Sunday, January 31, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [January 30th]” plus 4 more “Cool Websites and Tools [January 30th]” plus 4 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [January 30th]

Posted: 30 Jan 2010 06:07 PM PST

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.

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Origami-Club – If you love the art of paper folding, then you will definitely get hooked with this website. Origami Club is a free comprehensive online resource for paper art lovers and origami enthusiasts full of free and easy origami diagrams. With this website, you can browse through various origami creations and find directions on how to create them. Read more: Origami-Club: Free & Easy Origami Diagrams Online.


ImHalal – There are plenty of search engines on the web that focus on accuracy and relevancy even though that sometimes means displaying inappropriate and explicit content. ImHalal is a search engine design for the Muslim community that filters out all the 'explicit' content when displaying the search results. This allows people to use the internet in a clean and safe environment. Read more: ImHalal: A Search Engine For Muslims.



Img4me – Despite the ton of spam everybody gets in their mailbox, it is sometimes vital to post your email address online in blogs or forums. An excellent way to prevent spammers from getting your email address is to turn email address into image so the bots cannot detect it. Img4Me is an internet tool that can help you with that. Read more: Img4me: Turn Email Address into an Image.



MoveIdiot – Are you curious about the next country you are visiting or simply interested in trivial facts of other countries? If so, then you should bookmark Geognos. This educational website will tell you all the key facts on country's around the world including the history, geography, people, government, economy, communications and transportation. Read more: MoveIdiot: Easily Manage & Plan Your Move Online.



SnapSort – SnapSort does only one thing but does it very well. It lets you compare specs for digital cameras side by side. Start by going to SnapSort and typing in the name of any camera. As soon as you start typing, the auto-suggest feature will make it super easy for you to select the camera you want to compare. Once you have selected the two desired cameras, SnapSort will compare them with each other and tell you which one is the winner. Read more: SnapSort: Compare Digital Cameras Side by Side.


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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.

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How To Convert The MOD Camcorder Video Format To MPG Instantly

Posted: 30 Jan 2010 05:30 PM PST

So your friendly neighborhood admin has been asked this question way too many times and I have decided to share this information with you here in the hopes that users will Google this issue before asking!

Camcorders such as the JVC Everio (pictured below) use a .MOD extension to save their video files. This is very frustrating for a number or reasons. The first reason being you cannot easily read .MOD files in Windows Media Player or many other top tier video applications – many people try hunting for a MOD file converter without success. The second reason that this format infuriates me is that users also have a horrible time trying to get their videos converted into DVD format. Most DVD burning applications do not know what to do with a .MOD file. And my final reason for hating this .MOD format is that this proprietary format is not proprietary AT ALL!

Huh? What?

That's right. JVC and some other well know brands like Canon and Panasonic have decided to just rename the extension of their files. Can you believe that the files are actually standard MPEG2 sound files and thus should be very easy to manipulate, convert and <gasp> actually watch?

The devices we have seen that use this horrible file format are:

  • JVC GZ-MG30
  • JVC GZ-MG70
  • JVC GZ-MG37
  • JVC GZ-MG77
  • JVC GZ-MG50
  • JVC GZ-MG130
  • JVC GZ-MG155
  • JVC GZ-MG255
  • JVC GZ-MG555
  • Panasonic SDR-S100
  • Panasonic  SDR-S150
  • Panasonic  SDR-S10
  • Panasonic  SDR-H18
  • Panasonic SDR-H200
  • Panasonic SDR-H40
  • Panasonic  SDR-H60
  • Panasonic  SDR-SW20
  • Canon FS100
  • Canon FS10
  • Canon FS11

So now that you have acknowledged your issue, let's show you the ridiculously simple way (not using a mod file converter) to solve your problem.  When you open Windows Explorer and look at your files, they are either unrecognized or you have a program like VLC installed so you can view them. We covered VLC's awesomeness many times on MakeUseOf here.

This is what I see when looking at my file on my system after copying it from my camcorder.

Now if I try to open it with Windows Media Player this is what I get:

Then you think that you would be able to click on Yes and view your file in Windows Media player seeming that it is indeed a MPEG2 that Windows Media Player would have no issue playing. But alas, this is what we get after clicking Yes:

And if we examine the bottom of the Windows Media Player windows we see this:

And then after some unsuccessful requests, we finally see this error message:

But by deploying a little MakeUseOf magic, we do the following. First, make sure you have your Windows Operating System set to show file extensions. You can find this option under Folder Options in Windows Explorer. Then you can rename the file's extension to be .MPG and make it work. You heard me correctly — by simply renaming the file, you will make it work in Windows Media Player or any DVD authoring or burning software just like that! Let's see it in action:

Right click on the file and choose Rename like so:

Rename the extension from .MOD to .MPG and then you will see this warning:

Click Yes and that is it! You have successfully converted your camcorder's video file without any sort of MOD file converter, but instead with a simple rename! Who knew it could be so easy!

Did this solve your problem? Have you ever encountered any other weird file formats when using camcorders? Would you like to share your solution with us? Hit us up in the comments!

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Quickly Search Documents For Words with DocFetcher

Posted: 30 Jan 2010 02:30 PM PST

With ample hard disk capacities at disposal, its only natural if one gets complacent about deleting older documents. However, such a habit requires efficient management so that you can find the file you are looking for quickly and don’t have to go through pile of unneeded files to find out what you were looking for.

It is very common to forget the file name of the document you require but you almost always have a good idea about the contents.

Docfetcher is one such software that lets you peek and search documents for words to find exactly what you are looking for.

You can get DocFetcher here. It works with Windows and Linux. DEB packages are available for users on Debian or Debian-based distros. For Windows users, there is a choice between installer and portable versions of the software. Running DocFetcher the first time, you will be presented with a screen that looks like this:

First off, you need to create an Index of files that you want to be searchable. Click the file types that you want to be included in the index, then right-click inside the search scope and choose Create Index. Choose the folder you want to index and DocFetcher will create an index for all the documents inside that folder.

Keep in mind that index creation may take some time depending upon the number of files in the chosen folder and size of files. Index creation is a necessary step as it allows DocFetcher to know the contents of the files so that it can search documents for words and give you almost instant results.

With the index ready, you can now search for text inside your files. Just type the term in the search box and hit Enter; you will be presented with the results instantaneously. The results section display the relevance, file size and filename of each result returned. Clicking on any results opens up a preview of the file with the search terms highlighted. Double click on any result and the corresponding file is launched for you to work with.

DocFetcher automatically keeps track of additions and modifications to the folders you have configured it to watch. You don’t have to create/rebuild index again, it will automatically update the index if it is running or the next time it is run.

You can use operators in your search query to fine tune the results. An important point to note about DocFetcher queries is that by default, a search for “web development” will return documents that contain the word “web” or documents that contain the word “development”. This is in contrary to what you might expect (being used to Google search). So to search for documents that have both the words you need to search for “web AND development“. Frankly speaking, this requires a little getting used to and could have easily been fixed by the developer. Nevertheless, there are other operators that work as expected:

  • You can use “-” to indicate a term that should not be present in the document
  • +” indicates a required word.
  • You can also search document metadata, eg “author:varun” will search in documents created by me (as mentioned in properties)
  • Last but not the least, you can also use the ubiquitous wildcards – the “?” and the “*” (with their obvious meanings)

DocFetcher also lets you specify file extensions that you want to be treated as plain text files. This can be especially useful if you do a bit of coding. As an example, you can tell DocFetcher to treat .php and .java files as text, this would make the source code inside these files searchable via DocFetcher as well. This can be specified via the preferences dialog, or while creating/rebuilding index.

DocFetcher is a great alternative to Google Desktop. Sure, it doesn’t index image files and may lack Google Desktop’s bells and whistles, but that is precisely what makes it worth trying. It’s lightweight, you can invoke it on individual folders, intricately specify what to index, share repositories and index, and has all the options you may need from such a software.

What is your preferred desktop search tool to search documents for words?

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2 Excellent Media Syncing Applications For Your Android

Posted: 30 Jan 2010 11:30 AM PST

notesWhen I got my Android device last Christmas, I received it with the knowledge that it would be replacing several other devices. Truth be told, most Android phones being released now have the capability to adequately replace not only the old phone, but also things like dedicated GPS devices, cameras, and MP3 players.

This article will focus mainly on Android media syncing software that allows you to use your Android device as a media player for content you already own without changing your lifestyle.

Given the fact that iPods and iPhones control the majority of the PMP (Personal Media Player) market, it's likely that a fair amount of new Android users are moving straight from an Apple device. This means that when you plug in your Android device, iTunes will outright ignore it. This wasn't an issue when you owned an iPod, but now that you've migrated to Android you're going to have to say goodbye to iTunes.

Please note that while there are some hacks and mods to connect non-Apple devices to iTunes, most if not all of them cease to function correctly by the next iTunes update. While it's probably possible to make this option work if you try enough options, it still won't be very reliable or seamless. That said, try that stuff at your own risk, and I'll offer a few iTunes alternatives here if you need them.


Whereas Salling Media Sync pretends to be a lightweight plugin for iTunes, DoubleTwist strives to replace iTunes altogether–and in my opinion it does a pretty good job. In their ‘about’ page, DoubleTwist is slated as having the following mission:

We feel that just like you don’t use a different browser for every web site you visit (Firefox to read the NY Times, IE to stream Hulu, Chrome to browse YouTube, etc) you shouldn’t have to use iTunes for Apple products, Nokia software for Nokia phones, Sony software for Sony products, etc. The typical household today has many such devices and there is a need for a simple and powerful software that connects them.

When I read that statement, I see a piece of software that will never stop improving. Although DoubleTwist is still evolving, support for numerous devices has already been added to the software. The layout very much resembles iTunes except for the fact that it connects to the Amazon music store and not the iTunes store. Luckily, DoubleTwist can still import your iTunes music, so don’t worry about losing your collection.


Luckily, DoubleTwist is relatively platform independent, supporting both Windows and Mac (with some device exceptions). You will however need to check the list of compatible devices and click on the link for your device to attain the necessary plugin to support your Android Device, making it a perfect Android media syncing app. Below you see a screenshot of DoubleTwist sifting through the music on my Motorola Droid in a very familiar itunes-like fashion.


Aside from just Android devices, DoubleTwist strives to support almost anything that can play music and connect to a computer. If you have a PSP, Blackberry, Kindle, Windows Mobile phone, digital camera, or other media device, you may very well be supported. This makes DoubleTwist an invaluable resource to anyone with a supported devices because it connects content between all of your media devices and consolidates that content in one familiar-looking, simple, effective music management and synchronization program. It’s even got its own detachable media player, much like iTunes!


Salling Media Sync (Mac Version)

The beauty of Salling Media Sync is that it works on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. This means that no matter what operating system you prefer, you’ve still got an excellent Android media syncing solution. To use Salling Media Sync correctly, you do need to have iTunes installed (which is fine, since it works on all of the operating systems mentioned as well). Once required software is installed, Salling Media is relatively straightforward and easy to use.


It’s important to note that when you connect your Android device, you need to click “mount” (on the device) to connect it as a mass storage device –otherwise Salling Media Sync will not recognize it. From there, open up the software, check off your favorite iTunes playlists you would like to transfer and hit “Sync”. I would recommend that you register for a Salling Media Sync account because as mentioned on the website, once registered the software will intelligently update your phone (which saves a lot of time and effort).

Note that video is not officially supported for Salling Media Sync, so rely on it for music, pictures, and podcasts for now. The real beauty of this software is that it’s easy to use, very lightweight, cross-platform, and of course — free! Give Salling Media Sync a try if you’re just looking to get your iTunes music onto your Android device.

In addition to Android phone support, Salling Media Sync supports a wide variety of phones running many different operating systems for both Windows and Mac, so it’s more than likely that the usefulness of this software will expand to your other media devices as well. Here’s a short video detailing how the program works on the Mac OS.

If you went and checked out the Salling website, you may have noticed that a paid version of Media Sync is available as well, touting faster transfer speeds. As a reference point, I used the free version to sync about 8GB of music to my Motorola Droid, and the entire process took less than 15 minutes. To me, that’s completely acceptable–but as the consumer it’s always up to you.

Although the Android operating system is just beginning to latch on to a considerable portion of the market, it seems that media content synchronization is still not supported extremely well from an official standpoint.

What software do you use to sync media to your Android device? Do you prefer an iTunes replacement, or simply software that communicates with iTunes for your device? Let me know in the comments section–I’d appreciate it because I still haven’t decided between the two!

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Jelli – Get Radio-Active On This Free Music Streaming Site

Posted: 30 Jan 2010 09:30 AM PST

Jelli-ThumbLooking at some of the web apps out there, you will be tempted to think that they have taken the 'community' bit a bit too far. But then, you just might turn around and say that's a cool idea after all. I didn't say any of these things when I first chanced upon Jelli.

I just said, “Hey, it looks kind of cool.” I didn't understand what this free online radio music streaming site was all about at first. You also might not. So, here's the curtain raiser.

Jelli is a user controlled online radio streaming service. User controlled, did you say? Yes, Jelli gives its community of listeners the decision power to decide what gets played. Moving an item up or down a list through user votes is not novel. We see it every day in all sorts of forums and in a variety of lists including music playlists. Take Digg, for example. But Jelli takes this idea and turns online radio broadcasting on its head. I believe there tagline – 100% user controlled radio.

Power to the people I say! But how does Jelli work?

In a simple sequence of three steps. Once you login with your Facebook account or with a new Jelli registration, the graphic below does all the explaining. Let's take this 3-step map as the starting point and move into Jelli.


The Station Tuner is where it starts. Right now, there are five Jelli stations with more coming soon. Pick a station. You can see which five songs which got played recently and the current trends in that station. You can also see how active the station is (i.e. the number of listeners it has right now) by looking at the green radioactivity meter. Click on Tune In to get into the station.


Clicking on the Listen button starts the stream of songs in that station. The songs may open up in a web player or it might start your media player. Jelli supports music players in Windows, Mac and Linux.

Now it is up to you and the community to shape the playlist for the free music streaming site. That happens through the online equivalent of show of hands. Click on the green checkmark or the red cross to vote the song up or down. The higher rated songs are played first. You can also Rock the song that's on air, or Suck it down. That decides the ultimate fate of the song depending on the number of yeas and nays.


There are other ways to influence what gets played on Jelli. Rockets can power up a song up the chart in one swift move and give it the best shot to being played. Bombs do the exact reverse. Each user has a limited number of such power ups and he earns them the more he plays on Jelli.


You can also keep your favorites and vote for all of them in one go. Or check someone else's favorites and vote for theirs.


That's not all that you can do with the Jelli community. While you are listening, you can chat live with fellow listeners. This one is like an interactive chat board while the Message feature on every user's profile page can be used for sending 500 character-limited one to one messages.

Jellybeans for the ears

It's definitely a free online music streaming site with a difference. The first thing that will strike you is the coolness. It really looks like a cool place to hang out with its swank web design. It's a breeze to navigate and I didn't get any glitches at all.

Of course, you don't have the ultimate control over any song but you don't have it for any radio station, do you. Jelli does one better by letting you play your way to your favorite song. Read the FAQ for all there is to learn about the site.

Hey, Jelli just announced that they are going to play the song which I had rocketed just a while back. So, while I listen to it…why don't you too visit Jelli and tell us if it gets you all radio-active.

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