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Employees Sue Over Half-Hour Boot Times 20 November 2008 at 8:50 am by

macboot.jpg

Man, we thought we were picky when it came to the tiny details of machines, but we have nothing on lawyers. According to the National Law Journal, lawyers have found a new way to make money from crappy gadgets:

Lawyers are noting a new type of lawsuit, in which employees are suing over time spent booting their computers.

The idea is that employees on an hourly wage are tracked from the time they log in to the time they log out. The time spent booting and shutting down is obviously not being counted toward their pay. But how bad can it be? I almost never shut down my Mac, but even from a cold start it takes just half a minute, and if I shut it down I just hit the switch and walk away. For an employee on a generous $25 per hour, that amounts to just over a dollar per week.

But here comes the twist: Apparently, the people bringing these lawsuits claim that it takes around half an hour to boot their machines. Add to that another half hour to shut down (apparently they actually sit in front of a machine and watch it switch off) and you have, well, you don’t have a payroll problem, you have an IT support problem.

Is it even possible for a machine to take that long to get going? Maybe these people are working on some kind of mechanical Babbage engines and need to coax the cogs into meshing every morning. We doubt it. If their computers are really that far gone, we can think of just one thing — they’ve been visiting some very dodgy sites during work hours and gotten infected with all kinds of malware. Which, in turn, means that they have been surfing porn on work time, and should shut up about a few nickels.

Is booting up a computer work, or a work break? [NLJ via Lifehacker]

Photo: itilir/Flickr

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Turn a Flatbed Scanner into a Giant Camera By 17 November 2008 at 7:12 am and have No Comments

Here at the G-Lab we love Make, the magazine for hackers, modders and DIY freaks. And, by extension, we dig Makezine, the online home of the mag. Sometimes the projects are a little too ambitious (DIY DNA sequencing, anyone?) but once in a while there is a true gem, a project so cool that you can’t not do it.

The Scanner Camera is one of those projects. It’s a perfect destination for your useless scanner and better still, it’s reversible, meaning you can always go back to scanning boring old pieces of paper.

The video shows you just what to do: essentially you tape a 7″x7″ black box the the top of an old flatbed, fit a magnifying-glass lens into a smaller box and slide that inside, and then punch a few different sized holes into black cards to use as apertures.

That’s it. The image is focussed by moving the inner box in and out, and the light levels can be controlled with the black cards. The images are amazing, and best of all, if you have a Canon LiDE scanner like the one in the video, it’s powered from the USB bus so you could even hook this up to a laptop and go shooting outside.

I will be trying this out over the next few days. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Weekend Project: Scanner Camera [Make via Lifehacker]

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System Control Center is a Dashboard for Windows Tweak Tools [Featured Windows Download] By 31 October 2008 at 7:00 am and have No Comments

pimg src=”http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2008/10/command_center.jpg” align=”left” hspace=”4″ vspace=”2″ width=”494″ height=”200″ style=”display:block;float:none;” /Windows only: When it comes to getting deep into a Windows system and tweaking the stuff you can’t get to from the Control Panel, the free tools provided by a href=”http://www.nirsoft.net/”Nirsoft/a and a href=”http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/default.aspx”Sysinternals/a are hard to beat. Windows System Control Center is a free, no-install app that provides a convenient front-end for running every app released by those groups. Divided into intelligent categories, the app does require that you keep each group of utilities in the same directory, but the majority of them are portable, and that makes this app a pretty handy tool for system administrators’ USB sticks. System Control Center requires that you download the apps in question to use them, of course, but it also links to a few standard high-level Windows tools for all-in-one fix-it work. System Control Center is a free download for Windows systems only./p div class=”related”a href=”http://www.kls-soft.com/main/downloads.php?freeware=”Windows System Control Center/a [via a href="http://www.ghacks.net/2008/10/31/windows-system-control-center/"gHacks/a]/div br style=”clear: both;”/
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The Beta Beatdown, Round Two [Lifehacker Faceoff] By 31 October 2008 at 6:00 am and have No Comments

pimg src=”http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2008/10/beatdownheader.png” align=”left” hspace=”4″ vspace=”2″ width=”494″ height=”200″ style=”display:block;float:none;” /Every software maker under the sun, it seems, is offering up their software for free when it reaches beta, from web browsers to online calendars to photo organizing tools. In the six months since we a href=”http://lifehacker.com/391248/the-beta-beatdown”last asked for your favorite beta/a, there’s been no shortage of intriguing pre-release software to check out, and we’re eager to see which releases have kept you interested. Read on to see the contenders and choose your own champion. emPhoto by a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/24861179@N00/150227376/”arriba/a./em/p pemstrongNote:/strong/em We’re including the latest betas for three browsers in this poll, but we’re not asking you to vote on which browser is your favoritemdash;that is, of course, a never-ending but ever-changing debate. In this context, we’re asking which specific beta brought the coolest new features, or best interface improvements, or just general better-ness to each browser./p ul lia href=”http://lifehacker.com/5064878/bumptop-beta-in-action”BumpTop for Windows/a (a href=”http://bumptop.com/”direct link/a)/li lia href=”http://lifehacker.com/5063202/firefox-31-beta-1-now-available-for-download-first-look”Firefox 3.1 Beta/a (a href=”http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/all-beta.html”direct link/a)/li lia href=”http://lifehacker.com/5044484/google-chrome-first-look”Google Chrome for Windows/a (a href=”http://google.com/chrome”direct link/a)/li lia href=”http://lifehacker.com/5042941/internet-explorer-8-beta-2s-familiar-new-features”Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 for Windows/a (a href=”http://www.microsoft.com/windows/internet-explorer/beta/worldwide-sites.aspx”direct link/a)/li lia href=”http://lifehacker.com/5059302/picasa-3-betas-new-features”Picasa 3 for Windows and Linux/a (a href=”http://picasa.google.com/”direct link/a)/li lia href=”http://lifehacker.com/5042312/ubiquity-prototype-offers-a-natural-language-web-command-line”Ubiquity Firefox extension/a (a href=”http://labs.mozilla.com/2008/08/introducing-ubiquity/”direct link/a)/li lia href=”http://lifehacker.com/5051509/whats-new-in-the-windows-live-wave-betas”Windows Live Wave Betas/a (a href=”http://download.live.com/default.aspx?wa=wsignin1.0″direct link/a)/li lia href=”http://lifehacker.com/5067728/store-and-swap-files-at-wuala-lifehacker-group-now-open”Wuala for Java platforms/a (a href=”http://wua.la/”direct link/a)/li lia href=”http://lifehacker.com/5051874/xbmc-atlantis-beta-1-released-for-all-platforms”XBOX Media Center “Atlantis” for all platforms/a (a href=”http://xbmc.org/home/”direct link/a)/li lia href=”http://lifehacker.com/5061885/yahoo-calendar-beta-on-track-to-challenge-google-cal”Yahoo Calendar Beta/a (a href=”http://switch.calendar.yahoo.com/m/landing.php”direct link/a)/li /ul pscript type=”text/javascript” language=”javascript” src=”http://s3.polldaddy.com/p/1061670.js” /scriptnoscripta href=”http://answers.polldaddy.com/poll/1061670/”What’s your favorite beta right now?/abr span style=”font-size:9px;”( a href=”http://www.polldaddy.com”surveys/a)/span/noscript/p pDid we miss any worthy betas in the nearly six months since our a href=”http://lifehacker.com/391248/the-beta-beatdown”first show-down/a? Tell us in the comments./p br style=”clear: both;”/
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Convert Videos with Free, Powerful Automen [Featured Windows Download] By 30 October 2008 at 8:30 pm and have No Comments

pimg src=”http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2008/10/automen_50.jpg” align=”left” hspace=”4″ vspace=”2″ width=”494″ height=”211″ style=”display:block;float:none;” /br Windows only: Convert videos from DVD or downloads into the format and size you like with Automen, a simple but powerful tool that’s small, free, and relatively easy to use. I say “relatively” compared to Mencoder, the command-line utility it provides a user interface for. You will have to edit the program’s INI configuration file in Notepad to get it working, so if drag-and-drop is more your speed it might not be right for you. You can choose from a variety of input and output formats (including XVID, FLV, WMV, and MP4), specify the output dimensions and even target file size, batch-process multiple videos and the software will take full advantage of multi-core processors to speed up encoding. For alternative tools, check out our a href=”http://lifehacker.com/software/lifehacker-top-10/top-10-free-video-rippers-encoders-and-converters-316478.php”top 10 free video rippers, encoders, and converters/a. Automen is a free download for Windows./p div class=”related”a href=”http://forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?p=1018336″AutoMen (Mini Mencoder Gui) 5.0/a [Doom9 via a href="http://www.freewaregenius.com/2008/10/30/automen-a-small-yet-brilliant-video-converter/"Freeware Genius/a]/div br style=”clear: both;”/
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Share Your Shopping Horror Stories with Spendster [Personal Finance] By 30 October 2008 at 8:00 pm and have No Comments

pimg src=”http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2008/10/spendster_logo.jpg” align=”left” hspace=”4″ vspace=”2″ width=”494″ height=”133″ style=”display:block;float:none;” /br If you have a bunch of expensive stuff collecting dust in your closet or garage, it might be time to sit down with a href=”http://spendster.org/”Spendster/a and repent for your consumer gluttony. A project from the a href=”http://www.nefe.org/”National Endowment for Financial Education/a, Spendster asks folks to calculate how much they’ve spent on stuff they simply don’t need, and to share their stories. The videos already on the site are a lesson in humility that just might change your habits. And you can use the Spendster calculator to reveal the real cost of those impulse buys, expressed in credit card interest fees or how much you’d have if you bought into Google’s IPO or into an interest-bearing savings account./p div class=”related”a href=”http://spendster.org/”Spendster/a [via a href="http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2008/10/29/confess-your-shopping-sins-with-spendster/"Get Rich Slowly/a]/div br style=”clear: both;”/
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Stick More Style in Your Life with Infectious [Customizations] By 30 October 2008 at 7:30 pm and have No Comments

pimg src=”http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2008/10/infectious_laptop_art_nico_berry.jpg” align=”left” hspace=”4″ vspace=”2″ width=”494″ height=”245″ style=”display:block;float:none;” /If your laptop case is boring wasteland of dull, scratched plastic then customize it with artful stickers from a href=”http://www.infectious.com/”Infectious/a. From abstract to ultra-kawaii, all the stickers feature great work from contemporary artists, including classy abstract designs and whimsical cartoons. They also offer stickers for your wall to spruce up the home office and neat designs to give your car more zip. Plus there’s a sale running through November 4th, with products up to 30 percent off. I’m particularly partial to “a href=”http://www.infectious.com/browse/NicoBerry/boomer/laptop-art/322″Boomer/a” from Nico Berry above./p div class=”related”a href=”http://www.infectious.com/”Infectious/a/div br style=”clear: both;”/
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Six Experimental Firefox Extensions We Love [Experimental Firefox Extensions] By 30 October 2008 at 7:00 pm and have No Comments

pimg src=”http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2008/10/experimental-extension.png” align=”right” hspace=”4″ vspace=”2″ align=”right”We love Firefox for its extensibility, but sometimes we run into an extension or two that dons the “Experimental” label on the Firefox add-ons site. We prefer highlighting extensions once they’ve been approved by Mozillamdash;both so we know they’ve been vetted and so we can save you the effort of registering with Mozilla to install somethingmdash;so we generally pass them by. When enough of them pile up in our watch list, we highlight them in one big post (see our a href=”http://lifehacker.com/5061141/experimental-extensions-wed-like-to-go-mainstream”two/a a href=”http://lifehacker.com/395876/three-awesome-experimental-firefox-extensions”previous/a posts) in an effort to give the extensions the extra push of popularity that can expedite the approval process. So without further ado, read on for a closer look at seven awesome Firefox extensions we’re into./p h3 style=”font-size: 120%; margin-top: 20px;”FireStatus/h3 pimg src=”http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2008/10/Firestatus.png” class=”center” width=”600″ height=”172″ style=”display:block;float:none;” /img src=”http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2008/10/firestatus-updates.png” width=”280″ height=”156″ align=”right” class=”right”a href=”https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/8973″FireStatus/a lets you send simultaneous updates to multiple social networksmdash;namely Twitter, Facebook, and FriendFeed. That’s not a bad start, but it goes the extra mile by also displaying your friends’ updates through notification pop-ups (uses Growl in OS X). It also integrates with the a href=”http://lifehacker.com/5068945/five-best-url-shrinkers”most popular URL shrinking site/a, a href=”http://tinyurl.com/”TinyURL/a./p h3 style=”font-size: 120%; margin-top: 20px;”Tabgroups-Plus/h3 pimg src=”http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2008/10/tabgroups-plus.png” width=”291″ height=”230″ align=”right” class=”right”a href=”https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/9187″Tabgroups-Plus/a allows you to organize your Firefox tabs in even more tabs. An update to a href=”http://lifehacker.com/software/organization/download-of-the-day-tab-groups-firefox-240094.php”previously mentioned Tab Groups/a, Tabgroups-Plus does the same drag and drop organization of tabs within user-defined parent tabs, but this version supports Firefox 3 where the old version did not./p h3 style=”font-size: 120%; margin-top: 20px;”GCal Popup/h3 pimg src=”http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2008/10/gcal-overlay.png” class=”right” width=”494″ height=”292″ style=”display:block;float:none;” /a href=”https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/9411″GCal Popup/a opens Google Calendar in an overlay over any web page, giving you quick access to your agenda without leaving the page you’re already visiting. To toggle the calendar, simply click the Google Calendar icon in the corner of your status bar. [a href="http://www.ghacks.net/2008/10/28/access-google-calendar-without-leaving-the-page/"via/a]/p h3 style=”font-size: 120%; margin-top: 20px;”Noise/h3 pimg src=”http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2008/10/noise.png” class=”center” width=”494″ height=”361″ style=”display:block;float:none;” /a href=”https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/8438″Noise/a adds user-defined sounds to browser events in Firefox. For example, you can set a sound to play every time you click a link, open a new tab, start a download, and so on. To be honest, the last thing we think Firefox needs is the irritating click-click that IE conditioned us with at one point, but sounds can come in handy when used properlymdash;for example, to give you an audio heads-up that your download has completed. [a href="http://www.ghacks.net/2008/10/24/add-noise-to-firefox/"via/a]/p h3 style=”font-size: 120%; margin-top: 20px;”Fasterfox Lite/h3 pimg src=”http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2008/10/fasterfox-lite.png” width=”305″ height=”223″ align=”right” class=”right”a href=”https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/9148″Fasterfox Lite/a is the exact same extension as the popular a href=”https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1269″Fasterfox extension/a with one small difference: It removes the controversial link prefetching built into Fasterfox. Prefetching automated retrieves pages linked to on the current page so that they’ll load more quickly if and when you do click them, but it’s generally considered poor form because it wastes server bandwidth and adds to the server load. Fasterfox Lite does everything else Fasterfox does, and incidentally, it supports Firefox while Fasterfox does not. [a href="http://www.ghacks.net/2008/10/30/fasterfox-lite/"via/a]/p h3 style=”font-size: 120%; margin-top: 20px;”Open in Browser/h3 pimg src=”http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2008/10/open-in-browser.png” width=”305″ height=”268″ align=”right” class=”right”a href=”https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/8207″Open in Browser/a adds an option to the Firefox download/save/open menu that allows you to redirect the download to open the file directly in Firefox. If you’ve ever clicked on an image or plain text script, for example, that forced a download when you just wanted to check it out in Firefox, Open in Browser lets you open it back in Firefox where you wanted it to begin with./p br style=”clear: both;”/
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Google Updgrades Accessible Search [In Brief] By 30 October 2008 at 6:27 pm and have No Comments

pimg src=”http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2008/10/google_accessible_search_upgrade.jpg” align=”left” hspace=”4″ vspace=”2″ width=”494″ height=”234″ style=”display:block;float:none;” /br Google has upgraded the optional Accessible Search feature available from Google Labs. Now, individual results pop up in bright, blue boxes with large text you can choose to make larger. You can navigate results with the keyboard, with alert sounds, and a screenreader will read back the highlighted entry. Just visit the a href=”http://www.google.com/experimental/”Experimental Search page/a, scroll down to Accessible View and click the Join this Experiment button. Anyone else find it quicker to scan and less cluttered than the regular search results page? [a href="http://blogoscoped.com/archive/2008-10-30-n76.html"via/a]/p br style=”clear: both;”/
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Best Travel Web Sites? [Hive Five Call For Contenders] By 30 October 2008 at 6:00 pm and have No Comments

pimg src=”http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/lifehacker/2008/10/airline.png” width=”305″ height=”162″ align=”right” align=”right” hspace=”4″ vspace=”2″ /The holiday travel season is just around the corner, ticket prices are sky high, and airlines now charge an extra fee for everything from checking your bags to delivering your pretzels. So this holiday season, you want to pinch every penny for travel that you can. Lucky for you, the internet is filled to the brim with budget travel sites aiming to give you the best deal for your dollar. For this week’s Hive Five, we want you to share your favorite web site for booking your travel. Keep reading for more details, then nominate the site you load when you’re looking for a good ticket at a reasonable price. iPhoto by a href=”http://flickr.com/photos/bcorreira/2539507245/in/photostream/”Cubbie n Vegas/a/i./p pHive Five nominations take place in the comments, where you post your favorite tool for the job. We get hundreds of comments, so to make your nomination clear, please include it at the top of your comment like so: bcodeVOTE: Travel Web Site Goes Here/code/b. emNEW RULE/em: Please don’t include your vote in a reply to another commenter. Instead, make your vote and reply separate comments. If you don’t follow this format, we may not count your vote. To prevent tampering with the results, votes from first-time commenters may not be counted. After you’ve made your nomination, let us know what makes it stand out from the competition./p piAbout the Hive Five/i: The a href=”http://lifehacker.com/tag/hive-five/”Hive Five/a feature series asks readers to answer the most frequently asked question we get—”Which tool is the best?” Once a week we’ll put out a call for contenders looking for the best solution to a certain problem, then YOU tell us your favorite tools to get the job done. Every weekend, we’ll report back with the top five recommendations and give you a chance to vote on which is best. For an example, check out last week’s a href=”http://lifehacker.com/5068945/five-best-url-shrinkers”Hive Five Best URL Shrinkers/a./p br style=”clear: both;”/
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