Thursday, August 19, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [August 18th]” plus 10 more “Cool Websites and Tools [August 18th]” plus 10 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [August 18th]

Posted: 18 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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NYC Mate Maps – New York is a big and busy place. Knowing your way around is very important; if lost, you can spend a lot of time getting back on track. This is why NYC Mate Maps is an extremely helpful tool to have for New York residents. Read more: NYC Mate Maps: Detailed Map Of New York With Transit info (iPhone App).


FontSquirrel – Although there are many free fonts available online, many of them are restricted to private non-commercial projects. Developers spend a good deal of time looking for free fonts which can be used in commercial projects. Now thanks to "Font Squirrel" they will no longer have to spend hours looking for the fonts they need. Read more: FontSquirrel: Get Great Fonts Free To Use In Commercial Projects.



OpenSpot – Technology is at its best when applied to solve real life problems. OpenSpot is an app for Android phones that aims to help people with the parking problem. Once downloaded, OpenSpot shows you open parking spaces near your location. Read more: OpenSpot: Find Open Parking Spots Using Your Android Phone.



Poyozo – With so many social networks, email accounts, calendars, messaging services, photo storage and tons of other web services around, an average user often feels a lack of control and organization over their personal data. Poyozo is a Firefox add-on that gives you that control by letting you download data from any of these websites. Read more: Poyozo: Download & Organize Data From Multiple Web Services [Firefox].



ResizeMyBrowser – Testing a website in different window sizes is an integral part of web design. Typically, it requires viewing the website on different monitors, screen resolutions and manually resizing the size of your browser. However, ResizeMyBrowser is a tool that makes the process really easy and painless. Read more: ResizeMyBrowser: Quickly Test Website In Multiple Browser Resolutions.


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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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Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]

Posted: 18 Aug 2010 07:37 PM PDT


Check out the top picks from MakeUseOf Geeky Fun during the last week.

  1. Who Said The Parallel Port Was Dead? (Pic)
  2. No Google, I didn't even remotely mean that! (Pic)
  3. Snail Mail Literally (Pic)
  4. Twitter: The Movie (Video)
  5. Google Product Graveyard(Pic)
  6. Journalism Warning Labels (Pic)
  7. Playing Music For Friends (Pic)

If you would like to keep up with all latest Geeky Fun additions, please subscribe to the Geeky Fun feed here. You can also subscribe and get the latest additions via email.

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3 Good Online Sources For Free Ebooks & A Free Ereader App

Posted: 18 Aug 2010 06:31 PM PDT

completely free ebooksIt's hard to judge the state of play with ebooks. There are conflicting standards, various formats, multiple cost models, and an awful lot of material which simply doesn't find its way out to the world as a result.

I'm going to cut through some of the confusion, and show you how to get, keep, and consume free ebooks. It's a fairly quick skate across the surface though, so you'll need to do some more work yourself.

Just to clarify, ebooks, for the sake of this discussion, are books which are available electronically, rather than printed on dead trees, and which can be read on an electronic device of some sort. And completely free ebooks, just now, are those which are legitimately available for free. Other options exist. We all know that.

Getting Free Ebooks

completely free ebooks

The largest source of out of copyright ebooks is Project Gutenberg. If you want a book from before your parents were born, this is the place to start.

Books are available in a number of formats, categories and languages.

For a slightly different view of what's available, you also might like to take a look at manybooks. They have a more modern approach to things. Some categories are not appropriate for everyone. Take care.

free ebooks online

If you're looking for some niche products, then you need to use the web to search things out. For instance, the nice people at Baen Books have a free ebook library for science fiction.

There are plenty of other options out there for broad or narrow fields of study. Google is your friend. Be cautious of the sites that require you to sign up, and watch what you download.

Managing Free Ebooks

Once you have some sources for ebooks, you need to give some thought to taking care of them. If you are ever going to have a decent stash of electronic tomes, then you need to think about how to go about it. I'm going to quickly show you how to make use of a product called Calibre, which has already been covered in some depth by Simon and Justin. Calibre is huge. We're just going to nibble off a little corner.

Specifically, I want to show you how to organise your books, and then how to convert them. You'll see why by the time we get to the end of this.


Let's quickly grab a few books from a couple of sites first: War & Peace from Gutenberg, The Body Snatcher from ManyBooks, and the highly recommended Sheepfarmer's Daughter via Baen.

Download and install Calibre.

free ebooks online

Start Calibre, and from the main toolbar click on the Add Books… button.

Browse to wherever you downloaded the books, and add them one by one.

Once the books are imported, you'll be able to see them all listed in the main screen, and you can sort and filter in a number of different ways. The important thing here though is to add whatever metadata is appropriate, such as the name of the author, and the title. Calibre does its best to work out what to add, but you need to help.


free ebooks online

Right-click one of the titles, select the metadata edit option.

Fill in the data as best you can. Once your collection starts to grow, you will find you can select items such as authors from the combo box without typing them in full.

You can rate the books between zero and five stars, and attach each of the titles to series information if you wish.

There is also an option to download the metadata for the book from the Internet. I had mixed results, but it's worth a shot.

Once you have finished with all the metadata, you'll be able to filter, sort and search your books effectively. Not much use with three books, but you can use your imagination.

free ebooks online

Reading Free Ebooks

One of the great things about Calibre is the way it can convert between file formats.

The format that you want will depend almost entirely on the device you want to use to read your books. You can choose, but I just need to use an example. First though, Calibre specifically states support for a large number of devices directly, and supports enough file formats to cover most anything else.

Calibre can also manage the device syncing in many cases, but we're not going to do that today.

We're going to convert each of the files we downloaded, and for the example we want to change them all to .PDB files, so that I can transfer them to my device. Find something that works for you, and stick with it as much as you can.


So, War and Peace from HTML to PDB: Right-click the book, choose Convert books, then Convert individually.

completely free ebooks

On the left are a big list of option categories. Leave all of those alone, and look over to the right and select the file type you want, set any other sub-options you need, and then click on OK. Give the system a minute to deal with your request, and then that's it. Convert the rest.

Browse to the location of the library, and take a look. Additional files exist. Copy or synch them to your device, install the reader application, and you're all set. You can also use the built-in Calibre reader on your PC for most formats.

So which parts of this are confusing? Any need for a deeper article on parts of it? Any questions? Let me know in the comments.

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How To Find Out What Marketing Websites Know About You

Posted: 18 Aug 2010 04:31 PM PDT

what websites know about youThe Wall Street Journal has recently done a feature on website marketing and tracking and more specifically the information that certain websites share about your profile and habits. While cookies/beacons/trackers are nothing new, their article does shed some light on the extent of the issue and the privacy issues at hand. They also have an awesome infographic on some of the major privacy offenders.

When you visit a website or click on a link you are (possibly) telling a marketing organization a lot about you. Where you live, what you are in the market for and a lot about your demographics.

Recent technologies have allowed marketing companies, so called “data warehousers”, to take this to another level with cross-site information sharing which work together to compile your demographic information and entering the data in massive databases. When you register for a site or indicate a certain preference, there is a chance that the site has a deal with these data harvesters who compile a marketing profile on you.


what websites know about you

BlueKai is a large data warehousing company which sells your marketing data to advertisers. One use of BlueKai is to customize advertising depending on your affluence and potential purchases. On the screenshot above, the information in the ‘In Market’ category was frightfully accurate for me.

The site takes information on websites you visit and extrapolates what you might be interested in buying. Looked at some details on a car recently? BlueKai, and other organizations, can figure out that you may be in the market for some new wheels and then target ads based on that preference. Do you want a credit card? BlueKai already knows how much you make and one of their client sites can show you cards which are tailored to your lifestyle.

Through their website you can opt-out of their specific tracker and also specify that a charity will get money “based on advertising dollars gained from your feedback.”

The Big G

personal information on websites

Whether you love them or hate them, there is no denying that Google is one of the biggest warehousers of data. They can offer many services for free because they gather up information on you and then sell that information to advertisers, allowing them to market to you more effectively.

The Google Dashboard allows you to see, in one place, what Google services you use and what Google knows about you. It has been out for a long time but it is still good to review the site every once in a while.

Start Panicking!

personal information on websites

Did you know that 3rd party websites can tell what other websites you have been visiting? For some this is a big meh, but you can tell a lot about a person from what websites they visit. Have you been visiting baby naming websites? Sounds like you are in the market for some new baby products shortly. View Start Panic for a sample of how this privacy leak works.


what websites know about you

The EFF has this great tool to let you know how ‘unique’ your browser is. Through a combination of browser and plugin versions, screen size, and what fonts you have installed, you are actually very identifiable without even entering any personally identifiable information.

Marketers don’t necessarily care what your name or exact location is, they just want to know that certain data is valid for a unique person.

Defend Yourself

So what can you do to defend yourself? There are actually a number of options at hand.

Going down the road, and assuming marketers are truthful in saying that they won’t track you, you can ‘opt-out’ of tracking. Google has a tool to opt out of tracking as well as the major marketing brands.

Some other things you can do is to empty your cache and cookie stores on your computer, or have a plugin do it for you. NoScript is a great Firefox plugin that will block cookies from 3rd party sites.

Being a member of a global community on the web innately opens you up to some sort of tracking. However, I think it is good to at least be diligent in minimizing any type of ‘privacy’ invasion by marketers, because it is true when they say that advertising works better on you than you think. After all, they already know where you live.

Image Credit : jeffhall2069

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4 Android Phone Applications That Every Programmer Will Love

Posted: 18 Aug 2010 02:31 PM PDT

For most programmers, programming isn’t just a job or a hobby, it’s really a way of life. When a programmer is faced with a new gadget, the first thought is usually “how can I program it?” Programmers live to tweak, customize and hack the behavior of their gadgets, and this is especially true when it comes to the mobile device that they live, work and play with every single day.

Each new language has a learning curve – it’s a process of learning the commands, functions and structure of the language, practicing and then building applications. Here at MUO, we’ve covered some great apps for learning programming skills, like Alice and Scratch.

For programmers who own an Android phone, it is especially tempting to experiment, because anyone is allowed to write an application that runs on the Android OS.  These days there are a few fantastic apps for programmers and I’m going to share 4 of them with you today.

Go Mad With Frink

Frink is a programming language named after the quirky scientist, John Frink, from The Simpsons. The language was created by Alan Eliasen to serve as an advanced method to perform calculations, including dealing with measurements and dimensions of various shapes. Alan now offers a Frink programming environment for the Android.

Visit his website for some of the Android specific functions you can use within this app.

The first page you’ll see is the editing environment where you can write up the Frink script you’d like to test. Thankfully, he has included a number of example scripts so that if you’re new to Frink, you can see how the language is structured. Click “Run” and a pop-up opens with the output of your program.

Frink is fun to play around with to create scripts for calculations and functions, and Alan does include some Android specific functions, but you aren’t going to be able to perform any advanced display features using Frink. However, if your goal is to learn the Frink programming language in your spare time, this is the app for you.

Create Your First Android App With iProgram

One of my favorite programming applications on the Android is iProgram. Once you sign up for an online account, you can get started creating highly functional scripts that actually work just like any other app on your Android. There are great examples provided that can make creating your first app a piece of cake.

Here, I’ve used examples to create an application that displays my phone’s Wi-Fi status and also creates a two-button menu.

When you install the iPhone app on your Android phone, you can sync all of your online scripts with your phone. From the phone, you can view your scripts and run them on your Android.

Here is my first app written on iProgram.

This application took barely 15 minutes to put together. Some of the other examples show some pretty cool things you can do – all you have to do is tweak and combine the various functions within the code to suit your needs. Why search for the perfect app when you can write your own?

Learn Programming Concepts With AndroMaze

The next couple of apps I’d like to cover are more for younger programming students. The first, called AndroMaze is a blast to play, especially if you like the idea of programming robots using a sequence of functions and then letting the robot run through those commands. With AndroMaze, everything is customizable, including the maze itself, as you can see here.

Each “level” in the game consists of open space, walls and blocks, or “goals” that your little Droid-bot is supposed to collect. The goal of the game is to program the robot to work through the maze and collect each goal. Commands are go straight, turn left, or turn right.

While the concept is simple, it’s actually an excellent game to teach younger programming students about the concept of sequential logic and subroutines. The program is entered by dragging symbols into the “Prog” field, and the clicking on the “run” button.

Watch as your little robot follows your every command. You can even create subroutines that the robot can repeat – what better way to teach young programmers about smart programming techniques!

Practice Programming In Logo With Android Logo

Another great programming app for anyone learning about programming concepts is called Android Logo on the Android Market. Logo was a 1967 programming language as an educational tool, but for anyone familiar with Turtle Graphics, this programming app is a fantastic way to learn how to create some very cool graphics using scripting.

If you aren’t familiar with Logo or Turtle Graphics, just check out the page on Wikipedia for a few examples and references.

Just enter your Logo code in the box at the bottom of the main screen, and when you click “Run” you’ll see the active program running in the “Drawing panel.”

This little app is very addictive – you’ll find yourself looking for ways to create more intricate and interesting patterns and designs. It’s actually quite Zen after a while.

Have you ever played around with any cool programming apps on the Android? Share some of your favorites, or offer feedback on these Android apps in the comments section below.

Image Credit: Sasan Said

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Hot Tech Deals [Aug 18th]

Posted: 18 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. Western Digital Elements SE 750GB Portable External Hard Drive $79.99
  2. Dell Vostro 3300 Intel Core i3-350M 2.26GHz 13.3in Laptop (Aluminum, 2GB/250GB) $599
  3. Sony SA-VS350H 5.1/7.1-Channel Home Theater Speaker System $399.99 via code SONYSAVS350H
  4. Lenovo Coupon Code up to 15% off Lenovo ThinkPad Laptops via code USPTHINKDEALS
  5. HHI iPad Flip Leather Case with Magnetic Kick Stand + Screen Protector $12.99 via code ipadflipkstand
  6. Netgear ReadyNAS DUO 1TB Network Attached Storage NAS Gigabit $199.99AR
  7. Samsung 2494LW 24in Widescreen LCD Monitor (1920×1080) $169 via code $1PRQNRRD0LB0?
  8. Samsung EcoGreen F2 HD154UI 1.5TB 3.5in SATA Internal Hard Drive (2-PACK) $136.98 via code CLASS15
  9. Nokia E63 Smartphone Business Edition (Unlocked, Quad-Band GSM, 3G) w/ Bluetooth Headset $129.99 via code V1CP85RGKTF72M
  10. Dell Inspiron 14z Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 ULV 14in Laptop (4GB/500GB/2yr Warranty) $700.79 via codes 6KWMM0JFLZK0W? and ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C
  11. Sharp LC-60E88UN 60 inch LCD HDTV (1080p, 240Hz) $1599 via code QDFL8GW9D?SLMZ
  12. Apple iBook G4 1.33GHz 12.1in Laptop (REFURB/1GB/40GB) $269.99 via code APPLE
  13. Logitech Z520 2.0ch Multimedia Speakers $59.99AR

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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The Easy Way To Automatically Add Downloaded Movies To iTunes [Mac]

Posted: 18 Aug 2010 12:31 PM PDT

adding movies to itunesAfter setting his Mac to automatically import downloaded music to iTunes, my friend asked me whether a similar method could be used for adding movies to iTunes. He wanted to customize his system so that after he clicks the download link, he doesn’t have to do anything and the movies will automatically find their way to his iPod, ready to accompany him on his long trips.

I told him that the basic setup is the same, but we would need to find a way to automatically convert the movies before adding them to iTunes as not all movie formats are supported by iDevices.

A few experiments later, I found two ways to achieve the goal: the easy way and the geeky way. I’m still struggling with the scripts and command lines within the geeky way, but the easy way is easy enough for anybody to do. If you want to try, here are the steps to do it.

Setting Up The Download Location

The first step is setting up all related applications – like browsers, torrent clients and download managers – to save downloaded movies to a specific folder. Let’s name the folder “To Be Converted” or something similar. Later on, we will set up the automation to convert every movie file inside this folder to iPod-friendly format and send them to iTunes.

As discussed in the previous article, setting a specific download location for specific type of files could be done easily in Transmission by setting up a group.

adding movies to itunes

However, please make sure to set Transmission to keep incomplete downloads in a separate location so that the system will only convert complete movies.

how to convert movies to itunes

For applications with no download filter feature, we can use “Folder Action” (or other housekeeping apps) to monitor download folders and move every movie file to the “To Be Converted” folder.

To do that, open Automator and choose “Folder Action“.

how to convert movies to itunes

Set Folder Action to monitor the “Downloads” folder (or any other location where you usually save your downloads). Then drag and drop “Filter Finder Items” action from the library and set it to filter every movie file. Add another action to move the filtered items.

how to convert movies to itunes

Finally, save the Folder Action by going to the “File – Save” menu.

converting movies to itunes

Setting Up Automatic Movie Conversion

After making sure that all future downloaded movies will go to one folder, it’s time to set up the automatic movie conversion.

We are going to use Automator one more time. Create another Folder Action and set it to monitor the “To Be Converted” folder.

Drag and drop the “Export Movies” action from the library.

converting movies to itunes

Choose “iPod” for the file format and “Automatically Add to iTunes” as the destination folder. If you want to keep your hard drive from bloating, it’s also possible to delete the original movie file after the conversion process is done.

adding movies to itunes

Save the Folder Action and the automation system is done.

Looking At Another Possibility

I’ve tested the whole setup and everything worked fine. However, there are several things that you should be aware of.

First, the system relies on QuickTime for the conversion, so it will only work for a few specific video formats. From my experiments, the system will not convert WMV and FLV, but has no problem with AVI, MOV, and MP4.

Second, even though the conversion time depends on the length of the movie and the power of the machine, it’s slower compared to Handbrake.

So why not use Handbrake instead? It supports more video formats and does everything faster. The answer is simply because you can’t automate the conversion process using Handbrake, at least not with the GUI version. But there’s hope. Automation is possible using HandbrakeCLI. This is the command line version of Handbrake and – as the name suggests – everything is executed using the command line.

I’m currently trying to make sense of all the commands and to apply them. I’ll definitely be back with a more powerful setup. Meanwhile, I think this easy version of automation will do just fine for normal usage.

As always, thoughts and opinions are welcomed via the comments below.

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Mind Map Creatively By Bouncing Your Ideas on BBC’s Pinball

Posted: 18 Aug 2010 11:31 AM PDT

bbc pinballMind mapping applications are usually bone dry, decision making tools. You don't expect them to be bear a likeness to an arcade style game complete with sound effects. To add to that, you might ask yourself, what's a mindmap-like decision making tool doing amongst the online offerings from BBC Scotland?

Mind maps diagrams are great tools to organize information, solve problems, and decide on a course of action.

If this is the first time you are coming across talk of a mind map, do take a look at the mind map tools we have covered before.

BBC’s Pinball is actually a set of online tools (a mind map is just one of the four) that aim to aid the process of creative thinking while tapping into the fun centers of your brain. The name matches that of the arcade game because the online application takes its looks (and effects) from the traditional arcade game.

There's no iron clad reason why the BBC would set up a Pinball style mind map utility; except perhaps to make it available to the general community for coming up with creative ideas in a fun way. So let's play with it for a bit.

The first thing you sense is that Pinball is not a mind map tool in the conventional sense. No toolbars, no menus, and no central area to plot ideas. What you have are four tools and the familiar arcade sound effect.

Four Ways To Get Creative Ideas On Pinball

bbc pinball

To bounce ideas around, you get play Pinball in four different ways. And just like the game, everything seems spontaneously natural. But if you want, each tool comes with colorful instructions.

Dot Dash For Firing Out Ideas

bbc pinball

Dot Dash is like a usual mind map except that it's loads more fun. Type in your idea, press enter to create space for more interlinked ideas, change the color of your thought bubbles or move them around, insert pictures from your computer, or try to break your mental block by clicking on Lucky Dip. Lucky Dip brings out a random picture or word which sometimes helps to break the logjam in your brain.

When you click on Finish, the whole mind map is displayed on full screen. You can now review it, save it (as a JPEG file), print it, or Flip it to one of the other three tools. Flip helps to connect your ideas generated in the four tools.

Drop Zone For Quick Decisions

mind mapping brainstorming

If you are stuck in Catch-22-like decision situations and unable to pick one, prod your instincts by putting your ideas in front of you and moving them around. As the decisions scroll in front of you, trust your gut feeling and just pick one. For your choices, you can add words, images, or the random Lucky Dip. Drop Zone helps you to choose a maximum of four critical tasks out of all the ones you write down.

A click on Finish gives you the options as in the last tool.

Snap Shot For Playing With Images

mind mapping brainstorming

If you would rather doodle or draw to flesh out your idea, then Pinball's Snap Shot tool is for you. Snap Shot is like a drawing board with tools that lets you fiddle with an image or a word in an attempt to look at it from different perspectives. You can liken this to mindlessly scribbling on a pad till the Eureka moment strikes you.

Wild Reels For Mixing Up Ideas

mind mapping brainstorming

Wild Reels helps you try out sequences to see how they will look in different orders. The tool is like a slot machine where you put in your ideas and spin them to see the sequence in which they come up. It helps to mix up ideas and see how they might look in different combinations. You can keep any of the spinning boxes fixed while the rest spin around.

Pin Down Your Impressions

Is the Pinball a serious mind tool? Well, that's open to our individual judgment. I see it as an interesting educational tool that can help teach youngsters a bit about decision making skills. But its greatest feature is its absolute ease of use. When you need to quickly knock your ideas together, learning commands and tools could be too much of a bother. Bounce your ideas around in Pinball and give your feelings a fillip.

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Use iTunes Genius Mixes As Your Personal Music DJ

Posted: 18 Aug 2010 10:31 AM PDT

create your own playlist itunesIf you don't have a lot of time to keep up with all the latest music you like, finding fresh tunes can often be a challenge. You might also have a rather a larger collection of albums and songs in your iTunes library, but you have very little time to organize and create your own playlists. Well, Apple has you covered with an awesome iTunes feature called Genius Mixes.

Genius Mixes creates playlists of songs based on the songs it finds in your iTunes library. It also recommends other songs and albums by the artist or group of a selected song, as well as music by other artists in the iTunes Music Store that match the currently selected song.

How It Works

It's fairly easy to set up a Genius Mix. Open iTunes and start playing a song that you want your mix based upon.

create your own playlist

Now, click the Genius Mixes button at the bottom-left of the iTunes interface. iTunes will create a playlist that includes 10 artists similar to the current song you're playing. The list is based on the songs you have saved in your iTunes library.

dj playlists

If this is all that Genius Mixes does that would be great, especially because it saves you the time of having to go through your library and select songs yourself to make up a playlist. But it does more.

Other Selections

After looking over your list, you might decide that the mix is not exactly what you want. Well, first you can select a song(s) you don't want in the list and simply delete it. It won't delete it from your iTunes library, but it will remove it from the Genius playlist.

dj playlists

You can also click the Refresh button which re-mixes the list.

dj playlists

You also might want to increase the limit of songs in the list. For the most part I have found Genius Mixes to be pretty good about matching songs, which seems largely based on the genre of music.

And finally, you can simply manually add songs that you would like to be included in the list. But you can't add them to the Genius list itself. You need to turn that list into a regular playlist (File>New Playlist from Selection) and then add the songs you want.

Save Playlist

You no doubt will want to save your Genius Mixes playlist once it's set up the way you like. Apple has set up the left side of the iTunes interface to include a section just for your saved Genius Mixes playlists.

how to create itunes playlists

Also if you click on the Genius Mixes icon in the left column of the iTunes interface, iTunes will deliver up a bunch of random mixes, based on your iTunes library.

how to create itunes playlists

Other Recommendations

In the Genius Sidebar you will notice that when you select and play a song, iTunes will recommend songs and albums not in your library by the currently playing artists or group. Above that list will be a link to the artist page, if there is one, in the iTunes Music Store.

how to create itunes playlists

Below artist recommendations, you get other Genius Recommendations that are based on an algorithm of songs and albums similar to your selected song and played by other iTunes users throughout the world. These songs and albums are also ones found in the iTunes Music Store.

These recommendations are a great way to discover music new to you, even if you don't purchase your music in the iTunes Music Store.


If for some reason Genius Mixes are not delivering good recommendations, you might try selecting Store>Update Genius, in the iTunes menu bar. This will send your iTunes library data to Apple so that it can in turn make better recommendations.

Finally, if you prefer, you can turn off Genius Mixes all together by also selecting Store>Turn Off Genius in the menu bar.

create your own playlist

On occasion you may have songs in your iTunes library that are not available in the iTunes Music Store, and in that case Genius Mixes won't work. But for the most part, I have found that the Genius Mixes feature creates a good playlist of songs – many of which I forgot I had.

For other iTunes related tips and features, check out MakeUseOf’s Big Book of iTunes Guide for free.

Let us know if you use Genius Mixes. What do you like and dislike about it?

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Mount Any Archive File In Two Clicks [Ubuntu]

Posted: 18 Aug 2010 09:31 AM PDT

ubuntu mount archiveArchives are, of course, the best way to share multiple files on the web. What could be an unwieldy series of folders and data becomes a single download or email attachment.

It can be a little odd dealing with archives, however. On most operating systems there are two choices: open the archive with a specialized program or extract the contents to a folder and browse it using your file manager. This was largely true of Ubuntu, but not with the 10.04 release – it now allows for two-click mounting of any archive file.

When I wrote my writeup of Ubuntu 10.04 back in April I tried to summarize all of the new features of Ubuntu’s latest release, but I missed this one. I discovered it accidentally actually, while renaming an archive file.

So far as I can tell, Archive Mounter work with any file that Archive Manager does. This includes ISO, TAR, ZIP and even RAR, meaning you can mount most any file directly from your file manager.

Using Archive Mounter

This really doesn’t have to be complicated. Instead of opening a given archive, simply right-click the file in Nautilus and then click “Open with Archive Mounter” For example, here’s me opening some alternative icons for Dropbox:

ubuntu mount archive

Once you’ve done this your archive will show up as a “drive” in Nautilus, looking like this:

linux mount archive

You’re done; you can now grab any files you like from the archive with your default file browser, which is in my opinion a great deal simpler than dealing with a seperate program. Drag the files to where you’d like them, copy them, run executables without ever extracting the files.

When you’re done you can unmount the archive the same way you would any drive: click the arrow directly to the right of it, or right-click it and click “Unmount“. Your archive is now unmounted and can be deleted, if you like.

linux mount archive

The only problem I’ve noticed is the inability to write to archives. There may be a workaround for this; do any readers want to share?

Make Default

If you’d like archives to mount when double-clicked instead of opening with archive manager, don’t worry: this is really easy to accomplish. Simply right-click a package, and then click “Properties.” Click the “Open With” tab and select Archive Mounter as the default program for opening that kind of archive.

ubuntu mount archive

That’s it. You’ll have to repeat this process for the various sorts of archives out there, but once you do so you’ll find interacting with archives just got a lot simpler.


Some may prefer the functionality of Archive Manager to this simple mounting app, but I like having the option of mounting my archives. I can pick out only files I want and copy them where I like, saving disk space compared to extracting everything. I also find Nautilus easier to deal with than the (excellent) Archive Manager, if only because all of my file browsing stays in the same place.

Of course, I know you guys won’t spare me your opinion. Is this little-discussed new feature in Ubuntu 10.04 something you use regularly, or even noticed was there? Do you prefer this way of grabing information from archives, or will you keep using archive manager (or some other program?)

Finally, would you like to point out that this was default in Fedora/Mint/Debian/whatever five years ago, and the I’m an Ubuntu fanboy who should be keeping up with every setting in every distro ever?

Well, I love comments…so go ahead give me some love!

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4 Sites That Let You Create Your Own Wikipedia-Like Website

Posted: 18 Aug 2010 08:31 AM PDT

how to create a website wikipediaA wiki is a website that allows the creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor.” That’s the definition provided by Wikipedia, the most popular wiki on the Internet.

Wikis serve as collaborative sites and can be very useful if you operate a community or are part of a group of any kind. Wikis bring people with common interests together, and can be centered around anything from movies and video games to recipes and studying. With the right software, anyone can build a site like Wikipedia.

In this article, I am going to show you a few sites that you can use to build your very own Wikipedia-like website. Whether you are looking to join a wiki or build one of your own, you should be able to find what you’re looking for using the resources found here.


how to create a website wikipedia

MediaWiki, which we covered previously in the directory, is the best way to go about creating a Wikipedia-like collaboration environment. It is a free software wiki package written in PHP, and utilized by several projects and collaborations.

MediaWiki can accommodate any number of users, from the one-man team to upwards of a few hundred people or more. It has dozens of extensions you can install, configurations like file uploading and skinning, and it can be installed on any hosting provider.

[Note]: Depending on your hosting provider, you might already have MediaWiki functionality built-in and ready to install. Check with your host or find out by searching around on your CPanel.

create a wikipedia page

You can find hundreds of examples of companies utilizing MediaWiki here. Note that I have only point to the English section.

As Daniel pointed out a few years ago, MediaWiki is pretty simple to install. Just download the software, upload it to your server, and configure the application to meet your needs.


create a wikipedia page

If you don’t pay for hosting, have your own web server, or are just looking for something a little simpler, Wikia might be for you. As Saikat pointed out in an article last year, Wikia is a wiki farm, meaning that essentially it is a website made up of tons of different wikis.

create a wikipedia page

Here is an example of a Call of Duty wiki that was created with Wikia. You can browse the various types of wikis you can join and create right from the home page.

Whether you’re looking to join one community or several, Wikia will grant you access to them all with a single username and password. If, for some reason, you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can create your own.

Additional Resources

By now you should be in wiki-Heaven. However, if you think the list of suitable wikis stops there you are wrong my friend. If you are looking for something more, you might try Wikispaces or Wikidot. They offer premium features at a price but they both also have a pretty decent free option.


With a free, basic plan on Wikispaces, you can build one individual wiki (per account) with unlimited users and unlimited pages and messages. You are allocated 2GB of file storage and will have access to all the standard features, including the WYSIWYG editor, image and file upload, simple page linking, widgets, and easy setup.


how to create a website wikipedia

A free account on Wikidot gets you 5 sites, 300MB of storage on each, unlimited number of pages, custom CSS themes, simple backups, custom domain mapping, and advanced membership roles and permissions. They even have a sandbox that lets you “experiment without consequences”.

If you are not looking for an online wiki and would rather have something smaller/desktop capable, check out Justin’s article on Zim.

For every other piece of wiki software known to man, explore Wikipedia’s massive list of wiki software.


As you can see, there are many different ways to create a Wikipedia-like website. Based on your current needs, one of the resources mentioned may better suit you than the others, so it’s important that you do your homework. You can start by joining a few wikis that interest you. If you take part in these online communities, you will begin to realize what you need to do to create an effective one of your own.

What would you need a Wikipedia-like website for? Will you be using any of these resources to create a wiki of your own?

Please leave your thoughts, ideas, and comments below. Also, if you found this article useful, try sharing it with the social media buttons below!

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