Saturday, June 26, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [June 25th]” plus 7 more “Cool Websites and Tools [June 25th]” plus 7 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [June 25th]

Posted: 25 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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Idle Keyboard – is a free website that helps employees to take breaks in their work cubicles. Before you start your non-work activity just turn up your speakers' volume, visit Idle Keyboard, and press the button located at the homepage. Immediately your speakers will generate the keystrokes sounds as if you were actually typing something. Read more: IdleKeyboard: Fake Keyboard Typing Sounds While You Surf The Web.


CC Everybody – This web service will give you a email address you can CC any email to. When you do CC an email to this service it will be put onto the World Wide Web for everyone to see. The service also allows people to contact you online, giving you the opportunity to have a conversation in the public eye. Read more: CCEverybody: Easily Publish Emails For Evereone To See.



CreateMyChocolate – Chocolate is delicious, but the candy bars you can buy at your grocery store hardly inspires creativity. does. This brilliant viral marketing gimmick allows you to custom-create your own chocolate bar. Start by selecting the kind of chocolate you want to use, varying from milk chocolate to 64 percent cocoa. Read more: Custom Candy Design Service.



KeepCalm-O-Matic – To keep British Citizens calm during the second world war, King George issued a propaganda poster with the statement "Keep Calm and Carry On". The poster was red in color with white font and King's crown as the only graphic. KeepCalm-o-Matic is a tool that lets you create posters in the same style. Read more: KeepCalm-O-Matic: Create a WWII Style Propaganda Poster Online.



Spycar – Are you 100% sure that your anti-spyware tool completely protects your computer from spyware? If you are not sure, then you should test your anti spyware with Spycar. This website can help you determine whether the anti-spyware software you have installed in your computer can actually recognize and block the latest spyware. Read more: Spycar: Test Your Anti Spyware Tool.


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

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The 5 Best Questions From You [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 25 Jun 2010 06:31 PM PDT

MakeUseOf AnswersMakeUseOf Answers has another winner for Best Answer of the Week. This week the prize goes  to Anshul Dixit for providing a thorough solution to this question: “How can I rearrange retweet and Facebook share buttons in a blog post?” This is the first time that we reward the prize to someone who has won previously. So, way to go Anshul!

A good answer can be worth $50. The only condition is that you provide a valid email address or log in with your Facebook account. For a challenge, have a look at some of our Unanswered Questions.

For some entertainment, browse our Best Questions:

  1. How can I download just the music from a streaming video?
  2. How can I convert a series of pictures into a video?
  3. How can I find a song I don't know?
  4. How can I add YouTube videos as screensaver?
  5. How can I gather positive news and stories fed from across the internet?

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

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Showdown: The Wikipedia Dictionary (Wiktionary) vs Urban Dictionary

Posted: 25 Jun 2010 04:30 PM PDT

wikipedia dictionaryThose of us who spend a lot of time online have a slightly different vocabulary than the rest of the world. We use words like blog, webinar, and meme on a daily basis (and actually know what they mean). There is no need to use a standard dictionary because a lot of the definitions we’re looking for simply won’t be there.

As usual, there’s a simple solution for this. There happens to be two great dictionaries online and they’re both wikis (another Internet word). If you aren’t aware, a wiki is a collaborative website which can be directly edited using only a web browser, often by anyone with access to it. But, why would there be two?

In this article, I’m going to cover the Wikipedia Dictionary and Urban Dictionary. I’ll discuss the pros and cons of each and offer a comparison of the two. You’ll soon see just how different two collaborative websites can become.

Wiktionary – The Wikipedia Dictionary

wikipedia dictionary

Wiktionary is an online dictionary similar to the very popular Wikipedia encyclopedia. In fact, it is one of the 8 Sister Wikis from Wikipedia We Should Be Aware About. Wiktionary is home to hundred of thousands of articles/entries and is completely editable by the online community. Entries can be viewed in dozens of different languages.

What makes the Wikipedia Dictionary – or Wiktionary (and Wikipedia for that matter) – so unique is how precise it is. You would think that a website in which anyone could alter content would be pretty crazy and entertaining at best, but that isn’t the case here.

wikipedia dictionary

Wiktionary, part of Wikimedia, has a strong-willed core group of users known as Wikipedians monitoring the site at all times. These are volunteers that willingly monitor the site to ensure its integrity. Anytime a page is altered with slanderous or inaccurate material it is immediately fixed within seconds or minutes.

wiki dictionary

With the Wikipedia Dictionary, you can find a definition for most any Internet terminology and slang in Wiktionary, but it isn’t necessarily for that purpose. Definitions are very precise and the appearance of the site is that of an ordinary dictionary. Being able to alter it on-the-fly, however, keeps it up-do-date and extremely accurate.

Urban Dictionary

“Urban Dictionary is the dictionary you wrote.” It is similar to Wiktionary in that it can technically be edited by anyone, but it has one colossal difference.

Urban Dictionary isn’t monitored for accuracy or vulgarity by anyone, at least it seems. In fact, a lot of the content on Urban Dictionary is NSFW (not safe for work). I call it the Freedom of Speech Dictionary.

wiki dictionary

What’s great about the site is how amazingly accurate it still is. Any word, slang, or term you could think of is probably there, and if it isn’t you’re free to add a definition yourself.

The site gives its viewers the opportunity to vote definitions up or down, which helps the most useful/helpful definitions rise to the top. You can have a lot of fun while viewing Urban Dictionary but still find what you’re looking for.

wiki dictionary

Looking to start a new saying or meme? Add it to Urban Dictionary.

Wiktionary vs. Urban Dictionary

While both sites generally serve the same purpose, it is amazing how different their governance is.

The Wikipedia Dictionary is popular because it is a credible source and the information is kept neat and accurate. Urban Dictionary is popular because its words/phrases are creatively put together and managed by the community only in the form of votes.

Do both systems work even though they’re different? Yes, they each serve a purpose and should be used as such.

You can find the definition of almost any word or phrase in existence by using these sites in conjunction with one another. They are a reflection of Internet culture and collaborative tools whose reach cannot be measured.

What do you think of the Wikipedia Dictionary and the Urban Dictionary? Can they even really be compared to one another? Hit me with your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below!

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4 New Features of HootSuite That Will Make Your Head Turn

Posted: 25 Jun 2010 02:30 PM PDT

hootsuiteA while back, I wrote about this new web-based Twitter client called HootSuite. They were doing some cool things that really got me back into Twitter. There was also an article about whether desktop Twitter clients were better than web-based Twitter clients and HootSuite really sealed the deal for web-based Twitter clients in my book.

Well, HootSuite’s at it again!  Who knew what kind of changes they had up there proverbial sleeves this time? The word is out and the gig is up because the news about their HTML 5 interface has hit the street. What’s the big deal? Now that they are using HTML 5, the new features will most definitely turn your head. Let’s go through the 4 new features that got my attention and will probably do the same for you.

1. HootSuite now has themes

Who doesn’t like customization? Well, sometimes my lazy side hinders me from getting off my backside to customize something but even I would customize something if it were easy enough. Well, HootSuite makes changing the color theme so simple that even I gave ‘er a whirl. Sure, there’s only three choices now, but who knows, maybe the future will bring us a HootSuite where we can choose our own colors.


2. “Baked in” Google Analytics to keep an eye on those trends

A few months ago, I sat through a free webinar that HootSuite organized and one of their announcements was about Google Analytics integration. As it turns out, I missed a few minutes of the training and the whole Google Analytics thing was kind of cryptic to me. Now, it seems that the “baked in” nature of it all seems like it has made the integration a whole lot simpler. All I really had to do was click a button to connect HootSuite to my Google Analytics account, approve the interaction…


…and viola! Now I can analyze clicks made on links tweeted and even view my own website analytics from within HootSuite.


HootSuite did have Twitter analytics before but the new part is how well integrate Google Analytics is.

3. GeoSearch for tweets in your area

Have you ever wondered who’s tweeting in your area? Now Hootsuite can know your location (if you let it) and it will let you search the tweets in your locale. Basically, type a search word into the search box in the upper right hand corner of the site.  Now if you hit “enter” it will run the search Twitter-wide.  If instead you choose to search tweets near you, just click on the circular-shaped “Geo” icon in the right side of the box.

hootsuite app for windows

Then you can scroll through the results:

hootsuite app for windows

The first time you run a “Geo” search, HootSuite will ask permission to use your location. Knowing that it is only a general location, permission granted.

4. New and improved retweeting

Now not only is retweeting in HootSuite integrated with Twitters retweeting tool, but you can also set up stream in order to follow retweets to you, by you and by your followers. Let me explain.

Retweeting in HootSuite used to be that it would add the old school “RT” before the message being retweeted.  Even while Twitter moved into a new way of doing it, HootSuite still got things done old school. Now retweeting in HootSuite is actually utilizing Twitter’s retweeting tool.

hootsuite app for windows

My only beef is that I haven’t figured out how to add my “two cents worth” at the end of the new retweets. Hey, HootSuite, am I missing something?

You can also keep an eye on the retweeting action by following retweets sent to you, by you and your followers.  All I did in order to do this was added a tab and added the three columns containing the retweeting streams.

HootSuite has also improved overall and has added a few more features I have not mentioned. I am impressed with the better response time of the site in general brought on by the HTML 5 enhancement. If you haven’t tried HootSuite in a while, giver another try. Maybe some of the new implementations will change your mind.

Two questions for the comments: What’s your favorite HootSuite enhancement?  And do you think the changes will bring people to begin using HootSuite?

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The Basics Of Syncing Your iPad With iTunes [Part One]

Posted: 25 Jun 2010 01:31 PM PDT

itunes on ipadIf you are the owner of a new Apple iPad and don’t have much prior experience with the iPhone or iPod touch or similar Apple menu mobile devices, you might find syncing your iPad to iTunes a little bit daunting.

When you first connect the device to your computer, Apple guides you through the setup, but at some point you will want to be familiar with the options available to you when syncing iTunes on iPad, which is basically the only way you manage most of your iPad’s contents, including music, contacts, photos, apps, and ebooks, and keeping it updated.

This article will give you an overview for syncing your iPad with iTunes. More detailed information can be found in Apple's own free iPad User Guide and similar books. You might also want to check out my MUO article about the general settings of your iPad.

itunes on ipad

First off, I assume that you have already synced your iPad with iTunes at least once in order to get signed up. That process is required for you to own and use the iPad.

If you're like me, you probably won’t be syncing your iTunes on your iPad on a regular basis. It's much better when you can sync and update content wirelessly than having to plug and connect the USB cord between your iPad and your computer. Syncing your iPad to your iTunes is mainly useful for adding songs, TV shows, podcasts, photos and other related content to your device. Some content like purchased iTunes songs, apps, and ebooks for iBook Reader can easily be downloaded wirelessly, via Wi-Fi and 3G connections from the iTunes App Store.

When connecting your iPad to your iTunes, here are some of the basics features you need to know about:

Summary Overview

itunes on ipad

By connecting your iPad to iTunes you get to see all your media content – apps, music files, movies, TV shows, podcasts, etc.  One of the first things you can learn, if you have forgotten, is the memory capacity of your iPad. In other words, how much stuff it can hold. The above screenshot shows that my iPad can hold up to 14 gigabytes of content. 64GB is the largest capacity iPad model you can purchase right now.

At the bottom of the information panel is a bar that illustrates a breakdown of content on your iPad. This is very important to know especially if your iPad is filled to capacity. If you're new to the iPad, I'll assume you haven't added a lot of apps to your device. But basically, you will want to keep in mind that songs and videos will take up most of the space on your iPad. Photos, apps, ebooks, and other documents (e.g. PDFs, iWorks documents, other graphic files) tend to take up less space.

itunes for ipad

In the left panel of the iTunes interface, when you click on the triangle of the iPad folder under Devices, it will reveal all the media files, except for your apps and photos, currently added to your iPad.

Software Update & Backups

Typically when the operating system (OS) of the iPad needs to be updated, it will be checked and done automatically by iTunes via a Wi-Fi connection. But if you have missed an update or you want to make sure that your device has the most recent update, just click the Check for Update button and you will get a report back. A recently released iOS4 for the iPhone is scheduled for the iPad next Fall. But there may be minor updates for the iPad before then.

Each time you sync your iPad with iTunes, it will back up new content, such as new apps and documents, added to your iPad since the previous backup. It will not back up your songs and videos that already stored in your iTunes library.

Depending on the size of the content, backing up and syncing the content of your iPad can take several minutes. If you need to know the last time your content was backed up, you can click Apple>Preferences>Devices.

itunes for ipad

If you want to keep iTunes from automatically syncing your content when you connect it to iTunes, you can disable it on the Preference box. When disabled you will need to manually sync it by clicking the Sync on the bottom-right of iTunes.

itunes for ipad

If you want to sync your device to add or delete content without backing up, you can cancel the process by simply clicking the little x in the progress bar at the top of iTunes.

how to sync your iphone to ipad

The same can be done if you want to cancel a sync before it's completed.

how to sync your iphone to ipad


If you ever need to restore your iPad to its original state, you simply click the restore button. Official how-to details about restoring your iPad can be found here on the Apple site. The important thing to remember is to periodically allow iTunes to backup the content of your device just in case something happens.

how to sync your iphone to ipad

Other Options For Syncing


The six other options on the Summary panel include the following:

  • Open iTunes when this iPad is connected: You may want to uncheck this box if you often sync your iPad to another application, or simply want to manually open and run iTunes when you want the syncing process to occur.
  • Sync only checked songs and videos: In iTunes you can actually uncheck songs and movie files so that iTunes won't play them automatically. Checking this box ensures that your unchecked media files will not be synced to iTunes.
  • Prefer standard definition videos: This generally refers to the resolution quality of the videos imported onto your iPad. High Definition video is typically of higher resolution than standard definition; however, high definition may result in larger files.
  • Manually manage music and videos: Check this box if you prefer to manually select and unselect the songs and video content that you want to sync or un-sync on your iPad. If you leave this box unchecked and instead have iTunes automatically sync your media content, then all the media files will be grayed out when you click on the folders inside the navigation panel of your iPad.Manually syncing also means that you can drag and drop music and video files on your iPad, via iTunes.
  • manualmanage.png

  • Encrypt iPad backup: If you're importing sensitive data on your iPad, check this box if you want to encrypt that data when it's backed up on your computer. Note: if you encrypt your data and forget the password, you will not be able to, according to Apple, "restore from backup, and your data will be unrecoverable. For more information on encryption, see Apple's official documentation here.
  • Configure Universal Access: Click this box if you want to access features that are most often used for the visually and eyesight impaired. Clicking Voice Over, for example, speaks items that you tap and double-tap on the screen. If you click Speak Auto-text, it means that when you're typing on the iPad, auto-corrections and auto-capitalizations will be also be voiced. These features can also be turned on and off in the Settings app of the iPad, under General.

In part 2 of this article I will cover the other syncing features found in the other panels of iTunes. These panels include more about syncing music, books, podcasts, and the like.

Feel free to ask any questions you have about syncing your iPad to iTunes. If there are issues that you run into with the syncing process, feel free to share them as well.

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3 Ways To Filter Vuvuzela Noise From The World Cup

Posted: 25 Jun 2010 12:30 PM PDT

vuvuzela noiseThe vuvuzela is a cheap plastic horn that’s recently begotten international fame during the football World Cup in South Africa.

Most people agree that a vuvuzela noise mildly irritating – as if there were a mosquito stuck in your ear. Multiplied by the thousands, it produces a deep, hypnotic rumble, straight from the gates of hell.

While not everyone may hold as big a grudge against it, the sound is testing the nerves of many a soccer fan worldwide. FIFA might still decide to ban the instrument in future endeavors, but until then, here’s how to get rid of the vuvuzela noise yourself.

(Optional) Rerouting The Broadcast Audio

For the first and second (and optionally third) method, you’ll need to find a way to route your broadcast audio through your computer. If you’re watching the game on your PC, all the better. Otherwise, look around for one of these: a stereo RCA to a 3.5 mm TRS jack. These can be found in most houses, and go over the counter for a few bucks.

vuvuzela noise

If you’ve got another method of routing your audio through your computer, have at it. The most important part here is that we turn the TV audio output into a computer input.

1. Devuvuzelator

This little tool was cooked up by Jeff Bargmann from Stardocks, the same guy who was behind Fences. If you manage to run your broadcast audio through your computer, this is probably the simplest tool to remove vuvuzela noise. Simply download and run the app, without a required installation.

vuvuzela noise

You can experiment with certain levels of strength (too weak, and you’re left with vuvuzela ; too strong, and the other audio gets distorted) until you’ve got the most favorable setting.

vuvuzela sound

To hear the filtered audio, double-click on the speaker icon in your taskbar (or use right-click) to open the volume control mixer panel. Look for Microphone or Line In and turn the volume up. It might even be muted to avoid feedback with ‘real’ microphones.

2. LabVIEW Vuvuzela Filter

If the Devuvuzelator doesn’t work (or you want more advanced settings), you can use this alternative Vuvuzela Filter, designed with LabView. On the page, you’ll find a Windows installation that’ll take care of both the runtime environment and the filter. There are also (two) separate downloads available for Mac OS X.

vuvuzela sound

If you know what you’re doing, you can adjust the number (and frequency) of harmonics. More harmonics can do a better job of removing the Vuvuzela noise, if your system can handle the strain. If you don’t hear anything, again make sure that the microphone volume is turned on, as described above.

3. Using EQ Filters

The german site Surfpoeten first figured out the frequencies that need to be ducked in order to surpress the vuvuzela noise. Both of the above are pre-made EQ filters that make use of this technique. You can, however, simply use a manual EQ filter to make your own. The application you use doesn’t matter. That’s why, although the set-up is easier, you don’t (always) need a computer. A lot of TV’s come packed with EQ options as well!

On Windows, one option is to install VSTHost with the ReaEQ filter. On Mac OS X, Garageband will suffice.

vuvuzela sound

The frequencies you’ll want to duck are 465Hz and 235Hz, both reduced by at least 40dB. You’ll need to see what your computer can handle though. Using most applications, you’ll have to create multiple EQ filters, each with part of the offset (as can be seen in the screenshot above).

Do you think the noise of those vuvuzela’s is motivation enough to hook up your TV to your computer? Let us know what you think, and how these filter tricks fared you!

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Yummly – A Recipe Search Engine to Spice up Your Cooking

Posted: 25 Jun 2010 11:30 AM PDT

The number of websites cooking up recipes and dishes is more than you could shake a ladle at. We have a fair sprinkling as well; from recipe suggestion websites to a social network for foodies. There's even one which lets you conduct a recipe search of the dishes they show in the movies.

Apart from the last, Yummly covers almost all the angles you can cook up for a foodie's website.

Yes, Yummly goes the same way by indexing recipes from across the web. The number of recipes it is attempting to index is astounding – 500,000 recipes from sources like Allrecipes, Epicurious, Food Network, Chow, Food & Wine, Martha Stewart, My Recipes, Real Simple, and Recipezaar.

But Yummly goes way beyond a cut and dry recipe index. It adds a lot more to the way you cook or as a wannabe Julia Child would like to cook.

Let's uncover Yummly and see what's brewing. You can use the recipe search engine without a log-in, but creating your own free account helps socially.

Is Yummly Just a Recipe Search Engine?

Yummly is a semantic search engine. Traditional search engines search on the basis of keywords, often ignoring the sense of the specific word or the context in which it is used. A semantic search is meant to bridge that gap.

Semantic search may be web gobbledygook; in simple terms Yummly gives you so many filters to play around with, that finding the right recipe becomes easy. Here's a working example with a search for a pasta recipe.

The Yummly recipe search engine reaches into its database and returns 21,915 recipes. But I want to be more specific. So, I take the help of the FoodFinder. The FoodFinder is a set of seven filters which you can use to pinpoint the specific nature of recipe you want.

For example, I prefer my pasta to be a bit on the spicy side. I can move the slider from No Preference to Really Like. The results immediately update to my choice for the Taste Match. A filter like Courses helps to narrow it down to the exact time of my meal. Cooking time and cost are also great for a bachelor like me who needs to cook it fast and inexpensively. All text entry fields come with dropdown suggestions and they are comprehensive.

Nutrition, Diets, and Allergies should appeal to pound watchers. The Allergies part is really helpful to watch out for potential landmines.

Check out the trusted sources that go into these calculations. It's listed under Nutrition, Allergy, Diet & Price section of the FAQ.

Tweak Recipes to Your Taste

If the option rich FoodFinder was a help, then the individual recipe page takes the guesswork out of cooking. You can tweak any recipe by changing the number of servings and modifying the ingredients. Changing the ingredients as per servings is usually where things go wrong. This is where the web application recalculates the optimum quantities that should go into the recipe.

recipe search

The preparation steps stay the same though. You can also substitute one ingredient with another. The web app includes the substitutions via a dropdown.

recipe search

You can check the nutrition facts and other details on the right. The recipe page also gives you the option to upload your own photo of the dish. Make the modified recipe your own with a click on Save.

That's not the only way you can build your recipe collection.

Yummly allows you to import your recipes from food sites like All Recipes and Food Network. But the feature to upload your own recipe is still missing.

The Good Word from the Curry Crowd

recipe search

Cooking tips from the social community on Yummly is a great way to discover likeminded souls. Yummly calls them TasteBuds. Think of them as your 'taste buddies' with whom you may want to share similar tastes with, or recipes and ideas. You can invite them over from Facebook or check out the Leaderboard.

The easiest place could be the homepage itself which gives a fair inkling of what's going on in the site. Once you start frequenting the site, getting a gathering of foodies isn't going to be a chore.

So, polish the pan and hop over to Yummly and let us know if this fresh web service is done just right.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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The Ultimate Guide To Gmail [PDF]

Posted: 25 Jun 2010 10:16 AM PDT

Email – a tool on the internet that has changed everybody’s lives. The majority of us probably have at least one email account, and some of may even have 2, 3, 4, or even more than that. People use email everyday whether it be for work, school, or our personal lives. But what email provider is best for you? Gmail seems to be the preferred choice for many.

Today, we will be focusing on Gmail or sometimes called Google Mail, and present MakeUseOf's Ultimate Guide To Gmail written by Taty Sena from SimplyTatyDesigns.

Inside the 34 page eBook you will learn:

  • The history of Gmail and how it began
  • Why you should choose Gmail over another email provider
  • How to use Gmail, manage and organize your emails
  • Getting the most out of Gmail
  • Instructions on how to use Gmail with other email providers
  • Links to best Gmail tips and hacks.
  • Access Gmail on a mobile device
  • Gmail Buzz
  • And much more…

This guide will help you to switch from your current email provider to Gmail and shows you how to make most of it. That being said, if you already use Gmail, why not have a quick look of last few chapters that have a few handy tips even for advanced users.

So get your Gmail game on and download MakeUseOf's Ultimate Guide To Gmail now or read it online at Scribd.

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