Wednesday, December 22, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [December 21st]” plus 12 more “Cool Websites and Tools [December 21st]” plus 12 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [December 21st]

Posted: 21 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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FoodPress – Food lovers will be greatly pleased with WordPress's recent step. The WordPress network includes websites covering many topics. Recognizing how popular food-related sites in its network are, WordPress has now dedicated a site that aggregates the best food posts from its network: the site is called FoodPress. Read more: FoodPress: Aggregates Best Food Articles From WordPress Network


BridgeURL – If you intend to share a bunch of cool websites, which you've discovered lately, with a friend, then sending those via email looks like the easiest thing to do. But it isn't convenient to click on them one by one and open in browser tabs, especially if there are a lot of them. BridgeURL solves this problem by helping you create a website slideshow and combining all those sites into a single URL. Read more: BridgeURL: Send Multiple Links As A Slideshow



Facebook Blocker – Do you find the Facebook “Like” links on various websites annoying? If yes, then you would surely appreciate a tool that removes these links. Facebook Blocker is just that tool. Facebook Blocker is a tool that detects Facebook links in websites and eliminates them. This does not mean that the site's connections to Facebook are lost. Read more: Facebook Blocker: Remove Facebook Links On Websites You Visit



Grapholite – There is a high chance that the built-in paint application on your computer's OS does not offer you all the features to create, flowcharts, and diagrams. Thankfully the web has numerous free tools to fill the gap left by your OS's native paint app. One such flowcharting program is Grapholite, a free to use website that helps users create a wide variety of drawings and diagrams. Read more: Grapholite: Free Flowcharting Program Online



Site To Phone – If you visit a great website on your computer and you want to open it up on your phone, what do you do? Do you type in the entire URL through your phone's keypad? If yes, then there is a much better alternative to send links from your computer to your phone. It is called SitetoPhone, a free tool that comes in two parts. Read more: SiteToPhone: Easily Send Links To Your Phone


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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The 10 Toughest Tech Questions [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 21 Dec 2010 05:31 PM PST

Every week MakeUseOf Answers needs your help in answering the toughest questions of the past week!

This week we have a lot of unanswered questions. Please have a look and see whether you can contribute a little bit of knowledge. It’s the time of giving after all.

Your best effort shall not go unrecognized. The Best Answer of the Week is rewarded with the honor of having your name mentioned right here and a cash prize of $50 claimable via PayPal or Amazon voucher. All we need is a way to contact our winner, so don’t be anonymous.

And these are the challenging questions you can help us with today:

MakeUseOf Answers can be sorted by Latest Questions, Most Popular Questions, or Unanswered Questions. For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

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Sqworl – Visually Bookmark Links To Multiple Websites

Posted: 21 Dec 2010 03:31 PM PST

visual bookmarkLet me paint a picture for you. You’re arguing with a friend of yours, trying to prove a point. So you start Googling, and before you know it you have 4 or 5 links to some great pages that really back you up. What do you do? You copy and paste the links to your friend one by one and then hope that he opens and reads them all. How is there not an easier way to do this?

There is, and it’s called Sqworl. The example I used above is just one of many different uses you could find for Sqworl, which lets you combine multiple site URLs into a single link.  Angela also recently discussed a similar service called BridgeURL. In this article, I’ll show you Sqworl and how to use it in general.

How Does Sqworl Work?

visual bookmark

To start using Sqworl, the first thing I recommend you do is head over to the homepage and click register. You’ll be taken to a simple signup page where you can choose a username and create a password. Do that and click Sign Up and you’re all set.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be taken to your homepage. Since you’re new to Sqworl, you won’t have any Groups yet. Groups are collections of links you’ve bookmarked. Since Sqworl lets you see everything you’ve saved or shared with others, you will probably revisit this page in the future.

To create a Group, click on the link that says “Add some, plz!” and you’ll be taken to Sqworl’s Add page. Once there, you’re prompted for the title and description of the Group you would like to create.

You can fill in whatever you like here, but it would be best to use this space to describe the group of links you are going to bookmark so you can easily find them later. What are all those links about? What do they have in common?

visual bookmarking sites

Click start and you can begin adding links to the Group. Just paste in the URLs one by one and add an optional description for each. Click the add button after each one to add it to your Group.

visual bookmarking sites

When you’re done adding links, you can use a single public URL to share them all at once or bookmark them easily. When you share your link, others will be taken to a page where they can see thumbnails of all the sites you added to the Group. Clicking on a thumbnail will take you to the site, just as if you shared a URL with the person.

visual bookmarking sites

To view the example “Sports Sites” link I created, check it out:

Other Uses For Sqworl

visual bookmark

Are you starting to get an idea of how you could use Sqworl? Like I said, it has many potential uses. You could use Sqworl to make a personalized homepage for yourself, take notes when comparing items, create a step-by-step tutorial for others, and much more.


To make things even easier, Sqworl also has a Bookmarklet that will allow you to add the URL you’re currently viewing to one of your Sqworl groups without leaving the webpage. It even lets you create a new group on the spot. Also, if you have an iPhone you can check out Sqworl mobile.

Sqworl is one of the most simple, yet effective tools I’ve come across in a long while. It’s very easy to use and it makes sharing links and visual bookmarking a better experience.

What do you think of Sqworl? What will you be using it for?

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Explore Weird & Wonderful Lists At Snagsta

Posted: 21 Dec 2010 01:31 PM PST

weird listsHere’s a neat new way to explore some new ideas and have some fun. Snagsta lists let you create or search through lists in order to find new things to do. Once you’ve found a few lists you like, Snagsta starts to recommend lists to you based on what you’ve already liked.

What results is that you find all sorts of wonderful and weird lists including tourism advice, motivation tips, startup advice, book lists, movie lists and much more. There’s always new lists to check out, so it’s definitely somewhere you could head back to on a regular basis just to get a little more inspiration. Signing up at Snagsta only takes a moment, regardless of whether you create a log in or use Facebook Connect to log in. You’ll be ready to go in no time at all.

Exploring Lists

Browsing the lists can be done by categories listed at the bottom of all Snagsta pages, including some “best of” categories to let you quickly browse the popular lists.

weird lists

When browsing lists, ensure you let Snagsta know if you like it. This will allow Snagsta to recommend better lists to you and to everyone else using Snagsta. Once you’ve liked three lists the recommendations will start. You can find them whenever you like by clicking Me > Recommendations.

weird top 10 lists

Make Your Own Lists

Creating a list is straightforward – the “Create List” link is at the top of all Snagsta pages. Once you get to that page, it’s easy to see what you need to do. If you choose the bells and whistles option, you can add photos, video or links to each list item, making your list more interesting for everyone.

weird top 10 lists

Take a look around for list ideas — there’s plenty of unusual ideas out there. Also check out Paul Graham and Leo Babauta‘s profiles for an idea how these big names use Snagsta.

weird top 10 lists

Finding Friends

If you ask Snagsta, friends are key to the Snagsta experience, since these lists give you recommendations for all sorts of things, not limited recommending just music or book collections like most other social networks.

Personally, I think Snagsta is the sort of website where it doesn’t really matter if your friends use it or not, since you can easily explore community lists and share your favourite lists with social networking sites or email. There is an option to find your friends, but it asks for you to enter your email password — I thought most startups these days knew better than that!

cool lists

What Could Snagsta Do Better?

It would be great to see :

  • personal RSS feeds.
  • the ability to automatically send your own lists to Facebook and Twitter.
  • the use of Facebook/Twitter/Gmail authentication to find your friends on Snagsta.
  • the ability to embed a widget of a single list, my lists or my favourite lists (and would serve to advertise Snagsta).
  • a Snagsta app for iPhone and Android — it’s no doubt in the works already.

weird lists

Listography and Listverse are similar listing services (and there are plenty more listing services), both of which seem to be using the lists people generate to write books on lists — maybe that’s somewhere in the future for Snagsta, too.

Have a play!

If you’re looking for travel suggestions, new books to read or just some inspiration, Snagsta can supply it. If you have any great ideas on how to use Snagsta, let us know in the comments!

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AnyBizSoft PDF Converter for Mac and Anokimobi ecoskin Giveaway Winners

Posted: 21 Dec 2010 01:00 PM PST

Sorry for the delay, folks. Here are the winners for both the AnyBizSoft PDF Converter for Mac and Anokimobi ecoskin giveaways. Information regarding your license and how to claim your prizes have already been sent via email.

AnyBizSoft PDF Converter for Mac

  1. Adi Jaya
  2. Bhushan Kulkarni
  3. Deepak Selvaraj
  4. Forrest Houghton
  5. Jack Waddington
  6. Kevin Law
  7. Meghana
  8. Rick Bryant
  9. Stephane Fortin
  10. waynemac

Anokimobi ecoskin case for iPhone 4

  1. Michael Brandon
  2. Carina Bailey
  3. Nancy Heng
  4. Karen Smith
  5. Victor Hugh


MakeUseOf would like to thank Tom Tranter and AnyBizSoft 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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Hot Tech Deals [Dec 21st]

Posted: 21 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. Canon EOS Rebel T2i 18MP Digital SLR Camera w/ EF-S 18-5 F/3.5-5.6IS $699.99 Free Shipping via code EDX15994

  2. TODAY ONLY Kingston HyperX 6GB (3x2GB) DDR3-1600MHz PC3-12800 Desktop Memory + 2GB Flash Drive $69.99

  3. TODAY ONLY Dell 1130 Mono Laser Printer $74.99 Free Shipping

  4. TODAY ONLY Belkin Evo Notebook Backpack (fits laptops up to 15.6in) w/ Mouse, Surge $29.99

  5. AMD HDX920XCJ4DGI Phenom II X4 920 Quad Core OEM Processor $79.99 Free Shipping via code BFW15991

  6. TomTom XL 335 GPS Navigation (4.3in, Text To Speech) $89.99 Free Shipping via code EMCZNNZ22

  7. LG 42LE5400 42in LED-Edgelit LCD HDTV (1080p, 120Hz) $799.95 Free Shipping

  8. Toshiba Canvio Portable External Hard Drives – 500GB $49, 750GB $79, 1TB $99 Free Shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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NTFS Undelete – The Rescue Act When You Want To Recover A Deleted File [Windows]

Posted: 21 Dec 2010 11:31 AM PST

windows undeleteSometimes the most unglamorous of software can be lifesavers. File recovery software fall into that category. The free and Open Source NTFS Undelete for Windows is devoid of frills but a surefooted member we would like to include when we talk about free file recovery options.

Of course, NTFS Undelete is not a one of a kind file recovery tool. We have covered a bunch of them and you can find them under the file recovery and undelete tags.

Recovering files and undoing the delete process is more common than we would like to think. When we delete a file, there's the Recycle Bin as a parachute and also the CTRL+Z keys. But an undelete utility is for the 'ooops' moments when you throw caution to the winds and banish an essential file to digital limbo.

So, instead of shedding tears of frustration; shout emergency, and launch a file recovery software like NTFS Undelete.

Small Size & Three Download Options

NTFS Undelete (ver. 0.94) is a small 2MB download in the ZIP archive format. You can also download it as a Windows installer or as an ISO image. You can go with the ZIP download, because then you can run it straight from a standalone folder without an installation. Though, I had some problems with the ZIP version on my system. NTFS Undelete runs on Win XP and Vista.

The Plain Jane Look

windows undelete

NTFS Undelete is a utilitarian software; a straightforward interface with three tabs. There's no help file, so it's best that the software is without any frills. We will look into the tabs when we put this little software through its paces.

Recover Beyond the Recycle Bin

NTFS Undelete, as its name suggests, works on Windows NTFS systems and can recover files even if they are gone from the Recycle Bin. It will work best if you run NTFS Undelete as soon as you have emptied the Recycle Bin. When a file is deleted, it is removed from the bin, but physically it still exists on the NTFS file system. Only the space it occupied is marked as free for other files to occupy it. The success of recovery is increased if no other file overwrites that original space.

The Rescue Act

I started my hunt for some wallpapers, mp3′s, and a movie file I deleted by mistake. The Browse tab can be used to select the drive or the original folder from where the file was killed off.

First, bring up the Search tab. NTFS Undelete gives you a Simple search and an Advanced search.

undelete file

As you will see, the Simple search is like casting a wide net for the lost file while the Advanced search lets you finetune the hunt with options. If you have the right information, the latter can save you some time. The one thing you should always use is the File Mask as it will help to scour for only that particular file type and not the whole lost tribe.

Use the right-click menu to select and mark the files you want to recover and go to the next tab. The Recover marked files is where you need to hold your breath.

windows undelete

Set a destination folder for the 'undeleted' files as NTFS Undelete recommends not recovering files to the same partition they were located. If you want to recover a bunch of files and aren't concerned about the folder, uncheck Recover Folder Structure. Clicking on Recover to bring the dead and gone files back.

Head to the destination folder and with some luck you will get the files back along with some identifier files that you need not pay any attention to.

In The Spirit of Open Source

NTFS Undelete is Open Source software written in Python, so coders can have a go at it. I am not sure whether the freeware is being developed further as there is no information on its page.

Sigh Of Relief Or….?

Success or failure with file recovery software depends on the bits and bytes of the deleted that have been overwritten by successive files. NTFS Undelete scanned pretty fast and managed to recover freshly deleted files competently.

A few more filters or at least a search field to search a file by name would have helped. The lack of help may set off less experienced users as it's difficult to make out from the list of files which ones can be successfully recovered. Color coding or the use of icons would have been a visual aid.

But hey, I am not complaining because when it comes to recovering my deleted file, I am willing to sweat it out for the moment it takes NTFS Undelete to get it back for me.

We have included three file recovery tools in our list of The Best Of: Windows Software. You should always have one close by. Do you think NTFS Undelete deserves a space? Let us know.

Image: Shutterstock

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DailyBooth Launches New iPhone App [News]

Posted: 21 Dec 2010 10:33 AM PST

DailyBooth, for those of you who don’t know, is a daily photo-sharing website similar to those mentioned here and other sites like ShutterCal. We first covered the service back in early ’09, but just a couple of weeks ago Angela refreshed our memories with her article entitled How To Make The Most Out Of DailyBooth.

You may have gathered from that article that DailyBooth has an iPhone app, but what you may not know is that they recently released a complete redesign of it. Allow me to take you inside the news and show you what’s different about version 2.0 of DailyBooth for the iPhone.

What’s New With DailyBooth?

This brand-new release of DailyBooth’s official app has been rebuilt from the ground up. It is said to be faster and more responsive, and it also includes a bevy of new features that make it more like the website edition, like full profile details and messaging.

Here’s what’s new in version 2.0:

  • Live feed – Watch the live feed and see what’s going on in the world around you.
  • User profiles & follows – Strike up conversations with other users and follow their profiles.
  • Username search – Find those you already know using the service.
  • Messaging – Use the app to communicate with others.
  • New Camera UI – It’s now much easier to take photos.
  • Facebook & Twitter integration
  • 3 second camera timer

"We've started over and built this from the ground up," said CEO Brian Pokorny. "In addition to the iPhone, the app will be great for all of the new iPod Touch (devices) launched a few months ago that all have a front facing camera," he added.

The company is planning on releasing an Android app soon.

Source: GigaOM

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How To Upload Files To The Awesome Box.Net Directly from Windows Explorer

Posted: 21 Dec 2010 10:31 AM PST file sharingA few months ago, the online storage service,, announced that users with a free account would now receive 5GB of free storage as opposed to the original offering of 2GB. I was already using for its superb ability to display common file types in-browser, which comes in handy when you are sharing temporary files, so this was an exciting piece of news for me.

There’s a myriad of reasons why you should re-discover the service if you don’t use it already as updates are constantly pushed and it would be a great alternative to sites like For those that appreciate WebDAV access or at least, an easier way to upload files from your desktop’s file manager, here are the simple steps to view your files in Windows Explorer.

Easily Upload Files Via Windows Explorer

Note: Tested in several Windows Vista machines. WinXP users can see Techie Buzz’s handy post.

1. Press the Win key + E or go to the Start menu, right-click on Computer and select Open. file sharing

2. Right-click on Computer again and select Add A Network Location, which will prompt the respective wizard. files

3. Click Next on the welcoming screen. files

4. Then select the second option, Choose a custom network location. files

Type the following:

download files

If for some reason, you have trouble, try the unsecured

5. If everything goes well, you’ll get a popup window asking you for your credentials. Type your username, which is the email you use to log in to, as well as your password.

download files

6. Now you can type a name for you to easily identify this location, before clicking Next.

download files

7. You can choose whether to or not to check the box to launch the network location on Windows Explorer after exiting the wizard.

Click on Finish.

On Ubuntu, make sure you log onto in your web browser before following the instructions on the How-To Geek blog. This might break at times because support for WebDav has stopped after similar posts were written but at this time, it looks like it works. You might also find Gladinet interesting if you are still having problems connecting, since it’s designed to help you map network drives for web apps.

Why Use Box.Net?

  • You can preview the more popular file types, such as FLV flash, MP3 and PDF files inside your browser.
  • There’s integration with other web services that provide you with file-editing capabilities while you don’t even have to download desktop software to handle them. For pictures, there’s Picnik, for signing documents, there’s DocuSign, etc.
  • There’s a built-in word processor, with collaboration features.
  • Depending on what services from the OpenBox you add, you can have other office suites, like Zoho, at your disposal and still use for storage.

  • You can embed your files (or the ones in a specific folder) in your website with a widget.
  • Your readers can then subscribe to a feed to update them when you modify the contents of the shared files or folders.
  • file sharing

The only downside to is that you can only upload files of up to 25MB for the free account, but most files I own are within the limits.

Online storage services abound these days. You’ll find many Dropbox fans, as well as people that swear by Mozy, and Windows Live Skydrive. I’ve personally always used Skydrive to upload pictures by email when Flickr and Facebook just don’t cut it.

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Thematic Theme Framework: A Powerful Alternative For A WordPress Makeover

Posted: 21 Dec 2010 09:31 AM PST

thematic wordpress themeOne of the main problems that always keeps any WordPress beginner (and sometimes also advanced users) from actual blogging is choosing a theme. There are too many of them, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. One theme might have the beauty, but another might have the brain. One is lean and clean but too simple, the other is pretty and shiny but too heavy. Rarely does a person find a theme that fits all of his/her personal requirements.

These variations are also the reason people feel reluctant to switch themes. They might not find some of the features of the old theme in the new one. That’s why some people go with personalization. Those with money to burn can have their own theme developed, while the adventurous types (with the thinner wallets) might want to go the DIY path and try to generate a simple theme or modify one.

Another possible solution is to build and customize your own theme around a solid theme framework. One of the best in the field of theme frameworks is Thematic.

The What & The Why

What is a theme framework? To get a clearer picture, let’s imagine it as a human body. You can put different clothing on it to change the appearance, but whatever wrapping you put on the skin will not change what the person can do.

Those who have tried to build their own WordPress themes will quickly see the advantages of using a theme framework as the basis of their design. Instead of building everything from scratch and struggle to match the look and the functionalities by trial and error, the developers can just focus on the design knowing that they can easily turn on/off all the features already provided by the framework.

Using a theme framework will reduce the workload and require less time to finish than trying to assemble all the pieces by yourself. The learning curve is also not as steep to common WordPress users as there is less technical stuff that users need to master.

thematic wordpress theme

In terms of features, Thematic has a set that will put many premium themes to shame. Here are some of them:

  • Ready to use as a minimalistic WordPress theme or as a blank canvas which the CSS artist can paint on.
  • Fully search engine optimized, so users don’t need to spend much of their precious time tinkering with SEO.
  • More widget-ready areas than most common users will need. There are 13 areas in total, users can choose and activate the areas according to their preferences.
  • Multiple layout options for 2 or 3 column designs.
  • Options for multi-author blogs.

Another advantage of using Thematic (or any other theme frameworks) is the child theme concept. A “child theme” is a term used for a theme which is developed around a theme framework, a.k.a “Parent theme“. If you want to design a WordPress theme using Thematic, you should modify only the child theme and never touch the parent.

In the simplest definition, creating a new child theme around Thematic is simply creating and editing a new “style.css” file to define how your theme will look and override the parent theme. To be able to do that you need basic CSS and HTML knowledge, but no PHP coding is required. The easiest way to do this is by editing the basic child theme that comes with the Thematic installation.

Granted, not everybody has the willingness (and/or the time) to build their own theme, even with Thematic standing at their back. But, if you think you are up to the job and want to know more about developing a child theme around Thematic, you might want to visit the Thematic Customization guide and WordPress Child Theme Basic to familiarize yourself with it.

thematic theme examples

Meet The Children

You can see how far developing a theme around Thematic could go by looking at the available ready-made child themes. One child theme that really blows my mind is “Gallery“, a theme designed to show off the portfolio of graphic artists.

thematic theme

Similar to the basic child theme, other child themes are also very customizable. But you should pay attention to the license that comes with it as they are the creative results of someone else’s work. Not all the child themes can be freely modified. What you can do is use them as a source of inspiration to build your own theme later.

To use a child theme (either the ready-made ones or your own creation/modification), you have to install both the child and parent in your WordPress blog. So the first thing that you have to do is download the Thematic framework and have the child theme that you want to use ready.

  • Go to the “Themes” menu under “Appearance“. Choose the “Install Themes” tab and click on the “Upload” link.

thematic theme

  • Choose the Thematic zip file that you have downloaded and click the “Install Now” button to upload it to your server. Repeat the process for the child theme.
  • Now go back to the “Manage Themes” menu and activate the child theme.

thematic theme

Looking at the child themes, it’s clear that the design possibilities are limited only by one’s imagination. It’s a great environment for theme designers to play in.

thematic wordpress theme

Due to the limited choices of ready-made child themes, ordinary users who only want to use ready made themes without any plan to build their own might not want to go with Thematic. But for those who want to build their own full-featured WordPress theme easily, using Thematic is one of the best options that they can take.  Let us know what you think of it.

Image credit: Smashing Magazine

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5 Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas In Case You Get Stuck

Posted: 21 Dec 2010 09:01 AM PST

christmas gift ideasThis is the week of Christmas. Did you get the Christmas grocery shopping done? Is the house clean and ready to receive guests? Do you have all the gifts? Still need to wrap them up? Oops, is there something we forgot? Don’t stress!

Remember that Christmas is not about consuming, it’s about love. You can express your love in many different ways. And since it’s all about love, the gifts don’t need to be fancy or expensive. Seriously. They should, however, show that you care. If you do, it will be easy to come up with a last minute gift idea.

If you’re too stressed out to come up with a good gift idea, you have come to the right place. Let me share some suggestions and your creative juices will be flowing again in no time. Below are my five last minute Christmas gift ideas.

Gift Cards

A gift card may not be the greatest way in the world to show your appreciation, but in a way it’s honest. You cannot read someone else’s mind, you may not live close enough to organize something special for them, and you may not even have the time to come see them personally. Rather than sending a standard gift that will clutter up their home and consume their precious space and time, you let them choose something that they need or will enjoy.

christmas gift ideas

If you know where they love to shop, you can give a specific gift card. However, if you are not sure what they really like, if you would like to give something that isn’t mainstream, or if you want to conceal the amount you are giving, you need to find a unique gift card store.

One example is Ribbon, which offers several gift card collections to choose from. The best is that the gift cards don’t have a $ value on them and neither do the gifts. Based on the gift card you pick, the receiver can choose gifts from a variety of items, without ever knowing how much you spent on the gift card.

creative christmas gift ideas

You can buy Ribbon gift cards from Amway or from sellers that have made the effort to create something more unique, for example Sam’s Smart Selections. Also check out GiftCardy for more unique gift card ideas.


Don’t buy processed food and gift it, that’s lame. Food is a great gift, however, if you made it yourself or chose it wisely. Bake cookies, prepare candy yourself, bring a cake, invite them to a self-cooked dinner, if they love to cook or bake themselves you can refill their spice collection, or simply share your most treasured recipes that you know they love.

creative christmas gift ideas

Do you need some ideas for recipes? We have the resources:

Personal Coupons

Everyone has to complete chores that they don’t enjoy. You know what they are and you know which ones your friends and family dislike most. This Christmas you can gift relief. Be selfless, take the burden of unloved chores upon yourself, and create coupons for things like mowing the lawn, taking care of the laundry, cleaning the house, or washing the car.

This is a gift you can be very creative with and share your skills. The best part is that this gift doesn’t cost anything, except for your time and consideration.

creative christmas gift ideas

Did you know that some of the most hated chores are doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, walking and cleaning up after the dog, cooking food, shoveling the driveway or raking leaves, fixing the computer, ironing, trimming trees and shrubs, and taking out the garbage? This should give you some practical ideas for personal coupons!

Now that you know what to gift, how on earth can you make it look nice? Don’t fret, there are tons of free online tools and templates. Try these:

Time With You

Finally, the very best gift you can give a loved one is your time. Let them choose when they would like to spend time with you and in turn you get to choose how. Imagine what would make your friend or family member happy and think of creative ways to gift it to them.

The possibilities are endless, but let me share some ideas. You could take them out for dinner at their favorite restaurant, go to a movie of their choice, attend a sports event with them, organize a weekend getaway, invite them to an all-inclusive-with-breakfast-in-bed-weekend, give a massage, or be their buddy for the first couple of workout classes they have wanted to start for ages.

christmas gift ideas unique

To create the vouchers, you can use the same tools listed under Personal Coupons.


The greatest gift you can give is love. Don’t be edgy, don’t nag, don’t pull a face. Change your attitude, just relax, smile, be considerate, help around the house, smile some more, be generous, express your feelings, give (appropriate) compliments, cherish the moment, don’t expect anything, and appreciate everything you have.

It will put your loved ones at ease and make their holidays more enjoyable. And you will enjoy yourself a lot more, too. Promise! Merry Christmas.

christmas gift ideas

Do you need more consumable gift ideas? Check out the following MakeUseOf articles:

Did you ever give a last minute gift? What have been some of your greatest gift ideas? Please share in the comments!

Image credits: koya979, Ioannis Pantziaras, Volosina, Vitaly Korovin, lev dolgachov, Temych

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15 MORE Free Guides That Really Teach You USEFUL Stuff

Posted: 21 Dec 2010 08:01 AM PST

During 2010, we’ve written a bunch of new PDF manuals for you, on all kinds of subjects, from Facebook privacy to Dropbox tips.

After releasing 15 NEW manuals resulting in hundreds of thousands downloads we thought it was about time to look back and review them. If you’re a long time reader you probably know that we did a similar roundup last year.

Enjoy! Downloads are free, no strings attached. Even if you’re not a MakeUseOf subscriber you may easily download a PDF of your choice with a click of a button.

Please also do us a favor by sharing these manuals with your friends!

    1 – The (Very) Unofficial Facebook Privacy Guide

    Facebook privacy

    Time to lock your Facebook settings down. Facebook doesn't make this easy, however; features are constantly added and the default for each new one seems to favor transparency instead of privacy.

    This handy guide outlines everything you could ever want to know about locking down your privacy on Facebook, and a few things you probably didn't even know you wanted to know.

    If you use Facebook you should read this guide, if only to understand how public most of your information is.

    Download NOW

    2 – The Awesome Automation Guide for Mac Users

    Mac Automation Guide

    Work smarter, not harder. That's the idea behind Mac Automation, a technology built into Apple's OS X but frequently underutilized.

    Whether its sorting your email, searching your documents or building a playlist, you'd be amazed how many tasks can be done automatically instead of manually–if only you knew how to get started.

    This guide explains everything you need to stop clicking your mouse so often and start letting your computer do the boring stuff for you, no programming skills required.

    Download NOW

    3 – Using The Magic Pocket: A Dropbox Guide

    Dropbox Guide

    This program acts as a "magic pocket" which is always with you and contains whatever you place in it. Put a file into your Dropbox and it's on all of your computers and mobile devices.

    But there's more to Dropbox: you can use it for file sharing, backing up your data, syncing files between computers and even remotely controlling your computer.

    If you're not using Dropbox yet, you should be. This guide has all you need to get started. It's informative, easy to read and, like all of our manuals, completely free.

    Download NOW

    4 – The Office Worker's 101 Guide To A USB Flash Drive

    USB Thumbdrive Guide

    Flash drives today are not just about storing your important files: you can use them to run programs and even entire operating systems.

    In this guide you will learn the full potential of what you can do with flash drives and what type of flash drive is right for you.

    Inside, you will also find everything from backing up and how to keep your data safe and private to how to install software on your flash drive to use on any computer.


    Download NOW

    5 – The Ultimate Windows 7 Guide: From Newbies To Pros

    Windows 7 Guide

    In this 8 chapter guide, you will be able to switch from your current operating system to Windows 7 with ease.

    The guide covers everything you need to know from checking if your computer can run Windows 7 to utilizing all of the new features not found on other Windows versions. Plus a few handy tips.

    Download NOW

    6 – The Ultimate Guide To Gmail

    Gmail Guide

    Inside the 34 page eBook you will learn everything from the history of Gmail and how it began to some of the best tips on how to manage and organize your emails

    This guide will help you to switch from your current email provider to Gmail and shows you how to make the most of it.

    If you already use Gmail, why not have a quick look at the last few chapters that have a few handy tips even for advanced users.


    Download NOW

    7 – How To Build Your Own WordPress Site

    Wordpress Guide

    WordPress has proven to be one of the most efficient, most diverse, and most accessible platforms to create and manage websites. It's what we use at MakeUseOf!

    Inside, you'll find everything you need to know to get your first, second, or tenth website successfully off the ground, ranging from finding a suitable web host and setting up your blog or website to designing a simple banner!

    Download NOW

    8 – The Essential Guide To Digital Photography

    Photography Guide

    MakeUseOf proudly presents this 59 page guide. It's jammed packed full of useful information for all type of photographers – from beginners to advanced photographers.

    Inside, you will find everything from what digital camera is right for you to features and settings that you should know about your camera.

    There are also 5 beginner exercises for you to complete to help you become a professional photographer, and helpful instructions and information about editing your photos to make them even more magical.

    Download NOW

    9 – How To Create Professional Reports and Documents

    Microsoft Word Guide

    Writing a decent report or document can be a lot harder than you'd think. In fact, most people can't. People proudly create documents rigged with unnecessary enters, a jumble of different font types and pictures that jump around the document if you dare to edit the text.

    In this guide we dissect the elements of a good report, as well as review the structuring, styling, and finalizing of your document. This tutorial guidebook is a must-have for novices and experts alike.

    Download NOW

    10 – The Complete Beginners Guide To Joomla

    Joomla Guide

    Have you ever wanted to create your own website, but not confident that you have the skills to create one yourself?

    MakeUseOf is proud to announce The Complete Beginner's Guide To Joomla which is now available to download for free.

    Thanks to this 40+ page guide, you can create your own, professional website within minutes. This guide will teach you how to use Joomla CMS and use it to create all kinds of websites.


    Download NOW

    11 – The Complete Guidebook To Web Searching

    Web Searching Guide

    For everyone who wants to be more productive and get to know some incredible new search engines – MakeUseOf presents The Guidebook to Internet Searching.

    This guide will tell you anything you possibly need – or want to know about search engines.

    Learn how to formulate your searches, limit results using special search commands, get to know numerous special search engines and lots more

    Download NOW

    12 – The MakeUseOf Online Shopping Guide

    Online Shopping Guide

    Here is a free guide for all your online shopping needs! Your one and only guide to online shopping.

    Learn how to hunt down bargain sales online, best websites to look for deals and how to implement the internet in your offline shopping experience.

    The guide is filled with incredible tips and an array of cool, useful sites.



    Download NOW

    13 – The Incredible Guide to Ubuntu Karmic Koala

    Ubuntu Karmic Koala Guide

    This guide is great both for Linux initiates, and invariably useful for Linux intermediates. With 50+ of copy-paste easy to follow tutorials, this guide belongs in the virtual library of every Linux user!

    The guide is aimed at not only familiarizing you, but on making your Linux experience easier in general. Learn how to define command aliases, making the Command Line Shell easy to use!

    Download NOW

    14 – How To Build a Gaming PC

    How To Build a Gaming PC

    Gaming can be an expensive hobby, especially the hardware. By building your own PC, you will be able to save up to a couple hundred bucks.

    In this guide, we'll familiarize you with all the different computer components, from a gamer's point of view.

    Instead of telling you what to buy, we'll teach you how to weigh and judge these individual components.


    Download NOW

    15 – Your PC Hardware: Inside and Out [ Part 1 ] and [ Part 2 ]

    PC Hardware Guide

    Even the best free software is useless without hardware, yet how many of us actually know how their computer works?

    In this guide Lachlan Roy breaks the computer down into its different components. For each component he describes its function, explains the different specifications to look out for and provides a bit of history, too. He also provides the names of a few brands which I personally find to be the best – be it quality, performance, value, or all three.

    Learn to identify the various parts in your computer, and possibly even how to upgrade it yourself.

    Note: This guide is scheduled to be published next week. Signup for the MakeUseOf newsletter to be notified when it’s out.

Lots of work went into those manuals. Every manual went through several people to make sure that it offers the best tips and tricks on topics.

Please help us spread the word! Download, digg, stumble, retweet, and share them on Facebook!

Image credit: Daz*

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Access Apps & Documents on Your Mac Quickly with XMenu

Posted: 21 Dec 2010 07:31 AM PST

xmenu shortcutsAfter a decade as a Windows user, I recently purchased a MacBook laptop. There are many things that I like about it, such as the long battery life and the amazing integration of the touchpad into the navigation of OS X. There is one thing that bugs me about it, however – Finder. Compared to Windows 7, Finder feels clunky. I don’t like the way Finder looks, I don’t like the location of the sidebar, and I don’t find Spotlight as quickly or as accurately as I’d like.

I have, however, found a solution – Xmenu. This decidedly un-Mac-like app adds menu icons to the upper right hand corner of the Mac menu bar. Let’s have a look at why this app has won me over.

Quick & Easy Access

xmenu shortcutsOne beef I have with Finder is ease of access. To maximize usable screen space on my Mac, I keep my dock hidden. If I want to open Finder I either need to go to the dock to open it, which involves mousing over it so it appears, or I need to Command-Tab and then select Finder.

Xmenu, however, adds icons to the upper right hand part of the menu bar. These icons can display a number of folders including the Applications, Developer, Home and Documents folders. Once an icon is added, you simply need to click on it to open a display of the folder’s contents. This is readily accessible so long as your menu bar is visible (and it almost always is).

xmenu tips

This may seem like a minor complaint to resolve, but I’m sure some users share my desire to remain on-task at times. Xmenu is extremely quick, and doesn’t require that I open a new window over whatever I’m working on. For this, it has my love.

Custom Folders & Snippets

xmenu tips

As mentioned, Xmenu comes with a number of default folder options. Xmenu will display everything that is in those folders. This can also become a bit unwieldy in certain situations, as you may have a lot of apps or documents that can be displayed. I know that I do.

xmenu shortcutsFortunately, Xmenu has a solution to this. There is a user-defined folder, and the contents of it can be changed by adding files to the Library/Application Support/Xmenu folder. Adding files to this folder can provide you with a smaller selection of choices more closely related to the project you’re working on at the moment.

Another cool features is the Snippets option. You can add files to Snippets by placing them into the Library/Application Support/XSnippets folder. As with the user-defined Xmenu folder, doing this will add the files to the appropriate Xmenu icon. However, clicking a Snippet doesn’t open the contents. Instead, the contents of the file are automatically copy-and-pasted into your currently open application. Snippets is very much like the copy-and-paste function, but you can store multiple bits of content in the XSnippets folder and paste them whenever you’d like.


Xmenu won’t be for everyone. While I don’t like Finder much, I recognize that it is user-friendly in many ways. While quick, Xmenu isn’t as attractive or simple. It displays a large list of information from certain folders, and you have to do the rest.

Do you have a favorite application that runs round Finder? Be sure to let us know in the comments. I enjoy Xmenu, but I’d also like to check out other alternatives.

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