Friday, August 13, 2010

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [August 12th]” plus 9 more

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [August 12th]” plus 9 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [August 12th]

Posted: 12 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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International Etiquette Guide – When visiting a foreign country, it is of the utmost importance to learn the natives' norms, customs, and traditions. Natives often criticize tourists for making unacceptable mistakes. One tool you could use to learn about a country's culture and etiquette manners is International Etiquette Guide. Read more: International Etiquette Guide: Learn Etiquette & Manners Of Other Countries.

 

Texture Library – If you are designing a website or application, giving it a brilliant textured background can help make the interface very pleasing to the end user. Texture Library is one online location where you can look for great backgrounds and textures. Read more: Texture Library: Download Hundreds of Free Cool Background Textures.

 

 

Skloog – A number of web services let you save bookmarks and create start pages but Skloog is a bit different. To start with, the start page you create with Skloog is completely visual and allows you to access all your favorite websites by simply clicking at their logo. You can add any website to your Skloog by entering a custom URL or choose from a variety of popular websites. Read more: Skloog: Organize Visual Bookmarks By Categories .

 

 

Pingg – Through Pingg you can send customizable ecards and event notifications. The designs used on these cards and notifications are submitted by artists, photographers, illustrators, and stationery companies. As you explore the site, you will unravel a plethora of nice features. Read more: Pingg: Exellent Collection of Customizable eCards & Event Cards.

 

 

ChangeDetection – Some sites do not support RSS feeds. People who have got used to getting their updates from feeds might find it inconvenient to manually visit these sites to see what is new. If you are one of these people, then you will greatly appreciate a website update alert tool called ChangeDetection. Read more: ChangeDetection: Get Website Update Email Alerts.

 

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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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ProProfs Toolset – Easy Educational Tools for Teachers and Tutors

Posted: 12 Aug 2010 06:30 PM PDT

educational toolsWe have had quite a few overviews of various educational tools already including online learning tools, top ten student tools and language learning tools. Today, we are going to talk about teaching tools for a change.

Today’s set of tools will make anyone’s learning super-engaging: whether you have (or plan) kids or you want to earn some cash by tutoring someone, the tools will come in handy.

ProProfs, the site we have mentioned a couple of times on MUO already, has a variety of free educational apps and games which need a closer look. The toolset has been featured on various powerful educational portals including TheJournal, Assett and Profy.

Unlike our previous reviews of the tool features, this one will focus on the educational value of the free web apps.

1. Quizzes

Apart from creating fun personality quizzes to engage and entertain your blog visitors, ProProfs Quiz Maker can be used for educational purposes.

educational toolsIdea: The tool is perfect for assessing people’s knowledge of the topic as well as identifying “weak” areas: where most people tend to err.

Sample educational quizzes:

Creating a quiz might take you a bit of time (simply because you need to provide questions and several answers for each). So before creating the quiz using the tool I usually draft the quiz structure in Excel and once I have all the info, complete the form.

The very first step is to provide the quiz name, description and your questions (with answers). The quiz allows to choose between various types of question types: “Multiple answers”, “True/False”, “Fill in the blanks”, “Essay type”. The best thing is that you can make each question interactive by adding images or embedding video:

educational tools

Then you will need to set the result type; the tool supports:

  • Pass / fail result;
  • Letter grading;
  • Good / excellent result;
  • Customized result (where you provide the scoring system of your own).

Here’s an example of letter grading settings (you can also set the max time and configure the certificate settings):

educational software

2. Flashcards

Flashcards section allows to create your own flashcards as well as browse through already created ones in various categories.

educational toolsIdea: Easily summarize and organize complex material to let kids always have it by hand (print and download your flashcards for further reference).

Sample flashcard: French verbs

Creating a flashcard is fun: you can use images, formatting and various colors to visualize your data sets more effectively:

educational software

3. Brain Games

Besides interactive fun games, ProProf’s Brain Games section allows to create several types of fun word games including:

  • Word search game;
  • Crossword game;
  • Word scrample game.
educational softwareIdea: You can get your kids easier remember the spelling of new words by creating a crossword and letting them take it several times in a row. The crossword will vary the words each time it’s reloaded.

Sample crossword: Superheroes

Creating a word game really takes seconds. All you need is the concept and words in mind. After that it’s just the matter of copy-pasting: the software will create a puzzle of that itself:

educational resources

And here’s our cute little MUO-authors crossword which took us two seconds to create:

educational resources

Do you think tools like that could make learning (as well as teaching) much more fun (and thus much more enjoyable and effective)?


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6 Fun Safari Browser Extensions To Start With

Posted: 12 Aug 2010 04:31 PM PDT

safari extensionsAlong with the Safari 5.0.1 update, Apple officially opened its Safari Extensions Gallery. Compared to Firefox’s or Chrome’s list, there aren’t that many extensions listed there yet, as everything still fits into one – rather long – page, but I think it’s a good start.

While the list might be short, there are already many good and useful extensions that you can install. All you need to do is just point your browser to the gallery and install them.

Upgrade & Updates

But first things first. Before you can use any of these extensions, you should upgrade your Safari to version 5, and enable extensions from within the “Preferences – Extensions” pane.

safari extensions

The pane is also the place for you to enable or disable individual extensions. Select one of the extensions and check/uncheck the “Enable name_of_extension” box.

If you are one of the early adopters and you haven’t got the chance to peek at your Extensions library for a while, you might find several updates inside.

safari extensions

Click “Install All Updates” button to get all the necessary updates, and check the “Install Updates Automatically” box if you don’t want to be bothered with manual updates in the future.

Finally, clicking the “Get Extensions” button will bring you to the official Safari Extensions Page.

safari addons

Having Fun With Extensions

After browsing through the list, I decided to list some extensions which I personally think falls into the “fun” category.

  1. Everything Facebook

    Despite some recent issues with its policy, Facebook has proven time and again that interacting with friends and family will never be boring. If Facebook is one of your ideas of having fun, you might want to try several extensions dedicated to Facebook, such as: Better Facebook, Facebook Cleaner, and Facebook Photo Zoom.

    safari addons

    safari addons

  2. Everything Tweeter

    But if tweeting is your thing, you’ll be glad to know that there are many tweeter-related extensions for Safari, namely: Echofon It, Nambu, TweetBar, Tweetbeat Firsthand, Ostrich, and the official Tweeter for Safari.

    safari addons

    Aside from the official Tweeter extension, my personal favorite is Tweetbeat Firsthand as it will show you the recent tweets from people and groups mentioned on the web page you're viewing.

  3. Rapportive

    This extension will help you to know the email sender better. In the sidebar, you will be able to see more information about the sender like photo, occupation and his/her location on the map.The extension is working automatically with GMail occupying the usual ads spot. It’s also available for Firefox and Chrome.

    safari plugins

  4. FlickrPlus

    Photography is an art that I’ve yet to master. That’s why beautiful photos always amaze me as I know they are not always easy to acquire. Flickr is a place where you can learn so much about taking good photos. But the area is not limited to photographers and the wannabes. Anybody can stroll around the site and enjoy the scenery. The FlickrPlus will show you more than meets the eye.

    safari plugins

  5. Speed Scrabble Notifier

    Care for a little game to spend your spare time? Why not try some word play? You can compete against the computer or versus other players. The number of online players will be shown automatically on the extension button next to the URL bar. Just press the button anytime you want to play.

    safari plugins

  6. Franker

    If you are the kind of person who loves to know more about foreign languages, Franker is the perfect tool for you. This extension is inspired by Ilya Frank's method of language learning and works a little differently from the usual Google Translate. Instead of translating the whole page, Franker allows you to select only a phrase or sentence and places the translation right after the selected item. Just right click on the selected text and choose “Frankate Selection“.

    02 7 Frankate Selection.jpg

    I tried the tool on Amazon Japan’s site, and here’s the result.

    02 8 Translation.jpg

As an additional note at the end, I just want to add that the process of installing these extensions is far easier if you do it from the Safari Extensions Gallery page as everything will be done automatically.

01f Installing Extensions.jpg

And as I’ve mentioned above, the list is based on my personal subjective opinion. Since the term “fun” is different from one person to another; feel free to browse around, pick your own fun extensions, and share them with us using the comments below.


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How To Block Internet Explorer From Accessing The Internet

Posted: 12 Aug 2010 02:31 PM PDT


blocked windows internet explorerAfter our home computer became infected for the umpteenth time with an Internet Explorer exploit, even after I admonished my kids to avoid using Internet Explorer at all costs, I decided it was time to take drastic action. There are a lot of reasons why you may want to configure a computer so that it has blocked Windows Internet Explorer. Tim wrote about an effective method a while back on how to do just that, however the approach he uses still allows any user to launch the application from the run command and access the Internet.

What if you simply want to block all of Windows Internet access from Internet Explorer, but you still want to allow any other browser or Internet application to work?


It is possible to cast Internet Explorer into isolation while all other Internet apps run free, and I’ll show you how to do it in just a couple of easy steps.

Modify Internet Explorer To Use A Proxy Server

The first step in this two step process is to trick Internet Explorer into accessing the Internet using a dummy proxy server. By default your LAN settings in IE are usually set up to automatically detect your Internet connection settings. We’re going to change that.

First, go to Tools -> Internet Options -> Connections -> LAN Settings.

blocked windows internet explorer

First, uncheck “Automatically detect settings” and select the option to use a proxy server.  Set the address to some dummy IP followed by port 80. It doesn’t matter what you use, just make sure it isn’t a real server.

Or, another option I’ve seen some school network administrators do is to configure a proxy server that’s set up to serve an internal webpage that says something along the lines of “You’ve reached the end of the Internet.” The students may not laugh – but at least you’ll get a chuckle!

Click OK, go back to IE and try to browse the web. You’ll see the following error.

block internet access

Nice! Mission accomplished right? Wrong! All a clever little eight-year old girl needs to do is open up the Internet Options, click on “Automatically detect settings” and she’s back in business. Don’t think an eight-year old could do that? Well she did. So the next step is to disable every user’s ability to tweak the IE Internet options settings.

Disable Internet Options In The Control Panel

To do this, click Start -> Run and type “Regedit.exe“.

block internet access

Go to My Computer/HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Policies/Microsoft/Internet Explorer/Restrictions. You may have to create the Internet Explorer and Restrictions keys if they aren’t already there. Then, create a new DWORD called “NoBrowserOptions” and set it equal to 1. Now, restart Internet Explorer.

You still won’t be able to browse anywhere, because it’s defaulting to the proxy server. So, go ahead and try to access Tools -> Internet Options. Your little ones will be faced with the following warning.

block internet access

This effectively blocks most normal users from accessing the Internet through IE. An especially clever user will just go to the Control Panel and enable the Internet Options that way, so you’ll also need to disable those control panel settings in the registry as well.

internet explorer has blocked

Go to My Computer/HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Policies/Microsoft/Internet Explorer/Control Panel (or create the key if you have to). I’ve added several policy restrictions to the control panel, but the important one here is the DWORD ConnectionsTab. Setting this to 1 will disable the Connections tab in the control panel, so the user can’t change the Internet settings from the proxy you set up.

blocked windows internet explorer

You’ve completely blocked IE from accessing the Internet, and the only thing that a clever user could do to fix it is to find the right registry keys and fix them. So, this won’t block a seasoned geek, but it’ll at least keep your kids from opening up the wrong browser! Be warned that there are some Internet applications that make use of the connection settings in your Internet Options. Most applications allow you to configure proxy settings from within the app itself, but not all – so if any of your Internet apps don’t work after you lock down IE, this is probably why.

Have you ever had the need to block IE from accessing the Internet? Does this technique work for your application? Share your own experiences and how you have blocked your own Windows Internet Explorer access to the Internet.

Image Credit: Florin Florea


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Hot Tech Deals [Aug 12th]

Posted: 12 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. Yamaha RX-V567BL 7.1ch 90W/ch AV Receiver + LG Blu-ray Player $429.95 via code FREEGFT89A
  2. Dell Inspiron 15 Intel Core i3-350M 2.26GHz 15.6in Laptop (3GB/250GB/Win7) $499.99 via code ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C
  3. Dell Inspiron 14z Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 ULV 14in Laptop (4GB/500GB/2yr Warranty) $700.79 via codes 6KWMM0JFLZK0W? and ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C
  4. Madden NFL 11 Game (Xbox 360/PS3) w/ $20 Walmart Gift Card $59.96
  5. Nintendo Wii AirCharge Inductive Charger (includes Charging Station and 2 Rechargeable Batteries) $17.99
  6. ThinkGeek Coupon Code $10 off $30+ via code SDCC
  7. iGg iPhone 4 TPU Case w/ Inner Check Design $0.99 via code ip4innercheck
  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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How To Enable & Use The New Google Multiple Sign-In Feature

Posted: 12 Aug 2010 12:31 PM PDT

Google offers a myriad of products to choose from and everything is tied up with a single Google Account. This has its pros and cons. While you have to remember only a single password and your experience is customized across the products, it also means that you cannot use Gmail with one account and Google Sites with the other simultaneously.

Until very recently, you had to resort to various hacks, tools or different browsers if you wanted to use multiple Google accounts at a given time. However, now there is an official Google way, which allows you to sign into multiple accounts at the same time.


How to use the feature is not entirely evident, partly because you wouldn’t know it exists until you happen to stumble upon it. Let’s see how to enable multiple sign-in and then we shall look at the pros and cons of the feature.

To Enable Multiple Sign-in

  • Log into one of the Google services such as Gmail, Reader, Calendar or Docs. Click on settings and most likely you will have an option to edit the Google Account settings. For example in Gmail you can find such an option under the accounts tab, in Reader it shows up as a menu option in the settings drop down.

  • You can also visit the Google Account Settings directly if need be.
  • Once you are there, notice that the “Multiple Sign-in” option is off by default. Click on the Edit link next to the option to change this.

  • You will be taken to a page that details what Multiple sign-in is, how it works and what services currently support it. Click on the radio button next to On and it enables a set of checkboxes.

  • Each of these checkboxes highlight an important aspect of multiple sign-in. You should read through them and check them once you have read the points.
  • Now click Save towards the bottom and this should enable multiple sign-in.

Use Multiple Sign-in

Following the above steps, multiple sign-in should be enabled for your Google Account. Reload any of the Google services or log back in and you will see a drop down arrow besides your Google Account ID. Click on it to reveal “Sign in to another account“. Click it and you should be taken to the log in page asking for credentials to another account.

Once you are successfully logged into the second account you will be able to view each of them in the same drop down menu and switch back and forth between the accounts with a simple click.

The Pros & Cons

As always there are some pros and cons that you should consider when you choose to enable multiple sign in. First off, the biggest advantage is the fact that you don’t have to rely on third party tools, different browsers or the incognito mode to sign into different accounts. Having such a feature coming straight out of Google’s machines is a lot more reliable.

You can easily have two Gmails or two Google Calendars (or any other supported) accounts open in separate tabs in the same browser, which is a lot better and more productive. All you have to do is load Gmail in two tabs and then switch accounts in one of the tabs.

The obvious shortcomings of the feature is that it is not available for all Google Products at this moment. In particular it is limited to Gmail, Calendar, Reader, Code, Voice and Sites, which if you ask me covers pretty much all of the products where you might want to use multiple sign ins often.

Another potential pitfall is the fact that enabling multiple sign-in disables offline Gmail and Calendar functionality, which is something you should keep in mind, if you use these products offline.

I Need Multiple Sign In On Other Products

Yeah, we hear you. Chances are you might want to use multiple Google accounts with other products as well. For such cases, your options are essentially the same that you had before Google came along with this offering, namely:

  • Use two different browsers. Most of us have Internet Explorer on our computers and installed an additional browser, so this can work out pretty good.
  • Use Private Browsing Mode (or Incognito Mode) to log in with another account simultaneously, considering of course that this will bypass history and stored sessions.
  • Use one of the third party tools like notifiers, Gmail Manager, CookieSwap etc.

Thinking of potential uses of the feature already? Why not share them with others in the comments section?


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How To Protect Yourself From The Facebook Stalkers Out There

Posted: 12 Aug 2010 11:31 AM PDT

facebook stalkersA while back Ryan wrote quite the controversial article about how to see someone’s private Facebook profile.  It was very provocative because the method he used made use of subterfuge rather than holes in Facebook’s settings.  There is a question that rears itself because of this.  How can I protect myself from Facebook stalkers even when I have all of the security settings correct and I can still be vulnerable?

The answer basically comes down to not just relying on the technical safety settings alone.  The security settings are very important but they are not all that important.  What do I mean?  I mean that you have to watch your own back.  There are some principles you must abide by if you are to really keep yourself safe from Facebook stalkers in the social networking community we call Facebook.

Check The Security Settings

These are still a wall of defense that should not be ignored.  Mahendra wrote an awesome article highlighting 10 solid tips to safeguard your Facebook privacy.  In his article he shares many good tips on how to set the privacy settings to where you want them.

Get A Handle On Your Friends

Another tip Mahendra gives is to organize your friends into lists giving you more flexible privacy controls.

facebook stalkers

Good advice.  You need to go through your friends and see how well you know and trust each one.

Only Add People That You Know

Some people will almost add anyone as a friend.  As Ryan wrote in his article, people are more willing to add someone if they share some friends.  It’s either peer pressure or that they feel more secure if other friends can “vouch” for them.  If you don’t know someone, don’t add them.

Verify Those Who Say You Know Them

What about when people pretend to be your friends, like in Ryan’s article?  Make sure you know they are who they say they are.  Give them the fifth degree.  If they are offended just because you’re trying to be safe, that’s not your problem.  Ask them something only they would know.  Send a few messages back and forth to make sure you’re both on the same page.

Be Careful About Long Lost Friends

We all know that there are several levels of “friends.”  This is one reason Mahendra’s advice about friend lists is important.  On your list of friends you have everything from that dude you walked by that one time back 20 years ago in college all the way to your closest relative that you eat breakfast with every day.  Go back to Mahendra’s article and tweak your privacy settings accordingly.

Also, every time you post an update you can control who sees that update.  You can choose individuals or lists that can or cannot see that update.  Use this feature!  I use it all the time for showing updates to certain people.  Check it out…

  • Click the padlock under the update field :

  • Then click customize.  You will be given the options for who can see that individual update.

Realize That Anything Online Is Not Truly Safe

What if a friend wanted to share something that was protected with someone else?  They can still do this.  They can even copy and past whole conversations and send them to people.  There are programs (such as Bloom mentioned in this article) that aid in downloading whole photo albums which will give people the ability to post your photos wherever they see fit.

facebook stalkers

What’s my point?  Follow this principle: If there is something you do not want spread about, do not post it online, anywhere.  Also, realize that someone using Ryan’s method could use anything you post against you to make you think they’re someone you know.  The only precautions you can take against Facebook Stalkers is to be careful what you share and be aware of the methods being used against you.

These three areas of safety concern should help you begin your journey to being safe from predators on Facebook.  Facebook is a useful tool and a fun one too.  Unfortunately it can be a dangerous one too.  I urge you to treat your online dealings in much the same way you treat your offline dealings.  What I mean by this is that often we know better than to let a stranger in our house (locks, asking who they are, etc.) but we forget these same principles online.

What other tips could you share to keep us safe from online stalkers on Facebook?


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Use Pictomio To Organize & Geotag Your Photos For Easier Finding

Posted: 12 Aug 2010 10:31 AM PDT

geotag photoThe Windows file system seems as logical to geeks as the recipe for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but for many people it isn’t as sensible. The human mind does not naturally take memories and store them into neat little folders. Instead, memory is usually kept in reference to certain triggers. One of those is location.

The memory of a family trip to Seattle will likely be easier to conjure if someone asks you about Seattle specifically than if you were asked about the vacation your family took on 7/21/1986.

Enter geotagging.


This method of organization tries to make the process more natural by letting you tie your pictures to a map. They’ll still be shoved into folders, of course – there is no way around that – but you can also use the map to browse your photos. If someone asks about your trip to Seattle you can simply find Seattle on the map and presto! Your photos will appear. Of course, to accomplish this you need a program that supports the ability to geotag photos, and Pictomio is one such program.

Geotagging With Pictomio

The first time you run Pictomio you will be prompted with a display that asks you to sync the time of your camera with the time displayed on-screen. Go ahead and do this now if the camera is handy. If it isn’t, just ask Pictomio to remind you later using the drop-down menu at the bottom of the prompt.

Pictomio will by default open to the “File System” menu. This displays your Windows media folders including Pictures, Videos and Documents folders. Obviously we’re most interested in the Pictures folder for this program, so you can open that by simply double-clicking the folder. Alternatively, you can use the file tree on the left side of the program to navigate.

geotag photo

Unless you have a camera that can geotag photos (in which case I envy you) there won’t be any geotag information on any of your photos, but you can add it as you desire. For example, I took a trip out to Tillamook, Oregon a few years back.

To geotag photos, you first need to open the folder the photos are in. Once you have done that, look for the Map tab at the very top of the program. It will be the tab furthest to the right. Pictomio can use either Google Maps or Microsoft Virtual Earth to display map data, and the choice is yours.

Once you’ve decided a map of the world will open. At the bottom of the map is a search bar. You can use this to find a location or, if you already know where the location is on a map, simply zoom in. The photos in the folder you’ve selected will appear at the top of the map. To geotag the photos, simply drag-and-drop the photos to the desired location. You can do this one at a time or geotag a whole stack of photos.

Geotagging does require that data be written to your photos, so Pictomio will display a prompt above your photo thumbnails asking for permission. The photo geotag information won’t be saved unless you give it. The data is written as an extension to your photos. This means that the geotag data that you’ve added should now be accessible by any program that can make use of geotags.

how to geotag photos

Once you have a set of photos geotagged you can browse them on the map. Clicking on a photo will bring up a thumbnail carousel view that displays all of the geotagged photos at that location. The way geotag locations are bundled together is relative to your perspective. If you zoom out from an area all of the photos geotagged to the same area will be bundled into one stack on your map.

geotag photo

Conclusion

The information here is not a complete list of everything Pictomio can do. Besides being able to add geotags, Pictomio is a complete photo album program with a number of organization options besides geotagging. It is also possible to create “trips” that are based off stored GPS data combined with dates and times. This feature is only available to people with GPS-enabled cameras, however – if you have such a device and you’ve used this functionality let us know if you liked it.

If you want to know more about how to geotag photos, Saikat has shown you how to geotag your Flickr photos and Mark has shown you how to geotag your photos so they appear on Google Maps & Google Earth.

How do you geotag your photos?


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3 Creative Ways To Say Thank You With Online Gifts

Posted: 12 Aug 2010 09:31 AM PDT

creative ways to say thank youAre you often out of time to shop for gifts. Even worse, are you out of ideas? Giving a gift is a simple act of kindness, but it can also be a huge challenge. Wouldn’t you love to find a simple yet creative way to say thank you?

Well, for one you can skip rushing through the city. What do you think online shopping was invented for? Exactly, to save time, be lazy, and shop from home (or work). So why not organize your ‘Thank You’ gift online?

If you’re thinking ‘Amazon voucher’ STOP! A voucher is like giving cash. It’s just plain lazy and not very creative. Let me show you some nice alternatives.

1. Write a Letter

Sometimes, a ‘Thank You’ is all about creating something personal and special. It doesn’t need to be expensive. A letter is something very unique and personal. And if you wish to thank someone who doesn’t have or regularly use their computer it’s your only option. So how is a letter a gift you can send online? Well, check out the sites below.

creative ways to say thank you

1HrMail

A service that sends your letter anywhere in the world. You could handwrite the letter, scan it, attach it, and send an attachment only letter. So your grandma can still receive a handwritten letter from you, even though you had to rush and skip going to the post office. You can attach PDF, Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files, so you could also attach pictures.

theMailMonster

It essentially works the same as 1HrMail, but letters to the US and Australia are free. They also deliver to the UK, New Zealand, Canada, and China.

Postful

Postful provides all the features of 1HrMail and lets you send postcards with your own photos. Unfortunately, the postcard service is US only, while letters can be sent to anywhere in the world. This is one of the most creative ways to say thank you quickly and easily.

L-Mail

Yet another service to send real letters initiated online. This one is different because you can send Braille and audio letters.

Telegramstop

Telegramstop is interesting because it lets you send mail to the future, i.e. with a custom delivery date. You can attach photos and the letter will look like an actual old-fashioned telegram. The also have a “send many” option for wedding or other event invitations. They include a luggage tag and envelope, which allow your guests to RSVP. It’s quite unique!

2. Mmmm Food

Everyone needs to eat, so why not gift delicious edibles? Chocolate, tea, coffee, fruit, whatever you know they love makes a great ‘Thank You’ gift! Below are some suggestions, but depending on where you live, you may have to hit up Google and find alternatives.

ways to say thank you

MyMuesli

MyMuesli let’s you create a custom Muesli mix. They offer more than 75 ingredients. Accepted payment methods include credit card, mpass, and PayPal. The service is available in the US. To receive deliveries to the UK, Germany, Netherlands, and Switzerland, visit their German website.

Chocri (US) & Chocri (Europe)

ways to say thank you

Your friend is not a fan of cereals, but loves chocolate? Then check out Chocri, where you can design your own chocolate bar. The chocolate is hand-made in Germany and shipped to you year round. Gift certificates are available, too. Chocri delivers to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and the US. Deliveries to Canada are available upon request via the US website. Please use the respective link above.

GiftBaskets

Gift baskets are a great way to say ‘Thank You’ and allow for a lot of creative freedom. You can assemble various food items, make a spa package, or a collection of tea and related items. GiftBasket.com has it all pre-assembled, so you won’t have to worry about the details. They even have a Kosher Basket. GiftBasket ships to the US and offers international shipping for many of their products.

3. Don’t Know Their Address?

So you have all those wonderful gift ideas, but you actually don’t know where they live? Despair not! You can still surprise them with a gift. There are many gift shopping sites that will use social networks to politely ask the recipient for their address and then deliver. They are the middle man, so you won’t have to ask for or know their address.

social network gift

TigerBow

TigerBow can send gifts through Facebook, eMail, Twitter, or Facebook. The gift selection includes books, chocolate, cheese, gift baskets, flowers, and lots more. It can deliver gifts to 48 US states and cards to the rest of the world.

Twegistry

This is a Twitter-specific service. It’s available in the US only.

SendSocial

SendSocial accepts a Twitter or Facebook ID, as well as an eMail address. It’s only half an online solution because all it does create a package label for you, with which you can then send your gift to an address anonymous to you. The label can be read by myHermes and ByBox. In other words, the service is available in the UK only.

ParcelGenie

creative ways to say thank you

ParcelGenie works similar to TigerBow in that you select gifts from the site. It’s available on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You can send and receive gifts in the UK, France, US, Australia. Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Spain, and Canada.

So none of the above ideas are an option? I think you need professional help with gift ideas. This is where you can turn to:

And if that’s not enough yet, here are even more resources:

What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

Image credits: fangol, nkzs, greenpearl, iwanbeijes


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3 Great Linux Radio Apps To Discover Great New Music [Linux]

Posted: 12 Aug 2010 08:31 AM PDT

linux radio applicationMassive MP3 collections are nice, but they don’t do everything. Sometimes you want to discover new music, for example, or listen to the news. Traditionally this was the role of the radio, but if you’re a geek (and if you’re reading this blog I’m betting you are) you’re far more likely to be around computers than FM receivers.

This is doubly true with Linux types, who tend to be geekier than most. Happily it’s perfectly possible to use your computer to get practically any radio station on your Linux computer. You could use your desktop music player to stream most online radio stations, but if you’re looking for simple radio-only web sites, read on.

RadioTray Is A Simple Radio App

linux radio applicationSome applications are so simple, yet so perfect, you wonder how you functioned without them. RadioTray is one such applications for me. This delightfully simply Linux radio application only does one thing; radio. It does so from the system tray, meaning any station you want to listen to is only two clicks away:

Naturally you’ll need to add your favorite streams to this program before it will actually be useful. Most websites offering streaming will give you access to a “.pls” file. Copy the link to this file and you can add it to RadioTray.

Doing this is simple: right-click the RadioTray icon and then click “Configure radios“. You’ll then see this window:

linux radio application

Click “Add” to add the station of your choice. You can also remove stations you don’t want anymore or configure existing stations.

Go ahead and download RadioTray. You’ll find an Ubuntu package and a source tarball for compiling on other distributions.

Pithos Is Pandora On Your Linux Desktop

It’s hard to beat Pandora when it comes to Internet radio, but that doesn’t mean the service is without its flaws. The worst problem, of course, is that the web service is flash-based – a problem when combined with Linux’s less-than-perfect flash support.

Enter Pithos:

linux radio software

This Linux app allows you to access Pandora without a browser and without flash. The result is a cool CPU and a happier you.

There are a few catches, however. First: Pandora being US only, this service won’t work anywhere else. Second: I can’t seem to find installation instructions for any Linux distro besides Ubuntu.

If you’re an American Ubuntu user, however, go ahead and find installation instructions for Pithos over at OMG! Ubuntu!. I’m using Pithos as I write this and am perfectly happy; sorry everyone else.

Spotify For Linux

linux radio software

If you’re not in the United States of America you can’t use Pandora. Happily, if you happen to be in a country with access to Spotify, you’re not entirely out of luck. The Spotify team have an Ubuntu/Debian build on the market. Currently it only works for people with paid accounts, but the team is working on extending Linux Spotify to everyone eventually.

Interested? Head over to the Spotify preview downloads page for instructions on installation. You’ll be able to stream music from Spotify in no time!

I couldn’t try this app out because I live in America, but I’m sure you European types can give us some feedback about it in the comments below.

Conclusion

These are far from the only radio apps for Linux; you could also, for example, check out Last.fm and the many applications that can stream from it.

Can you think of any other cool Linux radio applications? As always, please share them in the comments below. Also be sure to suggest cool online radio stations and plans for global domination.


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