Monday, December 20, 2010 “Dropbox 1.0: Faster & Lighter Than Ever [News]” plus 8 more “Dropbox 1.0: Faster & Lighter Than Ever [News]” plus 8 more

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Dropbox 1.0: Faster & Lighter Than Ever [News]

Posted: 20 Dec 2010 05:31 AM PST

dropbox.jpgDropbox’s latest update brings the app up to 1.0 status, bringing with it a few new features, but most of the major changes are under the hood where most people might not notice them, but they are nevertheless significant. It’s no secret how much we love Dropbox here at MakeUseOf, so we’ve put together a rundown of the changes you can expect when you upgrade.

Dubbed the Prius model of Dropbox, the latest version is lighter than ever, using half the resources it did in the past, and of course as the update indicates, is a stable version of the application. According to the Dropbox blog, the enhancements mean that “Dropbox 1.0 is strong enough to sync your entire digital life yet still lightweight and fast. We completely re-architected the client-side sync engine to optimize the response time, scale, and resource consumption.”

New users, on all three platforms, will benefit from a redesigned setup wizard, aimed at making it as easy as possible to get Dropbox on your computer. Mac users will also see the welcome change of a rewritten app, using Cocoa only. Not only will this make Dropbox feel more at home on your Mac, it’s also reduces the download size.

That’s not all Mac users are getting. One of the new features the update brings to the table is Extended Attribute Sync. Certain Applications, like Quark Xpress or Quicken for example, hide file metadata, making syncing impossible, particularly with other operating systems. With Dropbox, the metadata is not ignored, ensuring a complete backup.

On the surface, one of the coolest features to grace the update is Selective Sync. You can choose which Dropbox files to sync to each computer it’s installed on – meaning it’s much easier to keep your work and personal files separate.


If you haven’t already installed Dropbox, get the installation file here.



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Cool Websites and Tools [December 19th]

Posted: 19 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.

Add Your Website Here!


Lazyscope – Twitter is a wonderful network for people to share interesting material found on the web. Often people with many Twitter friends find their update feed filled with URLs shared by their friends. To see if the shared URLs are interesting you can only click on the links. A solution to this is presented by Lazyscope. Read more: Lazyscope: See Through Twitter Links Without Visiting


KnowCase – Storing notes online easily and quickly is a service that many sites claim to offer. However most of these services complicate things by cluttering many features. If you are looking for a minimalist notebook with a basic interface and competent service, check out Knowcase. Your notes can be stored in a traditional simple text way or you can use the provided tools to get some formatting done. Read more: Knowcase: Minimalist Notebook to Store & Organize Notes, Lists & To-Dos Online



Highlight To Search – Although Chrome has a built-in feature that quickly lets you search for highlighted text, at times it does not get the whole job done. What if you do not want to search exactly the highlighted text but a variation of it? If so, then try out Highlight to Search, a wonderful browser extension for Google Chrome that makes it easier to search text after highlighting it. Read more: Highlight To Search: Easily Search For Highlighted Text & Its Variations In Chrome



Jazz Desk – Creating a web app or any web based business is only the first step. Then comes the responsibility of managing it and resolving any technical issues that may arise from time to time. JazzDesk is a help desk online that allows you to do exactly that. Using JazzDesk you can create support tickets, share them with your team and manage them online. Read more: JazzDesk: Create & Manage Help Desk Online



Universal Subtitles – At times adding subtitles to online videos becomes a necessity particularly when the video is being shared by an audience that does not speak the video's language. One of the easiest ways to create subtitles for videos is through a tool called Universal Subtitles, a free to use website tool based on JavaScript and HTML5. It helps you create subtitles for online videos. Read more: Universal Subtitles: Create Subtitles For Videos Online


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: 19 Dec 2010 05:02 PM PST


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

  1. Deleting (Pic)
  2. Cat Vs. Internet (Pic)
  3. What It's Like To Be A Programmer (Pic)
  4. If The Internet Had Always Existed (Pic)
  5. REPENT!!! (Pic)
  6. The Ether Monster (Pic)
  7. The Social Hands (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.


Got Questions? Ask Them Now FREE on MakeUseOf Answers!



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Thank You To MakeUseOf Friends!

Posted: 19 Dec 2010 04:31 PM PST

It's time to say thanks to our friends who, once in a while, tip us great articles, help out on projects and in some cases offer their services at discounted prices. Thank you, guys!

    [1] ShrinkTheWeb – Website Screenshot Thumbnail Service

    Ever wanted to add website screenshots to your website? In my professional opinion ShrinkTheWeb is one of the best services for that, both in terms of performance and pricing. The free account gets you a whopping 250,000 impressions with nearly no delay. See it in action in our daily Cool Websites and Tools series.


    [2] LapDawg – Hands-free Laptop Stands

    Hands free laptop stand
    The dream gadget designed for Laptop & Book owners. LapDawg X4 Hands free laptop stand. Holds your laptop or books in any position you want with it’s unique 360 degree rotating joints. Perfect for holding them in bed while lying down or adjust for your living room couch at eye level. Made from anodized aluminum with a beautiful black matte finish.

    [3] Walyou – Cool Gadgets for Geeks

    new cool gadgets
    Walyou is a fun blog covering all sorts of new cool gadgets and other stuff every geek is likely to find entertaining. Everything from world’s largest Gunny Bears to E-hookah gadgets. Make sure to check them out.


    [4] rade | eccles – iPhone Application Development

    The perfect iPhone development team, rade | eccles managed to put our iPhone app together in record time yet exude professionalism and dedication every step of the way. Our collaboration wasn’t happenstance. We would make the same decision all over again. Our only recommendation for an iPhone developer – rade | eccles.


    [5] TrueKolor – Affordable Quality Logo and Banner Design

    If you’re looking for a cheap, original and quality logo or banner, check out TrueKolor. We often contact these guys when we need a logo or a banner made, some of the stuff they did for us listed on their portfolio page. Highly recommended.


    [6] Mobify – Making the Web a mobile place

    More and more users access websites and read blogs using their mobile phone. Mobify lets you mobilize your blog or website by creating lightweight version of it, which loads much faster and looks great on a mobile screen. MakeUseOf’s mobile site was created by Mobify, and we’re proud of it!


    [7] Sendible – The easiest way to market your brand online

    We’re strong believers of the service Sendible provides — we use it on a daily basis and it has never failed us! Sendible is an online marketing service to promote, grow and track brands through the use of social media, email and SMS messaging. It has the ability to post to multiple services at once, schedule social network updates and analyse their success. We love it!


    [8] Sourcebits – Android Developement

    Sourcebits did a bang up job of helping us put together our long-awaited Android app. For that, we are eternally grateful!


Thank you, guys!

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Which Apple Mobile Device Do You Find Most Useful? [MakeUseOf Poll]

Posted: 19 Dec 2010 03:30 PM PST

Last week, we asked readers “Which Is The Best Site For Stock Photos?” and found some interesting results, including the fact that most of our readers like to get stock photos for free.

With 143 votes tallied, we’ve got the following breakdown: 27% MakeUseOf readers prefer to get stock photos from Flickr; 26% use; 21% like stock photos from Stock.xchng; 6% use; 4% like; 4% use; while was used by 3%. The remaining services polled were used by fewer than 2.5% of people each.

Full results and this week's poll after the jump.

As you can see, Flickr narrowly beat the paid stock photo options.

This week's poll question is: Which Apple mobile device do you find most useful?

This week, our poll question comes from Bakari. Now, if you don’t use Apple mobile devices, take a break from this week’s poll. Let’s hear from the Apple fans!

So, which did you pick as the best Apple mobile device: iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch? And most importantly, why? Let us know in the comments!

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4 Must-Have Plugins When Using WordPress as a Portfolio

Posted: 19 Dec 2010 02:30 PM PST

If all the portfolio themes are anything to go by, WordPress can often be a solid choice for photographers who need to put together a portfolio, the quick and easy way. Using a blogging platform like WordPress you can have your portfolio up and running in no tme, while also giving you complete freedom in how the photos are ultimately displayed.

There are some stunning free WordPress portfolio themes, many of which are WordPress 3.0 compatible. That said, with a few extra plugins, you can turn your WordPress blog into the ultimate portfolio. Whether it’s tweaking the appearance of your portfolio, protecting your images, or making it easier to bulk upload images, WordPress plugins have you covered.

Disable Right Click Menu

One of the main reasons so many photographers opt for flash portfolios is so that their images can’t be stolen. If you’ve decided to use a WordPress blog for your portfolio, there are other ways that you can protect your images. For one, you can disable right clicking on all of your photos with the No Right Click Images plugin. Installing it on your blog will simply take away the right click menu from any of your images. There are no settings to play around with – the plugin works right out of the box.

Add a Watermark

Another way to protect your images is to apply a watermark to your photographs. Rather than have to add a watermark to each individual photo (and permanently alter your file in the process) with a WordPress plugin, you can automatically add a watermark to all of your images. With Watermark Reloaded, you have complete control over how the watermark appears, choosing the font, the size, colour and placement.

You can also control which size images the watermark will appear on – from the thumbnail to the full-sized image.

Exclude the Date

Unlike blog posts, it is not at all necessary to include the date of upload on a portfolio entry. In fact, you’ll find that any professional photographer’s portfolio is date free.

Unfortunately, there are no plugins that deal with this in the most efficient of ways. Unless your theme already removes dates, Date Exclusion SEO makes it a little bit easier, but to really make use of the plugin, you will most probably have to tweak your theme as well.

Date Exclusion SEO removes the dates from your posts, tag, category and home pages. It also gives you the option to replace the date with any text of your choice.

While Date Exclusion SEO removes the date, it doesn’t remove the text preceding it. You will find that you’re left with something looking a little bit like this:

Unless you can find a creative way to deal with the gap in the wording, you will have to manually edit your theme’s code, making the plugin obsolete.

For example, in the default WordPress theme, Twenty Ten removing the following code from Single.php will remove the date from individual posts.

When using this method, be sure to backup your WordPress theme before editing it. Not only will have you have to edit the file, Single.php, you will have to edit every instance in your theme where the date appears. In most themes, this will include Single.php, Page.php and Index.php. A detailed guide on what to look for can be found here.

Create Galleries

Uploading images to WordPress can be a tedious task. Using a plugin like NextGen Gallery streamlines the process, while also giving you a few extra options and a little bit of eye candy to boot.

With NextGen, you can create easily create galleries, viewable as a slideshow or lightbox, add image or text watermarks to your photos, and best of all, upload entire zip files of images to your galleries in one go.

NextGen also takes the pain out of resizing your images, allowing you to set one specific size to be used for all images.

Once you create a gallery, make a note of the HTML code that will allow you to include the gallery in any given post or page in your WordPress portfolio. You can continue to add photos to any given gallery after it has been posted.

NextGen is as feature rich as a plugin comes, and should be compatible with any WordPress theme. Another advantage to using a plugin like NextGen is the freedom to use any theme of your choice, while benefiting from features usually found in portfolio-specific themes.

What plugins are you using on your WordPress portfolio? Let us know in the comments.

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Hot Tech Deals [Dec 19th]

Posted: 19 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. Shuttle XS35-702 Intel Atom D510 Dual-Core Nettop Computer (1GB/160GB) $159.99 via code EMCZNZT35

  2. Onecall Weekend Sale on Electronics (LG 60in THX Plasma HDTV $1299.99)

  3. 15% off Dell Business Outlet Laptops & Precision Mobile Workstations via code P?6??CJ?1DZ1LR

  4. 15% off Any Dell Precision T5500 or T3500 Workstation via code 0K88WJJCD4C39C

  5. Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 High Definition Flip Camcorder $69.99 Free Shipping

  6. LG HBM-235 Wireless Bluetooth 3.0 Headset $0.01AR Free Shipping

  7. TODAY ONLY Nokia E72 Smartphone (Unlocked, Quad-Band GSM) w/ Car Accessory Kit $189.99 Free Shipping

  8. Epson Artisan 835 Color Inkjet All-in-One Printer (Wifi, Duplex) $159.99 Free Shipping via code EMCZNZT46

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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10 Free MP3 Albums To Download – Christmas Special [Sound Sunday]

Posted: 19 Dec 2010 11:30 AM PST

where can I download free mp3sThis edition of Sound Sunday is a Christmas Special. Ten albums to relax and get into the holiday spirit. Take the time to enjoy the season.

If you like any of the music below, please consider donating to the artists. It’s Christmas after all!

The comments are open for you to share your thoughts on this week’s edition or suggest genres and artists. Also feel free to eMail me [tina at makeuseof dot com]. I wish you wonderful holidays and hope you will enjoy the Sound Sunday Christmas Special!

Sleeping At Last – Christmas Collection 2010

Genre: alternative, indie, folk rock

Sleeping At Last from Illinois has been around for over a decade. They were signed to Interscope Records with the help of Smashing Pumpkins singer Billy Corgan in 2002 and had their song Quicksand featured on the third season of Grey’s Anatomy. Over the past couple of years they have been releasing music independently.

Download their Christmas Collection 2010 from NoiseTrade.

Sleeping At Last MySpace and Homepage.

High Street Hymns – Christmas & Advent Songs

Genre: christian, folk, acoustic

From their Facebook Profile: “High Street Hymns exists to provide creative resources for music ministries seeking to integrate revitalized and renewed hymns in a way that is consistent with contemporary worship formats.

The Christmas & Advent Songs album is available from NoiseTrade.

High Street Hymns MySpace and Homepage.

Paul and Storm – It Might Be Xmas

Genre: comedy, geek, pop

Paul and Storm are a comedy music duo from the Washington, DC area. They have been performing together since 2004. All of their music is released under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons license. This means you can re-use the material, provided it’s non-commercial, you give credits to Paul and Storm, and release your work under the same CC license.

It Might Be Xmas is a name your price download from Bandcamp.

Paul and Storm MySpace and Homepage.

Lou Draws – An Autotune Xmas

Genre: rhythm & blues, comedy

From their Bandcamp page: “In collaboration with, Lou Draws created his Christmas masterpiece entitled ‘An Autotune Xmas’. Six classic Christmas songs done in Lou Draws’ fashion with a little autotune to funk it up.

An Autotune Xmas is a name your price download from Bandcamp.

Lou Draws MySpace and Homepage.

Sarah Story – Hello Christmas

Genre: alternative, pop

As her Facebook profile reveals, Sarah Story is “striving to create not only the perfect sound, but also the perfect crème brûlée.” I hope she will share the perfect recipe!

Hello Christmas is a donation-based download from NoiseTrade.

Sarah Story MySpace and Facebook.

So Elated – The Bewildering Light

Genre: acoustic, indie, folk rock

So Elated is Ben Thomas from Chicago, Illinois.  Soul-Audio writes “the songs carry with them a quality that makes them hard to put out of mind.“  You can verify this statement by previewing The Bewildering Light Christmas album above. We have also featured So Elated’s selftitled album in a previous edition of Sound Sunday.

Get The Bewildering Light from NoiseTrade.

So Elated MySpace and Facebook.

Naomi LaViolette – Christmas Songs

Genre: jazz, pop

Naomi LaViolette is a pianist and vocalist from Portland, Oregon. Rob Cullivan of The Portland Tribute writes she “is a lyrical musician who knows how to string together the perfect run of notes, just enough to show you she's got chops, on the keys or in her voice, but not so many that she overwhelms the beauty of a melody.

Make a donation when downloading Christmas Songs from NoiseTrade.

Naomi LaViolette MySpace and Homepage.

Nathan Tasker – A Star A Stable A Saviour

Genre: christian, acoustic, rock

In 2006 Nathan Tasker was named ‘Artist of the Year’ and awarded ‘Song of the Year’ (for Like You Love Me) by the Australian Christian Music Charts. This year, his version of Angels We Have Heard On High was included in the Christmas Compilation of Blood: Water Mission.  The song can also be found on his Christmas album A Star A Stable A Saviour.

A Star A Stable A Saviour is a free album available from NoiseTrade.

Nathan Tasker MySpace and Homepage.

Omaha Collective – Christmas EP

Genre: acoustic, folk rock

The Omaha Collective is a group of worship leaders from Omaha, who get together from time to time to write and record music. Members Mike Harvat and David Potter also make and release music outside the Collective and maintain their own homepages.

Get the Christmas EP from NoiseTrade.

Omaha Collective Facebook.

Slugs & Bugs – Christmas Sampler

Genre: christina, country, kids

Slugs & Bugs is a band project of Randall Goodgame and Andrew Peterson from Nashville, Tennessee. Their motto is ‘silliness is next to godliness’ and hence they make music for kids.

The Christmas Sampler is available from NoiseTrade.

Slugs & Bugs MySpace and Homepage.

Didn’t find the kind of music you like? Browse past editions of Sound Sunday for more free albums. Do get in touch with me [tina at makeuseof dot com] to share free material, suggestions, and feedback that you don't want to post in the comments below.

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How To Play 3D Games on Your PC on a Tight Budget

Posted: 19 Dec 2010 09:30 AM PST

3D is the buzzword du-jour right now, and whether you are a believer or naysayer that all future content will be delivered in 3D doesn’t really matter – some of us have been playing games in 3D for years now. I thought it was about time I let you in on the secret so you can enjoy it too.

PlayStation 3 and big expensive 3DTVs might be all hype and undelivered promises, but us PC gamers can enjoy true 3D gaming right now, compatible with all current Windows games, for a fraction of the cost. I’m here to present you with 4 budget 3D gaming options starting at the low price of free that will have you blurring the line between photo-realistic 3D games and real life to ever more terrifying depths.

This is new ground for MakeUseOf to cover, but we did show a cool website called Start3D for viewing pseudo-3D images in our directory before. Before attempting any kind of 3D gaming, you’ll need to thoroughly optimize your system as the graphic work required will be twice as much as normal!

Side-by-Side 3D with iZ3D – Free

If you thinking about the whole 3D gaming thing but aren’t quite convinced, and maybe don’t want to spend any real money on kit yet, then I suggest you get yourself motivated by playing some of your games in the free side-by-side 3D mode provided by the trial iZ3D drivers. Side-by-side 3D basically splits your monitor image in half down the middle, and when you cross your eyes, the image becomes 3D. The best way is to try it for yourself, so check out this video of someone else gaming in 3D with similar drivers, or go download them for yourself. You don’t need any special equipment, though I do suggest you only try this if you have a wide-screen monitor or your viewing area is going to be ridiculous. The iZ3D drivers work with both NVidia and ATi chipset based graphics cards.

NVidia 3DVision Glasses (~$200)

The 3DVision kit from NVidia is my personal favourite as it offers the best quality to cost ratio in my opinion. You can order online from NVidia for about $200 and there’s a huge community already established. The glasses are wireless and rechargeable by USB, and the drivers support custom profiles so you can tweak each game to get the results just right. The glasses work by flashing each eye on and off in synchronization with your monitor, and it produces a stunningly powerful 3D effect. Sadly, most LCD monitors cannot keep up with the fast refresh rates required, but in a strange twist of modern technology they do work with ancient clunky CRT monitors.

My tip – head down to the local recycling station or city dump and you’ll be able to pick up a big 21″ CRT display for free. The only thing you need to be sure of is that the monitor can handle at least 100hz refresh rates – most larger monitors were built this way and some of the smaller monitors can handle it too if they are good brands. There are also new LCDs on the market now that are compatible, but they will set you back considerably more (well, about as much as you would expect a new monitor to set you back, really). For a complete monitor and 3DVision glasses package, you’re looking at $500+.

For some, the flicker of the glasses can be a little headache inducing, so do try these out before you commit to anything. Personally, I can play games for hours on end with no ill effects, but everyone is different.

Zalman Polarized Monitors (~$400):

Zalman monitors represent a nice middle ground if you’re willing to get a new monitor, but would rather not shell out for special 3D glasses on top of that, or find the flicker too annoying. The monitors work with passive polarizing technique, which means two images are broadcast simultaneously (zero flicker) and some lightweight, non electronic glasses filter the image to each eye. I found a slight amount of bleeding between image, and the effect is not as strong as NVidia 3DVision, but I was playing on the default options only with no tweaking. You also get a pair of clip-on glasses in the package so a friend can watch you play, and they are inexpensive to purchase more if you’re in need of replacements. Another plus point for the Zalman option is that although they come with custom NVidia drivers, the monitor can also be driven by iZ3D ddrivers and are therefore the best option for ATi card owners.

DIY Dual Projectors (~$150)

The iZ3D drivers that I mentioned earlier also support a variety of other 3D output methods, one of which is two video outputs for use with a dual projector setup. In this mode, similar to iMax and other 3D theaters, each projector produces a slightly different image, and with a pair of cheap polarized glasses you can great a great 3D effect for cheap and really big-screen gaming. Obviously, you’ll need a video card with two outputs, preferably with the same connections.

There are a number of detailed tutorials already out there, but basically you will need to get 2 projectors of the same type, $5 pair of polarizing glasses (the same that Zalman monitors use) and $2 sheet of polarizing filter, as well as some silver-color spray paint and some kind of screen you can spray onto. All in, it shouldn’t cost you more than $150 if you are smart. You can get some really clunky old projectors on eBay for pennies nowadays. You will need a bit of DIY skills to build a sturdy little frame to mount them in. It’s no small undertaking, but I made a similar set up last year in a weekend for displaying 3D Google Earth content. Be prepared to do a lot of tweaking to get the setup to a usable state.

Once you taste 3D gaming though, you will never go back! A great place to keep up with 3D gaming news is the 3D Vision Blog, where they regularly post custom 3D profiles to make NVidia 3DVision games even better, and with their incredibly detailed 3D game reviews and screenshots.

Convinced, but not sure what the best option for you is? Ask in the comments. Let us know if you’re running a 3D setup yourself, or if you’ve got your 3DTV hooked up for gaming, as I’d love to hear about your experiences.

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