Wednesday, September 15, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [September 14th]” plus 10 more “Cool Websites and Tools [September 14th]” plus 10 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [September 14th]

Posted: 14 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!


DropGallery – Imagine you are about to share images online. Normally you would do this through an online uploading interface of an image hosting website. This means you individually have to upload each photograph, wait for the upload's completion, and then share the album's URL with your friends. But with DropGallery that process becomes remarkably quicker and simpler. Read more: DropGallery: Free Photo Hosting Service With Easy Uploading & Sharing


HireHive – If you feel the need to to ditch the conventional hiring method that involves scouring through long text-based resumes, and you want to try something new then HireHive is something you could take a look at. It creates online job application questionnaire, that not only supports text, but images and videos too. Read more: HireHive: Create A Multi-Media Job application Questionnaire Online



xFiles – There are a number of tools that let you share large files by uploading them to a server. However they all have an inherent risk of security and server dependency. xFiles is a P2P based file transfer service that completely eliminates all of these risks. Just head over to xFiles and choose the file you want to transfer. Read more: xFiles: Easily Exchange Large Files Online



FoneFindr – It is very problematic when you are in a hurry to leave and cannot find your phone; soon this causes panic and makes the phone search even more difficult. If you have a landline, you can call your phone and see where the ringing is coming from; but if you do not have a landline, FoneFindr is the best option. Read more: FoneFindr: Call & Find Your Misplaced Cell Phone



RemoteDroid – is a cool app that turns your Android phone into a wireless mouse and keyboard that can be used with any computer running Windows, Mac or Linux. The app lets you use your Android screen as a mouse with a touchpad. Read more: RemoteDroid: Use Your Android Phone As A Wireless Mouse


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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 10 Toughest Tech Questions [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 07:31 PM PDT

MakeUseOf Answers is dedicated to helping you. Unfortunately, we don’t have all the answers. That’s why we sometimes need your help in answering tough questions.

To show our appreciation, we introduced the Best Answer of the Week contest. Every answer submitted by one of our readers qualifies. If you wish to enter the contest, please use a valid email address, Facebook, Yahoo, or Disqus account to post your answer, otherwise we cannot contact you in case you win. Winners are announced every Friday.

And these are the challenging 10 questions for this week:

  1. How can I adjust Firefox to allow copy and paste?
  2. How can I define keyboard shortcuts to menu items in Windows?
  3. Where do I find the source code for websites I created on
  4. How can I make a CSS button code W3C compliant?
  5. How can I boost the reception of my wireless internet?
  6. Is there a search engine which can search people on Orkut?
  7. How can I download classic ringtones for the iPhone to my laptop?
  8. How can I get my USB TV tuner to work?
  9. How do I stop unwanted commercials from interfering with my internet use?
  10. What software do I need to create an interactive animation?

MakeUseOf Answers may provide solutions to your questions. Browse by Latest Questions, Unanswered Questions or Most Popular Questions. For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

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Plan Events & Share Them With Friends On Plancast

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 06:31 PM PDT

event planning softwarePlancast is creating a lot of buzz in the social world right now. If you haven’t heard yet, Plancast is a platform from which you can share your plans with your friends, so if you’re heading to a conference, sporting event, festival, party, movie premiere, or whatever, Plancast can help you let others know your plans ahead of time.

This concept is very simple. However, it’s the integration with your existing social networks – Facebook and Twitter – that make this a potentially powerful event planning software tool. Whether you’re trying to get people to attend your event or you just want to let your friends know your upcoming schedule, Plancast can accommodate your needs.

In this article, I am going to explore the idea of plan-sharing and why it might be a good idea to participate in.

Is Sharing Your Plans A Good Idea?

I like the idea of sharing my plans with others, especially if I have control over who sees them. Regarding Facebook and Twitter, I trust the people I am connected with or following for the most part, at least enough to share my plans with.

Why? Because plans can change. I already use geo-location apps like Gowalla and Foursquare to share my physical location with everyone, which I think is much more revealing than whatever I’m “planning” on doing. Also, plans don’t necessarily have to be places you’re going. Web and TV events count as plans too.

event planning software

From a business perspective it’s just the sort of tool you’d be looking for to alert people of upcoming events. It’s like an unofficial calendar of sorts that can be spread across the social construct. Seeing others’ plans can also give you a good idea of what everyone is up to and might inspire you to make similar plans of your own. Even if you only want to share your plans with your close friends, Plancast can be useful.

Getting Started With Plancast

Now that I’ve shared some of what I feel are the benefits to using this service, let’s dive right into the ‘using it’ part.

event planning

Plancast reminds me of Twitter a little, except that while Twitter asks, “What are you doing?“, Plancast wants to know, “What are you planning to do?“. See the difference? I know, it’s subtle, but let’s move forward with the interface.

To start using Plancast, head over to the homepage and create an account or sign in using your Facebook or Twitter credentials.

event planning ideas

From there you can search for all of your Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and email contacts that are using Plancast and subscribe to those whose plans you would like to be notified of. Click the Subscribe button next to the person’s name and they will get an email telling them that you’ve subscribed to their plans (by default) so they can reciprocate.

Following The Activity

Once you’ve added some people on Plancast you can begin viewing their plans, as well as start sharing your own.

event planning ideas

On your homepage you can view recent activity from your friends in the community. There is also a local tab, which lets you type in a location to see local plans for. This can come in handy if you’re looking for something to do in a specific place.

event planning ideas

Clicking count me in on someone’s plans will add you to a list of people planning to attend. This can also function as a ‘like’ button for you if you want to express your interest in something, even if you can’t actually attend.

Anything Else?

Everyone on Plancast has their own profile page, where your subscribers can visit and view your plans. You can make your plans private at any time.

event planning software

Some other notable features of Plancast include the ability to search for people/plans within the interface, export friends’ plans as a Calendar Feed, and export to RSS.

On your settings page, you can opt to import your activity from Facebook events, as well as enable the option to share your plans on Twitter and Facebook automatically. Integration with Google Buzz,, and Eventbrite are also available.

Will you be checking out Plancast? Leave your thoughts, ideas, and comments below, and share this article with your friends/followers if you found it useful!

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Syndicate Your Feeds Using Feedburner BuzzBoost

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 04:31 PM PDT

syndicated feedsIf you run more than one blog or website, then you will know that keeping up with the syndication and promotion of everything new that you write can be a bit time consuming. You might remember to post your blog entry to Twitter or Facebook, but are you really distributing your entries as well as you could?

There are countless resources throughout the web where you could turn your blog RSS stream into a syndicated feed. Subscribing to Feedburner or some other feed service is great, because there’s an existing user base searching those services for your feed, but there’s a lot more you can do to create a syndicated feed. Luckily, if you make use of Feedburner for your feed, then you don’t have to look very far for a tool that helps you spread the word every time you post an update.

FeedBurner offers an awesome service called BuzzBoost, which dynamically converts your RSS feed into HTML. Then, you can embed that content into any webpage that you like. What makes this tool so useful is that you can distribute the content from your feed to any website, or you can use it to distribute your blog updates to any profile or portal site that allows for embedded HTML.

Let Feedburner BuzzBoost Do All The Work

To get started, just go into your Feedburner account, click on the “Publicize” tab and then click on BuzzBoost.

syndicated feeds

Within the BuzzBoost configuration area is where you can configure how your feed will get displayed on the websites where you place the script. Ideally, it’s best to keep the updates to 4 or 5 updates from the feed for small widget or sidebar displays, or up to 10 updates if you plan on publishing the content to its own website.

how to syndicate a blog

You can also define whether the output HTML features the title of your blog, and if it will display only a text version of the feed or a full HTML version. For converting your feed to web content, make sure that “Full HTML” is selected. The next step provides the javascript code that you’ll insert into any website that will convert your feed to HTML content wherever you place it.

how to syndicate a blog

Create “Syndication” Websites Across Several Domains

If you want to use your feed to create a syndication website or a “mini-blog” that promotes your “real” blog, you can do that by embedding your script right in the center of the webpage. A snippet of each blog update gets published automatically to the page, along with a link.

how to syndicate a blog

This is a good way to capture traffic from various domains and draw them back to your central website where the content can be found. For example if you have a blog called “Mobile Geeks R Us” – you can register as many domains as possible related to that niche and then syndicate your content across all of them.

Keep in mind that if your RSS feed is set up to output entire articles rather than just summary blurbs – people can use your feed in this way to copy your content. This is why it’s a good idea to keep your RSS feed configured to publish only blurbs from your content.

Use BuzzBoost to Create an Online Profile Website

Another very cool use of the BuzzBoost RSS-to-HTML utility is to create sort of a “portal page” that displays the content from all of your blogs. All you have to do is enable BuzzBoost for each of your Feedburner feeds, and then embed it into a table format on your personal bio website, featuring content from your blogs.

how to syndicate content

You can also use this same tactic on all of the popular online portal sites that let you create “dashboards” (like Netvibes, which Angela previously reviewed) or content pages that you can make public. All you have to do is add an HTML widget, and then embed the script from BuzzBoost.

syndicated feeds

The beauty of BuzzBoost is that unlike using RSS Feed widgets where you have to configure the display when you set up the widget itself, BuzzBoost lets you syndicate your feed all over the entire Internet. Afterwards, if you want to modify how the feed is converted to HTML and displayed, you can make those changes in one place on your Feedburner account, and the changes get distributed across all of the sites where you’ve placed the script.

The key to syndicated feeds is getting your content in front of as many eyes as necessary, and BuzzBoost is one of the best tools I’ve seen that can help you do that. Do you have a Feedburner account, and have you ever tried BuzzBoost? What do you think? How do you syndicate your websites? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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View Any Restaurant Menu Online With OpenMenu

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 02:31 PM PDT

view any restaurant menusHave you ever found yourself craving a specific type of food but didn’t know quite where to order it from (check out OpenTable, KidsEatFor, FoodSpotting, and UEatCheap)?  As someone who admittedly enjoys to eat, I have found myself in this situation.  I’d be sitting there on my lazy derrière thinking “Mmmm, I could really use a calzone right now!”  Try and tell me I am the only person who has ever been there.

In the past, Google has done a pretty good job helping here.  You do need to know how to search just right and how to sift through the results but the effort is usually worth it.  However, what if there was a site dedicated to view and search through any restaurant menu in your area?  I could then just type in “calzone” and my city/state or zip code and up would pop all of the calzone listings in restaurants in my area.  I have found just that in OpenMenu.

view any restaurant menus

OpenMenu helps to bring restaurants and customers together.  They offer benefits both for the restaurant and the eater.  Let’s look at both.

How OpenMenu Benefits Restaurants

OpenMenu offers several benefits to restaurants.  It’s a place to put your menu for customers to find and search from.  Restaurants should be happy to partake in a free service such as this.

Your Menu In One Place

Are you tired of attempting to maintain a menu in more than one place?  You probably have at least a limited version of your menu on your website and there are also other food sites you may be maintaining your menu on.  OpenMenu tries to become the one place for your menu.  Check out these tools making it easy to maintain your menu in one place:

  • If you want your menu on your website, OpenMenu has released a Wordpress plugin allowing you to do tasks like putting specials in your sidebar, adding a menu page with your OpenMenu menu on it, and more.

online restaurant menus

online restaurant menus

Your Menu Searchable

Imagine the publicity you can have if people in your area can search for menu items they want and your food shows up on their list.  Just having the text of your menu online getting indexed by search engines is helpful enough but now you can have your food show up where the people can more easily find what they are looking for.

How OpenMenu Benefits Eaters

Since I don’t own a restaurant, this is the category I fit in and the area that caught my attention with OpenMenu.  I fell in love with the idea of searching for a food item I am currently craving.  They call it OpenMenu Search and it offers several ways to search.

First, you can search for what you want to eat.  Are you visiting Chicago and wondering where you can find a good steak?  Go to and type the food item and the city information.

online restaurant menus

The search results should give you everything you need to find the item you want including the dish, price, restaurant name, and the address.  Clicking the link will bring up the rest of the restaurant information.  Very cool.

You can also search for restaurants which are listed in your area.  Go to, enter your city information, and click Check Location.

view any restaurant menus

It will give you a map and tell you how many restaurants are listed for the city and offer a link to the current list.


There’s a lot of good things about OpenMenu but there are a few things that need to improve.

  • First off, they should design the main site to be a little more intuitive.  For instance, it took some stumbling around to find links to the various search pages.
  • Secondly, although there are listings in my area, they are largely chain restaurants.  I would like to see some mom & pop restaurants jump on board.  Often you can find some of them via a Google search but they ought to get on sites like this also.
  • The other thing is that most of the restaurants currently participating are in the United States.  Maybe that’s the target market?

Restaurant owners, head on over and create your menu today.  Hungry eaters, try running a food search and see what you find.  Then come back and tell us your thoughts.



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Hot Tech Deals [Sep 14th]

Posted: 14 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. Toshiba Satellite C655D-S5057 AMD P320 Dual-Core 2.1GHz 15.6in Laptop (4GB/250GB) $399.99

  2. TODAY ONLY Flip UltraHD 8GB Digital Video Camcorder (720p) $129.99 Free Shipping

  3. Dell Ultrasharp U2311H 23 inch IPS LCD Monitor $269 Free Shipping

  4. Halo Reach Video Game (Xbox 360) $49.99, Halo Reach Wireless Controller $49.99 Free Shipping via code EMCYXZR62

  5. Western Digital Caviar Blue 640GB Internal SATA Hard Drive $49.99 Free Shipping


  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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The Top 10 YouTube Videos With Easy To Learn Card Tricks

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 12:31 PM PDT

easy to learn card tricksYouTube is the grand melting pot of all that you can think up and put on video; from cats chasing lasers to 4,000 people having a balloon fight. But apart from the weird, wacky, and the wonderful, YouTube is also a weighty place for some free DIY video lessons.

We will let YouTube be our Hogwarts School and teach ourselves some easy to learn card tricks. Card tricks are not only fun and cool, but they are a social skill too.

No you don't have to become Mandrake the Magician, and you don't have to pull out a rabbit. You just need a deck of cards, gather a bunch of friends around the table, and with a sleight of the hand impress the hell out of them.

The thing with card tricks is that the befuddling effect in the eyes of the beholder is greater than the trick itself. So let's try for that look with these ten simple and easy to learn card tricks on YouTube.

Fastest Card Trick

This one is an amazing but simple color changing card trick. And you can learn it in a 'snap'. With deft fingers, you should be able to learn it in around ten minutes or so.

Choose A Card From The Deck

The first video was to show you how an easy trick can be impressive. This one here is for the rank beginners and one of the most common card tricks. What's more, a kid is doing the demo.

Predict The Card

A very simple trick that appears damn complicated, but as the instructions reveal, it's all about counting your cards right.

The Rising Card

A card trick which relies on a bit of misdirection to achieve the magic effect. But you have to be slick in the first move when you lift the top two cards. This card trick is an Expertvillage how-to, and you can catch this entire series (by Brandon Nowasky) which takes you from the basic techniques to the more advanced ones.

Coin Through A Card

If you aren't too good with sleight of hand tricks or fanning cards with one hand, this one is for you. Drop a coin through an impossibly small hole. I won't spoil the secret, check out the video.

The Card Lift

This simple card trick again illustrates that when a trick is explained, it seems so humdrum. Try guessing the secret as to how the card rises out from the box before it is actually revealed.

The 18 Cards

This is a very simple beginner's card trick that calls for a lengthy performance, but is a neat spectator trick all the same.

Flip Flop Color Change

This card trick can be demonstrated in a few seconds, but you have to put a lot more in practicing for it. The impact is slick 'n smooth.

Mind Control Card Trick

A pair of scissors is mandatory. This card trick is a bit on the chancy side because it relies on psychology. But follow the tips and you may just walk away with the applause.

Fan Your Cards & Make Some Disappear

This one is a cool card trick from Expertvillage again that shows how you can 'fan' your cards to make them vanish from plain view. It is a dead simple card trick, but do it when you can fan a deck with one hand. It just looks more polished.

Even though these tricks may appear simple, you still need to practice. Magic is about simple logic, confidence, and performance. Let the first one remain hidden while putting on a show with the other two. And as a wannabe card magician, follow the age old 'magicians never tell' credo. Even though you learnt it all on YouTube.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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Seashore – A Free Lightweight Image Editor For Your Mac

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 11:31 AM PDT

free image editorMac doesn’t count nearly as many free image editors as Windows. This is something you won’t notice if you’re using Adobe Photoshop, Pixelmator or Apple’s own Preview application. But you’ll need a second mortgage to afford Photoshop, and Preview doesn’t do much more than annotating and cropping.

Looking for freeware clears the stage of all but a few players, most famously GIMP and Acorn. We decided to take Seashore for a spin. It takes the middle ground between the advanced, but overly cluttered and complicated GIMP, and the beautiful simplicity of Preview.


The Seahorse project has been out and about for quite a while, and aggregated a notable followership, but it was discontinued for the last three years. Only a couple of months ago, Seashore pushed out a working 0.5 preview, featuring drastic changes to the interface and functionality.

free image editor

Seashore is based on GIMP and developed with the Cocoa framework, and proves once and for all that GIMP-based applications don’t have to be awkward. As an intermediate to advanced image editor, Seashore hasn’t ported all the available features, but enough for the average user.

image editor

All these can be found in the default application view, with a layer overview on the left and a feature-ridden ribbon on the top which, together with the pop-ups, allows immediate access to all features. These cover selection tools, brushes, filling, effects, nudge, stamp, color picker, crop tool, and more.

Now here’s where Seashore shows itself as an old-fashioned image-editor, but not in a particularly good way. The application misses tools for creating shapes, both free-form and basic squares and arrows. Typesetting is included, but rasterizes itself after creation – which, in human language, means that the text, font type and color can’t be changed later on.

image editor

This can be circumvented by using the selection tool to select part of an empty layer, and coloring it with the fill tool. It shouldn’t be necessary, but it allows you to create a quick square, rectangle, circle, ellipse and free-form shape. This can be made easier by ticking off the aspect ratio checkbox.

free image editor

The effects menu, mentioned above, looks like a blurred dot and arrow. This feature makes up for the lack of freeform shapes, and is again focused around image manipulation. These effects cover a goodly number of things, both fun and practical. You can use the blur and distort tools, 11 total, and the generate and tile tools to create great backgrounds or warp your photographs. The transform tools are especially useful for manipulating multiple layers, including perspective, scale and rotation.


Compared to GIMP, using Seashore is an incredibly fluid and intuitive experience. It’s obvious, though, that Seashore isn’t intended for seasoned graphic editors, and it isn’t a match for the likes of Photoshop and Pixelmator. Seashore is also an old-school free image editor. Although the effects pane offers an incredible array of features, the absence of simple shapes makes this application mostly appropriate for working with ‘real’ photographs.

What’s you’re opinion on Seashore? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Some Free Methods To Build A Web Page In Less Than 5 Minutes

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 10:31 AM PDT

how to build a web pageI think almost everybody in this modern age realizes the importance of a web presence. It’s already part of our culture and serves as the way to show ourselves to the world. Among the many available methods of establishing our existence in the virtual world, having a website is one of them.

But most layman internet users that I know shiver when they heard the phrases “web building” and “web design”. So I tried to compile a list of methods of how to build a web page without any web design skills in less than 5 minutes.

The Applications

Let’s start with the obvious: web building applications. The quickest and easiest way to build webpages and websites should be by using applications that are built specifically for that purpose.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case. While there are many powerful website builders, the ones that can help novice users to build webpages without any web building skills are next to none. Add the word “free” in there and you are looking at the (almost) impossible.

The only application that I could find which fits the quick, easy and free requirements is Apple’s iWeb. The app is part of the iLife Suite (costing $79), but the suite comes for free with every Mac purchase.

After setting up a new site, you can create a new page in iWeb. Go to the “File – New Page” menu. You’ll have your new page based on the pre-designed template that you chose.

how to build a web page

The rest is just a matter of changing the text and replacing the photos.

build your own web page

What about other alternatives? One website building application that most users will be familiar with is the classic FrontPage from Microsoft (part of the Office Suite, again not free). Sadly, this fairly easy to use WYSIWYG Web Editor has been discontinued since 2006 and replaced by Expression Web – which is not WYSIWYG and also not free.

Dreamweaver might be one of the most powerful web builders, but it’s not free and also not for the faint of heart.

There are actually few free web building apps out there, such as NVU (discontinued) and Kompozer, but they are definitely not for novices.

The Web Services

On the other hand, there are virtually countless easy and free web building services in the virtual world. You might as well go wild and create more than a mere webpage but websites instead. We have discussed lots of them here in MakeUseOf, such as:

And don’t forget tons of free blog services out there like Wordpress, Blogger, LiveJournal, Posterous, Linkedin, Tumblr, and lots more. Using these services, you can have your own website(s) in no time. Let alone a webpage.

But if a page is all you need, it’s also possible. Let’s take Wordpress as an example. In Wordpress, creating a page is as simple as clicking “Add New” under the “Pages” side menu.

build your own web page

Fill in the information that you want to present. Add some images if you want to.

build your own free web page

And after hitting “Save“, your page is ready, and the design is already taken care of by the theme that you use.

build your own free web page

The Unthinkable Words

There is another quick way to build a webpage: using word processors. Most modern word processors, like Bean for Mac, or Microsoft Word for Windows, have the ability to save the pages as webpages (please note that I personally think this method is only fit to be used as a last resource when all others are unavailable. Still, you can create a valid webpage using it).

Most of us would agree that using MS Word just to type words would be an overkill. We have discussed several “uncommon” ways of using Word like building mind maps and creating wallpapers. So why not webpages?

If you know how to do a decent layouting with text and images (or how to use one of the templates from the Project Gallery as the basic), all that’s left to do is just save the page as a webpage.

build your own free web page

To do that go to the “File – Save As” menu.

build your own web page

And choose “Web Page (.htm)” from the “Format” setting and hit “Save“.

how to build a web page

Of course you can’t expect the result to be professional grade. Based on my experiment, the more complicated your layout is, the more messed up the result will be. So, if you really want to take this path of creating a webpage, keep the page display as simple as you can.

And surely there are other methods of creating a webpage other than these three. If you know of any other alternatives, why not share them using the comments below?

Image credit: tasteful

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How To Use Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor To Check PC Compatibility

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 09:31 AM PDT

windows 7 upgrade advisorMicrosoft seems to follow a rigid pattern when releasing a new operating system. First they throw a half finished product on the market. Now duck! Then, as the feedback rolls in, they rigorously defend the product, but secretly start fixing all its bugs. Next thing you know they release a shiny new operating system, which is barely novel, but at least all the bugs are fixed. Finally, everyone agrees on it.

So currently this is Windows 7. All joking aside, it is a solid operating system with lots of nice new features. And if you’ve been waiting to upgrade, now is the time, it’s safe! I recently explained Windows 7 editions in simple terms and how to choose the right one for you. In this article I show you how to test whether your hardware and software are ready to make the jump to Windows 7. This is very important, as you may have to invest in more than just the new operating system.

Microsoft made this process of checking your current system as simple as possible. They provide a tool called Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor. This application examines your PC to determine which hardware and software products are compatible with Windows 7. The program then provides guidance on what you need to do before you can install Windows 7.

Windows 7 Minimum System Requirements

Before you start, let’s briefly review the minimum system requirements for both bit versions of Windows 7.

Windows 7 32-bit:

  • 1 GHz processor.
  • 1 GB RAM.
  • 16 GB free space on hard drive.
  • DirectX 9 capable graphics card with WDDM 1.0 driver or higher.

Windows 7 64-bit:

  • 1 GHz processor.
  • 2 GB RAM.
  • 20 GB free space on hard drive.
  • DirectX 9 capable graphics card with WDDM 1.0 driver or higher.

If you are unsure about your hardware, just proceed with the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor and any shortcomings will be revealed. If you are wondering what the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit is, have a look at this article from Mahendra: How To Choose Between 32-bit & 64-bit Windows 7 Operating Systems.

Set Up Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor

1. Prepare Computer For Installation

The program supports Windows XP and Windows Vista. If you are running Windows XP, you have to run Service Pack 2 and .NET Framework 2.0 or higher. The links contain setup instructions for these two items. Make sure they are installed before you proceed.

2. Download & Install Upgrade Advisor

Now that you have prepared your computer, you can download Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor from Microsoft.

3. Prepare Computer For Running Test

Microsoft recommends to plug in any USB devices you use regularly, for example printers, scanners, or external hard drives. The upgrade advisor will also check these devices for compatibility. So go ahead and connect all your external hardware before you run Upgrade Advisor.

Run Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor

This is the easy part. Launch the program and click the > Start check button on the lower right.

windows 7 upgrade advisor

Shortly after, Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor will display the results. There are two reports, one in case you wish to install Windows 7 32-bit and a second for the 64-bit version. You can save either report as .mht or an .html file, both of which will open in Internet Explorer, or print the reports.

windows upgrade advisor

Each report is divided into three categories: system, devices, and programs. Now lets look at some of the points the report will address.

In the screenshot below you will see that I would need to perform a custom installation of Windows 7 as I’m running Windows XP. The link provides further details and helpful background information.

windows upgrade advisor

Here is one of the 11 issues with my system. However, it’s one I can solve, hence the yellow sign with exclamation mark. Issues that cannot be solved, for example incompatible software, are highlighted with a red X.

windows upgrade advisor

You will also find a list of items that meet the requirements or are compatible with Windows 7. Below is an example.

microsoft upgrade advisor

The devices category encompasses internal as well as external devices. Apparently, my graphics card is compatible with Windows 7. If an essential part of your system is not compatible, for example the graphics card or CPU, you must replace that piece of hardware with a compatible version before you can install Windows 7.

microsoft upgrade advisor

Finally, a selection of programs is checked for compatibility. The Upgrade Advisor will provide solutions and links where available and this is not restricted to Microsoft products! In my case for example, it advised me to ‘upgrade to a compatible version’ of Napter or ‘visit the publisher’s website for a solution’ for HP software. The recommendations also included a link to the respective pages.

microsoft upgrade advisor

Unfortunately, several key programs are not considered in this compatibility check, including Microsoft Office (I wonder why), browsers, email clients other than Outlook, security software, and lots more. However, Microsoft provides a link to its Windows 7 Compatibility Center where you can manually check the software and hardware important to you.

windows 7 upgrade advisor

If you think you are ready to upgrade, also check out the following articles:

Now you should be very well prepared.

Which issues did you encounter after your system was examined for compatibility with Windows 7? Are you able to solve them or do you require further advice?

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Using HDTV As a Gaming Monitor: A Good Idea? [Geeks Weigh In]

Posted: 14 Sep 2010 08:31 AM PDT

using hdtv as gaming monitorComputer monitors were once a very specific class of device. The CRT models of a decade age were large and bulky, had a limited screen size and usually one video input. Early LCD monitors were slimmer, but otherwise no better for general, non-computing use.

The rise of HDTVs and HDMI however, has blurred the line between computer monitors and general-purpose displays. This makes the use of a television an attractive alternative to a normal monitor for gamers – what gamer wouldn’t want to play their favorite PC games on a display twice the size?

But is using HDTV as a gaming monitor a good idea, or are there hidden flaws in the theory?

Making The Connection

using hdtv as gaming monitorBack in the bad old days of displays it was difficult to use a television as a computer display. Part of the problem was the connection – most old tube televisions have nothing more than a co-ax (cable) input.

Today’s HDTVs, by contrast, offer a buffet of connection options. Even the most inexpensive televisions will typically offer multiple HDMI inputs, component, and co-ax. More expensive models might also include DVI, S-Video and more.

It is HDMI, however, that is becoming the most important connection. Modern video cards are compatible with HDMI. They’re also able to send an audio signal via HDMI. This means a true one-cable connection is possible between a computer and HDTV. From a connection standpoint the use of a television for gaming seems to make sense.

Resolution Problems

gaming graphics cards with hdtv tunerThe second problem that prevented televisions from use as computer displays was resolution – tube televisions simply weren’t capable of the fine detail required to display small text at a usable resolution. That is no longer a problem on today’s high resolution monitors, right?

Actually, it is still a problem. The HDTV industry has been cramming the benefits of high-resolution televisions down the public’s throat with such force that many gamers find themselves caught in the hype, eager to try gaming on a 1080p television. This sounds exciting, but there are devils in the details.

The typical 1080p computer monitor has a display size of 24 inches. The typical 1080p HDTV is 40 inches or larger, but let’s go small and assume a 40 inch display. Both displays have the same resolution, but the HDTV is obviously much, much larger.

This means that the pixels on the HDTV are also much larger than the pixels on the computer monitor. This makes text hard to read on a 40 inch television.  The problem becomes worse on larger televisions and is also worse on older televisions that are limited to 720p.

Suddenly, gaming on a HDTV doesn’t look like such a good idea.

Conclusion: What Kind Of A Gamer Are You?

using hdtv as gaming monitorA modern HDTV is easy to connect to a gaming computer, but the resolution compared to the display size is poor. Where does that leave us?

This depends on what kind of gaming you do. Reading text on a HDTV usually isn’t fun, but not all games use much text. If your favorite game is Left 4 Dead 2 you may not care about how text is displayed because you don’t usually need to read text while in the game. In this game the large size of a television can give the game vibrancy and life that isn’t possible on the typical monitor.

If you play World of Warcraft, on the other hand, gaming on a HDTV is going to be difficult because the game’s interface relies on the use of small text. You can mess with in-game interface settings to make text larger, but this can only help so much. Besides, no one wants half of their display taken up by chat windows in size 22 font.

The determining factor when deciding to do any gaming on a HDTV is you. Do you play first person shooters and action games, which typically have a minimal interface? Or do you play RPGs and strategy games, which usually rely on small text and fine graphical details? The former group will enjoy using HDTV as a gaming monitor, but the later group is better off sticking with a traditional monitor.

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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