Thursday, November 11, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [November 10th]” plus 10 more “Cool Websites and Tools [November 10th]” plus 10 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [November 10th]

Posted: 10 Nov 2010 07:31 PM PST

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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MobiReady – is an online testing tool to evaluate how mobile friendly your website is. That means it'll check a webpage on certain parameters to see how it might display on a cellphone screen. You can test a single page, entire site or do a markup test. It gives the site an overall mobile readiness score. Read more: MobiReady: Test How Mobile Friendly Your Website Is


KeepItWith.Me – There are various ways to send bookmarks or random links you come across while browsing, from one device (like a PC) to another (like a mobile phone). But's solution is quick and simple, and better than the other methods like emailing links to yourself.
You drag the two bookmarklets it offers to your bookmarks toolbar. Read more: KeepitWith.Me: Quick & Easy Cross Device Link Sharing



ShareSidebar – Visitors to a site appreciate the site's social media sharing buttons as these buttons let them share anything interesting on their social networking accounts. If you run a site or blog and would like to add such a sharing feature in a visually appealing way, check out ShareSidebar, a web service that provides you with a sidebar for your website. Read more: ShareSidebar: Quickly Add Social Media Sharing Buttons To Your Site



Inframutt – Have you ever wondered what sort of websites are put in the last search result pages of Google? Most of us rarely go and see the last page of search results, unless there are really only a few of them. Inframutt is a web search engine that does exactly the opposite of what Google does. Read more: Inframutt: Shows Least Popular Google Search Result



WP-Snippets – Are you developing a WordPress theme? If yes, then you will welcome anything that can help you in the coding process. Particularly anything that helps you decrease the time spent on coding. That is exactly what WP-Snippets does. On the site's homepage you find a cloud of snippet titles. Read more: WP-Snippets: Provides Handy Coding Snippets for WordPress Themes


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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Join MakeUseOf On Facebook!

Posted: 10 Nov 2010 06:31 PM PST

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We also use our fan page to inform you about premium software giveaways and discounts that are not announced on the website. We get a lot of those from software developers and distribute them mainly on Facebook.

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How To Cartoonify Your Photos With GIMP

Posted: 10 Nov 2010 05:31 PM PST

cartoonify yourselfvector version of your photo stands out for a number of reasons. The combination of colors and the realistic quality of vector art immortalizes any portrait, instantly making it as distinguishable as a painting.

Not only does vector art look amazing, but it’s also incredibly time-consuming. Just look at any number of vector tutorials on YouTube, and you’ll notice that the price to finish a great-looking piece of vector art yourself involves meticulous work and patience.

Not all is lost, however. Cartoonifying your portraits is actually easier than you think, thanks to built-in plugins and features in GIMP, the premier open-source photo editor.

If you want to achieve the effects of automated photo-editing applications, such as beFunky, (which offers some really great cartoonifying effects and more if you purchase premium membership), what better than first trying with GIMP? Lots of practice can lead to plenty of fun, frameable pieces that you’ll certainly want to share and show off in no time.

If you are new to GIMP, check out the recent collection of hand-picked video tutorials for beginners.

Cartoonifying People: Method 1

  • Load your photo in GIMP. You can do this by drag and dropping any picture, pressing Ctrl + O, or heading to File > Open.

cartoonify yourself

  • Now duplicate the layer by going to Layer > Duplicate Layer.

cartoonify pics

  • You’ll see a second image in the Layers box, named Background Copy. Make sure you don’t click anywhere else because you want to keep that new layer selected.

cartoonify pics

  • Now head to Filters > Artistic > Cartoon.

cartoonify pics

  • Move the Mask Radius slider to 50, where it should look least grainy. Move Percent Black to about 0.353 (the higher it is, the thicker the strokes are). You can change and experiment with different values to your liking, which may help you learn about GIMP’s potential particularly if you are new to GIMP. When you are satisfied, click OK.


  • In a few seconds, GIMP will finish rendering the cartoon effect on your photo. You can repeat the Cartoon effect by pressing Ctrl + Y or heading to Filters > Repeat Cartoon. That’s it!


Method 2

  • Open up your photo and duplicate the layer. While you have the duplicated layer highlighted (which should be, by default), go to Colors > Threshold.


  • Now on the dialog box that shows up, move the slider slightly to the left.


  • The numbers I have are 155 and 255 but it depends on your photo. A rule of thumb is that your adjusted photo should have more white than black. Whenever you are satisfied with the previewed change, click OK.

  • Back at the Layer box, put this layer at Value mode (the default is Normal).

  • Here’s what Value mode gives us.

  • You can experiment with the different modes. I’ve found Overlay, Soft Light, Multiply, Darken Only and Burn to work better than other modes. Here’s Overlay mode, which seems to work well when you move the Threshold slider to the right (as opposed to the left).

Cartoonifying Objects

Regular photos (non-portraits) can turn into art pieces easily as well. You can try the previous methods on non-portraits, but not the other way around because I’ve tried and people in pictures just don’t come out very nice. Basically, pictures of objects or landscapes can be cartoonified all three ways, but if you try this method on portraits, you’ve been warned: your result image will probably just scare you.

Anyway, let’s start the tutorial, which is actually an adaptation of a couple of tutorials from another blog and Youtube, but I’ve included some tips of my own here.

  • First, load the picture up in GIMP and duplicate the layer.

  • Go to Filters > Edge-Detect > Edge.

  • In the box that appears, choose Sobel for the algorithm, Amount of 2.0 and select Black. Press OK.

  • Your picture now should be in dark tones. Go to Colors > Invert.

  • Go to the Layers box and change the layer mode to either Burn, Overlay (which gives the same effect as Soft Light mode), Multiply, Darken Only, Grain Merge.

  • This is the “cartoonified” picture with the duplicated layer in Overlay mode.

cartoonify yourself

Want more tutorials? Here’s how to create cool stereographic projections and wallpapers.

Do you prefer regular photos or do you like them spiced up in vector or cartoon format? Photoshop users, feel free to share your cartoonifying methods in the comments too!

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7 Completely Free VPN Services To Protect Your Privacy

Posted: 10 Nov 2010 03:31 PM PST

free vpnPrivacy is a bit of an internet buzzword these days. Average users are now becoming more aware that the data they transfer across the big bad internet is less secure than they first thought.

There’s a few measures you can take to increase security on your end, such as installing a firewall and blocking known intrusive IP addresses that might be spying on your browsing habits.

The next step for anyone looking to take security to the next level is by using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt all inbound and outbound data.

What Is A Virtual Private Network?

A VPN allows you to connect your machine to a virtual network which in turn encrypts the data you send, hiding everything from the public domain. A good VPN will keep no records of your browsing history, meaning you’re essentially an anonymous user.

free vpn

Many VPNs are established for office use, to allow users to log into their workplace network and gain access to services therein. Seeing as you’re reading an article about free VPN services, you’re probably more concerned about security and how you can benefit from using one.

Despite the stigma involved with taking such a hardline approach to security, you don’t necessarily need to be using the internet for illegal purposes to benefit. Much like using a proxy, a VPN can also help you access websites that may not already be available in your region.

vpn server

An excellent example of this would be Hulu, and we’ve got a guide about doing it right here. Many VPN services require payment, but there’s a fair few decent free efforts out there too. Here’s a selection to get you started.

Free VPN Services

It is worth noting that despite the services listed below being completely free to use, many impose restrictions on free VPN accounts. Hopefully this list will at least give you an idea of how VPN works, and how it can benefit you. If you really like the service then many offer competitive rates as well as referral schemes and paid accounts in exchange for advertising space.


A free VPN service designed for use with Windows and Mac computers. ProXPN works by downloading a small free application from which to connect. The service is also compatible with the iPhone and other mobile phones that support VPN.

Interestingly you can use the iPhone setup instructions to make a connection from your PC, useful if you’re a Linux user.


The GPass service provides free VPN access as well as an impressive fast web proxy to use directly in your browser. The service is very popular in China where internet censorship is commonplace.

The service seems very hot on security (good job, really), and even goes as far as to recommend an integrity check after you’ve downloaded the software (before installing). GPass is compatible with Windows only, and does not require registration.


Offering 1GB of encypted traffic per month on the free package, CyberGhost is another Windows-only VPN client. In order to use the service you are required to register for a free account which unfortunately does not allow you to pick and choose your servers.

Ideal for web surfing, but not a dedicated file sharing solution.

AnchorFree Hotspot Shield

Offering a free VPN solution for Windows, Mac and iPhone (and possibly other systems using the iPhone login information) Hotspot Shield boasts "unlimited bandwidth" to those who need it.

vpn server

The service supports itself by providing advertising within web pages viewed using the service, as stated in the terms. A little bird tells me that if you’re a Firefox user you can use the NoScript extension to hide these, although I’ve not tried it myself.

Its Hidden

Originally established as a safeguard for filesharers, Its Hidden offers a competitive free service as well as paid solutions offering better contention (less users per server), professional support and dedicated IP addresses.

Registration is required, and once you’ve signed up you can connect to the service directly through your operating system by following the set-up guide, with no additional software required. The service is compatible with any operating system you happen to be using that supports VPN.


The free package provided by SecurityKiss brings you 300MB of data transfer per day, but provides an uncapped line with plenty of speed. You’ll need the SecurityKiss software to access the service, and this is only compatible with Windows.

free vpn

Despite not offering a whole lot of bandwidth, SecurityKiss will suffice in unblocking web services like Skype and YouTube you might otherwise be unable to access.

Best Free VPN Service

Solely for use through your existing OS, mobile or VPN application, Best Free VPN changes its password every 12 to 24 hours to help maintain fairness for users. It’s not the speediest service around, offering only 512Kbit/s down and 256Kbit/s up.

The service doesn’t allow P2P services (no BitTorrent then) but it should suffice if you need to do any covert surfing.


Free things are great, but they’re also subject to a lot of use by the community. If you’re encountering problems with any of the above then you’re just better off moving on and trying another.

If you’re really serious about security (and accessing your home PCs from anywhere) then you’ll probably want to invest in a paid VPN service.

Do you use VPN? Had any luck with free services, or have you gone paid? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credits: Intro, VPN Overview



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Use Client For Google Translate As A Desktop Translation Agent

Posted: 10 Nov 2010 01:31 PM PST

google translateIn a world that seems to be getting smaller every day, with bloggers and friends making connections all across the world – there are times when language becomes a limiting factor.  I once had a reader from France write in with words of appreciation for a blog article I’d written at a UFO website – the reader had decent English, but he’d provided a link to his own French forum. I was only able to enjoy a few of the articles there thanks to Google Translate.

Google Translate is a tool that we really appreciate here at MakeUseOf.  Simon offered four reasons why it’s better than other translation services, and Ann recently covered some tools that are built upon the Google Translate utility.

With most tools that are available online, many people like to have a desktop equivalent – something you can install locally on your PC or laptop that does the same thing. With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to the Google Translate Client.

The Google Translate Application

This locally installed application is called a “client” because in the background it plugs into the Google Translate service to perform all translations. What having a client installed does for you is that it allows you to always have a window available (in the foreground or background) that you can use to translate text whenever you like.

google translate

Even if you’re using applications where this client isn’t integrated into it, you can quickly copy the foreign language from that application (such as your favorite email client), and then paste it into this translation window.

google translate application

You can set the application to auto-detect the source language so that you don’t have to fiddle with settings, and you can set the default target language. In this case I’ve set it to AutoDetect and translate everything to English.

google translate application

If you’re absolutely obsessed with languages and learning them, you have to try out clicking on the “Learner” button, which opens up the Learner tool. This simply displays simple phrases in your native language, and the resulting text that you’ve selected in the “translate to:” box for cases where the source is English (or whatever you’ve set your default language to).

google translate application

This feature – the ability to tell the app what to do if the text you’ve copied is actually your default language – allows you to use this client for a dual purpose. Obviously, you can use it to translate any language to your native tongue, but you can also use it as a tool to learn a new language. If you copy text from the web that is already written in your native language and paste it into the tool, it’ll tell you how to translate it to another language. This is fantastic if you’re a language student and want to practice reading web pages in another language.

As you can see on the settings screen, the app is highly configurable. For example, you can change font sizes, colors, start-up and hot keys.

google translate

Using The Client In Firefox Or IE

The real beauty of this app is when it is integrated with the application you’re using. While you could always copy text, go to the Google Translate website in a new tab, and then paste the text for a translation – why go through all of those steps? When you have the client installed, all you have to do is highlight the text that’s in a foreign language, and a “G” icon will immediately appear.

google translate desktop

Click the “G” – and you will see a pop-up box with an instant translation of that text to your default language.

google translate desktop

No more copy/paste and no more opening up a new browser window or tab – everything is translated right on-page. Another cool feature is that when you highlight a word or phrase in your native language, you’ll see three icons pop up.

google translate desktop

“G” will do the translation to your default foreign language, “W” is a Wikipedia search that isn’t enabled in the free version – but a cool little additional feature of this free client is that “S” will do an instant Google search for the word or phrase you’ve highlighted.

Finally, if you ever come across text or a document in a foreign language and Google Translate either can’t translate it, or does a poor job of it – you can actually hire a human translator directly from the client. In the client app, if you hover your mouse over the image of the woman, you’ll see the current going rate for translated text – just click to request a paid translation.

Google Translate is becoming more and more popular, and I think at some point all of us eventually end up using the online version. If you tend to use it a lot – give this desktop client a roll and see if it saves you some time.

Do you know of any other cool Google Translate desktop tools? Do you use any other non-Google free translation tools on your computer? Share your insight in the comments section below.

Image credit: Yaroslav B

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Hot Tech Deals [Nov 10th]

Posted: 10 Nov 2010 12:15 PM PST

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. The North Face Men’s Denali Fleece Jacket $88.25 Free Shipping via code 5R9-1-EU5AL

  2. TomTom XXL 550M Portable GPS Navigation (5in, Text To Speech, Lifetime Maps) $119.95 Free Ship

  3. EXPIRING – Dell Latitude E5510 Intel Core i7-620M 2.66GHz Dual Core 15.6 Laptop $655.14 Free Shipping via code RHCZBF8BTMSFT0

  4. OCZ Agility 2 240GB 2.5in Solid State SATA Drive (TRIM, SandForce) $389AR Free Shipping via code EMCYTZT229

  5. Nikon Coolpix L110 12.1 Megapixel Digital Camera $199.99 Free Shipping

  6. Asus TS Mini SOHO Intel Atom N280 1.66GHz Windows Home Server 500GB HDD + 1TB HDD Uninstalled) $199.99AR Free Shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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10 Different Ways To Browse, Watch & Enjoy YouTube Videos

Posted: 10 Nov 2010 11:31 AM PST

watch movies on youtubeWhen you have one of the most popular web services around, you can expect a lot more in its wake. The YouTube bandwagon is no different. Apart from just watching videos, you can do a lot of cool things on it.

But ultimately, YouTube is about enjoying videos. We have seen how YouTube can be used to catch anything from mini-clips to full length movies, 3D clips, and even interactive games.

Oh, you are still here. I thought you had gone traipsing off on the above links. If YouTube is about watching videos and if it has a mass following that would be The Beatles’ envy, you can be sure that under its shade grows many YouTube services which turn watching online streaming videos into a different experience. Sometimes cool…sometimes just different. Let's check out a few such web services.

YouTube Instant

watch movies on youtube

YouTube goes real time with 'instant' videos. Type in a keyword (or even a single alphabet) and the app gets the most popular video according to the search term. The next five in the popularity stakes get mentioned with thumbnails on the side. You can do things like use the arrow key to quickly go to the next video.

If you are interested in instant YouTube videos check out – 3 Websites to Enjoy a YouTube Instant Experience.


youtube watch

Think of this cool web app as an online media player for all YouTube videos. You can start off by getting all your YouTube search results displayed in neat rows of thumbnails. Use the slider to change the view. Bring up the video options by hovering over each thumbnail. Then you can create, save, and share YouTube playlists.

Best of all you can download the high-quality (not high definition) videos in multiple formats (but only 3 per day). The web app has paid plans and a free one (see our Directory mention).


youtube watch

The YouTube URL or a little bookmarklet is all you need for a distraction free YouTube experience. You get to watch videos without the text and ads around it. The site allows short URLs too, to share the ViewPure version to your friends (see our Directory mention).


youtube watch

YouTube does not yet give you the option of searching or arranging videos by date. Dipity is a mashup which does exactly that. You can watch the videos in a chronological sequence. For instance, you can easily create a timeline of sporting events and catch the videos in the right order.

watch youtube videos

This YouTube Time Machine was set up to probably prove that there's nothing like the good 'ol days. Here, you have a timeline (a movable slider) on which you can lookup popular videos from years gone by. You can filter videos by switching categories on and off.

The videos are displayed at random, so you might have to do a bit of your own patient sifting (see our Directory mention).


watch youtube videos

This web service, as you might have guessed, is a way to see the most viewed YouTube videos by country. Click on the icons on the large Google Map and the balloon pops up with the video thumbnails and additional information. You can see the picks for the day, the week, the month, and all time.


watch youtube videos

Think of it as your own private movie room. If you have good enough bandwidth and a close bunch of pals, invite them over to watch movies (or anything else) on YouTube. With the help of Synchtube you can have public and private rooms where you can watch synchronized YouTube videos with up to 50 people. What's cooler is that you can chat at the same time with your groupies. No registration needed (see our Directory mention).

YouTube Social

watch movies on youtube

YouTube Social is quite similar to the last one, but it comes with one more option. You just have to add the word ‘social’ to the YouTube video URL (i.e. it becomes and you get redirected to the web apps page. Now you can invite your friends to the show by sending them the URL.

You get to chat in real time while watching the video together. You can also log in through Facebook to watch videos with your Facebook circle – and that hikes up its social quotient.


Video-Alerts is a service that allows you to get an email notification once a day when new videos are uploaded to YouTube, on any topic of your choice. You can use up to ten keywords to target your preferred videos.


watch movies on youtube

Okay, this website is about the videos you won't get to watch on YouTube anymore. If you want to know which videos got taken down for any sort of violation, you might find a mention here. As it says in the footer, it is a research project of MIT Free Culture. The site notes the why and when. The site has cataloged about 222,471 videos that have been taken down.

There are quite a few other ways to watch the millions of YouTube videos. Then there are the alternative ways to catch the music on YouTube too which we haven't covered here. Which is your favorite one? Or do you prefer to go back to the basic way of watching the videos on YouTube itself?

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Add An Evernote Site Memory Button To Build Loyal Website Visitors

Posted: 10 Nov 2010 10:31 AM PST

evernote site memoryOne of the most well known note taking applications is Evernote. It’s a multi-platform and multi-gadget tool, available for every popular operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, etc.) and it syncs all content between all of the supported gadgets.   We have discussed it a lot on MakeUseOf in the past.

One of the features of Evernote is the ability to take Web Clips, either by using a browser add-on/extension or a bookmarklet. Recently, Evernote improved this ability by launching a feature called Site Memory. But this time they have taken a different approach: instead of looking at things only from the users’ point of view, they are also looking from a website owner’s perspective.

Keeping The Memory Alive

Basically Site Memory will add a clip button to websites, so visitors can quickly clip the site content to their Evernote account and view content that they have already saved before. The site owner controls which and how much of the content should be clipped, and how it should appear on the reader’s Evernote.

As their collection grows, people will likely become loyal visitors and come back more often.  They may also tell others about the cool feature that your site has.

Here’s what Evernote says about the benefit of adding the Site Memory Button to your site:

Including Site Memory on your pages allows you to form a lasting relationship with your users by giving them a simple way to remember the content that’s important to them – a personal “best of” list for your site.

Evernote provides web owners with tool to easily create Site Memory Button(s) to their sites. There are only four steps to take to finish the process:

evernote site memory

  • Firstly, you have to choose what kind of button you want to place on your site. You can pick one of the many available choices.
  • Then you decide which part of the site you want to allow your visitor to clip. Basically this step just decides which part of the HTML code is considered as “content“.
  • You can also decide on what name should appear on the clip, suggest a notebook to place the clip, and add your Evernote referral code if you want to.
  • Finally, you can copy and paste the resulting script to your site.

Self-hosted WordPress users can just skip the building process and use the WP Evernote Site Memory plugin instead. All the hard work will be done for you.

evernote button

Code-freak geeks who want to take complete control over Site Memory will want to read the complete instructions over at the Evernote site. Aside from WordPress, the site also provides instructions on customizing the button for Tumblr.

Looking At Things From Another Side

So you’ve now added the button to your site. What will your visitor actually see? How’s the view from the other side? Let’s look at how the visitors use Site Memory to their convenience.

I installed the WordPress plugin on my site, activated it, and did no customization whatsoever. Here’s what happened.

  • A small Site Memory button appeared at the bottom of my posts. Since I played the role of a visitor, I clicked the button.

evernote button

  • A new window appeared asking me to sign in to my Evernote account.

evernote button

  • The clipping window showed up, along with all the necessary suggestions to clip the article.

evernote site memory button

  • After I clicked the “Clip” button, I got the result in the next window.

evernote site memory button

  • Then I moved to the next article, ready to clip it to my Evernote. This time, along with the usual clipping elements, I also got a list of my clips from the site.

evernote site memory button

  • This list will grow along with time, and stays specific to the site. An effective way to build personal collections of interesting articles from a certain location.

03f List of Clips.jpg

  • Meanwhile, all of the site-specific clips will also added to your general collection in your Evernote account.

evernote site memory

The way I see it, the Site Memory button from Evernote is a great feature for both visitors – to enrich their collections, and to web owners – to improve their sites and gain loyal readers.

What do you think about the feature? Share your thoughts and opinions using the comments below.

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Several 365 Days Online Groups To Help You Become A Better Photographer

Posted: 10 Nov 2010 09:31 AM PST

become a better photographerIf your camera has been gathering dust in the closet for the last several months, you might want to make a New Year’s resolution to become a better photographer by joining one of Flickr’s many photo group projects.

One of the most challenging and possible rewarding groups involves taking and posting a photo per day for an entire year. There are several 365 days groups on I will suggest a few, but I encourage you to search out several others and make one your home base.

The most popular group that I know of for this project is called, well Project 365. It currently has 19,920 members. The group has hundreds of discussions threads including weekly challenges for meeting your daily photo requirement.

become a better photographer

You can join Project 365 at any time to get you started, but if you’re interested in starting on January 1, “365: the 2011 edition,” has been created for such a purpose. The administrator says the group will be limited to 1,111 members, so if you’re already a member, you might want to join in. The group is open to photographers of all skill levels.

Another established group is 365 Community with 644 members. This group also has weekly themes, as well as milestone threads for when members reach a particular number of days in the project.

Completing The Project

Now, to be honest, shooting and posting a photo per day can be a hefty challenge, especially if you have limited time to get out and shoot. So the following are some suggestions based on my experience in completing the project a few years ago.

  • Absolutely take a camera with you wherever you go. While a profession DSLR camera is great to have, a smaller portable or pocket camera is ever better. I shot with both a Canon 50D and a compact Canon G9. Even a good cell phone camera can be handy for this project. Keep a camera in your car or travel bag so that it's always handy and ready to shoot.

    photography groups

  • Make a list of subjects and places to shoot. Keep a list of all the subjects around your community and town that you have wanted to shoot. You might even have a particular location which you visit on a regular basis throughout the year. I would say a third of my project photos came from visiting and shooting at a historical site called Old Sacramento.
  • Don't censor yourself. While it's almost natural to want and take and post the best shots you can, don't censor yourself when it comes to snapping digital photos. No matter how banal a subject may appear, take the shot anyway and decide later to post it or not. Take several photos per day and choose the best one.

    photography groups

  • Copy other photographers. There's no copyright on subjects and ideas for photos. Most photographers will be honored that their work is an inspiration to other photographers.
  • Shoot a variety of subjects. You might spend a week or more focusing on just taking macro shots. When you go vacation, you might spend your evenings shooting night shots. On the weekends you might try taking nature photos.
  • Develop a strategy for posting photos to Flickr. Search out software or plug-ins that can help you get your photos posted and tagged on Flickr as fast possible. With Apple's latest iPhoto, for example, you can import, process, and post your photos to your Flickr account without having to leave the program.

photography groups

  • Use the project as a way to learn how to use your camera and photo processing software.
  • Give and receive feedback on your photos. Choose five or more Project 365 members to give praise and support to during the year. Likewise, you will receive encouragement and feedback as well. The web browser, Flock, is a great tool for following and keeping up with contacts.
  • Try various photo techniques. In addition to learning how to better use your camera, this project is a great opportunity to learn various photo techniques, such as shooting from different angles, using various size lenses and aperture settings, and trying out various lighting techniques.
  • Celebrate your achievement. When you complete your project, you might want to create book out of your photos. For inspiration, check out this Blurb published book by the 365 Community group.

become a better photographer

Completing a photo a day project is nearly a foolproof way to become a better photographer. There will be plenty of days when you will shoot and post crappy photos, but I guarantee you, you will shoot and make a few really awesome photos that you might never have made by not doing the project.

Let us know if you plan on doing Project 365. If a photo per day is too time consuming for you, I will be posting a list of other photo projects you might want to try.

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How To Completely Remove Norton Or McAfee From Your Computer

Posted: 10 Nov 2010 08:31 AM PST

how to remove nortonThey slow your computer down, they ask for your money annually and they rate no better than various free products when compared by If you have an ongoing relationship with Norton or McAfee, it’s time to break up. Happily, both companies provide free software for doing just that.

Most people who have Norton or McAfee found the software on their computer when they bought it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – it’s important to get a working anti-virus onto a new computer as quickly as possible – but the default software on your computer isn’t necessarily the best. Just ask any former IE user who today uses Google Chrome or Firefox.

Removing Norton and McAfee’s products has a tendency to leave a lot of crap behind, even if you go through the proper channels offered in your control panel. Both companies acknowledge this, and both offer removal tools for the complete uninstallation. If you’re looking to learn how to remove Norton or McAfee and replace them with something free and effective, you’ve found the right article.

Before you do anything you should probably disconnect from the Internet. Leaving a Windows computer connected to the web without protection can be dangerous. That’s why I recommend you read through the guide, download what you need to download and then follow the steps below.

Getting Started

Both Norton and McAfee recommend that you remove your program through the control panel before running their tools. I’ve found that simply running the tool is enough, but if you like playing by the rules you might as well do this first.

  • Click your start button, then click “Control Panel“. Click “Add or Remove Programs” if you run XP, or “Uninstall a Program” if you’re using Vista/7. Find the program(s) you need to remove, then uninstall it!

how to remove norton

  • This may take a while, or in some cases may fail completely. Don’t panic; we’re only halfway through the process.

Completely Remove Norton

Are you a soon-to-be-ex-Norton-user? Congratulations! What you need now is the Norton Removal tool. The best product Norton offers, this program will completely remove all Norton-related software from your computer (including shortcuts and annoying toolbars).

Click here to download the Norton removal tool, then run the executable. You’ll see something that looks like this:

Follow the on-screen directions, mostly clicking “next“, to rid yourself forever of all Norton leftovers. You may have to prove you’re human by typing a few lines of text, but for the most part this is painless. Best of all: when you’re done there’s no sign left on your computer of Norton’s existence.

Completely Remove McAfee

If you’re trying to remove McAfee you’re going to need a different piece of software: the McAfee Cleanup Tool. This program will remove everything to do with McAfee from your computer, and is by far the best product they offer. It does exactly what it says it will do.

how to remove norton

Go ahead and click here to download the McAfee removal tool. Run this executable and it will take care of the rest!

Install Something Better

Looking for a better piece of anti-virus software? I myself really love Microsoft Security Essentials, for three reasons: first, it offers great protection; second, it features a really clean and simple user interface; third, it will never ever ask you for money.

But read the comments below and you’ll quickly discover not everyone agrees with me. Check out their recommendations, and be sure to check out our list of the top ten free anti-virus programs if you still need ideas.

Can anyone offer links to tools for completely removing other annoying bits of software?  If so, please share them below.

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3 Fun & Simple Phone Apps That Will Change The Way You Text Message

Posted: 10 Nov 2010 07:31 AM PST

Text messaging – especially among the younger crowd – is probably the number one thing we use our phones for. Think about that for a second. We use our phones, which were designed for calling people, to send text-based messages instead. That’s not to say we don’t call anyone, but texting has become second nature to us. It’s very easy to do.

The way texting usually works is you would take out your phone, select all the recipients of your message, type it out and send it. Then you would get multiple replies and have basically the same conversation a few different times in order to coordinate your plans with the entire group. Well, that’s all about to change.

In this article, I’ll be unveiling three phone text messaging apps that have really been generating a lot of buzz lately. Each one offers a unique and interesting way to communicate via text message and they’re all free, so if you don’t have an unlimited SMS plan you can start saving some cash on your cell phone bill too.

Real-Time Texting With Kik

Kik Messenger is a free smartphone to smartphone messenger, not unlike BlackBerry’s Messenger. One of the things that makes it different, however, is that it is truly cross-platform. It will work on your iPhone, BlackBerry or Android device.

The best part about KIK (a popular misspelling of ‘LOL’) is the real-time messaging. You get free, unlimited cross-platform messaging to all Kik users and your text messages are turned into real-time conversations, meaning that you’ll know that your message has been sent and when it is read. Because this process is fast, Kik makes texting feel more like a face-to-face conversation.

If you’re too busy to read a new message, but don’t want your friends to feel ignored, Kik steps in and tells them that their message has been delivered but not yet read.

Kik Messenger also features push notifications, free cross border messaging, landscape typing, offline messages and – according to their website – it works worldwide. According to Kik, the next step is adding free (legal) music sharing.

Kik Messenger is the fastest, most reliable instant messenger that allows you to connect with your smartphone friends for free! Enjoy real-time conversations enabled by your data plan that you can use to talk to your friends all over the world. Say goodbye to texting!

Group Texting With GroupMe

GroupMe (directory app) allows you to create free texting chatrooms for your real-life friends. The way it works is simple:

First, you start a group. This can be your family, college buddies, co-workers or really anything you want. When you start a group, you get a unique number for it. Save your group’s number to your contacts so you can get a hold of the group at any time. Once you’ve created your group, add contacts to it.

Then, start texting your group. All of your group’s contacts will be brought into a chatroom where you can all see the entire conversation. If you would prefer not to text, you can call your unique number to start an instant conference call. How cool is that?

GroupMe is said to work on any phone, but they do have an iPhone app for download.

Fun Team-Based Texting With Fast Society

text messaging app

While the previous two apps offer you fun ways to send text messages, I think this next app was designed specifically with the word fun in mind.

Fast Society (directory app) is another group texting application that is totally private and works with every phone on every carrier (in the US). It allows you to “create temporary teams of friends around fun events in your life.”

text messaging app

You start by choosing your team. You can choose a few friends or invite anyone, even those who don’t have the app. Then you pick a length of time for how long you would like your chat session to last. Temporary teams means no commitment, and because the session expires you won’t have to get a stray message the next day from someone who was “unconnected”.

Then, what happens next is up to you. You can start texting your team for a simple group chat via SMS, or call them for an instant conference call. Members of the team can also share their location with the group.

text messaging app

Have an iPhone? Fast Society has an iPhone app, but it also works on other phones, so head to the website.


I realize that these text messaging apps might not seem very “fun” at first glance, but I assure you once you start using them with your friends you will really start to get into it. Changing the way we text message is such an interesting dynamic to me, and judging from the current popularity of these applications I think it is something to keep an eye on.

If you’re interested in these apps, check out some other SMS tools.

What do you think of these apps? Will you be trying any of them with your friends?

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