Sunday, August 29, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [August 28th]” plus 8 more “Cool Websites and Tools [August 28th]” plus 8 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [August 28th]

Posted: 28 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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Zocial – YouTube may be the ultimate resource to watch videos but social networks like Facebookand Twitter have played an important part in letting people share YouTube videos. Zocial is a web tool that tells you which videos are trending on Facebook and Twitter. Read more: Zocial: Shows Facebook & Twitter Trending Viral Videos.


EatTheSeasons – Given the development in agriculture, any fruit or vegetable can be produced in any season. However, that doesn't mean it's the best thing to eat. The best food to eat is usually what is natural to that particular season and EatTheSeasons is an excellent web resource to find that out. Read more: EatTheSeasons: Find Out What Food Is In Season Now.



Stroome – is a unique video editor that hinges on the collaboration of a community of video editors, hobbyists, and novices to collaborate online. This web app allows you to upload, edit, and share thousands of clips from different users and “mix it up and mash it out”. Read more: Stroome: Collaborative Online Video Mixing & Editing.



DentBetty – Car accidents are unfortunate. Besides the tangible and intangible loss, they also require the car owner to go through the tedious process of getting it fixed. However, with your car all dented, it is not easy to drive around town getting dent repair estimates. DentBetty can solve this problem for you. Read more: DentBetty: Get Car Dent Repair Estimates By Uploading Photos.



FanpageList – Social networking websites are jungles, yet somehow they work the same as in the real world: the most popular celebrities and icons stand out. There should be a way to organize all of these popular pages and profiles. Fortunately FanpageList does just that. Read more: FanPageList: Ranking The Most Popular Facebook Pages & Twitter Accounts.


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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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How To Edit & Enhance Screenshots In MS Paint

Posted: 28 Aug 2010 06:31 PM PDT

mspaint tutorialThere’s a thousand and one screen capture utilities around the web, including quite a few commercial applications. Windows’ built-in Microsoft Paint can actually be used as a decent screenshot utility that you can start using without having to download extra software or spend money, particularly if you know a few tricks.

This MS Paint tutorial includes old tricks (some of which you may not be aware of because they’re so hidden!) adapted for use to make MS Paint a good station for your post-screencapture needs.


  1. Press Print Screen to capture a screenshot of the full desktop (i.e. in a dual-monitor setup, both windows) or ALT + Print Screen for just the active window.
  2. Open MS Paint and press Ctrl + V to paste the image in.

Adjusting The Canvas: Cropping & Expanding

To crop further, press the Select tool again and create a rectangle around the desired area. Instead of creating a new image and pasting the selection in, go to Image in the menu bar and select Crop.

mspaint tutorial

If you’re looking to do the opposite and increase the work canvas area in white, instead of using the resizers to expand a few times manually, press Ctrl + E. Alternatively, you can go up to Image in the menu bar and head to Attributes.

ms paint tutorials

You’ll get a dialog box that you can use to expand the work area and select whether you want it to be black and white or in color.

ms paint tutorials

Adding Arrows

ms paint tutorialsTo create arrows, you could draw one yourself, but you could also use some pre-made ones from the Wingdings 3 font.

Select the Text tool and start the text where you want the arrow to be. Make sure it’s on the foreground (click the bottom icon), which would be also what you need to do to insert images with transparent parts.

Next, if you don’t see the Text Toolbar, you can select it by going to ViewText Toolbar.

how to use ms paint

In the toolbar, select Wingdings 3, adjust the font size.

how to use ms paint

You can use the following guide to display your preferred arrows.

how to use ms paint

You can also find out by typing Character Map in the Start search box and pasting special characters from there.

how to use ms paint

Bonus: You can find extra characters to paste if you use Wingdings or the other symbol-based fonts.

Adding A ‘Blur Effect’

There are two ways (which aren’t quite as sophisticated as blurring tools in GIMP) to give a sort of blurring effect to a part of an image for censoring purposes.

Select the part of the image you want to blur with the rectangular Select tool. Now hit Control and - on the number pad (laptop users might need to press the function key) twice (or more for bigger to-be-blurred portions), then hit Control and + in the same manner (i.e. twice or thrice on the number pad until you get the image in the original resolution).

Here’s how you go about doing it.

The result is a pretty blurred, unrecognizable image of the original.

Note:  This is also used to increase or decrease the size of the selected portion pretty much proportionally. If you do it the other way around (i.e. Control and +, then Control and -), the image isn’t blurred. It pretty much stays the same if you go back to the original resolution.

Going back to blurring stuff up, blurring technique number 2 involves taking the same rectangular Select tool and pick a portion of the part to blur, e.g. a letter in the word (not the whole word yet) to censor. Now press and hold Shift while you drag the rectangle across the rest of the portion to blur.

Here’s how to do it.

mspaint tutorial

MS Paint isn’t only a good imaging app that you can use to create amazing pieces of art, but it can also help you beautify screenshots and create PDF newsletters.

Do you use MS Paint or another screencapture program? Give your favorite app a shout out in the comments!

Image credit: Wendell Fernandes

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Customize The Windows Task Manager To Your Liking with Task Manager Modder

Posted: 28 Aug 2010 04:30 PM PDT

custom task managerThe Windows Task Manager is one of the operating system’s most useful utilities. It can be used to spot unwanted background applications, determine which programs are hogging your processing cycles and system memory, and shut down applications that have gone out of control.

What many users don’t realize, however, is that Windows Task Manager can be customized in numerous ways. You can even customize how it looks – if you don’t mind downloading a third party program capable of controlling the visuals.

Tweaking the Task Manager

Like any normal window the menu options at the top of the Task Manager controls additional available functions. What is easy to miss is the fact that these menu options change relative to the tab you have open in the Task Manager. If you simply took a quick look around the program without realizing this, you might miss out on some interesting features. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting features.

If you open the processes tab in Windows Task Manager and then go to View, you’ll find the Select Columns option. This will open a window that includes numerous options which can be used to customize the information that appears in the processes tab. For example, the Peak Working Set (Memory) option lets you see the peak memory used by a program, while the I/O Read and I/O writer categories let you see how often a program is performing read or write operations. There are too many options to discuss here, but Microsoft has a website that lists them all and what they mean.

custom task manager

Both the Performance and Networking tabs will give you a few options when you select the View option. You can select how quickly Task Manager updates, the way performance is shown (either as per core or a collective) and you can select Show Kernal Times, an option which displays the amount of time the processor spends in “kernel mode” (the core of the operating system). Changing the display so that it updates faster provides better real-time information but causes the graph to move so quickly that developing a picture of processor performance over time is difficult. Keep this in mind when deciding how quickly you want processor information updated – faster isn’t always better.

One final – and very handy – tip lets you get rid of the extra information surrounding the Task Manager. If you double click on the white border surrounding task manager, everything except for the core information will disappear. The result looks like this.

windows task manager

Further Customization with Task Manager Modder

The customizations discussed so far lets you tweak the information displayed. But what if you want to tweak the way Task Manager looks overall?

This requires a third party program called Task Manager Modder. This program lets you change the way the graphs look in the Performance tab, so you can customize it to something more agreeable (i.e. not neon green). This can be done by using the color controls at the bottom of the Task Manager Modder window.

windows task manager

In my case, I decided to go with a blue-and-white color scheme, as I find this to be very easy on my eyes. You can choose from pre-selected colors or, as I did, choose from a wide variety of hex colors. Once you’ve decided on a color scheme, you simply have to click on Modify Taskmgr. Task Manager, if open, will have to be re-opened. The results are very nice. These color changes also carry over to the Networking tab, but you can’t change the yellow axis on the left side.

custom task manager


Hopefully, these tips will help you become more buddy-buddy with the Windows Task Manager. It is truly a great resource for information about your machine, even more so than it appears at first glance.



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Spicebird – An Email Client That Integrates A Calendar, Chat & iGoogle

Posted: 28 Aug 2010 03:31 PM PDT

spicebirdWe have reviewed a number of free email clients before. There is the ever so popular Thunderbird, there is Evolution for Linux and then there is Outlook for Windows. An area where Outlook scores fair and square over the other email clients out there is the fact that it integrates common email-related tasks and thus takes care of many chores. You have tasks, calendar, email and social networking (via plugins) all built in into one interface and they all gel together.

Evolution does that for Linux, but Thunderbird falls short of the much needed integration. This is where SpiceBird comes in. SpiceBird is built on top of Mozilla's offerings so you will feel at home if you have been using Thunderbird. SpiceBird also brings much more to the table when compared to Thunderbird, as you shall see.

You can download and install SpiceBird here for both Windows and Linux. The installer is around 12MB in size and installs in a snap. Once installed, fire it up and you will see a tabbed interface. The various tabs give you access to all the features SpiceBird has to offer. This is in contrast to Thunderbird where the tabs don't quite feel they have been utilized to the fullest out of the box.

Let's briefly look at the various tabs (and thus the features) of SpiceBird.

The Home Tab

The home tab is a lot like your iGoogle page. You can add and manage tiny widgets to it. These widgets can be used to display a preview of your inbox(es) or time in different zones or you can use them to keep up with your favorite RSS feeds.


You can display upcoming tasks or add one of the many iGoogle gadgets available out there. The possibilities are almost limitless and you can add just about any gadget you have on your iGoogle page to the home tab.

Click on Add Applets in the tool bar and then choose Google Gadget. Now, copy the address of the iGoogle Gadget from the gadget’s description and paste it on the page. This should load the gadget in your SpiceBird home tab.


You can drag and drop widgets onto the page and arrange them to your liking. What's also nice is the fact that SpiceBird picks up your default system theme and tries to mimic it.

The Inbox Tab

email clients

The dialog seems familiar? Yes, it is the same you get when you configure a new account with Thunderbird. The Inbox tab will seem familiar to most Thunderbird users. It looks and functions the same as well.

You can configure your mail accounts, which will appear on the left side. You can open an e-mail in a new tab or new window if you prefer. In addition you will find that you can use most of Thunderbird's functionality out of the box with SpiceBird.

Contacts, Calendar & Tasks Tab

We can safely group these together under one header as they all work as you would expect any contacts or calendar application to work. You can add your chat accounts in the Contacts tab and use them to manage and store your contacts.

email clients

The Calendar provides standard functionality without the Google Calendar sync which is a big blow. You can still import and export iCal files if that suffices for you.

email clients

You can also create tasks inside the tasks tab, set task priorities, categorize them as you see fit and even mark the progress on your tasks.

All in all SpiceBird works well and does a good job of providing a single interface for tasks that you need to perform daily. The tabbed interface to track your tasks, calendar and emails all in one application is a big plus. The ability to add Google Gadgets to the start page is awesome.

That being said, it’s not all praises for SpiceBird.

The application would gain immense popularity if they can offer sync with popular services like Google Calendar and Remember the Milk. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if this is indeed preventing users from adopting SpiceBird as their default application. Also there is a lot of scope for improvement with regards to integration between all the features that SpiceBird provides. I could view my tasks, events and mail on the homepage, but I had to toil around to add an event to the mail.

How do you like your e-mail clients? All in one solutions or plain simple email goodness? We would love to hear your thoughts.

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Hot Tech Deals [Aug 28th]

Posted: 28 Aug 2010 01:20 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. Microsoft Xbox 360 Wireless Controller $29.99 Free Shipping
  2. Onecall Weekend Sale on Electronics
  3. Konica Minolta 5650EN Magicolor Network Color Laser Printer (31ppm, Duplex) $269.95 Free Shipping
  4. Canon VIXIA HF R10 8GB Flash Memory High Definition Camcorder $349.99 Free Shipping via code CAM827B
  5. Western Digital WD TV Mini Media Player (Smaller, 1080i) $39.99 Free Shipping
  6. Garmin nuvi 265WT GPS (REFURB, 4.3in, Blueooth, Lifetime Traffic Updates) $119.99
  7. Flip UltraHD 8GB Digital Video Camcorder (720p) $139.99 Free Shipping via code GRLV3K996Q4TCX
  8. Iomega Prestige 500GB Portable External Hard Drive $54.99 Free Shipping via code L9G5NHWFKP7L3F
  9. Dell Ultrasharp U2311H 23 inch IPS LCD Monitor $239 Free Shipping via code VB5XX0VCT3S037
  10. LG E2250T-PN 22in LED-Backlit Widescreen LCD Monitor $152.99 via code LCDBTSPROMO
  11. Canon PowerShot D10 12.1 MP 3X Digital Camera (Waterproof/Shockproof/Cold Resistant) $215.99 via code 2KVH967BFCQVC4
  12. Panasonic VIERA TC-P42C2 42in Plasma HDTV (720p) $501 Free Shipping via code AFLPAN501
  13. Hand Held Items Coupon Code: 20% off Apple iPad Cases + 70% discount via code ipadcases20
  14. HHI iPad Flip Leather Case with Magnetic Kick Stand + Screen Protector $12.99 via code ipadflipkstand
  15. Apple iBook G4 1.33GHz 12.1in Laptop (REFURB/1GB/40GB) $269.99 via code APPLE
  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

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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IObit Toolkit – A Portable PC Toolbox For Your Thumbdrive [Windows]

Posted: 28 Aug 2010 12:31 PM PDT

iobit freewareEvery geek has one: a collection of portable applications for fixing PCs. Most carry them around on a USB key, ready in case some computer problem comes up.

The trouble is, such kits take quite a while to build up. If you want such a kit, but don’t want to build it yourself, check out the IObit Toolbox. You’ll have a bunch of computer repair and optimization tools in a single download, ready to be used.

The amount of tools included in this IObit freeware app is truly staggering; keep reading to see what you can find.

Cleaning Tools

Registry Cleaner looks for stuff left behind in the registry – Window’s monolithic configuration document for everything – and removes anything unneeded. Like all such tools, use at your own risk: many techies feel the benefits of such software are outweighed by the potential damage (eg., unbootable machine). We’ve profiled other registry cleaners before, but I’m not sure we’ve done this one. It didn’t break my machine but I can’t say I noticed a difference.

Privacy Sweeper can wipe all information left behind by your browsers, including history and cookies. Supports IE, Firefox, Chrome and Opera.

IObit Uninstaller is an alternative uninstaller. When the default Windows program manager fails, try this one out. More about IObit Uninstaller here.

iobit freeware

Disk Cleaner (above) is a CCleaner-like app that looks at your computer’s hard drive and deletes files you don’t need. It won’t delete anything without your permission, which is good, and it’s got a very simple interface.

File Shredder deletes a file to the point where it cannot be restored. Find similar tools here.

Optimization Tools

Smart RAM is an alternative tool for managing your system RAM, similar to the Autoruns-like tool that manages your startup scripts. It’s not as complete as autoruns, but it’s good to have in a kit like this.

Registry Defrag does what it says: defragments the registry. This is only useful if you clean your registry frequently, and like registry cleaners is not without risk.

free iobit

Game Booster (above) disables many system components so that you can play a game. Useful when you really want to play, but be aware that some aspects of your system might not work anymore until you click the “back to normal” button. Mentioned in this article.

Smart Defrag is a defragmentation program, mentioned in our top 8 defragmenters list. Good to have around.

Repair Tools

Undelete recovers files you’ve deleted. Find similar file recovery tools here.

Shortcut Fixer points out shortcuts on your computer that point to nothing, and gives you the option of deleting them.

free iobit

Disk Check (above) gives you information about the state of your hard drives.

Win Fix can solve a variety of Windows problems. Check its list to see if your problem is included!

Security Tools

Security Holes Scanner scans your computer to look for common problems and suggest corrections.

free iobit

Process Manager (above) shows you the currently running programs, and gives you control over them. Find similar tools here.

Driver Manager scans your computer and tells you if any drivers are out of date.

IObit Security 360 is a malware scanning tool, similar to Malwarebytes. Some sort of scan is essential to every kit, so see how this one works for you, though be warned: this one’s not actually included in the kit. Clicking it will bring you to a website to download it from.

Control Tools

Cloned Files Scanner looks for files you have more than once. This could save you a lot of hard drive space.

Disk Explorer gives you a graphical way to explore the contents of your hard drive, and is a great way to see large files.

System Information outputs some information about your system, including the hardware used. Similar to Speccy.

Empty Folder Scanner does exactly what it says: points out empty folders on your computer. Kind of useful, I guess.

iobit freeware

System Control (above) gives you access to various system settings, similar to TweakUI. Check it out and you’ll be able to change quite a bit about your Windows system.


These IObit freeware tools aren’t necessarily the best, but if you want a complete toolkit in one download this is your best bet. Stick this on your USB drive and it just might come in handy.

Is there a better toolkit out there? Point it out in the comments below. Also feel free to share any custom toolkits you’ve built yourself, and what tools make them up.

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IP Privacy Giveaway Winners

Posted: 28 Aug 2010 11:30 AM PDT

If security and privacy are your main concerns, browsing through a proxy can bring quite a bit of advantages to the table.

With IP Privacy, selecting and using a proxy will never be an issue. We’ve randomly selected 10 lucky winners from this giveaway. They will each receive a full license with free upgrades.

Let’s find out who they are.

  1. Ahmad
  2. Rich Hill
  3. Chaz Banto
  4. Richard Morris
  5. Andrew Kerr
  6. Anne Ambrose
  7. Pat
  8. Jeffrey Schlein
  9. Mayank
  10. Lisa

Congratulations! You will receive your licenses via email in the next few days. In the event that your licenses do not arrive, please email Jackson.

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.

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10+ Resources For Free Professional Wordpress Themes

Posted: 28 Aug 2010 10:31 AM PDT

new free wordpress themesThere are countless resources for finding free Wordpress themes, from Wordpress’ very own repository, to professional designers who release themes for download on their sites. A handful of these designers have been generous enough to contribute their time and talent to bring us new, free, premium-like Wordpress themes, alongside their paid themes.

The following list features some of the best Wordpress designers, with free portfolio, magazine and minimalist themes, amongst many others, available for download.

Woo Themes

Woo Themes have some of the best premium themes out there, and every now and then they generously release a theme for free. One of their best free themes of all times is Irresistible, which is perfect for those of you looking for a lifestreaming Wordpress theme. Their other free themes include magazine themes, and straightforward minimalist blogs.

new free wordpress themes

Graph Paper Press

Graph Paper Press has a small collection of free Wordpress themes, which are the perfect choice for those of you looking for a stunning portfolio theme. They do, however, require that you sign up to download their themes, which is really no price at all to pay for the freemium themes you’ll get in return.

best wordpress themes

Press 75

Press 75 releases one new, free Wordpress themes theme every now and then. With Press 75, you should get it while you can, because they don’t keep their free themes up indefinitely. At the moment, you can snag the theme, theSevenFive, a minimalist lifestream theme with native support for Twitter, Flickr,, Delicious, and many more services that you can filter straight into your blog.

best wordpress themes


FrogsThemes showcases some of the best in portfolio WordPress themes, and they always have a couple of free themes on display. At the moment, the popular SimpleFolio and FolioGrid are available for download.

best wordpress themes


Templatic has an impressive collection of free themes on offer on their site. They are behind the Twitter inspired LiveTwit, and the private team collaboration blog, GTD.

wordpress themes free

Moon Themes

Moon Themes only has one theme available, but it comes with two different home page layouts, and ten different colour schemes. Eye Gaze is a great magazine theme that can be adapted to suit your personal needs.

wordpress themes free

Theme Junkie

Theme Junkie provide premium themes, and have thrown in a couple for free. Both free themes, Channel and Fashion Press are the perfect magazine themes with inbuilt ad management, stat management and Feedburner support.

wordpress themes free


ThemeShift have several themes on offer, and their free theme, deStyle is a clean, magazine style theme includes a Twitter/Flickr badge and ad management.

premium wordpress themes

Shaken & Stirred

Shaken & Stirred released their first free theme, Shaken Grid, a great portfolio theme for designers, photographers and artists to showcase their work. The theme comes in two colour schemes – white and black.

premium wordpress themes

Padd Solutions

Padd Solutions have a stunning collection of freemium Wordpress themes available for downloading, with sliding featured posts, automatically generated thumbnails, and ad management amongst just some of the features included. And if you don’t want to miss out on their newest themes, sign up for their newsletter to get them delivered straight to your inbox.

premium wordpress themes

Smashing Magazine

Smashing Magazine is a great resource for all things Wordpress related, with the occasional free theme featured, such as Agregado, Paper Wall and Gallery. They also put together an annual mammoth list of free themes, and the 2010 list is already out.

If none of these themes are exactly what you are looking for, you can always look for the ideal theme using the Wordpress theme search engine, SeekWP.

new free wordpress themes

Where do you get your free premium-like Wordpress themes? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: Koka Sexton

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Saddleback Laptop Bag and iPad Sleeves Giveaway Winners

Posted: 28 Aug 2010 10:00 AM PDT

I’m pretty certain that a lot of readers must be at the edges of their seats awaiting the results of this giveaway. To be honest, it managed to generate quite a bit of hype. And why should it not? Saddleback Leather products are of really high-quality and created with enthusiasm. I would expect that enthusiasm to be passed on to its (future) users as well.

So without further ado, here are the 4 lucky winners.

The winners of the Saddleback Laptop Bags are:

  • Taylor Rapids
  • Brad Bowen

The winners of the Saddleback iPad Sleeves are:

  • Dale Dickins
  • Chris Hickman

Congratulations! An email has been sent to your inbox. Please reply it as soon as possible in order to get your prizes shipped.

MakeUseOf would like to thank Saddleback Leather Company 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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