Saturday, December 25, 2010 “Cool Websites and Tools [December 24th]” plus 5 more “Cool Websites and Tools [December 24th]” plus 5 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [December 24th]

Posted: 24 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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Social Media Sobriety Test – People tend to do stupid things when they are drunk and thanks to the prevalence of social media today, they can now publicize their embarrassing drunken behavior for all the world to see. The Social Media Sobriety Test is a Google Chrome plugin developed by security software developer Webroot that prevents drunk posting on facebook and other social networking sites. Read more: SocialMediaSobrietyTest: Prevents Drunk Posting On Facebook & Other Social Networks


Coolendar – Online calendar services usually provide you with a similar looking interface: a matrix of dates upon which you mark your events or appointments. This can be a little inconvenient for people who simply want today's events in an easily accessible manner. Such people will find Coolendar to be a valuable service. Read more: Coolendar: Simple Online Calendar With User-Friendly Interface



RoosterAM – If you are a social media enthusiast, you probably start your day with logging onto your computer and finding out what the trending topics are. But what if you could do this while you were waking up in bed? RoosterAM helps you do exactly that. RoosterAM acts as an alarm clock and a reporter of trending topics. You enter your phone number (US only) on the site and choose your updates. Read more: RoosterAM: Wake Up To Latest Social Media Updates



WikiCards – Normally we store a lot of information on our computers. We create and store to-do lists, shopping lists, documents, and a lot of other things. If you are looking for a tool that better organizes all these files, then WikiCards is where your search ends. WikiCards lets you sort your data via virtual cards. When a new card is formed it contains only a title and description. Read more: WikiCards: Store & Organize Your Data Online



Map My Followers – Are you interested in where your Twitter followers are on the map? If you are, then check out MapMyFollowers. This cool Twitter-based tool allows to map your twitter followers and see their locations on a Google Map. With this tool, you will have an idea where most of your friends are, making it especially useful if you need to find the most convenient place to meet with your Twitter friends. Read more: MapMyFollowers: Map Your Twitter Followers


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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Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]

Posted: 24 Dec 2010 06:15 PM PST


Check out the top picks from MakeUseOf Geeky Fun during the last week.

  1. My Blackberry Is Not Working (Hilarious video)
  2. You need to get off Facebook (Video)
  3. Gadget Anatomy (Pic)
  4. Banned From eBay (Pic)
  5. Identify A Programmer's Personality By Keyboard Moves (Pic)
  6. How Video Game Makers Design Characters (Pic)

If you would like to keep up with all latest Geeky Fun additions, please subscribe to the Geeky Fun feed here. You can also subscribe and get the latest additions via email.


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The 5 Best Questions From You [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 24 Dec 2010 05:31 PM PST

Every Friday MakeUseOf Answers rewards the Best Answer of the Week. Our winner on this lovely Christmas Eve is ChrisR for his answer to the following question: How can I best destroy my HP DV2000 laptop with pre-installed Windows Vista? Congratulations and thank you for the elaborate explanation, Chris!

You could win  next week. The prize is $50 via Paypal or an Amazon voucher. However, it’s like playing the lottery, if you don’t enter, you can’t be drawn. To participate, submit your best answers with non-anonymous contact details and luck shall be with you.

Would you have been able to answer this week’s best questions?

MakeUseOf Answers wishes you a Merry Christmas. And in case you get bored with your gifts, check out our 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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5 Cool Wireless Devices You’ve Probably Never Heard Of Before

Posted: 24 Dec 2010 02:31 PM PST

cool devicesWireless devices have really made a mark on our daily lives, whether it be in the form of unresponsive keyboards that drop words every 2 seconds or AA-battery guzzling mice – but there is so much more fun to be had with WiFi than any of us realize.  Here I present the 2010 MUO Awards for the top cool wireless devices that you’ve probably never heard of.

Before we begin, you might want to check if your wireless network is safe, and learn about how hackers might get into your wireless network, and strengthen your weak wireless signals.

Hilarious – Wifi Bathroom Scales ($150):

For those looking to track their weight – these awesome WiThings scales cut out the tedious and possibly error-prone step of having to manually enter your weight into your app – because they do it automatically over WiFi for you.

The scales record your weight, body mass and BMI, and integrate with the free (and password protected) website or iPhone app, as well as Google Health (so presumably you can now get targeted “lose weight now” ads delivered to your personal browsing experience!), or even Facebook if you are brave enough.

The cool device handles up to 8 family members, and cleverly (scarily) knows who you are without clumsy menu systems. This is the kind of simple tech we like, and it just works. Available from ThinkGeek.

cool devices

Incredibly Geeky Beyond Belief – Dr Robot X80-H (~$3,500)

The Dr Robot X80-H is not just your garden variety robot, it’s an entire “wifi mobile development platform” – with a head, no less. Rather than settling for a lame pan-and-tilt camera, the latest revision of the X80-H has “five servo animatronic head with integrated IR sensor”.

Capable of an astounding 1 meter per second, it can also carry 10kg of weight – like, a baby from a burning building, or an axe, or something. The unit is of course fully programmable via all your favorite programming languages, and totally compatible with Microsoft Robotics Studio, whatever that is.

cool electronics

Creepy: The WifiRobin Autohacking Router ($120)

Creepy perhaps, but admittedly very clever. The WifiRobin device is an innocent looking compact router, with a small LCD screen menu. Having chosen your target Wifi network, this sneaky little Chinese device sets to works “sniffering” packets, until it has enough to crack the password, at which it re-broadcasts the signal for you to use. Not only does it change the name of the network so that the original owners have no idea they are being leeched from, it also adds a higher level of security so that it itself cannot be hacked!

The device is currently limited to WEP only networks, as cracking WPA secured networks takes significantly more effort. If your Wifi is still secured by WEP, then take this as a big hint that you ought change your security to something more secure.

cool electronics

Genuinely Useful: FOSCAM Wifi Security Camera

As a British citizen, I’m quite used to being recorded by CCTV literally everywhere I go – heck, the newest generation of CCTV cameras even add the ability to talk back to the public to tell them to pick up litter or stop loitering. So it is with no hesitation that I heartily recommend the same level of security for your home with this almost too-easy to install Wifi security camera FOSCAM. Just bolt it on the front of your house and give it some power, and your security feed will be viewable anywhere in the world on the Internet, or on your iPhone, so you can see your house being burgled live.

In fact, I’m thinking that one of these combined with an X80-H mounted water pistol would make an incredible autonomous home security system, or at least some rather funny YouTube videos.

cool electronics

Quirky – Nobaztag (~$80)

The Nobaztag is a curious little device, but one that might actually prove useful in a variety of niche situations – none of which I can imagine at this precise moment. This Wifi rabbit-thing has a host of features that nobody really needs, the most significant of which is reading out your emails and RSS feeds, and changing color or moving its ears according to the mood. Your friends can also send messages directly to you – a unique feature that no other device has yet been able to achieve *.

* excluding answerphones, computers, cell phones, and pagers.

Like all great things, it’s been hacked too. I can’t wait for someone to publish a directory of these things so some teenager can spam rude words to them!

As for the name – it’s Armenian for “rabbit”. Yes, sorry, I was expecting a rather more colorful story there, too.

cool devices

Well, I certainly learned a lot over the course of this article, how about you? Hands up who knew Microsoft had an entire Robotics Development Environment, or that Google was secretly collecting health information about us all?

Do you have a favorite awesome wireless device you absolutely must tell the world about? Then tell us about them in the comments!

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Hot Tech Deals [Dec 24th]

Posted: 24 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. Gateway NV5105u Intel Dual-Core T4500 2.3GHz 15.6in Laptop (4GB/500GB/Win7) $399.99

  2. HP dv6tse Intel Core i5-460M 2.5GHz 15in Touchscreen Laptop (6GB/640GB/Blu-Ray/ATI 5470) $849 via code NBD81578 (Exp Soon)

  3. HP dv7t Intel Core i7-720QM Quad-Core 17in Laptop (6GB/500GB/Blu-Ray Writer/ATI Radeon HD5650) $849.99 via code NBD81578 (Exp Soon)

  4. HP tm2t Intel Core i5 ULV 12in Touchscreen Laptop (Blu-Ray/Radeon HD5450/2 Batteries) $854.98 via code NBD81578 (Exp Soon)

  5. HP dv7tse Beats Audio Intel Core i5-460M 2.53GHz 17.3in Laptop w/ Blu-Ray Writer (8GB/640GB/Radeon HD5470/15-Cells Battery) $799 via code NBD81578 (Exp 12/31)

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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Analyze and Plot Local Wi-Fi Networks With inSSIDer

Posted: 24 Dec 2010 11:31 AM PST

analyze wifi networkThere are times when I’m in a public place and there are actually a multitude of Wi-Fi networks freely available. If you’ve ever been in that situation, and if you’re like most people, you just quickly grab the first network you see available.

The problem is that sometimes, even though the signal strength looks okay, the network quality isn’t actually that good at all. You end up dropping the connection and being forced to try a few others until you find one that really works.

Here at MUO, we’ve offered a number of good tools to analyze Wi-Fi networks. Jack wrote up a good description of HeatMapper, an app that shows you the Wi-Fi strength in different areas of your home. Guy showed you how to use Xirrus to troubleshoot network issues.

These are both valuable tools, but I recently discovered another amazing Wi-Fi analysis tool that just blew me away and I knew I had to share it with MUO readers. The tool has been reviewed at a number of other tech blogs, so many of you might have heard of it. For those of you that haven’t, I’d like to introduce you to inSSIDer 2.0.

Analyze WiFi networks With inSSIDer

I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of network analysis tools. I only recently became interested in Wi-Fi tools when I found myself spending a lot more time at public hotspots and struggling to locate a strong Internet access point. inSSIDer provides one of the clearest pictures of every Wi-Fi network within your range. It gives an amazing list of detailed information about each network. Best of all, it works with your regular Wi-Fi adapter, no special hardware required.

analyze wifi network

As you can see above, you get the Mac address of the device, the network name of the router, the signal strength, channel, the router manufacturer and privacy settings (if any). Beyond that, it’ll also show you the latest network activity, and even the GPS coordinates of the router if you’ve configured a GPS device on your PC.

analyze wifi channels

Configuring the device to talk to the software is as simple as plugging in your PC-compatible GPS unit and configuring the serial port settings in inSSIDer to match the device.

analyze wifi channels

A lot of other Wi-Fi analysis tools offer realtime graphs of signal strength over time, but the one offered by inSSIDer really does appear to be pretty accurate compared to others. You can view these for all channels or for select channels.

analyze wifi channels

You can also see a graphical representation of current signal strength per device. This is a useful way to quickly get a glimpse of which device offers the strongest signal at your location. If you’re using a laptop, you could theoretically walk around and probably locate the device using this screen.

analyze wifi signal

Another nice feature is the ability to filter out displayed devices by certain characteristics, like security type, vendor or a number of other parameters.

analyze wifi signal

If you really don’t want to go through the process of creating a filter statement from scratch, there’s also the option to use the “Quick Filters” which let you select from a list of pre-programmed filters. This is the fastest approach if there’s only one parameter that you want use to filter.

analyze wifi signal

If you are using inSSIDer as a quick method to constantly monitor local networks, and you don’t want to to take over the whole screen, you can click on “View” and switch into “mini” mode. This collapses the window to a much smaller form and combines the display and the tabs into a quick-access window that you can move to the corner of your screen.

You’ll notice, at the top of the screen there’s a link to “Start GPS.” Again, you’ll need a GPS device enabled on your PC or laptop, but if you do, you can actually log network activity and export the data out to a GPX file which shows the locations of all access points on any GPS device that can import GPX data. Or if you prefer to export the access point GPS coordinates to Google Earth or other tools that can read KML files, use the built-in GPX to KML converter.

analyze wifi network

There really is no easier way to map out multiple Wi-Fi networks or a mix of access points. Instead of using heat mapping software and manually trying to trace out the location of access points based on those maps, just enable GPS in inSSIDer and let the software do all of the mapping for you automatically.

Have you ever tried inSSIDer yourself? Please let us know what you think of the software or other ways to use it, or any features that we might have missed in the comments section below.

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