Thursday, September 30, 2010 “S4 BREATHE iPhone 4 Case by Elago [Mini Giveaway]” plus 12 more “S4 BREATHE iPhone 4 Case by Elago [Mini Giveaway]” plus 12 more

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S4 BREATHE iPhone 4 Case by Elago [Mini Giveaway]

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 11:00 PM PDT

Who doesn’t love dressing up their iPhones? Until recently, there were only a couple of big names in iPhone accessories. Now, we’re flooded with so many great iPhone case design companies that shock and awe us with their gorgeous products. Here I am, trying to help MakeUseOf readers sift through the Amazon of iPhone cases and get to the very best — and not to mention offering a couple of freebies along the way.

Today, we’ll be looking at the S4 BREATHE case from Elago.

This is a very simple snap-on case that’s made of (insanely) light but durable polycarbonate (that’s plastic to you and me) with a polyurethane coating to give it the “sticky” feeling for better grip. Although it weighs just 20 grams, the case is very rigid and doesn’t feel like it’s going to break anytime soon even after I’ve flexed it for a bit.

Attaching the case to my iPhone took some practise but once it was on, it stayed put and was a very tight fit. The case covers the rear surface and corners of the iPhone; exposing the front, top and bottom surfaces. I’d be willing to go out on a limb to say that if you’re clumsy, this isn’t the case for you.

It comes in 3 colours: black, white and silver. The black and white cases both look very classy. The silver one adds a bit of funk to your iPhone, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Overall, the S4 BREATHE iPhone 4 case from Elago is a fashionable, classy case that will do your iPhone proud. For a limited time only, the case is available for only $9.99 from their online store but we’re giving three away today.

How do I enter?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.


Join our Facebook page by liking us. 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 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 LIKE the post. This step is optional but why not spread the love?

And that’s it! You’re done!

Giveaway eligibility
You must be a fan of our Facebook page to enter;
Individuals who are over the age of 18. If you are under 18, get your parents to participate on your behalf;
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This giveaway begins now and ends after 300 submissions. The winners will be selected at random and announced via email.

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Cool Websites and Tools [September 29th]

Posted: 29 Sep 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.

List Your Website Here!


Fillerati – Tired of seeing and using Lorem Ipsum as the filler text on every other webpage? Fillerati gives you a refreshing alternative. This easy-to-use tool generates filler text from popular books and authors. You can choose which author and book you want the text from or generate randomly. You can select the number of paragraphs, words or sentences that you want. Read more: Fillerati: Generates Dummy Text For Your Web Pages


Minimalist Facebook – Facebook is a great tool for social networking but sometimes their interface gets full of annoying stuff. If you are one of those people who like a cleaner layout, use MinimalistFacebook. It is a facebook profile cleaner script that works with GreaseMonkey and can remove unwanted stuff like the annoying right side bar. Read more: MinimalistFacebook: Make Your Facebook Profile Cleaner



HTML5 Games – Apple, along with many other companies, has been a strong supporter of HTML5. The technology is the clear and propriety-free replacement for Adobe Flash. Critics of HTML5 once stated that the technology could not produce games as good as Flash. But you can decide that for yourself after visiting HTML5games. Read more: HTML5games: Play HTML5 Games Online



Walnote – Keeping notes online can be very helpful. If the information you are storing is not sensitive then you could go with any of the countless note taking applications online. But if security is of the utmost importance, then you should opt for Walnote. Read more: Walnote: Tool For Securely Keeping Notes Online



Multwiple – If you are a Twitter user with multiple accounts and if you follow many other people on Twitter, your dashboard can get quite cluttered. This is where Twitter clients can help you. There are many free Twitter clients available on the web, most of which have the same features. But Multwiple sets itself apart from the crowd. Read more: Multwiple: Easily Manage Multiple Twitter Accounts 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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Organize Your Computer Files In A Flash With DropIt [Windows]

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 06:31 PM PDT

organize filesIf you tend to download wallpaper images, videos or program setup files (like our MakeUseOf Pack and previous roundup) and dump them in one place on a regular basis, keeping your desktop or downloads folder tidy may soon prove necessary as you lose track of what files should be where.

In my case, My Dropbox was the folder where I dump all kinds of files in. Since I didn’t think it was necessary for Dropbox to work in the background uploading temporary files, I eventually put my files (like my 200 random screenshots) only to the desktop where I could easily see new files and delete the ones I no longer needed. I don’t know about you but I don’t wish to keep any program working so hard in the background, because usually that means it’s consuming precious resources and will eventually contribute to my already-overheating laptop (fan) going absolutely nuts.

As I had files scattered over these two places and saw a similar concern over at MakeUseOf Answers (where you can ask, learn and earn), I found DropIt, which comes in to ease the files-everywhere chaos. An open-source tool, DropIt consists of a drop target to help you manage and sort whatever files and folders you drag and drop on it.

Since it’s portable, you can just run the executable (which comes in a 716KB zip file) and try it without installing it. The two biggest features that make this a pretty good utility are rules and profiles.


DropIt enables you to sort, file, move or copy your files according to rules or associations that you set. You can create associations by file extension or type, or name by right-clicking on the drop target and clicking on Manage.

organize files

To sort files of a specific type, choose the folder you want to move all the files to and set a rule, such as, “.png” (without the quotes) to apply it to only PNG images, and hit Apply.

To sort files with a specific string in the name, you can use:

makeuseof.* –> to support files named “makeuseof”
makeuseof*.* –> to apply to files that begin with the word “makeuseof”
*makeuseof* –> to support all files that have the string “makeuseof”

You can also dump folders onto DropIt and set rules for folders using:

makeuseof** –> for folders that start with “makeuseof”
**makeuseof –> for folders that end in “makeuseof”
**makeuseof** –> for folders containing “makeuseof”

You can also exclude files by appending “$”:

makeuseof*.png$ –> skips the “makeuseof.png” file

You can set up a pattern with multiple strings using a semicolon:

*.wma;*.mp3 –> applies to both WMA and MP3 files

Select any rules from the Pattern List to modify the association pattern, select a different destination folder, or delete associations altogether.

allows you to organize files folders


If you want files of the same type to go to different destination folders (for example, you have both music files and audiobooks with the MP3 file extension that belong in different places), you can set up multiple profiles by right-clicking on the drop target, going to Profiles > Customize.

allows you to organize files folders

Click on New, enter the name of your profile, and select an image to represent the drop target. In the screenshot, I have just created my “non-iTunes” profile (to set it for my .mp3 audiobooks) and need to select an image.

allows you to organize files folders

Now you can right-click on the target again, go to Profiles and choose the profile you just created to set up new file associations. For this non-iTunes profile, I can then apply an only-mp3 rule to files that need to be moved to my Audiobooks folder.

allows you to organize files folders

Additional options include the ability to display more than one instance (useful when you have different profiles), set actions for duplicate files, and set move or copy actions at all drops (you can also make it ask you every time).

organize files

Other similar software include Digital Janitor and Belvedere (discussed with other great tips here and unlike DropIt, can monitor folders for you), as well as multimedia organizer FreshView, while for Mac, you can use Apple’s Automator, rely on simply grouping and tagging or find some great third-party software, such as NiftyBox and SmartShuno.

Do you prefer to organize files yourself on Windows or use a specific application? Feel free to share with us your favorite programs!

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5 Crowd Funding Websites To Support Your Favourite Charities, Bands & Projects

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 04:31 PM PDT

crowd fundingAnyone who spends more than a couple of hours online per day is bound to sacrifice some time just browsing, stumbling or flat-out wasting time online. That's why this week I'd like to highlight a couple of crowd funding websites that probably won't make you feel too guilty about avoiding work.

Crowd funding is defined as the collective effort from a group of well-wishing individuals to raise money for a common cause; albeit charity, a business, an album or even a film. It is said that charity begins at home, and now that we're all plugged in that couldn't be truer.

If you yourself are interested in raising money for a cause that's dear to your heart or even a personal project you'd never dream of being able to fund then you'll probably benefit from trying a couple of these. The internet can be a very giving place sometimes.


Probably the most popular website of this type, Kickstarter has received plenty of media attention and successful high-profile projects. Those of you following the development of open source social network Diaspora probably already know that the team collected the $200,000 they needed for the project in a few weeks using Kickstarter.

Pretty much anything goes, with projects from a variety of genres including gaming, photography, comics, technology, art, journalism and video.

Visitors who pledge are known as backers, and these backers will further require an Amazon account to deliver the funds. If a project is not successful and does not make its funding target then no money is taken from any of the backers' credit cards.

A system of “rewards” exists for those who pledge a certain amount. Rewards can vary from advanced copies to stickers, t-shirts and computers for heavy funders. You're bound to find something worth supporting on Kickstarter.


As the name suggests, this is a musically-oriented crowd funding effort to help artists record a professional album. As the costs of getting noticed as an artist and producing releases escalate, the internet comes to the rescue by appealing directly to the artists' fans.

In practice it's a very musical way to distribute wealth, boldly claiming “you are the record company”. Sellaband's fresh business model promises not to take any rights to the music, and the service is open to signed and unsigned artists.

crowd funding

Record labels, artist managers, publishers and anyone involved in the production process can use the site, which helps add to the diverse range of projects available.

Those willing to support are dubbed believers, and believers buy “parts” within the artist. A “part” is best likened to a share, and the share price is set by each artist. Much like Kickstarter there are incentives for supporters, and the whole service is free to use.


British fundraising website JustGiving has raised over £450 million (that's about $700 million, or €530 million) for good causes since it launched in 2000. Over 8,000 causes have received funding, including an effort to help the recent 2010 Haiti earthquake appeal by raising £143,000 in 48 hours.

funding for non profits

The website takes 5% of every donation towards costs, and also has the facilities to support the sponsoring of individuals for charity. This makes it a great choice if you're thinking of taking on a personal project for your favourite cause, and would like to harness the power of the web to drive fundraising.

The fundraising service is still very much a business however, so if that influences your decision don't forget that 5% of £450 million is a tidy profit of £25 million.


Operating much like Sellaband, PledgeMusic is a service for budding musicians who wish to raise money for their next release. The service does not retain any ownership rights and actively encourages raising money for charity alongside its main cause.

funding for non profits

Artists that owe success to the website include Funeral for a Friend and Madina Lake, making up the 77% overall success rate. Like many similar efforts, rewards are available to those who pledge money and credit cards are not charged until the project reaches its funding target.

PledgeMusic has received praise from the British government for its innovative approach, as well as being nominated for Best Innovation or Gadget at the 2010 BT Digital Music Awards .


“I’ll do it, but only if you'll help” is the motto for PledgeBank, another service designed to raise awareness and funding for struggling or underfunded causes. This one's slightly different to the rest in that the pledges often require an action, such as taking on a role after the pledge has been met.

crowd funding

Ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair once pledged to become a patron of a community sports group if 100 other notable figures would do the same. The pledge was successful, and Tony needed some new trainers.

PledgeBank has also been used to spread awareness for certain movements such as the appeal to boycott DRM-infected CDs and DVDs. It’s also nice to know that the service is not run for profit, so pledge away.

Do you use any other charitable websites? Ever had a successful fundraising project? What do you think of charity-for-profit services? Are they helping or hindering charity fundraising? Get it all off your back in the comments section!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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TaskClear – A Free Inventory Program To Keep Your Business Organized

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 02:31 PM PDT

free inventory programAnyone that is self-employed or runs any small business knows that sometimes keeping track of everything can be pretty overwhelming. Whether you’re a writer, a web designer, a storekeeper or an eBay seller – every business has the same general requirements for record-keeping.

Inventory is difficult to manage. If you think about it, your inventory is intricately integrated with many different aspects of your business. When you make a sale and record it or when you purchase more supplies, those transactions have an effect on your inventory.

If you don’t carefully track those transactions and everything else going on with your business, it’ll end up feeling confusing and overwhelming – all because you failed to maintain good records and keep a proper inventory.

Most software that will help manage business records cost a small fortune, however I’m pleased to report that I discovered a very useful free inventory program called TaskClear that does everything I detailed above for absolutely free.

TaskClear For Small Business

If you run a small business or a service, TaskClear is going to help you organize it all. Even if you don’t have a retail business, you will still likely have an inventory of supplies that you need to monitor and replenish in order to keep your business running smoothly.

While TaskClear is a real powerhouse when it comes to maintaining an inventory (at least as far as free programs go), it also helps to organize and manage everything else that you need to think about regarding your business. The free version of this software allows up to two users with nearly full functionality – so it’s perfect for your own business or a business that you’re running with a partner.

free inventory program

Unlike other business apps I’ve tested, this one is easy and straightforward, but that simplicity does not trade off any functionality. As you can see by looking down the left menu bar – this software really does have it all. The data management section is where you’ll build your database of clients, suppliers and of course your inventory and supplies.

The document management section is where you will record quotations that you send out to prospective clients, as well as invoices and receipts delivered after the job is done. Finally, the TaskClear Apps section is where you will manage and organize your daily work. The to-do list is pretty straightforward if you’ve used any of the time management apps we’ve covered here at MUO.

free inventory software

Keep in mind, the to-do list is a list for the business – not your private to do list. This app is for organizing your business to foster success, and this is how you do it. To work toward those business goals, you can also add tasks and assign them to individual members of the team.

free inventory software

You’ve probably noticed that every screen has a blank “edition” field with two other blank fields beside it at the top of each form. These fields are automatically populated by the software as an automatic form of document management. Proper document management (keeping track of all versions and the changes between them) is an important part of good record-keeping for any business.

free inventory business programs

When you click on the System Admin option under Settings, you’ll find the user management area where you can add or remove users. The free version only allows up to two users, but this is where you add contact information, title, and everything else about each user.

free inventory business programs

The CRM is where you go to brainstorm, manage and track all of your sales opportunities and marketing activity. Actually recording these activities is a task that many small business owners brush off because it’s viewed as a waste of time. However, by tracking these activities, it lets you see what works and what doesn’t.

free inventory business programs

Just like collecting and logging your tasks, you’ll also use the Customers area to collect and manage all customers. The software even lets you categorize customers into potential, active, inactive or frozen status.

free inventory business programs

A powerful tool in this application is the reports section. Reports automatically aggregate all of the data from every section of the software in order to display information about your business that you might never have considered before.

free inventory business programs

Printing out receipts or sending an invoice to a client is as simple as filling out one of the available forms. These can be printed if you want a paper record (or to send the customer a bill), but the most impressive part of this is that you’ll notice “Product” information is also logged at the top. This automatically updates your entire inventory and keeps everything right on track.

free inventory business programs

Finally, as though all of these data-collection and management tools aren’t enough, if you scroll down you’ll see a few more helpful little tools at the bottom. These include a notepad, two calculators and a currency converter.

free inventory program

No matter what kind of business you have, free business software like this is very difficult to find – especially software that offers this kind of full-functionality. The design itself could do with a little bit of sprucing up, as the website looks a bit plain, but what it lacks in style it makes up for in usefulness and functionality.

Do you have your own business? Try out TaskClear to manage your inventory and tasks and let us know what you think in the comments section below!

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Hot Tech Deals [Sep 29th]

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 01:15 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. Samsung Spinpoint MP4 500GB 7200 RPM 2.5in SATA Internal Notebook Hard Drive $54.99 Free Ship via code EMCYTZT164

  2. TODAY ONLY Audiovox Acoustic Research AW880 Indoor Wireless Speakers (Pair) $59.99 Free Shipping

  3. TODAY ONLY Corsair Flash Voyager 16GB USB Flash Drive $24.99 Free Shipping

  4. nMEDIAPC 1000B Steel MicroATX HTPC Media Center Computer Case (20×2 LCD) $69.99 Free Shipping via code HTPC0924C

  5. LG 47LX6500 47 inch LED-Edgelit LCD 3D HDTV (240Hz, Local Dimming, Netflix) $1499.99 via code EMCYTZT167

  6. Dell Optiplex 380 Mini Tower w/ 20in LCD Intel Core 2 Duo 2.93GHz (2GB/320GB/Win 7) $499

  7. TODAY ONLY Fuji FinePix XP10 12MP 5X Digital Camera (Refurb, Waterproof to 10ft) $99.99


  1. Dell Home: Free Shipping on Computers $599+ Coupon Code: ZQQZSGW6HFDG3K

  2. Dell Coupon: 25% off All Laptops & Desktops on this landing page Coupon Code: ?$QNC1?HSKNR9F

  3. Dell Coupon: 20% off all Dell Desktops & Laptops in this link with Coupon Code: 5TK?LC9VJ5F$33

  4. Dell coupon: Free Shipping on Dell Studio/Studop XPS Laptops $699+ Coupon Code: ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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10 Places To Enjoy A Free Game Of Online Battleship

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 12:31 PM PDT

online battleshipWikipedia has interesting information on Battleship, a game most of us might have played at least once in childhood. The game predates even World War 1. From paper and pencil, the game has successfully transitioned into mobiles, iPhones and iPads.

Battleship is presumably one of the earliest gameplays with more guesswork and simple rules. The simplicity of the rules (see the Wikipedia article for the rules) makes this game the favorite of backbenchers in classrooms.

The one drawback of the pencil and paper game was that you couldn't play it alone. That's gone now – you can play Battleship against Captain Computer. With some variations, the rules of the game are the same. So is the fun.

So let's head out to the deep waters of the cyberworld and pit ourselves against machines or remote players. Here are ten places to enjoy a free game of Battleship.


online battleship

It's almost granted that you will have one of the oldest 'social' games on today's largest social network. And there's quite a few of them strewn around. The ICN Facebook app which this link points to installs a toolbar (ICN Gaming Bar). However, the Flash Battleship game can be played without installing the toolbar add-on. Playing the game gives you a chance to earn some Facebook credits.

Excel Battleship

battleship games

We have covered a few Excel games that takes a boring spreadsheet and turns it into a gaming platform. You can download the zipped file and open it up with a spreadsheet and play against the Excel 'code'. Each ship is represented by rows of cells; e.g. 5 squares stand for an aircraft carrier and 4 stands for a battleship.

You start by positioning your ships anywhere on a 10×10 grid. Next, you click on the opponent's grid and start guessing the location of his ships.


battleship games

Pogo has over 175 free online games. You use the search or click on the Battleship image you might find on the right. You can sign up and play, or play as a guest. Signing up connects you to other players on the Pogo gaming community. The game also has chat enabled.

The game is quite neat in appearance and play with a lot of variations and even four sets of rules. You can use any of the rules and setup challenges. Place your fleet and play with any of the modes like Powerups, Salvo, Target plus One, or Basic. As usual, the goal is to stay afloat.

Battleship Nexus

battleship games

On Bubblebox you can play Battleship in space. The side-winding game window against the background of space gives the game a quickfire feel.

Battleship: General Quarters

classic battleship game

Online Flash games are simple but fun. In the Battleship: General Quarters game, deploy your ships and shoot off your cannons. The board is 3-dimensional with neat explosion effects. Then there's your Executive Officer who goads you to fight back after each hit. The game can also be played on Miniclip.

Bazosoft Battleships Online

classic battleship game

You can choose between two game types (Classic and Mayhem). Drag and drop your games into the blue 10×10 grid and wait for someone to join in against you for a round of Battleship. A registration on the site allows you to play five games simultaneously against anyone in the world.

You can also play as a guest using any of the three guest accounts which limits you to a total of five games in all. You have to feed in your cell co-ordinates to attack and sink ships.

Your Turn My Turn

classic battleship game

This Battleship game is a Java applet. Place your five boats on the grid. Before registering, you can try your hands on the practice games just to get a feel of the interface. What the Java applet lacks in looks, it makes up in speed as you can play a blindingly fast game against the computer.

Free Online Battleship

Enter the battle room of this online Battleship game and let the background music put you in the mood. Play a rapid-fire round against the computer's fleet and see if you can come out on top. No log-in is required.

Sink My Ship

The Java and Ajax game site has another version of the Battleship game. You can join the worldwide community and play multi-player games or play against the server in a single player challenge. Win the battles and you could see yourself in the leaderboard.

Battleship Games

online battleship

The online Battleship games arcade site has not one but many variations of the classic Battleship game. The games are also sourced from other websites. For instance, the Battleship Advanced Mission is a full scale sea war with voiceovers and ship tonnage details. The effects are one of the best we have seen so far in the Flash games covered. The Torpedo Attack game is a variation of the Battleship scenario. You have to guess and attack the computer's fleet with torpedoes.

Sink or float, Battleship is one of the oldest and addictive time wasters around. You blasted around with it in class probably. Now, you can do the same in the office with these online games.

Tell us about your nostalgic thoughts on the game and if you still have a favored website to play it online.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Clementine – A Simple Cross Platform Alternative Music Player

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 11:31 AM PDT

alternative music playerI started out with Winamp, but I grew up with iTunes. I watched iTunes walk its simple and uncluttered baby steps and followed its growth until it became the giant it is today. But some people who just need a music player for their computer think that this giant is now too big to fill that position.

There are many alternative music players out there, but filling the gap left by iTunes is not a task that can be taken by just another alternative music player. Only a few actually have what it takes and if there’s an audition, I think Clementine would be one of the last apps standing at the final round.

Oh My Darling

The story goes that this app is the result of Amarok’s fans who tried to bring version 1.4 back to life. But instead of making it Linux only like the original Amarok, they made it multi platform with the help of Nokia’s Qt. The latest version of Clementine is available for Windows, Mac and Linux users.

The first time you open Clementine, you will be presented with a blank window. Click on the empty library list to start adding songs to your library. You can also take another route by going through “Preferences – Music Library“.

alternative music player

Add some tunes by clicking on the “Add new folder” button. Clementine allows you to add folders from external sources and update the library when the app starts. This is very useful if you are a notebook user with limited hard disk space because you can store most of your collection in your external storage(s) and play them only when your notebook is connected to it/them.

free music player

Browse and choose the folders that you want to add to your Clementine song library. To make your life easier, you could pick your existing iTunes library folder as one of the sources.

free music player

The rest is just about playing your songs collection. The playback control at the bottom of the window is another ordinary control, except for the existing “Love” button to tag the songs that you love.

free music player

There’s something special about the “Stop” button, though. Clementine give its users the ability to stop after the currently playing song hits its last beat.

music players free

Turn The Radio On & Other Features

Another feature that most users will love is the ability to connect and play internet radio. The big names are already on the list by default and you can add your own by right clicking on the “Your Radio streams” link and choose “Add another stream”

music players free

At the top of the list is Add the details of your account in the “Preferences-

music players free

Another pre-determined music source is SomaFM and Magnatune. The latter is a paid service but also accessible for free with some restrictions.

05d Clementine - Preferences - Magnatude.png

You will notice that your iTunes library collection’s cover art is not available from within Clementine. But fear not because you can easily add that album art using a tool called “Cover Manager“.

07a Clementine - Cover Manager.jpg

All you have to do is just click “Fetch Missing Covers“, located at the top right of the Cover Manager window.

07b Clementine -Cover Manager.jpg

Clementine will start the task of finding and applying cover art to your songs. It uses as the source. Even though I can’t say this feature works perfectly, it does deliver most cover art.

alternative music player

I’ve just used Clementine for a while and already I like it a lot. Even though it’s not the most beautiful music player out there for computers, it does what it promises to do: play music. Plus it’s relatively small (around 20 MB – Mac version). That’s tiny compared to the size of iTunes.

So have you tried this music player? I’m sure there are Clementine experts out there. Please share your tips, thoughts and opinions using the comments below.

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Best YouTube Channels Where You Can Learn To Speak Better English

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 10:31 AM PDT

learn to speak englishLearning English can be just as challenging as learning any other foreign language, but YouTube offers a great series of English language tutorials available for free to anyone that wants to learn to speak English.

As I researched this article, I tried to find YouTube channels in which the list of tutorials are well organized, well produced, and incorporate both audio and visual lessons.

EF podEnglish

The EF podEnglish channel of videos stands out to me as the most accessible for English for beginners. This channel includes bite sized video English lessons that are less than ten minutes in length.

Topics include Time, Families, Directions, Grocery shopping, Weather, Pets, School friends, Relationships, Films and Technology.

The video productions are fairly high quality and the lessons are in sequential order.

English with Jennifer

Instructor Jennifer Lebedev offers a great free series of English video lessons, each under ten minutes. Jennifer is also fluent in Russian and has a limited knowledge of Japanese, Portuguese, and French.

learn to speak english

When you visit her channel, click on her playlists in order to access the videos in the most organized manner.

The playlists include groups of lessons such as Basic English Grammar Lessons, English Vocabulary, English Pronunciation, and American Slang.

Most of the lessons seemed to be produced from her home, in which she teaches using real objects, PowerPoint slides, and real world enactments in which dialogue is presented in both verbal and visual format. Her productions are well planned and executed, and she invites other teachers to use her videos to supplement their own lessons.

The numerous positive feedback on her channel is testament to how useful her videos are. contains over 150 video lessons on a range of topics including 50 Grammar Mistakes, Simple 'To Be,' Questions, Saying Numbers, Talking About Work, Words ending with ion, How to talk about what you want in English.

All the videos are posted on YouTube, but the website presents them in a more sequential format.

The lessons are presented in a more traditional format, with the instructor standing in front of a white board using both verbal and written instructions. It's also useful that each lesson includes a summary objective of the lesson that will be useful to both other English language instructors and students.

Each lesson also includes a quiz and an easy method to share comments and questions.

learn to speak english includes over three hundred home grown lessons that seem particularly geared to beginners of the English language.

The titles and categories for lessons are not clearly evident, but the instructor makes use of tangible house objects in the tutorials, most seeming to last under a minute. Each lesson is also available in audio-only format.

Mister Duncan In England

As the title indicates, Mr. Duncan James is an English instructor in England.

His playlist of YouTube videos consists of over 50 videos on topics including, Please/Thank You, Faults and Bad Habits, Phonetics, Superstition, Winter Snow, etc.

Let us know if these YouTube videos are of use to you as you learn to speak English, and which channels I left out of the list that you would include.

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Mednafen – A Simple Cross-Platform Emulator To Play Your Old Games

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 09:31 AM PDT

old free gamesSupporting 11 different retro video game systems, including NES, Game Boy and Game Gear, cross-platform emulator Mednafen is a no-nonsense emulator for Windows and Linux. If you love old games but hate collecting emulators this is a program you’ll want to check out.

Emulation is awesome. It makes it possible for old code to run on new machines, meaning your favorite old games are still accessible. Best of all, there are plenty of great free programs around for the job. Varun talked about 3 emulators to play old, free games on Linux, and there’s a lot more emulation articles here on the site.

But it can become confusing, depending on how many kinds of games you’re trying to run. Different old systems need different new emulators. There’s no all-in-one solution to this problem yet, but Mednafen is helpful in reducing the number of emulators you need to install on your system.


old free games

There’s nothing too complicated about installing Mednafen. If you’re a Linux user, just check your package manager for “mednafen”. Ubuntu users can simply click here.

Windows users should head over to the Mednafen releases page and download the executable binary found under the “Microsoft Windows” header. You’ll need to download the portable program and place it in the folder of your choice (Program Files is probably good for consistency’s sake).

You won’t find Mednafen in your applications menu on Linux or Windows; rather, you need to set the program to be the default way to open ROMs. Right-clicking on your ROMs, then clicking “Properties” will reveal the way to do this on Linux and Windows alike. Now you can simply double-click ROMs to open them in Mednafen.


There are two main ways to configure Mednafen. The first is to open a ROM, then use keyboard shortcuts to set up things the way you like. Press F1 if you don’t know the keyboard shortcuts and help will show on-screen:

old games

(Tip: if you’re looking to toggle fullscreen, “Alt” and “Enter” is the combination you need).

The other way to configure Mednafen is to edit your configuration file. Linux users will find this file, called mednafen.cfg, in the hidden “.mednafen” directory in your home folder:

old games

Windows users can find their configuation file in Mednafen’s directory. Anything you might want to change about Mednafen you should find in this file, so check it out and turn this program into something you can love.

Stuck? There’s always the official Mednafen documentation if you need a hand.

With Boxee

old free games

Recently I pointed out that media center program Boxee can become the ultimate ROM and game launcher. Mednafen works really well with this, because of its almost total lack of a distracting user interface once you have everything set up. Try it out yourself, or with the media center of your choice.

Supported Platforms

Mednafen supports a variety of different old game consoles. Here they all are:

  • Atari Lynx.
  • GameBoy (Color).
  • GameBoy Advance.
  • NES (Nintendo Entertainment System).
  • PC Engine(TurboGrafx 16).
  • SuperGrafx.
  • Neo Geo Pocket (Color).
  • PC-FX.
  • WonderSwan (Color).
  • Sega Master System.
  • Game Gear.


I love this program because it’s simple and it works really well. I use it quite a bit on my Ubuntu netbook as well as my Windows 7 media center (through Boxee, of course).

Does this program work well for you? Is there a program you prefer? As always I’d love for you to share your knowledge below, and you can even flame me if you want. I like everything.

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Have You Bought Your MakeUseOf T-Shirt Yet?

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 09:01 AM PDT

It’s the hottest coolest fashion statement you can make – wearing a genuine MakeUseOf T-shirt. Made from excellent materials and priced at only $16.95 and shipping, you can’t go wrong.

Choose from one of our 7 designs, including our latest bestselling design of the Linux penguin playing with a jailbroken iPad.

And here to model one of our other T-shirts – the “I Love Geeks” one – is our very own gorgeous Jessica.  Doesn’t the shirt look great on her?

Jessica Cam Wong

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to the MakeUseOf T-Shirt store today and get your shirt while stocks last!

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Postbox 2 – A Better Way To Do Email [MakeUseOf Giveaway]

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 09:00 AM PDT

With the advancement of web mail, there is little need for desktop clients among regular users. However, the emailing experience on the web is only as good as the browser and internet connection.

Offline email management and customisability are two advantages of the desktop email client over the web solution. Still, there are only a few email clients that can utilize these advantages to provide their users with better email management. Postbox is a serious candidate. And with the release of Postbox 2, this great email client just got better.

We’re giving away 10 copies of Postbox 2 this week. Find out how you can get one! But first, let’s take a look at what Postbox 2 has to offer.

Better Way To Do Email – And More

If you’ve used Postbox (or Postbox Express) before, you’ll know that this email client has many features that make it stand out.

The quick and easy setup

With the help of the Setup Wizard, setting up your mail account to work with this email client is as easy as typing your name, email address and password.

The powerful search

Postbox’s search engine lets the user find almost anything within its interface, provided that the messages and feeds are already downloaded onto your computer and indexed.

The power of tabs

Postbox allows users to display messages, folders, searches, and other kinds of contents with tabs.

Keyboard shortcuts

Postbox also allows users to navigate and access almost everything using keyboard shortcuts. The less time spent on moving between keyboard and mouse, the more time available for email management.

These features are improved with the release of Postbox 2. But the new version also brings sets of new features. There are too many of them to list in this short article (you can view the full list on their website), but here are few of my favourites.

Account Groups

This is a feature that will allow you to combine messages from multiple accounts into one inbox and organize accounts into Groups. So, you can keep your personal and work messages separate, and then work with a unified views for each group.

Focus Pane

This feature lets you break your inbox (and workload) into smaller, more manageable chunks. Your inbox will be filtered by Attributes, Topics, Contacts, and Date. I like to think of it as being similar to Gmail’s Priority Inbox, but on steroids.

To Do View

You can also filter your message by tasks. The display will show messages that you need to act upon.

Quick Reply

As the name suggested, this feature will let you reply to a message without the need to open a separate compose window, which is perfect for short, snappy responses.

If you want a copy of Postbox 2, today might be your lucky day. Read on to find out how to win a copy of this great email client.

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!

Like it on Facebook

Or share it on Twitter

And that’s it! You’re done!

Giveaway eligibility
You must be a fan of our Facebook page to enter;
Individuals who are over the age of 18. If you are under 18, get your parents to participate on your behalf;
Individuals who reside in a country embargoed by the United States, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India are not permitted to enter.

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, October 9th at 2100hrs PST. The winners will be selected at random and announced via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

MakeUseOf would like to thank Sherman Dickman 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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3 Fitness Sites That Make Use Of Social Features

Posted: 29 Sep 2010 08:31 AM PDT

free fitness social sitesAre you finding it difficult to keep up with your fitness goals? It can be hard sometimes to find enough time to work out (even at home), and staying motivated is even harder. Having a gym buddy can help, but co-ordinating two busy schedules can seem pretty impossible sometimes.

It’s because of this that social networks and fitness go hand in hand. To be a part of a network where you have a multitude of supporters with the same goals as you helps get you inspired and into the gym every day. It’s also a great way to track your goals and keep up on your progress over time.

I have come across a few free fitness social sites that promote strong social community in the fitness realm. In this article, I’ll tell you who they are and discuss some of the features that make these sites unique.


Formerly known as Gyminee, DailyBurn is first up on our list. DailyBurn allows you to track what you eat, record your workouts, follow your progress, and be held accountable for reaching your goals by others.

free fitness social sites

To record your food intake, you can utilize DailyBurn’s huge database of nearly 400,000 foods and recipes. You just run a search for what you ate, select it, and it appears on your log. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the database, you can add your own. Also, use it to look up detailed nutritional facts for any food you want.

fitness social networks

Tracking your workouts in DailyBurn is just as easy. You can subscribe to workout programs created by others or create your own. Motivators will praise you when you’re meeting your goals and encourage you when you aren’t. Groups and challenges also help to add a level of competition to inspire you to meet your fitness goals.


Next up on our list is Traineo, another site to keep you motivated. Traineo has a community of over 200,000 members and offers motivation tips, a before and after gallery, diet plans, tips on nutrition and exercise, and workout routines.

fitness social networks

Traineo has tools to calculate precise weight loss using historical trends and daily energy goals. This is largely based on your progress and the goals you set. For a visual example of how this works, check out this short video :

Traineo’s support network is a very social community where others can leave comments and messages of motivation for one another. There are thousands of individuals in the community that can help you out, including your friends and family.


The last fitness site with social qualities that I would like to cover is Earndit. Earndit is a little different from the previously mentioned sites. They aren’t social in the way of a community of motivators, but in the way of connecting with existing social tools you already use.

free fitness social sites

Earndit rewards you for getting fit in the way of gift cards and online discounts. Basically you use a service you might already be familiar with – like Foursquare, Nike+, Everytrail, Garmin Connect, and Fitbit – to record the distance you walk or run to receive points.

It’s an interesting concept that provides an incentive to get fit. To sign up for Earndit, you can create an account on the site or join with your Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Google, Windows Live, or OpenID credentials.


As you can see, tech and fitness work pretty well together. There are some immediate benefits to belonging to an online fitness community, like receiving feedback and motivational comments from people with the same goals as you. Having someone in your ear constantly telling you, “You can do it”, is an amazing motivator.

It’s also statistically proven that we are more likely to meet our goals if we record our progress along the way. Additional incentive doesn’t hurt either.

What free fitness social sites or apps do you use to keep track of your fitness goals? Leave your thoughts, ideas, and comments below!

Image Credit: Kitch Bain

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