Tuesday, June 15, 2010

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [June 14th]” plus 9 more

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [June 14th]” plus 9 more

Link to MakeUseOf.com

Cool Websites and Tools [June 14th]

Posted: 14 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.

List Your Website Here!


ElectricalWhat – If you have ever found yourself baffled by crazy looking symbols that are supposed to represent something electrical, ElectricalWhat is one site you should bookmark. It is a very useful guide of all standard electrical symbols and what they represent. Read more: ElectricalWhat: Standard Electrical Symbols Guide Online.


LucyPhone – Many of us may have experienced being held up for a ridiculous amount of time whenever we call a customer service number. Sometimes, we may even find ourselves dropping the call when the waiting time becomes too much. LucyPhone is a free web service that acts as a customer telephone switchboard so that you don't have to wait on hold again when calling customer service. Read more: LucyPhone: Avoid Waiting On Hold When Making Customer Service Calls.



Gloe – Finding online content that is relevant to our location is an area that numerous search engines are exploring. But users cannot fully rely on search engine results as they might be biased. HP might have come up with a solution with their latest experiment, Gloe. Read more: Gloe: An Experimental Location Based Search Engine.



Cohuman – Delegating tasks over the web can be an efficient and productive way to get a job done. Cohuman is a web app that lets you track what you are doing as well as assign tasks or collaborate on projects with other people. You can set a target date for a task, exchange comments with your collaborator, and share relevant files. Read more: Cohuman: Web Service For Easily Delegating Tasks With Groups.



TheDealMap – Knowing where to go to get best local deals and special coupons can be quite tricky. Most people simply would not know where to look for them. For others, it might be difficult to keep track of all offers in their area at the same time. The Dealmap simplifies the entire process. Read more: TheDealMap: Maps The Best Local Deals For Any Zip Code.


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.

NEW: Download MakeUseOf iPhone App. FREE!

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

10 Most Downloaded Sports Apps [Movers & Shakers]

Posted: 14 Jun 2010 06:30 PM PDT

It's time once again for our featured Movers and Shakers post. Each week, we take one software category and list the top ten most downloaded free apps. This week we will be covering sports software.  The warm weather is here and a lot of you are venturing outside to partake in sports.

What better way to geek up a physical activity then to use software to help you along. This week we will be looking at the top downloaded, free, sports applications on CNet.

Check them out below. There is something for everyone.

1. Tournament Bracket Builder

1 Using this free application, you can build and print your own tournament brackets. Use these printed charts to aid in your tournament preparation. Easy to use and supports up to 32 separate players or teams. The output is HTML so you can also use it on the web .

2. V1 Home

2 Record your golf swing, tennis swing, martial arts form or any other sports motion with your own camcorder. Then let V1 Home 2 analyze your motion and tell you what needs improvement.

3. Laver and Woods Cricket Scorebook

3 This is a free Excel-based cricket scorebook that does it all. It provides batting and bowling analysis the results can be saved and printed and accommodates all of a cricket player's needs

4. Dart Marker 3 – Cricket Scoreboard

4 This is a very simple and easy to use dart scoring application. It is meant to be readable from across the room and very easy to use. They go on to recommend using it with a wireless mouse and keyboard to add to the ease of use.

5. The Runner’s Log

5 A great addition to any runner’s tool kit. You can track your runs, training schedule, shoe usage and more. You can see your overall patterns on a glance using a calendar view. There are HTML reporting features and such they can be used on your blog or website.
  1. n01 Here is another application that allows you to track your game of darts score.
  2. Cricket Statz 2005 Personal This program lets you create personal cricket statistic reports and graphs.
  3. Schedule Generator Generate sports schedules for lots of groups/leagues. Good for a sports team manager.
  4. F1X Use this application to check out Formula 1 racing statistics on your computer.
  5. Garmin Training Center Download data and analyze it from your Garmin device on your computer.

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Do share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

5 Simple Free Scrapbooking Sites for Beginners

Posted: 14 Jun 2010 04:30 PM PDT

free scrapbooking sitesIn the last five years or so, the art of digital scrapbooking has exploded, in part because of imagining software like Photoshop, Corel Paint Shop, and the plethora of digital resources, workshops, magazines, web sites, and graphic design techniques that can help anyone put together some eye pleasing visual memories and artifacts.

Scrapbooking is an art form of creating a paper-based collage centered around a memorable photo or set of photos. Traditionally, collages are created using an assortment of papers, markers, frames, rub-on letters, stickers, and other embellishment materials. But now in the age of digital software, scrapbooking can be more accessible for those who don't want to spend a lot of money on paper resources.

If you're looking to boost your skills as a photographer or graphic designer, digital scrapbooking is useful hobby for achieving these goals. The following is a sampling of free scrapbooking sites that provide tutorials and free downloads for those wanting to get started with digital scrapbooking.

Free Digital Scrapbooking.com

Free Digital Scrapbooking.com provides a free monthly Scraplifter's challenge based on a free Photoshop-based template. Of course, there are links to purchase additional file downloads, such as fonts, brushes, custom shapes, etc.

free scrapbooking sites

But before you spend money on extra resources, download and open the template (link is on the tutorial page) in any version of Photoshop and see what you can come with on your own. The neat thing about these kind of templates is that you're not just adding photos to the layout, but you are customizing them based on your own creative ideas. The template is a just a basis to get started.

free scrapbooking sites


This site provides an awesome list of resources and tutorials on using digital scrapbooking, particularly for Photoshop Elements and or any version of Photoshop CS.

free scrapbooking layouts

Tutorials include an introduction to Photoshop layers, using fonts and font styles, layer masking, the color picker tool, creating a torn edge effect, and much, much more. There are also similar tutorials for using Corel Paint Shop Pro. Other digital freebies on the free scrapbooking site can be downloaded here.

Computer Scrapbook.com

When you're ready to get deeper into digital scrapbooking, Computer Scrapbook.com offers several dozen absolutely free starter kits. You sign up on the site, and the kits will be delivered from its supply page. The kits include assorted backgrounds, shapes, and other elements.

free scrapbooking layouts

Scrapbook Photo Ideas

Oftentimes scapbooking revolves around a series of related layouts based on a theme, e.g. a vacation, the birth of a child, a wedding or wedding anniversary. Sometimes you might work with existing paper and digital photos you already have in your collection, while other times you shoot photos with a scrapbooking theme in mind. Kodak.com has full section for free scrapbooking layouts to get you started.

free scrapbooking layouts


If you totally can't be bothered with creating scrapbook layouts and theme packages, Smilebox.com offers web-based application with hundreds of themes (e.g. holidays, sympathy cards, birthdays, and the like) in which you can customize, and  email or blog it for free. Last year, MUO reviewed a similar free site, Scropblog, that you should also check out.

If you're a scrapbooker, let us know what free scrapbooking sites you use.

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter. Includes cool extras.

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

10 Cool Free Computer Fonts That Will Make You Stand Out

Posted: 14 Jun 2010 02:30 PM PDT

free computer fontsCatch the 'Font Conference' video that's playing at the foot of the 5 Excellent Sources To Download Free Text Fonts. Times New Roman has his hands full while the rest of the font pack squabbles over artsy fonts like Webdings. 'Superhero' Comic Sans arrives in the nick of time to save the day.

Aren't we all a bit like that when we pick and choose fonts for our computer? If you aren't a designer, I can't see you straying far from the conservative Arial's, Times new Roman's, or a Calibri maybe. Comic Sans is kept for the cutesy emails we tend to write once in a while.

Let's blame it on the unwritten laws of font usage and those of readability. The lane of common typefaces is narrow indeed. Most of us dare not take the font road that is less travelled.

But what if you really wanted to stand out with your computer fonts; be adventurous, just like painting graffiti on a blank wall? Free computer fonts are easily available. Free fonts that will make you stand out are littered among them thanks to fearless typographic designers.

Mark's article at the above link is a great place to start. Let's pick out a few more free computer fonts and their sources. Stand out in style.

1001 Free Fonts

free computer fonts

One of the fonts that caught my eye on 1001 Free Fonts is called Chopin Script. It's a True Type Font that is in the style of Calligraphic fonts. The site lists thousands of fonts for Windows and Macintosh. Most of them are freeware, and some shareware.


free computer fonts

How about a trip to hell and back? Well, that's the name of the font pictured above. Ace Free Fonts groups 20309 true type fonts for Windows and Mac. The fonts are free to download. You can sift through the fonts by category, alphabetically, or use the tags. For your chosen font, you can also checkout the full character map.


Sometimes you might feel like writing an email in a typical handwritten style. Even though you know that the recipient may not have that font installed on his computer. I know I do, and that's why I downloaded [ank], a handwriting script font. It is just one of the cool computer fonts that the site hosts. What makes this site standout are the foreign script fonts that are available for download from typeface designers around the world.

The font collection is marked out with licenses (GNU/GPL, freeware, free for personal use, donationware, shareware or demo).


computer fonts

The seven year old typographic website has a small but selective collection. Small equates to 6846 fonts. Selective, corresponds to fonts that are themed on movies, music, and games. If you like any typeface used on a show's credit, navigate to the Themed Free Fonts section from the dropdown to check it out. How about Star Wars? Though, I went for X-Files.

The collection is selective and it doesn't seem to be getting updated with new fonts.

Famous Fonts

computer fonts

If you are still searching for themed fonts, then you could score a hit at Famous Fonts. 300 free computer fonts to choose from; all specifically themed on movies, shows, magazines, automobiles, logos etc. The GodFather anyone?


computer fonts

Carnivalee Freakshow is an abstract font that I downloaded from the site. It looks like one of those retro typefaces from an old sepia toned poster. FontSpace has 13,500+ free fonts for you to choose from. The fonts are neatly arranged in categories from the basic to more abstract styles like art deco you can download, unzip and use on your Windows, Mac, or Linux systems. You can test it out on the site itself with your custom text before a download.

Urban Fonts

fonts for computer

Urban Fonts is a neat well designed site with 8000 free font files and dingbats. You can browse through the free fonts quite easily. The custom text box lets you see your words getting rendered by all the typefaces listed on a page. Fonts are available for both Windows and Mac. As this site has a large collection of free dingbats, I browsed through that for jazzing up my PowerPoint presentations. The one above is called Retrobats.

Acid Fonts

fonts for computer

If you are feeling like going psychedelic with color and grunge for a change…try out the Anthology font from Acid Fonts. The site has free fonts for Mac and Windows download arranged neatly in a few categories.

Abstract Fonts

fonts for computer

I had once written a post on using drop caps to enhance your text in Microsoft Word. One of the free computer font categories you can visit here relates to that. You can go retro with DecoCaps or stay on the safe side with Media Gothic.

A neat feature of the site is the dropdown that opens up with all font information when you click on a specific typeface. You can also get to similar fonts from here, do custom previews, see the character map, and check the license before your download the font.

exljbris Font Foundry

exljbris is Jos Buivenga’s collection of free fonts. And looking at the selections, you can only admire the handiwork of this type designer from Netherlands. Museo and Calluna are two of his most known typefaces from his font foundry. Some of the styles among his creations are free. For example, the regular Calluna which is a free download.

With fonts, the great thing is that there's no poverty of choice. You can literally send your browser on a random chase and come up with loads of free fonts. The trick is in knowing which font to use. Design work calls for a tasteful eye…wording a document stresses on bulletproof fonts for readability across different computers.

I will leave that choice to you. Whatever your choice, you know you can go wild with your imagination and stand out from the crowd with cool free computer fonts.

Which is your favorite font?

Image credit: stallio

Got Questions? Ask Them Now FREE on MakeUseOf Answers!

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

How to Set Up an Affiliate Program on a New Blog or Website

Posted: 14 Jun 2010 01:30 PM PDT

how to set up affiliate programPay-per-click advertising through services like Google Adsense can make your blog profitable, but it usually isn’t the most efficient way to bring in money from a blog. The problem with pay-per-click is that the payout for each click is simply too low. The advertisement you show may be for a product which cost hundreds or thousands to purchase, but you’ll often end up receiving less than a dollar for one click.

Setting up an affiliate program can provide a large boost in revenue. Affiliate programs pay when someone you referred actually make a purchase, and you receive a set amount or a percentage as compensation. This can add up to a large amount of income. ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse, for example, lists affiliate income as his number two income source, just slightly behind Adsense.

At first glance, setting up an affiliate program can be difficult. However, it really isn’t as hard as it seems, and the rewards can be great. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started.

Step 1 – Find an Affiliate

Affiliate programs are very profitable, but there are many smaller blogs which don’t use them. Why? Because affiliate programs are a bit harder to find and use than pay-per-click ads. Adsense is incredibly visible and simple to use – all you have to do is copy-and-paste some code into your website. To reap affiliate income, however, you have to find an affiliate, and there is no single, dominate go-to source.

There are several popular websites which make it easy to find affiliates. These match-making websites allow bloggers to sign up and search a database of businesses looking for blogs to become affiliates. The range of products and services offered through affiliate programs is broad. This is a good thing, because it makes it easy to find someone whose product fits your blog’s theme. Becoming an affiliate for someone who is selling fitness advice doesn’t make much sense if your blog is about airplanes.

how to set up affiliate program

Some of the best websites for finding an affiliate program include:

  • Amazon Associates – Amazon.com offers an easy, flexible affiliate program. You can link to any of their products and earn a percentage (usually 4 to 6%) of each item sold.
  • Affiliate Scout – This huge database lists hundreds of affiliate programs which you can sign up with at any time. You’ll probably find a suitable affiliate program here no matter your blog’s topic.
  • Commission Junction – Commission Junction manages affiliate programs for some of the largest companies online today. This includes websites like Buy.com and Newegg.

Step 2 – Set Up the Affiliate Links

Affiliate programs work on a very simple principle. You place links and/or information about a product or service on your blog or website. In return, you receive a commission whenever a person purchases a product or service by clicking through your links.

While the manner in which you earn income is different – you’re paid on commission rather than per click – making money from an affiliate program is also ultimately subject to the almighty click. If no one clicks on your affiliate links there is a 0% chance than anyone will buy the product or service you’re advertising through them. It is up to you, then, to set up the affiliate links and make them attractive.

how to set up affiliate program

This can be done simply by placing links on your website just like you would a normal pay-per-click ad. Chances are that if you have high traffic someone will, eventually click and buy. To be truly effective, however, you need to do a little advertising. The most effective way to do this is through recommendations.

For example, let’s say that you know about computers. You also know that a lot of people are searching for information on how to repair computers. In order to set up your affiliate links, you might write about the top three PC repair books currently available and then link to PC repair e-books with affiliate programs. This is just one example – any sort of recommendation will greatly increase the chances that someone will actually purchase through the affiliate program you are a part of. There are some bloggers who set up entire blogs focused on recommending a single product. While this appears cheesy, it can bring in a lot of money if you are proficient at writing advertising copy and you know how to do keyword research.

Step 3 – Enjoying and Growing the Rewards

Most affiliate programs pay on a monthly schedule. Large programs, like the one through Amazon.com, will be able to make direct deposits to your bank account or send you a check. Small programs, like those which are operated by a single person selling an e-book, will usually only pay through Paypal. Be sure to confirm that the affiliate program you are entering can pay to your location, as many smaller affiliate programs have difficulty paying affiliates in foreign countries.

set up affiliate program

The sky is the limit with affiliate programs. Once you’ve figured out how to write a convincing recommendation which brings in customers to the affiliate program you can repeat the formula for numerous products on numerous blogs and websites. Those who bring in major money off affiliate marketing usually do so with a legion of blogs dedicated to different topics.

With that said, affiliate marketing isn’t for everyone. Simply signing up as an affiliate with a few affiliate programs will be enough for many bloggers, and it will also be enough to boost your income.

Do you have any affiliate directories to suggest? How about a particular rewarding affiliate program? Share them in the comments.

Hey Facebookers, make sure to check out MakeUseOf fan page on Facebook. Over 20,000 fans already!

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Good Noows – The Best Alternative to Google Reader

Posted: 14 Jun 2010 12:30 PM PDT

google reader alternativeGoogle Reader might have the monopoly on RSS readers, but for those of you who don’t want to hand your entire internet life over to Google, we have some good news for you (pun entirely intended). Good Noows is the best alternative to Google Reader. The sleek online RSS reader offers a lot of the features you can find in Google Reader, and adds a few extra interesting gems that we haven’t seen elsewhere.

Good Noows is a Google Reader alternative that gives you more control over the layout, with enough choices that everyone is bound to find something that appeals to them.

It enables the sharing of links and stories easily on major social media sites, and it’s all presented in a sleek and streamlined manner. With the overwhelming amount of information that is thrown at us online everyday, from every possible source, Good Noows give its users a pleasant way to keep up with the latest stories from their favourite websites.

You cannot sign up for an account with Good Noows itself, but rather can use Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo or LinkedIn to access the site. Once you’ve signed in, it only takes a few minutes before you have your personalised RSS reader set up, delivering the content that matters to you.

google reader alternative

The first step in setting Good Noows up is choosing the sources of your information. In each category, from Headlines, to Science and Technology, to Satire, you can choose from the suggested major news sources, mainly from the US, UK and Germany. A nice touch you’ll find using Good Noows is that it takes into account your location, so for example, visiting Good Noows in Egypt, one of the news sources included on the list was a major weekly English language newspaper published in Cairo.

google reader alternative

You can also choose to add custom sources, simply by selecting the category you want that source to appear in, click on ‘Add custom source’ and enter the URL of the website.

alternative to google reader

Once you have done that, the website you have entered will appear in the list, and will be checked.

alternative to google reader

It should be mentioned however that the first time you log in to Good Noows, a lot of news sources have already been selected by default, so if there are certain sources you don’t want to receive news from, be sure to check each category and uncheck the websites you don’t want to follow.

Once you’ve selected your sources, the next step is to choose from 9 different visual styles. If you prefer a magazine styled theme, go with Pulitzer Story.

alternative to google reader

If you prefer large headlines and nothing else, go with Gutenberg Letters.

google reader clone

If you want to see the headline, along with either the first line from each story or a one line summary, go with Web Stream.

google reader clone

The 9 available styles vary in the amount of information that can be seen from each story, the font and the layout.

After your initial setup is done, you can easily go back and add or remove sources, and change the visual style. Another nice touch is that you can choose a different layout for each category – but this can only be done after the initial set up. You can further customise the appearance by increasing or decreasing the font size to suit your preferences.

The menu at the top of the page also features a button that allows you to refresh your news sources, to change the visual style, and to automatically translate the entire page into a variety of languages including Arabic, Hebrew, French, Italian and much much more.

google reader clone

Once you click on any given story, it will redirect to the original story on its website, which will of course appear in its original language.

Once you have visited the link where the story was originally published, the news item will be greyed out on Good Noows.

Another feature is the ability to search or filter all news stories in any given category for a specific search term. You can save your filters as ‘labels’, adding a button to the top of the page for quick access to your favourite topics, or the topic of the moment.

Stories can be quickly shared directly from Good Noows using Twitter, Facebook, Buzz, Yahoo or via Email.

Another interesting feature that you don’t often see is the ability to quickly share links using chat.

Good Noows’ native chat application is powered by Meebo, and allows you to access Facebook chat, Google Talk, My Space IM, AIM and Meebo itself. To share a link using chat, click on the share button, choose the chat window, and select the contact you would like to share the link with from you contact list. Clicking on their name will result in the link being sent to them in a chat window.

Have you used Good Noows to keep up with your favourite websites? Let us know what you think of this Google Reader alternative in the comments.

Hey Facebookers, make sure to check out MakeUseOf fan page on Facebook. Over 20,000 fans already!

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Top 5 Sites to Rent Laptop Computers

Posted: 14 Jun 2010 11:30 AM PDT

rent lap top computersI recently wrote an article on The Top 10 Laptops To Buy Now: A Quick Review, but what if you’re not ready to buy a laptop? Some of you may need to temporarily use a laptop but are not yet ready to purchase one. In this case, did you know it is possible to rent lap top computers?

There are a lot of reasons someone may want to rent a laptop. You can rent them for short term projects, long term ones, business, or you can rent to own and buy it one day. Out of the many companies online which offer laptop rentals, there are a few that have a nice selection and will ship to most any city. They offer all the top brands and are generally very flexible.

In this article, I am going to show you the top sites to rent your laptops from.


rent lap top computers

First up on our list is Rent-A-Center. Aside from offering furniture, appliances, and other electronics, they also have a nice selection to rent lap top computers. They claim on their site that they will match any competitor’s price and delivery/setup has no extra charge. Rent-A-Center’s name brand laptops will keep you productive and entertained when you’re on the go.


rent lap top computers

Rentacomputer offers tons of different types of laptops for rental. You can select the processor, operating system, and even rent laptops based on battery life. They offer all the major brands, including Apple, Dell, HP, IBM, and Sony, and they deliver to over 1,000 cities.

Rent Our Laptops

rent a laptop

Rent Our Laptops has your business needs in mind as they claim to have a large selection of laptops for training classes, traveling executives, sales presentations, trade shows, conventions, and conferences. Rentals are delivered and picked up in 1,000 cities worldwide and software can be pre-loaded and custom configured on up to 1,000 notebooks.


rent a laptop

Rentex offers laptop rentals at the “guaranteed lowest rates available”. Laptops are shipped overnight and nationwide, and they offer name brands like IBM, Apple, Toshiba, Dell, Lenovo, and HP. Their warehouse contains over 4,700 laptops and you can rent as many at a time as you wish.

Smart Source

rent a laptop

Smart Source Computer and Audio Visual Rentals will work with you to get the laptop that suits your needs. They have clients who rent laptops for disaster recovery, trade shows and conventions, employee training, and other business uses. They configure laptops to meet your needs and can get it delivered to you the same business day or the day after.

You can rent lap top computers for the whole office for a week or two before buying them to make sure they are going to fit your needs. They also allow you to mix and match brands so you can compare performance.


Renting a laptop can have its advantages. If you are simply looking to fill a business need or something has come up on short notice, you can rent a computer to get the job done. If you’re simply looking to buy a laptop and you want to test it out first, a laptop rental can help you as well.

What do you think of the sites provided? Will you be renting a laptop in the near future? I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and concerns in the comment section below.

Image Credit: wilton

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

4 Other Virtual Pet Sites for Your Kids Like Neopets

Posted: 14 Jun 2010 10:30 AM PDT

virtual pet sites like neopetsTo anyone who has witnessed the Neopets phenomenon, which launched in 1999 and resulted in a line of toys and cards, distributed by Viacom to several real stores across the country; it is no surprise to hear that kids have an insatiable appetite for virtual pets.

It doesn’t seem to matter that the cute little creatures only exist in “pixieland”, they still want to feed them, buy them, clothes and play with them. So why not make the little ones happy by introducing them to other virtual pet sites like Neopets? It might be all you need to get a few moments of peace and quiet during the summer vacation.


virtual pet sites like neopets

Marapets has been designed to work with several age groups. Its target audience goes from the very young to the preteen groups. If your kid has played Neopets, a lot about Marapets will seem very familiar.

The selection of pets isn't quite as attractive as Neopets' but there is still enough variety to keep most kids happy. Though the site is free, like several other sites nowadays, it has upgrade options, all of which require real money. Some of the most desired ones involve upgrading your pets to special edition pets, special items and costumes.

One major difference between Marapets and Neopets, is that they cater to a pop-culture-savvy audience, with dress up games that give you options to dress your doll like pop culture icons such as Lady Gaga, Usher, Pink and Zac Efron.


virtual pet sites like neopets

Subeta targets an older audience, since you must be at least 13 years old to create a character. Though many of the pet features are very similar to Neopets, there is certainly an edgier style to the site, which feels less like a site for little kids and more like a site for pre-teens. To appeal to that age group, they made a few choices to differentiate themselves from the sites for younger kids. Some of those choices had mixed results.

For example, they named the groups of similar interests "Cults" and created journals that users can update with their thoughts, but that never seem to be updated with more than a few words. The design of the features is certainly well done, and the imagery of a lot of the features is interesting and original, even if the actual features on the virtual pet site are still so much like Neopets. Subeta is a good option for those who still want to play with virtual pets, but who want to feel like they are on a site with people from their same age group.


virtual pet sites

Build-A-Bear-Ville is certainly built with a younger audience in mind, starting from its character creation which has a character guiding you all along the way. One of the first steps on the creation asks you for "your parents email address" so they can let them know you are a member of Build-A-Bear-Ville.

It is refreshing that they have golden rules you must accept stating that you must be kind and never give out personal information. The site itself is not quite as interactive as Neopets, and with long loading times between activities. Some of the games are also more repetitive than you would find in other sites, but it seems appropriate and welcoming to a very young audience. Note that some of the features are only available for those who have purchased a bear at Build-A-Bear-Ville stores.


virtual pet sites

Powerpets is one of the most obviously Neopets-inspired sites with a lot about it looking like a direct copy of Neopets. The good news is that if you like Neopets, you are bound to like Powerpets too. They have added a few features that make this site an interesting alternative to Neopets though, one being the ability to add pictures of your real pets to the "Pet Zone" part of the site. Some of the stock market and bank loan aspects of the site can potentially teach kids some real money skills.

So pick one of the sites above and explore them with your kids. It's a great way to spend some time together, even when on the computer, and to introduce them to sites they can share with their friends. Know of other virtual pet sites like Neopets? What sites are your kids into? Tell us about them.

Hey Facebookers, make sure to check out MakeUseOf fan page on Facebook. Over 20,000 fans already!

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

5 Extensive JavaScript Code Library Options For Developers

Posted: 14 Jun 2010 09:30 AM PDT

javascript code libraryYesterday, I wrote about what JavaScript is and how it works. Building on the immense popularity of JavaScript these days on the web, a number of libraries have come up to the forefront.

So what exactly is a library and why would you want to use one for JavaScript when you can do just about anything without including another file in your code? Glad you asked. Let’s try and answer that, and also have a look at some of the top JavaScript code library options available out there.


When talking in terms of programming and computers, libraries generally refer to collection of re-usable code that aids you in developing your code for a particular job. JavaScript libraries in particular, provide you with a host of useful utility functions that make development a lot easier. In addition, a JavaScript code library takes care of the cross-browser issues allowing you to focus on your application’s logic rather than resolving discrepancies amongst the various browsers. Here is a quick rundown of 5 most popular JavaScript Libraries:


javascript code library

Arguably the most popular JavaScript code library out there. jQuery is called the “write less, do more” JavaScript library. One of the reasons for this is the concise syntax and one-liners that allow you to perform complex tasks, that would normally require a fair amount of code.


This is a typical jQuery one-liner that looks for a DOM element with id "toc" and then traverses its children for any "li" elements, adds a class highlight to them and unhides them while animating them slowly. Try doing that in a single line of crude JavaScript!

Greatest strength of jQuery is DOM traversal and manipulation. These have been made so easy with jQuery that one often tends to slack off when writing markup, thinking how easy it is to manipulate it using jQuery. In addition, jQuery also has excellent list of plugins and jQuery UI which is great for extending the capabilities of jQuery and designing awesome user interfaces.

Moo Tools

javascript code library

Moo Tools offers similar capabilities as well. Both jQuery and Moo Tools offers similar capabilities and differ slightly in syntax. Moo Tools is slightly more inclined towards writing Object Oriented JavaScript. While nothing stops you from doing so with jQuery, Moo Tools actually facilitates writing re-usable Object Oriented Code. jQuery is focused more towards getting things done easily while, Moo Tools is for the intermediate to advanced JavaScript developer who wants to writes components to use them later.

Moo Tools has a plugin directory of its own, it may not be as rich as jQuery’s plugin directory but it is certainly one you can turn to when in need. The documentation is good and there are books that focus on Moo Tools so you can get started and be up to speed easily.

Dojo Toolkit

javascript libraries

As the name says, it is a toolkit. As such it offers a powerful API that lets you perform complex tasks like DOM manipulation, traversal and animation easily via CSS selectors as do most other JavaScript frameworks and libraries. Where Dojo excels is the performance front. Dojo along with jQuery are the two best libraries in terms of execution speeds (although at the end comparing JS frameworks in terms of speed is sometimes like comparing apples to oranges).

Dojo Toolkit also offers rich UI widgets that you can use to enhance the user interface of your application. Dojo supports all the popular browsers and the documentation is good along with a number of books that you can buy to learn the ins and outs of Dojo Toolkit.

Ext JS

If it is the user interface you are focusing on, when developing your web app, Ext JS is perhaps one of the best solutions out there. Ext JS provides a comprehensive set of widgets which give your web app a desktop application like look and feel. The UI widgets are rich in functionality as well, capable of fetching data via a variety of methods and displaying them exactly like you want.

There are tabs panels, trees, accordions, grids and a whole lot more. These can be combined with one another by means of layouts (a la Java Swings) to design a complex layout that can put desktop applications to shame. You can look at some of the demo apps over at Ext JS site to see what the javascript code library is capable of. Recently they have also released the Ext Designer, which allows you to create UI’s using simple drag-and-drop operations and then gives you the code for UI.


javascript libraries

YUI or the Yahoo! User Interface library is the same library that powers the Yahoo! homepage. YUI is a robust, feature rich JavaScript Library developed by engineers at Yahoo and now includes code from contributors from around the world.

The library features number of UI widgets, utilities to take care of animation, drag and drop, AJAX calls and the likes. Contrary to other popular libraries, YUI actually lets you choose just the features you want to use, which keeps your application lightweight. You can find a lot of examples and tutorials, along with excellent documentation to help you along.

There a host of other JavaScript libraries that didn’t find a mention above. Prototype, Scriptaculous, Mochikit, Qooxdoo, Open Rico to mention a few. All the libraries bring something extra to the table. There has never been nor there will ever be a clear winner. The one you choose is the one you are most comfortable with and the one that suits the needs of what you are trying to build.

Got Questions? Ask Them Now for FREE on MakeUseOf Answers!

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Convert Any PDF to Word Documents Effortlessly [MakeUseOf Giveaway]

Posted: 14 Jun 2010 08:30 AM PDT

I think everybody will agree that Adobe’s PDF format is popular for document sharing because it offers constant appearance of a document regardless of the operating system or device. Converting any documents to PDF is also a snap. All you have to do is “print” the document as PDF. Mac users don’t even have to use any additional application to do this because the feature is built into Mac OS X.

But PDF has its own downside. Even though you can annotate PDF documents, you can’t edit it. To do that, even Mac users will need the help of other applications. Something like PDF to Word for Mac from AnyBizSoft.

And if you need the ability to convert PDF to Word documents, today might be your lucky day. This week, we're giving away 30 copies of PDF to Word Converter for Windows and another 30 for Mac worth $2100 in total!

One-click converting

I wish I could talk a little longer about the conversion process but I can’t. All you need to do to convert PDF documents to editable Word documents is to drag and drop the documents to the application window and click the “Convert” button.

And after few seconds, the process is finished. It can’t get any easier than that.

PDF to Word.jpg

However, there are few things that you can customize if you want to. The menu is available under “File – Output Settings“.

You can decide where to save the output document(s).

You can also choose the format of the output document(s) between “.doc” and “.rtf“.

And what about the output result? It’s pretty sweet. I don’t think that you can even tell the difference if it wasn’t pointed out. Click on the image to view a larger version.

Download the Windows or Mac version and give it a try. If you win a copy of the application from this giveaway, you are eligible for free upgrades and online technical support for life! That’s one heck of an offer!

AnyBizSoft PDF to Word Converter 3.0.0 for Windows even supports table conversion and does not need Microsoft Office Word installed so you’re pretty much covered.

How do I win a copy?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

Join our Facebook page by clicking the Like button or you can follow us on Twitter, if you prefer. If you’re already following us, you may skip this step.

If you can’t see the fanbox, click on this link.

Here’s our new giveaway form. Please fill it in accurately. Be sure to enter your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. Click here if you can’t view the form.

You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to share the post. There are 2 options to choose from or you can do both!

Share it on Facebook

Or on Twitter

And that’s it! You’re done!

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, 18th June at 2100hrs PST. The winners will be selected at random and announced via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

Need a converter for other document types besides Word? AnyBizSoft has officially released three new software for Mac — AnyBizSoft 6-in-1 PDF Converter for Mac, PDF to Excel for Mac and PDF to PowerPoint for Mac. Check it out. Interested in other products? MakeUseOf readers get a series of special discounts on this page, including AnyBizSoft PDF Converter for Windows and Mac version, PDF to EPUB Converter and PDF to PowerPoint Converter.

MakeUseOf would like to thank Ricky from AnyBizSoft for his generosity while participating in this giveaway. Interesting in sponsoring? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via email.

Hey Facebookers, make sure to check out MakeUseOf fan page on Facebook. Over 20,000 fans already!

Similar MakeUseOf Articles

No comments:

Post a Comment