Saturday, October 30, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [October 29th]” plus 10 more “Cool Websites and Tools [October 29th]” plus 10 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [October 29th]

Posted: 29 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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Typefront – Thanks to today's web browsers users can view websites with custom fonts not installed on their computer. When he/she visits the page, the font is downloaded from a specified server online. If you have a website and also want use custom fonts TypeFront can help. It provides a virtual bucket to host a font online. Read more: TypeFront: Web Service For Hosting Fonts Online & Using Them On Your Site


Keepaboo – Baby diaries record a baby's first words, activities, and other milestones. Reading those entries later and looking back at those moments surely brings back fond memories for parents. But physical diaries can run out of pages or get damaged. Keepaboo provides a wonderful online solution to baby diaries. Read more: Keepaboo: Create Online Baby Diary & Record Milestones



AddressBookOne – Many internet users today use multiple accounts on email servers and online social networks. Managing your contacts on all those accounts can become tricky. AddressBookOne is a web service that helps you manage all your online contacts under a single dashboard and lets you merge your contacts created over separate online networks. Read more: AddressBookOne: Merge & Manage Your Contacts In One Place



Piq – Pixel art is a great way to be creative and come up with cool designs and drawings. There are websites offering tools dedicated solely to pixel art; these tools assist people in making use of their creativity and coming up with pesonal drawings. One websites that offers such a tool is Piq. Read more: Piq: A Web Tool For Making Pixel Art Pics



SnappyWords – Reading and making sense of the words used in dictionaries is an art that not many people have mastered. Regular paper dictionaries usually do a very bad job of explaining synonyms and the relations between words and their meanings. This is where Snappy Words comes in. Read more: SnappyWords: A Free Visual English Dictionary


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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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The 5 Best Questions From You [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 06:31 PM PDT

The one thing that decides whether or not a question asked on MakeUseOf Answers is a best question, are the answers!

Without great answers, a question means nothing. That’s why we honor the Best Answer of the Week every Friday. Today the winner is George for the answer to this question: How can I improve app sales? Congratulations George!

Your answer can win too! Just you use your email address, Disqus, Facebook, or Yahoo account to log in when commenting on a question.

Now let’s see what we can learn today:


- How do computers catch viruses?

- Can you recommend an alarm clock for Windows 7?

- What is the best free tool for making surveys?

- How can I rip a DVD to any video or audio format and remove the DVD protection?

- How can I find free e-books on very specialized topics?


MakeUseOf Answers can teach you a trick each day. Read, Learn, and Share by browsing Latest Questions, Most Popular Questions, or Unanswered Questions.

For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

Need help? Ask A Question at MakeUseOf Answers.

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Learn To Automate Your Mac MORE With 2 More AppleScripts

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 04:31 PM PDT

applescript automatorIn part one of my introductory article about Apple's automation program, AppleScript, I explained how to basically access this application and use a few of the default scripts that come with every version of Mac OS X. In part two of this article I will explain how to use a few cool and practical automation scripts that you might find useful.

With the following instructions, I assume that you have read the overview in part one of this series.

Move To Folder

The following script, when activated, will put all the files on your desktop into a folder and name that folder “screenshots”, or whatever name you designate. I use this script because I take several screenshots a day for articles like this one.

  1. Launch AppleScript and copy and paste the following code in the editor.

    set folder_name to “screenshots”

    tell application “Finder”

    set archive_folder to make new folder at desktop ¬

    with properties {name:folder_name}

    move every file of desktop to archive_folder

    end tell

  2. Click the Compile button in the AppleScript toolbar. It should look similar to the script above. You can of course customize the label “screenshots”.
  3. To test this script, put some files (not folders) on your desktop, and then click the Run button in AppleScript. It should move those files into a folder and label it.
  4. Finally, save the script as an application and put it both in your Application's folder and in your dock and run as needed. This script saves you a few steps and clicks when you're working at your computer.

applescript automator

Folder Action Script

One of the best kind of automations is folder actions because since we typically move stuff into folders anyway we might as well use a few to automate a redundant task or two.

This automation will open your Shared folder when one or more items are dropped into it.

  1. Copy and paste the following code in the AppleScript editor:

    on adding folder items to theFolder after receiving theItems

    tell application “Finder”

    make new Finder window to folder “Shared” of folder “Users” of startup disk

    set position of Finder window 1 to {500, 236}

    end tell

    end adding folder items to

  2. Compile the script to make sure it's OK. Save it in your User Library > Scripts  > Folder Actions folder. If this folder doesn't exist, you can simply create one. You can title it something like, “OpenShareFolder“.
  3. Now click on the AppleScript icon in your menu bar (this was covered in part one of the article) and select the Folders Action folder.
  4. applescript automator

  5. Select and run the Enable Folder Actions script so that folder actions will work on your Mac.
  6. Now go back to that same folder and select and run Attach Script to Folder.
  7. It will open a list of Folder Actions on your computer. Find and select the folder action script you just saved. Click OK.
  8. folderactions.png

  9. Next you will be prompted to choose a folder to attach the selected script to. In this case, select your Shared folder on your Mac. Click Choose.

Now whenever an item is dropped into your shared folder, the attached AppleScript will open your folder for you.

These are just a few examples of what can be done with AppleScript. Let us know how they work for you. In the final part of this series, I will share some free resources for learning more about AppleScript.

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Gripe – Use Your Word-Of-Mouth Power To Get Complaints Heard & Resolved

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 02:31 PM PDT

customer complaintsOne thing that has always interested me is the power of word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth marketing is what keeps business owners up at night, and it’s the reason that “the customer is always right“.

Why? Because every business owner – whether they like it or not – is in the customer service business. If you enjoy a better than average experience at a restaurant or hotel, you are probably going to be inclined to tell someone about it. If you have a bad experience? You’ll probably tell even more people.

Gripe is an application that enhances your power of word-of-mouth. In this article, I’ll explain why it’s beneficial to use Gripe, as well as show you how you can utilize it to get your complaints resolved.

Really? I Have Power?

The picture I painted above was the way things used to work. Back then, business owners could live with themselves knowing that you might only tell less than 10 people about your bad experience. It wasn’t worth their time and money to try to do a better job.

In today’s world, we all casually walk around with a large audience in our pockets. I’m not talking about the contacts in your phone, either. With today’s smartphones, we have the ability to connect with an enormous amount of people through social networks.

Now, if you tweet something out, or share an experience with your online friends, everyone can see it. Everyone. Think friends of friends and beyond. Your experience, good or bad, goes on the public record. That’s power.

So What Is Gripe?

Here’s the line from Gripe’s website:

Gripe lets you share public praise or complaints that get to the business for response, while being spread by your friends, followers and beyond!

Gripe is a free, location-aware application that uses online word-of-mouth power to help get complaints in the real world heard and resolved. By resolving gripes businesses earn public cheers that spread through a customer’s friends, followers and beyond.

This, essentially, gives businesses incentive to help you, solving your problems in the quickest fashion. With Gripe, there’s no longer a need to “cause a scene”  or “give somebody a piece of your mind” in the front lobby of a fancy hotel.

How Does Gripe Work?

Allow me to give you a simple walkthrough of how to use Gripe.

The first thing you want to do when you open the app is log in using your Twitter or Facebook account. Gripe allows you to check off your membership in review sites like Yelp, Trip Advisor, FourSquare, CitySearch and Gowalla (more coming soon).

customer complaints

Then, select Find a Place and your phone will use its GPS to locate the places and businesses in your area.

consumers complaint

If the place you’re looking for isn’t listed on Gripe, you can add it. Just go to Create a new place… and enter in some basic information about the desired location.

file a complaint

Now here comes the fun part. Once you’ve located your place, you can Start a Gripe or Share a Cheer. If you aren’t impressed with the service you’ve been getting, gripe about it!

Try to be as detailed as you can in your Gripe. This way, when management sees it, they will know exactly what it is going to take to make you happy. Gripe also has camera integration for adding photos.

file a complaint

You can also see your Gripes on the app at any time, and if they go unresolved for a while you can tweet them out or share them on Facebook. Others will be able to comment on your gripes.

file a complaint

Based on the accounts you import into Gripe, others can see just how much reach and influence you have. You’ll be surprised how many connections you actually have when they’re all added up.

No one wants to see someone with that kind of reach saying something bad about their business. Expect a resolution to your problem sooner rather than later. And if the place you’re at isn’t aware of Gripe, be sure to explain to them how it works.

Where Can I Get Gripe?

Gripe is a free application that is available for the iPhone/iTouch on iTunes and Android devices. If you have an Android phone, you can scan the image below to go to the app’s download page:

customer complaints

The more people on Gripe, the more powerful the network becomes. Will you be using Gripe to harness your word-of-mouth power?

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Hot Tech Deals [Oct 29th]

Posted: 29 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. LG W2353VP-PF 23in Widescreen LCD Monitor (HDMI) $169.99 Free Shipping

  2. Fuji Finepix S1800 12MP 18X Digital Camera (Image Stabilized) $152.37 Free Shipping

  3. Dell PowerEdge T110 Server Desktop Intel Xeon Quad-Core 2.4GHz $399 Free Shipping

  4. TODAY ONLY Olympus Stylus 7010 12MP 7X Digital Camera $89.99 Free Shipping

  5. TODAY ONLY Sony VPL-BW7 LCD Home Theater Projector (720p, 2000 Lumens) $449.99 Free Shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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3 Great Free Games For Kids New To Gaming

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 12:31 PM PDT

free internet games for kidsWhat do you do when the kids of your non-geek friends want to play on your computer? These kids are desperate to play games, but they’re utterly unprepared skills-wise for most of the games you’ve got. You need to find something quick — and it had best be nice and easy for them!

All kids go through this phase at some point: when they’re keen to play but can’t keep up with the pace of fast games; when they’re not yet well-versed in the different types of game play; when they’re too old for the toddler games and too young for the teenager games. It’s tough to find games for them quickly – and even harder when you know they’re ready to play RIGHT NOW. Better be ready for them!

When looking for free Internet games for kids or any beginner gamers, try to stick to games which:

  • allow them to take their time to press the buttons.
  • don’t take too much co-ordination.
  • are as intuitive as possible.
  • don’t disqualify them from future play.
  • let them move on to a new area or level whether or not they did well.
  • have some sort of movement, colour and sound in the background.

Here’s some great free Internet games for primary school kids, some of which are just as much fun for adults wanting an easy game to play.

1. Amanita Design Games

Amanita Design is the company behind Machinarium, Samorost and Samorost 2. These flash games are beautiful to look at, simple to get the hang of and very decent puzzles. This combination makes them great for a young kid — as long as you stick around to help them with the harder puzzles.

free internet games for kids

The first part of the game is free to play online or you can buy them to keep for a small amount. Let the kids try Amanita Design’s smaller flash games too. As an added bonus, the soundtrack for Machinarium is available for free.

Similar to this:

2. Tux Games

Our favourite penguin is multi-platform, free kid-entertainment goodness. The kids can also play in practise mode for as long as they need to.

games for kids

The Tux Racer and Tux Kart games need no explanation — just race! Goodies can be collected along the way, but even a brand new gamer will work that out — just let them play.

Similar to this:

3. PopCap Games

Decent-length trials of many of PopCap’s games can be played for free online. These are ideal for a new gamer as they’re easy to learn and can be played for a really long time before they get bored.

games for kids

Bejeweled and BookWorm are perfect games for primary school kids. While playing BookWorm they might even learn something.

free internet games for kids

Need More? Try these games:

Hopefully, by the time the kids have the hang of these games they’ll be ready to move on to faster, more difficult games. Let us know your favourite free kids games in the comments!

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10 Entertainment Websites To Get Your Daily Celebrity News Fix

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 11:31 AM PDT

entertainment websitesWe are all a bit like a Peeping Tom, spying on the behind the scenes lives of celebrities and stars. The difference is that our eavesdropping and peeking is not done through the keyholes but via the popular media that these stars and celebrities are a part of.

We all revel in a bit of gossip; many make a living out of it. Stars and performers live in glass houses. Their every breath is picked up by a legion of entertainment websites and blogs. Sometimes the news is as entertaining as the roles they portray. Are you a celebrity watcher? There's nothing wrong in being one.

Here are ten websites that will help you follow your favorites and get a daily fix.


entertainment websites

Just as Lifehacker and Gizmodo bring you tech snippets, Gawker does it for media gossip. Gawker is a popular blog that's based in New York. It says it's the source for gossip from Manhattan and the Beltway to Hollywood and the Valley. Gawker also covers Los Angeles (Defamer) and Silicon Valley (ValleyWag). The site is not completely about celebrity news though as it also has takes on fashion fads, health, and popular media.


entertainment news sites

The “Thirty Mile Zone” is a celebrity news blog that covers what the stars are talking about in and around Hollywood. Their scandal coverage includes the high focus professions of fashion and sports too.  The site has been online since 2005 and as it says on its About page – in 2006, Time magazine named TMZ one of the coolest websites. Newsweek named TMZ the “Breakout Blog of 2007″.


entertainment news sites

PopSugar brings daily updates on what's buzzing on the pop culture circuit. PopSugar tries to bring celebrity news as it is without juicing it up. PopSugar has dedicated sections on specific celebrities, so you can easily follow all the past and present on them from a single place.

For those of you who have a hankering for online puzzles and games, PopSugar throws in a few online celebrity games like Celebrity Faceoff, Movie Faceoff, Slots, etc.


entertainment news sites

Mix in a bit of serious movie news with the gossipy sites we are covering here. does away with the salacious gossip and gives entertainment fans what they want – the inside scoop on the movies, music, and television. So, you can find out what's playing where, get special coverage on events like Comic-Con, and catch the headlines on whatever is going on.

Slash Film

entertainment web sites

The site's focus is on the geek/genre centric side of the movie universe. Well, this means that you get to read up on more reviews and less gossip. The site is a good place to bookmark because it brings updates on what's coming soon and news on castings.

The Hollywood Reporter

entertainment web sites

This one too gives you the regular fare of entertainment news, reviews, and videos, but it also looks at a lot of things by numbers like a trade publication. Coverage of film events like the Oscars, Sundance, Cannes is also comprehensive. The site also has sections devoted to Personal Tech, Business, and Style which also revolve around cinema and popular media.

If you log in, then the members area gives you access to a few trade tools for checking out what's in the pipeline.

Just Jared

entertainment web sites

A source for pop culture gossip, fabulous celeb photo galleries and breaking entertainment news: that's how this site describes itself. You can also follow the site if you are into celebrity fashion and want to catch a breaking trend. Teen celebrity fans can check into Just Jared Junior which covers the teen stars of today.

Perez Hilton

This well known site brings the latest gossip from the rumor mills. The site has been put together by Mario Armando Lavandeira Jr. who has become a television personality in his own right. If you like serious news, then you might give this blog a miss. But if it's the tabloid journalism you feed on, then it will find a place on your list.

E! Online

Latest news flashes, insider scoops, and live event coverage decks up this entertainment website. E!Online also covers the music and the television industries. You can check out the section called Fashion Police and the scoops by Kristin Dos Santos on her Watch with Kristin blog.


entertainment websites

From news headlines to offbeat scoops, star interviews and photo-galleries, the site covers a lot of ground. You can also catch what's coming to the theatres near you along with a lot of showtime information. And of course, there are the trailers you can watch before you buy the tickets. Check out the Directory at the foot of the homepage for easy access to the site's contents.

These film and movie websites are not mentioned in a particular ranking order. Of course, these ten are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the entertainment genre. Do you have a favorite website of your own which you follow with a fanboy's zeal. Let us know.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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Create A Mobile Wi-Fi Hotspot Using Connectify & A Windows 7 Laptop

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 10:30 AM PDT

mobile wifi hotspotThe time when we carried one internet-enabled device on us is long past. Nowadays, nearly every portable device is outfitted with a wireless internet adapter, and yet logistics are lagging behind.

Hotel rooms, university dorms and offices often offer just a single wired connector, and unless you carry a router on you at all times, it means neglecting much of your technological capacity.

That is, unless you’re using Connectify, a novel piece of Windows routing software that can instantly transform your laptop into a mobile WiFi hotspot.


The prerequisites for using Connectify are simple; you need a Windows 7 laptop, with both a wired and a wireless network card. Connectify takes the internet connection from the wired input and uses the wireless technology in your laptop to create a hotspot.

mobile wifi hotspot

Once you’ve set up the hotspot, other devices can connect to the Internet through your laptop. At home, in a hotel or at your dorm; other computers, printers and gaming consoles can be connected wirelessly. When you’re out, Connectify allows you to connect with the mobile phones, laptops and netbooks of coworkers and friends. When traveling, you can pay for a single internet connection and get all your devices online.

How To Use It

First, connect your laptop to the Internet via a wired connection. If you need to enter login credentials, or an internet access code, do this first and run Connectify when you’ve confirmed Internet access locally. It’ll appear as a Wi-fi taskbar symbol. Use left-click to expand the application, or right-click to make some quick adjustments (shown below).

wifi hotspots

Here you can configure the specifics of your mobile wi-fi hotspot. The three drop-down menus at the top are most important and allow us to specify the Internet input, output and output mode. You can use Connectify to create a wireless access point with WPA2 security, which will appear to other computers like a regular hotspot – optionally passworded, or an ad-hoc network.

wifi hotspots

If you don’t know what is what, press Easy Setup Wizard. Because your router laptop has an incoming wired connection, you can keep surfing as usual, albeit with shared bandwidth.

wifi hotspots

At the bottom of the screen, Connectify also keeps track of the connected clients and client history, i.e. who’s using your hotspot. If you see a computer that doesn’t belong, you can call up more information and block the client by right-clicking on the device name. With friendly devices, this also allows you to call up the shared drives and printers.


Far too often, I’ve outnumbered the available internet connections with my mobile devices. Connectify has proven its use in this, being one of the only applications of its kind. Contrary to other alternatives, Connectify is also fool-proof and almost ridiculously easy to use. There’s no need to get in touch with your inner geek and you can get your own hotspot online in mere minutes. The application not only solves logistical problems, but also saves you the money of an expanded internet infrastructure or hotel access costs.

mobile wifi hotspot

In one instance, Connectify seemed unable to detect a working internet connection though; a repeating issue on that laptop. On the other devices tested, Connectify worked like a charm. If you have any problems like that, check out the help section on the Connectify website.

What are your thoughts on Connectify? Do you know any other tools that enable you to share an internet connection with a score of other devices? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image Credit:

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5 Ways Your Facebook Log-In Password Can Get Stolen

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 09:31 AM PDT

facebook log in passwordOne of the coolest things about Facebook is how easy it is to access no matter where you are. With all of this connectivity, you have a lot of freedom. Unfortunately, with that freedom comes a certain level of personal responsibility. You need to be responsible for the security of your account.

Mahendra offered some awesome tips for safeguarding your Facebook security, and Tim offered some useful privacy tips when you choose to use Facebook Places. Today, I’d to enlighten you with a few more tools in your arsenal against Facebook account hijackers with 5 ways that those hackers commonly obtain Facebook passwords.

Facebook Applications, Causes & Ads

Starting from within Facebook, while you’re logged into your own account, there are a few things you should be careful about. Other MUO writers have mentioned this often, but it bears repeating – do not, under any circumstances, just click on any ads or applications that you’re unfamiliar with.

facebook log in password

There have been numerous cases of people getting viruses from Facebook ads, or otherwise releasing private details that they never really intended. Varun’s article on Facebook viruses and scams is a big help on this front.

Phishing For Facebook Passwords

Hackers are always exploiting the thing that’s most popular. Spammers utilize various methods to get you to provide your personal login details. Recently, Facebook has been a target for spammers that utilize the “phishing” technique.

facebook password

When you do click on the Facebook link, you’ll visit a page that looks like you’re logging into Facebook, but you’re actually providing the spammer with your Facebook password details.

In this scenario, you remain safe by hovering your mouse over the link and observing the status bar for the actual URL link (not the URL text in the email).

facebook password

If the link is something other than, it’s very likely that the email is a fake.

Websites Integrated With Facebook

As we move down the list, the threats become a little more advanced. As Facebook becomes ever more popular, websites, blogs and even large businesses are incorporating the well-recognized Facebook and Twitter buttons onto their pages.

That’s all well and good, assuming that the Facebook link is authentic.

facebook password

Hackers will camouflage a false Facebook login page by making it look like an authentic share button. Click on the fake Facebook button, and you’ll be handing the hacker your credentials.

facebook new password fraud

How do you avoid this scenario? Before visiting any sites, log into Facebook on a separate browser tab. Then, in a new tab, visit these sites and use the Facebook share buttons all you like. Authentic buttons that are plugged into the Facebook API will recognize that you are already authenticated and automatically post.

Desktop & Online Applications’

Another area of security concern are third party applications that have the ability to pull data from, and post to your Facebook account. I’ve tested countless social networking tools, and usually I don’t think twice about allowing the application access to my Facebook account. This is because it’s usually a well-established application that most people already trust.

facebook new password fraud

But for every well-established app that you can trust, there are probably ten or twenty bogus apps set up mostly to gain access to Facebook authentication details. The moral of the story – before you install an app and provide your Facebook login credentials, scour the web for reviews from other users (or check if it’s listed at MUO).

Logging In On Public Computers

One of the most common situations that I’ve come across is when a friend or family member has their Facebook account hijacked, the first thing I ask is whether they’ve ever logged into the account on a public computer. Most of the time they have. The problem that many people don’t realize is that little “keep me logged in” button under the Facebook login fields.

facebook new password fraud

This basically ensures that no matter where else you browse to, or even if you close the Facebook tab, that browser session remains authenticated. Go to any public library where the Internet browser is left open, go to Facebook and more often than not you’ll find that the last person that accessed Facebook is still logged in.

Fake Chat Pop-Up Ads

Another recent phenomenon to fool people into logging into their Facebook accounts is the fake chat pop-up. These ads are known to clone a Facebook chat pop-up.  It looks like a random person is trying to chat with you from where the Facebook chat is usually located.

facebook log in password

If you click on the chat window, it may take you to a Facebook phishing page. Or, it might just be an advertisement for a porn site or other product that you very likely have no interest in.

All of these tactics are now being used by hackers and identity thieves to gain access to your private facebook data. By only logging into your account on the official Facebook site, using third party apps that you know you can trust, and being very careful when you log in at a public computer – you really can ensure that your Facebook account never gets hacked.

Do you know of any other deceptive tactics hackers are using to access Facebook accounts or steal Facebook passwords? Share your own insight in the comments section below.

Image credit: Joshua Davis

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Now You Can Drag & Drop Images Into Google Docs [News]

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 08:49 AM PDT

People love Google Docs because of its simplicity. It allows you to create documents or spreadsheets in the cloud and it is very easy to collaborate with others. Add in the fact that it’s free and everyone can use it for document creation and sharing.

With Google Docs, there never seems to be a shortage of new features either. In the past we’ve written about new real-time collaboration features, the ability to upload and share files, and even how to sync your Google Docs to multiple machines.

Today, however, I’d like to talk about Google’s latest feature to their Google Docs suite: the ability to drag and drop images. In this article, I’ll explain how it works and show you what it looks like.

Will This Work For Me?

The short answer to this question is “probably”. If you are using the latest versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Safari, you can begin using this feature right away. If you are using a different browser – like IE – don’t worry, because Google says they plan to support other browsers soon.

Anyone who is familiar with MUO knows that we are not shy about adding images in with our articles. People love images, and they can help to supplement your written content, especially if you’re trying to show somebody how to do something.

Google Docs already has three different ways for you to add images to your documents. You can upload them from your hard-drive, via URL, or you can find them using the Google Image Search.

Now, however, you can simply drag the image you want from your desktop onto your Google document. It really is that easy.

What do you think of this new feature? How much time is this going to save you?

Source: Google Docs Blog

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Understanding The Differences Between LCD Display Panels [Technology Explained]

Posted: 29 Oct 2010 08:31 AM PDT

Today's market for monitors is, at a glance, simple. Everyone has settled on LCD displays as the technology of choice, and most displays have roughly the same appearance.

As Tina recently explained, however, things become more complex once you start looking at the details. In fact, even after you've considered contrast, connections, display resolutions and other factors you still have one other choice to consider – the display panel technology you'd prefer.

Display Panel Basics

Before we talk about different display panel technologies, let's first clarify what a display panel is.

Modern LCD monitors are extremely thin, as if they are made out of a single piece of material. They are, however, made up of multiple components including the display panel. The display panel is a flat sheet of material that contains liquid crystals that react in different ways when electricity is applied.

Your display panel does not work alone. A backlight shines through the panel in order to create a viewable image. Think of it like a kaleidoscope – if you view it in a brightly lit room you'll see beautiful patterns and colors, but if you try to use it in a dark room you'll see nothing at all. Today we're just talking about the kaleidoscope itself and not the light shining through it.

TN Display Panels

There is a very good chance that you are reading this article on a LCD monitor equipped with a TN display panel. That's because TN display panels are by far the most popular in the world. They're found in virtually all laptops and a large majority of desktop monitors.

The term TN stands for Twisted Nematic, the technical name for the liquid crystal technology the panel uses. The crystals in a TN panel like to do the twist when electrical current is applied. The image on a TN panel is controlled by turning up the juice and letting the crystals twist away – or stepping off the juice and letting them calm down.

While popular, TN display panels aren't the best. They can't display as wide a range of color as some other technologies and the formation of the crystals causes issues when you attempt to view the display from an off angle – an effect you'd probably noticed on your own monitor before.

TN display panels have low response times, however, which means they can refresh the image displayed quickly.  This is a trait that PC gamers often appreciate. Also, TN display panels are the least expensive currently available. You can find TN display panels everywhere – indeed, most brick-and-mortar stores stock nothing but monitors with TN display panels.

IPS Display Panels

Efforts to produce a broader range of colors and better viewing angles resulted in the IPS display, which is the second most popular display panel today. There are two major technical differences that make IPS display panels superior. The crystals in the panel are aligned differently, and each crystal has electricity applied through both ends rather than just one.

These differences give IPS panels the ability to display images in gorgeous detail. IPS panels can reproduce full 8-bit color and most companies producing IPS panel monitors proudly boast about their monitor's ability to display a wide color gamut. This is incredibly important to those who digitally edit photos and art. Monitors with IPS display panels also provide wider viewing angles, which means you don't have to be viewing your monitor dead-on to receive decent image quality.

IPS display panels do have slower response times than TN panels, and some larger monitors with IPS panels aren't great for gaming due to this trait. The biggest downside, however, is price  – these panels are always more expensive, and as a result even a 24" IPS display is usually over $400. Dell's UltraSharp series is the most well known line of IPS panel monitors in North America. You can also find IPS display panels in the iMac, iPad and the iPhone 4.

Other Display Panel Technologies

If you're shopping for a monitor you will almost certainly end up choosing between a TN or IPS panel. However, there are a few other panel technologies available. These include MVA and PVA, two related technologies.

You won't find these technologies frequently, and they're usually in extremely expensive monitors that are designed for professionals and digital artists. MVA and PVA monitors offer full 8-bit color as well (indeed, a few models claim 10-bit or 16-bit color) and these technologies are generally known to provide the widest viewing angles and deepest black levels of any display technology (although the specifics depend on the individual monitor). The downsides are similar to IPS panels – response times are often a bit high and the prices are very high.


I generally recommend monitors with IPS display panels if you can afford them. Monitors tend to last a long time, so laying down extra cash for a better monitor makes sense. If you have any tips or questions relating to display panel technology feel free to leave them in the comments!

Image Credit : Tom’s Hardware, Mark Sebastian

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