Wednesday, June 16, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [June 15th]” plus 10 more “Cool Websites and Tools [June 15th]” plus 10 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [June 15th]

Posted: 15 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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RotatePDF – Most free PDF readers don't give you an option to rotate a PDF document, a feature that is much needed when dealing with images or content that is sideways or upside down. RotatePDF is a simple web-based solution to this problem. Simply upload any PDF document, rotate it and download the rotated version. Read more: RotatePDF: Easily Rotate PDF Documents Online.


SocialPageEvaluator – After traditional and digital media, brands are now fighting to dominate the social media space by creating Facebook pages and Twitter profiles. But how much exactly is a brand's Facebook page worth? SocialPageEvaluator is a facebook page value calculator which can tell you that. Read more: SocialPageEvaluator: Facebook Page Value Calculator.



ForagingGuide – With the recent growing interest in eating wild varieties of mushrooms, one has to have a good knowledge of what kind of mushrooms are edible and how to tell one mushroom from another. ForagingGuide does exactly that! It is a comprehensive reference for anything related to mushrooms. Read more: ForagingGuide: A Guide To Identifying Edible Wild Mushrooms.



BookWhack – Are you looking for a great new book to read? Don't risk wasting your money by picking out a random book from the bookstore. BookWhack is a website that indexes book titles with description and reviews from Amazon and GoodReads. You can find new books that could suit you based on recommendations from other users. Read more: BookWhack: Get Recommendations On What To Read Next.



MoonZoo – Are you curious about outer space? Space is filled with everything. Learning about it can be a little overwhelming for the average person. But NASA is taking steps to share their knowledge through a "baby steps" approach. Their first baby step is Moon Zoo. Read more: MoonZoo: Explore The Moon Online.


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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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6 Ways To Sync Your iPod To Computer Without iTunes

Posted: 15 Jun 2010 06:31 PM PDT

sync ipod to computerThere has always been one universal constant for purchasers of an iPod – that they would be using Apple’s iTunes to sync it. Apple’s iTunes has been downloaded millions of times and is adored by many, but what if you’re looking for an alternative?

Last year, we covered a similar topic entitled 6 Ways To Sync Music To Your iPhone Without iTunes. The article was very popular and it covered 6 great applications. There has since been many capable alternatives to iTunes, each program having its own pros and cons.

In this article, I am going to cover some of the best free alternatives to using iTunes to sync iPod to computer without iTunes.

[Note]: Depending on which model of iPod you own, you may want to still keep iTunes around for firmware updates, application downloads, and other advanced features that one or more of these programs may not be capable of.

Floola (Cross Platform)

sync ipod to computer without itunes

Floola is a freeware application that will effectively manage your iPod’s music, videos, podcasts, and photos. It is a standalone application that can be run directly from your iPod and needs no installation under Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux. The current version supports every type of iPod except for the iPhone/iTouch.

Floola supports almost all of the features offered by iPods. It can convert incompatible audio and video files, add YouTube videos to your device, and sync Google Calendars. With Floola you can copy almost any file to your iPod. It is also very easy to uninstall, which makes it worth giving a try.

Songbird (Windows & Mac)

sync ipod to computer without itunes

Songbird is a Mac and PC compatible application that handles all of your digital media management needs. It is an open source media manager that will sync your music, video, and photos to and from iTunes with ease.

Songbird allows you to set up watch folders to keep Songbird in sync as your media changes over time. It also supports hundreds of add-ons that can add features, integrate services, and customize the application.  We have covered Songbird a lot in the past.   Just click here to see the search results.

Amarok (Cross Platform)

sync ipod to computer no itunes

Amarok is a powerful music player that is supported by Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. It has an automated playlist generator, a similar artists and upcoming events applet, and support for the database. Amarok is integrated with a lot of web services and features support for all iPods.

EphPod (Windows)

sync ipod to computer

EphPod is a full-featured Windows application that connects with Apple’s iPod. It supports standard Winamp playlists and will synchronize an entire music collection with one click. It imports Microsoft Outlook contacts and can download the latest news, weather, e-books, and movie listings to an iPod.

On the download page it is noted that EphPod may not work properly with new iPods, but it is worth investigating.

YamiPod (Cross Platform)

sync ipod to computer

YamiPod is yet another cross platform iPod manager that is supported on Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux. Like Floola, it is a standalone application which requires no installation. Your iPod is automatically recognized and synced with your computer. It supports multiple iPods and can copy/sync your music, playlists, and song lists.

Banshee (Linux)

sync ipod to computer

Banshee is packaged for many Linux distributions and is even the default media player for several. According to the site, it will soon be available for Windows and Mac OS X as well.

Banshee allows you to sync your music and videos to your iPod, Android, and other devices. It supports audio, video, podcasts, album art, playlists, and more.


As I mentioned previously, we wrote a similar article last year for syncing music to the iPhone. Although I did not cover any of those applications in this article, I strongly suggest you explore those options as well because they are still relevant and continue to be viable alternatives to iTunes.

What did you think of the programs provided? Will you be ditching iTunes for one of these installations? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.

Image Credit: estyzesty

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Free Morse Code Software To Send & Receive Coded Radio Messages With Your Computer

Posted: 15 Jun 2010 04:31 PM PDT

free morse code softwareThe history of Morse Code is also the history of communication. In 1836, Samuel Morse invented the telegraph system, which could use electricity to transmit information over wires through a code system not very much unlike the binary code system of today.

While the process of understanding and decoding binary code is quite a bit different than Morse Code, the concept of transmitting information in a series of blips and beeps is almost identical to the “on” and “off” bits of computer binary code.

For this reason, the telegraph completely transformed the world of over-the-wire communication, and when radio communication was invented, and particularly during the era of World War II, communicating by transmitting sound in Morse Code was an obvious progression of the technology. The use of Morse Code was so prevalent that guys serving in the military eventually learned to decode Morse by listening to the sound, without the need to reference any decoding codes at all.

Obviously, the world has moved on since then, and we now have email, voicemail, instant messaging systems and cellphones. There seems to be little use in today’s world for the archaic technology represented by Morse Code. However, considering few people today can understand audible Morse Code, and few Internet monitoring or spying apps are set up to intercept sound, Morse Code represents one of the safest methods (short of using encryption) to transmit information to someone. Also – it’s just a really novel thing to play with.

Transmitting & Receiving A Morse Code Message

If you consider the possibilities that Morse Code presents, and if you’re the kind of person that likes novel applications like self-destructing secret messages, then you’ll quickly realize how cool this could be. Here at MUO, we’ve covered a number of ways to send hidden messages, such as Tina’s article on how to encrypt messages but what if you could record an audio file containing an embedded Morse Code message?

If you wanted to further “hide” the message, you could even embed the Morse Code audio as a single track in a multi-track sound file. So long as the recipient knows which track to pull out, and so long as they know the frequency setting of your code (see below), then they can decode the hidden message.

Sounds funky and complicated right? Well it’s not. In this article I’m going to show you how you can use two pieces of software. One is a free Morse Code Generator offered by Robert Ecker. The receiving application that will capture and decode the audio is called CwGet.

First, let’s set up and record a MIDI file containing your Morse Code audio.

free morse code software

Robert Ecker’s online Morse Code generator lets you type in any text message, and it outputs everything shown above – the dots and dashes, the sounds verbally written in text, a Play button where you can hear the Morse Code, and of course a button to save the audio to file.

Before you type your text, adjust the parameters at the bottom of the page to make the sounds stretch out a little longer so that it’s easier for the receiving software to analyze and decode the Morse.

free morse code software

The only things I changed were the dot and dash settings, just about doubling them. For my tests, I simply left this window open, and then analyzed the sound using the receiver software reading the sound directly from my laptop microphone. However, if you save the audio file, you will send the file via email (or embed the track into another audio “cover” file) and email it. The person receiving your audio will play the file out loud while running the receiver software.

So let’s take a look at how you can receive and analyze the Morse Code message. As a side note – the message I typed above and converted to Morse Code was: “This is so cool”.

Using CwGet To Decode Morse Code Audio

CwGet is pretty impressive. It can accept any audio from the PC microphone, and it will convert it into text using Morse Code. If you leave the software running in a loud room, it’ll spit out a lot of garbage, so it’s important to configure the software to only decode the sound level of your Morse Code audio, and ignore the random noise in the room.

morse code

When you first run the software, it’ll look similar to this except that you’ll see two red lines bouncing along the bottom of the sound wave in the bottom panel. This is the software constantly analyzing sound spikes to determine which peaks to use as the Morse Code source. It will work like this, but not well. Instead, you want to set the peak level manually.

First, go into Setup and click the box to “enable manual auto-threshold limit.”

morse code

Now, play your Morse Code audio file, and you can click within the lower pane to set where the threshold limit should be where the software attempts to decode the Morse Code.

morse code

Try to click at the level that is right at the center of the peak and valley of each “beep” of your morse code. Here, I’ve clicked to set the lower red line (manual threshold) right at the center of those beeps. The upper red line is the software trying to automatically identify the peak itself. Once you set your manual threshold, you’ll notice that as you replay the Morse Code audio, the software will accurately decode the text message out of the audio file.

morse code translator

A few tips that greatly enhances the software’s ability to decode the message:

  • Turn up the computer audio as loud as possible so that the microphone gets a very clear reading (or directly connect your audio output to your microphone input).
  • Make sure the beeps and blips of the Morse Code audio file are long enough so the receiving software has time to recognize the transition.
  • If using your speaker and microphone, try to do the decoding in a very quiet room with little background noise.

Once you see this setup in action, I’m sure your imagination will take off. You’ve probably heard of encrypting messages in image files, well now you can encrypt messages in random sound files that, to any random listener, will sound like white noise. Or transmit codes to your friends over Skype if you need to send something sensitive and you’re concerned about someone intercepting the message text.

Or…you can just have a little bit of fun transforming text messages into sound, and then back again. That’s how I spent my Saturday morning, and I had a lot of fun doing it – I’m sure you will too!  Try it out and let me know in the comments section what you think of the setup.

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The Most Common Windows 7 Compatibility Issues

Posted: 15 Jun 2010 02:31 PM PDT

windows 7 compatibilityWindows 7 has been very well reviewed. Most technology websites have been happy with the new release of Window 7, particularly when compared to the disastrous Windows Vista.

One of the reasons why Windows 7 has gone over better than Vista is compatibility. Windows 7 is a less drastic departure from Vista than Vista was from XP, and this has resulted in fewer growing pains. Users are much less likely to run into programs that won’t run in Windows 7 because of compatibility problems.

However, there are still some Windows 7 compatibility issues which you may run into. These problems are somewhat unavoidable.

A new operating system is always going to make some changes which don’t agree with older software. The changes are usually improvements in the long term, but cause short term compatibility problems. So, let’s take a look at three common Windows 7 compatibility issues and what can be done to fix them.

32 bit vs. 64 bit Compatibility Issues

windows 7 compatibility

The rise of 64 bit operating systems is inevitable. Many OEM copies of Windows 7 which come with pre-built systems are the 64-bit version, and most Microsoft Windows 7 licenses sold at retail now come with two disks – one for installing the 32 bit operating system and one for installing the 64 bit operating system. If you’re confused about the differences between the two, check out our article discussing them.

If you have the 32-bit version of Windows 7 you’re fine. Most past versions of Windows XP and Windows Vista were 32-bit versions, and most programs were created for them. If you have installed the 64-bit version of Windows 7, however, you might run into some problems. This usually manifests itself in the form of programs which refuse to run at all – they’ll crash out instantly.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot that you can do about this issue. The difference between a 32-bit and 64-bit operating system reaches deep into Windows 7’s most basic code, so there is no compatibility mode which can resolve this problem. There are, however, two possible courses of action.

One is to see if a new version of the program exists. Most new software will be capable of running under 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 7. The second is to create a disk partition and install a second, 32-bit copy of Windows 7 on your computer. This is a tough fix for this compatibility issue, and certainly not very convenient, but if you have an older program which is no longer receiving support this may be your only way to work around this Windows 7 compatibility issue.

Windows XP (& Older) Reverse Compatibility Issues

windows 7 compatibility

Windows 7 is very similar, under the skin, to Windows Vista. There are a lot of fundamental changes in the operating system which make Windows 7 different from Windows XP. The praise of Windows 7’s better compatibility isn’t necessarily because Windows 7 is coded better than Windows Vista. The perception of better compatibility also has to do with the fact that many compatibility fixes which were made for Vista also work for Windows 7.

Still, you may sometimes run into older Windows XP programs which don’t sit well with Windows 7. These are usually programs which were made around the time Windows XP launched. Programs this old are often no longer supported by their developers, who have moved on to other projects.

Microsoft recognizes this problem, and has created a Windows XP Mode which emulates Windows XP, making it possible to run very old programs. This mode can also, in some cases, make it possible to run programs from Windows 98, as such programs were sometimes compatible with XP. MakeUseOf has a full guide on how to use Windows XP mode to solve Windows 7 compatibility issues.

Windows 7 Driver Compatibility Issues

windows 7 compatibility issues

The final common Windows 7 compatibility problem is driver issues. Drivers are tricky because they’re very low-level code in the operating system. Changes in an operating system usually cause pre-existing drivers to become useless because the drivers will be looking to work with parts of the operating system which no longer exist. Drivers are also tricky because they affect so many parts of your computer. Everything from your printer to your video card requires drivers in order to run.

If you’re upgrading from Vista, you’ll have an easier time with driver compatibility in Windows 7. Windows 7 and Vista are similar and drivers for one will often at least work – if not optimally – for the other. However, if you’re upgrading from Windows XP you’re going to need to find new drivers for everything in your computer and most devices which connect to your computer.

Finding new drivers is, thankfully, easy. It is up to each vendor to make drivers for their products, so you merely need to go to the websites of vendors who made your hardware and download the new Windows 7 drivers. For example, you need to go with Nvidia’s website to download video drivers if you have a Nvidia video card, or you need to go to HP’s website to download printer drivers if you have an HP printer. Once you download and install the new drivers your Windows 7 compatibility issues will be resolved.


Windows 7 compatibility issues exist, but are minimal. These compatibility problems are inevitable, as they involve such fundamental parts of the operating system that any upgrade will cause older programs and devices to have problems functioning. Hopefully Microsoft’s next operating system, whenever it arrives, will be as painless.

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How To Launch Your Chrome Bookmarks with Keyboard Shortcuts

Posted: 15 Jun 2010 01:31 PM PDT

You probably count on a few (or a lot of) bookmarks (or bookmarklets) to enhance your everyday web browsing experience. We have mentioned some Google Chrome tools that can quicken your browsing navigation so let’s see what’s available to reach your bookmarks the really instant way.

There are several ways to navigate and open your bookmarks in Google Chrome with just a few keyboard strokes, making it easier to forget about using the mouse. We’ll start outlining workarounds for those that would rather not install anything, and then, we’ll go over 3 great extensions that will easily simplify things for you.

Assign Keywords To Your Bookmarks Or Bookmarklets

In Mozilla Firefox, it’s easy to assign a keyword for your bookmarks (or bookmarklets) but in Chrome, you’ll find that same functionality a bit more hidden. Keywording bookmarks just means that you can:

  • Hit Ctrl + L to head to the Chrome Omnibar, type something like the letter m, press Enter and be redirected to the MakeUseOf homepage.
  • Or you can type gmail, press Enter, and launch the GmailThis bookmarklet.
  • Alternatively, you can type muo, then chrome, press Enter and then see the search results of any MakeUseOf article that deals with Chrome.

To easily open your bookmarks, create your keywords this way:

  1. Go to the site that you want to access with keyboard shortcuts and copy the URL (or the Javascript code if you’re keywording a bookmarklet).
  2. Right-click the Omnibar > select Edit search engines.
  3. In the dialog box that appears, see if there’s already an item for the site that you want to add. Sites where you have performed searches get added on here in case you want to search them later.
  4. Chrome comes with Bing, Amazon, Wikipedia, etc. plugins, but if you don’t see your site, click on Add.
  5. Now type a name for your site or bookmarklet, a keyword and paste in the URL. Example:

To search sites with keywords, see all the details here.

Navigate Through the Bookmark Manager With Default Browser Keys

For those that miss IE and Firefox’s Alt + A/Alt + B to browse your Bookmarks menu and be reminded of your numerous favorited/bookmarked links, you can navigate through the actual bookmark manager.

  1. Press Ctrl + Shift + B
  2. Press Tab twice to get to your first Bookmarks bar folder.
  3. Use the Left key to close the folder, the Right to open it.
  4. If you need to go to a subfolder, use the Down key.
  5. To open a bookmark in a folder, press Tab + Down (to your desired bookmark) + Enter.
  6. The bookmark will open in a new tab.
  7. To go back to the folders from the bookmarks, just press Tab 5 or 6 times.

Create Website Shortcuts In Windows

If you have a few sites that you always visit, you could either set them as your homepage or launch them using keyboard combinations. This is nothing new, but for recap, here’s how to create them to launch your bookmarked sites:

  1. In Chrome (or any other web browser), go to the site you want to create a shortcut for and drag the Omnibar (e.g. address bar) star (for other web browsers, it’s a favicon next to the address) to the desktop.
  2. Right-click on the desktop shortcut you just created and select Properties.
  3. In the Shortcut Key field, type your desired keyboard combo that should look something like “Ctrl + Shift + M“ or “Ctrl + Alt + M“ without the quotes.
  4. Optionally, you can rename the shortcut with a descriptive name like “ctrl+shift+m” in the General tab for future reference in case you start making lots of these shortcuts and forget the available combos. Otherwise, click OK.

This probably one of the easier ways to access your favorite sites using just your keyboard, assuming you have set Chrome as your default browser. But beware that your desired (and more memorable) keyboard shortcuts may not be available, and shortcut icons may clutter your desktop (unless you choose to hide them).

Customize Shortcuts For Bookmarks, Bookmarklets & Browser Actions

If you want a clean desktop with no website shortcuts or you want to customize your browser shortcuts (e.g. you want to use Ctrl + E to open up Evernote and not search in Google, which is the default action), the Shortcut Manager extension is for you!

  1. After you install the extension, right-click on the icon and select Options.
  2. Type your desired keyboard combination. The Notes underneath this text box will notify you if your desired combo is replacing a Chrome keyboard shortcut in case you still want to keep the latter.
  3. Select your action for your combo. You can either choose it to perform a browser action (e.g. open a tab) or execute a bookmarklet! Some interesting browser actions include options to capture a screenshot of the current tab, close all windows (and save them), close left or right tab, and open Shortcut Manager, which will come in extremely handy if you’re mostly a keyboard ninja.
  4. Write a description (if it isn’t auto-filled already) and hit Save. You’re done!

Alternatively, you can check Chrome’s own keyboard shortcuts by selecting the All shortcuts list option.

At first, I didn’t understand how to use this but now that I get it, this extension is a miracle worker! Here are my tips:

  • After you save a custom keyboard combo, the latter will work on any new tabs. Tabs that are already open must be reloaded (hit Ctrl + R or F5).
  • Some webpages disable the use of content scripts so if your shortcuts don’t seem to work on page XYZ, you’ll have to try outside those sites. Examples of these such locations are the Google Chrome Extensions site, the chrome:// sites, and New Tab. To find out whether you can execute your keyboard combo on page XYZ, just click on the Shortcut Manager icon when you’re on that page.
  • Backup your shortcuts! You can import and export your keyboard combos to share with others.
  • Some bookmarklets load faster (e.g. the URL-shortening bookmarklet) than others. Some don’t load at all due to the nature of their code. One workaround is to look for the ‘‘ Javascript file in the bookmarklet code and paste this in the first text box under Execute Javascript.
  • Example: Diigo’s ‘‘ file works just as well as the diigolet.

Use Shortcuts To Load Items On The Bookmarks Bar

If you use your Bookmarks Bar in Chrome, you can use keyboard shortcuts to access the first ten bookmarks or bookmarklets even (if you have folders pinned here, you might want to move them over since they won’t open).

The Bookmarks Bar Keyboard Shortcuts extension allows you to press Alt + 1 (for Mac, it’s Ctrl + 1; for Linux, use the Windows key + 1) for the first bookmark on your Bookmarks bar, Alt + 2 for the second one, and so on.

For Mac users, check out Chromac.

View A List Of Keyboard-Accessible Bookmarks On New Tab

The Bookmark Launcher extension makes sure you can browse through all your bookmarks and launch them right from the New Tab. Bookmarks will be listed 0 through 9, then A through Z, and you’ll be able to use either the number or the letter to launch the bookmark in a new tab.

To use the extension:

  • Open a new tab by pressing Ctrl + N
  • Press Tab or click somewhere in the page (this step is easily ignored so watch out!)
  • Type your customized or predetermined shortcut character to launch the bookmark.

What’s cool is that you can customize the folder from which this extension will display the bookmarks and sub-folders. You can also customize the keyboard shortcut (e.g. the letter m) for a specific bookmark (e.g. by renaming your bookmark in “m. MakeUseOf” format.

Other Ways To Access Bookmarks With Mouse Click & Keyboard

If what you want is a way to search your hundreds of bookmarks in Chrome, check out the Search on Bookmark extension, which gives you a search box for just your bookmarks, as opposed to the Omnibar which by default can search your bookmarks and history.

After you’ve found your bookmark, use the Up and Down keys to select it and hit Enter.

Alternatively, you can also have a bookmark button on your browser without any extensions.

To get it, right-click on your Google Chrome shortcut icon, select Properties, add ” –bookmark-menu” (without the quotes and don’t ignore the space before the two dashes) to the target field after chrome.exe.

Restart Chrome and you should be able to click on the button and use Up and Down keys to go through your bookmarks and folders.

There are many must-have extensions that can make you instantly more productive. What do you use to instantly access your bookmarks?

Photo credit: MethodDan

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Easily Learn 3D Modeling With 3DVIA Shape

Posted: 15 Jun 2010 12:31 PM PDT

3d modelingCreating 3D models and shapes is not as easy as two dimensional ones. The first time I sat in front of the industry standard 3d modeling app Autodesk 3D Max, I didn't know what to do and where to go. The overwhelming nature of the app didn't help my lack of imagining things in three dimensions.

Of course, the end results of 3D modeling can blow your mind away. But how do you start off with the elementary stuff and learn 3d modeling step by step? The need calls for a no sweat 3D modeling application for learning the ropes and building simple 3D models.

That need brought me to 3DVIA has a bunch of 3D graphical apps in its stable and one of it is a totally free 3D modeling app called 3DVIA Shape v3.2.

3DVIA Shape is supported on Microsoft Windows XP SP2, Microsoft Windows Server 2003 SP2, or Windows Vista. A good internet connection and a three wheel mouse is recommended.

3DVIA Shape starts off as a small 467KB download. The installer downloads the rest of the package from the website and installs the application frontend on your system. To access 3DVIA Shape, you will need to go through a quick registration and login which creates your account on the server.

3DVIA Shape has a desktop frontend which connects you to your user account. 3D models are made using the tools on the frontend and some downloadable objects (e.g. textures) from the server. After the model is complete, you can publish it to your user account. While creating the models, you cannot locally save them on your hard drive.

That's a bit of a limitation but once you fire it up and start off with your first 3D idea, the uses of the software become clear. It is not meant to be a powerful 3D application but a quick 3D tool.

Let's see some of the likeable features that make this a good 3D tool for newbies.

The Beginner's Tutorials

learn 3d modeling

The introductory tutorial helps to understand the basic features and the ease with which you can create basic 3D shapes. A video, arrow hints and graphical guides make the first 3D house easy to finish in five minutes. For text help you can read through the documentation.

More Tutorials To Take You Through

learn 3d modeling

3DVIA Shape comes with a lot of support resources. Many more tutorials and tips 'n tricks take you from drawing simple shapes to more advanced models like a car maybe. If you are a visual learner, you can check out the video demos.

Don't forget to go through the Learn to Walk before You Can Run tutorial on how to move around in 3D and view a model from different angles.

Shape With Just 10 Drawing Tools

3d modeling software

Ten tools that let you create and modify basic shapes help to keep 3D modeling uncomplicated. It is the combination of basic shape tools like Rectangle or Circle with the tools that act as modifiers (Offset, Push n Pull, Deform) that creates the complex 3D shapes. Of course, the most powerful tool is your imagination.

For example, a window can be started with a simple rectangle. Using the Push n Pull tool in any direction, the simple rectangle can be made into a solid 3D shape.

Curve Shapes Into Contoured Figures

learn 3d modeling software

Usually this is the most artistic aspect of any drawing application. With something like the freeform Deform tool, and arrow guides it is easy to give clean and symmetrical curves to any object . Check out this tutorial on how to make an umbrella in five minutes.

Quickly Draw Symmetrical Objects

3d modeling software

The umbrella project also shows the ease with which one half of an object can be mirrored to create the whole.

Paint With Textures

3d models

Finish your creations using the one click Paint tool which not only has flat colors but a gallery of textures. You can also set custom colors and import textures in the form of image files (JPEG, PNG, BMP).

Create Full Scenes With Existing Models

3d models

You can reuse 3D models in the public domain on the site and combine them into a 3D scene. Just enter a keyword in the search box and search results are displayed as 3D figures in a turntable or a thumbnail mode. Clicking on insert downloads it to your 3D space.

Sharing With The 3DVIA Community & Others

The sub-forum is a great place to share your experiences and do your Q&A with other users. There are also groups formed by users around specific topics like Tips and Tricks, Houses, and of course 3DVIA Shape models.

3d models

Groups are starting points for discussions and collaborations. For instance, two or more 3DVIA users can collaborate on projects as all models are hosted on the server. 3DVIA also has a free browser plug-in for viewing 3D models from all angles.

The above features are just a sketch of the free software. Potter around with it and you will get a better idea of its uses for everyday work. As this video shows, it's easy enough to be used as an educational tool.

That's just the thing with 3DVIA Shape. It may lack the finesse of more feature rich 3D software, but with its quick and simple abilities it does enough to create an interest in 3D art.

Familiar with any other easy and free apps to learn 3D modeling? Share them in comments!

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Easily Identify That Cool Text Font with WhatFontIs

Posted: 15 Jun 2010 11:31 AM PDT

identify fontSo you have seen a graphic online that is using an awesome font? Maybe you want to find out what that font is – or at least a free alternative to that font so you can use it yourself.  For Whatfontis, all you need is an image of the font or the image’s URL to identify the font.

There are lots of uses for this tool and it is a great tool to have handy.

We will walk you through using the web application but first we will navigate to the website using this URL. When you arrive at their homepage you will see a screen like the one below:

identify font

We can either browse for a local file to use (the file size is 1.8MB maximum.) using the browse button. We can also type in the direct URL of the image anywhere on the Internet. As a tip to find the location of a image on the web we can right click on it and copy the image location. You can then paste this into the box that says Or specify a URL with the image.

You can see how the file name appears after browsing to it below:

identify font

But as a test I decided to go after the web logo of I found the image’s URL and plugged it into the box as you can see below:

identify fonts

We will need to tell Whatfontis some of the letters that it sees. We will see the following screen:

identify fonts

They will want you to type in what letter is in each box. If you see a box with half of a letter you can drag it to its other half to complete the letter. You can then type in what the letter is.

For example the last letter in the list is a m so you can type a m in the box to its right. Next we see the fourth letter in the second row is the top of the letter F and the next box is the bottom of it. So drag one of them to the other and release. Now type in a F.

I then clicked continue and almost instantly this screen was returned. It identified a lot of fonts that kind of matched what I was looking for. But on closer inspection I realized all the ones I was seeing cost money and were for commercial use.

identify fonts

Now what if I want a free font?  After all we are all readers and we love free stuff right? So there is an option to choose below where we input our file or URL that allows us to choose between all fonts, commercial fonts or only free fonts.

After selecting only free fonts I got a much better list as you can see below. Some of them do not match exactly but there are a lot of good options like Berlin Email Semi bold Bold (option 3 below).

identify a font

You can click on the font’s name to download it! What a great tool!

In the past we have looked at other applications like IdentiFont which does something similar. You can check that out here.   You can also check out some other font posts that we have done in the past such as how to create your own Windows fonts, 2 free font making tools, installing fonts on Windows, Mac and Linux and 5 sources to download free fonts.

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How To Sync Contacts, Calendars & Events Between Mac & PC

Posted: 15 Jun 2010 10:31 AM PDT

sync contacts between computersTo some people, the most important data are contacts, calendars and events. This kind of data should be recorded the moment you encounter them, in your trusted devices, or they will be gone for sure.

It’s been proven over and over again that a normal human just can’t rely on their brain cells to store hundreds (or thousands) of contact entries without losing most of them. If you don’t believe me, try to recall 50 phone numbers and emails of contacts that you’ve met in the previous month.

Unfortunately, in the multiple gadgets environment that we live in today, it’s almost impossible to always enter data to only one device. Synchronization applications are essential unless you are willing to constantly copy and paste the data manually across different devices.

Working On The Windows Side

Problems arise when you have to synchronize data between ‘incompatible’ devices such as Mac machines and Windows machines. Even though there are signs of a truce between these two giants, they have been incompatible for so long that people are not even trying anymore.

It turns out that there is a free solution to sync your contacts, calendars and events between Macs and Windows PCs. SyncMate is the name and multiple devices synchronization is the game. We have discussed the Windows Mobile sync capabilities of SyncMate before. There’s even the giveaway. This article is going to look at the use of SyncMate to sync data between Mac and Windows.

The first step would be to download and install the Windows-side SyncMate client.

sync contacts between mac and pc

Then after the installation process, you have to give the app permission to go through your Windows Firewall. Only check the “Private Networks” access as it’s not recommended to access your private data through public remote access.

sync contacts between computers

Then SyncMate is ready to connect. Please take notes of the used Port, Password, and IP address from this settings window. You’ll need the data later.

sync contacts between mac and pc

The Other Side Of The Story

Now let’s look at the Mac side of the story. Assuming that you have downloaded and installed the app, your first step would be to create a new connection. Choose “Windows PC” and click “Continue“.

sync contacts between mac and pc

Enter all the data that you got from the previous SyncMate Windows client: the IP address, the Port, and the password. Then click “Continue“.

sync contacts mac pc

The next window allows you to change the image and name of the connection. Click “Finish” after you’ve done.

Finish Connection Settings.png

The newly created connection will appear on the top bar of the SyncMate window along with your other already existing connections.


At the side of the main SyncMate window, you can see all the available plugins. Please note that the free version of this app has only two plugins available: Contacts and iCal. This is enough for syncing your contacts, calendars and events between the two computers. If you need other functionalities – like folder synchronization, you can upgrade to the paid “Expert” version.


When you select one of the plugins, the settings will be available on the main pane of the window. The “Contacts” settings allows you to choose the direction of the sync and what groups of contacts to sync.


The iCal settings also allow you to choose the sync direction, and the calendar to sync.

SyncMate iCal.png

Besides that, you can also determine the time span of the events to be synced.

SyncMate iCal 2.png

Should you need to change the connection settings, you can do so from the “Connection Settings” plugin.

SyncMate Connection Setting.png

When all the settings are done, the only thing left to do is to click the “Sync now” button at the top right of the window.

SyncMate Press the button.png

The sync indicator will appear, and all you have to do is wait for your data to be synced and then appear on both computers.

Now syncing....png

Final Note

I’ve tried to use the app to sync my Mac to two different Windows machines, but only one was successful. I am still investigating the reason and I haven’t got the chance to try the process on other machines.

Have you tried SyncMate to sync your contacts, calendars and events between Mac and PC?  Was it successful? Do you know other free methods to sync contacts between Mac and Windows PC? Please share your experiences, thoughts and opinions using the comments below.

Our latest mega giveaway: zozi is sponsoring a FREE 7-day, wine-tasting trip in New Zealand for two. Here’s how you can sign up. Contest ends June 25th.

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Reminder: 3 HOT Giveaways That You Should Take Part In

Posted: 15 Jun 2010 10:00 AM PDT

We’re giving away 60 copies of AnyBizSoft’s PDF to Word Converter for both Windows and Mac (30 copies each). It makes converting PDFs to Word documents super easy with just a click of a button. You don’t even need to have Microsoft Word installed.

Next, for those who work in a multilingual environment, an electronic multilingual dictionary is essential. We have the perfect one for you — TranslateIt! Deluxe for Windows and Mac. We’re giving away 10 licenses for each operating system. Join the giveaway on our Special Giveaway page, it ends in about 48 hour’s time — so hurry and be in the running to win a copy.

Lastly, our longest running giveaway yet. We’ve teamed up with an event organiser, zozi, to provide ONE lucky MakeUseOf reader (and a friend) with a 7-day wine-tasting trip in New Zealand. zozi will even pay up to $2000 to get you there! This trip offer is valid for a year, so you can customise it to fit your schedule. Check it out — WIN an Exciting Trip for 2 to New Zealand!

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10 Sources To Watch The FIFA World Cup 2010 Online

Posted: 15 Jun 2010 09:31 AM PDT

fifa world cupThe FIFA World Cup 2010 started with the match of South Africa vs. Mexico in Johannesburg on June 11th. South Africa gained a draw, thus continuing the straight record that no World Cup host country ever lost their opening match. In the meantime, most nations have played their first match, with the exception of group H.

Have you caught the FIFA World Cup fever, yet? This year FIFA decided to grant TV stations the right to live broadcast all matches online. Depending on where you are in the world, you may be lucky to find that a local TV station provides live streaming of the matches. If you’re not so lucky, have a look at the worldwide workarounds at the bottom.

So, enter the best sources to watch FIFA World Cup 2010 online.



watch fifa world cup 2010 online

The US Entertainment Sports Programming Network will broadcast all 64 games live online.


CBC Sports

watch fifa world cup 2010 online

In Canada, you can catch the FIFA World Cup online through the CBC Sports website.


BBC Sport

fifa world cup soccer

The BBC will broadcast all their matches online in high quality video. A schedule of its coverage can be found at the bottom of this article.

ITV Live

fifa world cup soccer

For the FIFA World Cup ITV has introduced ITV Live, a dual-screen, live online companion that feeds you with information, replays, and of course live streaming of all 64 matches.



fifa world cup soccer

fifa world cup games

Traditionally, ARD and ZDF share broadcasting rights for big sports events. Here is the schedule that reveals the alternating coverage of both live TV and live web streaming.

Additionally, you can tune into ARD and ZDF via Zattoo.


fifa world cup games

It is yet undecided, whether or not RTL will broadcast any of the finals. In the meantime you can watch the group games.

Worldwide Workarounds

So you’re located in none of the above countries. Don’t despair, you can still watch the tournament online. Here are further online sources that stream the World Cup live.


ATDHE.Net provides live streams of several TV stations, including ESPN. There are several additional live streams for each match that use other sources, including South American TV stations.

Before you can use ATDHE.Net’s live stream, you need to install a browser plugin. In Firefox the plugin will work without restarting the browser.

TVU networks

fifa world cup gamesTVU works much like ATDH.Net, but it comes with a much nicer interface.

To stream content, you first need to install a plugin. Only IE, Firefox, and Safari are supported. Reboot your browser after installing the plugin and you’re good to go!


watch fifa world cup 2010 onlineMyP2P streams TV live sports from all over the world to your PC.

Before you can start watching the FIFA World Cup, you have to download the P2P programs. It’s not straight forward, but it’s worth the hassle. Get all the details from this Beginner’s Guide.

In addition, you can fool the above the websites and pretend you’re accessing them from another location. Check out the following articles for all the tools and details you’ll need. The first post is targeted at Hulu, however, Hotspot Shield and Ultra Surf generally  cloak your location.

To keep up with the schedule, the scores, and everything else that is happening around the World Cup, check out Saikat’s article 10 Weblinks To Catch The Football Fever At FIFA World Cup 2010.

Are you familiar with any other source to watch FIFA World Cup 2010 online? Due to language barriers many football nations are lacking from the above list. Please help us out and share your links in the comments!

Image credits: Dekuwa

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Cc:Everybody Gives You A Public Mailbox To Share Your Email Conversations With Others

Posted: 15 Jun 2010 08:31 AM PDT

public mailboxWith so many social sharing tools available nowadays, it is so easy to get lost.

An email message has remained the most convenient way to get in touch and share anything with people that really matter to you.

Email conversations are less cluttered than any other method of online conversations. More often than not, it is free of any type of self-promotion (because the conversation is private), it is only between people who already know each other well and thus are able to really help each other and prove useful.

Most of us have had some really great email correspondence that could benefit more people than just the participating recipients. For that useful email correspondence that is worth being shared, the Cc:Everybody public mailbox tool was created.

The people behind the tool should be already familiar to MUO readers: these are the same people behind Omgili, a well-covered forum search engine.

How Cc:Everybody Works

Cc:Everybody is pretty easy to use. Just get yourself registered and create a name for your public mailbox.

Let’s say your public mailbox is located at:

Then your email address that is connected to your public mailbox is:

Email messages sent to this address are forwarded to your real email (which you used to register an account at the site).

Now, once you have some useful email correspondence you would like to share with the world, just forward the copy to your email address. The conversation will then be available to the public after you confirm the action (either from email or from the web interface):

public mailbox

Similarly, anyone else can forward their useful email conversations to your email address and you can publish it by replying to that email (and thus confirming the action):

public mailbox

Here is also a nicely done video showing how everything works.


Besides publishing your email correspondence online, you can:

  • Comment on others’ threads;
  • Receive comments from readers and moderate comments;
  • Pin (or stick) any conversation for it to always appear on top (just like in a regular forum).

The Settings panel allows you to modify some of the default behavior:

  • Turn the comments off;
  • Disable publishing the thread from email (and only publish manually using the web interface);
  • Auto-approve comments:

group mailbox

How Is It Different?

The tool does seem similar to many of the existing sharing and web publishing solutions. However, it is still quite unique. This venn diagram shows how Cc:Everybody is different from other tools you have been aware of (Cc:Everybody is right in the middle):

group mailbox

  • Unlike private emailing, it is public;
  • Unlike forum conversations, it is focused (you basically choose who contributes to the actual thread);
  • Compared with blogs, it gives more freedom (a person doesn’t have to be a contributor, to be included);
  • Unlike mailing lists, it is selective (you choose to make the thread public or not).

Some Examples?

We’ve had a nice conversation with the tool developer discussing the tool benefits and how it is different from all existing publishing and sharing solutions. After that we decided that that conversation was worth sharing and I published it at my public mailbox.

Here it is:

group mailbox

The tool is brand new but seems promising. I am sure the developers would be thrilled to hear your feedback!

So what are your thoughts? Do you feel like giving this tool a try?

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