Wednesday, July 21, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [July 20th]” plus 9 more “Cool Websites and Tools [July 20th]” plus 9 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [July 20th]

Posted: 20 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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DiffChecker – Finding the difference in two files can be helpful in a number of situations. For example if you have two files of code, with similar functions, you can find out the text differences of the files and learn more about each code. DiffChecker is one site that lets you easily compare two files for text differences. Read more: DiffChecker: Find Text Differences Between Two Files.


BanRace – With so many countries banning social networks nowadays, it is hard to keep track of the bans. If you want to know what networks a specific country has banned and why, just check out BanRace. It is a great interactive tool that starts by displaying different countries on a world map. Countries with at least some banning activity are highlighted. Read more: BanRace: See Which Country Blocks Social Networking Sites & Why.



LightShot – is one of the lightest screen capture tools available. It works as a desktop client as well as an add-on for major browsers including Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer. Once installed, just click the little LightShot icon whenever you want to capture an image. Then select the area you want to capture. Read more: LightShot: Lightweight Screen Capture Utility.



Stay – Lots of websites tell you what to do, where to stay and where to eat in a new city but very few let you create a customized guide. is a unique site that not only offers lots of information about your new destination, but also lets you add each item such as hotels, bars and attractions to a personal, printable travel guide. Read more: Stay: Create Personalised & Printable Travel Guides For Any Destination.



JSonduit – If you are coding a website or any online project, you can convert it into JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) for easier readability. But to do this, you will first need to find the JSON equivalent of your code. JSonduit lets you easily perform this task. Read more: JSonduit: Easily Create Mobile Friendly JSON Feeds & Widgets.


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

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The 10 Toughest Tech Questions [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 20 Jul 2010 07:30 PM PDT

When you ask a question at MakeUseOf Answers, it is essential that you respond in case someone asks for more information. Otherwise we will neither be able to help you, nor will your question be featured as one of the toughest questions here.

Now, if you opened this post to review and hopefully answer some tough questions, you shall not be disappointed.

Please give these ones a go:

  1. Why is my parition resizing not recognized in Windows 7?
  2. How can I jailbreak the iPhone 3GS?
  3. How can I change adsense location in Blogspot?
  4. Why does Steady State trash my Live Mail?
  5. How can I stream SopCast to the PS2?
  6. How do you get rid of Intense Debate with keeping comments?
  7. How can I get video from a Sony Handycam onto my Mac?
  8. Can you recommend an online flash mp3 playlist with your own links?
  9. How can I do a keyboard printout in Mac OS 10.5?
  10. How can I set up my own reliable SMS gateway?

When you answer a question, remember to use a valid eMail address or your Facebook account in order to be considered for our Best Answer of the Week contest.

Crave for more? Browse MakeUseOf Answers by Latest Questions, Unanswered Questions or Most Popular Questions. For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

If you ever need help, go ahead and Ask A Question at MakeUseOf Answers. No signup required.

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Showdown: Best Mobile Internet Browser (Opera Mini vs. SkyFire)

Posted: 20 Jul 2010 06:31 PM PDT

mobile internet browsersDo you browse the web on your mobile device? As cell phones get faster connection speeds, processors, bigger screens and better applications, it’s getting easier and easier to go online with them. Add in the fact that most websites have a mobile version now and it makes this an even simpler process.

Today, we’re going to decide which mobile Internet browsers is the best out there. After much research, I have narrowed it down to the top two, the Opera Mini and SkyFire browsers. If you’re tired of your mobile device’s stock browser, these are more than capable alternatives.

In this article, I am going to cover what these mobile Internet browsers have to offer, detailing their key features, supported operating systems, and whatever else I can find to be useful for all of your mobile browsing needs.

[Note]: Last year, Jeffry gave us 5 Mini Browsers For Mobile Phones, so mobile browsing has been a viable topic for some time now. If you really want to explore the past, check out Aibek’s Browsing Web on your Mobile Phone article from April of 2008. Mobile devices have changed dramatically since this time, so let’s explore what’s changed in mobile browsing.

Opera Mini

mobile web browser


  • BlackBerry
  • iPhone/iPod/iPad
  • Windows Mobile
  • Android
  • Java phones

The Opera Mini browser, which we covered back in May, is easily one of the best alternatives out there. It supports almost every mobile device you can think of, including everything made by Blackberry, Apple, Google, and Windows. It is one of the better mobile browsers in general and it has some great features.

mobile internet browsers

The browser supports tabs, synchronization of bookmarks, speed dials, integrated search engines, saved pages for offline viewing, and password management. Also, Opera Mini uses only a tenth of the bandwidth of other browsers, compressing webpages by up to 90%. This can save you time and money, especially if you’re on a per-usage mobile data plan.

mobile web browser

As you can see, the Opera Mini has a very simplistic layout with a lot of added functionality. If your mobile device is touch screen, you can take advantage of scrolling and zooming features as well. This is very useful if you like to have multiple tabs open at one time.

You can view all of Opera Mini’s (and Opera Mobile’s) features here.

To download Opera Mini, use your phone’s default browser to visit You can find more options here.


mobile web browser


  • Android
  • Windows Mobile
  • Nokia/Symbian (Series 60)

The SkyFire mobile Internet browser has come a long way since we first covered it back in December 2008. It supports bookmarks, pinch-to-zoom, and visual multi-tab browsing, for starters. Tabbed scrolling is very similar to the Safari browser on the iPhone, and you can scroll between up to 8 screens.

With its new SkyBar (SkyFire 2.0), the browser will catch flash videos on a given page, giving you the option to watch them in full screen. That’s right, SkyFire plays flash web video.

mobile internet browsers

If that’s not enough to interest you, SkyFire enables you to see related videos, trends, tweets, and images linked to the pages you’re viewing. There is a built-in option that allows you to toggle between a website’s mobile site and the regular, full site. You can also share articles on Facebook and Twitter with this browser.

To see some of the features of SkyFire 2.0 for Android, check out this video:

To download SkyFire, select your device and follow the instructions here.


This article was originally going to be about the top 5 or 10 mobile Internet browsers out there, but other browsers simply couldn’t match up to these two juggernauts. The default mobile browsers that come with our cell phones, like Safari and IE, are good but not supported by other devices (for obvious reasons).

If I had to pick a winner, I would go with the Opera Mini browser here, although SkyFire has taken huge strides and is getting better all the time. It will be interesting to see which mobile browser tops my list once all the other big names (like Firefox) start catching up and are supported by more and more devices.

What is your favorite mobile browser? Do you have any opinion you would like to share? Leave a comment below and get the debate started!

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Search and Uncover Hard To Find Domain Names With DomainSeeker

Posted: 20 Jul 2010 04:31 PM PDT

search all domain namesAfter writing an article about how to control your online identity with a biography website, a commenter made an excellent point. With the explosion of Internet sites and decent domain names getting picked up faster than you can blink, it seems as though there are no good domain names left.

Actually, this isn’t quite the case. There are lots of excellent letter and word combinations that would make for excellent domain names, but coming up with those names can be a real challenge.

Here at MUO, we’ve covered a number of excellent tools to search all domain names that can help with the process, such as Ted’s article listing 6 domain name generators and Saikat’s great article on 10 unusual domain name search tools you can use to come up with ideas. However, not many of these tools cover the two aspects of domain name research in one package – first, coming up with a name and second, finding matching unregistered domains.

Brainstorm Domain Names With Domain Seeker

Domain Seeker is a free software package offered by Springboard, a web services company. I love Domain Seeker because it will take you through the process from brainstorming domain name ideas right through to search all domain names and identifying your final available domain name.

When you first install and run Domain Seeker, you’ll discover a main screen that is segmented into five columns. These columns are high, mid and low profile domains, registered domains and saved domains.

available domain names

The profile level of a domain is determined by the number of characters in the title. Titles with four or fewer characters are high (very valuable), between five and seven are mid profile, and eight or more are high profile. This is because the fewer characters in the domain name, the better visitors will remember the domain name.

High profile domains are very sought after by webmasters. The software focuses on the .com and .net top level domains (TLD), but if you go into Options -> Settings, you can add additional extensions by enabling them in the Extension table.

available domain names

For .com and .net domains, DomainSeeker pings internic to determine whether domain names are registered. The software throttles back the ping rate so that you don’t get blocked by the server for excessive queries. If you do get pop-up errors from the server, you can increase the throttle to something higher than 25 milliseconds until the errors go away.

On the main page of DomainSeeker, a dropdown list next to “Search Type” provides the available search types. The ones we’re going to focus on are Browsing, Generating, and the Full Word List.

available domain names

When you choose the “Browse” option, a new window opens where you can literally browse using several search engines, including some domain search engines like JustDropped or DeletedDomains. As you browse for the keywords that you’re interested in getting a domain for, the software automatically starts generating list of related registered and unregistered domain names.

domain names list

Back on the main page, if you select the “Generate names” search option, a new search window opens that will help you brainstorm domain names based on the keyword that you’re interested in. This is my favorite tool within this software package, because of the volume of possible domains that the app generates. For example, I typed in “Droid” for examples of domains that I might use for a website about the Droid mobile phone, and the Domain Name Creator generated over 10,000 possibilities!

domain names list

This is brainstorming at its finest. Domain Seeker then starts analyzing your list of potential domain names and sorts them on the main page under Registered, Low Profile, Mid Profile or High Profile. While landing a high profile domain name is quite rare, there are plenty of valuable mid profile domains to go around.

domain names list

When you spot any available domain names that you like, just click and drag them into the “Saved Domains” column. Now, if you are starting from scratch and you don’t even know what website you want to create, but instead you’re looking for website ideas, you can choose “Full Word List” from the search type options. This feature will actually run through the entire list of words in the English language and search all available domain names, and then sort them by profile.

This is a very wide-ranging query that will take a very long time to complete, so if you have a more specific idea of the sort of genre that you’re interested in, a better option may be to use the “Custom List” search type. This is a very cool feature that runs through words in a text file and uses those words to conduct searches for available domains.

Existing lists that get installed with the DomainSeeker software include lists like movies, myths, common phrases and even all words in the dictionary. If you don’t see a list that you want, create a text file of your own filled with all of the keywords you can think of, and then save it in the “Wordlists” folder in the DomainSeeker application directory.

The software sifts through the text file, pings the WHOIS server for whether the domain is registered or not, and then sorts any unregistered domains within the appropriate profile column. DomainSeeker is, by far, one of the best desktop applications I’ve seen for brainstorming new website names and checking whether those domains are available.

Have you ever tried DomainSeeker? Do you like the domains that it comes up with? Do you have any domain name search tools that you like better? Share your insight in the comments section below.

Image Credit: Anna Maria Lopez

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4 New Features That Makes Google Docs Even Better

Posted: 20 Jul 2010 02:31 PM PDT

google docs featuresGoogle Docs has been by far one of the more useful offerings from Google in my life.  Sure, Gmail is a close second because I do use it every day.  However, since there are other worthy alternatives to using Gmail for my email, Google Docs will have to be my pick.

One of the major reasons why Google Docs is useful to me is because of the amazing collaborative features it has.  Being able to work together on spreadsheets and documents has been imperative in the past few years.

That being said, web-based word processing has had its downfalls (check out the debate).  One of the downfalls is Google’s ability to render documents correctly.  Let this article serve to prove that Google is working on the issues and hopefully someday online word processing can possibly replace the old school offline way of doing things.  In its newest release, Google Docs has worked on four areas that makes it even better than before.

Real Time Collaboration

Like I mentioned earlier, one of the Google Docs features I love is that I have the ability to collaborate with other editors.  Now Google has improved this to the point of real time collaboration.  This means that I can be working on a document or spreadsheet at the same time as another editor and we can actually see changes as they take place.

Notice in the screenshot how there is a block highlighted in a color and how a name pops up.This tells me that a change is taking place at that exact moment.

google docs review

Chat With Other Collaborators

This Google Docs feature goes right along with real time collaboration.  When Google acquired EtherPad (read more about it), perhaps they put them to work on Google Docs instead of Google Wave.  Either way, I see this as a great improvement to Google Docs; a move that makes a lot of sense.

Now when you have another editor working on the same document, the name shows up at the top right side of the screen.  Clicking on the name will drop down an EtherPad-type chat sidebar.  Looks familiar, right?  Very cool though.

google docs features

Higher-Quality Imports

In the past, importing documents created by offline word processors to be edited via Google Docs usually turned up some wonky formatting issues.  If it is true that they are improving the import abilities, I am all for it.  This is one area I see as holding me back from going all out using just web based word processing.  Google, never stop improving in this area.  We want to see the exact document that we uploaded, please.


Last but not least, Google Docs has added a ruler at the top of the documents editor.  Word processors for years have had this feature.  Why it’s only now becoming available in Google Docs, I’m not sure.  However, having it finally here is a blessing.

As you can see, we can now more easily format our documents.  A quick glance at the ruler, and perhaps a few quick adjustments, and we are on our way to a more better formatted word processing life.

google docs features

Even with these new Google Docs features, online word processing has much to be desired.  What else do you think Google Docs should add?  And what is your favorite (new or not) feature of Google Docs?

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5 More Websites To Share Videos Privately With Friends & Family

Posted: 20 Jul 2010 12:31 PM PDT

share videosToday's web is all about open social networking. Even then, some information should ideally remain out of bounds from the public gaze. Most photos and videos are actually private memories and some of us may balk at sharing it with the World Wide Web.

Ryan first addressed the issue in his detailed look at the Top 4 Sites to Share Private Home Movies with Family & Friends. The post looked at the more obvious YouTube and its less intuitive interface; and then the three other online services to share videos.

But video hosting websites which let you have a say on who gets to view the shared videos are sprouting up.

The choice of the right private video sharing website will ultimately boil down to the file size allowed and the ease of sharing with the right kind of privacy features.

So try out the five below and let us in your preference (or none) to share videos with your friends and family.


free videos share sites

Gabble is a beta web service from Hewlett Packard which allows you to safely and securely share private videos. Notice the encrypted connection (HTTPS) in your address bar. All you need to get started is an Internet connection, a web browser and a video camera such as a webcam or mobile phone.

Gabble allows you to record and upload your videos for sharing. You also get a unique email address for your account which can be used to send videos directly from your mobile phone. Videos posted via email are limited to 10MB in size. Gabble allows you to create and join groups for exchanging videos.


share videos

VidMe is another online video sharing site which places all privacy controls in your hands. Videos can be uploaded or recorded directly using a webcam. Videos uploaded on VidMe can only be sent to the recipients you want to. The videos cannot be downloaded by the recipients or forwarded to anyone else. If recipients want to share the videos with anyone else, they have to 'suggest an additional recipient' and get your approval.

VidMe even has an iPhone app for uploading and sharing videos directly from your iPhone. Recipients are notified with an email and they get a little snapshot of the video in the email. To watch the complete video, the recipient will have to sign-in to VidMe.

Also catch our previous mention of VidMe.

Video Sprout

free videos share sites

Video Sprout is as simple as it gets in sharing private videos. Simply upload your video, and share access to it with the people whom you email. The videos can be shared via the unique URLs too. The online video sharing web service allows 100MB of storage and 500 monthly views. It's a nice solution for sharing those little video clips.

Also catch our previous mention of Video Sprout.


free videos share sites

Viddler is a free video sharing service which comes with three privacy controls. By default all videos uploaded are set to private (only you can see it). With the shared setting, the people you select will be able to view it. And thirdly, videos can be made public too and is viewable by others. Viddler is free for personal use.

What's good about Viddler is that right now the size limit per video is 500MB  (2GB monthly limit) and you can upload as many videos as you want. After an upload, Viddler encodes the files. The free account is ad-supported. If you don’t mind that, you can set it up with friends to mutually share videos.


share videos

Mejuba gives you 'unmetered' traffic and unlimited storage or your photos and videos. And the website if completely free to boot. Mejuba allows photo and video uploads from the computer, mobile, and iPhone. Upload size is limited to 1GB per upload and that's more than enough for a lot of things.

The useful thing (apart from its unlimited USP) is that you can upload entire folders and the folder arrangement gets retained online. Folders are called Albums on Mejuba and can be accessed via the Explorer like interface. Mejuba allows you to create public and private albums. Private albums can be viewed by invitation only. You can share your album with specific contacts and/or your Mejuba contacts.

How do you share your private videos? Let us know the site of your choice.

Image Credit: sunside

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Zune 4.0 – A Stunning Media Management Application

Posted: 20 Jul 2010 11:31 AM PDT

zune playerAfter buying the Zune HD music/video player from Microsoft, I was re-introduced to the Windows Zune Player software. It has undergone a big overhaul since we last reviewed it. One thing remains the same though – it’s still an incredible media management application.

You don’t need the Zune player to enjoy the benefits of the PC software. Below, we’ll discuss some of its more prominent features, and give you another couple of reasons to diss iTunes.

Zune Is…

Zune is the name of Microsoft’s music technologies – recently diverging into the fields of other popular media as well, like online video. It started with the launch of ‘the Zune’, Microsoft’s iPod rival that suffered from an undeserved marketing failure. But now, Zune is present on a multitude of different systems, ranging from the Zune HD and mobile phones to your Xbox 360.

microsoft zune hd

The Zune player is also available for your Windows PC but as of yet, Mac OS X and Linux are left out. Microsoft’s iTunes counterpart, this application manages your Zune device, as well as your local music libraries. MakeUseOf covered Zune 3.0, the old version, with a laudatory review. Much has changed since, with the big upgrade to Zune 4.0.

Zune 4.0 Media Manager

The 4.0 version launched in September last year, together with the Zune HD device. It got a complete interface and design overhaul – although touches of its predecessor are left present. Once again, you can expect a visually stunning and innovative interface, even if it’s still much of a memory hogging application.

zune player

It also integrates better with your other devices, such as the Xbox 360. Notable is the newfound importance of the cloud. Especially in the United States, the Marketplace – where you can buy music and video – is not to be missed. The new ‘Social’ tab allows you to interact with other audiophiles, and accentuate your musical identity; it’s Zune’s new social network for music fans.

microsoft zune hd

The music player itself highly resembles its predecessor. The beauty of it relights the hunger for innovation in our hearts – and perhaps confirms that it’s time to move to a new standard interface for media players.

Zune comes packed with a number of interesting features for the everyday music lover. There is Mixview, which shows a composition of connections to other artists and albums. Smart DJ puts this to use, by generating playlists of songs that are somehow related to a single artist, album, or song. The web streamer allows you to play your music on any device with an internet browser; even the Zune-ignored Mac and Linux systems.

Premium: Marketplace & Zune Pass

By all means, the Zune is a free music player. But the Marketplace and Zune Pass are two optional premium features that might enrich that experience. Sadly, these are only available for users in the United States and Puerto Rico.

The marketplace requires little to no explanation. It’s a place where you can buy the latest music and video. You’ll also find music videos, top 100 lists, channels and playlists.

microsoft zune hd

More interesting is the Zune Pass – directly related to the Zune Marketplace. For a monthly subscription fee of $14.99, you can download as many songs as you want – plus 10 songs ‘to keep’, each month. The Zune Pass was already available before the 4.0 update, but hasn’t lost its appeal.

If You Can’t Download The Application…

This link should take you to a page where you can download the Zune media manager. However, you might be redirected to a website of your own locale. Not all of these websites offer this download.

zune player

If you encounter this problem, scroll down to the bottom of the page and find the current region/language. Click International, and select United States on the next page. You should be able to find the download there, for sure. Note that although not all countries can access the market place, they can use the software as a regular media management application.

What do you think of the Zune player software? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Paintbrush – A Simple Drawing App For Mac

Posted: 20 Jul 2010 10:31 AM PDT

drawing app macWhen it comes to drawing applications, more fully-featured doesn’t always mean better. Some people prefer simplicity to create quick drawings over the steep learning curves of the giant drawing apps. One of the most popular simple-but-quick drawing applications is Microsoft Paint. This application might be the number one choice of such software under Windows for not so graphic literate people.

I used MS Paint a lot. Even though I’ve moved to more “capable” alternatives under Mac, I still miss the bare-bones simplicity of the good ol’ MS Paint every once in a while. That’s why I was excited to find out that there’s a similar drawing app for Mac called Paintbrush.

Quick Doodling

Paintbrush is a free open-source application which was built to fill the needs of a simple drawing app after Apple dropped its MacPaint. But don’t let the word “simple” fool you. Paintbrush is a very capable drawing app. To get a better picture (pun intended), let’s see the application in action.

After downloading and installing it, the first thing that Paintbrush will show you when you open it is the canvas size setting. You can choose one of the preset sizes from the drop down list, or you can set your own preferred size.

drawing apps for mac

You might notice some familiarity in the number combinations of the presets because they are the common pixel settings of a computer monitor.

drawing apps for mac

Continuing on to the drawing canvas, I personally think that the interface couldn’t be any simpler. There are only two things visible: the blank canvas and the tools floating pane.

To start drawing, just pick a tool and begin doodling. You can do free drawing by using a brush and spray, or you can pick a more precise tool like line, curve line, rectangular, ellipse, or rounded rectangular.

drawing app mac

Choosing one of the shapes will give you more drawing options. You can choose among empty shapes and two kinds of color filled shape.

You can also adjust how bold the tip of the brush/spray is by moving the stroke slider, and change the line color by clicking at the color picker.

drawing apps for mac

You can zoom in to get more precision in your drawing. Aside from the magnifying glass, you can also adjust the zoom using zoom level chooser at the lower left of the screen.

free drawing apps for macs

I tried to do a quick doodle using Paintbrush, and here’s the result.

free drawing apps for macs

Beyond Drawing

Besides drawing, the app is also able to do other basic image editing such as resizing, adding text, and also flipping.

To open an external image, use the “File – Open” menu and browse to the location of the file.

free drawing apps for macs

While resizing the image can be done using the “Image – Image Size” menu.

04b Image Size.jpg

Add text to the image by clicking on the “Add Text” icon in the tools pane, write down the text on the text field and adjust the Font using the Font menu.

drawing app mac

Paintbrush is indeed simple and might not be enough for those who are used to more heavy graphics applications. But for everyday Mac users who only want to doodle, this app is a solid alternative.

Have you tried Paintbrush? Do you know any other alternatives to light drawing apps for Mac like this one? If so, share your thoughts and opinions using the comments below.

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3 Top Ways People Get Infected by An Email Virus [In Case You Were Wondering]

Posted: 20 Jul 2010 09:31 AM PDT

get infected by an email virusViruses are some of the oldest parasites known to humans. They probably evolved while the first cells started to populate the planet. With the invention of computers, witty programmers copied the properties of biological viruses and translated them into tiny computer programs.

The sole purpose of any virus is to replicate and spread itself. Damage to the host system is a potential consequence. The most common way for a virus to enter a computer is via email. So how do people get infected by an email virus?

Shouldn’t everyone know how viruses enter a computer and be prepared? In this article I will explore the top 3 ways people get infected by an email virus and I will point out how you can avoid such a virus infection.

1. A Virus As An Email Hoax

As mentioned in the introduction, viruses typically are programs. But that’s not always the case. Some viruses speculate on nothing but your naivety. Did you ever forward a chain letter, a virus warning, or the email of a desperate parent whose child needed an organ donation? You probably fell for a hoax and helped to spread it.

In this case the virus is the email itself, although it’s not really an infection. The damage, however, is the same as with other viruses: clogging up of inboxes and mailservers. Email viruses generally cause a waste of time, resources, and energy.

email virus protection

Next time you receive a potential hoax email, don’t forward it unless you’re sure it’s genuine. features Top 10 lists of latest viruses, virus alerts, and virus hoaxes. Hoax-Slayer is a good resource to get informed about email hoaxes and eventually verify the credibility of an email you have received. Or if the email has tried to defraud you or steal your information, report it to the proper authorities.

2. A Virus In An Email Attachment

While forwarding an email doesn’t cause you any major damage, an infection with a “real” computer virus, i.e. a self-replicating program, is a lot more critical. There are “harmless” variants that just forward themselves to your contacts. However, a virus may also be programmed for example, to destroy specific files on your system.

Most viruses are delivered through an email attachment. Attachments that contain viruses are either executable programs (file types: .com, .exe, .vbs, .zip, .scr, .dll, .pif, .js) or macro viruses (file types: .doc, .dot, .xls, .xlt). The safest way to avoid them is to not open email attachments.

Note that you can safely open Word documents in alternative programs that don’t support macros, such as Wordpad or Open Office. Some viruses try to hide their true file extension by adding two of them. That’s what the ILOVEYOU virus did; its name was “LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs”.

get infected by an email virus

The good news is that downloading and reading the email will not do you any harm. As long as the attachment is not opened, the virus won’t hatch. If you don’t know the sender and if the email text is suspicious, just delete the email along with the attachment.

If one of your contacts, however, was infected by a virus, the fraud is not as easy to spot. Carefully review each email and play it safe. Many web mail services can scan email attachments for viruses. If you use a desktop mail program like Thunderbird or Outlook and don’t have a virus scanner that can scan email attachments, you may save (not open!) the attachment to your hard drive, where it becomes accessible for your virus scanner. Just remember never to open an attachment before it was scanned.

3. A Virus In The Email Body

Last but not least, malicious content can be found in the body of an email. Today, HTML is a common element of emails as it is used to embed pictures and links. However, HTML can also be used to embed scripts that execute automatically and subsequently infect your computer with a virus. That’s why many mail programs, by default, block HTML and make you click a button to display content of trustworthy sources. It’s a precaution you should not turn off.

Also, URLs can be a virus in disguise. You may see a harmless link that either leads you to a website that executes a malicious script or links to a completely different URL where you automatically download a self-executing virus.

get infected by an email virus

Taken together, the same rule as for attachments applies: never view or access links from suspicious sources.


The reason why all these strategies work is because the respective email is cleverly designed to foul its recipients. It may be a harmless call for sympathy or a threat that calls for instant action. Most people will readily click any link that is presented to them in order to solve a problem or access further information.

What you can do is the following:

  • Act smart, not fast.
  • Verify the source of any suspicious email before you act.
  • Generally, do not blindly forward emails, open attachments and links, or view HTML content.
  • Get an antivirus program and regularly update its virus definitions.
  • Make sure your mail program is set to not automatically download and open attachments or display HTML content.

For more background information on viruses and malware, check out the following articles:

Did you ever get fouled by an email and ended up geting infected by an email virus? What got you?

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Zoundry Raven – Another Good Alternative to Windows Live Writer

Posted: 20 Jul 2010 08:31 AM PDT

alternative to windows live writer All blog platforms, such as Blogger and Wordpress, come with their own built-in interfaces for writing new posts. These interfaces work fairly well, but they are ultimately web based interfaces and they can sometimes feel sluggish as a result. These built-in interfaces also can be an issue for people who have multiple blogs. Being forced to log into each individual site in order to make a new post can be very annoying.

The solution to these problems is the use of a blogging client that exists on your computer and acts as a normal program.

A blogging client acts like a word processor, and because it is located on your computer’s hard drive, you can write posts even when offline. Blog clients also make it possible to update multiple blogs through a common interface.

There are many of these programs available, and one of them is Zoundry Raven. Raven is an open-source client, and it supports all of the popular blog formats like Wordpress or Blogger and is a good alternative to popular Windows Live Writer.

Getting Started

Before you can start writing blog posts with Raven you need to set it up for use with your blog. In order to do this you need to click on File in the upper left, then hover over new, and finally click on Blog Account. This will start the new blog wizard.

I’m going to assume that you have a blog. If you don’t, Raven can help you there – clicking on “I don’t have a blog yet” will link you to so you can set one up. Otherwise, you need to enter the URL of your blog and then click Next. Raven will check the URL to make sure that a compatible blog format is being used on that website.

alternative to windows live writer

You’ll next be asked to set up your blog’s account information and enter an account name. You will need to know your username and password for the blog you want to post to and enter it here. Raven will also display the type of blog it detected. If that information does not look correct, click on the drop-down menu besides Site Type and find the right one. Now click Next.

Raven will check to make sure the account information and password you entered is valid, and once complete it will give you a final confirmation screen. If the account information was wrong, check it for accuracy and re-submit. Otherwise, click Finish.

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Raven will at this point download all of the image and post data from the blog. Now it is time to start writing.

Writing & Managing Posts

Once you have all of your blog data imported you will see that your blog account is listed in the account manager on the left side of the program. The account manager lets you browse all tags, images, links and posts that make up your blog. Adding a new post will, of course, add a post to this list.

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To start a new post you can click on the big Write button at the top of the program. This will open a new window that doesn’t look much different from the window that appears when you write a new email in an email client.

The name of the blog you are writing for will appear in this window (you can actually add more blogs as well, to update multiple blogs at the same time). Below that you will be able to enter the title of the post and also enter in any tags that you want to use.

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By default, the Design view will be open. This is a plain-text view of what you are writing. It is converted automatically to XHTML format that the blog you are writing for can use. You can have a look at the XHTML format by pressing the XHTML tab at the bottom of the window. Raven also lets you add images, links, tables, and XHTML tags. As with the text, all media and tags will be converted into a format compatible with the blog platform you use.

The Preview tab actually lets you take a look at how the post will look when it is posted to the blog. To enable this functionality, however, you must designate a template. This can be achieved clicking on Tools in the main Raven window and then clicking on Blog Template Manager. You only need to enter the URL of the blog you want to make a template for – Raven handles the rest.

To publish the blog post you only need to click on the big Publish button at the top of the window. Raven automatically uploads the blog post to your blog, and the post will momentarily appear on your blog’s page. Easy as pie! Actually easier – I haven’t a clue how to make pie.

Media Storage

Raven supports the ability to drag-and-drop files into your posts, including not only images but also non-image files, such as PDF files. These files can then be accessed through links in your blog post.  This is a very nice feature that makes sharing information in your blog posts easier, but in order to use it you’ll first need to set up Media Storage.

Media Storage is where the files will actually be kept. Most blogs have some form of media storage by default, but you may want to use an alternative in some cases. For instance, let’s say you want to post images to your blog AND share them on a image sharing service.

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To set up your media storage you need to click the Add Storage button in the main Raven window. This will prompt you to select the type of storage you want and give the storage a name. Raven supports custom FTP storage, Flickr, Image Shack, LiveJournal Scrapbook, Picasa Web Album and Ripway FTP.

Once you’ve set up your media storage you’ll need to make sure that it is enabled. Go to Tools and then click on Account Manager. Click on the account you want to use media storage for and then click on the Media Storage icon. The name of the storage you just set up will be available as an option with a checkbox. If the checkbox isn’t selected, go ahead and select it and then click Apply. You may need to click the override checkbox at the top of the window in order to do this.


Raven is the best blog client I’ve come across so far. It is easy to use and very powerful. It is open source, so hopefully it will continue to grow as developers work on it further and refine its features.

The most popular competition to Zoundry Raven is Windows Live Writer. They share many of the same features, such as ability to preview posts in your blog’s format and the automatic conversion of your post into a format that is compatible with the blog platform you use. But, as an alternative to windows live writer, The Media Storage Wizard is a feature that Raven has but Windows Live Writer does not and, as said, is particularly useful when you want to share files both on your blog and through a sharing or social media website.

Which desktop blogging client do you recommend?

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