Tuesday, November 9, 2010

MakeUseOf.com: “The Things You Need To Know When Buying A New Hard Drive” plus 11 more

MakeUseOf.com: “The Things You Need To Know When Buying A New Hard Drive” plus 11 more

Link to MakeUseOf.com

The Things You Need To Know When Buying A New Hard Drive

Posted: 09 Nov 2010 07:31 AM PST

buy hard driveYour computer's hard drive is its only form of long-term storage. Music, photos, documents, games – it all goes on your hard drive. There isn't a lot you can do to increase the capacity of your hard drive, either.

You can always try to compress files, but that's not much fun, and this often just delays the inevitable. If you're running out of hard drive space it's only a matter of time before you need to buy a new drive. But what should you buy?

Inside or Out?

First things first – before anything else, you need to decide what type of hard drive you're looking for. External or internal?

buy hard drive

These drives are very different. External drives loiter outside your system and connect to your computer via USB, eSATA or FireWire connection. These hard drives are portable and incredibly simple to use – most are plug and play.

However, external drives are generally more expensive per gigabyte of storage than internal drives. They also take up space on your desk, which may not be ideal. Finally, external drives usually don't perform as well as internal drives, so you may notice that copying files to and from the external drive takes a long time.

External drives connected via USB 3.0 are an exception to this – but remember, connecting an external hard drive via USB 3.0 requires that both your computer's motherboard and your external drive support the standard. If your motherboard doesn't support USB 3.0 you'll need to buy an expansion card and install it inside your computer.

Internal drives are better value overall, but an external drive is fine if you're not comfortable mucking about inside your PC.

External Concerns

choose replacement hard drive

Let's assume you decided on an external drive. If you went internal, skip to the next section.

There are two general types of external drives. On the one hand you have small drives based off 2.5" mechanical hard drives. These usually connect via USB and are powered via USB. They're often small enough to carry in a pocket. Seagate offers a 1.5 TB drive in this category – all other options max out at 1 TB.

On the other hand you have large external drives based off 3.5" mechanical hard drives. These drives sometimes require power from a wall socket. They're heavier and not fun to lug around without a bag, but they're available in capacities of up to (and beyond) 3TB. They're usually better value, too. The choice here is simply one of portability vs. storage capacity and value.

You should also pay attention to how a drive connects to your computer. The quickest connections are USB 3.0 and eSATA, but these are also the least common on desktops and laptops, so check to make sure you have the proper connection before buying. USB 2.0 and FireWire connections are more common, but not as quick.

The spindle speed of an external hard drive should also be considered – higher is better. The fastest external drives available max out at 7200 RPM.

Internal Affairs

choose replacement hard drive

If you're comfortable installing a hard drive you're probably best off going internal. Doing so opens up a world of options.

You don't have to worry about the portability of internal drives, so picking an internal drive is a straight compromise between performance, storage capacity and price. You do have to worry about size, however, because laptops and desktops use different drive sizes. Laptops use 2.5" drives, while desktops generally use 3.5" drives. Be careful, though – some of today's slim systems and all-in-one PCs do use 2.5" drives.

Performance is determined by the spindle speed and cache available on a hard drive. The maximum spindle speed on consumer drives is 10,000 RPM (enterprise hard drives are quicker still, but forget about them – they're outrageously expensive). Cache is usually between 16 and 64 MB.

Storage capacity is incredibly various. The smallest internal drives offer about 80 GB of space, while the largest external drives tops out at 3TB.

Prices rise with performance and capacity. For example, Western Digital sells its low-end "green" 1TB 3.5" internal drive for $60. Upgrading to the high-performance "black" version requires that you hand over an extra $30.

Connection type isn't really an issue with internal drives. Almost all internal drives use SATA. You only need to worry if you have a computer older than 5 years, as it may use a legacy connection instead of SATA. You can add SATA support by installing an SATA expansion card.

A Note About Solid State Drives

buy hard drive

Everything I've said so far applies to mechanical hard drives. These are still the most popular by far, but the performance a solid state drive can offer is hard to ignore.

If you are considering a SSD, keep in mind that they're virtually always 2.5" drives. They can be installed in a desktop, but you may need an adapter to secure the drive. Also, be sure to read the reviews. Spindle speed and cache size give a good impression of a mechanical drive's performance, but there is no easy way to guess the performance of an SSD without reading a review.

External SSDs are basically just thumb drives. They're very expensive, but extremely portable. As with internal 2.5" drives there is no easy way to guess performance without researching first.


Almost everyone runs out of hard drive storage eventually, but this is nothing to worry about. It's easy to buy a new hard drive, and most drives with less than 1TB of storage can be had for under $100.

Just be sure to do your homework – otherwise you may end up with a drive that is slower than you hoped, or a drive that doesn't work with and/or fit in your computer.



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Cool Websites and Tools [November 8th]

Posted: 08 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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FairBooks – There are many websites that buy your college textbooks online but if you are looking for one that is simple and easy-to-use, FairBooks is worth a try. It is a simple tool that lets you enter ISBN numbers of multiple books at one time and then tell you how much you can get for each book. If you like the price, print the shipping label and send the book to the provided address without paying even a single penny for shipping. Read more: FairBooks: Sell College Text Books Online Easily


DropMocks – Tools that let you display and share pictures can be pretty comprehensive like Picasa and Flickr. But if simplicity is what you are looking for, DropMocks will beat any tool hands down. It is a dead simple tool that lets you create a picture gallery by dragging and dropping image files to the webpage. Read more: DropMocks: Instantly Create A Picture Gallery & Share



RouteFriend – The most inexpensive means of intercity travel are buses and trains. Checking for intercity bus and train routes can become a tedious task because numerous transportation companies are involved and you have to check all of them. For a more convenient solution, check out bus and train route planner Routefriend. Read more: Routefriend: Intercity Bus and Train Route Planner



YouTube Social – Do you fancy watching a certain music video in YouTube with your friends over the web? Check out YouTubeSocial, a web app that will allow you to watch YouTube videos with your friends at the same time through your browser. It also has Facebook integration features so you can easily add friends who are online. Read more: YouTubeSocial: Easily Watch Yotube Clips With Friends Online



ClueApp – If you are a site owner wanting to gain a loyal viewership, you will need to find out what catches people's attention. Heat maps are one way of checking visitors' activity but they do not reveal what visitors remember after they view your website. A solution to this is presented by ClueApp, a simple web tool that helps you determine what visitors remember about your website. Read more: ClueApp: Find Out What Catches People's Attention On Your Website


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 YouTube Tools To Create An Easy Lean-Back TV Experience

Posted: 08 Nov 2010 05:31 PM PST

youtube leanbackIt’s been always hard to imagine that a TV can be substituted by anything. I’ve never been a huge fan of lying in front of the TV screen staring at some movie or a show (and besides, I’ve never had time for that), but the TV used to be an integral part of my life.

The best thing about the TV is that it can serve as background: there’s always something playing there and it requires absolutely no work on your part. It never stops. With the computer you always need to find, click and download something to make it play. It used to be so. Now I see the Internet starting to offer a much better experience to allow you to kill your idle hours when you are too tired to do anything.

Here are three YouTube tools to create an easy lean-back TV experience:

1. YouTube LeanBack

YouTube Leanback plays each video in full-screen mode using the highest quality. The videos are said to be selected based on your previous YouTube preferences (likes and dislikes).

Leanback is controlled by the keyboard:

  • Use <- / -> arrow keys to navigate through videos.
  • Use the up arrow or start typing to initiate a video search.
  • Use the down key once to see Leanback’s playback controls, and hit it again to reveal a filmstrip of all the videos in your current Leanback queue.
  • Use space to pause the video.

youtube leanback

2. NowMov

NowMov offers a StumbleUpon-button-like experience for YouTube videos. It uses real-time data about what people are sharing to create a video playlist.

Nowmov is an addictive and endless channel of videos that people are watching on the Internet – right now.

Unlike YouTube Lean Back, it doesn’t select high-quality videos and doesn’t play them full screen but on the plus side, you are said to be able to “teach” the tool about your video preferences using the “Like” and “Dislike” buttons:

  • If you dislike anything, the video is immediately substituted with the next one.
  • If you like anything, you are admittedly going to see more of this kind. The tool also uses cookies to ensure you don’t see the same video twice.

You can also navigate the stream by clicking the arrows (I am not aware of the shortcuts).

lean back tv

The not-really-easy-to-notice (for me) controls are located below the video – these let you:

  • Pause the video;
  • Set the volume and the quality.

3. YouTube Instant

The successful Google Instant + YouTube start up, YouTube Instant is another way to take some rest while watching YouTube videos.

It will only play 5 videos for any search you perform but I found it great to help you relax before returning to work. The only keyboard shortcuts are the arrow keys that let you skip to the next clip.

The tool is very usable and clutter-free which I hope it will remain:

youtube leanback

More great YouTube tools we have listed before:

Any other similar video tools offering lean-back experience? Please share them in the comments!

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How To Embed Subtitles To MP4 & FLV Videos Using Avidemux [Cross-Platform]

Posted: 08 Nov 2010 03:30 PM PST

how to embed subtitlesAvidemux is an open-source video editor that satisfies your simple editing needs, such as cutting and encoding, and is available for Windows, Mac, Linux and BSD. You can also use this tool to compress videos using VirtualDub (which you can also do in Windows Movie Maker, but the video will most likely end up with black bars).

It is one of many video editors for Linux, some of which are meant for more professional video production (Cinelerra and Lightworks). Although Avidemux isn’t a powerhouse video-editing software, it actually has a lot of the features that I thought made VirtualDub shine for the price of $0.

One of these features I previously discussed is the ability to embed subtitles permanently in videos. A limitation that you’re presented with if you use VirtualDub a lot (despite all it can do) is that this Windows-only program only accepts a small set of video file types, mainly AVI, MPG, and MPEG. Nowadays, if you own any sort of portable device, be it an Android smartphone, an MP3 player (iPod Touch) or some gaming device like the PSP, you will certainly need your videos to be in MP4 format. Avidemux not only supports MP4 but it also is capable of embedding subtitles so perhaps you can save yourself loads of video-converting steps (though you might still benefit from using dedicated converters for iPhone, PSP, etc.)

You will need to have the Xvid codec installed (recommended also if you’re interested in publishing videos on Youtube), which is pretty standard for video encoding applications.

how to embed subtitles

1. Once you have loaded Avidemux up, press Ctrl + O to open your video (alternatively, go to File in the menu bar > Open) and select any AVI, MP4, or FLV video.

add subtitles to mp4

2. If you want to trim part of the imported video, use the sliders to set start and end points. Otherwise, go ahead and select the Xvid codec/mode in the Video drop-down menu. This enables you to use filters, which you can’t do in the default Copy Video mode.

add subtitles to mp4

You’ll get the Video Filter Manager window where you can select preset filters for common tasks, such as cropping, resizing, etc. Head to the Subtitles category, where you can choose to embed subtitles in SubRip text format (.srt), MicroDVD subtitle file format (.sub), or the more customizable SubStation Alpha file format (.ssa, .ass), which you saw on How To Create Your Own Subtitles. You can get the subtitles in the latter format using Subtitle Workshop, and Aegisub, which are among the best tools to edit subtitle files.

3. Double-click on the appropriate subtitle filter. Now select your subtitle file.

add subtitles to mp4

If you’re using the SSA subtitle filter like I am, there is really no need to adjust the line spacing, font scale, etc. since you probably specified those settings when you were creating your subtitles with, Aegisub for example, so the default values will do fine. If you downloaded the subtitles from the net, you can, of course, adjust these values.

Close out of the Video Filter Manager.

Even though there’s a Preview button, strangely enough, you won’t be able to preview the video with the subtitles. If, however, you use any other filter, such as resize, Preview will work fine.

4. Choose Copy under Audio mode, although you can also use the LAME codec for MP3, which you can learn more about in Audio File Formats Explained in Simple Terms.

embed subtitles

Then select the video container/format (either FLV, MP4, AVI) you want to save the video.

5. Save the video.

embed subtitles

The time taken to encode the video will depend on the length of the original video.

how to embed subtitles

That’s it! One of the strongest points about Avidemux is definitely the ability to import FLV and MP4, something VirtualDub can’t currently do. One area where VirtualDub does shine though, is filters or plugins. There seems to be way more filters available on the web which can’t be ported to Avidemux. If there is one thing I wish Avidemux wouldn’t do is crash whenever I try to save the video in FLV. Otherwise, it works perfectly.

What do you use to embed subtitles permanently or do you prefer soft-subbed videos?

Photo credit: MazenI77

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Become A Virtual Astronaut With NASA’s Free Moonbase Alpha Game

Posted: 08 Nov 2010 01:30 PM PST

virtual astronautFree games are my thing. I love playing them, I love writing about them and I love sharing them with the rest of you guys.

NASA's latest foray into gaming is a futuristic simulation of life on the moon, with low gravity physics, decent lunar graphics and co-operative multiplayer to boot. If you've ever wanted to be an astronaut, or fancy enticing your kids into a cosmic career then Moonbase Alpha is a good place to start.

The year is 2025, and you've got a limited amount of time to prevent the loss of all life on Moonbase Alpha – are you ready?

What's it all about?

Moonbase Alpha is a third and first-person (you get the choice) simulation set on a base at the south pole of the moon, which introduces the player to conditions experienced by actual NASA astronauts. The team has managed to create a self-sufficient outpost harnessing solar energy for power and regolith processing for materials.

The next step is to expand the operation, and that role is passed on to you — the player. After returning from a research expedition, you witness a devastating meteorite impact that devastates the settlement's ability to maintain life support for you and your cosmic buddies.

virtual astronaut

It is then up to you and you team to restore the facility to its previous glory using a variety of real-life NASA equipment. You're scored on the time it takes you to complete each task, and must make intelligent decisions to achieve a better outcome.

Can my PC handle it?

To play you'll need a minimum of a 2.0GHz processor running Windows XP with SP3 installed. 2GB of RAM and at least an nVidia 7000 series or ATI Radeon X1900 series graphics card are also requirements. The game takes up a whopping 2GB of space, so make sure you've got room before disembarking.

For a smoother run the game recommends you have a 2.4GHz processor, 4GB of RAM and a nVidia 9000 or ATI Radeon 3600 series or better video card. You will also need DirectX 9.0c installed, but Moonbase Alpha will cover that one in the installation process.

Unfortunately the game isn't designed for Mac or Linux, but you could always give it a shot using WINE.

How do I get it?

The game is distributed using the Steam content delivery platform. You'll need to visit the official Steam homepage and download the client. Once you've done that double click the executable file and install Steam.

astronaut simulation

Find Steam in your Start menu and run it. If you've not used Steam before you're going to need to register for an account. Once you're set up, click on Store and then search for "moonbase alpha" you should see the game drop down in the search box and be able to select it from there.

Click Install and the installer window should pop-up, warning you of the disk space required. Click Next and on the next screen accept the EULA. You'll be prompted to install shortcuts, then click Next. Finally click Finish and Steam will begin to download and install Moonbase Alpha.

be an astronaut

Go and make yourself a cup of coffee and wait for the game to download. It'll appear in the Library window once done, and you can click Play to start your space adventure.

So what do I do?

When you first launch the game the main menu will prompt you over whether you would like to create a game or join an existing one. Moonbase Alpha leans more towards co-operative play across LAN or the internet, but it can suit playing on your lonesome too.

If you choose Create you'll get the choice of map size based on players and a game mode. Join will display a list of currently open games to choose from. Competitive play gives you 25 minutes to restore oxygen production else you'll all die, gasping for breath. Freeplay removes the time restrictions so failure is not an option.

be an astronaut

In Freeplay mode you won't be scored, and thus won't appear on the official leaderboards once you complete the task. It is however a great way to experiment with the equipment you have available to you and work out your strategy for your next Competitive game.

Once you've started a new game you will be introduced to the task at hand, your control scheme and the equipment you have available. It's then up to you to repair or replace damaged equipment using replacement parts, tools and a very handy controllable robot.

be an astronaut

Your mini-map is the most important part of your heads-up display, and the bits that need attention will be marked accordingly. In terms of how you go about saving the earth's only moon-based colony – well, I'll leave that up to you. Just don't forget your time limit!

Don't forget you can also jump straight into a multiplayer game by selecting the main Steam window, clicking View and Servers. You can then filter by game to find a suitable server to join.

virtual astronaut


Moonbase Alpha is good fun on your own and extremely fun when you've teamed up with some more people. The leaderboard aspect gives the game a real competitive feel which leaves you wanting to go back for more and improve on your previous attempts.

The fact that it's free means you should download Steam and give it a shot right now. If you're hungry for some more free games then you might want to try this little lot too. Finally there’s a couple of other NASA tools your kids can enjoy, as part of their on-going educational program.

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Hot Tech Deals [Nov 8th]

Posted: 08 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. EXPIRING Toshiba Canvio 640GB Portable External Hard Drive $59.99 Free Shipping via code EMCZZYN48

  2. EXPIRING Corsair HX Series CMPSU-850HX 850W ATX Power Supply $119.99AR Free Ship via code EMCZZYN68

  3. Acer AT3265 32in LCD HDTV (1080p) $350.99 Free Shipping via code ACERTVMON

  4. TODAY ONLY 5dot Connect Deep Roots Brief (fits laptops up to 15.6in) $16.99 Free Ship

  5. TODAY ONLY Dell ST2420L 24in LED-Backlit LCD Monitor (HDMI) $199.99 Free Shipping

  6. EXPIRING – Rare Adobe $40 off $400 Coupon Code (works on Acrobat X Pro preorder) via code adobedeal

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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How To Blog On The Go Using Your iPad

Posted: 08 Nov 2010 11:31 AM PST

blog on ipadFor all its shortcomings, bloggers on the go can use the iPad as a useful blogging tool. While the iPad doesn’t have an inbuilt camera, most cell phones come with a camera, and a data connection, making it easy to include photos you take on the fly.

Depending on your blogging platform, you can access the backend of your blog using an app, or with the Safari browser, which gives you access to all of your blog’s features. Not only can you blog on an iPad, you can also use the iPad on the go when you’re looking for inspiration, as well as analyse the traffic coming to your blog.

Blogging Platforms

Using the WordPress app [iTunes link], you can create new posts and pages, include photos and videos that are saved on your iPad, and preview your post before publishing it. If you have several blogs, the WordPress app makes it easy to add them all for convenient blogging on the go.

TypePad [iTunes link] is one of the only other blogging platforms that has a free dedicated iPad app.

blog on ipad

With Tumblr, you can create text posts and share images that you’ve uploaded to Photobucket, all from the iPad’s browser. Since video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo are accessible from the iPad, you can also easily copy and paste the link from any given video to include in your Tumblog, or any other blogging platform.

That said, the iPhone app [iTunes link] does actually work on the iPad, but of course has not been optimised for the larger screen. This will come in handy if you want to record audio posts to include on your Tumblr.

blogging with ipad

Other blogging platforms that you can access from the iPad’s browser include Posterous, Blogger and LiveJournal.


If you are writing about websites or apps, take screenshots on your iPad by pressing the lock and home buttons simultaneously. The screenshot will need to be rotated in order to post it. This can be done using the free app, PhotoPad [iTunes link]. Not only can you rotate, but you can also crop, resize and edit photos, as well add some effects.

blogging with ipad

If you prefer to have more photo editing features, the free app, Adobe Photoshop Express [iTunes link] is another option, although you cannot resize photos using this app.

blogging with ipad

One of the iPad’s major shortcomings is the fact that it shipped without a camera. The easiest way to get around this is to use your cell phone. If your blogging platform has a dedicated app like WordPress, all you need to do is take the photo with your cellphone, email it to yourself and then save it on your iPad to upload from the WordPress app.

If your blogging platform doesn’t have a dedicated app, you can upload photos to Photobucket from your iPhone, Android phone or Blackberry, via the mobile website or via email. Photobucket makes it easy for you to upload the photo, regardless of what kind of phone you have. Download the free Photobucket app [iTunes link] to your iPad, and access all of your photos and albums.

ipad blogging

You can easily copy the direct link or HTML code to share the image on your blog.


LiveJournal has the added plus of being able to access your Photobucket images directly from within the blogging platform.


If you want to keep up with what’s going on in the blogosphere while you’re on the go, or are looking for inspiration, check out MobileRSS. The RSS reader, which syncs with Google Reader is available for the iPad and makes following your favourite blogs and sites a cinch.


Access your Google Analytics account to keep track of your blog’s stats with the free app, Analytics for iPad. The app gives you a quick and easy way to keep up with your blog’s traffic, popular content and much more.

blog on ipad

If you want to write longer posts while you’re on the go, be sure to check out Bakari’s tips for faster typing on the iPad.

Would you blog using your iPad? Let us know in the comments.

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How To Use Royalty-Free Music & Effects From GarageBand [Mac]

Posted: 08 Nov 2010 10:31 AM PST

garageband loopsWhen Apple introduced Garageband as part of its creative suite of software in iLife ’04, it gave Mac users hundreds of royalty-free music loops and effects that could used by both musicians and non-musicians alike. If you're familiar with the over 1,000 pre-recorded cuts, you can occasionally hear them in television commercials and Hollywood shows.

Of all the iLife programs, Garageband may be the least used by Mac users, but the software is not just for creating original songs. The royalty-free loops can be useful for all types of creative purposes, including background music for family slide shows, various YouTube presentations, wedding and birthday videos, ringtones, podcast introductions and outros, opening and closing credits, news jingles, and much more.

The only extra cost you pay for loops is the time it takes discover what you're looking for. So if you have never tapped into this resource, read the following tips and techniques.

Where To Find Them

Garageband loops are of course housed in the application itself. Since its inception, Garageband has grown with many new and often intimidating features. But if you're opening Garageband '09 or the recently released '11 version for the first time, you might feel a little intimidated by the choices.

So to get your hands on the loops, choose File > New in Garageband. Next, select New Project and then Loops, to open them in Garageband.

garageband loops

On the right side panel of Garageband, click the podcast sounds panel.

garageband download

These same podcast loops can be found in the media panels of the last couple of versions of iMovie, iPhoto, and iDVD, so you don't have to open Garageband in order to access them.

Types Of Loops & Effects

There are 418 sound effects and loops to choose from to fit almost any media project. If you're looking for short background music for a baby shower or a wedding slide show, for example, click on All Effects > Cinematic, and click the preview button for loops titled, Newborn and Patel Slide Long.

Click on the Jingles sections and you get hundreds of loops that will work great as background music for slideshows, opening and ending credits of videos, as well as podcasts.

garageband download

How To Use Them

The length of Garageband loops and effects are from under a minute to two minutes long. To use one or more of them, select and drag a loop into the editor and play it several times. Go back through the loop collection and find other loops and effects that you can use to build on.

garageband download

One of the reasons they're called loops is that they can be repeated as often as you like. Put your cursor at the upper-right edge of a loop (technically called, “region”) and hold it there until the loop pointer appears. Drag to the right to repeat the loop. Notches will appear showing the beginning and end of each repeated loop.

free garageband download

If you have some time and a good ear for music, you can of course combine loops to make them longer. Garageband includes several music editing tools and features to help your tracks sound pristine and professional. You can slice, duplicate, edit, and mix various sound effects to into loops, as well as add fade-ins and fade-outs to tracks.

Saving Loops

To save and use your loop projects outside of Garageband, you simply choose Share in the Garageband menu bar and select, “Send Song to iTunes“. When tracks are exported to iTunes, you can access them in the Media Browser of other iLife applications.

free garageband download

Upon saving a Garageband project, you can also select to save it to the iLife Media Browser, which means your particular project will show up in the other iLife applications.

free garageband download

Loops & iMovie Titles

Now let's take a quick look at how loops and effects can be used with titles in iMovie. Launch the program and create a new project.

  • Select a Title theme and drag it into the Project storyboard.
  • Now click on the Music and Sound Effects in the iMovie toolbar.
  • imovieloops.png

  • For the purposes of this tutorial, select the Stringers collection of effects, from the pop-up menu.
  • Scroll to the bottom and select the Synth Zingers 04 effect. Drag that loop to the beginning of the title clip.
  • addloop.png

  • Now select the longer Synthetic Design 02 sound and drag it onto the title clip. It will fit the length of the clip.
  • garageband loops

  • Hit the iMovie play button and you will see and hear an example of how loops and sound effects can be used in iMovie video productions.

There are no limits to using Garageband loops and sound effects. Since the iLife suite is often included in all new Macs, there's no reason not to give them a try.

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8 Band & Concert Tracker Websites To Help Locate Upcoming Shows On A Map

Posted: 08 Nov 2010 09:31 AM PST

concert trackerMusic is always in the air. But many of us don't know exactly where it's playing next. In cities like New York or Mumbai, there are so many events happening at once, the one you wanted to catch can easily slip by: unless our eyes catch a billboard or an advert in the newspapers.

Thanks to the web, you should never have to miss a beat. There are umpteen ways to follow your favorite artist, band, or even get advance notice of an upcoming concert. We have previously looked at 3 Ways to Track Tour Dates of Your Favorite Rock Bands and 3 Web Apps for Staying On Top Of the Music Scene.

Then there are apps like Songbird or Last.fm which keeps you updated if any favorite band is playing in the area. Now, ever since Google mashups gained ground, I have become bit of a map freak. So I am heading to these eight websites which help to track bands and upcoming concerts with some help from maps.


concert tracker

Gruvr is a band tracking app that uses Google Maps to locate any bands playing nearby. You can enter a keyword and specify the radial distance you want to cover in your search for local performances. Gruvr also lets you create a detailed RSS feed for any area that helps you stay in the know of the upcoming acts in your area all the time.

You don't need to sign up. In fact you can use Track on Radar to follow an artist and get concert alerts in your inbox.


track concerts

Effingmusic is a musical mashup that asks you where you are and then proceeds to pinpoint shows on a Google Map around your area. You can finetune it by giving a span of dates and a range of kilometers.

Effingmusic combines data from Google Maps, Bandloop.com (for venue info), and MySpace Music (for streaming MP3s and band info).

The Last(.fm) Music Map

track concerts

This one gives you the biggest map of them all to jive around on. It's a music mashup between Last.fm (Audioscrobbler) and Google Maps. You can search by location or artist. Every artist’s events will be displayed on the map and you can add your own too.


track concerts

Gigzee geo-locates you and gives you the dope on any 'gigz' around you on a Google Map. You can of course, enter another location and filter the results by range, date, and genre. The data comes in from Last.fm. It is the genre filter that I find the most useful.

You can then log in with your MySpace or Facebook ID and track the gig. Members also get to write and review artists and that's a lot of help if you are planning to catch any of the upcoming shows.


track bands

Tourtracker is an AOL Music web service. The site helps you keep up with tour dates and schedules of your favorite bands and artists. Along with the tour dates and the concert information, you can also buy tickets. You can use the site's own search engine (Who, Where, When) to get some quick information.

But to stay current, you can use the Track Shows Near You which is a map based tracker based on maps from MapQuest. Individual shows get their own pages with location information tagged on a map. The free music service also has loads of other information arranged around an artist's tour news.

Map Channels Events

track bands

A simple site which maps events of all kinds (not only music) on a Google Map. Without any stylized elements on the site, you can dive straight into the information listed under various headings.  You can click on the interactive events calendar for each city and get an overview on the Google Map.

A lot of the events can also be downloaded as KML files viewable on Google Earth. Clicking on an events venue brings it up on a Google Map. You can also check out the venue on Street View too.


track bands

This little known site is about local jam maps. It could be a great way for you to discover new music and new artists. The site's main focus is on acoustic music and it has a community behind it. You can connect to artists who play your tune and also promote them via the community. The map's colored place markers show the nature of the jam sessions.


concert tracker

Enter your city or click it on the map. Then get the complete listing of shows playing in your area; click on any one and see it on a large Google Map. The site is “an MP3 concert calendar that helps you discover bands playing in your town”. You also get hints of other details like ticket prices, hotel bookings, and other events that are happening around town (courtesy of Eventful.com). The site also has an artist's database with legal, officially hosted MP3s thrown in for your listening pleasure.

Using maps gives you a bird's eye view of events happening around the world. A map based tool shows you what other events may be happening in the area. Some even point you towards an online ticket window. Last but not least, it shows you how to turn up by giving you the directions.

Image Credit : Shutterstock

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How To Build a Linux Web Server With An Old Computer [Part 2]

Posted: 08 Nov 2010 08:31 AM PST

linux web server softwareYou’ve learned how to install Ubuntu and the Linux web server software including Apache, PHP and MySQL in part one of this series. Now learn how to upload your files and finally view your web server from anywhere in the world!

Now that our server is functional, we have to take care of the part where we can actually use it. Basically we need to expose the server to the outside world, so from here on out it is important to keep the server up to date with all of its patches – the Ubuntu Update Manager will take care of this for you.

Finding The Server’s Local IP Address

First thing you need to do is to find the server’s local IP address and set it to something you will later be able to reference. Let’s find the server’s currently set IP address – found via the dynamic DHCP protocol – in the Network Information box.

Right click on your network connection which will be an up/down array and go to “Connection Information.” This will pop up a box with your current IP address, network adapter card, broadcast address, gateway, and DNS server. Write this down as we will use it in the next step.

linux web server software

What we need to do is edit your connection information to give you a static IP address on your local network. Right click that menu but this time go to “Edit Connections.” Select the adapter name from the previous step – in my case it is eth1, and edit those settings. Select the IPv4 tab and switch “Method” to “Manual” rather than “Automatic (DHCP)” which is what it defaults to when you install. Type in the information from your connection settings.

linux server for web hosting

The one difference we will have this time will be your IP address. Keep the first three octets (the numbers between the dots) and change the last one to a high number under 254. It is important that this number not be in use on your network, and if you are not sure, pick a high IP address like 250. For our example I know that .10 is free, so let’s say our new IP address is This will be your static, local IP address.

Sharing The Web Folder

Sharing a folder is probably the easiest way to access and upload files onto your server. However, and this is a big one, this also opens your server up security-wise and it is important to only use this method if your server is on a private network and you do not run the risk of anyone connecting to it, via wired or wireless, and accessing your shares.

First we need to relax the permissions on our web folder. Open a terminal by going to Applications->Accessories->Terminal. Enter the following command:

$ sudo chmod 777 /var/www

It will prompt your for your password and then change the permissions, which will have no message returned if it went successfully.

linux server for web hosting

Now go to the file browser (Places->Computer) and go to File System->/var/. Right click the www folder and then “Sharing options.” Check off “Share this folder“. For security options, you can either share it with or without a password. Select “Guest access” to share the folder without requiring a username and password.

This means that you or anyone else will be able to access the files without a password. For this reason, I recommend sharing with a password. It will be more of a pain because you will need to enter this information, but it is certainly more secure. Also check off “Allow others to create and delete files in this folder.” This allows write access from the shared directory.

linux web server software

To view your files, go to the network location // It will either prompt you for your password or allow you access straight to your files, depending on your security settings. This is the same set of files that you can access in your web browser by going to

Port Forwarding

Now that we have our IP address, an important concept to understand is port forwarding. Every single person connected to the internet is behind an IP address. For most home connections, and also some business connections, the IP of your local computer is not actually exposed to the internet – it will be in a private range that is either 192.168.x.x or 10.x.x.x. So how do visitors to your website actually contact your server? We do this with port forwarding.

Ports on a server are similar to doors or windows on a house – each one will give you access to a different service running on the server. Web servers use port 80 by default.

Your router should have a section called “Port Forwarding“, or “Applications” which will allow you to forward ports properly. Forward TCP port 80 to inside your network on the IP address we specified above. Each router is different, so refer to your router’s operations manual on how to set this up properly.

Getting A Static Hostname

Most home connections have what is called a dynamic IP, which means that it will change after a set period, usually a week or so. We have covered the fantastic DynDNS server here on MakeUseOf last year, so check out that article for more information on using the DynDNS service. Make sure you use the Linux client for updating your dynamic IP with the DynDNS servers. For our web server you will want to forward TCP port 80. Forward this port to the local static IP address, in our case this is

You should now be able to visit your web server from the outside world by going to the URL: http://yourhostname.dyndns.org. Some ISPs will block port 80 to your router. In this case, forward something like port 8080 to port 80. This will allow you to visit your website by going to http://yourhostname.dyndns.org:8080.

The World Is Your Oyster

That is it for our down and dirty guide to running your own web server on an old computer. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want and there are many variables thrown into the process so it is easy to get caught up on something. If you run into any problems, feel free to leave a response below and we’ll guide you through the process as best as we can.

Now that your web server is set up, you can focus on programming or installing your own software!

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Virtually Indestructible ioSafe SoloPRO 1TB External HD [Giveaway]

Posted: 08 Nov 2010 07:30 AM PST

Well, the heading speaks for itself. We’re giving away a 1TB ioSafe SoloPRO, the updated version of the ioSafe Solo which we gave out just a couple of months ago. It was one of our most popular giveaways and it’s pretty obvious why. Users are always looking for a way to securely back up data — whether it be via cloud storage or an external hard drive, we want the best for our backups.

Here at MakeUseOf, we understand this need. Therefore, we’re offering our readers a chance to win a 1TB ioSafe SoloPRO worth $249.99. Interested? Read on for more information about the two available models and how to join the giveaway.

An easier way to think of the ioSafe SoloPRO would be to relate it to the black box in an aircraft — it stores vital information and is salvageable after a disaster. Likewise, the ioSafe SoloPRO was designed to withstand harsh fires and water damage. What’s more, the SoloPRO now comes with USB 3.0 and eSATA/USB 2.0 options, providing you with faster transfer speeds.

Just like its predecessor, the SoloPRO protects your data from fires burning at 1550 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. It can also overcome being submerged in water to a depth of 10 feet for up to 3 days. For that, they’ve encased the hard drive in a waterproof bag.

Every ioSafe SoloPRO comes bundled with a 1-year Data Recovery Service — ioSafe will spend up to $2500 for forensic data recovery which you can claim once for any reason including accidental deletion, hard drive failure, fires, floods, etc. All you need to do is send the damaged drive to ioSafe, they will recover the data, replace the hard drive and ship it back to you for free. In addition to that, each drive is guaranteed against manufacturing defects for up to 3 years.

As previously mentioned the SoloPRO comes in two models: a USB 3.0 option which can achieve transfer speeds over 100 MB/s; and a eSATA/USB 2.0 option.

Just to convince you a little further, here’s a short clip about the ioSafe Solo (which also applies in this case).

We will be giving away one 1TB ioSafe SoloPRO of your choice (USB 3.0 or eSATA) with a 3-year warranty and 1-year Data Recovery Service. Interested?

How do I win one?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

Join our Facebook page by clicking the Like button or you can follow us on Twitter, if you prefer. If you’re already following us, you may skip this step.

If you can’t see the fanbox, click on this link.

Here’s our giveaway form. Please fill it in accurately. Be sure to enter your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. Click here if you can’t view the form.

You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to share the post. There are 2 options to choose from or you can do both!

Like it on Facebook

Or share it on Twitter

And that’s it! You’re done!
Giveaway eligibility
You must be a fan of our Facebook page to enter;
Individuals who are over the age of 18. If you are under 18, get your parents to participate on your behalf;
Individuals who reside in a country embargoed by the United States; Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India are not permitted to enter.

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, November 12th at 2100hrs PST. The winner will be selected at random and announced via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

MakeUseOf would like to thank ioSafe 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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Get Phone Disk For Free Until December 1 [News]

Posted: 08 Nov 2010 07:00 AM PST

Do you want to access the files on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad simply by hooking up your mobile device to your computer? Whether you’re using a Mac or a Windows machine, Phone Disk makes it easy to get right into the files without having to jailbreak your device.

Phone Disk is free for the time being, so don’t waste the chance to download and register the application, and start using your iPhone as a way of backing up and transferring files, the easy way.

How can you use Phone Disk?

If you want to turn your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad into a portable USB drive, this will do it for you. Simply hook up your device to your computer and copy files to and from the drive.

Why should you use Phone Disk?

If you don’t want to jailbreak or alter your iPhone or iPad in any way, this is the ideal app that makes it a cinch to turn your iPhone into a USB drive.

Phone Disk gives you access to read/write mode, meaning you can open and save files directly on the device.

You can hook up more than one device at a time, making it possible to copy files from any Apple device to another.

It works with all generations of iPod Touches, iPhones and with the iPad.

It’s compatible with both Macs and Windows.

Phone Disk integrates directly into the Windows Explorer or Mac OS X Finder, which means that there’s no learning curve. You’ll feel right at home using your Apple mobile device just as you would any other USB drive.

You have until December 1st to get it for free, so snag it while you still can.



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