Sunday, December 12, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [December 11th]” plus 5 more “Cool Websites and Tools [December 11th]” plus 5 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [December 11th]

Posted: 11 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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Conversion Tool – In different parts of the world, different systems of measurement are used. Typically the metric system is used in the USA and the SI system is used in Europe. People worldwide make conversions between these units almost daily, for example converting a length measured in inches into centimeters. A site that lets you easily perform these conversions is Conversion Tool. Read more: Conversion Tool: Easily & Quickly Convert Between Different Units Of Measurement


Paymo – A good old Excel spreadsheet or a leather notebook can only go so far when it comes to keeping track of your project time. Sooner or later, the need for a tool that is both professional and easy-to-use springs up. Paymo is an excellent choice in regards to keeping track of all your worked hours without costing an arm and a leg. Read more: Paymo: Online Time Tracking For Small Businesses



Maki – Web developers face a common problem while developing wireframes and mockups to go on an existing page: they keep jumping from the main site to the mockup, trying to match both. Through Maki, this jumping around is made a lot more convenient. Maki is a simple bookmarklet that users of any web browser can place in their bookmarks toolbar. With a webpage open, click on the bookmarklet and a new toolbar will appear. Read more: Maki: Overlay Your Mockups On Live Sites



Peggd – Thanks to numerous free hosting sites, you will find a number of online services that help you get a webpage up and running for free. Usually this process involves setting up a page template, layout, and then adding pictures and text. But what if all you want is an extremely basic text-only webpage? The answer is Peggd, a free online service that will have your text-free website up and running in no time. Read more: Peggd: Quickly Create & Share Your Text Only Webpage



CV Maker – A number of online tools help you create a CV and download it. But most of them are complicated and do not offer a quick approach. For speed and simplicity, pay a visit to CVMaker, a free web service that lets you make a CV online for free. It offers a supremely easy editing interface. The sections can be moved around using simple drag & drop. When done editing, you can download your CV's PDF file. Read more: CVMaker: Make A CV Online For Free & Download as PDF


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 Block All Facebook Widgets & Buttons Throughout The Web

Posted: 11 Dec 2010 05:30 PM PST

block facebook appsThere may be actually more than one reason for you to want to block Facebook widgets you see on almost any webpage you land on:

First, you are concerned about your privacy and don’t want Facebook to personalize your browsing or to give away your information to third-party sites. In this case, besides using the tools listed below, don’t forget to edit your privacy settings (to be on the safe side): navigate Account -> Privacy Settings -> Edit Your Settings (below Applications and Websites) -> Edit settings (Next to Instant personalization).

Secondly, you are not on Facebook and/or you are just fed up with seeing the Facebook buttons and widgets around the web and you want to de-clutter your experience. Like ad banners, social media widgets have become a major annoyance to many surfers: for example, they may slow down the performance and result in a slower browsing and longer waiting.

As a website owner, I do understand why we would want to get better connected to our readers through various social media channels, but I do accept the point of those who don’t want to see the widgets all over the web.

So here are a few ways you can block the Facebook widgets in case you want to:


Facebook Blocker is an experimental FireFox addon that stops Facebook social plugins (including those within iFrames) from running on sites other than Facebook itself. This includes ‘Like’ buttons, ‘Recommended’ lists, widgets, etc.

Note: sites that use Facebook Connect for sign in purposes will continue to work as previously

While it did seem to work as described for me (as you can see from the screenshot below, it even blocked the “Causes” widget), it strangely kept one of Facebook buttons below the post (others were gone). I wasn’t able to tell why.

block facebook apps

Google Chrome

1. Facebook Disconnect

Facebook Disconnect is a Google Chrome extension that “turns off the flow of your data” to third parties by blocking all traffic from third-party sites to Facebook servers. The extension won’t prevent you from using Facebook from its own interface though.

Facebook Disconnect works by injecting JavaScript into every page you land on to disable the component Facebook links. Note that the extension only removes integrated components (those widgets and buttons that send your data back to Facebook) – simple HTML links will naturally be kept.

how to block facebook buttons widgets

2. WidgetBlock

If Facebook is not the only annoyance you come across on the web, consider WidgetBlock for Google Chrome that removes all major social widgets from pages your browse to including Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, Disqus, etc.

This considerably enhances your browsing experience as it speeds up the web and you are likely to notice web pages load much faster.

WidgetBlock disables the Widgets by preventing them being requested from the server in the same way the popular AdBlock works (By the way, AdBlock can be used to block any social media widgets as well. You just need to play around with it a bit).

WidgetBlock has very handy options that allow to enable or disable blocking of any supported widget.

(Note: there are more supported widgets than those you see on the screenshot – the list is too large to make it to one image):

block facebook widgets

Disclaimer: I have played around with the tools above but I am not currently using any because I still “like” things on Facebook (shame on me) – what about you?

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Hot Tech Deals [Dec 11th]

Posted: 11 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. Zalman FG1000 Gun Mouse (2000dpi) $19.99 Free Shipping $59.99

  2. Sony Optiarc BR-5100S 2x Blu-Ray ROM Drive $29.99 Free Shipping

  3. HP SW350A 12.1MP 3X Ultra Compact Digital Camera $79.99 Free Shipping

  4. Samsung BD-C8000 10.3 inch Portable 3D Blu-Ray Player w/ Netflix Streaming & Wireless LAN $269 Free Shipping

  5. Dell Inspiron 15R Intel Core i3-370M 2.4GHz 15.6in Laptop (4GB/500GB/Win7) $499.99

  6. Dell Inspiron 14R Intel Core i3-370M 2.4GHz 14in Laptop (4GB/500GB/Win7) $599.99

  7. Sony BRAVIA KDL55NX810 55in 3D-Ready LED LCD HDTV (1080p, 240Hz, Wifi) $1899.99 Free Shipping

  8. Dell Vostro 230 Mini Intel Dual-Core E5500 2.8GHz Desktop (2GB/320GB) w/ 19in LCD $369

  9. Dell Vostro 230 Mini Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 Desktop (2GB/250GB/Win7) w/ 22in LCD $419

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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How To Use Calibre To Read Instapaper On Any E-Book Reader

Posted: 11 Dec 2010 11:31 AM PST

calibre instapaperFind yourself constantly distracted at work by long articles? Stop reading them at work. Send them to Instapaper and read them on your e-book reader of choice with Calibre, regardless of whether that e-book reader has a network connection.

Instapaper is a great way to queue articles and blog posts for future reading. It even features a great app for Android and iOS devices, and a subscription service for the Kindle. Those of us with certain e-book readers may feel left out from this. They don’t have to. Calibre, the ulitmate ebook management program, can download entire newspapers, blogs and magazines.

It can also download your entire Instapaper queue, as it turns out, formatting everything for a staggering number of e-book readers. Heck, you can even schedule this process to happen automatically – all you’d need to do is transfer the file and get ready to read at home! Let’s break this down.

Step 1: Set Up Instapaper

Don’t have Instapaper? Get it. Head over to and sign up for an account. Once you’re done that, be sure to drag the “Read Later” button to your bookmarks toolbar:

calibre instapaper

Now the fun begins. Find any article you want to read and click this button; the article will automatically be sent to your Instapaper queue. You can read them online, if you want, or send them to your ebook reader using Calibre. Keep reading to find out how.

Step 2: Set Up Calibre To Download Instapaper

If you haven’t already, download Calibre. It’s a free program for Mac, Linux and Windows that helps manage e-books. Follow the prompts to set it up to sync with your e-book reader of choice and you’ll soon see the default interface. Click the “Fetch News” button to bring up the automatic downloading function of Calibre. Search for “Instapaper” and you’ll see the following window:

reader instapaper

Enter your username; no need for your password. Schedule a regular time for this to all happen, if you like. Click “Download Now” to grab everything immediately, or set up a regular time for this download to happen and click “Save” if you want this to happen regularly.

Step 3: Profit!

calibre instapaper

You’ve got it now; your Instapaper queue is now an e-book that can be quickly sent to your e-book reader. Everything you download will be automatically marked as “Read” on Instapaper, which means you’ll never download the same article to your ebook reader unless you intend to. Enjoy!

Supported Devices

So what ebook readers will this process work on? Well, Calibre supports many different eReaders, so this hack will work with any of them. Those supported as of late November 2010 include:

  • SONY PRS line
  • Barnes & Noble Nook
  • Cybook Gen 3/Opus
  • Amazon Kindle line
  • Entourage Edge
  • Longshine ShineBook
  • Ectaco Jetbook
  • BeBook/BeBook Mini
  • Irex Illiad/DR1000
  • Foxit eSlick
  • PocketBook 360
  • Italica
  • eClicto
  • Iriver Story
  • Airis dBook
  • Hanvon N515
  • Binatone Readme
  • Teclast K3
  • SpringDesign Alex
  • Kobo Reader

Depending on when you’re reading this Calibre may support more devices. Check out the Calibre FAQ for more information.

I have to thank Evil Genius Chronicles for this great idea, which I plan on making use of a great deal in the future. Let me know how it works for you in the comments below, or feel free to suggest any other ways of achieving this sort of setup.

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Create a Budget in Minutes with Sprouty

Posted: 11 Dec 2010 09:30 AM PST

create a budgetDo you find that when you try to use a budgeting system, the more complicated it is, the more overwhelmed you become; and eventually you stop using it? If that’s the case, Sprouty brings a simplified budgeting system that makes it easy to create a monthly budget, and more importantly, stick to it.

Sometimes keeping it simple is a lot more useful and that’s exactly what Sprouty aims to do. Unlike Mint and other popular money management systems, your personal bank account information does not even come into play; making it a secure option that can be used no matter where in the world you live.

After signing up for a free account, Sprouty will prompt you to enter your monthly income, and will attempt to create a budget for you, based on minimum recommended amounts for each budget item.

create a budget

Of course, the budget will most probably not reflect your own personal spending habits, and you can modify it to suit your lifestyle.

how to create a budget

You can add additional budget items by clicking on the ‘Create a Budget’ button, determine the amount allocated to that category, and add tags. Using the same method, you can add additional sources of income, which is particularly useful for a family in which there are several breadwinners.

how to create a budget

Existing budget items can also be edited or deleted by clicking on any given item, adding or removing tags of your choice, and adjusting the amount. This will be one of the very first steps you take when using Sprouty, in order to adjust the budget to suit your personal needs.

how to create a budget

Once you have your budget in place, you can begin to add the actual transactions as they occur. New transactions are accompanied by the date, tags or description, and the amount.

create a home budget

As you add tags, Sprouty will also suggest tags that are commonly used.

create a home budget

If you add a transaction by mistake, it can easily be edited or deleted by clicking on any part of the transaction’s information.

Sprouty’s best feature is undoubtedly the overview it provides of your spending. Once you have your budget in place and have added your transactions, you can see a monthly overview of your budget, and see exactly where your money is being spent, and what remains.

create a budget

This is especially useful because you are able to visualise the areas in which you spend the most, and this could make for an easier way to understand where you need to cutback on your spending.

Sprouty is as no-frills a budget system as they come, but sometimes that is all that you need. It is extremely user-friendly, with barely any learning curve at all.

The website can be accessed from mobile browsers, making it possible to add transactions on the go. That said, it is not optimised for a mobile browser, and that would be one of the first welcome changes to the site. Adding transactions while you’re out and about is an integral part of the success of any budget system, so that payments don’t fall between the cracks. Whether it is a mobile website, adding transactions by email, or any other method, it will definitely improve Sprouty’s user friendly service.

How do you keep track of your spending habits? Let us know in the comments.

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The 5 Best Questions From You [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 11 Dec 2010 08:00 AM PST

MakeUseOf Answers is a free service and you don’t even have to sign up! You can ask or answer a question with just an email address. And you can even win a prize if you post a great answer.

The winner of this week’s Best Answer of the Week contest is Mike for his answer to this question: How can I get best and free software for 64-bit Windows 7? Thank you for donating your time and way to go!

If you’re open for a $50 prize via Amazon voucher or PayPal, go ahead and solve Unanswered Questions. All comments qualify automatically. The only requirement is that we can contact you in case you win. Guest, Disqus, and Facebook logins preferred.

Care to learn something new? Check out the best questions this week:

MakeUseOf Answers is an information resource. Browse by Latest Questions, Most Popular Questions, or Unanswered Questions. For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

Need help? Ask A Question at MakeUseOf Answers.

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