Monday, October 11, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [October 10th]” plus 6 more “Cool Websites and Tools [October 10th]” plus 6 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [October 10th]

Posted: 10 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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Clip Converter – Transferring an online video to your portable media device can be quite a time consuming process. First you need software to download video from the streaming website; next you need software to convert the video into a format compatible with your portable media player. But thanks to "Clip Converter" the process has been made much easier. Read more: ClipConverter: Download YouTube Videos In Different Formats


Wacchen – Are there times when you can't stop watching videos from YouTube and other video sharing websites and you get overwhelmed by the number of videos that you are trying to watch? Try Wacchen, a web app that bookmarks online videos that you want to watch so you can watch them later. Read more: Wacchen: Archive Online Videos For Later Viewing



Printable Flyer Templates – Flyers serve a number of purposes. If you are going to advertise an apartment for rent, promote a cause, announce a meeting, let people know about your lost cat, or simply publish a pamphlet, flyers can serve the purpose perfectly. To get a variety of free flyer templates, pay a visit to Printable Flyer Templates. Read more: PrintableFlyerTemplates: Download Free Flyer Templates



ToolsGeek – If you are a web developer, then you might have a number of programs installed simply to carry out text conversions. For instance you might have an installed tool that converts HTML text to rich text and then another tool that converts HTML text to simple text. Fortunately for you, ToolsGeek Text Tools helps with all types of text conversions. Read more: ToolsGeek: Your One Stop To Text Conversion Tools



Knots Guide – Most of us know only how to tie, at most, 4 types of knots. But there are actually many other types of knots that can prove useful in different situations. To keep the information of all these different knots with you all the time, check out Knots Guide. Read more: Knots Guide: Carry Handy Knot Tying Guide in Your Android


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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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Thank You To MakeUseOf Friends!

Posted: 10 Oct 2010 07:31 PM PDT

It's time to say thanks to MakeUseOf’s friends who, once in a while, tip us great story ideas, help out on different projects and in some cases offer their services at discounted prices. Thank you, guys!

ShrinkTheWeb – Website Screenshot Thumbnail Service
Ever wanted to add website screenshots to your website? In my professional opinion ShrinkTheWeb is one of the best services for that, both in terms of performance and pricing. The free account gets you a whopping 250,000 impressions with nearly no delay. See it in action in our daily Cool Websites and Tools series.


Walyou – Cool Gadgets for Geeks
new cool gadgets
Walyou is a fun blog covering all sorts of new cool gadgets and other stuff every geek is likely to find entertaining. Everything from world’s largest Gunny Bears to E-hookah gadgets. Make sure to check them out.

PXLEyes – Photoshop Contests and Tutorials
photoshop contests & tutorials
The place for graphical artists! An awesome community with one common interest: a big passion for computer graphics! There are contests, prizes, tutorials, forums and an active community!


rade | eccles – iPhone Application Development
The perfect iPhone development team, rade | eccles managed to put our iPhone app together in record time yet exude professionalism and dedication every step of the way. Our collaboration wasn’t happenstance. We would make the same decision all over again. Our only recommendation for an iPhone developer – rade | eccles.


TrueKolor – Affordable Quality Logo and Banner Design
If you’re looking for a cheap, original and quality logo or banner, check out TrueKolor. We often contact these guys when we need a logo or a banner made, some of the stuff they did for us listed on their portfolio page. Highly recommended.


Mobify – Making the Web a mobile place
More and more users access websites and read blogs using their mobile phone. Mobify lets you mobilize your blog or website by creating lightweight version of it, which loads much faster and looks great on a mobile screen. MakeUseOf’s mobile site was created by Mobify, and we’re proud of it!


Sendible – The easiest way to market your brand online
We’re strong believers of the service Sendible provides — we use it on a daily basis and it has never failed us! Sendible is an online marketing service to promote, grow and track brands through the use of social media, email and SMS messaging. It has the ability to post to multiple services at once, schedule social network updates and analyse their success. We love it!


Thank you, guys!



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What’s Your Favourite Major Online Retailer? [MakeUseOf Poll]

Posted: 10 Oct 2010 06:30 PM PDT

Last week, our poll question asked if you had heard of our MakeUseOf newsletter. It seems that quite a lot of readers were entirely unaware of the newsletter. If you’re not yet a subscriber, it’s quick to join by entering your email into the field at the top or bottom of every page on MakeUseOf. This will keep you up-to-date with weekly highlights as well as some short cool tips not published on the website.

Quick analysis: Of the 97 votes counted for the poll, 60% of people were already aware of the newsletter; the other 40% were not aware of the newsletter before the poll ran. Full results and this week's poll after the jump.

This week's poll question is: What’s Your Favourite Major Online Retailer?

With the task of Christmas shopping looming ahead, this week we thought we’d ask about your favourite retailers. Specifically, we want to ask about the big retailers who sell a wide variety of goods or easy-to-find gifts. Which is best? We’ll let you choose your top three favourites.

If your favourite retailer isn’t on the list, let us know in the comments — the more ideas for our Christmas shopping the better!



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8 Awesome Webcomics You Don’t Want To Miss

Posted: 10 Oct 2010 03:31 PM PDT

webcomics listA good webcomic doesn't necessarily need out of this world drawings, a story line to follow, or much else other than a fabulously sarcastic sense of humour and bare-bones kind of drawings that leaves the focus entirely on the words.

That's not to say that we don't love the way these artists have chosen to get their message across. But in an attempt to narrow down an impossibly wide topic, we decided to take a look at the more minimalist geek webcomics and choose some of our favourites to share with you.

Geek & Poke

Geek & Poke is an almost daily online comic bringing hilarious commentary on the latest news in the Web 2.0 world. Whether it's a take on the latest Twitter attack, a new gadget that's just hit the market or thoroughly geeky fare about code, Geek & Poke is bound to bring a smile to your face.

webcomics list


Updated three times a week, xkcd, which needs no introduction, describes itself as a “webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language“. And it delivers on all four points and more. The bare-bones drawings put the focus entirely on the wry sense of humour that has become a regular part of many a geek's weekly addictions. Sometimes the comic's humour or idea can sail right over your head, but some fun is also to be had in trying to figure out the meaning behind some of the more cryptic strips.

top webcomics

Dog House Diaries

Also updated three times a week, Dog House Diaries is another webcomic steeped in a wry sense of humour. From the life expectancy of a slinky to the hot towels they bring you on airplanes, Dog House Diaries leaves no stone unturned. Although the guys behind it would have you think it’s all about love, life and sandwiches (or the love life of sandwiches, whichever you prefer).


Published on weekdays, Indexed takes a slightly different approach. At first glance, the site looks like a bunch of index cards from math class. On closer inspection, you'll find that they're an interesting commentary on almost everything under the sun. The site will probably have you thinking, why didn't I think of that first?

top webcomics

Cyanide & Happiness

Cyanide & Happiness is one webcomic where you can go to get a daily fix in geek humour. Every day a new comic is posted, the kind of which you want to print off and hang up on your cork board. They're all that good. Be warned, however, that this webcomic is certainly not for the faint of heart.

top webcomics

Abstruse Goose

Abstruse Goose is a little bit like xkcd, but a lot easier to understand. It has the same sarcastic sense of humour, commenting on human nature, current events and even xkcd itself.

webcomics listing

Geeks In Love

Geeks in Love is a lesser known geeky webcomic all about, you guessed it, a pair of geeks in love. They spend more time staring at their gadgets than at each other, but somehow, it works. Geeks in Love will also strike a chord with Apple fans, what with all the Apple paraphernalia here and there.

webcomics listing

The Oatmeal

The Oatmeal admittedly is a little bit more elaborate in its drawings than the other webcomics listed here, but it is sheer genius. The Oatmeal is probably as mainstream as a geek webcomic could ever get. While it isn't updated half as often as we would like, each new update more than makes up for the long wait. Part grammar nazi, part geek pop culture and totally off the wall, The Oatmeal is a must for any self avowed comic-loving geek.

webcomics list

What are your favourite geek webcomics? Let us know in the comments.

Got Questions? Ask Them Now FREE on MakeUseOf Answers!



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Hot Tech Deals [Oct 10th]

Posted: 10 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. Garmin nuvi 1200 Portable GPS (3.5in, Ultra Thin, Text To Speech) $99.99 Free Shipping

  2. HP G72-B60US Intel Core i3-370M 2.4Ghz 17in Laptop (4GB/500GB/Win7) $599.99AR Free Shipping

  3. Brother HL-4150CDN Color Laser Printer (Ethernet, Duplex) $249.99 Free Shipping

  4. TODAY ONLY Expedia Coupon Code: 10% off on Participating Hotels

  5. Epson Stylus NX625 Wireless Color All-In-One Printer (Print/Copy/Scan) $99.99 Free Shipping

  6. OtterBox Cases Exclusive Coupon – 10% off + Free Shipping (iPhone 4 Defender Case $44.95) via code tb1010y

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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10 Free MP3 Albums To Download [Sound Sunday]

Posted: 10 Oct 2010 12:31 PM PDT

where can I download free mp3sAfter last week’s excursion into the classical sector, Sound Sunday is back to normal this week.

This edition’s eclectic mix sports a healthy spectrum, including various forms of electronic, ambient, pop, and rock music. If your life is an up and down, this selection will be a proper companion.

Enjoy and share as always!

NoiseTrade – Noisemakers Campaign

Genre: compilation, rock, pop

where can I download free mp3sSound Sunday frequently features downloads provided by NoiseTrade. This time NoiseTrade offers a compilation to promote their Noisemakers Campaign. The deal is that you get a 25 track compilation for free and eventually make a donation, so that the makers can go ahead and create NoiseTrade 2.0 in all shiny HTML5.

Download the compilation free from NoiseTrade.

NoiseTrade Homepage.

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix – The Complete Multitrack

Genre: alternative, electronic

where can I download free mp3sWolfgang Amadeus Phoenix have released a free 256KBPS multitrack album, the basis for making your own WAP remixes. Meanwhile the band is touring North and South America throughout October and November this year.

Get The Complete Multitrack from their Homepage. Click on the tracklist to initiate the download.

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix MySpace and Homepage.

Sanxion7 – red01 . ruby

Genre: ambient, dance, electro, techno, trance

where can I download free mp3sSanxion7 is the project of a guy called Tony. His previous three albums were named after the year during which they were released. With red01. ruby he broke the chain.

red01 . ruby is a name your price download from Bandcamp. Check out the Homepage for Sanxion7’s other albums.

Sanxion7 MySpace and Homepage.

Ascend The Hill – Hymns

Genre: christian, rock, pop

where can I download free mp3sI have to admit that I’m not a great fan of religiously-inspired anything, especially when it involves great pathos. What convinced me about this band, however, was their powerful melodies. If you like 3 Doors Down, give Ascend The Hill a spin.

The album is a free download from Come&Live. Click the album cover of Hymns to launch the preview and download window. Then follow the obvious links.

Ascend The Hill MySpace and Facebook.

Ephessus – Death of Shadow

Genre: alternative, progressive, experimental, rock

where can I download free mp3sAlthough the selection of genres above sounds harmless enough, Ephessus initially intended to revolutionize the cliché metal deathcore, hardcore, metalcore and other -core genres. The influence of these musical styles is clearly audible.

Death of Shadow is a name your price download from Bandcamp.

Ephessus MySpace and Blog.

Sign One – Clock Radio

Genre: electronic, indie, experimental, rock, hip hop

where can I download free mp3sSign One is a retired rapper and inspired chef, now living in Florida, USA. As his record label writes “he is the innovator of regressive drum machine programming and the former backbeat of the rap group Jerk Circuit.

The album was made available by the independent record label Endemik Music.

Sign One n/a.

Bordeauxxx – Mother’s Ruin

Genre: indie, pop

where can I download free mp3sFormed in 2009, Bordeauxx released their debut EP Mother’s Ruin in August 2010. Guitarist Charlie Clement apparently was admitted into the band by fellow musician Amy due to his star-quality hair style.

Mother’s Ruin is a free download from Bandcamp.

Bordeauxxx MySpace and Facebook.

Rho – Cedarleaf

Genre: ambient, pop, electronica, electroacoustic, instrumental

where can I download free mp3sRho is the band of Steve Setzepfandt and Josh Wittman. “Cedarleaf is (…) a beautiful mix of electronic rhythms, synth swirls, and guitar driven melodies; a pop landscape with a mountain range of cinematic style.

Download the album from the net label No-Source.

Rho MySpace and Homepage.

Maps & Transit – Songs for divining

Genre: classical, ambient, electronica, experimental, melancholic

where can I download free mp3sMaps & Transit is the band of Kyle Dawkins and Julie Phillips. Their music touches heavily on electronica, psychedelia, and ambient rock.

The album Songs for divining can be downloaded from Bandcamp.

Maps & Transit MySpace and Homepage.

David James Martinez – YouTube Song Covers

Genre: acoustic, pop, rock, covers

where can I download free mp3sYoung Canadian David James Martinez got involved with music as a kid. Playing the piano throughout his adolescence, he picked up the skills necessary to pursue a professional career in the field. His song Second Chance was featured on the sitcom ‘The Best Years’. Now he has released a free cover album.

Download YouTube Song Covers from MegaUpload.

David James Martinez MySpace and Homepage.

You can view past editions of Sound Sunday here. Submissions and suggestions for future editions are always welcome. Please get in touch with me: tina at makeuseof dot com

And now spill the beans! What is your favorite album ever and why?



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Get The Best Retail Software For FREE As A Student

Posted: 10 Oct 2010 10:31 AM PDT

software for studentsBeing a student is often just as challenging for your wallet as it is for your mind. Different colleges require different, advanced toolsets.

Just think about Expression, Visual Studio, Maya and AutoCAD. Every single one of those software suites will cost you a small fortune. If not supplied in volume licensing by your school or college grant, you will be making some serious debts.

Luckily, most of the software giants behind those software suites like to give them to you without charge.  It’s a simple matter of  investing in the future. If you’re a student, read on to find out just what you need to do to get your hands on some very extraordinary software for students.

MSDN Academic Alliance

The MSDNAA is a Microsoft program in which most major high schools and universities around the world are enrolled. The institutions pay an annual fee, in exchange for which the appropriate (probably not if you’re studying dance) departments can download Microsoft freebies.

software for students

Depending on the license your college or university chose for, these may include

  • Windows Server
  • Windows 7
  • Visio
  • Visual Studio
  • .NET Enterprise servers
  • MSDN Library
  • Microsoft Project
  • Visual Studio
  • Expression (Web, Blend, Design, Media)
  • SQL Server
  • Exchange Server

With the default program (High School AA) in bold text.

For more information, look for the above certificate on the website of your teaching institution, or perform a Google search for “institution name MSDNAA” (without quotes).

Microsoft DreamSpark

Couldn’t find any link between MSDNAA and your teaching institution? Not to worry, there’s another way to apply for free Microsoft software for students. This program is called Microsoft DreamSpark and invests in high school and college students around the world under the motto “Dream today, create tomorrow“.

free software

These include :

  • Visual Studio 2010 Professional / Express
  • Windows Server 2008 / 2008R2 Standard
  • Windows Phone
  • Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition / 2005
  • Expression Studio 4 Ultimate
  • SQL Server 2008 Developer / Express
  • XNA Game Studio 3.1
  • Robotics Developer Studio 2008 R3
  • Windows Internet Explorer 9
  • Microsoft Virtual PC
  • Windows MultiPoint Mouse SDK
  • Windows Embedded CE 6.0
  • Visual Basic 2008 Express Edition
  • Visual C# 2008 Express Edition
  • Visual C++ 2008 Express Edition
  • Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition
  • Windows Server 2003

You can sign up in the left sidebar of the Microsoft DreamSpark website. There are three ways of getting verified. The first way is to get an access code from a local representative (i.e. applied for by your teacher) and enter it online. Second is if you have an ISIC international students card. The third way is to manually select your school from an incredibly long list of verified colleges.

If you still weren’t able to get verified, take a look at this page. It details a number of alternative ways to apply for DreamSpark, depending on the country.

Autodesk Education Community

Autodesk is highly famed and recognized as technical software for engineers and designers worldwide. It’s the number one choice for civil engineers and one of the most extensive 3D animation software suites. The only real downside is the (hefty) price tag. The Maya animation software retails for over $1,300 apiece. If you’re a student, you qualify for over 25 of these software packets with an extended 3-year academic license.

free software

These include :

  • AutoCAD
  • AutoCAD Architecture
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D
  • AutoCAD Electrical
  • AutoCADAutoCAD Freestyle
  • AutoCAD Mechanical
  • AutoCAD Map 3D
  • AutoCAD MEP
  • AutoCAD P and ID
  • AutoCAD Raster Design
  • AutoCAD Structural Detailing
  • Autodesk 3ds Max Design
  • Autodesk Algor Simulation Professional
  • Autodesk Alias Automotive
  • Autodesk Alias Design for Inventor
  • Autodesk Alias Sketch
  • Autodesk Ecotect Analysis
  • Autodesk Green Building Studio
  • Autodesk Impression
  • Autodesk Inventor Professional
  • Autodesk Inventor Publisher
  • Autodesk Maya
  • Autodesk MotionBuilder
  • Autodesk Mudbox
  • Autodesk Navisworks Manage
  • Autodesk Revit Architecture
  • Autodesk Revit MEP
  • Autodesk Revit Structure
  • Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis Professional
  • Autodesk Showcase
  • Autodesk SketchBook Pro
  • Autodesk Smoke for Mac OS X
  • Autodesk Softimage

To sign up, you just need to enter the email address you got at your university. You will receive a verification reply in a matter of a few hours, if not minutes.

Adobe Education

Lastly, Adobe offers a similar academic program, although it’s not nearly as extensive as the preceding three. So far, no free designer suites, although you can apply for heavy price cuts as a student.

software for students

The software featured are :

  • ColdFusion 9
  • ColdFusion Builder
  • Flash Builder 4

To sign up, you will need valid proof of eligibility. These include student cards, faculty cards, non-faculty employee ID, or a formal letter proving any of them.

Do you know any other pricey software that’s free for your fellow students? Let us know in the comments below!

Image Credit: ShutterStock

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