Sunday, February 6, 2011

How to Export Email Addresses of all your Facebook Friends

Search the Facebook Apps directory for something like “export contacts” and you’ll come across quite a few applications that sound as if they can transfer your friends contact information out of Facebook.

There’s an app called “Export Friends” that will save you friends names, city, birthday and their current location in a CSV (text) file that you then import into Excel, Gmail or any other web email program.

Then there are social plug-ins that can sync photos and status updates of your Facebook friends with matching contacts in Outlook.

The problem is that none of these apps can download what you are looking – the phone numbers and email addresses of your Facebook friends. There are Greasemonkey scripts and other hacks that can pull this information from Facebook through “web scraping” but don’t ever take that route as Zuckerberg’s army might ban your account forever.

Export Email Addresses of your Facebook Contacts

Facebook APIs don’t expose email addresses of users and hence none of the Facebook apps can provide you with the actual contact data of your friends. There’s however a simple (and perfectly legal) workaround that can help you easily download all your friends email addresses from Facebook’s walled garden.

Go to and click the Facebook icon. A login dialog should pop-up, just sign-in with your Facebook credentials and within seconds, you entire Facebook address book will be available inside your Yahoo Mail Account. Once the import is done, click this link to download a CSV file with the email addresses of all your Facebook contacts to your desktop.

You can then import the CSV file into Gmail Contacts, LinkedIn, your phone address book or any of the social sites where you want to connect with your existing Facebook circle.

Update: If Yahoo! is unable to import your Facebook Address book, open your Facebook page and choose “Application Settings” under Account. Next remove the “Yahoo! Contact Importer” application from your Facebook profile and try the steps mentioned in the video again.

Use Facebook Chat without opening

Facebook includes an awesome chat feature that lets you instantly start conversations with your Facebook buddies without installing any IM software but the only small issue is that you need to be on the website in order to use Facebook chat.

If you find this a bit inconvenient, here are some good workarounds that will let you chat on Facebook from anywhere without even having to open the Facebook site in your browser.

Facebook Chat Inside the Web Browser

If you have Google Chrome or Prism for Firefox, you can open this address in your browser address bar and then create an application shortcut to Facebook chat on your desktop.

Firefox users may bookmark the above link and set the "Load this bookmark in Sidebar" property to true in order to use Facebook chat from the Firefox sidebar.

If you an IE user or hate to use Facebook chat from the sidebar, try Gabtastik - this is a minimal desktop client for Facebook that looks exactly like the web version of Facebook chat but will also send you notifications of new messages and chat requests from the system tray.

Meebo, the very awesome web based instant messaging service, now supports Facebook chat as well. You can connect your Facebook account with meebo via the Facebook Connect service (so there's no need to share your Facebook credentials with anyone) and instantly chat with your online buddies inside the web browser.

There are two advantages here - you can use Facebook chat even if the main site is blocked in your office and two, you can simultaneously connect with friends on other IM networks from the same website.

Facebook Chat Clients for your Desktop

ChitChat - If Facebook were to develop a standalone messenger on the lines of Yahoo! or Google Talk, it might look something like ChitChat.

ChitChat is a Windows-only desktop client for Facebook that provides a tabbed window to make it easy for you to talk to may friends at once. It will also show notifications in the tray when your friends go online or when they have signed out. The application is in RC stage so expect a few bugs.

Digsby - This is again a very useful all-in-one app that helps you stay up to date with everything happening on your Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, LinkedIn and other online accounts.

If you have multiple accounts on Facebook (like you and your spouse), you can associate all of them with your Disgsby messenger and chat with the combined buddy list simultaneously. Facebook doesn't allow audio or video calls but Digsby indirectly brings that feature to Facebook Chat via tokbox.

Adium - If you are on Mac, Adium is probably the best choice for you to chat with Facebook friends from the desktop.

Like Pidgin and Digsby, Adium too supports multiple IM networks, including Windows Live Messenger, Google Talk, AOL AIM, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, Skype, Twitter and Jabber (XMPP). And it uses the same Facebook Chat plugin that is available for Pidgin users on Google Code.

Pidgin - While Facebook Chat is not officially supported in Pidgin, there's a free plug-in that lets you connect to the Facebook chat server from Pidgin. And like Digsby, Pidgin too would let you chat with buddies on multiple Facebook accounts from the same interface.

Pidgin vs Digsby - Pidgin is purely for instant messaging while Digsby will also display notifications like when a friends sends you a message using Facebook email or if he or she writes something on your Facebook wall. Some people in the comments say that even Pidgin displays notifications but at least that doesn't work in Windows 7.

Pidgin will show all your Facebook contacts in one giant list (see update) while Digsby will group contacts under logical "Friends list" just the way you have them on the main site. Update: The new version of Facebook Chat plugin for Pidgin displays your online friends under groups just like Pidgin.

Check if Someone Else is Using Your Facebook Account?

Notice some suspicious activity on your wall? Well there some simple security settings built into Facebook – some of these settings are new while others have been around for some time – that should help you quickly detect if any other person is secretly logging into and using your Facebook account.

Go to -> Account -> Account Settings -> Account Security. Here you’ll see a list of all computers and mobile devices that have logged into your Facebook account and when. You can also see the approximate geographic location of the device, based on the IP address, that was used to access your Facebook account.

If you come across an unknown device / location in the list, say you are Mac user and the device listed is IE on Windows, just click the corresponding “end activity” link and it should immediately log you out from that machine.

For extra safety, you may also choose to receive email and SMS alerts if someone else tries to log into your Facebook account from a previously unknown computer or mobile phone. (I wish Google could bring such a feature to Gmail as well).

The following video will walk you through all the security features available in Facebook to help keep your account secure. Some of the features, like one time passwords and secure browsing (https), are currently available in U.S. only.

Get Temporary Email Addresses with Hotmail

A temporary email address could come handy in situations where you don’t want to share your primary email address because of the risk of spam.

Now there are quite a few services on the web, Mailinator and 10MinuteMail for example, that have long offered temporary email addresses for free but with certain limitations.

For example, these services provide receive-only inboxes so you can’t send email to someone using your temporary address. Second, these addresses auto-expire after a certain time and then you may have to generate a new one. Finally, we don’t have much of a clue about the companies that run these services and their privacy policies.

If you have been looking for a more reliable temporary email service but without any limitations, it’s time to log in to your old Hotmail account at

Microsoft has added a new feature in Windows Live Hotmail that will let you create aliases for your main email address and the good part is that all these aliases can be managed though the same Inbox. Google Apps also supports email aliases but not Gmail.

I really like the way they have implemented aliases in Hotmail (see the video above). All incoming email for an alias gets stored in a separate folder, outside your main Inbox, and if you are getting too much spam for an alias, simply delete it from your account.

You may associate up to five different aliases with your Hotmail account.

Technically, this is quite similar to creating a new Gmail account that auto-forwards to your main Inbox and then you set up a filter for routing those messages. However, for people who aren’t that technically inclined, Hotmail’s approach is a winner.

How To Transfer VHS to DVD

VHS video is inconvenient in today's digital world, and there are a lot of people who want to convert their older video recordings to DVD. You can certainly find a service that will make this conversion for you, but these transfers can get expensive if you have several VHS tapes to convert. This article will describe two ways to transfer that VHS tape of your graduation, wedding or birthday party to DVD so that you can have a more permanent digital copy to share with family and friends.

If you're looking for a way to transfer old VHS but the recordings are popular movies or TV shows - or even unpopular, obscure ones - don't buy costly hardware and spend lots of time with your VHS! You're far better off going to a website where you can download these movies and TV shows onto your computer - I recommend you check out

Recording with a DVD Recorder: A DVD recorder is a video device specifically designed for consumers to record to DVD, even if they don't own a computer.

Advantages: DVD recorders will normally record from analog sources like VHS players, older video cameras or even cable TV. They will also record from digital sources like camcorders or DVD players. As mentioned, with a DVD recorder you don't need a computer to make recordings of DVDs.

Disadvantages: What DVD recorders will not do is record copy protected VHS tapes or DVDs. They are often difficult to integrate into a home audio-video entertainment system due to the lack of inputs and outputs on cable boxes and VCRs. They also have very limited editing capability. And one of the biggest drawbacks of all is price. They are not cheap, with the least expensive models starting at about $200 at the time of this writing. They can also be complex and confusing. If you have trouble with a conventional VCR, then a DVD recorder can be a real challenge to hook up and use.

But if you decide to buy or borrow a DVD recorder, it is not too difficult to transfer a VHS recording to DVD - at least not once you get the darn equipment set-up.

  1. Connect the DVD recorder to the video source. This could be a VHS camcorder or a VHS player. Use the higher quality S-video cable if you can; otherwise, use standard RCA dubbing cables for both video and audio. Connect from the VHS player output to the DVD recorder input. Connecting to a digital source is different. Consult your recorder's manual. This is one of the easiest ways out there for converting VHS into DVD.
  2. Select your recording media. Most DVD recorders burn onto DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R and DVD+RW. The -R and -RW formats are normally more compatible with other DVD players, especially older players, but you should record and test to be sure of compatibility. If you are going to record to a DVD-RW or +RW disk that has previously been recorded, you will have to erase it before you can transfer VHS to it. Your equipment manual will tell you exactly how to do that.
  3. Set your DVD recorder up to preview the input signal. Normally you will press record and pause.
  4. Position the VHS tape source to the beginning and check the recorder's input. This is a critical step. If you don't get it right, you will waste a blank DVD or will get an inferior recording.
  5. Begin the recording and start playing the VHS source. Don't cut off the beginning by playing before starting to record the DVD.
  6. Watch the recording or plan to stop the process at the end. You don't want to continue recording static at the end of the tape.
  7. If desired, add another tape or passage to the recording. One nice thing about converting VHS to DVD: you are not limited to just one tape source per disk. If you have a number of short recordings that would go well together, you can change tapes, and add these to your DVD recording.
  8. Finalize the process. Unlike a VHS recorder, a DVD recorder requires a couple extra steps before you are done. The DVD cannot be played on a standard player until it is finalized. First, decide if you want to add chapter stops to the recording. I highly recommend that you do. Follow your recorder's manual. Defining DVD chapters is normally as easy as finding the right spots and pressing a button on your remote to define a chapter. Multiple recordings will show up on the DVD player menu as different titles. You will be able to label these titles for playback. When you have finished managing the content of the DVD, you finalize the DVD, the recorder will create the chapter stops and menu on the disk, and you are done.

How To Use the Sony Telephoto Handycam Lens

Sometimes the videos you take are all blurry and provide little, if any detail at all. This occurrence could be attributed to the very resolution of your handycam. If you require high resolution close-ups and shallower depth of field, the Sony VCLHG1737C Telephoto handycam lens is the best thing to have.

This particular equipment boasts of an additional 1.7 x zoom and a 37 mm thread diameter. Moreover, it is durable and is created using high-grade materials. Hence, the Sony Telephoto lens provides your digital videography the much needed versatility. In fact, the said equipment is only 7.5 oz in weight, perfect for traveling and other carrying needs. It is relatively easy to use and easy to maintain. Here are some tips on how to use the Sony Telephoto handycam lens.

  • Ensure the handycam’s compatibility with your lens. Before purchasing a Sony Telephoto handycam lens, make sure that the said piece of equipment is indeed compatible with your camcorder. If possible, ask the sales clerk for compatibility issues. Bring your existing handycam to the store, or at least know your make and model number.
  • Install your lens onto your handycam. First, you have to take off the lens cover of your camcorder. Bring out your Sony Telephoto lens and carefully attach the lens onto your hand-held device. You could always consult the actual instructions on attaching the hardware, which is found in the manual packed together with the lens.
  • Practice using the lens. Switch on your camcorder. Select the “Capture Video” mode. Focus on a particular subject or scenery and use the zoom buttons depending on your preference. If you are satisfied with your way of framing, press “Record” in order to start filming your video. Switch to Manual Focus if you want to alter the little details of your background, which include the depth of field and amount of blur in the environment. To focus in and out of your subject, work only our focus ring. Move it back and forth. Make yourself comfortable with the Sony Telephoto lens and experiment with its numerous features in order to maximize its capabilities.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Preventing and Controling Spyware and Adware

Spyware and Adware seem to be taking over computers everywhere these days, but there are some good practices that you can follow to help maintain a healthy ad/spyware free computer. First though I will define both of these computer annoyances for you.

Adware is software that displays advertisments on your computer. These ads tend to popup on your screen at any time. They usually come bundled with free software as means to make money.

Spyware is software that monitors your surfing habits or even your usernames and passwords and then sends this info to a third party without your permission or even knowledge.

Be Careful What You Download
Even some of the more popular software can come bundled with spyware or adware that you don't know about. Your best defense is to research the software before you download it. Do a search in google for the name of the software plus the word 'spyware' or 'adware'. If you don't get any significant hits then it is probably safe. It also helps to read the license agreement associated with the application carefully. Any bundled components should be mentioned in there somewhere. Also when installing the program it helps
to choose the 'custom' option if available. This gives you a better view of the installation process and more control over what components actually get installed on your computer.

Install a Popup Blocker
Alot of spyware is automatically installed when you click on a popup window on your screen. These pop-up windows can appear simply by surfing to a particular website and can often be quite tempting to click on. Installing a blocker prevents these annoying distractions. I use the 'google toolbar' myself, it has a built in pop-up blocker along with some other useful tools and it is completely safe. Just do a search for 'google toolbar' to download it.

Damage Control
No matter what you do eventually some ad/spyware will get installed on your computer, but not to worry. There are some good free programs available that are built to remove any unwanted applications. My two personal favorites are 'Spybot' and 'Adaware' and you can find them by searching for them in any search engine. What these programs do is scan your hard drive searching for known spy/adware apps and then give you the option of removing them. Make sure you check for updates frequently because new threats are popping up daily. Running these programs weekly should be sufficient.