Tuesday, September 14, 2010

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [September 13th]” plus 10 more

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [September 13th]” plus 10 more

Link to MakeUseOf.com

Cool Websites and Tools [September 13th]

Posted: 13 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!


Ookla Net Index – Are you planning to switch to a better local ISP? If yes, then do not select the next ISP based on the ‘great’ packages they advertise. Instead, base your decision on real speed tests of all local ISP users. Through Ookla Net Index you can view a summary of those real speed tests. Read more: Ookla Net Index: Find The Fastest ISP In Your Area


Bullguard-SpamFilter – This is a great anti spam software that allows you to filter out spam and manage your inbox for you. Unlike tools that merely put up a wall around your inbox, Bullguard works outside that wall and proactively looks for spam by setting up a collaborative filter from the Bullguard community. Read more: Bullguard-SpamFilter: A Collaborative Anti Spam Software



Remind Post – There are a number of really sophisticated task managers available on the web but if you are looking for something simple it doesn't get better than RemindPost. The tool allows you to assign a task to somebody (or yourself) by sending an email with the task description and deadline. Read more: RemindPost: Dead Simple Task Manager & Reminder



Where Have I Been? – If you have travelled to many parts of the world, you might not recall all their names when asked. A simpler way to share the places you have been to is by using an atlas. On a world map you can indicate the countries you have been to and the ones you have not. This is exactly what “Where Have I Been” helps you do. Read more: WhereHaveIBeen: Map Places You Have Been At & Share



Yoopsie – If you own a smartphone, you might have already tried out barcode scanner apps. These apps take a picture of a product's barcode through the phone's camera which provides information on the related product. That is where Yoopsie comes in handy. Read more: Yoopsie: Search for Products By Barcode Or UPC Numbers


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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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The Complete Beginners Guide To Joomla [PDF]

Posted: 13 Sep 2010 06:30 PM PDT

joomla tutorialHave you ever wanted to create your own website, but not confident that you have the skills to create one yourself?

MakeUseOf is proud to announce The Complete Beginner’s Guide To Joomla which is now available to download for free along with our other PDF guides.

Thanks to this 40+ page guide, you can create your own, professional website within minutes. This guide will teach you how to use Joomla CMS and create your own websites.

Download: The Complete Beginner’s Guide To Joomla

This guide will walk you through:

  • What is CMS Software
  • What are the most popular CMS software you can use to create a website
  • Why choose Joomla to create a website
  • How to install Joomla on to your webserver
  • How to setup your new Joomla website
  • How to publish content to your Joomla website
  • How to design and customise your site to your likings

joomla tutorial

FREE Download: The Complete Beginners Guide To Joomla


Read it online on Scribd

By the end, you will know enough to be able to get your very own website up and running. If you are still not confident, help is always available at MakeUseOf Answers.

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Add Really Cool Cursors To Windows with CursorFX & RealWorld Cursor Editor

Posted: 13 Sep 2010 04:30 PM PDT

cool cursorsWallpapers are easy to find and make (even in MS Word) nowadays. If you’re the type to crave a new desktop wallpaper every now and then, why not dress up your cursor as well since you probably use and see it more often?

There’s been a few tools we can see from MakeUseOf’s Directory, such as TotallyFreeCursors, but as its libraries are huge, you can also save yourself some time from having to download them individually and install them the traditional way (by right-clicking on the desktop > Personalize > Mouse Pointers). Here are two tremendous (and free!) applications you can use to get some top quality cursors, as well as to create your own from images.

Installing And Importing Cool Cursors With CursorFX

CursorFX (which MakeUseOf has featured before along with other great desktop enhancers) has in all, 13 sets of vector-like cursors in a 14MB download file that you can obtain here. The installation goes without offering any optional toolbars, which is always a plus. Once you run the program, you’ll be greeted with the following cursor sets. Each set is a theme that you can use even without having the program running in the system tray.

cool cursors

If you click on the magnifier icon, you can view additional icons for whenever the cursor’s busy, working in the background, etc.

create cool cursors

You can also customize each theme with the built-in cursor editor by clicking on the pencil icon.

create cool cursors

You’ll also be able to create cool new cursors from PNG image files by going to File > New or clicking on New Package back at the main CursorFX window, and then clicking on Import Graphics.

create cool cursors

The images might be imported in their original sizes. You can then move around the exact pointer and press Ctrl + E to save and apply the theme.

cool free cursors

Even though you don’t need the program running and you’ll still have the cursor on system restart, you can’t end the process for CursorFX in the Task Manager, or else, your cursor will disappear.

cool free cursors

This means that if you’re uninstalling the program, in order to make the cursor appear again, you should right-click on the desktop > select Personalize, then click on Mouse Pointers. In the  Mouse Properties dialog box, make sure you have the OK button selected so you can just finish the uninstallation and press Enter when the cursor disappears.

cool free cursors

Creating Cool Cursors From Scratch & Images With RealWorld Cursor Editor

At approximately 7MB, the installation file for RealWorld Cursor Editor is smaller than the one for CursorFX. Once you load the program, you will be presented with options to create a new cursor or make a cursor out of an image in PNG, JPG, BMP format (Create From File).

cool free cursors

What makes this program different from CursorFX is that this application offers a much more advanced cursor editor, complete with a color palette and layering features that users with artistic skills will find very much like GIMP for cursors.

cool free cursors

Since MakeUseOf has a more detailed guide on creating your own cursor, we’ll talk about making a cursor from an image file here.

cool free cursors

If you’re choosing to create a cursor from a file, the image selected, unlike CursorFX, will be scaled down to a suitable cursor size (32 x 32), so you don’t need to resize any prospective images. On the right sidebar, you’ll see a box with the imported image, ready for you to position the pointer exactly at the top left of the image.

You can also increase the size of the cursor by heading to Cursor in the menu bar and selecting Change Size.

Once you’re satisfied with the results, press Ctrl + S or head to File in the menu bar and select Save as a static (.cur file) or an animated cursor (.ani) that you can select and apply in the Mouse Properties dialog box. Alternative, you can also try the new cursor out by going to Cursor > Use current for > Normal Select.

As for prospective PNG image files to import into either program, you can find cool cursor images in icon search engines such as FindIcons, Iconspedia or IconsSearch.cool cursors

Where do you usually get your custom cursors from? Voice out in the comments!

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An Idiot’s Guide to Installing Photoshop CS5 on Ubuntu 10.04

Posted: 13 Sep 2010 02:30 PM PDT

adobe photoshopA few weeks ago, I installed Ubuntu 10.04 on a spare partition. I’d dabbled with Linux before, mainly through a Knoppix Live CD many moons ago but working at MakeUseOf, it’s often hard to ignore some of the great articles aimed at Linux users and these ultimately made Ubuntu quite an attractive proposition. That, and I could install it through Windows, reboot and enjoy!

One thing I that constantly had me rebooting into Windows was the lack of Photoshop. As a photographer and MakeUseOf staff writer I use this program pretty much daily, and I can tell you now I’m not much of a fan of The GIMP – or GIMPShop. We just don’t get on.

So imagine my delight when I found out the popular WINE emulator that supports Windows applications in Linux works very well with the latest and greatest edition of Adobe’s image editing suite!

Prepare Wine for Ubuntu

Just so we’re clear this is a tutorial to install the stand-alone version of Photoshop (rather than the full CS5 Master Collection). You’re going to need either a trial version which you can get straight from Adobe, or the version you’ve already purchased. It is worth mentioning that a non-Adobe approved "portable" version of Photoshop exists and works on Linux, though I’m not going to tell you any more about it.

This install should work on derivatives of Ubuntu, so if you’re running Kubuntu or Xubuntu proceed as normal.

Armed with your chosen copy of Photoshop, head over to the Ubuntu Software Centre and search for "wine". The top result is usually "Wine Microsoft Windows Compatability Layer" and it’s that one you’ll want to install.

adobe photoshop

Once you’ve done that you’re going to need to get winetricks, and the easiest way to do this is via the Terminal. Open a new Terminal window (Applications, Accessories then Terminal) and type in:

wget http://www.kegel.com/wine/winetricks

If you are briefed for a password at any point whilst using the Terminal, simply enter your user password (it won’t show up when you type) and hit Enter. Once you’ve downloaded winetricks, install it with the following command:

sh winetricks msxml6 gdiplus gecko vcrun2005

photoshop tutorials

Lastly, you’ll need some core Microsoft fonts to get Photoshop working — so in the Terminal window you still have open, enter the following:

sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts

Good, now you can close the window as you won’t need the Terminal any more.

Installing Photoshop

It’s best to familiarise yourself with Wine a bit, so go to Applications then Wine and notice you have your very own virtual C: drive. Open her up (Browse C: Drive) and navigate your way to C:\Windows\System32. You’re going to need to place two DLL files into this folder: msvcr80.dll and atmlib.dll.

photoshop tutorials

Once this is done, you simply need to run the Photoshop executable installer, sit back and install much in exactly the same way you would on Windows. You may need to specify the directory in which to install the program (something like C:\Program Files\Photoshop will do).

If you check the "Run Photoshop CS5" box at the end of the installer, you will hopefully see Adobe’s premier image editing suite spring into action.

adobe photoshop

One final thing you’ll want to do is create a shortcut (or "launcher" as they’re known on Ubuntu). Right-click on your desktop and choose Create Launcher. In the command box, enter: wine “<path>” (with quotes) where “<path>” is the location of your Photoshop installation. You should end up with something like: wine “C:\\Program Files\\Photoshop\\PhotoshopCS5.exe” - call it what you want, add a fancy icon and use it in future to launch Photoshop.

Congratulations, you can now spend hours editing and tweaking photos in Photoshop within Linux. Smart huh?

Do you use Ubuntu? Do you find The GIMP to be a worthy replacement for Photoshop? Is official support for Photoshop within Linux your wildest dream? Get it all off your chest in the comments below.

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Hot Tech Deals [Sep 13th]

Posted: 13 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. TODAY ONLY Linksys WRT610N Simultaneous Dual-N Band Wireless Router $124.99 Free Shipping

  2. Sans Digital MobileSTOR MS2UT+B 2-Bay USB/eSATA Hard Drive Enclosure $89.99 Free Ship via code EMCYTZT142

  3. Pioneer SE-M290 3.5mm/6.3mm Connector Circumaural Stereo Headphones $14.99 Free Shipping

  4. Patriot G Series Sector 5 8GB (2×4GB) DDR3-1333 PC3-10666 Desktop Memory $159.99AR Free Shipping via code EMCYTZT141

  5. Western Digital Scorpio Black 250GB 7200RPM/16MB Internal Laptop Hard Drive $42.99 Free Shipping

  6. TODAY ONLY Acer X223WDbd 22in Widescreen LCD Monitor $139.99 Free Shipping via code EMCYTZT138

  7. WD Caviar Green 2TB 64MB Cache 3.5in SATA Desktop Hard Drive $94.99 Free Shipping

  8. Logitech G15 Illuminated Wired Gaming Keyboard w/ LCD Display $35.99AR Free Shipping

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

  10. 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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5 Tips for Running A Business Twitter Account

Posted: 13 Sep 2010 12:30 PM PDT

twitter for businessIt's no secret that Twitter can be used as a great marketing tool. Every major business, whether tech related or not, probably has a Twitter account. It has become as mainstream and essential as having a website. But as with anything, there's a good way and a bad way to use it. Little mistakes on Twitter are a very fast way to alienate your consumer base.

This is a list of basic Dos and Don’ts to consider when using Twitter for business. The key to most of these tips is finding the right balance and of course, keeping a professional air, while you’re at it.

Getting Started

It may seem like its straightforward, but the first thing you should be sure to do is add a profile picture, biography, a relevant background, and a link to your website before publicising your Twitter account.

When you create your Twitter account, don't follow hundreds of people to attempt to get followers. If your content is good, you'll get noticed and people will follow you. If you're following hundreds of people, versus having only a few followers, you’re more likely to be mistaken for a spammer. Either that, or they’ll take it as a sign of desperation to get more followers.

twitter for business

Don't Be a Bot

Don't flood your followers. Space out your tweets, just like you would your blog posts, so that they don't quickly get bored with your tweets. If you're streaming your blog posts into your Twitter account, and use a service like Twitterfeed, make sure you have it set to post in realtime rather than in bulk. Several tweets blasted out consecutively are more likely to be ignored.

Auto-anything doesn't go down well on Twitter. Don't auto-DM when you get new followers. People don't expect you to thank them for following, so don't do it.

Behind the Scenes

Use Twitter to keep your customers aware of upcoming maintenance on your site, especially if you run a community site. Don’t wait for them to ask you what’s going on.

how to write a business tweet

Acknowledge your Consumer

Retweeting positive mentions of your service or company is often appreciated, as is replying to all tweets addressed to your account in a timely manner. But like with any other tweet, space them out. Don't fill your latest tweets with retweets alone.

how to write a business tweet

Having a Twitter account opens your company up to dealing with customer service issues in a public forum. Make sure you have the time to handle any inquiries or complaints that are addressed to your account. It's also preferable to take the discussion into a more private space like email or online chat.

how to write a business tweet


Be personal and engaging. Don't make people feel like your Twitter account is a bot. The more they feel like there's a real person behind the account, the more interactive they are likely to be. Don't turn your Twitter account into a stream for your blog posts. People can subscribe to your blog posts if that's what they want.

Share interesting industry news about your field. Showing that you're interested in more than just your own company will make people more likely to follow you because there getting more than they can get from your website. Twitter offers a unique medium of interaction with your consumer base so take full advantage of it.

twitter for business

And if you are running a Twitter-related service, don't force people to auto-follow your account, and definitely don't force them to tweet about it without their consent during the authentication process. That is the fastest way to get unfollowed and to stop people from using your service. Give them the choice. If they want to follow you, or tweet about your service, they will.

Do you have any tips or tricks for starting your own Twitter business account? Let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Rosaura Ochoa

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Best Tips for Using the iBooks as a PDF Reader on Your iPad or iPhone

Posted: 13 Sep 2010 12:00 PM PDT

ibooks appThere are a plenty of apps for reading PDFs and e-books on portable Apple devices, but if you're looking to streamline applications on your iPad or iPhone, the latest version of Apple's iBooks (iTunes Store link) app serves as both an e-book and PDF reader.

This free application doesn’t outshine many of the popular PDF readers in the app store, but what it lacks in features is makes up by its visual appeal and ease of use.

User Interface

The user interface of the iBooks includes a library for downloaded e-books, from Apple’s iBook store, and right beside the Books button is the library for PDFs.

ibooks app

PDFs can be viewed in two different ways: cover view and list view. If you have a growing PDF library, these two views are great for accessing your collection. In the list view, you can filter books by Titles, Authors, and Categories.

convert pdf to ibooks

Navigating PDFs

The features for reading and navigating PDFs in iBooks are both similar and unique to reading e-books. Tapping pages on the left or right side of screen, as usual, "turns the pages". Users can navigate PDF pages by using the scroll bar of thumbnail pages that appear at the bottom of the screen. However, the thumbnails are so small that they're almost useless in this regard. The two other methods for navigating pages are better.

convert pdf to ibooks

Tapping the pages button on the upper-left of the screen is the best way to get a thumbnail view of all the pages. On the right side of the iPad screen, tapping the list button will of course, give you the table of contents view of a PDF. In both views you can navigate to specific pages.

convert pdf to ibooks

Bookmarking and Searching

The bookmarking feature is visually appealing. You can tap the bookmark icon on the upper-right of the application to bookmark a page.

pdf viewer in ibooks

When you want to view all your bookmarked pages, tap the pages button on the upper-left side and then tap the bookmark icon again. It's a little tricky at first, but it delivers up a nice thumbnail collection of all your bookmarked pages.

And of course you can search a PDF by clicking on the magnifying glass icon. However, in my tests, the search process is a little slower than with other PDF apps I've used.

pdf viewer in ibooks

Importing PDFs

The biggest challenge with Apple's iPad and iPhone is actually importing images and documents into the devices. Apple doesn't make that process very easy. Apple wants you to import documents via the iTunes application, which means making a wired connection.

pdf viewer in ibooks

To do this, you drop PDFs into your iTunes library as you do music files. They can then be found in the Books library of the iTunes sidebar. If it's not there, open iTunes Preference, select General, and click the box next to Books.  When you connect your iPad or iPhone to iTunes, you have the option of selecting which PDFs and e-books you want synced to your device.

Wireless Connections

Personally, I prefer to import PDFs wirelessly via my Dropbox account. I drop all downloaded PDFs into specified folder on my account. When I open the Dropbox app on my iPhone and iPad, I can select the folder and it gives me the option to import the document to iBooks or similar applications. For more information about using PDFs and other documents with the iPad, see this article.

ibooks app

PDFs can also be accessed via email, but they cannot be download via Apple's Safari app.

Although it has great visual interface appeal, iBooks is not the perfect solution for PDF storage and reading on Apple's mobile devices. For example, the annotation tools you use for highlighting and making notes with e-books are not available for PDFs. And though you can dim the LCD screen from within the app, you can’t enlarge the font size of PDF documents in the reader.

Despite these limitations, it's helpful that users can access their e-books and PDFs in one application.

Let us know what you think about iBooks as a PDF reader.

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Interclue – The Link Preview FireFox Addon on Steroids

Posted: 13 Sep 2010 11:00 AM PDT

preview url before clickingWe’ve seen quite a few tools that allow you to preview the linked page without clicking the link including Cooliris, "Cool Previews" and others. The one I am going to give a closer look at today is an old one: it received a great deal of attention back in 2007. It is still supported though and I have just recently discovered and fallen in love with it.

Interclue is a fun addon for FireFox. Actually it gives so much info on the preview that sometimes it seems too much (luckily, plenty of its behavior can be controlled via the tool options).

How Interclue Works: The Basics

After you have it installed, hover over any link and notice the linked domain favicon pops up nearby. Just hover over the icon and you will be able to preview URL page contents before clicking:

preview url before clicking

Control this feature from the tool options:

Navigate to: Tools -> Interclue options -> Linkclue activation

You can set the time delay before a Linkclue icon appears, when the icon disappears (if you use it) and if it should fade away. You can also specify if you want the icon to appear for internal links or external only.

In the same dialog, you can also customize the size of the preview window.

What’s in a Preview?

The preview pop-up includes:

  • The linked page text;
  • The linked page thumbnail (upper-right corner);
  • “Meta clues” that provide further info on the linked page.

The latter is actually pretty useful feature (but probably that’s what I call “too much”). The meta clues can include:

  • Delicious saves and tags;
  • The number of downloadable files on the target page;
  • Page date, etc

link image preview

Meta clues can be disabled using the [x] next to the feature, or in the Interclue options panel.

link image preview

Control this feature from the tool options:

Navigate to: Tools -> Interclue options -> and from there:

  • -> Page summaries: to adjust the font of the page text in the preview pop-up;
  • -> Meta clues: to set the additional information you want to be collected in the preview window;

Different Types of Links

Besides favicons (displayed for “normal” links), other types of icons may appear upon mouse-over in some cases – these icons can signal:

1. HTML anchors (or “named” anchors):

This will usually work for “Comments”, “Read more”, links from the blog home page, for example. The preview window will show exactly the part of the page where the link anchors to:

link image preview

2. Redirected links

See the redirect icon and learn the ultimate link target upon hover:

link preview

3. Image links:

The preview window lets you see a larger version of the linked image and some additional information:

link preview

4. Other type of links:

  • Malware or phishing sites;
  • Dead / broken links;
  • Non-HTML links (.pdf, .doc, .swf);
  • Shortened URLs;
  • etc

Control this feature from the tool options:

Navigate to: Tools -> Interclue options -> Hover Cues -> “Adjust Hoverclue settings for different types of links…”

Preview Window Additional Actions

The preview pop-up speeds up quite a few browsing tasks. By default, you are able to instantly:

  • Preview the next/previous similar link in the same window (for example, for MakeUseOf home page, you can load the preview of each post one by one in the same dialog);
  • Bookmark the link;
  • Open the page in a new background tab;
  • Email the preview window content;
  • Copy the preview window content;
  • Access your tools options.

link preview

Control this feature from the tools options:

Navigate to: Tools -> Interclue options -> Buttons

From there, you are able to see the full list of buttons, learn how to interpret them and enable/disable any of them:

preview url before clicking

I was very impressed by the variety of features and options that Interclue offers. What about you?

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10 Lesser Known How-To Video Websites for DIY Stuff

Posted: 13 Sep 2010 10:30 AM PDT

diy websiteWere it not for the words 'how-to'  most of our posts wouldn't have seen the light of day.

How-to instructional video websites take self-learning to another level of comprehension. You can repeat, fast forward and pause through the video instructions to grasp the ins and outs of how something can be done.

It's really great actually; you can teach yourself how to dice an onion or repair an iPod. You can even teach your grandmother how to work with a cash vending machine. Actually, cancel this out. I didn't get it anywhere, though I got quite a few on hacking into one!

Thanks to how-to video websites. There's a huge list out there. There are the front row ones like Youtube, Metacafe and Instructables. There are also our 5 Cool How-To Videos Sites That Don't Suck. But behind them there are some how-to video tutorial websites that are the lesser cousins. Click play and check out these ten.

Wonder How To

diy website

Think of Wonderhowto.com as a 'How to' search engine. The website searches for and indexes thousands of video tutorials and tips from across the web. If the video has an intent to instruct and you can do it yourself after watching it, it qualifies to be on one of the many categories listed on the site. You can join up, amble around in the Community, create playlists, and even submit instructional videos of your own to earn some cash.


how to website

Do you know how to prepare for a hurricane? If you don't, then watch and learn with the video instructions on MonkeySee. The videos in a wide range of categories are made by experts. And you can check out brief profiles of the person who is guiding you.

Trick Life

how to website

Trick Life can't compete in the looks department with some of the other sites listed here. But the collection of how-to videos is more than useful. The DIY videos are user contributed and cover categories like Computing, Crafts, Electronics, Hobbies, Entertainment, Lifestyle, and more.


how to website

Mindbites is positioned as a marketplace where you can create and sell instructional videos. That's why you will see most of the videos with a price tag. Preview lessons are free. But fortunately the video service also has a large free collection. The video lessons cover categories like Business, Language & Travel, Children & Parenting, along with various other DIY stuff.


how to website

The instructional video website has neatly collected videos (20,000 filtered videos across 19 categories) on specific topics from Arts & Crafts to Home Improvement. Gadget freaks might like the Consumer Electronics section. You can sign-in and even pin your own notes to the videos and share it with others. Graspr’s Scene feature, lets you jump straight to the parts of a video that interest you most. Similar videos can be bunched into Collections.

Common Craft

do it yourself

Not strictly a pure ‘how-to’ site, it gives short and simple video explanations which otherwise might require you to read quite a few lines. The videos are also unique in the way they use paper cut-outs to give out the how and the whys. The video instructions aren't for the know-nothings by any means. Even the learned can learn a lot from the way the answers break down the complex into the simple. Don't know shit about Augmented Reality? See it here. The videos are kept under four main categories – Green, Money, Society, and Technology. You can also purchase them for your own use or for your organization.

Teacher Tube

do it yourself

Teacher Tube is an online instructional video site with a focus on learners, teachers, and schools. That's why all the videos are educationally relevant. Teacher Tube is a great platform for educators to create little videos for their students to supplement other forms of learning. Videos can also be downloaded for offline viewing.


do it yourself

Continuing with educational how-to videos, WatchKnow is a quality website with 19,185 videos sourced from the above site as well as YouTube, SchoolTube, and GoogleVideo. All that is put in a directory that's over 3,000 categories deep. For instance, the Life Skills category has sub Categories like Leadership, Manners and Etiquettes, Confidence, Coping with Loss, Clothing and Wardrobe etc. The site's excellent design (there's even an age filter with the video search) makes it worth a bookmark.

How Do I

This one is a simple Google Custom Search engine with an offbeat URL (and difficult to remember). The custom search pulls instructional video tutorials from websites that are indexed by Google. So, it's useful as a shortcut if you don't want to trawl through a normal Google search.


diy website

WatchDoIt combines an internet wide search for how-to videos with its own hosted ones. So, you get the best of both worlds in most of the DIY video categories you can think of. There's even one on Politics (e.g. How to Leave the White House). After a free registration, you can even submit your own.

These ten of the lesser known how-to websites are ample proof that people like to give away knowledge of their unique skills. This is the best thing about the web. If you also want to put on a teacher's hat, make a how to video and spread it around. Also let us know about any lesser known DIY video website that's waiting to be discovered.

Image: kodomut

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2 Things You Should Know Before Streaming From PC To HDTV

Posted: 13 Sep 2010 09:30 AM PDT

streaming from pc to hdtvThe last nine months have been an experiment for my family in terms of moving away from the traditional cable services and toward streaming video from our PC to HDTV.

Although there have been some bumps in the road, the transition has been fairly smooth and in order to help out anyone making the same transition; whether it be to save money or to ‘think different’, I thought I would share some things you should know before going out and attempting to stream from a PC to an HDTV.

These tips are meant to give you an initial overview of what it takes to stream audio and video from your PC to your HDTV. Depending on your actual viewing habits and goals there may be one way that is better than another, so these tips are just general guidelines to turn your PC into a streaming machine!

1. All Content Is Not Created The Same

HD is a bit of a ‘catch-all’ term for ‘High Definition’. Unfortunately, there is no industry ‘HD’ standard. In fact, ‘HD’ is a term that has started appearing in a bunch of industries – from ‘HD’ Sunglasses to ‘HD’ radio.

streaming from pc to hdtv

When speaking in terms of television, HD is usually considered 720p, 1080i and 1080p. The 720 & 1080 refers to the lines of resolution included in the picture. P/I stands for Progressive & Interlaced. Progressive scans the line in order while Interlaced means the lines are scanned in every other row. 1080p is the ‘top dog’ of the HDTV world and most newer television sets do support it, while older ones may support only 1080i or 720p.

When a site says that it streams in ‘HD’, it may not be in one of these resolutions but may in fact be lower. Look for the 720p/1080i/1080p for ‘true’ HD – YouTube and Vimeo are two sites that do let you know their resolution and both are 720p. Offline media will be viewed at the resolution of the file – DVD resolution is 480p/i (depending on the player & source) and Blu-ray movies are usually 1080p, the ‘HD’ gold standard and the best you will get online or off, for now. The new AppleTV is a 720p device.

Many web streams are actually somewhere along a DVD or lower in regards to quality. Don’t expect everything to look sharp and crisp on your HDTV, especially if it is a stream from the web. Web streams are compressed much more when compared to their offline video rivals.

2. Almost Any PC Can Stream To An HDTV

Almost any PC can be used to stream content to an HDTV. You need to consider 2 things — what the PC or Mac can output and what signal format the TV can use as an input.

Most new HDTVs are HDMI and you may also see DVI inputs. PCs will have a DVI input usually and they are starting to come out with HDMI output as well. You may even see older TVs with VGA input, and in this case you use the same type of cable that you used on older monitors. Any of the connecting methods will work as long as you have the same connector on both sides. A ‘dirty secret’ with many new TVs is that they are basically a fancy, large monitor with a few more features added on. PCs hook right into them and they display images great – as good or nicer than a Cable Box or DVR.

streaming from pc to hdtv

The resolution should be auto-detected through EDID. EDID is the protocol monitors and computers use to talk to each other and let each other know what the maximum resolution and refresh rate that should be used. Some older televisions will only support 1024×768 (roughly 720p, with some stretching) but newer ones will go higher. The maximum resolution should be listed in the owner’s manual, check there to see the resolution that you should be outputted to the TV. Anything above 1080 in the 2nd number will be 1080p. Computers output Progressive only.

Speed is a concern when playing back content, specifically HD content. Look for at least a dual-core system and a decent graphics card. This can go anywhere from the Acer Revo desktop (which I use) to the latest Intel i7 8-core CPU monster. The CPU or GPU needs to handle the decompressing of the content and if you are planning on doing a lot of HD video you will need to make sure your CPU is up to the task. Lately the GPU is also handing a lot of this decompression, with standards such as Nvidia’s CUDA extensions helping to make it less CPU intensive.

Coming Soon: Part 2 – Software & More

Look for part 2 of this serious to learn more about software to make the most out of your HTPC and also some other things you should know about streaming video from your PC to your HDTV!

Image Credit : Sam Catchesides

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Say Goodbye to Flash Video Blues with SWF & FLV Toolbox [Giveaway]

Posted: 13 Sep 2010 08:30 AM PDT

Flash video (FLV) is really popular on the internet, and if you like to keep your favorite YouTube videos on your personal computer, we've written some great guides about how to download those videos. The downside is that you'll usually need a FLV video player to watch them again, and you most likely won't be able to use them on other devices like your mobile phone or iPod/iPad.

In this giveaway, we're going to let 25 lucky readers get their hands on a free copy of SWF & FLV Toolbox 4 worth almost $1000 in total! This software does more than just convert YouTube videos; it can convert video files into custom screensavers and animated GIFs, and offers one-click conversion (with the option to play with all the settings you'd like!).

Converting FLV Files to AVI Movie Files

As useful as my computer is, I find myself using it less and less. Instead, I'm using my mobile phone to interact with my digital content, so the FLV files I've saved to my computer are now sitting there unused. SWF & FLV Toolbox 4 lets me easily convert those FLV files into AVI files which can be played on all of my devices.

To convert a FLV file to an AVI file, simply open up SWF & FLV Toolbox 4 and select your source file (in my case, I wanted to convert the best video on YouTube to an AVI).

You can click the Play button to verify the video loaded properly, then select the format you want to convert it to.  In my case, I wanted to convert it to a video file. After selecting the output file location, click CONVERT to start the process!

If you're like me and like messing with output configurations, click the Show Advanced settings button to gain access to settings like video file format, codec, framerate, and quality. You can also crop or resize the output video.

The conversion process is pretty quick, but will be dependent on the size of the video you're converting and your desired output quality. The Double Rainbow Song video took <5 minutes to fully convert. If you've got a large file, you can simply set your computer to turn off when it's finished!

If you're dealing with a whole pile of FLV files that need to be converted, clicking the Convert many files tab at the top of the application will give you a handy batch file converter. It works just like the single file converter, but allows you to select an entire directory of files.

Converting a Video File to an Animated GIF

You know those great animated GIFs that are always popping up in internet forums?  Now you can make your own with SWF & FLV Toolbox 4.

All you need to do is open a video file like before, but this time select Convert to images as your output.

If it didn't open automatically, you'll want to take a look at the Advanced Settings for this operation. You can output the video as a series of JPEG/GIF still images, but the best option is to select an Animated GIF. Select your desired image quality, click CONVERT, and you'll instantly have a custom animated GIF.

Creating a Custom Screen Saver

Creating a custom screen saver is a fun way to personalize your computer and can be easily accomplished with SWF & FLV Toolbox 4. Select Convert to SCR just after selecting your input file(s) to start the process.

Once again, I recommend checking out the Advanced Settings area where you can add a title to your screen saver and add links to a website of your choice (great for personal branding).


SWF & FLV Toolbox 4 has many more features, including the ability to interchangeably convert between SWF and FLV and convert video files to stand-alone .EXE (executables).  Files stores as .EXE no longer need a player to be installed on a PC, so you can take your videos anywhere you want. Converting a FLV file to a SWF has the added bonus of built-in playback controls, customizing the quality of the video, and customizing the player's appearance.

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!

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 email.

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