Monday, August 23, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [August 22nd]” plus 6 more “Cool Websites and Tools [August 22nd]” plus 6 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [August 22nd]

Posted: 22 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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GetSet -If you are planning for the next big trip but you are short on budget, then you should check out GetSet. This simple online travel planning tool shows the cheapest way to travel in us. It presents flight, car, and bus costs going from one place to another and you can decide how to go there. Read more: GetSet: Know The Cheapest Way To Travel in US.


iFaceSearch – While writing a report or research-type paper on a famous personality you often need images of their faces. But on the web when you search for somebody's pictures, every type of picture shows up including group photographs. To filter these pictures and view only the face ones, pay a visit to iFaceSearch. Read more: iFaceSearch: Search Faces Online.



StarTextures – Whether you are designing your website or an installable application, you can apply unique textures to the background of your project for the end user's visual pleasure. Designers spend a good deal of time looking for free design resources online. One site that catalogues and offers high quality texture collection is StarTextures. Read more: StarTextures: Free & Unique Textures Collection Online.



BillFloat – Mostly because of financial problems, there are times when you cannot make the payment of a particular bill. If you miss the due date even by a single day, you could end up paying a heavy fine on the bill. To avoid those fines and other undesirable consequences, you should use the services of BillFloat. Read more: BillFloat: Helps to Avoid Penalties & Pay Your Bills On Time.



I Write Like – You might not have the same writing talents as many authors but there might be similarities in your written works and the works of a famous author. To find which author's works your writings resemble, head on over to “I Write Like”. Read more: I Write Like: Find Out If Your Writing Style Resembles Any Famous Author.


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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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Thank You To MakeUseOf Friends!

Posted: 22 Aug 2010 07:31 PM PDT

It's time to say thanks to MakeUseOf’s friends who, once in a while, tip us great story ideas, help out on different projects and in some cases offer their services at discounted prices. Thank you, guys!

ShrinkTheWeb – Website Screenshot Thumbnail Service
Ever wanted to add website screenshots to your website? In my professional opinion ShrinkTheWeb is one of the best services for that, both in terms of performance and pricing. The free account gets you a whopping 250,000 impressions with nearly no delay. See it in action in our daily Cool Websites and Tools series.


Walyou – Cool Gadgets for Geeks
new cool gadgets
Walyou is a fun blog covering all sorts of new cool gadgets and other stuff every geek is likely to find entertaining. Everything from world’s largest Gunny Bears to E-hookah gadgets. Make sure to check them out.

PXLEyes – Photoshop Contests and Tutorials
photoshop contests & tutorials
The place for graphical artists! An awesome community with one common interest: a big passion for computer graphics! There are contests, prizes, tutorials, forums and an active community!


rade | eccles – iPhone Application Development
The perfect iPhone development team, rade | eccles managed to put our iPhone app together in record time yet exude professionalism and dedication every step of the way. Our collaboration wasn’t happenstance. We would make the same decision all over again. Our only recommendation for an iPhone developer – rade | eccles.


TrueKolor – Affordable Quality Logo and Banner Design
If you’re looking for a cheap, original and quality logo or banner, check out TrueKolor. We often contact these guys when we need a logo or a banner made, some of the stuff they did for us listed on their portfolio page. Highly recommended.


Mobify – Making the Web a mobile place
More and more users access websites and read blogs using their mobile phone. Mobify lets you mobilize your blog or website by creating lightweight version of it, which loads much faster and looks great on a mobile screen. MakeUseOf’s mobile site was created by Mobify, and we’re proud of it!


Thank you, guys!

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Which Multi-Purpose Login Service Do You Use? [MakeUseOf Poll]

Posted: 22 Aug 2010 06:31 PM PDT

Last week’s poll asked you when was the last time you printed something? It seems our results created an almost perfect bell curve from regular printers down to people who rarely print at all. If anything, we tend more towards regular usage – many commenters blamed their industry-required paper trail for this.

The largest represented group (30%) were people who had printed something “sometime this week”, followed by 21% who had used a printer “sometime today” and 18% “sometime this month”.

Full results and this week's poll after the jump.

Check out the almost perfect bell curve!

This week's poll question is:

When given a choice, which multi-purpose login service do you use?

Let’s see which of the login giants has the most power over us.

If you’ve had any problems with multi-purpose logins then let us know in the comments.

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Process Lasso Makes Windows Performance Optimization An Easy Task

Posted: 22 Aug 2010 03:31 PM PDT

Every computer user out there, including yours truly, is constantly on the watch for tips & tricks to make the PC boot and run faster. And if you are a gamer it is a given that you will always be tuning & retuning till the processor gives 110%.  But Windows Task Manager (WTM) is one of the vital system tools that comes out featureless with every passing Windows release cycle.

Process Lasso is an app that can replace WTM altogether and is aimed solely at Windows optimization by keeping bloated processes in check. The good thing about Process Lasso is its ability to nitpick each & every process and bind them to the rules you set.

Installation & Set Up

windows optimization

Process Lasso comes as a small 1.5 MB exe file and the installation is pretty straight forward without any sneaky toolbar bundles. Once the installation is done, we are given core engine and Management Console startup options for all the users.

best windows optimization

As the name implies, core engine is responsible for running the process rules we set for the PC and Management console is the GUI. If you don't want certain users to have their sessions optimized or to control & set the process rules, change the settings here. Not sure which options to select for the best Windows optimization? Just click Next and Process Lasso will run just fine.

Process Management

After installation Process Lasso launches automatically (by default the option to launch after installation is checked in the installation wizard) and we get to see the process monitor. The user interface resembles that of a Windows task manager on steroids. The UI is divided into three sections with the first one depicting the responsiveness, memory load and processor use graphically.

best windows optimization

All the running processes (background and otherwise), along with their system resource usage information are listed in the Processes section. You can toggle to the active processes tab to see only the list of apps running in the foreground. And finally we have the log section which keeps tracks of actions performed.


Process Balance a.k.a. ProBalance technology, ensures that resource hungry & unresponsive processes won't put a strain on the responsiveness of your PC. Priorities of such programs are altered automatically based on the rules you set.

With an assortment of Windows optimization options like disallowing certain programs from running, automatically restarting programs, limiting the number of instances of a program, logging all programs and more, Process Lasso allows you to take full control of the resource allocation process of your CPU.

windows optimization

If a program, say Flash, seems to hamper your work, you can set a low priority for the process or you can throttle the CPU resource allocation in entirety. I loved the option in Process Lasso which allows to keep the PC from not going into the sleep mode when certain processes are running.

The "Start process for all users on login" will come in handy when using the fast user switch feature. Gaming mode allows easy process priority optimization thereby enhancing the gameplay experience.

Not sure which program a particular process is associated to and are highly suspicious? You can right click on it and use the "Search for process on Internet" option to perform a Google search of the process in question. Process Lasso allows us to terminate processes abruptly or to restart them without having to exit & relaunch the program.


Process Lasso is an all-in-one automated Windows process tuner. Even though it is a shareware, most of the options available for free are more than enough for most users. During my evaluation, I was impressed by Process Lasso's actions log. Not only were they comprehensive but were also logged in a manner human beings could actually read & comprehend!

What do you think of Process Lasso? Do you use any other resource Windows optimization app to run your PC smoothly? Leave a comment below!

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Hot Tech Deals [Aug 22nd]

Posted: 22 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. Kodak EasyShare Z915 IS 10MP 10X Digital Camera $89.99
  2. Logitech Z520 2.0ch Multimedia Speakers $54.99AR Free Shipping
  3. Onecall Weekend Sale on Electronics
  4. Canon PowerShot D10 12.1 MP 3X Digital Camera (Waterproof/Shockproof/Cold Resistant) $215.99 via code 2KVH967BFCQVC4
  5. Panasonic VIERA TC-P42C2 42in Plasma HDTV (720p) $501 Free Shipping via code AFLPAN501
  6. Sony Alpha A330 10.2MP Digital SLR Camera w/ 18-55 Lens $379.99 Free Shiping
  7. Rosewill minifit XL Aluminum Netbook Cooling Pad (Fits up to 15in) $11.99 via code EMCYWZX56
  8. Hand Held Items Coupon Code: 20% off Apple iPad Cases + 70% discount via code ipadcases20
  9. Hitachi SimpleDrive Mini 500GB Portable External Hard Drive (Carbon Fiber) $59.99AR via code J8QRP?044HZW1Z
  10. Netgear ReadyNAS DUO 1TB Network Attached Storage NAS Gigabit $199.99AR
  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. Apple iBook G4 1.33GHz 12.1in Laptop (REFURB/1GB/40GB) $269.99 via code APPLE
  14. Logitech Z520 2.0ch Multimedia Speakers $59.99AR
  15. Dell Inspiron 14z Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 ULV 14in Laptop (4GB/500GB/2yr Warranty) $700.79 via codes 6KWMM0JFLZK0W? and ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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10 Free MP3 Albums & An Exclusive Song To Download [Sound Sunday]

Posted: 22 Aug 2010 12:31 PM PDT

where can I download free mp3sThe wait is over, here is a fresh edition of Sound Sunday!

This week the focus is on pop and rock in all its variations. From acoustic, gospel, and folk to ambient and electronic, this selection covers a wide spectrum. We hope your ears will be pleased.

Please be generous and share with your friends. Also let us know if we can improve Sound Sunday.  Feel free to post your feedback and requests in the comments. Thank you.

Searchlights – New Job

Genre: alternative, folk rock

where can I download free mp3sThis is not an album, it’s a song exclusively featured on MakeUseOf. Chris Baron is a musician from Portland, Oregon and Searchlights is his band. They have some shows for Portland lined up in the next weeks. Chris is also looking to play some gigs in British Columbia this fall. Anyone out there who would like to book a talented musician and eventually his band?

You can download the song New Job from MakeUseOf. To download, please > right-click link and select > Save Link As…

Searchlights Homepage. Chris Baron MySpace and Homepage. Huge Sally Homepage.

Cloudmachine – Hum Of Life

Genre: acoustic, indie, rock

where can I download free mp3sThe Netherlands may not receive proper recognition for it, but the country is rich in creative talent and Cloudmachine is a great example. Hum Of Life is their fourth album. It’s a fine composition of indie pop with strong melodies and a distant melancholy. It’s time to break out of Holland!

Hum Of Life is provided by NoiseTrade. Some input required.

Cloudmachine MySpace and Homepage.

Fono – Too Broken To Break

Genre: alternative, rock

where can I download free mp3sFono has supported bands like the Goo Goo Dolls, Third Eye Blind, and Bon Jovi. The band has worked with world class producers, and their songs made it to MTV, were featured in a few TV shows, and received several songwriting awards. Hence it’s rather surprising that they remain unsigned by a record label. Maybe Fono is just too good to be signed and tied up – Too Broken To Break?

You can download the album from their Homepage in exchange for your eMail address.

Fono MySpace and Homepage.

David James Graham – You Are Everything & Now Its’ Mine

Genre: alternative, acoustic, rock, grunge

where can I download free mp3sYou Are Everything And Now Its’ Mine is David’s solo debut album. You wouldn’t suspect a suicidal arsonist is a talented guy from ‘Vanfuckingcouver’, but I guess the show is part of every great artist. No need to be Ashamed, this album is a great piece of work.

The download is hosted by Bandcamp. Input required.

David James Graham MySpace and Facebook.

Five Smooth Stones – Life From Dust

Genre: rock, gospel, christian

where can I download free mp3sIf you enjoy to dance and/or shoot videos you can help Five Smooth Stones! They are looking for videos of people moving to their song Lift Me. Here are the details. They also want to reach 1,000 downloads of their free album by the end of September. Help MakeUseOf contribute 10% to that goal!

This album is a free download from NoiseTrade. Questions asked.

Five Smooth Stones MySpace and Homepage.

Toupé – Duninadé

Genre: indie, pop

where can I download free mp3sDespite the foreign name and the accents aigu, Toupé is a band native to the UK. Their debut album Alopecia was released in 2003. Duninadé was recorded in a single day and it does have a refreshingly raw sound to it. This is music that hasn’t been edited and remixed to death by a perfectionist producer.  It’s authentic.

Get the album directly from Toupé’s Homepage.

Toupé MySpace and Homepage.

Ciudad – Brooklyn Sessions

Genre: alternative, rock, indie

where can I download free mp3sFormed in the mid 90s, when they were barely teenagers, Ciudad has grown into a respectable rock band over the years. Today they are well established in their home country the Philippines. The present album was recorded as they rehearsed for their CMJ Festival set in New York in late 2009.

The Brooklyn Sessions are available via Bandcamp. No questions asked.

Ciudad MySpace and Facebook.

Ultimate Fakebook – Daydream Radio Is Smiling Static

Genre: pop, indie, rock

where can I download free mp3sThey had already split up in 2003. However, when they got together for a friend’s birthday show five years later, it started all over again. They rediscovered some of their old, discarded material and started putting it together for a new record. 10 years after This Will Be Laughing Week, they are now releasing Daydream Radio is Smiling Static.

If you dare to share your email address, you can download the album from their Homepage.

Ultimate Fakebook MySpace and Homepage.

Inch Chua – Wallflower

Genre: acoustic, pop, electronica

where can I download free mp3sInch Chua is an artist from Singapore. The frontwoman of the alternative rock band Allura, has now recorded a solo album. Wallflower lets her magically sweet voice bloom in a mix of pop, electronica, and accoustic tunes. A must hear!

Wallflower can be plucked from Bandcamp.

Inch Chua PureVolume and Homepage.

Enhues – You Aren’t You

Genre: indie, electronic, rock

where can I download free mp3sThe album explores self-reflection in Hello, Mirror and continues the process of falling apart in Denature to the realization that You Aren’t You. The process continues until we greet each other again in Hello, Reflection. You Aren’t You is an album about self identity. This is the only channel the artist has chosen to reveal himself.

Trade some information for a download of this album from Bandcamp.

Enhues Homepage.

I Heart Noise – Gone In 60 Seconds

Genre: ambient, indie, rock, mixed

where can I download free mp3sI Heart Noise is a blog born out of the dream to create the ultimate rock  music encyclopedia. In July the blog launched the project Gone In 60 Seconds and called for songs that are no longer than one minute. One month later the compilation was ready to go live. This is the original article announcing its release.

Gone In 60 Seconds is hosted by Bandcamp.

I Heart Noise Homepage.

Past editions of Sound Sunday are available here. Would you like to see your free download featured in an upcoming article? Please get in touch with me (tina at makeuseof dot com). The comments are open for critique and praise. We appreciate your contribution.

What is your favorite album this Sunday?

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How To Use A PlayStation Guitar Hero Controller On A PC Or Mac

Posted: 22 Aug 2010 10:31 AM PDT

guitar hero playstation 2There are some amazing, free rhythm games available online, and we’ve covered the best of them. JamLegend can be played from your browser, with impressive functionality, and Frets on Fire is a multi-OS desktop variant.

But however great these games are, it’s easy to get cramped when you’re using your keyboard (even if you hold it like an actual guitar, as suggested by both games).

However, it’s easy to use your Guitar Hero Playstation 2 or 3 Guitar Hero controllers on your PC – and it’s a lot cheaper! Read on for the full tutorial.

For PS2 Controllers

You might have noticed there’s no way to insert a PlayStation 2 controller into your PC. This is easily solved by buying a PlayStation 2 to USB converter. This little piece of hardware is easy to find both on eBay and in your local hardware store.

guitar hero playstation 2

For only a couple of dollars, it’s a far better alternative than buying a new (USB) Guitar Hero controller – which often retails for around $50.

On Your Windows PC

For Windows, we’re going to use a little application called Xpadder. The current release isn’t available for free, but you can find a two year old version on FileForum that fits our needs. It’s an archive that unzips on your desktop.

If you’re on Windows 7, the application will draw a blank. To fix this, right-click on the unzipped Xpadder.exe, go to Properties -> Compatibility, and tick off the Compatibility mode checkbox for Windows XP or Windows Vista.

guitar hero controller

On your first launch, Xpadder will ask you from which directory you want to run the application and where to save the files. There’s no explicit reason for not running it off your desktop, but you can do here as you please.

xPadder will take a while to start up and detect third-party controllers. When it’s done, click on the tiny controller icon in the top left corner, and select New. If any of the following steps don’t work, select a different square (controller) in the top ribbon, and try again.

guitar hero controller

In the Controller Settings, open the Buttons tab. You can now press those colored buttons on your Guitar Hero one at a time, and they will show on the screen. Notice that the button names and order are probably messed up. Drag and drop the buttons in the right order, and rename them. This will make the rest of the process a lot easier.

guitar hero controller

Switch to the DPad tab, and tick off the ‘enabled‘ checkbox. When the application prompts you to press the up and down buttons, respectively strum up and down. Click cancel if it prompts you for left and right.

guitar hero controller ps2

Go to the Finish tab, and press close. The above specified buttons will remain visible. You can click either of these, and select the corresponding key from an on-screen keyboard. You’ll want to use the default keys in JamLegend and Frets on Fire. You’re probably safe by using the same combination as me below; numbered keys do not require shift.

guitar hero controller ps2

Again, press on the little top left controller and save as a file on your desktop. You’ll need to open this configurations file whenever you want to use your Guitar Hero controller. Enjoy!

On Your Mac

ControllerMate is a similar, but more advanced application for Mac OS X. The free version is limited to 10 simultaneous action/output building blocks, but we’re only going to need 7 of them. It’ll also deactivate if you keep it in the background for more than 20 minutes, but if you open the screen every 2 or 3 songs, you’ll be fine.

If you’re going to use a PS3 controller, you’ll also need to install Ps3Controller.

With your Guitar Hero controller plugged in, fire up the application. You’ll be able to find it in the Palette window, as a USB controller. If you press the colored buttons on your controller, you’ll be able to see the corresponding virtual buttons light up on your screen. Open a new ‘page’ from the left hand side pane, and drag the buttons into it. You’ll need to order and possibly rename them yourself.

guitar hero controller ps2

Switch the palette window to Outputs, and drag Keystrokes onto the page, one for each button. For each one, select it and press ‘start recording‘. Press the correct key on your keyboard that needs to be linked with the button, and press ‘stop recording‘. Now drag the lower, light-grey button to the right hand field, ‘When turned OFF’.

Change the Palette to Calculations, and find the Value Selector. Drag it in between the Y-Axis button (strum) and the corresponding keypress.

There are three important values associated with your strum – neutral, up and down. You can read each one off the button on your screen. In my case neutral is 127, and up and down are 0 and 255. Select the values you see on your screen in the inspector.

Now drag a relationship between each button and keypress, by dragging the green tabs on top of each other. With your Y-Axis, drag the input on the Value Selector, and the Value Selector output on the keypress.

All that’s left to do is ticking off ‘Master Enable‘ and the correct page at the left hand side of the screen, and you’re good to go.

guitar hero playstation 2

Don’t forget to check back at least every 20 minutes, or your page will become inactive. It’s only a slight bother if it enables you to use your Guitar Hero controller.

Any other (controller) tips for JamLegend or Frets on Fire gamers? Let us know you own tips and experiences in the comments below!

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