Wednesday, June 23, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [June 22nd]” plus 9 more “Cool Websites and Tools [June 22nd]” plus 9 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [June 22nd]

Posted: 22 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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MiniGoogleMaps – Does your net surfing involve heavy use of Google Maps? If so, you should check out MiniGoogleMaps. This is a handy Google Chrome extension that lets you access Google Maps from the browser toolbar without needing to leave your current page. Read more: MiniGoogleMaps: Access Google Maps Without Leaving Your Current Page.


Chintzee – If you are a shopper on Amazon, it is useful to know when the prices of items that you have been watching have dropped in price. Chintzee is an Amazon-based web tool that lets you keep an eye on Amazon price reductions by sending you an alert every time prices drop. Read more: Chintzee: Get Notified About Amazon Price Reductions.



Creaza – Are you looking for an online creative outlet for your kids? Then you should check out free multimedia tools offered by Creaza. This is a social website that lets your kids work on various multimedia creations like cartoons, movies, audio mixes, and mind-maps. Read more: Creaza: Free Multimedia Tools For Kids Online.



BookWhen – For busy people, an organized schedule is what keeps us sane. Meetings, classes, parties, and events must be booked way ahead to prevent conflicts. BookWhen is a bookings and event registration manager used for bookings events such as classes, courses, workshop and payment schedules that will make your life easier. Read more: Bookwhen: Bookings & Event Registration Manager Online.



GameSaveManager – System crashes are inevitable sometimes, you can backup all your data and run a system restore but what do you do about the games you have been playing for so long? A system restore would throw you back at level 1 again and that's not something you would like. GameSaveManager is a freeware that helps you by backing up your games. Read more: GameSaveManager: Backup & Restore Your Computer Games.


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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 10 Toughest Tech Questions [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 22 Jun 2010 06:31 PM PDT

MakeUseOf AnswersMakeUseOf Answers has received a second publishing slot. The Toughest Tech Questions will now be posted every Tuesday. The Best Questions, as well as the Best Answer of the Week contest remain in the Friday slot.

In addition, we’re kicking off this first Tuesday installment with 10 rather than 5 Toughest Tech Questions. With so many questions unanswered, we really need your help here. Remember that each answer enters the contest for a chance to win $50 once every week.

Here we go…

  1. How can I use Thunderbird portable from multiple user accounts?
  2. How can I make Google Chrome command line switches work all the time?
  3. Can Orbit Grab Pro save files in a format viewable in Media Player?
  4. Why can I not install the GMail app for Windows Mobile?
  5. Which scanner would you recommend?
  6. How do you get Mac's iCal to sync with Google Calendar?
  7. Why does iPod touch push notification not work on my wireless network?
  8. How can I sync my Spring Evo to a Mac?
  9. How can I find the originating profile of images downloaded from MySpace?
  10. Has Apple acknowledged the problems with the latest iTunes update?

Many more interesting questions are waiting for you at MakeUseOf Answers. Browse by Latest Questions, Unanswered Questions or Most Popular Questions. For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

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Play The Civilization Game For Free With FreeCiv

Posted: 22 Jun 2010 04:31 PM PDT

One of the first strategy games that I ever became seriously addicted to was Civilization. When the first Civilization first came out, I played it for hours on end. Once subsequent versions came out, I purchased and played those too.

For those of you who don’t know, Civilization is a turn-based strategy game where you must strategically place cities and grow your civilization faster than your rival countries. The faster you develop your sciences and military, the quicker you’ll advance to high powered technology and weaponry. Obviously, the civilization with the advanced technology will eventually overpower all other nations and take over the world.

Or will they? That is the beauty of this “civilization simulator.” Is it possible to build a civilization that advances beyond all other civilization, but instead of world conquest, lives by a rule of peace and cooperation? Or can you develop a successful civilization that exists in seclusion on a large island somewhere?

Why Civilization Should Be Free

The Civilization game series has developed a massive cult following. In fact, the ability to simulate political and military scenarios is considered, by many, as a true test of a person’s leadership ability and a geographic test about how the layout of land and resources can dramatically impact a country’s prosperity.

A few years ago, during a move to another state, I lost my Civilization CD. I never bothered to invest in purchasing the game again, but I’ve always missed it. Maybe you never bought the game but have always wondered if you’d like it? Well, I for one, was very pleased to stumble across a fantastic open-source version of the game called FreeCiv. The motto on the first launch page of this app is “Cause Civilization Should be Free!

One reason that I usually avoid open-source games is because most of the time the graphics are horrid. However, the first thing you’ll notice about FreeCiv is that the graphics aren’t bad at all – which you’ll notice right from the start page itself. This is where you can choose to start a fresh game.

Game options to choose from include starting with a random land layout, opting for a pre-created “scenario game” global layout, or connecting to an ongoing network game. As far as I can see, there aren’t usually many Internet games usually available, but in the network game area you can hook up with a friend and play the game together (and try to wipe out the other’s civilization!)

When you first launch the game, you can configure how many opponents you have and how “intelligent” they are. This configures the difficulty of play. You can set the game to use the ruleset of either Civ1 or Civ2 as well. One thing you’ll notice in this version that you obviously won’t see in the commercial version of CIV is the script scrolling at the bottom of the screen, giving you a window to the workings of the program.

Once you’re in the game, the game settings really let you configure gameplay significantly. Change the overall size of the world map, the types of tiles throughout the world, and the military, sociological, economic and scientific behaviors and settings for your society as you play the game. I honestly do not remember the commercial version of the game being quite as customizable as this.

Being able to alter gameplay to this extent really makes it fun to experiment with different types of world and social configurations. Should your society be very angry when there are many military forces within city borders? How much should the population decrease after an attack? How hot or cold is the planet? All of these things that will alter the flow of the game and population growth can be altered.

Set up your country, leader and civilization style. Each country has a list of potential leader names based on their histories. Although, you can select any city style regardless. Choose from a modern nation, or pick from a medieval or ancient civilization. There are a lot of fun choices here.

Once you get started, the display is much like it was for Civ1 and Civ2. You start on a lit tile with the entire darkened world around you, ready to be explored, discovered and settled. On the left side of the screen you’ll see a small map of the entire world, under which you’ll find your civilization’s stats such as population, the current year, your gold levels and current tax information.

Beneath this is where you’ll find the status of the currently selected worker, explorer or other character. You start out with an explorer, a couple of workers and a couple of caravans. Split up or stick together, but your first order of business is to find a location that looks promising and settle so that your civilization can start to grow.

Moving characters is really simple. You can use the keyboard arrow keys, but the easier and faster option is just to click on the character with your left mouse button and then drag the mouse so that the target is over the location where you want the selected item to go. This makes it easy to move items that travel a long distance, like a caravan or an explorer, without the need to count how many moves are left on the current turn. On each turn, the character will move the max number of tiles it can until it gets to your selected target.

When you do start growing your cities, you’ll find that the city view is just as informative (if not more informative) than those on the commercial version. One thing I never liked when I originally played CIV were the symbols packed onto the map and onto the status screen. You had to estimate the values that those stacked symbols represented. Not in this version of the game. Here, you’ll see the colored information overlaid on top of the map, and the city information laid out in cold, hard numbers.

Whenever you click on a city, you’ll find all of the information about production of resources, happiness levels and more. City improvements are easy to see on the first screen in the right status box.  As your worker or traveler is walking across the countryside, if you click on the “Work” selection from the menu bar, you’ll see all of the actions available for that worker type.

For example, in this case the worker is on a tile that only allows for a road or a mine, so these are the only options available. On tiles with a stream, you may be able to build irrigation, and on almost every tile you can create roads for easier travel.

As you play the game, you will come across other civilizations. This is where you direct the fate of your own civilization and that of the entire world. Will it be one of peace or war? Will your exploits be those of conquest or friendship with all other civilizations you come across? The diplomacy screen is where these peace treaties or war is made.

On the research screen, you’ll find the current selection and status of your technological research. You’ll see the number of turns it takes to complete research, and the number of turns left. Research really provides the driving force behind what your long term plans are. If you’re interested in war, you’ll follow the paths starting with the Warrior Code or Bronze Working, and then work relentlessly through the research paths for the most powerful and dangerous military weapons.

If you seek peace and happiness, you’ll focus on the paths of educational, religion and knowledge that furthers that happiness of a civilization.

If you’ve ever played the earlier Civilization series of games, you’ll love FreeCiv.  All of the graphics are of high enough quality to easily compete with those early CIV games. I know I greatly enjoyed Civilization years ago, and I missed playing it – so in writing this article I played this free version for many hours…what fun!

Try FreeCiv for yourself and let us know what you think! Do you know of other great free strategy games? Share your insight in the comments section below.

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PeerPong – Tapping Experts In Specific Fields To Answer Your Questions Using Twitter

Posted: 22 Jun 2010 02:31 PM PDT

Answer communities are becoming popular.  They are a good way to find specific answers to any kind of question you might have.  Yahoo Answers has been one of the most successful of the answer communities.  Now we here at MakeUseOf have an awesome answer community specifically directed towards the technology, computers and Internet side of things.

We have some very knowledgeable people just waiting to answer any question you may have.  In fact, an answer community like MakeUseOf’s that has a narrower niche can make finding your answer in that niche easier and more enjoyable.

Recently I ran across another approach to the answer communities.  It’s called PeerPong.

What they are attempting to do is connect people with questions to people who have proven they have some type of knowledge and authority on that topic.

They use services such as Twitter to get an idea of who has expertise on what subject.  Let’s go through how it works and you be the judge as to whether or not you think it is a good approach.

Sign Up & Go Through Initial Processing

Signing up is easy and connecting your Twitter and Facebook profile is a snap.  I chose to just use my Twitter account because I centralize a lot of my “expertise” there but you can connect both if you choose.  Once signed up, PeerPong will then search your networks and interactions and choose some areas where they think you have some knowledge.

How the inner workings of this works, I am not sure… maybe much prayer and supplication? The next step was for me to chose several topics to follow on Peerpong.

I have yet to figure out what choosing topics to follow does besides adding them to your profile’s sidebar but if you figure it out, let me know. Seems a bit illusive to me. They also ask if you want to invite your friends to ask you some questions.

The default wording they offer talks about asking you anonymously.  I’m not sure of the reason for that but you can change the wording to whatever you want.  You can also choose to check the box reminding your friends weekly that you are available to answer questions.  This could be good for garnishing more interaction but be careful because you also don’t want to annoy people.

Finally they ask three questions from areas where they think you have some kind of wisdom.

This is giving you a start and also gives you an idea of how the site works.

Ask & Answer Questions

Other people can now ask you questions directly.  They can find you by going to your profile (assuming they know it) or they can find you in a list of experts under the “experts” tab in a category.

You can also go and help answer other questions and hopefully gain some authority.

What’s So Different Than Other Answer Sites?

Many answer communities have authority grading systems so let’s think for a bit and see why PeerPong is different than the every day, run-of-the-mill answer community.

First, PeerPong uses your interaction on other social networks in order to find where your specific authority lies.  Also they do a good job at finding relevant questions.  The questions they tossed my way have all been questions I was interested in answering.  I also like the idea of inviting my friends to ask me questions.  When developing authority in my niche on a site like Twitter, just posting links and such only goes so far.  Giving my followers an open avenue to run questions by me can be helpful.

What is your opinion?  Is the approach of PeerPong one that will work?  Where do you go online to find answers to your questions (besides of course MakeUseOf’s Answer community)?

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How To Completely & Securely Delete Your Internet Explorer History

Posted: 22 Jun 2010 01:31 PM PDT

If I was to open up your web browser what would I find? Internet history can be helpful in remembering past visited sites and having shortcuts to your favorites, but it’s not always an option we’d like to have. Sometimes being able to erase your browser history can come in handy, especially on shared computers.

In this article, I’m going to show you how to completely and securely delete your browser history in Internet Explorer. We covered wiping MRU & index.dat files in the past, so I will show you some other little tricks for cleaning up your history. If you follow the steps outlined here, you will be able to browse the Internet more inconspicuously.

1. Simple Browser Clearing

The first and simplest thing you can do is clear your history from your browser. If you’re just trying to clear the visible data from your browser this will suffice, but only doing this may (probably will) still leave traces on your computer, so if you really need to scrub your history from your machine read on.

Close all instances of Internet Explorer and navigate to the Control Panel. Once there, go to Internet Options. On the General tab, you will see Browsing history. You can click on Settings to change how long history is kept and where temporary files are stored.

If you click Delete… you will be able to delete your temp files, cookies, history, etc. You can also check the box that says Delete browsing history on exit so this is done automatically for you.

Lastly, go over to the Advanced tab and scroll down to Security. Check the box that says Empty Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed.

2. Clearing Registry Entries

If you don’t want to clear every entry from your browser history, you can go into the registry and delete entries one at a time.

[Note]: As always, before making changes to your registry you should make sure you have a valid backup.

Start the registry editor by going to Start>Run and typing in Regedit.exe. Once the registry editor is open, navigate to the following key in the registry:

There you can delete any or all typed URLs.

[Note]: If you delete only certain keys, make sure that the remaining keys are renamed in sequential order starting from url1. Otherwise you might corrupt the remaining keys.

3. Run Applications

If you want to make sure there are no traces of your browser history left on your machine, there are dozens of useful free applications you can run. Allow me to give a few examples.


One of our Top 5 Freeware Registry Cleaners That Improves PC Performance, CCleaner is one of the best apps out there at cleaning temporary and junk files. It will clean all of your Internet Explorer files, as well as those for Firefox and Google Chrome.

Free Internet Eraser

Free Internet Eraser is another program that gets rid of most of your tracks. It takes out temporary files, cache, visited sites, and typed URLs.

AbsoluteShield Internet Eraser Lite

This app contains a pop-up blocker and a privacy protector. It cleans all the tracks of your Internet and computer activities and is integrated with Internet Explorer. Erase history, temp files, cookies, etc.


If you wipe out the temporary files, cookies, cache, typed URLs, MRU, and index.dat files, you should pretty much be in the clear (pun intended) with your browser history. Google and the FBI might still be able to find a trace but even they should have a tough time.

Security and privacy are always top priorities while using your computer and browsing the Internet. It’s important that you take precautions and know how to clear your tracks if you ever need to.

Do you have anything to add to the article? I’d love to hear your opinions in the comment section below.

Image Credit: Daniel Semper

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7 Quick & Casual Games You Can Play On Google Search

Posted: 22 Jun 2010 12:31 PM PDT

google search gamesGoogle Search and games don't sound like the right match. It is difficult to imagine the vanilla plain Google homepage as an online game platform. But the six games that we saw can be played on Google Earth are proof of the fact that Google has more uses than the obvious.

Of course, Google Search does not have the eye candy of Google Earth but if you can look beyond that, there are some quick games that are based on Google Search. Most of these games are built around search queries.

Call them teasers or timewasters but they can addictively grow on you. But the best thing is that being based on Google, these free online games are virtually 'office proof'; easily accessible and free from office network constraints.

These seven casual Google games could be just the thing when you are bored with the drudgery of using search engines for their normal everyday use. Try them out for a round or two.


google search games

It started its life as a doodle to celebrate PAC-MAN's 30th birthday. It ended up 'wasting' a combined 4,819,352 hours and $120 million worth of lost time. It wasn't just a static doodle but one you could play with by 'inserting' a coin. The Pacman game on Google became so popular that it now has a permanent home. PAC-MAN remains timeless.


google search games

The Gwigle Game involves guessing the search query by looking at the results. The one hint you get is through the number of question marks that correspond to the characters of the query. Answering correctly takes you up the levels.

The puzzle game also throws up questions from Google Maps, Images and other Google apps like the calculator. That makes the upper levels increasingly difficult. The hints given alongside also point to the different ways to search using Google.

A similar query guessing game can be played at What Did I Search For?


google games

The trick is to find a query made up of two words (without quotes) that returns exactly one result. Any pure word 4 to 30 characters in length qualifies for the Whack. There are some rules which you can check out on the site. The site also has a collection of user-submitted Googlewhacks.

The game is a real brain twister because of the uniqueness of the words that have you have to think up and also the fact that the Googlewhacks as unique search words are short lived (when published and indexed, the word will show up more than once in the search results). Googlewhack is in fact quite a popular web sport.


google games

Think of it as a face-off between two keywords. The one that returns the highest Google search results is the winner. Two animated stick figures fight onscreen after the keywords are entered, and then a bar graph shows the comparative results. Check out the classic fights from the little sidebar to see some funny comparisons. Darth Vader is clearly more popular.


google games

Guess-the-Google is similar to Gwigle but instead of words, it's based on Google Image Search. At the start a grid of 16 images appear. The trick is to guess the common keyword that links all these 16 similar images. And you have 20 seconds to do it in. The game has 10 fun rounds and you can quickly go through it within a few turns of the clock. You get bonus time points too.

On the same page you will find the link to play Montage-a-Google. This is a fun and colorful game on Google Image Search. Using an image search query, the tool lets you create colorful montages in a second. You can download the montage to your desktop.

Google Image Labeler

search games

Google Image Labeler is less of a game and more of a way for Google to improve Google Image Search with some user contributions. It can be played with a partner and that makes it a bit more fun. The game gets one for you if anyone is online and free. You get the same set of images and then have to give the images as many labels as you can think of.

The more precise the label, the more points. Bonus points go to you if your label matches with your partner. The games are timed, so you have to hurry along. Do well and your name gets to be on the leaderboard.

Google Image Quiz

search games

You get three guesses for getting what the images are all about. The images are displayed randomly using Google Image Search but they have a common connection. It's a quick brain exercise.

Occasionally Google launches games which are actually promotional tools. We had the one for The Da Vinci Code and then we had the job of tracking down Jason Bourne (The Bourne Ultimatum).

Then there was another one brought out by Google Book Search last year. Although the contest is officially over, you can still take the The 10 Days in Google Books quiz. One thing is pretty definite, Google always has something around the corner.

Do you know of any other Google Search games that you can play? Which is the one you head to for some quick and casual fun?

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5 Android Running Apps To Help You Work Out & Keep Fit

Posted: 22 Jun 2010 11:31 AM PDT

android running appBeing a nerd takes a heavy toll. Until those virtual reality or electronic hamster balls arrive, we just don’t get that much exercise. That is, unless you choose to. Time to start working out – or, more specifically, to start running.

Ironically, the Android mobile phone proves to be an incredible help. It’s surprising how many (diverse) health applications you can find.

Today’s article is focused on one aspect of working out; running. This can be the sporadical jog, or an extensive marathon run. Five refreshing Android running apps, from the very basic to the especially nifty, to help you keep your digital footing.


Let’s start out with the most obvious one; the stopwatch. From all the alternatives I’ve tried, this one stands divided from the pack. Exclusive in its excellence, both in looks and usability. The application, although drily named StopWatch, also includes a nifty countdown timer.

android running app

The stopwatch allows you to keep track of your time during multiple laps. In short, everything you’d expect, without the useless clutter. Most interesting however is the timer where you can create multiple countdown ‘profiles’. These show their worth during interval runs, when you have to switch between different durations of walking and running. With two flicks of the thumb, you’ve already got your next countdown running.


Apart from passion and competition, there are two incentives that make most people hit the tracks; weight and physique. Better than simply celebrating whatever weight you manage to drop, Libra helps you keep track of start, evolution and goal.

android running app

By periodically adding your weight gain or loss, Libra generates a graph overlaid with BMI-projections. This allows you to classify your current weight, view your progress, and track the decline towards your goal with linear forecasts.

Of course, this Android running app can also be used in conjunction with other workouts.


Where to start? Runstar is a personal running assistant, at the very least. The application keeps track of your workout results during each session (including GPS tracking), and over the entire span of your runs. Use Runstar to set and reach personal goals, every month again.

android running applications

The application also includes a number of more nifty features, like the built-in MP3 player. Hit Power up! when you’re running low on fuel, and Runstar will start blazing a pre-set motivator song. Runstar is already a gorgeous, intuitive and surprisingly motivating app, but more features are said to arrive soon, including time runs, distance runs, shared goals and challenges!


Just over the horizon of endurance training lies the realm of competition. You’ll want to measure your (newfound) running against other people, or – even more challenging – against yourself. Softrace is an incredibly fun Android application that injects the added thrill of competition into every single run.

android running applications

With GPS tracking, you can run a predefined distance against yourself (based on previous runs), or against other opponents worldwide. You can track your opponents live, while you give yourself an all-consuming (international) race.


Be part of an international experiment about movement! Mover, a deceivingly simple Android application doesn’t bother with tracking your GPS location, or even your goals. Instead, it keeps a close eye on just how much you move.

android running applications

Day in, day out, Mover will track your activity level, and classify you accordingly. Are you a Sleeper, Sitter, Lagger, Walker, Mover or Hyper? Mover will keep track, but also try to engage you into bettering your activity level. Just don’t forget to turn it off when you board your train.

These applications should suffice to get you started – and hopefully keep you going. Did we miss a personal favorite? Or do you have personal experience with any of the above? Weigh in in the comments section below!

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How To Turn Your iPhone Into A PDF Reader & Multi Format Document Viewer

Posted: 22 Jun 2010 10:31 AM PDT

iphone pdf readerAfter years of craving and saving, I’m finally able to afford an iPhone (yay!). And being the bookworm that I am, one of the first things that I am going to do is try to find a way to read my PDF collections on the iPhone’s rather small but gorgeous display and bring my ebooks everywhere I go.

So I searched the web and found several possibilities. One of the easiest ways is to use an iPhone PDF reader called GoodReader Lite. This is the free version of the more fully featured GoodReader. But for everyday users, the Lite features are good enough.

Aside from PDF, GoodReader is also capable of viewing text files (.txt), office documents (.doc, .xls, .ppt), images, HTML documents – and even music and videos.

Put The Books On The Bookshelf

You can download the app from the iTunes Store and follow the usual app synchronisation process from your iTunes to install it to your iPhone/iPod Touch. To save some writing space, I will refer to both the iPhone and iPod Touch as iPhone only – unless mentioned otherwise. (And the terms “ebooks” and “PDF” are also applicable to other types of files supported by GoodReader). So, no discrimination here.

The first thing that you should do after installing GoodReader on your iPhone is to move your eBooks to the phone. The process is not as simple as it sounds because by default, you can’t just drag and drop your files to iPhone’s storage.

iphone pdf readerLuckily, GoodReader provides several methods that you can use to achieve this, such as transferring the files via Wi-Fi or downloading them directly from the internet. But the easiest way to do it is by using GoodReader’s USB desktop client. This client will enable your computer to read your iPhone’s GoodReader folder as another storage location.

There are two types of desktop client for GoodReaderUSB: the Windows version and the Mac version. Download and install the client according to your OS. The following was made using the Mac version but the steps are more or less similar on both sides.

After installation, plug your iPhone to the computer and open the desktop client. There are three main panes on the window: the device list, the GoodReader application list, and the storage.

iphone pdf reader

You can directly drag and drop the documents to the storage pane, or you can create new folders to organize the ebooks.

As the majority of eBooks contains mostly text and some images, the transfer process will be done in a flash.

iphone pdf

Close the client and unplug the iPhone.

Let’s Read

Now comes the fun part: reading. Open GoodReader Lite on your iPhone

iphone pdf

And browse to the location of the files.

iphone pdf

The free Lite version of GoodReader limits users to only 5 files inside its folder.

pdf on iphone

If you need to put and view lots of eBooks/documents on GoodReader, you might want to upgrade. But I personally think that upgrading is unnecessary (at least for me) because changing the content of GoodReader’s folder is a snap and reading books takes time. It takes seconds to refill the folder and five books are enough to fill weeks of my time.

The first time you open a document using GoodReader, you’ll see a screen filled with menus.

pdf on iphone

But don’t worry, they will disappear by themselves leaving you with a clean interface. To bring back the menu, tap the middle screen once.

pdf on iphone

You can use iPhone’s famous multi-touch gestures to help with your reading. Pinch out to zoom the page, tap and drag your finger to pan around, and slide to scroll.

06 Zoom.jpg

If you want to read only the text portion of your document, you can use the PDF Reflow feature – the box icon from the bottom menu. This still-experimental feature is similar to the Readable web service which is also used in Safari’s Reader feature.

07 PDF Reflow.jpg

One of the advantages of this feature is the ability to copy the text from one entire page to the clipboard to be used in another application.

08 Copy Text To Clipboard.jpg

You can always go back to the normal view by tapping on the back button.

You can also change the text settings by tapping on the round “Settings” button at the bottom menu.

08b Text Settings.jpg

And it turns out that tapping on different part of the screen will give you different results. To know more about this, tap the Help button and choose “Show Tap Zones“.

09 Help - Tap Zones.jpg

And the “Cheat screen” will appear.

09b Tap Zones.jpg

Another Alternative Method

There’s another method to put your eBooks onto your iPhone that you can try: using Dropbox (as described here), and adding the files that you want to keep in your iPhone using “Favorites“. There are no limitation on how many documents that you can transfer, however, my experiment showed me that transferring large PDF files over the internet could take some time.

Or maybe you could combine Dropbox and GoodReader?  Use Dropbox to store many small size PDFs/documents, and GoodReader to quickly transfer and store 5 big (and most important) ebooks.

GoodReader is also available for iPad (no Lite version, though). And if you have an iPad, I’m sure you’ll have a far better ebook reading experience. But for those with an iPhone/iPod Touch, GoodReader Lite can help you to use your gadget as a very capable ebook reader and multi format document viewer.

If you know of any other similar iPhone PDF readers or other methods, please share them with us using the comments below.

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The 5 Most Advanced Search Engines On The Web

Posted: 22 Jun 2010 09:31 AM PDT

advanced search enginesSearch engines are internet encyclopedias that allow us to find and filter out relevant information. With any given search engine, it takes some skill to find exactly what you are looking for. You must understand how the search engine works and how your search queries are interpreted.

More advanced search engines will meet you halfway, by providing forms for advanced searches, better interpreting your queries, suggesting keywords, or finding unusual context.

In this article I introduce five search engines with such advanced features.

General Search

Whenever you are looking for written information, the general search engines will do the trick. The advanced search gives access to additional features that easily let you refine your search query.


advanced search engines


  • keeps setting new standards.
  • comprehensive, yet easy to use interface.
  • excellent search term suggestions.

Further reading:

Alternative: Yahoo! because it uses a different search engine algorithm and may give less biased results, as discussed in a previous article.

Reverse Image Search

While most general search engines can search for images based on file names or tags, more advanced search engines can read the image and make its content searchable.


advanced search engines


  • creates an image fingerprint.
  • does reverse image search based on the fingerprint.
  • reveals where and how images are used.

Alternative: RevIMG, which offers more features, for example selecting an area of the image to be searched. Unfortunately, the database is limited.

Similar Image Search

Similar image search doesn’t recognize exact copies of a given image, but similar features, such as color, texture, or structures within the image.


all advanced search engines


  • extracts general image characteristics, such as color and shape.
  • searches similar images based on their general characteristics.
  • works with uploaded images and image URLs.

Alternative: Google Similar Images, although it only works with images that have already been indexed.

Further reading:

Invisible Search

Information that is stored in databases is largely invisible to standard search engines because they merely index the contents of websites, following one link after the next. Invisible search engines specialize in hidden data in the so-called Deep Web.


search invisible data


  • access dynamic databases.
  • search within data range.
  • well-documented help section.

Alternative: Saikat documented 9 more search engines in his article 10 Search Engines to Explore the Invisible Web.

Semantic Search

Semantic search is concerned with the exact meaning of a search term, its definition and the search context. Search engines based on semantic search algorithms are thus better at eliminating irrelevant results.

all advanced search engines


  • choose intended meaning for ambiguous terms.
  • save a myriad of personal settings.
  • search other search engines from DuckDuckGo using its !bang feature.

Further reading:

Alternative: hakia because it offers a more compact interface and it lists search results by category.

Apart from the ones mentioned above, there are countless specialty search engines out there. We have profiled many more of them on MakeUseOf:

What advanced search engine do you recommend?

Image credits: Danard Vincente

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Image Spark – Create Mood Boards For Inspiration Or Group Collaboration

Posted: 22 Jun 2010 08:31 AM PDT

mood boardsHave you ever worked on a project that used mood boards to help tell a story? The visual help always complements the story – after all they say a picture is worth a thousand words right? So let’s check out a new website called Image Spark. They let you upload images and create mood boards.

Using Image Spark we can display these mood boards and freely upload images and move them around. This is great in a meeting on a iPad or other touch screen computer. Users can move the images around creating timelines, banners, posters or whatever else they can imagine.

mood boards

Click on the register button on the homepage to sign up for free. You will need to give them your email address but in return you will be given a free 1 gigabyte chunk of webspace and 2 mood boards. Go ahead and fill in the information, agree to their terms and we will soon be on our way to uploading our images.

When you first log in you will see a lot of empty space. Image Spark jokes that your library looks pretty bare and they will offer to help you grow it. The way you add images to your webspace is one of three methods.

mood boards

The three methods that are available are the Firefox plug in, the Mac application and the classic web upload form. I wrote this article on a Windows machine that only had Internet Explorer. So I was forced to use the browser uploader. But if you were using the Firefox plug in you can right click  on any web image and automatically have it uploaded into Image Spark webspace.

If you are using the Mac application you will be able to grab images that you cannot right click on like in Flash animations or while watching a movie. PC users will have to wait for this feature.

mood boards design

So I was stuck using the browser uploader and for the time being that meant uploading one image at a time. I used the form below to fill in some basic information about my image and then I hit the upload button.

Note: If you want to keep your images private and away from the community’s search function you NEED to check the checkbox at the bottom of the form that says: "Make Image Private?". Failing to do so will result in other users finding and seeing your images.

mood boards design

As the images are uploaded you will see them in your “My Library” section of the site. You have to go back to the image uploader to upload another image. This is a downfall of the browser uploader and hopefully will be resolved with future website upgrades.

mood boards design

Now I clicked on the MyMoodboards tab and this is what I saw:

story boards

I clicked to create a mood board and it opened a new window:

story boards

story boards

and here are a few created by the community:

story boards


Use your mood board as inspiration for your next project, a push towards finding direction or in a meeting as a group collaboration tool. We have also covered other group collaboration tools in the past but maybe if they are too much for you then Image Spark is the way to go.

What do you think? Do you know of other similar tools and projects?  If so, let us know in the comments!

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