Friday, October 1, 2010 “3 Advanced Tips To Get The Most Out Of Google Insights” plus 11 more “3 Advanced Tips To Get The Most Out Of Google Insights” plus 11 more

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3 Advanced Tips To Get The Most Out Of Google Insights

Posted: 01 Oct 2010 09:31 AM PDT

During the past few years, as I’ve specialized in search engine analysis and Internet search trends, there is one single tool that came along and made my work much easier. It is an amazing tool that can identify niche opportunities and potential story ideas, and it can do most of the difficult search trend analysis for you.

This impressive tool is Google Insights. I previously wrote a brief review of Google Insights, covering some of the basic search features. Since then, Google has added a few additional features, and I’ve also discovered some cool search techniques that I’d like to share.

This analysis is perfect for anyone who needs to know what the majority of people on the Internet are interested in. Google Insights gives you insight into things like what products, ideas or events people in certain parts of the world are most interested in, as well as how global interest has changed, or is going to change. Even if you are just curious what people across the world are most interested in, Google Insights can be a lot of fun to play with.

Predict Seasonal Interest

A couple of years ago when I was writing market analysis reports for a client, I used Google Trends to do my analysis. I took a screenshot and then copied and pasted the individual graphs over several years in order to show how trends were gravitating over time. Apparently, Google caught on to the need for such information, because now Google Insights lets you search for trends over several years – with all results displaying on a single graph.

To show how useful this can be, I’m going to examine how public sentiment regarding Halloween has changed over the past several years. First, change the search setting to “Time Ranges” and then fill in the years that you’d like to compare – above, I am comparing interest in Halloween from 2006 through 2009.

A color coded graph shows the yearly trends. This graph shows that interest was lowest in 2006. Not only low, but apparently much later than usual – interest peaked at least a week or so after the typical high demand (apparently people were putting off getting ready for Halloween that year).

Interest was slightly higher in 2007, higher again in 2008, and higher again in 2009. Such graphs allow retailers to perfectly time their promotional efforts, and of course it helps news organizations and bloggers cover stories that people are going to be searching for at that moment in time. It’s like having the ability to see into the future.

Compare Brands & Companies

Another very interest thing to play around with, especially if you have a few favorite brands or products and you’re curious whether public interest in them is increasing or declining, is to compare multiple search terms. To do this, you put the setting back on “Search Terms” and type in as many terms as you like. Here, I am comparing public interest in the iPhone versus the Android.

As you can see, interest in the Android started increasing only toward the end of 2009. That trend curved significantly upward, but as you can see there’s a long way to go before that public interest can even get into the same ballpark as the iPhone. Multiple keyword search isn’t an advanced feature though,  but if you take a closer look at the iPhone graph – see the dotted line at the end?

This is Google Insight’s new “forecast feature” where Insights uses the historical data for that trend and mathematically predicts what the future trend will most likely look like. This only works on keywords where there is enough historic data, and it doesn’t take industry trends or economics into account, but it’s still a fairly accurate (and useful) prediction of public sentiment.

Comparing Interest Based On Geography

Along the same lines as comparing search trends by brand, you can also examine global sentiment broken down by region. You could do this before with Google Trends, but now you can compare all data on the same chart. All you have to do is change the search settings to “Locations”, choose the locations and identify search topics.

Here, I’ve compared interest in the iPhone by country. This graph reveals that the highest iPhone interest is in the U.S., followed closely by the U.K., then Germany and finally India. However, a breakdown of interest in the “Android” is very interesting in comparison.

This shows that India actually led the way and became interested in the Android long before U.S. interest sparked in late 2009. Even so, you can see that unlike with the iPhone, interest in India either surpassed or kept pace with the rest of the world. What does something like this mean? It means that while iPhone interest in India is flat, mobile consumers there are turning to the Android – a niche market if there ever was one.

This is only the tip of the iceburg of what advanced search techniques at Google Insights can tell you. No matter your reason for needing to know public sentiment, there is no better place on the web to find out what people around the world are interested in (or going to be interested in) than Google Insights.

Let us know what you think.

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Seven Safari 5 Browser Extensions That Make The Web Better

Posted: 01 Oct 2010 08:31 AM PDT

As with most things Apple, the Safari extension gallery is a bit of a walled garden in comparison to the extension services provided for Chrome and Firefox. Even so, there are a lot of extensions available and, because they have to pass muster, the ones that do exist are quite good.

There are a wide variety of Safari 5 extensions available, of course, but today we’re going to focus on seven extensions that simply make web browsing easier. Some make the web easier to navigate, while others make the web faster and others make it easier to read.

Click To Flash

Apple hates Flash, so shouldn’t you hate Flash as well? Now you can with the Click to Flash extension. This handy Safari 5 extension will automatically hide any barbaric Flash features that may have slinked into the code of your favorite webpages.

Seriously, though – while a lot of pages today do incorporate Flash features that are useful there are also many pages that overuse Flash or use it for evil (i.e. annoying Flash ads).

This extension will be of great benefit to older machines are sometimes slowed by the use of Flash on web pages.

Type To Navigate

This useful extension makes it possible to navigate the web with your keyboard. After you download the extension you can simply begin typing any linked text and then press return to be sent to wherever that link points. A handy prompt showing the words that you’ve typed will appear while your fingers are flying, and you can abandon a link at any time by ceasing to type – the extension will reset in a few seconds.

Ultimate Status Bar

It’s a dangerous web out there. Links, posing as decent members of the community, often hide secrets. File downloads aren’t always what they seem.

But now you can banish all fear thanks to Ultimate Status Bar. This extension adds a pop-up bar in the bottom left hand corner of Safari that shows you exactly where a link leads or, in the case of file downloads, the exact name and size of the file. Since it is a pop-up bar however, the extension never feels in the way – it appears when you want it and goes away when you don’t.


When Steve Jobs dreams, the world appears in Helvectica. Now you, too, can enjoy this state of Nirvana.

The Helvetica font is used throughout Mac OS X and iOS and is thought by some to be the most readable font in the world. HelveticaTheWorld does what it says and displays the entire world – okay, the entire web – in Helvetica font. It does have a positive effect on the readability of most websites.

Access Keys

Another keyboard web navigation extension, Access Keys lists the keyboard commands supported by any website that you might be visiting in a toolbar that appears at the top of the Safari 5 browser. Not all websites support keyboard commands – many don’t, in fact – but Access Keys provides yet another easy way to navigate those websites that do.

Shut Up

We all know how annoying web comments can be. It appears as if the word “comment” has somehow become a banner that says it is okay to waive all pretense of civility and intelligence. Unless you’re a MakeUseOf commenter, of course – in which case you’re brilliant!

Anyway, Shut Up makes comments go away. It doesn’t work on every website, but does work on most, including YouTube. That alone is enough reason to install it. Now you’ll finally be able to watch a cute kitten video without seeing ten all-caps comments from people with names like XxXReAlBALLLZERXxX about how much fun it is to drown kittens.


This extension enables the option to view an image’s EXIF data when you right click on the image. This information can tell you the size of the image both in pixels and in kilobytes, the date the picture was taken, and more. This can be particularly handy when trying to figure out if someone’s photo on Facebook was really taken last week. The extension can’t pick up data that isn’t there, however, so you’re only guaranteed to find information about the file size, type, and compression.


Well, that’s it for the web navigation extensions right now. There are, of course, many more available in the Safari extension gallery, but these are the ones I found most useful.

Do you have a favorite that was missed? Let us know!



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Cool Websites and Tools [September 30th]

Posted: 30 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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Brute Force Naming – All the good domain names are gone and finding ones that match your criteria and which are also available is a hard task. BruteForceNaming is a handy tool if you know the exact components of the domain you want. Using this tool, you can specify the beginning, middle as well as ending letters of your desired domain name. Read more: BruteForceNaming: Find Domain Names Containing Exact Characters


DuShare – There are many ways you can share a file with a friend over the Internet; examples include transferring files over instant messaging clients, P2P software, and file hosting websites. The most secure of these are instant messaging clients but they often place file size limit restrictions. This is what make DuShare an excellent large file exchange tool. Read more: DuShare: Secure & Direct Large Files Exchange



Audiobooks App – Audiobooks are a great help to people who want to read a book while being able to perform other tasks. iOS device owners probably use their computers to transfer audiobook files to their devices. But with Audiobooks App, there is now a much easier way. You can install the app on your device and get access to classic audio books for free. Read more: AudiobooksApp: Listen To Over 3,535 Classic Audiobooks for FREE via iPhone, iPad & iPod Touch



Expedition Titanic – While there are many fans of the movie Titanic, not as many people know the true story of the ship behind it. The movie was based on an actual ship that sunk. Its wreckage has been explored by deep sea divers and the site of the wreckage can now be easily explored thanks to Expedition Titanic. Read more: Expedition Titanic: Explore & Watch Titanic Wreckage Footage Online



FutureAdvisor – With so many options, risks and complicated strategies, smart investments are not an easy thing to do. FutureAdvisor is a personal investment advisor that helps you with managing and optimizing your investment portfolio by providing in-depth analysis, forecasts and saving tips. Read more: FutureAdvisor: Personal Investment Advisor Online


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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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5 Essential Digital Photography Accessories You Can Make Yourself

Posted: 30 Sep 2010 06:30 PM PDT

digital photography accessoriesPhotography certainly isn’t the cheapest of hobbies to take up. If you’re serious about it then you’re going to need a good digital SLR, a selection of lenses and a decent set of extras to keep you snap-happy.

There’s a startling array of accessories out there for the amateur enthusiast, and though many are cheap there’s plenty that aren’t. Luckily, you’ll be pleased to hear that many of those costly bits of plastic and card are simply that – plastic and card, which can be built for a fraction of the cost.

Those of you who don’t have the cash to flash and enjoy a little challenge will find some of the do-it-yourself projects in this list satisfying, especially when you’re saving money (probably to buy more lenses, if you’re anything like me).

The DIY Softbox

If you’ve ever taken an interest in macro photography then pay attention. A softbox is essentially a light tent, designed to soften harsh light and shadows to provide a nice even exposure and near-perfect lighting.

digital photography accessories

Pretty much every "product shot" of any gadget you own will have been shot in one of these, and you can quite easily customise it to suit your own demands. A nice shiny floor tile from your local DIY store is all it takes to sex one these up!

To make one you’re going to need an old cardboard box, some black and white card and a source of light. If you don’t have a flash unit, you can fire remotely (either wirelessly or with a hot-shoe cord) then you could use a desk lamp or even bright torch, just remember your white balance.

The String Tripod

The least-conventional tripod ever, this string tripod attaches to your camera’s usual tripod mount point so that a length of string is left hanging from your camera. Your foot is then used to hold the string tight in the position you would like to shoot, and adjusted accordingly.

digital photography accessories

The tripod works by using the tension in the string to keep the camera steady. It won’t keep your camera amazingly still but should work enough to facilitate shooting in lower light conditions. The tripod is designed purely to get a couple of extra stops of light into your camera without the blur.

To make it, you’ll need an existing tripod plate (plastic’s probably best, as you’ll need to drill a hole) and some sort of string or chain. There’s nothing to say you can’t modify this design, as long as it’ll fit in a tripod mount point then it’ll work. Retaining screws for US license plates apparently work well, if you’re that side of the pond.

The Poor Man’s Ring Flash

A proper ring flash can often end up costing more than what your camera is worth, so if you’re still new and not made of money then you might as well try and MacGyver yourself something instead. This guide will show you how to make a basic yet functional ring flash to bring out the best in your portraiture.

A ring flash is designed to light the subject from your lens’ point of view, minimising shadows in the wrong place and providing a vivid, well lit exposure. The DIY ring flash won’t perform as well as a professional bit of kit, but the results aren’t bad.

photography accessories

Depending on the flash you are using (this should work with both the internal flash and any flash guns you might have) cut the milk carton to size, cut a hole big enough to slide your lens through and shoot away. If you’re reading this and you’ve got a point and shoot camera, don’t worry you can join in too.

The Flash Bounce Card

The simplest trick of all can transform your harsh sub-par built-in flash into a glorious bounce flash for a whopping $0. As long as you’ve got a piece of white card (a business card works well) and some elastic or rubber bands, you’re laughing.

Position the card in front of the flash so no light can leak directly into your shot, so that when your flash fires the light is projected upwards and bounces back down into your scene. It’s no replacement for a full-on bounce flash, but you’ll be surprised at how well the shots will come out considering you never spent a penny.

photography accessories

This will also work to help diffuse or even tint harsh light coming from flashguns, much like the picture above.

The Flash Gun Diffuser / Light Sphere

This one works in a similar way to the bounce card, but is aimed at those who have already coughed up the money for a fancy flash gun. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, as there are so many different versions floating about online.

photography accessories

This particular design suggests using bubble wrap to create a hollow tunnel that sits on top of the flash unit, to diffuse light directly at the subject. I myself prefer the tried and tested sick bag and rubber band diffuser, as the airlines tend to keep me stocked up for free.

You’ll be amazed at how well it works, especially considering an official Gary Fong Lightsphere (which is just plastic after all) can set you back about $50.


Hopefully this list will at least give you an idea of what you can achieve with effort as opposed to money. These DIY accessories are often intended to deliver a sample of what the real thing can do without laying down the cash. If you find that you’re especially fond of one of your creations, then maybe it’s time to start saving for the real thing. If it’s good enough, why bother?

What are your favourite DIY photo accessories? Got anything in your closet that you’re especially proud of? Dropped too much money on a diffuser recently? Let us know in the comments!

Images: ShutterstockDIY SoftboxString Tripod, Eye, Bounce CardLight Sphere

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8 Awesome Websites to Take Free College Courses Online

Posted: 30 Sep 2010 04:30 PM PDT

online college coursesWith rising costs associated with going to university, many progressive colleges have been looking for ways to teach those who can not afford a traditional college course, or otherwise do not have the time to visit a traditional classroom. The internet is a low-cost distribution method and is a perfect vehicle for learning topics with both textual, audio and visual cues to assist the student.

The sites below offer free online college level classes to anyone willing to spend the time on them. Each differ – some have all of the materials online and some may want you to purchase (borrow?) a textbook to follow along with. Each of them offers complete courses with only one thing missing: the credit for the coursework to put towards a matriculated degree.

MIT OpenCourseware

online college courses

Massachusetts Institute of Technology was a pioneer in offering online college courses and they still have the most diverse and in-depth collection of classes available anywhere. Their online offering is an archived version of real courses that have been taught at MIT, and you may need to purchase the textbook to follow along with the class. These courses come highly recommended.

Carnegie Mellon OpenLearning

online courses

Carnegie Mellon, based in Pittsburgh, PA, has a variety of courses available for anyone online. While the selection is not as great as MIT’s, many core courses are presented in an easy to follow online format. Their courses are similar to what a paying student would receive minus the course credit or access to an instructor.

Khan Acadamy

online courses

Salman Khan began putting videos on YouTube to help with tutoring a cousin. When he started receiving feedback that they were helping a lot more people than just his cousin, he realized he was on to something good.

Today, there are over 1000 videos on KhanAcademy, which is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Most videos are about math. However, there are also many other topics that he explores. Even Bill Gates has said that he uses Khan to teach his kids about math. These are not college courses per-se, but the math he introduces in them are at college level and many people praise them for being clearer and easier to comprehend than actual college courses!

University of California at Berkeley

online courses

UC Berkeley has put online videos and audio of many of its most popular courses up on their Webcast website. They do not include the text materials which can be very helpful for taking online college courses. However, you can still learn a lot by watching the videos of the lecures.

They have lectures for ongoing courses and also historical class archives on their website, as well as videos of recorded events and one-off lectures.

Stanford University iTunesU

free online college courses

Stanford has made many of their courses and lectures available via iTunes in iTunesU. This collection is great if you are on the go or want to listen to courses while commuting. They have an impressive collection of content available, all for free. The downside is that you need to use iTunes to view their content.

Tufts OpenCourseware

free online college courses

Tufts uses the OpenCourseware format to offer full content on a number of their programs. Worth mentioning from Tufts are their Medical and Dental school courses as well as selections from other courses.

Open University LearningSpace

free online college courses

Learningspace offers content from the Open University, based in the UK. This university pledges to be open and accepts many different kinds of students in its real world classrooms. It also opened up its content to anyone online. The online college courses are laid out extremely well and offer many different topics with skill levels going from beginner up to expert.

Johns Hopkins OpenCourseware

online college courses

Johns Hopkins is a respected medical school outside of Baltimore, Maryland. They offer a selection of courses from their school which would be of particular interest to medical students.

Get to work!

The sites above are free as in free beer. However, if you wish to make the most out of them you will still need to make the time commitment to sit down and watch or listen to the course content. You may not receive college credit for learning via these sites but you will definitely turn out a better person!

Image credit: Shutterstock

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The Complete List of the Hottest Music Exploration Sites

Posted: 30 Sep 2010 02:30 PM PDT

explore new musicThese days there are so many ways to listen to free music online that one could become slightly overwhelmed by the choices. Never fear – we’ve done some investigation into the best music services out there and can let you know what’s popular and tell you a little bit about the sorts of music you can find on these services.

MakeUseOf also recently ran a poll on the top online streaming services which concluded that Grooveshark, Pandora and are the most popular services amongst our readers. We’ll give you a quick run-down on those services and point you in the direction of some other popular alternatives.

The Top Online Music Streaming Services


Grooveshark is the online music streaming provider of choice at the moment. It has an extensive music library, but if you want to add your own tracks, that’s an option too. It lets you make playlists as well as offering easy access to popular music.

For more details, read more about Grooveshark here.

explore new music


discover musicPandora was one of the first online music streaming services and it is still very popular today, despite not being available outside the US. Pandora uses experienced DJs to piece together similar music, so you can give it a band name or a genre and let Pandora help you explore new music you might like. This simple premise is what makes it so great. is what most people outside the US turned to in place of Pandora, basically because you can listen by tag, recommended similar artists, things your friends recommend, things that your “neighbours” listen to (i.e. people who listen to similar stuff to you), playlists, event radio (random stuff by artists playing at any event), group radio stations or your own radio station (of music you listen to – which is good if you’re away from your music collection).

discover music online

Read more about here. It’s slightly limited for free users in some countries (because they didn’t click on enough ads) but for a small subscriber fee, you can do anything. It’s really good for exploring new music and I personally love it. Plus, since you can scrobble your tracks from most places, you can listen to music anywhere and keep building your own radio station on

The New Players & Alternative Options In Music Exploration

YouTube Disco

YouTube Disco ( is a neat way to listen to new music. Just give it a band name and it will make you a playlist to listen to. There’s a Greasemonkey script which can let you scrobble from YouTube to too.

Also check out for a great YouTube music experience.

discover music online


discover music onlineMog is a really powerful way of playing music online with easy recommendations from friends. It links into Facebook and iTunes. There’s a free account type, but it is limited. If you’re willing to pay a little per month you can do some awesome things with a smartphone. If you’re heading to somewhere where you can’t use internet, MOG lets you download entire playlists to your phone. If you’re a Rhapsody subscriber, it lets you listen to Rhapsody tunes through Mog too. Plus, it scrobbles to

What more could you want?


Spotify is available for free, but the more interesting features are available only to subscribers. It’s heavily linked with Facebook so you can play your friends’ playlists.

Premium subscribers get an offline mode for listening when you’re nowhere near internet access.


Jamendo is a free music directory of independent artists. Most of it is pretty good, too.


Bandcamp is another directory of music artists. Much of it is free or available after handing over your email address, while the rest can be bought for a modest fee. lets you follow random DJs and spin tunes for your own entertainment and for your friends. It’s heavily integrated to Twitter, so you can share your music even further. Plus, it also scrobbles to

The Sixty One

TheSixtyOne is a very interesting music exploration site. It gives you far less choice than many of the alternatives, but the music and interface are such that you just keep wanting to come back for more – and it scrobbles to too!


CitySounds is a very cool city-based music exploration tool for music on Soundcloud. Soundcloud is a place where everyday people can temporarily upload tracks, so it’s full of great indie music and mashups.


Shoutcast is really a directory of internet radio stations, but it’s incredibly easy to find a station featuring music you like.


Jelli is like a crowdsourced radio – everyone gets a say, but no-one’s entirely in charge. This can make for some pretty interesting listening. Read more about Jelli here.


Rhapsody is a pay-only service, but I thought it deserved a mention on this list as it’s pretty popular these days.

explore new music

If that’s not enough…

If these don’t do it for you, here’s a few more services you might like to try: We are hunted; Musicovery; Rdio; Jango; Deezer; Slacker radio; Listen Music; Shuffler; Mufin; Mugasha; Tunesbag; The Radio;; Uvumi; StumbleAudio; MoodTraxxer; Jogli; Musopen; MTV Music; StereoMood.

If you need more music tools, try these:

The internet music scene certainly keeps us on our toes. If you know of more up-and-coming music exploration sites, let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: ShutterStock

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Hot Tech Deals [Sep 30th]

Posted: 30 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. EXPIRING Canon PowerShot S95 10MP 3.8x Digital Camera (f/2.0, 720p Video, Hybrid IS) $389.99 via code geico10
  2. Dell SX2210T 22 inch LCD Monitor w/ Multi-Touch & Webcam $269.99 Free Shipping
  3. EXPIRING XFX Radeon HD 4870 1GB GDDR5 PCI Express Video Card w/ Double Lifetime Warranty $89.99AR Free Shipping
  4. Samsung P2770HD 27in Hybrid LCD HDTV & Monitor (HD Tuner) $339.99 Free Shipping via code EMCYXPY72
  5. Canon Refurbished Deals (EOS 7D $1399.99; EOS 5D Mark II 2099.99)
  6. ThinkGeek Coupon Code $5 off $25 or $10 off $40 via code 1S002
  7. Patriot Viper II 4GB (2×2GB) DDR2-800 PC2-6400 Dual Channel Memory $60.99AR Free Shipping
  8. Seagate Momentus XT 320GB Internal SATA Solid State Hybrid Hard Drive $94.99 Free Shipping via code HARDOCP929A


  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

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How To Watch Sports Not Broadcast In Your Country

Posted: 30 Sep 2010 12:31 PM PDT

watch sports onlinePirating video used to be limited to downloading movies and shows, but these days the dark corners of the web offer plentiful opportunities for pirates to broadcast and watch live events. Such streams are illegal but might give you access to something that you couldn’t find otherwise. Also, unlike legal streams, these work in every country on earth. No geoIP blocking!

We’ve told you how to watch news online, and even how to watch college football online for free (albeit, assuming you use a supported ISP). These legal services are amazing, but think about it: Hulu offers only a fraction of what you can find with a good BitTorrent tracker.

Likewise, there are more than a few underground communities where people share streams of their favorite sports teams online. Beware, though: this is very piratey and not really legal at all. Consider this an intellectual tour of sites you should never visit.

watch live sports online

This site is very active, and tends to be the source of many of the streams found elsewhere. Browse the forum and there’s sections offering streams for a variety of different sports: football, basketball, American football, ice hockey, racing, rugby, fighting and more. Additionally, special events (the Olympics, for example) tend to have their own section.

watch live sports online

The kinds of streams vary, of course. There are many flash-based streams, but more advanced streams tend to use services such as SopCast, StreamTorrent and TVAnts. In the future, perhaps, I’ll write about all of these programs individually; for now there’s an entire section of the forum dedicated to keeping you up to date on each program.


watch sports online

Quick and dirty, this site aggregates streams from around the web and offers them in an easy-to-process list. If there’s a sporting event happening tonight there’s a good chance it’s listed here. The streams are almost all flash, but they work.

Note that the people at MyP2PForums tend to not like these guys, claiming that they “steal” feeds from them. Kind of funny when you realize that all these streams are stolen from their original broadcasters, but whatever.

Streaming Sites

The web’s major streams sites, such as uStream or, seem to always be filled with major sporting events. This is, of course, illegal, but these sites don’t always do a very good job of policing their content. Search for a given team and something might come up.

Know that the best way to watch sports streams online on these sites is though. This is because users will frequently name their stream something unrelated to the game (in order to avoid being caught and then shut down by the site). The link to streams like this is then found elsewhere.


There you have it: just a few ways pirates managed to find live sports on the Internet without paying. These streams vary in quality greatly, but it’s actually shocking sometimes just how good they can be. Make sure you’re well aware of your nation’s laws regarding piracy before you look at any of them though, and always try to find a paid alternative before pirating.

I’m curious: are there other such sites out there? Share them below if you know any.

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5 Awesome High Tech Screensavers [Windows]

Posted: 30 Sep 2010 11:31 AM PDT

awesome screensaversOne of the things that I didn’t like about upgrading from Vista to Windows 7 is that I had to reconfigure a lot of the customizing that I’d done. I decided to consider the upgrade to Windows 7 as a fresh start, so I went out in search of new desktop backgrounds, cool Windows 7 gadgets, and of course sci-fi or high-tech screensavers that are not only great eye-candy, but somewhat functional.

Due to those search efforts, I came across a few awesome screensavers that I have to share. I like screensavers that really drop the jaw of anyone that might be walking by when its active. Simulations, high definition 3D graphics and lots of useful information are all requirements that I look for when I want to find a cool screensaver.

5 Awesome High Tech Screensavers

If you read Shannon’s review of some cool ways to update Twitter, then you will know about Twittearth. Well, since she covered it, the name of the application changed to GeocodEarth and redesigned to cover much more than just Tweets. The service is now built upon Geo RSS posts from around the world. These include Flickr images, Tweets, and much more. But the coolest part of the service is that it’s now also a screensaver that looks awesome, and it’s functional.

awesome screensavers

You can rotate the planet, click on specific types of updates, or just hover your mouse over the icon on the globe and see a snippet of the update. It’s one of the coolest visualizations of Geo RSS updates yet.

The next cool looking screensaver that I came across was actually one provided by the National Science Foundation which displays stunning images of supercomputer-generated advanced computer simulations. These are scientific models of various phenomenon or scientific questions which took a lot of computer power and a long time to generate.

free screensavers

Further in my search for screensavers that have that cool sci-fi appeal, I came across an interesting UK site that offers a whole library of screensavers. While the setup process asks for contact information, it appears that at least the two screensavers listed below are available for free. My favorite by far is Mechanical Clock 3D.

You can set it up to use whatever graphics quality you want, as well as a number of other factors. I highly recommend cutting the sound back to 50 percent, as the ticking of this mechanical clock can get pretty annoying if it’s too loud.

free screensavers online

Once you enable this screensaver, I’m confident you’ll like it as much as I did. In fact, this is now my screensaver of choice at the moment. When its running, you can see all internal moving parts of the “mechanical clock” as well as the ticking second hand and a clock strike every hour (unless you disable it).

free screensavers online

Another amazing screensaver from this same website is called Earth 3D. According to the description, the screensaver provides a window to what the astronauts see and experience when they orbit the earth in the space shuttle. The view is of earth, exactly how astronauts would see it.

free screensavers online

You can either allow the screensaver to play music in the background and orbit freely, you can use your mouse to take control of the flow and turn the orbit in whatever direction you like so that you can get a good view of everything.

The final screensaver that I wanted to mention is actually one that was covered earlier by Varun.  It is also mentioned throughout the web by numerous writers – and for very good reason. This is by far the best screensaver I’ve ever seen. The planet rotates in an intuitive way that goes along with the latest blog posts from around the world (that are part of the Twingly network).

awesome screensavers

I love the look and feel of this awesome screensaver – it’s like sitting in one of those cool military command posts that you see in the movies, where there are always big screens constantly updated with new data, charts and moving images. With this screensaver, you can feel as though you’re keeping a close eye on the pulse of the web as titles and information flow across your screen.

Have you ever tried any of these screensavers? If so, what did you think of them? Do you know any other cool, high-tech screensavers? Share your insight in the comments section below.

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25 Cool Windows 7 Keyboard Tricks That Will Impress Your Friends

Posted: 30 Sep 2010 10:01 AM PDT

cool keyboard tricksAnyone working professionally with a computer has their hands on the keyboard most of the time. Reaching for the mouse can be an annoying disturbance and personally I often turn over my mouse in such situations. An easy solution is to simply keep the hands on the keyboard and complete as many tasks as possible with keyboard shortcuts only.

Apart from making you work more efficiently and faster, you can also impress your friends or colleagues by being able to work without a mouse. This article describes some cool Windows 7 keyboard tricks to get you started. In the end you might never want to take your hands off the keyboard again.

For your convenience, more keyboard shortcut resources are attached at the bottom.

Note that some of these shortcuts will only work if Windows Aero is enabled. If Aero effects are disabled on your computer, it might not be powerful enough to support resource intensive graphical features. The visual effects may also have been disabled to increase overall performance. If you wish to enable Aero nevertheless, have a look at my recent article explaining How To Enable and Troubleshoot Aero Effects in Windows 7.

Aero Shortcuts

  • [Windows] + [Spacebar] (Aero Peek)
    Make all open windows transparent to view gadgets and icons on desktop.

cool keyboard tricks

  • [Windows] + [D] (Aero Peek)
    Show or hide the desktop.
  • [Windows] + [Home] (Aero Shake)
    Minimize all but selected window. Reverse by clicking the key combination again.
  • [Windows] + left arrow OR [Windows] + right arrow (Aero Snap)
    Dock selected window to the left or right half of your screen.
  • [Windows] + up arrow OR [Windows] + down arrow (Aero Snap)
    Maximized and restores the selected window.
  • [Windows] + [SHIFT] + up arrow OR [Windows] + [SHIFT] + down arrow (Aero Snap)
    Maximizes and restores selected window in vertical dimension only.
  • [Windows] + [Tab] (Aero Flip)
    Launch 3D representation of open windows and click [Tab] key again to flip through them.

Windows & Taskbar

  • [Alt] + [Ctrl] + [Tag] + left/right/up/down arrow
    Flip window.
  • [Alt] + [Tab]
    Cycle through open windows.

keyboard tricks

  • [Windows] + [T] OR [Windows] + [SHIFT] + [T]
    Move focus to front or back of taskbar. Press [T] again while holding the [Windows] key to cycle through items in the taskbar from left to right or, with [SHIFT] button held too, from right to left.
  • [Windows] + [B]
    Puts focus on the ’show hidden icons’ button on the system tray.
  • [Windows] + [1] THROUGH [Windows] + [9]
    Launch first through ninth icon on taskbar, including items pinned to taskbar.
  • [Windows] + [SHIFT] + [1] THROUGH [Windows] + [SHIFT] + [9]
    Starts new instance of respective taskbar icon.
  • [Windows] + [Ctrl] + [1] THROUGH [Windows] + [Ctrl] + [9]
    Cycles through multiple instances of the respective icon.
  • [Windows] + [Alt] + [1] THROUGH [Windows] + [Alt] + [9]
    Opens jump list for respective icon.

fun keyboard tricks

Multiple Monitors

  • [Windows] + [SHIFT] + right arrow OR [Windows] + [SHIFT] + left arrow
    Move selected window from one monitor to another. They will remain in the same relative location.
  • [Windows] + [P]
    Select presentation display mode.

fun keyboard tricks


  • [Windows] + [+] OR [Windows] + [-]
    Activates Windows Magnifier to zoom in or out of screen.
  • [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [D]
    Switch to docked mode.
  • [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [L]
    Switch to lense mode.

fun keyboard tricks

  • [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [F]
    Switch from docked or lens mode back to full screen mode.
  • [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [I]
    Invert colors.
  • [Windows] + [Esc]
    Exist magnifier views.


  • [Windows] + [G]
    Cycle through desktop gadgets.
  • [Windows] + [X]
    Launches Windows Mobility Center. Especially useful if you’re working on a laptop.

cool keyboard tricks

Can’t get enough? The following articles describe lots of additional keyboard tricks and shortcuts to make use of:

Which cool keyboard tricks did we miss and which ones are your favorites?

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How To Use Dropbox As Free Unblockable Image Storage For Your Blog

Posted: 30 Sep 2010 09:31 AM PDT

free image storageOne of my friends – a photography enthusiast – asked for my help. She set up her Wordpress blog with one of the free services out there and she can blog just fine from her home and office.  However, her problem is that she can’t use free image storage services to store her images because her office blocks all access to those services. She also hesitated to upload her photos directly to her blog because of the storage limitation from her blog service.

While she does have a plan to move the blog to a more reliable paid host in the future, she wants to be able to store her blog photos somewhere until the moving time comes (or maybe forever).

Until that time comes, a possible solution would be to host all of the images on Dropbox and link to them from there.

The Friendly Neighborhood Dropbox

Aside from the storage limitation from the blog provider, I can think of two other good reasons why anybody would want to store their blog images not on their own blog server.

The first one is to avoid bigger problems in the future when you have to move your blog because, based on my own experience, moving databases of only text is less problematic than moving databases of multimedia files.  The second reason is to cut expenses on storage space and traffic bandwidth, as images take up more space and cost more bandwidth each time a visitor loads the page.

To solve my friend’s problem, the place where you can store your images outside of image hosting services (such as Flickr or Picasa Web Album), is Dropbox and its “Public” folder feature. The main reason is that a personal public folder will never be blocked by any computer admin in any office (unless those admins have nothing better to do).

The steps are really simple:

  • First you create a folder inside your Dropbox Public folder where you will put images for your blogs. You can give it any name, something like “Blog Images”. If you have more than one blog, you can also create several specific folders; one for each blog.

free image storage

  • Next, after you put your images, that you want to use in your blog, inside that folder, right click on one image and choose the “Dropbox – Copy Public Link” option from the pop up menu.

image storage

Using Images In Your Blog

The next step is to use those images in your blog. I will use Wordpress as an example, but the method can also be used on other types of major blog platforms. Basically we are linking external images to be used in our blog post.

  • After creating a new post, click the “Add Image” button located just below the title field.

image storage

  • Choose the “From URL” tab in the pop-up window, and paste the Dropbox public link in the “Image URL” field. A green checkmark will appear telling you that the link is valid. Give the image a title, and customize other settings if you want to. Click “Insert” to complete the process.

image storage
width=”580″ height=”480″ />

  • Repeat the process for other images, and after you have finished writing the post, click the “Publish” button.

02c Publish the post.jpg

  • If everything goes well, the post with the “Dropboxed” images will appear in your blog without any problem.

free image storage

One Other Cool Trick To Try

There are other advantages to using Dropbox to store your blog images, such as the ability to update image collections with desktop convenience from multiple computers, and the ability to use images from others (provided that your friends share the URLs with you).

Here’s one must-try trick that I found: you can replace a photo in your Public folder with another photo (both must use the same name), and the image in the blog with that name will automatically be updated with the new one. So you could change images in your blog as often as you like, without the hassle of deleting and re-uploading. Pretty cool, huh?

The only thing that you have to keep in mind about using this method is to be careful not to accidentally delete your Public folder’s content. Even though the items could be recovered easily, you’ll end up with more unnecessary work.

What do you think of this idea? Will you use your Dropbox to store your blog images? Share your thoughts using the comments below.

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What To Look For When Buying A Computer Case [Technology Explained]

Posted: 30 Sep 2010 08:31 AM PDT

computer casesMost computer users don’t spend much time thinking about their computer cases. That’s not the cool part – it’s the awesome hardware inside that most geeks dream about.

Even so, your computer’s case is very important. If you’re thinking about building a new computer, or upgrading an old one, your first thought shouldn’t be “what’s the fastest processor I can afford?” Instead, it should be “what kind of case do I need?”

The case you buy will determine the size of your computer, the hardware you can stuff inside, the cooling you can provide to components and the noise your computer will generate.

So with that said, let’s geek out about computer cases for a while.

My! What A Big Case You Have!

computer casesObviously, the size of the case you use determines how large your computer will end up being. That’s obvious, right? Yet I’ve sometimes had friends buy a case that was entirely wrong for their needs simply based on size. Get friendly with a tape measure! There are no real size standards in the case business (at least not in regards to external dimensions), and “eye-balling” it won’t do.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about something a bit more subtle – the inside dimensions of a case. Although cases with larger external dimensions do tend to have more space inside as well, the way that space is configured will have a big impact on the type of system you can build.

Here are some questions you should ask about the internal space of any computer case.

  • What motherboard formats are supported? (Mini-ITX, MicroATX and ATX are the most common).
  • Does it have enough internal and external drive mounts to hold all of my stuff?
  • If you have a solid state drive, does the case have a mount that will accept it?
  • How many fans can be installed, and how large are they?
  • Will my video card fit, and is there room for future upgrades?
  • Will my CPU cooler fit, and is there room for future upgrades?

The first four questions are easy to answer based off the publicly available specifications. The latter two however are tricky because these measurements are usually not addressed in publicly available specifications. I suggest that you delve into the reviews of the case online and take a look at user reviews. You may not find exact measurements but you will probably find someone who installed (or tried to install) the same hardware you have.

Keep Your Cool

custom computer caseHaving proper cooling for your computer is essential. Note however that when I say “proper” I don’t mean building a system that polar bear cubs could hibernate in (as cute as that would be).

Ask yourself – what kind of system will be in this case? If you’re constructing a family computer that will be used to watch YouTube videos and send e-mails you don’t need much. One intake fan and one exhaust fan will be fine.

On the other hand, you will need much better cooling if you’re going to use your system to play recently released games or generate 3D renderings for the next Pixar film. If this sounds more like you, I suggest taking look at cases that offer an additional intake fan and, if possible, a second exhaust fan either on the rear of the case or the top.

If you’re not sure what category you fall into, here’s my suggestion. If your video card is more than six inches long, consider yourself in the second group. If you have a quad core processor and you absolutely need it to get stuff done, consider yourself in the second group.

Also keep in mind that bigger cases usually cool better than smaller ones. Having your hard drives getting friendly with your video card and your optical drive getting friendly with your CPU cooler will increase temperatures.

Agh! That Noise!

computer casesOne of the greatest side-effects of increased hardware efficiency has been a general reduction in the overall noise. Remember those huge room-size computers in the 50’s and 60’s? Man, those things made a racket! Alright, I wasn’t born then – but I did watch a show about them on the History Channel.

The point is that many personal computers are quiet these days. You may, as a result, be unhappy if you end up with a case that telegraphs your computer’s every action straight to your skull. Thankfully, there are some things you can look for in a case that will help reduce noise.

Let’s talk fans first. Fans spin, and as they spin they make noise. More fans will generally make more noise than few fans. Smaller fans also generally make more noise than larger fans (this is counter-intutive for some – the reason for this is that a small fan has to spin faster than a large fan to generate the same airflow). If you care about noise you should look for cases with only a couple of large fans.

Also be on the lookout for features that reduce hard drive noise. Mechanical drives can make a lot of rackets, particularly if they’re screwed directly to the case frame. Look for a case that has rubber hard drive mounts. Also look for cases that provide sound insulation. These are relatively rare, and they’re usually not the best for cooling, but they’re fine for family PCs and they will make your computer whisper quiet.


Computer cases may not be cool, but they’re kind of a big deal. Even the least geeky among us can understand why its bad to have a computer that sounds like a jet engine and overheats when you try to play a game. These tips should help steer you towards the right case, but if you have any other tips that you feel are important please let us know in the comments.

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