Tuesday, June 30, 2009



Link to MakeUseOf.com

Cool Websites and Tools [June 30]

Posted: 30 Jun 2009 04:00 PM PDT

cool websites Check out some of the latest MakeUseOf discoveries. All listed websites are FREE (or come with a decent free account option). No trials or buy-to-use craplets. For more cool websites and web app reviews subscribe to MakeUseOf Directory.


(1) Foozya - Web application which lets you add a "Feedback" button to any of your web pages and easily gather feedback from visitors. By default, the button will appear at the bottom of your webpage, you can customize its orientation, size and color any way you want. Read more: Foozya: Add Feedback Tab To Your Site

(2) IRS Withholding Calculator - This application lets you calculate your income taxes and find out your net take-home pay after all the income taxes are withheld by IRS (Internal Revenue Service). All the entered information is fully anonymous. No personal data is stored and is discarded after you exit the program. Read more: IRS Withholding Calculator: Calculate Your Income Taxes

(3) Meuzer - Music service for listening to free music online without downloading. It has a cool interface and easy navigation features. When you type in the name of the song or the artist, Meuzer looks it up on YouTube, Imeem, etc. and plays the song in its embedded media player. You can also, rate, share or add songs to your playlists. Read more: Meuzer: Listen To Free Music Online Without Downloading

(4) Parkr - Amusement park finder that lets you locate amusement and theme parks around the world. You can search for parks by location or zoom in to view parks on the map. All parks are marked as icons and clicking any one will show the park's address and a link to a page with more detail such as images, user ratings and contact details.  Read more: Parkr: Amusement Park Finder

(5) PigSpigot - User generated greeting card site with an integrated greeting card designer which allows customers to create and send both eCards (free) and snail-mail (paid) cards to friends and family. The cool thing about this site is that it can convert user generated art into an online greeting card. Choose a card, personalize it with text, send it and done. Read more: PigSpigot: Online Greeting Card Designer

Submit Your Web App


These are just half of the websites that we discovered in the last couple of days. If you want us to send you daily round-ups of all cool websites we come across, leave your email here. Or follow us via RSS feed.

Did you like the post? Please do share your thoughts in the comments section!

New on Twitter ? Now you can follow MakeUseOf on Twitter too.

Related posts

Online Restaurant Reservations and Reviews Made Easy With OpenTable

Posted: 30 Jun 2009 02:00 PM PDT

Picking the restaurant for dinner is hard. Whether it’s a date, or just colleagues or friends hanging out, there’s all kinds of unspoken pressure on the person who picks the restaurant. If the food’s terrible, it must mean I’m terrible. And what if I can’t get a reservation anywhere, and we end up eating at McDonald’s? It’s just all so overwhelming.

Luckily for me, OpenTable’s got my back. OpenTable is a massive (and still growing) system of restaurants, foodies and tools for helping you find the right restaurant as well as always getting a table.

First, you’ll see this screen below (which looks an awful lot like a parking screen for an ad company, but really isn’t). Pick your locale – most major American cities are well-represented by OpenTable, as are a number of international cities. Then, you can refine your search even more: by a more narrow location, by type of food, or even by date and time (eliminating any restaurant that might be closed when you want to eat).

If you still can’t decide, let the users of OpenTable help. Every restaurant you’ll see has reviews from OpenTable users who have been there, and the site even aggregates some of the most popular and best-reviewed restaurants in a variety of categories, from “Good for Groups” to “Best Ambience.” Of course, there are also tons of “Best ____ Food” lists as well, for every locale you choose.

To further aid you in finding the right restaurant, every listing comes with useful information: price range, accepted cards, whether there’s a bar or not, where to park, and lots more, all based on giving you as much information as possible to make your food run even better.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to the perfect spot, you choose your date, time, and size of party that you want a table for. OpenTable then does a search, and looks for the best available reservation times, and comes back to you with some options. I tried a place for Sunday brunch at 12pm, and got three reservation possibilities back in only a few seconds.

Choose your reservation time, log in (you can create a temporary account, or create a free account on OpenTable for this part), and you’re done! OpenTable sends you an email confirming your reservation, and you’re all set. Cancelling or changing your reservation is easy, as is exporting the event to your Outlook calendar.

OpenTable also lets you publish your reservation information to Facebook, or send invitations by email to your event – this makes OpenTable into a one-stop event planner, at least for the basics.

The reason OpenTable’s so great, as I see it, is that it’s better than you at knowing what’s going on. It’s connected directly to all the restaurants, so its information is as up-to-date as the restaurant itself, and reservations are made internally and easily, rather than OpenTable just acting as a middleman. Your reservation is always certain, and always correct.

OpenTable makes a once-annoying and complicated process extremely simple. Just log in, click, and you’re set – no phone calls, no guessing game about when to arrive; OpenTable does the work for you, and you just show up when you’re supposed to. That’s my kind of dining experience.

Are there other great apps that making eating even better? If you know any, please share them with us in the comments.

Other foodie articles on MakeUseOf are:
3 Recipe Sites For The Post Fast Food Era
Desktop Dining - The Best Places To Order Pizza Online
FOOD Love: Top 5 Recipe Websites

Photo: wallyg

Did you like the post? Please do share your thoughts in the comments section!

New on MakeUseOf ? Get cheat sheets and cool PDF guides @ www.makeuseof.com/makeuseof-downloads/

Related posts

Three Firefox Security/Privacy Add-Ons That Can Co-exist

Posted: 30 Jun 2009 12:00 PM PDT

While some of us have been lured over to Google Chrome, Mozilla's Firefox remains the favorite browser here at MUO, and I'm willing to wager that it does so because of near-limitless customization options. We're also very security-minded as well, so we've compiled a brief list of security-conscious Firefox extensions which are compatible with each other. In fact, I can safely say that these are three of the top four extensions under "Security and Privacy" on Mozilla's Add-Ons site (number four being Xmarks, for reasons uncertain, since it's a bookmark manager).

1. NoScript

Many browser security issues stem from exploits of JavaScript code. NoScript prevents that code from executing, and then notifies you of what code is blocked. You may then add the page to your white-list with a few clicks. That way, you're protected when browsing unfamiliar sites, but can still check your Gmail and surf Digg.

2. Ad-Block Plus (ABP)

According to Mozilla, this is the #2 favorite add-on (next to FlashGot), and it is for good reason. Ad-Block Plus improves on its predecessor, allowing you to subscribe to a list of advertising codes to block, just like one might subscribe to antivirus updates. Advertisers can potentially track user behavior across the Web, and it's no surprise that many users don't like that. Like NoScript, ABP can be disabled for specific sites and pages. ABP will block 99% of the ads out there. And as a bonus, pages should render much faster.

3. Web of Trust (WOT)

My new favorite! WOT adds an extra layer of protection to your browser, utilizing users ratings to show you, at a glance, which sites are OK and which ones should be left unclicked. WOT can enhance search results and links on AOL, Ask, Bing, Delicious, Digg, Dogpile, Google, Gmail, Mahalo, Wikipedia, Hotmail, Yahoo, DMOZ and Reddit, among others.

Above is the first screen you'll see after installing WOT. WOT can be as intrusive as you wish, and also be used to block kids' access to unsafe sites.

Above is an example of Firefox viewing a site which has been rated poorly by WOT users. You can still go to the site, but I wouldn't recommend doing so.

NoScript, Ad-Block Plus, and Web of Trust take only moments to install, but will help keep their users safe from many of the Web's seedier elements. We welcome any suggestions you may have of additions to this list are welcome, in the comments below.

For more posts on security and privacy online, do read:
10+ Best Firefox Security and Privacy Addons
7 Essential Security Downloads You MUST Have Installed
Detect Fake Antivirus software & Spyware Removal programs
Things To Know When Using a WiFi Hotspot Or a Public PC

Related posts

Top 5 Websites To Listen To CDs Before Buying

Posted: 30 Jun 2009 10:00 AM PDT

How many times have you bought a CD only to find that most of the songs are not to your liking? I am sure most of you have this kind of experience. It is definitely not a good feeling, perhaps coupled with a pain in the wallet. This doesn’t apply only to physical CD that you buy off the shelf, but also those songs that you bought from iTunes store or Amazon.

Won’t it be great if you can listen to the whole songs (or CD) before you buy? iTunes store and Amazon has the preview feature, but they only come with a 30-second preview, which is not enough to sample a song.

We need some alternatives, great alternatives.

1. AOL music

AOL music is one of the best place in the Web that offers free full length songs and music for listening. It has a huge database of songs. You simply pick the songs you want. If the song is not available, AOL will search for it in the web and playback (from the remote location) the song on the fly.

In addition, AOL music always have a “New music releases” section where you can listen to new CD releases for free in their entirety every week.

This is not only a good way to sample the CD before you buy, it is also a good way to discover new CDs in the market.

2. Youtube

At Youtube, you won’t be able to sample the whole CD at one go, but surely you will be able to find most of the tracks (in music video and other forms) in its database. When you search for the songs/artists/albums in the search bar, there is a high chance that you will find what you want in the search result.

Furthermore, with all the YouTube and other video conversion tools previously highlighted by MakeUseOf, you can also convert and download the music video to your desktop, even though the music quality differs a great deal from those in the music store.

5. Rhapsody

With Rhapsody, you never have to worry about a lack of songs. They have more than a million songs in their database and there is a very high chance you will find what you want. Rhapsody operates on a subscription model (only available in US), that is to say, you pay a subscription fee every month ($12.99) and you have access to all the songs in their database and you can listen to them again and again, unlimited times.

With the subscription account, you can also download the software and access to your favorite songs from your desktop.

If you are not willing to pay the subscription fee, Rhapsody also allows its users to listen to 25 songs for free. That should be enough for you to sample two and a half CD of songs before you make your purchase decision.

4. Imeem

Imeem is a social network that enables its users to share media, including music, video and photos with each other.  In here, you are likely to find the songs/CDs that you want. Some of the music are restricted by the label/artists and features only a 30-second preview, but there are still a great deal of them that are full length and you are able to listen to the full CD.

5. Baidu MP3

This may not be suitable for everyone, but if you are a Chinese song lover, like I am, then this is the place to listen to free songs.

All you need to do is to perform a search with the search bar and it will fetch the required songs from the artists. You can then scroll to find his/her current album or previous albums. You can click on the link beside the song to hear the full song.

Other alternatives that did not make the list


I am sure some of you will swear by MySpace. I am not an active user of MySpace and I don’t have much love for it. Personally, I find the layout very messy and it crashes my browser (and computer) very often.


While there are plenty of songs and information in Last.fm, you seldom have the chance to sample the full CD of your favorite artists. I do use it for occasional listening, but when it comes to CD sampling, I guess there are better sites out there.

If you are interested in purchasing music online, Simon listed out 3 Ultra Cheap Alternatives to the iTunes Store. Check it out.

What other websites do you go to listen CD before buying? Do you prefer digital copies or physical CDs? Comment away!

Image credit: SChristineBrink

Did you like the post? Please do share your thoughts in the comments section!

New on MakeUseOf ? Get cheat sheets and cool PDF guides @ www.makeuseof.com/makeuseof-downloads/

Related posts

The 6 Cutest Sites with Silly Pet Pics and LOL Pets

Posted: 30 Jun 2009 08:00 AM PDT

In these ever so serious days, what better way to get a smile on your lips than with cute, furry animals.

Even the most dull and serious people can’t escape a laugh when they see a lemur getting tickled, silly pet pics, or browse lol pets pictures.

We’ve gathered the all-time cutest websites on the internet. Hakuna Matata - read on, forget about your worries and relax.

Cute Overload

Cute-hunters out there most probably know all about Cute Overload, and for those who don’t - the name says it all.

Cute Overload brings daily new cutie pictures, ranging from ninja hamsters to fat immobile cats. All pictures are based on reader suggestions, so they’ve got cuteporters all over the world, ready to make your day.

If you want to have a dose of funny cute, Cute Overload is the place to go.


Tell me, what’s cuter than furry animals? Furry Talk is a blog, focused on the cutest and furriest animals in the world. Multiple pictures are posted weekly, accompanied by a witty comment, Q&A, jokes, or inspirational motto.

Walk your way through the site, and take some time to relax and smile. You can browse the site chronologically, or view pictures of the most popular animals by category.

Today’s Big Thing - Cute Animals

You might already know Today’s Big Thing from another perspective - presenting the awesomest video on the internet, every day. They’ve now opened a new subsection, entirely dedicated to cute animals.


Watch video of ninja cats, puppies learning to howl, or monkeys being tickled. On Today’s Big Thing, you can be sure to find the ever cutest animal videos, every day.

Lolcats & Loldogs

This list would not be complete without including I Can Has Cheezburger, especially being hosted on a geeky site.

This site, for those of you who don’t know it, is filled with thousands and thousands of cat and dog pictures, with hilarious captions printed over them. Where other sites might bring a tender smile on your lips, lolcats and loldogs will give you a good laugh and a tear in each eye.


If you’re into the LOL pets craze, browse the lolcats or loldogs section, or manufacture your own silly pet pics using the Lol Builder. I Can Has Cheezburger has a fanbase in the millions, both for the cuteness as for the lolness.

Daily Puppy

The old newspaper layout of The Daily Puppy should be enough to make your day. If not, maybe the daily added puppy pictures will hit it out of the park for you.

Each day, the site produces another Daily Puppy, a cute little dog with its own background and story. In the other sections of the site, The Daily Puppy gives the same treatment to grown-up puppies, and hosts a comprehensive database of dog-related articles.


For any dog lovers out there who like to have a little more than a cute picture, this one is a must-try.


Contrary to the other cute-sites, you won’t see any cats or dogs on ZooBorns. This site only shows the very cutest exotic animal babies, be it seals, lions, or zebras. It’s Cute Overload all over again, jungle edition.

Each picture comes with a story; a story about the animals, about what happened in the pictures, about the exotic little lives of the ZooBorns.


If you like ‘cute’, but prefer lions over cats, and zebras over ponies, ZooBorns is the place to go.

Where do you get your fix of cuteness? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

How about playing some of the cutest games? Check out Leon’s post on Orisinal - Cute Flash Games For All.

Did you like the post? Please do share your thoughts in the comments section!

New on MakeUseOf ? Get cheat sheets and cool PDF guides @ www.makeuseof.com/makeuseof-downloads/

Related posts

How to Set Up Mozilla Thunderbird to Send Mass Emails

Posted: 30 Jun 2009 06:00 AM PDT

"Is there a way to send personalized bulk emails using Mozilla's Thunderbird? That is sending mails to a group of people without each of them knowing about each other's email address (without using BCC). Also, with each person having only his own mail address in the 'To' field."

I expected this question after my previous post - How to Send Personalized Mass Emails in Outlook. So, let me continue where I left off and do a bit of Mozilla Thunderbird add-on hunting. After all, Mozilla's rich add-on universe has a cure for every conceivable 'problem' except world hunger.

Yes, I found the answer in Mozdev.org. It's the Mozilla developers' community dedicated to open and free, quality applications and extensions - a perfect place to check out when you want to know how to set up Mozilla Thunderbird for anything.

Mail Tweak is a Thunderbird extension for Thunderbird ver. 2.0+. It's a collection of enhancements and workarounds for the email client. The enhancements total around 36 (113KB) and one of them is called Personalize messages.

This ‘productivity’ tweak sends each recipient an individual message using fields from the address book or a CSV (comma separated values) file.

  1. Go to the installation page of Mail Tweak at Mozdev.org. Download the mailtweak-0.16.xpi file to your computer.
  2. Open Thunderbird. Select Tools – Add-ons – Extensions. Browse to the location of your downloaded file and install. Restart the Thunderbird client to complete.
  3. Open the Add-on window (from Tools – Add-on) and select the Mail Tweak extension. Click on Options.
  4. Scroll down the entries in the Tweaks section and select Personalize messages. Click OK.
  5. You can now compose a message by selecting Message – Personalize message from the menu toolbar.

    Add your recipients (or a recipients list) as you normally do. You can include the contacts in other ways, of course.

    • Click on Address Book on the menu. Select the bunch of names - right click and choose Personalize from the context menu.
    • Open a new message window from Message – Personalize. Select the Personalize button on the menu and pick up the mail addresses from a CSV file.
  6. To send the messages, click on File – Personalize (or click the Personalize button on the toolbar). An alert pops up with the option of 'Send now' or 'Leave unsent'. With the latter option, Mail Tweak saves the messages (as individual emails) in the Unsent folder. After reviewing them you can email them from File – Send Unsent Messages.

Further personalize your email using Mail Tweak…

To include other fields like address, city, work phone etc. from the address book, specify field attributes in the emails. For example, to include the first name of each individual recipient – place a %%firstName%% where needed.
(All available address book field names are the properties as given in the nsIAbCard file. This is where all address fields of a particular contact are stored as attributes. Check out all the attributes here.)

Here's an example to illustrate – to include the home address and the city of the contacts, include %% homeAddress%% and %%homeCity%% in the appropriate place. Similarly, it can be worked out for the other fields.


Without turning this into a soup of geeky codes and syntax, let me direct you to the Mail Tweaks Personal Messages section for some more help.

Although, Mail Tweak is built for the latest version, it can also be installed in Thunderbird 1.5 and in Shredder (pre-release versions of Thunderbird 3) with limited functionality.

MozDev.org does put out this caution - Performance may be poor if you use this feature for large messages or many recipients, and you might see warning messages from Thunderbird. For bulk mailing, it is better to use a specialized bulk mailing program.

That's a good advice but for a home user's run-of-the-mill mass mailing needs using the Thunderbird client, Mail Tweaks is a good enough productivity solution.

So, how often do you use bulk mailing? Do you think this solution is workable for you? Let us know if you have any other freeware to lessen the load.

Did you like the post? Please do share your thoughts in the comments section!

New on Twitter ? Now you can follow MakeUseOf on Twitter too.

Related posts

No comments:

Post a Comment