Friday, August 20, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [August 19th]” plus 9 more “Cool Websites and Tools [August 19th]” plus 9 more

Link to

Cool Websites and Tools [August 19th]

Posted: 19 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.

List Your Website Here!


Bookworm – If you are an avid digital e-book reader, then you sync your books online with Bookworm. This cool online ebook reader lets you add books to your personal ebook library for later reading on your mobile device or on your browser. Bookworm can essentially become an online storage for your e-books. Read more: Bookworm: Personal eBook Library To Store & Reads Books Online.


ViewPure – is a nice web based service for YouTube fans to watch YouTube videos in a clean, clutter-free interface. You can paste a Youtube video URL in the box on their homepage and click on “purify” to get the cleaner interface. Not only that, you can also create your own custom URLs and password protect a Youtube video using this tool. Read more: ViewPure: Watch YouTube Videos Without Ads & Other Clutter.



MyFavBands – Did you ever miss a concert in your city where your favorite band was performing? If yes, then surely you will want to ensure that such a thing never happens again. MyFavBands helps you with that. MyFavBands is a free and simple to use web service that helps you keep track of your favorite bands. Read more: MyFavBands: Easily Track Your Favorite Artist or Band Releases.



Random Picker – If you are planning to carry out a draw, lottery, or any process that requires random selection, then "Random Picker" is definitely a site worth visiting. Random Picker is a user friendly web service that takes entries from a user and randomly picks one out of them. Read more: Random Picker: Easily Pick Winners & Carry Out Lotteries Online.



Garden Pest Detective – Inexperienced gardeners can run into a bunch of garden pests and plant diseases which they are unfamiliar with. Learning what signs to watch out for each pest / disease can be quite hectic. That is why Garden Pest Detective is a very helpful tool for gardeners. Read more: Garden Pest Detective: Identify Plant Diseases & Pests Online.


List Your Website Here!

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.

Got Questions? Ask Them Now FREE on MakeUseOf Answers!



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Share, Share, Share….Spread The Word!

Posted: 19 Aug 2010 06:31 PM PDT

With most of the MakeUseOf articles that we profile every day, our main goal is to give you something that you will find interesting and useful.

To show you a website or a software program you can make use of is our number one priority.

This time around, we would like something from you. Something really easy and simple. That is to share MakeUseOf articles you find useful with others. That’s really the best way for you to show your appreciation for our work.

It’s quick and super easy to do.

Simply click one of the sharing buttons at the bottom of the article and vote it up (or share).

As you can see, there are options to share the article with your friends on Facebook, Twitter (retweet), StumbleUpon and Digg. Also, there is a ‘ShareThis‘ button which lets you share the article on several other social networks as well as giving you an option to email the link to someone.

You might not realize it but this has a major impact on our daily workflow and the popularity of So if you’re an avid reader and like what we are doing, please make sure to always share the articles you find useful with friends.

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter. Includes cool extras.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

3 Social Music Networks To Discover & Share New Tunes

Posted: 19 Aug 2010 04:31 PM PDT

social music sitesMusic is deeply routed in our culture. It’s a part of every celebration, every event, and almost every day of our lives. Music unites. Hence, it’s no wonder that the web has become a vast playground for music lovers.

There are countless websites dedicated to the topic in one way or another. While it’s cool to discover new music, download free tracks, and read about the latest releases, interacting with musicians and like minded people and sharing what you love is the real thrill.

In this article I will introduce three social music networks that allow you to break through the surface and connect with the beat.


As the name suggests, Rank’em is all about ranking music. The true fans are asked to rank artists and their music, so that those yet unfamiliar with the material get an idea what is most popular or what the best work is from a specific artist.

After you signed up, you are asked to select a few artists you like, although this won’t affect much of anything. The main purpose of the site after all is ranking. And this is what you should do for your favorite musicians. On their profile pages you will see the following prompt.

social music sites

I started ranking songs for the Stereophonics. You can select up to 20 songs and when you’re happy with your list, submit it and rate your own fanstanding, i.e. how big of a fan you are.

music social site

Naturally, your ranking will affect the overall ranking for the artist. This is what the Stereophonics’ ranking looked like after my input.

music social site

Now if you didn’t know the Stereophonics until now, but would like to know what they sound like, you would now know that you should check out the above listed songs, as they are the most favorite among their biggest fans. If you’re already a fan, you can share this list with your friends on Twitter or Facebook. Obviously, the more people who rank songs, the less biased or more reliable the ranking results will become.

Unfortunately, you cannot listen to music samples at Rank’em, you will have to turn to other sources. Some of the other social music networks may be helpful here.


music social siteReverbNation is a page where the people behind the music can connect with everyone else. Artists, labels, venues, or the management sets up their own profiles and in the best case offers music to the fans.

One of the most powerful features of the site is its ReverbRadio. The display and controls are located in the top right. However, you set it up through the ReverbRadio menu item in the top left. Pick a station from a list of genres and define which artists of that genre your station should play. The options include Top 20 Artists, My Favorite Artists, and artists with their Hometown within x km of your city.

share new music

Since the radio is embedded in the top menu, it will keep playing as you browse ReverbNation. And when you discover an artist page that provides music, you can add it to your player.

share new music

Furthermore, you can save songs from the radio to a playlist, omitting any songs you didn’t like and including only the ones you want to hear again. Your playlists will be made accessible on your profile or you can actively share them through other networks like Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter. And this is where you connect.


share new musicGarageBand was one of the biggest and most liked indie music networks online. Sadly, after 11 years of being awesome, it closed its gates in June this year. Part of GarageBand’s spirit is retained in iLike, although iLike is no longer just about independent music.

The motif of iLike is to ‘Discover New Music with Friends’. The idea is that you share what you like with your friends. For this purpose you are offered to download the free iLike Sidebar, which integrates with iTunes and Windows Media Player and delivers iLike services and a few extras straight to your desktop.

Another step of the signup process is that you share which artists you like. A page of suggestions will be displayed to you.

artists I like

Finally, when you go to your iLike homepage, you have basically set it all up. Through sharing your Zip code, you have activated the concert suggestions. By liking a set of artists, you are now receiving their updates, whether it’s new releases or concert dates. Now all that is missing, is finding friends or like minded fellows to share with.

Apart from connecting with people, you can listen to music via the iLike player, create your own playlists, and find free mp3s from unsigned artists.

social music sites

There is a whole lot more to discover at iLike.

TheSixtyOne used to be another great social music network. However, the social aspect was discarded when the site was redesigned to focus on music discovery. Fortunately, some smart folks have ’saved’ it and created Old TheSixtyOne.

Other noteworthy social music networks that we have introduced to you before include Uvumi, PureVolume and Jamendo. They are covered in one or more of the articles below.

If you enjoy discovering new bands and legally downloading free music, check out our Sound Sunday series.

How do you prefer to share your favorite music?

Image credits: spartsam

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



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

How To Use HootSuite To Filter Your Twitter Feeds & Gain More Insight

Posted: 19 Aug 2010 02:31 PM PDT

filter twitter feedsHootSuite is one of those web-based Twitter clients which is becoming harder and harder to ignore.  Even with our first article about it, Hoot! An In-Depth Look At Online Twitter Client – HootSuite, HootSuite really had our attention.  Since that time they’ve come out with even more tools that make it worth a go.  I have personally enjoyed using HootSuite for my own personal Twittering needs and I know I haven’t even grazed what it has to offer.

Recently HootSuite has come out with even more tools that make it an even better viable alternative to the other Twitter clients out there.  In this article I will be discussing three new tools HootSuite has to offer.  The first two have to do with how to filter Twitter feeds.

Filtering Twitter Feeds

Filtering is an essential task any computer or Internet user has to learn.  The world has so much information out there that it is hard to find what you really need.  Google allows you to enter a few words and it’ll search all of the indexed Internet world to find what contains just those words.  That is filtering.  Well, if you have a lot of people you follow on Twitter, wouldn’t filtering be helpful?

filter twitter feeds

On Twitter there are a few areas where it would be helpful to have filtering: specific words or subjects and the authority of the individual twit.  Hootsuite now offers two methods of filtering columns: keywords and Klout scores.  To do so, just go to the arrow at the top right of the column and choose “Filter by…

Filtering By Keywords

You can now filter a column by keywords.  If you are interested in what people are saying about a specific topic, using a keyword filter could prove useful.  For instance, I was wondering what people in my network (those I am following) were saying about the iPad so I just used “ipad” as the keyword.  This could also prove useful when attempting to track down a specific message.

Filtering By Klout Scores

Klout is just a way to find out how much clout a person has on Twitter.  It’s calculated using a few different metrics such as followers, interaction and tweet popularity.  HootSuite is kind enough to integrate it into their service.

filter twitter search results

Now you can cut out the noise of the “less important” or newbie twits and see what the real Twitter users are talking about.  It sounds very elitist but it could prove useful depending on who you are looking to interact with and for what.

Get Some Insight On Your Followers

HootSuite has almost always had the feature where you could click on the tweeter’s avatar and see their Twitter profile.  I use it all the time because of the useful information listed there.  You can find the bio, timeline, favorite tweets, and mentions.  It’s a quick and simple way to get an idea of the type of Twitter user you’re dealing with.

filter twitter search results

HootSuite has added a new tab to this already helpful profile box.  It’s called Insights.  It has a bit more information on the tweeter such as social networks, pictures, occupations, and even gender and age.  The information, I assume, is grabbed from the web. This gives you an even better insight into who you are twittering with.  Mine came up with my last two occupations, most of the social networks I’ve ever been on and it even got my age correct.

filter twitter feeds

Some might find the information a bit invasive but all of my information listed was readily available elsewhere on the web.  And hey, your followers can use it to interact with you in other ways and places.

Have you tried any of these new offerings from HootSuite?  Are they worthwhile or a waste of time?

NEW: Download MakeUseOf iPhone App. FREE!



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

Hot Tech Deals [Aug 19th]

Posted: 19 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. Dell ST2410 24 inch Widescreen LCD Monitor $189.99 Free Shipping via code 3MKZ15PB4R074C
  2. Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB Internal SATA Hard Drive w/ 5yr Warranty $154.99 via code CLASS15
  3. Sony BRAVIA KDL-40EX700 40″ LED-Backlit LCD HDTV for $749.99
  4. HHI iPad Flip Leather Case with Magnetic Kick Stand + Screen Protector $12.99 via code ipadflipkstand
  5. Netgear ReadyNAS DUO 1TB Network Attached Storage NAS Gigabit $199.99AR
  6. Samsung 2494LW 24in Widescreen LCD Monitor (1920×1080) $169 via code $1PRQNRRD0LB0?
  7. Sharp LC-60E88UN 60 inch LCD HDTV (1080p, 240Hz) $1599 via code QDFL8GW9D?SLMZ
  8. Dell Inspiron 14z Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 ULV 14in Laptop (4GB/500GB/2yr Warranty) $700.79 via codes 6KWMM0JFLZK0W? and ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C
  9. Apple iBook G4 1.33GHz 12.1in Laptop (REFURB/1GB/40GB) $269.99 via code APPLE
  10. Logitech Z520 2.0ch Multimedia Speakers $59.99AR
  11. Nokia E63 Smartphone Business Edition (Unlocked, Quad-Band GSM, 3G) w/ Bluetooth Headset $129.99 via code V1CP85RGKTF72M
  12. Sony SA-VS350H 5.1/7.1-Channel Home Theater Speaker System $399.99 via code SONYSAVS350H
  13. Samsung EcoGreen F2 HD154UI 1.5TB 3.5in SATA Internal Hard Drive (2-PACK) $136.98 via code CLASS15

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

BitDefender Rescue CD Removes Viruses When All Else Fails

Posted: 19 Aug 2010 12:31 PM PDT

system rescue cdThere’s not many people who claim to love computer viruses, except for the people who make money from them. If you’re not among that small group of people you presumably hate the things.

I recently shared the 10 best free antivirus programs, and these tools are all worth checking out. Some scan constantly to protect, while others are great failsafes for when something slips through the cracks. Sometimes, however, none of these programs will work, because Windows simply won’t start or the virus is blocking the installation of other anti-virus programs (even in safe mode!)

In situations like these you need an antivirus that runs on an operating system other than your default.

You could attempt to get your antivirus program of choice running from a self-built Windows live CD, but if you’re looking for something a little simpler I highly recommend the BitDefender Rescue CD.

Getting Started

This little-advertised free product can scan your unbootable or corrupt Windows setup safely from a Linux Live CD.

Don’t panic! You don’t need to know anything about Linux to use this disk. All you need to know how to do is burn an ISO and boot from it.

To start go ahead and download the ISO file from BitDefender’s semi-secret system rescue CD site. Now you need to burn it. You can probably use whatever CD burning application your computer has, but if you need a simple free one for Windows I recommend one of these free alternatives to Nero, any of which can burn ISO images.

Finally, you need to boot from your CD. How to do this varies from computer to computer, but typically you need to press a certain button as the computer’s manufacturer displays on the screen. On a Dell, for example, one usually presses F12 to bring up the boot menu. Select your CD drive to boot from and the Bitdefender Rescue CD should start.

Scan Of Hard Drive

system rescue cd

Make sure your computer has access to the Internet before you start your scan, so BitDefender can update. Plugging your computer directly to the Internet is your best bet, but you might be able to get the Wireless working by using the networking icon on the bottom panel.

It really doesn’t get more complicated than that. Bitdefender will start and will scan everything on your system, removing any malware that might be making your system unwieldy.

bitdefender rescue cd

Once the scan is done BitDefender will remove the infections and hopefully leave you with a completely clean computer.

Other Tools

A number of other useful tools are included on the BitDefender Rescue CD, including:


system rescue cd

Note that the virus scanning portion of this Live CD cannot legally be used for business purposes. The only exception is if you’ve purchased a license for use with this tool.


There you have it: a tool that can remove viruses from systems that seemingly can’t run any antivirus applications. Be sure to install proper protection after you clean everything out!

Does this seem useful to you in a jam? Do you have any stories about this tool, or one like it, working? Or do you have any similar tools to recommend? Commenting is awesome, and can even make you awesome, so you should do so.

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter. Includes cool extras.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

B2Evolution – The “Other” CMS Platform To Run Multiple Blogs

Posted: 19 Aug 2010 11:31 AM PDT

multiple blogsFor most bloggers today, the Wordpress platform is king of the hill when it comes to starting a new blog. Even if many new bloggers might need some help with installing their first Wordpress blog, configuring the appearance of a Wordpress blog and posting updates is really easy. Many people just stick with Wordpress and never look back.

The problem with the majority of bloggers gravitating toward one platform is that many of the other high quality CMS platforms tend to get overlooked. Beyond Wordpress, there’s Joomla, Drupal, and a whole variety of very simple CMS platforms out there, like gpEasy, which I recently reviewed.

There is also one more platform that rarely gets much attention, but deserves a mention because of the unique features and ease of use that it brings to the table. That platform is none other than B2Evolution.

Run Multiple Blogs On One Platform

One of the most commonly asked questions on many of the blogging forums that I browse is how to run multiple Wordpress blogs with one install. While it can be done (from what I’ve heard with a bit of difficulty), the B2Evolution blogging platform allows for multiple blogs as a default configuration when you first set it up. There’s no jumping through hoops or complicated configuration – the blogs are just there and ready for you to start blogging.

multiple blogs

I discovered B2Evolution when I first started blogging, before I’d ever even heard of Wordpress. B2Evolution was available with my hosting account, although manual setup is just as easy as Wordpress, as it is also built upon PHP and an SQL database. In my configuration above, you can see that I had 5 blogs ready to go, although I only focused on developing my default blog.

multiple blogs in one

Writing posts in your blogs is just as simple as in any other advanced CMS platform like WordPress or Drupal, but in B2Evolution all of the blogs that are hosted on your install and that you’ve enabled as visible are listed at the top. Switching between blogs and posting on each one is as simple as clicking on the button for the blog.

multiple blogs in one

Viewing all of the posts for each blog isn’t much unlike other platforms. You can quickly access different aspects of the posts from this one page – such as comments or the posting schedule. And blog settings are simple enough so that even a newbie blogger could likely figure out how to configure each blog.

The only part that can get a little bit complicated is configuring the correct URL for each blog. Only one can be set up as the “default” blog when visitors access the index.php file, but you can use the “Absolute URL” field if you’ve reserved a domain for each blog.

However, another advantage of B2Evolution of Wordpress is how intuitive and simple most of the blog configuration is. Settings are clearly tabulated at the top, and further up you can switch from the settings for one blog to another with the click of the mouse.

Default Setup Comes With Many Features

The cool thing about B2Evolution is that it comes with a lot of awesome features already part of the default setup that you don’t find as part of the Wordpress or Drupal install. One of those is the ability to monitor all sorts of traffic details for each of your blogs.

The ability to extend B2Evolution is available as well. The availability of a whole library of skins and plugins is just impressive. On the B2Evolution website alone, you’ll find hundreds of high quality skins – basically blog themes – that can really transform your blog and make it look amazing in a matter of minutes. And setup only requires that you download the files to the theme folder and then enable it in the admin panel. The same is true for the plug-ins, which are updated and constantly growing thanks to a wide user base.

Once I’d installed my new dark-background theme, updated the title and published a few beginning posts, I have to say I was very pleased with the look and feel of my very first blog, built upon the B2Evolution platform. It felt very professional, and the themes are just formatted much more cleanly than most of the WordPress blog themes that you’ll find for free.

Another nice feature that’s built right into the default B2Evolution install – a comment area for every post.

multiple blogs in one

Downloading and installing plug-ins to extend the functionality of your B2Evolution install is as easy as downloading the files to the “plugins” folder and installing it from the general “App settings” page.  You’ll find plug-ins for everything from Twitter to Google Webmaster tools.

multiple blogs

If you are interested in loading up one single install that will let you publish multiple blogs, more default features and easier configuration than Wordpress or other blog platforms, and higher quality free templates than most other CMS systems, then B2Evolution is definitely the platform of choice for you. With so many features, a wide user base and so many available extensions – you’ll find that it will do everything that you expect from a high quality blog, and then some.

Have you ever tried B2Evolution? What did you think about it? I’d love to hear about your own experiences with the platform!

Got Questions? Ask Them Now FREE on MakeUseOf Answers!



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

How To Create Stereographic Projections With Photoshop & GIMP

Posted: 19 Aug 2010 10:31 AM PDT

stereographicsA stereo what? Don’t feel low if you don’t know what stereographics are. It’s just a fancy name for a unique kind of panoramic photo, like the one you see in the image on the right. The photo almost always resembles a planet, so these are also commonly known as planet or globe effect/photos. The beauty of such projections is that it almost always gives you a unique effect that makes one wonder how the photo was shot. Don’t just take my word for it.

The effect is relatively simple to create (although not entirely obvious). A panoramic photo works best.

Most digital cameras these days have a setting that let you create panoramas. Even if your camera doesn’t have such a setting you can click a couple of photos where the right end of a photo overlaps with the left hand side of the next photo, then import them inside Photoshop to stitch a panorama. There are also a number of tools specially designed to help you stitch a panorama.

A photo with tall structures and a relatively uniform bottom or top part (like a sky or river) works best for this kind of effect. Another very important requirement is that the left and right edge of the photo should be as similar as possible, or else you will be able to make out where the two ends join. I discuss at the end of this article how you can remedy this.

  • Open up the image in Photoshop or GIMP if you so prefer.
  • Now we need to make our image a square. In Photoshop you would go to Image > Image Size, uncheck Constrain Proportions and then make the height the same as the width. (In GIMP you would use Image > Scale image and unlink the Width and Height)


  • Now choose Image > Image Rotation and rotate the image by 180 degrees (GIMP: Tools > Transform Tools > Rotate). This step is optional but you might need to play around. Whatever is on top after this step will become the inside of the circle and whatever is at the bottom will become the outside environment of the final image!


  • We are almost there, just one last step left. Go to Filters > Distort > Polar Coordinates and in the dialog that shows up choose “Rectangular to Polar“. (In GIMP use Filters > Distorts > Polar Coordinates)

stereographic photography

  • That’s it, the effect is done. Depending upon the image you chose, you might have to add a couple of finishing touches to your image. One of the most common problems that shows up is a harsh noticeable edge between what was previously the left and right ends of the image.

stereographic photography

Let’s see how we can quickly get rid of it:

  • The easiest way is to duplicate one edge of the image and paste it as a new layer on top of the image.
  • Move this duplicated edge over to the other end (if you duplicated the left edge move it over to the right and vice versa). Once in place you need to decide if the two ends look similar now, don’t worry about the fact that you created a hard noticeable joint in the process, we will get rid of it in a moment.

stereographic photography

  • If the two edges look similar, then all we need to do is blend in the harsh edge. This can be done by adding a layer mask to the duplicated edge layer and then painting with a soft black brush on the layer mask. This will start revealing the bottom layer and things will start to blend in. Don’t go too far with this, as soon as the hard obvious edge disappears, stop right there.
  • Now repeat the steps above and this time you should get a “seamless” result!


You can now rotate the image around and add a bit of contrast to give it that “out of the world” look! Feel free to try other variations and to play with the contrast and colors to add a bit more to your image.

We would love to hear your thoughts about the effect and see some of the results as well.

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter. Includes cool extras.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

5 Cool Safari Extensions That You Won’t Find In The Official Gallery

Posted: 19 Aug 2010 09:31 AM PDT

cool safari extensionsBetween the time Apple released Safari 5 (with extension support) and before the Extensions Gallery was officially opened, people relied on unofficial extensions sites to get their “early edition” of Safari extensions.

Now that the official site is alive, what has happened to the unofficial ones like Pimp My Safari and Safari Extensions? It turns out that they are still alive and kickin’ – maybe better than before. The latter site even has a larger collection of extensions than the official site.

Unofficial doesn’t mean bad quality, all the extensions that I tried work just fine.  You can visit these unofficial sites and get some extensions that you need.

To get you started, here are several useful Safari extensions that you won’t find on the official site (at least not yet, at the time of writing).

1. KeySearch

This extension has similar features to the Quix bookmarklet, but without the geek factor. KeySearch uses short keywords to allow you to search any site you want, right from the toolbar. Just press Control-S or click the toolbar button to bring up the KeySearch bar, and type a keyword followed by your search query.

cool safari extensions

For example, type “youtube classical guitar” to find videos of classical guitar on YouTube, or “flickr sunset” to find images of sunsets on Flickr. You get the picture, right?

Aside from the ready-made keywords, you can easily add your own.

2. Get Hover It!

During my visit to the unofficial galleries, I found two extensions that will enhance your hovering experience. There’s HoverLink which will reveal the link’s URL, and there’s also HoverZoom which will show and zoom in on pictures from Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Picasa, Twitter, Digg, and more.

02 HoverZoom.jpg

All you’ve got to do is just hover your mouse over the items (URLs or images/thumbnails) that you want to reveal.

3. WebWatch

To some people, the web is an addictive place where one can easily lose the track of time. Maybe that’s why Side Tree Software created WebWatch.

This extension will track your time on the internet and can be set to give you a reminder after a period of time. Just click on the toolbar item to reset the timer.

03 WebWatch.jpg

4. Gmail CSS

Even though there’s nothing wrong with GMail’s look, giving it a little touch-up wouldn’t hurt either. That’s the goal of GMail CSS; to give (slightly) better and more colorful navigation around GMail.

The changes are not extreme, though. All the extensions do is just highlight hovered rows with different colors, changing icons for attachments, and hiding several elements like Ads and Chat.

04b Gmail CSS.jpg

Granted, it’s not yet in the same class as Firefox’ Google Redesigned, but it’s a good start.

5. Beautipedia

Wikipedia has become everybody’s main source of information. But unfortunately, it’s not the prettiest gal on the neighborhood. If you use Wikipedia a lot, you’ll appreciate what Beautipedia does. It will make Wikipedia a better environment for reading articles.

cool safari extensions

Aside from giving the interface a minimalist look, the extension will also hide the links until you hover your mouse over it. Some people might like it, others might not, but in my personal opinion, it does make the look easier on the eye.

There are a lot of Safari extensions out there, and the best way to find the best is by peer recommendation. So if you’ve found and used nice Safari extensions, why not share them using the comments below?



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

4 Elements Of Computer Systems Security That Antivirus Apps Don’t Protect

Posted: 19 Aug 2010 08:31 AM PDT

computer systems securityThere was once a time where computer systems security meant making sure that you locked the door before you left your office. Alas, those times faded a decade ago, and the home computer’s rise to the status of essential home appliance has been associated with a seemingly endless spiral of security threats and security apps aimed at thwarting those threats. This can lead to misunderstandings that may leave your computer vulnerable to certain security flaws.

Let’s discuss some common security issues that antivirus programs normally don’t guard against and what you can do to shore up your defenses.

Physical Access / Theft

computer systems security

Actual physical theft remains a series security issue that isn’t uncommon among laptop users who frequently use their laptops outside the home. Laptop thieves usually steal a laptop to sell the laptop later, not as a means of obtaining private data, but that doesn’t mean that your security won’t be compromised. Don’t be fooled by your password protected Windows login screen, either – this won’t stop a determined attacker.

If you’re worried about the possibility of laptop theft you should look into services that let you track, disable or wipe your laptop if it is stolen. LAlarm is a free program that can handle some of these tasks, but more serious protection, such as Lo-Jack for Laptops, will require that you part ways with some cash.

We have covered a lot of apps and services that can help you locate your stolen laptop.   Check out Prey, LaptopLock, LocatePC and if you have a Mac, JackSMS.

Remote Threats

Computer security companies are constantly attempting to attract new customers and boost revenues by offering new products. This has the side effect of confusing customers. What’s the difference between Norton Antivirus, Norton Internet Security, and Norton 360? You’ll have to do some digging to fully understand all of the ins and outs.

computer systems security

Some people simply opt for the Antivirus. It has the lowest price, and it says it protects against viruses – that’s all you need, right? Well, not so fast. Firewall software is also very important. Antivirus can detect suspicious files and quarantine them, but it doesn’t do anything against attackers who are trying to gain access to your computer from outside your local network. Hackers sometimes use these attacks to create a “botnet” – a series of zombie computers that are being manipulated by someone other than their owners. These computers are then used for sketchy activities like spam campaigns or DoS attacks.

The good news is that there are some solid free firewalls available. If you already have an antivirus solution these programs will help complete your computer’s security.

Peripheral Viruses

Although currently uncommon, there has been a few recent examples of computer security attacks that did not focus on computers themselves but instead peripheral devices. These attacks are becoming possible because the devices that are being connected to computers today – including keyboards, mice, and hard drives – are often mini-computers with their own memory and processing capabilities.

The most famous vulnerability of this type was the Apple keyboard security hole unveiled at the 2009 Black Hat conference. A clever hacker there proved that it was possible to install a keylogger on the keyboard itself. The hacker did not prove that the data could be transmitted remotely, but it did set off alarm bells in the heads of many security experts because there is currently no defense against this type of attack and detection is difficult.

Smartphones are becoming a major concern. They often connect with computers to transfer data and personal information. New security flaws are being found in smartphones constantly, but the response to these problems by security companies is still in its infancy. As such, there isn’t much you can do besides exercise common sense and keep your phone away from your PC if your suspect the phone has fallen victim to a security flaw.


A phishing attack occurs when you are led to what appears to be a familiar website and you attempt to log in. The website, however, is actually a clever fraud that steals your username and password and sends it to an unknown party who may use that data to do harm. These attacks are fairly hard to see coming in the first place, and they’re becoming more sophisticated and harder to detect as time goes on.

computer security software

Antivirus programs do not protect against this threat because it is not really a virus at all. The more complete Internet Security products offered by most companies usually include some form of anti-phishing protection, but you’ll have to hand over some cash for it. There are, however, some ways to protect yourself from phishing threats without paying for an expensive security suite.

Building your knowledge about phishing tactics is the best way to defend against this threat without paying a dime. The free SonicWALL phishing test teaches you how to identify phishing threats. Alternatively you can try using one of several websites that let you input a link to determine if it is legitimate.


Antivirus apps are only the first step in computer systems security. While many threats will be stopped by a solid antivirus program, not all threats fall within their jurisdiction. The knowledge here should help you secure your computer from other threats. If you know of any non-virus threats that are not listed here please leave a comment.

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



Similar MakeUseOf Articles

No comments:

Post a Comment