Sunday, August 15, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [August 14th]” plus 7 more “Cool Websites and Tools [August 14th]” plus 7 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [August 14th]

Posted: 14 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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TxtBear – Are you looking for a way to easily share documents on the Internet? If yes, then emailing is out of the question because you might not have the email addresses of all the recipients. A solution to this is presented by TxtBear. TxtBear is a beta web service which lets users upload document files and then makes them available in its own document reader. Read more: TxtBear: Share Any Document File Type In A Virtual Text Reader. – is a free to use web service that lets you locate places through their Google Maps image. You find places just like you do in Google Maps: either by typing in the exact address, or typing in the wider location and zooming into the place. Read more: Easily Share Any Location Map Online.



TweJay – If you are bored with reading your Twitter stream, then for a change you could have fun listening to it. TweJay is a neat tool that helps you do exactly that. It plays the tweet in an audio player which tells you what the Twitter user had to say, in a charming voice. Read more: TweJay: Listen To Twitter Search Results.



YouTube Leanback – YouTube is great for watching videos but if you are a lazy person like me, sometimes you don't even want to make the effort to browse the videos. YouTube has a solution for that too. YouTubeLeanBack is a really chilled TV-like way of watching videos. Read more: YouTubeLeanBack: Relaxed Way To Watch YouTube Videos.



FullFeeds – RSS Feeds are a great way to display and read content and are used by millions of users every day. Most of the tools that create RSS feeds just end up creating partial RSS feeds. Sometimes you need to display the complete content of a webpage and FullFeeds is a tool that helps you do that. Read more: FullFeeds: Turn Partial RSS Feeds Into Full Feeds.


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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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How To Schedule Emails & Delay Replies in Gmail with Boomerang (400 Invites)

Posted: 14 Aug 2010 07:31 PM PDT

Gmail is, without a doubt, the best email service ever.  With its huge storage space, its Labs features and its search functions, it consistently beats the pants off its rivals.

But saying that, there are still some features missing from Gmail that would make it an even more perfect service for me.  Now a company called Baydin has decided to add some of those features themselves in the form of a Firefox extension or Chrome plugin called Boomerang.  Having tried it out, I hope that Gmail will soon integrate these features themselves as they are simply brilliant.

And what is even more brilliant is that MakeUseOf has secured 400 invites to this private beta so you can try it out for yourself.

What Boomerang basically does is add two new buttons to your Gmail interface.   When you read an email it adds this :

And when you answer an email, you will now see this button :

Let’s start with the first one.   Let’s say you’ve read an email and you realise that you don’t need it at that precise moment.   Perhaps it is a hotel reservation or dinner date which you don’t need to know about right now but you need to be reminded of nearer the time.  But you also don’t want it sitting there clogging up your inbox.  So what to do?   Just click the “Boomerang” button and you will see this :

Simply choose when you would like the email to return.   If you want a specific time, just choose the last option and this box will come up.   Simply enter the exact date and time you want the email back in your inbox.

The email will then disappear from your inbox and be returned again at the requested time, unread and tagged with a “Boomerang” Gmail label.

The second option – “send later” – enables you to delay your replies so that they are sent to people at a certain time.  Maybe you want to fool your boss into thinking that you are working hard on a Friday afternoon, when in reality you’re in the pub propping up the bar.   Or perhaps you want to ensure that a very important email arrives in someone’s inbox at a time when they are guaranteed to see it?   This is where the “send later” function comes in very handy.

When you have typed your reply, press the “save now” button to ensure that your reply has been saved in its entirety by Gmail.   Then press the “send later” button.   This is what you will see :

This menu works on the same principle as the other one.  Simply choose the time when you would like your email to be sent.   Again, you can choose a specific date and time simply by choosing the last option and filling in the box that pops up.   Your email will then sit in your Gmail drafts folder until the time comes for it to be sent by Boomerang.   The app warns you that if you open the email in your drafts folder before it is sent, you may end up cancelling the send request.  So take care if you need to re-read the email for any reason.

Boomerang, in a nutshell, takes care of two of my most wanted Gmail features and they are already helping me a lot in my constant quest to battle and tame my inbox.   They quite simply make Gmail an even more kickass email service than it already is.

There is also a Boomerang version for Outlook but this one isn’t free.   After a 14 day trial, the price is $14.95.  For businesses, this might be worth it but for private individuals, I am not so sure.

Here is Boomerang’s YouTube video about their features, which basically repeats what I have just been talking about.   But maybe some of you prefer a visual explanation so here you go :

So now you are probably panting at the thought of installing this baby into your Gmail account.   Since this is currently a private beta, you need an invite and MakeUseOf has secured invites for 400 lucky readers.  So you need to be quick!   Simply go here and in the “already have an invite code?“, type “makeuseof” (without the speech marks).  You will then be taken to the download page.

If you are unlucky and didn’t manage to get an invite, it seems that you can request an invite directly from Baydin themselves.   Just follow them on Twitter then send them a tweet requesting an invite.   They say they will issue one within one day.

So why not test Boomerang for yourself then let us know in the comments what you think.  Don’t you agree that this is an amazing function to be added to Gmail?

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How To Use PayPal’s Mass Payment Feature To Save Money

Posted: 14 Aug 2010 06:30 PM PDT

paypal online paymentsHere at MakeUseOf, we have recently had a revelation when it comes to using PayPal to pay staff writers: it turns out you can save massive amounts of money in PayPal fees by using the bulk batch payment manager (known as Mass Payment) rather than sending separate Paypal online payments.

We had no idea we would save quite so much by using this method. And because we know other people will benefit from using the bulk payment option, we felt we had to spread the word. We know here's a lot of people out there making online Paypal wage payments and possibly paying unnecessary fees.

So this is what Mass Payment is all about.

Typical PayPal fees within the same country are 1.9-2.9% + USD$0.30. When you cross borders, international PayPal fees can creep up to 3.9% + USD$0.30. So, a payment for US$100 could wind up with a fee of US$4.20, which normally gets paid by the receiver. A much smaller fee is applied to Mass Payments. Any online freelancers getting paid a full-time wage this way will surely have noticed the significant impact of these fees on their final wage. But, they’re completely unnecessary – we just need to get the people making payments to update their ways.

By the way, don’t get too cranky with PayPal for these fees. Ever seen the fees banks charge to make international transfers? PayPal are really just passing on bank fees and other processing fees to do with single payments. You’re no doubt saving PayPal money too by suggesting your boss make Mass Payments.

So, let’s talk it through step-by-step so you can simply hand your boss this article and they’ll know exactly what they need to do. While you’re there, mention that by using Mass Payment their accounting records will be much easier to navigate.

Firstly, the sender will need to have a verified PayPal Premier or Business account. It’s easy to upgrade an existing account to Premier or Business, but it does require verifying the email address and bank account used with the sender’s PayPal account.

Secondly, the sender will need to ensure they have sufficient funds in their PayPal account. Credit cards can’t be used for Mass Payments.

Mass Payments can be made to any email address – if a recipient doesn’t have a PayPal account using that exact email address, the address can be easily added to an existing PayPal account. So, all the sender needs is to know the email address and how much they want to send. Senders should also note that all payments in a Mass Payment need to be made in the same currency as each other.

The sender needs to create a tab delimited file containing the email addresses, currency and amounts to be paid. From Excel, this is something you can create easily by saving as “Text (Tab Delimited)”. Put email addresses in the first column, payment amounts in the second column and the currency code in the third column (see PayPal for the codes). An optional fourth column lets you put in some sort of identifier for each person for your own accounting records. Another optional fifth column allows you to send a personal message to that recipient.

paypal mass pay feature

To access Mass Payment, click the “Mass Payment” link at the bottom of the page when you’re logged in to PayPal.

paypal mass pay feature

This takes you to an overview of Mass Payment, including guides, fees, codes and examples. Click on “Make a Mass Payment” to get started.

paypal mass payment feature

The Mass Payment file upload is straightforward and easy to use. It’s simple to add a generic subject and body to the email sent with all payments. Note that it’s also possible to use the PayPal API to send Mass Payments, so if you’re a larger company (or you just prefer automation) there’s that option available to you as well.

Mass Payments are processed instantly and available for recipients to use or withdraw immediately.

A word of caution: Ensure your recipient is trustworthy and has fulfilled their service or delivered their goods because PayPal Mass Payments can’t be cancelled.

If the recipient has a personal PayPal account in the same country as the sender (and the sender is not using a credit or debit card to make the payment), sending payments to them is free the regular way. If the recipient has a Premier or Business account, or they are in a different country to the sender, the fees are lower with a Mass Payment. With regular payments, the sender can choose whether to pay the fees or let the recipient pay them, however with Mass Payment the sender must pay the PayPal fees. So, discuss with the recipients which method is best before you send a Mass Payment.

If you use PayPal regularly, check out these other MakeUseOf articles on Paypal:

If you’re making regular international PayPal payments to people who you know you owe money to, this is definitely the way to go. Get set up now and save your team money!

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Here Is How You Can Try Chrome Web Apps Right Now

Posted: 14 Aug 2010 03:31 PM PDT

chrome web appsAs you might know, Google Chrome OS (with Chromium, its Open Source Cousin) is scheduled to be released some time later this year. The interface to the OS is more or less like the Chrome web browser you use these days. Creators tout advantages like sandbox runs, always updated OS and hassle free usage.

However, people have been wondering how in the world would you be able to use such an OS for all the tasks that you might need to do on your computer? Well if Google had its way, you would see Google services for everything. With Docs and Spreadsheets being constantly improved, PDF support and viewing being added, Gmail getting better by the day and photo editing support within Picasa, they have many of the common uses covered.

Now, add to that the fact that the Chrome web browser lets you install apps a lot like you do on your mobile phones. Yes, you read that right, there are plans for a Chrome Web Store, that will be housing web apps, games and utilities you will be able to add to your browser and do all kinds of things.

While we have showed you how you can try out the Chrome OS, you don't have to go that far to try out Chrome Web Apps. All you need is the Dev Channel of Google Chrome. Google Chrome web browser, if you don't know, has a number of channels. The Dev channel gets updates faster than the BETA channel, but is believed to be less thoroughly tested.

However, I always run the Dev channel and from my experience I can say that if you are not running a production critical task, you can perhaps run the Dev channel safely (there might be an odd crash or two).

Get The Dev Channel

If you are starting anew with Google Chrome, subscribing to a particular channel is easy. All you need to do is download and run the appropriate installer and it will install the Google Chrome version corresponding to that particular channel.

Here are the links to various installers:

If however you already have Google Chrome installed on your computer and you decide to switch channels, you should back up your profile data and then install Google Chrome from the required channel.

Enable Web Apps Support

Once you have the Dev channel running on your computer, you still need to enable support for Web Apps. Remember that this is an experimental feature for now so keep it in mind if you see stability issues (it has been working like a charm for me).

Here is what you need to do:

  • Add the “–enable-apps” and “–apps-panel” switch to the Chrome executable. You can either run chrome.exe from the command line with this switch or create a batch file for the same. An even better solution is to modify the Chrome shortcut to include the switch, within the target box, just like this:

chrome web apps

  • Fire up Chrome and it should start with web apps support enabled. To verify, just hit “Ctrl + T” and you should see a floating panel instead of the new tab’s page!

How To Use Web Apps

After you have switched to the Dev Channel and enabled support for Web Apps, you will want to play with some web apps and see how they feel and behave.

Head over to the extensions manager inside Google Chrome. Enter chrome://extensions in the address bar.

  • Expand the Developer Mode link towards the top right corner.

chrome web apps

  • Click on “Load Unpacked Extensions”. Browse to Users/<your username>/AppData/Local/Google/Chrome/Application/<Chrome version>/Resources folder (for Windows users, Mac Users look inside ~/Library/Application Support/Google/Chrome/, Linux users - ~/.config/google-chrome/). There you will find 3 default apps provided by Google for Gmail, Docs and Calendar. Click on any of these folders and choose OK. This will install the web app.

web internet tools apps

  • Now hit Ctrl + T and you should see something like this :

web internet tools apps

  • Click on Gmail and it will load as a separate Application tab towards the left of your tab bar.

Go on, give it a try and let us know how you like it. Would it be possible to create web apps that will replace desktop apps and let you use and work only from your browser?  It is also easy to create your own Chrome web apps but that is however best left for another day!

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Hot Tech Deals [Aug 14th]

Posted: 14 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. TODAY ONLY Dell FW448 Bluetooth Optical Wireless – Black $12.99
  2. Samsung P2570HD 25in Hybrid LCD HDTV & Monitor (HD Tuner) $279.99 via code JDS4636
  3. Dell Vostro 1014 Intel Core 2 Duo T6570 2.1GHz 15.6in Laptop 3GB/320GB $519
  4. Dell Vostro 1015 Intel Core 2 Duo T6570 2.1GHz 15.6in Laptop (2GB/250GB/Win7) $469
  5. Sharp LC-60E88UN 60 inch LCD HDTV (1080p, 240Hz) $1599 via code QDFL8GW9D?SLMZ
  6. Lenovo Coupon Code up to 15% off Lenovo ThinkPad Laptops via code USPTHINKDEALS
  7. New ShoeMall Coupon Code 20% Off + Free Shipping via code BK2SCHOOL
  8. TODAY ONLY Vizio M370NV 37 inch Razer LED HDTV (1080P) $519.99
  9. Sony SA-VS350H 5.1/7.1-Channel Home Theater Speaker System $399.99 via code SONYSAVS350H
  10. Antec Six Hundred Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case (200mm Top Fan & 3x 120mm Fans) $57.95AR via code HARDOCP811C
  11. Dell Inspiron 15 Intel Core i3-350M 2.26GHz 15.6in Laptop (3GB/250GB/Win7) $499.99 via code ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C
  12. Dell Inspiron 14z Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 ULV 14in Laptop (4GB/500GB/2yr Warranty) $700.79 via codes 6KWMM0JFLZK0W? and ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C
  13. Dell Inspiron 17 Intel Dual-Core T4500 2.3GHz 17in Laptop (2GB/250GB) $449.99
  14. Dell Inspiron 14R Intel Core i3-350M 2.26GHz 14in Laptop (4GB/320GB/Win7) $549.99 via code ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C
  15. Dell Inspiron 15R Intel Core i3-330M 2.26GHz 15.6in Laptop (4GB/320GB/Win7) $549.99 via code ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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How To Make Single-Click Links for Software Installation [Ubuntu]

Posted: 14 Aug 2010 12:31 PM PDT

Blogging about technology, it seems, includes a great deal of re-explaining yourself. Installing software on Ubuntu, for example, is straightforward: just open up your package manager and find the software you’re looking for. Then click install. Or you could type “sudo apt-get install programname” on the command line.

Saying that once is fine. Saying it every single time I want to help a user install a piece of software is a pain.

As it turns out, that’s a pain I could have avoided.

In my article about minimalist text editors I pointed Ubuntu users toward the repositories. I could have, however, simple told users to click here to install Pyroom. With a link like that readers can install a given program in a single click.

This isn’t just useful for bloggers, however. If you have friends using Ubuntu you can use this same structure to easily share programs with your friends and families, provided that they’re in the Ubuntu repositories. It’s called AptURL, and it’s as easy to use as sharing a link.

Getting Started

Let’s say you were explaining to your friend how to install Thunderbird. The simplest way to do this is to construct an AptURL link and send it to them.

Constructing an AptURL link is very similar to a standard hyperlink, only instead of including an address you need only include “apt:” followed by the name of the package you want to install. So, for installing Thunderbird the link would be “apt:thunderbird“. If you’re sending this link via email all you need to do is use the “link” button on your email client to create a link to “apt:thunderbird”.

Alternatively, if you’re into writing HTML by hand, you’d need to write something like this:

<a href=”apt:thunderbird”>Click here to install Thunderbird</a>

That line looks like this: Click here to install Thunderbird. Pretty cool, eh?

Want the link to install multiple applications? That’s easy enough; just separate the programs with a comman. For example:

<a href=”apt:thunderbird,pyroom,vlc”>Click here to install Thunderbird, Pyroom and VLC</a>

creates a link for installing Thunderbird, PyRoom and VLC.

It’s worth nothing that such links only work for software that’s in the repository. This is good from a security standpoint – I wouldn’t want links to viruses to function – but it does mean that not every app on the web can be installed this way. Still, I think it’s pretty cool.

Using A Link

Okay, so making these links is easy. Are they just as easy to use?

Easier. Over at Boulder Community Computers I recently profiled Thunderbird. At the bottom of the article I included download links for Windows and Mac, and an AptURL link for Ubuntu:

If I click this link I first see a warning message, due to the fact that I use Chrome instead of Firefox. The warning looks like this:

I click “launch application“, type my password, and Thunderbird begins downloading:

Not only is Thunderbird downloaded, but all dependencies needed to use Thunderbird are installed as well. Not that the end-user necessarily needs to be aware of that; the process is elegant enough to leave these details hidden unless I want to see them. Eventually the installation occurs and my software is installed.

And that’s that; I now have Thunderbird on my computer.


I wish Windows and Mac had technology this cool; sadly they don’t. At least I can make use of such links in my Ubuntu articles, not to mention emails to friend and family.

What do you guys think? Is this something you could see simplifying tech support? Do you like it when sites offer such links, or do you prefer to install things from the command line as God intended? Perhaps most importantly, do you have any links to cool software to share?

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19+ Challenging Free Online Puzzle Games You Have To Play

Posted: 14 Aug 2010 10:31 AM PDT

free online puzzle gamesHave some time to kill and want to play some free and fun online puzzle games? There is no end to the number of free multi-level puzzle games out there that will challenge you. From physics to word games, from math to logic – there is something in this list for everyone.

Read on to discover over 20 addictive free and fun online puzzle games that will have you glued to your computer screen, as you try to make it from one level to the next. Why not give your brain a workout, and have a little fun while you’re at it.

Doodle God

Doodle God is as unique a puzzle as they come. Start with the four main elements, earth, wind, water and fire, and discover 111 more elements through different combinations.

free online puzzle games

Armor Picross 2

Cheesy music aside, this is one of the best Picross games out there. Make more than 5 mistakes and you have to start all over again. The game consists of 100 levels and 5 difficulties.

play puzzle games online

Super Stacker 2

Stack different shapes on top of each other as fast as possible without the stacks falling over. Don’t forget to check out its predecessor, Super Stacker.

play puzzle games online

Perfect Balance 2

Take a slightly different approach to stacking by using a series of shapes, which you can pick up, rotate and balance. Don’t forge to check out its predecessor, Perfect Balance.

play puzzle games online

Doodle Physics

For a reverse experience in stacking, try this gravity defying game, where the aim of the game is to stack different shapes in outerspace.

puzzle games online free

Rotate & Roll

Use the arrow keys, rotate the screen to get the little ball to the big bubble. Watch out for spiky balls on the way. The game consists of 40 levels and a level editor.

puzzle games online free

Cog Factory

Release matching cogs into a machine next to each other. Lining up three cogs of the same colour will make them disappear. If the cogs overflow, the game will end. Rotate the machine using the arrow keys and use the spacebar to release the cogs.

puzzle games online free


Rotate shapes so that matching colours are joined together. Try to get it done in the minimum number of moves allotted to each level.

The Right Mix

More entertaiment than puzzle, but this game deserves a mention. Play the part of a bartender and mix your own drinks, add lemon, ice, shake, and give it a try. The bartender's reactions to some of the more potent mixes is hilarious.

Factory Balls 1, 2 & 3

Factory Balls is an addictive game of logic in which you are given a white ball and have to replicate the example coloured ball by dipping it in paint, spray painting it, growing grass and plants on it and more. The first installment consists of 14 levels, the second of 30, and the third of 30.

Ricochet Kills 2

Shoot as many spies in each level, using as few bullets as possible. The bullets ricochet of walls and ledges, making it possible to kill more than one spy at a time. The game consists of 50 levels. Also be sure to check out the games predecessor for more ricocheting, albeit violent, fun.


If you prefer bombs to bullets, try out Fragger. Lob grenades at the enemy, blowing them up in as few throws as possible. The game consists of 30 levels and 3 difficulties.

Vase Breaker

If you have a total aversion to violence, Vase Breaker is for you. Break as many vases as possible, using as few stones as possible. The stones bounce of walls and ledges making it easy to hit more than one vase at a time. The game consists of 50 levels.

Light Bot

Light Bot is a cute puzzle in which you guide a robot through obstacles, by giving it commands. Get the robot to the blue panel and light it up.

Fantastic Contraption 2

Another great physics based puzzle in which you have to use various tools to create a vehicle that gets your wheel to the goal. Be sure to check out its predecessor.

Red Remover

Remove all the red blocks from the screen by clicking on them. Sounds easy, but the further you go in the game it isn't. Once green blocks are introduced, make sure you don't lose any of them. The game consists of 45 levels.

Funny Farm

If you prefer word puzzles, you'll love Funny Farm. Try to complete the map of words that are connected to each other. The puzzle starts with just one phrase. You fill in the rest. Also be sure to check out the similar, but smaller game, Lateral.

Electric Box

Physics buffs will love Electric Box. In each level, you are given a combination of items, which you must place on the board, in order to conduct electricity and supply the target with power.


The graphics may be simple but the game isn't. Slide tiles around to move from one room to the next, retrieve a red key and go through the door to the next level.

free online puzzle games

What are your favourite free online puzzle games? Let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Patrick Hoesly

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CleanMyMac Giveaway Winners

Posted: 14 Aug 2010 10:00 AM PDT

Your precious Mac running a little sluggishly? Here are 10 lucky winners who will be able to bring new life to their Macs!

Also, don’t forget that MacPaw has graciously provided MakeUseOf readers with a 25% discount code for CleanMyMac. So for those who didn’t manage to grab a license today, you can still visit the MacPaw Store and purchase a lifetime license for yourself at a fraction of the price. Just enter MAKEUSEOF in the coupon code field.

Now, let’s unveil the 10 giveaway winners.

  1. Adam Hamidou
  2. Louise Maine
  3. Himanshu Rohilla
  4. Nathan Veeraraghavan
  5. Srivatsan Venkatesh
  6. Justin Smith
  7. Riollet
  8. Neil Attard
  9. Viviane Sanchez
  10. Kevin Soney

Congratulations! Your license will be sent via email. Keep an eye on your inbox!

MakeUseOf would like to thank Sofia from MacPaw for her generosity while participating in this giveaway. Interesting in sponsoring? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via email.

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