Saturday, October 16, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [October 15th]” plus 10 more “Cool Websites and Tools [October 15th]” plus 10 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [October 15th]

Posted: 15 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!


Prldr – RSS readers do a great job of summarizing articles and posts so we can skim through them. However, not all of us like the congested reading experience and layout that most RSS readers offer. Prldr is a web-based RSS reader that retains the original layout of your feeds. Prldr divides the screen into two parts. Read more: Prldr: An Online RSS Feed Reader That Retains Original Layout


Firefox Addon Builder – Firefox's add-ons are one of its fortes. Present and future developers of Firefox addons will surely appreciate any efforts made by Mozilla to ease the add-on creation process. This is why the Mozilla Firefox Add-on Builder should come as a piece of good news to them. Read more: Firefox Addon Builder: A Web Tool To Simplify Building Firefox Addons



LookForTV – This is a cool directory of streaming tv channels from around the world. Avid online viewers can use this website to find streams of individual TV channels. From the homepage, you can browse channels by country and then by genre. The best channels of your country is available as a text link where you can watch TV streams easily.. Read more: LookForTV: Extensive directory of TV channels from around the world



Generate Privacy Policy – Any website that offers a service to its visitors and handles their information has a privacy policy. The privacy policy explains how the people's information is stored, protected, and used. Through GeneratePrivacyPolicy you can easily generate a privacy policy for your website. Read more: GeneratePrivacyPolicy: Generate A Privacy Policy For Your Website Online



Fileminx – Ever received an email with an attachment that you couldn't open because you didn't have the required program on your system? Asking the sender to resend the file is not always an option since that'd require a lot of time and even then the sender might not have the same software stack as you have. Thankfully, Fileminx is here to save us from all the back and forth emails. Read more: Fileminx: Free Instant File Converter Online


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These are just half of the websites that we discovered in the last couple of days. If you want us to send you daily round-ups of all cool websites we come across, leave your email here. Or follow us via RSS feed.

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PixelSleeve for Notebooks by Speck [Mini Giveaway]

Posted: 15 Oct 2010 07:30 PM PDT

Whenever you purchase a new laptop, what’s the next thing you would normally buy? That’s right — some sort of protection, be it a laptop bag or a sleeve; you will always try your very best to ensure that your brand new lappy is kept safe and sound.

For me, I tend to go with the least bulky option. When I bought my BlackBook many moons ago, I got a cheap Case Logic sleeve that I still have with me today. It served me well. But if I had the option, I’d get one of Speck’s PixelSleeves. I’ll tell you why in a second. Today, we’ll be giving away 3 sleeves of any colour and size to three lucky MakeUseOf readers. Do you feel lucky?

At $34.95 a pop, the Speck PixelSleeve isn’t cheap. But you should get it anyway because for a sleeve, it doesn’t really get any better than this. At first glance, you may not see anything special with it. But after close examination, I found that quite a lot of thought went into making this sleeve.

Unlike many MacBook sleeves in the market, this one has a handle. Just because it’s a sleeve doesn’t mean you can’t carry it around. You can’t possible hug your laptop while in its sleeve all the time so a handle is pretty convenient. More often than you’d think.

The sleeve is made out of neoprene so it’s very, very soft and ultra light. It’s also much thicker than my existing Case Logic sleeve, which is a plus in my book because I won’t need to worry about bumping it around.

The PixelSleeve’s interior is lined with micro-fleece (which I initially mistaken as felt). Micro-fleece is super soft and very plush — providing the perfect scratch-free environment to store your laptop. Trust me, it’s uber comfortable. Here’s a close up of the inner lining.

Lastly, the PixelSleeve isn’t a wrap-over sleeve, like most cheap sleeves you’ll find in computer stores. It has a zip to ensure that no matter what happens, your laptop stays in the sleeve. In case you’re wondering, the laptop and the zip won’t come in contact of each other. There’s a small neoprene barrier to prevent the zip from scratching your laptop. Genius.

The PixelSleeve comes in 3 colours: black, pink and purple. It’s available in 3 different sizes to fit a variety of personal computing devices: 10″, 13″ and 15″.

Today, we’ll be giving away 3 PixelSleeves of your preferred colour and size! Keep reading if you want to win one.

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!

REMINDER: The Otterbox iPhone 4 case giveaway isn’t over yet. You’re still in time to join in the giveaway and win a free Otterbox Defender or Commuter case!

MakeUseOf would like to thank the fabulous team over at Speck 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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The 9 Best Questions From You [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 15 Oct 2010 06:30 PM PDT

You may be wondering why there are only ‘The 9 Best Questions‘ on MakeUseOf Answers this week. Well, if we rounded it up to 10, we would be using a copyrighted term. Interesting, isn’t it?

Let’s turn to something bright. The prize for Best Answer of the Week goes to ha14 for his answer to this question "Why won't my Windows / Dell laptop wake up from hibernation?" Thank you very much for your many smart answers and congratulations!

Would you like to win $50? Every smart answer automatically enters the contest, provided you use your eMail address, Disqus, Facebook, or Yahoo account to log in.

Now have a look at the best answers this week:

  1. What is the best online service to build your free website?
  2. How can I best resurrect an old computer?
  3. How can I stop a program from launching at Windows boot?
  4. How can I increase my laptop's battery life?
  5. What can I use to convert a movie from any extension to divx or .avi?
  6. How can I transfer software licenses to a new Mac?
  7. How can I change the type of login screen on Windows 7?
  8. How can I clone a hard disk?
  9. How can I create an automatic enroll page for an event?

There is a lot more to discover and learn on MakeUseOf Answers. Browse by Latest Questions, Unanswered Questions or Most Popular Questions. For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

Need help? Ask A Question at MakeUseOf Answers.

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7 Inspirational Photos From Flickr’s “Interestingness” Section

Posted: 15 Oct 2010 04:31 PM PDT

inspirational photosEvery so often I try to link to Flickr’s Explore photos to view the most favored and selected images from around the world. Images that appear in what is called Interestingness, are shot and produced by both professional and non-professional photographers using both professional and sometimes point-and-shoot cameras.

You can of course view these photos for their sheer artistic expression, but you can also learn photo techniques and strategies for capturing similar images.

So the following are seven images from “Interestingness” with brief descriptions of what I think stands out in these selections, as well as what techniques the photographers may have used in making the images.

I of course invite other photographers to share their insight as well, for each of us sees something different in works of art. These images are samples of what I believe can be captured by anyone who is serious about photography. Following each description is Exif data, which includes the exposure settings of the camera when the photo was taken. This data is typically embedded in digital photos.

Please link to the photos and give the photographers some much deserved positive comments.

Lost Leg, by mav_at

inspirational photos

Often I see elements of graphic design in subjects for photos. In this photo, the photographer crops out much of the subject and captures recurring squares in both the pool and the tile. The nice curve that runs through the middle of the image completes the composition.

You can find subjects for these type of photos nearly everywhere in downtown buildings and other forms of architecture.

Exif Data: Nikon D300S, f/2.8, 1/100 sec, 50mm, ISO 400

Factory Contest 2010, sTe

inspirational photos

For an action shot like this one, you have to be prepared. You can't point and shoot at the subject to capture an image like this. The photographer used both a slow shutter speed of 1/40th of a second and he panned his camera with the movement of the biker as he clicked the shutter.

This technique freezes the subject in the foreground  and blurs the background. If the photographer had used a fast shutter speed, he would have not got the blurred motion effect. Be prepared to take several shots at these type of sporting events to capture one really great one like this.

Exif Data : Olympus E-420, f/1.0, 1.40 sec, ISO 100, QuickTime software

Sunset Pier, by Eric

free inspirational photos

Every serious photographer should capture at least one sunset shot in his or her lifetime. This image features a very nice silhouette with the setting sun in the background. Silhouettes should be very distinctive and their shapes very familiar in these type of shots. You typically want to shoot using a tripod with a relatively wide aperture or slow shutter speed.

Notice that the photographer used a very slow ISO (light sensitivity setting) which helps reduce graininess in the image. These type of shots are typically not spontaneous. You will probably want to visit the venue several times to capture the right moment.

Exif Data: Canon EOS 5D Mark II, f/8.0, 1/640 sec, ISO 50, 200mm, Aperture 3.0 software

Red and Green, by rosyrosie2009

free inspirational photos

Close-up photos of raindrops on flowers or tree leafs like this one can be so striking because they capture and depict such a beautiful part of nature. As soon as the rain stops, it's a perfect time to grab your camera and tripod (to avoid camera shake) and set up for this type of shot.

This photo is appropriately titled because the contrast of the green blurred background and the red foreground compliment one another so strongly. The photographer's use of a telephoto lens helps create the strong shallow depth of field which strengthens the detail of the foreground.

If you're a serious photographer, definitely try to shoot these type of images.

Exif Data: Nikon D5000, f/7.1, 1/125, ISO 256, 185mm, GIMP software

Terminó la Fiesta, by joshico

flickr photos

This shot, in a section of Bétera, Valencia, is very picturesque. The contours of the street and apartments lead your eyes into the image. The rich color and tones make this photo almost like a painting. You almost walk into a subject like this and visualize how it will look before you take the shot.

Exif Data : none

Hiding Place, by Jonathan Hackett

flickr photos

The drama of the cloudy sky and the smooth silky texture of the water in  this black and white image convey both an awesome and eerie feel. The lighting of the rich and powerful architecture of the silhouetted  bridge is well controlled both in the taking of the shot and in post production in Photoshop.

The shot was taken with enough light to see the bridge's reflection in the water. Nearly anytime you can capture reflections in a photograph, the subject of the image stands out more. The photographer more than likely used a tripod so as to capture a sharp, detailed image.

Exif Data: Canon 50D, f/29, 100 ISO, 20mm, Adobe Photoshop CS4.

Orange, by John Baird

flickr photos

Many images are powerful for the simplicity of the subject. This is the type of photo you capture just driving around in any city or town. A lone abandoned car, truck, trailer sitting against a bright colorful background is just waiting to be photographed.

There's nothing to set up about this image. On a bright day, you can capture it hand-held. And don't be bashful about bumping up the color contrast in Photoshop to make the colors stronger and richer.

Exif Data: Canon 30D, f/2.8, 1/250 seq, 50mm, ISO 100 Adobe Photoshop C3

If you are a beginner or intermediate photographer, please check out my MUO Guide to Digital Photography for additional tips for shooting photos. If there are images on the net that inspire you, let know about them in the comments section.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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Access Your Email & Social Messages All In One Place With Inbox2

Posted: 15 Oct 2010 02:31 PM PDT

inbox2 reviewsWhat is your morning routine like? Mine goes a little something like this:

I wake up, get ready for the day, and head off to work. Once at my desk, I check my Gmail account. Then, I head over to Facebook to check my messages, see whose birthday it is, etc. After that, I open up my Twitter account and respond to any messages I’ve received there. Finally, I sit back and read through my Google Reader feeds to catch up on the morning’s news.

Sound familiar? Sometimes I wish I could scale all of that back a little. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to check all of your messages in one place? Well, I think I’ve finally found an application that’s capable of this.

In this article, I will be detailing Inbox2 for you. I’ll show you what it can do and illustrate how it can be useful for you during your daily routine.

What Is Inbox2?

inbox2 reviews

Inbox2 is a premium connected lifestyle application that brings communication – and the people you communicate with – into a single, synchronized application that is accessible everywhere.

A “lifestyle” application? To put it simply, Inbox2 helps keep you connected with the people you communicate with. Here’s a video to help visually show you what we’re talking about here:

With support for all of your email accounts and your most important social profiles, Inbox2 collects all your messages, documents, links and contacts from these accounts in one convenient place. You can read, reply and search through all of your content without having to log into multiple accounts.

The platform is designed to

reduce the complexity around the current email programs and add-ons needed to fulfill the demands of today’s savvy Web 2.0 ‘prosumers’ (professional consumers).

Allow me to show you what they mean:

Email Support

Inbox2′s innovative email platform allows you to plug in your existing email accounts or any custom IMAP or POP3 accounts you have. Supported accounts include Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, and Exchange.

inbox2 reviews

The content of your Inbox flows in a stream, allowing you to easily customize it to see what matters most. Messages in the stream are shown in conversation form, which is an attempt to make it easier to follow for you. You can engage directly into taking necessary action with your emails or organize any of the content in the stream.

Your Social Networks

There is also support for your social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Hyves, Yammer and Twitter.

inbox2 reviews

Updates are pulled into your stream alongside your other messages and can be sorted by platform. Status updates are also displayed on the side of the screen and you can message anyone on your contact list.

[Note]: For me, Twitter didn’t play well with Inbox2. It gave me a server error, which could be on Twitter’s end. I’m hoping this issue will be resolved shortly.


With all of your content in one place, Inbox2 allows the use of smart labels and stars for messages and attachments. You can also import your existing labels from other services such as Gmail. Inbox2 lets you use labels for all of your accounts.

Searching allows you to find a message regardless of what platform it was posted on, and you can use it to help you organize each inbox you have separately.

Final Thoughts

After using Inbox2, I have noticed that there is a lot of initial work to be done in the way of customizing it to fit your needs. Once you get everything how you like it, however, it can be quite useful. It was a little buggy in some aspects for me, but this is to be expected with a fairly new application. Overall, I was very satisfied with the interface and I think this has the potential to turn into a really handy application.

Will you be giving Inbox2 a try? What applications are you using to manage all of your messages? Leave your thoughts, ideas and comments below!

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Hot Tech Deals [Oct 15th]

Posted: 15 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 PowerEdge T110 Intel Core i3-550 3.2GHz Server Desktop $329 Free Shipping via code 4B9$MGJQXSF?FV

  2. Samsung HZ50W 14MP 26X Optical Zoom Digital Camera (Optical IS, 720p Video, RAW) $279.99 via code XTH8155

  3. Toshiba Satellite A665-S6057 Intel Core i5-450M 2.4GHz 16in Laptop (4GB/500GB/Geforce GT330M) $799.99 via code NVL8353

  4. Toshiba Satellite L655D-S5076RD AMD P920 Quad-Core 15.6in Laptop (4GB/320GB/Win7) $599.99 via code FBM8359

  5. Toshiba MK1059GSM 1TB 2.5in Internal SATA Laptop Hard Drive $99.99 Free Shipping via code HARDOCP113A

  6. Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium 7.1ch PCI-E Sound Card $54.99AR Free Shipping via code EMCZYZR49

  7. Lenovo IdeaPad Y560 Intel Core i7-720QM Quad-Core 15.6in Laptop (4GB/500GB/Radeon HD5730) $854 via code BTEYXNV54

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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5 Style Websites To Buy Cheap Trendy Clothes

Posted: 15 Oct 2010 12:31 PM PDT

cheap trendy clothesWho doesn’t love a good bargain? When it comes to clothes shopping online, bargains are everywhere – you just need to know where to look. If you’re searching for cheap trendy clothes, the endless list of available stores can be a little intimidating.

Plus, who decides what counts as trendy? Or cheap? Some stores love to tell you that they’re cheap, when they’re merely cheaper. Reducing a $2,000 item to $1,500 is still a bargain, but it’s clearly not cheap.

When compiling this list, price factored highly. If you can’t buy a decent selection of clothes and shoes for $30-$35 in the store then it doesn’t feature in the list.

Style was the other all-important consideration: t-shirt shops, frumpy old-lady wear, celebrity imitators and anything remotely trashy-looking lost its chance to feature on the list. What’s left is a selection of quality stores, with designer-styled clothing at reasonable prices. Oh and guys, don’t be daunted by all the women’s clothes – consider them potential Christmas presents. Time to get shopping!

1. A’Gaci

A’Gaci is a fashionista’s dream, with plenty of cheap clothes for the fashionable girl. Browse by trend, outfit, or the usual pants, accessories, shoes categories. If you shop by trend, you get a page much like a magazine, with links to all the products. They really make it easy to find new bargains!

A’Gaci in fact really surprised me, because it even had some cute and classy homecoming dresses for $30-$35. Take a look!

cheap trendy clothes

2. Forever 21

With a whole section dedicated to men, Forever 21 is the most gender-balanced store on the list. At least half of the men’s jackets fell into the $30-$35 range, t-shirts and other smaller items are far cheaper. For girls, prices are just as cheap. You can find incredibly cute dresses, shoes and other items easily for $30 and under.

trendy clothes

3. Make Me Chic

Make Me Chic has a great selection of dresses, boots, pants, fancy dress costumes, swimwear and all sorts of women’s clothing. This shop is surprising, since it’s quite difficult to find anything over $30 at all. Even more surprising is that someone with taste is behind it, meaning these bargain-priced clothes are actually quite good looking. Very much worth a look!

trendy clothes

4. Asos

Asos is every fashion magazine-lover’s dream come true. Browse through to any interesting headline and you’ll either find a page full of great products to buy, a feature article on fashion or a page of style ideas with suggested products. What’s even better is that — unlike reading a magazine — you can click through on these products to a page where you can buy them. Fantastic! Not all of it’s rock-bottom cheap though, so make sure you check out the sales.

trendy clothes

5. Cutesy Girl

Cutesy girl is — sorry guys — just for the girls, but fits the bill for women’s cheap clothing needs. Navigation on this site is really easy. Under any general section (shoes, apparel, etc.) you can filter by item or size. Then, you can filter further using the sidebar options for specific attributes or brands. This makes for some quick easy shopping. It also seems, no matter how far you narrow down your search there’s still a huge selection of products to choose from.

discount trendy clothes

Bonus Store: Fashion Remix

I nearly didn’t feature Fashion Remix because so much of the stock is way over the $35 mark. However, it does make it very easy for you to find the cheaper items. Look at what’s on sale, then narrow it down even further by clicking on your favourite designer, colour or other feature. In the sale section, this fantastic designer store can definitely provide cheap fashion for you. Here you’ll find goods for guys too!

cheap trendy clothes

Want More?

If you’re still shopping for that perfect bargain, you can always take a look at eBay and Amazon. Both of these mega-giant retailers feature a great selection of cheap, trendy clothes. Check out the sales!

If you’re keen for more fashion-oriented reading, check out these posts:

Please feel free to let us know your favourite cheap fashion store in the comments.

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The 5 Best Joke Of The Day Sites Ever

Posted: 15 Oct 2010 11:31 AM PDT

joke of the dayYou have got to be kidding! Well, that's going to be your instant response rolled into an exclamation when you read the title. How can one narrow down to five best funny joke-of-the-day sites (or even more) when a simple search reveals so many more of them?

Well, I can't and won't. Jokes more than anything else rely on the sense of humor each one of us has. So, I will leave it to each of you to find your own. In the mixed bag of these five joke and humor sites you should definitely find something to laugh at.

If you don't, then you can head over to some we had previously covered in the 8 Best Daily Jokes Sites To Lighten Up Your Mood.

You can start off with a laugh first thing in the morning, thanks to email subscriptions, RSS feeds, and Twitter updates. So you just have to snap your fingers and get a joke delivered every day. Your job is to decide whether these five websites merit a place in your inbox.

Here are five funny pills for your funny-bone.

joke of the day

These guys walked away with the domain name that many would have bribed for.  It is one of Comedy Central's – the U.S comedy network – web offerings. With just your email you can sign up to receive “the joke of the day” by email. A ZIP code is mandatory.

The best thing about the jokes on is that they are not rehashes, but original stuff from the comedians on Comedy Central. If you are on the site, you can search for jokes by the name of these comedians, by tag, or by category. You can also catch many of the jokes on video clips being told the way it should be told.

The Onion

joke of the day for today

Okay, this well known website leans less towards straight-up jokes and more towards satire. If you like caustic sarcasm which simmers slowly to trigger giggle explosions, you will love this site. They take on news and lampoon it for all its worth. From local, national, and international news, to the voices on the street, there's lot of funny stuff flying around on the site. Like me, you might love their 'Infographics'. For instance you might want to know why fewer Americans are marrying these days. Then there are the videos too.

You can subscribe to The Onion and choose to receive news tidbits either daily, weekly, or opt for just videos. The subscription box is right at the foot of the webpage.


joke of the day for today

Sick jokes test the limits of humor. And Sickipedia is an encyclopedia that's full of it. You can even vote it up if it's sick or push it down if it sucks. As contributions flood in, expect to get a great mix of the nasty and the outrageous. Join the Sickipedia community and get a few more perks like editing privileges.

Subscribing to Sickipedia needs a bit of rummaging around. The RSS Feed option is there in front of you where you can choose your timeframe and the content. A Google search revealed that there's a Twitter route too.

Daily Comedy

joke of the day for today

Daily Comedy is a well rounded website filled with funny stuff – funny news, fresh jokes, videos, and more. Daily Comedy also features a lot of fresh material from A-list comedians. You can also post your own content and create a page around it. You can get fresh content in your inbox each day by signing up for the 'DailyLOL'.

Old Jews Telling Jokes

joke of the day

Slickly created and presented, Old Jews Telling Jokes are several mini-clips of standup comedy routines. The name of the site says all that's to be said about the site. It's almost an old-fashioned way of telling jokes, the way your favorite uncle or grand-parent probably tells them. You will have a neurologist, a dentist, a guy who is 50 and has run in four NY marathons, and more, relating funny anecdotes. Not every day, but the presentation is worth the gaps.

Take the RSS feed to receive updates, subscribe to their newsletter, and download the free podcasts from iTunes.

Well, the idea is to get a joke-of-the-day first thing in the morning so that you can go out of the door with a smile on your face. These five online joke stores can help to trigger it. For the rest of the day, you can check out a few other laughs from the websites featured in 5 Websites with Things to Make You Smile & Light up Your Day.

Which are the ones you would like to add to the list? Remember, laugh lines are better than worry lines.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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MakeUseOf Team Spotlight [October 15th 2010]

Posted: 15 Oct 2010 11:00 AM PDT

MakeUseOf Team Spotlight is our occasional feature where we profile the work of our writers outside of MakeUseOf. We have some very talented employees who like to spread their talents all around the web and it’s only right that we should recognise and showcase those talents.

In this edition of Spotlight, we will be profiling the work of Jackson, Matt, Justin and Jorge. But don’t forget, our team loves feedback and conversation from the readers. If you would like to take part in that conversation, subscribe to their Twitter streams today.

The Best Laptop Brands

Posted on SmidgenPC by Matthew Smith

This is a big laptop brand guide that Matt posted awhile ago and that he frequently updates. It provides detailed information about each brand of laptop on the market and renders a verdict.

His verdicts are based on both my personal experience and also on objective information on reliability and customer service that is available from sources like SquareTrade, Consumer Reports and Laptop Magazine.

20+ Juicy Replacement iTunes 10 Icons

Posted on TheDailyBuggle by Jackson Chung

Jackson is not a fan of the new iTunes 10 icon. Honestly, he was shocked that Apple changed it. But he supposed that iTunes 10 was a pretty big leap and they designed a new icon to go with the change. For those who aren't fans of the new icon, here are over 20 funky looking replacements you got to have.

All icons are free for personal use.

While you’re over there, check out this interesting article: Facts About Marijuana Use and The Harm It Does To Your Body. It’s worth a read!

What We Need To Protect – A Short Story

Posted on Justin Pot by Justin Pot

Sometimes you just wake up and have a need to write fiction. Or, at least, that’s the urge Justin woke up to a couple of weeks ago. “What We Need To Protect” is a short story about disconnection in the digital age.

Don’t let the pulp-fantasy-novel vibe throw you off: there’s more going on here than you’d think.


Posted on gb4less by Jorge Sierra

If you’re looking to buy an internal hard drive, external hard drive, USB drive, desktop memory, flash memory, or SSD, finding the right product for the best price can be a time-consuming task. To help make things quick, easy, and maximize the capacity you get for your money, Jorge Sierra created gb4less.

When it comes down to it, what matters most is that you get the best price per gigabyte, as long as you are buying a quality product. gb4less finds the best priced product for you by seeking those that have a rating of at least 4 out of 5, have been reated at least 30 times, and have the lowest price per gigabyte. The next time you’re in the market for digital storage, be sure to check out gb4less.

If you would like to follow the MUO staff yourself on Twitter, check out this Twitter list, which is updated on a regular basis, as staff are hired or fired. From there, you can click through to each writer’s Twitter profile where you can subscribe to them for all their latest updates.

Image Credit: Visualogist

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How To Download & Install Non-Market Google Android Mobile Apps

Posted: 15 Oct 2010 10:31 AM PDT

android apps non marketBy default, your Android phone will only install applications from the official Android phone. But with a few simple tweaks, and no hacking involved, you can also enable application installs from unknown sources.

This is not just useful for those of you who have rooted their phones. Software that’s still under construction, such as Mozilla’s Fennec browser, is not yet available in the Android market.

Other software might have long disappeared from the marketplace, or you can install an older version of software that’s readily available, giving your phone’s hardware a much-deserved break and allowing you to cling to classic interfaces.

1. Allow Install of Android Apps From Non-Market Sources

Most importantly, we need to tell Android it’s OK to take candy from strangers. Press the Menu button on your phone and open the Settings pane. About halfway down the list, you’ll find an Applications menu. That’s where we need to be.

android apps non market

Make sure you’ve got the first item in the Applications menu – Unknown sources – ticked. This will allow installation of non-Market software.

android apps downloads

Of course, taking candy from strangers can be bad for your health. You’ll be met with a disclaimer, warning you about the risks of installing unknown software and asserting that you yourself will take the blame if your phone gets damaged in the process. Likewise, MakeUseOf will not be held responsible for what you install on your phone – but if you remain suspicious of shady sources, you should be alright.

2. Download (& Transfer) The APK

APK files are Android software installations – similar to the ones you’ll get from the Marketplace. You can find interesting software in the xda-developers forum. There are two different ways of getting those installation files onto your phone. We’ll discuss each one.

The easiest perhaps is to enter the link in your Android browser and download it directly to your phone. If you’re on a wireless network, this will be the fastest and most convenient option. Be careful of downloading it via your carrier, though. With the wrong data plan, you’re possibly looking at ridiculous charges. When the file has finished downloading, tap it to open.

android apps downloads

The second method is to download it with your home computer and transfer it to your Android phone over USB. The major drawback here is that you won’t be able to easily locate and install the file later on; you’ll first need to install a file manager. ASTRO File Manager can be downloaded for free (ad-supported) and is available on the Android Market.

android apps downloads

Transfer your installation file to a convenient location so you’ll be able to easily reach it on your phone. Fire up ASTRO File Manager and open the APK. When prompted, choose to open it with the App Manager.

android apps non market

You’ll see a summary and some technical details on the application you’re about to install, including the file version, file size, label and description. If you’re absolutely sure you want to install (read: you found the APK in the trustworthy reaches of the web), tap the button, wait, and you’re done.

Tell us how it went, and direct any questions to the comments section below.

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3 Most Effective Cell Phone Surveillance Apps to Monitor Your Kids [Android]

Posted: 15 Oct 2010 09:30 AM PDT

cell phone surveillanceGiving your kids a mobile phone or a smartphone can be a slightly unnerving experience. You can’t be certain whether they’ll accidentally rack up your bill with messaging charges or data overages. Some parents try to avoid buying a mobile device for their kids for as long as possible. However, there are some highly valuable advantages to your child carrying around a mobile phone, especially a phone running the Android operating system.

When you search through the Android market, you’ll discover a number of very useful surveillance apps. There are three in particular that are especially useful for parents that would like to keep a close eye on their kids to ensure their safety.

Imagine being able to check in at the house while you’re away from home, just to make sure the kids are okay. Wouldn’t it be useful to peek in to make sure that the babysitter is doing his or her job? What about listening in while your teen is at a party? Surveillance can really put your mind at ease.

The following three mobile surveillance apps for the Android will help make sure your kids are safe even when you can’t be with them.

Use M-Spy to Listen In

Have you ever heard those urban legends that the CIA or NSA can connect to any cellphone in the world and hear what’s going on in the room? Well, with M-Spy from the Android Market, you can do that too. After you download and install M-Spy to your phone, all you have to do is set up a PIN number, and the phone is immediately enabled to act as your own personal audio bug no matter where it is.

cell phone surveillance

This is one of the easiest surveillance apps that you’ll ever use. Once M-Spy is running on the Android phone, all you have to do is leave it wherever it will have good coverage of a room. If you ever want to listen in, all you have to do is send the phone an SMS message with the PIN number and the phone number for it to call.

If you text “5555 call 16035551212″, the system will call the Android phone without ringing it, and then it will call the phone number you’ve entered in the message. When you pick up the phone at that number, you’ll hear everything that’s going on at the other end. Here’s the SMS calling my own Android phone without ringing it.

cell phone spying tools

Get it by scanning this QR code with your Android phone’s camera.

cell phone spying tools

Use the Android as an IP Webcam

While audio is useful, it would be even more useful if you could position your Android phone to monitor your home while your kids are being cared for or home alone. Using the IP Webcam app on the Android Market, you can transform your Android into an IP webcam. Setup is a cinch. All you have to do is run the software!

cell phone spying tools

When the software is running, it immediately starts transmitting. If you want to see your new Android webcam server, just open up a browser and type in the IP address listed at the bottom of the setup page. To access from outside your home network, configure port forwarding on your router.

cell phone spying

As you can see, you have lots of options to view your Android webcam. Click any of the options, and you’ll have a clear view to everything your phone can see from wherever you placed it. Here’s my phone spying on my Pug as she sleeps in the living room.

cell phone spying

Get it by scanning this QR code with your Android phone’s camera.

cell phone spying

Remotely Sense Motion, Movement or Sound

One of the most advanced remote surveillance apps is RL Watcher. This application lets you enable your phone to remotely sense movement, sound or even just the slightest motion of your phone.

Each remote sensor can be individually enabled so that you can receive a notification any time each sensor is tripped. Notifications of any activity can be via SMS, e-mail or by phone. For example, you can set the phone up so that if it moves, it’ll call you at any phone number and you can listen in to whatever is going on where the phone is situated.

Did you ban your teen from using their car? Put your Android phone in the car while you’re at work, and it’ll call you if the car starts moving. Put it in an empty room, and it’ll email you when there’s movement in the room. The possibilities are endless.

You can set up the phone to capture screen shots, video or sound whenever it’s triggered by one of the sensors. Here, I’ve set up the phone to sense motion. It sends you an alert when the sensor gets triggered and it’ll even attach the snapshots.

This is probably one of the most flexible and feature-filled surveillance apps that can really help with any of your remote parenting needs. Monitor your new teen driver or make sure your kids aren’t throwing a party while you’re away from home – your remote Android surveillance unit can really set your mind at ease when you’re a parent.

Get it by scanning this QR code with your Android phone’s camera.

cell phone surveillance

Can you think of any other useful ways to use these awesome surveillance apps? Share your ideas or other useful apps in the comments section below.

Image credit: peterfeije

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