Tuesday, September 21, 2010

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [September 20th]” plus 11 more

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [September 20th]” plus 11 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [September 20th]

Posted: 20 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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IKEA Fans – IKEA sells furniture that people can assemble and disassemble easily. There are many different types of IKEA furniture sets that come with manuals that the user requires to assemble the furniture. If you are an IKEA products owner and have lost the manual, you can get the assembly instructions simply by visiting the IKEA Fans website. Read more: IKEA Fans: Get Assembly Instructions For IKEA Furniture Online


BagCheckr – When going on a trip, having a checklist for your packing can be greatly helpful. You start creating your travel packing lists and keep adding things to it as the trip's date nears. Before heading out you can check the list to see if you missed packing something. The entire process can easily be done online using BagCheckr. Read more: BagCheckr: Create Travel Packing Lists The Easy Way



Wattbot – As fuel prices rise, electricity becomes increasingly expensive. It is up to us to use energy wisely and employ energy-saving practices. But getting expert help on the matter can end up costing somebody a lot. This is precisely why Wattbot is such a useful service. Read more: Wattbot: Get Energy Saving Tips For Your Home



MP3XD – Listening to a song online depends on how well your internet connection is performing. Waiting for the song to load up each time you want to listen to it is quite inconvenient. Downloading the song to your hard drive is much more convenient. One such website where you can download songs is MP3XD. Read more: Mp3XD: Free Platform For MP3 Search & Download



Subtextual – Have you ever sent an email to contact A and then forwarded the same message to contact B with additional information? For example emailing a client that a project is ready and then forwarding that email to a partner revealing that the project in fact is not ready. For such purposes you can avoid sending multiple emails by using Subtextual. Read more: Subtextual: While Sending An Email Add Hidden Messages For Selected 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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Share, Share, Share….Spread The Word!

Posted: 20 Sep 2010 07:31 PM PDT

With most of the MakeUseOf articles that we profile every day, our main goal is to give you something that you will find interesting and useful.

To show you a website or a software program you can make use of is our number one priority.

This time around, we would like something from you. Something really easy and simple. That is to share MakeUseOf articles you find useful with others. That’s really the best way for you to show your appreciation for our work.

It’s quick and super easy to do.

Simply click one of the sharing buttons at the bottom of the article and vote it up (or share).

As you can see, there are options to share the article with your friends on Facebook, Twitter (retweet), StumbleUpon and Digg. Also, there is a ‘ShareThis‘ button which lets you share the article on several other social networks as well as giving you an option to email the link to someone.

You might not realize it but this has a major impact on our daily workflow and the popularity of MakeUseOf.com. So if you’re an avid reader and like what we are doing, please make sure to always share the articles you find useful with friends.

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3 Firefox Addons That Let You Search Faster Than Google Instant

Posted: 20 Sep 2010 06:30 PM PDT

fast browser searchLast week’s introduction of Google’s Instant search has been a huge boom. Basically, the new fast browser search feature lets you see the results while you type a search term.

The new feature is sure to result in a new search behavior but in reality, instant search had been there long before the introduction.

This post looks at three ways to see instant (Google) search results without ever having to load search results page or even going to Google itself.

1. Fast Browser Search Results in the Address Bar

CyberSearch adds advanced search capabilities to the Firefox 3 address bar. The addons supercharges the “Awesome Bar” with instant search results that appear as you type!

Supported search engines: Google (and all Google’s search services including Google blog search, Google news, etc) and Bing web search.

How is that faster than Google Instant? You don’t need to even visit Google. Just use your browser URL bar and see the results right there!

To search, just use one of the smart keywords listed below. Start typing your search term in the address bar and the extension will load Google results on the fly.

  • gweb (Google web)
  • gblog (Google blog search)
  • gbook (Google books)
  • gimage (Google Images)
  • gloc (Google local)
  • gnews (Google news)
  • gpatent (Google patent)
  • gvid (Google video)
  • bcalc (Bing Instant answer)
  • bweb (Bing web)

fast browser search

Note: these are smart keywords installed by default, you can change them or set your own using the tool’s handy options interface (accessed from Tools menu).

faster search

Cybersearch also provides users with a preview snapshot of a site (when hovered over with the mouse), can be set up to display multiple pages of results (based on user preference) and is even capable of performing strict site-specific searches when you want to look for something from a particular site.

  • See detailed search descriptions: As you highlight address bar results with your keyboard you should see details appear in the background that pertain to that particular result. A web search will show you a description of the result; a video search will show a thumbnail of the video along with the duration; a local search will give you the location information (including a thumbnail of a map) along with the phone number, and so on.
  • Retrieve multiple pages of Google results: A customizable “keyword” is available so that you can even retrieve multiple pages of your Google search results. Checkout the video here for more information on how this works.
  • Restrict search to a current site: Just type > in the address bar and start typing your search term. You will se the list of pages generated for your term and all the results belong to the current domain.

2. Search Results in the Preview Pop-up

Ubiquity is an awesome addon that allows to speed up plenty of various tasks (see our previous Ubiquity review here) including search.

Supported search engines: Almost any (you can teach the tool new commands in case it doesn’t know the search engine you are using).

How is that faster than Google Instant? The search is launched with one quick keyboard shortcut. Google search is already built-in for you.

To search Google you will need to do the following:

  1. Install the extension and restart the browser;
  2. Use CTRL+space (Windows) / ALT+space (Linux) / Option+space (Mac) to see a command input box in the upper-left of your browser.
  3. Type G and the tool will “guess” you want to search Google, so you can click “Enter” to open Google in a new tab OR you can keep typing and the search results preview will be displayed in the preview window:

    faster search

Note: You can go to any result in the preview by pressing CTRL+ALT+{Result#}. Currently, the development of this add-on is on hold, although the community has been updating it to ensure it keeps working with newer versions of Firefox. As it has proven to be an incredibly popular search tool, the developers have stated they will return to expand on the concept at some future point in time. More information about Ubiquity is available in the Mozilla Labs Wiki

3. Search Results in the FireFox Search Bar

Peers is an add-on which upgrades the power of the search bar by replacing its ability to predict what people are trying to search for (whilst typing) with the ability to present results (in real time) based on what they have currently typed in.

Supported search engines: Yahoo, Google, eBay, Amazon, Wikipedia, etc.

How is that faster than Google Instant? Unlike Google Instant, it works from within FireFox’s search box.

The tool is installed like a regular search plugin (no FireFox restart needed) and works rather fast.

fast browser search

Do you think it can be faster than Google Instant search?

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Five Clever Ways To Use Remember The Milk Lists & Tags

Posted: 20 Sep 2010 04:30 PM PDT

remember the milkTrying to keep up with your task list? You’ve probably heard of the excellent task manager, Remember The Milk, which has been featured on MakeUseOf before countless times for its cross-platform accessibility (Linux, iOS, bookmarklet, you name it). And now that the basic iPhone app has become available for free (without automatic sync or push notifications unless you’ve gone Pro), more users will be able to take advantage of this extremely powerful application, especially if they follow up with the official RTM blog.

In fact, over at their blog, there’s a very handy feature — Tips & Tricks, which provides a creative tip regarding Smart Lists, tags and everything in between from RTM forum users. Here are five of the more recent tips that I’ve found come in very handy regarding everyday tasks.

Minimizing Food Wastage

remember the milk

In order to keep things like vegetables (due to my bad memory, may often go bad in my household) without going to waste, you can use these tips in conjunction (even though they were brought to attention in two different posts):

  1. Setting an RTM Smart List including vegetable items (that you’re planning to use in the week) that have earlier expiration dates as higher priority, while products that will last longer are set as lower priority.

    to do list

  2. Setting the expiration dates to these perishables (as tasks) whenever you’re standing in line at the supermarket waiting to pay. You could also add reminders to eat the food a few days or a week before.

The second post mentions how the user, being a single guy, can be more organized in his kitchen with this system. It will surely help anyone, living alone or not, to keep track of perishables and minimize food wastage.


to do list

I often dread cleaning my whole place as I would attempt to have a cleaning day (usually Saturday or Sunday), which meant it would take some really long hours to finish mopping, vacuuming, etc. I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way. In fact, one RTM user achieves a very nice system for easing the cleaning chores. You can also implement this system by assigning each of your house rooms in a new ‘housework’ list to a day of the week. Having the due dates repeat weekly, you then list the many tasks for that particular room such as cleaning shower tiles, toilet, changing towels in the Notes section of the room task.

to do list

That way, you can dedicate a small and less overwhelming subset of tasks for every day of the week. By Sunday, you can actually enjoy the weekend and not worry about spending countless hours of your Sundays cleaning away.

to do list software

Of course, you can also divide the cleaning tasks instead of using rooms for task items. You can perform one single cleaning task, such as vacuuming on Monday, clean the toilet on Tuesday, etc.

Keeping A Dashboard For ‘Sanity Check’

The Overview tab you may see once you log in to the web app could become more useful if it could combine all overdue tasks and task due today so they can be edited more easily. Good news for you, with this tip from RTM’s savvy users, you’ll essentially be getting exactly that, in a Smart List you might want to address as Dashboard. You can search for terms such as dueBefore:monday to include overdue items, items due today and due within this week before next Monday. Now you’ll just need to hit the Save tab to create the Smart List.

to do list software

You can also use the Dashboard to monitor items that don’t have a due date. For example, I use the due:never and status:Incomplete search terms for my Dashboard Smart List (excluding items from my other lists).

to do list software

If I had found out about the next tip, my Smart List search terms would have looked a lot tidier.

Excluding Other Items With tagContains

Like I said, this tip offers a way to simplify the NOT search terms. Items that don’t belong in your RTM main task list (e.g. projects, watch, etc) can be tagged with a symbol “+” at the start, eventually becoming tagged with “+projects”, “+watch”, etc. So now, instead of using so many “NOT tag:tag1 NOT tag:tag2“, my Dashboard displays NOT tagContains:+.

If you have several Smart List, this will simplify a lot of typing whenever you want to change their search criteria.

Monitoring Bill-Paying Dates

I use a variation of this system because it’s extremely useful for anyone who needs to pay bills, whether online or not. Every time you receive a new bill, either in the mail or you’re notified by e-mail, set up a task for this bill (with the amount in the name as well) and assign the due date to be the day of the month that it’s due (which usually fall around the same time every month but may vary sometimes.) If you set the tasks a priority (any level), which displays more distinctive colors and you don’t regularly use priority levels, these bill reminders (along with a note of the minimum payment) will pop out very nicely.

You could also tag them with bill so a search for tag:bill can easily bring up all your future bill-paying dates.

remember the milk

These are some of the more interesting Tips & Tricks that were featured on the official Remember The Milk. But of course, there were probably more than 50 of these tricks, all of which served highly useful to their respective users. Do you have any you wish to share? Voice your tips over in the comments!

Photo credit: Assessmuammerokumus, Mr. Thomas, Casey Serin

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5 Things You Can Do To Silence A Noisy Laptop Fan

Posted: 20 Sep 2010 02:30 PM PDT

laptop cooling fanI’ve had laptops for a good few years now, and never really looked back. The portability and masses of space I save outweighs my desire for a desktop PC and separate monitor.

The only thing that annoys me about my current laptop is the noise it kicks out when things start happening. This noise is my laptop cooling fan, which indicates that my laptop is hot. If it’s really loud then it’s too hot, and that’s not a good thing.

After years of dealing with this problem, I’ve learned that there are a few things you can do to silence that cacophony on your desk and hopefully stop your laptop from falling victim to heat exhaustion.

Buy A Laptop Cooler

Due to their nature, size and increasing amounts of power; laptops seem to just get hotter and hotter. As a rule, my old laptops would generally go for a year without getting too hot. Now they’re so small and powerful that a laptop cooler is pretty much a necessity from day one.

If you’re thinking of gaming, editing photos and video or just leaving your laptop on for hours with 30 tabs open then a cooler is a good start. They’ll differ slightly, but generally keep to the same format of being metal (of course) slanted or flat frames with a couple of fans inside.

Your laptop sits on top of the cooler which attaches to your laptop via USB, and just so you don’t lose that extra USB slot many even come with USB hubs built-in. They’re not ideal for on-the-go, but they’re a wise decision if you use your laptop for any great length of time at home or work.

Coolers should help control your laptop’s temperature, providing you with a chilled-out PC and little-to-no fan noise.

Kill Your Processes

The heat generated by the CPU is generally the main heat source within a laptop, and non-vital background processes only serve to make this worse. The processor is working overtime, generating lots of heat that a very noisy laptop cooling fan has to try and get rid of. By killing any unwanted programs, you’re doing your processor and your ears a big favour.

One solution is to kill the processes before they even start. You can manually configure what starts up in Windows using the Microsoft System Configuration Utility. Hit Start, find Run (you may need to search for it, depending on your particular version of Windows) and type in msconfig and click OK.

laptop cooling fan

Navigate to the Startup tab and simply toggle the items you’d like to run when your computer first boots. Many update managers and system tray processes (like Quicktime, Java Update Scheduler, etc) are completely useless and simply sit there wasting your precious resources.

Another solution is to use a program like Soluto, which analyses your boot and lets you know what action is required and what’s not required.

laptop cooling fan

Open Her Up

Your laptop’s number one enemy is dust, so removing this dust not only cleans and safeguards your machine but also increases airflow which in turn will boost your fan’s efficiency. I wouldn’t recommend doing this if you’re not 100% sure what your doing (or if it voids any warranties, naturally).

You’ll need a can of compressed air (often known as computer duster), a screwdriver and patience. Turn your laptop off, remove the battery and find the screws that secure the case. Once you’ve exposed the filthy mess that is your laptop’s inner workings, set about cleaning it with the air.

Preserve the air and use short sharp bursts to remove any build-up around fans, heatsinks and vents. You might want to do this outside, especially if you’ve never cleaned your laptop in this way before, as it gets pretty messy. The above video relates to cleaning a desktop PC, but the technique behind cleaning a laptop isn’t radically different.

Whilst your laptop case is open, it may be worth fitting a powerful "silent" fan (though they’re never completely silent) which should keep your machine cooler and quieter.

The Software Route

If you occasionally find yourself in situations where your laptop cooling fan must be quiet at all costs then you might want to install software that controls the speed of your fan. By limiting the speed you can vastly reduce the noise produced, though your laptop may cook.

laptop fan

This isn’t the best idea if you’re having cooling problems, but freeware utility SpeedFan allows you to monitor and control your fans. You can turn them right down if you need to, just don’t forget to turn them back up again afterwards.

Use a Lightweight OS

I’m not suggesting you switch your primary operating system, but for when you’re on-the-go (and away from your laptop cooler) there’s a whole load of alternatives to resource-intensive Windows.

Personally I find Ubuntu (the desktop version) runs considerably cooler on my laptop than Windows 7. This could be because I have an anti-virus, firewall and other processor-hungry things going on in Windows which I don’t need on Linux.

Using UNetbootin, you can create bootable USB sticks with whole operating systems on them that you can use simply by sticking them in your machine and powering up. Some of these include Google Chromium OS, Jolicloud and mobile versions of desktop favourites.

Have you any other tips for quietening that noisy fan? Do you regularly clean your machine, or are you fond of the noise? Commenting is good for you, so drop us a tip in the box below.

Laptop Fan Image: Shutterstock

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Hot Tech Deals [Sep 20th]

Posted: 20 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 Inspiron 17 Intel Core i3 17.3in Laptop (4GB/500GB/Radeon HD4330/3yr Warranty) $677.99 via codes ?$QNC1?HSKNR9F and ?8CN$RJ?W5TQ0C

  2. Dell Inspiron 15 Intel Core Dual-Core T4500 2.2GHz 15.6in Laptop (3GB/320GB/Win7) $449.99

  3. Dell Inspiron 15R Intel Core i3-350M 2.26GHz 15.6in Laptop (4GB/320GB/Win7) $519.99

  4. Lenovo S12 Intel Atom N270 12.1in Netbook (2GB/250GB/6-Cell/Win7) $349.99

  5. Fantom Drives G-Force Pro 1TB USB/eSATA External Hard Drive $69.99 Free Shipping

  6. TODAY ONLY Antec Nine Hundred Two ATX Midtower Computer Case $64.99 Free Shipping (Great Combos Deals)

  7. LaCie Rikiki 500GB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive $59.99 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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10+ Cool Accessories Every Photographer Wants

Posted: 20 Sep 2010 12:30 PM PDT

photography accessoriesWhen you're passionate about photography, whether you're taking photos with a heavy duty SLR or with your phone, there are a few accessories here or there that you're probably dying to get.

We've put together a list of unique, cool and geeky addons for your camera. Everything from cases, to lenses, to tripods, you'll want to get your hands on this gear.

We kick of the list with a few photography accessories that anyone can use, whether you’re using a point and shoot, a sSLR or even your cell phone, followed by sSLR accessories, and finally, iPhone accessories to take photos on the go.


The Gorillapod needs no introduction and should be in every photographer's kit. The flexible tripod can attach itself to just about any surface, making it easy to get the exact photo that you want. And there's a whole line of Gorillapod's available, that can take anywhere from 325g to 5kg, so no matter what kind of camera you use, whether a small point and shoot, or a huge SLR sporting a telephoto lens – you'll find what you're looking for. There's even a Gorillapod made especially for the iPhone 3G and 3GS.

photography accessories

Portable lighting studio

Okay, so maybe you won't need a portable lighting studio if you're taking photos with your phone, but who's to say you can't. Using this on-the-go studio will ensure that you always have the perfect lighting and perfect backrop, no matter where you are.

digital photography accessories


If you have a hard time getting your baby to look at the camera, ShutterBuddy will remedy the problem. Stick your camera inside this and you'll get their attention in no time. ShutterBuddy is made to fit point and shoot cameras.

digital photography accessories

If you're using an SLR or want a simpler alternative, check out the Lens Pets available on Etsy. Simply slip the Lens Pet around your lens and you'll be snapping away pictures of your little ones in no time.

digital photography accessories

For the dSLR user, there are a few amazing accessories that can take your photography, or even film-making, to another level.

Nano DSLR Rig

Using your own body to steady the camera, the Nano DSLR Rig can turn your DSLR camera into the ultimate movie-making machine, as well as give you all the options you need to brace your camera for the perfect photo. The flexibility of the rig opens up a world of different possibilities on how it can be used.

photography accessories online

Cloak Bag

Whether it's for discreet shooting, to protect your camera from the elements, or even wanting a quick and easy way to shoot a photographer before it passes you by, the Cloak Bag will come in handy. And the fashion conscious photographer will probably appreciate the fact that it's a camera bag that doesn't look like a camera bag.

photography accessories online

Lensbaby Lenses

If you have your standard DSLR lenses and are looking for something different, the Lensbaby line of lenses has a little something for everyone. Lensbaby offers three different lenses, each suited to a different kind of photographer. Each lens is used in a different way and produces a different stylistic effect. Check out their photographer's gallery to decide which one is right for you. Lensbaby lenses are compatible with Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax and 4/3’s mount SLR cameras.

photography accessories online

Gigtube Instant Digital Screen Remote Viewfinder

Want to get your camera up close but trigger the shutter from a distance? The Gigtube Instant Digital Screen Remote Viewfinder allows you to do just that. See what's in your viewfinder using the remote wireless LCD screen, and trigger the shutter when the time is right. Taking photos from a high angle or self portraits are just a couple of ways the LCD screen will come in handy. The Digital Viewfinder is compatible with specific Canon, Nikon and Olympus models. There’s also a wireless model if you need to put more distance between you and your camera.

There's a large group of photographers who have dedicated themselves to taking the best photos possible using their iPhones. Here are a few accessories that could come in handy.

Fish-Eye Lens

With a magnetic mount, simply attach the Fish-Eye Lens to your iPhone and you can easily achieve the fish-eye effect in your photos. And because it's detachable, the lens can be used with pretty much any cell phone, not just the iPhone. While you're at it, why not get the Wide Angle & Macro and Super Macro lenses.


ZGrip iPhone Pro gives you an easy and steady way to control your iPhone when shooting pictures, or even videos. ZGrip is compatible with the iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4. Don't forget, if you don't need to be holding the iPhone, and just need to steady it using a tripod, the iPhone Gorillapod, compatible with the 3G and 3GS, is another great option.


While the iPhone 4 comes equipped with an LED flash, its predecessors don't. The easiest way to remedy this is to use the Beamer, an iPhone case with a built-in LED flash.

photography accessories

What are your favourite photography accessories? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: Razvan Chirnoaga

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How To Make Professional Video Editing Cuts Online For Free With JayCut

Posted: 20 Sep 2010 11:31 AM PDT

Jaycut.com may be the only web-based video editing application that registered members can use for free. Jaycut is not a professional video editor by a long shot. It doesn’t work as fast as consumer editors like iMovie and MovieMaker, but it can be very useful if you don’t have these applications or if you just need edit online.

Jaycut may have limitations but it doesn't mean you can't use professional video editing techniques with your digital footage. In a recent article about home video productions, I alluded to techniques that can make your videos more appealing. Two such techniques are what are called J-cut and L-cut editing.

You have no doubt seen J-cut edits used in films many times without knowing what it's called . In this cut, you hear the audio come from one video clip, but you see footage from another clip or visual element such a title board. Here's a quick example on my Jaycut share page of a J-cut edit.

The video opens with a title card and the sound of a mariachi song that is a part of—let's call it—the A-clip. After a few seconds the title card ends, and the visual part of the A-clip begins with the mariachi dancers; the music from the A-clip continues.

The B-roll could have also been another video shot of say people watching the performance but with the sound of that clip edited out. So if say you're shooting a music performance with a single video camera, you might grab a shot of the audience or the outside of the venue before the performance begins, and use it for your B-roll.

While the Jaycut editor only has two video tracks and one audio, you cannot split music from a video clip as you can in say iMovie. But here's a workaround.

The J-cut

Step 1
After importing your clips into your Jaycut editor, drag the A-clip into Video A track. The A-clip is your main clip, with which you want to retain the sound.

professional video editing

Step 2<h2>The L-Cut</h2>
Now split the clip to the point where you want to show footage from your B-roll or title card.

professional video
Step 3
Drag the portion of the clip you want to hide into the Video B track. This is the part of the clip you will cover up with the B-roll clip.

professional video
Step 4
Now drag and replace the empty space in Video A track with your B-roll clip. If you're using actual footage from another clip, you will probably need to splice it so that it fits where you want it in the Video A track.

professional video
In my example, I'm using a title card that has no sound, but if your B-roll clip has sound, click on the audio editor and mute the sound in that B-roll clip, so that only the sound from the A-clip is heard.

professional video services
Finally, click the Preview movie button on the right side of the editor to see if movie plays the way you want.

The L-Cut

The L-cut edit works almost in the same way, but in this case you insert B-roll into the middle of the A-clip, instead of the beginning.

professional video editing
To accomplish this edit in Jaycut, drag a copy of the A-clip into both the Video A and Video B tracks. Mute the sound of the clip in the Video A track. Clip out the part of the A-clip that you want to be replaced by your B-roll. And lastly, mute the sound in the B-roll, because you're using the sound from the A-clip. Here's an example on my Jaycut share page.

Let us know if this works for you. If you have an editing technique that you use in Jaycut or another video editor, please share it with us.

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How to Harmoniously Work With Google Docs from Microsoft Outlook

Posted: 20 Sep 2010 10:30 AM PDT

google docsThere are some of us who still prefer a desktop email client like Microsoft Outlook, but also rely on the flexibility of the cloud via Google Docs. If you want the twain to meet i.e. a way to work with Google Docs from Microsoft Outlook, a new app called Harmon.ie seems to be the answer.

Harmon.ie is a free add-on to Microsoft Outlook (2007 & 2010) that removes the need to send across email attachments from MS Outlook to Google Docs.  You can work with your Google documents, spreadsheets and presentations from the Harmon.ie sidebar within MS Outlook.

But just how harmonious is this handshake between a desktop app from Microsoft and an online cloud application from its long standing rival? Let's find out by downloading the 500KB sized installer that proceeds to download the rest of the sidebar.

The one worry with add-ons and sidebars within an application is that load times may increase. Doesn't seem so with Harmon.ie, as it loads up quite smoothly and takes up a bit of Outlook's real estate. You can hide it from view with a click. You can straightaway login with your Google account (or register a new one).

google docs

Work with Existing Google Docs

Harmon.ie displays all the Google Docs you have on the account. If you have a large number of documents, you can use the search bar at the top or the View Bar at the bottom. The View Bar gives you a few view options to selectively pick and display the type of document.

sync google docs

Each file also has a small Actions link with document functions like renaming, hiding, staring, sharing and more. Some of the properties like a shared document, or a document that's part of folder have small icons against their names. You can use the commands under Actions to reorganize the docs from within Outlook.

sync google docs

Sharing documents or changing the sharing options you might have set in Google Docs is easy with the Share command under Actions. Just type in the first few letters of the contact and Harmon.ie picks up the email address from the contacts database of both Outlook and Gmail. Specify the role and you are done.

sync google docs

Google Docs allows you convenient download in multiple formats (depending on the file type) like PDF, RTF, Text, Word, Zip, and OpenOffice etc. Harmon.ie gives the very same flexibility with its Save As command under Actions.

Creating New Google Docs

This is where Harmon.ie really comes to the fore. Uploading or creating new Google Docs files is as easy as a drag and drop or a click on the New button.

Pick up a document from the desktop and just drag and drop it into the Harmon.ie sidebar. The document gets automatically converted and uploaded. If you have any folders setup, you can drop the file on top of it and it's included in the folder.

docs google

Just as you can email a Google Doc as an attachment or as a link to share it with others, Harmon.ie works with Outlook to provide the same functionality. Open a new email window (the sidebar appears in all Outlook windows) and simply drag the file from the sidebar into the email body. The file is shared with all recipients of that email automatically. Your contacts can view the document as they would normally in a browser. Just before the dispatch, you can further set permissions as view only or edit.

linked spreadsheets google docs

When you send attachments via Outlook, Harmon.ie pops up a box and asks you if you want to save the attachment in Google Docs and send the link instead. The benefit of sending a link is that you can keep the online Google Doc updated without needing to email across copies after each update. Recipients always get to view the latest version via the link.

google docs

Also get under the hood of Harmon.ie by going to its Options. You can enable or disable a few functions there.

Harmon.ie does the same things that Google Docs does when you go to the cloud. But the sidebar brings along MS Outlook and that's handy when you working on document sharing and document backups. Harmon.ie makes the synergy between both Google and Microsoft somehow… harmonious. Would you agree?

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Photojojo’s Dreamy Diana Lens [Mini Giveaway]

Posted: 20 Sep 2010 09:51 AM PDT

We’re giving away a fantastic new product today. It’s by Photojojo and is called the Dreamy Diana Lens. It’s essentially a plastic lens that mounts on a Canon or Nikon SLR body to transform your modern, high-tech digital SLR into a lo-fi, retro, digital toy that takes awesome and unconventional photographs.

Sadly, we don’t have a review unit to play around with so we’ll have to take Photojojo’s word for it. One thing we know for sure, it definitely looks like a lot of fun.

The lens retails for $60 but we’re giving one away for free. Find out how.

How do I enter?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.


Join our Facebook page by liking us. 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 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 LIKE the post. This step is optional but why not spread the love?

And that’s it! You’re done!

Giveaway eligibility
You must be a fan of our Facebook page to enter;
Individuals who are over the age of 18. If you are under 18, get your parents to participate on your behalf;
Individuals who reside in a country embargoed by the United States, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India are not permitted to enter.

This giveaway begins now and ends after 500 submissions. The winners will be selected at random and announced via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

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7 Sites To Find The Best Classic DOS Games

Posted: 20 Sep 2010 09:31 AM PDT

dos gamesA while back Matt wrote an article on how to run DOS applications on your Windows machine. What better way is there to make use of that than to load up the old classic DOS games that we loved playing growing up?  They may seem outdated, but a classic is still a classic.

There are hundreds of old games with cheesy sound effects and questionable graphics that will make you wonder how you ever played them as a kid – but you'll probably find yourself diving in headfirst into the ultimate memory lane in all of geekdom.

Mac users can also get in on the fun using the free app, Boxer. The free application uses a simple drag and drop approach to install and play games on your Mac.

Abandonware Games

Abandonware Games has a large selection of DOS games available for download. The categories included are action, racing, RPG and strategy games. With just over 700 games to choose from, you're bound to find some of your favourites on this site. You can also search the site by game title or keyword. Each game is accompanied by a wealth of information from the year of release to the types of visuals, to how many times it has been downloaded.

dos games

DOS Games

After Abandonware Games, DOS Games has one of the biggest collections with over 500 games and counting in its database. The updates are spaced out, but every now and then, a bunch of new games are added. Browse the games by genre, or simply browse the entire list and see what catches your eye.

free dos games

Free Game Downloads

The design and graphics on the site, Free Game Downloads are about as exciting as the graphics of a DOS game. But their massive collection of games, and easy to navigate categories, make up for a pretty dull design. They also have a list of Atari games available for download.

free dos games

Free Classic DOS Games

Free Classic DOS Games has a list of about 200 games. Each game is accompanied by a review, description and screenshots, and most importantly, a download link. Search the site for your favourites or go through the entries one by one.

free dos games

RGB Classic Games

RGB Classic Games is another great repository with a huge combination of classics, previously unreleased games, and even a few “modern” DOS games. Browse the games by category, search the database, or chat with other DOS gamers in the forums.

download dos games

Free Game Empire

Free Game Empire offers a method of playing DOS games in your browser – but you do still need to download a couple of things. The site provides an easy-to-use emulator and, while you download the game to your computer, the game play takes place in your browser. Only Firefox and Internet Explorer are supported by the site.

Of course you only have to download the game the first time, after which you can return to the site and play it any time. The emulator can be uninstalled from your control panel. Mac and Linux users are out of luck as the site only works with Windows.

download dos games


If you'd rather not download anything at all to your computer, you can play some classic DOS games online at Play.VG. Forget tennis on the Wii, when you can be playing a pixelated game of tennis using nothing more than your arrow keys and spacebar – we were so easy to please back then. Other classics include Pacman and Sonic the Hedgehog.

dos games

Also be sure to check out Simon's article on 4 other great resources for free DOS games.

What are your favourite DOS games on these sites? Let us know in the comments.

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Eltima’s All-Capable Elmedia Player PRO for Mac [MakeUseOf Giveaway]

Posted: 20 Sep 2010 08:30 AM PDT

Elmedia Player PRO for Mac OS X is the ultimate choice for watching videos on your computer for its sheer volume of unique features. Elmedia sets itself apart from other video players by supporting a wide variety of video formats, most uniquely, Real Player videos. And that’s not the only unique feature in this media player. Elmedia allows you to download videos from the Internet, directly within its inbuilt browser.

This week, we will be giving away 25 copies of Elmedia Player PRO worth almost $500. Find out how you can score one for yourself.

Browse websites directly within the Elmedia browser and the player will automatically display all the downloadable videos, regardless of format. You can play the videos and animations online within the browser, but why do that when you can download the files to your computer to watch when you don’t have access to an internet connection.

You can choose to display all media files available for download on the site, or display only flash or video files. Once know which file you want to download, clicking the download link will save the file to your computer, and to your Elmedia library. Growl notifications let you know when the download is complete.

The Elmedia Player library can be browsed either by video format, or by date. Browse your videos downloaded today, in the past week or in the past month. The Elmedia library lets you keep all of your videos organised, and create playlists, using an easy drag-and-drop interface that is found in other media players like iTunes.

And the features don’t end there. You can take screenshots of your videos, either one at a time, or at an interval of every 0.1 to 10 seconds, essentially converting your file into a series of photos. All photos in a series are saved in tiff format to a folder on your computer. And you can watch your videos in full screen mode, fit to the window, detach the video screen from the library, float the screen on top of other windows, and even zoom in on your video screen.

Formats supported include FLV, SWF, AVI, MOV, MP4, WMV, RM (Real Player) and XAP (Silverlight).

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!
Giveaway eligibility
Individuals who are over the age of 18. If you are under 18, get your parents to participate on your behalf;
Individuals who reside in a country embargoed by the United States, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India are not permitted to enter.

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 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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