Saturday, June 12, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [June 11th]” plus 9 more “Cool Websites and Tools [June 11th]” plus 9 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [June 11th]

Posted: 11 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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LogAway – As a blogger I have had to create accounts on many websites, mostly just to review them. But sometimes I like the site's service and end up using it regularly. Keeping track of all my usernames plus passwords can become a little hectic; that is why I use password management service LogAway. Read more: LogAway: Password Management Service For Direct Login To All Your Sites.


Cloud SMS – Free offers are always examined suspiciously and rightly so. Often anything that claims to be free has a catch to it which is not initially clear. 'Free' text message sending websites are a perfect example of this. Cloud SMS however, is one website that fulfills its promise and lets you send unlimited SMS worldwide for free. Read more: Cloud SMS: Send Unlimited SMS Worldwide For Free.



Inline Search & Lookup – is an add-on for Google Chrome that could save you a significant amount of time when you are working on the web, especially if you are doing research for something. It lets you perform searches on Google or look up meanings of terms without leaving the current browser page you are on. Read more: Inline Search & Lookup: Chrome Add-on To Look Up Words & Search Results.



ParcelGenie – Looking to send real gifts to your Facebook and Twitter friends? ParcelGenie is a web service that allows you to send gifts to your friends even if you don't know their postal address. You can choose to access ParcelGenie using either your Facebook account by adding the application, or your Twitter account by granting authorization to it. Read more: ParcelGenie: Send Gifts Through Facebook & Twitter.



Silentale – With some of your contacts on Facebook, some on Twitter and some on LinkedIn, its not easy to keep track. Silentale is a web app that brings everything together by aggregating your contacts from different networks. It stores different contact details such as email, phone numbers, addresses and screen names on different networks and web services. Read more: Silentale: Keeps Track Of Your Contacts & Conversations From Multiple Social Sites.


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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 5 Toughest Tech Questions [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 06:31 PM PDT

MakeUseOf AnswersAre you racking your brains over a tricky tech problem? We might be able to help at MakeUseOf Answers. We do our best to provide answers from as many different perspectives as possible. This includes supporting contributions from our readers.

Smokey99 is this week’s Best Answer of the Week contest winner. We are rewarding him for his elaborate answers to this question: Is it possible to change the language in Windows 7?

Could YOU use some extra cash in your pocket? The prize for Best Answer of the Week is $50 via Paypal or as an Amazon voucher. Participating is easy. Just answer questions at MakeUseOf Answers and provide a valid email address or log in using your Facebook account.

Get started by answering one of our toughest questions:

  1. How can I stop Outlook Express 6 spellchecker from wanting to install Microsoft Photo Premium 10?
  2. How can I have multiple sites on Wordpress 3.0 RC1 with common user database?
  3. How can I sync Google Calendars with Lotus Notes Calendar on a Mac?
  4. How can I attach post-it notes to a digital folder on a Mac?
  5. How can I install Windows Server 2008 x64 from a bootable USB stick?

You can find many more questions at MakeUseOf Answers. Browse by Latest Questions, Unanswered Questions or Most Popular Questions. For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

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Chattertree – Bring Your Family Together In Their Own Private Social Network

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 04:31 PM PDT

family social networkDo you have a family that’s spread across the United States or even the world?  Keeping up and staying in touch can become quite a chore.  These days we’ve got tools like Skype and Facebook but it seems many of the tools out there have their faults.  They just don’t seem to cater to just your family.

Chattertree seeks to make an end to that problem.  With Chattertree you can set up a family social network.  No constantly changing privacy settings or extra noise from all of the other online acquaintances on those other social networks.  Chattertree seeks to give you your own private place to hang with just your family.

family social network

What makes Chattertree worth trying out with your own family?  Well, it’s the features that bring the family together, that’s what.  It’s a social network like no other because of the focus on family.

Keep Your Own Private Calendar

family social network

Keep your own private calendar to remember upcoming dates, anniversaries and birthdays.  Chattertree offers an integrated calendar so you will never forget those special dates again.  Your family members will love you when you stop constantly forgetting them on their special days.

Easily Make Family Announcements

creating a family website

Chattertree has a cool feature which allows you to make announcements known to the whole family all at once.  Say an out of town family member just arrived safely and you want to let everyone know they’re fine, you can send a shout out using the Emergency Alert feature.  Very cool and very handy.

Share Photos & Videos With The Whole Family

creating a family website

What better way to show Grandma and Grandpa what’s going on with the kids than to show them photos and videos?  You can have multiple albums and can even set them to be viewed either by the family or by specific rooms (we’ll talk about rooms soon).  Either way, isn’t it nice to have a way to share photos with the family on your own private family social network without the whole world seeing them?

Organize Your Family Connections Into Rooms

creating a family website

Chattertree has another feature that aids the communication you can have with family members.  They call them rooms and they are basically spaces for interacting with specific family members.

There are many different ways to use rooms.  You can set rooms up for planning events like weddings and trips and interacting with specific branches of the family like brothers and sisters or parents.  You can also share conversations, photos and videos with just room members.

Plus more!

There are other features that Chattertree offers families such as video chat (with up to 6 people at a time) and the gift corner (supposedly helps you pick out gifts for other family members and keep your own gift list).  Try it out and see what features you find yourself making the most use of.

My wife and I are planning on testing out the features a bit further.  Sometimes we’re like ships passing in the night so sending messages and reminders and even sharing pics and videos will come in handy.

What ways can you see a Chattertree family social network bringing your family closer?

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10 Challenging & Fun Time Management Games [iPhone & iTouch]

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 02:31 PM PDT

time management gamesSome of the most popular applications on the iPhone/iPod Touch are games. A lot of these games fall into different categories, but some of the most fun games are time management ones. These are the games where you have to race against the clock to complete tasks, level up your characters, and advance through the different levels. They tend to be challenging, which is why a lot of people like them.

In this article, I’m going to cover the 10 free time management games that will keep you busy and having fun. A lot of these games put you in a scenario you wouldn’t otherwise find yourself, like running a hospital or day spa. There’s something for everyone.

Diner Dash Lite [iTunes link]

time management games

We start with Diner Dash Lite. This is the free version of the popular game Diner Dash, and has received over 4,000 5-star ratings in the app store. The goal of the game is to seat and serve customers as fast and as efficiently as you can so you can level up your diner to eventually make it a 5-star restaurant. It’s a free time management game that is modeled as easy to play and challenging at the same time.

Cooking Dash Lite [iTunes link]

time management games

Also from PlayFirst (with more to come), Cooking Dash Lite offers fast-paced action and is a good complement to Diner Dash Lite. The goal is to help Flo – the character from the first game – and her Grandma keep 5 restaurants up and running. The time management game even has Facebook integration which allows you to post your accomplishments to your wall.

SpongeBob Diner Dash Lite [iTunes link]

free time management games

If you like Diner Dash Lite but would rather play the game with SpongeBob, this game is for you. Like most of these games, the key is to keep your customers satisfied. SpongeBob can seat customers, take orders, serve food, settle bills, and bus tables. Do this fast enough and you’ll advance through the 5 undersea restaurants in the game.

Wedding Dash Lite [iTunes link]

free time management games

In case you didn’t want to run a restaurant anymore, Wedding Dash Lite allows you to assist couples with their weddings. Help them select the right cake, flowers, and anything that keeps the bride and groom happy. You also have to look out for wedding mishaps like falling cakes.

Supermarket Mania Lite [iTunes link]

free time management games

In Supermarket Mania Lite, you have to help Nikki keep 5 stores stocked with popular items. The game allows you to upgrade your store with more shelves and things, as well as upgrade your personal abilities.

Jane’s Hotel Free [iTunes link]

Help your character Jane build a 5-star hotel with this time management game. You start out with a small 2-star hotel and work your way up by upgrading accommodations and building your reputation. Keep customers happy by serving them good meals and keeping their rooms clean.

Chocolate Shop Frenzy Free [iTunes link]

In this time management/puzzle adventure, you have to help Emma become a chocolate shop owner for 12 months so she can pay back her loan. Serve customers and upgrade your equipment to keep everyone happy as you progress through the weeks.

Supermarket Management Free [iTunes link]

Stepping back into your supermarket role, this fast-paced game allows you to be a real store manager. You can purchase upgrades and hire co-workers to make your store run more efficiently and increase profits. You can also open new shops along the way.

Sally’s Spa Lite [iTunes link]

Next up on the list is Sally’s Spa Lite. In this slightly more relaxing time management game, you travel to Laguna Beach where you manage a virtual spa. Brew some tea and light some candles to help your customers feel relaxed. There are mini games such as saunas, face masks, and massage tables for you to play as well.

Ada’s Hospital Lite [iTunes link]

Run a hospital when funds are tight and time is short. You play as Ada, a recent med school graduate, who has to manage the clinic so that it makes enough money each day to stay open. Perform lab tests and checkups, and remember not to let your customers sit in the waiting room too long.

Did I forget to mention your favorite time management game? Are you a big fan of any games on the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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How To Use Tumblr To Inspire Yourself and the People Around You

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 01:30 PM PDT

Do you feel like you’re just not inspired enough when it comes to everyday things? Do you have days when you’re inspired and creative, sandwiched between several days of monotony? Do you approach your daily cooking by pulling mince meat out of the fridge as you run off to work and figuring it’ll just have to be spaghetti bolognaise again? It’s not just you, you know.

Life these days leaves people rushing around from appointment to appointment. It’s hard not to wind up uninspired and repetitive after a while. It seems that even for the everyday things, we sometimes need a little boost to be more creative. This is where learning how to use Tumblr creatively can really help. Here’s how you can use something as simple as Tumblr to keep yourself inspired and creative.

What’s Tumblr all about?

The visual nature of Tumblr makes it ideal for creativity. Most creative types would agree that a selection of pictures is more likely to inspire them than a bunch of text links. For instance, you could use delicious tagging to collect and organise recipe ideas, but reading that wouldn’t be anywhere near as inspiring to most of us as a collection of pretty pictures of food.

If you’ve never used Tumblr before, take a look at this article on Tumblr first – then come back here to find out how to use it for inspiration.

Starting your own

Tumblr has lots of free themes to show off a portfolio of pictures – so pick one that inspires you. It’s not vital to get this right. It’s really easy to switch themes down the track if you want a change.

Or you could just browse through the repository of themes that Tumblr features.

Choose your topic and stay on topic. If you have another topic, start another Tumblr. Don’t mix them up – it won’t help!

Picking what to write about

My favourite Tumblr inspiration topic is recipes. Whenever I want to know how to cook something interesting, I make a point of Tumblring the best picture from the most useful recipe I find.

Tumblr topics I think might be useful for people wanting to inspire themselves:

  • Holiday destinations (Inspiration for both the planning and for reminding yourself to work hard first).
  • Clothes (Take pictures of yourself* or use celebrity photos).
  • Peaceful ways to relax.
  • Fun things to do with the family.
  • Recipes (maybe limit yourself to healthy recipes if you’re dieting).
  • Things you want to write about.
  • Funny moments.
  • Great ideas for interior design or creative uses of space.
  • People who achieved great things.
  • Places which trigger you to be creative.
  • Interesting ways to get exercise.
  • Jobs you might do when you finish your studies.
  • Movies you want to watch.

*Note: If you’re a Flickr user, you can import a feed of your photos into Tumblr. More usefully for this case, you can get an RSS feed of any photo you’ve tagged with “ClothesforTumblr” or “FoodPicsForTumblr” and import that.

Start tumbling!

Once you’ve picked your topic, Tumblr blog name and theme you’re ready to go. Choose your favourite Tumblr app or bookmarklet from the many available and get searching on your topic. Search Google images, read blogs and generally hunt around for inspiration. Repeat this whenever you have a spare moment to build your collection of inspiring pictures. Remember, you’re essentially doing this just for yourself. If you happen to inspire other people with your Tumblr then that’s just a bonus.

Now, here’s the great trick: tag your posts. Tagging for organisation is one of the best things made easy by blogs and social networking sites. Tag with everything applicable to your post. Not just with the obvious tags, but with semantic tags that mean something to you.

Why would you do this? Well, if you’re in the mood for eggs, for instance, you could click on your tag for ‘eggs’ and find a page full of your favourite egg recipes. Not someone else’s favourite recipes – yours. The next day, perhaps you don’t care what you eat as long as it’s quick. Click your ‘quick’ tag and choose something that you yourself have deemed to be quick.

Or maybe your Tumblr is on family activities and you have a sunny day to fill. You can click on ‘games’ and see all your favourite family games. Is it summer? Click ’summer’ and see what you saved in winter as inspiration for your summertime fun.

If you’re familiar with HTML and don’t mind editing the theme or info a little, you can add links to your favourite tags in a list for easy reference later.

The tag URLs are of the format: or if there are spaces between words in the tag. Link to /random to get a random post.

What do you want to remind yourself of? What do you need inspiration for? What will your Tumblr topic be? Share your own ideas about how to use Tumblr creatively with us!

Image credit: Navy Blue Stripes

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How To Protect Your Email and Still Subscribe To Everything

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 12:30 PM PDT

stop receiving spam emailWe've all been there. You're interested in a website or a download, but the site wants your email address before letting you near the goods. You want access, but you're not quite sure you want it enough to hand over the information.

The site asks you to supply an email address, and follow up with confirmation, and perhaps a login and password. It's hard to avoid the process or any of the steps, but the part that really annoys me is the need to supply my email address to yet another unknown party.

But what if you could instead supply a temporary email address that was forwarded to your own? And then define either a maximum number of emails to forward, or a maximum period of time for which that would happen? This would stop you from receiving spam email to your regular email account. That's what the website below do. And do it very nicely.


tempalias is simple. I'm fond of simplicity. It's functional, and effective. And it's going to solve this problem for you.

A word of caution though. Remember that the whole reason you would go through this is that you don't want to supply your email address to someone you might not trust. You need to be happy that tempalias is a safe place to hand over that address. I'm relaxed about it, but you should always make your own decisions on security, and not just take my word. tempalias has more so say about the subject.

Remember also that if it turns out that you want to have an ongoing relationship with the website then you will need to return and sign up with your real email address. tempalias has commitment issues, and won't phone you back the next day, or at least not the next month.

Setting up an alias is easy.

Go to the tempalias site, and supply your real email address.

stop receiving spam email

Then add either:

  • A number of days for which you want the alias to be valid
  • A number of emails which you want to be successfully forwarded

In this case, I've said I don't want more than three emails to be sent to me. After that, forget it.

Click the Generate Alias button.

stop receiving spam email

Now you just use the temporary email address instead of your own, for the website you need to get access to. In this case '', but of course yours will be different.

Try it out. Send some emails to the supplied temporary address, and they will show up at your real email address. After the limit (either days or emails) expires, further emails will be rejected, and the sender, which will generally be a website, will be advised that the email address is not valid.

There are a few other providers with similar products. The details vary, and I should restate my caution from earlier. You need to be able to trust these people.

mint email

protect email from spam

mint email operates a little differently. There is no forwarding involved. Instead, you create the temporary address at the site, and the emails arrive there as well.

mint email’s addresses only last for three hours, so you need to complete all of the interaction smartly, or start again.

protect email from spam

This stop you from receiving spam email and saves cluttering up your mailbox, but it also means you don't have any sort of longer-term record of what has happened.


protect email from spam

MakeMeTheKing is a similar proposition, but without the three hour timeframe.

There's another fundamental difference too, and it's best to understand it up front.

You can be the king if you want, but there's nothing stopping anyone else from sharing the role. Basically, if you choose an address which already exists, it will still work just fine. You'll see all the existing emails, all the spam, potentially all the personal details from the last person who used it.

So firstly, choose something obscure, and secondly don't use this service if the response emails might contain sensitive information. It's easy though, and you can even add an RSS feed for the specific email address (pretty handy feature fore newsletter subscriptions I suppose).

Do you use any of these? Any others? Thoughts? Questions? Have you ever managed to accidentally make some of your private information public? Without using Facebook? Let me know in the comments below.

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Use ISOBuddy To Convert A Disk Image To ISO & Then Burn

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 11:31 AM PDT

burn iso fileI often find myself with proprietary disk image formats. For example if one person in my company uses Nero Burning Rom to create an ISO (or disk image) the file extension will be .NRG but if you are using another application like Roxio Easy CD Creator then the extension will be GI. Each application has its own extension.

If the image was an ISO you could use IMGBurn to burn an ISO file, but what do you do if it's not? How do you burn the image onto your thumb drive on a friend's computer without the software it was created with?

Well you can download a little 2.0MB file called ISO Buddy. ISOBuddy will help you burn your images. What it does is convert some of the most popular disk image extensions to be an ISO image. Once you have the image you can burn the ISO file easily.

The file formats that are supported by ISOBuddy are as follows: GI, NRG, CDI, MDF, IMG, B5I, B6I, DMG, PDI, BIN and CCD to ISO image.

After downloading and installing the application you will see a screen that looks like this:

burn iso file

To begin we will attempt to open an image file. I clicked on the Edit menu button and then chose to open an image file:

burn iso file

Go ahead and navigate to your disk image. We do not need to tell it what application created the image. It will show you on the Image Format Is: line. You can see that I used a .GI image from Roxio and ISOBuddy correctly identified it as a Roxio Global Image.

free iso burner

If there are multiple sessions on your CD or DVD we can choose which one we want to select. Most commercial disks will only have one session on them. Next we need to specify where we will be saving our new ISO image to. We do this by clicking on Edit –> Save as and choosing a path and file name.

free iso burner

Now go ahead and hit the start button and your conversion will start. You can see the progress at the bottom of the interface like so:

free iso burner

When the conversion is complete you should see a message box like this pop up:

iso burning software

Go ahead and hit OK. Now that our conversion was successful we can burn our ISO or simply copy it elsewhere.

Let’s take a look at how to burn the converted ISO using ISOBuddy. Click on the burn button and you will have the option to burn the source image or the output image. You have to burn the target image so choose that one and then you can click on the burn button.

iso burning software

Clicking the burn button will bring up the built in burning utility like so:

iso burning software

Simply select the drive you want to use to burn the disk and hit the start button. You can optionally rescan for new drives if you had not plugged yours in when the initial scan occurred. You can also hit the settings check box to get this menu:


You can click through to the other tabs to see those options as well:


Click start and your image will be on its way to being burnt!

Do you have another free tool that helps to create and burn ISO files? We would love to hear about it in the comments!

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A First Look At The Extensions For The New Safari 5 Browser

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 10:31 AM PDT

safari extensionsBeing a Mac user, my first choice of browser is Safari. Call me irrelevant, but my first reason is the look: it’s simple, clean, and beautiful.

While I still keep and use Firefox for its wide choice of extensions, the system-resource-hungriness of this browser makes me try to keep its usage to the minimum. I also use other browsers like Chrome, Opera and Flock, but my heart stays with Safari.

I always wished that Safari would also support extensions so I don’t have to go back and forth between browsers.

Apparently, wishes do come true.

Activating & Getting Safari Extensions

While everybody’s attention was drawn to the announcement of Apple’s brand new iPhone 4, the company also released the latest version of its browser: Safari version 5. There are many new and improved features. One of the new features that drew my attention is the support for Safari extensions.

Curious and excited, I went to Apple’s Safari page and downloaded the latest version. You can also use the Software Update menu to get it.

Since Apple has just started the extension development program and has not yet officially opened the extension library, at the time of writing, Safari’s support for extensions is still being disabled by default.

To enable it, you have to go to the “Safari – Preferences” menu (Command + Comma).

safari extensions

Then choose the “Advanced” tab and check the “Show Develop menu in menu bar” box.

safari extensions

A new menu called “Develop” will appear. Click the “Enable Extensions” sub menu under it.

safari plugins

A new tab called Extensions will also appear in the Preferences window. This is the place where all the added extensions will be listed.

Apple plans to open the Safari Extension library soon, but right now they are in the “building up the collection” stage and you can’t get any official extensions from Apple yet.

But while we are waiting for the official library to open, why not visit the unofficial Safari Extensions site? There are already quite a few extensions there, ready to be downloaded.

safari plugins

Five Useful Unofficial Safari 5 Extensions

If you already itching to try the extensions, you could browse around the unofficial Safari Extensions site and download some of the already available items.

Then to install the extensions, all you have to do is right click on the “.safariextz” files and choose “Open“. Or simply select the file and use Command + O. After that, click “Install” from the confirmation window.

safari plugins

There are cases where plugins from a download manager interrupts the installation process. If this happens to you, just disable the download manager that you use.

Different people might have different preferences, but among the many extensions that are listed on the unofficial site, here are five useful ones that I picked to enhance my browsing experience.


This extension will help you to get a screenshot of the current webpage. The current version is only able to get the visible part of the page. The author promises to improve the extension in future releases.

To get a snap of the current page, click the button near the address bar.

safari plugins

Then drag the snapshot to Desktop or another location on your hard drive.

safari add ons


As the name suggests, this extension will put a Twitter feed in the Safari bar. The first time you activate it, the extension will ask for your Twitter log in information.

safari add ons

Then the Twitter bar will appear.

safari add ons

Facebook Photo Zoom

This extension will zoom out photo thumbnails in Facebook, saving you the effort of clicking the photos one by one. All you need to do is hover your mouse pointer above the thumbnail.

safari add ons


Will automatically restore the tabs from your previous browsing session. Very useful for those who opens tons of tabs in every browsing session.

03k Tons of tabs.png

AdBlock for Safari

This is the same ad blocking tool for Chrome which is ported for Safari. The author is also working on a port library that will help people to port other Chrome extensions to Safari by abstracting differences between the two browsers.

You can access AdBlock options from the button near the address bar.

03k AdBlock options-1.png

If you ever want to deactivate one of the installed extensions, go to the “Extensions” tab on the Preferences window and uncheck the “Enable (name of the extension)” box. There’s also the “Uninstall” button there.

The Future Of Safari Extensions

I know that many Firefox and Chrome users will say that Safari’s support for extensions is a little bit too late. And it’s also true that the available Safari extensions at the moment are nothing compared to Firefox. But looking at the success of the iPhone/iPad apps, I think that Apple will also be able to pull off this one nicely. Let’s wait and see.

So, what’s your opinion about Safari extensions?  Looks promising or too little too late? Please let us know in the comments below.

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Create Documents, Spreadsheets and Browse the Web With ZCubes

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 09:30 AM PDT

create documents onlineWhile there are a lot of people out there who love all of the desktop and Internet applications that are available out there, there are also a lot of people that simply don’t want to have download and install a lot of applications on their computer. Maybe they only need very basic ability to create spreadsheets or write word documents, and maybe they don’t want to remember a hundred websites out there.

When it comes to keeping track of your most popular websites, start pages are the right solution. Shankar covered Feedly, which is an excellent RSS feed page, and Tina covered some cool ways that you can build your own browser start page. However, when it comes to having both Internet pages and applications readily available from one multi-functional browser Window, these start pages just don’t cut it.

So, today I’d like to introduce you to a very unique and innovative solution called ZCubes. ZCubes really attempts to be everything that a general computer user may need, but it does so from within your browser. It provides Internet search, spreadsheet and document creation, image editing, games, a calendar and even a project management tool. In many ways it’s a lot like the AirSet online operating system that Karl previously covered – a cloud computing platform that you can access anywhere that you have an Internet connection.

The ZCubes Control Panel

When you first install ZCubes and register for a free account, you’ll have your own “home page” control panel that provides everything you could possibly need right at your fingertips. ZCubes works with Internet Explorer and Firefox only.

create documents online

The name “ZCubes” comes from the fact that this top control panel is surrounded by gray space that you can fill with various “cubes” of information. It’s very much like your own online desktop, where you can browse the net and run various applications at the same time. ZCubes integrates itself very much with the sites that your visiting – it even lets you drag content in and out of the web pages and into the applications that you’re working on. I’ll show you a few of the coolest features, but there’s no way I can cover everything available within ZCubes in just one article.

create documents online

When you type in a web search, the page opens up below the control panel, but you’ll notice that the ZCubes browser (which is essentially a browser within a browser) has it’s own window control features. These features are active within the ZCubes desktop environment. The ZCube Internet browser provides easy-click access to Google and Wikipedia, typical browser controls (back, forward, etc) and then the Window control buttons where you can maximize or minimize the window (again, within the Zcubes environment).

Other Applications Available in ZCubes

When you click on the “Modes” button in the ZCubes control panel, you see that there’s a whole lot more to ZCubes than just browsing the Internet. Either blackboard or whiteboard modes lets you scribble images and text all around the background area of your desktop.

create a presentation online

Most of the basic paint features are available in this tool, including the ability to draw shapes, insert and format text, insert word art and more. The interface is a little bit slow at times when you try to switch between objects, but this could only have to do with how many other Internet apps you have running at the same time.

create a presentation online

The most impressive features of this web-based desktop environment are the embedded applications to be as productive as you like, creating spreadsheets, slideshows, documents, web pages and more. For example, if you click on “New Editor,” you’ll find yourself on a Word Processor ZCube where you can write any text document you like. One problem I notice with this app is that it is not very intuitive at all. Place the mouse in the wrong spot, and the menu disappears. Maximize and then minimize the window, and you’ll be lucky to ever get it back – no ability to manually resize the window by dragging the sides.

create a presentation online

In addition to creating documents, you can also create a new slide as part of a ZCube slideshow. Thankfully, this application seems to work a lot more fluidly than the word processor app. The editing controls stay open, and modifying components of the slide work well and intuitively. To create a whole slideshow, you can click on “New – New Slide Set” from the control system menus.

Within your Zcubes environment, you can also publish new “ZCubes” to the web as web pages, and those pages get published to your existing ZCubes public profile website.

As you’re creating documents and slideshows, or surfing the net, you may want to organize all of your work in the form of various projects. Your “ZCenter” includes a calendar and a project area where you can organize and manage all of your projects. Keep in mind that when you save your creations to your ZCenter account, they exists on your ZCenter account in the form of “Cubes.”

You can get some of these on and off of your ZCubes account, but for the most part then entire ZCubes online experience is meant to start and finish right within the environment itself. In all of the cubes, you have the ability to email your documents, images and more to your friends, or publish them online right from your ZCubes account. The entire system exists as an online desktop, but it’s also an entire community where folks share their ZCube creations – so if you’re into the social networking aspect, that’s available as well.

ZCubes is an innovative idea and the various components make for useful online applications. The usefulness of such an online platform would be most apparent on a library computer or a classroom computer where there’s limited access to desktop applications for making slideshows, editing images or where you would like to provide each user with an individualized browsing experience on the same computer.

Have you ever tried the ZCubes environment? Do you know of any better cloud computing desktop environments like it? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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10 Weblinks To Catch The Football Fever At FIFA World Cup 2010

Posted: 11 Jun 2010 08:31 AM PDT

fifa world cupDid you know that the lowest number of spectators for a match was 300 for the match between Romania & Peru in the first World Cup held at Uruguay? That was 80 years back.

You can be sure that it's a record that's never going to be beaten because we are talking about the most popular game on Earth – football. The last World Cup held in Germany had a global viewership of 26.3 billion.

If you match it with the number of nations participating, the FIFA World Cup 2010 matches the last Olympics. That's counting the qualification process that involved 204 countries in all. The 2010 World Cup, a month long football carnival will have kicked off in South Africa by the time you read this.

Just to gauge its popularity, popular media is going to be filled to the front pages with football World Cup news. If you scan papers, you won't even have to come online to get your daily fix of World Cup news.

If you do decide to switch on, here are ten places to visit to catch everything that happens between the first whistle and the last.


fifa world cup

That's where I will go if I am a total football ignoramus who gets caught in a bar argument. One long page helps you to get familiar with what's what on the World Cup in particular and football in general. I am pretty much in the know on football, but I did learn that Sony would be capturing 25 of the matches in 3D. Wow!


fifa world cup

We all head there with a browser launch. But Google is sure to reserve something special for the football event. Type 'World Cup' into the search bar and you will get the day's schedule fixed for your local time. Google updated its search with Caffeine, so expect better (and fresher) real time results with any search on the football World Cup.

Google is in no way going to be caught left footed at the FIFA World Cup. We had a Doodle for the last Cup. For this one you get a long 'Goooooal!' when you type 'World Cup' into the search. Head down to where the page numbers for the search pages are.

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I am sure there will be others too as the Doodle 4 Google competition is on.

Google Maps

fifa world cup soccer

You can end up going around South Africa like a virtual tourist. All ten stadiums and the nine host cities are covered on Google Earth and Google Maps. You may not have the tickets to the matches, but you can go right down to the ten stadiums, thanks to the 3D imagery on Google Maps and Google Earth.

On Google Earth, turn on the 3D buildings layer.


fifa world cup soccer

Football fever is on at Google. Check out the ways you can add football colors to your photos. All 32 nation colors are covered. Take your pick with Picnik.


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YouTube isn't broadcasting live streams of the FIFA World Cup, but there are some places to go and catch the World Cup fever. Here's a selection. Feel free to add your own favorite YouTube links in the comments -

  • Go Fans is a football sweepstakes announced by VISA who are sponsors of the World Cup. You can participate for free by viewing and uploading great World Cup moments. Winners get a trip to see the next World Cup in Brazil. The competition is open to residents of the United States, Japan, Mexico and Brazil.
  • Nike ads really pump up the adrenalin. Catch the Write the Future video and get football inspired.
  • Waka Waka (This Time for Africa) is the song that will flag off the World Cup. Tune in to Shakira and the South African band Freshlyground. Watch it in full HD glory.
  • Street Soccer Tour is kind of a World Cup sideshow but it’s fun to watch on YouTube. Edgar Davids (a Dutch professional footballer) takes his team across Europe and Africa to battle the best local teams in rounds of street soccer.

ESPN – SoccerNet

fifa club world cup

ESPN is providing umbrella coverage to the 2010 World Cup. The other things on its extensive sports menu are live streaming via its broadband network for live sports programming. You will be able to catch it if your ISP carries ESPN3 in your area. ESPN also has an iPhone app but it's not free. So the SoccerNet website is the place to be for free updates.

fifa club world cup provides a free toolbar for download which delivers soccer news straight to your browser. You get the latest with the help of a news ticker. You have a large forum which already has nearly 3,000 posts. That's all apart from the website's regular fares and live scores.

LiveSoccerTV lists soccer TV schedules available in the US, Canada, and the UK. Web viewers across the world can catch live streaming football matches on the browser. If the live broadcast is available for your region, you can learn the schedule and watch it on LiveSoccerTV. I couldn't yet check out the site in live action as the World Cup is yet to start but it seems like a good free deal.

World Cup Blog

As the About page says – it started off with the World Cup in 2002 when 'three intrepid football fans stayed up until the middle of the night writing about the games they were watching and the player haircuts that horrified and amused them'. So we can expect the same daily dose of offbeat football news this time too.

It's the mouthpiece for everything that's football around the world. Be sure to catch breaking World Cup news here. As the tournament goes on, check out the popular videos and photos sections for some exclusives. Stay updated on how's each team is doing from the standings page. FIFA's official Twitter account is @fifaworldcuptm.

So, where will you be for the next month? Let us know the web places you might visit if the TV goes on the blink. In the meantime, I will leave you with this cool FIFA World Cup 2010 calendar to stay on track for the next month.

Image Credit: Dekuwa, Wikimedia Commons

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