Wednesday, November 3, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [November 2nd]” plus 12 more “Cool Websites and Tools [November 2nd]” plus 12 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [November 2nd]

Posted: 02 Nov 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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Wikipedia Book Creator – Wikipedia is a great source of information. There is a page on almost any topic under the sun, but the only problem with Wikipedia is that it really doesn't lend itself well to offline reading. If you're the kind of person who likes to print lengthy Wikipedia articles to read offline at leisure, you should give the Wikipedia Book Creator a try. Read more: Wikipedia Book Creator: Create eBooks From Wikipedia Pages


FaviGen – Favicons are little icons that appear on the address bar when you are visiting a website. They are an important representation and have become an integral part of web design strategy. While you can spend a good amount of time creating a favicon manually, FaviGen does it for you in less than 10 seconds. Read more: FaviGen: Quickly Make a Favicon For Your Website



Muvizu – is a free software that makes creating cool 3D animations much simpler than any other tool. Instead of extensive programming or graphic design, Muvizu lets you use an existing library of assets to create an animation. For example, you can use hundreds of pre-existing backgrounds in your animation instead of creating from scratch. Read more: Muvizu: Create Cool 3D Animations & Share



Baby Namer – Having a baby is a wonderful thing but choosing a name for your baby often takes a lot of thinking and debating. BabyNamer is an online baby namer tool that can help. It has a collection of over 23,000 baby names that you can browse or search through. Read more: BabyNamer: Cool Baby Namer Tool Online



Join.Me – Broadcasting your computer's screen is particularly helpful while troubleshooting or carrying out presentations remotely. Normally you need to follow a number of complicated steps in order to properly set up a screen broadcast; however, with Join Me, you can broadcast computer screen within seconds. Read more: Join.Me: Easily Broadcast Computer Screen Online


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 Toughest Tech Questions [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 07:31 PM PDT

MakeUseOf Answers can make you rich and famous!

That’s if $50 is a lot of money to you and if several hundred thousand people seeing your name makes you feel important.

How do you get there? With a Best Answer of the Week, rewarded every Friday. Solve our toughest questions and you qualify for the contest. We require a valid email address, Facebook, Disqus, or Yahoo account login, otherwise we cannot contact you with the good news.

Here are your challenges:

MakeUseOf Answers knows more than you think. Read, Learn, and Share: 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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Rover Puck Giveaway Winners

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 07:29 PM PDT

Congratulations to these five lucky MakeUseOf readers who will each be receiving a 4G Rover Puck from our giveaway last week!

An email has been sent to your inbox requesting further information before we can ship the prize to you. Please reply within 48 hours.

And the winners are:

  1. Adam Garrett
  2. Mike Upton
  3. Timothy
  4. Roger Hamilton
  5. Luis Armas

Congrats and enjoy!

MakeUseOf would like to thank Rover 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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Top 20 Best Android Apps You Need To Get (That Aren’t Games)

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 06:31 PM PDT

best android appsThe Android Market has come a long way since its initial release a couple of years ago. With more than 80,000 apps, including MakeUseOf’s Android app, there’s something out there for everybody.

Here at MUO, we’ve covered Android apps extensively. Just off the top of my head, we’ve written articles about apps for students, busy moms, runners, movie fans and even programmers. We’ve also shown you the best finance, voice and health apps, as well as how to write your own application.

But, what are the best Android apps?

In this article, I’m going to cover the top 20 best Android apps that aren’t games. If you’re looking for a clear cut list of the most useful apps that belong on your phone, this is it.

Communication & Social Apps

Since this is your phone we’re talking about, communication and social applications are probably a good place to start.

1. Facebook For Android

best android apps

If you’re like most people, you spend more time on Facebook than any other website on the Internet. If you’d like to be able to keep track of all of your friends on your phone, the Facebook for Android app is a must. You can even sync your Facebook contacts with your phone.

top android apps

2. Twitter

With the Twitter app, you can do everything you can do online with Twitter. Send tweets, DMs, share photos and video and view the real-time search, maps and trending topics.

top android apps

3. Foursquare & Gowalla

Since both of these apps pretty much do the same thing, I decided to include them together. Foursquare and Gowalla let you explore your city, see where your friends are and check into venues to receive prizes and rewards. Honestly, they’re both great apps. I routinely use them both.

top android apps

4. Google Voice

android app

Place calls and send text messages showing your Google number. You can find a lot of creative ways to use this app, including having your Google calls forwarded to your phone.

5. Meebo IM

android app

An all-in-one chat client, Meebo IM lets you chat with your friends on AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Myspace, Google Talk, Jabber and ICQ, all at the same time. Not using Meebo? Here’s 8 reasons why you should.

android app

Entertainment & Multimedia Apps

Now lets take a look at some apps for your entertainment. This section is mostly comprised of movies, music and sports applications.

6. ESPN ScoreCenter

If you’re looking to follow all of your favorite sports teams or the day’s latest action, the ESPN ScoreCenter app is all you need. Whether you follow the NFL or the Premier League, ScoreCenter is the most comprehensive sports app for the Android. Use it to keep track of stats for your fantasy sports teams.

7. Movies

If you’re a movie buff, you should check out the Movies app. Made by Flixster, this app helps you look up showtimes for the top box office movies, view local theaters, browse 65,000 DVDs, read reviews from Rotten Tomatoes and even manage your Netflix queue.

If you want to look up even more detailed movie information, the IMDb Movies & TV app is good also.

8. Pandora Radio

Pandora Radio lets you stream your favorite music on your phone (in the US only). This is the ideal way to listen to music because it allows you to hear all the latest tunes without having to continually upload them to your phone and take up space.

If you’re a fan of Grooveshark (like I am), you can also find their application on the Android Market.


Like Pandora Radio, can also be used to listen to streaming music. What makes it different, however, is the ability to learn about your favorite artists, find nearby concerts and share your music tastes with the scrobbler.

Lifestyle Apps

In this section, you’ll find a few useful lifestyle apps. These can be used when you’re out looking for something to do in your town.

10. Urbanspoon

Urbanspoon is a very useful app for when you’re out on the town and can’t decide where you want to eat. Shake your phone and Urbanspoon recommends restaurants near you.

11. Groupon

Groupon is the best site to help you find daily deals in your city. The daily deals concept is a hot topic right now and has been generating a lot of buzz. Get in on the savings while you can.

12. Yelp

Yelp not only lets you search for places to eat, shop, drink and play, but it lets you leave/read reviews of all of the places around you. Very helpful if you’re looking for that perfect place to stay or eat dinner.

News & Reference Apps

Need to find something? With these apps, you can locate just about anything.

13. Yellow Pages

Yellow Pages might be one of the most underrated apps out there. It does exactly what you would expect it to, but it does it so well. Speak or type a business or service and receive locally relevant results.

14. USA Today

Behind on the day’s news? Use the USA Today app to catch up on the latest news, scores, weather and photos you would normally find in the USA Today newspaper.

15. Google Maps

Since I recently moved to the city, this app has saved me countless hours of being lost. Use it to find your way around and get walking, driving and public transportation directions to find the quickest way to get somewhere.

One feature I really like is, when signed into your Google account, how you can look up directions on your computer and, when it’s time to leave, you open the app on your phone and it remembers your search history.

Tools & Utilities Apps

There are a lot of great tools and utilities apps on the Android Market. To round out our list, lets look at the best ones.

16. Backgrounds & Ringtones

There are 2 things that you surely need to do when you get a new phone: change the background and get a custom ringtone. Since these apps could easily be merged into one I decided to do so on this list. They each house a wide selection of creativity for you to choose from.

17. Advanced Task Killer Free

Keep your phone running super fast by killing tasks when you’re done with them. There are a lot of task killing apps out there. This one’s the best.

18. Lookout

Lookout gives your phone security with its antivirus and backup capabilities. You can also use it to locate your phone when it’s lost.

19. Dropbox

We’ve written lots about the usefulness of Dropbox. Now you can access it on your Android device.

20. Evernote

Evernote allows you to jot down notes, clip articles, take snapshots and save recordings for later. Everything you save gets synchronized with your account on your PC.

best android apps

[Bonus] Barcode Scanner

Using the Barcode Scanner app, you can scan all the QR Codes on this page to quickly download the apps on your phone.

What do you think of the list? Is there a favorite app you would like to add?

Image Credit: Jiri Vratislavsky

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4 Map Trackers To Show Travel Information In Your Blogs

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 04:31 PM PDT

blog map trackersOne of the most common uses for a blog is sharing travel experiences. People love sharing the adventures and holidays they’ve enjoyed each year. And, truth be told, most people love seeing those adventures. If you can’t take a trip yourself, the next best thing is definitely living vicariously through others.

I love traveling, and I love blogging about it even more. One form of incorporating travel with blogging is geotagging – a new form of blogging I’ve covered previously that is really booming. Another method is posting on travel blogs. The only problem with that is that you don’t host the content. If you want to embed maps that show your travel routes and trip highlights, blog map tracker apps are the way to go.

To help you find the best mapping app for your blog, I decided to locate the best four. These will all work in just about any blog regardless of platform.

Google Maps For Travel

There are a lot of cool travel map applications out there, but Google still holds the lead when it comes to embedding maps into your blog. For a little while, Google Maps wasn’t the easiest mapping system to figure out when it came to creating a travel itinerary with a route and markers that you could embed into a website. Well, things have changed quite a bit at Google Maps, and the process is now very simple.

To get started, when you’re logged into Google and in Google Maps, just click on “My Maps.”

blog map trackers

If you make the map public, it’ll be available to the entire public (search engines). However you do have the option to keep it “unlisted” and simply share the URL with friends. When you’re in My Maps, you are in a trip mapping mode where you can move the route path around and place location markers wherever you like.

The coolness factor with Google Maps is how easy it is to type richly formatted entries and even link to images within the description for those map markers. Here is what it looks like when you embed the map in your blog post or page.

What’s awesome is that all your visitor has to do is click on each mile marker and your entry pops up within the map itself.

travel blog


If you’re looking for even greater functionality where you can include more information into each marker, I highly recommend MapMe. Out of all of the online apps on this list, MapMe is definitely the one that offers the most flexibility with every location marker. It also scores highly for ease-of-use.

From the map page, when you click to “create a map” you’ll see a screen like this.

travel blog

It’s pretty straightforward. All you do is keep clicking “New HotSpot” at the top of the screen, place the hotspot and then add descriptions and other content. It’s actually that “other content” that makes this service so awesome. We’re not talking just text or pictures here, you can even add video content to each marker if you want to.

Now, just consider the possibilities when you can embed a video clip featuring an event or something you saw at that location.

how do you add a map to a blog

When you’re finished adding all of the points of interest and content to go with them, just highlight the embed code, paste into your blog or website and your blog map tracker of the travel route is live.


A play on the word “vagabond,” Blogabond does indeed let you wander aimlessly, as though you don’t have a home or even a desire to stay in one place very long. The beauty of Blogabond is the sheer simplicity and quality of the service. Want to create a quick route map that tracks your entire trip? All you have to do is type in each city you’ll be visiting in the order that you visited them. The map automatically draws out the route.

how do you add a map to a blog

Just highlight the embed code, paste it into your blog, and now everyone can see the route that you have planned out. Very cool. This is an app for people that value simplicity over content.

how do you add a map to a blog

If you want to add volumes of text, images and video to each way point, opt for one of the others on this list, but if you’re looking for something quick and easy with a good-looking map, Blogabond is the way to go.

Travellers Point

The previous three route tracking apps are probably all you’ll really need. However, I came across one more mapping service that really deserves a quick mention. Travellers Point is another map creator service that lets you quickly map out a town to town route of your trip, just like Blogabond. However, it also lets you edit some of the details for each waypoint and, best of all, upload photos of your trip to include in the route.

blog map trackers

Under “save trip” in the menu, you’ll have the option to embed your newly created map in your blog.

Have you ever tried any of these trip mapping services? Do you know of any others that are also good? Share your own insight and resources in the comments section below.

Image credit: Agata Urbaniak

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Make Free Professional Online Surveys With Survey Monkey

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 02:31 PM PDT

free online surveysHere at MakeUseOf, we’re big fans of using PollDaddy for our weekly polls. It’s a great free tool for polling simple questions. But what if you’re looking for something a little more hefty? What if you need something free to use for market research or HR surveys – what then?

For building your larger marketing research questionnaires, there are a number of great free web-based tools. However, I recommend using Survey Monkey. It’s simple to use and filled with great features – plus the free version allows you to create usable surveys and properly try the product.

Survey Monkey’s Free Trial

The free version on Survey Monkey is almost a fully functioning product. They don’t limit how many surveys you can have or how long they are available for. They simply limit the types of questions you can ask (multiple check-boxes, single response, etc) and limit the number of questions per survey to 10. Obviously, the paid version has many other useful perks, but Survey Monkey have gone to some effort to ensure that the free trial is usable and permanent. This should give you a little peace of mind.

Creating A Survey

If you know what you want to ask and are a professional survey writer, you can easily write your own survey from scratch. For people who aren’t quite so certain, Survey Monkey has plenty of templates ready to use.

free online surveys

It’s easy to select a template and modify it slightly to suit your purposes. This can be very handy if you’re in a hurry.

Don’t forget to try out the different themes. Make your survey stand out from the crowd!

free surveys

Promoting Your Survey

Survey Monkey make it easy to promote your survey when it’s complete. You can send an email with a link, get Survey Monkey to send email on your behalf, embed the survey in a website or promote on Facebook — all in a few short steps.

free surveys

The different methods of accessing the surveys are known in Survey Monkey as “collectors”. You can control these collectors and determine how users will be limited in their responses (eg. how many times they can respond and whether they can change their answers). By adding multiple collectors you can also track which types of survey promotion are most effective for you — why go to the effort of embedding a survey if your customers all respond to your Facebook links?

Analysing Survey Results

The default free survey results display is certainly an adequate tool for the job of analysis. No results are hidden from you — the information is simply collected and displayed in a basic table.

free surveys


A failing of Survey Monkey’s free account is that free account users are shown all the same menus as a paid user, without being allowed to use them. This is a common tactic for free accounts which could be a little confusing, but certainly doesn’t detract from the overall experience.

Survey Monkey is a far more professional tool than competing poll and survey making tools. And since it’s free to use, you can easily give it a go for yourself and see what you think.

How To Make Use Of Survey Monkey?

ProBlogger has made a video on how he uses a marketing survey to work out exactly what his readers want to know more about. Specifically, he asks questions to work out what articles he should write and what sort of eBooks his readers would be willing to pay for. He actually recommends Survey Monkey for the job, too. I think this is a great idea for all bloggers to take on board. Take a look!

Need to read more?

free online surveys

If this isn’t quite what you’re after, MakeUseOf have featured numerous other poll and survey tools which might hit the mark:

What do you think of Survey Monkey? How do you rate it compared to other free online survey tools? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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Hot Tech Deals [Nov 2nd]

Posted: 02 Nov 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. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands Game (Xbox 360) $12.99 Free Shipping

  2. Logitech G9x Wired Gaming Laser Mouse (Adjustable DPI/Weights/Grip) $39.99AR Free Shipping

  3. TODAY ONLY Rosewill RNX-N180PCe 802.11n PCIe Wireless Adapter $16.99 Free Shipping

  4. Nokia X3 Cell Phone & MP3 Player (Unlocked, Quad-Band GSM) $109.99 Free Shipping

  5. Canon Powershot SX30 IS 14.1MP 35x Digital Camera (720P HD Video, Articulating LCD) $369 via code EMCZZYN65

  6. TODAY ONLY Sharp Aquos LC-40D68UT 40 inch LCD HDTV (1080p) $499.99 Free Shipping

  7. Acer G215HAbd 22in Widescreen LCD Monitor $139.99 Free Shipping

  8. Polk Audio Monitor 70 Series II Floorstanding Loudspeaker (Single) $177.99 via code EMCZZYN63

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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Smile With Google: 8 Funny Websites That Are Based On Google

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 12:31 PM PDT

funny websitesRight from its name (which is a play on the word googol) Google has its funny bone firmly attached. Be it the Google Doodles or the famed Google April Fool jokes, Google is as aggressive about having a few laughs as it is about toting up slices of the web pie.

There are lots of little Google nuggets spread around the web; little known Google pages amidst the regular ones we do every day.

Just as Google pokes fun at the world, others do some poking back too: from strange ways to do a Google search to catching strangers doing amusing things on the streets. Catch a few in the websites covered below.

Street View Fun

funny websites

This web blog is a visual gallery of funny images that come courtesy of the eagle eye of Google Maps Street View. Have you seen a Google car or a few Google Trikes around your locality? Those are the agents capturing street views from around the world. And funny ‘accidents’ get captured too.

On this site you can go from one image to the other. Or you might as well head for the Top 100 list. You can view all the images on a larger map.


funny google

This site is almost a crony of the one above but with a better design. But for someone who is seeking out funny Google stuff, it's more the merrier. You can sort through the parade of Google Street View images by what's popular or by what's top rated.

Do you have a street view that hasn't been featured here? Submit it to the gallery. But beware a lot many of the pictures are about 'moons' and 'flashes'.


funny google

There are the official Google Doodles and then there are the creations by zany artists which don't quite make it to Google's Hall of Fame. Believe me, some of them are really creative but just because they don't quite fit into Google's message for the time, they still find a place on this site. Make it 'found' because the site is quite still for the last few years. But it's still worth a look for some 'unofficial' Google logos.


funny google

What does Google think of you (or some topic)? Check out the collection of Googlisms on this site. The Googlisms are arranged around the 4W's – Who, What, When, and Where. Consider this to be an absolute time-waster website to be tried out when you don't even have a pencil to sharpen. Lady Gaga's Googlism says that she is one bright style star! They got that right.

Bad Translator

funny and silly websites

Bad Translator is a fun tool that shows the limitations of machine translation. Paste your text into the box and see funny versions churned out with Google Translate which are nowhere near the original meaning. You can set the number of translations and see how the original version gets turned on its head as it gets translated from one language to the next and back to English. Share the funny translation on Facebook.

Funny Google Searches

funny and silly websites

A pile of funny search suggestions from the keywords you innocently type in. For instance, the top slot still belongs to 'George Bush is' even after he has left the Presidency. You can try out the keywords on the search engine or use the search engine simulator at the top. The new improved Google Search has kept the fun intact.

You can also check out the directory mention of AutoCompleteMe which has a well compiled list of funny and weird Google search suggestions.

Make Google Laugh

This site uses Google's API to do a bit of humor detection. I am not sure exactly how this works but all you have to do is to put in a joke or an amusing remark to see its laugh quotient.


funny and silly websites

Google has a mirror site. As you can see everything is turned the other way round. When I visited the site, it was undergoing a server upgrade, so it should be back up soon.

On a similar vein you can also check out Google Rotated where the search page is rotated 180 degrees and Mini Google where everything becomes miniaturized. Both need Internet Explorer to work.

Some of Google’s Own Amusing Pages:

On Google's Official Easter Egg Page you have to use your mouse and help the Easter bunny catch a few eggs to spell Google.

funny websites

Google has a few off-beat minor versions of its search page like Swedish Chef (based on the Muppet Show character), the Hacker's search page, the Klingon search page, Elmer Fudd's page, and the Pig Latin interface.

Our Geeky Fun pages are also full of humor at Google's expense. Check out the likes of –

Have you come across an amusing Google experience while using its tools? Let us know.

Image: dullhunk

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Free Music Zilla – Easily Download Music From Social Websites

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 11:31 AM PDT

music download sitesDownloading videos from YouTube is old news – there are effectively hundreds of online services and a full score of Firefox add-ons that will help you with this. Other social audio or video websites pose more of a challenge.

As most of you will know, your playlist controls are rather restricted in You can’t pause or navigate songs, never mind downloading; that’s what makes the service so cheap to use.

Downloading songs from instead of YouTube poses a number of advantages; not least when we’re reviewing audio quality. Nevertheless, actually retrieving the mp3 files is an intricate tale, with more than enough blood, sweat and tears to mimic a war zone – Jason K. talked you through the process with Proxomitron and Firefox. Using Free Music Zilla, it gets a whole lot easier.

Free Music Zilla isn’t the only social music service, but they all tell a similar tale. There are different advantages to different services, but downloading the music is far from easy. Free Music Zilla, a free, light-weight Windows application, can help you with almost all of those services, including, Pandora, Myspace, IMEEM, eSnips, MOG and iJigg.

music download sites

Unlike the well-known and often used YouTube Downloader, Free Music Zilla doesn’t track down your file from the web URL. Instead, it keeps a close eye on your internet activity and sniffs out all music files that are present on the webpage.

Any Browser You Want

These tools often work in conjunction with add-ons for one specific browser. Free Music Zilla tracks your browser activity from the outside in, so you don’t need to install any additional add-ons. This enables you to use it with nearly any browser you want.

music download sites

Free Music Zilla monitors only Internet Explorer and Firefox by default. If you use a different browser, you’ll have to give the application a hand. Open the Tools menu and select Preferences. Under the Monitoring tab, you can enable your browser. Locate more obscure browsers by checking Custom and navigating to your browser, or if you use multiple browsers on your PC, enable all of them.

How To Download MP3 Files From A Social Service

To download an MP3 file to your computer, first make sure your browser is enabled in the settings (see above) and Free Music Zilla is running. With your browser, surf to the social service and use it like you normally would. Once you hear something you like, switch to Free Music Zilla, where you should see the file listed; MP3 if the content is audio-only, MOV, MP4 or FLV if video is included. If you’re unsure which file to download, look at the time it was added.

You can tick off the checkbox next to a file and hit the Download button to save it to your computer. You have to especially mind the Leech Timeout column. This is inherent to the anti leech protection these social services use, and what makes it so hard to download. Once the countdown reaches zero, you’ll be unable to download the file, so try to make it fast enough.

Free Music Zilla is one of the most – no, the easiest tool to download from sites like IMEEM and Do you know any other alternatives? Let us know in the comments below!

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Watch Flash Videos On Your iPhone With Skyfire [News]

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 11:10 AM PDT

We all know that one of the biggest criticisms of the iPhone/iPad OS is that it doesn’t support flash, and Apple has continued to ignore the requests for Flash support on their mobile devices. It seems the Flash gods are smiling down on Apple fans because their wishes have finally been answered. Sort of.

The mobile browser app, Skyfire, which we reviewed in July, has come up with a solution that will leave iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users ecstatic, while Apple hasn’t lifted a finger to alter the OS or Safari browser to make it happen.

Rather than display videos in Flash format, Skyfire converts the video to HTML5 – which of course is supported on the iPhone. However, the news is only half good. Not all Flash websites will work with Skyfire. Hulu, for example, will not work on Apple’s mobile devices, and fans of Flash-based games are out of luck. Skyfire only works with videos.

Aside from the much needed Flash support, Skyfire’s other features include one-click social sharing through Facebook and Twitter, private browsing, and allowing you to easily find related content and media to the page you are browsing.

Skyfire for the iPhone has somehow made it through Apple’s approval system, and should be out by the end of the week. Like the Android version, Skyfire for the iPhone is not a standalone app, but rather adds these features to the native mobile Safari browser.

Why Apple has approved Skyfire after having been so adamantly against supporting Flash is beyond us, but we’re certainly not complaining. Of course, Skyfire will come with a price tag, but a small one of $2.99 at that.

Want to see Skyfire in action? Check out their video:

Source: Apple Insider

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Share Your iPhone & Android Photos In Style with Picplz

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 10:31 AM PDT

mobile photo sharingOne special thing about the art of photography is that the joy doesn’t stop after you take the picture. The feeling grows along with time, each and every moment you revisit the past via frames of old images. And your happiness is multiplied if you share the shots with your friends and family.

With so many social networks out there, the distance between us and our loved ones has shrunk to just a few clicks away. Those social networks have become our favorite tools to share images. Our picture taking ability is also enhanced multifold with the availability of good quality digital cameras in our smart phones.

Combine the two and you would get picplz - an mobile photo sharing app that allows you to quickly and easily share your smart phone photos over social networks.

Picture Please!

Even though picplz comes in the form of free iPhone and Android apps, its core is actually a social network that allows users to share pictures among its members. That’s why the first thing that picplz requires you to do before using the app is to register yourself as a member of the picplz social network (or log in if you’ve already a member).

mobile photo sharing

The app also supports several other popular social networks and allows users to link their accounts on those major networks to their picplz account. Currently there are three supported networks: Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook.

mobile pictures

The linking process can be done easily from within the application itself and will enable users to “announce” their picture taking status to those networks.

mobile pictures

Other pre-required permissions that users should enable prior to using picplz are “using your current location” and “sending push notification“.

mobile pictures

Then you are ready to shoot and share. Since picplz relies heavily on the ability to link pictures with locations where they are taken, it will ask you to determine your current location by choosing the nearest spot on the list.

mobile images

There are two things that you can do after taking pictures using picplz. The first one is adding short captions to your images. This can be done easily by tapping the small blue arrow button at the upper right corner of the display.

mobile images

The second action would be choosing the image effect that you want to apply to your picture. Tap on the small wand button at the bottom of the display and you will get a list of special effects.

mobile images

You can experiment with the effect to get the result that you want. Here are examples of some of the effects that you can apply to your pictures.

13 Special FX.jpg

As long as your phone is connected to the internet, your photos will be uploaded automatically to the picplz network in the background after you tap the “Post” button. Meanwhile, you can continue with your photo session.

07b Sending Images.jpg

Aside from the photos that you take directly using the app, picplz also allows you to use images from your photo gallery. This means that you can utilize picplz as a quick and light image editor to add effects to photos in your library.

The Social Side

There are two sides to this app: your inner circle and everybody else out there. The “people” button will show you images from your personal network (you and your friends), and images from all over the world that you might find interesting.

08 Image Collections.jpg

You can browse all the “interesting” images and do what you commonly do at a social network: you can “Like” the images, make a comment, and see what other people think and say about that particular image.

12 Interesting.jpg

The “Settings” allow you to customize several things about the app, and also to expand your own social network by searching and adding friends from the picplz network.

mobile photo sharing

In my personal opinion, the app and its social network for image sharing is an interesting way to make your images available to the world. But I would really love to have the ability to add friends from my Facebook account.

If you like mobile photo sharing, you should give this one a try. There’s another similar app called Instagram that you might like.  Let us know which one you prefer.

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3 Ways To Customize Facebook Colors & Background Images

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 09:31 AM PDT

facebook profile customiseThe generic look of Facebook gets very boring after a while. You can search your profile and account options far and wide for a way to change the default look, but you won’t find anything. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to customize your Facebook page?

The good news is that there are fairly simple ways to customize Facebook. The bad news is that only you will see the changes, while others will continue to see the default layout. However, this may be a good thing as not everyone has the same taste.

This article will guide you through the options you have to add a custom color scheme or graphical layout to your Facebook page.

Option 1: Yontoo Layers Browser Plugin

You can use the browser plugin Yontoo Layers from PageRage to change the graphical layout of your Facebook profile. The changes can be applied to all pages or only your profile. Naturally, the changes will be visible to you only.

PageRage works with Firefox and Internet Explorer. Be careful when you initiate the plugin download, as it will close all your browser windows of any open browser without asking for your confirmation!

Once the browser addon is installed, you can browse the PageRage website and try their free layouts. When you find a style you like, decide whether it should be applied to all pages or your profile only and click > Select This Layout in the bottom right. Works magically.

facebook profile customise

Option 2: Auto-Colorizer for Facebook Greasemonkey Script

If Firefox is your standard browser and if you already use Greasemonkey, try the Auto-Colorizer for Facebook script. You cannot add background images, but at least you can change the color scheme. Again, these changes will be visible to you only.

customize facebook

This is probably the least evasive way to customize your Facebook profile and it provides beautiful results. The example image above is courtesy of Auto-Colorizer for Facebook.

Option 3: Stylish Addon For Firefox / Stylish Addon for Chrome

This is a technique that will work for Firefox and Chrome. It’s an addon that lets you apply custom skins and themes to not only Facebook, but also Google, YouTube, Orkut, and many more. Install the plugin, then browse available styles to get started.

Note that you can skip installing the addon in case you run Greasemonkey. The styles can be installed as a Greasemonkey user script.

facebook profile customise

Be careful with templates from Many are outdated and no longer fit the current layout of Facebook. Nevertheless, you may find a few that are up to date and suit your fancy.

If you know a little CSS, however, you can go ahead and use Stylish to create your own custom skin. In Firefox, add the Stylish icon to your toolbar (from the > Customize window), then click it and select > Write new style. You can check out the code of a good template at to get an idea what code needs to be covered.

Other Options

If you search a little, you will find at least two other ways to customize Facebook, for example Facebook Expressions and Chameleon Tom. The former was banned by Facebook and the latter triggers an adware / virus warning when trying to download the necessary plugin. Hence, I didn’t include these two. However, Chameleon Tom seems to be the only way to customize your Facebook page in a way that others can see it, given they join the respective Facebook group.


Taken together, customizing the look of your Facebook profile is possible and rather easy. Unfortunately, with most techniques you will be the only one to see the pretty makeover.

Would you join the Petition for Backgrounds on Facebook Profiles? Or would you prefer for Facebook to stay as simplistic as it is now in regards to page layout?  Let us know in the comments below.

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The 7 Best Extensions For Opera 11 Alpha

Posted: 02 Nov 2010 08:31 AM PDT

If the struggle between web browsers was a war, I’d probably want Opera on my side. Oh, sure, Opera is never the biggest fighter on the field, but Opera never gives up. No matter what, it slogs along, happily adding new features and occasionally coming up with some interesting innovations.

One feature Opera has been lacking for awhile is easy extension support. Firefox and Chrome both make extensions easy as pie, and Internet Explorer 8 isn’t bad at them either. Now Opera is embracing them whole-heartedly as well, going so far as to create a Mozilla-style extensions website.

I’ve poked and prodded through this site a bit and found some must-haves.

Mini Wolfram Alpha & Wikipedia

Wolfram Alpha has just the coolest name, doesn’t it? Just the name is reason enough to download this extension. What it does, however, is very handy – using this, you have your own mini version of Wolfram Alpha that can be expanded on whatever page you’re viewing. Need some information? Just type in whatever you’re looking for and this plugin will provide all the functionality of Wolfram without having to visit the page.

A similar extension also exists for Wikipedia. Install the Mini Wikipedia extension, opening up the mini window by clicking on the icon in the upper right, and you’re good to go. Wikipedia is effectively converted from a webpage into a browser application.


There isn’t much to say here. YouTube downloader extensions have been popular on every browser, and now Opera users have their own to enjoy with FastestTube. You can download to either MP4 or FLV format. HD versions of YouTube videos are only available in MP4 format.

Google Images Direct

I find Google Images pretty useful, but it would be nice if Google sent you directly to the image in question. I understand why they don’t – they want to make sure you see where the link is being served from so as to give the host some credit – but I’d rather sidestep that. And with Google Images Direct, you can. Now clicking on a Google Image link will send you directly to a full-sized version of the image in question.

Edit The Page

The Edit The Page extension essentially turns the Opera web browser into a mini web editor. Turn it on and you’ll be able to add or delete text, movie images, and even copy-and-paste formating elements. You cannot save these changes, obviously, but you can use this tool to create a quick mockup of what your website (or someone else’s website) would look like if a few images were moved or some text was changed.


As you probably well know, you can use Facebook as an instant messenger by sending in-browser IMs through Facebook itself. That’s great, but sending messages via a webpage isn’t exactly the best way to handle instant messaging.

FaceChat is just one of many ways to resolve this issue. Once installed, FaceChat lets you IM your friends using a pop-up window in the upper right. Oh, and just to be clear, this extension has nothing to do with the website Face Chat.

Opera Configurator

As most veteran Opera users will tell you, Opera is an incredibly customizable web browser with a lot of things to explore and change. This can make Opera rather difficult to understand for new users, who may lose themselves quickly in its maze of menus. Opera Configurator tries to resolve this by placing many important Opera options in one place.

In fact, it places many arguably not-so-important Opera options in one place. The sheer amount of information here may not make this the best starting point for complete Opera noobs, but users who like to trick out their software will appreciate the level of detail found here.


The extensions feature for Opera 11 Alpha is very new, so there aren’t many extensions to choose from yet, and the ones available are still in early development. If you’re expecting to hop on and find something equivalent to the extension pages for Firefox or Chrome you’ll be disappointed.

This is a brave new world, however, so be sure to let developers know what you think of their extensions (or create your own!).  As always, if you have a favorite that wasn’t listed here, let us know in the comments!

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