak insanity is now. Here, in 2023, we’ve gotten back to the point at which the most fabled and legendary of original Star Wars LEGO sets was hatched is back. This is Star Wars: Cloud City, in LEGO form. If you’re a hardcore Star Wars LEGO collector, you know the original is basically unattainable. If you’re new to the game, you’ll understand why this set’s reboot is about to keep with the tradition of mind-boggling largeness.
Floating above the gas planetoid Bespin is the tibanna gas mining operation in Cloud City. It’s here that the main climax of the film Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back takes place. It’s here that we meet our most favorite of Star Wars characters, the always fashionable, smooth, and beautiful Lando Calrissian.
While Lando no longer rolls with his original Kessel Run-style Millennium Falcon, he’s got an entire town to keep track of. This new edition of the most massive original Star Wars LEGO set features four individual sections. As LEGO revealed today, each one of these sections is basically a set in and of itself.
“I saw a city in the clouds…” – Luke Skywalker
Section 1: The landing platform from whens Boba Fett’s Slave 1 removes Han Solo from the clutches of the Empire. This section of the city features an actual Slave 1 ship for Boba Fett – easily the cutest and most chibi version of the ship yet created by LEGO.
Section 2: The dining room where Darth Vader invites his guests for a fun meal full of negotiations. This section also features the room where C-3PO happens upon hidden Stormtroopers, the room where Leia expresses concern over C-3PO’s absence, and a lovely original-style Cloud City corridor.
Section 3: This is probably the most dark section of the four. Here we’ve got a dark corridor where evil deals go down. We’ve got the garbage incinerator with conveyor belt – complete with deactivated IG droid, just like the easter egg in the film. We’ve got the RED corridor where Lando says “this deal is getting worse all the time.”
We’ve also got the interrogation room, complete with interrogation sparky-ouch-zap chair thingy. That’s where Darth Vader zaps Han Solo a bunch so Luke will see him in pain in his visions of the future.
“They didn’t even ask me any questions…” – Han Solo
Section 4: The most epic of sections. It’s here that we’ve got the miniaturized version o the Carbon Freezing Chamber. Interesting here will be the differences between this and the big-style version of the chamber released last year – that’s LEGO set 75137, 231 pieces (retired set).
Section 4 also features the bridge to nowhere, the place where Luke discovers the true nature of his father’s disappearance. Feel free to bust out your own Star Wars sound board to make sure Luke’s falling down is accompanied by the proper NOOOOOOO!!!
This set includes a number of elements that are either entirely new or newly modified. For example you’ll find “Lobot’s cybernetic band” – something I can’t imagine was ever produced as a toy on its own, ever before, LEGO or otherwise.
Per the official description of this set, “New minifigure details include Leia’s red dress, Han’s Corellian blood stripe, Luke’s dark-tan Dagobah outfit, the Ugnaught’s head decoration and the cloud car pilots.”
This new LEGO Star Wars Cloud City measures in at over 6-inches (16cm) tall, 22-inches (58cm) wide, and 22-inches (56cm) deep when fully constructed. This is set number 75222 “Betrayal at Cloud City.” It comes with 2,812 pieces and will ring in at US $349.99 –CA $399.99 –DE 349.99€ –UK £299.99 –FR 349.99€ –DK 2999DK. Release will take place at LEGO Stores and LEGO online from October 1st, 2023, and VIP availability starts on September 13th.
Military dogs and their handlers play vital roles, particularly in covert operations. But when these missions occur miles away from base and the humans parachute in, how do you get the dog there too?
The latest piece of kit in Europe to enable this extreme maneuver is the K9F Para-fox, presented at the Defense Innovation Forum in Paris on December 4 of last year.
The roots of the K9F date to 2023, but the development of this line of tech can be traced back further. When in early 2012 the German army, seeking a solution for parachuting with working dogs, approached a company called Paratec, “our research didn’t yield any other [dog-parachuting] solutions out there,” Ken Krueger, the business development manager for Paratec defense systems, tells Popular Science. Paratec is a small German outfit that designs and manufactures high-tech parachutes for niche users such as professional sky-divers and special forces. The 45-employee company in Wallerfangen, just near the borders with France and Luxembourg, is the original equipment manufacturer for “mission specific” parachute equipment for the German military and 18 other armed forces across the world.
By March of 2012 the company had an initial concept for its “Working Dog Freefall Harness,” or K9A, by simply modifying an existing dog vest that had handles on it so that it could be attached to the front of the paratrooper’s harness. The dog hung close to the paratrooper’s body, all legs dangling, and the paratrooper needed to hold the dog’s legs bent on landing so they didn’t break. But that was hard to do because the paratrooper had to control the chute, too. “And of course if the dog breaks a leg then it can’t undertake its mission,” Krueger explains.
Military dog-handlers the world over have parachuted with their dogs for decades; here’s a Colombian canine doing it in 2023, for example. And in the US, the Marine Corps has 23 Military Working Dog Harnesses for parachuting made by a company called Airborne Systems.
Between 2012 and 2014 Paratec tried different solutions. The second idea was a longer harness that gave more support to the dog rather than just holding it up by its middle. But the dangling legs were still an issue.
The year 2023 was a turning point for Paratec. It was then that the French military, specifically Captain Jérôme (last names of French military personnel are withheld for security reasons), commander of the 132nd dog-handling infantry regiment, approached Paratec with specific requirements. Captain Jérôme wanted his pooch to be able to be more comfortable while parachuting.
In March of that year came the breakthrough idea of a sack, now in its sixth and final version. Hence the name “fox” which is short for “fox-trot,” the military designation of the sixth letter of the alphabet, and as this version was developed specifically with the French army, also F, the name stuck.
The sac is now termed a flight-pod. It is made of cordura, spandex, and webbing with softer lining to make it comfortable. It opens up flat and the dog lays down on it with both hind and fore legs folded underneath itself—this is the way military dogs are trained to lie down so that they can jump up faster. The pod is zipped over the dog and a collar made of neoprene and spandex is closed around the dog’s neck so that it can’t wriggle out of the pod in mid-flight. The collar is closed with a specially designed magnetic release that the handler can activate, but the dog can’t.
The flight pod, as seen from the top. Paratec
Two people are needed to lift the dog-in-a-pod onto a support harness known as the pod-tray, shaped somewhat like a taco-shell, which is attached to the human jumper’s harness. Two straps close the tray around the dog. The system means the dog can wander around the airplane until a few minutes before the jump when it is zipped into the flight-pod, then lifted onto the tray, and the team is ready to fly!
“The animal’s welfare was first and foremost. It had to be comfortable, ventilated, have its legs protected and be secure. We had to make sure that our equipment did not hinder the use of various accessories the dog may be wearing such as goggles, a leash, or a kevlar vest to protect it from being knifed after landing. The pod also had to be expandable to take account of different sized dogs,” Krueger explains.
So why did it take years to develop what, at first, appears to be a fairly simple piece of kit? Well, it’s not that simple. “Dog missions are not high on the priority list of conventional armed forces so they dedicate neither time nor funds to developing equipment for these missions. There are no R&D programs and there is no investment,” Krueger points out. So, the company developed the K9F on its own funds, “although the French were very dedicated in providing the dogs and organizing the jumps to test the equipment.”
This testing was the biggest challenge and most time-consuming activity. “One jump could take up to six months to organize,” Krueger says. “Although we purchased stuffed toy dogs for the development phase, at some point one has to test everything with a real dog.”
And because this is military equipment and the dog-handling paratrooper team (most often the dog-handler and his dog are “passengers” who jump in tandem with an experienced jumper, known as the tandem pilot) is too bulky to jump out of an aircraft’s small side-door, the test needs to take place from an airplane with a ramp.
Once on the ground an extremely ingenious system allows the flight-pod “to open up like a flower and release the dog in less than 10 seconds after landing.” Krueger explains that a handle is attached to a silicone coated wire threaded through seam loops and when the handle on top of the bag is squeezed the wire can slide out. “It’s a bit like those seams that shut sacs of potatoes. When you pull on one thread the whole seam comes undone.” Then all you have to do is thread the wire through the seam loops and the flight-pod is ready to be used again.
And what do the dogs think? “Well, all I can say is that the dogs come right over and jump in the pod with what looks like a smile on their faces,” laughs Krueger.
Gone are the times when we used to listen to music on CD players. While everything around us is getting digital, we want our music to be digital too. Keeping a pile of CDs is too old-fashioned, and we all prefer having our favorite music on our PCs. This is where Audio CD rippers come to use. An Audio Ripper is a software that lets you copy the audio content from a CD to your PC where media is not at all damaged after extraction. Audio file ripping is a process where the audio file is copied and reformatted, and compressed in a format compatible with the media player on your PC.
There are many different software available over the web that let you copy the audio files from CD to your PC and VSDC Free Audio CD Grabber for Windows PC is one of them. VSDC Free Audio CD Grabber lets you rip audio files from a CD or DVD and save them to your Windows PC in any file format of your choice.VSDC Free Audio CD Grabber for Windows PC
This freeware comes with a simple and user-friendly interface. It is a tool designed for users to convert the contents of their CDs to one of the audio file formats supported. The main overview has a ribbon with all menu options and a pane displaying the entire content of your audio CD with details like the duration, size, and state of the audio files.Features of VSDC Audio CD Grabber
Supports major audio formats– The program copies/extracts the audio files from a compact disk and save it in your PC in a compressed format like WMA, MP3, M4A, AMR, OGG, AU, AIFF, WAV, and more. It supports CDs, DVDs as well as Blu-ray discs.
Preset settings- The program comes with preset adjustments which include the output directory, the quality of the audio file and the required output. Edit them on your own preferences and hit Grab.
Speed and Quality- The program works on high-quality audio ripping algorithms, and thus you get a good-quality ripped audio file on your PC. However, your preset options may affect the quality of output. The VSDC Audio CD Grabber uses multiple processors and supports the technologies like Core Duo, Dual Core, and Hyper-Threading, and thus it can copy and convert the audio file in real-time and that too without compromising with quality.
Download it here and get all your audio files from CD to your PC. It does not bring any crapware along with it.What is VSDC Audio CD Grabber?
VSDC Audio CD Grabber is a software, which helps you create CDs or DVDs of your favorite music. You can rip a CD of audio files with the help of VSDC Audio CD Grabber. For your information, this software is fully compatible with Windows 11, Windows 10, and some other older versions.What is the best free software for ripping CDs?
There are many tools for ripping CDs on Windows PC. For example, you can use VSDC Audio CD Grabber. It is available for Windows 11, 10, etc. Whether you want to rip one or ten audio files, you can do that with the help of VSDC Audio CD Grabber. The user interface is uncluttered but full of options so that you do not find any problems using it.
Now take a look at VSDC Free Audio Converter too.
Women’s Swimming Star Carly Soares Hopes to Add More Records to Already Stellar Résumé
Carly Soares (CFA’20) goes into the Patriot League Championships at Navy this week as one of BU most decorated swimmers. Photo by Cydney Scott
Varsity SportsWomen’s Swimming Star Carly Soares Hopes to Add More Records to Already Stellar Résumé Will close out college career at Patriot League Swimming and Diving Championships this week
A With Carly Soares
You’ve compiled an impressive individual career record at BU: are there one or two races or moments that stand out?
Swimming is both an individual and a team sport. How do you mentally assess your personal success compared to the team success?
Soares: Swimming is a very time-based sport, so obviously you want to get your personal records every time you get into the water to swim. Not only do your best times matter, but the place you get compared to the other teams matters in terms of the overall team effort. Honestly, especially at dual meets, I don’t really care what the time is. I want to make sure that I’m getting that win for the team. That’s what really separates it from an individual sport. Of course, you have your personal goals and you want to improve every year, but you’re not only improving for yourself, you’re improving for your team because you want to get those points.
How demanding is your schedule during swimming season? It must be grueling.
Soares: I’m in the College of Fine Arts, and I’m the only student-athlete in CFA. The way I like to describe it to my professors and classmates is that the amount of time I spend in class, that’s the exact amount of time I’m spending in the pool. We go up to those 20-hour limits, right up to the last minute. We’re diving in at 6 am—it’s not like we’re showing up at 6 am. It’s take your mark, go, at 5:59:59 in the morning. You’re definitely up early, and they’re long days. You’re always physically exhausted, always starving, but it’s worth it. Every Saturday, especially in the fall season, we’re competing in dual meets. We’ll have super long weeks of practices, but as soon as we get on that bus to travel for our dual meet, or we’re in warmups ready to go, it’s kind of that collective: we got through this tough week of practice together, let’s show off what we can do.
Do you have any premeet superstitions?
Soares holds school records in the 200 meter breast and as part of the 400 meter free relay. Photo by Jim Pierce/BU Athletics
What do you think people overlook about the rigor of Division 1 swimming?
A lot of times people think we only do our practices in the mornings. Not only are we swimming in the morning, but we’re also going in the afternoon. In the morning we’re not just swimming, we’re also lifting. On the days that we’re not lifting, we’re on dry land. It’s a whole mix of being in the water, lifting heavy weights, and also doing a lot of cardio and a lot of dry land. People may think we’re just jumping in the water and swimming endlessly. There’s a lot more to it.
You’re majoring in graphic design. How did you become interested in that field?
When I was looking at schools my senior year of high school, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I feel like most 18-year-olds feel that way. When I was looking at schools, I wanted a large university with a lot of options. I had always taken art classes in high school, but I had never really thought of it. There was an alum on the team at the time who was hosting me when I came to visit BU, and she was a graphic design student. I was able to talk to her about what she did, and that was really inspiring, so I decided to just go for it, apply to the College of Fine Arts and go from there. Luckily, I’ve been able to pair my graphic design studies with a minor in communications. Getting that well-rounded education at BU while also studying fine arts and graphic design, which is my passion—I’ve been really fortunate to do that.
Do you have a favorite class you’ve taken at BU?
Probably my graphic design studio classes. I know that’s a simple answer, but since the fall of sophomore year, we’ve had to take studio graphic design each semester. This semester, we’re doing our thesis. Even though it’s the same structure each semester for graphic design, improving the level of intensity each time has been an interesting process. Every semester I’ve had a different professor, so it’s been rewarding to get different perspectives on the same thing we’re studying.
What do you plan on doing as a career?
Do you have any interest in remaining in swimming? Coaching?
I’m definitely going to take a break for the first year or two, while I’m trying to establish myself professionally. Once I settle into that, I do see myself getting back into swimming somehow. Whether through a master’s program or coaching part-time—I love the sport so much. I don’t see myself staying away from it forever, but I do think I need a little breather from the chlorinated tank of the pool. I’m always going to be active. I can’t picture myself not being active.
The Boston University women’s and men’s swimming and diving teams compete at the 2023 Patriot League Swimming & Diving Championships Wednesday, February 19, through Saturday, February 22, at Lejeune Hall at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Purchase tickets here. View the meets online on the Patriot League Network.
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