Thursday, June 17, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [June 16th]” plus 6 more “Cool Websites and Tools [June 16th]” plus 6 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [June 16th]

Posted: 16 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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PageEasy – Websites are great but sometimes all you need is a quick and simple webpage. PageEasy is one of the simplest tools to create a free temporary webpage without writing any code. Once you sign up for a free account, you can insert text, links, email addresses and more by simply typing it. Read more: PageEasy: Create A Free Temporary Web Page Within Seconds.


Mastercard Global ATM Creator – MasterCard, as you all know, is one company that provides credit/debit/ATM card services and has more than a million ATM machines in over 210 countries. But how can we locate the nearest MasterCard ATM machine? Answer: by MasterCard Global ATM Locator. Read more: MasterCard Global ATM Locator: Find ATM Machines In More Than 210 Countries.



TweetEmbed – Bloggers often embed their Tweet feed onto their website. Are you wondering how they do it? Are you worried that it will take many lines of code to add to your site? Fortunately for you, Embed Tweets is there to simplify the procedure. Embed Tweets is a project by Ferple that allows you to easily embed tweets on your website. Read more: TweetEmbed: Easily Embed Tweets On Your Website.



ThePicLab – The web has an abundant collection of online image editors. Most of these editors are meant for small tasks such as cropping photos and resizing them. But what if you are after an online image editing tool that offers more than those two little features? ThePicLab is one option that comes to mind. Read more: ThePicLab: Online Image Editor With Wide Range Of Fonts & Filters.



YouRepeat – Sometimes there's this great song or funny video that you can't get enough of! YouRepeat is a simple YouTube video repeater that continuously plays a video until you stop it. To start, simply search for a video at and play it. The video will automatically repeat once it ends. Read more: YouRepeat: YouTube Videos Repeater.


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These are just half of the websites that we discovered in the last couple of days. If you want us to send you daily round-ups of all cool websites we come across, leave your email here. Or follow us via RSS feed.

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The 3 Best Free Online Strategy Games

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 01:31 PM PDT

free online strategy gamesStrategy games. They tend to be less glorious than shooters, and they tend to have narratives which are paper thin when compared to role playing games. What they do provide, however, is the opportunity to creatively flex your brain muscle. You are given a toolbox of possible strategies and tactics – which you choose are up to you.

There is a wealth of free online strategy games available. However, most of them are in the tower defense genre. There is nothing wrong with that, but if you want to play a free online strategy game which isn’t about tower defense your pickings are slimmer. But never fear – I’m about to highlight three great free strategy games which you need to check out and which don’t have a thing to do with defending towers.


best free online strategy games

Steambirds is a funny game. It covers a set of historical battles set in an alternative universe where old-school dogfighting never gets old. Dogfighting doesn’t immediately fire up images of strategy – usually quick reflexes dominate such encounters – but Steambirds defies all expectations and manages to provide a convincing turn-based strategy experience.

Flight in Steambirds is a 2D affair, which isn’t surprising considering that it is a flash based game. The strategy of the game comes from figuring out how to best maneuver the aircraft under your command so that they can take out enemy fighters without taking damage in return. Different aircraft have different weapons and can turn at different rates, and figuring out how to maneuver your fighters is quite challenging.

The game’s campaign consists of sixteen missions. They are very easy to begin with, consisting of dog-fights between fighters which can shoot targets ahead of them. However, enemies quickly become more difficult, adding turrets and poisonous clouds to their arsenal. You’ll have to think hard about your strategy in order to defeat the last few levels.

Neptune’s Pride

best free online strategy games

A long time ago there was a game called Stars! – yes, the exclamation point was part of the name. Stars! was not a free online strategy game, but rather a great space strategy game which abstracted empire-building. Ships could be customized, but were represented only by numbers on-screen, and planets only had a few resources and a few buildings which could be constructed. This simplicity made grand strategy the game’s focus, and diplomacy also was of critical important in the game’s email-based multiplayer mode.

Neptune’s Pride is a modern rendition of Stars! which provides a new coat of paint and a vastly improved multiplayer mode. It isn’t exactly the same – ship customization is out, for example, and there are only two resources rather than four – but Neptune’s Pride remains a grand-strategy game which focuses on diplomacy. Defeating your enemies is difficult if you go it alone. Alliances are created and fall apart as the game progresses.

There are many free games available in Neptune’s Pride which you can join any time you’d like. You only have to pay if you want to create a custom game type. You can also avoid paying even when hosting custom games by winning free games – you will be awarded credits which can be used to create custom games.

Infectonator: World Dominator

best free online strategy games

You’ve fought zombies in countless games. You’ve beat in the heads of the undead thousands of time with crowbars, pipes, shovels and all sorts of other weapons. But what if you were the undead – and evil mastermind plotting to take over the world with your own zombie minions?

That is the premise of Infectonator: World Dominator. It is a fun one, and is reinforced by a 8-bit graphical style which sets the game apart from many other less well developed free online strategy games. The gameplay of Infectonator is frantic, and focuses on how your position your zombies. They are spawned by setting of a zombie virus which infects people, and those people turn into zombies and then infect other people. You don’t control the zombies individually, but your decision of who to infect, when to infect them, and where to infect them controls the final outcome. Your goal is to destroy a town by killing everyone in it, but the population won’t go down without a fight once you progress past the first few levels.

As you defeat towns in Infectonator: World Dominator you gain money which can be used to buy upgrades for your zombies or to purchase special zombies. The special zombies are what really make Infectonator one of the best free online strategy games. They have special powers which will change the outcome of an invasion, and you’ll have to learn their strengths in order to defeat the biggest, toughest towns in the game.


Free online strategy games are a bit rarer than shooters, tower defense and role-playing games, but these three games prove that there are good free strategy games available. Best of all, these games have a lot of life, so they should keep you busy for weeks if not months.

If we have forgotten any other good free online strategy games, do let us know about them in the comments.

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6 Ways To Visualize The BP Gulf Oil Spill On The Web

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 12:31 PM PDT

bp oil spillOnly the Martians wouldn't know what the BP Gulf oil spill is all about. It has dominated headlines since late April. The word 'spill' seems to be an understated way to describe something that's an ecological catastrophe.

It is definitely the largest oil spill in U.S history and gushing up the charts to be one of the largest in the world.

Removed far away from the scene, it may not be harming us directly. It is though playing havoc with the environment. And that's something that binds us all inexplicably, even if it's something a world away.

So, what does the sea look like when millions of barrels of oil rise to the surface and spread around? The sight is not pretty. The sight of the size cannot be understood from figures in barrels and gallons.

We need a bird's eye view to comprehend the scale of the disaster and also to understand the areas that are getting affected. Here are a few ways of looking at the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

If It Was My Home

visualize oil spill

For many, The Gulf of Mexico is on the other side of the planet. For us nothing relates better than things that happen close to where we live. This Google Map based website uses data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The data from NOAA estimates the size of the spill and its spread and releases daily reports. You can type in your home location and compare the relative size of the spill with the help of the map. Doing this, I understood that the spill is nearly the size of my home state.

Read a mention about this app in our directory.

A Google Maps engineer has coded a similar Google map app that tells you how big the oil spill is next to your home city.

visualize bp oil spill

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's own geomapped tool has been developed with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), U.S. Coast Guard, and the Department of Interior. As the site says, it's meant to be a 'one-stop shop' for spill response information. The information on the map is extremely detailed starting from the wellhead areas to weather information.

If that's too complicated then the next interactive map could be simpler to understand.

ESRI's Social Media Map

visualize bp oil spill

ESRI is a global company that focuses on Geographical Information Systems and its related products. One of their geomapping applications with wide usage is ArcGIS. The home site hosts an interactive map on the Gulf oil spill. The map shows the extent of the spill and little location based icons that connect to feeds, YouTube videos, Tweets, and Twitter photos.

For the more ecologically conscious, there's sensitivity data from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA. The map also links to other shared content like Flickr photos. Little circular 'seagull' icons pinpoint the threatened areas.

You can also click on the map and share your own content using the feature icons on the map.

Some other map trackers from the web:

New York Times

Gulf Oil Spill Tracker

Google Crisis Response

bp oil spill map

Google has a whole page devoted to the BP oil spill. You can download Google Earth KML files and view them on Google Earth to get a fair idea. For instance, one of the files relates to the worst oil spills in history. You can also filter all the recorded oil spills using a moving slider timeline. The Gulf War oil spill has a pretty large circle around it being the second largest oil spill yet. The BP Deepwater Horizon spill shows a rapidly moving counter as oil continues to gush into the oceans.

News, resources and how to help links are handily provided on the site. Clicking on the Real Time updates on Google Search saves you the bother of a Google search.

You can also go straightaway to YouTube videos covering the oil spill. On YouTube, check out this time lapse video from NASA.

NASA Imagery Of Oil Spill

bp oil spill map

Satellite imagery from NASA takes our outlook beyond Earth maps and gives it to us from the eyes in the sky. This is an index of everything that NASA has captured from space.

Deepwater Horizon Response On YouTube

bp gulf oil spill

Staying back on YouTube, catch the YouTube channel of the organization that's coordinating the emergency efforts. The main website and the YouTube channel are maintained by the Unified Commands Joint Information Center (JIC), whose role is to give the public reliable, timely information about the response. The home website gives you the absolute dope for staying current with the crisis. You can catch what the underwater video streams sent out by BP's remotely operated vehicles too.

As these web links show, there is no dearth of news. What's lacking is some good news on the gusher. As efforts go on, let's hope we don't get to see a deepening oil crisis of a different kind. Are you in the know about the BP Oil Spill?

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Dropbox – The Best Finder App For The iPad

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 11:31 AM PDT

finder for ipadAs innovative as Apple is, it's rather odd that its mobile devices don't include a Finder – a place to save files that are accessible by all other applications. The way it's currently set up you must save files created on the iPad in their related application. So, for example, if you create a word processing file in an application like Pages or SimpleNote, you must save that file within the application you created it in. If you want to import a PDF into the iPad, it must be imported to a specific PDF reader.

The only workaround to getting a Finder-like application and setup on your iPad or other Apple mobile device is to use either Apple's $99/year MobileMe service, or better yet, use a free version of Dropbox (iTunes Store link.) As someone who uses both services, I can promise you that in this case, free is indeed better.

I have found Dropbox easier to use and more reliable than MobileMe. In fact, as of this date, Apple hasn't even released an iPad version of its MobileMe app. Dropbox has already done so, and the following is why I urge iPad users to set the app and service on their iPad.

finder for ipad

Account Setup

If you don't have a Dropbox account, you need to sign up in order to use it on your iPad. With an Dropbox account, which provides 2GB of online storage, you can sync all your files between all your computers and mobile devices. If you're a Windows user, check out a recent MUO article, DroppedBox—The Unofficial Dropbox Client for Windows Mobile. There is also a video tutorial on the Dropbox homepage that will explain how to get set up.

By installing a Dropbox account you don't need to wire connect your iPad to your computer in order to add files. It's understandable that Apple requires iPad and other mobile device users to make a wired connection to their iTunes application in order to update the devices and synchronize apps, music, movie files, and the like. But in a wireless age, it should be very simple for all Apple mobile device users to sync individual and small groups of files wirelessly between all their hardware. Dropbox pretty much does this for Apple.

Support Files

As you can see below, Dropbox supports nearly all the popular file formats. Drop any of these files into your Dropbox account on your computer and you can sync to your iPad or other mobile devices. In fact these files can actually be opened in Dropbox; however, the speed of opening some files can rather slow.

finder for ipad

Dropbox Interface

The Dropbox interface on the iPad is like the Finder on your computer. You can organize files into folders and sub folders. The folder structure by default is not as well organized as what you find on a Mac, but you can still set up the kinds of generic folders that you typically use, including a folder for documents, one for graphics, another for music files, etc. The folder setup will appear the say way across all your devices.

ipad finder

On the iPad app, unlike the iPad itself, Dropbox includes what is called in the developers' world, a master detail interface. In landscape position, the master detail opens to the right side providing you access to all your folders and files, even while you have a file open. In portrait position, you can tap the Dropbox icon on the top left to have the Master detail interface drop down.

You can select and star files as favorites for quicker access. It would be great if the same could be done for favoriting folders. You can also do a search for files.

File Sharing

If you download and incorporate the Dropbox desktop application on your computer, files can be synced automatically between devices in the background. Dropbox also makes it easy to export files from your iPad via email and your account. So for example, if you wanted to quickly export a photo or screenshot on your iPad, you tap the Dropbox icon to bring up the Master detail window; choose the folder you want to export your selected file to, and then click the + button at the button.

From there, you can select an image and movie file in your iPad photo library which will be wirelessly exported to your Dropbox account. Unfortunately, you can only sync one file at a time.

ipad finder

You can also copy and paste file content to other supporting apps.

Lastly, Dropbox works with some other third-party apps. For example, PDF's opened in Dropbox can also be opened in other mobile device programs like iAnnotate PDF. Word documents can be opened in Apple's Pages program for the iPad. Click on the arrow button on the upper-right when a file is opened to see what apps are supported for a selected file.

ipad finder

I have yet to discover an image processing app for the iPad that is supported by Dropbox, but I'm sure one will be developed. However, image apps that allow you to save files to your iPad photo library can in turn be saved in your Dropbox account. So, for example, if you create a file in one of several iPad drawing applications, you can save that file in your photo library, then open Dropbox and add that file to your account, as described above.

Like I said at the outset, it would be better if Apple would include a Finder application within its mobile devices so that files can be easily exported and saved from any application. But for whatever their reason for not doing so, Dropbox is one of the best solutions to this missing feature.

Let us know if and how you use Dropbox on your iPad or mobile devices. What features would you like to see added?

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Postbox Express – A Free New Email Client to Challenge Thunderbird

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 10:30 AM PDT

free email clientsIntroducing Postbox Express! The makers of Postbox have decided it’s time to offer a free version of their well-loved Postbox email application. Postbox Express is their free feature-limited edition of Postbox, which was released today.

The MakeUseOf team is happy to be able to review a pre-release version of Postbox Express in order to let you know what’s different about the free Postbox Express application. I’m pleased to announce to you that Postbox Express is a great free email client, using most of the basic features of the full Postbox application.

First impressions of Postbox Express

When you start up Postbox Express, it suggests helping you by using all your settings from other installed mail clients. In my case, it found Apple Mail and Thunderbird. I ran with Apple Mail and it set up my whole mailbox perfectly in seconds, including a Gmail IMAP setup. I was quite impressed to see a mail app that works so well out of the box. Two minutes later, I was treated to a little beep to let me know my most recent email was now synced too.

free email clients

The first thing I noticed was that email threading works in Postbox Express. This is something not enough mail clients have decided to implement. Personally, I can’t live without it.

The search functions are well thought out. Postbox Express stores previous searches and will suggest similar searches to you as you type so you can easily choose a regularly used search. If you need to perform an advanced search, there’s a very simple form to compose them.

free email clients

When I added my MakeUseOf email address, I nearly jumped out my socks when it automatically found my IMAP server for me. I’ve never seen a mail app do that before – This is a great feature!

free email client

There’s a handy ‘post’ button which will let you post to Twitter, Facebook and Friendfeed from within Postbox Express. This is great if you just want to share something quickly and not wind up distracted by other people’s status updates.

free email client

‘Topics’ is another useful feature Postbox Express offers, allowing users to quickly separate work email from home email, or urgent email from non-urgent email. Topics can be assigned per email or with filters.

Another interesting feature Postbox Express has is the tabbed viewing. It makes life so much easier when you need to refer to several emails at once.

Postbox Express for Mac

Standard Mac app install – simply drag Postbox Express into the Applications folder. Mac users can opt to let spotlight search within Postbox Express, link Postbox express to iCal, iPhoto, Safari, Dictionary and other Mac apps. Plus, users can drag and drop files on top of the postbox dock icon in order to create a new message with that item as an attachment. Handy!

Postbox Express for Windows

The main difference between the Mac app and the Windows app is the styling. Mac has a slick black for pop-ups, while Windows uses a shiny grey. Also, Windows users can link to other Windows applications, such as a favourite browser.

free email client

Differences between Postbox Express and Postbox

The links in the top right which Postbox uses to give easy access to attachments, links, images and contacts aren’t available in Postbox Express. These links are useful, but non-essential.

Postbox makes it easy to search for attachments or images in a sidebar while composing messages. Once you find the right file, all you need to do is drag and drop in to the message. In Postbox Express, this functionality isn’t available. Postbox express uses a standard file browser window to find attachments.

When viewing contacts in Postbox Express, a simple information pop-up is shown.

Postbox itself offers more powerful data in the contact pop-up, including quick links to any attachments or photos sent by this contact. Postbox Express users can search for data by constructing advanced search queries.

Postbox Express is unable to support add-ons, whereas the full version of Postbox is able to support many useful Thunderbird add-ons.

To-do lists are available in Postbox, but not for Postbox Express. Postbox to-do lists now support sync for OmniFocus and Things.

These are the main differences between the fully-fledged Postbox application and the free Postbox Express edition. If you are after a basic mail application, Postbox Express is a great free option. If you want a little bit extra in regards to the search options and features, Postbox is the way to go.

Take a look at a video of the full range of Postbox search functions here. If you want the extra features of the full Postbox application, the complete Postbox is available as a free 30 day trial for all. Take a look!

Also, learn how to get the full Postbox for $30 and then earn your money back easily. Feel free to add your coupon codes to the comments of this post!

Or, if you think Postbox Express is exactly what you need, you can download the free Postbox Express application from the“>Postbox Inc. website as of the 16th June 2010. Tell us what you think of it!

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4 Ways To Use Remember The Milk On Linux Desktop

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 09:31 AM PDT

remember the milk linuxRemember the Milk is a fantastic task manager web app, but web apps have certain limitations. For one, they only work while you’re connected to the internet. If you’re the sort of person who’s not always online you probably want access on your desktop. Additionally, you might not want to open a web browser every time you need to check something off your to-do list.

It’s for this reason that David wrote his piece explaining 8 ways to manage your tasks with Remember The Milk. This list mentioned some great software, to be sure, but neglected to mention ways to achieve Remember the Milk tasks on Linux distributions such as Ubuntu or Fedora.

If you’re a Linux user and a Remember the Milk user, don’t worry: you can find great desktop apps to manage your tasks with.

1. You Say You Just Use Evolution?

Well, you know…it works with RTM, but it isn’t perfect.

Not everyone loves Evolution – the mail/calendar/to-do program built into the Gnome Desktop – but it does have a few distinct advantages. For one, it’s built into the Gnome Desktop, meaning it’s integrated with the clock/calendar applet. For another, it’s a great Exchange-compatible email client for Linux.

If either of these advantages seems useful to you, and you’re a big fan of Remember The Milk, you’ll be happy to know it is possible to use RTM with Evolution.

Pen.g.uin wrote a blog post explaining how to do just that. Basically what you need to do is create a new task list from within Evolution, and pick the “On The Web” option for where it’s located. Then you need to copy the iCal link from your Remember The Milk page and paste it into the dialogue. Just be sure to copy the link from a category you intend to use or nothing will show up on your list!

remember the milk linux

Once you’ve got Remember the Milk set up in Evolution you’ll quickly realize a key limitation: you cannot edit your tasks from within Evolution (not even to check a completed task!) This is because Remember the Milk does not, at this time, offer a two-way iCal file. It’s a shame, but they’re trying to make money with MilkSync so I can understand the limitation.

remember the milk linux

Still, if you want your tasks to /show up/ in Evolution, not to mention the Gnome clock applet, this is your best bet.

2. Stay On Tasque

linux remember the milk

A better alternative for, or perhaps supplement to, Evolution integration is the simple task program known as “Tasque,” which Damien profiled in his article about Linux to-do list apps you might not have heard of. This lightweight piece of software, unlike Evolution, does one thing and does it well. That one thing is your to-do list, and it offers amazing RTM integration to boot.

linux remember the milk

Setting this up is easy. When you first run the program you’ll be asked whether you want to use a local to-do list, or Remember The Milk. Choose Remember the Milk and you’ll be guided through the authorization process.

Tasque is in the repository of most great Linux distributions, including Ubuntu and Fedora.

3. Go Go Google Gadget!

linux remember the milk

If you’re a user of Google Gadgets for Linux, and a user of Remember the Milk, you might as well manage your tasks from using the Google Gadget mentioned in David’s article. Find a link here and enjoy this unofficial gadget!

4. Rocking On Adobe Air

If none of these solutions work for you, there’s always the Adobe Air app mentioned in David’s article. It’s called Remember the Task, it’s fairly lightweight and it works really well. Check it out here.


Remember the Milk is great for one main reason: the sheer number of third-party apps that support it. Linux is no exception, it seems; there are many fantastic ways to access your cloud to-do list on that platform.

Which reminds me: do you guys know of any Linux apps with RTM support that I missed? It’s not too late to share them with readers; comment, comment, comment away! Also feel free to share which of these apps you prefer to use or just make fun of my last name. Whatever, I’m easy.

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How To Quickly Check If You’re Running A Javascript Enabled Browser

Posted: 16 Jun 2010 08:31 AM PDT

javascript enabled browserJavascript is an integral part of web browsing and a lot of websites use Javascript for web applications and functions. A question I get at often is how I can tell if I am using a Javascript enabled browser. I have two quick methods to tell if the browser you are using does or does not support Javascript.

The first thing I recommend is browsing over to a special Java test website called JavaTester. There is code on this page that will tell you if you can run Java Applets and if Javascript is enabled and supported by your browser. The answers will be shown to you on the webpage once it is completed loading.

My favorite part about this site is that it also gives you the HTML code that they used to create the tests. This allows you to add this code to your website to display the results.

When we get to the site this is what we will see:

javascript enabled browser

You will be able to tell at a glance what your browser can and cannot do. For Javascript scroll down to the 3rd bulleted point and after it says: Is Java enabled?, you will either see true or false. True will let you know that you are using a Javascript enabled browser. If it says false you will need to see if Java is installed and if not, install it and enable it.

The Java test website goes on to explain that Java and Javascript are two very different programming languages and pretty much only share the first four letters of their name. To learn the difference between the two languages you can check out these two Wikipedia pages here and here to read about Javascript and Java respectively.

But they have another easy to use JavaScript test :

javascript enabled browser

If you are looking for the easiest and quickest test possible the one above is it. But if you also need some more information regarding your browser's capabilities you can check out this browser capability test website. This is a web application called Browser Hawk.

You can see the output from my FireFox 3.6.3 below:

enable javascript in browser

All three of these web tests will be able to quickly tell you if your browser is actually Javascript enabled. If you have to send a user to a website to test their browser I would send them to the second one from JavaTester as it is the easiest one to see the results on.

If you are a programmer you can easily integrate the code from these pages to create your own test sites on your local intranet or website. If you do code up your own snazzy pages we would love to see them so hit us with the links in the comments.

If you are looking for a Java test website you can check this one out. It will work with all operating systems and Internet Explorer, Firefox, Mozilla and Netscape.

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