Tuesday, June 29, 2010

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [June 28th]” plus 9 more

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [June 28th]” plus 9 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [June 28th]

Posted: 28 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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What’s On – Turn your iPhone into an ultimate entertainment guide using What's On application. It is a mobile TV guide app for iPhone and the iPad. You can find the schedule of the movie you'd like to watch at a theatre nearest you, or the time of your favorite television show. You can customize list of channels, receive updates about the schedule, and read articles about your favorite shows. Read more: What'sOn?: Mobile TV Guide App For iPhone/iPad.


Mombo – Gone are the days when people used to write long paragraphs while reviewing a movie and describing whats good and bad in the movie. In this new age, 140 characters is all you need to share your thoughts about a movie. Mombo is an excellent website that takes all the tweets related to a particular movie and organize them well. Read more: Mombo: A Twitter Based Movie Review & Rating Site.



Touristiness Map – Vacations are an important part of your life. You keep on working in this fast paced world and vacation is just the thing to relax your body and mind. While some people opt for vacations spots with a lot of activity, many people desire a vacation with peace and tranquility. To find a vacation spot with not many tourists, World Touristiness Map gives you a hand. Read more: Touristiness Map: Worlds Least & Most Touristy Places



Albumwash – If you have are looking for a particular music album and cannot find it on torrents, perhaps it is time you paid a file hosting website a visit. Albumwash is a free to use music website that aggregates free full downloadable music albums. The site has indexed file hosting links of countless audio music albums, both old and new. Read more: Albumwash: Aggregates Links To Free Full Downloadable Music Albums.



Fauxsaics – Photo Mosaics are interesting ways to visually describe a set of events or set of thoughts. You can combine as many different pictures as you want and create a single image that illustrates the point. There are many desktop software available to make photo mosaics but if you want something quick, Fauxsaics is the way to go. Read more: Fauxsaics: Make Photo Mosaics Online.


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

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Top 10 Most Downloaded Educational Software [Movers & Shakers]

Posted: 28 Jun 2010 06:30 PM PDT

It's time once again for our featured Movers and Shakers post. Each week, we take one software category and list the top ten most downloaded free apps CNet category entitled Educational Software.

These are applications that students can take advantage of or anybody for that matter. These are tools that help us study. The top 10 is made up of language software, dictionaries and even some religious applications. Let's see what they have for us today:

1. WordWeb

1 Using this application, we can look up definitions, synonyms and antonyms without having to open a web browser. It has a hot key so you can mouse-over the word you want to analyze and hit the key combination. This is a brilliant free application.

2. Athan (Azan) Basic

2 Holding second place is a tool for Muslims to help them perform their daily prayers. The application will call you to prayer at the appropriate time of day, every day.

3. Google Earth

3 Google's atlas that allows us to look up and discover the earth. Using Google’s knowledge you can find out all sorts of interesting geographical information from your computer.

4. Rapid Typing Tutor

4 Rapid typing tutor says that it can teach you to touch type or speed up your typing abilities. Download and use it regularly to improve your keyboard skills. This can help young kids new to typing as well as people who have been typing for years.

5. TypingMaster Typing Test

5 Using this application, you can discover how fast you type and learn how to improve upon it. This is a great application for users who have been typing for a long time and want to improve their words per minute.
  1. Ela-Salaty Another Muslim application calling you to prayer time.
  2. MecaNet Want to learn to type better? MecaNet guarantees success. Their words, not mine!
  3. Viper – the Anti-plagiarism Scanner Put your document through the ringer to check for plagiarism.
  4. I-Doser Synchronize your brain waves to achieve the mood you are looking for.
  5. Google Maps with GPS Tracker This is Google’s downloadable version of Google Maps with GPS enabled.

Do you have other educational applications that you use regularly? We would love to hear about them in the comments below!

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App and Folder Organizing Tips for the iPhone iOS 4

Posted: 28 Jun 2010 04:30 PM PDT

organize iphone appsWhile there are a handful of very useful features in Apple’s latest iPhone operating system update, iOS 4, the most handy feature available in the iPhone 3G, 3GS, and of course iPhone 4 is the new folder structure for organizing apps.

With all the free and low cost apps in the Apps Store, it’s quite easy to become an iPhone apps junkie and amass several hundred apps. Apple’s new folder feature is a direct result of the popularity of apps by iPhone users. Having to flip through several pages of apps is not a great user experiences, but with folder structure you can now organize iPhone apps and say reduce 10 pages of apps on your iPhone down to three or four, depending how you organize them.

Steve Jobs presented the new folder feature as easy as dropping one app on top of another to create a new folder. Yes, that’s easy to do, but if you have several hundred apps on your iPhone, that process is a lot more tedious than most will like. So after spending about thirty minutes organizing my own iPhone apps and folders, I thought back through the process and want to suggest some possible tips and strategies to make it a little easier for you to organize your iPhone apps.

Tip 1: Know How Many and What Type

Before you start creating folders on your iPhone, you might consider first connecting your iPhone to your iTunes and get an overall assessment of the number and type of apps you’ve collected since you got you first started downloading them. After connecting your iPhone to iTunes, click on the Apps icon in the left navigation bar of iTunes.

organize iphone apps

In the resulting panel, you can see the number of apps installed in your media library and the number installed on your iPhone and other Apple mobile devices that you use. While viewing apps on the iTunes, this is a good time to check and download app that need to be updated.

Tip 2: Genres and Categories

The key to app folders is to sort apps by category. In iTunes, you can click on the Genres button to get an overview of the categories for the apps you have downloaded.

organize iphone apps

Being familiar with your categories might provide a way to figure how you want to set up folders, especially for those categories with more than 10 apps.

Tip 3: Clean Up the Clutter

The process of organizing apps will be much easier if your prune the number of apps you have installed on the iPhone. Apple provides a three useful apps views that can be helpful for both managing your apps and deselecting the ones that you’re not using.

software to organize iphone apps

Use the ‘Sort By’ button to view your apps by Category. This will reveal which categories you have several similar apps. If for example you have eight book apps, you might deselect the ones you never use, or because one app might trump two or more others because of the useful features it provides. Deselecting an app doesn’t delete it from your iTunes media library, it just gets it off the phone.

software to organize iphone apps

Also click ‘Sort by Date’. This view will give you an idea about your oldest and newest apps. You might find that apps you download back in say 2008 are ones that you are no longer using and can be unchecked.

software to organize iphone apps

If apps are taking a significant amount of space on your iPhone, use the ‘Sort by Size’ to find out which apps are the largest and thus candidates for deselecting.

Tip 4: Creating Folders

Actually organizing and creating folders of apps is the most tedious part of the process, especially if you have a hundred or more apps installed on your iPhone. If those apps are not already organized, the task of creating a folder structure means flipping though app pages, creating folders, and dragging apps to those folders.

app to organize my iphone apps

So first off, based on my experience, it might be easier to start the sorting process while you have your iPhone connected iTunes. You can create folder structures in the same way you do on the iPhone. Simply drag one app onto another. This will create a folder with a suggested category.

Like it or not, each folder on the iPhone can only contain up to the 12 apps. Personally, I like this because it means when folders clicked on you don’t have to scroll through to find and select apps.

app to organize my iphone apps

The only draw back to organizing apps and folders via iTunes is that it’s difficult to move apps from one page to another and to an existing folder. As far as I see there’s no easy solution for this. It’s a tedious task no matter how you choose to do it.

app to organize my iphone apps

The benefits of taking the time to organize your growing collection of apps is that now you don’t have to flip through pages to find them, but instead locate them in appropriately labeled folders.

Let us know your tips and strategies for readers to organize iPhone apps and folders. What suggestions do you have for Apple that might improve the process?

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10 Ways to Visualize Time Zones around the World and Be On Time

Posted: 28 Jun 2010 02:30 PM PDT

time zones around the worldIf you are a Phileas Fogg, then you would really need to be savvy about time zones around the world. Going around the world in eighty days surely must have been befuddling for him as it is for me sitting in my armchair. Time is the one thing that controls our life, more than anything else.

As you sit here reading this post, you are a traveler in some sense of the word. The post has been written by someone who has probably seen the sun set, while you might not yet have seen it rise.

If you are a web worker, then time zones take on a different urgency. You really need to be on top of it so that you can meet your deadlines or send out something at the exact time.

Working out the time (and date) difference is quite easy with the number of web tools we have at hand. Time zone converters easily do the clock math for you. There are even handy tools that help you email smarter as per the time zone.

Being a visual person, I sometimes like to visualize the time zones across the world on a map. We have covered some before. Here's a list of ten interactive time zone maps.

Time Ticker

time zones around the world

Time Ticker is an interactive Flash clock which shows the current times around the world. You get accurate atomic times by moving your mouse over the map and highlighting the region. You can be more specific with the list boxes that give the names of the cities and town for that region. The difference with GMT and Daylight Saving Time if active is displayed. If you have a Real Player installed, the time map can even announce the time. An added feature lets you adjust your computer clock (IE and Windows required). You can also get TimeTicker on your iPhone or iPod.


time zones around the world

With Time Zone Check, you get three clocks and a world map. Hovering your mouse over any location tells you the standard time and the Daylight Saving Time if any. You can compare these two clocks with the third, which takes your local time from the computer's clock. A search field helps to locate the time for any place on Earth. You can also save your locations. A narrow strip at the bottom of the browser windows indicates the date by using color.

Read the previous mention Time Zone Check in our Directory.


world time zones

Time.is covers 7 million locations around the world and helps you to compare their time with your own. All that with a large digital clock. The web app takes into account DST and also mentions the sunrise and sunset time. An information list tells you about the time zone details, the latitude and longitude, demographic information, details on holidays and observances for the day, and a Wikipedia link.

Using Time.is and its atomic clock feedback, you can adjust your own PC clock. Other options allow you to alternate between white and black themes for the clock display and a few display format changes.

Every Time Zone

world time zones

Every Time Zone describes in a line the reason behind easy interactive time zone maps: Never warp your brain with time zone math again.

Every Time Zone is an online service that automatically converts your local time to 12 time zones so that you don't have to do it yourself. The times displayed for the cities are offset from the UTC. DST is also indicated in brackets. Moving the green slider for the local time adjusts the time accordingly in other zones. The relative time of the day is also indicated by the colored tones of the bars.

The cities covered for each region are Honolulu, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Rio de Janeiro, London, Vienna, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Sydney, and Auckland.

Read the previous mention Time Zone Check in our Directory.


world time zones

The Flash application displays world times on an interactive map. You can know the current time with a mouseover on the indicated time zones or locations. The map can be customized to set your own clocks for three time zones around the world. Clicking on any location takes you into a more detailed informational page with information like DST offsets and time for any other cities nearby.


international time zones

Qlock is the simplest app which is on our list. Mouse the mouse over the screen to note the current times or find a city using the search box. The little time box also shows the difference with the GMT, and DST if any. You can find out the whereabouts of a location from the Google maps that come with the clock. Qlock also comes as a downloadable app for Windows, iPhone, and the iPad.

Daylight Map

international time zones

At first glance, Daylight Map shows the world as night and day. Getting into the Options lets you set clocks (up to 10) for any areas on the map. You can set the clocks by address, by map click, or by latitude and longitude. Clocks can be analog, digital, or color coded. You can also select to set the location of the sun at the present moment.

Entering the site, you have the cool nighttime view (Night mode) which takes in data from Google and shows the lighted up areas around the Earth. If you want to see the time zones in greater detail, the Google Maps API displays it all with color codes.

World Time Zone

international time zones

World Time Zone is like a quick reference chart that displays the time zones in detail. DST is also indicated by yellow markers on the map.

Daylight Saving Time

world clock time zones

With Daylight Saving Time's chart like display you can easily see how changes in DST can shift time differences. You can select two locations and see the time difference in color during the current and subsequent six month periods. The site also has a meeting scheduler (with a free starter edition) which can integrate with your Google calendar or Gmail.

Google Earth

world clock time zones

Time zones can be easily visualized on Google Earth. You just need the right KML file. The Google Earth Library has one which is a bundle of different world time zone data and maps found on the web. From the CIA Factbook to Barnabu's cool visualization tool, you have a few options to play around with.

You can also combine the Firefox add-on Fox Clocks with Google Earth. Though it won't show you a time map on Google Earth, it will take you there when you click on the time information of a location.

If I remember my classic, it was the late realization of the International Date Line that won Phileas Fogg the bet. It may not be so drastic for us, but these time zone visualization tools make it far easier for us to be on the clock and on time. Would you agree?

Image credit: feureau

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4 Tricks To Get Better Results From Job Search Engines

Posted: 28 Jun 2010 01:30 PM PDT

job search enginesTrying to find a job is hard enough, but when you’re bombarded with a flurry of online listings from search engines, it can get pretty overwhelming. Going through pages and pages of job listings gets old quickly, so how do you take control of your search and get to the bottom of it all?

Look no further than this list to help you out. It’s easy to refine your search to make it more personal and specific to your skills or needs. Save time and energy by knowing exactly where to and what to search for so that you can finally find the job you’re looking for. Let’s try to make the search engine do its job and work for you this time.

Here are 4 tricks to get better results from job search engines.

Search By Industry

First off, it’s a good idea to start by broadening your search before narrowing down your results. To do so, the job search engine site CareerBuilder has a nifty Industry Search feature.

job search engines

Simply type in a keyword like a job title or category, enter in a location, and select an industry from the comprehensive list in the drop down menu. You can also feel free to browse all of the jobs in a particular industry manually.

Search By Company

You can also search for jobs by company. CareerBuilder’s Company Search provides a huge list of companies to browse through and see if there are any openings available. Just do a quick search by entering a company name. Feel free to choose from the alphabetical listings for companies that you would like to further research, too. Each company has its own page for you to review all of the job details and information.

job search engines

Over at Yahoo HotJobs, there’s also the useful option of searching for jobs by company. This time, you can specify the location, industry, and number of employees.

job search websites

Use Advanced Job Search Engine Options

Instead of just using a website’s quick search default of merely typing in a keyword and location, try to narrow your results further by taking advantage of the advanced search option.

Take the popular Indeed job search engine, for example. When you go advanced, you can search for multiple keywords, an exact phrase, disqualify certain words, and more. You can also specify which job type or commitment (full-time, part-time, contract, etc.) you’d like, if you want jobs from only employer websites or not, and enter in a minimum salary estimate per year. As for the location of the job, you can even pin down how far you’re willing to travel.

job search websites

All of these options are easy and effective ways to refine your search for better results. Most job search engines feature them, including Juju, LinkUp, Monster (just click on “More Search Options”), and CareerBuilder. For more, check out the Top 10 Most Effective Job Search Websites.

Use Search Engine Filters

To further narrow your results, pay attention to any of the job filters available as you search. On Simply Hired for instance, there’s a bunch of filters available to get rid of all the useless listings and get straight to the point. You can filter out any old listings and just display new ones, enter in your experience, education, and much more.

job search websites

Just about every job search engine has filter options, usually displayed to the side of the listings, so take advantage of them when you can.

Do you have any tricks of your own to get better results from job search engines? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: Robert S. Donovan

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3 Sites to Help Increase Traffic to Your Photo Blog

Posted: 28 Jun 2010 12:30 PM PDT

how to increase traffic to blogIt’s easy to start a photoblog. It’s much harder to drive traffic to it. There are many photography communities out there like Flickr, Picasa, Zoomr and many more, which allow you share your photos with other users, receive comments, critiques and ratings. And while you can add a link to your photoblog to your profile, that won’t necessarily do the trick in bringing more visitors to your site. So how do you make your photoblog stand out from the crowd?

The following three sites are high quality, often strictly moderated communities, which allow you to share links directly to specific images on your photoblog. You can participate in challenges, and also benefit from features found in other communities, such as receiving comments, favourites and more. But most importantly, your photoblog will receive exposure amongst your peers. However, some of these communities require a thick skin since your photoblog has to be approved before being listed.

Photo Friday

Photo Friday is a great photo community with a twist. Rather than have you upload your photos to their site, each Friday they give their users a new challenge. They use various words or phrases as a point of inspiration for your next photograph and you have one week to submit your image.

how to increase traffic to blog

The best thing about Photo Friday is that you don’t even have to sign up to use the site. Simply submit your link and your name, and the link to your photograph will be added to the home page.

how to increase traffic to blog

Don’t be fooled by the use of the word challenge – there are no prizes. Photo Friday aims to push users to take photographs on a weekly basis. Users can benefit from recognition and it’s a great way to get exposure for their sites.

There are two ways to get noticed on Photo Friday. The first way involves user votes, where the top 6 photos to get the most “Noteworthy” votes will be linked to on the home page.

how to increase traffic to blog

The second  is a recently implemented feature using a Twitter account, PFSpotligt, where the moderators post their personal favourites that don’t necessarily make it into the Noteworthy Picks. A few of these are also featured under ‘The Spotlight’ on the home page.

blog traffic

Unlike the other two sites listed here, Photo Friday relies purely on peer voting, which means that it’s your fellow photographers that will decide if you are featured in the noteworthy section.

Cool Photoblogs

For the serious photographer, Cool Photoblogs can be a great means of exposure – but it’s not as easy as just registering for an account. You’re photo blog has to be approved by a moderator to be added to the site.

blog traffic

Cool Photoblogs has their own weekly challenge with an inspiration point, where registered users can submit external URLs to their photographs, instantly driving traffic to their photoblog. Thumbnails of noteworthy photos submitted to the challenge are featured on the home page.

blog traffic

Newcomers and Top Contributors are listed under separate tabs, or you can browse random listings of contributors’ blogs, or browse by location. They are also currently voting for the 2010 Photoblog Awards so it’s definitely a good time to sign up.

blog traffic increase

Registering for an account means that your blog will be under the Newcomers tab, under pending approval. Don’t be surprised if it takes them a while to get back to you – they have about 55 pages worth of blogs pending approval.

If you manage to get past their vetting process, your profile page will feature a link to your blog, the date it was added, your location, and a short bio.

blog traffic increase

VXFY Photoblogs

The hardest part of registering for an account on VXFY Photoblogs is finding the register link. It’s cunningly hidden out of sight at the bottom of the page, but once you’ve registered and activated your account, there are countless ways to interact with other users.

The first step is to add your Photoblog, using it’s RSS feed.

blog traffic increase

But the listing does come at a price. VXFY requires that you add a button or link to VXFY to your blog.

The final step is to add some additional information about your photoblog including Photoblog name, URL, and where on your blog you will feature the VXFY button.

In addition, all posted blogs have to go through a vetting process that can take up to a few weeks.

VXFY, like Photo Friday and Cool Photo Blogs, has a weekly challenge, which allows you to submit an external URL to a photo that fits that week’s challenge. All postings submitted will be featured on the page, provided that they adhere to the theme. Weekly challenges are updated every Friday, and they have a voting system in the works.

Other features include administrator selected Weekly Picks, a daily mosaic of the latest images submitted to member photoblogs, and a page that features the images that have received the most favourites.

With any given image, you can view the rest of that Photoblog’s posts, email the image to a friend, view the text that accompanies the image or add it to your favourites, or ‘collection.’

The website can feel a little confusing at times, but once you have the hang of it, there is a great community behind it, and of course, is yet another means for exposure.

If you’re interested in other unique photography communities, be sure to take a look at 4 Photo Websites to Share One Photo a Day

How do you drive traffic to your photoblog? Let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Erin MC Hammer

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4 Best Sites To Get 10GB Free Online Backup & Storage

Posted: 28 Jun 2010 11:30 AM PDT

best free online storageIn today’s digital world, our entire life — both work and home — are tied to computers. Hard disks are unpredictable and are prone to failures leading to data loss. Research shows that every year 43% of computer users lose valuable data. The best way to hedge your data storage risk is to store critical data on the cloud.

Cloud storage services offer paid monthly subscriptions either for unlimited storage or for hundreds of gigabytes of data. Most of us do not have that much critical data to backup and therefore it would be a total waste of money. And for those of us who have data which cannot be stored using the 1 or 2GB free space offered, we have a list of four of the best free online storage services that offer free space of more than 10GB.

Windows Live SkyDrive

best free online storage

Despite having a name that is quite a mouthful, Windows Live Skydrive is one of the most popular and extremely useful cloud based service from Microsoft. Windows Live Skydrive offers a hefty 25 GB free storage space to all users.

There is absolutely no need to install and configure a desktop client. All you have to do is log into the Windows Live Skydrive account wit your Live ID and you can just drag & drop files into the folders. In addition to having password protected private folders, you can create new folders, make it public and share the files with friends, family or coworkers.

Each folder has a unique weblink which you can mail to anyone you want and the files can accessed from any web connected device like a PC or a smartphone. You can read our review of Windows Live Skydrive here.


best free online storage

IDrive is a top notch remote online backup solution. Like all its competitors, IDrive offers 2GB free storage for users to evaluate the service. With desktop clients for Mac & PC, true archiving, continuous data protection, time line restore, versioning and many more world class features IDrive is a rock solid online backup platform. Wondering how IDrive is relevant in this list? Patience, dear readers is a virtue! Now immediately after signing up, we will be redirected to a sign up onfirmation and referral page.

You can refer IDrive to your friends by submitting the email login credentials of AOL, Gmail, MSN or Yahoo. If there are more than 5 valid email addresses in your address book, IDrive bumps up your account with a free 10 GB storage space. This referral space does not expire and is on top of the 2 GB free space of the basic plan. Contacts you refer get two emails from IDrive promoting their product and if you want to bypass this, sign up with an email id you sparsely use thereby not annoying your friends & family.


With its free account, humyo provides one of the best free 10GB online storage solutions. The free storage space is split into two parts – 5GB for media files (Photos, Videos, Music) and the rest of the 5 GB for non-media files. Since this being a free account, we will not have access to the desktop client. But fret not, humyo has a brilliant web-based file explorer that allows you to upload, share and download files in a jiffy.


Binfire offers a free 10 GB online storage space for all your files, which can accessed from a intuitive web interface. Just like Windows Live Skydrive, Binfire also lets you create and share multiple folders with your friends and family. You can also send emails right from within the Binfire account.

Each one of these services have their own strong suites. Personally, I use IDrive for backing up data and found it to be seamless & blazing fast. With the launch of Office Web in a few days, Windows SkyDrive is going to be a Google Docs killer. And, if you are a media junkie, humyo is the right fit as you can stream media and view images directly from your account.

If you need more storage than 25 GB, check out how to score 50 GB free storage space online from Wuala here. Do you know about any other examples of the best free online storage solutions that offer 10 GB or more free space?

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Why TRIM is Important to Solid State Hard Drives? [Technology Explained]

Posted: 28 Jun 2010 10:30 AM PDT

solid state hard driveIf you have ever owned or have considered owning an SSD you may have heard reviewers and other commentators talking about TRIM support. You may also have picked up on the fact that TRIM support is a rather big deal. News posts on major tech sites constantly report that brand X has added TRIM support, making a big fuss about it again and again.

However, these new reports rarely explain what TRIM support actually is, which may make it hard for you to understand why TRIM is such a big deal and why you really do need it on your SSD or any solid state hard drive you might be thinking of buying.

A Quick Solid State Drive Tutorial

Before you can properly understand why tech websites talk so much about TRIM. you need to beef up your knowledge about how solid state hard drives work.

A solid state drive is simply a circuit board full of flash memory chips and a controller which is in charge of figuring out the best way to move data around the drive and to your computer. Flash memory chips are much, much faster than a disks because there is no mechanical element to them. When you write data to a flash memory some electrical charges are manipulated and presto! Your data is saved.

solid state hard drive

In order for this process to make sense as data, however, the SSD has to arrange data in a certain way. Usually, a flash memory cell will have larger memory chunks called “blocks” which are made up of smaller memory chunks called “pages”.

When a SSD is first installed in a system, it is empty; so everything works as you’d expect. When you write a file to the drive the data is arranged into blocks and pages by the SSD’s controller. Because the drive is empty, this isn’t too complex. The write proceeds normally and is very quick, much quicker than any mechanical hard drive.

Penalty Box

The problem comes when you try to write files to pages which are already occupied by data. This isn’t something which happens only when a SSD is nearly full, because writing data to a solid state hard drive isn’t linear.

Let’s say you have six pages available represented by the letters A to F. Intuitively, you’d expect data to be written linearly, progressing from A to F. In reality, data is not so well structured. The order might be B, then D, then A, and so on. There is no mechanical component in a SSD, so data from all pages can be retrieved equally quickly. In addition, Windows does not automatically scrub all data from a page when the information it contains is deleted. A SSD when appears to be half full, may in fact have all of its pages used.

solid state hard drive

Whenever you try to write data to a page which is used, you encounter something called the “block-rewrite penalty”. Pages are very specifically arranged in blocks. If you have to replace the data in a page, you have to rewrite all the data on the entire block. A page is usually 4KB, and a block is usually 512KB, so suddenly you’re dealing with far more data. All of the information in the block has to be written into the SSD’s cache, so that it is not lost, then the data is re-written to the entire block and all of its pages.

Seems time consuming, doesn’t it? It is. In the best case scenario, an SSD encountering this penalty will write data five times slower. In the worst case, an SSD may be twenty times slower when writing data.

TRIM Saves the Day

Now you may be saying to yourself – jeez, this seems like a silly way of doing things. Why can’t a single page be deleted so that the entire block doesn’t have to be erased and re-written?

The reason, quite simply, is that solid state drives are new. It is only in the last year that an explosion of consumer-level SSDs has occurred. Computers have been using mechanical hard drives for decades now, and operating systems are optimized for them.

TRIM is a command specification which actually gives an operating system the ability to tell a solid state drive specifically what page holds the data which the user has deleted. The SSD’s controller can take this information and then use it to wipe out specific pages rather than entire blocks. The problem of a block-rewrite penalty really boils down to a communication issue. Today’s SSDs have no way of knowing what pages were deleted, which is why they end up erasing and re-writing the entire block.

solid state drive

Implementation of TRIM support has to occur in the operating system and in the SSD’s firmware. Microsoft has implemented TRIM support in Windows 7 and also in Windows Server 2008 RS, and so far they are the only major operating systems to offer TRIM support. Many of today’s solid state drives also ship with TRIM enabled firmware, but not all of them. SSDs with TRIM support include:

  • Corsair Nova, Performance and Reactor
  • Crucial M225
  • Intel X25-M
  • G.Skill Falcon
  • Kingston SSDNow Drives
  • OCZ Agility, Summit and Vertex
  • Patriot Torqx
  • SuperTalent Ultradrive

This is not every drive on the market, and there is the possibility that drives which don’t support TRIM will have TRIM enabled with a future hardware revision. If you’re in doubt, visit the website of the SSD manufacturer you intend to buy from. They’ll usually trumpet TRIM support if they have it.


TRIM support is a big deal. If you’re buying an SSD now or in the future, you want it. If you already have an SSD, you should check your manufacturer’s website to see if they have a firmware update which enables it on your drive. With TRIM, your computer’s SSD will always be happily buzzing along at its maximum speed.

Image Credit: Avye

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The Three Best Free FTP Clients for Windows

Posted: 28 Jun 2010 09:30 AM PDT

free ftp clientsMost of today’s web hosting provider supply some sort of web-based solution for uploading files. These work well enough for basic purposes, but they tend to have a slow and clunky interface and limited features. Downloading or uploading huge directories of files can be a pain.

That is where a dedicated free FTP client comes in. An FTP client is a program which installs on your computer and can connect to a web server in order to upload and download files. Because the interface is on your local machine it is very responsive. You can upload very large numbers of files quickly.

While there are a few paid FTP programs, most users will be more than satisfied with the free FTP clients available.

Free FTP

free ftp clients

Free FTP, by Coffeecup Software, is a good example of why having a great user interface is always important. As will be discussed when reviewing the other two free FTP clients on this list, it seems that those designing interfaces for fairly technical programs assume that their users don’t need an intuitive design. But intuitive design is always more fun to use, and Free FTP’s very simple, straight-forward interface makes it the easiest free FTP client here to jump in and start using if you don’t have any prior experience.

There are no secrets here. If you want connect to a server, you press the server button and enter your details. This rudimentary action needlessly complex in the other FTP clients listed here. If you want to upload or download files, you select them and click upload or download. The files are automatically sent to the folder you have open in the browsing windows.

The excellent interface does come at the expensive of overall functionality. For example, the status of uploads and downloads is not well detailed, which can leave you a bit in the dark when dealing downloading or uploading lots of files. There is also no readily status, as you’ll find with other FTP clients. Connecting to a server simply results in the movement of a progress bar rather than a break-down of what has occurred.


free ftp clients

Go FTP is all about speed, speed, speed. Visit the program’s home page and you’ll find a nice big graph which compares Go FTP to the final free FTP client on this list, Filezilla. According to Go FTP’s home page, Go FTP is 210% faster than Filezilla overall.

Is it true? To find out, I conducted my own tests by uploading and downloading a a folder and timed how long it took. The folder was only 1MB in size, but had 62 files in 12 folders. With Go FTP, the upload of the folder took 40 seconds and the download took 30 seconds. FileZilla took one minute and eight seconds to upload the folder and one minute two seconds to download the folder. That’s a substantial increase in the time taken to upload and download files, and actually is in the ballpark of Go FTP’s claims. That surprised me – you can imagine, for example, how much time this could save you if you need to upload a much bigger folder with many more files.

Despite the speed, Go FTP’s functionality and interface stumbles. The program’s appearance is unfortunate - it looks like a program which was made for Windows 95 and hasn’t been updated since. There is a status window, but many other features which you might take for granted in Free FTP or FileZilla don’t exist. There are no bookmarks, no speed limits, and no tabs. While not everyone will need these features, they do seem like rudimentary improvements. Still, the speed of Go FTP can’t be denied, so if you need to upload or download a lot of files in a hurry, this free FTP client is worth a look.

FileZilla FTP

FileZilla is the most popular free FTP client currently available. Despite what the name may suggest, it is of no relation to any Mozilla project. However, its popularity is quite similar – it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Filezilla is the Firefox of free FTP clients.

The reason for FileZilla’s success is functionality. FileZilla may be a free client, but it can do just about anything that you’d need. These features aren’t just arcane or complex functions only web gurus will appreciate, either. One feature which everyone can fall in love with is the ability to drag and drop files to your desktop from FileZilla, and vice versa. The other free FTP clients don’t support this. If there is a file on your desktop you want to upload you need to navigate the client to your desktop folder on your hard drive and then upload the file.  FileZilla also includes the option to connect to multiple sites with the same client window through the use of tabs.

This isn’t to say that FileZilla is perfect, however. FileZilla’s main problem is the relatively arcane nature of its interface. Consider this screenshot below, for example.

Yes, those icons do handle important parts of the FTP client. But you wouldn’t know that by looking at them. The only icons with obvious purpose are the refresh and stop icons. The rest? Well, you’re going to have to use them to find out.

This is a problem which persists throughout the FileZilla interface. Another strange interface feature is the decision to leave a local site and remote site directory tree menu in the main interface of the program by default. You can turn these off, but their existence gives the program a very cluttered and confusing look at first glance. It would be nice if they were off by default and could be turned on if needed.


So, which is the best?

That depends. I think Go FTP is in third overall, because it feels a bit dated. Still, if you have to download or upload files quickly, Go FTP is worth a look.

That leaves FileZilla and Free FTP. Between them, I think the difference comes down to your goals and your level of expertise. I usually use FileZilla, so I was a little surprised at just how much more palatable Free FTP’s interface is. FileZilla could learn a thing or two from Free FTP in this area. If you’re just looking for a free FTP client to help manage a person website, Free FTP is your best choice.

However, there is no denying the functionality of FileZilla. If you’re fairly experienced with the use of FTP clients and you need to manage multiple sites at once, FileZilla is the obvious choice. It is a bit difficult to understand at first, but once you become comfortable with it you’ll find FileZilla’s many features useful.

Which is your favorite FTP client? Tell us in the comments.

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Transform Your Plain Photos To Masterpieces with CameraBag [Giveaway]

Posted: 28 Jun 2010 08:30 AM PDT

The thing I enjoy most about digital photography is the ability to manipulate photographs after they’ve been taken. However, the nostalgic side of me still remembers film photography and the quirks that came with it — little blemishes and white frames with the date stamp added to the photo’s character. Not to mention, the photo’s ageing process — ah, the vintage look. How we strive to bring it all back and add that elusive “charisma” to digital photography.

Sure, it’s all possible with a little Photoshop trickery. But today, we have a great app to share that will add character to your digital photographs with a click of a button.

We’re giving away 10 copies of CameraBag Desktop for Windows and Mac worth $190 in total. Let’s find out how you can win one!

If you’re wondering why CameraBag sounds so familiar, you might have caught us reviewing its iPhone brethren, CameraBag for iPhone, in an earlier article — The Best Free Alternatives To Top Commercial iPhone Photography Apps. Without a doubt, CameraBag Desktop lives up to its expectations and more. Shall we take a look at its major features?

As soon as you launch the application, you’ll be presented with a blank canvas. Simply open a photo or drop one into the interface to begin. As you can see, I’ve added a photo of a beautiful Russian lady, sitting and waiting for a photoshoot at a bridal convention. Below the image, notice a whole palette of filters ranging from the plain ol’ black and white to the often used colour-cross.

All you need to do is click on any of the filters and it will be added to your photo.

CameraBag has a really intriguing feature called Reprocess. It mimics the process of film development and so, by enabling Reprocess and clicking on any effect several times, the resulting image changes as though it was being developed over and over again. With Reprocess, no two image will have the same vignette or colour-cross effect.

By default, CameraBag applies only a single filter to the image. But by enabling the Multi-filter option by checking the box above the image, you have the ability to select multiple filters. The order in which the filters are applied also affects the output, which means to say that adding the Helga filter before the Instant filter will produce a different effect compared to adding the Helga filter after the Instant filter. Get it?

CameraBag also comes bundled with several custom filters which are really awesome. These custom filters are combinations of several filters that produce several coveted looks.

Here’s one called Expired Instant. Speaking of ‘instant’, CameraBag allows you to add custom borders and cropping styles to your photos. So you can easily achieve that “polaroid” image canvas.

One of the greatest aspects of CameraBag is the fact that you can download user-generated filters via their website. And that’s not all, maybe you created a really cool looking filter? You can save that custom filter combination and share that with the community as well.

CameraBag brings a whole new meaning to digital photography. Download a copy and try it for yourself.

How do I win a copy?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

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

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

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

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

Share it on Facebook

Or on Twitter

And that’s it! You’re done!

This giveaway begins now and ends on Friday, 2nd of July at 2100hrs PST. The winners will be selected at random and announced via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

MakeUseOf would like to thank David and Stephanie from Nevercenter for their generosity while participating in this giveaway. Interesting in sponsoring? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via email.

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