Monday, September 13, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [September 12th]” plus 7 more “Cool Websites and Tools [September 12th]” plus 7 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [September 12th]

Posted: 12 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!


DowntimeCost – For any website, downtime is a costly issue. In simpler words, downtime costs money. However this cost is not usually calculated; consequently it cannot be fully taken into account during financial calculations and considerations. But thanks to DowntimeCost you can estimate how much money any downtime will costs. Read more: DowntimeCost : Calculate The Cost Of Website Downtime.


BeenAsked – The Internet has done a great job of allowing people to seek knowledge. In addition to millions of pages, there are also various websites where users can ask questions others. Such sites provide a great source of first hand knowledge. BeenAsked is a web service that makes this even better by letting you search multiple Questions/Answers websites from a single platform. Read more: BeenAsked: Search Multiple Questions And Answers Websites At Once.



Freemake – If you own a digital camera or handycam, there is a good chance you have had to use video conversion software. The best ones often come with a price tag. Only a handful of freeware video conversion tools pack impressive features into a user friendly interface; Freemakebelongs to these handful of programs. Read more: Freemake: A Feature-Rich & Super Simple Video Conversion Program



AudioTag – People often come across songs that they love but don't know any details about. A music recognition application AudioTag can be a great help in such cases. With a library of over 1.3 million tracks, AudioTag can help you identify any song that you upload from your computer. Read more: AudioTag: A Simple Music Recognition Tool Online



KeyRing – If you've got a bunch of loyalty cards from different stores then you'll know that carrying them around all the time isn't fun. But if you don't do it, you might miss out on some good deals. Key Ring is an innovative iPhone/Android application that aims to address this concern. Read more: KeyRing: An App To Store Loyalty Cards On iPhone/Android


List Your Website Here!

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.

Hey Facebookers, make sure to check out MakeUseOf page on Facebook. Over 24,000 fans already!



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Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]

Posted: 12 Sep 2010 08:01 PM PDT

Check out the top picks from MakeUseOf Geeky Fun during the last week.

  1. Successful Trolling (Pic)
  2. FarmVille Vs. Real Farms (Pic)
  3. Newsletter Spam (Pic)
  4. "Think Different" (Pic)
  5. Regards (Pic)
  6. I'm just following the instructions! (Pic)
  7. Ahmedinejad Reaction To Book Burning (Pic)

If you would like to keep up with all latest Geeky Fun additions, please subscribe to the Geeky Fun feed here. You can also subscribe and get the latest additions via email.

NEW: Download MakeUseOf iPhone App. FREE!



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HUGE Thank You To MakeUseOf Friends!

Posted: 12 Sep 2010 07:31 PM PDT

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


Thank you, guys!

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Your Top 3 Online Music Streaming Services [MakeUseOf Poll]

Posted: 12 Sep 2010 06:30 PM PDT

Last week, we asked you all to tell us your favourite tech blog. Of course, many readers mentioned that you like reading MakeUseOf – Thanks!

It seems that generally when MakeUseOf readers aren’t getting their tech fix here, they’re off reading Lifehacker. Out of 1121 votes, 27% readers love reading Lifehacker, 24% list MakeUseOf as a favourite, 9% read Engadget, 8% read Gizmodo and 5% love How To Geek. Honourable mentions which gained between 2-5% of votes include: Tech Crunch, Wired, Mashable, Download Squad and Ars Technica.

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

It’s also worth checking last week’s comments for more great tech sites.

This week's poll question is: List your top 3 online music streaming services you can’t live without

Let’s find out which online music services we think are serving up the best music.

And, by all means, let us know in the comments of any other awesome online music streaming services – we can’t get enough!

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6 Online Riddle Games to Keep You Glued to Your Computer

Posted: 12 Sep 2010 03:30 PM PDT

riddle gamesIf you're in the mood to give your mind a little exercise, online riddles are a great place to do just that. One of the most popular genre of online riddle games consists of multiple levels, containing clues in the source code, in photos, and just about everywhere you can look.

These games certainly aren't for the easily frustrated. They are long, difficult, and sometimes one level can take ages to crack. Luckily, there are forums filled with other players happy to give hints when you get stumped like Gamershood and Nordinho.


NotPron is a challenging riddle game, and according to its creator, its the hardest riddle game on the internet. Each level contains some sort of hint to get you to the next level. Getting to the next level could be achieved by finding the right spot on the picture to click, by changing the text in the URL or by discovering the username and password to get through.

Sometimes you have to turn to resources outside of NotPron including Google or even using an image editor. The riddle gets progressively harder, which makes it all the more satisfying with each correct answer. The only way to save your progress is to bookmark the latest level. The creator also recommends keeping a note of the solution to each level.

riddle games


OddPawn is a mammoth riddle game, with over 300 levels that will have you scratching your head. In order to play OddPawn, you have to register for a free account, providing a username, password, email address and your country of residence. While OddPawn lets you choose where to start the game, we'd recommend starting with Chapter 1 to ease yourself into the harder levels.

Each level is accompanied by a question you have to answer to move on. The levels are varied, with questions relating to logic and math, and much more. The game is something of a scavenger hunt, looking for clues in the source code, file names, URLs and more. While OddPawn does keep track of your progress, be sure to bookmark the last level you are at so that you can quickly get back to that page. Otherwise you're going to have to quickly click through the levels you've already completed without having to answer them. And don't clear your cookies, otherwise you will have to solve each level again. It's also worth mentioning that if you plan to procrastinate at work with this game, some of the levels require your audio to be turned on.

math riddle games

The DaVinci Code

Whether or not you liked the book, the online riddle game, The DaVinci Code that Random House put together for fans will definitely appeal to everyone. Following the hints in each level will leave you feeling like a detective, although if there is one small complaint, deciphering the font they used makes the riddle just that little bit more difficult. For those of you who are old hands at the online riddle genre, The DaVinci Code will be a quick and easy game to pass the afternoon with.

math riddle games

The First Door

The First Door doesn't waste any time starting out with a difficult puzzle. All answers to each level are typed into the URL. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully, and don't forget that the answers are case sensitive. Unlike other puzzles listed here, you don't need to look in the source code, you don't need any other programs, you just need to figure out the answer to each question using logic.

Occasionally you'll stumble upon easter eggs which will help lead you to the right answer. Once you've completed the First Door, you can move onto the sequel. Once again, don't forget to bookmark your place in the riddle otherwise you'll have to start all over again.

math riddle games


To play Amnesya, you will need a photo editor and an audio editor, but they do suggest good free apps that we have reviewed here on MakeUseOf like Audacity and Gimp and IrfanView.

Like the other riddles listed here, you have to change the URL to get to the next level. Clues are hidden in the images, in the source code, and in a bunch of other places. Luckily there's a very straightforward tutorial that will walk you through all the different places you can look for clues. Be sure to bookmark your spot in the game to come back to it.

jokes riddles

Einstein's Riddle

Einstein's Riddle is a very different kind of riddle game. There's only one level, but don't be fooled by that, it's definitely a headscratcher. You are given a list of facts about 5 men, and using logic and deduction, you can answer the one and only question in the riddle.

riddle games

If you like riddle games, you'll probably also want to give these Escape The Room games a try.

What are your favourite online riddles? Let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Lazurite

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Hot Tech Deals [Sep 12th]

Posted: 12 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. EXPIRING Toshiba Vivid White 320GB Portable External Hard Drive $44.99 Free Shipping via code EMCYTZT136

  2. EXPIRING Klipsch HD 300 5.1 Home Theater Speakers + Onkyo TX-SR308 AV Receiver $399.99 Free Shipping

  3. TODAY ONLY Dell P513W Color Inkjet All-in-One Printer w/ Wireless Networking $79.99 Free Shipping

  4. TODAY ONLY Vizio E420VA 42 inch LCD HDTV (1080p) $509.99 Free Shipping

  5. Canon EF 135mm f/2.8 Telephoto Lens w/ Soft Focus $439 via code LENS925

  6. Hanns-G HL231HPB 23in LED-Backlit LCD Monitor $159.99 Free Shipping via code EMCYTZT135

  7. Klipsch HD 500 5.1 Home Theater Speakers + Onkyo TX-SR508 AV Receiver $599.99 Free Shipping via code FREEGFT99A

  8. Yamaha RX-V1900BL 7.1ch 910W AV Receiver w/ HDMI Upscaling + iPod/iPhone Dock $584.99 Free Shipping via code EMCYTZT137

  9. Klipsch Quintet Home Theater 5-Speaker Set + Synergy Sub-12 300W Subwoofer $549 Free Shipping via code FREEGFT910A


  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 Free MP3 Albums To Download [Sound Sunday]

Posted: 12 Sep 2010 12:30 PM PDT

Sound Sunday is free music served weekly. This time I added a lot of folk to the mix, but you’ll also discover some punk, hip hop, and metal. If you are new to this, you may be interested in previous editions of Sound Sunday.

Artists and fans who would like to see their favorite free download featured in an upcoming edition can contact me here (tina at makeuseof dot com) or add their requests in the comments below.

Sean Wright – Box Them Up

Genre: rock, acoustic, pop

where can I download free mp3sIf this name sounds familiar, you either know your way around in the music business or you are a die hard Sound Sunday fan. At the end of July, I featured Sean Wright’s album Up The Creek. The man continues to release one album per month and is now up to 41 since April 2007.

Box Them Up is a free download available from Sean Wright’s Homepage.

Sean Wright MySpace and Homepage.

Magnetic Wind – Astral Vortexes

Genre: ambient, electronic, experimental

where can I download free mp3sMagnetic Wind is the creation of the multi-talented musician Jessica Waters. Apparently, she could sing before she could talk, and once she had discovered her love for music there was no stopping her. Today, she masters  several instruments, does her own songwriting, and commands every step of finalizing an album; including the mixing, engineering, and producing processes.

Download Astral Vortexes from the net label Endeless Ascent.

Magnetic Wind MySpace and Homepage.

Mark Tiddy – Escape This Town

Genre: pop, rock, acoustic, christian

where can I download free mp3sUK artist Mark Tiddy aims to write realistic Christian music. He has a degree in youth work and, through his work, first hand experience of what the real world has to offer. Escape This Town is his debut album and especially the singing is a little rough around the edges. It’s definitely honest.

Escape This Town is a ‘name your price’ download from Bandcamp.

Mark Tiddy MySpace and Homepage.

Dan Padilla – As The Ox Plows

Genre: punk, rock

where can I download free mp3sSan Diego punk rock band Dan Padilla (the band not the man), have teamed up with Paper + Plastick Records, Razorcake, and to release their new album As The Ox Plows.

You can download the album from Paper + Plastick. The link is copy&paste at the end of the first paragraph or click here.

Dan Padilla MySpace and Facebook.

Chanes – An Experiment in Instrumentation (2010)

Genre: alternative, funk, ambient, electro, experimental, hip hop, trip hop

where can I download free mp3sIn their own words:

“An Experiment in Instrumentation is definitely one of the stand outs among the beat tapes in my opinion. There is not many words to describe the tape. There is also no lane it can be categorized in. Its a step in a new direction. A step of growth in my production. And most importantly, it’s new material for my people.”
An Experiment in Instrumentation
is a free download from Bandcamp.

Chanes MySpace and Homepage.

Buried Beneath The Prayers – In Hell We Burn

Genre: metal, death metal,

where can I download free mp3sIf you need some truly scary music for this upcoming Halloween, here you go. The band with the disturbing name has had quite some reshuffling going during their short existence. Currently, the band members are D-fat, Kenny, and Ario. I wonder what happened to Kreepshow.

The download link to In Hell We Burn sits in the band’s Facebook sidebar or click here for the direct MediaFire download.

Buried Beneath The Prayers MySpace and Facebook.

Owen Pye & The Sunday School Band – selftitled

Genre: indie, folk, rock

where can I download free mp3sIn 2008 Owen Pye, formerly a solo artist, met three like-minded musicians since starting his career in 2005. They became Owen Pye & The Sunday School Band, short  OPSSB. Their selftitled debut album was released in 2009. Can you help OPSSB reach a thousand digital downloads?
The free album download expires at the end of September!
The album is available through Owen Pye’s Homepage or NoiseTrade.

Owen Pye & The Sunday School Band MySpace and Homepage.

The Hanged Man and The Groovy Gloom – Empress

Genre: alternative, rock, folk

where can I download free mp3sThis album is a collaboration of The Hanged Man with The Groovy Gloom, “a revolving musical collective with a core comprising Connaire Doherty and Tommy Foster.” The Hanged Man himself is Adam, who composes, lends his voice, and contributes arts and words.

The free download of this four piece album is provided by Bandcamp.

The Hanged Man MySpace and Homepage.

Brad Sucks – Out Of It

Genre: indie, pop, rock, folk, electronic

where can I download free mp3sBrad Sucks is a one man band and the man’s music definitely doesn’t suck. Out Of It is Brad’s second album, released in 2008. Although this last release has been a while, he is still out and about playing shows in his home country Canada and the US.

The entire album is available for free from Jamendo.

Brad Sucks MySpace and Homepage.

Andrew Heringer Band – Under California Skies

Genre: alternative, indie rock, folk, pop

where can I download free mp3s142 people backed this album with a total of $10,000 through As a result, Andrew Heringer Band could release the album for free. This is for anyone who thinks the internet kills good music. This band and their album are living proof that the opposite must be true. Long live the music!

You can download this album from Bandcamp.

Andrew Heringer Band MySpace and Homepage.

Are you satisfied or unhappy with this week’s selection? Please post some feedback, make suggestions, and share your favorite free music. I do listen and I may respond!

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MakeUseOf Review & Giveaway: Fitted iPhone 4 Case by Speck

Posted: 12 Sep 2010 10:30 AM PDT

The last Speck giveaway we had was an absolute hoot. Speck makes fabulous iPad cases and we managed to grab 5 CandyShell cases for our readers.

Today, we’ll be dishing out a whole new giveaway which will especially excite iPhone users. What we’re offering are five Speck Fitted iPhone 4 cases worth $150 in total. I had the chance to get my hands on these bad boys and they look (and feel) great. As if that wasn’t enough, we’ll also be sending out 5 ShieldView iPhone 4 screen films!

Want to get one for yourself?

I’ve got to start off the review by implicitly stating that the Fitted line of iPhone 4 cases looks awesome. It demands love and attention from just about everyone it comes in contact with. I’ve had several people stare at the case and finally ask me whereabouts to get one.

But the Fitted case isn’t just about the looks, it’s purposeful and surprisingly solid. It’s made up of a 2-piece, soft-touch hard shell that encases the iPhone snugly and will not separate even after a fall (yes, it’s been field-tested — the front and rear components of the case did not come apart even after falling and sliding away a fair distance).

In case you’re wondering, the case doesn’t obstruct the noise-cancellation microphone at the top of the phone or the camera flash at the back.

As you can tell, the Fitted iPhone 4 cases feature stylish fabric back panels with several classy designs such as this.

The case’s front component is slightly raised to prevent the iPhone’s screen from getting scratched when rested on the front surface.

Again, the case leaves then noise-cancellation microphone unobstructed.

You also retain clear access to the iPhone’s volume control and mute switch.

Feast your eyes on the rest of the Fitted family — such beauties!

Now, a little about the ShieldView iPhone 4 screen films. Each pack comes with 3 front and 1 rear protective films that are non-adhesive. Instead, they use static to cling on to the iPhone’s glass surface and doesn’t result in annoying bubbles or peeling edges. And we all know how irritating it is to apply screen protectors, so the good people at Speck inserted labelled tabs on each screen protector for easy handling and to help you on your way.

Its anti-glare surface alters the look of the iPhone 4’s screen slightly but nevertheless, the surface feels much better to touch and collects a whole lot less dust compared to the naked screen. Speck’s ShieldView feels tough and should take a fair amount of abuse before requiring a replacement. And even when that time comes, you won’t have to buy any extras because if you remember, the pack comes with 3 front-facing films. If you’re purchasing this outright, it’s well worth the $10.

But hey, today’s all about giving these puppies away! So let’s begin! As usual, MakeUseOf does not discriminate so every reader is eligible to participate. If you win, we’ll send the case to you absolutely free of charge!

How do I win one?

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!

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, September 17th 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 the fabulous team over at Speck 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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