Tuesday, August 31, 2010

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [August 30th]” plus 8 more

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [August 30th]” plus 8 more

Link to MakeUseOf.com

Cool Websites and Tools [August 30th]

Posted: 30 Aug 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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Evernote Trunk – Evernote, the popular note-taking application, recently introduced the Evernote Trunk, a showcase of cool applications built using the Evernote API. Since Evernote is a multi-platform tool and has versions for Windows, Mac, mobile phones and of course the web, the applications featured aren't limited to just the desktop or web either. Read more: Evernote Trunk: Directory Of Evernote Addons & Tools


Should I Watch – If you cannot catch a live sporting event on TV, then you probably record it to watch later. But you certainly would not want to waste time watching the recording of a bad match. Using "Should I Watch" you can set options that determine whether or not a sports match should be seen. Read more: Should I Watch: Check If A Past Sports Match Was Worth Seeing



Aloha-Editor -Are you looking for your next generation HTML editor? HTML5 is on the rise and if you want to get in on the action then you should check out Aloha Editor. This advanced browser-based downloadable editor allows you to develop with advanced HTML designed to be light and easy to use. Read more: Aloha-Editor: Cool Free HTML5 Editor Online



MaYoMo – Do you have an important piece of news to report about your area? Perhaps the easiest way to share it with the world is MaYoMo. MaYoMo, derived from “Map Your Moments”, is a free web service for user generated news. Visitors to the site can view news according to the area. Read more: MaYoMo: User Generated News Site.



VidScan – Some web apps are so useful it's a wonder they're not built into the services they supplement. VidScan is certainly one of those. The idea is elegant and yet useful: all comments are instantly searched for references to an individual time in the film, letting you know when cool stuff will happen. Read more: VidScan: Timelines Youtube Videos to Shows The Best Parts.


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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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10 Top iTunes Troubleshooting Tips & Tricks

Posted: 30 Aug 2010 06:31 PM PDT

itunes troubleshootingiTunes is one of those programs many of us love to hate. When it’s working well it’s okay, but when things go wrong it can get spectacularly bad. And quickly. Ever run into an iTunes issue that left you hunting all over the internet and Apple forums for a fix? I doubt there’s any iTunes users who haven’t spent time doing exactly this.

So, today we’re going to look at some of the best iTunes troubleshooting tips and tricks to fix the most amount of problems quickly. Let’s go through the quickest ways to get your iTunes setup behaving normally again.

Whether you’re using XP, Vista, Windows 7 or a Mac, these same tips will help you to troubleshoot iTunes (OK, Mac users do get let off a little sooner than PC users). Items might be in slightly different places, or be called slightly different things, but the gist is essentially the same.

Here’s the best iTunes troubleshooting ideas in the most effective, least painful order. See the Apple iTunes support pages for more specific instructions for your particular device.

Back Up First!

Before you start messing around with iTunes, do a quick backup of your entire library folder (especially the .xml and .itl files). In newer versions of iTunes (9.2), there’s a backup option you can use by going to File > Library > “Back up to Disc”. That will also backup any music you’ve downloaded from the iTunes store.

1. Is It Your iPod Or iPhone?

Sadly, a lot of iTunes problems occur when you’re trying to use iTunes with an iPod or iPhone. Some of the best troubleshooting methods for these troubles involve resetting or rebooting your iPod/iPhone device or updating the firmware for the device – all of which is different for each device, so see the Apple support pages. If you’re lucky, it can be fixed by upgrading iTunes.

itunes troubleshooting

2. Is It The iTunes Or Quicktime Install?

It’s possible your installations are faulty or need updating:

  • Re-install iTunes and Quicktime. This will both fix any faults and ensure you have the latest version.
  • Possibly delete Quicktime (Quicktime sometimes affects video and audio playback).

3. Is It Your Anti-Virus Software Or Internet?

Try these steps (check iTunes again after each step to see if it now works):

  • Disconnect computer from internet.
  • Check for viruses. Remove if required.
  • Update/remove virus protection software and virus definitions.
  • Disable internet filtering software.

4. Is It Your iTunes Library Or Account?

Things to try:

  • Create a new library (by holding down Shift when opening iTunes or by moving the old library before you open iTunes).
  • If the new library works, you might need to import your old library or re-create the old one. Slowly re-add files to see if it’s a problem with an individual file.
  • Create a new user account and run iTunes there (see if it’s broken just for your account).

itunes problems

5. Video/Audio Troubles Only? Enable The Highest Setting

Throughout iTunes troubleshooting documentation for video and audio troubles has one recurring theme: enable the highest setting.

Go into your sound or video settings and set things to maximum hardware acceleration, maximum screen resolution, enable 3D video etc. Rule of thumb, “turn it up”.

6. Check Your Plug-Ins

Remove all your third-party iTunes plugins.

7. It Might Be DirectX

If you’re using Windows (especially XP, 2000 Vista or Windows 7) and you have video issues, try updating DirectX or disable DirectX in Quicktime (change it to Safe Mode GDI instead).

8. Check Your iTunes Configuration

Close iTunes. Move the file you’re testing to a safe place. Restart iTunes. Replace the file if that didn’t help.

  • Temporarily remove the iTunes preferences files (try each file individually by moving it elsewhere and starting iTunes).
  • Remove the iTunes configuration files (delete the “SC Info.sidb” file).

The preference files for Windows Vista and 7 live here:

C:\Users\username\App\Data\Local\Apple Computer\iTunes
C:\Users\username\App\Data\Roaming\Apple Computer\iTunes

In Windows XP and 2000 the iTunes preference files are here:

C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes
C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes

In Windows XP and 2000 the iTunes configuration files are here:

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes\SC Info

Delete the “SC Info.sidb” file and restart iTunes.

9. Check Conflicting Processes

Go through the list of current processes, disabling things sequentially to see if you can pinpoint the problem.

Here’s Apple’s guide for using MSCONFIG to check for processes conflicting with iTunes in Windows Vista and Windows 7.

10. Update PC drivers

Look at sound cards and video cards in particular and see if there’s an available update.

itunes troubleshooting

There’s a number of things that may go wrong with iTunes, and the exact details of the steps you need to take will always be device-specific, but these are the general troubleshooting ideas which will get you results fast.

If none of the itunes troubleshooting tips listed here worked and you’re a little over iTunes now, you could try Songbird and many ways to sync your iPod and iPhone without iTunes.

Good luck!

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7 Video Editing Tasks VirtualDub Handles With Ease [Windows]

Posted: 30 Aug 2010 04:31 PM PDT

free video editing softwareVirtualDub is the open-source and portable video editor that we have covered in the past for its ability to compress videos while preserving good quality. We also explained how Windows Movie Maker is able to do this as well, so this probably isn’t enough reason for you to go ahead and download the VirtualDub free video editing software.

In reality, VirtualDub has a lot of potential for the price tag it holds. It might not be a fully-featured Adobe Premiere alternative, but it certainly can accomplish more than a few tasks that you might think you need other separate applications for.

Let’s examine some of the features VirtualDub offers that might get you uploading your next video to YouTube pretty soon!

Splitting, Extracting & Joining AVI Files Without Re-encoding

VirtualDub has the ability to save a portion of an AVI video file that you have selected with the position slider, provided you’re in Direct Stream Copy mode in both the Video and Audio menus.

free video editing software

You can easily split videos this way or extract portions to be saved as new files.

video editing software

Here’s another easy one-page tutorial on how to split videos with VirtualDub. To join files, open your first video, then head to File > Append AVI segment.

video editing software

For more, check out the easy tutorial Merge Multiple Video Files with VirtualDub.


To crop inside the video, first check that you’re in Full Processing mode and then click on Video > Filters. You’ll notice that there’s a Cropping button that’s not quite clickable (because it’s only enabled after you have chosen a filter).

video editing software

We’ll add a dummy filter (click Add and choose Null Transform) which doesn’t do anything, but will ungray the Cropping button now.

video editing freeware

In the Filter input cropping dialog box, you can experiment by typing any numbers to see what covers up the part you wish to crop.

video editing freeware

In my case, I’m looking to crop the black bars above and below the video.

video editing freeware

Cropping the black bars will change the dimensions and quality of the video, so I will use the resize filter to change the cropped video to the original video’s resolution.

Since the quality will be affected, even YouTube recommends to just use the original resolution.

Saving AVI As Animated GIF

There’s not a whole lot of free animated GIF utilities, perhaps because GIFs are old-school, but I still find GIF animations useful to illustrate articles. This is especially true when the steps I’m trying to illustrate aren’t long enough to make a video out of them.

So after you’ve loaded your video, getting your GIF animation is as easy as selecting the portion of the video you want to save by moving the slider (which is even an optional step if you want the whole movie as a GIF file), heading to File > Export and selecting Animated GIF.

You can choose whether your GIF animation will play once, infinitely or a set number of times.

The tool’s not perfect as I’ve been able to get a perfect-looking GIF animation after a lot of trial and error, but the shorter (fewer frames) your video selection is, the better the GIF might turn out.

Saving JPEG/PNG/BMP Snapshots From A Video To A Folder Or The Clipboard

This is very useful if you want to get thumbnails from your video. The steps are identical to those from the previous section, with the exception that you’ll export the selected portion of the video as an Image Sequence.

Before you do this though, it’s preferable to create a new folder so you can contain all of your images there because there’s no option in VirtualDub to make a new folder when you’re choosing your target folder.

If you’re interested in getting a single snapshot from a scene in the video and editing it in, say, Paint, you can easily use the slider to position it at the right scene, press Ctrl + 1 or head to Video > Copy source frame to clipboard.

You can then open up Paint or another image editing application and paste the image in. If you have applied any filters to the video, pressing Ctrl + 2 will get you a snapshot with the applied filters.

Achieving A Zooming Effect

What would take 3 effects (Zoom In, Zoom/Focus, and Zoom Out) and splitting the file 3 times in Windows Movie Maker to achieve a smooth zooming effect, VirtualDub can do with a simple filter from the VirtualDub filter site. Download the filter and add the .vdf file to VirtualDub’s Plugins folder (usually at C:\Program Files\VirtualDub\plugins, but if you don’t have that plugins subdirectory, just create one).

Here’s a great video tutorial (made by smokscren, which is where I learned this) on how to use it:

Basically, in Full Processing mode, add the zoom (1.2) filter.

You’ll get this screen, where you can choose the duration in frames for zooming in (Phase 1) and zooming out (Phase 2).

In my case, , I’m setting it so that the zooming in will occur from frame 0 to frame 100 (will start at the original view of 100% and then end at 300% zoomed in). I’ve also set the zooming out in Phase 2 to go from 300% view back to the original view (100%) starting from frame 200, lasting all the way through frame 300. That means between frames 100 and 200, the video will stay zoomed in.

Hit the Show Preview button to display the video with the applied effect. Easy peasy.

Adding A Transparent Image Or Logo

We have detailed how to add a watermark image in Windows Movie Maker. For VirtualDub, you’ll need to download and extract this logo filter.

You’ll be able to select any 24-bit bitmap file and drag it around the video using the X,Y sliders.

If your image has a black transparent background (like the next screenshot), you can type all zeros under Transparent color.

Type 255 in all of the Red, Green and Blue boxes when your image has a white background.

Embedding Subtitles Permanently

If you have figured out how to create subtitles or you have downloaded some from subtitle search engines, you can use VirtualDub along with the TextSub filter to embed them in your movie permanently, in what is called hardsubbing. Here’s a very detailed guide on how to do it.

If you’re using VirtualDub as your sole video editor, you could always ‘add’ text to your video by embedding it in the form of a subtitle file.

free video editing software

There’s a whole lot of filters that would make VirtualDub a super video editor but we didn’t cover here. If you know of any, enlighten us in the comments!

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6 Websites To Help You Learn Japanese Online For Free

Posted: 30 Aug 2010 02:31 PM PDT

learn japanese onlineJapanese culture has infiltrated the imagination of millions of non-Japanese people, be it via the explosion of Anime and Manga, the delicacy of the Japanese cuisine, the mystery of the Geishas or the fascination with samurais.  For some fans of the culture, there is one thing that separates them from a real understanding of the nuances of the Japanese world – its language.

Now, of course, you could pay a lot of money to take classes, but for those of us who would rather just find a free alternative online, even if it’s just for the basics of the language, there are many options to choose from.

Below are some of the most helpful (or creative) sites to help you learn Japanese online.

Learn Japanese Language

One of the first things that puzzles students of the Japanese language is that there seem to be three entire alphabets that need to be learned when studying the language: Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji, the characters of the Chinese writing system. They are used together in most Japanese sentences and causes a lot of confusion.

One very good site for those trying to overcome this particular hurdle is "Learn Japanese Online". The site presents each one with relevant cultural information, usage and even tutorials on how to do the strokes in the correct order for several of the symbols.

learn japanese online


Tofugu , "Wonky Japanese Language and Culture Blog" is not your usual language website.  It has been around since 2007, and is run by its founder, Koichi, who has a very creative approach to teaching the Japanese language. His idea is to educate while presenting tidbits about Japanese culture, and to make it entertaining to the point of absolute silliness.

Some of his videos manage to be incredibly helpful, while displaying some very YouTube friendly sense of humor. The site is also connected to textfugu, which is Tofugu's Online Japanese Textbook, where many of the lessons are free and where he professes (with good reason) to have created an online text book specifically for the self-learner.

learn to speak japanese

Japanese 101

Japanese 101 is part of 101 Languages, which is a site with resources for several languages. Although not a great site to learn about the nuances of the language, Japanese 101 has a nice array of vocabulary words as well as some nifty links to Japanese television and some related sites (there is also a forum, but the Japanese one seems to be non-existent).

The site is kind of a pain to navigate, since you have to constantly select "Japanese" from the various languages from each menu option, but it contains various articles about Japanese culture and language usage which could be informative.

learn to speak japanese

Japanese Pod 101

Japanese Pod 101 requires a membership, but it does have a free option which will still give you access to a large number of videos, sound files, lessons and their newsletter, with extra lessons and free daily podcasts. The videos are professional and easy to follow and the forum is active and helpful.

learn to speak japanese

MLC Japanese Language School Resources

MLC Japanese Language School is located in Meguro, Tokyo, but what is most useful about their site is the fact that they have downloadable PDF files of a lot of the resources they use to teach English speakers. They have even separated them into levels, for ease of use.

So if you need a worksheet to practice your Japanese letters, or an interactive Flash drill of some of the most common expressions, or even some extensive advanced materials, you can find it all here. There is also a nice collection of audio files and Flash materials with sound.

learn japanese


Japanese-Online.com has been around since 1996, and has an extensive collection of lessons, although some of its resources and links are outdated and the newsletter archive, although very informative, hasn't been updated since 2005. Yet, the lessons themselves make this site worth visiting.

To have full access to the site, a registration is required. But it is completely free, unlike other sites which will only give you a few samples for free and then charge you for the lessons.

learn japanese online

Do you use any other good sites to help you learn Japanese? Share them with us and arigato!

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Hot Tech Deals [Aug 30th]

Posted: 30 Aug 2010 01:15 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.

Keep reading to find out today’s Hot Tech Deals.

  1. Logitech G15 Illuminated Wired Gaming Keyboard w/ LCD Display $39.99AR Free Shipping via code EMCYWNV37
  2. Microsoft Zune HD 16GB Media Player + $30 eGift Card $160.54 Free Shipping
  3. Sony Ericsson W380 Cell Phone (Unlocked, Tri-Band GSM) (REFURB) $79.99 Free Shipping
  4. Canon FS31 Dual Flash Memory Digital Camcorder $298 Free Shipping
  5. LG E2250T-PN 22in LED-Backlit Widescreen LCD Monitor $152.99 via code LCDBTSPROMO
  6. Canon PowerShot D10 12.1 MP 3X Digital Camera (Waterproof/Shockproof/Cold Resistant) $215.99 via code 2KVH967BFCQVC4
  7. Panasonic VIERA TC-P42C2 42in Plasma HDTV (720p) $501 Free Shipping via code AFLPAN501
  8. Hand Held Items Coupon Code: 20% off Apple iPad Cases + 70% discount via code ipadcases20
  9. Apple iBook G4 1.33GHz 12.1in Laptop (REFURB/1GB/40GB) $269.99 via code APPLE
  10. Dell Inspiron 14z Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 ULV 14in Laptop (4GB/500GB/2yr Warranty) $700.79 via codes 6KWMM0JFLZK0W? and ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C
  11. HHI iPad Flip Leather Case with Magnetic Kick Stand + Screen Protector $12.99 via code ipadflipkstand

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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10 Reasons To Use Apple’s iMovie ‘09 [Mac]

Posted: 30 Aug 2010 12:31 PM PDT

apple imovieI have a been a long-time user of Apple’s premiere movie editing program, Apple iMovie. I have edited everything from family birthday parties to professionally shot wedding videos.

With the release of iMovie ‘08, followed by the '09 update, Apple significantly re-designed iMovie, to the dismay of many long-time users like myself. Although I still use Apple iMovie '06 from time to time, I have discovered many reasons why the latest version, iMovie '09, is a useful program for managing, editing, and producing short form videos.

Event & Project Management

If you start shooting and editing movies on a regular basis, be it with the video camera on your cellphone or with your camcorder, iMovie is a useful program for managing and accessing your movie files in one place.

When you import files into the program, you can save the footage to either a new or existing Event. So for example, an event might be a vacation trip, birthday party, or YouTube presentation. After you create an event you can always add additional clips to it.

apple imovie

Also, events are organized by year, which is helpful for keeping track of clips. Right- or Control- clicking on an event provides additional options for managing and accessing files.

Similar to Events, Apple iMovie '09 allows you to organize all your movie projects within the application, rather than as complete separate files/projects outside of the program. You can select to save your projects to one or more storage drives, but you can access them all from within the program.

apple imovie

Mark As Favorites

If you're working on a large project, you can mark individual clips as favorites. This is useful if your Event browser has lots of clips and you need a way to narrow it down. You can also reject individual clips, which means they are removed from the Events Browser but not deleted from your hard drive or the project itself. You can un-reject  them at any time.

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Video Adjustments

If you know how to make exposure adjustments and enhancements in programs like iPhoto, you might be surprised to know that you can make similar adjustments to your movie files in iMovie. Click on the tiny gear button of a clip in either the Event and Project browser to bring up the adjustment panals.

apple imovie reviews

You get choices for making exposure and audio adjustments, as well as the ability to crop and rotate clips as you would still photos. And even better, you can copy adjustments you make on one clip and paste them to another.

Go to Edit>Paste Adjustments….

apple imovie reviews

Clip Options

An advanced feature of iMovie '09 does what some third-party plug-ins did for previous versions of iMovie. You can, for example, drag a selected clip or a portion of it from the Event Browser on top of one or more clips in the Project Story Board. You then choose from the pop-up window how you want the added clip to be used.

For instance, you can create a quick cutaway shot or picture within a picture.

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Voice Over

Apple iMovie '09 makes it easy for you to select a group of clips or an entire project and perform a voice-over production. This is great for how-to or documentary videos.

apple imovie download

Export Options

iMovie '09 provides several export options for your completed projects. You can format projects for YouTube posting, your iPhone, Flash Video, QuickTime format, etc. You can also save projects in the Media Browser; these files in turn can be accessed from the Media Browser of other iLife programs such as iDVD and Keynote.

apple imovie download

When you save a project to the Media Browser, iMovie compresses the movie according to your specifications. That way you don't have to open iMovie in order to retrieve saved projects. With the latest version of iMovie you can also export movies to iDVD.


Edit To The Beat

When you want to create an advanced slide show, the Edit to the Beat feature of iMovie is very useful for getting the job done quickly. See my video tutorial for how to use this feature.


Project Properties

Before or after you begin a project, you can set default properties for automatic transitions between clips, the duration of transitions, the aspect ratio of clips, and the theme you want to use for a project. Go to File>Project Properties to make these settings.


Also in Properties, you can set the default for the duration time for transitions, titles and photo displays.


Favorite Fonts

In iMovie's Preferences, you can create a collection of favorite fonts you use for projects. You're not limited to the default set. Click on an existing font and change it.


There are several other advanced features in iMovie '09 that I didn't touch upon. If you have shied away from movie editing because it looks too complicated, I can assure you that it's possible for anyone to learn, using iMovie '09. Start with Apple's own tutorials and then experiment with many of the features described above.

See our other MUO articles about online video tutorials and home movie making tips. If you're an avid iMovie '09 user, let us know what features you like.

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The Google Docs Drawing Tool Makes Collaborative Drawing Easier

Posted: 30 Aug 2010 11:31 AM PDT

collaborative drawingCall them whiteboards or collaborative drawing tools, a browser-based drawing canvas is a must have if you do any sort of work remotely in teams.

We checked out the utility of an online whiteboard called Dabbleboard some time back.  The online collaboration app has gone from beta to final and from free to a mix of pro and free.

In the meantime, Google Docs has been building up a presence in our web lives with a slew of improvements. Tim covered features like real time collaboration, online chat, and high quality imports, when he took a fresh talked about 4 New Features That Makes Google Docs Even Better.

The Google Docs family has a member called Drawings and it too comes with these improved qualities. Plus the Google family of apps is one of our more visited web families anyway.

Let's test Google's online drawing tool and see if it's as hospitable as most of Google's other members.

Create Your First Drawing

Open your canvas from Create new – Drawing.

collaborative drawing

It's definitely not sophisticated as a full-featured drawing app, but the tools are adequate for basic drawing and representing ideas. You can draw a variety of Shapes, Scribbles, Polylines, and smooth Curves.

For instance, Shapes can be quickly used to build up flowcharts or hierarchical diagrams.

You can connect shapes with lines. Line tools come with all the regular enhancements like different types of arrowheads and line decoration options.

collaborative drawing

Text formatting gives you the added use of Word Art. The fonts are limited, but it's OK if you aren't looking to do a lot of typographical artistry in a simple collaborative drawing tool.

collaborative drawing online

Ordering and rotating elements on the page are handy when you want to create flowcharts or mindmaps. And of course, you can set the color of the canvas (or drawing) too from the palettes.

collaborative drawing online

All drawings are vectors, so changing the scale of the images is as easy as dragging the corner handles.

Bringing In Images

OK, you are a person who likes to explain a concept with images rather than lines and text. On Google's Drawing tool, you can upload and insert images from your desktop, bring it in via a URL, or use the riches of Google Image Search.

collaborative drawing online

Google Image Search displays those that are labeled for commercial reuse with modification. After bringing it into your canvas, you can tweak its size and position.

Save It…Export It…Or Junk It

You can arrange your drawing in specific Google Docs folders with or without sharing access. Download it as a PNG, JPEG, SVG, or PDF file.

collaborative software

Or export it to another Google Docs document using the Web Clipboard. This option lets you quickly move your diagrams from the canvas to a presentation slide or another document.

collaborative software

Using the web clipboard keeps your items protected from one session to the next. Also, while pasting, you can select which item to paste into the target document. The pasted drawing is a copy of the original, and both can be edited independently after copying.

Collaboration & Teamwork

You can set permissions with email IDs that will allow a select few to view and work on the document in real time. You can further open it up by giving editing privileges too. Of course, you can open it up to the wider public too with public sharing.

Check out the specific roles of owners, editors, and viewers when it comes to collaborative sharing.

collaborative software

You can also create a mailing list and email the drawing across as an attachment.

Hundreds Of Templates

Google Docs and the drawing tool save you a few chores by the use of its gallery of templates. You can narrow down to the right one from the filters on the left. Choose Drawings, preview the templates, or even create your own and save them.

If Google is your online cubicle, then the Drawing tool with its small but useful feature set is a nice option to have. If you are serious about it, do familiarize yourself with the keyboard shortcuts or press CTRL+/ when you forget one.

So, do you feel that Google Docs Drawings is scribble worthy?



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Yogile – A Cool Alternative To Flickr With Group Sharing Features

Posted: 30 Aug 2010 10:31 AM PDT

alternative to flickrYogile is a new photo sharing website, very similar to what Flickr offers, but with a great twist. I am a huge fan of Flickr, but now that I’ve seen Yogile, with a few tweaks here and there, I am seriously considering jumping ship to this alternative to Flickr.

Yogile sets itself apart from other photo-sharing websites by adding one feature that turns into the ultimate photo sharing choice – and that is the feature of collaboration – allowing more than one person to add photos to any given photo album.

And the best part is that you can choose exactly how you want to use the site.

Signing up for a free account on Yogile takes less than a minute, entering only your email, choosing your account password, and an optional password for your first photo album.

alternative to flickr

Once you are signed up, you can choose whether or not to list your albums publicly on Yogile. If you do so, anyone on Yogile can upload a photo to that album. The availability of this option has great potential to be used for crowdsourcing images of a specific event or theme.

Alternatively, you can choose not to list it publicly, but anyone who has the URL can add photos to the album. If you want the utmost privacy, you can choose not to list it publicly and password protect it so that no one can view or add photos unless they have the URL and password.

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Adding photos can be done in one of two ways. The easiest way is to upload the photos directly onto the site, and you don’t even have to be a registered member to do so. The drawback, when adding photos to a friend’s album, if you are not a registered member, is that they will be listed under an anonymous contributor. If you sign up, you have the added advantage of being able to take credit for the photos that you added.

flicker alternative

Alternatively, you can send the photos to the album-specific email and they will be added to the album. If the album is password protected, simply add the password to the body of the email. If you enter a subject in the email, it will be used as the title of the photo, otherwise the file name will be used. If an album is not password protected, you can use the subject to enter a title, and the body of the email to enter a caption.

As they suggest at Yogile, one of the ideal ways in which their service can be used is if a group of friends are attending an event, you can all add and view photos in the very same album. Like Flickr’s free accounts, you are limited to 100MB per month for your uploads, which really can go a very long way. If that isn’t enough, there is a paid upgrade for unlimited storage for $24.95 a year. You can keep track of your usage each time you upload a new photo.

flicker alternative

But that’s not to say it can’t be used in a hundred other ways. With its clean layout, you can use it simply to showcase your photographs, whether publicly or only with a select few. This is another way in which Yogile has one up on Flickr.

While you can post pictures privately on Flickr, and share them with specific people – they have to be registered members on Flickr. With Yogile, all you have to do is send them the link to the album, along with the password and they can view it without having to sign up for a thing.

There are three options for the album display. The album can be displayed with small thumbnails.

flicker alternative

With medium thumbnails.

Or with just one large image per page.

The only minuscule shortcoming is the fact that you cannot choose whether or not to allow people to upload photos to the album. That feature is, of course, their biggest selling point, but it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to have the option to switch it off, if you so choose.

When someone adds a photo to your album, you will receive an email notification. That is the default setting for your albums, but you can choose to switch notifications off.

alternative to flickr

There are, however, certain features in Flickr that are lacking in Yogile. You cannot view the images at a larger size, add other members as contacts to follow their work, add photos as favourites, and there are no groups.

Features that you can find in Yogile include the ability to share each of your photo albums, to view the photos as a slideshow, or you can even download the entire album at the click of a button, albeit at smaller sizes. Another interesting personal touch is the ability to choose your own customised URL for your album.

Would you consider leaving behind Flickr in favour of Yogile? Let us know in the comments.

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Daniusoft Double Giveaway: Video Converter Ultimate & DVD Creator [Mac]

Posted: 30 Aug 2010 08:30 AM PDT

With today’s technology, we have a large variety of ways to enjoy multimedia. One moment we’re at school, on our laptop watching YouTube, and the next we’re on a bus listening to our iPod. However, our multimedia devices usually have a limited number of file formats they support. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could convert our multimedia so we can play it on whatever we want?

This week, we will be giving away 10 licenses for Video Converter Ultimate and 10 licenses for DVD Creator for Mac, worth almost $1100 in total!

Find out how you can grab yourself a copy.

Giveaway #1: Video Converter Ultimate (reviewed by Jonathan Bennett)

Throughout testing, Daniusoft Video Converter Ultimate worked flawlessly. It supports an impressive amount of file formats, more than you will probably ever need. This software has the ability to rip and burn DVDs for backups, convert one file format into another, remove DRM licenses, and easily transfer files to media devices like the iPod or PSP.

For this review, we devised three scenarios.

  1. Convert a YouTube video to Quicktime .MOV format.
  2. Convert a video to audio MP3 format.
  3. Rip a DVD and convert it to an iPod format.

Converting A Video To Another Video Format

The first test was to convert a YouTube video to another format. After downloading the “Will it Blend” YouTube video using DownloadHelper, the FLV was added to the queue.

You can view and change some options to suit your output preference.

Now all that’s left to do is click "Start" and let it go.

The software gives you an estimated file size and as shown above, the conversion is in process. It took about 20 seconds to convert this video on a relatively new computer, but these times can vary depending on your computer specifications.

As expected, the converted file worked great.

In case you’re curious – yes, the iPad will blend, so be careful where you place it down while in the kitchen.

Converting A Video To MP3 Format

Next, I wanted to convert the video to MP3 audio, so I could transfer it to my iPod and listen to it blend while I’m doing my semi-annual 15-minute jog outside. I followed the same procedure as before, but chose the MP3 format for my output.

Again, the software lets you change a number of settings that pertain to whatever file type you choose. Converting video to audio MP3 only took about five seconds, which is much quicker than converting it to another video format. The audio quality sounded just as good as the original video.

Ripping a DVD For The iPod

For my final test I wanted to backup a DVD. The movie I grabbed from my shelf was Casanova, which coincidentally is what I unsuccessfully encourage girlfriends to call me. Anyway, simply load the DVD into the software as shown below.

The software will scan the disk and ask which tracks you want to backup. You can also see a preview of the video, if needed.

After this, select the file format. I went with an iPod MP4 file.

Great! As shown below, the estimated file size for this 2-hour movie is 820MB, which will fit easily on a 8GB iPod.

Conversion of this movie took around 45 minutes, which is reasonable for a video of this length.

I highly recommend Daniusoft Video Converter Ultimate to anyone who is looking to extend the portability of their files. It has worked great for me and I’m happy it passed my tests. If you’re interested, give the free trial a go and see how it works for you.

Video Converter Ultimate has been through major upgrades and now boasts 5X faster conversion with NVIDIA CUDA

Giveaway #2: DVD Creator for Mac

If you’re the kind of person who likes to burn your own homemade DVDs or create fun slideshows of your photos – Daniusoft DVD Creator for Mac has all the features you could possibly ask for, and then some.

Daniusoft DVD Creator for Mac allows you to convert just about any format video into a DVD. Using the software you can also burn videos from your AVCHD videos (MTS, M2TS), TP and TRP. Supported video formats include AVI, MP4, MPG, 3GP, WMV, ASF, RM, RMVB, DAT, MOV, FLV and MKV.

If you’re a photography enthusiast, and want to show off your photos in a larger than life slideshow, Daniusoft DVD Creator makes it easy to create a stunning slideshow of your photos. Supported image formats include PNG, JPG, TIFF and BMP. Just select all the photos you want included in the slideshow and drag them into Daniusoft DVD Creator. Editing the slideshow allows you to include music and add dynamic transitions.

The software will also come in handy when putting together home-made films, with a built-in video editor. The editing suite has a long list of features including trimming your files, adding effects, increasing brightness, contrast, cropping the size of your frame, rotating and adding a watermark.

Once your video is ready to be burned to a DVD, you can create a personalised DVD menu, adding your own text, frame and buttons.

Daniusoft DVD Creator allows you to select the background picture, video thumbnail, and music.

The software is easy to use, with its drag and drop interface, and is compatible with DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, DVD+R DL, DVD-R DL, DVD-RAM, DVD–5 and DVD–9.

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 Friday, 3rd September 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 Daniusoft for their generosity while participating in this giveaway. Interesting in sponsoring? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via email.

Hey Facebookers, make sure to check out MakeUseOf page on Facebook. Over 24,000 fans already!



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