Tuesday, November 23, 2010

MakeUseOf.com: “Money Engine: An iPhone Spending Tracker – Free For Three Days [News]” plus 11 more

MakeUseOf.com: “Money Engine: An iPhone Spending Tracker – Free For Three Days [News]” plus 11 more

Link to MakeUseOf.com

Money Engine: An iPhone Spending Tracker – Free For Three Days [News]

Posted: 23 Nov 2010 03:01 AM PST

logo.pngFrom Rade Eccles, the developers of MakeUseOf’s very own iPhone app comes a new and invaluable app that will help you keep track of your spending habits, and hopefully save you some money in the process. Just launched today in the iTunes App Store, Money Engine is free for the next three days, after which it will be available for $2.99.

Money Engine doesn’t aim to keep track of all of your expenses, but rather can be used alongside your current budget system, where you already record your recurring expenses. Money Engine aims to keep track of all of your other expenses, so you know, after you’ve paid your bills, where exactly the rest of your money is going.

Right now, Money Engine allows you to easily record a transaction on the go, using your iPhone or iPod Touch. You can include a variety of information with each transaction, from date category, location, amount and even the type of payment.


The categories, locations and type of payments are fully customisable, meaning Money Engine will work the way you want it to, rather than having to adapt your system and keywords to the app. You can filter the recorded data, as well as display it in a visually rich method using bar and pie charts. With summaries and historical analytics Money Engine makes it easy to keep track of how your spending habits are changing over time.


Down the line, you can look forward to generating PDF reports, printing from the app using AirPrint, securing your data with a pin and exporting or emailing your data.

Download Money Engine for free while you can, and let us know what you think of it in the comments.

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Cool Websites and Tools [November 22nd]

Posted: 22 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!


Link Password – Do you have some web pages bookmarked that you would not want other users of the computer to see? LinkPassword is a new Firefox Add-on that helps you protects your private bookmarks by adding a password protection to them. Using LinkPassword, any link can be encrypted and when somebody tries to access the link they'll have to enter the password. Read more: LinkPassword: Password Protect Your Private Bookmarks (Firefox Addon)


Vizeddit – Reddit is a highly popular website that lets visitors share and post content. Other visitors can then vote up / down the content and post comments on it. The most popular reddits are constantly updated but their ranks remain still unless you refresh the webpage. A great solution to this is Vizeddit. Read more: Vizeddit: Check Most Popular Reddits In Real Time



Worldlabel – Christmas season is here again and it's time to give out gifts once more. If you want to print out Christmas labels for your gifts, check out Worldlabel. This website has created a section that offers free printable Christmas labels with a variety of designs. You can personalize these Christmas labels by adding a custom text before printing. Read more: Worldlabel: Download & Print Elegant Christmas Labels



When It Drops – Whether your interest is in DVDs, music CDs, books, or videogames, you would like to know when your favorite ones would be released. A list of the week's releases would surely serve this purpose. After viewing the list you could then purchase the releases that interest you. Such a list is exactly what When It Drops provides. Read more: WhenItDrops: Shows Latest Movie, Music, DVD, Book & Game Releases



Batlyrics – Are you looking for lyrics to a song? You will find numerous lyrics-providing websites on the web but many of them are unreliable as they might have incorrect lyrics. To view lyrics that are reliable, check out BatLyrics, a free to use lyrics website that currently has more than 850,000 lyrics for more than 45,000 artists. Read more: Batlyrics: Cool Lyrics Website With Music Videos


These are just half of the websites that we discovered in the last couple of days. If you want us to send you daily round-ups of all cool websites we come across, leave your email here. Or follow us via RSS feed.

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3 Tools to See Fresh Images Shared Online

Posted: 22 Nov 2010 05:30 PM PST

fresh imagesWe know how powerful images are for providing inspiration and spurring creativity. We’ve seen the variety of image search tools already including color and similarity image search engines; black and white image search tools; visual image search tools and many other.

This post lists a few more tools for active image searches: it shares cool search mashups allowing you to find fresh images shared online.

Feel free to use these tools:

  • For daily inspiration;
  • To track hot trends;
  • To research what’s being discussed online;
  • To get fresh content inspiration for your blog, etc.

1. Reddit Pics

Reddit Pics is an interesting site that aggregates all of the image submissions on Reddit. The site looks a bit simplistic but it can provide lots of fun to kill an idle hour:

  • You can sort images by “newest” to see images which have just been shared (too bad the site doesn’t update in real time and you have to reload the page manually to see new and new images)
  • You can sort images by “most comments” to see most discussed pictures (this usually provides a really killer selection of popular pictures);
  • You can hover over any image to see its title as provided by the Reddit user.

fresh images

You can click on any image and it will be loaded right here without jumping to a new page – and what’s more you can click through the next images from there in a slide show:

new images

2. Twitter Pics

Pic Fog is a real-time search for images powered by Twitpic, Yfrog, and Twitgoo. We have profiled PicFog on MUO (as well as a few similar tools to search for images shared on Twitter).

It works really simple:

  1. Provide your search term (works best if you choose some generic term or phrase to get results);
  2. The tool generates the list of related images which gets updated instantly once they appear (get Tweeted).
  3. You can also use “Live flow” option to see all images in a live stream using no filters.
  4. You can see the actual Tweet by hovering over each image thumbnail.

Pic Fog allows for quite a bit of fun including:

new images

3. Flickr Today’s Popular

Qflick (as well as its newer version LiteFlick) aggregates most interesting Flickr images for each day. It is fun to use and it works really (and surprisingly) quickly.

  • You can click through each day of the month using “See older” and “See newer” links;
  • The advanced search provides more timeframe options: you can specify when images were taken;
  • You can also set creative commons license filtering to see only images that can be re-used;
  • You can also use the slider to view all images:

Flickr popular for today

FlickRiver is another stylish way to explore images which have got hot on Flickr over the past 24 hours. The tool has a few quite unique tools:

  • Set the photo size (for example to see large images instead of thumbnails);
  • Enjoy the “auto scroll” experience: more high-resolution images are being loaded while you are scrolling down;
  • Zoom photos right within the general gallery;
  • Load any image information including description, tags, groups, etc:

fresh images

Which tools do you use to find fresh images online? Make this collection better by contributing your favorite tools.

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PDF ReDirect Lets You Merge, Rotate, Optimize, Encrypt & Print PDFs [Windows]

Posted: 22 Nov 2010 03:30 PM PST

pdf redirectA recent inquiry from a MakeUseOf reader asking for suggestions on an inexpensive PDF tool that allowed resizing and optimizing PDF files, prompted me to search for suitable PDF editors. While there are many PDF reading applications that are handy alternatives to Adobe Reader, applications that allow you to make simple edits to PDF files aren’t so common. A lot of the programs I found that came close to having the features I was looking for, weren’t in development anymore or had not been updated in years (abandonware). Other open-source PDF editors seemed to not work in Windows 7 or were exclusive to Linux.

Among the many applications with a hint of usability, PDF ReDirect was particularly enticing because of the sheer number of favorable reviews. PDF ReDirect is a simple virtual printer that creates PDF files from document files but also bundles some PDF editing features, such as PDF file merging, page rotating, and PDF optimizing. Being currently the fourth most popular application on CNET’s Document Management Software category, behind Foxit and Adobe Reader, the application promises no advertisements or restrictions of any kind (though there’s a tab on the program featuring the Pro version that thankfully, isn’t obtrusive at all), so I thought I’d give it a try.

The installation file is about 7MB while the application will occupy 12.9MB once installed. Like most other PDF ‘converters’, it installs as a virtual printer for you to effortlessly create a PDF file out of any printable file. Unlike most virtual printers, it comes with a few options to modify your freshly dished PDF.

pdf redirect

You can join your new PDF file with other PDF’s by adding documents into the Merge List.

pdf redirect freeware

Using the arrow buttons gives you the ability to reorder the pages, which you can preview to the right. You can also preview any PDF documents elsewhere in your hard drive, which you can navigate in the built-in file explorer to the left.

Before you save your new (merged or not) PDF file, you can adjust the picture quality, which means that you can adjust how big your ending PDF file will be. There are 4 levels of optimization. The default is Good, which is a step above Low (quality), which is recommended if you’re looking to optimize your file to get a small file size.

pdf redirect freeware

You can also choose to rotate the pages in your PDF file. 

pdf redirect freeware

If you want additional security measures, PDF ReDirect offers the option to encrypt (set a password) your PDF file.

pdf redirect

Although it packs some PDF-editing goodies, PDF ReDirect doesn’t offer PDF bursting, a term that refers to creating separate PDF files from each page in a PDF file, essentially splitting a PDF file. And although there aren’t direct ways or buttons to, say, extract pages from a PDF file, you could manually select to print those specific pages you want to extract. Same concept applies if you want to delete a few pages from a PDF file: You would need to manually select to print the pages before the ones you want out, which will pop up in PDF ReDirect, then selecting the pages after the ones to delete, which will also appear in PDF ReDirect’s Merge List.

If you need additional features, you’ll most likely have to use something else, which isn’t too bad considering there are some genuinely good tools available for free. For a watermarking feature, for example, the excellent PDF-XChange Viewer offers that and even more document markup options, such as commenting. There is also PDFEscape, a web-based tool for merging, splitting and rotating PDF files. The open-source Inkscape also lets you move the objects in the actual PDF’s, although you can only import 1 PDF page at a time.

It’d be great if all of these features were available on a single (free) application, but these separate programs are definitely not bad for what they offer. What do you use to mark up or edit your PDF files?

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Fine-Tune Your Skills and Be A Better Shooter For Free With FPS Trainer

Posted: 22 Nov 2010 01:30 PM PST

free first person shooterWhether you're a disgruntled Spartan who can't handle a Battle Rifle or a freshly recruited Black Ops militant who spends much of the game watching the killcam, there is help available from FPS Trainer.

All you need to take part is a web browser, a PC that can handle the software and an email address. The game is free and uses a series of mini games to train you in the basics of a multiplayer first person shooter environment.

The game is still in development but fully functioning and completely free to play.

Can I Play It?

To enjoy FPS Trainer you're going to need a Windows or Mac OS X machine (sorry, Linux users) as the game requires the Unity Web Player to run. Unfortunately there is still no Linux version available, though it's worth keeping an eye on the website to see if that'll change.

There are no listed minimum hardware requirements, and unfortunately it is not possible to change graphics settings at this time. If you're interested I'd recommend you give it a go anyway – it's free after all.

There is one hardware requirement you'll want to meet though, and that is a mouse. Playing first person shooter games with a laptop touchpad tends to be more hassle than it's worth.

Play For Free

To sign up for a lesson in ass kicking you'll need to go to the FPS Trainer website and click Register. You can either register a new account for use on that website or connect your Facebook account for a speedy login.

Input your name, email address, date of birth, sex and finally select an avatar to use. Once you've clicked register you can start playing immediately, there are no pesky emails to wait for!

free first person shooter

Click Play and your machine will be checked for compatibility. If you've not got Unity then you'll be prompted to download it, and even if you've already got it installed it may update. The game shouldn't take longer than a few minutes to initialize, and once it does you should see the main menu.

There are several options to choose from, though it's usually best to start with Practice. Connect To Game will attempt to connect you to any network games that are currently being hosted, though everything was a bit quiet when I tried.

Host will allow you to create your own game for others to join, though if no one is playing you're going to be on your own for a while. Practice gets you straight into a game with bots and ultimately see what all the fuss is about.

So How Is It?

Despite the game being in alpha (pre-beta) at the time of writing, it's still pretty good. The look and feel of the game are designed to be ambiguous, mimicking the graphical style of a generic FPS.

free first person shooter

The game honors its roots by defaulting to the classic WSAD control scheme, using the number keys to select weapons and R to reload with E to crouch. You can change the look sensitivity in both the Options screen and by pressing Esc whilst playing. This allows you to set up the game exactly how you want it.

Further expansion for the project will come in the form of changing the look and feel to train for specific games, much like a "skin". The team are currently formulating a plan for this, but it's likely to be a paid enhancement (though the game itself will remain free, according to staff).

You're also free to see exactly what the development team have been up to, and can play the latest (unstable) version by clicking Try out the latest development build at the bottom of the Play screen.

If you really like it you can even donate to the project at the bottom right of the homepage.


If you need a crash course in first person shooter games, then FPS Trainer promises to hold your hand into battle. The game is a promising mix of action and tuition, and future developments are worth keeping a close eye on.

If you need some free FPS games to play, then you could try these. If you're just after free games then we've got a decent list here too.

Have you tried your hand at FPS Trainer? Do you need the help or have you prestiged 10 times? Would you spend money on FPS Trainer "skins"? Let us know in the comments!

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Hot Tech Deals [Nov 22nd]

Posted: 22 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. Toshiba Satellite L655-S5106 Intel Core i3-370M 2.4GHz 15.6in Laptop (4GB/320GB/Win7) $549.99 Free Shipping

  2. LG 55LE5400 55in LED-Edgelit LCDHDTV (1080p, 120Hz) + LG BD570 Blu-Ray Player $1499.99 Free Shipping

  3. Fantom Drives G-Force Pro 1TB USB/eSATA External Hard Drive $59.99AR Free Shipping

  4. Kingston Ultimate 8GB SDHC Flash Card (Class 6) $19.99 Free Shipping

  5. Iomega eGo USB 3.0 500GB Portable External Hard Drive $69.99 Free Shipping

  6. Kingston SSDNow V100 128GB 2.5in Internal SATA Solid State Drive (TRIM) $199.95AR Free Shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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5 Unique Uses for Bit.ly Bundles

Posted: 22 Nov 2010 11:30 AM PST

bitlyBit.ly recently launched a new service called bit.ly bundles, allowing you to share a collection of shortened links using one bit.ly link. The potential uses are endless, from educational, to creating a portfolio, to the ultimate in social media, creating a lifestream of your day, or week. Because of the nature of a service like bit.ly bundles, it truly becomes what you want it to be.

And there’s no reason not to take advantage of bit.ly’s other services, together with your bundles. Other users can comment on your bit.ly bundles using Disqus, you can share your bundles simultaneously to Facebook and Twitter, and can of course post the link anywhere you want.

Getting started, just paste a few links into bit.ly, and they will automatically be shortened. Once you’ve collected all of your links, click on ‘Bundle’ and your page will be created.


The bundle can be viewed in one of two ways – with previews of the content, or as a list. Previews from Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and much more are visible from within the bundle. To rearrange the order of the links, preview the bundle as a list and drag and drop the links to the spot you prefer. Bundles can be further edited by changing the title to each link and adding a description. You can also continue to add more links to the bundle by going to the bundle page.

shorten url links

If you want to remove a link in a bundle, you can do so from the bundle page, viewing the links as a list. This will, however, not delete the link from your public profile.

If you want to delete the link, or a bundle, completely from your account, you can do so from your homepage, but navigating to the link, and selecting Options > Archive.

shorten url links


One idea that has been floating around the blogosphere since bit.ly bundles launched is to use it as a lifestreaming service. Collect the links you’ve posted throughout the day – photos, status updates, blog posts – all the information that you’ve shared online and create a bundle.

So why use bit.ly rather than a lifestream service? The advantage to using bit.ly is that you can control the frequency of how often your lifestream is updated, and you can selectively choose specific information to include. You can also choose to share information that you don’t necessarily post online, but rather parts of your day that you want to remember, essentially creating an online journal of sorts.

Additionally, bit.ly’s statistics gives you a great way to monitor the traffic on your lifestream. Of course, unlike other lifestreaming services, the process is not automated, so it takes a bit more effort on your part.

shorten url links


Artists, writers and other creative minds can use bit.ly bundles to create quick lists of their work, or mini portfolios. Since pictures can be previewed, photographers can create a page of similar pictures they might want to share. Writers can share a list of articles that they have posted on various magazines or blogs. Whatever the field, bit.ly bundles give you a quick and convenient way to create collections of your work to share with family, friends and clients.

shorten links


Using bit.ly bundles, you can create music or video playlists from various sources. Collect songs from YouTube, We Are Hunted, TheSixtyOne – wherever you go to listen to music – and create a list of your favourite songs. Unfortunately, you can’t play them directly from within bit.ly, but rather have to go to the original MP3 or video to get your entertainment fix.

shorten links


A lot of shopping websites have wishlists, from Amazon to ThinkGeek, where you can create lists of your favourite shopping items. If you want to create a wishlist from multiple websites, bit.ly bundles can get the job done. With the holidays coming up, what better way to let your family and friends know what you want this Christmas.

shorten links

Education, Research and Teamwork

Bit.ly bundles offer a new way for research information to be shared, for teachers to share information with their students, in a modern and unique way that will appeal to a younger generation.

Whether you have a team assignment for school or are working on a project with a group of people, bit.ly bundles can be a way to share pertinent information, using one link. Of course if you share your timeline publicly, this might not be the ideal solution to share links of a sensitive or private nature.


How are you going to use bit.ly bundles? Let us know in the comments.

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The First Unofficial Guide to Dropbox [Save PDF or Read Online]

Posted: 22 Nov 2010 10:49 AM PST

You're at the coffee shop. You need to access a file that has information about your work, but as you attempt to find the file you realize that you've made a mistake. You saved the work on your desktop computer, but you only have your laptop with you. You have no way to access the file.

Enter Dropbox. This program acts as a “magic pocket” which is always with you and contains whatever you place in it. Put a file into your Dropbox and it’s on all of your computers and mobile devices, really handy if you own multiple devices. But there’s more to Dropbox: you can use it for file sharing, backing up your data and even remotely control your computer.

If you’re not using Dropbox yet, you should be. Lucky for you our new MakeUseOf manual “Using The Magic Pocket: A Dropbox Manual” is now available for download.

It’s informative, easy to read and, like all of our manuals, completely free.

Download: Using The Magic Pocket: A Dropbox Manual


Read now online on Scribd

This amazing guide is your complete Dropbox resource, outlining:

  • Easily syncing files between all your devices
  • Using the desktop, mobile and web interfaces
  • Share files with friends on Facebook and Twitter, using Dropbox’s Public folder
  • Easily share entire albums with friends in just a few clicks
  • Share folders with friends or co-workers
  • Sync your calendar and browser settings

Download: Using The Magic Pocket: A Dropbox Manual


Read now on Scribd

Do us a huge favor and share the guide with friends on Facebook and Twittter.


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Recover Lost & Deleted Files With Disk Drill [Mac]

Posted: 22 Nov 2010 10:31 AM PST

recover deleted filesNearly every longtime and experienced computer user knows that the best solution to recover deleted files is to have a good regularly scheduled backup system. For Mac users, we have covered a few of the best backup systems, including Tina’s 5 Ways To Clone & Copy Your Hard Drive, Jeffry’s Carbon Copy Cloner – A Free & Powerful Backup Utility, and my tips on using Snow Leopard's default backup system, Time Machine.

Time Machine has saved me more than a few times and made it very easy to recover deleted files. But for occasions when a backup system fails or when it is not used to back up files on say memory cards or external drives, data recovery applications like Cleverfiles’s Disk Drill will probably be your best solution and is free in its beta version.

recover deleted files

Disk Drill is a recovery software for uprooting deleted or damaged files, including videos, lost music, podcasts, photos, and text documents. It works on both internal and external drives, as well as memory cards and thumb drives. I have had to use similar software in the past, and the one thing I like about Disk Drill is its straightforward user interface. I didn’t have to read a lot of instructions to start using it.

Using Disk Drill

When you first launch Disk Drill, you are presented with a guided tour and tutorial of its features. The developers understand how agonizing it is to lose and try to recover important data. But as they point out in their tutorial, “Data recovery is mostly about chances, probability, and common sense…there’s really no guarantee something will be recovered 100%.” If you accidentally delete a file(s), your chances of recovering it are very good if you use Disk Drill soon after, to recover what you lost.

So for example, if you delete files off a camera media card, your chances of recovering them are greater the less you reuse the card after those files are deleted. The more you use the card, the more you overwrite deleted data.

how to recover deleted files

To use Disk Drill, simply click the Recover Data button in the menu bar, select the drive you want to recover, and then click ”Quick Scan” or ”Deep scan” to start the recovery process. To make the scanning go faster, you can specify the type of files you want to recover, e.g., pictures, videos, text documents, audio files.

how to recover erased computer files on hard drive

Disk Drill will give you results of its search, at which time you can preview and select the files you want to restore.

how to recover erased computer files on hard drive

I tried the application on a media card and it recovered several deleted images – most at their full resolution size.

Recovery Vault

One unique feature of Disk Drill is Recovery Vault, which seems to work like a backup protection system for your designated partitions and selected folders. According to the developers, Recovery Vault “keeps a smart history of your file activity and lets you increase recovery changes for all your disks with the Mac file system or FAT”.

how to recover erased computer files on hard drive

Recovery Vault is not enabled by default, and it will only of course protect files on drives after it is applied to them. This feature is very useful because when files are deleted on the Mac system, the details (file name, dates, etc) are also erased. Recovery Vault retains this information when files are deleted or damaged.


Users of Disk Drill will have different recovery issues for their hard drives. Cleverfiles's developers seem to be addressing well the needs of different users. Their site includes a growing collection of documentation for the type of recovery processes a user might need.

recover deleted files

These documents include how to recover deleted files for when trash is already empty, for memory card recovery, lost data from formatted partitions, and from FAT/NTFS/HFS and other file systems.

The site also includes a user forum for additional questions and discussions.

Data recovery is not something we look forward to or use everyday, but it's important to have a program like Disk Drill for when the inevitable occurs. Let us know what you think of Disk Drill after you download and give it a run. It will remain free under its beta version, so you will want to grab a copy now.

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Kingston SSDNow V+ Drive 256GB Review and Giveaway

Posted: 22 Nov 2010 10:00 AM PST

Have you switched to using solid state drives yet? Over the last few months, the prices of SSDs have generally taken a fall. Nowadays, you’ll easily find an affordable one on Amazon to replace the hard drive in your laptop and give it a new breath of life.

What are the benefits of utilising SSDs? Well, that’s what we’re going to discover today. Using the Kingston SSDNow V+ series solid state drive review as a case study, you’ll find out if SSDs are suited for you. Not to mention, we have a 256GB unit to give away. All of this and more after the jump.

What do you know about the contributions of SSDs to your system? I’m guessing that you’ll immediately think about better performance — and you’d be right. I’ve personally dabbled with excuses to purchase an SSD for my MacBook and finally came up with a list of 5 good reasons why I should.

The majority of non-tech savvy folks will probably think that the processor is responsible for a computer running faster or slower, and that the hard drive is only used for storage. That’s not entirely true — they both work together intimately to determine your system’s performance. In a nutshell, the faster the hard drive, the better the seek times (reading speeds) and hence, better performance. That’s why hard drives are available in several speeds i.e. 5400, 7200 and 10,000 rpm — this refers to the rate at which the disk rotates. In general, the faster the better.

On the other hand, SSDs have no moving parts. Data is stored on flash memory and this vastly improves seek time since the drive doesn’t need to spin up and reposition its head on the platter to read the information. I’m generalising here, and there are typically two different types flash memory used in SSDs but you get the drift — SSDs are faster than the conventional spinning (hard) disk drives.

Jumping into our review, the Kingston SSDNow V+ series solid state drive is a pretty good bargain, especially since Kingston provides an optional upgrade kit bundle for their SSDs. Kingston knows that most of us will already have existing data on our HDDs and require a simple method of transferring the data over to the new drive.

This V+ series drive is in its second-generation now and uses the MLC NAND flash memory. It comes in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB capacities; uses a Toshiba controller and supports TRIM. It comes with 128MB onboard cache and a 3-year Kingston warranty along with 24/7 tech support. It also boasts a life expectancy of 1 million operating hours (or 114 years) and 10,000 write cycles.

The kit consists of everything you’d need to install this in a desktop or laptop and includes mounting brackets for 3.5″ bays, a USB external enclosure, 3 different types of cables and an OEM copy of Acronis True Image on a CD.

Before switching to the new SSD, I decided to “benchmark” my existing HDD to give you an idea of the performance you would expect from an old 5400 rpm hard drive. This isn’t going to be very stringent or scientific — instead, all I wanted to do is simple compare the before and after speeds. I used DiskTester for this task (which isn’t free, unfortunately).

As you can see from the results, my (spinning) hard drive’s performance was abysmal. It only managed to read at a maximum speed of 46.8 MB/s and write at 41.5 MB/s. Now, this is a very basic test performed on a filled 2 year old drive so I didn’t expect blazing performance.

Setting up the SSD was fairly painless. The main idea is to use the upgrade kit and software provided to clone the existing drive over to the SSD. Since I was on a Mac, all I had to do was connect the SSD via USB, initiate the drive and use Carbon Copy Cloner to clone my existing hard drive over. It took about 4 hours for the process to complete.

Once that was done, I replaced my old HDD with the SSD and booted up while holding the Option key to select the boot drive. Instant gratification! The SSD booted up the operating system in a matter of seconds — a process that used to take about a minute to complete. I was able to feel the speed of the drive immediately.

Just to add some numbers to the review, I performed the “benchmark” test again and this time, the drive returned an average read speed of 209 MB/s and write speed of 173 MB/s. Kingston actually claims a sequential read throughput of 230 MB/s and 180 MB/s for writing.

If you were expecting more numbers, I’m sorry to disappoint but I’m just like everyone else. I use my computer on a daily basis and will review the SSD under normal everyday conditions. For a comprehensive benchmark of this drive, head over to StorageReview.

The first thing I noticed was better application loading times. Heavy-duty apps like Photoshop which took years to load with my old HDD now only takes a matter of seconds to boot up. 4 seconds max. Other applications that I use everyday like including browsers (Safari and Firefox) and text editors loaded as soon as I clicked on them.

The next thing I noticed was better virtual memory (VM) performance. Since the read/write speeds were drastically increased and the drive no longer has to spin up, disk caching was more efficient. As a result, I get almost no spinning beachballs when using memory intensive applications like Safari or Photoshop even though my MacBook is still only running on 2GB of memory.

Switching to an SSD is probably one of the more rewarding upgrades you will probably perform on an ageing laptop. The increased performance will cut down on the wait times from your daily workflow, allowing you to operate more efficiently. The Kingston SSDNow V+ series SSD with the optional upgrade kit bundle is by far, the most painless route to take at $2.56 per GB. Granted, you won’t get the performance of the Intel X25-M but the average Joe probably won’t notice the difference anyway.

The good: upgrade kit incredibly useful, large capacity drive is accommodating, TRIM support, reasonable price.

The bad: average performance.

We’re giving this Kingston SSDNow V+ Drive 256GB review unit away to a lucky MakeUseOf reader!

How do I win it?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

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5 Most Subscribed Channels on YouTube

Posted: 22 Nov 2010 09:30 AM PST

youtube most watched videosBefore I sat down to write this piece, my initial inkling was that the most subscribed channels on YouTube would be populated by internet media biggies. Something like a BBC or an eHow. But to my surprise, it's mostly the individuals who have the gloating rights on the leaderboard (though BBC is at a respectable place).

The second belief that I had to strike off was a highly subscribed channel must have page loads of videos. Two on our list have a collection below 100.  Again there are two orders on YouTube. You can go by the most subscribed channels or you can follow the most viewed ones. Apart from the numbers, it shouldn't really matter.

So, let's talk about the most subscribed channels on YouTube with the most watched videos, and see what they are about. They are certainly about individual enterprise and a big idea.


youtube most watched videos

Number of subscribers: 2,837,305
Number of views: 449,959,151
Category: Comedy

Ryan Higa is a Japanese American and the videos are mostly solo efforts and sometimes in collaboration with Sean Fujiyoshi and other friends. The videos are little acts on anything and everything. The About page on his website gives you an idea of the guy behind the videos (He started with videos when he was 14!). The videos veer from the slapstick to popular culture spoofs and movie parodies (Movies in Minutes).


youtube most viewed videos all time

Number of subscribers: 2,233,445
Number of views: 527,480,860
Category: Comedy

If you like to catch up with viral videos, then Ray William Johnson's video blog could be a worth a dekko. The Number 2 YouTube channel is about twice a week witty look at videos that have gone viral. The shows name is =3 (Equals 3). Ray calls himself a regular guy but he has quite a fan following and in my opinion, his brand of humor is slightly more appealing than that of the first channel we looked at.


youtube most viewed videos all time

Number of subscribers: 2,068,642
Number of views: 413,600,416
Category: Comedy

Shane Dawson & Friends is surprisingly popular for a show that comes on YouTube just once a week. So you have about 140 videos to find out whether the humor tickles you or leaves you flat. The shows are on characters called Ned the Nerd, Deezy, Shanaynay, and Aunt Hilda. Caricatures of popular icons like Paris Hilton are also staple on the channel. Most of the videos are about teen grade (not suitable for any age group below that).

Fred Figglehorn

youtube most viewed videos all time

Number of subscribers: 2,039,457
Number of views: 619,476,918
Category: Entertainment

A six year old with a disturbed home life with a mother on rehab…that's Fred played by American actor Lucas Cruikshank. The character has 'anger management issues' and he takes it out on life and other characters in general. The series of videos parody life in general as seen through the eyes of a six year old. The videos do feature some cool music.


youtube most watched videos

Number of subscribers: 1,940,080
Number of views: 481,215,792
Category: Entertainment

The comedy partnership of Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla brings you Smosh and 142 videos worth of funny skits and shorts. Usually Ian Hecox acts as the dumber half of the duo. The fanbase is comprised mostly of teens.

The one common thread that runs through the Top 5 shows that humor works like nothing else. We might have different angles to what's funny, but these five channels manage to cover them to a degree. What's your take on these five top subscribed YouTube channels?

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Boxcar – The Ultimate Push Notification App for iOS Devices

Posted: 22 Nov 2010 08:30 AM PST

push notificationsBoxcar has just released a version 4.0 which really cements their place as the premier “Push” app for iOS devices – iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Boxcar has been out for a while now and is gaining in popularity.

With this new version, the look and feel of the Boxcar app has really been taken to the next left. Boxcar’s mantra is “speed” – they aim to be the fastest push notification app on the market.

So what is a “Push” app? A push notification app is an interface to Twitter, Facebook, RSS, e-mail, Growl or other services which will send instant notifications to your device. For example, as soon as someone mentions your username or any other term on Twitter, a Facebook message is sent to you or an new post is published to your favorite blog – a notification is instantly sent to your phone.

When you sign up for Boxcar you are presented with a list of applications that are compatible with their service. The list of applications currently include:

    push notifications

  • Google Buzz
  • App Recommendations
  • Google Voice
  • Twitter
  • Email Account
  • Facebook
  • OMGFacts
  • Twitter List/Search/Trends
  • RSS/Atom
  • Github
  • Growl

These apps work natively with Boxcar to send push notifications to your device. Within each service (also called a provider) you can specify which app you want to handle the alert after receiving it – for example with Facebook you can choose the mobile website, the Facebook native app, or any of the other options it provides.

push notifications

Right now, Twitter and Facebook both have Push notification built into their clients. However, if you want to get notification from some of those other services there is no good way to be notified where you are instantly alerted with a popup box that the new item has come in. For those who must be “in the know” having these push notifications can keep you on top of the latest trends. Boxcar also adds additional notifications on top of Twitter and other services that not even their native apps support.

The Boxcar app itself is free and can be found on the App Store. There is an option to disable advertisements for $4.99 but I never saw an ad pop up, so I am not sure how often they are presented. You can also set certain time periods for “Quiet hours” where it will not send you any notifications, which will be helpful while you are trying to sleep.

When you choose to use Boxcar instead of the native app push notifications, you give up one thing (ease of use) while gaining control over where and what you get from each app. It also makes it easier to manage your notification in one place rather than checking the individual settings of each app to see what you want to have forwarded.

Adding Custom Notifications

One interesting aspect of Boxcar is that it is very expandable if you have a service or app you want to receive notifications from. If you are a programmer, Boxcar provides a robust API where you can add in your own providers to send alerts to your device. If not there is still a relatively easy way to get your notifications to show up.

push notifications

Through the Boxcar Email integration, you can set up multiple “email” providers which will send an alert to your phone. It creates a unique email address at Boxcar that will pop up an alert with the email message as the subject whenever a new email is received at that address. That means if your web application has an option to notify you via email address, you can have it send a push notification via Boxcar.

If you are a Gmail user (or other email provider that supports them) you can also use Filters very effectively to send notifications via Boxcar. I was able to get Google Voice text messages forwarded to Boxcar through this method.

push notifications

You can also forward Growl desktop notification messages through to Boxcar. We have covered Growl previously and now you can have all of those notices forwarded to your mobile device should you decide you want to.

The notification possibilities are endless with Boxcar. With their open framework and easy of use it is very easy to get started, yet very power when you figure out how to get new types of notification into the system. Boxcar has delivered 500 million notifications so far and from what I can tell they are growing exponentially. Do you have a unique use for Boxcar? Let us know in the comments below!

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