Saturday, August 21, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [August 20th]” plus 9 more “Cool Websites and Tools [August 20th]” plus 9 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [August 20th]

Posted: 20 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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VanDwellers – Unfortunately there are a significant number of people living in their cars and vans because of their tough financial situations. In today's economy the number of such people are increasing. VanDwellers was created to take a little worry off your mind during such a time. Read more: VanDwellers: Get Van or Car Living Tips.


TinyMap – Many people use maps to display directions to their office on their website. Tinymaps can help you wonderfully in creating those maps. Tinymap is a free web service that lets you mark locations on map with a number of impressive tools and share online as you like. Read more: TinyMap: Quickly Mark Locations on Map & Share.



AppInventor – Apps are a way of life now. However, since apps are so common, one shouldn't have to be a developer to create an app. Based on this principle, AppInventor lets you create android apps without writing any code. Instead of writing code, AppInventor lets you use pre-defined components. Read more: AppInventor: Create Android Apps Without Writing Any Code.



Nabewise – Lots of websites provide information about cities, but when a city is as large as New York, Boston or Chicago, that information ceases to be relevant. NabeWise is a web resource that takes the process further by providing information about specific neighborhoods in your city. Read more: NabeWise: Find Good Neighborhoods In Major Cities.



1000 Memories – It's natural to have an outpouring of stories when a loved one dies. If your family is spread over great distances, or just likes to coordinate things online, the free service 1000 Memories gives you the ability to share stories, pictures and even organize a foundation in memory of a recently deceased friend or family member. Read more: 1000Memories: Create Online Memorial Pages For Your Loved Ones.


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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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The 5 Best Questions From You [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 20 Aug 2010 06:30 PM PDT

MakeUseOf AnswersUnfortunately, we can not help you with your math homework at MakeUseOf Answers. However, if you’re struggling with technology, you couldn’t come to a better place. We always have great answers.

The latest Best Answer of the Week was given by William Brand in response to this question: “Can I purchase a domain independent of hosting and use it for eMail?” Thank you for your many great answers William, and congratulations for winning this week’s contest!

You can win! We consider all excellent answers. Please use a valid eMail address or log into our comment system with your Disqus, Facebook, or Yahoo! account. After all, we need to be able to contact the winner!

These are the 5 best questions of the week:

  1. Which web browser is the fastest?
  2. Why should I buy a domain name?
  3. How do I make Microsoft Word 2003 launch faster?
  4. Which directories should I backup in Ubuntu?
  5. How can I speed up my wireless internet?

MakeUseOf Answers holds the answers to many fantastic questions. Browse by Latest Questions, Unanswered Questions or Most Popular Questions. For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

Need help? Ask us at MakeUseOf Answers!

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Update Your Twitter Feed With What Music You’re Listening To [Mac]

Posted: 20 Aug 2010 04:31 PM PDT

post music on twitterIf you're an avid iTunes player and Twitter user, you no doubt like to occasionally share what you're currently listening to with your contacts around the corner or across the world. But it's a hassle to type out the title and the name of the artist of the song you're currently listening to just to post music on Twitter, let alone adding a link to the song from the iTunes Store.

Well, a fairly new and free application and Twitter plug-in, Twunes, developed by Stefan Wolfrum, does all that tedious typing for you.

I've seen and used a few similar AppleScript programs that essentially do the same thing. But it looks like Twunes is the best at what it does.

How It Works

You basically run Twunes like any other application. After downloading it, you are given a prompt to enter your Twitter username and password.

add song to twitter status

From that point, you're literally set up to tweet your currently playing song in iTunes. It's really that simple.

post music on twitter

Twunes sets up the tweet based on the preferences you set. Clicking the Twunes icon in the upper-left corner of the app's interface sends the tweet to your Twitter account.

Other Features

However, there are some other great features you may want to take advantage of. You will find them by opening Twunes's Preferences.

Although it would be nice if Twunes could be accessed from the Mac menu bar, you can nevertheless use it to control iTunes from within Twunes itself. The Twunes toolbar features the ability to play, stop, and pause iTunes.

Another great feature is that Twunes will create a iTunes Store link for the song you're currently playing, which of course saves you the trouble of copying and pasting that information in the tweet itself.

tweet music

An added touch in the application enables you to select what type of prefix information you want for your tweet. You're not stuck with “My iTunes plays…

tweet music

You may want to start with a popular hashtag, “#nowplaying” that is used by many Twitter members. If you don't want to use that hashtag as a prefix, you can also just select to include in the message itself by simply clicking the appropriate box.

You can also cross-post Tweeted information to your Facebook account. Just check the “Include hashstag #fb” box in Preferences.

Probably the most welcomed feature of Twunes is that you don’t need to have the interface showing in order to quickly send a tweet with the iTunes information. You can simply minimize the app and then right or Control click on the Twunes icon in your Dock.

tweet music

From there, you simply select, “Tweet it!“, and go back to what you're doing.

Finally, if you want to see what other Twitter and Twunes users are playing, the developer includes a #Twunes hashtag in the iTunes tweet itself. Clicking on that hashtag of course will serve up all the other Twitter users using that same hashtag.

twitter music

Overall, Twunes is an awesome and very practical application to post music on twitter. It's free, but it deserves a requested donation from the developer – or at least a great big thank you.

MUO has covered some other Twitter music related applications. We would like to hear from you what tools you use to enhance your Twitter and iTunes experience.

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What Google Chrome Canary Is [Technology Explained]

Posted: 20 Aug 2010 02:31 PM PDT

google chrome canaryGoogle Chrome is now my default browser for pretty much everything. The stable release has finally got to a point where it is stable enough for me to use all the time. I’ve even been using the beta/developer builds of Chrome on my laptop without any problems.

On July 22, Google, being all about speed, announced that they were going to shorten the release cycles of new, stable versions of Chrome from quarterly to 6 weeks. With this announcement came the Canary release channel.

In this article, I am going to explain exactly what Google Chrome Canary is and why you should be excited about its release. I will explain the meaning of its name, as well as its overall purpose in the grand scheme of things.

Why Call It Canary?

By calling the release Canary, Google is referring to the old technique of using canaries in coal mines. Back in the day, coal miners used to bring canaries down in the mines with them as a precaution. If there was any kind of deadly gas build-up, the canary would be the first to die. If the canary died, everyone knew it would be a good idea to leave the mine as soon as possible.

google chrome canary

Chrome Canary offers the same set of precautions. The Canary build is less stable, but it will be used to test even more cutting-edge features than the developer’s build, which already tests new features before they are pushed to the beta build. If a change “kills” Chrome Canary, Google will block it from the developer build.

What’s Different About It?

Chrome Canary is somewhat of a mix between the Chrome developer build and the Chromium snapshot builds. It can be run side-by-side with any other channel, which is a new feature. This means that it isn’t linked to your other Chrome installs and can therefore run different sync profiles, themes, apps, and use different preferences.

Unlike the other channels (beta and dev), Canary’s side-by-side feature allows builds to be installed without overwriting a regular Chrome build, which means that, technically, you can install both a Canary build and a regular build that could be on the stable, beta or dev channel.

google chrome canary

If you install Chrome Canary, you will notice that it has a different, all-yellow icon instead of the multi-colored Chrome icon or even the all-blue icon you might be accustomed to. Also, the skin of the browser is blue, helping you tell it apart from other versions of Chrome as well.

google canary

[Note]: As Canary is a secondary installation of Chrome, you cannot set it as the default browser. Also, it is currently only available on Windows.

Why Is It Necessary?

Giving users the option to run a more advanced version of Chrome without having to fully commit to alpha testing it should help increase the number of people willing to use the browser.

google canary

Canary will auto-update more frequently than any other versions available to developers. Google is working on making it update as often as they have successful nightly builds, according to their developer’s email list. When something doesn’t work on the Canary, you can just fall back on your beta version.

Also, by speeding up the Chrome development cycle, it will begin testing new features with the public and collecting feedback more quickly. The data – especially crash statistics – that they get back from users will help them find (and fix) regressions in the software faster.

[Note]: Since the Canary version of Chrome will be very unstable, it should only be used by those who are willing to risk losing browsing data in the event of a program crash.


Well there you have it. As I stated earlier, I use Google Chrome as my browser, so I am quite pleased with the news of a faster development cycle. Google seems to be very enthusiastic about getting their browser to the top and surpassing Mozilla once and for all.

From a user’s standpoint, I think this is good news for all of us. Quicker releases mean better features, and better features for Chrome should inspire some of these other companies to pick up the pace with their browsers as well.

What do you think of this news? Will you be giving Canary a try?

Leave your thoughts, ideas, and comments below, and please share this story with others if you found it useful.

Image Credit: Thepollen

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Hot Tech Deals [Aug 20th]

Posted: 20 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. Motorola MOTOFONE F3 Version (Unlocked) $14.99
  2. Hitachi SimpleDrive Mini 500GB Portable External Hard Drive (Carbon Fiber) $59.99AR via code J8QRP?044HZW1Z
  3. Hand Held Items Coupon Code: 20% off Apple iPad Cases + 70% discount via code ipadcases20
  4. Rosewill minifit XL Aluminum Netbook Cooling Pad (Fits up to 15in) $11.99 via code EMCYWZX56
  5. Sony Alpha A330 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera w/ 18-55 Lens $379.99 Free Shiping
  6. Panasonic VIERA TC-P42C2 42in Plasma HDTV (720p) $501 Free Shipping via code AFLPAN501
  7. Canon PowerShot D10 12.1 MP 3X Digital Camera (Waterproof/Shockproof/Cold Resistant) $215.99 via code 2KVH967BFCQVC4
  8. Dell ST2410 24 inch Widescreen LCD Monitor $189.99 Free Shipping via code 3MKZ15PB4R074C
  9. Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB Internal SATA Hard Drive w/ 5yr Warranty $154.99 via code CLASS15
  10. Samsung 2494LW 24in Widescreen LCD Monitor (1920×1080) $169 via code $1PRQNRRD0LB0?
  11. Apple iBook G4 1.33GHz 12.1in Laptop (REFURB/1GB/40GB) $269.99 via code APPLE
  12. Logitech Z520 2.0ch Multimedia Speakers $59.99AR
  13. Netgear ReadyNAS DUO 1TB Network Attached Storage NAS Gigabit $199.99AR
  14. Samsung EcoGreen F2 HD154UI 1.5TB 3.5in SATA Internal Hard Drive (2-PACK) $136.98 via code CLASS15
  15. Nokia E63 Smartphone Business Edition (Unlocked, Quad-Band GSM, 3G) w/ Bluetooth Headset $129.99 via code V1CP85RGKTF72M
  16. Dell Inspiron 14z Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 ULV 14in Laptop (4GB/500GB/2yr Warranty) $700.79 via codes 6KWMM0JFLZK0W? and ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C
  17. HHI iPad Flip Leather Case with Magnetic Kick Stand + Screen Protector $12.99 via code ipadflipkstand

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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How To Make Your Own DIY Vented Laptop Tray

Posted: 20 Aug 2010 12:31 PM PDT

computer lap top trayLaptops have become a very important part of our lives.  We take them almost everywhere which means that we can get work done almost no matter where we are.  This also means that our trusty lappies are subjected to all sorts of interesting situations.  We use them on desks, in bed, in the car, outside, and even on planes.

Some of these situations would not be as feasible without some sort of laptop tray. Laptop trays make the versatility of the laptop that much more versatile.  But what is the point of a laptop tray?  Well, there are several.

Laptop trays can make using the laptop more convenient.  For instance, have you ever attempted to use your laptop in the driver’s seat of a parked car with the steering wheel in the way?  They make trays for that.  What about while sitting in bed or on the couch?  They also make trays for that.

If you get the right tray, it can also save you or the laptop from harm.  You see, since laptops vent hot air, they need a tray that will not hinder the flow of air.  Otherwise the laptop could overheat which damages it, or even more importantly, you could get burned.  A laptop tray could aid you in this area.

There are several areas you need to consider when looking to acquire a laptop tray.

  • How much air flow is allowed in the area where the laptop’s air is vented?  Make sure nothing is in the way that could either get hot or block the air flow altogether.
  • How far off the surface (ie. desk or lap) will the laptop be lifted?  This could be for ventilation or just protecting you from the heat.
  • How comfortable will the tray make your computing?
  • How versatile is it?  Can it adapt to different users or situations?
  • How portable is it?  What if you need to travel?

In this article I am going to share with you several plans for making your own vented laptop tray (around here we like tech-related DIY projects).  Your situation will dictate which tray you choose to make.

1.  The “Type-In-Bed” Laptop Tray

This type of laptop tray has been on the market for quite some time but why would you want to buy one of these

DIY computer lap top tray

…when you can make one?

diy lap top tray

This person decided not to bite on one of those store-bought varieties and decided to make their own.  You can follow the instructions and do it yourself, too.  You’ll notice though, that there is no venting going on so the air probably won’t have any place to go but into the computer components and the wood.  Vent this baby using a drill and you’re all set!

2. The Cop-Style Car Tray

Have you ever wondered about those “no cell phones while driving” laws but noticed how police cars always have their laptops mounted and facing them while driving?  The truth of it is that they probably only use them when pulled over.  You can probably also think of various uses for a laptop while traveling by vehicle.  For instance, if you do garage sales a lot and you’d like to be able to check prices.

This dude grabbed some PVC pipe and went at making his own tray for his truck.

laptop tray

It looks so easy to do that even I could probably pull it off.

3. The Laptop Tray For Your Lap

This person decided he would make it possible to use his laptop on his lap.  Who would have thought of that? (via Lifehacker)

laptop tray

With just a few twist-ties, some left over shelving and a few tee shirts for padding, you’ll be in comfort heaven while computing on your lap.  I like how the wire shelving works great at letting the laptop vent its air.

If all you need is some added ventilation when working at a desk, why not try a few rubber doorstops just to get some distance between the laptop and the desk?  I’ve also used books so you can be creative.

What do you use as a laptop stand?  What about keeping your laptop cool?  Please share your secrets in the comments!

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10 Free Computer Tech Help Sites You Might Have Overlooked

Posted: 20 Aug 2010 11:31 AM PDT

free computer tech helpWe at MakeUseOf always try to answer a call for help whenever it is put up in the comments or in our Answers section. Of course, we don't have all the answers. Nobody does. At best, you can shout for some free help and hope it echoes around the World Wide Web and somebody with the troubleshooting skills answers back.

We generally take to the search engine and type in the error or problem. The search results tap into the many computer support sites, troubleshooting discussion boards, and Q&A sites on the hunt for a similar problem.

Instead of forgetting the website that helped us out from the soup, it pays to bookmark it, for errors are always around the corner.

Some of you must have bookmarked a few from our previous post on computer troubleshooting advice. Meanwhile scroll through ten more free computer tech help that stand ready to lend a hand with disaster control.

Windows Seven Forums

free computer tech help

When I scrolled down and looked at the number of active users, the figure of 5,000+ suggested a bustling forum. The discussions are all around Windows 7. The Windows 7 forum is an unofficial stage to air the problems you might be having with Microsoft's latest OS. From driver compatibility problems, to crashes and debugging, if you are using the spanking new OS, this is a must-bookmark for Windows 7 help and support.


tech help

I couldn't have thought up a nicer name for a Windows troubleshooting website. The site is not much to look at. The Articles section is limited, but it is the Discussion Forum you must go to if you are seeking solutions for any errors.

The discussion boards are grouped under Windows OS versions. Use the search tool to locate a specific problem and solution.

Server Fault

tech help

Server Fault is a free Q&A site for system administrators and IT professionals. The site is very clean and neatly organized. The site says that it seeks to present itself in a way that brings the best of Wikis, Blogs, Forums, and Digg/Reddit. The question and answers are collaboratively edited by the participants.

For a bit of an ego boost, you can earn points by asking and solving questions that get awarded as Gold, Silver, and Bronze badges.

Bleeping Computer

tech help

With 390,000 registered members, the discussion forum has lots of people to talk about computer issues. Two million posts in a wide variety of threads cover topics from the early Windows 95 to the latest iPad. Every aspect from software to external hardware is chatted up on this active forum.

The tabbed links at the top lead to different sections of the website like a small tutorial section and a glossary.

Cybertech Help

free computer tech help online

The Cyber Tech Help Support Forum is a part of this computer help online community. You can tap into the community of users to seek solutions for your software, hardware, or networking needs. Macintosh and Linux issues are also posted.

Ask Leo

free computer tech help online

Leo is the guy who runs this simple Q&A tech problem solving website. And he doesn't charge a penny for the free computer technical support. The site is about seven years old now, so you can dip into 2,296 technical support articles or simply use the search box. The style of answers is conversationally like banter and in 'plain English'.


free computer tech help online

Protonic is a more hands on solution than forum posts. You can use your free Protonic user account to ask a question which gets answered by a volunteer technician. The length of time it takes for the answer depends on a number of factors, for instance, the complexity of the problem or question.

You have to feed the system details into your account when you register for one. Look into the FAQ of the web service for more details. The online troubleshooting website covers Windows, Mac, and Linux related problems, along with any handheld OS.

I really couldn't try out the website in full, but the tag line says that they have answered 185,039 to date.


computer tech help

Ask a tech support question for free and get crowd sourced answers from the large community. The site is a well rounded discussion board that covers all angles of computing including a sub-forum on certification and education.

Linux Questions

computer tech help

Windows and Apple support is pretty much organized. The numbers of free Linux help forums aren't falling back. is a comprehensive storehouse of Linux questions and discussion. From the point you are starting out as a newbie to Linux Enterprise, there's a lot of coverage.

You can also find a few sub-forums on BSD, Solaris, IBM AIX, and a few UNIX platforms.

Microsoft TechNet

free computer tech help

Microsoft's TechNet is a support website for technical information, news, and events for IT professionals and advanced users. Part of the website is subscription based, but a large part of free support resources have been opened to the public. This includes a vibrant discussion forum, an Open Source blog, technical documentation in the TechNet library, and a Wiki that's beginning to take off. The Learn section has neatly arranged info (and videos) on the path you should take for learning Microsoft technologies.

The internet community is always willing to lend a hand. With discussion boards and Q&A services, troubleshooting support may not be real time or hands-on, but it is free and instructional. Tells us about your favorite free computer tech help site that has saved you from splitting hair.

Image Credit: bennylin0724



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How To Create Your Own Online Proxy Server In Minutes

Posted: 20 Aug 2010 10:31 AM PDT

create a proxy server to surf the webI had quite a lot of trouble last week with a company’s browsing restrictions. It used an extensive directory of ‘forbidden websites’ that kept out all but a few popular sites. In effect, no games sites, no personal email, and no MakeUseOf.

None of the conventional proxy servers worked, and even Google Translate failed. My hopes were down until, yesterday, I discovered that one of my personal domains could be accessed.

Back on my home computer, in a matter of minutes, I had set up my own functioning proxy server. With the instructions below, so can you.


If we want to pull this off there are a few things you need.

  • Web Host

In theory, any webhost will do, if they comply with the other requirements; an old computer in your basement, or even a free online webhost.

  • PHP5 or greater and cURL

Look for this on the website of your webhost. If it’s paid hosting, you can almost count on it. Especially cURL is a feature that’ll be disabled on most free webservers.

  • Permission

That’s right. Some webhosts will explicitly forbid you to create a proxy server (or a chat room, for that matter) in their terms of content. And you can expect them to find out.

1. Download and Install GlypeProxy

GlypeProxy is a free, standalone PHP script. That means it’s lightweight and incredibly easy to configure. You can download it from their website.

Next, upload the files to a sub directory on your webserver. If you see a folder called ‘www’, or called after your domain name (e.g. create the sub folder in there. You need to avoid using the word ‘proxy’, because some companies pick up on it. Instead, use ‘web’ or ’surf’.

There are a few different ways to upload your files. If you already know this, skip to the next paragraph. Here they are arranged from the least to the most effort.

  • Upload and unpack ZIP

Look in the filemanager for an ‘unpack’ or ‘extract’ option. You can then upload it in one take. This is not always supported.

  • FTP access

Use an FTP application to access your webhost, and let it transfer the files while you fetch some more coffee. Most often supported.

  • Manual upload

You really don’t want to do this – are you sure the previous two alternatives are blanked out? Your last resolve will be to manually upload all the files and folder structures. Or start looking for a different host – it might not be such a bad idea.

2. Ready For Use

There’s no real set-up needed. Just point your browser to the directory where you put all those files (ex. and GlypeProxy will pop up. If you don’t like the logo, you’ll have to replace it manually. But if you want a proxy server for personal use, some little branding won’t matter.

create a proxy server to surf the web

Users can enter any URL and, after expanding the options, choose to encode the URL, the page, allow cookies, scripts and objects. Encoding the page can help you access some sites that are still being picked up and intercepted, but might give you a corrupt webpage at times.

3. Admin Preferences

Although Glype is a powerful proxy script, the admin tools are obviously the backing power. You might not know this, but a lot of online proxy tools are powered by Glype, just like the one you just set up. The admin preferences leave room not only for customization, but for improvement. You can assign site-specific code for trouble-giving websites, and change user-agent and proxy lists.

create a proxy server to surf the web

Most useful to novice users will be the caching tools (pictured above), logs, and blacklists. The caching tools can help you improve the browsing speed by storing some files from all, or some of the already visited websites. Logs are off by default, but might have legal importance in the future, depending on who uses your proxy server. Always explicitly mention you’re keeping these logs. Finally, the blacklists will allow you to block (all but) a few sites, or users.

To access your admin panel, point your browser to admin.php on your webserver (e.g.

Are you setting up your own personal proxy server? Do you have any other tips or experiences on the issue? Let us know in the comments below!

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Geotag Your Website or Blog Updates with GeoRSS & MapQuest

Posted: 20 Aug 2010 09:31 AM PDT

geotag websiteOne of the coolest things about the Internet today is that it allows freedom of mobility. With a laptop and a Wi-Fi hotspot, you can surf the net while drinking a latte in your favorite coffee shop. With an iPhone, Blackberry or Android mobile device, you can quickly post an update to Facebook or to your blog in just minutes. Things are really advancing at a rapid pace, and the Internet is connecting people around the world in ways that are just astonishing.

So, with this mobility in mind, I went out in search of a way for bloggers or anyone who owns a website to geotag website updates with the longitude and latitude of either their present location, or the coordinates of a story they’re posting about. Better yet, what about the ability to publish a map that displays those geographical locations?

Well, the interesting thing is that I started out looking for the solution at the usual places – either with Google or Yahoo. Google has a way to do it through your Google Maps API and a bit of coding. Yahoo has a simpler method with Yahoo Smart Maps, your own application API, and again – a bit of coding. However, I wanted a solution that allows you to geotag websites but requires no coding at all, and which anyone can do quickly and easily with their own website. I am happy to report that the answer actually came from MapQuest.

Setting Up A Geotagged RSS Feed

Before we get to MapQuest, the first step in accomplishing this is having your website or blog attach a “tag” to your RSS feed for each post, which identifies the coordinates. The simplest method is with the “GeoRSS” tag.

You can either modify the code that creates your website XML feed so that it appends this tag and the coordinates to every post in your feed, or if you’re using a Wordpress blog, the job gets even easier with the Geotagging plugins that are available. In my case, I went with the WP plugin called “Geotag” by Boris Pulyer. When you download the plugin, just place the geotag.php file in the plugins folder, and then enable the plugin in your Wordpress admin panel.

geotag website

Once that’s done, you’ll find a map embedded into the post edit form. You can use this tool to either search for the coordinate points of a location, or just click on the map for the points.

Here, I’ve selected a point off of the coast of Rhode Island with latitude 40 and longitude -70. When you save your post, these coordinates are appended to the RSS feed for that post. This means that anyone using a website or mobile app that incorporates blogs that are “geo-enabled” will be able to utilize that location information. As the world migrates to GPS-location enabled Internet content, you’ll be one step ahead of the game with your new geotagged RSS feed.

Displaying Your Post Locations On A Map

Now that you have the coordinates of each post updating to your RSS feed, the next step is to embed a map on your site that displays all of your latest posts with a location marker on the map. In my case, I want to display the location of news events in the U.S. that I’ll be posting on my website. This is where MapQuest can help.

geotag blog

When you map an area in MapQuest (it doesn’t matter what location, so long as it’s near where you’re blogging about), you have the option to embed the map you’ve created. In the embed screen, there’s an “Advanced Options” button where you’ll be able to configure the map.

geotag blog

On the configuration screen, you can set the size and zoom in or out so that the map covers whatever region you’re blogging about. When you scroll down, you’ll discover an area titled “GeoRSS Feed” which, thanks to the Wordpress plugin you’ve already installed, you now have. Just past your blog’s RSS URL into the “Feed URL” field and click “Update Feed.”

geotag blog

Then, copy and paste the resulting iframe embed code, and paste it wherever you want to display the map on your site. You’ll notice that it displays the coordinates of your blog post with a little RSS icon.

geotag website

Even more coolness – when your visitor hovers the mouse over the RSS icon at that location, the title and description from the feed pops up, and they can click on the link to visit the actual blog posting.

I love this solution because I can create a central page on my site that visitors can go to if they want a visual update of the locations I’ve been writing about. You can use this feature for just about anything – not just blogging. Track animal sightings you’ve had or plot your trip across Europe for everyone to follow. The potential of geotagging your site updates is limited only by your own imagination.

Give geotagging a try and let us know how it goes, and if you find any better solutions for incorporating geotagged feeds, please share!

Image Credit: ilker

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How People Are Hacking Wireless Networks & How To Protect Yourself

Posted: 20 Aug 2010 08:31 AM PDT

hacking wireless networksYou’ve set up your wireless network. You’ve been good, too – you gave your router a unique ID that won’t be easily mixed up with other wireless routers and you have secured the network with a password so not just any passer-by can piggyback off your network as a means of downloading South Park episodes. You don’t have to worry about hackers now, right?

Well, not so fast. Although you’ve taken the basic steps required you still need to be aware of some hacking methods that can be used to gain access to your network despite the safeguards you have in place. You also need to be very wary whenever you are using a wireless network that is not your own.

Let’s take a look at the techniques hackers use when hacking wireless networks and what you can do about it.


The simplest of all attacks, sniffing is the simple process of intercepting wireless data that is being broadcasted on an unsecured network. If you are at home, and your network is secured, you don’t have to worry too much about sniffing attacks. However, most networks that are in the wild are not secured, including many of them at hotels and coffee shops.

It is easy to take a “It won’t happen to me” attitude, particularly when you’re using the free WiFi at a favorite coffee haunt. Here’s the thing – the sniffer may not be one of your coffee sipping cohorts. Sniffers can just as easily be somewhere outside of the shop, merrily picking information off the airwaves. There is even an activity known as Wardriving that involves driving around a city picking up wireless data.

Google was recently busted for this activity when it was revealed that some of their Google Maps vehicles had also been picking up data from unsecured wireless networks as passed by. Google claimed it was accidental and that they meant no harm. Most Wardrivers also claim to be benevolent, often stating that they’re only trying to map out wireless networks. Still, it is easy to see how a malicious person could use this technique to try and steal sensitive data.

hacking wireless networks

Full protection can only come from not using unsecured wireless networks. That may not be practical however, so your second best defense is to be careful about what information you send on an unsecured network. Before entering any information, be it a password or a comment on a blog, ask yourself – would I care if  a stranger obtained this information?


If you’ve set up a wireless network you’ve probably noticed that your computers no longer need to be told to access your network. Instead they access it automatically as soon as they move within signal range.

This is a very convenient feature, but it is also prone to exploitation. Hackers often attack a wireless network by simply creating a new network with a stronger wireless signal and a copied SSID in the same area as a legitimate network. This causes unsuspecting computers to automatically connect to the spoofed network instead of the real one.

Setting up your computer’s security settings so that it does not automatically connect to networks is the best way to counter-act this threat. You can also try to protect your home network by using a free network mapping tool like Spiceworks. A sudden change in your network map is a sign your wireless network may is being hit by a spoofing attack.

Encryption Cracking

hacking wireless networksIn a perfect world, you could set up your wireless network with an encryption key and be protected for life, but the real world simply doesn’t work that way. As encryption keys become more advanced hackers also increase their skills and develop new tools for penetrating even well protected wireless networks.

There are numerous ways to crack a wireless network’s encryption, but even simplistic methods can work. The website WPA Cracker, for example, can be used to hit a network with a brute force dictionary attack  that simply throws random words at a secured wireless network to try and crack it. This method can take a long time, and sometimes requires luck on the hacker’s part, but it is often effective.

The first step in protecting yourself people hacking wireless networks is to use WPA encryption. WEP, the older encryption technology, has been completely de-constructed by hackers and is now considered quite easy to crack. The second step is the use of a long, highly randomized encryption key. Long, random encryption keys are a pain in the butt to remember, but they’re much harder to crack.


These are the three most common methods of hacking a wireless network, but they’re not the only ones. New exploits are found constantly, making it difficult to ever ensure that you are 100% protected.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that, unless you happen to be a corporate CEO or a senator, you’re unlikely to ever be targeted by a cutting-edge attack. Most attacks are tried-and-true methods that rely on the target’s negligence rather than the hacker’s advanced knowledge. Simple steps – such as making sure your encryption key is long and highly randomized and never accessing system websites over wireless while in the wild – will protect you from most threats.

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