Monday, May 31, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [May 30th]” plus 6 more “Cool Websites and Tools [May 30th]” plus 6 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [May 30th]

Posted: 30 May 2010 08:31 PM PDT

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.

List Your Website Here! – analyzes any URL and outputs a variety of information about how readable its content is. Taken into account are things including word length, the number of syllables used per word and the numbers of words per sentence. Read more: Check Your Website Readability.


ChatRide – There are lots of excellent software, including Skype, that let you do a video chat with anybody in the world. However, these software are not the best solution if all you want is something simple and quick or if you are restricted from downloading any software. In situations like these, ChatRide is a pretty useful alternative. Read more: ChatRide: Free Video Conversation Tool Within Your Browser.



World F1 Circuits – Formula One is a sports unlike any other. If you happen to be a fan of Formula One Grand Prix, you'll love this tool. It shows satellite images of all Formula One Grand Prix circuits from 1950 onwards. Each venue is identified on a world map and can be browsed by continents. Read more: World F1 Circuits: Comprehensive F1 Circuits Map.



CanIUse – Because of new advancements being made on the internet every day, website development is now more complicated than before. After creating a website and merging the latest features into it, developers do not know which browsers will support their website best. A tool that lets them find out browser compatibility is CanIUse. Read more: CanIUse: Very Advanced & Thorough Web Browser Feature Comparison Tool.



PolicyTool – With social networks becoming an integral part of everybody's life, it is important for companies to have a clear and concise policy about the use of social media by its employees. However, not every company can afford a team of legal experts to do that. For those who want a quick solution, PolicyTool is a great help. Read more: PolicyTool: Create A Social Media Policy For Your Company.


List Your Website Here!

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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Thank You To MakeUseOf Friends!

Posted: 30 May 2010 07:31 PM PDT

It's time to say thanks to MakeUseOf’s friends who, once in a while, tip us great story ideas, help out on different projects and in some cases offer their services at discounted prices. Thank you, guys!

ShrinkTheWeb – Website Screenshot Thumbnail Service

Ever wanted to add website screenshots to your website? In my professional opinion ShrinkTheWeb is one of the best services for that, both in terms of performance and pricing. The free account gets you a whopping 250,000 impressions with nearly no delay. See it in action in our daily Cool Websites and Tools series.


Walyou – Cool Gadgets for Geeks
new cool gadgets
Walyou is a fun blog covering all sorts of new cool gadgets and other stuff every geek is likely to find entertaining. Everything from world’s largest Gunny Bears to E-hookah gadgets. Make sure to check them out.

PXLEyes – Photoshop Contests and Tutorials
photoshop contests & tutorials
The place for graphical artists! An awesome community with one common interest: a big passion for computer graphics! There are contests, prizes, tutorials, forums and an active community!


Pair – Reliable Web Hosting - Affordable and Reliable We Hosting
Finding the right hosting provider is VERY important. Along with choosing the right domain name it's the most important decision you have to make at the beginning. Here at MakeUseOf when someone asks for hosting advice we always recommend Pair. Speedy servers, excellent tech support, over 99.95% guaranteed uptime.


rade | eccles – iPhone Application Development

The perfect iPhone development team, rade | eccles managed to put our iPhone app together in record time yet exude professionalism and dedication every step of the way. Our collaboration wasn’t happenstance. We would make the same decision all over again. Our only recommendation for an iPhone developer – rade | eccles.

Thank you, guys!

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Are you going to quit Facebook due to privacy concerns? [Poll]

Posted: 30 May 2010 06:30 PM PDT

Last week, we asked you How do you normally watch TV? And not surprisingly, the majority of you watch TV shows on a TV!

The poll options: On a TV held 38.1%.  Next up, with 19.8% is: Download torrents to watch on a computer. Coming in third place with 11.6% was: Download torrents to watch on a TV (includes set-top DVD and DIVX players) — this is how I watch most of my TV shows. Fourth place was: I do not watch TV with 10.7% –- wow.

I was not expecting such a high number of non-TV watchers! How many people do you know who do not watch TV?

You can view the results after the jump, and on to today’s poll!

This week, we are asking you if you would quit Facebook due to security/privacy concerns. There has been a lot of hub bub lately surrounding some controversial moves that Facebook has made. A lot of users are planning on quitting Facebook on May 31st, 2010. Are you one of them? Do you care about Facebook's security policies? We would love to hear from you in the comments.

Answer the poll below and be sure to leave a comment to have your voice heard!

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Conquer the ‘Find and Replace’ Text Tasks with wReplace

Posted: 30 May 2010 03:30 PM PDT

The world is effectively riddled with different kinds of notations. Most countries have a score of special characters in store, and different scripts deploy different tags and notations – even if a certain bijection is existent.

Replacing these manually, even using a standard search-replace feature, can be tedious business. It’s doable, but a real chore.

To take care of said situations where one or two substitutions aren’t enough to improve a text, mass substitution rule sets might be an option.


At first glance, wReplace looks and works just as a simple text editor. As such, you can also use it to write simple notes in plain text. There’s one feature that makes wReplace stand out, though; Replace Many.

Many applications support some sort of find-replace functionality. Intended for heavier usage, Replace Menu allows you to substitute parts of your text using a set of find-replace rules. With the click of a mouse, you can adjust pages by pages of text. Using it to replace names, notations, or (partly) substitute alphabets.

wReplace allows you to save these rules, so you can quickly call upon them in future sessions, and also comes with a variety of rule-sets installed. Looking past those standard find-replace scenarios, we’ll take a look at just some of the things you can achieve out of the box using the default replacement rules.

1. Avoiding ‘Corrupt’ or Missing Characters

Many languages embrace so-called ‘local characters’; diacritical variations, or even additional alphabets. Although these are practically always supported on the computer of origin, by installing special language packs, the same is not always true for the recipients of that writing.

As such, you might encounter a case where some of these characters are missing. Think foreign documents, or movie subtitles. If you’ve ever seen a blank square, as depicted in the screenshot above, you should know what I’m talking about. Substituting all these special characters with plain ASCII counterparts might not be grammatically correct, but allows everyone to see what’s written.

2. Adjusting Scripts and Jumping Between Character Notations

Apart from local alphabets, different script languages are known to use different character notations. For example, because in some special characters hold a special meaning in HTML, they’re usually written down as a ‘character entity’.

Some web-addresses also use special notations to replace certain characters. For instance, whitespace is automatically replaced with %20. Substitutions can save you from a tedious task of checking a document and making sure the correct notations are being used – or, in reverse, from having to ‘decipher’ said notations manually.

3.  Using Morse Code and Simple Substitution Ciphers

Another usage of mass character replacement allows you to convert your text to morse code or simple substitution ciphers. Mono-alphabetic substitution cipher, a form of encryption where every character is replaced with a cryptic counterpart.

Admittedly, this borders more on ‘fun’ than on ‘national security’. Mono-alphabetic ciphers have long been outdated and are easily decrypted. But it should be enough to keep a secret from a snooping co-worker.

Know that you can also use the application to reverse said encryption. If you know the substitution rules, you can easily decrypt a message using mass find-replace.

Of course, the possibilities of mass text replacement are close the endless, and you can create any set of rules, for any purpose. Do you know any other applications that will do this? Or any other clever uses for such a software? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Hot Tech Deals [May 30th]

Posted: 30 May 2010 01:30 PM PDT

If you’re in the market for a new computer, laptop, mobile phone, games and other accessories; don’t waste your time searching online. We’ve taken the liberty of locating the best tech deals and unifying them into a single post for your convenience.

For more fresh hot deals, visit our Hot Tech Deals page, which is constantly updated.

  1. Dell Home Memorial Day Sale: Up to 29% off select desktops and laptops
  2. Dell Outlet coupon: 15% off all refurbished desktops and laptops with coupon code “67H1RV9?GVPLS0″. Expires after 1,500 uses.
  3. Sony VAIO FW Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz 16″ Laptop w/ Blu-ray for $800 MRSP $1170, that’s $370 off
  4. MSI Core i5 Dual Core 2.26GHz 16″ Laptop for $550
  5. Acer Aspire Core i3 Dual Core 2.13GHz 16″ Laptop for $500
  6. HP G71 Intel Dual Core 2.2GHz 17″ Laptop for $480 after rebate
  7. Panasonic VIERA 42″ 600Hz 720p Plasma HDTV for $469
  8. Dell SP2309W 23″ Widescreen LCD Display w/ Webcam for $209 with coupon code “XZK78GP3HB1QVC”. $90 off!
  9. Western Digital 2TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive for $120
  10. Unlocked Nokia 5800 XpressMusic Phone for $160 after rebate
  11. Philips Active Noise Canceling Headphones for $6 + $6 shipping today only
  12. Onkyo 7.1-Channel Home Theater Speaker System for $234 + $3 shipping with coupon code “MEMORIALDAY”

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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10 Free MP3 Downloads of Albums EPs and Samplers [Sound Sunday]

Posted: 30 May 2010 12:30 PM PDT

where i can download free mp3sThis week on Sound Sunday, I searched the web for high quality, free MP3 albums, EPs, and samplers. Today’s mix includes music from some of the most influential bands still around, such as the Smashing Pumpkins and Bad Religion. But you will also discover some new voices.

Since the rise of the internet, making money in the music industry has become an even tougher business. Providing a free album for download is a great risk, especially for not-so-famous artists. Hence, signing up to a newsletter is only a small thank you in return for a great commitment. I hope you agree!

Spin Magazine – Campfire Jams Bonnaroo 2010

Genre: sampler

where i can download free mp3s Spin Magazine has released the Campfire Jams sampler to celebrate Bonnaroo 2010. The music festival is held in the Tennessee countryside from June 10th to 13th. The mix contains songs recorded live and in the studio from 16 different artists, including The National, Kings of Leon, Phoenix, Mumford & Sons, and Gossip.

Download the sampler from Spin Magazine in exchange for your eMail address.

Here are the MySpace links for all artists featured on the above album: The Gaslight Anthem, The National, Manchester Orchestra, Kings of Leon, Local Natives, Blitzen Trapper, Phoenix, Samantha Crain, Bomba Estéreo, Tinariwen, Mumford & Sons, Jamey Johnson, The Young Veins, Dawes, Gossip, Chromeo.

Mikey Wax – The Traveler

Genres: acoustic, pop, rock

where i can download free mp3s Mikey Wax’s two previous albums made it into iTunes’ top 100 pop albums in the US & Canada. Now he is releasing his third album The Traveler for free.

The download comes in three flavors: you can join the mailing list, tweet the download, or share it on Facebook, all through Mikey Wax’s website.

Mikey Wax MySpace and Homepage.

Glen Phillips – Free Sampler

Genres: acoustic, folk rock, pop

where i can download free mp3s Best known as singer and songwriter of the 90s alternative rock group Toad the Wet Sprocket, Glen Phillips has released several solo albums in the 2000s. Last year he put forward an 8-track sampler of his work.

Download the sampler free with no strings attached from Glen Phillips’ website.

Glen Phillips MySpace and Homepage.

Chris Singleton – Twisted City

Genres: indie, rock

where i can download free mp3s Irish singer/songwriter Chris Singleton started recording the album Twisted City in 2003. It’s a musical tube ride through London, with every song representing a stop on the line. It’s Chris’ approach to processing his experiences of the city. Officially released in 2006, the album is now available for free.

Get Twisted City by signing up to Chris Singleton’s mailing list.

Chris Singleton MySpace and Homepage.

Jovanos – Human

Genres: hip hop, pop

where i can download free mp3s Joseph Davidson aka Jovanos is a British-born and American-raised film producer, record producer, and rapper. His most recent record Human is a Thank You to everyone who has been supporting and influencing him.

I almost skipped this artist because the download link appeared to be non-functional. However, even though Media Fire returns error messages, the download URL eventually arrived in my inbox, and it will certainly arrive in yours.

Download the album in return for your name and eMail address from Jovanos’ website.

Jovanos MySpace and Homepage.

Kasha – Retro Luv

Genre: rap, hip hop, lyrical

where i can download free mp3s Kasha is a rapper from the UK. He is part of the production team Vivid Imagery. Kasha is known for his strong lyrics and songs driven by melody. His passion for soul and lyrics led him to record a mixtape of 10 soul classics from the 80s and early 90s.

Download the mixtape Retro Luv with no strings attached from Kasha’s website.

Kasha MySpace and Homepage.

Angels and Airwaves – Love

Genre: alternative, rock

where i can download free mp3s Tom DeLonge of Blink182 is the lead singer of Angels and Airwaves aka AVA. The band was formed after Blink182 had split up in 2005. Their third album Love has been available for free since February 2010. A movie based on the album is due to be released in fall 2010.

The album can be downloaded with no strings attached from AVA’s website.

Angels and Airwaves MySpace and Homepage.

Omar Rodriguez López & John Frusciante – Untitled

Genres: alternative, instrumental

where i can download free mp3s Guitarists Omar Rodriguez López of The Mars Volta and John Frusciante, formerly of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, have teamed up and recorded some instrumental songs several years ago. The 7-track untitled album was released on May 1st this year.

You can download the album for a small donation or for free in exchange for your eMail address from Omar Rodriguez López’ website.

Omar Rodriquez López MySpace and Homepage.

John Frusciante MySpace and Homepage.

Smashing Pumpkins – Teargarden By Kaleidyscope 1: Songs for a Sailor

Genres: rock, alternative

where i can download free mp3s Last year Billy Corgan, the only remaining founding member of the Smashing Pumpkins, announced that the band’s upcoming album would be released one song at a time and for free. Volume 1 of the Teargarden By Kaleidyscope epos is now complete. The Song for a Sailor EP consists of four tracks: A Song For A Son, Widow Wake My Mind, A Stitch In Time, and Astral Planes.

Download the songs with no strings attached from the Smashing Pumpkins website.

The Smashing Pumpkins MySpace and Homepage.

Bad Religion – 30 Years Live

Genres: indie, punk, rock

where i can download free mp3s In celebration of their 30 years band anniversary, Bad Religion decided to make a gift to their fans: a free live album. The album download went live on May 21st.

It may take up to 24 hours until the eMail with the code and download instructions pops up in your inbox, but eventually it will. Patience is the way!

Request a download and receive the details in return for signing up to the Bad Religion mailing list.

Bad Religion MySpace and Homepage.

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to share your music with me. MakeUseOf would love to promote your work! The condition is that you offer at least one free and no strings attached MP3 download. Please eMail me the link to tina at makeuseof dot com or post it in the comments.

What is your favorite style of music?

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The 5 Best Free Benchmark Programs for Windows

Posted: 30 May 2010 09:17 AM PDT

One problem which occurs whenever you try to optimize or speed up your computer is measuring how much of an effect your efforts have made. Confirmation bias can make it very, very hard to simply “eyeball” your computer’s speed because you’ll usually want to confirm that your efforts made an impact. This can be a problem as your computer ages. If you have no objective way of knowing how fast your computer is you won’t be able to figure out which optimizations work and which don’t.

That is where free benchmark testing software comes in. Downloading a free benchmark will give you a firm, objective way of judging the perform of your computer. As you make adjustments to your computer you can see just how much, or how little, your computer’s performance has changed.


While your computer may pack more computing power than the rocket which sent men to the moon, it is still possible to choke a computer processor using simple math, and that is what SuperPi does. SuperPi is capable of calculating Pi up to 32 million digits after the decimal point. This complex math significantly tasks your computer’s processor, and SuperPi keeps track of how quickly it takes for your computer to complete the calculation.

SuperPi is focused on your processor’s speed, not the speed of other components, so it only useful when judging changes to your computer’s processors. For example, overclockers consider SuperPi to be one of the best free benchmarks around because it provides a processor-focused test which can help them judge how much extra performance their overclocking has gained them.

3DMark 06 / PCMark 05

Futuremark is a software company which offers a wide variety of computer benchmarks which are considered among the best in the world. Chances are that any review of a desktop or laptop computer you’ve ever read has, at some point, quoted 3DMark or PCMark figures in the performance section of the review.

The latest versions of 3DMark and PCMark aren’t free, but older versions with limited options can be used an unlimited number of times without charge. While these benchmarks are over four years old, they are still among the best free benchmarks available. Futuremark’s benchmarks are very demanding, and there are many modern computers which will achieve very low scores when running these benchmarks.

3DMark focuses on gamers, has it only tests the power of your video card. PCMark is for more general use and tests numerous computer components. Both can be downloaded directly from the Futuremark website.


Novabench is a free benchmark testing software suite. Unlike many benchmark suites, Novabench isn’t a trial version or an older version released for free. The free version is the only version available, and it gauges multiple aspects of your computer’s performance.

The Novabench benchmark tests processing speed, 2D graphics performance and hard drive read/write performance, making this a very well-rounded benchmark. It is particularly well suited for computers which are meant for a home office, as the hard drive read/write speed benchmark can help you find out if your productivity is being hurt by a hard drive which takes a long time to spin up and transfer data. Novabench does not include any 3D or video benchmarks, so multimedia users and gamers will want to try a different free benchmark.

SiSoft Sandra

Sandra stands for System Analyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. It is a fully-featured benchmark suite which is aimed at users who are very well informed about the inner workings of their computers and for businesses which need to perform a detailed analysis on multiple computers. SiSoft Sandra kindly offers a free version of the software.

The benchmark tests available in SiSoft Sandra are jaw-dropping. Want to test your computer’s memory bandwidth? No problem. Want to benchmark network performance? Sure. Want to benchmark your computer’s power efficiency? Yes, SiSoft Sandra does that as well. Chances are that you’ll come across one or two benchmarks in SiSoft Sandra which benchmark hardware you didn’t even know existed.

Another useful feature of SiSoft Sandra is the inclusion of references. Let’s say, for example, that you decide to benchmark your processor. SiSoft Sandra will benchmark your processor and then compare your performance to five other similar processors to give you a better idea of how an upgrade may or may not help you. This is something that only SiSoft Sandra offers, and it is incredibly useful.


One of the most popular free gaming benchmarks in existence, FRAPS is different from all of the other free benchmark software on this list because it is the only non-synthetic benchmark. Rather than putting your computer through a series of tests which are designed to judge its overall performance, FRAPS records how your computer actually performs.

FRAPS does this by capturing information about how many frames per second your computer is producing while in games. A higher number of frames per second is always preferable and results in smoother gameplay. FRAPS will work with any game, from World of Warcraft to Call of Duty 4, and it is capable of both displaying your current frame rates in real-time on your screen and recording the frame rate data to a log file.

FRAPS’s benchmarking functionality is completely free. FRAPS does have a paid version, but the features unlocked in the paid version of FRAPS have nothing to do with benchmarking your computer.

Which to choose?

The benchmark you use will depend on what you want to benchmark. FRAPS and 3D Mark06 are certainly the ones to use if you’re interested in gaming performance. NovaBench and Sandra focus more on general performance, such as processor and hard drive speed. SuperPi taxes only your processor, and is a good choice if you want to isolate your processor’s performance from all other factors.

However, if you intend to benchmark everything in your computer, from processor to video card to hard drives and more, you’ll want to use all of these programs. They all provide different data which is useful in determining your computer’s overall performance.

Do you benchmark your computer? Voice our your tips to keep a computer running healthily.

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