Sunday, December 5, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [December 4th]” plus 5 more “Cool Websites and Tools [December 4th]” plus 5 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [December 4th]

Posted: 04 Dec 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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Decreased Productivity – Bored at work but afraid your colleagues and bosses would immediately recognize a non-work webpage? DecreasedProductivity stealth web browsing chrome plugin solves this problem by camouflaging the webpages you browse so they stand out. When activated, this Chrome extension turns a webpage into black text on white background. Read more: DecreasedProductivity: Stealth Web Browsing For Chrome


MobiCart – If you have an online store and want to extend your market in the mobile space, it is just not enough to make a mobile version of your site. The online shopping experience – which counts for a lot in making sales – is vastly different in smartphones and tablets. One cool app that provides a free way to create and manage mobile store is MobiCart. It gives anyone a quick mobile storefront even if you do not have a website. Read more: MobiCart: Create Your Own Mobile Store App Easily



Gangsta Lorem Ipsum – If you are a web designer, you probably resort to Lorem Ipsum dummy words as your placeholder for text elements. While there are several Lorem Ipsum generators out there, why not make fun of them and try the Gangsta Lorem Ipsum? This tool generates a "translated" Lorem Ipsum – dashizzle style, which is useful if you are a fan of Snoop Dogg. Read more: Gangsta Lorem Ipsum: Gangster Lorem Ipsum Text Generator



Mapeas – People who like staying in touch with world news often subscribe to international news feeds or visit an international news website. But reading about news is not as satisfying as watching informative news reports. Realizing this, Mapeas was created. Mapeas is a website that maps latest world news headlines and news clips on a Google Map. You can visit the site and find various markers on the map. Read more: Mapeas: Maps Latest World News Headlines & Videos



FrameBox – If you are looking for a simple tool to collaborate with other web designers, then you should check out FrameBox. This dead-simple tool allows you to sketch wireframes with user-interface units and share it to others. While it is not as powerful as other mock-up tools, this simple app lets you drag and drop UI elements within seconds to create your UI design map. Read more: FrameBox: Sketch Wireframes For Webdesign In Seconds


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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How To Open Web Documents In Google Docs (Firefox, Chrome & Opera)

Posted: 04 Dec 2010 05:31 PM PST

open web documents in google docsGoogle Docs has long been my preferred collaboration and note taking tool. I did try some alternatives but I always came back to Google Docs.

There are plenty of reasons to love Google Docs: the tool is quick and reliable. It has a set of features that allows you to play with it for multiple purposes: I for one found it great for collaboration. Its comparatively new and improved features (including real-time collaboration and chat) are awesome! Google Docs as a note taking tool works well as well. I found the tool really useful for easy organizing and accessing the information you come across online.

What’s more, Google Docs can improve your browsing experience a lot by allowing you to preview and open documents without having to download anything locally. Here are my favorite tools that make it easier to open doc, docx, pdf, ppt, pps and xls files in Google docs in Firefox, Google Chrome and Opera 11.00.


Firefox has quite a few addons that integrate with Google Docs, my personal preferences being the following:

Open IT Online

The Open IT Online tool adds a new option to your download dialog that lets you open the file using Google Docs instead of downloading it locally. Besides Google Docs, the addon supports a few popular document and image hosting services including Zoho, View Docs Online and Vuzit to edit or view documents and Snipshot, Pixlr and Sumo Paint to edit or view images.

The addon also shows you the file size of the document you are about to open:

open web documents in google docs

Google Docs Viewer & Google Docs Preview

Two similar but less useful addons to preview documents in Google Docs are Google Docs Viewer and Google Docs Preview. They both add an extra option to your right-click context menu and they both support only PDF, DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX and TIFF files. It proved to be less usable to me as my right-click menu is pretty much cluttered already.

open documents in google docs

Import To Google Docs

While the above two tools support only PDF, DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX and TIFF files, this one makes it possible to open .XLS files you see in Google Search right in Google Docs. With it, for any XLS file you see in Google search results you will find an alternative link opening it in Google Docs:

open web documents

Google Chrome

Google Chrome also has quite a few extensions that allow you to open web documents in Google Docs. My favorite one is Ultimate Google Docs Viewer. It works via the right-click menu but it can also open specified file types in Google Docs automatically (you can enable and disable which files you want to open automatically in the Google Docs Viewer options).

It supports doc, docx, pdf, ppt and pps files.

open web documents

The options page allows to customize pretty much everything in the extension behavior including which file types to support and where to open them:

open web documents

Opera 11

Opera 11.00 does have one handy (and pretty reliable) extension that allows you to preview any web documents in Google Docs. It prompts for document preview when you click links pointing to downloadable documents.

Sadly, it works only with .DOC .PPT or .PDF files. (What? No .XLS file support? It’s all I download online!). Well, that’s probably because XLS files are not supported by Google’s Doc Viewer.

open web documents in google docs

Do you think opening documents in Google Docs is a handy option? Please share your opinions!

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Hot Tech Deals [Dec 4th]

Posted: 04 Dec 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. Sony Alpha NEX-3 14.2MP Digital Camera w/ 16mm Kit Lens (Fully Fledged DSLR at 8oz!) $499.99 Free Shipping

  2. Logitech Cordless Desktop Wave Pro Keyboard/Mouse $59.99

  3. Dell Inspiron 15 Intel Core Dual-Core T4500 2.3GHz 15.6in Laptop (2GB/250GB/Win7) $399.99

  4. Toshiba 40UL605U 40in LED-Backlit LCD HDTV (1080p, 120Hz, Netflix) $631.99 Free Shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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Déjà Dup: The Perfect Linux Backup Software

Posted: 04 Dec 2010 11:31 AM PST

linux system backup recoveryWith an incredibly simple user interface and the ability to encrypt and backup your data to network drives, external drives, FTP/SSH servers and even Amazon S3 storage, Déjà Dup is the perfect Linux backup solution. Set up a secure, regularly-scheduled backup in minutes. It’s like Carbonite for Linux, except you can pick where your data goes.

Linux backup software is certainly nothing new. Many people swear by rsync for their backup needs, while others like Back In Time, an easy backup program for Linux.

Those applications might work for you, but Déjà Dup will for sure. Aiming to allow you to do backups the right way – that is, to quote their web site, “encrypted, off-site, and regular” – this program is based on command-line utility duplicity but sports a GUI anyone can use.

Dead Simple

linux system backup recovery

That’s really what the program looks like when you launch it. Obviously you’ll want to backup your data first, so go ahead and click that button and you’ll be presented with the first options page:

free data backup software linux

Here you can pick where you want to store your backup. You can use an external hard drive, if you like, or a remote connection. Click the “Connect To Server” button to mount any network drive Gnome can, including FTP, SSH, Windows shares and WebDAV.

In addition, Déjà Dup can directly mount Amazon S3 storage drives:

linux backup

These options mean you have no shortage of places to back up your data. Once you’ve selected your ideal backup place you’ll be asked what you want backed up, as well as any files you’d like excluded:

linux backup

It’s generally a good idea to back up your entire Home folder, though there are some exceptions. For example: I didn’t back up my Dropbox folder, because it is already on four different computers as well as Dropbox’s own server. You could decide certain folders aren’t essential to back up, such as “Music”. It’s all up to you.

Once this step is done the backing up begins. You’ll see a nifty progress window:

linux backup

Go ahead and close this window if you want; the backup will run in the background of your computer. You can monitor progress from the system tray, using this indicator applet:

linux system backup recovery

Once everything is backed up for the first time you’ll have the opportunity to schedule future backups. Set this according to your personal preference and everything is set. Take note: future backups won’t take so long, as only changes you’ve made to your files will be backed up.


Installing Déjà Dup on Ubuntu 10.10 is easy: just click here. Those using earlier versions of Ubuntu can add the Déjà Dup PPA. Users of other Linux distributions should check their package manager, or find the source code on Launch Pad.


I, and many people I know, have been looking for exactly this program for a while. If you’re not backing up your data regularly, you really should. With programs as good as this on the market there’s really no excuse to not do so. Download it, set it up and then forget about it. You’ll be glad you did if your hard drive dies.

Can you recommend a better backup program for Linux? Wow; that’s amazing. Share it below. Alternatively, feel free to ask any questions about this one.

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6 Awesome Advent Calendar Giveaways Throughout December

Posted: 04 Dec 2010 09:31 AM PST

advent calendarsWith Christmas just around the corner, it’s that time of year again, when advent calendars start popping up, filled with lots of fabulous free giveaways. Giving you the opportunity to snag free applications for just one day, be sure to bookmark your favourite calendars, and start each morning with a free app or prize, available for only 24 hours. Advent calendars aren’t just limited to iPhone or Android apps, but also includes discount vouchers, books, mugs, and even fonts.

We’ve put together a list of Advent calendars that have been running for a few days now, but there’s still 3 weeks worth of prizes and apps to snag, so hurry over to these calendars and start stocking up on lots of freebies.


Typography buffs will be delighted to know that FontDeck is giving away one free font a day in their 2010 Advent Calendar giveaway. While it requires a free signup on the site in order to download the fonts, you’ll get one premium font for free per day to use for your posters, websites and all your designing needs.

advent calendars


GameLoft is offering a free game a day in their Advent Calendar for both iPhone and Android users. Follow their Twitter account to be sure you don’t miss out on your daily surprise – which strangely enough doesn’t always actually include a free app but rather sometimes is just a video. Each gift will be available for 24 hours until the next app is revealed.

advent giveaway


AppVent are back again this year, giving away one free iPhone/iPad app AND game a day. The apps are available for free on the iTunes app store for free for an entire day. From racing to puzzle games to note-taking apps, in just the first few days, there’s still much to come from AppVent for the rest of the month.


T3 are running an Android Appvent Calendar with one new free app available on their site everyday. Unlike other advent calendars running this month, you have to do a little more than just click a link to get a free app. After following their Twitter account, you will have to tweet to get yourself in a draw for the free app. 50 winners will be notified at the end of each day via DM.

advent giveaway


There’s more than just software that you can get for free this month with WhatDigitalCamera’s advent calendar. They’re giving away free or discounted software, books, mugs and more. All of the giveaways are photography related and might give you the perfect opportunity to get some personalised Christmas gifts for free.

advent giveaway


British readers can benefit from NuBlue’s Advent Calendar with prizes ranging from an iPod Shuffle to books to discount vouchers. Like T3, you have to a little bit more to get your hands on the prizes, with following various Twitter accounts and tweeting specific messages. Visit the calendar everyday to find out what you have to do to get your name on the list of possible winners.

advent contest


FreeAppADay make you feel like you’re counting down to Christmas every day with free iPhone/iPad apps every day, all year round. It may not be an advent calendar, but once December is over, be sure to keep going back to FreeAppADay for your free app fix, or better yet, download their free app from iTunes with push notifications letting you know the minute a new app is available.

advent calendars

Have you heard of any cool advent calendar giveaways? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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Cloak Camera Bag, SuperHeadz White Angel, SLR Pinhole Lens Giveaway by Photojojo

Posted: 04 Dec 2010 08:00 AM PST



Although we’re (mainly) embracing the return of film photography in this month’s mega-giveaway, Photojojo has got some products that will make your battle with digital photography a little easier to manage and just a tad more creative than you would have ever imagined. What exactly am I talking about?

Read on to find out.

One of the majorly annoying things about owning a digital SLR is the fact that it’s pretty bulky and requires protection. I personally have a camera bag to keep my dSLR which also contains spare lenses, SD cards and other gear. But most of the time, I only require one lens. This is where the Cloak Bag comes is uber-handy. It’s essentially just a very thin sling case that opens up at the bottom to allow you to quickly flip it over and take a photo.


As advertised, the Cloak is better than a bag because you’ll never have to take your camera out to use it. It attaches directly to your camera using the screw attachment for tripods and has loads of access panels and zip openings to let you adjust the zoom or camera settings. It fits SLRs of all sizes and can accommodate zoom lenses up to 6″ in length. Or if you’re like me and only use a short wide-angle lens, the Cloak is able to fold up to just the right length.


Have you ever been fascinated by pinhole photography? Isn’t it amazing that light passing through a tiny hole can result is such wonderful, dreamy images? If you’ve always wanted to dabble in pinhole photography, here’s an easy way to start! Photojojo is offering their SLR Pinhole Lens that you’ll easily be able to slap on any Canon or Nikon digital SLR and begin experimenting.


Despite its namesake, it isn’t actually a lens nor does it have a hole. It’s actually a dSLR body cap and in the middle, there’s a small sheet of opaque film with a tiny clear area that’s been cut by precision lasers to make a perfectly round pinhole. So if used correctly, no dust will ever enter your camera. Instead, all you get is a body cap that works like a pinhole with a focal length of 50mm at f/181 — that produces lo-fi, dreamy images. Genius.


Wondering what pinhole photography looks like? Check out these images:

Kitchen pinhole by Kevin Dooley


Untitled by Tristan Bowersox


And lastly, Photojojo also has the Ultra Wide and Slim (or better known as the White Angel). We’ve taken a look at this camera before in the FourCornerStore giveaway but allow me to quickly run through it again. It’s a reproduction of the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim which was discontinued before they realised that their cameras were exceedingly popular. The design was picked up by a Japanese company called SuperHeadz and they now make the Wide and Slim in an assortment of colours — each one with their own distinct name e.g. Black Devil, White Angel, Pink Dress, Blue Ribbon, etc.


It’s an all-plastic, manual film camera that doesn’t require any batteries to operate. Even the 22mm f/11 lens is made out of plastic and gives the images a very lo-fi look. The shutter speed is fixed at 1/125th of a second so you’ll do best to use ASA400 film. Ultimately, it’s a toy camera which you can throw around and still expect it to work. Plus, it’s a really cheap and affordable way of returning to the fun of film photography.

We’re giving away 2 Cloak bags, 2 Photojojo SLR Pinhole Lens and 2 SuperHeadz White Angels. Wouldn’t you want to get them?

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, December 31st at 2100hrs PST. The winners will be selected at random and announced via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

MakeUseOf would like to thank Photojojo 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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