Saturday, October 23, 2010 “The 5 Best Questions From You [MakeUseOf Answers]” plus 9 more “The 5 Best Questions From You [MakeUseOf Answers]” plus 9 more

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The 5 Best Questions From You [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 23 Oct 2010 12:31 AM PDT

Do you realize that you can earn money with MakeUseOf Answers?

All you need to do is answer some questions. Like Josh Fox, who is this week’s winner of our  Best Answer of the Week contest. He earns $50 for providing the best solution to this question: “How can I watch .avi movies on a DVD Player?” Thank you so much for your contribution – congratulations Josh!

Would you like to win? Every smart answer is entered into the contest and can win, provided you use your email address, Disqus, Facebook, or Yahoo account to log in. Maybe the answers to our Best Questions of the week will inspire you:

  1. How can I make Google searches in English per default from a foreign country?
  2. How can I stream my own radio station online?
  3. Is there a Linux distribution that comes with standard software for Computer Science students?
  4. How can I search parent directories for mp3 files via Google?
  5. How can I change the Windows logon password?

MakeUseOf Answers can make your mind go round. Read, Learn, and Share by browsing Latest Questions, Most Popular Questions, or Unanswered Questions. For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

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Cool Websites and Tools [October 22nd]

Posted: 22 Oct 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. You can make use of them without spending a dime. If you want to have similar cool websites round-ups delivered to your email daily email subscribe here.

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Drippler – If you own a number of gadgets and have a hard time tracking the version upgrades and all the latest news relevant to your gadgets, then Drippler is a site you could make use of. Drippler is focused on bringing you the latest news, updates and even rumors that surround your gadget. Read more: Drippler: Get Latest Updates & News On Gadgets You Own


FreeMoviesTheatre – It is usual for online movie watchers to jump from one video site to another in search of good quality movies that are not split in gazallion parts. Some sites like Megavideo do host complete movies but its usually a pain to search for them. FreeMoviesTheatre is an excellent resource for watching movies online without all the hassle.. Read more: FreeMoviesTheatre: Watch & Download Complete Movies For Free



SkiTrackApp – Amongst hundreds of to-do list apps available on the web, SkiTrackApp stands out because of its collaborative focus. The app lets you add as many members as you want to your team and assign each task to a different member. At any point in time you can re-assign the task, mark it as complete, post comments to it and even attach files to it. Read more: SkiTrackApp: Simple Team-Based To Do List



Rentabilities – If you are about to rent something, it would be advisable to get the local rent rates from multiple nearby vendors. While visiting each vendor might take up a lot of your time, you could simply use Rentabilities. Rentabilities is a free to use website that helps you get rent quotations from nearby vendors. Read more: Rentabilities: Renting Things Made Easy



Syncfriend – Most cellphone manufacturers have their own software that lets you back up contacts from one phone and copy it to another phone, if you needed to. But this phonebook backing up and copying feature only works across phones of the same manufacturer. To back up phone contacts from any phone and later transfer them to any other phone, check out Syncfriend. Read more: Syncfriend: Back Up Phone Contacts & Calendar Dates


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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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Learn to Automate Your Mac with AppleScript [Part 1: Introduction]

Posted: 22 Oct 2010 04:30 PM PDT

applescript tutorialMost computer users know how tedious it can be to perform menial and repetitive tasks like launching applications and web pages, inserting data into text fields, resizing image files, and typing out frequently used words.

Many of us perform larger and more intensive tasks involving two or more applications and several clicks or keyboard shortcuts. That's why applications like Apple's classic AppleScript application has been a favorite among many users because of it's almost English-like programming language.

AppleScript is an automation program which is not as user-friendly as Apple's drag-and-drop Automator program but much faster and allows to build complex automations.

AppleScript comes installed by default in all version Apple's OS X software, and there are many resourceful websites which can help you learn how to use the program.

If you're new to AppleScript and are curious about it, let's take a few minutes to see what it has to offer.

AppleScript In Action

AppleScript can be found the Utilities folder, which is in the Applications folder of your Mac. Launch AppleScript so that you can get started with some pre-installed scripts. (By the way, you might want to drag AppleScript to your dock so that you can easily access it during and after this tutorial. You can also just drag the application out of the utilities folder and put it in the list of other applications.)

applescript tutorial

After you launch AppleScript, open its Preferences and click the "Show Script menu in menu bar" and "Show Computer scripts" boxes.

In your Finder's menu bar, you'll see the AppleScript folder icon. Click on it and then select Default Actions > Info Scripts folder. (Notice also that there's a menu item titled, Open AppleScript Editor, which is another way you can launch AppleScript.)

how to applescript

Now click on the Current Date & Time script, and it should display that information with an option to copy that data to your clipboard. That is just one very small example of what AppleScript can do.

how to applescript

Now go back and click on the Info Scripts folder again, but this time just click and release on the folder itself so that it will open.

how to applescript

Double-click on the Current Date & Time script to open it in the AppleScript Editor. Underneath some copyright language, you'll see the lines of script that caused the data to display. As you read each line of the script, you'll see that many parts of it read almost like a regular English sentence (e.g., "display dialog the date_stamp buttons {"Clipboard", "OK") default button 2").

For an AppleScript beginner, this code may appear a little too complex, but it's certainly easier to understand than many other programming languages, such as Objective-C.

Opening Web Sites

Okay, let's run an easier script. Go back to the AppleScript folders in the menu bar and select Default Actions > URLs. Open the folder and then click on one of the scripts, such as "Apple Store.scpt".

how to write applescript

Click the Run button in the toolbar and AppleScript should launch the targeted URL.

There's another way to write that script so that it makes a little more sense. Let's learn how. Select File > New in AppleScript and type, or copy and paste, the following lines of script exactly:

tell application “Safari”


open location “”

end tell

If you want, you can add several more URLs using the same line of instructions, (e.g. "open location "") and then save the script as an application in order to launch all your targeted URLs at once.

applescript tutorial

Okay, let's stop for now. In part 2 of this article, I will present some really cool, simple, and practical AppleScripts, and also tell you where you can find more information to start learning the language.

If you use AppleScript, let us know about a few of your favorite automations.



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View Only The Best YouTube Videos with Devour

Posted: 22 Oct 2010 02:30 PM PDT

best youtube videosHave you ever found it difficult to find a quality video on YouTube? There’s a lot to sift through, especially when you consider the fact that around 25 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. In case you’re counting, it would take you approximately 1,700 years to watch those several million videos.

The lovely people from Uncrate–one of my favorite sites on the Internet–have developed a simple solution in an attempt to curb this problem. They’ve created a website called Devour, which features only the best YouTube videos.

In this article, I’ll expand on why you should check out Devour, highlighting some of the key features behind the site. So the next time you find yourself on YouTube looking for good comedy vids, science experiments, educational talks or other high-quality videos to download on your iPhone, you won’t have to wade through a bunch of videos that suck.

What’s the Idea Behind Devour?

best youtube videos

The idea behind Devour is simple, to create a relaxed environment where you can enjoy the highest quality YouTube videos. On their homepage, you will find an array of different videos each day with brief titles giving you an idea of what they are.

In case you were wondering what the criteria was for video selection, here’s a quote from the website describing how they pick their videos:

Using a scientifically technologically artificially intelligently awesomely robotically humanly system (we hand-pick every video on the site), Devour sifts out the best videos and posts the well-curated collection every weekday. Fewer cute kittens, fewer skateboarding nutshots, fewer tween heart throbs, and lots more awesome.

As I’ll point out below, Devour’s core features are meant to keep the user in mind.

What Features Does Devour Offer?

the best rated youtube videos

The first thing I should tell you is that the majority of the videos on Devour are in HD. When you click on a video to watch it, you are taken to a page where the video takes up almost the entire screen. Already this is a great way to view YouTube videos, don’t you think?

the best rated youtube videos

Below the video you’ll find a very short description, accompanied by buttons to share the video on Twitter and Facebook. Also, every video on the site plays on the iPhone and iPad, so if you want to catch awesome videos on the go, you can do that as well.

There are no video comments on the site. This is done on purpose so you can “enjoy the peace and quiet of not having to wade through all the brilliant critiques from this great nation’s junior high masterminds.

Next to the sharing buttons on each video’s page, there is a Comment on this video button, which directs you back to YouTube.

best youtube videos

At the top of the page you’ll find a few options, one of which is a Customize link. This simply lets you change the background of the site to suit your viewing needs. You can keep the site background white, black or put up a brick wall or paneling. The ability to change the grid layout of the page to display videos differently is “coming soon”.

Devour also has channels you can pick from if you have specific types of videos you’re more interested in viewing. Channels include comedy, tech, travel, games, food, music, movies, commercials and more.


In conclusion, Devour is an easy to use, minimalistic site that I think is a great place to find high quality video content.

If you don’t feel like checking the site every day to catch all the latest video additions, you can subscribe to get them delivered to your inbox every morning.

What do you think of Devour? Will you be checking it out or are you going to stick to YouTube’s search?

Image Credit: Sergej Khakimullin

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Hot Tech Deals [Oct 22nd]

Posted: 22 Oct 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. Batman: Arkham Asylum Game of the Year Edition PC Game $13.60

  2. Palm Cell Phone FREE w/ Contract + Touchstone Charger (Sprint, Verizon, AT&T)

  3. Dell PowerEdge T110 Intel Core i3-550 3.2GHz Server Desktop $329 Free Ship via code 4B9$MGJQXSF?FV

  4. ASUS VW246H 24in Widescreen LCD Monitor (2ms, HDMI) $189.99 Free Shipping via code EMCZYNZ72

  5. EVGA Geforce GTX470 Fermi 1280MB HDCP PCI-E Video Card + Mafia 2 Game $225.99AR

  6. Linksys WRT54GS2-RM Wireless-G Router w/4 Ports (Refurb) $19.97

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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10+ Awesome Geeky Halloween DIY House Decoration Ideas

Posted: 22 Oct 2010 12:30 PM PDT

halloween decorationsWho doesn’t love a great Halloween display? Halloween house decorations can be great fun and if your house can creep out the kids with something different each year, you’ll become a local legend in no time. Buying Halloween gadgets and props could be an option as well, but it is costly and comes with a risk of being the same as the neighbours. If you’ve got some geek smarts, why not use them to make something unique?

Do you know a little about engineering? Electronics? Programming? Bad sci-fi horror movies? Mix all of that up and you have a recipe for awesome geek decorations. Here’s a selection of Halloween house decorations which have been designed by geeks with a little too much spare time on their hands. Go science!

Light Displays

Use your knowledge of wire and switches to build complicated lighting arrangements. Control them manually, program your light sequence or work some sensors in to add a little excitement.

Sound Displays

Put on a little quiet creepy music to set the scene, then add sound effects to disturb and terrify your guests. Try your favourite horror movies for sound effect ideas. For music, there’s plenty of creepy organ music on YouTube. Why not make a playlist?

Remote Control

If you have a view of your yard, you can watch where people are and use a remote control to scare them at just the right time. Hours of fun!

halloween decorations

Sensor Control

Over and above the basic electrical skills comes working with sensors. Light sensors, audio sensors and touch sensors can all be used to make your Halloween decorations just a little bit more spooky.

Programmed Sequences

Use some basic programming skill to control the overall sequence of events. Make some things constant, others every two minutes, while the occasional event only happens directly after something else (but only every fifth time). If this is done as well as the remote-controlled and sensor-controlled events it will be even better!

halloween decoration ideas

Automatic Movement

Hydraulics, magnets and propulsion are all easy ways to get things to move by themselves. Try making something that jumps up, squirts water, squirms or shoots across the yard.
halloween decoration ideas

Add Character

Look to bad horror flicks, B-grade sci-fi and creepy books to come up with characters and scenes which will scare the pants off your audience. Want something creepy spoken? Record some Poe.

halloween decoration ideas


Don’t forget your dry ice and liquid light!

Scary Paths

Make a maze or a drawbridge so that your guests have to walk by your scariest items. You know you’ve done really well when only a few kids are brave enough to make it to your door.

halloween decoration ideas

Geek Characters

If scary stuff isn’t your thing, you can just avoid the cliché Halloween decorations and turn your house into a geek’s paradise. The kids will suddenly find Optimus Prime a whole lot scarier.

Geek Pumpkins

If you just want to add a geek twist to a traditional Halloween decoration, have a go at some geeky carved pumpkins like cylons. The possibilities are endless.

halloween decoration ideas

Mix it up

For extra geek points, mix it all up. If you add one new item per year you’ll get there eventually. Make a partially sensor-controlled and part remote-controlled audio-visual display with spooky lighting, creepy music and sounds, things that move by themselves using hydraulics and magnets, mazes and the works. Feature scenes and characters from the most creepy books or movies you have ever found. Voila! The neighbourhood kids will be torn between the need to take a look and the need to be elsewhere very quickly.

halloween decorations

You might also like these DIY projects for Halloween including recipes and costumes. Hope you enjoy creating something special this Halloween using these ideas for inspiration. Let us know what you come up with!

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10 Websites To Learn A Word A Day & Enrich Your Vocabulary

Posted: 22 Oct 2010 11:30 AM PDT

a word a dayA few days back, we had taken a look at a few resources which helped us with slangs and day to day jargons. Street language sounds hep and helps us to keep up with the times. But it also limits our vocabulary. There's a word in the English language for every instance, provided we care enough to adopt and use it.

There are only two ways to learn new words – read and use.

Think about it, a word a day translates to nearly 300 words over the course of a year; and many more over a lifetime. An expanded vocabulary not only helps to ace tests like SAT/ACT, but also opens up the language that we speak every day. Read a great speech and see how it moves you. Its oration backed up by a great vocabulary.

So, let's take it a word at a time and seek the help of these ten websites that teach us new words in different ways.


a word a day is one of the better examples of a stripped down, plain Jane website that hides a lot of usefulness behind its looks. If you have to use just one of the services listed, opt for the daily newsletter. A word a day delivered to your inbox. The screenshot shows how a single word is covered in all its shades.


random word a day

A single word each day is illustrated with a cartoon. If you have a visual sort of memory, you won't have any trouble picking up quite a few words over the course of a month, and learning to use them as they are meant to be. The blog is expecting a rebirth in a new avatar soon.


random word a day

From cartoons to video, visual learning is the new mantra and it seems it's no different for dictionaries. Wordia functions like a normal dictionary but instead of text definitions, you get videos explaining the usage of a word. The video explanations seem more thorough and easier to grasp than the textual definition. Everyday you can test yourself with Vocability, the Wordia game.

Vocab Vitamins

random word a day

The vocabulary learning tool gives you doses of 'verbal supplements' daily in the mail and also on the site. Word of the day is also arranged around a central theme. For instance, the word 'doldrums' belongs to the week's theme – 'How's the weather?

Save The Words

learn a new word each day is a beautifully constructed website that endeavors to focus attention on the lesser known words in the English language. The Oxford Dictionaries site seeks to save these words from going into a state of non-usage and non-existence. The surefire way to do that is to 'adopt' a word and use it in daily conversation. The site helps out by sending out word-a-day mailers to those of us who are passionate about words and their meanings. (See Directory mention)


learn a new word each day covers meanings through example sentences to audio pronunciations. Like a lot of online word tools, it aims to go beyond the scope of traditional dictionaries by taking a 360 degree look at a word, the word-of-the-day page and mailer is a shortcut to that process. Wordnik makes it easier to grasp new words by also providing instances of related words and images to describe context.


learn a new word each day takes a competitive approach to making you learn a word every day. Each day, a word is displayed with its meaning on the site and you have to write a sentence using the word. The sentence with the most user votes is the winner. You can also see the creative Zen of the previous winners that's also on display in the archives. (See Directory mention)

WordThink does not believe in learning new words just its own sake. It bunks the more complicated words and goes in for words that you might use in your daily conversations. You might not find a word like eleemosynary here, but the site might show you benevolent instead. WordThink sources the words from media and news.


If you are hell bent on acing college tests like ACT, SAT, GMAT, GRE etc, try out Vocabsushi and its bite-size learning method. You can test where you stand with a 20-question Vocabsushi demo quiz right on the front page. Pick a test from the dropdown and have a go at it. If you don't fare that well, it's time to dive into Vocabsushi more seriously. Vocabsushi uses thousands of sentences from contemporary news sources that show how a word is used in the real world. The actual words are taken from standardized tests that students have to take. Vocabsushi is a superbly designed site with tools like MP3 clips (for pronunciations), word games, offline quizzes in PDF, etc. (See Directory mention)

BBC Learning English

a word a day

BBC's world service for the English language doesn't have a word-a-day mailer or other downloads. But if offers a host of tools that you can use to enrich your vocabulary. Word in the News takes a real news report and highlights specific words with meanings which you can pick up. News English Extra looks at how a word is used in the context of daily news. Then you can Keep your English up to date that explains a word in broad detail. Also, check out the sections like Vocabulary on Football, Tennis, Science etc. Some sections are also covered with downloadable podcasts.

There's no end to learning new words and adding them to your vocabulary. Words aren't meant to make you a dictionary on two legs, but to in fact make your conversations simpler. Do you agree?

Image: Shutterstock

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The Top 3 Security Apps To Protect Your Mac

Posted: 22 Oct 2010 10:30 AM PDT

mac security softwareMacs are often lauded as the “Fort Knox” of personal computers. They’re safe and largely unbreakable; viruses won’t get far. Sadly, only part of that is true.

Compared to Windows, Mac operating systems are indeed safer and Mac viruses are a rarity. But that does not mean Mac is impenetrable. The main reason that there are so far fewer viruses for Mac is the still dominating market share of Windows computers. Security through obscurity, it’s often dubbed; although the gap is steadily closing.

This creates a false sense of security and causes people to be negligent in how they approach the internet. Far too many people are using a Mac with confidential files and no software security whatsoever. In the line-up below, you’ll see the top security applications for Apple computers.

iAntiVirus – Virus Scanner

A virus scanner takes a look at all your files and searches for properties that are known to belong to viruses. This is one of the best ways to keep your computer protected. In July 2010, Matt Smith wrote a more extensive review of iAntiVirus, check it out.

mac security software

iAntivirus is exactly what you’d expect from the screenshot above; excruciatingly simple. Once you’re past the installation and have fired up the application, you’ll be able to select from two options. Scan my Mac will make sure you’ve got no viruses between the files already residing on your computer. The button below, Protect my Mac, turns the continuous iAntiVirus surveillance on or off.

SecureFiles – File Encryption

Mac natively allows you to create password-protected disk images, but it’s a slow, tedious job and surprisingly many software alternatives have risen to the challenge. SecureFiles performs those tasks and, contrary to most alternatives, is entirely free.

mac security software

To create a secure volume, a virtual vault so to speak, enter the name and filesize. After specifying a password, the volume will appear in the specified location. You can use this volume like a regular folder, by dragging in the files and folders you want to protect. Once you’re finished, you can use SecureFiles to compact the volume with a 128-bit AES encryption.

NoobProof – Firewall Configuration

If you’re not satisfied with the user GUI Mac OS X has to offer for its native firewall, you should give NoobProof a spin. Like the name implies, it’s a largely foolproof application that allows you to create additional rule sets for the firewall.

mac security

By and large, you can use NoobProof to handle additional services on a port-specific level. If you were looking for a disconcerting amount of control, try WaterRoof. It was also developed by Hanynet, with more advanced functionality, but also far more difficult to use.

Did we miss any other great Mac security tools? Tell us why you would add them in the comments below!

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Facebook Causes – Raise Funds and Support What Matters

Posted: 22 Oct 2010 09:30 AM PDT

facebook causesEveryone has something important that they believe in – whether it’s a battle against cancer, a strong belief in human rights, promoting peace and opposing war, or a passionate sense of patriotism and supporting the military. Regardless of your stance or position, there are few more efficient places to get the word out such as Facebook.

We’ve covered a lot about Facebook here at MakeUseOf, such as the nuts and bolts behind the social network, adding Facebook widgets to your own site, or customizing your Facebook profile.  If you haven’t discovered the world of Facebook Causes yet, I’d like to take a moment to introduce you to this amazing resource.

If you are the kind of person that really gets active when it comes to fund raising for important causes that you believe in, you’ll absolutely love Facebook Causes. The Causes application lets you integrate the sorts of things that you believe in into your Facebook experience. It’s partly about asking your friends and family to support your beliefs, but it’s also about letting people know how strongly you feel about certain social issues.

Accessing Facebook Causes

If you’ve never used Facebook Causes before, you can quickly add it to your account by conducting a Facebook search for “causes” or heading to this page. Facebook will immediately bring you into the Causes area, and most likely the following window will pop up suggesting a number of causes that Facebook believes you may be interested in. This is based on any of the past causes of your friends that you might have “liked” in the past.

facebook causes

You might choose one or more of these causes to start supporting immediately. When you “like” a cause, it’ll show up on your main wall and everyone will know that you’ve chosen to support that cause.

causes on facebook

Now, supporting existing causes is very cool (and actually donating money to them is even more cool), but if you have a cause that you’d really like to support and you don’t see any others like it, you can launch your own.

How to Start a Cause

Launch your own cause by clicking “Causes” on the menu and select “Start a Cause.”

causes on facebook

Starting your own is a very simple two step process. First you can create the name, mission and stated positions that your cause stands for, and of course include a good picture or logo that represents the core of your beliefs.

causes on facebook

Most importantly, you can make your cause produce a very real financial impact for any organization that you believe in. You’ll be shocked when you start searching through the organization list at Facebook. There are tens of thousands of organizations that are now signed up at Facebook.  When your friends and family donate to your cause – those funds go directly to support the organization that you feel would make the most positive impact.

can you have causes on your facebook pages

To make it easier to find organizations that you believe in supporting with your cause, just select a category or sub-category that will focus your search. Once you have your cause active, this is what it will look like.

can you have causes on your facebook pages

It looks a lot like a Fan Page, except there are big green buttons on the right side where new people that come across your cause can either join or donate to your cause. Facebook Causes also includes a whole variety of promotional tools that will help you distribute your cause page to family and friends through Facebook and through email as well.

can you have causes on your facebook pages

Facebook Causes also provides you with some very cool tools as part of your cause, such as the ability to have your members sign petitions to support certain political or social movements. Petitions can have a very real impact in the real world – for example, on May 8, 2010, Betty White hosted a Mother’s Day episode of Saturday Night Live, thanks to hundreds of thousands of people signing a Facebook petition supporting her as an SNL host!

Making a Wish

Another cool part of Facebook Causes is the ability to make a “wish” to encourage your friends to support a cause that you believe in. If you click on “Wishes” in the Causes menu, you can make a wish that will show up on your Facebook wall. If you’ve had a birthday yet, then you’ve probably seen the automatic Facebook birthday wish that pops up. Creating a wish is really easy.

All you have to do is choose a cause that you’d like to encourage your family and friends to support, and initiate your fund-raising “wish” by writing up a great paragraph or two that describes why you feel so strongly about the cause. For a little bit of additional encouragement, set financial goals so people can see how much you are “wishing” for.

Finally, you can see your causes, wishes and fund-raising efforts by clicking on the Causes tab from your Facebook wall.

facebook causes

Your Causes profile is like a central command center where you can continue promoting your various causes, make additional wishes, or where you can check on the current fund raising status of the different causes you believe in.

Do you use Facebook Causes for your organization or fund raising efforts? Has it been successful for you? Share your own experiences and advice in the comments section below.

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Sync Files and Access Your PC Remotely with Windows Live Mesh 2011

Posted: 22 Oct 2010 08:30 AM PDT

Formerly in Beta, Live Mesh has now been released to the world under the name of Windows Live Mesh 2011 as part of Microsoft’s ongoing attempt to prove to the world that it can produce useful software application that aren’t overly complicated or part of the Office suite.

There is a lot of functionality in Windows Live Mesh 2011, and all of it attempts to resolve the problem that is often faced by people who own more than one computer – keeping information between the two PCs coordinated. Let’s take a closer look at why Live Mesh 2011 is handy.

Keeping Things in Sync

remote pc access

Microsoft’s previous sync program was called Live Sync, and while short-lived it was very useful. Although not as easy to use as a service such as DropBox, Live Sync let you sync a virtually unlimited amount of data between multiple computers.

Now Live Sync is going away, however, because Windows Live Mesh 2011 is taking over. The actual sync functionality is largely the same as before, but the interface is vastly improved compared to Live Sync. All you have to do to sync a folder with Live Mesh 2011 is click on the “Sync a folder” text near the top of the window on the Status tab.You can then browse your computer for the folder that you’d like to sync. Once you’ve chosen the folder, Live Mesh 2011 will ask you what devices you’d like to sync with. All the PCs that on which you have Live Mesh installed will appear as options, and you’ll also be given the chance to sync the folder with Microsoft SkyDrive.

remote pc access

In addition to syncing file folders, Windows Live Mesh 2011 has added the ability to sync Internet Explorer favorites and Microsoft Office information (such as templates, any personal information you’ve added to auto-fill certain documents, etc). Both of these features are also very easy to use – in fact, all you need to do is click on each option. After the program takes a few seconds to think about what you’ve done you’ll be informed that syncing is turned on. And that’s it – now your Internet Explorer favorites and Office preferences are shared between any computers on which you’ve installed Windows Live Mesh 2011.

Access Your Computers Remotely

A new feature added to Windows Live Mesh 2011 is the ability to access any computer you’ve installed the program on remotely from any other computer you own. Remote access has been possible in Windows previously under the name Remote Desktop Services or Terminal Services, but is only enabled in certain versions of Windows and is targeted towards IT professionals and computer enthusiasts rather than the average user.

access pc anywhere

To access a computer remotely you only need to click the Connect to this computer text. Windows Live Mesh 2011 will establish a connection to the other computer, which will take a few moments. You can only establish connections to computers that have a password protected Windows account set up.

access pc anywhere

Windows Live Mesh 2011 does not have to be actively running on the computer you wish to remotely access, but the program must be installed and associated with your Windows Live account. If someone is already logged in to the PC you’re trying to access remotely they will be informed of your access attempt and given the chance to log out or deny your request for a remote connection.

remote pc access

The remote connection controls are fairly basic. At the top of the remote access window is a control bar, and there are just a few options available. The most important is probably the icon that looks like a set of keys. Clicking this will activate Ctrl-Alt-Delete on the remote PC. Next to that is a magnifying glass which makes it possible to slightly alter how the remote desktop is displayed, and the final icon to the right lets you maximum the remote access window.


I personally used Windows Live Sync to keep several of my folders synced between my PCs and I was happy with the program overall. Windows Live Mesh 2011, however, is a dramatic improvement. It is much easier to use, contains some useful additional features, adds the ability to access your PCs remotely – a huge boon! Maybe Microsoft can make some decent software after all.

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