Thursday, July 29, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [July 28th]” plus 9 more “Cool Websites and Tools [July 28th]” plus 9 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [July 28th]

Posted: 28 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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AirBnB – Hotels are great but they lack that human element. If you are more of a people person and don't like staying at hotels, AirBnB has something unique to offer. It is a website where you can rent rooms from actual people in their house. Simply choose your city, your stay dates and AirBnB will show you a list of private rental homes and rooms available. Read more: AirBnB: Private Rental Homes & Rooms From Actual People.


Yummly – When it comes to browsing and searching for recipes, Yummly is quite intuitive. You can not only search recipes by titles but also by typing the name of any ingredient. With over 50,000 recipes indexed from sites like Epicurus and RecipeZaar, and a very smart recipe search engine, Yummly is a great tool to check out for food lovers. Read more: Yummly: Very Smart Search Engine For Recipes.



VidMe – YouTube is the most popular online video sharing network but it does not offer the privacy many of us would prefer. In order to better control who gets to see your videos, log on to VidMe. The difference between YouTube and VidMe is that videos shared using VidMe work only for the intended recipient and cannot be forwarded, downloaded, or made viral without the video owner's approval. Read more: VidMe: Private & Secure Video Sharing With Selected Contacts.



SafetyWeb – While the internet has many merits, there's no dearth of problems associated with it either. Especially for kids. This is what SafetyWeb aims to address. It's a new tool that aims to help parents monitor their kids' online activities, what they are doing and who they are talking to. Read more: SafetyWeb: Monitor Your Kids Online & Keep Them Safe.



Gapminder – is a free web service that provides various data and statistics related to different interesting topics and global issues. Gapminder was built to present a picture of the world using a unique approach to reading data. This website also aims to promote global development with the purpose of accomplishing the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Read more: Gapminder: View Interesting Statistics Of The World Development & Global Issues.


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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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Easily Create Your Own Slick Flash Galleries Using SimpleViewer

Posted: 28 Jul 2010 06:31 PM PDT

Flash galleries allow you to show off a little with your work, and why not? Functional loading bars, crisp animations and a clean interface means Flash ticks a lot of boxes for many looking to exhibit their work on the web.

If you're searching for a lightning fast Flash gallery generator with all the above, then SimpleViewer is all you need. It's free, and works with a myriad of imaging applications including Photoshop, Picasa and iPhoto.

If you've not got any of the above (or would rather use a lightweight solution), fear not for there is a dedicated GUI for SimpleViewer called Porta. This software will allow you to input the parameters you desire to customize your gallery without the need for trawling through an XML file and fiddling with code.

For the benefit of this demonstration, I will be using Porta. If like me you've got hundreds of ready-to-go processed images, then this is a speedy solution that "just works". You can download the Windows version here, and Linux (and possibly Mac) users who are interested will be pleased to know that the generator will work with the aid of Wine. You won’t need to download SimpleViewer seperately if you are using Porta, all you need to get started is included.

SimpleViewer works by creating a folder containing your images, thumbnails, script files and an index page. When you visit this URL within a web browser (e.g. the gallery will be loaded in its entirety, making SimpleViewer ideal for quick sharing solutions.

Creating A Gallery With Porta

Once you've downloaded and installed Porta, locate it in the Start Menu and open it up. You should be prompted straight away to select a folder to use for your gallery. The images within this folder will be added automatically to the list of images in your gallery, though you can re-arrange and remove images later if you wish.

Select a folder in the dialog box that appears, you may want to take some time collating your images first. Once you've chosen your desired images, Porta will return you to its default state and provide a couple of options to fiddle with.

First of all name your gallery and customise the footer if you want.

Change the destination of your eventual Flash masterpiece by clicking change and specifying a location (it will default to a folder called album in the location you previously chose). The Edit Album… button allows you to decide on the order of your images, as well as captions and micro-captions.

Drag and drop your images in the left pane to rearrange, and clicking each one will give you the option to add captions. The gallery generator also allows you to pull EXIF data as captions with the Extract Captions button.

Once you're done arranging, click Close to be taken back to Porta's default menu and click Options. Here you can tweak your gallery so that it appears exactly as you want it.

Ensure that Use SimpleViewer as primary album viewer is checked, else you'll generate a basic HTML gallery instead of the fancy Flash one you desire. The rest of the settings are entirely subjective based on your requirements from the gallery, and image size and quality will depend on bandwidth and space limitations.

Before hitting OK click on Options next to the SimpleViewer check box, and choose your colour scheme and appearance options.

Once you're set, hit OK to return to the main menu and then Start to generate your gallery. SimpleViewer won't hang around long, and your gallery will soon be generated. Hit Show Gallery to check out your creation, not forgetting to gasp in awe at the sexy interface in front of you.

You can now upload the folder directly to your webspace, or pick apart the HTML and integrate into a webpage of your choosing.

Using SimpleViewer With Other Applications

The full list of compatible SimpleViewer applications extends way beyond Photoshop, Picasa and iPhoto. Adobe Lightroom 2.0 and Apple Aperture are supported as well as RapidWeaver for the Mac and SimpleViewerExport on Linux.

Each application package contains the relevant scripts to generate galleries, though some require manual tweaking of the galleries.xml file to set parameters such as thumbnail size and scaling options.

There is a full list of compatible programs on the SimpleViewer website, as well as download links to scripts and detailed instructions on how to use each one in conjunction with your existing software.


For a lightning quick solution to putting your favourite shots on the web using Flash, SimpleViewer leads the class. If you're after professional results, and don't fancy going down the JavaScript route then give it a whirl. Porta's all you need for a test-drive, and it won't cost you a penny.

Have you tried SimpleViewer? Do you prefer it to JavaScript-based solutions? Let us know in the comments.

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5 Online Sources For Amazon Promotional Codes

Posted: 28 Jul 2010 04:31 PM PDT

To save some money at a brick-and-mortar store, you might turn to clipping coupons. But in this day and age, you probably do a lot of your shopping online, especially as offers just about everything you might need to purchase, from books to electronics to groceries. On top of that, it has its own form of coupon: the promotional code.

There’s no need to cut with a pair of scissors along the dotted line anymore. All you have to do is copy and paste a promotional code at checkout to easily save some money. But where do you find these promotional codes? Not in the Sunday newspaper, but on the internet, of course!

Check out these sites that provide free Amazon promotional codes, and you’ll be on your way to saving some cash.’s Amazon Discount Finder is updated with lists of Amazon promotional codes for each month. It also includes a matrix at the top that lets you easily browse Amazon’s products by how much percent off you can buy them for.

Lastly, it includes “coupon books.” If you click onto any Amazon product from one of TopHotDeal’s coupon books and add it to your cart, you’ll receive a discount on that product. maintains lists of Amazon deals and promotional codes for the current month in a stickied thread in the Hot Online Deals section of their forums.

For this month you’ll notice a topic called “Amazon Promotional Codes, Coupons and Deals for July 2010″ near the top. Click it and you’ll find a series of posts with links to Amazon pages with promotional codes, discounts, and sales. has a simple list of current Amazon promotional codes with expiration dates.

Whereas most other sites like this rely on user-submitted promotional codes, DealCoupon seems to have an editorial staff who test out the coupons before posting them, which results in coupons that work a lot more reliably. provides a list of current Amazon promotional codes with expiration dates. Below them you’ll also find a list of other current discount offers on Amazon.

CurrentCodes is definitely one of the most straightforward sources for promotional codes and other deals that will save you money shopping on Amazon. is one of the most popular sources for promotional codes for nearly every shopping site out there, so it’s certainly no surprise that it offers a list of user-submitted Amazon promotional codes.

Because they’re user-submitted, they aren’t guaranteed to work (and you’ll certainly encounter some that don’t), but there is a system in place so that users can select whether the promotional code worked or not. You should stick with the codes that have the highest success rates.


These are the best sites for promotional codes specific to Amazon. But if you’re looking for promotional codes for other sites, be sure to check out MakeUseOf’s top 10 sites for promotional codes. MakeUseOf has also previously written about 13 bargain sites, 5 shopping sites, and 5 price comparison sites that will help you save money when shopping online.

Where do you go online to find promotional codes? Do you know of any other good sources for Amazon promotional codes?

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5 Free Apps To Make Your iPad A Useful Business Tool [Mac]

Posted: 28 Jul 2010 02:31 PM PDT

The iPad continues to see record sales at the moment – with many iPad owners reporting that they love using their iPad to stream movies, play games and visit their social networks. It seems the iPad is getting quite a reputation as an entertainment-only device. Some techies and workaholics claim the iPad is totally useless as a business tool. In his article for PC World, David Coursey says the iPad has some potential in the business world, but as of now “it’s really not that much different from a really big iPod.”

Honestly, I see Coursey’s point – the iPad does have a way to go before it becomes an invaluable business tool. However, I think there are some excellent, free apps that make it very useful for the business world that are available for download right now.


Work with complex sets of data all day? Then you’re going to love Roambi. This free program takes data from multiple platforms (Excel, SAP Business Objects, Salesforce CRM) and turns them into interactive charts and graphs. Not only are these charts and graphs great looking but they make data analysis easier. The program is so impressive, show your boss this video of Roambi on the iPad, and you may convince your company to foot the bill for your new iPad!


WebEx is an awesome collaborative, online business meeting tool. WebEx is well known for its excellent content sharing features and is now available for the iPad. If WebEx meetings are a requirement of your work life, you can now join in on any meeting from anywhere you go with your iPad – great for business trips.

It’s completely free to join in on a meeting, but if you’re a business owner and want to host a meeting that’ll cost you a WebEx subscription.


Keep track of your debits and credits, calculate VAT, send invoices and generate reports with this easy accounting program for the iPad. Small business owners will love this app since they can keep track of all their transactions with a few taps of their finger and do so on the go as long as their iPad is in tow.

The first 100 transactions are free, but unlimited use will cost you a small one time fee.

iThesaurus Plus

Does your job require you to write important emails or reports on a regular basis? Then you can probably use iThesaurus Plus. It’s a basic app offering over 140,000 words with synonyms and antonyms, but one you’ll likely find yourself using frequently.

Popplet Lite

This brainstorming app turns the iPad into a digital whiteboard. A step by step process is illustrated for generating ideas and once the brainstorming process begins a spidergram is created. The lite version only allows for one spidergram at a time while the paid version allows for multiple spidergrams and syncing.

I think the iPad has tremendous potential as a powerful business machine. However, I think one aspect that is holding the iPad back from taking flight in the business world is the cost of standard business apps. Word, Excel, iWork all cost a mini fortune by app price standards (between $10 and $20). Plus everyone has already paid a pretty penny to have all these programs on their workstation – so why should we have to pay again? I think it would open doors if Apple allowed owners of this standard business software to get it for free on their iPad.

That and of course multitasking on the iPad would be invaluable for power business users. What does everyone else think? Does anyone use their iPad for work?

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Hot Tech Deals [July 28th]

Posted: 28 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. Logitech MK700 Wireless Keyboard & Mouse $49.99via code 3FRBKSHJKS2CTN
  2. Lenovo ThinkPad L412 Intel Core i3-370 2.4GHz 14in Laptop (2GB/160GB/Win7) $584.10 via code USPTHINKBTS
  3. Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 Intel Core i3-350M Dual-Core 2.26GHz 15.6in Laptop (4GB/500GB/Win7) $579 via code USPZ53A726
  4. Samsung 2494LW 24in Widescreen LCD Monitor (1920×1080) $164.99 via code N9B9WPF6CWFTW6
  5. Logitech G500 Wired Laser Gaming Mouse (Upgraded Remake of G5) $34.99 Free Shippingvia code EMCYVNN28
  6. ASUS RT-N12 802.11n 300Mbps Wireless N Router (DD-WRT) $29.99 Free Shipping via code EMCYVNV42
  7. Dell Studio One 19 Intel Dual-Core E5400 2.7GHz All-in-One Desktop w/ 19in Multi-Touch Display $584.24 via codes ?$QNC1?HSKNR9F and ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C

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10 Best US Zip Code & Area Code Finder Websites

Posted: 28 Jul 2010 12:31 PM PDT

zip code finderThe mailman still rings the doorbell. And of course, long distance calls have got longer. Area codes and ZIP codes ensure the calls connect correctly and our snail mail gets delivered efficiently.

ZIP (Zoning Improvement Plan) codes started as a way of efficiently sorting and delivering the large volume of mail. Different countries have different addressing systems, and their own versions of ZIP codes.

The United States calls it ZIP (or the more precise ZIP+4), many other countries have names like Postal Codes, Postcodes, or PIN codes. What's common is the uniqueness of alpha-numeric combinations for sorting mail.

Telephones use area codes similarly as a numbering system. Area codes are part of the telephone number that connects to specific telephone exchanges in specific areas. But for us, it's directly related to the cost of a call.

When it comes to area codes and ZIP codes, the year's diary or the ever helpful search engine is called up. This ten member list is an attempt to shorten that process by making it within reach of a bookmark. We are primarily looking at zip code and area code information for the U.S through the following zip code finder and area code finder sites.

United States Postal Service

zip code finder

USPS is the de facto zip code finder site if you want to look for zip code information. After all they are the ones who first decided on it. You can click on any of the four tabs to search by address, by city, by company, or find all cities that are covered by one zip code.


area code finder

ZIPMaps has a Google Map based interface that shows the boundaries of each zip code. The zip code finder search can pinpoint any of the 41,533 zip code locations indexed by it. You can key in the zip or the address (it can be just a city and state, the state, or a partial address) to get the general area on the map. You can also click on a spot on the map to get the corresponding zip code. You also get the area codes for the location.

The Zip Codes by Radius can be used to search for zip codes by a radius of miles.

Simply Zip Codes

area code finder

You have a few related zip code finder services bundled here. You can do a simple zip code lookup; find the distance between two zip codes; lookup multiple zip codes at once; do a radius search around a zip code; and find all of the zip codes associated with a particular city.

The Area Code Lookup utility also helps to find all of the cities within a keyed in area code. You will get a list of cities, states, and zip codes.


area code finder is a simple free reverse zip code search tool that gives you the location plus the view on a Google map. You can also search for the zip code if you know the city or the state. Then there is the US map based search which lets you click on the state and then drill down to the city. Other free zip code tools include a distance finder between two zip codes and another one that finds all zip codes in that proximity.

free zip code finder

This free zip code search includes a lot of useful search tools and puts them conveniently on one page. It is basically a frontend which sources the information from other databases. Broadly, the search tools cover – Zip Code, Area Code, City, Country, Time Zones, and Zip Code Maps & Surrounding Zips.


free zip code finder

The site has a free zip code and area code finder and a few other tools located on the sidebar. The service is actually a combination of free and business offerings. What sets this site apart is the sheer detail of the information it provides which are taken from census data.


free zip code finder

BrainyZip gives you two lists to work with – Browse by State or Browse by Zip. You can also avail the Google Custom Search box as a shortcut. What you get in the end is an outlook on the demographic, social, economic, and housing situation of the area covered by the zip code.

Verizon – Area Code Lookup

The telecom company's website has a simple query tool for finding the area codes of U.S states. You also get the local time information next to the location info.

Country Calling Codes

Two dropdowns let you select the country you are calling from and the country you are making the call to. It's a very quick way to get the international calling codes for any country in the world. You also can take the help of the Reverse Lookup Tool where you select a country calling code, then 'reverse it' to find the corresponding country.

Address Doctor

zip code finder

Address Doctor is a specialized site that caters to address verification services globally. Among its host of paid services, it has a nice free zip code finder tool that helps to lookup postal code info for 246 countries and territories around the world. Another useful tool to check out to write your addresses as per the norms is Address Formats.

In the age of intelligent barcodes and GPS systems, the age old system of zip codes and area codes haven't lost their importance, and probably never will. Do you know of any other great site that covers these lookups as well or better? Drop the addresses in the comments below.

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How To Launch Your Favorite iTunes Playlist With A Keyboard Shortcut [Mac]

Posted: 28 Jul 2010 11:31 AM PDT

itunes applescriptOne of the most hackable applications on a Mac computer is probably iTunes. This program is no longer just a music jukebox, it's a multimedia player that includes not only song and movie files, but Apple mobile apps, PDFs, audio books and e-books, and several powerful file management features such as smart folders.

If all of this is not too overwhelming for you, you can add even more functionality to the program using what is called an AppleScript, a cool scripting language that can automate programs on your Mac.

Now if you're thinking, “I don't have the time or the inclination to learn a scripting language”, well, don't worry, Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes contains over 400 ready-made iTunes AppleScripts that can be downloaded for free. In addition, with the ability to easily add keyboard shortcuts to any program on your Mac, you will see that using iTunes AppleScripts can be even more powerful.

So if you have a little time, let's explore iTunes AppleScripts. This tutorial will show you how to build a really cool AppleScript script that will play a specified playlist using a keyboard shortcut.

My Favorite Playlist Script

With this AppleScript script, you can use a keyboard shortcut to play a specified playlist without having to navigate to the playlist itself and click on it.

  • Start off by opening the AppleScript editor, found in your Applications folder of your Mac.
  • Don't worry if you don't understand this program. You can learn more about it later. For now, just copy and paste the following script in the editing window.

tell application “iTunes”

tell (some track of playlist “Favorite Jazz”) to play

end tell

  • Now, you will want to replace the “Favorite Jazz” playlist with the exact name of a playlist that you want to activate. The selection can be a regular playlist or a smart playlist.  Type, or copy and paste, the name of your selected playlist and be sure to put it quotation marks. (Note: I enlarged the type in this screenshot for better viewing. Your type will probably look much smaller).

itunes applescript playlist sort by artist

  • Now hit the Run button in the menu bar and see if your selected list plays. If it runs, then save the script in a special iTunes Script that either already exists on your computer or one that you can quickly create. You will want to save it in your Home Library>iTunes>Scripts. Use the same title for the playlist as the name for the script. If the Scripts folder doesn't already exist, create one and add this script to it. This folder can also be used to add other iTunes scripts to.
  • Now switch over to iTunes and click on the AppleScripts icon in the iTunes menu bar. It is there that you will find the script you just saved.

itunes applescript playlist sort by artist

Create Keyboard Shortcut

Notice above that I have a keyboard shortcut assigned to my script. Here's how you add that. Open Preferences and then click on Keyboard under Hardware. 

itunes applescript

  • Select the Keyboard Shortcuts button, and then select Application Shortcuts on the bottom left side.
  • See if there are any existing keyboard shortcuts for your iTunes application. If not, click the + button and select as the application, and then simply type in the exact name of the script you just saved in step 4 above.

System Preferences.png

  • Where it says Keyboard Shortcut, type in the keyboard shortcut that you want to use.

itunes applescript

Now you're set. When you navigate to iTunes and type your keyboard shortcut, your specified playlist will play.

You can also use an application launcher like Quicksilver, Alfred, or Butler to activate iTunes scripts from within any application.

Let us know if this tutorial works out for you (or not). If you want to add more iTunes AppleScripts, check out Doug's AppleScript site. Also check out this MUO article for other ways to improve your iTunes experience and for even more information, check out the MakeUseOf manual on iTunes.

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Send Automated Emails Using SendEmail & Windows Task Scheduler

Posted: 28 Jul 2010 10:31 AM PDT

automated emailsNo matter what your job is, usually everyone at some point has to email a boss or supervisor with daily, weekly or monthly status reports. A lot of time this is nothing more than sending over a spreadsheet of data, logfiles or other reports that are usually automatically generated.

Gathering the data and generating reports may not be a big deal for you, but remembering to write up that email every so often can turn into a real hassle. And if you forget once or twice, it looks like you’re not on top of your game.

This is where your computer comes in handy.

Most Windows users know about the Windows Task Scheduler by now. In this article, I’m going to show you how you can use Windows Task Scheduler in combination with the awesome SendEmail SMTP command-line tool to send off scheduled, automated emails that include multiple attachments.

Configuring SendEmail to Correctly Send Reports

The task here is fairly simple. You have a directory where several automated reports are stored. Maybe it’s a logfile summary for servers that you support, which you need to forward to your supervisor. Maybe it’s an Analytics traffic report that you need to forward to your website clients. Regardless of the need, this technique will let you automatically fire off an automated report email that will include as many of those attachments that you need to send. So long as you have a system set up to automatically update those files before the scheduled email goes out – you’ll have a completely automated reporting system.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say I send out three Google Analytics reports that I generate and download every Thursday and I store them in a directory called C:/Analytics. When you download SendEmail from the link above, there’s no setup required. Just place it in any directory where you’d like to run it from. In this case I’m just placing it in the same directory, so that I don’t have to include the directory path to the attachments in my command line.

automated emails

Linux users have been using the “sendmail” command for ages, so this isn’t really new to them, but the Windows compatible “SendEmail” tool is something that lets Windows users have the same sort of command-line functionality. Once you have the executable sitting in a directory like this, as long as you know the syntax, you can do a lot of cool stuff with the tool.

When you issue the “SendEmail” command at the command prompt (or run it from an application), you have to follow it with a number of parameters. The critical ones that we are concerned with are shown in the examples below.

  • -f : This parameter is the email address that will be the “sender.”
  • -t : This is the recipient’s email address.
  • -u Monday Status Updates : This is the subject
  • -m Here’s the analytics data for this week! : This is the message body.
  • -a Analytics_Channel1.csv Analytics_Channel2.csv Analytics_Channel3.csv : These are the attachments.
  • -s : SMTP server and port
  • -xu : SMTP authentication ID name
  • -xp A1ienz2A51 : SMTP authentication password
  • -o tls=yes : SMTP uses TLS (or SSL)

These are all of the parameters you’ll need to complete the task that I’m detailing in this article. Once you’ve downloaded the SendEmail.exe file to your computer, you’re ready to use Windows Task Scheduler to issue your SendEmail automated email command every day, week, or month.

Setting Up Windows Task Scheduler

Open up Windows Task scheduler by going to Start->Programs->Accessories->System Tools->Task Scheduler. Click to create a basic task.

how to automate emails

This will walk you through the task scheduling wizard, where you can assign any calendar schedule you’d like for these emails to get sent.

how to automate emails

On the next screen, select “Start a Program” and then you’ll see the screen where you need to set up the task. This is where you’ll enter the path for your SendEmail executable and the parameters.

how to automate emails

The entire argument line that I typed in was as follows:

-f -u Monday Status Updates -m Here’s the analytics data for this week! -a Analytics_Channel1.csv -t -s -xu -xp xxxxxxx -o tls=yes

Refer back to the parameter list above, but as you can see this sends out an email from your Gmail account to a recipient who has a Yahoo account with a subject line, “Here’s the analytics data for this week!” When this task runs (which will run every week), it fires off your message and attaches the file attachments that you’ve defined your parameters above.

This is what the received email looks like.

automated emails

As you can see, there’s no indication that it comes from an automated script. Instead, it has a personal message and the necessary data/information files attached to the email. So long as you make sure the files are updated before this email goes out, you’ll never have to worry about forgetting to send out another one of these status updates again. You can look as though you’re being extremely productive. Meanwhile, you can work on Saikat’s approach to being a procrastination ninja!

Have you ever used the command-line SendEmail tool for Windows? Or maybe you have a different method for sending out automated emails?  Share your own insight about this tool or other similar tools in the comments section below.

Image Credit: Tory Byrne

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7 Websites To Watch The News Online

Posted: 28 Jul 2010 09:31 AM PDT

watch news onlineEveryone loves web video, but all too often it’s used for entertainment instead of enlightenment. I previously highlighted sites with free lectures from top US colleges, and that’s a great way to stretch your mind.  But it’s also worthwhile to keep up with the news.

With that in mind I thought I’d highlight a few decent sources for finding TV news on the Internet so you can watch news online. All of these sites feature the latest headlines, as well as access to in-depth feature stories. And, like everything featured here at MakeUseOf, access to all these sites is completely free.


watch news online

This is as good a place to start as any for resources to watch news online, even if I wasn’t organizing everything alphabetically. 1Cast is a video service that, with permission from broadcasters, pulls the top stories of the day from a number of different sources. It tends to be heavy on business news, and currently only works in the United States of America, but it’s a decent model for the future of video news on the Internet.

Read more about 1Cast in my article 1Cast Easy Access to World News Headlines, which also mentions that the service can be accessed via a Boxee app.

Al Jazeera English

watch tv news online

If you’re looking for English news from a non-Western perspective it doesn’t get better than Al Jazeera. Know in America primarily as “that terrorist network,” Al Jazeera is arguably the strongest democratic force in the Middle East. It’s also surprisingly generous with its video content online. Not only will you find some decent podcasts, but their straight-forward, clean video page is a great way to watch news online and catch up with happenings around the world.

Heck, you can even watch Al-Jazerra’s broadcast live online. No other major network is offering that legally, so far as I know (correct me if I’m wrong), so this is certainly a nice perk.

BBC World News

watch tv news online

It’s hard to match the global reach of the BBC, so it’s only natural that their content be easy to find on the global Internet. And it is. the BBC News video page provides a quick way to catch the latest global headlines and the opportunity to find out more about recent stories. There are also more podcasts than you can shake a stick at.

MakeUseOf staff writer Saikat’s childhood in India left him with a deep love for the BBC.  Read more about the BBC’s online offerings in his article .

CBC News

watch tv news online

I grew up in Canada, meaning my nostalgia lies with the CBC instead of the BBC. There’s a lot of good video to be found at the CBC’s website, but expect a heavily Canadian perspective. Notable highlights include nightly news broadcast The National and the extensive CBC video page. If you live in Canada you can even catch hockey games live under the right circumstances (something I, living in Colorado, wish extended worldwide).

CBS: 60 Minutes

world news watch online

Forgot this show existed? You’re not alone. That doesn’t mean it’s not great, though, and with the web you can watch it on your own time.

60 Minutes was once the American news broadcast, broadcast on Sunday nights and typically made up of four 15 minute segments that covered a wide variety of topics. Today you catch 60 Minutes online whenever you want, and you’ll even find it on Boxee. This show’s worth watching, even if you forgot about it.

Fox News

world news watch onlineIf you’re an American and you find all this talk of international sources of news…unpatriotic…then I guess what you’re looking for is Fox News. They do have a few podcasts, though they tend to be less generous than other sites highlighted here. They’ve also got a video page that highlights current news (with copious advertisements).

Viewers from outside America will find the content skewed at best. Expect to see the words “Fair and Balanced” in front of an American flag with no trace of irony.


watch news online

Fox News’ liberal twin, MSNBC, is also in on the web video game. They have a generous collection of podcasts, most of which give you access to a complete show. Highlights here include Meet The Press, a famous Sunday interview show. You’ll also find a top stories video page, a great place to start finding out.

Again, international viewers be warned: similar to Fox, MSNBC exists in a world where America is at the centre. Different ideology, but mostly the same.


There you have it: 7 websites for watching the news online. I’m sure there are a number of good sites that I missed, but I just wanted to skim the surface to start.

If you would prefer a desktop solution for watching the news, check out Mark’s two articles on Livestation here and here.

Can you think of any great sites for watching news online? Please share them below; you just might be mentioned in a follow-up article to this one. Also please feel free to discuss the vices and virtues of the sources mentioned, but avoid calling me a liberal/conservative/communist/libertarian because I’ll just ignore it.

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How To Convert Your Favorite Songs Into iPhone Ringtones [Mac]

Posted: 28 Jul 2010 08:31 AM PDT

iphone ringtonesPeople love to personalize things that they own to make those items stand out among other similar items that other people have. We can see examples everywhere such as people painting their houses with different colors, styling their hair, using and customizing different themes for their blogs, putting their laptops into colorful cases, and customizing the ringtones for their phones.

If you own an iPhone and you want to use your favorite songs to personalize it, but you don’t want to pay another buck for each song that you already own to have those songs converted into iPhone ringtones; here’s a fun and free way to do it.

The Preparation

For those who love Garageband, you can use that amazing music maker to create ringtones. But for today’s discussion, we’ll use a small free program called MakeiPhoneRingtone.

This program can quickly turn your favorite songs into iPhone-compatible ringtones. However, there are limitations to this feature: you can only use AAC files, and the ringtone duration is limited to 40 seconds. A set of preparation steps is needed prior to the conversion process. But don’t be afraid as we can do everything using iTunes.

  • The first step is to convert the songs from MP3 into AAC. Open “iTunes – Preferences” menu or use “Command + Comma“.

01 iPhone Ringtones - iTunes Preferences.jpg

  • Open the “General” tab and click the “Import Settings” button.

iphone ringtones

  • Choose “AAC Encoder” from the “Import Using” field, and choose “iTunes Plus” quality from “Setting” for the best quality.

how to make ringtones for iphone

  • Find the song(s) that you want to use as an iPhone ringtone, right click and choose “Create AAC” version from the pop up menu.

how to make ringtones for iphone

  • You can also access this option from “Advanced – Create AAC Version” menu.

how to make ringtones for iphone

  • The song(s) will be converted by iTunes into AAC, and the process will take about several seconds for every song. After that, right click on the converted song and choose “Get Info” from the pop up menu.

iphone ringtones

  • Choose “Options” tab and set the Start and Stop Time to fit the 40 seconds duration. If you want to go the easy way, just choose 0:00 for the start time and 0:39 for the stop time.

03b iPhone Ringtones - Edit Length.jpg

But why go the easy way when you can go the fun way? You can set the start and stop time in the part of the song that you like the most. Play the song and notice the time of the beginning and end of your favorite part.

Even though you can adjust the precision to one-thousandth of a second to get the perfect timing if you want to, my experience has told me that one-tenth precision is enough. For example, you can set the time to 1:12.5 (one minute twelve point five seconds) or maybe 3:42.73 (three minutes forty-two point seventy-three seconds).

This might look tedious, but I personally find the process of determining the perfect beginning and ending of the ringtone fun and addictive. The 40 seconds limit just make the “estimating game” more challenging.

Then repeat the “Create AAC Version” process to the adjusted song, to get the less-than-40-second fragment.

how to make iphone ringtones

The Making Of The Ringtones

  • After getting the perfect slice of the song, right click on the item and choose “Show in Finder“.

how to make iphone ringtones

  • Open MakeiPhoneRingtone and drag that short AAC Version (with the “.m4a” extension) to the app.

how to make iphone ringtones

  • If the edited song is more than 40 seconds, you’ll get a warning (and an offer to try a paid audio editor by the same developer).

how to make iphone ringtones

  • If you do everything correctly, you’ll get your ringtone in iTunes’ “Ringtones” folder in just a blink of an eye.

04b iTunes - Ringtones.jpg

  • Repeat the process for other songs.

Syncing & Using Ringtones

  • To make sure that your newly created iPhone ringtones find their way to your iPhone, go to the “Ringtones” tab and check the “Sync Ringtones” box before you synchronize your phone.

05a iPhone Ringtones - Choose Ringtones.jpg

  • Then click the Sync button.

05b iPhone Ringtones - Sync to iPhone.jpg

  • In iPhone, you can use different tones for different person. You can also use customized ringtones for your Alarm.

06 Changing Contacts n Clock.jpg

  • To assign a ringtone to a contact, select a person and tap on the ringtone option. Choose one of the “Custom” tones and tap “Save“.

06a Changing Personal Ringtones.jpg

  • The same thing goes for assigning custom ringtones to your alarms. Open one, tap “Edit” and slide right. Tap “Sound” and choose your preferred sound.

iphone ringtones

After using the method several times, I began to look at (or listen to?) my song collection differently. Now I always try to find parts of the songs that would make cool ringtones.

What about you? Do you personalize your contacts with different tones? Do you know other free methods to convert your favorite songs into ringtones?  If so, please share using the comments section below.

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