Thursday, July 15, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [July 14th]” plus 8 more “Cool Websites and Tools [July 14th]” plus 8 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [July 14th]

Posted: 14 Jul 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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PhotoRem – is a great website that assists in uploading, organizing, editing and sharing your photos and videos. Visitors to your media can also leave comments on it. Before you can start using the site's service you will need to sign up for an account. Then, you can use any one of the available tools to start organizing and sharing your photos. Read more: PhotoRem: Upload, Organize, Edit and Share Your Photos & Videos.


Kohive – is an all-in-one collaboration tool that provides you with a desktop interface and lots of apps to do whatever you want. You can create different workspaces and invite different groups of people to each workspace so you can share stuff with them in real time. Read more: Kohive: A Cloud Based Collaboration Tool.



Vendr – There are plenty of eCommerce solutions on the web but nothing beats Vendr when it comes to simplicity and ease of use. Instead of messing up your existing site, Vendor lets you add an online store to your website by integrating a prominent “store” link at the top. Read more: Vendr: Add An Online Store To Your Website.



Flickr Thumbnail Search – Flickr is the best photo hosting service and photography community today. However, searching for photos within Flickr can still be too clunky for power users. Flickr Thumbnail Search is a handy Google chrome extension that lets you search photos in Flickr from the browser toolbar. Read more: Flickr Thumbnail Search: Quick Flickr Search For Chrome.



MailVU – is an innovative service where you can quickly send free video emails of up to 1 minute in length to anyone with an email account. You don't need to create an account. All you need is a browser with Flash installed, a webcam and a microphone. It's a web app so no software downloads required either. Read more: MailVU: Quick & Easy Video Emailing 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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How To Discover Money Making Topic Ideas For Your New Blog

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 06:31 PM PDT

money making ideasWant to make money online? Gosh, that sounds so gimmicky! But in this digital era, you really can make money online through niche blogging. You can actually potentially make a lot of money, but most bloggers won’t. However, a good number of bloggers will make a decent side income by writing about something they’re into – and during these times who couldn't use some extra cash?

Profitable blogging is truly not that complicated and the formula for success is simple and free. Three free tools offered by Google can give new bloggers all the insight they need to pick profitable topics. However, searching for that topic that is somewhat hot and not saturated by other bloggers is where you’re bound to break a sweat.

First Steps

The first step in monetizing your blog is to sign up for a Google Adsense account. It’s easy, free and is how you connect with advertisers to make money. You get to specify where ads will appear on your blog and what type. Advertisers bid on your inventory (blogs/sites) and Google always awards the highest bidder an advertisement on your blog – this part is all done without your intervention, so you won’t need to worry about it.

How much money you make will depend on how many people visit your blog and how many people click on the ads in your blog. A major component in driving traffic to your blog is your topic of choice. You basically want to find a topic that people are searching for on the internet and that also does not have too much other competition talking about that same topic. It’s supply and demand 101 – find a topic that’s in demand and that does not yet have that many suppliers. You fill in the gaps with content from your blog and you will likely start making money.

So how do you find these elusive money making topics? They are out there – it just takes you putting in the time and effort to search for them. You can find these topics using three free tools by Google.

Google Adwords Traffic Estimator

This free tool by Google can give you a great idea of how popular a topic is and a decent idea of how much competition there is on the web over this topic. For instance, in the screenshot below, I typed in “Student Loans.” My search returned several pieces of information, but only one piece of data is highly relevant to picking profitable topics and that is the “Estimated Average CPC.” CPC stands for Cost Per Click and it is the estimated average amount of money you’ll receive per click if you write about that topic. The higher the CPC, the more money you may receive.

blogging for profit

As you can see, “Student Loans” has an average CPC of $10.06. This is very high but it’s probably too high to allow me to maximize profits. A high CPC also means there is usually a great deal of competition on the web for this topic and that it’s difficult for new sites to get a high page ranking.

Experts agree that you want to look for a topic that has a CPC of between $2 and $3. This range is high enough to be profitable, but low enough so that the barriers to entry for new blogs are surmountable.

Google Insights

Google Insights is similar to Google Trends, but has more advanced features and is geared for use toward bloggers, advertisers and researchers. This tool can give you an excellent idea of the demand of your topic worldwide and over time. A shortcut: get to Google Insights by simply clicking the magnifying glass next to the keyword(s) you typed into the Google Adwords Traffic Estimator.

You can see how your potential money making topic idea fares over time (the default setting is the last 12 months) in multiple regions and countries. My keywords “Student Loans” spiked in popularity in mid-August of 2009. On a scale of 1 to 100 it peaked at almost 90!  Why? Because school started! And thousands, if not millions of students realized their savings and federal funding were not going to be enough to cover their expenses.

This piece of information alone is valuable – perhaps I should write a feature article about this topic in my blog this August instead of right now, during the summer months.

profitable blogging

Google Insights also allows me to group keywords and compare them (up to 5 groups and 25 keywords). If I scroll down, I can also see how my keywords will fare with an international audience. Turns out the Irish are not as interested in student loans as Americans. Another piece of information that may or may not be important to me depending on the type of blog I have.

money making ideas

Google Adwords Keyword Tool

Yet another free tool by Google that can help you monetize your blog, the Google Adwords Keyword Tool generates a list of keywords based off the initial keyword you enter and divulges the keyword’s Global Monthly Searches, Local Monthly Searches, Local Search Trends and relative Competition. The list of related keywords returned along with their accompanying specs is essential information for creating top notch SEO content for your blog.

With this tool, the higher the Global Monthly Searches and the lower the Competition the better. As you can see the market for “Student Loans” is pretty well saturated – every single related keyword to “Student Loans” returned has high competition.

money making ideas

This is not to say I should abandon the topic completely. Always try and go narrower and see what you can find. For instance, when I search for “student loans no cosigner,” one of the related keywords returned “student private loans no cosigner” which has 4,400 global monthly searches and only medium competition. Not too shabby, and if I wrote a post about this topic in specific, I could see some traffic my way.

money making ideas

The real key to finding profitable topics for your blog is a lot of searching and may’be a little bit of luck. I have found these tools by Google to be invaluable search engines and have been able to increase traffic to sites/blogs I have worked on in the past substantially with them.

There are several paid/commercial services you can use that claim to eliminate the searching or grunt work involved in picking profitable topics. I have subscribed to a few free trials but in the end found they are nearly identical to Google’s tools and in some cases even less sophisticated. So I ultimately stuck with the free route. However, I know some bloggers swear by these pay versions.

If you’re interested in learning more about keywords and SEO, here are a few posts you should check out:

Have you had any experience with Google’s tools? Good, bad or indifferent? Or is there a pay version you use that you think is superior? I would love to hear about it! Let me know in the comments.

Image credit: Annie Mole

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Track Your Google Adsense Accounts From Your Desktop With SysSense [Windows]

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 04:30 PM PDT

track adsense clicksSince it takes so much work to create fresh, new content for several websites that you may own, there is very little time left over to keep an eye on how your ad revenue is doing. Most small to medium sized bloggers and webmasters typically make use of Google Adsense, as it’s currently the most popular revenue generating ad service on the Internet. Well, if you are like me and you don’t have a whole lot of extra time left over to go digging into your Google Adsense accounts to check your latest balances, then you’ll love SysSense.

MUO previously covered WhyDoWork, an Adsense monitoring plugin for Firefox, but SysSense is a freeware desktop application (Windows 2000 through 7) created by Mike Singer of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. SysSense is an unobtrusive application that runs in your taskbar and provides you with quick and convenient one-touch access to all of your Google Adsense accounts.

How to Set Up SysSense

After you download and install SysSense from Mike’s website, the software will initially take you to the screen where you can configure your Adsense accounts as well as set up the application properties. The General tab is where you can configure the software to immediately start every time you boot up Windows. This is also where you can set the exchange rate for your country so you can get an accurate representation of your balances.

adsense monitor

Of course, the Adsense tab is where you submit your Adsense credentials so that the application can poll your account information.

adsense monitor

On the Auto Update tab, you can configure SysSense to check your account details every so often. For smaller sites where you don’t have a lot of activity, frequent updates aren’t really necessary. However, for large sites where things change fast, you may do well to shorten the update interval.

adsense monitor

You can change the update interval from every minute all the way up to every five hours. Under the Tray Icon and Tray Tooltip tabs, you can configure how the tool tray icon appears and also how it behaves when you click on it.

adsense monitor

You can set it up to go directly to your Adsense account in a browser window any time you left click on it, and you can also set up the icon to pop up an icon balloon on a particular event, like when your earnings change or when your number of clicks changes. While these are nice features, the real meat of the application is in the Tray Tooltip section.

track adsense clicks

This is where you can configure what data you want the see in the ToolTip text window. I really like how much information this app can extract from Adsense – I’ve seen apps before that wouldn’t let you upload monthly data without a subscription, but with SysSense, it’s all free.

Once you have your accounts configured and your primary account set up (the one that will display in the ToolTip), you’re ready to start using the software. One thing you’ll notice is that every time the app refreshes data upon the interval you requested, it’ll pop up with a tooltip that displays all of your account details at a glance.

adsense monitor

It’s nice to see this data without having to log into Google Adsense and dig through the site for the reports. SysSense puts the information together the way you want it and displays it with absolutely no effort on your part. If you want the app to refresh the data in between interval updates, just right-click and select “Refresh Now.”

adsense monitor

When you do, the tooltip will pop up again with the latest data from your primary Adsense account. If you want to see more detailed reports of the data from your account, click on the “Reports” option and you’ll discover an excellent reporting tool.

track adsense clicks

In this window, you can choose from any of the accounts you’ve configured, and you can choose from a list of 21 reports, including not only earnings but CTR, eCPM and clicks for referrals, ad performance and search performance. The graphica report display will immediately show you certain patterns. For example, through this tool I discovered that my highest day of earnings is almost always on Friday!

SysSense is one of the fastest and easiest tools for instant access to your Adsense account details without any effort on your part. Give it a try and let us know what you think. Or share any other useful Adsense tools that you know about in the comments section below.

Image credit: Penny1 by Shadowkill

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Add Loads of Features to the Default Wordpress Editor with CKEditor

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 02:30 PM PDT

ckeditor wordpress pluginIf you blog, you’ll understand perfectly that writing using a web editor – like blogging – is totally different from writing using an ordinary word processor, like what most people do at work. Even though today’s blogging platforms have already provided users with a visual editor and regular people without extensive HTML knowledge can write content for the web easily, the default editing features are limited. A blogging platform’s built-in editor has far less features than the simplest desktop text editor.

Meet CKEditor (previously known as FCKEditor), the web-based WYSIWYG text editor which promises to bring common editing features found on desktop editing applications like Microsoft Word and OpenOffice to the web. And for Wordpress users, the power of CKEditor is brought to the WP editor in the form of Dean’s FCKEditor for Wordpress plugin.

Activating The Advanced CKEditor Wordpress Plugin

Just like any other Wordpress plugins, you can easily install the FCKEditor via the Wordpress Plugins menu. All you have to do is click the “Add New” button, enter ‘FCKEditor’ into the search field, and click the “Install Now” link from the search result.

ckeditor wordpress plugin

After the installation process is done, activate the plugin by clicking the “Activate Plugin” link.

01b Plugin Install - Activate.png

And what exactly will happen by activating the plugin? To give you a better picture, let’s compare the look of Wordpress editor with and without FCKEditor. This is the default editor:

02a Add New Post - Without FCK Editor.png

And below, the CKEditor Wordpress editor plugin is integrated into the blogging platform. The Wordpress editor is transformed into a full-featured word processor with advanced editing features that you won’t find in the original editor.

02b Add New Post - With FCKEditor-1.png

But the transformation is not limited to the blogging editor but also in the comment section of the blog posts. Armed with this ability, visitors can leave more than just simple plain text comments.

02c Comment Field.png

Getting Familiar With The Editor

For those who might feel a little bit overwhelmed by all of the colorful buttons and want a distraction-free writing environment, you can hide those buttons by clicking the small arrow button at the right corner of the writing area.

02f Hiding The Toolbar.png

And for those hardcore web coders who can’t sleep well before a little dose of “a href”s or “div style”s (you know who you are), you can still access the HTML editor by clicking on the “Source” button – the first button on the top left corner of the editor.

02g Source View.png

There’s also the “Smileys” button that will give you a bunch of smileys that you can insert into your writing.

02h Insert Smiley.png

Surely, there are tons of other features that you get from FCKEditor such as the ability to change the font color on the fly, create subscripts and superscripts, insert flash elements, change font type, size, style, and more. If you want to know which button is related to which feature, just hover your mouse pointer above one of the buttons and FCKEditor will gladly tell you.

02i Editing Result.jpg

Messing With The Settings

If you want to dig a little bit deeper into FCKEditor, you can go to “Settings – FCKEditor” menu from the Wordpress sidebar.

03a Settings.png

Inside, you will find several options that you can ‘tweak’, such as the skin and built-in spell checker from the “Common Options“.

03b Common Options.png

Or the height of the editor and the ability to choose which buttons should appear on the editor’s toolbar from “Post/Page Editor options“. If you use several buttons regularly and never touch the others, you can delete the unused buttons simply by deleting their names from the “Set the toolbar buttons” field.

ckeditor wordpress plugin

The similar thing goes for “Comment Editor Options“. You can activate/deactivate FCKEditor for the blog comment section, set the editor’s height, and decide which buttons should appear in the comment editor.

03d Comment Editor Options.png

The last option is “Upload Options” where you can define what kind of files are allowed to be uploaded to the blog. The ability to define accepted file extensions opens up some other possibilities, such as using the blog server’s storage as an “emergency” file storage.

03e Upload Options.png

Please remember to click the “Update Options” button after your modification to save all the changes.

Desktop Word Processor On Your Blog

Using FCKEditor plugin for Wordpress is like doing blogging via a desktop word processor that you use everyday. Having the familiar look and functionalities can surely help you boost your productivity while blogging (not to mention having an alternative online word processor that you can use anytime and anywhere as long as you have access to internet).

Have you tried CKEditor? What’s your opinion about it? Do you know other alternatives? Please share using the comment below.

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Spoiler Warning: 10 Spoiler Websites That Can Ruin A Movie Ending

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 12:31 PM PDT

spoiler websitesFinding out how a movie ends even before you plan your Friday night out is hardly what fun sounds like. But movie spoilers do serve a purpose.

Spoilers are anything that kills the suspense and tension of a movie climax. It could be anything from a blabbering friend who saw the movie first, or the film critic who wrote about it without a spoiler warning.

Spoilers are important sometimes because you might want to make an informed decision on the movie. For instance, I hate tear-jerkers especially the ones where the protagonist dies in the end. Forewarned with the help of a spoiler, I can save myself the cost of a ticket and popcorn.

Spoilers also help sometimes when you have missed out on some tiny detail in a movie. How many of you caught the entry of Nick Fury after the end credits of Iron Man?

So, here are ten spoiler websites that take you on the straight road through the twists and turns of a movie plot.

The Movie Spoiler

movie endings ruined

The site's slogan is – Because it ain't always the damn butler who did it. The website has an index of about 1,000 movies and their endings. It is one of the best spoiler websites if you are hunting for spoilers, because it does a good job of revealing all on the latest films that come to a theatre near you. Most of the movies have the plot detailed out. You can also contribute your own and have a crack at winning the reward the website promises to gift.


spoiler websites

Moviepooper gives seven reasons on exactly why I am writing this post. The site is from the guy who brings us the first one. For recent spoilers, you can check out the link in the top frame which says 'In Theaters Now'. The site originally started as a personal list of movie plots and has ended up listing 4,000+ movie endings (and counting). Most of the movie pages have a YouTube trailer and an link for a second look.

Movie Stinger

movie endings ruined

Movie Stinger has the look and feel of a Web 2.0 movie site. The web service is all about informing the public about extra scenes during and after the credits of films and video games. It is not exactly a spoiler website because it limits itself to a quick view of whether or not a movie has an extra scene at the tail (without spoiling the ending for them).

Browsing through Movie Stinger, you can also find out the names of songs that play during credits. The site also has a list of movies with alternate endings.

Spoiler TV

movie endings ruined

Spoiler TV is a spoiler web service that covers all the major US TV shows, and movies. Plus you can catch teaser posters and celebrity gossip on the site. The TV shows are covered by network.

There's also a forum where you can get a heads-up on your favorite movie or TV show.


movie spoiler websites

Spollywood helps you to destroy a movie for friends by sharing a one line spoiler with them via Facebook. It's just a simple fun site with about 400+ one line spoilers.


movie spoiler websites

SpoilerFix caters to a few selected TV Shows like 90210, Chuck, Bones, and Desperate Housewives. The site reveals brief plotlines for upcoming episodes of various TV series but leaves enough so that you can enjoy the twists and turns when the episode finally airs.

Ain't It Cool News

movie spoiler websites

This is a fresh site with a nice informal take on movies, television, and comic news. You also get reviews, chats, and a forum. This is again not a specialized spoiler website, but it's a nice place to catch reviews written in an engaging manner. The forum in fact has an official anti-spoiler policy that discourages members from revealing an awaited movie's ending. Well, it did prevent me from taking in the premiere show of Robin Hood.


You might visit a lot of film and movie sites, but you have to come and roost here. It's not only a great resource for what's been shown but also for what's coming. Check out the Summer Movie Guide by month and genre. Future releases come with a Spoiler alert. While they won't reveal the entire plot directly (thank God!), sometimes clues are let out. That's why you will see a lot of Spoiler Warnings strewn about in the Plot Summary and Plot Synopsis pages.


spoiler websites

Wikipedia sometimes goes into so much detail with data like Plot, Cast, Screenplay, and External References (especially this), that finding out how a movie will turn out is not a difficult hob. For serious movie buffs, Wikipedia is a treasure of trivia.

100 Movie Spoilers in 5 Minutes

If you were expecting a 10th spoiler website, here's the spoiler – there isn't. Instead you have this funny embed that practically kills off your entire movie watching for life in five minutes flat. Enjoy! And let us know your likes and dislikes on spoilers.

Image Credit: brainylagirl

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Take Better Pictures With Free Camera Plus [iPhone]

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 11:31 AM PDT

take better picturesAlthough the new iPhone 4 sports a significant 5 megapixel upgrade to its camera application, many of us are still happily using our iPhone 3G or 3GS camera. Some are still using the iPhone 2G!

With each upgrade of the iPhone, the camera improves, but if you want better functionality to take better pictures on the iPhone, I recommend starting off with the free Camera Plus app [iTunes Link].

Side by side, you can quickly see that even the free version of the Camera Plus has more features than what you will find with the native 3G camera. The 3GS gets a little better in that it has an autofocus feature, plus three megapixels of resolution. But these features don't outshine what Camera Plus can do.

take better digital pictures

The launch time of the Camera Plus is about the same as for the 3G camera. The 3GS may be faster in this regard, but I have not tested it. Camera Plus has four useful features. Before you take a photo, you click on the menu icon button on the bottom-left of the interface. This will bring up the menu items. You can tap one or more to use when taking photos.


This feature is apart of the 3GS and later models of the 3G, but in case your iPhone camera doesn't have it, Camera Plus provides it. Now don't get too happy. This tool is digital, not optical, zoom technology. Optical zoom uses the optics in a lens to bring the subject closer. Digital zoom simply magnifies or enlarges the subject and does not produce the quality that an optical zoom lens produces.

Digital zoom is not terribly bad, especially when you need it in a pinch, but don't rely on it for taking photos with any version of the iPhone camera. It's better to zoom in on your feet than to use the sort of fake digital zoom feature.

take better pictures

With Camera Plus, you simply activate the zooming feature, tap on the screen, and pinch in the middle of the screen and use two fingers to zoom in and out. You can also use the slider. Developers claim that the tool zooms "into a spot with precision." That's an over-statement, but it's nevertheless a handy feature especially for more long distance outdoor shots. I wouldn't recommend it for macro/close-up photography in which you need detail.

Simulated Flash

While the iPhone 4's camera does feature an external flash, Camera Plus brings a flash effect of sorts that is internal to the application. It's not a real flash, but it brightens up a photo with a simulated flash. It comes in useful shooting in low light situations, such as shaded areas.

take better digital pictures


This is one of the two best features of the application. If you have ever tried to take a self-portrait using the iPhone you know how difficult it is to click the button of the camera application while trying to steady the shot. It's sometimes just as difficult to stabilize ordinary shots with the lens facing away from you.

take better digital pictures

A self-timer means that you when click the camera's shutter button, you have a pre-determined amount of seconds before the shutter is released. This means that you can hold the camera steady with both hands. In the preferences menu of Camera Plus, you can set the self-timer to activate to up 10 seconds. This tool is also useful for trying out a little night photography as well.

To use it, you simply activate the self-timer in the menu bar, click the shutter button, compose your shot, and wait for it to count down to take the photo.

Screen Shutter

This feature is probably the most useful one for this free app. When activated, you can click anywhere on the iPhone screen and it will trigger the shutter. And because the screen of course is not the lens of the camera, there's no problem for your pictures with a few smudges that you finger will leave when taking the shot.

This feature is again great for allowing you to use two hands when taking iPhone camera photos. Since the iPhone camera doesn't have imagine stabilization that you find in most regular cameras, holding the phone as steady as possible with two hands is really helpful for shooting sharp as possible photos. Absent of using a tripod with your iPhone camera, the self-timer should also be used whenever possible.

The other two menu items to take better pictures include Preference settings for the self-timer, and automatic save, which when enabled automatically saves your shots to your iPhone's camera roll.

Saving images takes about 10 seconds. That's rather long, but the iPhone camera or any cellphone camera for that matter has never been about speed. It's about portability – being able to have a camera wherever you go.

Camera Plus also includes the Bing search engine to find and import images from the Internet right from within the application.


After you take a shot, you can save it to your camera's iPhone camera roll, and/or you can email or send to your Twitter or Facebook account – another feature not found in the iPhone camera.

how to take better pictures

The free version of Camera Plus only offers a few post-processing tools – one for cropping images and another for black and white conversion.

take better pictures

The full version of Camera Plus has even more features both for shooting and post-processing images, but this free version is great for seeing how more useful it is than the iPhone 3G and 3GS camera application.

I have used both the free and pro version of Camera Plus using the latest iOS 4 operating system for the iPhone, and I haven't noticed any problems. So this app is definitely worth checking out.

Let us know what you think of Camera Plus and if it helps you take better pictures – and what other camera applications you find useful for the iPhone.

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MakeUseOf Pack 2010: 20+ Essential Windows Apps in One Pack

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 10:30 AM PDT

There are lots of applications out there in the World Wide Web. But which ones are the essential keepers and which ones are the useless duds? Sometimes it becomes a little difficult to tell. Well fear not because MakeUseOf, once again, rides to the rescue with our free easy-to-use MakeUseOf App Pack.

Put together by the great Ninite, the MakeUseOf Pack is split up into two levels, depending on your level of expertise. These apps have been extensively discussed and agreed upon by the whole MakeUseOf team and contains some of their personal favourites.

For all you basic users out there, we have the Padawan Pack, which contains all the basic apps that we recommend you download and use. This can be something as simple as a flash player for your browser right down to Recuva to restore any deleted files off your system. Take a look and see if there’s anything that catches your eye.

Next level up is the Jedi Master Pack, for all those who can truly feel the Force when it comes to downloading and installing apps. This recommends things like the KeePass Password Manager, TeraCopy which makes transferring files in Windows Explorer MUCH more easier and FileZilla which makes transferring files to your website a cinch.

And if that wasn’t enough, we also have a separate Security Pack for all of you who feel the urge to give your computers that extra special bit of attention. So choose from MalwareBytes, SuperAntiSpyware and TrueCrypt.

So what is the advantage of installing these apps via Ninite? Two reasons – simplicity and ease-of-use. The regular way to download and install a bunch of apps would be to visit their websites and install them all one-by-one. But with Ninite, all you need to do is just tick off the ones you would like to install, click “Get Installer“, run it and then all your requested programs will be installed one by one for you.

None of the programs require rebooting your system so just run the Ninite installer, let it do its work and then you will have everything installed that you requested. Easy!

And for all you Mac and Linux users, don’t panic because we are working on your packs next. Stay tuned.

In the meantime,nWindows users, why not let us know your opinions about the MakeUseOf Pack for Windows. Did we choose the right apps or did we miss something important out? Let us know in the comments.

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Download Entire Newspapers Or Blogs To Your eBook Reader With Calibre

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 09:31 AM PDT

download entire websitesEbook readers are pretty fantastic, but if you’re more into newspapers and magazines than books you may think your only option is to stick to what sites offer subscriptions for your device. That’s not true.

Calibre can download entire websites and convert them to any eBook format, meaning you can read your favorite news articles or blogs on practically any eBook reader, from the Kindle to the Nook to the Kobo and everything in between. Heck, it even has easy built-in connectivity for iPhone/iPad app extraordinaire Stanza.

Or, if all you’re looking for is a great way to download your favorite websites for offline reading, Calibre’s got a great built-in reader for your computer as well.

Simon wrote all about Calibre’s superb function as an eBook manager in an article in which he called Calibre mighty eBook management software. In the article he mentioned Calibre’s amazing ability to download entire online newspapers, but didn’t go into any depth. Having said that, let’s take a look at this amazing function.

Getting Started

download entire web site

If you read Simon’s article, you should be familiar with installing Calibre on your machine. If not, check out the download page here for Windows, Mac and Linux downloads (though as always, Linux types should check their repositories before downloading from the web).

The first time you start up the application you’ll go through a simple setup wizard and then you’ll be ready to use the program. As I said, check out Simon’s Calibre article for more information on day-to-day usage; I’m going to focus here on downloading news.

Find Your Publication

download entire websites

Downloading news from many websites simply could not be easier. Just click the “Fetch News” button (pictured above) to bring up the list of many websites built into the program. When you do you’ll be presented with the many sites, broken down into categories.

For example, here’s everything you can find under Canadian English:

download entire websites

All the major daily newspapers are there, ready to be downloaded and read offline. If the category function is too overwhelming, simply search for your given website by typing the name in the search box.

I like to read the entirety of The Economist every week if my schedule allows for it, and Calibre helps nicely with that. I can download the entirety of the print edition to my computer for offline reading, or for reading on any eBook reading device.

Note that, for some of these publications, you will need a subscription to the website in order to make use of Calibre’s downloading function. This is because these sites do not offer access to the full paper without a subscription. Even in these cases, however, it’s nice to be able to download content you’re paying for for offline reading, isn’t it?

Roll Your Own

Can’t find the application of your choice? If you consider yourself fairly tech-savvy you might consider simply rolling your own. A Calibre recipe, you see, is little more than a script that explains how to download the content from a given website and convert it into an e-book. Calibre allows for you to add your own custom recipes if you like. Find out more about creating custom recipes over at the Calibre user manual.

If you create any useful recipes you should share them; it just might end up being integrated into Calibre itself!


Calibre isn’t just a great eBook manager; it’s a fantastic way to download your favorite newspapers or websites to your computer or eBook reader. In this way it reminds me of Plucker, a service I used to use to download news sites and RSS feeds to my Palm Pilot. Calibre, it seems to me, does a much better job than Plucker ever did (and Plucker was really, really good).  This is in large part thanks to the recipes tailor-made in order to give end users the best reading experience with a given site.

What do you awesome people think? Is Calibre’s ability to download entire publications and blogs useful to you, or would you rather just read everything online? Is this a threat to advertising models on the web, or does it encourage reader loyalty?

Most importantly, will any of you write a recipe for MakeUseOf? Sharing is caring, or something. Whatever. Just comment.

Image Credit : ShironekoEuro

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How To Fix Your Computer Using Windows Restore in XP, Vista & 7

Posted: 14 Jul 2010 08:30 AM PDT

system restore windows xpHave you ever done something on your computer that you kind of wish you hadn't done? For example, install that program you found on the internet; tried to find a crack to unlock a game you downloaded; or even visited a naughty website; and afterwards your computer went haywire?

Maybe it wasn't one of those reasons and you just changed a setting on your computer and now it doesn't work. Whatever you did (or didn't do), when your computer stuffs up or think you may have a virus, what can you do about it; how do you fix it?

The good thing is that Windows has something called System Restore which allows you to restore your computer to how it was a day before, or even a month before.

So What Exactly is System Restore and What Does It Do?

You have probably first heard about System Restore on Windows XP. What it essentially does is restore your computer to a state that is back in time. The good thing about it is that it doesn't delete your files. It does delete any programs or .exe files you have such as program installs you might have downloaded.

Using System Restore on Windows XP

Before you use System Restore, you must make sure that it is activated. To do this, simply right click on My Computer and select Properties. In the System Restore tab, make sure System Restore is turned on for all your drives (or at least C: Drive)

windows system restore

Once activated, your computer will automatically make system restore points regularly or when you install new software.

If you ever run into trouble on your computer, you can then restore your computer back to that stage. To do this, open system restore by going to Start –> All Programs –> Accessories –> System Tools –> System Restore. Once opened, you should see two or three options to choose from. The first option allows you to restore your computer to an earlier time, and the second option allows you to create a restore point. This is great if you are about to do something that you think may upset your computer. The third option will only appear if you have used System Restore before and this lets you undo the restore if it didn't fix your problem or made things worse.

windows system restore

We want to restore our computer, so select the first option and click next.

On the next screen you will be presented with a calendar and all dates that have a restore point will be in bold. Select a recent date and choose a restore point on that date to one that you know your computer was working.

windows system restore

Once done, select next and agree to the warning message and then press next.

system restore windows xp

Your computer will restart and reboot and the program you are having should be fixed. If it's not, you can go back to a previous date or undo the restore as I mentioned above.

Using System Restore on Windows Vista

To access System Restore, just follow the same steps as in Windows XP Start –> All Programs –> Accessories –> System Tools –> System Restore.

restore windows xp

Here you can select the latest restore point or choose a different restore point. I would recommend choosing a restore point.

restore windows xp

If you want to show all your restore points, click the checkbox on the bottom left. Simple select a checkpoint, press next and agree to the confirmation.

restore windows xp

Using System Restore on Windows 7

Using System Restore is not much different to using it in Windows Vista.  You can access it by going to Start –> All Programs –> Accessories –> System Tools –> System Restore.

restore windows xp

Simply select a recovery position from the list and click Next and Finish on the next screen.

restore windows xp

As I have not used Windows 7 before (apart from the RC and Beta versions), I believe there are a few more options other than System Restore that you can use to help repair your computer. However, most of these require your installation DVD. By reading a post on, there are a few repair options to choose from which you can access when you press F8 when booting your computer to enter the recovery console. If you want perform a certain recovery option, visit this link for more information.

system restore windows xp

One final option is to use the Backup and Restore option which can be found at Control Panel –> System and Security –> Backup and Restore. Using this method, you can create a backup image of your computer and restore it at a later date – but this will be for another post.

So I hope you now know how to repair your computer yourself if you ever run into trouble. System Restore is a lifesaver (it has helped me hundreds of times) and could save you a lot of money compared to taking your computer to a local computer repair shop.

If you have any problems about using System Restore or general backup questions, feel free to ask in the comments or at MakeUseOf Answers.

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