Sunday, December 19, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [December 18th]” plus 4 more “Cool Websites and Tools [December 18th]” plus 4 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [December 18th]

Posted: 18 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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PresentBee – It would be a great idea to get your special someone their dream gift on their next birthday. But how can you find out what their dream gift is without asking them? PresentBee offers a way. Present Bee is an online social wishlist service that helps you discover what your special someone's – or any other friend's – dream present is. Read more: PresentBee: Social Wishlist for Friends & Family


You Are What You Read – Books we read and love have a huge impact on our lives. YouAreWhatYouRead is a social networking site for books that allows you to share your five favorite books with other people in the world and socialize based purely on your bookprints. You can see the favorites books of other people including many celebrities, authors, educators and librarians. Read more: YouAreWhatYouRead: Social Networking For Book Readers



PDF Protect – PDFs are one of the most popular document formats but securing your PDFs is usually not that easy. You wouldn't want to purchase the expensive Adobe Acrobat software just to encrypt few documents. This is where PDFProtect comes in. It is a free online tool that lets you easily password protect PDF files online. Read more: PDFProtect: Password Protect Your PDF Files



SMS Scheduler – Imagine a friend's birthday is tomorrow. You want to send him a birthday wish via text message right at midnight but you are not sure if you will be awake then. It would be greatly convenient if you could write the message now and have it sent later, at a specific time. SMS Scheduler offers exactly that. Read more: SMS Scheduler: Schedule SMS Messages On Your Android



Sentimnt – Social services like Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare all have options to search but what if you cannot determine which one of these contains the information you are looking for? Sentimnt can help in such situations. Sentimnt serves as your personalized search engine by letting you search sites like Facebook, Twitter and even your RSS feeds from a single place. Read more: Sentimnt: Search Personal Information On All Your Online Accounts


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 Permanently Disable Google Instant & Google Suggest

Posted: 18 Dec 2010 05:31 PM PST

While I do appreciate numerous Google search innovations and I have previously reviewed some great features including uses of Google Suggest and some cool interpretations of Google Instant for YouTube, I do believe people need to have a choice.

Google is well-known for making it hard for people to opt out of some of its new features. Even if there seems to be a way to disable some new options Google introduces, they are not permanent.

This post summarizes some non-official ways to permanently disable Google’s hot new features: Google Instant, Google Instant Preview and (not really a new one) Google Suggest.

1. Disable Google Suggest

Disable Google Suggest

Since the introduction of Google Instant, Google has removed the option to disable search suggestions – now it’s a default feature that can’t be turned off. Unless you make some effort.

Here are a few ways to disable Google Suggest (none of them are perfect and all of them naturally disable Google Instant as well).

Change Your Default Browser Home Page

There are still a few Google search landing pages that have Google Suggest disabled:

  • complete=0 URL parameter disables suggestions. You can use it with your local search as well: / / etc
  • – Google interface for mobile devices;
  • – Google Search that uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) – this interface has no Google Instant feature and still has an option allowing you to disable suggestions:

Disable Google Suggest


One of the following methods might work for you:

  • Install AdBlock Plus and block everything from this directory:
  • Install YesScript or NoScript addon and blacklist Google (this will disable Javascript throughout the site for you).
  • Install this Greasemonkey script (Note: you’ll have to modify the script to work for your local Google version. Navigate Tools -> Greasemonkey -> Manage User Scripts, select the script in the list and click “Add” next to “Included Pages” field. There, provide your Google URL, for example*)
  • Another possible fix is to modify general.useragent.extra.firefox in about:config for Google not to recognize you as a FireFox user (this is a widely suggested fix). To learn why this might be a bad fix for the problem, check out this forum thread.

Google Chrome

With Google Chrome things are much more complex:

There’s no good way to selectively block Javascript on some sites (you can read this post and this thread for more details). I’ve been browsing around and found this extension called NotScripts that did disable Google Suggest in Google Chrome for me (note: I haven’t used the extension long enough to figure its limitations though but it did work for my main purpose).

If you are aware of other better ways to disable Google Suggest in Google Chrome, please comment!

2. Disable Google Instant

(Without disabling Google Suggest).

Disable Google Instant

I for one don’t really like the feature and prefer to have it mostly disabled. We seem to have a clear-cut way to disable the new feature, however if you try using it, you’ll notice Google Instant reappear regularly (once your browser clears its cookies or you log out and log into Google again).


To permanently disable Google Instant, I use this FireFox addon that remembers my Google preferences while I can freely log in and log out (other options of the addon can be disabled). The addon won’t help if you clear the browser cookies though.

All other suggested methods you are likely to stumble across if you search for ways to disable Google Instant, also disable Google Suggest – so to get the (more or less) complete list of them, refer to the above section of this article.

Google Chrome

I wasn’t able to find a way to permanently disable Google Instant while still keeping Google Suggest in Chrome, so you are likely to have to get rid of both the features if you really don’t want to use Google Instant (again, refer to the above section).

Disable Google Instant Preview

Disable Google Preview

AdBlock Plus mentioned above can block Google Instant Preview as well. All you need to do is to add the following filters in the addon preferences:

Hat tip to Lifehacker.

This Greasemonkey script also disables the Live Preview but it will keep the magnifying glass (which won’t work though).

Have you had any of the above Google features disabled? Please share your tips and tricks!

Got Questions? Ask Them Now FREE on MakeUseOf Answers!



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Hot Tech Deals [Dec 18th]

Posted: 18 Dec 2010 04:45 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. Patriot G Sector 5 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3-1600MHz PC3-12800 Dual Channel Desktop Memory $37.99AR

  2. Toshiba MK1059GSM 1TB 2.5in Internal SATA Laptop Hard Drive $89.99 Free Shipping via code EMCYTZT251

  3. Razer Mamba Wired OR Wireless Gaming Laser Mouse $99.99 Free Shipping via code EMCYTZT252

  4. Asus P6X58D Premium Intel X58 LGA1366 ATX Motherboard w/ USB 3.0 & SATA 6gb/sec $249.99 Free Shipping

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

  6. Dell Inspiron 15R Intel Core i3-370M 2.4GHz 15.6in Laptop (4GB/500GB/Win7) $549.99

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

  8. Asus UL50AT-X1 Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 1.3GHz 15.6in Laptop (4GB/500GB/10hr) $482.99

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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6 Chrome Web Apps You Should Really Check Out

Posted: 18 Dec 2010 11:31 AM PST

As previously mentioned, Chrome recently launched its new Web Store. Many of the apps included are, to the typical end user, little more than an icon for launching websites already known and loved. A few, however, give Chrome users access to something that more closely resembles iPad apps than traditional websites.

It’s these web apps that show clearly what the Chrome Web Store could become, and the direction of the web in general and Chrome OS specifically. If you want a look at that future, here it is.

If you’re less high minded than that, though, and just want to play with some cool new technology, you’re still in the right place. Below are just a few apps that I think bring something new to the web; a few even work without Chrome itself.


There were two main newspaper apps on the web store’s launch day: The New York Times and USA Today. Both apps are similar to their iPad counterparts, and both support offline reading.

The New York Times app is my favorite, but that’s mostly because I prefer their content to USA Today. In many ways it’s simply a faster version of the Adobe Air based Times Reader, but without the Adobe Air’s crappiness or the paywall. Launch the app and articles are presented to you:

The real beauty of this app is the keyboard shortcuts. The arrow keys behave exactly as you’d expect them to, allowing you to “turn the page” quickly, as well as to browse the articles. Check out the NY Times app for Chrome here.

The USA Today app is similar, albeit with a more feature-filled home page:

The addition of weather and sports scores is a very nice touch, particularly because you can customize both. For example, in the above screenshot the scores are from my sport of choice: ice hockey. Great perk, and very well presented app. Check out the USA Today app for Chrome here.


Remember The Weather Channel? Me neither. The web is simply the best way to stay up-to-date about the weather, and Chrome’s webstore had two great apps for seeing it at launch. As you know, Wunderground is the best weather site on the web. Well, they’ve got a Chrome app now:

As you can see, there’s not much here. Just a pretty picture reflecting the area you life in and a little bit of information. Check out the Wunderground App for Google Chrome.

If you want a little more detail, I recommend WeatherBug’s offering. Sporting a similar “pretty picture” interface, this app gives you one-click access to forecasts and maps, making it a little more useful than Wunderground’s offering:

Check out the Weatherbug app for Google Chrome.


Oh TweetDeck. Such a great program, but based on the always-slow Adobe Air.

Until now.

TweetDeck is a great tool for managing multiple Twitter/Facebook/Buzz/Foursquare accounts, and it works beautifully in Google Chrome. Launching in seconds and combining your social networks, this new app just might be the highlight of the Chrome store’s launch. Check out the TweetDeck app for Google Chrome here.


I like this one because it’s simple, and shows what Chrome Apps can do. Write Space is a minimalistic text editor, similar to FocusWriter. It runs in the browser, but stores no information on any server; everything is contained within Chrome. Here you can write something, close the tab, and find it back later.

There’s really not much else to this, but it’s a good example of how desktop applications might work on Chrome OS. Check out Write Space on Google Chrome.


I could go on and on, of course, but that would take a long time. The point is, these apps are cool and point to the sort of future Google imagines the world of computing heading in. In many ways I’m reminded of Jolicloud, the web-centric OS for netbooks.

Do you guys have any favorite apps for Chrome? Share them below. Also feel free to discuss the coolness of the Chrome Web Store, or its suckiness if you prefer. I look forward to hearing what have to say!



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6 Of The Best Free RSS Readers For The iPad

Posted: 18 Dec 2010 09:31 AM PST

rss.jpgWhile you can actually log into Google Reader on your iPad, and follow all your favourite blogs and sites on the go, there is no shortage of free apps that make it much easier to stay up to date on the latest news, while some will even give you offline access. With a variety of features, from native Google Reader features, to sharing your stories on your social profiles, each app brings something different to the table.

From the simplified app, where the focus lies more on just reading, to the RSS reader on steroids with just about everything you could need to read, share, and save the latest online stories.  Here are 6 apps that you should take a look at if you are considering changing your RSS reader on your iPad.

The Feed

The Feed syncs with Google Reader, making it easy to keep up with your subscriptions, but it is not a feature heavy app. More eye candy than options, The Feed is ideal for someone who simply wants to keep up with their feeds on the go.


There is no social integration, but you can pin and star items, as well as read your starred items and stories shared by your friends on Google Reader. If and when more features are added, The Feed could become a real contender for the more heavy duty RSS fans.


Feeddler RSS Reader for iPad

Feeddler RSS Reader is the ideal app for Google Reader fans not only because it syncs with your account, but because the layout itself is practically identical to the web based version.


It includes a few Google Reader extras including sharing and adding stars. You can share your articles on Facebook or via email, but strangely enough not Twitter. Add new feeds directly from Feeddler and it will sync with your Google account.


MobileRSS HD

MobileRSS HD, which has already been covered on MakeUseOf, could not be left off a list covering the best the iTunes app store has to offer for iPad RSS apps. MobileRSS is the ideal app for the RSS and social media junkie.


It has the best social integration we’ve seen from Facebook and Twitter, to Instapaper and Read it Later. It features all of Google Reader’s native features including sharing and starring items, to reading posts shared by the people you follow. MobileRSS uses the ‘pull to refresh’ method to check to see if any of the blogs you follow have new updates.



Flipboard takes a very different approach to following your favorite blogs and sites. There is no syncing option, instead you have to manually add feeds, but the layout more than makes up for that. Reading stories on Flipboard is very much like flipping through a magazine.


Not only can you pull stories from your favourite blogs, you can also pull stories from accounts you follow on Twitter. Social integration in Flipboard is limited to Facebook and Twitter, allowing you to easily share the articles with your friends and followers, or via email.


Flipboard is all about the eye candy so it may be a good way to follow your favourite blogs and Twitter accounts, but it will by no means replace your RSS reader. It also won’t be of any use unless you have an internet connection since only the first few paragraphs of each post is featured in the app, while the rest has to be read in Safari.


News Reader for iPad

If you want all of Google Reader’s features but with a different layout, News Reader for iPad is an interesting option. After you sync with your Google Reader account, you can browse the latest items by category, as well as read the stories shared by the people that you follow. You can also access your starred and shared items.


Social integration on News Reader is extensive with the ability to share items on Twitter, Facebook, Instapaper, Tumblr, and via email amongst many others. One of News Reader’s drawbacks is that you can’t browse feeds individually, but only in their respective categories. News Reader supports offline viewing making it a more appealing app for iPad users who opted for the WiFi models.



ReadSquare deserves an honourable mention because, although the app has a few kinks, it offers users a different experience. Not only can you add your Google Reader account to read your latest RSS feeds in a clean, minimalist grid, but you can also add your Twitter and Facebook accounts to follow articles shared by people you follow and by friends. ReadSquare also supports offline viewing.


ReadSquare’s weakness is that it takes a while to load articles, and sources. Social integration of course has not been left out, allow you to share stories on Twitter and via email. ReadSquare is free for the time being so snag it while you can.

Also be sure to check out Bakari’s in-depth review of the sleek RSS reader, Pulse, which is now available for free from the iTunes App Store.

What is your favourite iPad RSS reader? Let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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