Thursday, October 14, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [October 13th]” plus 11 more “Cool Websites and Tools [October 13th]” plus 11 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [October 13th]

Posted: 13 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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AdobeAir.Me – Adobe Air is cross-platform; this means applications based on Air can be run on any operating system that supports Air. If you are looking for Air applications and want them all in one place, pay a visit to, a free adobe air app catalog that has a massive collection of applications based on Adobe Air. Read more: Adobe Air App Catalog Online


Amortization Loan Calculator – If you are having a tough time understanding the nitty gritty of your mortgage, like the total interest you'll end up paying and the monthly payments you'll need to make, then you might as well use this simple web based tool called the AmortizationLoanCalculator. Read more: Amortization Loan Calculator: Calculator For Calculating Loan Payments And Interest



VideoMap – is a brilliant application for Android phones that helps people collaborate on Google Maps in real time. People at different locations can open the app on their Android devices and start marking on the map using the various whiteboard tools that are available. Read more: VideoMap: Collaborate On Google Maps In Real Time (Android App)



Reminder101 – Are you a student? If so, how many times have you forgotten an assignment submission date or the date of an important test? When this happens, you keep on wishing for something that would remind you of such important dates ahead of time. With Remind 101 you get just that. Read more: Reminder101: Cool Student Reminder Tool



Ganttic – Resource planning is a very crucial process for any business as it is important to keep track of the things that the organization spends on. Ganttic is a resource planning application that can be used by companies to plan, organize, and schedule resources and projects. Read more: Ganttic: Simple & User-friendly Resource Planning Application


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10+ Amazing Short Films You’d Not Believe Were Made With Free Software

Posted: 13 Oct 2010 06:31 PM PDT

short films onlineJust last month, the Blender Foundation released its third open movie, Sintel, which you can watch below and on YouTube. Just like its previous short films online, the Blender Foundation used only open-source or free software to produce movies of at least 10 minutes for everyone to rejoice and learn about the potential of the 3D animation software and video editor Blender.

Blender is cross-platform so you can learn the basics right now with the QuickStart and plenty of other tutorials on the official site and all over the net. Blender’s not the only 3D content creation software available for free though.

Just to name a few, there’s:

  • Google SketchUp that’s great to create buildings and objects,
  • Wings 3D, a cross-platform, open-source  3D modeler,
  • MakeHuman, another cross-platform, open-source tool to model human characters,
  • Sculptris, free Windows-only 3D modeling and sculpting software,
  • MeshLab, cross-platform and open-source tool to process 3D scans,
  • trueSpace, a free Windows-only 3D content creation tool.

There are a few more alternatives which you can see here but Blender seems to be very popular so most of the following open-source-generated masterpieces are made with this powerful suite.

Short Films

The Blender Foundation’s Sintel is a 12-minute short film released online on September 30th, 2010 that was independently produced (initially funded through donations) with only open-source software over 10 months in Amsterdam. The software used includes:

Big Buck Bunny is an award-winning animated short film released online by the Blender Foundation in 2008.

According to the official site, Elephants Dream is the world’s first open movie released by the Blender Foundation in 2006 after 8 months of work. You can’t seem to order the DVD anymore, but you can watch and download it online.

Besides these, there’s also Plumíferos or Free Birds, an 80-minute Argentinean feature film that premiered in February 2010 and is entirely made with open-source software (Blender and Linux OS). Here’s the trailer with subtitles.


The Cup from Pepe School Land via Blender Nation and Tech Drive-In: This consists of superbly made and hilarious short made in Blender by students of a Barcelona-based animation school.

Taste Lab by ICEBOX Studios via Tech Drive-In: This is a short comedy (about a girl tester in a food lab) that was produced in 5 months with Blender.

(NSFW) South Park Animation by dirtyblender: Here’s an unofficial animation that was produced in a month also solely in Blender.

Rainboy by 3dddie: This is a short film made in full in 5 days with Blender, GIMP and Inkscape.

In the short, the boy holds a sign saying “Ojek Payung” which translates to “Rain taxi” or “Rent an umbrella”. The phrase seems to refer to kids in rainy season that lend their umbrellas to office people who need to quickly go to a restaurant or somewhere nearby around lunch time but don’t carry an umbrella with them.

All the software used have been featured in MakeUseOf’s earlier list of Free Applications For The Graphic Designer On A Budget.

Here’s a very cute Anime clip, HapiLoli from tomo via Blender Nation that uses Blender.

Transformation from Andre Baran via Blender Nation: Now here’s a clip that demonstrates that you don’t have to use Blender to create 3D cartoons only. You can composite commercial-quality sequences to illustrate a concept.

This is another clip of Blender being used to create a logo by BnBGobo for the CFC, (Combined Federal Campaign).

Pelikone from Kombo via Blender Nation: The following clip is a recently-released Blender-made ad for a Finnish game site.

Just so you know, Blender’s not the only animation software available. Here’s Prologue (released in 2004) which consists of a short made by Voria Studios, the studio that came to release the Synfig 2D animation software under GNU license. Synfig is today a vector-based open-source animation package that facilitates the process of tweening, which is basically drawing animation frame by frame.

Prologue tells the story of two boys trying to run away from soldiers in a sewer. According to the site, “in an attempt to protect his friend, one of the children tries to draw one of the soldiers away. However, plans don’t always work out as one would hope.”

My Friend Rabbit Making Pizza is a short (click to watch as embedding is disabled) made with Pencil, an open-source traditional animation software that lets you trace previously-drawn raster and vector images for your next frames (with its onion skin feature).

As you can see from the sources, the Blender Nation blog is rich with links to amazing Blender-made productions so be sure to check it out for more! If you have favorite open-source-generated clips, you can paste the link in the comments for everyone to enjoy!

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How To Remove Unwanted Crapware From Your Brand New Windows 7 System

Posted: 13 Oct 2010 04:31 PM PDT

remove unwanted programs filesMost people have dropped their hard-earned cash on a brand new computer at some point. Unless you're a Linux convert or Apple-enthusiast, chances are your shiny new PC came with the latest copy of Windows. But is that all it came with?

Manufacturers have always seen fresh OEM Windows installs as blank canvases for passing on some of the worst software they can find. 30-day trials of programs you'll never use, needlessly complicated media applications for an MP3 player you don't have and numerous “helpful” toolbars make up the list.

Clearly, it's time to take a stand and take back your new PC.

What Is Crapware?

Crapware, or to use its proper name of “pre-installed software” is anything on your shiny new PC you didn't ask for. You might have to pay to unlock a full version, it might be a non-transferable license valid only on that machine. Most of it is not going to enrich your Windows experience.

It is even possible that some of these applications could be slowing your PC down in some way or another as many of these nuisance programs will run at startup.

If you own a Dell machine then it probably came loaded with the Dell Search Assistant which “provides search results when you enter either a search query or an incorrect website address into your Web browser’s address bar” (not my words). This is a prime example of crapware, as most modern browsers have this one covered already.

Internet service providers often jump on the crapware bandwagon, and it's not surprising if you find a litter of unwanted AOL, NetZero and Tiscali setup icons somewhere on your PC. There's also likely to be trial versions of oft-used software. Seeing as you're a MakeUseOf reader you've probably already got your fingers in the free software pie, and if you're anything like me you'll shudder at the thought of “shareware”.

Lastly there are a few features included with Windows 7 that you may consider crapware. Do you ever use Windows Media Centre? Have you replaced Windows Media Player with your favourite media app? You can remove these elements too.

How Do I Get Rid Of It?

Scouring your PC for each particular offending item will probably take a while. Despite this being the only way to be sure you've got rid of everything you don't want, there's a couple of tools to help you on your way.

The first is PC Decrapifier. The clue's in the name, but this useful application will look for some of the most common items your PC manufacturer is likely to have installed and give you the option of removing it.

remove unwanted programs files

The software runs on Windows XP, Vista and 7 so if you've still not got round to removing the fluff from your old machine then this will work for you too.

Your virus scanner (or “30-day free trial virus blaster”) might throw up a false positive when you download this one, ignore it and soldier onwards. There's no need to install anything either, which is wonderfully ironic.

PC Decrapifier will throw up a helpful notification reminding you that if you have manually installed or chosen to keep any of the programs found, make sure they're not selected for removal on the next step.

You will then be asked if you are running PC Decrapifier on a brand new PC. Once you've chosen you'll be asked if you want to create a restore point, which is optional.

remove unwanted programs

The application will then attempt to detect any known bad software to remove. If you installed Windows yourself you're probably not going to find anything, I didn't. The final screen will give you the option of removing any other installed software that the detection process may have missed.

You will then be able to click next, and confirm that you want to remove any items you have selected.

remove unwanted programs

Turning Off Windows Features

If you find that you never use Windows Media Center or another main Windows feature then you have the option to remove it. You can always add features again later, provided you've got a Windows CD/DVD.

Click on Start, Control Panel and then Programs and Features. Once the window has loaded you can click on Turn Windows features on or off. In the box that loads you'll be able to remove whatever you want, including Media Center, Media Player and even Internet Explorer.

remove unwanted programs

Uncheck whatever you want to remove,  and click OK. You'll need to restart your PC before your chosen changes are made.

Anything Else?

Well there's always the chance that something was missed, so you're probably going to want to have a good look through your Start Menu for any lingering software you'll never use. It's also worth checking out exactly what's starting up when your PC boots.

To do this you'll need to launch the Microsoft System Configuration Utility. Windows XP users can hit Start then Run, Vista and 7 users might need to search for "run" and open it from there. Once the Run window has opened, type msconfig and hit Enter.

remove unwanted files

Click on the Startup tab and have a good look at the list of applications that start-up when Windows first loads. Uncheck any you don't need, things like Java and graphics configuration utilities aren't strictly required and will only slow your machine down at boot.

For anyone who doesn't mind installing more software to do this for you, then Soluto is a great little boot streamlining tool.  Or check out WinPatrol. Anything you know you don't want starting up can be removed, and if you think you don't need it full stop then you can remove it from your system yourself.


Once you've finished going through your PC with a fine-toothed comb, removing all that you don't want and leaving only that which you do then I'd recommend running a quick registry clean with CCleaner. This will help remove any signs of the programs you just uninstalled from the registry.

remove unwanted programs files

Remember if you’re after a new PC then you don't always have to specify an operating system and many manufacturers will ship you just the hardware.

You're then free to either order an OEM copy of Windows on the same order and set it up at home, or try a completely different operating system altogether. Certain manufacturers (Dell included) now give you the option to opt-out of nearly all pre-installed software at the checkout.

If you like the free option you could also try LinuxUbuntu is now establishing itself as a viable alternative at last, and it's available in so many flavours at no cost.

I recommend you take a heavy handed approach to removing crapware, ask yourself – would I ever install this? If the answer's no then you know what to do. Good luck.

Do you hate crapware as much as we do? Any tools or tips? Did you go Mac or Linux and avoid this situation? Let us know in the comments.

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How To Find Wireless Internet Service Providers Near You

Posted: 13 Oct 2010 02:31 PM PDT

wireless internet service providersPicture that you’re floating in a boat on a lake.  Curious what the weather looks like over the next few days, you pull out your trusty laptop and visit your favorite weather site for the forecast. Or you’re on a family road trip, and during the five hour drive, your spouse uses the wireless Internet service to plan the vacation and order event and attraction tickets.

These scenarios are no longer science fiction – they are very real and if you know where to look, you can have high-speed Internet almost anywhere in the world without the need for wires or to hunt around for a Wi-Fi hotspot. Thanks to the magic of 3G and 4G networks, wireless Internet service is now in the realm of competition with other Internet subscription plans. The beauty of wireless Internet is that it’s available both at home and on the go – true 100% mobility.

One thing about mobile broadband access is that a lot changes as you move from country to country. For the most part, 3G and 4G wireless Internet service providers are very regional, and all come with their own access rates and rules. So, to help you navigate through the wilderness, I’m going to list some of the major wireless Internet service providers around the world, and let you know what you can expect from those services.

U.S. Wireless Internet Service Provider Choices

Starting in the U.S. you’ll probably find the widest variety of choices. You’ll need to factor in the coverage area, prices, data transmission limits, and available transfer speeds before choosing. Not all 3G networks are created equal – a lot depends on the quality and coverage of the network.

To show you the difference, I’d like to compare the coverage map of Cricket, one U.S. company that sells wireless broadband, with the coverage map for Verizon, a larger telecom company. Here’s what Cricket’s coverage looks like.

wireless internet service providers

If you live in a major metropolitan area – this could be a very easy solution for Internet access both at home or at your favorite cafe. However, if you plan to travel the country and have wireless Internet access the whole trip – it isn’t happening. However, take a look at Verizon’s map.

wireless internet providers

In the blue area, download speeds can reach up to 1.4 Mbps. For many folks, that’s more than enough for both home and mobile use. If you’re a light Internet user, you could completely do away with your home broadband service and just use wireless from anywhere. However, if you’re a heavy user, then be careful because most plans have usage limits. You may be able to find an unlimited plan, but it’ll cost you.

Other wireless Internet service providers in the U.S. include Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Nortel, Sprint and T-Mobile just to name a few. All you’ll need to purchase is a USB wireless connect card and you’re all set. Some services even provide the hardware as part of the contract.

Wireless Internet Service Providers In Europe

If you live anywhere in Europe, you also have lots of choices, but the entire market is different. With a different landscape comes different players, terms, service limitations or freedoms, and much more. For example, Trustive is one service that offers 3G Internet access in several “zones” across the continent. Here’s the coverage map for Zone A.

wireless internet providers

Other global services that are available include Megapath, BigPond, iPass, or MobilityPass. Again, always make sure to compare coverage, service limits, price and all of the other factors, and choose the service that suits your usage behavior. Otherwise you’ll find yourself with surprises when the bill comes.

Wireless Internet In India

India is fast becoming one of the more technologically advanced nations in the world. Adoption of new technologies among the population is just impressive, and the spread of advanced telecommunications throughout the country is evidenced by Reliance Communications entering the market and creating one of the country’s first wireless broadband networks, offered to consumers under a service called NetConnect.

wireless internet providers

That image on the Reliance website really does say it all, doesn’t it? There’s nothing like the freedom of cellular network-based wireless Internet.

Wireless Access in China

China gets a lot of grief in the media across the world for the level at which the government filters its citizens’ Internet access. But if you’re traveling to China, one thing that’s for certain is that the country isn’t in the dark ages when it comes to mobile Internet technologies.

The two major mobile providers are China Mobile and China Unicom. As you can see from Unicom’s coverage map, you’ll be hard pressed to find a spot where you can’t get online using the 3G network.

wireless internet service providers

So, the bottom line is that just about anywhere you go in the world, there’s a wireless Internet provider available that can offer you the freedom of surfing the web from the largest lake to the highest mountain. So long as you can get a cellular signal from the nearest tower – you can get on the web.

Do you use mobile broadband where you live? What’s your experience with quality of service and affordability? Share your own experiences in the comments section below.

Image credit: BSK

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Hot Tech Deals [Oct 13th]

Posted: 13 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. Dell Vostro 3400 Intel Core i3-350M 2.26GHz 14in Laptop (Aluminum, 2GB/250GB) $539

  2. Dell Vostro 3300 Intel Core i3-350M 2.26GHz 13.3in Laptop (Aluminum, 2GB/250GB) $599

  3. EXPIRING Linksys WUSB54GSC-4A 802.11b/g USB Wireless Adapter w/ SpeedBooster $6.99 Free Ship via code EMCZYYV63

  4. Buffalo Nfinity 802.11n Wireless N High Power Router (Gigabit, DD-WRT, Superior Range) $72.99 Free Ship

  5. EXPIRING Samsung Spinpoint F4 2TB 3.5in Internal Hard Drive (667GB Platters) $94.99 Free Ship via code EMCZYYV28

  6. EXPIRING Creative Fatal1ty Gaming Headset w/ Noise Cancelling Mic $19.99AR via code EMCZYYV59

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set



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5 Free Calculator Apps If You Aren’t Happy With The Windows Calculator

Posted: 13 Oct 2010 12:31 PM PDT

free calculatorSimple mathematical functions are adequately handled by the default calculator bundled with Windows. Numerical analysts and statisticians though, feel seriously handicapped with the barebones calculator provided by Windows.

Windows 7 has gone in for a renovation and the new Windows 7 Calculator leaps ahead of its predecessors. It has multiple modes (Scientific, Programmer, and Statistics), conversion features, worksheets to work out your fuel economy, lease payments, and mortgage payments, and a few more nice touches. There's of course, the neat look too.

But it's still not as advanced as a section of users would like.

Thankfully, other free calculators come in various flavors. From the dirt simple Google search bar to the gallery of browser add-ons. Then you can factor in these five free calculation tools (simple to advanced) that should stand up to the numbers you throw at it.

SFR Calculator

free calculator

SFR Calculator has an MS Office-like interface. It also gives you a choice of three skins. Unlike other free calculators, its use is similar to the kind we do on paper. You can use it like a text editor and add comments or any other annotations to your calculations. The advantage of the tape style of calculations is that the calculations can be kept as records and even printed out. The calculator may not be suitable for power users but can be used to perform accounting operations.

SFR Calculator (ver.4.0.6) is an 8.6MB free calculator download. It is supported on Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, and Windows 7. Versions of SFR Calculator are available for Windows Mobile and the iPhone.

Moffsoft FreeCalc

free calculator

Moffsoft FreeCalc is also similar to the above application in the way it uses a printable and savable interface ('tape'). You can set the display to use different color schemes. Numbers to be calculated can be neatly arranges in groups on the tape. The calculator is very light on resources and can be quickly accessed from the system tray.

Moffsoft FreeCalc (ver.2.0) is a 764KB download. It is supported on older Windows OS, Vista, and Windows 7.


free calculator download

SpeedCrunch comes as an installer and also in a portable version. It has a clean user interface and a very intuitive response to your inputs. SpeedCrunch calculates even as you type and this auto-completion behavior is quite handy when it comes to result speed. Results are precise up to 50 decimal points. Syntax highlighting also minimizes errors as you type. You can feed in formulas, constants, and functions from the extensive library that's available. SpeedCrunch supports unlimited range of alpha-numeric variables and it also lets you store your own for later use. If the stored variables are too many, there's a handy search bar to help locate them.

SpeedCrunch records everything in history and you can easily recall and reuse a previous expression. You can also save a session for later use.

SpeedCrunch (ver. 0.10.1) is a 2.4MB download. It is supported on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Also read: SpeedCrunch – High Precision Freeware Desktop Calculator


free calculator download

SpeQ is a mathematical software which uses a sheet (or tape) just like the two we have mentioned before. But unlike them, SpeQ offers a library of computational functions. You can define your own variables and use them in your functions. The software has 100 pre-loaded constants plus 130 built-in units. You can plot graphs and trace the plotted functions. The memory list helps to reuse all previously defined functions and variables. You can add in your comments in the sheet, save it, and also print it out.

SpeQ (ver.3.4) is a 520 KB portable download. Installer is also available. It is supported on Windows (all).


free calculator

SpaceTime goes beyond the idea of just a free calculator and falls into the category of an advanced scientific application for power users. There are interactive tutorials which help you to start off with the app. SpaceTime has support for 2D and 3D graphing features. The scientific calculator has a large catalog of functions. The mathematical software covers algebra, computer algebra system (CAS), trigonometry, statistics (scatter plots, probability plots, histograms etc), and calculus among other capabilities. You can also enter your own scripts for solving loops, recursion and generating functions. Ultimately, you can capture screens, frames and results with a click.

SpaceTime (ver.4.0) is a 1MB download. It is supported on Windows (2000, XP, Vista, and 7) and Mac OS X. SpaceTime can also be downloaded for the iPhone and the iPad (not free). SpaceTime requires an obligatory free registration for use.

The five calculators cover the breadth from simplicity to complexity. The one you pick will depend on the level of calculations you need to perform. What's your view on the above five? Which is your favorite calculator app?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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How To Quickly Set Up & Share Beautiful Photo Galleries With Dropbox

Posted: 13 Oct 2010 11:31 AM PDT

dropbox photo galleryOne of the best ways to make use of the “dusty” pile of digital images on your hard drive is to share them with your friends and family. There are many ways to achieve that, such as sending them via email, uploading them to Facebook and/or Flickr, or setting up a photo gallery using Wordpress to display the images.

All of those options above are fairly easy to set up and require a short amount of time to complete. But there’s nothing bad about having more options. I accidentally found one quick and easy method of sharing images when I was doing my How To Use Dropbox As Free Unblockable Image Storage For Your Blog article, and I’d like to share my findings with you.

Dropbox Photo Galleries?

If there’s one application that never ceases to amaze me with its untapped potential of usage variations, it would be Dropbox.  It seems like every time I shift my perspective a little bit, I find other ways to utilize it.

This time I found out how to set up and share quick and easy photo galleries using Dropbox. This feature is not exactly hidden, but it’s mixed among other things so that I didn’t really notice it.  Here’s how you can set up photo galleries of your own.

  • Open your Dropbox folder on your computer and navigate to the “Photos” folder.

dropbox photo gallery

  • Create one or more folders inside the Photos folder. Each of these folders will become one photo gallery/album. Then put and arrange your pictures inside those folders and wait for the upload process to finish.

dropbox photo sharing

That’s it, you’ve just built yourself several photo galleries. Congratulations.

Enjoying & Sharing The Galleries

It seems hard to believe that building a photo gallery is that easy. So it’s only natural if most users wonder about the quality of the result. Why don’t we take a peek then?

  • Visit the Dropbox website under your account – or use the right click “Launch Dropbox Website” menu of the icon as a quick shortcut.

dropbox photo sharing

  • Go to the “/photos” folder by clicking this link or by choosing “Photos – Gallery” from the drop down menu.

dropbox photo sharing

  • You will see all of your photos grouped in albums/galleries. These albums are the folders inside your Dropbox “Photos” folder. Click one of the photo albums to view the content.

dropbox photo slideshow

  • Aside from the pictures, the album/gallery view will also provide you with the sharing link. You could copy the “Share this gallery with friends” link, paste it into an email (for example) and send it to your friends and family to share.

dropbox photo slideshow

Clicking on one individual picture will open it in the cool “lightbox-style” display – where everything is darkened out except for the images that you focus on. At the upper right hand side of the page, there’s the link to play all of the photos within that album as a slideshow.

The size of the main image will always be adjusted to the size of the browser window. If you view the gallery using a small screen computer, the images will also be small. That’s why there are options to view the images in full size and to save the images on a computer’s hard disk.

dropbox photo slideshow

If you want to close the album and move to the next one, click the “X” button at the upper right of the display.

One Additional Trick

Another alternative usage of these galleries – beside emailing your friends the share links, is to use them as redirection links of images in your blog post.

Upload one of the pictures in the photo album that you want to use in your post, and use the “share gallery” link in the “Link URL” field instead of the File URL of the image.

dropbox photo gallery

Now every time one of your blog readers clicks on the image, he/she will be taken to the shared Dropbox gallery. This is a great way to show a series of images on your blog while conserving the storage and bandwidth. Just be sure to set the gallery to be opened in another tab/window.

For something that you can build literally within seconds, these Dropbox Photo Galleries are so much better than decent. It’s perfect for those who want to quickly share their photo collections but don’t want to deal with the hassle of building the “usual” gallery. Plus, the images and the albums can be erased easily anytime you want just by deleting the folders inside your computer’s Dropbox “Photos” folder.

Have you tried to use the Dropbox photo gallery feature before? What do you think of it? Do you know of other similar alternatives? Please share using the comments below.

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How To Add Opening & Closing Credits To Your Movies With iMovie ‘09 [Mac]

Posted: 13 Oct 2010 10:31 AM PDT

how do you write movie creditsI've already described several reasons why iMovie ‘09 is a useful movie editor for general users, but the program does have some limitations. With previous versions of iMovie, third-party plug-ins could be used to add effects and get beyond the limitations of the program. But for some odd reason, Apple decided to close the program's doors to the wide variety of creative third-party enhancements and instead incorporate a few of those features in the latest version, while still leaving out many of them. But if you experiment a little with iMovie '09, you can find creative ways to enhance your video and movie productions.

For this particular tutorial, we're going to bump up the opening and/or closing credits for a movie production.

iMovie ‘09 includes a traditional set of titles and movie credits that are in some ways a cut above previous versions of what was offered in previous versions of the program. But when it comes to movie making, it's all about motion. You'll notice that in nearly all movies, there's constant movement in nearly every clip and frame. So let's see how we can create a non-linear opening or ending credits in iMovie ‘09.

We're going to create a credits clip separate from the movie itself using one of iMovie ’09’s themes. Then we'll save the credits clip so it can be added to the beginning or ending of a movie (you could also simply start out your movie with a selected theme, but that's not always desirable). The examples that I provide here are just that, examples. You're responsible for experimenting and customizing to fit your own needs.

Step 1

Start a new project in iMovie and title it “Credits“. Select the Scrapbook theme and deselect the “Automatically add” transition button. Click “Create“.

how do you write movie credits

Step 2

Now click on the Titles icon in the Toolbar. Notice we get a couple of dozen title styles, including styles specifically for our selected theme.

end credits of a movie

Select the Simple style first and drag it into the Story Board. You will be presented with a Background palette to choose from. For our tutorial we're going to select the Stars background.

end credits of a movie

Click on it so that it shows up in the Story Board. As a background it's okay, but remember, video is about motion. So let’s put some motion in the background image. Select the background clip and then click on the editing button in the clip, and select Cropping and Rotation.

end credits of a movie


This will open the clip in the Viewer on the left side of iMovie. Now select the Ken Burns button, and then move the Start and End boxes around so that they will create some motion in the background.

movie credits

Step 3

Click on the Title bar of the background/title clip in the Story Board.


It will open up again in the Viewer where you can customize the title.

movie credits

Step 4

Now we have a movie background and an opening title. Let's go back to the Title styles in the tool bar and build on our credits. At this point you can select any styles you like. The objective is to maintain movement in each clip. You, for example, can use the Upper Third style and add a name or title role. The next style might be the Lower Third 1 in which you add another name.

movie credits

These styles can be followed by other motion styles below them. Just experiment until you get the flow you want. For each clip also add motion to the background as we did above. One last suggestion is to use transitions between each of the title style clips, which again will add motion between clips.

how do you write movie credits

After your credits are set, select some music from your iTunes library or from the set of Jingles in the Movie and Sound Effects browser of iMovie.

After the credits are set up like you want it, choose Share in the iMovie menu bar and select ”Export Using QuickTime” and then select ”Export to MPEG-4” or to whichever format you're creating your movie in. You can drag that exported clip into your movie project.

The above steps are a little more extra work in iMovie, but you will find that if you poke around and combine various tools and styles that you can get beyond some of the limitations of the program.

Let us know if this tutorial was useful for you, and what tricks you use in iMovie ‘09.

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What’s New In Ubuntu 10.10, “Maverick Meerkat”? [Linux]

Posted: 13 Oct 2010 09:31 AM PDT

new ubuntuWonder whether the new Ubuntu is worth a shot, but found the official list of new Ubuntu features lacking in pictures and context? We’ve got a summary below, complete with screenshots. Find out if you want to download Ubuntu 10.10.

Windows users see a new release every four years or so; Mac users, about every two. Ubuntu users, on the other hand, get a new Ubuntu upgrade every six months free of charge. Sometimes the changes are major; sometimes minor.

Ubuntu 10.10, codename “Maverick Meerkat”, is an upgrade that consists of mostly minor changes. If you’re trying out Ubuntu for the first time you should probably use 10.10, but if you’re using 10.04 right now there’s no single compelling reason to upgrade (besides the usual geeky quest for the latest thing).

But enough chit-chat; let’s take a look at what’s in this new version of Ubuntu.

Software Center

After slowing evolving into something useful in recent years, the Software Center now has a new home page. Categories are broken down as you’d expect, but below them are the new “Featured” and “What’s New” sections. The idea here is to help people stumble upon new software.

new ubuntu

It’s not exactly the App Store, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Another possible step in the right direction is the “For Purchase” section. The Ubuntu team is hoping to sell software via this channel, something almost unheard of for a desktop Linux distribution.

The hope is this will attract developers to the platform. I myself can’t wait to use this to pay for InDesign and high-quality games, but the question is whether Linux users will be willing to pay for software when so much good stuff can be had for free. Time will tell, I suppose; for now there’s not much in the way of pay packages here.


The installation process is perhaps the most improved thing for end users. My favorite, though probably the most controversial, change is the inclusion of this screen:

ubuntu new release

As you can see the installer now includes some helpful information about system requirements. Beyond that, though, you can now install Flash/Java/MP3 capability during installation and in one click. You can also have Ubuntu automatically download all updates before rebooting, which is a great way to ensure your desktop is totally ready for you in a few simple clicks.

The partitioning tool is also a great deal simpler now, which will be welcome to those with little understanding of such things:

new ubuntu

As you can see everything is explained in plain English, but access to more geeky controls is only a click away. Brilliant.

Another nice touch with the installation process: the annoying questions, including time zone and user name, are asked after the partitioning process begins. This is a really slick way to speed up installation, because it’s really easy for a computer to multi-task in this way.

There’s a really slick slide show that happens during installation; read more about that over at OMG Ubuntu.

Other Changes

Worth The Upgrade?

Is Ubuntu 10.10 worth the upgrade? That’s really up to you. If nothing here excites you I’d suggest sticking with Ubuntu 10.04, which as a Long Term Support release will continue working really well for you. But if a certain feature here excites you, or if you just plain like staying on the cutting edge, I’d recommend upgrading. There’s no reason not to; Ubuntu is free.

And you Windows users wondering whether or not to try 10.10? Come on; you’ll like it! There are plenty of reasons for a disgruntled Windows user to try Ubuntu, and even if you don’t want to install a new operating system there are also reasons every Windows user should have a Ubuntu Live CD.

Head over to today to download the latest Ubuntu, or you can have a CD mailed to your house free of charge. Yeah; that’s right. Mailed to your house, for free. There’s no reason not to try.

Stay tuned to MakeUseOf for an in-depth look at the new Ubuntu netbook operating system, and a list of recommended steps for new Ubuntu users. For now, though, discuss what you think of the new Ubuntu in the comments below, or feel free to ask any questions about trying this new operating system out. We’re here to help!

Image Credits : Photo from Wikipedia under Creative Commons License, originally by Ashleigh Thompson

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Make A Fashion Statement By Wearing A MakeUseOf T-Shirt

Posted: 13 Oct 2010 09:01 AM PDT

We are hard at work coming up with new designs for our T-shirt store but have you seen the ones we already have? We have some cool designs that you should check out.

Maybe you would like to explain to everyone that your bad attitude is actually in beta?   Or perhaps you would like to show your love of geeks?   Whatever your tastes in T-shirts, there’s sure to be something in our store for you.   Just head on over and have a look.

And all for a very low price of $16.95 and shipping.   For a high quality, very durable T-shirt, that is an amazing deal.

Here to model our Caps Lock T-shirt this week is our very own tech guy, Jorge, with a devilish grin, as he demonstrates the evil caps lock key.

Jorge Sierra

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Top 15 Tweeting Stars & Celebrities You Really Should Follow

Posted: 13 Oct 2010 08:31 AM PDT

tweeting starsCelebrities are all over Twitter. Tweeting stars is one of the things that made the service so popular to begin with, because it offers fans a once in a lifetime opportunity to interact with their favorite stars and follow their every move. For celebs, it offers them the ability to manage their own image.

You could make the case that there are actually too many celebrities on Twitter for you to decide who to follow. Maybe you’d be happy following all of them, but what if you want to know who’s constantly pumping out the juicy, entertaining tweets?

In this article, I will run down a list of the top tweeting stars and celebrities you really should follow. You won’t find any Biebers or Hiltons on this list.


Ashton Kutcher (@aplusk)

tweeting stars

Once touted as the most followed person on Twitter, Ashton Kutcher has to be on this list. Ashton shares a lot of what he finds funny or interesting, he @replies people, and he makes use of sites like Posterous and Ustream in his tweets. There’s definitely some value in his Twitter stream.

Rainn Wilson (@rainnwilson)

celebrity tweets

If you’ve ever watched The Office, you know Rainn Wilson is hilarious. His tweets are cut from the same cloth as his role on the show and are usually very humorous. Follow Rainn if you want to get his take on current events.

Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano)

celebrity tweets

Alyssa Milano uses Twitter like most of us non-celebrities use it. She tweets about sports, current events, and whatever is relevant or interesting. She’s very personable and is not afraid of over-tweeting, as she states in her bio.

Jeremy Piven (@jeremypiven)

celebrity tweets

Most people can’t hear Jeremy’s name without thinking about his character Ari Gold on Entourage. His tweets are similar in spirit in that he speaks his mind and is not afraid of offending anybody. He does have some interesting tweets.


Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow)

celebrity twitter

As Ellen claims in her Twitter bio, her tweets are real and “spectacular”. If you’re looking for relevant tweets, or just something to make you laugh, you should follow this tweeting star.

Jimmy Fallon (@jimmyfallon)

celebrity twitter

I had to mention Jimmy on this list. His tweets are usually pretty funny and off topic, and he occasionally will mix Twitter in with his Late Night television show. Definitely check him out, as well as Quest from The Roots (@questlove), his partner in crime.

Conan O’Brien (@ConanOBrien)

celebrity twitter

Admittedly, I am a big fan of ‘CoCo’. He started his Twitter career when he was “let go” by NBC and it has since become a huge hit. His new show is coming up this Fall which, like his tweets, will probably be hilarious.

Rob Corddry (@robcorddry)

Rob’s tweets are funny in a sinister kind of way. He’s a talented guy and he is not afraid to express his opinion on any subject. Send him a tweet and you just might get an answer.

Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey)

Jim Carrey is another hilarious tweeter. There’s not really much I can say about his account. When you follow Jim Carrey, you know what you’re getting.

Sports Stars


Shaq might be one of the greatest tweeters of all time, in my opinion. His personality really shines through on his Twitter wall as he shares videos, pictures, and “random acts of Shaqness”. He will occasionally do cool things like give away tickets to fans and hold hilarious contests also.

Chad Ochocinco (@OGOchoCinco)

Chad uses Twitter and Ustream like it’s his job. He lets his fans into his life through his tweets and he engages his audience. If you want to be entertained, follow Chad.


P. Diddy (@iamdiddy)

Follow Diddy if you want to read inspirational tweets or words of wisdom. His status as a hip-hop icon and celebrity is reinforced through his tweets, as he comes off as the powerful individual that he is.

Kanye West (@KanyeWest)

Kanye occasionally makes the news for controversial things that he says, and his Twitter account is no different. He keeps it very real and when you read his tweets you know he’s speaking from the heart. Follow him to know what he’s doing/thinking.


Barack Obama (@BarackObama)

tweeting stars

Last, but certainly not least, is Barack Obama. What kind of American would I be if I didn’t include President Obama on this list?

As far as politicians go, Barack is about as celebrity as they come. If you want to find out about what’s going on with the government, or you just want a place to voice your opinion, Barack’s account is a good one to follow.


Needless to say, you should find a wide variety of different kinds of tweets with this list. There’s something here for everybody, and I feel like I covered a lot of the real, engaging tweeting stars out there.

If you are in the following mood, you can find more people to follow here.

Is there anybody you would add to this list? Leave your thoughts, ideas, and comments below!

Image Credit: Konstantin Sutyagin

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Facebook Now Texts Users Temporary One-Time Passwords [News]

Posted: 13 Oct 2010 08:00 AM PDT

Facebook is at constant war with their privacy settings, often altering/tweaking things that cause a lot of users headaches. We have covered Facebook privacy here a multitude of times.

One issue we’ve never tackled was that of protecting the sanctity of your Facebook profile when you’re in a public place. What do I do if I forgot to logout? How do I prevent this from happening again?

Facebook is attempting to answer both of these questions by rolling out some new features: temporary passwords and remote logging out. Allow me to point out how these features work, as well as assess the need for them.

Facebook Will Text Me A Password?

To receive a temporary password to your account, all you have to do is text otp to 32665 (FBOOK) from the mobile phone you have associated with your Facebook account.

You’ll receive a temporary password that expires in 20 minutes and can only be used once. The code will be a very secure one that includes both lower and uppercase letters and numbers, which will be relatively hard to remember, so be sure to keep your phone with you when you go to login.

If you are worried about forgetting to log out of your account, Facebook has you covered with their remote logout feature.

On your Account Settings page, Facebook will now show your activity, also. This will let you see the approximate location your account was accessed from, as well as the device from which it was accessed.


Tech Crunch called Facebook’s temporary password idea “genius” and “brilliant”. While I think it is a good move, I’m not entirely convinced that Facebook had to create a system for texting temporary passwords. Remote logout capabilities and recent activity seem to be enough for me, but it looks like Facebook really wanted to cover all the angles.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this. Leave a comment below!

Source: Facebook

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