Sunday, October 24, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [October 23rd]” plus 5 more “Cool Websites and Tools [October 23rd]” plus 5 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [October 23rd]

Posted: 23 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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Live Documents – Microsoft Office is a wonderful document creation software but most people opt for Google Docs when it comes to online document editing and collaboration. The move from Office to Docs means some sacrifice on the features, leaving a usability gap. Live Documents plans to bridge that gap. Read more: Live-Documents: Free Office Suite Online


RecurseApp – If you are a web or graphics designer, you will know full well of the communication problems that can arise between you and the client. Understanding the client's feedback and knowing precisely what they want can be a challenge. With RecurseApp, the task is made much simpler. Read more: RecurseApp: A Great Way To Get Design Feedback From Clients



Shiply – One of the challenges of E-bay sellers is shipping products at a low cost, especially when dealing with several locations. There is no real solution for this except to find the lowest shipping rates possible. Fortunately, Shiply is a cool web service that allows you to find the cheapest rates by matching your deliveries to available couriers who are already making similar trips across Europe. Read more: Shiply: Find Lowest Shipping Rates For Your Parcels



Audioboo – Sometimes recording an audio speech is better than writing it as the former can convey a richer meaning that cannot be captured by written words. Audioboo is a web and mobile platform that allows you to easily share an audio recording over the internet. With this social networking site, you can easily upload or record an audio recording to your account. Read more: Audioboo: Easily Share Your Audio Recordings Online



Emosi Sosial – When you buy something from eBay, most people usually check the seller's feedback score and his profile page to view the comments from previous buyers. However this method of checking a seller's reputation may baffle you more when you find out that the user's feedback score is not consistent with the comments of other users. Emosi Sosial is an online tool that can help you. Read more: Emosi Sosial: Summarizes eBay Seller Reputation


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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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3 Websites To Enjoy A YouTube Instant Experience

Posted: 23 Oct 2010 06:30 PM PDT

Since the launch of Google Instant, there have been a few (both very popular and known by the few) attempts to create the similar functionality for YouTube (probably because it also has as-you-type Auto Suggest feature).

These experiments are especially interesting because YouTube has a completely different search platform: it is more entertaining and visual than general “text” search. People use it differently and for different purposes than they do with regular search.

Before we take a look at the existing Youtube Instant attempts, let’s first see how actually Google Instant works.

  • Google uses its Suggest algorithm to try to “guess” what the searcher is going to type;
  • It auto completes your search term while you are still typing (letters in grey) and instantly shows results for that auto-completed term;
  • Search terms and search results are changing while you type;
  • If you stop typing and start looking through the results (or just get distracted), Google takes you to the actual results page you were at that moment.

youtube instant

So what could that look like if we tried to transfer similar functionality to YouTube?

1. YouTube Instant

Youtube Instant, a successful start-up by a college student which brought him overnight fame, takes a bit different approach to how it could work:

  • It does use YouTube Suggestions to guess the user’s intent. So while you are typing, the tool digs into YouTube-powered search suggestions and performs a search based on the top suggestion.
  • Instead of showing search results for the guessed term, it shows the actual video (the video which is ranked #1 for that search term on YouTube).

So, if you managed to type “somew” or “somewhere“, the tool will “guess” that you might be looking for “Somewhere in the rainbow” (as this is probably the most popular search starting with that combination of characters) – then it will instantly search for that term, grab the top video for it and show you the result. How instant is that?

youtube instant

So, if that were Google, it would rather be called “Google I am Feeling Lucky Instant” – because instead of instant search results, you get an instant result.

2. YouTube Instant Greasemonkey Script

This is a Greasemonkey script that attempts to replicate Google Instant behavior (but it works only from the home page).

The huge problem with this one is:

  • It does instantly take you to search results but it does NOT take into consideration YouTube’s search suggestions;
  • The tool instantly searches for what you managed to type in the search box:

youtube google instant

The script does have some potential but with current functionality, it didn’t appear really useful to me.

3. YouTube Loop

YouTube Loop does the best (but still not perfect) job replicating original Google Instant behavior:

  • It uses YouTube Suggest to auto-complete the search box query as you type (and it works pretty quickly);
  • BUT: It instantly shows search results for what you have managed to type (not what it suggested in the search box).

youtube google instant

So which one is the most usable for which purposes? What’s your take on YouTube Instant?

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WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe Giveaway Winners

Posted: 23 Oct 2010 03:30 PM PDT

Sometimes, simplicity is important. especially so when it comes to an average Joe computer user and a sophisticated subject like video conversion and processing. In that case, the simpler the better. So, Here are 10 lucky MakeUseOf readers who will get to enjoy a simpler, stress-free time when it comes to video conversion.

Each of you will receive a free copy of WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe. Congratulations!

  1. Vic Carter
  2. Stephen Knooren
  3. Chuck Neuschafer
  4. Emil
  5. Cheryl Boyer
  6. Dave Carson
  7. Robert J Ward
  8. Ron Griffith
  9. Kevin Cox
  10. Ben

Your licenses have been sent out via email. Please check your spam inbox if you haven’t received it.

MakeUseOf would like to thank 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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Hot Tech Deals [Oct 23rd]

Posted: 23 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 230 Slim Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 Desktop (2GB/250GB) w/ 18.5in LCD $439

  2. Dell Inspiron 17 Intel Core i3 17.3in Laptop (4GB/500GB/Radeon HD4330/3yr Warranty) $677.99 via code ?$QNC1?HSKNR9F

  3. Dell Inspiron 15 Intel Core Dual-Core T4500 2.3GHz 15.6in Laptop (2GB/250GB/Win7) $449.99

  4. HP dv7tse Intel Core i5-460M 2.53GHz 17.3in Laptop (6GB/640GB/Radeon HD5470) $749 via code NBG683166

  5. Mushkin Blackline 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3-1600MHz PC3-12800 Dual Channel Memory (CAS 7) $64.99AR Free Shipping via code EMCYTZT201

  6. Western Digital Elements 120GB Portable External Hard Drive $24.99 Free Shipping via code EMCYTZT199

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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Kaspersky Rescue Disk Saves You From Reinstalling Badly Infected Windows

Posted: 23 Oct 2010 12:30 PM PDT

kaspersky rescue diskKaspersky is known for providing quality malware protection, typically leading rankings of AV software. The Kaspersky rescue disk gives you access to that even when a nasty bit of software leaves you without access to Windows, and it’s a free download.

Some viruses are better than others. Particularly evil ones will prevent you from installing software to remove them. When that happens it’s time to turn to a live CD, which runs in spite of the operating system you may be using. This is good, because if your default operating system (typically Windows) is compromised completely you need to attack the virus from outside it.

Let’s take a look at the Kaspersky rescue disk and how it’s used.

Getting Started

First things first: you need to download and burn a copy of the disk. You’ll find the ISO file over at Kasperky’s official download page for the rescue disk. You’ll also find a tool for making a bootable USB disk here.

It’s best, however, to burn the ISO from a disk and then boot your computer from it. You probably have software on your computer capable of burning an ISO image, but if not check out the best free alternatives to Nero Burner to find a program right for you.

Once you’ve burned the file, you need to boot from it. Doing this varies from computer to computer, but most the time it’s as simple as inserting your disk and rebooting the computer. If not, watch carefully when your computer first turns on for instructions regarding the “boot menu”. On most Dells, for example, you’re going to need to press “F8″ before Windows starts. If you see a bootscreen of options congratulations: you’ve started the CD. Select the GUI and let’s get started!

Using the Scanner

kaspersky rescue disk

Eventually you’ll see a GUI, which will begin operations by mounting your hard drive(s). This might take a while, so don’t worry. When the disk boots you’ll be presented with a familar virus scanning interface:

kaspersky rescue disk

Don’t get ahead of yourself. You could scan your computer right now, but odds are if you’re infected badly enough to need this disk your malware is fairly recent. For this reason, you should click the “update” tab before you start your scan:

kaspersky rescue disc

Go ahead and click the “Get Updates” button to get started, and you’ll see the uploads take place. This may take a while, depending on your Internet connection, but it’s well worth it. Once you’ve updated everything you might want to take a look at the settings:

kaspersky rescue disc

There’s not too much to configure here; just the level of security and whether malware is to be removed automatically or at your discretion. Configure to your taste and you’re not ready to scan. The scan shouldn’t last too long, depending on the amount of data on your hard drive, so don’t be surprised if it finished quickly.

What You Get

kaspersky rescue disc

The main aspect of this CD, obviously, is the malware scanning capabilities. As you can see above, this tool can remove a variety of malware from your computer.

But there’s a bit more here. There’s a terminal, if you want command-line access to your computer. There’s also a Mozilla-based browser; useful if you want to research a particular virus or file before removing it. Finally you’ll find the XFE File Browser, for those who want a GUI way to browse their files.

Similar Tools

Kaspersky isn’t the only rescue CD on the block: the BitDefender Rescue CD is another tool for cleaning your computer when all else fails. Keep both of these disks in your toolkit and you’ll be able to save your friends from just about any infection!

Neither of these tools are an alternative to a real-time scanner, so I highly recommend you check out the top ten free antivirus programs and find the program right for you. Use the Kaspersky rescue disk only as a last resort!

Does a tool like this seem useful to you? Are you excited to have free access to Kaspersky’s respected anti-malware technology? Share in the comments below!

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Sparrow – A New Gmail Desktop Client for Mac Users

Posted: 23 Oct 2010 10:30 AM PDT

gmail for macSparrow is a lightweight email client for Mac users with a twist – it only works with Gmail and Google Apps accounts. Sparrow is ideal for Gmail fans as well as for people who don’t want to mess with POP or IMAP settings as everything is done automatically for you. Simply put in your email address and password, and you’ll be up and running straight away.

Sparrow has a variety of features including multiple account support, rich text composition, and more, that could very easily have you abandoning Gmail in your browser for this stand alone client.

Launching Sparrow for the first time, you will be prompted to enter your name as you want it to appear on your emails, your address and your password. You can also choose to make Sparrow your default email client or subscribe to their newsletter.

gmail for mac

Sparrow is automatically set to access your Gmail account using IMAP settings, and there is no way to change that.

Sparrow’s interface has a clean minimalist feel that is perfectly suited to the Mac OS. If you’re willing to part with any Gmail addons or lab features you use, you will appreciate Sparrow’s simplicity. Its sidebar has 5 buttons from which you can access your inbox, starred items, sent items, drafts and trash.

gmail and mac

The top of the screen features 4 buttons which allow you to compose a new message, reply to the selected message, archive it or delete it.

gmail and mac

Double clicking on any given message will open it in a second window.

gmail and mac

Alternatively, you can click the drawer button in the bottom right hand corner of the screen, and the message will slide out next to the list of messages.

mac ready gmail

One of Gmail’s features that Sparrow has incorporated very successfully is threaded conversations. Any conversations that contain several emails will feature the number of messages. Once you open the thread, the most recent email will be featured at the top, and you can expand and collapse the rest of the messages.

mac ready gmail

Adding additional accounts is done through Sparrow’s preferences.

mac ready gmail

The process is exactly the same, with the addition of being able to add a signature. If you would like to add a signature to your primary account, it can also be done through the preferences.

Each account is accompanied by a buddy picture, making it easy to identify your accounts in your sidebar, and switch between them. Changing your buddy account is done through the preferences. You can choose any image file saved on your computer, or take a new picture using your webcam.

When composing a new message, you can choose which account to send the email from using a dropdown menu at the top of the screen.

Sparrow uses Growl notifications to let you know when you’ve received a new message, accompanied by a sound. Both of these can be disabled depending on your preferences.

Sparrow places a small icon in the menu bar, highlighted in blue when you have new messages, displaying the number of new messages next to the icon. However, the icon does not feature any options such as checking for new messages, but rather gives you a quick way to pull Sparrow up if the window is hidden.

gmail for mac

If you want to force Sparrow to check for new messages, click the refresh button in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.

Sparrow’s strength is in its simplicity, and for those of you who want a fast and easy way to send and receive emails from your Gmail account, the free app will definitely appeal to you. Twitter users who have become accustomed to the interface that apps like Echofon and Tweetie offer will feel right at home using Sparrow.

Are you willing to abandon all the extra bells and whistles in Gmail to use Sparrow? Let us know in the comments.

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