Wednesday, December 1, 2010 “Share The Interesting Conversations You Have Via Text Message With Bnter” plus 12 more “Share The Interesting Conversations You Have Via Text Message With Bnter” plus 12 more

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Share The Interesting Conversations You Have Via Text Message With Bnter

Posted: 01 Dec 2010 07:31 AM PST

We all have interesting SMS conversations from time to time, some of which can be quite funny or entertaining. What usually happens is you’ll start texting one of your friends back and forth, some funny comments will be made, and when you’re done that’s that. Your text conversation is then either deleted or buried amongst the rest of your SMS conversations never to be seen again.  Unless you are automatically backing them up.

Bnter, pronounced ‘banter’, changes all that. Bnter lets you look through your text conversations, pick the most interesting parts, and publish them on a personal profile page for all your friends to see. It’s simple, free, and provides an amusing platform for you and your friends to interact with one another.

In this article, I’ll show you how Bnter works, highlighting some of the website’s most appealing features.

Who’s Behind Bnter?

Bnter was created by Lauren Leto and Patrick Moberg. Lauren is also one of the co-founders of Texts From Last Night, which is similar in concept to Bnter. The difference is that Texts From Last Night lets you anonymously share single messages that are then picked and displayed publicly for everyone’s amusement.

While it’s a pretty entertaining idea, Bnter (directory app) is more focused on sharing conversations and learning about the lives of your friends and others you meet on the site. It helps build community, which I think makes it an attractive platform for your text messages.

How Does It Work?

To start using Bnter, the first thing you’ll want to do is head over to their homepage and sign up. Then, you can fill out some information you would like to be displayed on your profile page and locate your friends via Facebook and Twitter.

Once you’re all set, you can really start using Bnter. Click on Post A Conversation and you’ll be taken to a page where you can enter the information from your conversation. You can select who the conversation took place with, enter the back and forth “banter”, and write in tags to describe the conversation for easy searching later on.

When you’re done, you can choose to post it to your Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr account.

What Else Can You Do?

Bnter limits how long your conversation thread can be to highlight the most meaningful parts. The tagging feature allows you to categorize your conversations and clicking on tags lets you search the feed to find similar conversations.

Your friends will be able to follow you and comment on the text conversations you share. If a text is between yourself and another user, you can attribute them. Also, check your mentions to see conversations attributed to yourself.

Finally, you have the ability to repost posts that interest you. You can edit the tags to add your own voice, which is similar to how reposting works on Tumblr.


Now that you know how it works, you can invite your friends to come join in the fun and share their best conversations with you. All those great text messages you sent and received now have a place to live and entertain others, instead of being lost forever inside your phone.

What do you think of Bnter? Do you have epic SMS conversations with your friends that you would like to share?

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Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]

Posted: 01 Dec 2010 05:04 AM PST


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

  1. How to Freak Out Your Neighbors (Pic)
  2. Google Translate Is Good At Beatboxing (Video)
  3. What am I doing with my life? (Pic)
  4. Call of Duty Players Don't Want To Move a Lot (Pic)
  5. The Shocking Growth of Mobile (Video)
  6. A Short History Of Sharing (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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Cool Websites and Tools [November 30th]

Posted: 30 Nov 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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SalesClark – People who do not know much about computers almost always have a tough time buying a new one. They end up searching for a new computer online; they can match hardware information but do not know which hardware will meet their requirements. But thanks to personal shopping assistant SalesClark, people will easily find the computers best suited to their needs. Read more: SalesClark: A Personal Shopping Assistant With Artificial Intelligence


Plain Textures – Are you a web developer looking a great source for textures? With so many websites offering them, it becomes difficult to find a texture that you are free to use privately or in a project you are working on. But finding textures will no longer be difficult, thanks to Plain Textures, a simple and free to use website that web developers and designers will surely appreciate. Read more: PlainTextures: Free To Use Textures For Private & Commercial Projects



Webtasty – Looking for online articles and websites that you will find interesting can be a very time consuming process. Due to the sheer amount of data on the web, you really do not know where exactly to start and stop looking. Webtasty is here to help you out with finding interesting pieces on the web from popular and reputable online sources. Read more: Webtasty: Get Interesting Web Content Directly To Your Inbox



Find Big Mail – Is your Gmail inbox reaching its limit? Do you need to get rid of the unnecessary large emails occupying your Gmail inbox? If yes, then looking for these emails can be a little difficult. "Find Big Mail" helps simplify the process. After you connect your Gmail to Find Big Mail via Google's OAuth, the service scans your message's sizes. Read more: FindBigMail: Finds Big Emails In Your Gmail Account



Fracture – is a new kind of one piece picture & frame that is made from printed glass. FractureMe is an easy-to-use tool that lets you customize your pictures online so they are ready to be printed on such a frame. You start by uploading your picture that you want to customize. Read more: Fracture: Get Your Images Printed on Glass Frame


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: 30 Nov 2010 06:31 PM PST

Sometimes MakeUseOf Answers has questions for you!

Not only do we need your help when resolving our toughest questions, sometimes we also ask for your input, so that we can improve MakeUseOf and provide a better service. If you would like to drop some feedback regarding our PDF Guides, head on over to the following questions and chip in: Which free PDF Guide would you like to see published on MakeUseOf?

And while we work on your requests, you have the chance to win cash or an Amazon voucher in our Best Answer of the Week contest. All comments qualify automatically.

Maybe you have the answer to one of these questions:

MakeUseOf Answers can help you to lose weight! Or at least you won’t think of food when distracted by Latest Questions, Most Popular Questions, or Unanswered Questions. For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

Need help? Ask A Question at MakeUseOf Answers.

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2 Dead Simple Ways To Start Your Own Email Newsletter

Posted: 30 Nov 2010 05:31 PM PST

email newsletterRegardless of what you may have heard, email is not dead. It’s still a viable way to deliver content to people and a lot of companies still use it heavily. In most cases, however, creating your own email newsletter can be difficult and even costly. It’s this reason that a lot of us choose to shy away from it altogether, at least until now.

In this article, I’ll show you two extremely simple services that let you create your own newsletter and set the price you’d like to charge people to subscribe to it. Whether you want others to access what you know for free or not, you can get it done easily. Do you know enough about something that people would want to pay for that information?

Why Would I Want An Email Newsletter?

As I alluded to, a newsletter is a way for you to show off your expertise. If you’re an expert in sports, start a sports newsletter. If you’re funny, start a comedy newsletter. It’s another opportunity for you to display your knowledge in a given area.

If you write a blog, a newsletter can complement your content. Tell your community to sign up for your newsletter for “added bonuses” or “best tips”. If you aren’t already creating content, a simple email newsletter can be a great place to start.

email newsletter is the first service I would like to talk about. It’s a service that allows you to create a very basic newsletter and is very easy to use. The first thing you do is go to the homepage and click sign up. Once you do that, you’ll be prompted for information (name, email, password) to create your account.

email marketing newsletter

On the next page, just fill out some information about your newsletter, such as its name, the URL you would like to associate with it, and the cost you would like to charge users to subscribe. Click Done!, and the signup process is complete. Don’t worry if you aren’t quite sure what type of newsletter you want to create, the information you submit can always be changed later.

create email newsletter

[Note]: With, the minimum you can charge for your newsletter is $0.10. If you want to give away subscriptions to friends/supporters, you can enter their email addresses into your dashboard and they will get free copies.

After you have everything straightened around, start sharing your newsletter link with people and creating content. Payments are made through Amazon and you can publish letters as often as you want. You will even be given a secret email address that you can send content to in order to create a letter.

Other features include the ability for subscribers to reply to your letters to privately comment back to you, set up auto-publishing to your Facebook and Twitter accounts, and ability to unsubscribe whoever you choose.


TinyLetter offers the same concept, but is different in its approach.

create email newsletter

To get started, head over to the homepage, enter your desired username, and click Continue. Then, like, you’ll be prompted for information about your account credentials and newsletter settings.

create email newsletter

Here’s where the two services differ a bit. With TinyLetter, you can be a bit more creative with your newsletter. Click on the Design and settings link on your dashboard and you’ll be taken to a page where you can make customizations. You can select a background image, choose where the subscription box goes, pick an email address background, and enter a YouTube embed code.

email newsletter

You can see your list of subscribers and old email newsletters at any time.

[Note]: By default, newsletters you create with TinyLetter will be free to subscribe to. If you would like to create a paid newsletter, you can do so by signing up here.


As you can see, both of these services are really very similar. seems to be more stripped down and business-oriented, which keeps it simple for you in its minimalistic style, while TinyLetter has more of a fun factor that could be better suited for the creative at heart. It’s really personal preference when deciding which one to use.

Now that you know how it works, you can begin serving up content to the public. If you’re into the whole newsletter idea, check out some of the other services we’ve covered.

Will you be starting your own email newsletter? What will yours be about?

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4 Tips To Help You Fix The Windows Blue Screen Error

Posted: 30 Nov 2010 03:31 PM PST

blue screen error fixIf you’ve ever experienced the blue screen error, affectionately called the “blue screen of death,” then you’ll know that it isn’t the greatest experience in the world. It usually means that there’s something somewhat seriously wrong with your system. The problem with trying to come up with a blue screen error fix is that so many things can cause it. For the average computer user, this can mark the end of the computer.

Well, I’m here to walk you through a few steps you can take to troubleshoot your computer whenever you experience this blue screen error. Sometimes, the problem isn’t quite as serious or complicated as people think. It could be as simple as the fact that some hardware you installed created a conflict. Maybe a virus messed up the registry. Or maybe a driver file is corrupt. I’m going to show you how you can check for the most common issues that cause this error.

Boot In Safe Mode

The first thing to do when you get the blue screen is to power down the computer. When you boot it back up, press the F8 key before the Windows screen appears. This will boot the computer into the Advanced Options screen where you can choose advanced boot options. Press the down arrow until “Safe Mode with Networking” is enabled and press enter. If you believe that you’re dealing with a virus that instantly connects to the Internet when you boot your computer, then go with just “Safe Mode” instead.

blue screen error fix

Keep a close eye on the screen after you press enter. The screen will scroll through each driver as it loads each one individually into memory. Many times, you’ll see the screen pause for a very long time at one of the .sys files before the boot fails and returns an error. Make note of the last file it was trying to load before it failed. Do a Google search (on another computer obviously) to determine what driver is failing and try reinstalling that driver.

blue screen of death

If there are no driver problems, then determine whether there are any hardware conflicts by going into the Control Panel, clicking on System, and then Device Manager. Go through each device category and scan all of the devices for the telltale yellow accent icon that indicates there’s a device conflict.

If you do see that icon, open up the driver and you’ll see a message box that reveals where the conflict is taking place. If you can’t find any device conflicts, move on to the next step – scanning your entire system.

blue screen of death

Run Spyware, Adware, Virus & Registry Scans

While you’re in safe mode, perform all of your spyware, adware and virus scans. This is the best time to run these apps because any viruses that try to disable them in normal mode will likely be disabled at this point. I love Malwarebytes, which Jimmy reviewed here at MUO before. Also run your virus scan software. If you don’t have one, you really should get one. Check out Justin’s list of the top 10 free anti-virus software apps available. Install one and do a full scan.

blue screen of death

Another very useful scan to run is to check for any odd Registry entries or problems. A great open source app that can check your registry for any known problems is the Little Registry Cleaner which comes highly recommended by most users.

fix blue screen

If you’ve tried everything up to this point and can’t seem to find any problems, don’t despair. We’ve got a couple more tricks up our sleeve.

Things To Try As A Last Resort

Go ahead and reboot your computer and press the F8 key again. This time, instead of booting into safe mode, select “Last Known Good Configuration“. This will revert to booting Windows using the last configuration where a successful boot took place. Many times this will resolve the issue without any further troubleshooting.

fix blue screen

If that doesn’t work, reboot again into F8 mode and try selecting “Enable Boot Logging“. This boots Windows and logs every little detail of the boot-up into a file called “ntbtlog.txt” in the root directory, usually c:/Windows.

fix blue screen

Open up the text file and scan through it to see exactly what’s loading and when it’s loading. It’s quite possible that something obvious will jump right out at you. If you identify anything loading that you didn’t want to load, try uninstalling and see if it fixes the problem.

Last but not least, you always have the option to do a system restore. Just go to the Control Panel, System and Security, Backup and Restore, and select “Recover System Settings for your Computer“.

blue screen error fix

Choose a valid restore point from the list and follow the instructions. Usually doing a system restore back to a date where your computer was running fine will resolve the blue screen error.

Finally, if even a restore doesn’t seem to resolve the issue, you could be looking at a bad hard disk. If that’s the case, follow Guy’s instructions to do a Check Disk. The solution may be to buy a new hard drive.

Have you ever had the blue screen of death? Were you able to figure your way out of it? Share your own experiences in the comments section below.

Image credit: stevenafc

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How To Properly Close Your Facebook Account

Posted: 30 Nov 2010 01:31 PM PST

close facebook accountSo you’ve given up on Facebook and you want to delete that account properly? Well, we’ll show you how to do it.

There are a number of really good reasons a person may have to close their Facebook account. Maybe you have privacy concerns or maybe you just don’t like to think about who Facebook has given your information to. Whatever your reason for wanting to delete your account, you need to make sure you do it right – and there’s more than just one trick to it.

Back Up Your Data

Before you close your Facebook account, think about backing up your entire Facebook history. You never know what you might need in the future.

Trial Deactivation

If you’re not sure about deleting your Facebook account, you can deactivate your account instead (Accounts > Settings > Deactivate Account).

close facebook account

Deactivation leaves everything intact: friends, photos, information, etc. In fact, while deactivated, your friends can still invite you to events and you can still receive notifications. In essence, all deactivating does is hide your profile page for a while.

Deactivating is not deleting your Facebook account.

If You Are Ultra-Paranoid

Your reasons for deleting your account will determine how fastidious you want to be about the deletion process. If you’re really paranoid, begin by deleting all your data on Facebook bit by bit. This means you need to delete your account information, interests, photos, updates, messages, applications, notes, links, friend links, groups, fan pages… EVERYTHING.

how to close facebook account

There is one very good reason for doing this: When Facebook deletes your account, the photos aren’t really deleted. They’re de-linked from your account. Which means they’re still there, but no-one can match them up to you. Deleting photos might do exactly the same thing, but you can still try.

If You’re An Admin

Facebook has ways to determine who takes charge of groups or fan pages after the creator deletes an account. However, you might like to make that decision for yourself. Head to your Group/Page and add a few more admins you trust.

Prepare For Deletion: Ensure You Won’t Log In For Two Weeks

To properly delete your account, you will need to make sure you don’t log in to Facebook for two weeks after the request is made. If you do, Facebook will take it as a sign that you don’t really want to delete your account and they will cancel your deletion request. So you’ll need to make sure there’s no way you can log in accidentally.

Make sure you:

  • Delete Facebook Connect applications: Logging in elsewhere with Facebook Connect is an easy way to slip up and accidentally use your Facebook account. So delete every application in Facebook to ensure all Facebook Connect authorisations are removed.
  • Don’t use Facebook login anywhere: Don’t accidentally start a new Facebook connect authorisation, eg. Digg, Spotify.
  • Remove Facebook from your chat client: Adium, Meebo, Digsby, Trillian, etc.
  • Remove Facebook from your Twitter client: Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Seesmic, etc.
  • Delete Facebook applications from your phone and other devices.
  • Disconnect linked accounts you might also use to log into Facebook: Google, Yahoo, OpenID, etc. To do this, go to Account > Settings > Linked Accounts and disable all of them.
  • Log out of Facebook.
  • Delete stored passwords in your browser on all computers you use.
  • Delete all your browser cookies on all computers you use.

Schedule Your Account Deletion

Head to this page to ask for your account to be deleted. Look under “How do I permanently delete my account?” and scroll down past the advice to deactivate until you see the “Submit your request here” link. Then you’ll see the “Delete My Account” and you can follow your nose from there to properly close your account.

how to close facebook account

Wait Two Weeks

Your request for deleting your account is scheduled for two weeks later, in case you change your mind. The account goes into a deactivated state for the two weeks. In that time, all you have to do to cancel your request is to log into Facebook.

Read More On Facebook Privacy

Facebook privacy has been a pretty big issue in the past few years. Mostly because it practically doesn’t exist. Facebook executives are pushing users towards being open with their updates and information, while simultaneously making privacy settings difficult to navigate. This has resulted in many privacy slip ups by users who didn’t really understand their settings.

If you’re unsure about Facebook and think you might benefit from knowing more about Facebook privacy, take a read of the Facebook Privacy Guide (also available in French).

close facebook account

Here’s a few articles you might like:

If you’ve considered deleting your Facebook account, let us know the reasons in the comments.   How easy or hard was it to close your Facebook account?

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Hot Tech Deals [Nov 30th]

Posted: 30 Nov 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. Kingston DataTraveler 100 Generation 2 (G2) 8GB USB Flash Drive $9.99 Free Shipping

  2. Buffalo WHR-HP-GN 802.11n Wireless N High Power Router & Access Point (DDWRT) $29.99 Free ship

  3. Sony PlayStation 3 Move Bundle $84.99 Free Shipping

  4. TODAY ONLY Seagate Expansion 500GB Portable External Hard Drive $49.99, WD Elements 640GB $59.99

  5. TODAY ONLY Vizio E371VA 37in LCD HDTV (1080p, 120Hz) $449.99 Free Shipping

  6. Zune HD Video 32GB Media Player + HD AV Dock $219.99 Free Shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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8 Online Programming Contests That You Can Challenge Yourself To Win

Posted: 30 Nov 2010 11:31 AM PST

online programming contestsFrom the days of the penny-a-play arcade games, to see your name on the leaderboard has been a high. The web is the new grand coliseum. I am talking about the many contests and challenges that you will find littered across the online world.

Today, many companies take advantage of the drawing power of contests to draw out the power of the crowd. We have taken a look at photo contests and design contests before. Then there is Google with its lineup of contests you should keep an eye on. One of the contests Google hosts is CodeJam; its annual programming competition. Google is of course not alone when it comes to calling up the brightest minds. Other biggies like Microsoft with its Imagine Cup and IBM are second to none. IBM for instance also sponsors the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest.

So, if you fancy yourself with a programming language, brush off the cobwebs, be mindful of your intellectual property rights and dive into some contests that are held in the online world.

Top Coder

online programming contests

TopCoder is the world’s largest competitive software development community spread over 200 countries and 272,348 members. The site hosts online programming contests in the Java, C++, and C# languages. Fortnightly online algorithm competitions and weekly competitions on design and development are platforms for coding skills. The algorithm based contests are usually the shortest (2 hrs) while marathon matches can go on for couple of weeks. The codes from design and development contests are usually picked up by companies for a profit. sometimes serves as a hiring platform for developers.


automated computer programming contest

Codechef is a noncommercial programming community that's Indian in origin but global in scope with nearly 25,000 members. The programming community hosts contests, trainings and events for its worldwide membership. Codechef is well organized with local chapters in colleges, meetups, an active forum, blog, Facebook Group and a Twitter stream. You can practice your problem solving skills on the site and then take part in the monthly face-offs.

Calling All Innovators

automated computer programming contest

Nokia's worldwide contest covers eco-friendly applications, entertainment, productivity, and life improvement. You have to design apps for Nokia that address these categories. The solution can be hardware, software, or services that relates to mobility using a mobile device. The contest is open to all mobile and web application developers worldwide. This year's contest is over, so you might have to wait till next year to walk away with the five figure cash prize.

Apps for Development

automated computer programming contest

The World Bank attempts to foster social innovation by asking the developer community to develop software applications related to one or more of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). You can submit any kind of software application, web apps, a mobile device, console, SMS, or any common software platform. The only condition is that the proposed application use one or more datasets from the World Bank Data Catalog available at You can still participate before January 10, 2011.

Another city specific example is the NYC BigApps 2.0 Competition which is for New York City.

Facebook Engineering Puzzles

computer programming contest

The engineering puzzles are placed on the Careers page on Facebook, so it could be an entry ticket to a job at Facebook. But you have to solve them and get them right first, because as this old blog entry explains competition to get into Facebook is pretty intense. The Facebook Puzzle Master Page also holds frequent contests that can help you get noticed.


computer programming contest

HTML5 is the new kid on the block. The site has been put together by a gaming website that seeks to promote itself and HTML5 mobile games with the help of monthly contests. Bring your game development skills to the table and walk away with up to $7,700 a month in prize money.


computer programming contest

This is an annual online programming contest that's held by The Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Kharagpur (India); one of the top most engineering colleges in the world. The competition tests your C and C++ skills. The last edition had 4,900 teams from a total of 1,473 universities and institutes of 66 countries. Registration is free and open to all. The top prize is 40,000 INR (about $1,000). The registrations for the 2011 edition are expected to start soon.

Al Zimmermann’s Programming Contests

online programming contests

If you are a 'demented computer programmer' then the annual (or biyearly) online programming contest should be for you. You can enter the latest round too where you need to arrange a deck of cards in a specific way. What's noteworthy is that you have to just submit the result and not the program. So, you can work at the solution with any tool available to you. Prizes are monetarily insignificant but attractively offbeat like sculpted math models or bronzed mini-sculptures.

Programming contests are a great way to know exactly where you stand in the developer community. Do you take part in any programming challenge that's held online (or offline)? These aren't the only ones after all. Drop us a comment.

Image: Shutterstock

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How To Create An Interactive Quiz Using Powerpoint Masters

Posted: 30 Nov 2010 10:31 AM PST

create a quizPeople often wonder why Microsoft Powerpoint costs so much. After all, you can only create simple, linear ‘presentations’ with it. Wrong.

Microsoft Powerpoint is an immensely powerful suite, and can be used for much more than straightforward presentations. It can be used to create website mockups, and even interactive learning tools.

We’ll explore one example of this last category below; interactive quizzes. De facto applications that employ a functional, if simple, interface.


A slide master is the DNA that is used to create new slides. A slide stamp, so to speak, which determines how newly created slides will look. By default, the slide master is pretty boring, but we can change this to pretty much anything we want. We can even create multiple master slides with sub-layouts and change between them on the fly while we’re creating our presentation.

create a quiz

To open the Slide Master menu, go to View and select Slide Master. This changes the Powerpoint mode, so you’ll have to switch this back to normal before you’re able to actually create the presentation.

A Slide Master menu will be added to the top ribbon which you can use to add new master profiles and layouts. These will appear in the sidebar, as shown in the screenshot below. Slide Masters will appear independently and branch off into different layouts.


So how exactly are we planning to use the Slide Masters in our little quiz? We can use them to design different, recurring levels of the application, e.g. a main menu and different quiz categories.

create your own quiz

Using Slide Masters, we have to create the layout once, and can retain the category buttons in all subsequent slides. This will save us a lot of work now, and whenever we want to create an interactive presentation in the future.

Important! To make sure our quizzers won’t be able to advance by simply clicking elsewhere on the slide, you’ll have to disable the ‘Advance Slide on Mouse Click‘ option for every single Slide Master.

Button Actions

Buttons, much like in real applications and websites, allow us to navigate between different slides more freely than in the default linear matter. We can jump to and fro different slides, and even create clickable categories in our Slide Master.


It’s rather easy to link to a different slide. Select a piece of text or a shape with your right mouse, and click Hyperlink.

how to create a web quiz page

By default, this option allows you to link to a webpage. Select ‘Place in This Document’ in the left sidebar. This will allow for inter-presentation linking.

how to create a web quiz page

Hyperlinks allow you to create relative (e.g. next, previous slide) and absolute hyperlinks (i.e. pointing to a specific slide). We’ll be using both.

Creating The Quiz

We’re using the above two tools to create an interactive quiz.

First, create as many actual slides as you have categories. These don’t need to contain much, except maybe a text element for easy reference.

Masters & Categories

We’ll lay out the foundation, second. Select the first layout and design it to incorporate the major elements of your interface. These need to be consistent over the entire Powerpoint. I added the quiz title and links to every category. Point the category buttons to those slides you created before using a hyperlink.

how to create a web quiz page

If you want a custom design for each quiz category, copy and paste the layout as many times as you have categories. You can now adjust each layout as you see fit; the buttons will remain in working order. I created a colored text-box, matching the colors of my category buttons. Renaming them, also possible via right-click, will improve the overview.

Landing Pages & Sub-pages

Go back to normal mode, and put a new slide at the very start of your presentation. This will be your main landing page, which you can use to give advance information, point to the different categories, or initiate the quiz. Adjust it as you deem appropriate.

create your own quiz

You can change the layout of the existing category pages by using right-mouse -> Layout and selecting one of the designs you made earlier on.

create your own quiz

Subsequent slides can be added using the right layout by selecting them from the dropdown box below the New Slide button.

create a quiz

We’ve now got almost everything set to create our quiz. Simply add one additional slide to the end of your document. This will be the slide people get to see when they select the wrong answer. Make it universal, so do not relate to any one question. Add a button below that the user can click to return to the question(e.g. Try Again, or Go Back), but instead of creating a hyperlink, select Insert -> Action -> Hyperlink to: -> Last Slide Viewed.

A Quizzical Questionnaire

Make sure the questions appear per category and in running order. This allows us to use relative links.

Now, to add a question, create a page using the right categoric lay-out. Add as many additional media as you deem appropriate and as many possible questions as you feel like. All but one of these answers need to point to your wrong answer-slide with a hyperlink. The correct answer links to the next slide in sequence.

Do you know any other great uses for Powerpoint? Let us know in the comments!

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4 Great Places To Find Free Beautiful Photo Desktop Wallpapers

Posted: 30 Nov 2010 08:31 AM PST

free desktop wallpapersAs a computer geek who loves to feast his eyes with beautiful images, it’s only natural that I also love to customize my desktop background with stunning wallpapers. While I’m sure that there are many others who belong in this category, and while there are sources of free and beautiful desktop wallpapers in abundance in the virtual world, most people I know settle for the default collection that came along with their computer.

During my personal quest for beautiful photos to adorn my desktop background, I came across these four great places. Even though one or two of them should be pretty obvious to some of our readers, I’m sure the list could be useful to many others.

Let The Hunt Begin

If you are willing to pay a little bit more attention to your surroundings, beauty is all around us. I guess we should learn how to see our world from a photographer’s eyes. They have the knack to see beautiful images within everyday scenes that we tend to ignore.  Here are some places to see those beauties.

1. National Geographic

Photographers are also the kind of people who are willing to go the extra mile to capture something that we will never see in our everyday life: the view of the earth from outer space, the hunting rituals of nocturnal mammals, or the social life of poisonous insects. Nothing can better showcase how far nature photography can go than the images taken by National Geographic photographers.

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Other than their official wallpapers page, there’s also the yearly international photography contest (like this 2009 event) with extraordinary photos submitted by “ordinary” photographers from all over the world.

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Windows users can simplify the downloading process with the help of an application called NatGeo Wallpaper Downloader which will allow you to download 5,000+ wallpapers in one go.

free wallpapers and backgrounds


If National Geographic guys claim the earth’s surface as their territory, then everything above and beyond the earth would be the playground of the NASA people. Not many people know that you can also download beautiful space-related wallpapers from the NASA site.

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Just visit their “Image of the day” page for those “trekkish” shots. These interplanetary experts are also kind enough to provide you with several image sizes to download so you can find the one that fits your desktop.

02b NASA - Image of the the Day.jpg

3. Wikipedia

This is also another unusual place to acquire your desktop wallpapers. Other than lots of text-based information, Wikipedia also has one section dedicated to desktop backgrounds.

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Other than photographs, you can also find images taken from sketches, drawings, and paintings.

free wallpapers for my pc

4. Flickr & Wallpapr (& Other Photo Sites)

Let’s not forget one of the products of Web 2.0: Flickr (and other photo sites). Logically, they are also good places for you to drop by on your quest to find wallpapers. One problem though, you should always pay attention to the license. Always try to find images with a Creative Commons license that you can download, use and modify freely. Image size is also another point that you should consider because not all images uploaded to Flickr are formatted to fit your desktop.

04b Flickr Photo.jpg

Fortunately, you can use the help of Wallpapr to find Flickr images which are already customized to be wallpaper-friendly. All you have to do is write down the search string and Wallpapr will fetch images from the “Wallpapers” group on Flickr. They also have an iPhone version that you can use.

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Other Sources

All of the sources above should keep you busy for a very long while. But if you are still hungry for more, you can use your friendly neighborhood search engines, especially the ones that have been customized to find images like Google Image Search. Be creative in using the search string. You might want to start with “Desktop+Wallpaper+Your_Keyword_Here“.

free desktop wallpapers

You can use the search engines to find discussions on the net about finding desktop wallpapers, such as this Ask MetaFilter topic.

We also have lots of articles related to desktop wallpapers, such as: Kick-Ass Wallpapers, Best Sites to Download Very High Resolution Wallpapers and part two, Take Flickr Straight to your Desktop with Interactive Wallpaper Updates, The 8 Best Sites For Funny Computer Desktop Wallpapers, etc. Be sure to check them out.

As always, if you have your own personal favorites, please share them using the comments below.

Image credit: National Geographic – Photo Contest 2009, NASA – Image of the day, Wikipedia – Desktop backgrounds, Flickr – DigitalFreak

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5 Cool Ways To Customize Your Windows 7 System

Posted: 30 Nov 2010 07:31 AM PST

customize windows 7We all long to be recognized as individuals. Consequently, we find ever more ways to express our uniqueness. As a result, fashion and design have extended their reach into all corners of our lives, making everyday items not only nice to look at, but also easier to use.

Windows 7 provides plenty of internal options to change the look and feel of your computer. It’s easy to give the operating system a unique style and at the same time enhance your experience as a user. For most of the coolest ways to customize Windows 7, you don’t even have to mess with hacks or additional software.

Let me show you how you can dress up your installation of Windows 7 and make using your computer a visual and functional joy.

1. Change The Welcome Screen

There are two basic things you can change that will affect the welcome screen. First of all, you can change your profile picture. Secondly, you can apply a hack or software to change the background image.

To change your profile picture, go to > Start and type > User Accounts into the bar that says > Search programs and files, then open the respective entry under > Control Panel. Next, select > Change your picture. You can now choose a default image or click > Browse for more pictures… at the bottom of the list to access your own files.

Once you have selected an image click the > Change Picture button and you’re done.

customize windows 7

To change the logon screen manually, check out the procedure described in this article - How To Change Windows 7 Logon Screen

Using a tool rather than the manual steps doesn’t make you less geeky. Rather it will save you time and give you access to further logon page customization options, for example changing buttons or Windows branding. Simon has reviewed three programs here - The Best Ways To Customize The Welcome Screen In Windows 7.

windows 7 customize

2. Add Desktop Gadgets

Gadgets are tiny tools that sit on your desktop. They add functionality and quickly let you complete tasks without launching a large program. Some of my three favorite Windows 7 gadgets are:

  • Clipboard Manager - Manage your clipboard history, search entries, store favorite clips, and more.
  • Skype Gadget - Keep a minimized Skype interface on your desktop and save space.
  • The Magic Folder - Automatically sort files into pre-defined folders based on their file extension.

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To browse, discover, and install gadgets, visit the Windows Live Gadget Gallery. To launch existing gadgets, go to > Start and type > Desktop Gadgets into the bar that says > Search programs and files, then open the respective entry under > Control Panel.

Also have a look at The 7 Best Windows 7 Gadgets and the Top 7 Coolest Windows 7 Desktop Gadgets You Have To Use.

3. Change The Windows Theme

Changing the theme will have the greatest impact on your system in terms of look and feel. And you’ll be surprised how easy it is. > Right-click desktop and select > Personalize. You can now select a default theme, get more themes online, or create your own.

windows 7 customize

For some suggestions and detailed instructions on how to create your own custom theme, open this article: Top 5 Windows 7 Themes You Might Want To Try.

4. Create A Custom Desktop Slideshow

To add some variety to your desktop or showcase your own photos, you can create a custom desktop slideshow that will regularly change your wallpaper.

> Right-click desktop, select > Personalize, and click on > Desktop Background. To create a slideshow, you need to select any entry from the > Picture location drop-down menu other than the default ‘Solid Colors’. Now > Browse for the folder that holds your pictures, > Select the ones you like, choose a > Picture position and time interval to > Change picture. Finally click the > Save changes button and enjoy.

windows 7 customize

Like the > Desktop Background you can also customize > Window Color and > Sounds and so create your own custom theme. Don’t forget to > Save theme!

5. Add Toolbars To Taskbar & Enable Quick Launch Bar

A toolbar located in your taskbar can provide instant access to often used programs, for example iTunes. Simply > right click Taskbar, expand > Toolbars, and check the ones you would like to see.

For those mourning the Windows XP Quick Launch bar, don’t despair. There is a hack to bring it back. Follow the same steps outlined above and select > New toolbar…, enter the following path > %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch and click > Select Folder. The Quick Launch bar will appear, but it needs more customization. > Right-click Quick Launch and uncheck > Show title and > Show Text to make it more compact. You can also uncheck > Lock the taskbar and then > drag and drop Quick Launch into place.

customize windows 7

Even more cool ways to customize your Windows 7 experience using easy hacks and some cool tricks can be found in the following article series:

What is your favorite feature of Windows 7? Did you go the extra mile to create a unique style and user experience? Please share your tips in the comments.

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The 3 Best Sites For Reliable Anti-Virus Software Reviews

Posted: 30 Nov 2010 07:00 AM PST

antivirus software reviewsAs a writer sometimes responsible for reviews, I have sympathy for folks who try to honestly and fairly review products. It isn’t an easy task – at least not if you want to peel away the surface of the product you’re reviewing and take a closer look at how it functions.

Anti-virus software is particularly troublesome. It’s easy to have a look at the features and make comments about the interface, but the actual business of testing the protective capabilities of anti-virus software is tough because there are millions of viruses in existence and thousands of new ones hitting the web every month. Therefore, antivirus software reviews require that the software be tested against a wide range of viruses – and that’s something only a handful of websites do.


antivirus software reviews

Although most PC users don’t realize it, the field of anti-virus protection has an academic side populated by researchers and ex-hackers who rigorously analyze computer hardware and software on the search for security flaws that need to be addressed. This research often results in some useful information for the average computer user, and the AV-Comparatives website is perhaps the best example.

An Austrian non-profit organization, AV-Comparatives exists solely to provide unbiased and comprehensive information about the effectiveness of anti-virus software. They subject the software to a variety of attacks including traditional viruses, trojans, scripting attacks and more. They also pay attention to details such as the rate of false positives and the number of viruses a program manages to quarantine but fails to remove.

While the site’s most unique content are the in-depth comparatives, the site also offers a number of single-product reviews. The reviews are a bit technical, but they’ll guide you through the anti-virus software being reviewed step-by-step, giving you a grasp of how the program functions.


antivirus reviews

The website of the long-running PC Magazine has always been a nice site for anti-virus reviews. Indeed, it is perhaps better at reviewing anti-virus software than anyone else – I’ve always felt the hardware reviews were a bit soft, but the anti-virus reviews don’t pull any punches. The editors aren’t shy about giving a poor anti-virus program a two-star rating (out of five). Even AV-Comparatives is much kinder about this, as the lowest rating they’re willing to dish out is “Tested”.

The reviews take a look at anti-virus protection based on how well the software defends against a number of viruses, rootkits and other threats. The number of threats introduced and the exact threats used are not known, but the data is still useful for identifying strengths and weaknesses of different anti-virus software.

Performance analysis of software is my favorite reason to read these reviews, however. PC Magazine reviews routinely comment on how long different programs took to complete scans. The reviews are also great sources for general information about the interface and installation of different anti-virus software.


antivirus software reviews

I don’t think there is any other review website on the web that is as consistently excellent as CNET. This site reviews everything from HDTVs to digital cameras to anti-virus software, and the reviews are always of high quality, informative and rigorous.

CNET’s reviews throw a lot of information at the reader, including very useful information about performance. For example, most CNET reviews provide information about the impact an anti-virus program has on the test computer’s boot time. This sort of information is fairly unique, and it is a helpful measure of “real-world” anti-virus performance.

When it comes to anti-virus protection, CNET actually leans heavily on the already mentioned AV-Comparatives tests. That’s fine – it’s doubtful that any individual review site could ever be as detailed as AV-Comparatives. CNET also makes mention of testing data from other sources, some of which are not available to the public (at least not without money exchanging hands). CNET’s video reviews remain a highlight – they compact most of the information you need to know about a product into a tight three to four minute long video.


These three websites with antivirus software reviews should provide you with everything you need to know about anti-virus software before you buy. Although each site may disagree somewhat about certain programs, there does seem to be some overall consistency between their recommendations, which indicates they’re on the right track. If you have a favorite anti-virus review site that isn’t mentioned here, let us know.

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