Sunday, September 19, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [September 18th]” plus 7 more “Cool Websites and Tools [September 18th]” plus 7 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [September 18th]

Posted: 18 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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OpenAppMkt – In addition to native apps, iOS supports web apps. Because they are not installed on the device and do not occupy storage space, web apps have a few limitations; but they can still offer many useful features. You will not find these web apps over at Cydia or the App Store – to get them you must visit OpenAppMkt. Read more: OpenAppMkt: Directory of Web Services for Your iOS Device


NuCaptcha – While signing up for an online account, you often come across CAPTCHA codes. When the CAPTCHA is too simple, computer programs can be developed to decode them with ease; when the CAPTCHA is too obscure, it is a great inconvenience for the user. One solution is presented by NuCaptcha. Read more: NuCaptcha: Secure & User Friendly Captcha Solution



You Can Book Me – Booking a time to meet with your customers can become a little complicated. If you use Google Calendar, before you book a meeting you probably first check your calendar for the dates of prescheduled events and see what dates you are available. Through free appointment scheduling tool this becomes a lot easier. Read more: Free & Easy Appointment Scheduling For Your Customers



Poligraft – With so much going on in the world, “reading between the lines” is an important but a difficult task. Poligraft is a tool that helps you with that. Just paste the URL of any news article and Poligraft will not only identify important people and organizations mentioned in the article but also report political relationships between them. Read more: Poligraft: Identify Political Relationships Between People Mentioned In An Article



I-Blood – Donating your blood to somebody who needs it is a noble deed. It is also believed that blood donation can be beneficial to the donator's health. Whether you are looking to donate blood or looking for a blood donor, I-Blood is a blood donors and recipients network that can surely help. Read more: I-Blood: An Online Community of Blood Donors and Recipients


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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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How To Disable Google’s Personalization Of Search Results

Posted: 18 Sep 2010 06:31 PM PDT

It’s never been a secret that Google uses your personal information (web history and browser data) by default to personalize your search results. Basically what it means is that what you see for some Google searches is (slightly) different from what other people see for the same searches.

You may like the feature (but want to switch it off for some searches) or you may want to disable it completely – it’s up to you and your purposes.

This post will look at various ways to do that.

1. Disable Google Personalization: Official Guide (Browser Independent)

Google does have an official way to disable the feature (I am listing it first because it’s official, NOT because it’s the easiest way to do it).

To disable Google personalization, you will need to do the following:

  • Sign out of Google when searching (OR: Disable / Pause and remove your Google web history);
  • Once signed out, in the top right corner of the search results page, click Web History and there Disable customization (OR: Clear your browser’s cookies).

Search history

2. Disable Google Personalization: One-Time (Browser Independent)

Again, you may like the feature and the fact that Google tries to show you what you really want (your favorite sites or sites you are more likely to like on top), but in some cases you will want to see “real” results (for example, to check how your own website is doing).

In this case, what you need to do is manually modify the search query URL path: just add this parameter:


The 'pws=0′ parameter removes the search personalization:

Remove Google personalization

If you don’t want to add the parameter manually, use this browser bookmarklet (courtesy of Google System Blog):

Turn off Google personalization

Just drag it to your Bookmarks toolbar and click after you search Google. The parameter will be added and the search results reloaded for you to see de-personalized results.

3. Disable Google Personalization: FireFox

If you don’t want to mess around with Google settings (if you don’t want to disable and remove your search history, for example) but at the same time you do not appreciate Google’s personalization of your search results, use this FireFox addon called Google Global.

Google Global will let you de-personalize all your Google searches but apart from that coolness it will also let you easily see search results for other countries (a great plugin to have!)

Google personalized

4. Disable Google Personalization: Google Chrome

I am not aware of a similar extension that would disable Google search personalization in Google Chrome but I was able to set that manually. Use this post on removing personalized search in Chrome as a great step by step tutorial:

  1. Go to Options and click “Manage” next to your “Default search engine“;
  2. Click 'Add' to create a new search engine and fill in the details:
  • Name: The name for your new (default) search engine
  • Keyword: Allows you to access it direct from the address bar (ala Smart Keywords in FireFox);
  • URL: Add the URL of a search result page here, and use the placeholder %s to show where the query should be.

Important! Include the pws=0 parameter to create a de-personalized search query:

Add a new search engine

Finally, set the new search engine as default:

Google de-personalized searcha s default

Do you ever turn off Google’s personalized results?  Do you know of another method that we haven’t covered here? Please share your opinions in the comments section below.

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Fitted iPhone 4 Case by Speck Giveaway Winners

Posted: 18 Sep 2010 04:30 PM PDT

Another Speck review and giveaway has come and gone. Are you looking forward to the next giveaway? We’ll continue to dish out some cool Speck accessories and next, we’ll probably look at another iPad case. Stay tuned!

Here are the winners of the Speck Fitted iPhone 4 Case giveaway:

  1. Anthony Mosko
  2. Elena Sawyer
  3. Sixia Sun
  4. Shahar Shlomi
  5. Gabriel Lochtefeld

Winners, please note: You’ve been sent an email regarding your prize. Please reply it within 48 hours. If you fail to respond, your prize will be forfeit.

MakeUseOf would like to thank the fabulous team over at Speck for their generosity while participating in this giveaway. Interesting in sponsoring? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via email.

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SWF & FLV Toolbox Giveaway Winners

Posted: 18 Sep 2010 03:30 PM PDT

25 MakeUseOf readers will be receiving a free license for SWF & FLV Toolbox by Eltima. Will you be one of them?

Without further ado, here are the winners!

  1. Sam Jones
  2. Ron Lemaster
  3. Susan Crandle
  4. Bartosz Chmura
  5. Kunal Dagli

Read on for more.

    Vincent Peters
  1. Chaz Banto
  2. Wasantha Herath
  3. Colin Fox
  4. Bob Hazlewood
  5. Chiranthaka Sampath Jayakody
  6. Robert Ocheltree
  7. Char-Lou Benedict
  8. Mark Dyson
  9. Reza Ghaemi
  10. Katerina Kerasta
  11. Wayne Mccollough
  12. Joseph Palmieri
  13. Habeen Chang
  14. Markku Borén
  15. Wade Potter
  16. Isaac J
  17. Scott Fisher
  18. Himanshu Dhaga
  19. Anthony Woods

Congratulations! Your licenses will be sent via email.

MakeUseOf would like to thank Eltima Software for their generosity while participating in this giveaway. Interesting in sponsoring? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via email.



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Hot Tech Deals [Sep 18th]

Posted: 18 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. Dell Vostro 3300 Intel Core i3-350M 2.26GHz 13.3in Laptop (Aluminum, 2GB/250GB) $599

  2. Dell Vostro 3500 Intel Core i3-350M 2.26GHz 15.6in Laptop (Aluminum) $549 Free Overnight Shipping

  3. Dell Vostro 3400 Intel Core i3-370M 2.4GHz 14in Laptop (Aluminum, 2GB/250GB) $549

  4. Logitech Coupon: 25% off Select G-Series Gaming Products (G700 $74.99) via code GAMING-910

  5. TODAY ONLY LG HBM-800 3-in-1 Bluetooth Headset & Speaker Phone Set $14.99AR Free Shipping

  6. Seagate Momentus 640GB 5400RPM 2.5in Internal Laptop 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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XMarks Syncs Bookmarks & Passwords Between All Major Browsers

Posted: 18 Sep 2010 12:31 PM PDT

In the beginning was Foxmarks, and it was pretty good. At least, it was pretty good if you just used Firefox. Foxmarks gave you an easy way to sync bookmarks across computers regardless of operating system.

Happily, this wasn’t enough for the developers. Today FoxMarks is known as XMarks. It not only syncs bookmarks, but also passwords and even tabs. Most importantly, it no longer works with Firefox alone: Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer can now sync seamlessly with Firefox thanks to this plugin.

Many of you may already know and love XMarks, but seeing as it’s (surprisingly!) never been formally featured here at MakeUseOf, I thought I’d introduce the rest of you to this amazing plugin.

To me, XMarks is akin to Dropbox, in that it’s an application so amazingly useful you forget it’s even there and just depend on it.

Getting Started

The first thing you need to do is install XMarks on all of your computers and, if you’ve multiple browsers on your computers, for every browser. The program typically comes in the form of a browser plugin, although this may vary depending on your platform/browser. Find the download over at to get started.

Once you install the program you’re going to need an account; follow the prompts on your first install to create one. Note that you’ll have the chance to upload all your current bookmarks to the cloud, to merge your current bookmarks with the cloud or to replace your bookmarks with the ones you’ve already stored in the cloud. Continue to activate your plugin on all of your computers, keeping in mind which bookmarks you want to end up where.

It’s also worth noting that you can sync your tabs to the cloud, and then retrieve them:

Once you’re done – and this may take a while depending on whether you have bookmarks you want to keep in multiple places – your bookmarks will be synced across all computers, and XMarks will continue to do so automatically. Nice, right?

Note that XMarks also offers password management. For many this may be simpler than combining Dropbox and KeePass, although it can only sync browser passwords. Make sure you use a strong password that you won’t forget to protect your passwords however, or you just might lose them.

Potential Uses

The main potential use is obvious: sync the bookmarks and passwords on all your various computers. There’s more to this than that, though. Since this program works on every browser it’s useful even if you only use a single computer. If you use multiple browsers, for example, this program is a great way to keep your bookmarks and passwords consistent between them.

It’s also worth noting that XMarks is a great way to ensure your bookmarks and passwords are backed up, meaning you can quickly restore them if your computer should ever break.

No Opera?

I’m convinced some of you Opera lovers are going to come out of the woodwork here, because you always do when multiple browsers come up. You’ll soon be saying that this plugin doesn’t support Opera, and as such cannot claim to support “all major browsers.”

I put some thought into this, and decided it’s not relevant. Why would an Opera user need to sync bookmarks from another browser? No Opera user would be caught dead using any other browser under any circumstances, and I’m fairly certain Opera has bookmark syncing built in alongside its bundled email server.

So don’t worry; I’m not slighting you and neither is XMarks. All of us understand that your devotion to that amazing browser means you’ve no need for such things!


XMarks is a very simple way to keep your passwords synced across computers and browsers. Do you use this program, or do you have a better tool for the job? Let us know in the comments below, as always.

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Catch Your Favorite Team & Watch Live College Football Online For Free!

Posted: 18 Sep 2010 10:30 AM PDT

The air is getting crisp, leaves are changing colors and beginning their descent from the trees. One of my favorite seasons is upon us, at least in the northern hemisphere. That means fall has arrived, and it is also the beginning of the College Football season!

After cutting the cable and moving to free legal streaming via Boxee and other services, we really haven’t missed much programming at all. I was worried that the one sport I do follow, NCAA College Football – or American Football as the rest of the world calls it – would have to be dropped since I hadn’t heard of any live streaming from ABC or ESPN, which carries the majority of the college football programming since it holds the major contract with NCAA. This year I seem to be in luck.


Fortunately for most home high speed internet users in the US there is a great option, with a caveat. ESPN3 is the online ’station’ from ESPN which has a wide variety of sports programming, even beyond NCAA football. They carry programming from all of the other ESPN networks and that includes NFL Football, Baseball, Racing, Soccer and more. The quality of the stream is actually pretty good and scales depending on your bandwidth and processing power.

The caveat, and it might be a major one for you, is that ESPN3 is available only to users who subscribe to an ISP which has already paid for the privilege of streaming it. Basically, when an ISP signs up ESPN whitelists your ISP’s IP address ranges only allowing access to their service to those ISPs who have paid for it.

If your ISP is not one of the cooperating ones, you will be forwarded to ESPN Player and prompted to purchase the college pass which is about $20 a month. The screen looks like this:

However if your ISP is one of the participating affiliates (some of the larger ones are AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Road Runner), visiting the player will bring up a list of currently live streaming games:

After opening the main site, click on a game and a new window pops up with the streaming player.

The quality of the video will automatically adjust based on your CPU and bandwidth available, and while not full HD (eg. 720p or 1080i) the quality is pretty decently and looks good at a normal television set distance. Click here to see a full screen screenshot of the feed at the 4 out of 5 level. I never hit 5/5 even though I should have plenty of bandwidth and a Core i7 CPU, so I’m not sure what the ‘full’ feed looks like but would be curious if anyone has a screencapture of it!

Other Options

Not all College Football games are carries on ESPN/ABC, however. There are a few options although I have not found any of them to be as reliable, and of questionable legality, as the ESPN feeds. You can sometimes find your game on Ustream or – do a search for your team’s name. I also seemed to find a lot of games online at ChannelSurfing which may work in a pinch.

Also, if streaming online is not your cup of tea and if you live within the broadcast area of the major networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox, you may be able to pull in their video Off The Air (OTA) using a TV tuner such as the HD Homerun from SiliconDust or Hauppauge HVR line of products. This isn’t streaming or even watching it online, but it does provider a cheaper alternative than paying for Cable TV.

The Future of Sports Streaming Online

With more and more content providers offering live events online for stream (NCAA March Madness is another example), it is good to see such a high quality content available, even if it isn’t totally free (even though it technically is free to the end-user, you are paying or it indirectly with your subscription to high speed internet). With more and more people ‘cutting the cable’, we will see more content being offered to ISPs as a way to create more revenue from non-cable subscribers.

Finally a warning – some sites that I did find are definitely of questionable legal standing and also may install spyware on your PC. Make sure not to click on ‘OK’ if they want to install a plugin, especially Internet Explorer users. If they are looking for a credit card number, I would also shy away since there is a good chance these are scam sites trying to offer something for nothing.

How do you get your streaming sports online? Other major networks, such as Fox, do not yet offer online streaming as far as I know. Do you have any other sites you would recommend?

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NAVIGON MobileNavigator USA & US MyRegion Giveaway

Posted: 18 Sep 2010 09:30 AM PDT

Do you ever get lost while driving? I know I do, especially while I’m driving. Getting lost while walking is a definitely easier to recover from. But taking a wrong turn in traffic could prove difficult to correct.

Global Positioning System (GPS) has dominated the navigation industry since a few years ago with in-car navigation systems. Now, most modern mobile phones have built-in GPS chips to take advantage of that technology — providing you with instant, portable navigational assistance.

NAVIGON is one of today’s leading companies bringing you mobile navigation software for the iPhone, WM Mobile and Android OS smartphones. Today, we’re giving away 3 copies of NAVIGON MobileNavigator USA, MyRegion US East, MyRegion US Central and MyRegion US West worth $900 in total! Isn’t that awesome? Find out how you can get one.

For the record, I’m testing the Australian version of the application, since that’s where I’m located. Nevertheless, the general user interface remains the same, the only differences are perhaps the maps and certain extras.

Thanks to Dave Drager for the reminder — I should have mentioned that MobileNavigator’s data is stored locally on the device and doesn’t require an internet connection for navigation. However, an active internet connection is require to retrieve additional route information like weather, traffic, etc.

The MobileNavigator main screen is very straightforward. To start navigating, you’ll be presented with several options to choose from:

  1. You can enter an address by filling in the city, street and number details when prompted;You can search for a local, nearby or nationwide Places of Interest;
  2. By finding a company, restaurant or other destinations with Google Search

Once a destination is selected, MobileNavigator will display other vital details along your route, such as weather reports, parking information and nearby attractions. If enabled, MobileNavigator will also allow you to select the route of your preference by highlighting several alternatives.

The application has several distinctive features, as lane assistance – displays a pop up to show you which lane to take; and speed assistance – the app constantly displays the speed limit of the road you’re traveling on and sounds an alert if the speed limit is exceeded. In-app purchases will grant you access to a lot of other cooler stuff like live traffic reports, panoramic 3D view and reality view.

It has integrated iPod controls and is iOS-ready so MobileNavigator will keep running in the background even if you exit the app — which means that you’ll never miss a turning even if you have to accept a call.

NAVIGON MobileNavigator USA [iTunes link] is priced at $49.99; MyRegion US East, Central and West are $29.99 each. But today, we’re offering you a chance to get them for free!

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 24th 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 NAVIGON for their generosity while participating in this giveaway. Interesting in sponsoring? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via email.

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