Thursday, August 12, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [August 11th]” plus 9 more “Cool Websites and Tools [August 11th]” plus 9 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [August 11th]

Posted: 11 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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Phrays – is a free to use website that lets you learn a new word everyday. Account holders can create sentences using that word. Your created sentence should try to fully illustrate the word's meaning. Visitors can vote on the sentence they like best; the sentence with the most words is awarded as the winner and is displayed on the site's homepage. Read more: Phrays: Learn A New Word Everyday & See How It Is Used.


InDinero – Startups and small businesses often have a hard time seeing where they stand financially. Tools like focus on individual consumers while software like QuickBooks are a lot of hassle. InDinero is a new tool that makes it easy for small businesses to manage their finances online by integrating their bank account, credit cards and PayPal accounts. Read more: InDinero: Intelligent Finance Tracking Website For Small Businesses.



MocksUp – A plethoria of websites today are popping up offering slightly unique ways to share information online. Mocksup is one such site. This aptly-named site allows you to share your mockups with clients or friends. Upload pictures of how you think your project will look, create a few little internal links and you've got a quick mock-up you can share with the world. Read more: MocksUp: Easily Create & Share Mockups.



Ionz – More of a survey than an actual application, Ionz is a fun momentary distraction and creates a kind of art for you to admire. You answer a quick series of simplistic questions, ranging from what kind of food you like to your favorite social network. You are then shown how your choices compare to the tens of thousands of other people who have also used Ionz. Read more: Ionz: See How You Compare To Other Tech-Savvy Types. – College students spend a fortune on their textbooks. Moreover each book is usually used only one semester – after the semester the book becomes useless to many students. If you want to save money throughout the entire college- book-buying experience, pay a visit. Read more: Sell College Textbooks & Save Money While Buying Them.


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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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3 Cool Tools To Find Out Who’s Tweeting Any Twitter Hashtag

Posted: 11 Aug 2010 06:30 PM PDT

twitter hashtagsTwitter hashtags can be used for various purposes: you can leverage them to file and organize your tweets, record your weight, contribute to relevant discussion, participate in Twitter initiatives (like, for example #FollowFriday one), etc.

The one thing I have found Twitter hashtags to be particularly useful is tracking conferences and participating in Twitter chats.

Today’s tool overview will help you connect to those who uses a Twitter hashtag. Here are three awesome tools that allow to extract the user list by a particular hashtag.

1. Summarizr

Summarizr is by far the coolest way to analyze any Twitter conversation by a username. It summarizes the following search types: a hashtag, keyword or Twitter account name.

For any hashtag you submit, you will see the following statistics:

  • Top 10 Twitter users;
  • Twitter user distribution;
  • Top 10 @ reply recipients;
  • Recipient distribution;
  • Top 10 conversations;
  • Top 10 tweeted hashtags
  • Top 10 Tweeted URLs;
  • Tweeted word cloud:

twitter hashtags

I especially like the “Top 10 conversations” part that lets you see who’s discussing the hashtag:

display twitter hashtag feed on your website

2. The Archivist

The Archivist is a nice desktop application (Windows-only) that lets you run any search within Twitter database and lets you export the results to Excel. You can then use Excel columns to:

  • Search within the list of Twitter users,
  • Grab the column listing all the Twitter users and create the list via Tweepl (to follow all of them with one click and let others follow them as well), etc
  • Filter the file by the “username” column, etc, etc

display twitter hashtag feed on your website

The tool is very easy to use. Just get it installed, run the search and Save the file to further update it with latest Tweets.

After you search for any hashtag using the tool, you can use the View menus to see the pie chart visualizing the Tweeting users:

display twitter hashtag feed on your website

3. What the Hashtag?

What the Hashtag? is the best-known of all; yet the most basic in terms of extracting Twitter users who Tweet a hashtag. It can only be used for popular hashtags; the great option of it is the ability to see “trending” hashtags: those that have got hot recently.

For any hashtag you search, you can see the list of “Top contributors” (by the number of updates they tweeted containing that hashtag).

twitter hashtag

Bonus: Follow Those Who Tweet the Hashtag

So if you are interested in learning who actually uses the Twitter hashtag, chances are you may want to follow all of them. This may come particularly in handy if you’ve, for example, been to a conference (or participated in chat) and now want to follow everyone involved in it.

BlastFollow enables you to follow Twitter users who share your interests en masse. To use it, simply enter your hashtag. Then, click the “Get Users!” button. After a few seconds, you will see the number of users who tweeted with that hashtag recently.

Mind that the tool doesn’t use the twitter OAuth and requires you to provide your Twitter login data, so mind your privacy! Also, be sure NOT to mass-follow popular hashtag users: if you follow too many people in bulk, your account may be suspended.

Better use the tool to follow people who tweet tiny, internal hashtags which represent events, campaigns, family members, etc

twitter hashtags

Do you use Twitter hashtags? Please share your tools!

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Who Invented the Pascal Program? [In Case You Were Wondering]

Posted: 11 Aug 2010 04:30 PM PDT

who invented pascal programThe Pascal programming language, which was based on the ALGOL computer language, was developed in the late 1960's and was named after Blaise Pascal — a French mathematician, responsible for a series of discoveries and who also invented the first calculator (called Pascaline) in 1645.

Considering that Pascal died in 1662 and that the Pascal language was invented almost 300 years later, he can't possibly have created the language. Then who invented the Pascal programming language?

Pascal was developed by Niklaus Wirth, who was born on February 15, 1934 in Winterthur, Switzerland to Walter, a geography professor, and Hedwig (Keller) Wirth. Niklaus developed the Algol-W which was implemented on one of the first IBM 360 (which was as large as a room) and used it as a base for the development of the Pascal language a few years later.

who invented pascal program

“Whereas Europeans generally pronounce my name the right way (‘Nick-louse Veert’), Americans invariably mangle it into ‘Nickel’s Worth.’ This is to say that Europeans call me by name, but Americans call me by value.”
~ Niklaus Wirth

Pascal was created by Wirth as a language that could be used for teaching fundamental concepts that would work reliably and efficiently on the computers available in the 1970's. Pascal ended up being used for computer games, embedded systems and research projects, and was also used for the development of the Lisa, one of the early Apple (Macintosh) computers and one of its derivatives, Object Pascal, is still used today, in applications such as Skype.

who wrote the pascal programming language

Niklaus Wirth is the author of highly recognized books, such as “Algorithms + Data Structures = Programs” (1976) and has received ten honorary doctorates and was awarded the IEEE Emmanuel Piore Prize and the Turing Prize in 1984 among many others, but Wirth’s main contribution has always been the concept of creating productive software designed in an organized fashion and free of unnecessary clutter.

who wrote the pascal programming language

In his article named “A Plea for Lean Software” [PDF] which was written by Wirth in 1995, he explains some of the issues with software development and why it’s important to create clean, organized code by quoting two “laws” that he believes reflect the business:

  • Software expands to fill the available memory. (Parkinson)
  • Software is getting slower more rapidly than hardware becomes faster. (Reiser)

Interesting ideas, considering the number of lines of code of some of the most used software today, seems to be growing larger even as the hardware grows smaller each day.  For example:

  • Basic had 4,000 lines of code in 1975, now it has over 2 million.
  • The first version of Word had 27,000 lines of code. The current version of Office has over 30 million.
  • Mac OS X is made of about 90 million lines of code.
  • Windows 95 was made of 15 million lines of code, Windows 7 is made of over 50 million lines of code.
  • A single game application for the iPhone, such as the “Unreal” game app has over 2 million lines of code.

who invented pascal program

He has stated that the only reason software has become large is because software vendors add features customers think they want, but never use. He was also a proponent of the idea that software should be completely understood by at least one person, and that having teams developing programs without any of them fully understanding its entirety caused a lot of unnecessary complexity and useless code.

who wrote the pascal programming language

His development of Pascal was a testament to those beliefs. Pascal is still considered one of the most mathematical of computer languages. Its core is designed around focus on essentials, object oriented programming and keeping a simple core that is lightweight and easily understood.

Did you know about Pascal?

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10 Apps To Turn iPhone Into Your Best Travel Companion

Posted: 11 Aug 2010 02:31 PM PDT

best iphone travel appsSometimes it’s good to take a break and move away from your routine activities. Going places and discovering breathtaking scenes in different parts of the world can be the perfect way to recharge your life battery.

While some people can just grab a backpack and go, others need careful preparations before they could even place one foot outside the door. But both types of travelers could use some additional help to enhance their traveling experience, and the iPhone could be one of the best travel companions.

Maps & Compass

The days of paper maps and bulky compasses are over. Nowadays, we have digital maps and compasses built in into the latest generations of iPhones. While most iPhone users know that Maps can be used to search for locations and get directions, many are unfamiliar with the integration of the Compass feature with Maps.

When you are trying to find directions using Maps, tap the little button at the bottom left of the screen. The icon will change from a small arrow into a flashlight and the map will rotate according to the direction of the Compass. This feature will help you find your destination faster and easier.

best iphone travel apps

As a bonus, Maps can also show traffic for the area so you can plan your route better (please note that traffic information is not always available, especially in remote areas).

Planning & Organizing

There are many things that intertwine within a trip, starting from the traveling methods, places to stay, activities to do, up to all the little details that come along the way. Unless you deliberately want your trip to be an adventure which is full of surprises, a little planning and organizing would really help you on the road.

There are many iPhone apps dedicated to helping users set up their travel as perfectly as possible before the actual event. These apps will help you with things like ticket reservations, hotel room booking, flight search, and recommendations for nearby eating places.

Three such apps are TripDeck, TripIt and Kayak. They have more or less similar functions.

best travel app for iphone

Help On The Road

And what about during the actual travel itself? There are also an abundant numbers of applications that can help you with that.

Take Yelp, for example; this app can help you find useful places nearby, from restaurants to banks to drugstores. The app utilizes the iPhone’s built in GPS to find the user’s location and matches it with its databases.

A few months back, Ryan did a review of Yelp.

best travel app for iphone

Another similar app is Where.

best travel app for iphone

Take Me To My Car takes a different approach in utilizing GPS to help users. As the name suggests, this app’s sole purpose is to help users locate their parked car. Most of us know that parking a car is far easier than finding it again later. Especially when you visit a huge vacation site.

To solve the problem, all you’ve got to do is tap at the “Park Here” button when you park your car. And when you are ready to leave, tap “Get Directions” button and the app will help you locate your car and give you directions to its location.

best travel app for iphone

Don’t forget another important element of every fun vacation: an internet connection. Finding Wi-fi hotspots would be less complicated if you have Wi-Fi finder apps such as WiFi Get Lite (the free version of WiFi Plus).

best travel app for iphone

Another app called Lonely Planet will help you fit into a foreign environment by providing you with City Guides for major cities all over the world, and audio phrase books of many non-English languages to help you learn common phrases. While the app itself is free, you have to buy the City Guides and phrase books.

best travel app for iphone

But the most important factor on every travel and vacation is actually doing it. All the help that you get from these tools would mean nothing if you do not enjoy your vacation. One way to do that is by making a travel journal. My Vacation Lite is the perfect app to do that.

best iphone travel apps

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Hot Tech Deals [Aug 11th]

Posted: 11 Aug 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.

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

  1. ThinkGeek Coupon Code $10 off $30+ via code SDCC
  2. Yamaha RX-V567BL 7.1ch 90W/ch AV Receiver + LG Blu-ray Player $429.95 via code FREEGFT89A
  3. Madden NFL 11 Game (Xbox 360/PS3) w/ $20 Walmart Gift Card $59.96
  4. iGg iPhone 4 TPU Case w/ Inner Check Design $0.99 via code ip4innercheck
  5. Nintendo Wii AirCharge Inductive Charger (includes Charging Station and 2 Rechargeable Batteries) $17.99
  6. Dell Inspiron 15 Intel Core i3-350M 2.26GHz 15.6in Laptop (3GB/250GB/Win7) $499.99 via code ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C
  7. Dell Inspiron 14z Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 ULV 14in Laptop (4GB/500GB/2yr Warranty) $700.79 via codes 6KWMM0JFLZK0W? and ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C
  8. $150 off Sony VAIO EC Series Core i5 17″ Laptops w/ Blu-Ray (nstarting at $999 via code ECVAIOSAVE150
  9. $100 off Sony VAIO EA Series Core i5 14″ Laptops w/ Blu-Ray (now starting at $899) via code EAVAIOSAVE100
  10. $100 off Sony VAIO EB Series Core i3 15.5″ Laptops w/ Blu-Ray (now starting at $799) via code EBVAIOSAVE100

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set



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Remove Duplicate Files & Directories with Duplicate Cleaner

Posted: 11 Aug 2010 12:31 PM PDT

duplicate cleanerOne of the biggest problems with being addicted to the latest technology is that I’m constantly downloading new files – new installs for the latest apps, new add-ons for my browser or new themes for my blog. Then there are the thousands of images piled up from years of being a blogger.

After a while, I can’t remember whether or not I’ve already downloaded something. I must have three Wordpress installs buried away in my hard drive. You can find files and directories that you think may be the same, but how do you know that they’re truly duplicates?

If you’re anything like me, rather than risk losing something important, you file away everything. Maybe you zip them all up and archive them. Maybe you back up everything to a big huge external hard drive for safekeeping. Ideally, it would be a lot better if you could chop down the number of files you are trying to manage by identifying true duplicates so that you can delete them.

We’ve covered a few tools at MUO for dealing with duplicate files, such as as the five utilities that Saikat covered, or the Auslogics finder that he also reviewed. An even more functional and effective tool that you can use to clean up duplicates is a freeware application is called Duplicate Cleaner.

Track Down Space-Wasting Duplicates

When it comes to identifying duplicates, Duplicate Cleaner takes all of the guess work out of the equation. It sorts through volumes of files for you, identifies every single duplicate file, and then returns a list with every last duplicate group.

duplicate cleaner

The first step is to add all of the directories that you want to search through. In my own situation, it’s my laptop that’s the problem. I keep downloading lots of images and files to the Documents and Pictures folders. Just select each folder, one at a time, and click the blue arrow to add those directories into the “Search Paths” column. On the right side of the screen you can fine-tune the search criteria.

duplicate file cleaner

An alternative search is the “Audio Search” for audio files only – this is particularly useful if you have an insanely huge music file collection that’s a completely mess. Find duplicate music files within select directories, or you could even search your entire computer.

duplicate file cleaner

In my case, I’ve added the three folders where I always download files – downloads, pictures and documents. The next step is to let the software do its magic. It took Duplicate Cleaner just over 14 minutes to scan the entire three directories. I was astonished to learn that in two years I’ve accumulated over 35,000 files. The duplicate files represent 547.28 MB of wasted disk space.

duplicate file cleaner

The software splits up the resulting listings into two tabs – all searched files and the duplicate results.

Managing Your Duplicate Files

At first, I doubted that the software was really identifying duplicates. I had a lot of image files that had completely different file names, yet the software claimed they were duplicates. Luckily, all you have to do is right click on any file to open it. Sure enough, the images were exactly the same.

duplicate cleaner review

The software performs this same comparison with music files, video files and even executibles using what’s called the “MD5 Hash Algorithm”. The software comes with its own file preview utility, so even if you run it on a PC without any image app, you can view the images right inside Duplicate Cleaner.

duplicate cleaner review

Along with the file name, the results display the source path of the file, the file size, when it was last modified, and the group number. One clear giveaway that should tell you the software is working correctly is when the duplicate files always have identical file sizes.

duplicate cleaner review

The real question, once you’ve identified all of these problem files consuming your precious hard drive space, is what to do with them? You can select all of the duplicates that you want to delete, and when you click on “Remove Selected,” you will be provided with different options – delete the files, move them to a new folder, or, better yet, if you don’t really want to remove the duplicate file at its source location, you can create a “hard link” that is linked to the original file, and the duplicate is still deleted.

You can also fine tune exactly which duplicates are automatically chosen for deletion based on things like the age of the file, or in the case of audio – the one with the highest sample or bit rates.

duplicate cleaner

Even if you don’t think you need such an application, you should give it a shot. I really didn’t think I had much wasted space, so I was shocked to find over 13,000 duplicate files in just three directories. Just imagine if you search your entire computer.

Do you have your own technique to prevent the duplicate file mess? How do you clean up your hard drive from this kind of wasted space? Share your own techniques in the comments section below.

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5 Free Tutorial Websites To Improve Your Google SketchUp & 3D Design Skills

Posted: 11 Aug 2010 11:31 AM PDT

google sketchup tutorialsDid you know that Google has a Model Your Town Competition? Here you can create a 3D version of your community and share it with the world on Google Earth. Now, how do you become a designer and builder in one go? You turn to Google SketchUp of course.

Google SketchUp is the comparatively easy to use 3D drawing software for creating, modifying, and sharing 3D models. Along with tools like Building Maker, you can be God and creator on Google Earth.  Ryan recently introduced us to the software.

But Google SketchUp has other earthly day to day uses too. From deciding seating plans for a party to designing the chair that will seat your guests or designing anything from a car to a spaceship; if you can think in three dimensions you can realize it with Google's free 3D software.

Then you can model for the Google contests. But to get there you need to get on the SketchUp learning curve. Maybe these free Google SketchUp tutorial resources can help to put you on it.

Google SketchUp Training

google sketchup

It's always best to go to the guys who made it in the first place. Especially, if they have all the information that takes you from a newbie to an expert. You can opt for instructor-led, hands on training classes at authorized training centers. But when we are talking 'free', you should point your mouse at the Video Tutorials section and the Self Paced Tutorials that let you learn SketchUp at your own pace.

The self-paced Google Sketchup tutorials are downloadable SKP files of 3D models which open up in SketchUp and help you recreate it through a series of steps. Start with the Introduction to SketchUp file. Then there are 61 video tutorial files arranged according to your skill levels. You can also subscribe to Google's Official SketchUp Video Channel on YouTube for more video uploads.

Then there's the SketchUp Help Forum to help you get unstuck from any SketchUp problems.


google sketchup

If Google is home, then is the Mecca. Beginners, hobbyists, SketchUp aces, all make this a happening meeting place. The website is not only about SketchUp educational information, but also discussions, interviews, trends, and downloads. The SketchUp tutorial index is marked clearly for beginners, intermediates, and advanced users.

As you get into each stage, you can also narrow down your learning by other categories like Author, Level, Application, and Type. All the chatter on SketchUcation is captured in its Community Forum.


google sketchup

Go2School hosts online private training classes and webinars for SketchUp learners. These are not free but a SketchUp user can join the site's community as a free member and take part in the discussions. Also of value is The SketchUp Show on YouTube which takes you through tips and tricks for using SketchUp.

Google SketchUp for Dummies

You have to buy the book from the stores, but you can help yourself to quite a few SketchUp video tutorials on the author's YouTube channel. The videos accompany the instructions in the book, but on their own too they can take you through the concepts as they have voiceovers. There are about 62 videos in all; videos are also arranged according to the chapters in the book.


If you are plateauing on the SketchUp learning curve, check out this tutorial website for SketchUp professionals. In their own words it's a tutorial site for the benefit of professional SketchUp users and CG artists. The tips, tricks, and tutorials cover different aspects of post-processing and much of the software used along with SketchUp. For instance, the knowledgebase shows the creative punch when SketchUp is used with other 3D rendering software like Autodesk 3D Studio Max, and even Photoshop.

These five websites will put you on the right track to master Google SketchUp. Google SketchUp is an easy tool to learn technically, its creativity that will take you to the next plane. If you really get into Google SketchUp, here's a wonderful list of resources that's like the Who's Who on the 3D design tool.

Let us know about your SketchUp learning adventures and any great tutorial websites we may have missed.

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15 System Preferences Items A New Mac User Should Adjust

Posted: 11 Aug 2010 10:31 AM PDT

mac system preferencesSystem Preferences is a hubbub of settings and controls on your Mac computer. Yet, it's quite possible that if you are a fairly new Mac user you probably have made changes to only a few of the many items found in the Mac System Preferences. You might have added another user account or set up your server connection. But there are other items that you should know about that will make you a more powerful Mac user.

The items I will cover are found in the Snow Leopard version of System Preferences. I'm not going to cover each section of System Preferences or some of its more self-explanatory items. I will cover some of the hidden and useful items that you may want to change or adjust.

But I won't go over System Preferences items like Spaces and the Dock that have already been covered.

Application Launcher

One of the elementary items that every Mac user should know about is selecting applications that you want automatically launched when your computer is booted. To do this,  open Accounts (in System Preferences, of course) and click on the Login Items button. Click the + button to add applications you want to automatically launch when your computer boots.

Later, if you find that your computer is taking too long to start up, you might want to cut back your number of login items.

mac system preferences

Also, you can add apps to your login by right- or Control-clicking on an application in the dock and selecting Options>Open at Login.

preferences on a mac

Recent Items

When you need to access recently opened items, there's no need to go hunting for them in folders. You can click on the Apple icon in the far left of the menu bar and select Recent Items where you will find a list of documents, applications, and Servers you have used.

preferences on a mac

You can control the number of items that show up on that list by going into System Preferences and clicking on Appearance. Near the bottom, you can select the numbers of recent items you want listed.

preferences on a mac

Password Protect

If your computer is accessible to other people on a regular basis, you might want to password protect it. Select Security>General and click on Require password. The password will be the same one you use for your account. After the time you set, your computer will log out and will require a password to log back into your account.

system preferences mac

CDs & DVDs

Clicking on CDs & DVDs in System Preferences, you can set what you want to happen when you insert a disk into your computer. For example, by default, you might want iTunes to open each time you insert a blank CD, because you typically burn songs to a disk. Or maybe when you insert a photo CD you want Photoshop to open instead of iPhoto.

system preferences mac

Keyboard Shortcuts

There are a whole slew of items and controls under Keyboard. In this area you can add, change, and delete keyboard shortcuts for nearly all the applications on your computer. Click Keyboard Shortcuts and then select Application Shortcuts. It's there you can select an existing application and change or delete corresponding shortcut keys.

You can also add shortcut keys to menu items of any application. Read this article to find out more.

system preferences mac

Limit Spotlight Searches

You can do what is called a Spotlight search of everything that is saved on your Mac hard drive, but you might only want certain places to be searched. After clicking Spotlight in System Preferences, you can click off items that you don't want search results from, such as iCal events or fonts. You can also drag the order in which you want results to appear.


Active Screen Corners

You paid a hefty price for your Mac, so learn to use every inch of it. Click on Exposé & Spaces. Under the Exposé tab, you can assign a few actions to the four different corners of your computer screen. If, for example, you want to quickly put your computer to sleep without using a keyboard shortcut, you can arrange to activate it simply by putting your cursor in an assigned corner.

You will also notice that there's another set of pull-down buttons for you to assign F-stop keys to perform various actions.


And by the way, if you don't use Dashboard anymore – very few of us do – you can use its assigned F12 key for something else. So click on the pull-down button and assign no key to it.

Default Sound Settings

If you're using a couple of sound outputs, for your external speakers and headphones, you can set the default for the level of sound. Click on Sound and then select Output. Select the sound device and then adjust output volume to your liking. For instance, you might want the headphone volume lower than the speaker volume. Now whenever you select a volume output device, it will be at the volume level you set.

mac system preferences

In the next part of this article, we're going to go over a few advanced items in the Mac System Preferences. Let us know if you have any questions concerning this part of your Mac.

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iReader – Instant Clutter-free Reading on Chrome & Firefox

Posted: 11 Aug 2010 09:31 AM PDT

The web’s not as nice a place for reading as it could be. Part of this is physical – glowing screens simply don’t make for great long-term reading devices. A bigger part of this, however, are websites who seem to go out of their way to annoy readers. Be it ads, unnecessary links or articles split into many different pages, there are a number of things that can make reading on the web annoying.

It’s with this in mind that I recently profiled Readability, something I called a way to quickly and easily add Safari’s ‘Reader’ Function to Chrome and Firefox. You, the readers, seemed to generally like the way Readability cut through the crap and gave you only the article you wanted. You pointed out, however, that you wished the service could restore the page to normal more easily and also load multiple pages at once. Well, I found an extension that does both those things.

It’s called iReader, and it’s from a company called Samabox. Unlike Readability, the iReader for Chrome and Firefox can handle multiple pages. It also, like Safari’s ‘Reader’ function, can be closed in the click of a button. Let’s take a look.

Using iReader

Say you found an interesting article on a cluttered page. In circumstances like this iReader will appear in your address bar in the form of a simple icon. Click this icon and your article will be isolated from the clutter and presented to you on a clean white slate. Like this:

ireader for chrome

It really doesn’t need to be more complicated than that: a cluttered page turns into an isolated article. There are a few more features, however, for those who like a little complexity.


ireader for chrome

Hover over the button bit of the article and you’ll see this bar. From here you can:

  • Make text bigger or smaller.
  • Print the clean version of the article.
  • Share article via email (default mail client or Gmail)
  • Share article via Twitter or Facebook
  • Remove all pictures

You can also configure iReader, if you want.

ireader for chrome

Options include setting the opacity of the blackness that covers the clutter, whether you want to email articles from Gmail or your system-wide default email application, how you want the article to look and even whether you want to enable smooth scrolling. As you configure the look of iReader a handy preview page will show you what your changes will look like, allowing you to customize your reading to your heart’s content.

Find the Extension

Want to get started with iReader? Download iReader for Chrome and Firefox, being sure to enable installation from that source when prompted to.


Like I said, once you install the extension you’ll find the readability icon appearing on any website featuring an article. Simply click it and iReader will take care of the rest. I’ve noticed that, on some particularly cluttered sites, that this can take a while. Rest assured: it’s worth it.

I’ve been using iReader instead of Readability since I discovered it. What do you think? Is one product better than the other, and if so why? Is the entire idea of a reader plugin for a browser useless? I know you have an opinion and a keyboard, so put them together.

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Let Your Friends Know When You’re Nearby Privately With Face2face

Posted: 11 Aug 2010 08:31 AM PDT

friends near meUsing location-based apps like Foursquare and its alternatives have given us a great way to find our friends when we’re out and about. One of the issues that comes up when using some of these apps, however, is privacy. If you aren’t careful, you could be giving away your position to anyone using the service.

face2face is a location-aware smartphone app that solves the problems of privacy and safety that have become synonymous with social networking. By using general proximity – never the precise location – face2face keeps you connected but private. It shares only information between friends who are near each other and no one else.

In this article, I’ll show you where to get face2face, give you an overview of its features, and show you how to use it.

Starting Out With face2face

The first step is downloading the app on face2face’s website. This application supports multiple mobile devices. You can download the face2face app on the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry, with a j2me version coming soon for Java devices.

friends near me

You start off by signing into your social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, or LinkedIn. This allows the application to gather the friends and connections you would want to locate or share your connection with.

find friends near you

After you’ve logged in and linked your accounts, you can view your social profiles, list of friends, and status updates. On the main screen you have several options, including inviting/requesting friends, searching who’s nearby, viewing notifications and feeds, and sending instant messages.

The face2face application tells you when your friend is around the corner, but they don’t tell you what coffee shop they’re in. “We make coincidences happen”, says the face2face team, “finding the connections you'd otherwise miss, without sacrificing privacy”.

Locating & Connecting With Friends

Most location services are too open. They’re too quick to share information, and the more you use them, the more you’re putting yourself out there. By using proximity instead of precise location, you can locate your friends while remaining protected.

find friends near you

When you link your social networking accounts to face2face, all of your friends – and friends of friends (LinkedIn) – are added to your contact list. Once they are on your list, you can request their location or contact information like their phone number, or you can send them a message.

friends near me

If you are near each other, you will be able to see each other on the app. When your friends can see you, you can always see them, so there is no “stalking”. With all of your networks in one place, you can chat with or meet friends across social platforms and different types of phones.


In conclusion, face2face is one of the better geo-location apps out there when taking privacy into account. The face2face application allows you to maintain a socially active lifestyle and still be able to locate your contacts when they are close. If you enjoy accessing your social networks and are looking for a secure way to enhance that experience on your phone, face2face might be for you.

Privacy is always a big concern with applications that broadcast your position over GPS. The costs sometimes outweigh the benefits when you’re comparing letting your friends see your location versus the rest of the world being able to see it. The proximity feature is what makes face2face attractive to me, as it allows you to bump into your friends when you’re out with a little ‘help’ in finding them.

What do you think about location-based apps and privacy? Is face2face a step in the right direction, or are apps like Foursquare getting better at maintaining privacy? Leave your thoughts, ideas, and comments below!

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