Sunday, August 22, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [August 21st]” plus 6 more “Cool Websites and Tools [August 21st]” plus 6 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [August 21st]

Posted: 21 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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Skritter – Although a number of people learn to speak Chinese and Japanese, writing these languages is a different matter. Most people cannot properly differentiate between the characters of these languages. To help them write these languages better, Skritter was created. Read more: Skritter: Learn To Draw Chinese & Japanese Characters With Mouse Online.


GE MoodCam – GE Lighting is a popular and reputable company that manufactures consumer products related to lighting. Understanding that a product should correspond to their customer's needs, the company has created an iPhone application to help users in choosing the right light bulb. This app is called GE MoodCam. Read more: GE MoodCam: Choosing The Right Light Bulb For Your Room Made Easy.



Subtitles 1.1 – You might have movies stored on your computer. If they are in a foreign language or if their audio volume is too low, then having the movie's subtitles can greatly help to understand the story. While there are a number of techniques to find subtitles of a given movie, the easiest one is through Subtitles 1.1. Read more: Subtitles 1.1: Finding Subtitles Made Quick & Simple.



AllAboutBirds -Bird watching is a hobby pursued by many people. Although bird watching might be enjoyable for some, answers to bird-related questions can only be answered through ornithology, the study of birds. If you have any questions about birds on your mind make sure to pay a visit to online encyclopedia of birds AllAboutBirds. Read more: AllAboutBirds: Online Encyclopedia of Birds.



Send To Dropbox – The best part of file-syncing app Dropbox is its ubiquity: files are on your computer and on the web. If this isn't enough for you be sure to check out SendToDropbox, a simple web app that allows you to email any file and have it end up in your Dropbox. Read more: Send To Dropbox: Email Files To Your Dropbox.


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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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View A Person’s Twitter Profile On Any Webpage With Tweetbeat Firsthand

Posted: 21 Aug 2010 06:31 PM PDT

Twitter fanatics, take note. Now there is a way for you to read someone’s tweets, no matter what webpage you happen to be on. Whether it’s a blog, Google News, even the Wordpress platform itself….you name it. While on that webpage, you can get a person’s tweets whenever that person is mentioned. It’s a Firefox extension / Chrome plugin called Tweetbeat Firsthand and it is simply cool.

Upon loading the extension / plugin, you will immediately see little blue Twitter icons appearing next to names. It can be an actual person, the name of a company, the name of an app….if they have a Twitter account, that little blue Twitter icon will pop up.

Then it’s just a case of hovering your mouse over the little blue icon and up pops that person’s recent Tweets.

You can click directly to the person’s Twitter page as well as click on the links contained in their tweets.   There is also a close function in case you accidently hovered over the blue icon unintentionally (which I have found myself doing quite a lot since I started using it).

There are two slight annoyances about the extension though.

  • If you do a lot of copying and pasting of text on webpages, these Twitter boxes are constantly going to pop up.   Then you have to click them closed again with your mouse.   It might not be such a big deal the first couple of times but when it happens continuously, that’s when you start swearing out loud in various obscure languages.
  • Another issue is that it doesn’t seem to detect everyone.   I follow several humorous Twitter pages such as Eric Cartman and Darth Vader.   But going to their Wikipedia pages, the blue Twitter icon did not appear next to their names.

Putting both those things aside, Tweetbeat Firsthand is still an excellent addition to any webpage if you are a Twitter junkie and you are constantly looking out for new people to follow.  It can also be a very helpful tool if you are perhaps researching a person or company and you want to find out more about them.   Maybe you don’t realise they have a Twitter account?   Well with this extension, their Twitter account will (hopefully) pop up when you read about them on a webpage – and their tweets could end up becoming rather revealing.

With this extension, watch your Twitter network increase rapidly.  You’ll find yourself following a lot more people!

Firefox extension
Chrome extension

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How To Remote Control Your iPhone From Your Computer

Posted: 21 Aug 2010 03:31 PM PDT

iphone remote controlThere are a number of apps in the Apple App Store that let you control your computer or a specific software using your iPhone. You can use your iPhone as a mouse, remote control iTunes with it and do a whole lot more. Such apps are fun to use simply by the virtue of the “awesomeness” factor.

Let’s just turn the tables a bit. How about an iPhone remote control app that lets you control your iPhone using your computer?  Especially if you bitten by the texting bug! Now you can type fast and do work on your laptop while having the iPhone open in a separate application on your computer. Interested? Let’s see how you can do it.

We are going to be using the iPhone as a VNC server. Apple, of course wouldn’t allow such a feat to be accomplished on their cherished device, so you won’t find any such application in the Apple App Store. However, you might be aware that another very popular platform exists where you can get free and paid apps that you won’t find on Apple’s App Store. I am talking about Cydia.

Before we proceed any further I must mention a disclaimer. Jailbreaking has recently been legalized in the United States but you might want to check your local laws if you are outside the United States. Also keep in mind that jailbreaking will void your Apple warranty.

We need a jailbroken device for Cydia and we need Cydia for Veency which is the app that lets you connect to your iPhone remotely via VNC and thus control it from your computer. Veency is of course not the only app that jailbroken device owners might be interested in. There are lots of them available via Cydia that let you tweak your iPhone in ways no other app on the App Store would let you do.

Jailbreaking is easier than ever before with the latest app called jailbreakme. The actual process is however beyond the scope of our discussion here.

Installing Veency

  • Open Cydia on your iPhone. Let it download the packages and do its thing. Now go to search and look for Veency.

iphone remote control

  • Click or tap on Veency. You will be able to see details of the Veency Package. Browse through them to know more about it.
  • Once satisfied you can click the Install button towards the top right.
  • Cydia will ask for confirmation before proceeding and show you a summary of what will be changed

remote desktop iphone

  • Confirm and Veency will be downloaded and installed on your iPhone.

Using Veency

From a configuration point of view you only need to ensure that WiFi is switched on your iDevice before you can access it remotely. You will also need to know the IP address that gets assigned to your device. You already know this if you assigned it manually.

Else you can find the IP address assigned to your device by visiting Settings > General. Then click on the blue arrow next to WiFi network name and you should find your settings listed there.

remote desktop iphone

Accessing Remotely

Your iDevice now has a VNC server installed. So you should be able to connect easily using a VNC client. We have covered a number of them before. TightVNC stands out if you are on Windows. Download and install it from here. A portable version is also available if you are so inclined. Once that is out of the way, fire it up.

remote desktop iphone

Next up you need to enter the IP address we determined above. And confirm the VNC request:

Once you are connected you will be able to use your iPhone remotely via your computer.

iphone remote control

This is especially handy when typing long messages or accessing your iPhone in another room. There are certain downsides as well. Since you are using this with the mouse you won’t be able to replicate all the ground breaking gestures that make the iPhone so special.

I didn’t get the opportunity to test the setup with a magic mouse or magic trackpad. It would be interesting to know how things behave with these devices in the equation. Maybe some of you can let us know?



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Hot Tech Deals [Aug 21st]

Posted: 21 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. Bose In-Ear Headphones $57.95 Free Shipping
  2. Dell Vostro 230 Slim Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 Desktop (2GB/250GB) w/ 20in LCD $429
  3. Canon PowerShot D10 12.1 MP 3X Digital Camera (Waterproof/Shockproof/Cold Resistant) $215.99 via code 2KVH967BFCQVC4
  4. Panasonic VIERA TC-P42C2 42in Plasma HDTV (720p) $501 Free Shipping via code AFLPAN501
  5. Sony Alpha A330 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera w/ 18-55 Lens $379.99 Free Shiping
  6. Rosewill minifit XL Aluminum Netbook Cooling Pad (Fits up to 15in) $11.99 via code EMCYWZX56
  7. Hand Held Items Coupon Code: 20% off Apple iPad Cases + 70% discount via code ipadcases20
  8. Hitachi SimpleDrive Mini 500GB Portable External Hard Drive (Carbon Fiber) $59.99AR via code J8QRP?044HZW1Z
  9. Dell ST2410 24 inch Widescreen LCD Monitor $189.99 Free Shipping via code 3MKZ15PB4R074C
  10. Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB Internal SATA Hard Drive w/ 5yr Warranty $154.99 via code CLASS15
  11. Samsung EcoGreen F2 HD154UI 1.5TB 3.5in SATA Internal Hard Drive (2-PACK) $136.98 via code CLASS15
  12. HHI iPad Flip Leather Case with Magnetic Kick Stand + Screen Protector $12.99 via code ipadflipkstand
  13. Samsung 2494LW 24in Widescreen LCD Monitor (1920×1080) $169 via code $1PRQNRRD0LB0?
  14. Dell Inspiron 14z Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 ULV 14in Laptop (4GB/500GB/2yr Warranty) $700.79 via codes 6KWMM0JFLZK0W? and ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C
  15. Logitech Z520 2.0ch Multimedia Speakers $59.99AR
  16. Apple iBook G4 1.33GHz 12.1in Laptop (REFURB/1GB/40GB) $269.99 via code APPLE
  17. Netgear ReadyNAS DUO 1TB Network Attached Storage NAS Gigabit $199.99AR
  18. Nokia E63 Smartphone Business Edition (Unlocked, Quad-Band GSM, 3G) w/ Bluetooth Headset $129.99 via code V1CP85RGKTF72M

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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BleachBit: A Utility To Clean Up Your Linux System

Posted: 21 Aug 2010 12:31 PM PDT

wipe and clean linuxIt’s no secret: many programs fill your hard drive with well-meaning, but useless, crap. From browser caches to install leftovers to logs, computers are full of unnecessary information.

Windows users can turn to CCleaner – a program that can make your computer run faster - to systematically remove such fluff from their drive. But what about Linux users who need to wipe and clean their Linux machine?

That’s what BleachBit is for. Often called a CCleaner for Linux, BleachBit removes the cruft left behind by a number of programs in order to leave your hard drive emptier than it was before. This is particularly useful if you’re trying to free up space on your netbook.

Getting Started

Before you can do anything, of course, you need to install BleachBit. Ubuntu users can simply click here to install; users of other Linux systems can easily find BleachBit in their respective repostories, or find downloads over at BleachBit’s website. Heck, you’ll even find a Windows version (that can’t do much, unfortunately).

Once you have the program you’ll find it in your applications menu under “System“. Fire it up and you’ll see all the programs and functions you can clean:

wipe and clean linux

By default only the programs you’ve installed will show up here, which means you’ll only see relevant things. Go ahead and check the things you’re interested in deleting; you’ll be informed about the consequences of everything as you go. Once you’ve selected everything, go ahead and click “Preview” to see how much space you can save:

wipe and clean linux

Satisfied? I thought you might be. Check your settings one last time, then click “Delete” if you’re ready. Doing so will start the cleaning process!

Shred A File

If you delete a file on your computer, it’s not really gone. Data recovery experts can still recover it; the only real way to fully delete a file is to shred the hard drive. If you aren’t concerned about the CIA searching your drive anytime soon, however, BleachBit can probably shred it beyond the capabilities of most file recovery experts. Just click “File” followed by “Shred Files” to get started.

This is a great way to completely destroy evidence…or just protect your privacy.

Programs Supported

The number of programs supported by BleachBit is staggering. System files and your computer’s package manager are included, as are various MakeUseOf standards such as Firefox and Google Chrome. I could go on and on, but it’s probably best if you simply check out the full list of supported applications over at BleachBit’s feature page. Odds are, if you use a given program, BleachBit can clean it.


BleachBit is a program that can save you a lot of hard disk space quickly, if that’s what you’re looking for. If your system is complaining about low space on your primary partition, give it a spin, but be sure you know what you’re doing.

Can you think of any other tools for this job? Do you have any tips for using this program well? As always I love hearing from you, so comment away.

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How To Create Your Own Free Disposable Chat Room

Posted: 21 Aug 2010 10:31 AM PDT

create own chat roomHow many chat programs do you use? Chances are most of us at least have one Google Talk, MSN, and AIM account. That’s not taking into account Yahoo, Facebook chat, and whatever else people happen to be using these days.

So when you need to have a group chat, whether it’s a bunch of friends, a study group, or even a business web conference, it's going to be hard to get a consensus on which application to use.

Rather than have to sign up for yet another account, you can all use any one of the following websites. No sign up is actually necessary to use them, and creating your own personal chat room couldn't be easier.


TinyChat is one of the best options for private chat rooms available today for several reasons. It’s feature rich – with voice and webcam support, whiteboards and desktop sharing. Creating a chat room is as easy as choosing a name for your room, and a nickname. You can also sign in using your Twitter, Facebook or MySpace credentials.

create own chat room

Creating a room gives you moderator status, which allows you to choose certain settings – like requiring user logins and the ability to ban people from your chat room.

create free private chat rooms


If you need a password protected chat room, Chatterous is an interesting option with a lot of features. The main difference is that in order to create a room and invite other users – you have to sign up for an account but your friends don't. For the extra features provided, it’s definitely worth the extra effort.

create free private chat rooms

Chatterous has one very unique feature that can come in handy if you're out and about – the ability to follow the conversation even if you aren't in the Chatterous room. You can join in on the conversation using email, using Jabber or Google Talk or by SMS on your phone.

create free private chat rooms

That said, the chat history remains in the room so if you don't want to be bombarded by email, SMS or on Google Talk, then you can always go back any time and read what you missed.


Anologue is another solid option that, like Chatterous, saves chat history. Feature wise it is much simpler, and is a great option for those of you who don't really need all the extra bells and whistles offered by other websites. Simply click the button to create a new chat room and share the link.

create your own chat room


Did you ever wish you had an interpreter handy when chatting with someone whose first language isn't the same as yours? Now you do with BabelWith.Me. Babel is similar in concept to Anologue with one huge added feature – everyone else's chat will be instantly translated into the language of your choice.

create your own chat room

Both languages will be included – the translation is followed by the original phrase in red italics. There are 44 languages available on Babel at the moment. Of course it goes without saying that with computer generated translations, there are bound to be mistakes.

create your own chat room


If all you need is to create your own one-on-one video chat room, then BoostCam has got you covered. The site couldn’t be easier to use. Click the Start Chat Now button and a new session will automatically be created.

Allow the site to access your camera and microphone and then send the link to your friend, and you’ve got instant video chat without signing up for a thing. BoostCam is as simple as it gets which makes it perfect for video chats with the less than technically inclined.

create own chat room

If a webcam alone isn't enough and you need an added chat feature, you can use ChatRide instead.

Which of these chat rooms works best for you? Let us know in the comments.

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Camera Genius Giveaway Winners

Posted: 21 Aug 2010 10:00 AM PDT

Camera Genius is one of the best photography tools that an iPhone user can get their hands on. Besides implementing video recording on older iPhones, it has the tools for just about any camera-snapping need.

Today, we will be announcing the 10 lucky iPhone users (and MakeUseOf readers) who will be getting a copy of Camera Genius for free. Remember, you can only redeem these codes by selecting the US iTunes Store. Codes expire soon-ish so redeem them quickly!

Let’s see who the winners are.

  1. Ahmad
  2. Ken Shelton
  3. Charles
  4. Rene Hojgaard Frederiksen
  5. Ted Fischer
  6. Geoff Tucker
  7. Elena Sawyer
  8. Osama Javaid
  9. Nhan Nguyen
  10. Gabriel

Congratulations! Your codes have been sent via email. Again, redeem them as soon as possible.

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

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