Friday, September 17, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [September 16th]” plus 9 more “Cool Websites and Tools [September 16th]” plus 9 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [September 16th]

Posted: 16 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.

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Taskos – Through speech recognition many computer users can have their machines respond to voice commands. There are smartphone applications too that respond to voice commands. If you are looking for a to-do list application that responds to voice commands, check out Taskos. It is a to-do list manager and will be of particular use to people who use their Android phones with a hands-free set most of the time. Read more: Taskos: To-do List App That Responds To Voice Commands (Android)


TwistyNoodle – Kids love coloring books. Not only are they fun for children, but they can also be a great outlet for their creative energy. If you are looking for coloring pages, you should check out TwistyNoodle. This website hosts a gallery of thousands of coloring pages and worksheets that you can easily print out and give to your child. Read more: TwistyNoodle: Print Out Coloring Pages For Kids Online



VoiceCal – Online calendars help organize and sync our day. However, there will be times when we won't be able to access our calendar when we have no internet coverage. If you need to check the time of your next meeting but do not have a computer around, then you should check VoiceCal. Read more: VoiceCal: Access Your Google Calendar With A Voice Call



MP3searchmusic – Everyone loves music, but it can be extremely hard to keep up with the many artists the Internet gives you access to. When you find a mention of an artist you've never heard of, it's nice to be able to find examples of that artist's work to familiarize yourself with.
Enter MP3searchmusic. Read more: MP3searchmusic: Search & Download MP3 Songs



ChildPulse – Parents have always troubled themselves by constantly wondering where their kids are. ChildPulse is an iPhone app that takes this worry away by letting you keep track of your child and view their locations on a map anytime using another iPhone or on the web. Read more: ChildPulse: Know Where Your Kids Are


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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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10 Amazing YouTube Channels You Should Subscribe To

Posted: 16 Sep 2010 06:31 PM PDT

youtube channelsWhen it comes to wasting time on the internet, it often doesn’t get much better than YouTube. As the web’s most popular video sharing website, YouTube often has a vast array of weird and wonderful YouTube channels to subscribe to.

So sit back, make sure your Flash player is up-to-date and enjoy some of the funniest and most entertaining collections of videos on the web.


Calling all Photoshop users, if you’ve not seen the "You Suck At Photoshop" series from MyDamnChannel then you’ll probably wet yourself when you do. The series of 20 videos follows the troubled Donnie as he teaches you how to not suck at Photoshop whilst his life gradually falls apart.

With lashings of dark humour and the occasional star (Flight of the Conchords actress Kristen Schaal features in the channel’s comedy soap opera “Horrible People”) it’s always worth checking out the latest uploads.


Stuart Ashen’s regular video reviews have earned him a loyal following, with nearly 100,000 subscribers to his channel. The plucky Brit takes it upon himself to review the worst pieces of technology around including fake PSP-like “consoles”, terrible iPhone clones and cheap toys no child would want.

Stuart’s die-hard fanbase has grown to the point where his subscribers willingly spend their own money and send him crap bits of tech to review. The channel is updated fairly regularly, providing you with new bits of tat to gawp and laugh at.


For anyone with a remote interest in Japan, Japanese culture and the far-eastern way of living. The channel follows American comedian Kevin Cooney as he works, plays and attempts to survive in Tokyo.

Topics include how to get a haircut in Japan, the many flavours of Japanese ice cream and the day-to-day goings on of an American in the land of the rising sun. Each video is boosted by Kevin’s naturally funny narrative, and more updates are due soon (thanks to overwhelming demand on his YouTube profile).


Virtual home to British comedian Adam Buxton (as the name suggests), the channel provides somewhat geeky comedy twists on a lot of popular themes. Examples include a mash-up of Steve Jobs’ iPad keynote speech with Star Wars (I know) and clever voice-overs of TV shows and adverts.

There’s a distinctly British twist on this one, but if you’re a fan of good humour you’ll probably lap it up anyway!


A master of cutting up video and audio only to arrange it for comedic effect, Cassetteboy sets about attacking the films, radio and TV shows we know and love. A lot of his material is based on British television, but the time and effort put in to each can be appreciated by anyone.

Some of his best work took months to complete (check out Cassetteboy vs. The Apprentice above) so updates can take a while, but they’re always worth the wait.


Inspired by Dali? Mentally unstable? Incredibly talented? Well at least the latter is true about this freelance animator’s YouTube channel. With his own brand of internet-insanity, Cyriak’s animations often leave you with a sense of “how did he do that then?” as he takes the mundane, adds a repetitive electro soundtrack and turns up the wackiness to 11.

Dancing cows that turn into spiders? Is it art? Who cares, these things take months to make and minutes to appreciate. Some of the very best animations and CGI on YouTube, bar none.


Many gamers out there will be familiar with Giant Bomb, video-games reviewers and general all-round funny guys. With weekly updates that include games reviews, features and blasts from the past this YouTube channel will suit anyone with even a relaxed interest in the world of gaming.

The team answer questions (in video format) and regularly upload play-through videos of upcoming releases, demos and other games. If you like games mixed up with humour, then Giant Bomb gets you.

BBC Comedy

The BBC Comedy YouTube channel is a regularly updated portal for the whole world to enjoy (unlike many of the BBC’s other services, which are UK-specific) that features web-exclusive content that’s bound to make you laugh.

With coverage of many comedy festivals, snippets from BBC programming and the latest and greatest stand-up acts from around the world there’s something for everyone.


The only band to appear on the list, these guys made internet history with the Here It Goes Again video which featured some very tightly choreographed treadmill work. Since then they seem to have spent as much time coming up with viral videos as they have writing music.

Even if you’re not a fan of the music the videos will make you smile, and it’s quite easy to appreciate the immense amount of time and effort goes into each new release.


If you’re interested in science, how things work and even attempting your own home-based science experiments then this one’s for you. The channel focuses on experimentation, on subjects such as how to make your own glow sticks (and how they work, of course) to plunging your hand into liquid nitrogen (wouldn’t recommend it).

As well as genuinely fascinating science, there’s information on where to get many of the chemicals used in the experiments so you can join in too if you’re brave enough. Just don’t do anything stupid.

Any awesome YouTube channels we’ve missed? How about other video sharing sites? Post your favourites in the comments below.

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7 MORE Windows 7 Gadgets To Make Your Life Easier

Posted: 16 Sep 2010 04:31 PM PDT

windows 7 gadgetsThe term “gadget” nowadays indicates a tech lifestyle product that is definitely stylish and probably expensive; in other words an exclusive toy. While gadgets are  supposed to be entertaining, smart folks will pick gadgets that can do more than just pass the time.

This article shows you the best free Windows 7 gadgets to make your life a little easier. Use these desktop shortcuts to avoid jammed roads, quickly convert units or make simple translations, easily access programs, and generally save you some hassle and time.

Launch Control

Launch Control provides quick access to documents, programs, or anything you choose.

To add new items, simply drag them into the desired group within the gadget. You can create new custom groups or edit existing ones. To edit an entry or a group, hold the [CTRL] button as you click it and a flyout window will open. Here you can also delete the item. Apps, Utilities, and Control are the default groups, which is a great way to start.

windows 7 gadgets

Traffic Info

Traffic Info is powered by Google Maps and provides information on the current road situation in most major cities. The preset list of this gadget contains a selection of cities in the USA, Canada, China, and some other selected cities. If your city isn’t listed, you can select World and manually zoom into your home region.

After selecting the area to monitor the rest is very simple. You can get a better view of the area by expanding the map in the flyout window (arrow icon in bottom right) or opening the map in Google Maps (grid icon in bottom right).

gadgets for windows 7

Unit Converter

This is by far the best and most stylish unit converter I have ever seen.

First of all it’s comprehensive. You can convert length, area, volume, mass / weight, time, speed, temperature, storage data, and lots more.

And despite all the features, it’s incredibly easy to use. You simply drag each of the three rolls into the desired position using your mouse and enter the value to be converted at the bottom. Et voilà!

gadgets for windows 7

The flyout window shown in the screenshot above demonstrates how the tool works and explains how very large or very small numbers are displayed.

I Forgot The Milk

Those of you using Remember The Milk will love this gadget.

After installation, you must first activate the gadget. Click on the > Options icon next to the gadget and in the window that opens click the > Authenticate button. This will open Remember The Milk in your browser, where you need to log in and authorize the gadget to access your lists. Back in the gadget, click > Login and in case you don’t see your lists yet, click > Reload task lists.

Now you’re ready to add new tasks via the desktop gadget. Click the little > Menu icon in the top right to add a new task, refresh the gadget, go to the RTM website, or visit the forum.

windows 7 sidebar gadgets

Per default, the gadget will only show tasks due within the next 7 days or tasks without a due date. To change these settings, go to the > Options window and switch to the > Others tab.

If you’re not already using Remember The Milk, there are two to do list alternatives: the three in one Desk Essentials gadget (To Do List, Notes, and Calculator) or the straight forward and very stylish (task list only) PowerDo.

Auto Translator

For the occasional translation this translator is very helpful. It supports 20 of the most common languages. Unfortunately, it tends to fail when trying to translate simple sentences. Moreover, it’s not possible to switch between a formal or informal translation, e.g. ‘vous’ or ‘tu’ in French, ‘Sie’ or ‘Du’ in German etc.

windows 7 sidebar gadgets

I did test the equivalent translator powered by Google and it didn’t do any better.

Toggle Hidden Files

windows 7 sidebar gadgetsToggle Hidden Files does just as it says for all folders and files in Windows Explorer.

You might have to refresh the respective folder to see the changes.

Drag&Drop and Print

windows 7 gadgetsWhen you want to print a single document that’s already open, you can simply click [Ctrl] + [P]. But as soon as you want to print more than one document or a document you don’t really want to open first, this process becomes a hassle.

With Drag&Drop and Print you can simply drag any selection of documents onto the gadget, and it will open the printer menu for each one of them. The gadget does not require any setting up, only that your printer/s must be installed and ready to go.


There is always more. MakeUseOf has previously covered Windows 7 desktop gadgets and there have been a few that might also make your life easier. Have a look at the couple of gadgets we introduced in more detail:

Which Windows 7 gadget do you use most often?

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How To Easily Coordinate Volunteers Using Volunteer Spot

Posted: 16 Sep 2010 02:31 PM PDT

coordinate volunteersIf you’ve ever been left in charge of organising a fundraiser, event or some sort of rostering of volunteers, you’ll appreciate that it can be seriously hard work. Thankfully, so does at least one young mother who was sick of all the difficulties of volunteering for school canteen and other school-related events. She got so sick of it, that she created Volunteer Spot to make it easy for everyone.

Volunteer Spot makes life easy for both the organiser and the volunteers by allowing everyone easy access to a complete rostering calendar and a simple way to nominate themselves for tasks. It really is a fantastic tool to coordinate volunteers.

The organiser can sign up for a free account which allows you to have up to 10 assistant organisers for your activities and unlimited activities. Volunteer spaces aren’t limited at all on the free account, but to avoid spamming you can only invite 50 people at a time. You can also invite people via mailing lists or on your website with a direct link to your activity.

coordinate volunteers

Please note that free accounts are designed for non-profits and small groups. If you are a corporation, they hope that you’ll pay your way to keep it free for the others. Be kind! Premium members also get other useful perks, like being able to ask volunteers for their t-shirt size.

Volunteers can either sign up for an account or just give enough details to respond to your invitation. The whole system is designed to make it easy for non-techy volunteers to respond and participate. Once a volunteer has signed up for an activity, the system will automatically remind them of their commitments by email before the event.

Activity volunteers view a simple calendar and can click on any available day to see which tasks still need doing or which things need to be brought. They nominate themselves for the days and tasks they want to do. At any stage they can click on “View spots” or “Print spots” to see/print all the tasks they’ve signed up for. Simple!

organizing volunteers

Activity co-ordinators have an equally simple set-up process, although they do need to create a proper account. Activities can be created as ongoing rosters or as a stand-alone sign-up sheet for a one-off event.

how to coordinate volunteers

Then simply list the tasks that need doing and the things that need to be brought to the event.

how to coordinate volunteers

how to coordinate volunteers

Once one day is completed, the whole day can be copied to another day, making it easy to create recurring rosters.

coordinate volunteers

Organisers even have the ability to manually add volunteers who don’t have internet access, then the system will remind the organiser to get in touch with those people.

Take a look at the demonstration video to see just how easy it really is.

For volunteer co-ordinators, this system will save you much time and stress. However, one of the best outcomes of using a system like this to co-ordinate volunteering is that you’re likely to wind up with more volunteers offering to help. Many potential volunteers are put off by disorganisation and endless re-structuring. Make it easy for people to help out and more people will help you.

If you’re keen to do good, there’s plenty of other sites to read about too. Share your success stories in the comments!

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Hot Tech Deals [Sep 16th]

Posted: 16 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. Apevia X-Master-BK/500 HTPC ATX Computer Case w/ 500W PSU $34.99AR Free Ship via code EMCYXZT24

  2. Acer Aspire Intel Dual-Core T4500 2.3GHz 15.6in Laptop (4GB/320GB/802.11n/Win7) $399.99

  3. Hitachi SimpleDrive Mini 500GB Portable External Hard Drive (Carbon Fiber) $54.99AR Free Shipping via code TRQJDSHPFM7$2C

  4. ASUS Radeon HD 4870 1GB GDDR5 PCI Express Video Card $89.99AR Free Shipping via code ASUEGG4870


  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 setdeals

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How To Make Your USB Joystick Mimic A Keyboard

Posted: 16 Sep 2010 12:31 PM PDT

how to use your joystick as the keyboardDo you still have a joystick connected to your PC? You might be one of a dying breed. Cheap consoles, and a preference on the part of many gamers for the mouse and keyboard, means the heyday of game controllers plugged into computers is long gone.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few uses for joysticks today however. Many modern games still support them, and they’re a staple for retro-gamers. Once in a while however, you’ll stumble upon a game you wish you could use your joystick as the keyboard for but cannot.

Super Mario Crossover, for example, is flash-based and as such cannot support a joystick. So what do you do in those circumstances?

Set up your joystick as the keyboard, of course. JoyToKey is the program you’re looking for to accomplish this. This Windows program allows you to “map” the buttons on your joystick to act as a keyboard, allowing you to program your joystick to do pretty much anything.

Getting Started

how to use your joystick as the keyboard

As you can see, the program’s not very complicated. Just download it here and install it to get started.

When you do you’ll see a simple window outlining the joypads you have plugged in and the buttons that can be modified. To map a button to act as a particular key simply double-click the button in question, then set the keys as you will.

joystick to keyboard

You’re not limited to the keyboard, either. You can also program the joystick to mimic mouse movements, and even to launch specific commands if you like. Want to launch a program with a given button? Check out the “Command” tab to get started.

Not sure which buttons on your joystick are which? You’re not alone; I had the same problem. Happily Windows has a decent Joystick Configuration Tool built in. Fire it up and you can press buttons on your keyboard to see their true number. Like this:

how to use your joystick as the keyboard

You’ll find this tool in the control panel, or by simply clicking “Start” and typing “joystick” on Vista and Windows 7 before clicking the “set up USB joystick” button.

Now that you know which buttons are which you’re ready to map your joystick. Have fun! Just note that some fullscreen programs may not work perfectly with this application, but many do. It’s also worth noting that minimizing this program sends it to the system tray, which is perfect if you want the program to work but stay out of your way.

Potential Uses

  • Play Flash games with your joystick, like Super Mario Crossover.
  • Control media center software, such as Boxee, with your joystick. This is particularly slick if you turn Boxee into the ultimate ROM and game launcher.
  • Some older DOS games don’t support USB joysticks, even in DOSbox. JoyToKey is what you want when that happens.
  • Do pretty much anything you can do with a keyboard on your joystick. Use your imagination!


I’ve been having a lot of fun with this setup, and I hope you might find it useful/awesome as well.  Do you know of any better software for the task?  If so, please share it below. Also please share any cool uses you may have for JoyToKey so everyone reading can benefit.



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4 Fascinating Websites To Learn What Other People Think Or Believe

Posted: 16 Sep 2010 11:31 AM PDT

what people believe inFor many people who live in small towns or isolated communities, it’s very easy to forget that there is a vast world out there full of people that have different beliefs, cultures and values. Prior to the Internet, there were very few windows to the outside world. People always had books and newspapers, but unfortunately in many rural communities across the world – even good reading material is scarce.

The advent of the Internet is blurring global borders. School children in Japan can converse with kids in the UK. A small-town housewife in the U.S. can get child-rearing advice from a mother in India. People are learning more about each other every day – and the more people learn about what people believe in, the more people realize that we aren’t very different after all.

After reading Tina’s fascinating article about 3 sites where you can meet complete strangers, it struck me that there are so many avenues to learn about what different people believe. Therefore, I’d like to offer 4 websites that you can visit to learn more about what people around the world think and believe about any topic under the sun. You might even be tempted to join the discussion – and you may be surprised at what you learn.

Ask Others A Question Or Drop Some Knowledge

There are fewer ways to learn about what people throughout the world believe than to pose a question and see what people say. That’s exactly what you can do at Dropping Knowledge. Your question could be about anything from, “Why do people have to starve when there’s enough food in the world to go around?” to “Do Animals Have a Soul?”

what people believe in

I found myself mesmerized by the main page, as one stunning image after another flashed on the screen, with a related question. Some of these are mundane questions, but others really make you think about the world and everyone in it. When you click on the dialogue tab, you’ll see some of the most recent questions and resulting discussions. If you have a particular topic that you’re interested in, try the “browse themes” or “advanced search” features.

opinions of others

Be prepared for powerful, emotional and sometimes even painful questions that really spark some fascinating comments from visitors. Cultural differences aside, a lot of these comments get right down to the heart of the matter.

What Did People Use To Believe?

I remember how interesting it was when I was younger to listen to my parent’s stories about the sort of strange and wild superstitions that people had back then. Well, now there’s a site called I Used To Believe where you can read about what people used to believe when they were kids – and you can share your own childhood superstitions and beliefs as well.

opinions of others

You can click any of the topics from the “sections” menu and browse through the childhood beliefs and superstitions that other visitors have posted.

opinions of others

If you have a few of your own you’d like to post, just click on “add your belief” in the top menu and fill out a simple form. Once it’s posted, other viewers will vote on the belief, and it might even get featured in the “best beliefs” section.

Let Other People Rank Your Top 10 Lists

Another great site that lets you gauge what people think is Unspun.  This is a “lists” site where the users get to rank the elements of the list simply by voting. It’s a great way to find out what the consensus is on the best gadgets or the best movies, and it’s also an awesome way you can gauge general public sentiment on any topic at all.

other cultures

Once you sign up with a new profile, you can type in a title for a new list in the right menu, and it’ll take you to the list entry form where you can select the appropriate category for it and then build your suggested list.

other cultures

Once you hit submit, just wait and see what the community decides is truly the “best” on your list. You may be surprised!

Listen To Interesting Talkgroups At VoxPop

I think that VoxPop is one of the most innovative communities that I’ve ever come across in a very long time. VoxPop is sort of like a forum, however each “thread” or topic is called a “talkgroup.” Each talkgroup contains a series of discussions on a specific subject.

other cultures

This doesn’t sound all that unique until you start exploring. Search for topics that interest you, click on the talkgroup and you’ll see why the site is so cool. The discussions are made up of a thread of audio comments. Just click “play” on the first, sit back and listen to each commenter speaking their views.

what people believe in

It’s like listening to a radio talkshow on any topic you like – and you can take part and add your own insight if you want to! It’s yet another very cool way to see what other people from all around the world think about different subjects.

Do you know of other useful online communities and websites where you can get insight about the beliefs and ideas from people around the world? Offer your own views in the comments section below.

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4 Things You Should Know Before Streaming From Your PC to HDTV [Part 2]

Posted: 16 Sep 2010 10:31 AM PDT

windows 7 streaming to hdtvContinuing on from part one of 4 Things You Should Know Before Streaming From Your PC to HDTV. Now that we know what HD video is exactly and that almost every computer can stream to your HDTV, let’s talk specifics about how you can actually use your PC to stream video to your television.

It is actually pretty simple, and the steps below are definitely optional. You can use your normal PC desktop, mouse and keyboard while your PC is hooked up to your TV; but the 2 tips below will actually make the viewing pleasurable.

Software Makes the Experience

Sure you can hook up your plain desktop to your HDTV and have a huge monitor. But the UI is what really sets apart your PC from any regular hack and turns it into a true ‘HTPC’, or Home Theater PC.

A few software programs really dominate in this area, they are covered below.

Windows Media Center

windows 7 streaming to hdtv

I bet you already have this available if you have Windows 7 installed. Any version of Windows 7 above ‘Starter’ and ‘Home Basic’ has Windows Media Center installed by default. Launch it by going to Start -> All Programs -> Windows Media Center.

Windows Media Center, or WMC, has a beautiful 10-foot interface which is just another way of saying that it is readable 10 feet away from the screen. You can view movies stored on your computer, watch Netflix movies from it, and do all kinds of other cool stuff.

Windows Media Center also supports TV Tuners and some other hardware applications.


hdtv streaming

Boxee is an free up and coming application that works as a platform for content publishers and app developers to extend. It includes a great 10-foot interface and a compelling array of television and movie shows. It can stream from dozens of sources online or play local media.

Some Boxee apps include Pandora radio, Netflix, MLB.TV and YouTube. And that is on top of the Movie, Music and TV library. We use it daily in our house and I would highly recommend it. Boxee is based on XBMC which is another piece of great software, if not as ready for prime time as Boxee.


hdtv streaming

These software packages are built to replace a DVR functionality. All three of them record video at set times, have guides built in, and offer different solutions for watching television on a PC.

MythTV is free and primarily Linux based but it is possible to compile it on Windows if you should be so inclined. It is also open source and although it has a lot more flexibility, it is less refined than some other choices.

SageTV and BeyondTV are both commercial software package that replace your DVR and work wonderfully. I have used BeyondTV personally since about 2004, however their last software update was June 2009 and I think they are focusing more on commercial applications. SageTV is a worthy replacement, and I have heard good things about it. If compiling your own binaries are not your cup of tea, then SageTV is worth a look.

Don’t Forget the Remote

The final piece to the puzzle is how you will remotely control your PC. There are a few options in this regard. I personally use the Snapstream Firefly remote which is an X10-based piece of equipment and uses RF which does not require line of sight. Some PCs come with a remote, you can use them as well.

Logitech Harmony remotes are also a great option for your PC. They are expensive, but control not only your PC but also other components and are a good ‘all in one’ remote.

windows 7 streaming to hdtv

A great free option if you have an iPhone is the Logitech Touch Mouse. You install a server on your computer, and then use your phone to connect to the computer and remotely control the mouse and keyboard. It has worked great for me and I would highly recommend it for anyone with an HTPC and an iPhone/Touch.

The Ultimate PC Streaming Setup

Using your PC to stream video or audio to your HDTV is really pretty simple to do with a little configuration. The media experience you get from an HTPC is much more fulfilling than watching normal television programming, which is mostly a one-way affair. Much content is available online either free or from legal sources such as iTunes or Amazon Video On Demand, and you will find it much cheaper than a cable subscription.

Share your HTPC setups with us, and let us know any hints or tricks you have for setting one up!

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How To Organize Open Tabs With Tab Sugar In Chrome And Firefox Panorama

Posted: 16 Sep 2010 09:30 AM PDT

organize tabs firefoxOne of the main reason why Internet Explorer lost its popularity back then was the lack of tabs. If you wanted to open two sites, you had to open two browser windows. Twenty sites equals twenty windows. This reason alone was enough to make people switch to IE’s archenemy at that time: Firefox.

Nowadays, every browser has a tab feature and internet users have changed their old habit of visiting only few sites at once in different browser windows to loading all that they can in just one window but in multiple tabs. You could easily have 30 or more open tabs at once. Managing them becomes our new problem.

Survival Of The Fittest

It seems like the fate of Internet Explorer is also happening to Firefox. The browser that everybody used to love begins to lose its ground to the competitors. Users complain that as time goes by, Firefox has become more and more bloated.

To win back its fans, Firefox tries to innovate. They tried by proposing a solution for the tab management problem: a concept called Tab Candy – then renamed as Panorama. The feature is already built into the latest beta release of Firefox 4.

To understand more about Panorama, you could watch this short video:

Firefox Panorama: How To from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

If you prefer to wait until the final release of Firefox 4 but your hands are already itching to try Panorama, you could try a similar feature on Google Chrome with the help of an extension called Tab Sugar. So let’s have a look at this one first before going to the real thing.

Pour Some Sugar On Me

To install the extension, go to Tab Sugar site using Chrome and click the “Try Tab Sugar” blue button. You will be brought to the Chrome extension page for Tab Sugar. Click “Install” on the page and click “Install” one more time on the confirmation page.

organize tabs firefox

The extension will reside on the top right area of the window, next to the URL field.

tabs in firefox

Click on the icon to start using it. A new tab called “Tab Sugar” will open. Inside the tab is an unnamed group with all of your open tab inside. Start by naming the group.

tabs in firefox

Then click on the expand button below the group to view all the open tabs.

tabs in firefox

You can then drag out member(s) of the group to create a separate group, drag and drop web pages from one group to another, resize and move the group windows and arrange them to your preferences.

When you click on a group, only the pages within the group that will be opened in tabs. Other pages from other groups will not be opened. This will create less tab clutter in your browser. To open other groups, you have to go back to Tab Sugar.

There’s an “Options” link at the upper right of Tab Sugar interface. You might want to tinker with some of the items like assigning keyboard shortcuts to open Tab Sugar and disabling the latest news update.

firefox tabs

The Sweet Panorama

And for those who feel a little adventurous, why not check Firefox 4 Beta and the Panorama concept? Since all that Tab Sugar does is trying to reproduce Panorama, you would find these two to be similar.

The Panorama button is located next to URL field. You can open the panorama mode by clicking this button or by using the shortcut key assigned to it: Ctrl + Space (Windows) or Alt + Space (Mac).

firefox tabs

A quick introduction video (similar to the one we have above) will open in the panorama mode. You can just close it.

Group or regroup open tabs by dragging and dropping them on top of each other. Resize the thumbnails and rearrange them to your liking.

organize tabs firefox

And The Verdict Is…

After trying both Tab Sugar for Chrome and Panorama in Firefox 4 Beta, I can conclude that the Firefox version is more stable. The grouping and re-grouping process is much smoother. And as a bonus, you can snap the group windows to grid, so everything looks neat and tidy. I think Firefox could make a comeback with this one.

While for Tab Sugar, I think we should wait until a more stable build is released (it’s still in alpha at the moment of writing). But I like the option to assign our own of shortcut key combinations and the possibility to use the news update for other news feed (it’s not applied yet but I think it’s possible. One can dream, can’t he?).

And as a tab junkie, I also hope that this kind of tab organization method will find its way to other browsers.

Have you tried Tab Sugar and/or Panorama? Do you have your own way to organize tabs in Firefox or Chrome? Share using the comment section below.

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The Specifications To Look For When Buying A Gaming Computer

Posted: 16 Sep 2010 08:31 AM PDT

best gaming computerPC games remain among the most demanding software that a typical user will ask their computer to run. Modern games are capable of using multiple processor threads and taxing the performance of advanced video cards. The most beautiful games – like Crysis and Metro 2033 – remain capable of bringing powerful computers to their knees at high resolutions and detailed settings.

The high system requirements of some modern games must be considered if you’re on the hunt for the best gaming computer. The companies that manufacture gaming PCs have marketing departments, and they want you to spend as much as possible. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype and forget the fact that computers are simply collections of components – it’s what’s inside that counts.

Let’s take a look at the specifications you should consider when looking to buy the best gaming computer.

The Processor/CPU

best gaming computerThe CPU is the most visible component in the eyes of most buyers. Most gaming computers are labeled – often multiple times – with the brand of processor inside them. This would lead you to believe that the processor is the most important component in a gaming computer. It isn’t – that title goes to the video card – but it does come in second.

Processors have two important specifications. The first is clock speed, which is expressed in Gigahertz (i.e. 2.66 GHz). The second is the number of cores, which can range between 2 and 6. It is better to have high numbers in both, but the number of cores is slightly more important than the clock speed.

Be careful not to fall into the trap of upgrading your computer’s price into the stratosphere. Processor upgrade prices tend to have a huge mark-up. The least expensive quad-core processor option available is often your best choice.

The Video Card

gaming computersChoosing a great video card for your gaming computer is very important. Video cards are the only component in a computer that is specifically designed to display high-resolution, high-detailed graphics. Even the most powerful computer will be a terrible gaming computer if it does not have a good video card.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any specifications that clearly expresses the power of a video card. A video card’s memory is the only specification that is easy to find and gauge, but even this does not tell you how well a video card will perform. The only way to know how well a video card performs is to read the reviews. Tom’s Hardware Performance Charts are the best place to start your search.

Many gaming computers will offer the option to upgrade your system to a dual graphics solution. This seems cool, but it’s rarely a worthwhile option. Spending the same amount of money upgrading to a faster individual graphics card is usually better value.


gaming computersComputer memory was once a common bottleneck that prevented gaming computers from reaching their maximum potential.  Those days have now passed, thanks to the generally low price of modern memory and an apparently more conservative approach to memory usage on the part of game developers. Upgrading your system to 4GB of RAM, if it doesn’t have it already, should give you plenty of memory.

Many gaming computer manufacturers will offer “high performance” memory as an option. Don’t fall for this. Memory speed has nothing to do with gaming performance. Taking the $150 many companies ask for this upgrade and donating it to charity will provide a similar increase in gaming performance and make you feel better about yourself.

Hard Drive

best gaming computerAs with memory, the hard drive you choose won’t have much impact on gaming performance. It certainly won’t increase your framerates in games. Instead, the only difference you’ll see will be in loading times.

Faster loading times are nice, but its better to buy on the basis of capacity rather than performance. After all, load times won’t matter if your hard drive isn’t big enough to store all the games you want to have installed.

Other Components

Most of the other specifications that a modern game will demand, such as a sound card and Internet connectivity, are already provided by all modern computers. With that said, manufacturers often offer various upgrades for sound, networking and more. These upgrades should be approached with extreme caution. Although sometimes useful, they’re often nothing more than profit-generating chaff. Google will be your best friend when evaluating these components – simply search for reviews to see if they’re favorable.


Favor hesitation over hype whenever configuring a gaming computer. You don’t have a marketing department. Ignore the pretty graphs, ignore the flashy graphics, and focus on the specifications. Obsess over the specifications. And then, when you’re sure that you’re buying based off what you want and need, pull the trigger and enjoy your perfectly configured gaming PC.

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