Tuesday, October 12, 2010

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [October 11th]” plus 13 more

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [October 11th]” plus 13 more

Link to MakeUseOf.com

Cool Websites and Tools [October 11th]

Posted: 11 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.

List Your Website Here!


YouTube Movies – The permissible maximum length for video on YouTube is 15 minutes. Normally people upload movies by breaking them down into several 15-minute parts and then uploading them separately. This process is inconvenient and hopefully will no longer be required, now that YouTube has launched its own movies page where users can view full length movies for free. Read more: YouTube Movies: View Full Length Movies On YouTube For Free


BlogSynergy – Guest blogging is one of the most popular methods to exchange content and links. Guest blogging allows the blog owners to add a fresh perspective to their posts, while guest bloggers get a free link back to their own blog. BlogSynergy is an online platform that pools writers and blog owners together to facilitate guest blogging. Read more: BlogSynergy: Find Guest Bloggers To Post On Your Blog For Free



Create Synchronicity – Regularly creating backups of your files is always a good practice. However, it can become very tedious and you have to manage numerous backups repeatedly. Fortunately, Create Synchronicity is a light but useful backup and sync software. Read more: Create Synchoricity: A Lightweight Backup And Sync Software



FareCompare – Suppose you wanted to go to Hawaii through a certain flight but was waiting for the airfare price to drop. You might have to check the website of each airline every day until you noticed a drop in airfare. But thanks to “FareCompare When-to-Fly Airfare Alerts” that is no longer necessary. Read more: FareCompare: Get Real Time Airfare Price Drop Alerts



Google Things To Do – As you know, Google has a lot to offer beyond web search. Even the web search has features which not everyone knows about. Google Things to Do is a nicely designed page by Google UK that makes people aware of the kind of things one could accomplish using various Google products and services. Read more: Google Things to Do: Find Out What You Can Do With Google Products


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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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Join MakeUseOf On Facebook!

Posted: 11 Oct 2010 07:31 PM PDT

If you like reading MakeUseOf and have a Facebook account, join MakeUseOf on Facebook and enjoy reading our greatest posts! Simply click on the “Like” button below to get started!

You’ll be rewarded with exclusive previews of future publications, what we refer to as “Sneak Peeks”; and the best posts from the day before, “Yesterday’s Best”.

We also use our fan page to inform you about premium software giveaways and discounts that are not announced on the website. We get a lot of those from software developers and distribute them mainly on Facebook.

So grab some friends and join us on Facebook today!

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How To Get Rid Of Unwanted Redirects In Google Search Results

Posted: 11 Oct 2010 06:31 PM PDT

remove google redirectAt this point most readers are probably thinking, “What is a Google redirect and why would I want to get rid of it?”

Every Google search result is redirected through http://google.com/url? – which lets Google track your clicks in order to personalize your search as well as perform necessary analytics of what gets actually clicked in search results (to adapt listing order accordingly). You won’t notice the redirect when hovering over the link and looking at the status bar.

You can see the exact referral URL by highlighting the search listing title, right-clicking on it and selecting “View Selection Source“. You will also see the referral URL by copying-pasting (via right-clicking -> Copy Link Location) the link from the results page.

This can prove to be particularly annoying when you’re trying to just quickly grab a relevant URL to quote in an article, store for later research, state as source material or whatever your personal case happens to be, as it means you actually have to click through to the relevant site in order to simply copy and paste the correct web address.

Fortunately, there are a number of options available (all of these are Greasemonkey scripts) that allow users to remove the referral links from the search results – which can prove to be extremely helpful when it comes to optimizing time spent on search related tasks.

Strip Google Redirects

One of the more popular scripts used for this purpose is Google Anonymizer, which “withholds IP information when making requests to Google search” and also strips referral code from the redirected links.

Along with other scripts like Disable Google Search Result Redirect, it claims to stop Google from tracking what sites you’re visiting (but be aware that if you’re logged into Google, or store Google cookies with your browser -  it won’t really protect your identity from Google or de-personalize your search results).

On the flip side, it does a good job to remove Google redirects from search and letting you painlessly copy the target URL:


remove google redirect


google redirect

Strip Google Search Redirects & See the Full Path

"Obviously Scrub Google Redirect Links" script replaces the redirect with a plain link and also adds the extra line containing the target URL – so the user can see the full URL path (this can be rather distracting at first but I can imagine it should be easy to get used to).

This way you can copy the full URL either by right-clicking on the result link -> Copy Link Location or just copy-pasting the URL path below the result:

Obviously Scrub Google Redirect Links

Linkify The Green URL Path & Get the Direct Link There

A good script for people who are just trying to get to the information they need quickly is "Linkify Google Search Results". This script “linkifies” the plain “un-clickable” green links displayed beneath the search snippet; it also linkifies each directory level in the URL path.

Thus it provides a great navigation breadcrumb-like aid that lets you quickly jump to a site home page or a sub folder:

google redirect

I liked the idea behind the tool (and that is also what Google does too for the selected results), but I found the output a bit overwhelming. With some work on making it look more usable, that could be a great tool.

Are you aware of any other ways to remove Google redirects from result listings? Do you see yourself using any of these tools?

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Create Impressive Videos With Wax 2.0 [Windows]

Posted: 11 Oct 2010 04:31 PM PDT

video creation softwareEver since I saw my first Tinkernut video tutorial, I was hooked on the presentation style, which I wished professors would adopt. The creator of Tinkernut excels at making a myriad of educational tech-related videos (ranging from making your own operating system to original DIY projects) mixed with awesome effects that are anything but boring. I first learned of Wax 2.0 through his channel and this is definitely an application that aspiring video creators should take a look at.

Wax 2.0 is video creation software that comes from the creator of Wink (which lets you make awesome Flash-based product demos) who is dedicated to ensuring that anyone can start authoring their own videos.

You can use Wax 2.0 to create video sequences with special effects or as a plugin for commercial video editors such as Sony Vegas and Adobe Premiere.

Here Are The Files Wax Accepts

  • Video footage: Must be in the AVI container format (which may hold video and audio),
  • Audio: WAV files,
  • Images: PNG, JPEG, BMP, TIFF, TGA files.
  • Others: Icons (ICO), Photoshop (PSD, which you should read more about in the free PDF manual) and AviSynth files (AVS format used to easily embed subtitles).

video creation software

You’re most likely going to have to convert your videos or audio clips to use them in Wax, but fear not as there are many capable multimedia converters abounding the net, including FormatFactory and MediaCoder (which has been featured with other incredibly popular video converters for Windows).

create a video

Also note that the videos exported from Wax 2.0 can only be in AVI format, which can end up being ultra huge files, unless you have DivX or Xvid.

create a video

Both of these have been discussed in the recent mini-guide for publishing YouTube videos and another handy article on shrinking video file sizes for easier sharing. There are also codecs you can use in other popular open-source video editors such as VirtualDub and Avidemux, so what makes Wax 2.0 different?

create a video

What Makes Wax 2.0 Stand Out?

Besides the video-editing platforms we’ve discussed above, Windows Live Movie Maker is also available for download plus, you can technically also upload videos to YouTube and edit them online so what’s the big deal about Wax 2.0? There’s a few pretty useful features you should consider Wax 2.0 for:

Modifying Clip’s Properties

VirtualDub and Avidemux can do finish any video-splitting, -trimming or -merging tasks in a jiffy when you use Direct Stream Copy mode. However, most filters you use (e.g. adding some blurring effect, or changing the perspective) have to apply to the whole video. Thus, you cannot have specific parts modified, unless you’re using something like the zoom 1.2 filter which has a phase 2 you can adjust to revert back to the original settings.

Meanwhile, Wax 2.0 has the Quick 3D video plugin which is a Godsend. You can basically enlarge, shrink, and modify the video or image around which I’m sure you’ve wished Windows Live Movie Maker could allow.

video creation tools

First, right-click on the Media Bins area and select Add Media Files. After you’ve chosen your files, drag them to the timeline, go to the Video Plugins tab under the Media Bins area and under Video Plugins: 2D, drag Quick 3d to the items in the timeline (repeat as necessary for all items in the timeline you want to change).

video creation tools

Click on the arrow next to Quick 3D and you’ll see the ways you can edit the actual clip.

video creation tools

If you’re looking to have a property change over the course of the clip’s appearance, right-click on the property and select Linear.

You can move pictures from one point in the video to another (sort of like tweening), play a video alongside/inside another video (for a video PiP effect), etc.

Using A Green Screen

In the same box where you found Quick 3D, you’ll also see under Color, the green screen plugin Chroma Key.

Drag it to the timeline item whose background is a solid color, use the eyedropper to select that background color, adjust the Tolerance level and you can ‘get rid’ of the boring background or use a different one.

If you check the Invert box, you can roll your own homemade iPod ad!

video creation software

Obtaining Way More Effects

So Chroma Key is probably the easiest to understand, but you can achieve much more if you shoot for more complex effects, such as these:

Watching what each of the effects available in Wax can do might be easier than reading about them so here’s a good video:

Want to try the more any of the more advanced effects just described? Here’s how to use the Rotomate plugin to clone yourself:

And here is a video I made myself advertising MakeUseOf!

What do you say? Do you have some suggestions for other free video creation software? Let us know in the comments!

Image credit: apathae

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Postbox 2 Giveaway Winners

Posted: 11 Oct 2010 03:30 PM PDT

The long-awaited update to Postbox has finally arrived and it seems to be attracting a lot of attention. Email plays a huge part in our daily lives and getting in control of it is crucial.

Here are 10 lucky MakeUseOf readers who will enjoy a more productive email environment.

MakeUseOf will send the licenses to the email address provided in the giveaway form. Please note that licenses will not be reissued if an incorrect email address was submitted.

  1. Christopher Carter
  2. James Deaton
  3. Ian Branch
  4. Joy Tie
  5. Michael Findlay
  6. Jerry Coleman
  7. Em Josefsberg
  8. Daniel Perez
  9. Isaiah Chua
  10. Vi Nguyen

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



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How To Switch Between GNOME & KDE 4.5 On Ubuntu 10.04

Posted: 11 Oct 2010 02:31 PM PDT

switch between gnome and kdeA while ago I wrote an article about why you should consider giving Ubuntu a go. A few of you asked why I never mentioned Kubuntu, and some seemed convinced that KDE was the way to go. Well guess what? Here’s how you can have both.

Ubuntu uses the GNOME desktop environment straight out of the box, which provides a functional and fairly clean desktop with a few sexy effects from Compiz. Kubuntu uses the KDE desktop environment which has now comes with more bells and whistles than ever.

If you’re sitting there on your Ubuntu machine thinking "I fancy giving that a go" then you can. With a couple of commands and a restart, you’ll be using KDE in no time.


Besides appearance (well, duh) there’s a few key differences between KDE and GNOME. If you’re using Ubuntu right now you’re running GNOME (and if you’re using Xubuntu, you’re enjoying XFCE).

Take a look around. It’s pretty easy to get it to do what you want, it doesn’t really look that much like Windows and it comes with its own set of tools and toys.

switch between gnome and kde

KDE on the other hand gives you considerably more say in the way your desktop looks, despite at first seeming quite Windows-like. For seasoned Microsoft glassy-eyed veterans, KDE might seem the smarter choice as it’ll provide a more familiar and tailored desktop. If you’re sick of the Windows method, you might find GNOME more refreshing.

KDE also comes with its own set of applications, most of which have unnecessary Ks all over the place, like Konqueror and Amarok. The main downside to installing both environments is the fact that you get both software packages appearing all the time, but if you decide to remove one you can remove the associated software packages too.

Regardless, installing KDE is a great way to experience Linux in a slightly different flavour. If you don’t like it, it’s easy to remove (I’ll go through that bit too).

Adding Repositories

First thing’s first, we’re going to be using the command line so open up your favourite console (if you’re in vanilla Ubuntu you can find Terminal in Applications then Accessories) and type:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports

how to switch beetween gnome and kde

You’ll be asked for your password, input it (it won’t be displayed) and hit enter. Now you’ll want to open up the Software Sources window in System then Administration. Click on the Updates tab and enable Unsupported updates (lucid-backports).

how to switch beetween gnome and kde

You can check on the repository you just added in the Other Software tab if you want. Once you’re done close the window.

Installing KDE

Back to the command line, find Terminal and enter:

sudo apt-get update

Once the update has completed you’re going to want to download KDE with the following command:

sudo apt-get install kubuntu-desktop

You will be notified of the archives that are about to be downloaded, the download size and eventual size on your disk. Type "y" and hit Enter to begin the download. You’ve probably got enough time to make a coffee or go to the bathroom. When you get back, you should see the KDE installer open in the Terminal window.

Next you’ll need to choose a default display manager. As I have had no problems with GDM (and once had to recover Ubuntu via the command line thanks to KDM) I chose the former. This one’s up to you, but GDM just seems to work for me and thus comes with my recommendation.

Once you’ve made your decision, the installer will begin. You’ve probably got enough time to drink that coffee and wait until your Terminal looks like this:

how to switch beetween gnome and kde

You’ll need to restart your computer at this point, but you might want to disable automatic log-in first otherwise you won’t be able to choose KDE at startup. To do this in GNOME go to System, Administration then Login Screen. Enable Show the login screen for choosing who will log in and close the window.

Once you’ve restarted and reached the login screen click your username, input your password and at the bottom of the screen where it says Session choose KDE before logging in as you normally would.

You should now see KDE spring into action. If at any time you would like to switch back to GNOME, log out and choose GNOME as your Session.

switch between gnome and kde

Removing KDE/GNOME

So you’ve tried it and it’s not for you. Not to worry, removing KDE and restoring your pure GNOME desktop is quite possible using a single and incredibly lengthy command.   Since the command is very lengthy, we have put it into a TXT document which you can download here at your convenience.

If you’re really bowled over by KDE then you can remove GNOME completely with a similarly monstrous command, again put into a handy TXT document which you can download here.

To paste into the Terminal you’ll need to hit Ctrl+Shift+V. This command will remove all KDE related packages and double-check your GNOME packages. Next time you boot up, you’ll have a pure GNOME Ubuntu again.


Having both KDE and GNOME at your disposal is useful, especially for newcomers still evaluating the OS. If you’ve got a shared computer then having both environments installed isn’t such a bad idea either. Sooner or later you’ll know which you prefer, I personally prefer GNOME with a nice dock.

Whatever you do with your Ubuntu, don’t forget to tell us about it in the comments. Do you use KDE or GNOME? Or both? Or another desktop environment? Don’t be shy!

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Hot Tech Deals [Oct 11th]

Posted: 11 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. Aliph Jawbone Icon Thinker Bluetooth Headset $54.99 Free Shipping

  2. Medal of Honor Game (Xbox 360, PS3) $49.99 [UPCOMING RELEASE]

  3. TODAY ONLY Belkin Pocket Hub and Travel Surge Protector $17.99 Free Shipping

  4. TODAY ONLY Dell IN2010N 20in Widescreen LCD Monitor $109.99 Free Shipping

  5. TODAY ONLY XFX Radeon HD 4550 512MB Video Card & OCZ ModXStream 500W Power Supply $39.98AR

  6. Logitech G35 7.1ch Simulated Surround Sound Gaming Headset $66.99AR Free Ship

  7. Sharp AQUOS LC-32SB28UT 32in LCD HDTV (720p) $336.57 Free Shipping

  8. Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB Internal Hard Drive $59.99 Free Shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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HyperDock Brings Windows 7 Features To The Mac OS

Posted: 11 Oct 2010 12:31 PM PDT

windows 7 for macHyperDock is a small application that adds a ton of features to your Mac dock with a few simple settings. Currently in public beta, the app is free, but once a final version is released it will be available for download for a small fee.

This lightweight app is packed with lots of great features that will change the way you use your dock, making you more productive. It adds a few small but essential features to the Mac OS, making switching between programs faster and more intuitive. A lot of these features are in fact already available in Windows 7, namely through Aero Effects, and HyperDock brings them to the Mac OS in a sleek and elegant manner.

Upon installing HyperDock, you will be prompted to enable access for assistive devices, if you don't have it enabled already. This is found under Universal Access in your system preferences, but when you first install and launch it, HyperDock will take you straight to the window.

windows 7 for mac

You are then ready to start customising HyperDock to suit your personal preferences. Any time you want to change these preferences, you can do so through your System Preferences.Your first choice is whether or not you want to enable dock items preview. This feature has already been seen in Windows 7, with Aero Peek, and it fits right in with the appearance and utilisation of the Mac OS.

windows 7 on mac

When hovering over the dock icon, you will see a small preview pane showing what can be seen in that program without pulling up the screen. If you have several browser windows open, for example, it will show you each one side by side, and as a result, making it easy to switch from one window to the next from the comfort of your dock. Hovering over the actual preview pane itself will display the window in question, even if it's minimised.

windows 7 on mac

The preview feature is further customisable. Amongst other settings, you can choose whether or not to enable dock items preview for minimised windows and windows from all spaces. You can also choose whether or not to display special features for certain apps – specifically displaying any events for the current day when hovering over the iCal icon, and the currently playing track in iTunes, in addition to allowing you to control music playback from your dock.

windows 7 for mac

The appearance of the preview pane itself is customisable, allowing you to choose the size, the background and whether or not to include a button with which you can close the application from the dock, yet another feature that will help boost your productivity, even in the smallest of ways.

In addition to giving you extra features in your dock, HyperDock also enables a variety of shortcuts making it easy to hide or quit apps, move between spaces and move and resize windows. With HyperDock you can also move windows from one space to another and enable window snapping, when windows are dragged to the edge of the screen, much like Windows 7's Aero Snap.

Have you installed HyperDock? Let us know what you think of it in the comments.

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10 WordPress Tutorial Sites To Brush Up Your Blogging Skills

Posted: 11 Oct 2010 10:31 AM PDT

wordpress tutorialIt's just not enough to blog and upload your posts. If you have just launched your own starter blog on Wordpress, you will realize that it pays to go under the hood of the WordPress platform. Thankfully, the WordPress platform is not as daunting as overhauling a V6 engine on a Ferrari; though it might seem so at first.

What really tilts the scale in favor of WordPress is the incredible knowledge base on WordPress that's out there. From tips, tricks to hacks, the number of WordPress tutorials mirrors the popularity of this CMS tool.

Why only newbies? The rusty developer or administrator can also polish their skills on the range of lessons on WP. One of the best places to start off for a newbie is quite obviously the WordPress Codex itself which goes through the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the platform.

After the kickstart, these ten websites could be of help for finetuning your WordPress blog and making it gallop like a Ferrari.

WordPress TV

wordpress tutorial

The video blog is a visual how-to on things that are WordPress. It is also an official resource from WordPress. Along with the line up of videos in A-W categories, you have interviews and discussions related around the WordPress platform.

You also get to watch a lot of highlights from WordCamp, the international WordPress event for the WordPress community.


wordpress design tutorial

WPCandy covers WordPress from all possible angles – news, editorials, reviews, podcasts, interviews, and of course Wordpress tutorials. Then, you have a section which reviews WP tools and themes. The tutorials section is a mish-mash of quick tips and detailed how-tos. If you prefer listening, there's an entire podcasts directory to tap into. You can also send WPCandy your story ideas and even write for them when openings come up.


wordpress design tutorial

This two year old blog is one of the nicest resources you can find on WordPress. The site features quick and concise fixes for setting up WordPress to run smoothly. Most of the posts contain code snippets for configuring WordPress. Do read the comments too as they are also sources for tips and tweaks.  A small forum (redirected) and a Themes section round off this blog.

Digging Into WordPress

wordpress design tutorial

A dedicated WordPress blog by Chris Coyier & Jeff Starr covers a lot of ground with topics from administration to design. The frequency of posts is around one a week. Interspersed between the WP tutorials are links to tutorials on other blogs. So, there's no shortage of stuff to learn from.

WP Engineer

wordpress blog tutorial

You won't get a tutorial every other day on this WP site too. The frequency is around one per week. But the 240 odd Wordpress tutorials are quite illustrative. The easy on the eyes design of the blog also helps.

WordPress Tutorials

wordpress blog tutorial

The site aggregates WP tutorials from a variety of sources and rates them too. Although the site has gone a bit dormant now, with the last post in February, it's worth a look because it has a collection of nearly 500 odd tutorials.

WP Tavern

wordpress blog tutorial

The blog is designed to be a talking point on WordPress. It is a WordPress fan site with lots of posts that cover the platform. The blog is just about two years old. Go right below to browse the archives. The site also has a fairly active forum with discussion threads on topics like plugins, hacks, themes, troubleshooting tips etc.

WP Topics

WP Topics covers WordPress news, developments, and tutorials like a news aggregator. Influential WordPress sites are tapped and you get to read articles on coding and design from some sites we have covered here and some which we have not.

WordPress Stack Exchange

You can also call this a WordPress Q&A service. It's not tutorial related but it answers any doubts you might have as an administrator or a developer about configuring WordPress. Look around using the search bar or the tags if the query has already been asked on the site. Also check out the FAQ which gives some pointers on how to use this Q&A service.


wordpress tutorial

SeekWP is a realtime search engine for WP tips and theme information. You can type in a keyword and use the dropdown to select Themes or Tips, or do an all inclusive search. It is a really nice shortcut to take because the WordPress universe is expanding each day.

With the above ten I have tried to cover resources which are solely on WordPress. There are some great sites that have separate sections on WordPress filled with instructive tips and tricks. For instance, our own website has around 50 WordPress posts (and climbing).

Just like me, if you are starting to tinker around with the platform, you will get an inkling of why WordPress is sitting pretty as one of the best CMS solutions around. Do let us know your favorite Wordpress tutorial resource too.

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iPhone 4 Defender & Commuter Cases by Otterbox [Mini Giveaway]

Posted: 11 Oct 2010 10:15 AM PDT

Continuing my search for the best iPhone cases on the market, I stumbled upon a well-known brand — this company boasts cutting-edge design into all of their products and creates extremely durable cases that’s perfect for the adventurous and also the clumsy.

Today, we’ll be taking a quick look at Otterbox’s Commuter and Defender iPhone 4 cases. We’ll also be giving a few away. Find out how you can win one after the jump.

Let’s start with the Commuter case. This case provides 3 layers of protection: a hard polycarbonate outer shell; a soft, shock-absorbing silicon middle layer and finally, a tough self-adhesive screen protector to protect from scratches.

Every Commuter case is packaged with a microfiber cleaning cloth and installation card to apply the screen protector.

Weighing only 28 grams, the Commuter case provides protection for every surface of the iPhone except the front. It covers the power and volume buttons while silicone plugs for the charge/sync port and headphone jack keep out dust and easily flips open when required.

Overall, the combined lightness and durability of the Commuter case makes it an excellent candidate for daily use because it provides added protection against bumps and shocks without adding significant bulk to your pocket. The case was relatively easy to put together. The only thing that bothered me was the fact the polycarbonate shell didn’t hug the silicon case as tight as I’d hoped.

The Commuter case is available from the Otterbox online store for $34.95 but MakeUseOf readers get an exclusive 10% off plus FREE FedEx Ground Shipping*. Simply use the coupon code tb1010y upon checkout and SAVE! *Free shipping is only available on domestic U.S. orders.

The Defender case is a much more rugged model. It wraps the iPhone entirely, providing unsurpassed protection and undeniably adds a bit of bulk as well. It comes in three colours: black, red and blue.

The inner polycarbonate shell is lined with felt to cushion the phone. Once the front and back panels are clipped in place, the silicon exterior cover slips over the case.

Like the Commuter case, this protects the charge/sync ports and headphone jack using silicon plugs. Unlike the Commuter case, this one weighs 59 grams — that’s twice as heavy.

Putting this case together does take some practice. It even has an instructional manual! I didn’t find it too difficult and once I was familiar with the procedure, I could easily take it apart and put it back again. My only complaint here is the fact that the built-in screen protector sometimes sticks to the iPhone unevenly, resulting in quite a few air bubbles.

Because the case is so bulky, carrying it around really made me notice the bulge in my pants (and not the good kind). I’d really recommend this case if you’re really, really clumsy or work/study in a dangerous environment and desperately need the protection. Otherwise, the Commuter case will do just fine.

The Defender case doesn’t come bundled with a screen protector because it has one built into the inner polycarbonate shell. However, it does come with a holster, which doubles as a stand for viewing media.

The Defender case is available from the Otterbox online store for $49.95 but MakeUseOf readers get an exclusive 10% off plus FREE FedEx Ground Shipping*. Simply use the coupon code tb1010y upon checkout and SAVE! *Free shipping is only available on domestic U.S. orders.

We’re giving one of each away today. If you want to grab them, just follow the instructions below.

How do I enter?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.


Join our Facebook page by liking us. If you’re already following us, you may skip this step.

If you can’t see the fanbox, click on this link.


Here’s our giveaway form. Please fill it in accurately. Be sure to enter your real email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. Click here if you can’t view the form.


You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to LIKE the post. This step is optional but why not spread the love?

And that’s it! You’re done!

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

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

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

Help Support a Cause

OtterBox is doing a year-long sponsorship of the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade and to help support the cause, they are donating 10% of the purchase price of their Commuter Series "Strength" cases for BlackBerry smartphones back to Avon. Funding will support finding a cure for breast cancer and advancing access to care for all, regardless of ability to pay. If you have a BlackBerry, we urge you to check these cases out.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month so if you’d like to make a donation to aid research and treatment, please head over to the Avon Foundation for Women.

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Secure & Speed Up Your Website For Free With CloudFlare

Posted: 11 Oct 2010 09:31 AM PDT

speed up websiteIf you own a website, you know about the fears that keep you up at night: getting hacked, receiving an overload of traffic slowing down your site and your site going down. Most small website owners have not had the resources – both technical and monetary – to do much about fixing these common problems, until now.

CloudFlare is a service which sets just about any website up on a Content Delivery Network, more commonly referred to as a CDN. Even more than that, it acts as a ‘firewall in the cloud‘ to prevent malicious spam and hack attacks from even getting to your website. On top of this, their entry level service is free!

The free plan protects your site by working to block known malicious IP addresses from your website via the Project Honeypot service. Project Honeypot maintains a list of known IPs who have been caught spamming or attempting attacks either because they are actually malicious attackers or because their machine has a trojan installed on it.

For questionable sources it will present a CAPTCHA to prove that the visitor is a real human and not a spam bot. The upgraded plans which include better statistics and more advanced protection from cross site scripting and SQL injection attacks among others.

speed up website

How To Set Up Your Website With CloudFlare

It takes minimal technical knowledge to get started with CloudFlare. The most important thing you need to have access to is your Domain Registrar’s Nameserver Settings. This can be reached from your domain’s control panel on most domain registration providers and the process differs for each registrar. If you do not know how to do this, check with support at your domain registrar or do a quick google on “How to change name server“.

Sign Up

Cloudflare is now in open beta and you can sign up here. After your initial username and password creation you then proceed to set up your site. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to set up a hobby forum/image gallery site where I have had some problems with spamming in the past.

Set Up DNS

speed up website load time

Once you enter your domain in the ‘add site’ box, CloudFlare analyzes your DNS records for their current values. It checks commonly used ones – if you have any custom records set up, it is good to double check them before migrating over to the service since CloudFlare effectively takes over your DNS hosting as well. You can add the custom settings on the next page. They will automatically add a ‘direct’ which will allow you to bypass the CloudFlare network and access your website directly should you need to for testing or other purposes.

speed up website load time

After confirming your settings, CloudFlare will assign two new nameservers for your website. Proceed to your domain registrar and update your name servers to the ones provided. Once you save them it will take some time for the settings to migrate out to the internet. This could take anywhere from instantly to 24 hours to fully propagate. CloudFlare will also email your old and new name server settings for your record.

speed up website load time

Sit Back and Relax

That is it! Your domain will now be protected & sped up by CloudFlare’s services. If you are interested in more of the technical aspects of how CloudFlare works to speed up and secure your website, their CEO Matthew Prince has a great writeup on how CloudFlare works over at Quora.

After roughly 24 hours, you will be able to get all kinds of interesting stats about your website.

Cloudflare Stats

how to speed up website loading

Simple & Secure

As you can see, the CloudFlare service makes it easy for ‘every’ website owner to add professional grade security and content delivery optimizations to their website. The service recently won the ‘Most Disruptive Company‘ at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference and is on track to becoming a big player in the web hosting field. If security is a huge concern for your website, I would definitely consider upgrading to the pro account – but for most website owners the free account is enough to offer basic protection and speed increases.

Another feature is that if your website goes down, CloudFlare will serve the last cached version of your page and files. This is useful if your webhost provider goes down a lot or if you are hosting it on an unsteady connection (like your home). Since CloudFlare serves most of the static content, it also saves on the bandwidth used by your site.

speed up website

If there is one concern I have about that service, it is that is you are adding another layer of complexity onto the web hosting stack. If your site goes down, it gives another potential location where there could be a problem. I haven’t seen this happen yet, but from my experience in the web hosting field usually the simpler the setup the better. However in this case the security and speedup you receive from the service far outweigh any negatives.

Give CloudFlare a try today and let us know how it goes. I have set it up personally on 3 sites and have seen some decent speed increases on them. CloudFlare quotes an average of a 30% speed increase on websites on its network. This unique service is a great offering for website owners all over the world.

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WinX DVD Ripper Platinum – Backup Your DVD in 5 Mins [Giveaway]

Posted: 11 Oct 2010 08:30 AM PDT

DVDs come with a shelf life. So, it's a careful man who will take the effort to backup his painstakingly collected collection of DVD movie titles. If you are one, then WinX DVD Ripper Platinum for Windows is the tool for the job.

WinX DVD Ripper Platinum extracts (rips) a DVD and converts it to a popular format of your choice. Pick one from the 15 available formats. Then, the DVD ripper easily creates 1:1 DVD backups, without quality loss in video or audio. The backup job from source to a copy will take just 5 minutes. Even the copy protection technology of today's DVDs doesn't stump the ripping powers of WinXDVD Ripper as it comes with support for CSS protected DVDs. No worries too for Sony ArccOS DVDs and all Region 1-6 DVDs.

This week, we will be giving away 10 copies of this software, worth almost $300 in total. But first let’s take a short tour and get acquainted with the app.

A Slick Easy To Grasp Interface

Whether it's a plain and simple DVD copy or a rip to any of the popular formats, WinX DVD Ripper Platinum does it in three steps. Thanks to the intuitive interface, it comes down to just selecting the source disc, picking the output format, and clicking on the Start button.

All Popular Formats Find a Place

  1. Rip to popular video formats (AVI, WMV, MOV, MPEG1/2, MP4 and FLV).
  2. Rip to popular portable device and device formats (iPod, iPhone, iPad, PSP, Zune, Apple TV, Zune, Zen, and 3GP).
  3. Rip DVD audio track to MP3.

Each format gets a tab of its own with customizable output settings for picture perfect conversions. You can pick selections from the dropdown to vary audio-video quality, volume levels, sample rates, video resolution, aspect ratio, and more. The DVD ripping tool allows you to selectively trim any segment and optimize it for the output device or for an archive. A simple cropping tool removes unwanted areas around a frame to get full screen images.

A Slew of Intelligent Capabilities

With support for multi-core CPUs, you can streamline the performance of WinX DVD Ripper Platinum for high-speed ripping and conversion.

The app has several distinctive features: the Advanced De-interlaced Accelerator helps to improve the picture quality by progressively scanning the movie and smoothening out distortions. WinX DVD Ripper Platinum has an Intelligent A/V Synchronizer which automatically syncs the DVD's audio with the movie. A conversion process can stutter due to many reasons. The Safe Mode prevents any problems during conversion by running at a slower but surer speed. A one-click screen capture button is there next to the preview screen if you want to take quick JPEG/BMP screenshots.

WinX DVD Ripper Platinum is a good thing and worth every byte of its 9.4MB download. WinX DVD Ripper Platinum is supported by Windows 98, NT, 2000, 2003, XP, Vista (32 & 64 bit), Windows 7 (32 & 64 bit).

The clinching argument for a software is whether it can be used alike by the rookie and the expert. WinX DVD Ripper Platinum's user friendliness answers that.

How do I win a copy?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

Join our Facebook page by clicking the Like button or you can follow us on Twitter, if you prefer. If you’re already following us, you may skip this step.

If you can’t see the fanbox, click on this link.

Here’s our giveaway form. Please fill it in accurately. Be sure to enter your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. Click here if you can’t view the form.

You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to share the post. There are 2 options to choose from or you can do both!

Like it on Facebook

Or share it on Twitter

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

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, October 15th at 2100hrs PST. The winners will be selected at random and announced via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

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

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Limera1n Jailbreak for iPhone 4 & iOS 4.1 Out Now! [News]

Posted: 11 Oct 2010 08:00 AM PDT

The iPhone jailbreak community has been anxiously awaiting a working jailbreak for iOS 4.1 since it was released on September 8th. Although a release from the chronicdev team (named GreenPois0n) was expected for 10/10; George Holtz, aka geohot, has preempted them by releasing Limera1n to the public yesterday.

The initial version, which originally had a few bugs, seems to be more stable with the BETA4 update and I have personally tested it myself and it seems to work without any problems at all on my iPhone 4. However, do not use limera1n if you need or use a carrier unlock!

There was some drama in the last few days because the limera1n jailbreak uses a different exploit than the one that was planned for the upcoming Shatte- based jailbreak GreenPois0n which was due out today. The chronicdev team is working to re-do their jailbreak with the same one Geohot used to ’save’ it for the next iOS version. What does that mean to you? When the next iOS version is released, we should see a jailbreak released much sooner.

How To Jailbreak Your iPhone

First of all, as with most jailbreaks, you should be careful to follow instructions. iClarified is a great resource for jailbreak instructions and we would recommend you go there if you need further clarification as to any of the jailbreak procedures or if it will work on your particular device. The most important thing if you are upgrading from an older version of iOS is to have Cydia save your SHSH keys since they are unrecoverable in certain situations after you upgrade.

Once that is done and your device is backed up use iTunes to upgrade your device to iOS 4.1. This will undo any prior jailbreak you have applied to your phone. After your phone is running 4.1 and your phone plugged into your Windows computer via USB, run the latest Limera1in program here. Limera1n only works on Windows computers at the moment.

Follow the instructions which will include rebooting your phone into DFU mode to run the jailbreak.

After the jailbreak has been completed, you will see the limera1n application installed (icon seen above). Launch it and you will have 2 options: install Cydia (the jailbreak app store) or remove limera1n. Install Cydia and you are good to go.

The jailbreak process itself is very easy – and I say that from someone who started jailbreaking back with my iPhone 3G. If you want to get more out of your iPhone, jailbreaking is simply the only way to do that.

Let us know if you have had success with the limera1n jailbreak. We hope that chronicdev and geohot can work things out and continue to put out great jailbreaking software to the community.

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5 Complaint Sites For Pissed Off Consumers

Posted: 11 Oct 2010 06:43 AM PDT

complaint sitesBefore the age of the Internet consumers had to contend with sending complaint letters to businesses and the national Better Business Bureau. But unless the media picked up a complaint, it might usually go unheard about by other consumers.

These days however, we consumers, as well as business owners, can publicly express to the rest of the world via some very useful websites, our complaints (and appreciations) about companies and business people that we buy products and services from.

Most Twitter and Facebook users are aware of Yelp (see our review here), but the following are some other useful complaint sites that you can read and post consumer complaints using your first-hand experience with products and services.

Pissed Consumer

Like all the sites under review. PissedConsumer includes a database of consumer complaints on a wide variety of topics—auto, computer, education, fiance, food, government, etc. There's a Latest Reviews page that consist of very clear titles and summaries of consumer complaints, as well as positive feedback.

complaint sites

However, the one page that stands out in this site, is its Reviews & Pictures section where you can include an image or two that illustrates your complaint.

Each complaint listed on the site can be responded to in the comments section.

Complaints Board

ComplaintsBoard includes an even wider category of listings, everything from Airlines to Wedding Services. In addition to posting complaints, you can also ask questions about products and services.

consumer complaint sites

This site also includes hundreds of articles and videos on consumer buying tips and tricks, such as ”How to Save Money When Watering Your Lawn and Garden“, and how to save money at the grocery store. Complaint listings are easily accessible on the front page. The site also includes discussion groups on a wide range of topics; however, many of them don't appear to have a lot of activity yet.

Consumer Affairs

ConsumerAffairs focuses on consumer news on a ride range of subjects including investing in gold, house foreclosures, toxic toys, and safety recalls.

consumer complaint sites

The bottom-right side of the home page includes links to consumer complaints, broken down by each day of the month. Complaints, though, don't include a way for businesses or other consumers to respond back to posted grievances.

Consumer Affairs says that all complaints posted on their site “are reviewed by class action attorneys and are considered for publication on our site.” So basically you file a report with them and they follow up on it. Other menu items in the site include Scam Alerts, Recalls, and Class Action Suits.


Complaints.com is a database of consumer complaints presented to help consumers “make better-informed purchase decisions.”  The site is mainly researched based. All complaints are indexed by Google and Yahoo search engines.

consumer complaint sites

There are no category listings on the complaint site. You must do a subject search to get results of listed complaints. Businesses can also reply to posted grievances.


ShamScam says that its website is “intended to provide businesses and consumers the opportunity to expose scams, online frauds and rip-offs.”

complaint sites

ShamScam is also a search-based site. There's a long linear listing of complaints but they are not broken down by category or business. Companies that receive complaints can respond to the consumer directly or post a comment/response to the grievance.

The sites I describe above appear to be very reputable and easy to access. There are of course several other similar sites. Let us know about complaint sites you find useful.

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com



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