Tuesday, August 24, 2010

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [August 23rd]” plus 10 more

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [August 23rd]” plus 10 more

Link to MakeUseOf.com

Cool Websites and Tools [August 23rd]

Posted: 23 Aug 2010 09:00 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!


GourmetOrigins – If you are a certified foodie and you like to know every bits and pieces about the food you love, then you should check out Gourmet Origins. Gourmet Origins is a map-based online social guide that helps food enthusiasts discover the origins of gourmet foods. Through this site, you will have an idea of where exactly your favorite food came from. Read more: GourmetOrigins: Know the Origin of Gourmet Foods.


SwapMeSports – Sporting equipment can be quite expensive. Anybody looking for places offering inexpensive and used sports equipment online should check out SwapMeSports. It is a free to use trading website for sporting goods. People living in the US can buy, sale, swap, and donate the sports equipment they own using the site's interface. Read more: SwapMeSports: Buy, Sell Or Trade Used Sports Equipment Online.



RansomNoteGenerator – Often in movies you see ransom notes created by clippings cut from newspapers. This is done so that the kidnapper's handwriting cannot be investigated by forensic experts. Ransom Note Generator builds on the same concept. On the site's homepage you get a text bar where you enter your ransom note. Read more: Ransom Note Generator: A Fun Way To Write A Ransom Note.



myTSA – When you are about to enter a transportation terminal like an airport, your luggage is checked to verify that you are not carrying any forbidden materials. If you mistakenly packed such materials you could end up spending a lot of time at the checking terminals. To prevent wasting time at those terminals you should pay a visit to “My TSA”. Read more: My TSA: Check Airport Security Waiting Times & Items Allowed On Flight.



CalcMoolator – Normally when people sign payment plans with a bank, they are not able to calculate the final costs themselves. Thankfully they can use the services of a wonderful tool name CalcMoolator, a website that offers a collection of free financial calculators online. Read more: CalcMoolator: Collection Of Free Financial Calculators Online.


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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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MakeUseOf Team Spotlight [August 23rd 2010]

Posted: 23 Aug 2010 08:00 PM PDT

MakeUseOf Team Spotlight is our occasional feature where we profile the work of our writers outside of MakeUseOf. We have some very talented employees who like to spread their talents all around the web and it’s only right that we should recognise and showcase those talents.

In this edition of Spotlight, we will be profiling the work of Evan, Steve, Jackson and Angela. But don’t forget, our team loves feedback and conversation from the readers. If you would like to take part in that conversation, subscribe to their Twitter streams today.

Why You Should Root Your Android Phone

Posted on Techerator by Evan

Anyone who owns an Android phone already knows that Google's operating system provides a tremendous amount of freedom right out of the box. If you want to take full advantage of your device, though, your best option is to root it. ("Rooting" is the process of unlocking root permissions on your phone, like jailbreaking an iPhone or using the sudo command in Linux.)

Check out this article for some great reasons why you should root your Android phone.

The Role of Consistency in Content Creation

Posted on Social Branding blog by Steve

Are you a content provider? If so, how often do you post content? Consistency is an important thing to maintain if you want to climb to the top.

Whether you own a blog or engage with others using social media, you need to get into the habit of maintaining a constant pace. Otherwise, your efforts to keep your audience will fall short.

8 Reasons To Buy An iPhone Without A Contract

Posted on TheDailyBuggle by Jackson

As we might all be aware by now, the iPhone 4 has thrown Apple into a huge PR pickle. Still, for the rest of us, the most important question to be asked is whether or not to get one? But why?

If you are contemplating on getting one for yourself, hang on just a minute and read these 8 reasons to get one out of contract.

Streamline LinkedIn to get the job you REALLY want

Posted on Bootstrap Your Life by Angela

Want to use LinkedIn without drawing attention to jobs you didn’t even really enjoy?

If you show employers only what you’ve done, you’ll just get offered more of the same jobs.

But you can’t leave big gaps in your employment history.

Here’s how to make the most of your LinkedIn profile and use it to break into your chosen career!

If you would like to follow the MUO staff yourself on Twitter, check out this Twitter list, which is updated on a regular basis, as staff are hired or fired. From there, you can click through to each writer’s Twitter profile where you can subscribe to them for all their latest updates.

Image Credit: Visualogist

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5 Free Operating Systems You Maybe Never Realized Existed

Posted: 23 Aug 2010 07:45 PM PDT

computer operating systemsYour operating system is undoubtedly the most important bit of software you will ever install. Without one, that expensive box of microchips and silicon in the corner is pretty much useless. Most of us can't do without a copy of Windows or Mac OS, but there are countless users worldwide who make do with a free option.

Even if you're firmly based in the Microsoft or Apple camp, taking a walk on the wild side and installing a secondary computer operating system can still be worth the effort. After all, variety is the spice of life.

Here are just a few of the lesser-known free options that might just be worth a go, if you're that way inclined.


Another Linux-based operating system, Freespire uses the popular Ubuntu (version 7.04) at its core and stamps its own mark on the open source OS. With the popular KDE suite at hand, users of Windows and Mac OS will feel right at home finding their way around.

computer operating systems

Freespire adds the power of the CNR Plugin, allowing fast and easy one-click installs of popular software suites including some commercial ventures. There are enhanced "modified" versions of programs you're probably already using (like Firefox and Thunderbird) to make life on the free side that little bit sweeter.

This freeware open source effort also comes complete with on-demand proprietary codecs (including one for Windows Media files) and a whole host of proprietary drivers for your wireless, graphics card and more.

For a powerful, ready-to-go Linux distribution with a difference Freespire does the job quite nicely.

Google's Chromium

If you only use your netbook for the net (which probably makes sense) then Google's Chromium might be just what you need. The lightning fast startup time means you'll be checking email, social media and wasting time online before Windows has even reached its login screen.

Best of all you can run it straight from a USB stick, making it ultra-portable between PCs. We’ve shown you how, right here.

computer operating systems

The current official builds can be a bit of a hassle to get going on a lot of computers, but a nice guy by the name of Hexxeh has compiled his own build called Flow which adds vastly improved hardware support. Check out our how-to for a complete set of instructions.

That old laptop sitting in a cupboard might find a new lease of life with the help of Chromium and its web apps.


Many of you will have heard of BSD, one of the many UNIX-based operating systems floating around the web. Often favoured for its secure and reliable nature, the team at PC-BSD have aimed high and developed a user-friendly version aimed at the "casual" user.

The idea behind PC-BSD is to provide users with a complete desktop operating system that doesn't require resource-intensive protection against viruses and spyware. In today's computing world, many of us dream of such a charm.

free operating systems

The release runs FreeBSD at its core, and expands on this with unparalleled ease-of-use. Self-installing software packages make adding extras a breeze, and the desktop can be sexed-up with fancy 3D effects and transitions.

The team behind this OS just wants you to enjoy more of the time you spend at your PC, and less time worrying about it.


Inspired by BeOS (and implementing certain features and bits of code from the old operating system) Haiku is an open source operating system aimed at personal computing. This makes it extremely user-friendly, as the primary audience are average users like you or me, looking for a way to get our daily computer needs tended to.

free operating systems

What makes Haiku different to other UNIX-based operating systems (specifically Linux) is its vision to provide a unified experience, rather than using multiple layers of software that can often over-complicate the computer operating system.

Haiku does not use the Linux kernel but a custom-built one which has been designed for responsiveness. Couple this with a threaded design for increased performance on multi-core processors, and the whole package begins to look quite appealing.


Netbook owners listen up! This might be the one you've been waiting for. A simple operating system, aimed at armchair surfers who live for the web.

computer operating systems

Incorporating a quick and easy one-click-install method for over 700 of the web's most popular services, Jolicloud enables you to surf, chat, listen, watch and connect from a clean and attractive interface. Plus with Jolicloud's Stream feature staying in contact and sharing fascinating finds with your social networks is easy.

You can synchronize your Jolicloud across as many devices as you like, and if you've not got your netbook with you simply log in with a HTML5-compliant browser to manage your account. Jolicloud might just be what your netbook's been missing, check out our full article here.


You're not going to get the compatibility of a Windows or Mac OS install with many of the above, but if you don't really need everything under the sun running on your machine then one of these (or even a few of these) might be for you. Even if you do use another primary OS, try partitioning or one of the many Live CD/USB releases. You might be surprised!

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How To Make Your Own Subtitles With Any Text Editor & Aegisub

Posted: 23 Aug 2010 02:31 PM PDT

subtitles downloadYouTube has been pushing upgrades to the site in slow doses (in the form of a nifty, basic editor, for example). Now you can even request auto-captioning of your Youtube videos to reach a larger audience (anyone that speaks a different language, wants to learn English or experiences some kind of hearing impairment).

It’s actually not that hard to manually put subtitles into your videos. It often just takes a bit of time, but soon enough, you’ll be able to translate videos to improve accessibility (especially when subtitles in your language aren’t available on the Web), or when you just want to be funny (like some of the English-subtitled Hitler spoofs on the iPad).

Any text editor that you have will be enough to create basic subtitles. For more customized subtitles, you can check out the second section of this article. The footage in the screenshots you see here is from Elephants Dream, the first open-source generated, animated short film ever made.

Making Basic Subtitles In A Text Editor

For this article, we’ll be using the built-in Notepad text editor in Windows to make basic subtitles with no additional color or font customization. Open Notepad and save your file with the .srt extension and is in UTF-8 (especially if you’re inputting special characters).

subtitles download

We will go over how to create subtitles in the SubRip (.srt) format, which follows this easy-to-learn pattern:

00:00:20,000 --> 00:00:24,400

00:00:24,600 --> 00:00:27,800
Why, hello there!
What's your name?

  1. Start the first line with the number 1.
  2. Now input the times of the subtitle/caption start and end. The 00:00:20,000 is in hours:minutes:seconds,milliseconds format. You can usually look at the video with milliseconds in Windows Movie Maker while you have Notepad open as well.
  3. Make sure to display both windows for easier work by pressing on both programs in the taskbar while pressing Ctrl and right-clicking on either program tab and selecting Show Windows Side By Side.
  4. Now just place a space between every line.
  5. Repeat the steps until you finish all the lines. Remember to save often.

After you’re done, you can view the subtitles in any major media player as long as your video and the subtitle have the same names but different file extensions of course and are located in the same folder. This is known as softsubbing, which leaves the raw video file intact.

subtitles downloads

You can also upload the srt files to your videos already on Youtube as captions.

subtitles downloads

Making Better-Looking Subtitles In Aegisub

Maybe you’re interested in more professional-looking subtitles or captions. In the world of open-source anything, Aegisub is a cross-platform subtitle editor that’s chock-full of advanced features for just this task.

Available as a portable application, the program provides seemingly endless options to customize the font, size, color and position of the subtitles. It also lets you more easily visualize where you might put the subtitles.

  1. Start by loading the video (in AVI, MP4, MPG format) you want to subtitle by going to Video in the top menu bar > Open Video.
  2. subtitles downloads

  3. If you don’t have the video (but do have the audio and want to move the position of the subtitles, for example), you can use a dummy video and set the closest matching resolution.
  4. You can also load the audio in the video and visualize the timing better (head to Audio > Open Audio From Video).
  5. (Optional) To change the font, size and color of your subtitles, head to Subtitles in the menu bar and select Styles Manager. In the dialog box that appears, you’ll see two boxes, Storage and Current Script.
  6. movie subtitles

  7. You can select to create a new style to your taste in the Storage section (which ensures you’ll always have this style saved) and copy it to the Current Script box (so you can use it to subtitle the video you opened earlier).
  8. movie subtitles

  9. Then click OK to go back to the main Aegisub window.
  10. In the Audio box, click on the start of the sound clip and right-click at the end of the clip. Press the S key or the space bar to hear the audio clip before inputting your subtitle in the Edit Box (you can also copy and paste the start and end frames as you see them in the video).
  11. movie subtitles

  12. (Optional) Double-click wherever you want the subtitles to appear in the Video Box to set the position. Sometimes, you may wish to add notes of regional sayings, for example, at the top of your video.
  13. Type your subtitle (consulting Google Translate if you wish) and press Enter (or hit Commit). Note that to display two lines, you need to use the term \N in the Edit Box.
  14. subtitles download

  15. Also, hit Save (Ctrl + S) to save your entire subtitle file (the default file extension is .ass for Advanced SubStation Alpha.)
  16. Now repeat step 4 to 6 until you finish subtitling (remember this combo: click, right-click, space bar, type the subtitle, Enter). Any changes you make, you must remember to save by hitting Commit and saving your whole subtitle file often.

That’s pretty much it. Be warned: Subtitling a whole clip can be very time-consuming. Once you’re done though, it can be rewarding to see your subtitled video in :

Of course, if you’d rather just download these and watch them with your videos, there are some very useful subtitle search engines, as well as automatic subtitle-searching-and-downloading software, such as Sublight (for Windows) and FileBot (cross-platform and open-source).

Do you usually add your own subtitles or do you just prefer to download them?

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Hot Tech Deals [Aug 23rd]

Posted: 23 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. LG E2250T-PN 22in LED-Backlit Widescreen LCD Monitor $152.99 via code LCDBTSPROMO
  2. Seagate Expansion 1TB USB External Hard Drive $69.99
  3. Viore LC40VXF60SB 40in LCD HDTV (1080p) + Soundbar $499.99
  4. Ativa LD100 8-Sheet Cross-Cut Shredder $29.99
  5. LG W2253VP-PF 22in LCD Monitor $149.99 Free Shipping
  6. Ogio B6 Portfolio Laptop Bag (Fits up to 16in Laptop) $19.99
  7. Canon PowerShot D10 12.1 MP 3X Digital Camera (Waterproof/Shockproof/Cold Resistant) $215.99 via code 2KVH967BFCQVC4
  8. Panasonic VIERA TC-P42C2 42in Plasma HDTV (720p) $501 Free Shipping via code AFLPAN501
  9. Rosewill minifit XL Aluminum Netbook Cooling Pad (Fits up to 15in) $11.99 via code EMCYWZX56
  10. Hand Held Items Coupon Code: 20% off Apple iPad Cases + 70% discount via code ipadcases20
  11. Hitachi SimpleDrive Mini 500GB Portable External Hard Drive (Carbon Fiber) $59.99AR via code J8QRP?044HZW1Z
  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. 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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Get An Invite To The New Digg Here!

Posted: 23 Aug 2010 12:35 PM PDT

Digg has been redesigning their site for a while now and we here at MakeUseOf can now offer some invites so you can get into the new Digg.

Everyone is talking about the new Digg these days. As mentioned on TechCrunch, the “beta invites for it are so sought-after that even Bill Cosby had to personally ask founder Kevin Rose for one on Twitter the other day”.

So here’s how you can get an invite:

Step 1 :

Digg only gives out 5 invites per person so some of us here at MakeUseOf has got together and pooled together their invites just for you. Remember, each link only allows in 5 people. So you have to be quick!

When you enter the new Digg for the first time, you are asked who you would like to follow (you can do this later and skip it for now). Or select something and click Next.

Step 2 :

Once you got in, please share your invites link in the comments below with everyone else. Below we have only 45 invites, the rest will hopefully come from you.

Step 3 :

Go to http://new.digg.com/makeuseof and make sure to follow MakeUseOf.com

Invite links:

Looking forward to see your invite links in the comments!

Newest comments appear first.

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How To Shoot Your Own Promotional Marketing Video From Start To Finish

Posted: 23 Aug 2010 12:30 PM PDT

video marketingMost of us realize that the Internet has enhanced and in many ways changed how businesses are marketed. No longer are they limited to print ads and paper brochures.

Now, Internet videos are a useful tool businesses. While the idea of using video as a marketing tool is not new, in the age of YouTube most people are now accustomed to seeing ordinary people talk about themselves — sharing their knowledge and expertise, or creating their own short form ”reality TV” show. The benefit of these self-promotions is that potential customers get to hear from you — the business owner — not an attractive/distracting actor/model. You could also use this same technique for announcing new products and services.

A promotional video is great for nearly any type of business owner; including attorneys, accountants, web designers, physicians, realtors, dentists, mechanics, restaurant owners, and contractors.

Before you read about how to create your own promotional video, check out for free some of the sample videos posted on WhoToView.com. This is, I think, the best one. There are several examples on YouTube, including this one.

How To Create a Promotional Video

If you have a video camera, a tripod, and access to some editing software, such as iMovie for Mac or Movie Maker 2 for Windows, you can create a video yourself or find someone in your local area with the equipment and knowledge to help you do it.

Step 1: Prepare and Script

The contents of a 1-2 minute promotional video should be very clear and direct. If you as a business owner regularly attend networking socials or meetings where you are asked to explain your business in one minute or less, then you probably have what is needed to write a script.

So basically you might write a script that includes:

  • Your business name
  • City and State
  • What you/we do
  • What you/we do that's better than everyone else
  • Why potential customers should contact you
  • Example client names
  • Business name again

Even if you can talk about your business without a written script, it's a good idea to write it just so that you can tighten it up and see how long it will be when speak in front of the camera.

Tip: About 140 to 150 typed words equals a minute’s worth of speaking.

Step 2: Cutaway Shots

You can easily create a promotional video in which viewers only see you talking, but an even better video includes what is called cutaway shots. These brief shots illustrate what you're talking about in presentation. So if you're a web designer, you might include cutaway shots of samples of your work, and/or you working at your computer.

After you complete your script, look for places where you can incorporate, if possible, cutaway shots. These shots will be taken after you record your presentation. They are later edited into your video (step 4).

Step 3: Shooting Your Presentation

As someone who has shot lots of videos, I can guarantee you that your video will look a lot better if you put the camera on a tripod. You have no doubt seen those horrible videos on YouTube where the camera is constantly moving, making the content very difficult to watch.

Secondly, it's a good idea that your video be shot in a well-lit room. You don't need expensive lighting equipment. Just make sure the white balance of your camera is set correctly and they room is well-lit. Read your camera's manual about the white balance settings. Some cameras will attempt make these settings automatically.

video marketing

If need be, you might want to write your script on a large poster board and have someone hold it up for you to read from. Of course, you should read the script over several times for timing and clarity. If you have an iPad, you can download a free teleprompter app called iPrompt Pro [iTunes App Store link]. Copy and paste your script into the app and you're good to go.

video marketing concepts

For a self-promotion video, an on-camera mic might work okay. But a dedicated lapel mic works better. More importantly, make sure you're shooting in a quiet place — no fan blowing, computers humming or people talking in the background.

When you're done shooting your presentation, watch it while it's still in the camera. Typically, you will need to reshoot the presentation a couple of times before you are satisfied — making sure the timing is right and that you voice is coming across clearly.

Finally, shoot any cutaway shots to edit into your video. Shoot more than what you need. Each shot should be at least 10 seconds long. You can shorten it in the editing process. Experiment with panning and zooming in order to provide some movement in the shot.

Step 4: Edit Your Production

Now bring all your video into the editing software. Create an opening and/or closing title card that includes the name of your business, or perhaps start off with an enlarged image of your business card.

Use a fade-in transition for the opening of your video, and a fade-out for the closing. When you're telling viewers how to contact to you, you can add a fade-out from you and then show a title card with the contact the information. This way viewers hear and see what you're saying.

video marketing concepts

Refer to the manual of the video editing software to find out how to add in cutaway shots. Also read our MakeUseOf article for more tips on shooting and editing video and additional tutorials posted on the net.

Finally, if you have a copy of Apple's iLife suite (iMovie, Garageband, iPhoto, etc.), you can select background music from the Jingles folder found in iMovie '09.

video marketing

Step 5: Post Your Video

Now for the easy part. Once your video promo is like you want it, post it on your website. Of course, posting your video on YouTube and embedding it in your website is a great way to get instant Flash support which can often make it easier to download, plus it means that your video can be viewed on mobile devices like the iPhone, and it will also be picked up by Google's search engine.

If you produce your won promotional video, let us know about it with a link.

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10 Best Websites For Free Audio Books

Posted: 23 Aug 2010 11:31 AM PDT

free audio booksBusy times call for some workarounds. One of the distinct advantages of audio books over its more physical form is that it saves time. Audio books take away a sliver of fun from the enjoyment of a book, but if the voiceover is well done, it makes up for it.

With the explosion of personal media players like iPods and even mobile phones which can carry media files, even a routine walk can be turned into an education.

Not all books are good for easy listening. Audio books on goal setting and motivation lend themselves well to listening while walking. That's not to say you can't enjoy an audio narration of a novel or even a bit of poetry.

The search for audio books may not always get you the title you want. Even then, you can get a few gems when you go searching. So, where do you go searching for free audio books to download and enjoy?

The following ten audio book websites, of course.


free audio books

At this address you get free audio books in multiple genres and languages. You can check out the Top 100, drill through the genres, or use the Google search at the top to get the free audio book for download.

Downloads are available in mp3 and iTunes format. The books are mostly classical literature and very well organized with reviews and a small preview. You can also check out the Wikipedia links on the book and the author.


free audio book downloads

NewFiction.com is one of the better 'lookers' in the class of free audio book websites. Perhaps, because it's about 'iSoaps' or fictionalized stories delivered in episodes daily. Stories are voiced by trained dramatic actors for your aural appeal.

You can subscribe to the 'iSoaps' and play episodes online, get it as a podcast, or download it to your PC or your portable device (iPod, cell phone etc).


free audio book downloads

ThoughtAudio is a neat little audio book website with a neat collection of classical works. You can listen to them online or download them in segments. You can also view the written text of some of the books as a PDF download.


free audio book downloads

Our previous thorough review on LibriVox covers this audio book website. LibriVox is a repository of free audio books in the public domain. It is a volunteer driven site, where enthusiasts record freely available books and make them available as MP3 downloads or podcasts.

You can also volunteer to be a reader, no qualifications other than an audible voice is necessary. You can search through the collection using the catalog search on the site. An advanced search option is also available.


free online audio books

Podiobooks is a similar episodic audio rendition of free audio books as podcasts. Like lot of podcasts, you can receive them as RSS feeds or download them directly. The number of categories is well covered from alternative history to chick lit and satire. The audio book site has about 434 titles in its stock.

Open Culture

free online audio books

Audio books are just one of the sections covered on this site which focuses on educational media collected from other sites. You get to download free courses from universities in MP3 format, language lessons as podcasts, and a variety of other podcasts that cover subjects like technology, travel, music, science, and more.

Learn Out Loud

free online audio books

LearnOutLoud.com is a well designed and large collection of audio books. Their catalog has 25,000 audio and video titles in a mixture of paid and free. You can click on the tab marked as Free Stuff to access the free audio books that are available for download with a right click.

All usual genres are well represented. For instance, if you are into self development, you have 425 titles to choose from. All titles are rated and reviewed.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is the ongoing effort to digitize and archive cultural works in the form of eBooks. It also works in co-operation with websites like LibriVox and AudioBooksForFree for creating audio books. As a result, you can browse through their comprehensive list of human and machine read audio books.

You can go through the list alphabetically for author and title. Audio books are also available in a number of languages. But the quicker way would be to use the Advanced Search page.


A free audio book site especially for children is a nice little place for classic children stories like 'A Christmas Carol', fairy tales 'Aesop', educational stories that cover The Bible or history, and lots of other original stuff. You can download a free audio story every week.


free audio books

The interface at first glance appears a bit off-the-wall. Then you realize that it's a search tool for eBooks. Librophile collects and displays eBooks mostly from LibriVox and Audible. Click on the Free button and then go through the listings.

A mouseover over the thumbnail cover gives you a sketchy summary. You can download the free audio books as a ZIP file, play it in the browser, or check it out as a readable eBook. Clicking on a title takes you to the Audible or LibriVox website.

Do you have any other free audio book site to add to the list? Personally, I have found audio books to be the best way to beat traffic jams. What about you?

Image Credit: PlayfulLibrarian

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7 Twitter Archetypes You Just Love To Hate

Posted: 23 Aug 2010 10:31 AM PDT

types of twitter usersWe’ve already given you some tips on how to annoy your followers on Twitter, so we thought we’d turn the tables and take a look at some of the more annoying types of Twitter users.

Twitter has been around long enough to attract all types, and with time archetypes emerge, and continue to repeat themselves. There are quite a few stereotypical Tweeters, the kind of which we could definitely use less of.

This is just a short list of some of the tweeters out there that we love to hate.

The Noob

The Noob has just signed up for Twitter and only has a few updates. Their first tweet is always something like Hmmm… New to twitter or Just trying to figure out this Twitter thing or So what's Twitter all about?

In their defence, the first tweet is always the hardest. They can often be found asking for advice on how to use Twitter, but when you have no followers, no one's listening. And when you're new to Twitter, you don't know that no one but your followers listen to you, and when you're trying to get followers….

What was I saying?

types of twitter users

The Narrator (On Steroids)

The Narrator feels the need to inform you of every minute of their day, from the very first, Good Morning Twitterville, to a final Night Tweeps with every little detail of their day in between.

These Tweeters aren't all that smart either. A few of these unfortunate souls have been known to geotag their tweets, so it really wouldn't be hard to track them down and bludgeon them with the laptop, phone or computer, or whatever else they're using to send out their updates. Not that we're encouraging that.

twitter users

The Quiz Taker

I don't know about you, but I don't care which character you are in Harry Potter, I'm not interested in what Michael Jackson song represents your current relationship, and I really don't want to know if you're a Twilight expert. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people on Twitter who seem to think that this is exactly the kind of information we want from them. They take quiz upon quiz and inform us of each and every answer.

twitter users

The Gamer

The same people who spend hours playing Farmville and Mafia Wars on Facebook, are on Twitter. Instead of playing Farmville, you'll find them playing Ninja Clash and Spymaster. They are the 21st Century's answer to Dungeons and Dragons, the difference being that they are trying to drag us down with them. Their updates consist of a long list of moves, attacks, and defeats in this virtual world that has pretty much replaced their real one.

twitter users

The Trend Whore

There are many variants of people on Twitter just desperate for some attention. The most obvious of these are the Trend Whores. They take a look at the trending topics and try to cram as many of them as possible into one Tweet, regardless of whether or not it makes sense. What they don't realise is that it's not going to gain them any popularity points as people are more likely to think they're spam bots, and block them into oblivion.

types of tweeters

The Hashtagger

Every other word in a tweet is not meant to be a hashtag. But you're out of luck trying to convince Hashtaggers of this. Their updates are littered with hashtags, although that does make it easier to click any given link and escape their page .

They want to turn up in every possible search on Twitter, and clearly think that every other word they say has some sort of importance.

types of tweeters

An even more annoying variant of The Hashtaggers are the ones who repeat the same hashtag over and over in one tweet, and sometimes repeat that one tweet over and over ad infinitum. This is usually an attempt to get one word or another into the trending topics.

The sad part is that they don't realise that Twitter doesn't actually count repeated hashtags in one tweet. These Tweeters are often very closely related to the next archetype, The Justin Bieber Fan.

types of tweeters

The Justin Bieber Fan

These are probably the most lethal of all Tweeters, because they will push you to the brink of insanity, making you want to find the nearest cliff, to fling yourself off of it. Their Twitter backgrounds are adorned with pictures of Justin Bieber and they tweet about nothing other than, you guessed it, Justin Bieber.

They have clubs, and cliques, and are constantly battling to keep Justin Bieber in the trending topics. They send him @ replies, in the smallest hope that, maybe just maybe, he'll read what they wrote and fall madly in love with them. They, of course, would also settle for a simple Twitter reply, after which they can die happy tweens.

Justin Bieber can also be easily substituted with the Jonas Brothers in most cases.

types of twitter users

What other kinds of Twitter archetypes can you think of? Let us know in the comments.

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What Is An API & What Are They Good For? [Technology Explained]

Posted: 23 Aug 2010 09:31 AM PDT

what does api stand forWhat does the acronym API stand for? API means Application Programming Interface and they say that APIs are the underlying aspect of Web 2.0.  But what does it really mean – what is an api? Let’s try to demystify the term a little.

The word to really pay attention to is “Interface”. If you have any experience at all with programming, all kinds of abstractions and contracts must be coming to your mind when you hear the word “interface” but we are more interested in the classical meaning of the term.

An interface is a common boundary between two separate systems. It is the means or the medium via which these two systems communicate.


An API is the interface implemented by an application which allows other applications to communicate with it.

Why Is It Needed?

In one word – communication. You might ask why communication is so important. Just imagine Notepad couldn’t copy-paste to and from Microsoft Word or Google Chrome. Imagine having to type each and every time although the text is already there in some other application. This is only one of the examples of communication between applications and all this communication is made possible via APIs.

What Is It Really?

You cannot run an API like you would run say a Notepad application. This is because APIs are generally invisible to the end users like you and me. APIs are carefully thought out pieces of code created by programmers for their applications that allow other applications to interact with their application.

APIs are specially crafted to expose only chosen functionality and/or data while safeguarding other parts of the application which provides the interface. Creating an API is indeed time well spent, because ultimately the more applications that interact with your application the more popular it becomes.

what does api stand for

An excellent example is Twitter. Most people prefer their favorite Twitter client instead of the web interface. You can interact with Twitter whether you are using a mobile phone, a smart phone, an iPod or a computer. This has been made possible by the excellent Twitter API.

What Is It Good For?

As we have seen, APIs facilitate communication allowing different applications to communicate effectively with each other. So these are really well suited for extending a platform and for mashups. We have already seen Twitter as an example of how APIs are useful in extending a platform. When you combine data or functionality from more than one application to create another application, you have essentially created a mashup.

Such mashups are extremely popular on the Internet these days. The Internet thrives on communication so it is an ideal place to take advantage of APIs. It is a common practice to expose part of your functionality or data as an API to others on the Web. They can then tap into what you offer, combine it with what they (or someone else) offers and then provide improved and added functionality to their users.

what does api stand for

Yelp for example has data on restaurants, hotels, shopping destinations and other local services but it would be a wasteful and tedious job if they set out to create their own Maps engine to let users know where the various destinations are. So instead they tap into the Google Maps API and plot their data on top of it, thereby increasing the utility of their service to the end user. This is a typical use of an API.

Popular APIs You Can Use Or Try

APIs are all over the place. The most popular ones are the Web APIs like Google Maps API, Twitter API and the Flickr API. These are not the only ones though. You can find a complete, classified and searchable directory of APIs at Programmable Web and WebMashup. Here you can see the level of interest in an API, what services are provided by the API and which services are making use of the API.

How you actually use an API depends upon your needs and your level of expertise. You might want to create the next big thing on the Internet, in which case you would most likely need to program for the Web using languages such as PHP, ASP.NET, Java or Python. A good starting point is to visit the official API page for the service you choose. Look for libraries others have written in the language of your choice. Usually these libraries make your job a lot easier and faster. Twitter for example mentions a number of these libraries on its API wiki. You can also find tutorials, official documentation and best practices on these pages.

APIs have existed in one form or another for a very long time. The first communication between cooperating applications may or may not have been through an officially documented API, but nowadays they are an important component of your application especially if yours is a Web application.

Have you ever created or used an API? We would love to hear about your experiences in the comments.



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Surf the Web Anonymously With IP Privacy [MakeUseOf Giveaway]

Posted: 23 Aug 2010 08:30 AM PDT

Online privacy is a hot-button topic. There are numerous services that we use every day that keep track of our IP address. Unless you use dial-up Internet, your  IP address is like your real, physical address. It is a fixed address that is associated with you and can be pulled up by web masters. Most people wouldn't feel comfortable walking around with their home address printed on their shirt, but that is what you're doing when you browse the Internet.

The solution to this is to use a proxy web server. A proxy server acts as a barrier between you and the Internet. When you send a request for information – say, you visit Makeuseof.com – that request first goes to the proxy server and is then routed to the final located. This disguises your IP address. The only problem is that using a proxy can be a real pain in the butt for users who are not very familiar with how they work.

That's where IP Privacy comes in. Today, we’ll be offering 10 licenses for IP Privacy worth $399.50 in total. We’ve also got a 40% discount code available, just in case you don’t win a copy.

IP Privacy is a utility that enables one-click proxy web surfing.  When you first open the program, you will be greeted with the main screen, on which there are two big buttons. For now, we are only going to touch on the top button, labeled Enable Online Anonimity.

Above that button you will find a drop-down list. This, when opened, shows a list of proxy servers that IP Privacy has made available for you. Selecting a server will open a testing window. Press the Start button to begin testing the proxy server – it should only take a second.  If the test is successful press Done, if it is not successful press Cancel and select a different proxy.

By pressing the Start button you have already enabled anonymous online surfing.  Websites will no longer see you by your real IP address but will instead see you by the IP address of the proxy server. You can of course turn your anonymous surfing on or off by pressing the big Enable/Disable Online Anonimity button.

Now let's talk about the second big button labeled Enable Privacy. Pressing this button enables global privacy settings for your computer's web browsers. No matter what web browser you use, your privacy settings will apply. By default, the privacy settings block invasive Javascript that might be used to collect information from your computer. The settings can also be adjusted so that ActiveX is blocked.

Finally, IP Privacy has global web browser history settings. You can delete information from your web browser's history including Internet history, typed URLs, temporary Internet files, Internet cookies, autocomplete forms, autocomplete passwords, and favorites. The history will be deleted at user-specified intervals. The default setting is every five minutes, but you can adjust it as you desire.

IP Privacy is an excellent privacy utility for any Windows computer. It takes a task that is hard for the typical user and makes it very simple to achieve. IP Privacy has a 3-day fully functional trial that you can use to demo the program – but of course, Makeuseof has a few copies to give away!

How do I win a copy?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

Join our Facebook page by clicking the Like button or you can follow us on Twitter, if you prefer. If you’re already following us, you may skip this step.

If you can’t see the fanbox, click on this link.

Here’s our giveaway form. Please fill it in accurately. Be sure to enter your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. Click here if you can’t view the form.

You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to share the post. There are 2 options to choose from or you can do both!

Share it on Facebook

Or on Twitter

And that’s it! You’re done!

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, 27th August at 2100hrs PST. The winners will be selected at random and announced via email.

We’ve also been graciously provided with a 40% discount code IPPrivacy40. Use this code during checkout in order to purchase IP Privacy at $23.97. Or you can click on this link to have the entire process performed automatically.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

MakeUseOf would like to thank Privacy Pro 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.

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



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