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

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Cool Websites and Tools [July 22nd]

Posted: 22 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.

List Your Website Here!


MeeGenius – While telling your children popular childrens stories, at times you must have changed the characters' names to make them more relatable. MeeGenius is a website that makes this simple task even simpler and more fun. It is a free to use website that hosts customizable eBooks for kids. Read more: MeeGenius: Personalized Ebooks For Kids.


Dazzboard – With so many devices to capture media like pictures, videos and music, the issue that arises inevitably is how to keep them in sync. While there are various data sync solutions available, Dazzboard looks unique and promising. It aims to provide a simple, drag and drop browser based media synchronization solution. Read more: Dazzboard: Sync Your Files Across Multiple Devices.



ARKive – is creating the ultimate multimedia guide to the world's endangered species. The site is doing this with the help of the world's best filmmakers, photographers, conservationists and scientists. Wildlife films and photos are a great way to start people caring for endangered species. Read more: ARKive: Provides Information About Endangered Animals On Earth.



TwitHawk – There is no doubt about the fact that Twitter has proven to be a successful marketing medium for many companies. If you have millions of dollars to spend then you can hire social media marketing experts to take care of everything, but what if you want to market a small or mid-size business on Twitter? TwitHawk is a great service that lets you do exactly that. Read more: TwitHawk: Real-Time Keyword & Location Based Marketing On Twitter.



Listen Music – Music lovers are often on the lookout for new bands and music. They might want to find new music according to their mood, the artists they like, or through information they already have. All these things can be done efficiently on Listen Music. It is a website that lets you discover and listen to free music online without downloading. Read more: Listen Music: Listen To Free Music Online Without Downloading.


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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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MakeUseOf Team Spotlight [July 22nd 2010]

Posted: 22 Jul 2010 06:30 PM PDT

MakeUseOf Team Spotlight is our occasional feature where we profile the work of our writers outside of MakeUseOf. We have some very talented employees who like to spread their talents all around the web and it’s only right that we should recognise and showcase those talents.

In this edition of Spotlight, we will be profiling the work of Steve, Jack, Simon and Jackson. But don’t forget, our team loves feedback and conversation from the readers. If you would like to take part in that conversation, subscribe to their Twitter streams today.

Social Branding 101: Develop A Plan

Posted on Posted on Social Branding Blog by Steve
In this article, Steve talks about the importance of developing a plan for your social media and brand management needs. He offers a few tips you can utilize to become more efficient and organized in your branding efforts, as well as increase your productivity overall. Feel free to share your own ideas too!

A (Meme) Stream on Interesting Techy Subjects

Posted on Yahoo! Meme by Simon

Yahoo! Meme was shortly dubbed a Twitter competitor. But with a shifted focus on pictures and video, Meme aimed for a different niche in micro-blogging.

MakeUseOf staffer Simon Slangen also holds one of the most popular Memes to date. He writes and references at an accessible level on what’s going on in the tech world. Sometimes funny, sometimes elaborate, but always interesting.

[RESULTS] How Do You Take Your Lecture Notes?

Posted on by Jack

In his last MakeUseOf Spotlight, Jack asked for University students to complete a short survey on how they take lecture note at University. He have now analyzed the results and created a report.

If you would like a copy of the report to see what the best method is and why, you can download it from Jack’s website.

How To Choose The Right College For You

Posted on The Daily Buggle by Jackson
Choosing the right college can be like picking out your first car. You technically have more than one shot at it but it's something you want to get right the first time. Also, you want it to be something memorable and that speaks of your personality. Now’s the time to pick the right college for you. And only you know what’s right for yourself. Here are a couple of things you should consider when picking your future college.

If you would like to follow the MUO staff yourself on Twitter, check out this Twitter list, which is updated on a regular basis, as staff are hired or fired. From there, you can click through to each writer’s Twitter profile where you can subscribe to them for all their latest updates.

Image Credit: Visualogist

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5 Boring Webcams To Watch If You Have No Life

Posted: 22 Jul 2010 04:31 PM PDT

free online webcamsWho hasn’t dropped by a webcam or two to waste some time?  I’m not sure what is so fascinating about them but people just like webcams.  Maybe it’s the real-time aspect of it all.

There are a lot of free online webcams out there that are good at being interesting.  For instance, check out the article about the best free webcams to watch when you are bored.  As you can see, many webcams are very interesting to watch, for some reason.

On the other side of the equation, some webcams just make us stop and wonder what people were thinking of when they set them up.  Check out some of them most boring webcams on the net.

Watch Paint Peel

Watch paint peel?  Like I said, sometimes I don’t know what people are thinking.  People watch it though.  I wonder how long someone has to watch this one before they get some kind of on screen action.  As for me and my house, we will keep the peeling to ourselves.

free online webcams

Watch Grass Grow

Seriously?  People actually go through the bother to set up cameras to watch their grass grow?  And they expect people to watch?  I know we’ve all had days when we didn’t feel up to doing much more than watching grass grow but come on!  From the person who mows the grass around this house, let’s find a cam where we can watch grass NOT grow.  Now that would be a feat.

free webcams

Watch The Traffic

Did you know that you can actually log on and watch traffic cameras?  I can look out my window if I want to watch traffic – and the frame rate is even better.  On this site you have a map marking off all of the traffic cams you can look at.  Many hours of joyous fun can be spent here, I’m sure of it.

free webcams

Watch Cheese

OK, the cheddarvision makes watching paint peel interesting.  Normally watching food would make me hungry but for some reason not in this case.  The only redeeming part to this is that they have also recorded a 12-month time lapse video of the whole thing.  I guess that makes it all OK.

free webcams

Watch A Garden

What can be more interesting than watching grass grow?  Watching a whole garden grow, of course.  The frame rate is good and the plants look nice, but what’s the point?  Sure, it’s fun watching the plants flowing in the breeze but I can do that in my own back yard.

One cool part is that you can make their bubble machine blow bubbles.  Not sure why you’d want to but have fun with it.

free online webcams

OK, so you’d have to be pretty bored to want to check some of these free online webcams out.  I don’t know, maybe it’s the level of boring-ness that makes them irresistible to take a peek at.  Check them out, tell us what you think and share some more boring webcams in the comments.

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GParted – The Ultimate In Partitioning Software

Posted: 22 Jul 2010 02:31 PM PDT

free partitioning softwareEvery operating system has its own strengths. Windows is ubiquitous, and offers access to a wide range of software. OSX is rock-solid, and typically behaves exactly as the user expects.

Linux gives you access to millions of open source programs that can’t always be found elsewhere. Many of these free applications are amazingly useful, even for die-hard Windows users. GParted is an excellent example of amazing Linux free partitioning software every Windows user should be familiar with.

Why? Because it’s a complete partitioning tool, in many ways a better alternative to Partition Magic. It supports both NTFS and FAT32 (and much more), meaning it can do everything a Windows user would want to do (and much more!) Finally, because you can run it from a Live CD, you can even edit the partition your primary OS runs on–useful when you want that partition to be larger or smaller.

Best of all, Gparted is free partitioning software that’s already included on the Ubuntu Live CD – a tool I recently argued every Windows user should have anyway.

What Is Partitioning?

In essence, partitioning means splitting your hard drive into different sections. To Windows, each of these “sections” will be seen as separate drives – this despite being physically on the same volume.

What’s the point? Well, if your data is on a different partition than your operating system you can replace your operating system without losing your data. Partitioning is also necessary if you want to run more than one operating system on a single computer – for example, Windows and Ubuntu.

A partitioning tool allows you to shrink/extend existing partitions, as well as create new ones. GParted is just such a partitioning tool.

Another such tool is Partition Manager, a program we’ve featured in the past. While decent, Partition Manager cannot be run from a live CD and as such cannot edit your primary partition.

What Gparted Can Do

free partitioning software

Fire up GParted and you’ll see your primary drive, ready to be altered. You can delete a partition if you like, or just resize it. To do something all you need to do is right-click the drive or partition you want to edit. The menu that comes up even features sliders you can drag if entering numbers isn’t quite your style.

partitioning software

Don’t see what you want to edit? Know that, in the top-right corner of the window, is a drop-down menu that allows you to select which drive you want to configure.

free partitioning software

It’s also worth noting that GParted won’t do anything until you click the “Apply” button in the toolbar. So if you want to see what kind of configurations will work and won’t work go ahead; nothing is altered until you click okay.

Finally, it’s worth noting that partitioning is not without risks. If, for example, you experience a power outage while partitioning the result might be a system that will no longer boot and data that’s hard to recover. Protect yourself from this by using a battery backup, or by ensuring your power source will be consistent.

It’s also a good idea for Windows-types to defragment their hard drive before partitioning. This will greatly increase the effectiveness of your partitioning.

Getting GParted

If you already use Linux, congratulations: you have easy access to GParted. Check your distro’s repositories to install.

If you have an Ubuntu live CD kicking around, congratulations: you have easy access to GParted. Just boot from the disk and find GParted under “System” followed by “Administration.”

If you don’t have a Ubuntu CD, they’re easy to find. Go ahead and download an ISO or have a CD mailed to you free of charge.

If all you want is GParted, consider downloading the GParted Live CD instead. Download it and burn the ISO to disk using your burning application of choice.

Potential Uses

  • The Windows installer, particularly the XP one, tends to take forever creating partitions. Use Gparted instead to make installation faster.
  • Shrink your XP partition to make room for another OS, like Ubuntu
  • Need extra space? Remove the “Recovery” partition that came with your computer and extend your OS partition to take advantage of that extra space (but be warned, only do this if you have an OS CD on hand for re-installation.)
  • If you recently bought a bigger hard drive, you can use Clonezilla to copy your filesystem to it and then Gparted to extend your partition to the entire drive.


Gparted isn’t just free partitioning software; it’s the free partitioning software. If you need to rearrange your hard drive this is what you’re looking for, and it’s completely free.

Did you know about this amazing tool before, or are you happy to discover it? Can you think of any more uses for it, or do you have any stories to tell of how you’ve used it in the past?  Feel free to discuss all this and more in the comments below.

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Hot Tech Deals [July 22nd]

Posted: 22 Jul 2010 01:30 PM PDT

If you’re in the market for a new computer, laptop, mobile phone, games and other accessories; don’t waste your time searching online. We’ve taken the liberty of locating the best tech deals and unifying them into a single post for your convenience.

For more fresh hot deals, visit our Hot Tech Deals page, which is constantly updated.

  1. Plextor PX-NAS2-BL1 2-Bay SOHO Gigabit NAS Storage Server (No Hard Drives Included) $89.99 after rebate via code JAM510
  2. Iomega Select 320GB Portable External Hard Drive $44.99 via code EMCYTZT61
  3. Dell Inspiron 580 Intel Core i3-540 3.06GHz Desktop (4GB/500GB/Discrete Graphics) $469.99
  4. Sennheiser RS170 Wireless Surround Sound Headphones $184.99 via code BUBBLE20
  5. Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R Intel X58 LGA1366 ATX Motherboard w/ USB 3.0 & SATA 6GB/S $185.99 via code BUBBLE20
  6. Microsoft Xbox 360 250GB Splinter Cell Edition Bundle $299.99
  7. Hand Held Items offers 20% off All Apple iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch Cases via code 20iphonecs
  8. Dell Inspiron 580s Slim Intel Core i5-650 3.2GHz Desktop (4GB/1TB/Gefore G310) $629.99
  9. Targus Universal Digital Camera Starter Kit $6.99 Free Shipping
  10. Sony VPL-BW7 LCD Home Theater Projector (720p, 2000 Lumens) $399.99
  11. Samsung ML-2851ND Laser Printer w/ Networking & Duplexing $94.99
  12. Cobra XRS-9840 Ultra Performance 12 Band Radar/Laser Detector (Refurb) $54.99
  13. TODAY ONLY Sharp AQUOS LC-40LE700UN 40in LED LCD HDTV (1080p, 120Hz) $699.99

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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6 Cool IrfanView Plugins To Enhance This Simple Image Editor

Posted: 22 Jul 2010 12:31 PM PDT

irfanview pluginsIrfanView is a compact graphic viewer for Windows. It’s small, fast, and offers an incredible amount of features. Best of all, it’s freeware.

Per default, IrfanView comes with some basic features, including multi-language support, a large number of supported file formats, paint options, slideshow capability, batch conversion, and a lot more. The application can be enhanced further by installing a myriad of IranView plugins.

To help you get an idea what is available and make a decision which ones you really need, I’m reviewing some of the coolest IranView plugins.

IrfanView Plugins come in five different packages: a media, a formats, an effects, a misc, and a full plugin collection. In addition, there are plugins that are not yet part of any of the packages.

The packages are .zip archives and each plugin can be installed separately. The installation procedure is described in the included readme text file. The full package is also available as self-installing .exe file.

1. SLIDESHOW: Save Slideshows As An .exe or .scr file

As mentioned above, IrfanView has the capability to show slideshows of your pictures. To set up a slideshow, go to > File > Slideshow and set up your show. Per default, you can save the file names to a .txt file and re-load it to show the same slideshow again. With the slideshow plugin, you can also save your show as .exe or .scr, which will preserve all your settings.

slideshow plugin for IrfanView

This plugin is part of the media collection. If you would also like to burn your slideshows to a CD, get the BURNING plugin from the same plugins collection.

2. EXIF: View Exif Data From JPGs

Exchangeable Image File Format (Exif) data provide information about the camera settings used to take the respective picture. The EXIF plugin makes this information viewable for JPG images. When the plugin is installed, go to > Image > Information and click the > EXIF info* button.

irfanview plugins

This plugin is part of the misc collection.

3. FILTERS_UNLIMITED: Use Filters Unlimited plugins From PhotoShop

If you’re using PhotoShop, you can use its Filters Unlimited plugins in IrfanView with the help of this plugin. Naturally, you will need a copy of Filters Unlimited itself. The IrfanView plugin is merely an interface.

When everything was installed correctly, you can go to > Image > Effects > Filters Unlimited to start using the respective filters.

plugins for irfanview

This plugin is part of the effects collection. A similar plugin is FILTER_FACTORY.

4. MPG: Extract Frames From MPEG Files

Using this plugin, you can extract a set of frames from .mpeg movies. The images will be saved as .bmp files.

irfanview plugins

This plugin is part of the formats collection.

5. FORMATS: Extend Support For Rare Image Formats

Quickly get additional file type support and view all files with these extensions in IrfanView: PSP, G3, RAS, IFF/LBM, BioRAD, Mosaic, XBM, XPM, GEM-IMG, SGI, RLE, WBMP, TTF, FITS, PIC, HDR, MAG, WAD, WAL, DNG, EEF, NEF, ORF, RAF, MRW, DCR, SRF/ARW, PEF, X3F, CAM, SFW, YUV, PVR, SIF.

This plugin is pat of the formats collection.

Some other IranView plugins from that collection should also be noted. There is QUICKTIME which obviously adds support for Quicktime files, then there is another that allows you to play MP3 files in IrfanView, and finally you can also watch Flash movies in IrfanView, if the respective plugin is installed.

6. OCR_KADMOS: Adds OCR Features

OCR_Kadmos is an optical character recognition (OCR) component for IrfanView. It will recognize and extract text from loaded images. Load an image that contains text, then go to > Options > Start OCR… (Plugin). The software window opens. Select the type of text and language, then select the text you wish to see recognized with the mouse. The recognized characters will appear in a window in the bottom left.

irfanview plugins

This plugin is not yet part of a package mentioned above. For now you have to download and install it separately.

We have previously written about IrfanView:

Which one is your favorite IrfanView plugin?

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SendBlaster – An Offline Newsletter Manager For Your Small Website

Posted: 22 Jul 2010 11:31 AM PDT

website newsletter managersOne of the things that I’ve been meaning to do ever since I started my blog is to offer readers a monthly or biweekly newsletter. Newsletters are great for a lot of reasons. They give you a one-on-one connection with your readers and a useful list of their email addresses that they’ve entrusted you with. Newsletters also give you an opportunity to dazzle readers that may have subscribed to your newsletter and then promptly forgot all about your website.

Attracting first time visitors to your site is certainly a major concern of many bloggers, but once you get them there, you really need a way to keep them coming back. If you can get your visitors to subscribe to your newsletter, you’ve got a hook that you can use to hopefully keep tempting them back to your site every time you issue one of your useful website newsletter managers filled with valuable and interesting content.

SendBlaster Simplifies The Newsletter Process

If you’ve ever gone out in search of a good website newsletter manager system, then you will know that there are several important elements to the newsletter process that not all applications cover. A good newsletter management system accepts and stores new visitor subscriptions. It also provides an easy GUI interface for creating, storing and sending your newsletter out to all of your subscribers. And finally, a good system should provide you with feedback and statistics about the success or failure of your newsletter campaign.

MakeUseOf has previously covered a number of different approaches that you could use, such as Dean’s article about creating a PDF newsletter, or Tim’s review of the Mad Mimi email marketing tool. There is also Aweber (not free) that MakeUseOf uses for its own newsletter.

However, in this review I’m going to cover one of the most useful website newsletter managers for smaller sites I could find – SendBlaster.

website newsletter managers

I should point out right up front that while SendBlaster is free, there are some limitations that may eventually make it difficult to use once you grow beyond a certain size. With the free version, you’re limited to two mailing lists with up to 100 subscribers each. Once you grow beyond that, you may want to consider buying the software or searching for some other paid system that suits your needs.

On the “Manage Lists” screen is where you can give your list a name.

newsletter manager

SendBlaster is a desktop application, not an online service, so all email addresses in your subscriber lists are safely stored offline on your computer. You can manually add email addresses on this screen if you like. Fields are your typical contact information, but the only required field is just the email address. As your list gets populated with more email addresses, the subscriber details fill the table at the bottom of the screen.

newsletter manager

Of course, the whole point of having an automated newsletter management system is so that you don’t have to do very much of anything manually. The goal here is to set up a link on your website that visitors can click on, and it will automatically send an email to an email address you define in SendBlaster. SendBlaster checks your email inbox regularly, and when it sees a “subscribe” email, it automatically adds the contact to your locally stored mailing list.

The first step is to set up that email address on the “Manage Subscriptions” page.

newsletter manager

Fill in your POP email server details for the email account you want to use to receive your subscription requests. When you’re done, scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll find the HTML code that you can copy and paste into your website. This code is the Subscribe or Unsubscribe link.

email newsletter

Copy this code, add an image or so to make it look acceptable, and paste it into your website. In the case of a Wordpress blog, you can add it as an HTML text widget. Or you can try out the Wordpress widget that SendBlaster offers which includes a cool auto-responder email for new subscribers.

Every time a visitor clicks on the subscribe button and sends you an email with the word “Subscribe” in the subject line, the SendBlaster application, upon checking your email, recognizes that you have a new subscription request and automatically adds it to your mailing list.

email newsletter

That’s really all there is to setting up your automated subscription system to update and manage your mailing list without any effort on your part.

Creating & Sending A Newsletter

The next important feature of such a newsletter system is obviously creating and delivering quality newsletters that will keep your readers coming back to your site for more. In the SendBlaster software, to create a new newsletter, all you have to do is click on “Compose Message.”

email newsletter

The setup is very much WYSIWYG, with some very cool features like the ability to add and correctly place and align images, insert hyperlinks and there’s even a very cool list of premade templates to choose from if you want to save some time.

When you click on “Send” in the left menu, you’ll see the page where you need to set up your SMTP email server settings for the email account you plan to use to send out your emails. If you scroll down to the bottom of the screen you’ll see where you can configure the software so that your account isn’t flagged for spamming. It does this by letting you set a delay between individual emails, or blocks of emails. While this may slow down the distribution process, the software allows you to send out massive volumes of emails without flagging yourself as a spammer.

If you want to create an assortment of newsletters ahead of time and schedule them out into the future, maybe every month or so, you can do this in the “Schedule” section of the software.

website newsletter managers

Overall, SendBlaster is easily one of the most versatile and feature-rich free newsletter management systems. With a current environment where most newsletter systems are asking for ridiculous fees, having the ability to create a couple of mailing lists with up to 100 subscribers each is a real life saver for small blog or website operators.

Do you run a newsletter from your website, and if you do, what solution do you use? Is SendBlaster potentially a solution for you? Share your insights in the comments section below.

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Try Out Google’s Chromium OS On Your Laptop Or Netbook With Flow

Posted: 22 Jul 2010 10:31 AM PDT

google chromium osChromium OS (or Chrome OS) is a new breed of open-source operating system, and like much of Google's product suite is completely free of charge. The Google Chromium OS relies on the web for all but the bare-bones, and aims to bring the whole internet to your fingertips within seconds of turning on your PC.

The only problem is that Google's official builds suffer from poor hardware support, driver issues and are unlikely to work unless you're using a brand new netbook. Enter Flow, an exciting Chromium OS build with much improved compatibility allowing you to sample your first taste of a lightning-fast web-reliant operating system, all from the comfort of a 2GB USB flash drive.

Mimicking Google's popular Chrome web browser, the Google Chromium OS contains no applications or programs and instead uses web-based services such as Google Documents and Picnik. This is all part of Google's plan to essentially turn their web browser into an operating system, and by doing so they've managed to drastically speed up the whole process of "getting online".

Flow is a third-party build by an enthusiast called Hexxeh that provides a straight-forward means of test driving this new platform. I will be using Windows to create the bootable USB image, although once you have created your bootable Chromium OS build it will work in any other compatible system. Linux users may want to look here, and for the trickier Mac install there's a handy YouTube video with full walkthrough.

Before starting it's best to check whether your particular netbook, laptop or desktop is listed as a known compatible device. If you're not listed, then you'll probably want to try it anyway. If it works, you might want to let the author know!

Installing Chromium OS To USB

The first thing you'll need to do is grab a copy of the USB image from Hexxeh's main page. You can download directly from the server, or via a torrent link if you'd like to help seed and share the project afterwards. You'll need a BitTorrent client if you'd like to be a good citizen.

google chromium os

Once downloaded, extract the CD image file (.img) from the archive. If you're stuck, you can use 7Zip for this. Lastly, download a copy of Image Writer for Windows as you'll need this to transfer the image file you just downloaded to your spare (2GB or larger) USB stick. Extract all the files within the Image Writer archive to their own directory, and run Win32DiskImager.exe.

Note that you may need administrator permission to write the image to USB, so ensure you are logged into Windows with full privileges.

Within the Win32 Disk Imager window navigate your way to the Chromium OS CD image (.img) file and select it. Select the USB drive you wish to use by choosing its corresponding letter within the drop down box. When you're ready, hit Write. You'll be warned that you are about to potentially corrupt your USB drive, click Yes and proceed.

google chromium

Once the progress bar reaches its destination – you're done.


Restart your PC and enter your BIOS setup. Depending on your PC, this will entail hitting something like the Del or F2 key as your PC first boots. Within these settings you'll need to schedule your PC to boot from USB before it tries to launch your primary OS within your boot devices. Save your changes and restart your computer, making sure that all-important USB stick is inserted.

If you have problems booting from USB, or your computer does not support it then you can try PLoP Boot Manager. This program allows you to burn a CD image or write a floppy that will load an interface from which to launch the USB drive.

google chromium

Once Chromium OS has loaded (don't worry, your first boot might take a while) you can log in with your Google account. If you have trouble logging in, the default Flow username is facepunch and the password is the same. This will allow you to log in and play around, even if you have network troubles.

google chromium os

If you're familiar with a web browser you'll instantly be able to use Chromium, so it makes for a nice lightweight OS. It's by no means perfect yet, but it's handy if you "just need the web".

Have you experimented with Google Chromium OS? Does Flow work on your PC? Let us know in the comments.

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Mac’s All-In-One Synchronisation Centre Gets An Update [Giveaway]

Posted: 22 Jul 2010 09:30 AM PDT

If you are like most modern people, you’d have your data scattered across multiple devices and places: computers, cell phones, online accounts, USB drives, and maybe even gaming devices. Synchronizing everything would be a mundane task and nobody wants to do it manually.

Luckily, Mac users have SyncMate. This all-in-one synchronization center will help you sync your data across multiple devices with little to no effort. All you have to do is add your devices/online accounts to the list, install the required drivers (if needed) and sync away.

01 Add Devices.jpg

SyncMate supports synchronization between Mac computer and: other Mac computers, Windows PC, Google Accounts, free online backup storage provided by Eltima, Sony PSP, and also a wide range of mobile devices. You can see the list of all compatible mobile devices here.

02 Supported devices.jpg

What I like most about SyncMate is its ability to perform simultaneous multiple device synchronization automatically at a customizable interval. So if you wanted to, you can have your Mac and Windows PC and Android Mobile Phone synced automatically every 10 minutes, every time those devices are within connection range without having to lift a finger.

03 AutoSync.jpg

We have discussed SyncMate before in these articles: “How To Sync Your Mac With Windows Mobile Devices & More” and “How To Sync Contacts, Calendars & Events Between Mac & PC“. We also had SyncMate Expert Edition giveaway.

Eltima – the maker of SyncMate – has just released the latest version of this software (v2.6) with many new features such as:

  • sync music, video and images between Mac and PC
  • import a folder with images or music/video from the synced device directly into iPhoto album or iTunes playlist on Mac
  • sync Mac Mail notes/Entourage notes/Stickies with Opera notes on Windows PC
  • convert audio files to various formats in iTunes & video plugin
  • ability to exclude certain files from synchronization when syncing folders.

To accompany this new release, Eltima is having another SyncMate Expert Edition giveaway for lucky MakeUseOf readers. For those who missed the previous giveaway, this is another chance to organize your data and make your life easier. We have 10 licenses to give away.

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 our 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 Sunday, 25th 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 Alex from Eltima for her 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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How To Convert A PDF File Into A Flash Movie

Posted: 22 Jul 2010 08:31 AM PDT

convert pdf to flash onlineThe Adobe PDF format is one of the most common document formats in the world today. It is versatile, portable, and allows for the creation of professional looking digital documents. MakeUseOf has an entire section devoted to PDF guides. E-books are also often distributed in PDF format.

However, while PDF is extremely common, it isn’t universal. There are some devices, such as some MP3 players, that don’t support PDF files. It is also not possible to view PDF files on a computer unless you download and install the PDF viewer software. Usually you’ll do this on your own computer, but you may not be able to on a public computer.

If you are in a situation where you’re using a device that can’t open PDF files, you can try to work around the problem with a tool that convert the PDF to a SWF (Shockwave Flash) file. Flash files can be opened by any web browser that has Flash installed and many portable devices. To do the conversion however, you’ll need to use conversion software such as PDF2SWF, one of the many tools made available by SWFTools.

Convert PDF to Flash

pdf to flash

At first, converting a file with PDF2SWF seems very simple. However, there are many options that you can set using PDF2SWF. These options are important to how your converted file can be viewed and will also determine what devices the SWF file will play on.

Open the options window by going to Edit and then Options. For now we are going to ignore the quality tab that pops up first and instead take a look at the viewer tab.

A SWF file is, in its raw form, not useful as a means of viewing a document. There is no built-in way of zooming in or out or moving from one page to the next. To add this functionality you need to select a viewer. The viewer is added on to your new SWF and mimics the function of a PDF reader.

convert pdf to flash online

There are four options available in PDF2SWF. The most simplistic is Simple Viewer. This viewer has minimal impact on file size and provides two small buttons for moving from one page to the next. One step up is the Technoargia viewer. This viewer includes the options of Simple Viewer and also lets you specify the width and height of the viewer and the zoom level at which the viewer will operate.

The most complex viewer is RFX viewer. This option adds the ability to scroll and zoom. Finally, you can choose to export the SWF in a raw format, although this is only advisable if the device you’re using has a built-in SWF viewer.

Once you have selected the viewer you want to use you’re ready to convert. Go to File and then Save SWF. You can choose to either save the entire PDF or a single selected page.


Viewing SWF files can be tricky on some devices. For example, the reason I originally looked into this was because I wanted to bring a specific part of my D&D 4th edition book to a game rather than the whole thing. However, the device I wanted to carry the file on – my Samsung P3 – wouldn’t play the SWF file.

I eventually found out that this was because of the settings I had selected. First, let’s talk about the viewer settings. If you select the RFX or Simple viewer you will also have the option of selecting the version of Flash that you want the viewer to use. I had to choose Flash 8, because that is what my device supported.

pdf to flash

You may also have to adjust the quality settings. Open the quality options by going to Edit and then Options. Set the Rendering Mode radio button so that all parts of the PDF are converted to a bitmap. This will solve compatibility problems on many devices.

If you are trying to display a large SWF file, you might need to reduce the Resolution and JPEG quality options. This will make the SWF file size more manageable, which can in turn make using the SWF file a smoother experience.

The End Result

convert pdf to flash online

Having played with the settings, I was able to successfully place specific parts of my D&D 4th edition book onto my Samsung P3 player. If you’re only planning to use SWF conversion as a means of side-stepping the need to install a PDF reader on a machine you’ll find that PDF2SWF is a breeze to use.

If you’re trying to use it to display PDF documents on a Flash-enabled mobile device, you may have a harder time. Often the support forums for your device will have advice on the settings you need to use to play SWF files.

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