Wednesday, November 24, 2010 “Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]” plus 12 more “Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]” plus 12 more

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Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 02:12 AM PST


Check out the top picks from MakeUseOf Geeky Fun during the last week.

  1. Linux is Like a Tipi (Pic)
  2. If Other Directors Made The Social Network (Video)
  3. Is Google a Monopoly? (Pic)
  4. What Video Game System Is Right For You (Pic)
  5. This is what you get… (Pic)
  6. Buying Music?? (Pic)

If you would like to keep up with all latest Geeky Fun additions, please subscribe to the Geeky Fun feed here. You can also subscribe and get the latest additions via email.

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Cool Websites and Tools [November 23rd]

Posted: 23 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.

Add Your Website Here!


Little Icon Editor – Icons make it easy for us to know the different objects on our computers, whether it is a favicon on a website, a forum icon, or a desktop icon shortcut. While there are millions of preset icons available online, wouldn't it be fun if you could draw your own? Enter Little Icon Editor, a simple web tool that lets you draw small icons by filling out colors in small boxes. Read more: Little Icon Editor: A Simple Tool To Make Small Icons & Favicons


SiteLauncher – If you are used to working with a desktop, you are probably familiar with desktop icons, docks, or launchers. On the other hand, we are more used to typing URLs in browsers to get to a website. But if you want to bring the elegance of launchers to your browser, then you should check out SiteLauncher. This extension for Google Chrome allows you to organize your favorite websites seamlessly. Read more: SiteLauncher: Quick Site Launcher For Google Chromes



Braineos – Whether it is state capitals, SAT vocabulary words, or dates for a history exam, there are a number of things you might need to learn. Flash cards are a wonderful way to memorize these things. Braineos offers a fun way to study anything with flash cards and games. Read more: Braineos: Study With Flash Cards & Games



Send Me A Story – Newspapers contain many articles of interest. But one usually does not have the time to go through each paper and see which articles are the most interesting reads. “Send Me A Story” tries bringing to your attention those interesting newspaper articles that you missed out on, sending you interesting newspaper articles weekly. These articles can be from current or past issues of newspapers. Read more: SendMeAStory: Get Past & Recent Interesting Newspaper Articles via Email



Directions Map – Have you ever tried finding your way through a map? The main problem with that is finding the exact route to take in order to reach your destination. The best way to explain the directions to some place is to show a map that has the route already outlined. This is exactly what Directions Map offers. Read more: DirectionsMap: Create Maps With Routes & Animated Street View


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 7 Toughest Tech Questions [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 23 Nov 2010 06:31 PM PST

If you ever miss your good deed of the day, head over to MakeUseOf Answers and help someone out!

There is an abundance of questions each day. But not only can you make someone happy by proposing a solution to their problem, you can expand your horizons or post your own tech issues.

Please help us out with this week’s toughest or unanswered tech questions:

MakeUseOf Answers is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you’re gonna get and you can learn something new every day. Check out 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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See Through Twitter Links & Add Any Site To Your Stream With Lazyscope

Posted: 23 Nov 2010 05:31 PM PST

see short urlAs many of us Twitter users already know, there is no shortage of Twitter clients available to us. Between web and desktop clients and those we access on our phone or mobile device, each Twitter client has its own feature set that makes it attractive to us. And a lot of times it’s the clients that have the most diverse capabilities that catch our attention.

Lazyscope fits into this category. With Lazyscope (directory app), you can view links in your Twitter stream without having to click on them. It also lets you view content from your stream without ever leaving the app and – here’s the kicker – you can even add content to your stream that isn’t from Twitter. What does that mean? Allow me to show you.

From The Creators Of Lazyfeed

Surprise! The creators of Lazyscope are also the same people that gave us Lazyfeed, which we have listed in our directory. Lazyfeed allows you to create a stream of content by adding topics you love while it pulls in updates from around the web. Like Lazyfeed, Lazyscope was designed to make viewing content extremely easy and requiring minimal effort on the part of the user.

see short url

Lazyscope is available for Windows, Mac and Linux and is installed on top of Adobe Air. Just head to the homepage to download it.

What Can I Do With Lazyscope?

By default, Lazyscope shows up as a one-column Twitter stream. A drop-down menu at the top of the application allows you to select which tweets from your various lists you would like to display in the stream. Your stream will update in real-time and notifications will pop up at the bottom of your screen.

For the most part, this is no different from any of the other Twitter clients you might use. Let’s take a look at what is different about Lazyscope.

See Through Shared Links

While viewing your stream in Lazyscope, you’ll notice that all of the tweets that have links in them will include a little preview right within the stream. This eliminates the need to click on the links just to see where they send you.

see shortened url

If you do click on a tweet containing a link, a page will open up to the right of your Lazyscope stream displaying the content. Again, this is independent of your browser and allows you to view the full content right within Lazyscope.

Follow Streams From Any Website

The feature that really caught my attention was the ability to subscribe to content that wasn’t Twitter-related. While you are viewing content from links in your Lazyscope stream, you will notice at the top there is a Subscribe button.

see short url

If you’re on a site you would like to receive updates from, just click that button and updates will be added to your Lazyscope stream, regardless of whether or not the site has a Twitter account.

See Lazyscope In Action

If you would like to see Lazyscope in action for yourself, check out this YouTube video:


Lazyscope may not have everything you’re looking for in a full-on Twitter client, but if you’re looking to browse your stream for interesting content you can certainly do that easily. They don’t call it Lazyscope for nothing, so sit back and relax while surfing for content from your Twitter stream. All you really need is your mouse.

What do you think of the interesting features associated with Lazyscope? Would you like to see these features added to your favorite Twitter client?

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Draw Diagrams & Pictures On Your Computer Screen During Presentations With Sketch It

Posted: 23 Nov 2010 03:31 PM PST

draw on your screenI think it’s official. The Internet has officially brought the science fiction of the 1980s into the science reality of today. We can establish remote connections with a friend’s computer in the blink of an eye. We can have a video conference session with each other in real-time. We can track and map our travel adventures using GPS coordinates with a fraction of the effort that it would have taken people merely a decade ago.

One of the things that I always get a chuckle out of is when high-tech progress is hampered by low-tech limitations. For example, during a recent business video conference, one person leading the conversation was showing everyone on the video call his computer screen. He was walking people through the setup process for a certain computer application. At one point, he wanted to circle a certain area of the screen. Unable to do so, he had to resort to circling the mouse cursor around that area.

Wouldn’t it be nice, in such a situation, to have the ability to simply draw, sketch or jot notes anywhere on the screen during a presentation or video conference? Thankfully, there’s an innovative app called Sketch It that lets you do just that.

Setting Up Sketch It

When you first install Sketch It, an introductory menu pops up that allows you to set up the software to behave the way you want it to.

draw on your screen

If you click on the Controls screen, you’ll see that the controls to operate the sketch pen are pretty simple. The software is always running, with a small icon in the taskbar letting you know that it’s active. All you have to do to start drawing on your screen is press Control – Shift and hold down the left mouse button.

draw on computer screen

This means that at any time at all, you can enable the pen and quickly draw anything on the screen. You don’t have to be in a video conference or an IM chat. For example, if you’re testing an application, you can mark up the screen with your observations before taking a screenshot. With just three keystrokes, your pen is enabled anytime at all.

draw on computer screen

While I thought this might be a pretty cool way to mark up individual windows or photographs, once I attempted to move a window over my drawing, I made a wonderful discovery. Your drawings are not application dependent. In other words, when you draw on the screen using Sketch It, it’s like you’re literally drawing on your screen with a marker. You can draw over and across multiple windows and it won’t have any affect on the applications that you’re running.

Enabling & Configuring Sketch It

Once you have Sketch It running on your computer, you can change the appearance of your sketches by using the menu. Just right click on the icon in the taskbar and select “Open Menu“.

draw on computer screen

When you do this, a very large and clear menu bar opens up in the center of your screen, on top of all other windows.

Clicking on the pen icon allows you to change the color and thickness of the lines you draw.

draw on screen windows

Clicking on the monitor icon drops down an option where you can enable a second display if you happen to have two monitors connected to your computer.

draw on screen windows

The folder menu option lets you capture your screen. The Copy Screen and Save Screen options are nearly identical – in one case it saves a screenshot to the clipboard, and in the other it lets you save the screen as a bitmap. You also have the option to print the screen direction to your printer.

draw on screen windows

Overall, the application gives you a somewhat unique ability to not only draw on application screens, but to draw across all application windows and your entire monitor screen. This gives you the convenience of pointing out areas of the screen or highlighting sections of an application window any time someone else is looking at that screen, either during an in-person overhead presentation or during a remote video conference where you’re sharing out your computer screen.

draw on your screen

This is one application that I intent to use often during application reviews, and during online presentations. So, it’s definitely a program I intend to keep installed. As you’re pretty much drawing freehand with your mouse, you probably won’t win any artistic awards – but you’ll have the flexibility to draw whatever you want on your screen, wherever you want it.

Give the program a test run and provide some feedback. Do you know of any other apps that do the same thing as well or better? Offer your insight in the comments section below.

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Keep Track Of Your Unwatched Online Videos By Storing Them In Radbox

Posted: 23 Nov 2010 01:31 PM PST

store videos onlineYou know how you always get sent great YouTube clips while you’re busy working? Or you see a Tweet to something you’d love to watch later, but don’t have the time right now? It happens every day. Yet, when you’re tired and just want to veg out watching something fun, where are those videos then?

Even if you’ve got a great system in place to find these videos when you’re ready to watch them, Radbox will make it even easier. With loads of neat ways to add videos to Radbox, by the time you settle in for some entertainment you’ll have plenty of things lined up. Then you can just sit back and relax. Ideal, huh?

Why Use Radbox?

When you’re winding down at the end of a long day, are you usually so keen to watch online videos that you’ll scour your email, RSS feed, tabs and bookmarks to find the ones you heard about during the day? Not likely. More often than not, these video links just get forgotten about.

store videos online

Radbox lets you add video links while you’re still awake and energetic, then does all the work for you when you’re lethargic and want to be entertained. What could be easier? Radbox uses the service, which makes it possible for you to bookmark and watch video from over 70 different video services.

Sign Up

Sign up in no time at all, either using email and password or using a Facebook Connect login.

keep track of watched movies

Adding Videos To Radbox

store videos for freeVideos can be added to Radbox by many easy methods. First, you get a secret email address so you can forward videos you’re sent straight to Radbox (you could even set up a filter to do it for you). Second, grab the bookmarklet and add it to your browser.

If you’re a Google Reader user, you might like to set this up:

  • Go to Google Reader settings and choose the “Send To” option.
  • Create and save a custom link with these details.

Icon URL:

Now you can easily click on “Send to” and you get a Radbox link.

store videos for free

Radbox have also got an open API, so keep an eye out for new tools and browser extensions adding Radbox functionality.

Watching Videos Using Radbox

When it comes to watching Radbox videos, your home screen will show you all the videos in your list so you can easily watch them. Since the video is embedded, you can do things you would normally be able to do using that site, such as favouriting on YouTube or Vimeo. Plus, you can archive the collection from within Radbox as well.

store videos for free

Sharing With Friends

Through Facebook, Twitter and other social media, your Radbox videos can be shared with your friends while you watch them.

How Does It Compare?

Some similar tools out there include:

  • YouTube LeanBack – compiles a list of videos for you based on previous things you’ve enjoyed.
  • Miro – lets you add channels and feeds, later watching whichever channel you’re in the mood for.
  • Wacchen – an incredibly similar tool which could prove to be competition (also uses, so has a similar scope).

Overall, I think Radbox is onto something by letting you add to your viewing list yourself. People who can’t be bothered adding to the list during the day may find that Miro, YouTube Leanback or Boxee would be better suited to them. However, people who find it no hassle at all to bookmark or forward links to Radbox will love using Radbox and ultimately have a great experience with using it.

store videos online

The one thing I really wanted to see in Radbox was a sort of “lean back” option: essentially, to be able to click once and sit back to watch all of your video in a long stream. Sadly, you still have to click on the next video in the list yourself. But maybe I’m just being really lazy for wanting that!

If you’ve started using Radbox, let us know what you think about it in the comments!

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Hot Tech Deals [Nov 23rd]

Posted: 23 Nov 2010 12:25 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. Nike Clearance Extra 25% off + Free Shipping via code NIKEAIR and JUSTDOIT

  2. Gateway DX4320-19 Phenom II X6 1035T 6-core 2.6GHz Desktop (8GB/1.5TB) $699.99

  3. LaCie Grand Hard Disk 1TB USB External Hard Drive $62.99 Free Shipping

  4. TODAY ONLY Olympus T-100 12MP 3X Digital Camera $67.16 Free Shipping via code AFL4COUPON

  5. LG 47LD520 47 inch LCD HDTV (1080p, 120Hz) $699.99 Free Shipping

  6. Buffalo LinkStation Live 1TB USB 2.0 NAS Hard Drive $89.99 Free Shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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10 Websites That Can Help The Beginner Programmer With Sample Code Snippets

Posted: 23 Nov 2010 11:31 AM PST

sample programsI believe a nicer and friendlier term would be ‘social coding’. Sharing sample code is one of the little limbs of the larger open source movement. Freed from the straitjackets of profits, free sharing of technical information is quite common.

Sample code that is freely available is also a great learning aid. For the beginner programmer it's not a shortcut; as a programmer you won't get far if you take that shortcut. Free sample codes could be hints on how you can structure your own commands and functions to program better. Developers can piggyback on free sample programs and reuse snippets in their own code to save development time, cost, and sweat.

Ryan helped us out with the Top 10 Professional Sample Code Websites for Programmers. As a newbie, I went searching out for more.


sample programs

A well designed code library which you can source for reusable code and you can also store your own. The site has a code search engine and you can really dive into the library using the advanced code search across a range of programming languages from A-Z. Or you can directly choose a language from the list given at the footer.

The site also has a few plugins like the Firefox and Safari Bookmarklets which make storing and retrieving code easy (see the directory mention).

Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow is a collaboratively edited question and answer site for programmers. The stockpile of answered queries is a potential goldmine. You can use the tags or browse the lists of questions or use the search box. The site is visually very clean and with the kind of common experiences we have, you are sure to find some solution to your coding problems here. If not, go directly into the chat rooms which are arranged according to languages and platforms.

Hot Scripts

48,000 code samples in over 1,000 categories from Ajax to XML is covering a lot. The site's focus is on web development and so you will find the latest HTML5 code samples too. The site also runs a blog with some nice articles on coding dos and don'ts.  If you are stuck, try out the web development forum for a bit of programming guidance.


basic programming is an open source code search engine. It searches 3,338,449,289 lines of open source code. 33 programming languages are covered for you to find and reuse the code you want. You can also filter your search by licenses. The site also serves as a code repository for opens source projects.


basic programming

Another code source where you can upload your code examples and share them with the larger community. The site is basically arranged like a blog. You can browse through the tags which seem to suggest that the site covers quite a few languages with Java and Ruby dominating.

The site also publishes free PDFs called REFCARDZ which are very useful cheat sheets for learners and developers.

basic programming

A large programming and web development community that gives you tutorials, podcasts, a discussion board, a blog, and code snippets to download and use. The site covers around 25 languages and a few lesser known ones in a category called Other Languages. Java gets the most content. The site also has a small video channel on programming.

C-Sharp Corner

computer programming

The site covers C#, C++, ASP.Net, VB, Visual Studio, Windows related technologies like Silverlight, and also web development. The site has a pretty good section on video tutorials too. The beginner programmer can head to the Beginner section and use the coding resources on C#.

Source Code Online

computer programming

Do a code search or submit your own code and share it with the community. The site has a listing called Top Code which is perhaps counted on the basis of page hits or downloads. Though some of the links seemed broken, a lot of the others worked out. The categories lean towards web development, but you have ones on C/C++ and VB.Net too.


computer programming

Share code, screenshots, and links with others. The only slight hitch is that it's an invite–only community. But if you apply and manage to get in, the combination of designers and developers under one virtual roof could be a timesaver for collaborative projects like web apps and websites. The homepage design looks inviting enough.


sample programs

This is the site where I got the phrase 'social coding' from and I think it perfectly describes what these sites do. Though the site has a paid section, the public repository of code samples is free. Github is an online host for open source projects. It uses the Git revision control system. It's quite similar to the well known SourceForge and BitBucket. You can manage your source code files collaboratively, network socially, share code snippets with others, tap the job board, and go for drinks at the meetups.

These resources prove that whatever platform or language you are working on, the web is a huge melting pot of likeminded programmers who don't mind sharing snippets of their work. That's a bump up for the community. Tell us about your favorite code website and if you also share your stuff online.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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How To Schedule Recording A Radio Station On Windows Or Mac

Posted: 23 Nov 2010 10:31 AM PST

record radio showsWe’ve talked about recording an online radio stream in the past. But often, just being able to record radio shows isn’t enough. If there’s a show on you like while you’ve got other obligations, it’s likely you’ll have to scour the website’s archives – that’s if there are any.

Today, we’ll talk about how to schedule a recording on your computer, with detail for both Mac OS X and Windows computers. This tutorial allows you to record either an online radio stream, or actual FM/AM broadcasts.

Internet Radio

Internet radio stations are common these days, albeit not as common as their analog counterparts. However, because most regular radio stations — and most certainly the popular ones — offer an internet stream on their website to supplement day-to-day broadcasting, this is often the easiest option.

record radio shows Windows – Radio & MP3 Player

You’ll need the URL of your internet radio station. If it isn’t supplied, you might be able to find it in the page source. If this doesn’t work, you can run the radio station in the background and use the analog recording option specified below.

There’s a nifty tool for the Windows platform called, rather appropriately, Radio & MP3 Player. It has all we need to schedule a recording. Go ahead and install it on your computer. Add the URL(s) of your internet radio station via Show My Stations -> Add.

record streaming radio

Next, go to File and select Show Schedule Recordings. Here you’ll see an overview of all recordings that are already scheduled. If you’re using the application, this list will still be empty. Press Add New.

record streaming radio

In the ensuing pop-up window, you’ll need to name the show you’re recording and select a radio station. Below, you’re able to configure the time window for the recording, and whether or not to make it recurring. The recording will be saved as MP3 by default in the folder specified at the bottom of the window.

Mac OS X – Radio Recorder

An application like this for Mac OS X is hard to find — at least if you want it to be free. Radio Recorder is your best shot. The last release dates back to early 2005 and was for PPC. The developer’s website has since gone offline and the application is no longer supported. On the flip side, it still works like a charm, both on Intel Macs and PPC systems.

record streaming radio

You’re able to configure Radio Recorder without leaving the main application window. Simply add the station URL, a name, and specify the time window for the recording. Similar to Radio & MP3 Player (above), these scheduled recordings can be made to recur. The other application tabs allow you to automatically split the songs and track radio tagging. When you’re done, press Now to activate the timer.

A retail alternative to RadioRecorder that’s still being actively supported is Radioshift — $32 at the time of writing.

Analog Radio – Audacity 1.3 & up

record internet radio Windows + record streaming radio Mac OS X

If you’re simply going to record audio from your computer, i.e. a radio station that’s playing in the background, you can skip this step. Actually recording analog radio shows falls into two categories; using a PCI Radio Tuner or your microphone input.

A PCI Radio Tuner is a piece of hardware that you put in your PC; it’s often included with PCI TV Tuner hardware. Some PC’s that were sold as media centers might have this by default. It means you can listen to FM/AM radio using an application on your computer. Make sure the software that came with the tuner is installed.

record internet radio

If you haven’t got a radio tuner in your computer, don’t worry, you can simply hook up a radio to your computer. You’ll need a radio with an AUX or Line-Out port and a 2x 3.5mm TRS jack cable. This cable has a plug like the one you use with an MP3 player or computer on both sides. This will connect to the mic-in port on your computer.

record internet radio

You’ll need Audacity 1.3, which is currently in beta. This download is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux/Unix. Be sure to select the right version; scheduling a recording wasn’t possible up until the 1.3 Beta.

You can select your audio input in the main application window. If you’re recording sound that’s playing on your computer, select the Internal Microphone. Otherwise, select your audio card.

record radio shows

Go to Transport -> Timer Record.. to schedule a recording. You can configure the start- and end time, but it’s not possible to create a recurring recording. You’ll have to configure the recording manually each time. Press OK to start the timer.

Do you know any other great alternatives to scheduling a recording? Let us know in the comments!

Image credit: Shutterstock



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Daniusoft Video Converter Pro Giveaway Winners

Posted: 23 Nov 2010 10:00 AM PST

Here are the 20 lucky MakeUseOf readers who have each received a full copy of Daniusoft Video Converter Pro absolutely free.

Congratulations! An email containing the registration details has been sent to the email address used to participate. Please check your spam mailbox if you haven’t received it.

And so, who are the 20 winners? Let’s take a look.

  1. Paul Macdonald
  2. Jagdesh Singh
  3. Lisa Beeson
  4. Eric Whitehead
  5. Taffy Lafaguz
  6. Tim Walsh
  7. Michael Drawe
  8. Karl Schubert
  9. Lisa Tam
  10. Radu Micu
  11. Doru Imbroane
  12. Susan Smith
  13. Eduardo Villela
  14. Tux Tong
  15. Ian Branch
  16. Vt Clark
  17. Kristopher Buxton
  18. Dwight Fredricks
  19. Troy Pioth
  20. Stephen Yang

MakeUseOf would like to thank Daniusoft Studio 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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Updraft: The Simplest WordPress Backup & Restore Utility

Posted: 23 Nov 2010 09:31 AM PST

wordpress automatic backup and restore softwareIf there’s only one thing that I learned from the (almost) sleepless nights when I tried to revoke my old WordPress blog (aside from the importance of backups), it would be the importance of the ability to easily restore those backups.

The simple export-import method was not an option for me since my blog has been dead for ages. All I’ve got was the SQL database backup, but restoring it was not as easy as I thought it would be. Even though the blog was finally up and running, the process that I had to go through was far from friendly for ordinary users.

The experience sent me out on a quest for a backup plugin. While there are lots of such plugins for WordPress out there, the ones that provide an easy restore are scarce. Updraft is one of those rare species.

Install & Customize

You can download the plugin from the plugin repository then unzip and upload it to your blog using a FTP client. Or if you use the latest version of WordPress, you can find, download and install it directly from your blog’s plugin menu.

wordpress automatic backup and restore software

After installation, activate it. Then go to the Updraft menu. It’s located in the side menu of your WordPress Admin area under Settings. There’s the “Backup Now!” button to schedule a one time backup, and there’s the “Restore” button to restore one of the available backups.

02a Updraft - Backup-2.jpg

You can also find information about the next scheduled backup, last backup, how many backups are available to be downloaded, and the location of local backups (note: “local” in this case means inside the WordPress folder on your hosting company’s server, not in your computer’s hard drive).

When you do a one time backup, a confirmation window will appear. Basically the window tells you that you need to load a page on your blog to trigger the backup. This “load to trigger” method is commonly used to avoid the use of cron jobs – a server-side automation system which is not recommended for non-geeky users. You don’t have to worry about having to run the process manually. Unless you have a blog with zero visitors, you should do just fine.

wordpress backup plugin

Another thing that you can do from within the Updraft menu is automating the backup process. To do that you can customize the backup intervals (Manual, Daily, Weekly or Monthly), how many backup instances the plugin should keep, and which external cloud backup service to use – should you want to use one.

wordpress backup plugin

Regarding the cloud backup service, there are several choices that you can pick. The easiest is email. This option will trigger the plugin to send backups to your email on the intervals that you’ve specified. The disadvantage of this method is that you have to upload the backups to be able to restore them later.

The second option that people may commonly choose is FTP. We can safely say that every self-hosted WordPress blog owner would have access to an FTP account as it’s a standard feature of a hosting account. To use this option, just specify the server address, login credentials, and FTP path, and the plugin will take care of the rest.

wordpress backup plugin

If you have Amazon S3 and/or Rackspace Cloud Files account, you can use it as an alternative method.

Restoring The Backups

The very basic action to restoring a backup is by clicking the “Restore” button. A drop down list will appear with all of the available backups for you to choose from.

To restore, pick one backup from the list and click “Restore Now!“. It’s as simple as that.

wordpress backup

If you want to download the backups, click on the availability link, and four buttons will appear: Database, Plugins, Themes, and Uploads. Click one of the buttons and the download will start.

As you can see, the database backup itself is very small, but the themes and plugins are huge. To save yourself from future headaches – and to keep your blog slim and fast – you should delete unused themes and plugins.

Since the blog that I use as an example has very few uploaded images, the size of the uploads backup is fairly small. But for big blogs with thousands of images (and other uploads) the size might not be as friendly as mine. Please consider your hosting account storage limit before you decide how many backup instances you want to keep.

wordpress automatic backup and restore software

I couldn’t try the plugin with third party cloud backup services (Amazon and Rackspace), as I don’t have an account because they are not free. Even though Amazon currently offers one year free usage of their Amazon Web Service, I decided not to opt in because the registration requires a valid credit card number and I don’t like the thought of moving the backups out of Amazon S3 storage after one year. But if you happen to use one of these services, you could try integrating them with Updraft and share your experiences using the comments below.

In general, I see Updraft as one of the great WordPress backup alternatives. I just wish that the developer would add more free options to the list of external cloud backup services. Hopefully, the features will appear in future versions, along with many other improvements and new features.

Let us know how you back up your WordPress blog.   Would you use a plugin like this?

Image credit: Tony Austin

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5 Procrastination Strategies to Become More Productive

Posted: 23 Nov 2010 08:31 AM PST

procrastination strategiesProcrastination can be devilish. You’re supposed to work and get things done, but lots of other things seem so much more interesting. Relax! It’s perfectly normal to get distracted or levitate towards more enjoyable ways of spending your time. I mean, how many people really love their job? Always?

The truth is, sooner or later the work has to get done and it better be you who gets it done. In the meantime, when you just can’t find the energy, motivation, or inspiration to complete an annoying task, at least spend the time productively. This article will show you procrastination strategies and resources to practice the art of productive procrastination.

The Idea

Productive procrastination, also known as structured procrastination, may sound like an oxymoron, but if done right it really just is a way of shifting around times and tasks. Let’s face it, we all have mental highs and lows. The high times are for tackling tough or important tasks and doing great work. The low times are for the chores, the boring stuff, the easy tasks. The idea is to do at least something, when you don’t feel like doing anything. This way you productively get through a mental ‘low tide’ and build up energy to successfully master big tasks.

The Strategies

1. Keep A Productive Procrastination To Do List

That list should hold all the boring, easy, and mindless chores that you can do anytime. It should contain nothing that has a deadline. Stuff like cleaning out your inbox, organizing your desk, and specific ideas you have for these tasks, e.g. setting up mail filters or getting a new filing system going. Believe me, no matter how dull these tasks may sound now, once you have a challenging project and don’t feel up to it, they will seem very attractive. Keep the list handy.

Here are some resources for Online or Desktop To Do Lists:

procrastination strategies

2. Keep A Read It Later List

So much to read and so little time. I bet there are lots of articles and manuals you should be reading for your job, but you never have the time. Well, until you’re overwhelmed with work you’re totally not fit to complete it. Some people start to mindlessly browse the internet. You can be smarter. Keep a list of articles bookmarked that are important for your work and then review and organize them when you feel like procrastinating.

The following tools may come in handy:

3. Socialize & Network

Socializing or the professional equivalent – networking – is a cornerstone of our society. You have to know people to move forward. The friendly chats with the guy working next door not only lift your mood (hopefully), but could also save your rear end one day. You are much more likely to receive help and support from someone you know and sooner or later you will need it.

This is what you can do:

  • always be friendly to everyone.
  • chat over coffee or ask a colleague to join you for lunch.
  • offer help when you see it might be needed.

overcoming procrastination

Apart from bonding at your office, you should maintain profiles on professional network sites like LinkedIn or Xing. Connect with your colleagues, customers, people in your field, and exchange references.

4. Maintain A Professional Online Profile

Just like networking, maintaining a professional online profile can be worth gold. Your office is probably all cleaned up and makes a great professional impression. If not that task should be in your PP To Do list! Now how about your online representation? Is it clean and neat? You better go check.

These articles will show you what to take care of:

5. Eat, Move & Sleep

If you’re so down that you can’t get anything done, it may be better to take the rest of the day off. You don’t want your boss to find you sleeping on your desk or hanging out in the cafeteria all day. Get a healthy lunch, get some fresh air, move, and get a good night’s sleep. There is still the next day to catch up. Just don’t do it two days in a row.

Consider these articles for a healthy lifestyle:

procrastination strategies

If productive procrastination just isn’t your style, check out the following articles:

You see, there are lots of resources to pass the time. What is your favorite strategy and how do you get all the work done?

Image credits: Chandrashan Perera, Sean De Burca, Tom Wang, Rene Jansa,

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Office 2010 – Is It Any Better Than Office 2007?

Posted: 23 Nov 2010 07:31 AM PST

microsoft office 2010 reviewMicrosoft Office is kind of a big deal. Yes, there are some pretty nice free office suites available these days. But if you’re creating documents for use in the professional world it is difficult to get by without them. Businesses almost universally use Office, and it’s hard to tell how your stuff will look without having a copy yourself.

Of course, the reason most people are reluctant to get a hold of Office is the price. A copy of MS Office Home and Business is usually between $200 and $300. If you already have Office 2007, you may also be reluctant to upgrade for this reason. Why lay down the dough when your older copy of Office seems to work fine? That’s a good question – and one that I hope to answer with a brief Microsoft Office 2010 review and comparison.

Interface Changes – There, But Not So You’d Notice

microsoft office 2010 review

Office 2007 made some major changes to the Office interface. Microsoft introduced the ribbon concept, which replaced the older interface that relied on a traditional combination of small icons and expandable text menus. Although the ribbon interface can be a bit confusing at first, it starts to become clear quickly, and works well.

Microsoft hasn’t done a lot to change the ribbon interface. It’s a bit re-organized, and the entire application has a off-white appearance rather than the blue appearance of Office 2007. The biggest change to the ribbon is an addition – Outlook now has the ribbon interface. It is also possible to minimize the ribbon interface by clicking on an arrow icon in the upper right hand corner of your Office window.

office 2010 review

The biggest interface difference that most people will notice is the new File button that replaces the big, round Office button found in the 2007 edition. While the old Office button was a gussied-up file menu, the new File button looks like a ribbon interface tab. It opens up a full-screen display that includes both file options (save, print, etc) and options to display recently opened documents, detailed document information, and more.

New Image Editing Features

office 2010 review

Office isn’t Photoshop. The suite has always offered limited image editing features, but the results were always oddly unprofessional for a suite of productivity programs built to be the cornerstone of the modern office PC.

Microsoft has been working on these features, and has implemented better functionality in Office 2010. The image editing and WordArt features include new preset filters, shadows and themes that you can select to spice up your work, and the resulting images don’t have the super-grainy appearance that has been the trademark of images edited in Office for years.

office 2010 review

PowerPoint users will also enjoy new transitions and animations. Transitions and animations used to be combined into one ribbon interface tab, but each now has its own tab with more options. You can finally edit videos, as well. Office 2007 treated them like images, which obviously limited what you could do with a video in a PowerPoint presentation, but now you can edit videos by cropping them, adjusting brightness, etc.

Office Catches Up With Web Applications

microsoft office 2010 reviewTechnology changes rapidly, and the most interesting new ideas are also often the least expected. The leaves Office flat-footed, as they come out with new versions once every three to four years. Google, Open Office and other free competitors simply update whenever they feel it’s necessary. Google Documents has been around for some time now, as has other collaborative document services like Zoho.

Now Office is getting into this game as well. The new Save to Web feature lets you save files directly to your Windows Live SkyDrive, which offers 25GB of capacity for free. Once you’ve uploaded a file you can retrieve it on other computers or you can share it with others. If you’re on a computer which does not have Office installed you can still edit the file using Microsoft Office Web Apps (provided the document is a Word, Excel or PowerPoint file).

PowerPoint has a new web feature, as well, called BroadCast Slide Show. It’s fairly self explanatory. This features lets you broadcast a slideshow on the web, making it easier to handle online presentations that make us of PowerPoint slideshows.


As you might expect, comprehensively detailing the many changes made between Office 2007 and Office 2010 would take more space than we have available here. The changes above are the ones that I feel the average user is most likely to notice or find beneficial, but feel free to leave your own favorite change in the comments.

The reason we came here, however, was to determine if Office 2010 is better than Office 2007 and worth an upgrade. In terms of “better than” Office 2010 offers clear advantages over the 2007 edition. The web application support alone is a big deal, never mind the more subtle changes.

Upgrading isn’t free, so you’ll have to ask yourself what you use Office for. The core functionality of creating documents, spreadsheets and slideshows has not significantly changed. The new edition of Office isn’t more intuitive, either. Users who don’t ask a lot from Office are unlikely to receive much benefit from upgrading to 2010. The main appeal of Office 2010 is to those who use Office for most of their working day – these users will appreciate the new features and subtle tweaks.

Let us know whether or not you will be upgrading, and if so, what features of Office 2010 made you decide to pay for it.

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