Thursday, June 10, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [June 9th]” plus 9 more “Cool Websites and Tools [June 9th]” plus 9 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [June 9th]

Posted: 09 Jun 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.

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FocusMagic – Perhaps the most common problem in pictures is out-of-focus or 'blur.' The blur effect can be quite counterproductive in case we need to pinpoint something in the photograph such as the number plate of a vehicle. For all our blurry images, we can use FocusMagic. Read more: FocusMagic: Recover & Sharpen Blurry Photos.


HideTXT – All somebody needs to do to fall victim to mass-spam emailing is provide their email address on a public discussion board; from there, spammers can pick up our email through scanning the board. HideTXT is a solution to this and safeguards our email by hiding it in an image. Read more: HideTXT: Avoid Spam By Hiding Text in an Image.



OpenClipArt – Most people have no idea about the copyright implications of using clipart found on random web sites online. Enter, a site dedicated to sharing truly free clip art with the world. Art you find here is completely legal to use in any capacity. Read more: Find Truly Free Clip Art.



WHOBloodProducts – With over 600 kinds of venomous snakes existing in the world, you never know which one is near you. The World Health Organization has created a database of venomous snakes of the world. You can search for venomous snakes by name and see which areas of the world they exist in along with their anti-venom information. Read more: WHOBloodProducts: Maps Venomous Snakes Of The World.



PeoplePerHour – The internet is a great way to hire freelancers if you are looking to outsource jobs or services such as programming, content writing, graphic design, research, accounting, and so on. PeoplePerHour is a freelance marketplace that helps you find people that can do the work that you require. Read more: PeoplePerHour: Online Freelance Marketplace.


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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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The Five Best Netbooks To Buy Today [Gadget Corner]

Posted: 09 Jun 2010 06:31 PM PDT

best netbooksThe Netbook craze has died down a bit, but that’s hardly surprising. Netbooks were something of a revelation, and when they first started to become available their popularity exploded. This is now starting to level out – having taken about 20% of the mobile PC market – and they are also starting to mature significantly.

Make no mistake. Netbooks are still very anemic machines in terms of overall processor power. However, Netbooks have a lot of things going for them. The displays, for example, are surprisingly good – you’ll often find that your netbook’s display has viewing angles that are as good or better than a $800 dollar laptop. The keyboards and trackpads have grown, making frequent use more pleasurable, and battery life has swelled to an average of around seven hours.

While today’s netbooks are the best ever made, there are still some clear winners and losers. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the five best netbooks you can purchase today.

HP Mini 5102

best netbooksMost netbooks are built for consumers. They’re made to be good looking, but not hugely durable. The HP Mini 5102, however, is different. If you navigate HP’s home website you will find that the HP Mini 5102 can’t be found. That is because the Mini 5102 is built with business users in mind, so you’ll only find it available on HP’s business website.

In the world of mobile PCs, the word “business” actually translates to boring aesthetics with excellent build quality. The HP Mini 5102 is no different. You can have it any color you’d like so long as it is black, and the netbook has a generally tough, industrial look to its design.

The tough appearance is no joke. The Mini 5102 has a anodized aluminum top and a magnesium alloy bottom, making it much more robust than your run-of-the-mill netbook. However, the Mini 5102 still weighs under three pounds with the six cell battery.

You’ll probably want the six cell because you can actually reach around ten hours of battery life with the six cell installed. That is amazing battery life even for a netbook. The speakers are also much better than you’ll usually find in a machine of this size. The only downside is the price, which starts at around $415 – a lot for a netbook. Still those who demand a premium product even when buying a netbook will find the HP Mini 5102 a good choice.

ASUS Eee PC 1005PE

best netbooksASUS has long been the king when it comes to netbooks. They offer a huge variety of products across a broad range of prices and capabilities. Right smack in the middle of ASUS’s dizzying array of products you’ll find the Eee PC 1005PE, a mid-range netbook which has a lot going for it.

The battery life of the ASUS Eee PC 1005PE is exceptional. Most reviews are able to achieve just over ten hours of battery life with the six cell battery, which is well above average. The six cell battery is also essentially standard, which is in contrast to some other netbooks which make a six cell battery available, but only on the most expensive models. The Eee PC 1005PE also features an impressive keyboard.

Besides the battery life, there is nothing surprising about the Eee PC 1005PE. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is an extremely well rounded netbook, and a good choice for anyone who wants great battery life but otherwise isn’t picky about particular features. The price of the Eee PC 1005PE also makes it easy to consider, as most models are between $340 and $360.

Toshiba Mini NB305-N410

what are the best netbooksToshiba’s approach to netbook design has always been admirable. While most manufacturers have ten or twenty models, Toshiba just has two. The NB305-N410 is the more expensive and better built variant, and it is one knock-out netbook.

The most attractive features of the NB305-N410 are the keyboard and the trackpad. Netbooks usually have somewhat cramped keyboards and trackpads simply because they are small devices. Toshiba has managed to conquer this problem by delivering a well-space edge-to-edge keyboard which makes the NB305-N410 feel more like a 12″ or 13″ laptop. The same goes for the trackpad, which is huge by netbook standards. If you do a great deal of typing (like me) you’ll find that the Toshiba Mini N305-N410 is a solid choice as one of the best netbooks on the market.

The NB305-N410 is no slouch in other areas, either. Battery life is around eight hours, which is above average, and performance is on par with other netbooks of around the same price. Speaking of which, the Toshiba Mini NB305-N410 will usually set you back around $325, making this netbook a good value as well.

HP Mini 311

what are the best netbooksThe HP Mini 311 is a netbook on steroids. While every other netbook found in this guide has a display size of 10.1 inches, the HP Mini 311 has a display size of 11.6 inches. This makes it large for a netbook, but while the larger size might make it a tad bit more difficult to fit into a bag, this is still a slim and trim machine which is substantially lighter and more portable than your typical laptop.

The hardware of the HP Mini 311 is also a bit more powerful than what you’d normally expect. The Mini 311 still uses an Atom processor, but it is backed up by Nvidia’s ION platform, which includes a variant of Nvidia’s 9400M integrated graphics. This gives the Mini 311 the chops required to play HD video and some 3D games. The Mini 311 even includes an HDMI port so that you can display video on an external display such as a HDTV.

The extra power does hurt battery life, so you can expect about five hours away from a power socket. Depending on your needs, this is a trade-off which may be very smart to make. The HP Mini 311 isn’t too expensive, either, as the base model will set you back around $400.

Lenovo Thinkpad X100e

what are the best netbooksLenovo’s Thinkpad line of laptops has always been known as something of a premium brand, but everyone was a bit surprised when Lenovo announced a Thinkpad branded netbook. The resulting product has, however, proven to be a nice addition to the Thinkpad line, and a good choice for those who need a netbook with more power than battery life.

The X100e is very different from most other netbooks. It features an 11.6 inch display, like the HP Mini 311, but unlike every other netbook in this guide the X100e uses an AMD processor instead of the Intel Atom. This results in a clear trade-off. The X100e is much quicker than most netbooks in processor benchmarks, but battery life is a paltry four hours. You’ll also find ATI Radeon HD 3200 mobile graphics on the Thinkpad X100e, which makes it possible watch HD video without issue.

The keyboard on the X100e is worthy of the Thinkpad name. You’ll also find a nice, large trackpad and a pointing stick in the middle of the keyboard. If you are a road warrior in need of an inexpensive , lightweight PC, the X100e is an outstanding choice. The X100e is expensive, however, with prices starting at $449.


All of the netbooks here are here for a reason, but with that said, there is a clear division. Those who want a quality netbook, but doesn’t necessarily need the most durable machine, will be best with the Eee PC 1005PE or Toshiba NB305-410NR. Road warriors will prefer the Lenovo ThinkpadX100e or the HP Mini 5102. And finally, multi-media users on a budget will prefer the HP Mini 311.

Let us know what netbook you have, why you like it and what you think of the ones profiled here.

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Make Your Own Free Multipurpose Web Page With Google Sites

Posted: 09 Jun 2010 04:31 PM PDT

how can I make a web page for freeAs a blogger and owner of multiple websites, it isn’t often that I personally have the need to make free webpages that aren’t hosted on my own webhosting account, or accessed from my own registered domain. However, as anyone who has become entrenched in the world of Web 2.0 knows, there are so many available resources that it’s sometimes difficult to remember all of the sites where you’re a member, or to keep track of all of the information you want to receive updates about every day.

I’ve previously covered 4 free websites where you can make a web page for free, hosted by the site where you create them. Additionally, if your intent is to generate a start page for yourself, Aibek covered a majority of them in his review of the top 12 start pages.

All of the resources listed above are excellent tools for organizing your own online interests, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a resource from Google – the place where you get your email, handle your blog analytics and read your RSS feeds? Aibek mentioned iGoogle in his list of start pages, but even iGoogle doesn’t have the sort of flexibility that lets you do anything you want with the page. You can add widgets and re-title a few elements, but that’s about it. That’s why I was very happy to discover that now, even Google offers a free website building tool called Google Sites.

How To Make a Web Page for Free On Google Sites

Of course, if anyone could simplify the website creation process even more than most other free website creator tools, it would be Google. The nice thing is that your Google Site is tied directly to your Google account, so you never have to worry about remembering what the site was or the URL, just log into your Google account, go to Google Sites, and there it is.

When you first visit Google Sites and log into your Google Account, just click on “Create Site,” and you’re presented with a very easy form to fill out that will immediately generate your free webpage. Of course, the first step is to select the design. You’ve got several standard templates to choose from, or you can review the template library.

how can I make a web page for free

You could also use one of the common templates, but I usually like to use templates that are as unique as possible so as to reduce the possibility of having a site that’s identical to someone else’s. Additionally, the templates offered by Google are not your run-of-the-mill website templates.

how can I make a web page for free

If you want to have a project wiki website, there’s a template specially designed for that. If you want to have a family site, a school webpage, or even a professional website for yourself – there are templates for those purposes too. Each template has a unique design and features that are conducive to each purpose.

Even though I have a domain for my own name where I host a blog with updates from my online writing work, I don’t really have a professional website that collates all of my work, testimonials from clients and everything else into one easy to follow presentation. So, as an example website I’m going to use Google Sites to create my own professional bio page.

make a free online web page

Once you fill out a few details on the form for your site title and description and then click submit, your site is ready to go using the template you’ve selected. All of your editing and other tasks are located at the upper right of the page.

make a free online web page

Now, the cool thing about the Google Sites approach is that it’s configured like a content management system – so when you choose to “edit” the page, what you’re editing is just the content area. If you want to make any changes to the site template itself, you need to click on More Actions -> Manage Site, and then click on Site Layout from the left menu. This is where you can alter the left navigational bar and of course the site logo that, in this case, features your image.

make a free online web page

Adding or removing navigational sidebar items is fast and easy in this area as well. Add or remove pages, or include text or widgets into the sidebar right here in one place, and it takes effect across your entire site and all pages.

make your own web page

Google has really done a fantastic job making it easy to customize and manage even large sites that have lots of pages. Of course, tools that you use all the time on your websites are built right into your Google Site, like Adsense. All you have to do is select to enable it.

make your own web page

The thing that separates the useful CMS tools from those for kids is the ability to integrate it with your own registered domain. Luckily, if you choose “Web Address” in the site management area, you’ll find that you can use any domain that you like with Google Sites. Keep in mind that the site is still hosted at Google, but at least you can use any custom URL that you like, rather than the generic Google Sites URL.

make your own web page

In the General Settings area, you can see just how integrated other website Google tools are into Google Sites. Just by pasting your Analytics ID, you can enable Analytics for the site (no need to copy and paste code into the footer of all the pages you want to track). Google Webmaster Tools verification is built right in as well.

For anyone who has ever wanted a monetized website with Google Analytics tracking, but never got around to it because it always seemed too complicated to integrate into your own website – with Google Sites, Google makes it an absolute breeze. Without further ado, here is the first draft of my own professional bio website called DubeWriter at Google Sites.

Take a look and let me know what you think. Keep in mind that the site was created in under 15 minutes, using the tools provided right on the Google Sites CMS.

Have you ever tried Google Sites? Do you find it easier or harder to use than other free website creators out there? Share your opinions and insight in the comments section below.

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How To Create Torrent Files & Share Them Using Transmission

Posted: 09 Jun 2010 02:31 PM PDT

how to create a torrentOne MakeUseOf reader – Tilman Bauer – recently asked about the recommended method to send a 350MB file to 200 people for free. Among the many alternatives given in the answers, there was a suggestion of using the Torrent protocol to share the file.

Almost everybody knows about and uses Torrent, but not everybody “really uses” torrent. On one hand, Torrent has become a very popular alternative for file downloads. While on the other hand, the number of people who create and publish torrents are very small compared to the number of people who do the downloading. The majority of people are still not familiar with using Torrent as a method to share their own files.

While there are advantages and disadvantages to the method, I think this is a topic worth exploring.

How to Create a Torrent File

The following process is created using Transmission for Mac, but the method is also available under other OSes and using other major torrent clients.

Here are the necessary steps to create a Torrent.

  • After opening Transmission, the first thing that you should do is to click on the “Create” button, or go to “File – Create New Torrent File” menu (Command + N) …

how to create a torrent

  • ….Or something similar in another client. For example, the menu in uTorrent is “Create New Torrent” (Ctrl + N).

how to create a torrent

  • Then browse to the location of the file(s) that you want to share. Highlight the file(s) and click the “Select” button.

create torrent

  • The next step is to customize the torrent settings. Start by adding trackers to the torrent, continue with the comment field, the “Private” option checkbox, and the “Create” button.

create torrent

For those who are unfamiliar with the term “tracker“, here’s a short quote from Wikipedia:

A BitTorrent tracker is a server that assists in the communication between peers using the BitTorrent protocol. It is also, in the absence of extensions to the original protocol, the only major critical point, as clients are required to communicate with the tracker to initiate downloads. Clients that have already begun downloading also communicate with the tracker periodically to negotiate with newer peers and provide statistics; however, after the initial reception of peer data, peer communication can continue without a tracker.

You can use the OpenBitTorrent tracker for your torrent. This service is free to use.

create torrent

Even though it’s possible to create a torrent without a tracker, I personally prefer to add at least one while creating a torrent file because my short experiments showed no activities in all of the trackerless torrents that I created.

create a torrent file

The torrent creating process could take some time depending on the size of the shared file.

create a torrent file

You can share the created torrent file easily by email since the size would be very small.

create a torrent file

The receiver can open the torrent file using any torrent client installed on his/her computer and download the shared file.

But please remember to also open the torrent on your own computer using your torrent client and connect your computer to the internet to enable the file sharing. You will act as the seeder here. If you close the client then the download process on your friend’s computer will stop.

06 checking existing data.png

It’s also advisable to ask your friends to keep their torrent clients open even after they have finished downloading the file. They will also act as seeders. And the more seeders there are, the faster the download process will be.


If there are several people who have finished downloading and they continue seeding, you can disconnect your computer and the download process in other computers can go uninterrupted because the parts of the file are taken from other seeders.

It’s true that one of the biggest disadvantages of sharing files via torrent is that the torrent creator’s computer has to be connected to the net at all times. But this method is the perfect file sharing method for companies which have computers that always connected to the net.

Honestly, this is my first time trying to create and share files using Torrent so I might have missed a few steps here and there. So if you’ve been there and you have tips and tricks for torrenting that you can share, please feel free to use the comments below.

And don’t forget to check out our other Transmission articles.

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Hot Tech Deals [June 9th]

Posted: 09 Jun 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. Toshiba Satellite AMD Sempron 2GHz 16″ Laptop for $299 + $25 shipping with coupon code “L500SAVE”
  2. ASUS Intel Dual Core 2.2GHz 16″ Widescreen Laptop for $400 + $15 shipping
  3. Dell Vostro Core i3 Dual LED-backlit laptops from $599
  4. Dell Inspiron 11z Celeron 1.3GHz 12″ Laptop w/ GPS for $399 + $9 shipping
  5. Dell Adamo Core 2 Duo 1.4GHz 13″ Ultra-Slim Laptop for $999 with coupon code “?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C”
  6. Dell Vostro 3500 Core i5 Dual Core 2.26GHz 16″ Laptop for $699
  7. HP TouchSmart tm2t Core 2 Duo 1.3GHz 12″ Laptop for $700 with coupon code “NBLB44897″
  8. Dell XPS 9000 Core i7 Quad Core 2.66GHz PC for $900 with coupon code “?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C”
  9. Refurbished Apple Mac mini Intel Desktops from $679
  10. Sharp AQUOS 46″ 120Hz 1080p LCD HDTV for $830
  11. Refurb Unlocked Sony X1A Xperia Smartphone for $300
  12. Seagate 1TB SATA 3Gbps Internal Hard Drive for $35 after rebate + $5 shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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How To Geotag Your Flickr Photos & Explore Them By Location

Posted: 09 Jun 2010 12:31 PM PDT

geotag flickr photosGeotagging photos and visiting them by location is a topic which we have covered before. Mark showed us how to geotag your Flickr photos on Google Maps & Earth. He used a bookmarklet called Localize to geotag Flickr photos. That's going to a third party, and there are lots of other ways to geotag photos too.

But Flickr has its own geotagging utility that's a great help with your Flickr photos. That's where we will be going in this post in a while.

Geotagging is about adding location information to your photos that shows where it was taken from. It's commonly in the form of latitude and longitude coordinates, and also place names. It helps if you have an auto-geotagging capable camera coupled with a GPS. But thanks to geotagging web apps, the place data can be added later too.

The location gets added to a photo as metadata. Adding location based information to a photo enables us to search them out using a location search. We see examples of geotagged photos on interactive maps like those from Google and on Google Earth.

Flickr on the other hand uses Yahoo Maps. Flickr is owned by Yahoo, and you can jump in with your Yahoo ID. If you want to geotag Flickr photos and Yahoo Maps, it is as easy as a drag and drop. Here's how…

  • Log into your Flickr account and click on the Organize & Create (Organizr) tab for your photostream.
  • geotag flickr photos

  • You can geotag a batch of photos or do them individually. Click on the Map tab to bring up the Yahoo Map interface. The Yahoo Map has navigational tools like the slider, the direction button, and the three different map views. You can use your mouse to scroll around the map. To zoom in and center you can double click on the location.
  • geotag flickr photos

  • Start your geotagging by typing in the location in the Find a Location search box. Type in the location where the photo was taken. You can also be more specific with the exact address of the place. You might get better address specific results with locations that are in the U.S and Europe than in the rest of the world.
  • how to geotag photos

  • With your location setup, geotagging a photo or a bunch of photos is a simple process of selecting the thumbnails from the Finder and dragging them to the spot on the map. To remove the location data just drag the photos back to the thumbnail strip.
  • how to geotag photos

  • Clicking on the photos brings up the Edit dialog where you can add more information. Here, you will see that the longitude and latitude coordinates have been added to the photos. The permissions as to who can view the location data can be set from this dialog.
  • how to geotag photos

  • The access permission to the photo itself (and Creative Commons attribution) can be decided on the Permissions page of the dialog.
  • Depending on the permissions setup, the geotagged information is viewable alongside your pictures in your photostream.

The obvious benefit of geotagging photos is immediately clear when you click on the linked place names. Clicking on Map gives you the location perspective on a map.

The nice feature is that you can view other photos that have been shot nearby by clicking on See nearby photos and videos. Your own geotagged photos also become searchable by location.

Your publicly viewable photos also become a part of Flickr groups corresponding to that location. If you are a budding photographer, similar photos give you free photography lessons on how to work different angles with your camera at a location.

The slight negative of using Yahoo Maps for geotagging is the level of detail. The map view isn't as specific as one gets on Google Maps. For instance, zooming into some locations around my country, India, did not give me street level details. But the richer part is that with geotagging I could become a part of Flickr groups made up of location tagged photos.

If you do not own a GPS capable camera, do you set out to geotag your Flickr photos?

Image Credit: premasagar

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Springpadit – A Web-Based Notebook Application To Store Your Notes

Posted: 09 Jun 2010 11:31 AM PDT

Springpaditlogo.pngThere's no shortage of web-based applications to create notes, make lists, set reminders, and share things with our friends and contacts. Springpadit is the latest web notebook and social networking service that is much like Evernote, a web notebook or junk box to store stuff quickly, via the web and mobile devices, e.g. the iPhone and Android.

What makes Springpadit different is that it is set up to help you organize content as you add to it. Whereas Evernote uses generic folders to manage content, Springpadit uses unique icons to categorize items, such as Notes, Recipes, Products, Bookmarks, Tasks, and Events.

However, unlike Evernote, Springpadit is a web notebook application, not a desktop-based app. You can't say add entire text files to your account, although you can upload and add images from your computer to your product posts, bookmarks,recipes, etc.

After signing up for a free Springpadit account, you are presented with a welcome screencast, providing an overview of its features.

Adding Stuff

The best way to add content to your account is to use Springpadit's search field. It performs a Google-like search delivering links and a photo associated with your topic. So far I've found the search feature a little buggy. When I paste in a URL or topic I often get an error message, but when I type in the content, the search is better.

This could have something to do with the web browser, Safari, I'm using. But basically, the idea of the search field is save you a little time by not having to do a Google search for an item and then come back and plug the results into Springpadit.

Also, when you type something into the content field, Springpadit will attempt to help you categorize what you're adding. So if you're adding a URL, it will categorize it as a Bookmark. If the correct category is not presented, simply click on the little triangle under the green plus button, and then select the category (folder) you want the item to go in.


Another way to add stuff is browse what other Springpadit members have added and made public on their account. (when you first sign-up on the site, Springpartners will automatically be added to your following list). When viewing public items, you simply click the Add button for items you want added to your list.


Like many other social networking sites, public items you add to your list can be shared on your Facebook and Twitter account or emailed. Springpadit will automatically assign some things public, such as movies, products, and recipes. But you can select to lock any item for private viewing only.


Your Springpadit account page works pretty much like the Finder on your computer. On the right side of the page, you see your stuff categorized so if you only want to view say all your recipes, you simply click on that folder to access that content.


You can also, of course, add custom folders to your list. Springpadit includes a bookmarklet that you can add to your web browser, so that when you're browsing a website, you can bookmark a page or item without having to navigate to your Springpadit account.

Springpadit Apps

Springpadit already has a free iPhone and Android app that syncs with your web account. On my test, the sync was a tad slow, but otherwise Springpadit works well as a mobile application.

Overall, Springpadit is a pretty useful web notebook application.  It might be a little too much for some users, but as a web and mobile application it could probably replace a couple of existing apps that perform similar functions.

Let us know what you think of Springpadit. Do you think it will replace some existing notebook services you already use?

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9 Nokia Mobile Phone Software You Need & Can’t Live Without

Posted: 09 Jun 2010 10:31 AM PDT

mobile phone software nokiaOne thing that MakeUseOf does not cover in great detail are Nokia phones that use the Symbian operating system. Often we write about the iPhone, Android and Windows Mobile, but never Symbian and Nokia. On a recent poll that we conducted, Symbian was the 4th used phone by our users, and the 3rd most used Smartphone. So today, this post will be dedicated to everything Nokia and Symbian.

For those people who are wondering what the heck I am talking about, Nokia is a leading phone manufacturer in many countries, and especially in Australia (where I live). Most of the new Nokia mobile phones are using Symbian as their operating system which the recent version is known as S60.

If you want to find out more about Symbian, you can visit The Symbian Foundation Community web page or read about the Symbian OS and the Symbian platform on Wikipedia.

Now that the history is out of the way, I can focus on the main point of this post – mobile phone software for your Nokia.

Just like the well known Apple Store, Nokia's store is called the Ovi Store. If you are a Nokia user (I have the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic and the E71), you may find that Nokia doesn't have many great apps, however there are a few that do stand out.

Ovi Maps

Ovi Maps used to cost more than $300 for a one year license, but recently Nokia made the application free to a number of devices. So if you have a compatible handset with GPS, you should definately give Ovi Maps a go. Instead of spending a few hundred dollars on a GPS device, just buy a Nokia phone and you'll get free voice navigation for life – that's what I did.

However, the only downside to Ovi Maps is that it can take quite a few minutes for it to pick up a satellite signal. So if you need to know where you are quickly, but don't really need voice Navigation, you should also try Google Maps.

Ovi Maps also offers a number of other services such as live traffic updates, weather, and other things.

The below image is a screenshot of the Ovi Maps home screen.

mobile phone software nokia

Google Maps

Google Maps usually pinpoints your location within seconds, unlike Ovi Maps. Google Maps for your S60 device doesn't offer anything special compared to what you get on the browser version, but if you get lost or want to find directions to a place near by, Google Maps is the way to go.

However, if you want voice navigation, Google Maps won't do that for you on your Nokia phone. If you're tight on mobile internet data, I would suggest using Ovi Maps as the maps are installed on your phone, unlike Google Maps where you have to download them each time you use it.

mobile phone software nokia

Windows Live Messenger

WLM for Nokia was only released a couple of months ago and only works on a couple of devices. The 5800 XpressMusic isn't one of them unfortunately – however I found a version on the Internet somewhere else and it works like a charm. (I can't find the website where I got it off, if I do, I'll post it in the comments). You can however download it from the Ovi store on some models.

If you use Windows Live Messenger on your desktop, you must get this app for your mobile – it's just full of features and very easy to use.

nokia phone apps


If you use Skype, Twitter, Windows Live Messenger, GTalk, Voip and other services, you must install Fring. Fring contains all these services plus more. It's like your entire IM clients all packed into one small box. However I found that the quality of the voice calls are not as good on Fring as they are on Skype, and for Windows Live Messenger, you can't show your contacts by email.

nokia phone apps

nokia phone apps


Although I don't use Skype much, it's a great app to have on your phone. Especially if you have a large dataplan, you can get away with cheaper calls (if you have Skype credit). When I tried it out on the Skype Call Testing Service connected to my WLAN network at home, the call quality was pretty reasonable and it used about 2-3 kb/s on the call which isn't too bad.

apps for nokia mobile phones


If you have the XpressMusic phone, you will know how bright the flash light is on the camera. So to make good use of this camera's flashlight, install BrightLight. Just flick the switch and your light is on. It's a really good substitute for a torch.

apps for nokia mobile phones


If you don't need a bright light, FlashLight is a useful app. Basically you can set the colour for your entire screen, whether it be white, red, blue, yellow, pink or green – any colour you want. I use it all the time for sneaking around the house because it produces enough light to see where I am going and not too much where it will wake everyone up (like BrightLight does).

Energy Pro

If you want to see how much energy your phone is using, or the transfer rate of your mobile internet, Nokia Energy Profiler will do the trick and a whole lot more.

apps for nokia mobile phones


If you had been wondering how I have been taking the above screenshots on my 5800XpressMusic, I have been using ScreenSnap. It's really simple to use, just run the application and press your phones camera button and it will take a screenshot of your phone.


What Are Your Favourite Apps?

The above are my favourite mobile phone software apps for my Nokia S60 device. Have I missed out on any that should be in the list? If I have, please let me know in the comments.

Also, if you think Make Use Of should cover more posts about Nokia and Symbian; please say so in the comments.

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Unity: A Modern Lightweight Desktop For Ubuntu [Linux]

Posted: 09 Jun 2010 09:31 AM PDT

desktop for ubuntuThe team at Canonical is working hard to change the way people think of Ubuntu, and Unity is the latest effort on that front. Announced by Canonical last month, Unity is an alternative desktop intended for OEMs who want to offer an “instant web” supplement to Windows.

To this end the team’s designed an environment that borrows pieces from Mac OSX and Windows 7 both, but also intends to bring forward the best of Ubuntu. Unity’s not really done, but this being Ubuntu you’re more than welcome to give this desktop for Ubuntu a spin.

If you’ve already got Ubuntu or Ubuntu Netbook Edition up and running then let’s get started!


The first thing you’ll need to do is add the Unity PPA to your Ubuntu. Open a Terminal (it’s under “Accessories” in the menu.) Enter the following lines, one at a time, followed by the “Enter”  key:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:canonical-dx-team/une
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install unity

This may take a while, and you’ll have to follow a few prompts along the way, but when it’s done you will have the Unity environment completely installed. It will not replace your current desktop, though some packages may be replaced. In fact, you can log into either Unity or your usual desktop at any time.

To log into Unity, just log out of your current session. Type your user name and you’ll notice a “Session” option at the bottom of the screen. Select the Unity desktop and log in, and Unity will almost instantly open.

Look & Feel

desktop for ubuntu

As you can see, the Unity interface is really simple. A Windows-7-like bar dominates the left side of the screen, while on top is a bar with most of the standard panel things. Completely missing is an application menu of any kind; it seems Canonical is hoping to direct users toward a Mac-like “Applications” folder instead:

desktop for ubuntu

This folder contains links to every program installed on the computer. Dragging these icons to the dock doesn’t currently work, but you can run them and then right-click their icons in the dock to permanently add them to the dock. This is, as of this time, the only way to add icons to the dock.

As for the Ubuntu icon in the top-left corner? It is not an application menu, even though this is what Ubuntu users are trained to expect. Instead it shows all currently open windows, in a manner similar to Expose on Macs.

desktop for ubuntu

Like I said, some ideas are borrowed from OSX and some are borrowed from Windows 7. What’s new? Well, the Google bar in the top-right for one. This is a pretty simplistic tool; all it does is launch a Google search in your default toolbar.

You’ll also find the standard Ubuntu notification menus on the right-side of the bar, including the one that integrates all your inboxes. Notably, the clock’s been replaced with a simpler interface:

desktop for ubuntu

These notifications menus are here but the bar is not a Gnome panel. In fact, if you’re a Ubuntu geek like me, you’ll quickly notice that the “Ctl F2″ shortcut to bring up the “Run” dialogue doesn’t work. Gnome Panel’s simply not a part of this setup.

This being a desktop environment still in development, there are a few bugs. Some applications don’t show up properly in the dock, including The Gimp and anything related to Adobe Air:

desktop for ubuntu

Take note that there’s no icon in the tray for TweetDeck. As mentioned previously, trying to drag an icon to the dock won’t add it; instead, it will crash the system.

I also feel that adding a dock to the left side of the screen takes up a lot of room, and as such makes my netbook feel even smaller than it already is. Perhaps at some point in the future we’ll be able decrease the dock’s size, or allow it to auto-hide.


Unity’s an interesting idea, but it’s very much a work in project. You yourself may love using it – it’s relatively stable – but I myself can’t yet think of a use for it.

I’m hoping at some point this desktop for Ubuntu will be the light-weight addition to Ubuntu I’ve been waiting for. In my work with Boulder Community Computers I’m always looking for ways to use Ubuntu to bring new life to old computers, but it seems Unity is not yet the solution I’m looking for.

What do you guys think? Do you like how Unity makes the Ubuntu Desktop feel, or is it too Mac-like for your tastes? Are you excited about what it might become, or do you think it’s perfectly usable now? Let us know in the comments below.

Do you have alternative ideas for using Ubuntu to bring new life to old computers? I’d appreciate it if you let me know about that too, either here or over at the Boulder Community Computers blog.

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Use Shake & Save For Accelerometer Activated Screenshots [Windows Mobile]

Posted: 09 Jun 2010 08:31 AM PDT

windows mobile screenshotDo you ever have the need to take Windows Mobile screenshots? Well I do and I have to do it often. Sometimes I am working at my desk and I can connect my mobile device to my computer and active sync. Then I run MyMobiler and I can take screenshots from there.

But sometimes I am on the run and evaluating new applications on my device. Then I need a Windows Mobile screenshot utility. The best free one I can find is called Shake and Save. Your device needs to have an accelerometer like the Fuze, Touch Pro, Diamond, Tilt2 and other recent devices.

Why do you need an accelerometer you might ask?  Well it takes screenshots when you shake your device! Isn't that cool?

You can grab the download from here.  After downloading the cab file you will need to transfer it to your device and run it. You can alternatively download the cab directly to your phone using this link as well.

After you launch the cab file you will see a screen that looks like this:

windows mobile screenshot

On this screen you will choose what format you want to save your images as. Select the radio box next to the type you want. I chose PNG as you can see above. Then you need to check the Agree button at the bottom right of the interface. Then you hit the start button at the bottom left.

Now we are ready to take a Windows Mobile screenshot. Let's say I want to take a screenshot of my home screen which looks like this:

windows mobile screenshot

Now that I have the image on the screen that I want to capture, all I have to do is give my device a little shake from left to right. Please be careful that you do not inadvertently throw your device across the room the first time you try this! Your screenshot will have been taken. You will hear a little camera shutter noise if your sound is turned up and then you will see this screen:

screenshots on windows mobile

If you say yes the application will quit and you are done. If you choose no the application will let you shake the device and capture another screenshot. This will repeat after each shake. You can grab any screen on the device.

When you are finished shaking your device you will want to see your screenshots. The images are saved to the root of your device in a directory called \ShakeAndSave and the images are named ScreenShot1.png (if you choose png) and so on. You can see a shot of the directory structure below:

screenshots on windows mobile

And then clicking on the folder will show us our images:

screenshots on windows mobile

Clicking on it will display it, but you can also copy, email or do whatever you have to do with it.

Do you have another favorite freeware Windows Mobile screen capture utility? If so we would love to hear about it in the comments! Happy shaking everyone.

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