Thursday, January 6, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [January 5th]” plus 12 more “Cool Websites and Tools [January 5th]” plus 12 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [January 5th]

Posted: 05 Jan 2011 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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SlowDown – Loud and fast music gets people excited. This can be dangerous while driving because excited people drive faster and might get into accidents. To avoid getting into a car accident because of your loud and fast music, you can use Slow Down, a free iOS application compatible with iPhone and iPod Touch. The app will constantly monitor your car's speed via GPS settings and when you reach the speed limit, the app will slow down the music. Read more: SlowDown: A Handy Tool To Monitor Speed & Avoid Car Accidents


Open2Go – Have you ever tried transferring a big chunk of text from your computer to your smartphone? People use different techniques to accomplish this. Most of these techniques require you to install an application and register for an account. But Open2Go requires none of that. Open2Go is a free web service that can be used to easily and quickly transfer URLs and notes from your computer to your smartphone. Read more: Open2Go: Easily Transfer URL's & Notes From Your Computer To Your Phone



Yohdr – Due to the contrast difference in dark and light areas of a scene, photographs often are unable to fully capture all aspects of a scene. To fix this, HDR (High Dynamic Range) is used which is a technique that creates photographs of scenes with both very bright and very dark sections without the result becoming either washed out or too dark. YoHDR is an online tool for creating High Dynamic Range images online. Read more: Yohdr: Tool For Creating High Dynamic Range Images Online



Date Calculator – Quick date calculations are a necessity in a number of areas. Gardeners need to check the progress of their plants after a certain number of days; doctors need to schedules patients' next appointments after a certain number of days; for these you need a tool that quickly performs date calculations. The Date-Calculator is exactly that tool. Read more: Date-Calculator: Quickly Calculate Days Between Dates



FlatPlanApp – If you are working on your next e-book or publication, you'll probably find it difficult dealing with layouts and the final design for your material. Whether we work with books, newspapers, or magazines, having a solid layout that we can visualize from cover to cover is a must. Fortunately, we have Flatplan, a simple web-app that allows anyone to design, develop, and collaborate on publication layouts quickly. Read more: FlatPlanApp: Create, Manage & Collaborate On Publication Layouts 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: 05 Jan 2011 06:06 PM PST


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

  1. Steve Jobs' New Year's Resolutions (Pic)
  2. Admitting Defeat When Debating Online (Pic)
  3. The Bermuda Triangle Of Productivity (Pic)
  4. How One Decides to Build a Web Browser (Pic)
  5. Generation Differences (Pic)
  6. Firefox has Encountered An Unexpected Problem… (Pic)
  7. Amazingly Precise Predictions from AT&T in 1993 (Video)

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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Licorize – The Easiest Way To Organize Your Gigantic Bookmark Collection

Posted: 05 Jan 2011 05:31 PM PST

organize bookmarksMakeUseOf strives to bring you a collection of useful websites and general software tips everyday so you might have bookmarked some of the recommended sites, but do you ever actually use them?

I know in my case, I bookmark websites because they will be of use someday, but forget about them soon after (unless they are bookmarklets), making my bookmark collection ever growing and a bit neglected. I have found that a collection of bookmarks is much like your inbox. It will just feel like a lot of messages to clear up if you don’t know how to deal with them.

Licorize is a bookmarking service that can change this in regards to anyone’s bookmark collection. It helps you put an action to any interesting thing you find on the web so you can use them soon or assign it for later, which is strongly related to the Getting Things Done methodology. Licorize also lets you assign types to your favorite links so you won’t have to keep track of the growing number of bookmarks on the toolbar.

Setting Up

To use Licorize, you first need to either start creating some bookmarks (better known as “strips” in Licorize) with the bookmarklet or browser plugins, or import your existing bookmarks. You can import bookmarks from any website or browser that lets you export bookmarks in an HTML file. That includes services like Delicious and Instapaper, as well as browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari.

organize bookmarks

An additional service that you can connect to and sync with by providing your username is Read It Later. You can also import from other services, such as Evernote (only public notebook contents can be imported), Twitter (you can create bookmarks via DM’s or public tweets to Licorize), the Apture extension, LinkedIn and even Dropbox.

how to organize bookmarks

Classifying & Organizing Your Bookmarks

Now that you’ve got some bookmarks in Licorize, you can use the website to sort them out by assigning types (such as to-do’s, ideas, goals, etc.) and tags, or grouping them in projects.

how to organize bookmarks

If you’re familiar with GTD, Licorize helps you delegate bookmarks and assigning them to someone else so they’ll have it in their to-do’s.

how to organize bookmarks

Like most GTD-friendly software, Licorize offers a weekly review page, where you can see a summary of your bookmarking activity for the week.

organize personal bookmarks

In addition, you can get a “work week” view of your recently bookmarked items in the week, which can help you visualize the weekly review in full.

organize personal bookmarks

If the work week view isn’t enough, you can also sort bookmarks or strips by clicking on the calendar on the right sidebar.

organize bookmarks

As a blogger that needs to constantly think of ideas and find noteworthy web apps, I think this type of application can definitely help me classify bookmarks as potential article ideas, images, etc. It can also save me from manually using appropriately-named folders in my browser, stashing useful websites in them and forgetting about them or why I bookmarked them in the first place. Even if you’re not constantly looking for useful web apps but still own a large collection of bookmarks, Licorize can help reduce the clutter so you can get something similar to Inbox Zero for bookmarks.

How do you organize your bookmarks collection? Feel free to share your favorite programs or websites in the comments!

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The 9 Types of Computer Viruses To Watch Out For & What They Do

Posted: 05 Jan 2011 04:31 PM PST

types of computer virusesEveryone dreads being the recipient of a computer virus, but not everyone minds studying them. There are researchers who spend a lot of time looking into different types of computer viruses and related security threats in order to determine how they’re programmed, how they do damage, and how they spread. Personally, I find this field interesting, and I enjoy reading about the different types of viruses in existence.

But even if you don’t know much care, basic knowledge about security threats can be useful. It’s sometimes hard to know how a risk must be dealt with before you know its consequences. With a computer virus, however, the consequence is sometimes complete loss of your data or identity theft – so it’s best to learn sooner rather than later!

Boot Sector Virus

types of computer viruses

The term “boot sector” is a generic name that seems to originally come from MS-DOS but is now applied generally to the boot information used by any operating system. In modern computers this is usually called the “master boot record,” and it is the first sector on a partitioned storage device.

Boot sector viruses became popular because of the use of floppy disks to boot a computer. The widespread usage of the Internet and the death of the floppy has made other means of virus transmission more effective.

Browser Hijacker

computer viruses

This type of virus, which can spread itself in numerous ways including voluntary download, effectively hijacks certain browser functions, usually in the form of re-directing the user automatically to particular sites. It’s usually assumed that this tactic is designed to increase revenue from web advertisements.

There are a lot of such viruses, and they usually have “search” included somewhere in their description. CoolWebSearch may be the most well known example, but others are nearly as common.

Direct Action Virus

This type of virus, unlike most, only comes into action when the file containing the virus is executed. The payload is delivered and then the virus essentially becomes dormant – it takes no other action unless an infected file is executed again.

Most viruses do not use the direct action method of reproduction simply because it is not prolific, but viruses of this type have done damage in the past. The Vienna virus, which briefly threatened computers in 1988, is one such example of a direct action virus.

File Infector Virus

computer viruses

Perhaps the most common type of virus, the file infector takes root in a host file and then begins its operation when the file is executed. The virus may completely overwrite the file that it infects, or may only replace parts of the file, or may not replace anything but instead re-write the file so that the virus is executed rather than the program the user intended.

Although called a “file virus” the definition doesn’t apply to all viruses in all files generally – for example, the macro virus below is not referred to by the file virus. Instead, the definition is usually meant to refer only to viruses which use an executable file format, such as .exe, as their host.

Macro Virus

A wide variety of programs, including productivity applications like Microsoft Excel, provide support for Macros – special actions programmed into the document using a specific macro programming language. Unfortunately, this makes it possible for a virus to be hidden inside a seemingly benign document.

Macro viruses very widely in terms of payload. The most well known macro virus is probably Melissa, a Word document supposedly containing the passwords to pornographic websites. The virus also exploited Word’s link to Microsoft Outlook in order to automatically email copies of itself.

Multipartite Virus

While some viruses are happy to spread via one method or deliver a single payload, Multipartite viruses want it all. A virus of this type may spread in multiple ways, and it may take different actions on an infected computer depending on variables, such as the operating system installed or the existence of certain files.

Polymorphic Virus

types of computer viruses

Another jack-of-all-trades, the Polymorphic virus actually mutates over time or after every execution, changing the code used to deliver its payload. Alternatively, or in addition, a Polymorphic virus may guard itself with an encryption algorithm that automatically alters itself when certain conditions are met.

The goal of this trickery is evasion. Antivirus programs often find viruses by the specific code used. Obscuring or changing the code of a virus can help it avoid detection.

Resident Virus

This broad virus definition applies to any virus that inserts itself into a system’s memory. It then may take any number of actions and run independently of the file that was originally infected.

A resident virus can be compared to a direct payload virus, which does not insert itself into the system’s memory and therefore only takes action when an infected file is executed.

Web Scripting Virus

Many websites execute complex code in order to provide interesting content. Displaying online video in your browser, for example, requires the execution of a specific code language that provides both the video itself and the player interface.

Of course, this code can sometimes be exploited, making it possible for a virus to infect a computer or take actions on a computer through a website. Although malicious sites are sometimes created with purposely infected code, many such cases of virus exist because of code inserted into a site without the webmaster’s knowledge.


I’ve included every type of computer virus in this article that I felt was relevant, but this isn’t a list of every type of virus known to man. Also, I did not include any worms or trojans, two common threats that are similar to viruses but technically not the same. If there is a specific type of virus that you feel was missed and is important, let us know in the comments.

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6 Lightweight Linux Distributions To Give Your Old PC A New Lease of Life

Posted: 05 Jan 2011 03:31 PM PST

linux distributionsIf you’re anything like me, you’ve probably got at least one old desktop PC or antiquated laptop lying dormant in the attic, cupboard or still under your desk. I’d even hazard a guess you’ve got a CRT monitor and a serial mouse to boot.

Now, you’re never going to use that old machine for anything particularly demanding, but if a simple web browser and word processor is the order of the day then there’s plenty of lightweight solutions that can come to your rescue.

Linux is perfect for this task as it can be so easily stripped down, rebuilt and released as a new distribution. Here are six of the best lightweight Linux flavours for sub-par machines.


The first on the list and the first to be based on the immensely popular Ubuntu distribution. Xubuntu uses Ubuntu as a base, which provides great compatibility and full access to Canonical’s repositories.

linux distributions

Instead of the usual GNOME desktop environment found in Ubuntu (or KDE in Kubuntu) this release uses the lightweight XFCE environment for a speedier interface. It’s not quite as shiny as vanilla Ubuntu, but if you’re a fan of the operating system then it’s certainly worth a punt.

The only real drawback is that much of the packages you’ll be downloading will require quite a lot of disk space, though this depends on your taste in software and demands from the OS.

Puppy Linux

Another highly popular and light distro, often heralded as the be-all and end-all of lightweight computing. Built from the ground up (and thus, not based on any previous Linux distributions) Puppy is designed to run from a USB stick or CD and weighs in at less than 100MB.

compare linux distributions

The OS runs completely in RAM, and should be compatible with decent selection of older hardware (often an issue with built-from-scratch distributions). You can choose to save personal data to USB devices or even the cloud using services like

There’s a limited amount of software available, but for older machines that just need to type and surf, it’ll get the job done.

Macpup Linux

A derivative of Puppy Linux, Macpup is based on Lucid Puppy which provides binary compatibility with Ubuntu 10.04 packages. This gives you a great amount of freedom with regards to software, though if you’re going to be doing any serious downloading you’ll need the disk space.

compare linux distributions

Another major difference between Puppy and Macpup is the desktop environment. Macpup uses the Enlightenment E17 window manager for added desktop sparkle. At 188MB, the current version isn’t the smallest of the bunch but there’s plenty of bundled software to get you going.


Another Ubuntu-based distribution, providing the usual compatibility and software availability. Lubuntu uses the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment (LXDE) to provide a basic yet functional graphical interface.

compare linux distributions

The team eventually aim to earn official endorsement from Ubuntu’s overseers Canonical. Whilst not being the prettiest distribution here, Lubuntu is fast and functional and definitely worth keeping an eye on if light distros are your thing.


With a tiny download size of just 30MB SliTaz really manages to pack a decent punch for its minute size. Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects to SliTaz is the inclusion of a fully functional web server (Lighttpd) with PHP and CGI support. There’s also SSH and FTP tools for all your server needs.

list of linux distributions

Firefox is included for web browsing, and there’s a couple of other useful tools such as a PDF reader, media player and a few text editors.

Built from scratch from the ground up, some users may have difficulty with hardware support, though it’ll only cost you 30MB and a blank CD to find out. A very impressive package!

#! CrunchBang

Based on Debian, CrunchBang evolved later than other lightweight derivative Linux distributions such as Xubuntu and Lubuntu. Despite being notably larger than SliTaz and co. with a download size of just under 700MB, CrunchBang does provide an impressive roster of software in its basic install.

linux distributions

Harnessing the versatility of Openbox and the XFCE desktop environment, CrunchBang provides an attractive and minimalistic desktop which should suit both experienced users and newcomers to Linux.

CrunchBang is built almost entirely from packages available in the Debian repositories and thus has excellent compatibility with a huge range of software. If you’re familiar with Debian or Ubuntu (and its many brothers and sisters) then you’ll have no issues using CrunchBang.


Hopefully at least one of these operating systems is able to breathe some new life into your old hardware. It’s up to you whether you want to use a derivative distribution for software compatibility or keep it plain and simple with something like SliTaz or Puppy.

One thing’s for sure – your old box is bound to get more use out of lightweight Linux than older Microsoft operating systems that are no longer supported. Every OS in this list is still under active development (at the time of writing) which provides a more feature-rich and secure way to access the web and get your work done.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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5 Cool DIY Ways To Keep Your Laptop Cool

Posted: 05 Jan 2011 02:31 PM PST

diy ways to keep laptop coolLaptops these days can work pretty hard to keep up with our demands. It’s not surprising that so many of us complain about laptops overheating when we use them for gaming or other intense activities.

Whether you’re looking for a quick DIY laptop cooling solution, a permanent home-made laptop cooler that will cool even the most over-worked laptop or just a laptop cooler that looks awesome, the Internet has something for you. Some come with full instructions, others with just some vague guidelines and a video of theirs in action.  Hopefully this post will help you find the perfect way to keep your laptop cool.

Type 1 – The Shiny LED Laptop Cooler

These designs look great with the LEDs and usually come with many fans attached to a permanent structure of some sort. If none of these designs take your fancy, you could build a laptop cooling stand using a design from type 2 (below) and adding in LEDs, since that’s essentially what these are.

“Homemade” Laptop Cooling System

This design is simple, but very effective. The fans chosen actually have LEDs in them.

diy ways to keep laptop cool

DIY Laptop Cooler

This instructable has all the details you need to build your own active laptop cooler using fans with LEDs in them.

Insane Laptop Cooler

This laptop cooler comes with no instructions, but shows you how you might use a mixture of fans and LEDs to create an excellent laptop cooler.

Type 2 – The Basic Sturdy Fan Structure

The myriad ways to attach fans to a laptop stand and cool your laptop with minimal fuss. This active laptop cooling method uses fans to blow cool air under (or hot air out from under) your laptop. What material have you got on hand – acrylic? PVC?  Plastic? Wood? Here’s some great cooling ideas you’ll love!

DIY: Laptop Cooling Pads

If you’re any good with metalwork, this cooler will be a cinch — Drill a few holes, attach some fans and bend it into the perfect laptop stand.

laptop cool

Custom Built Laptop Cooling System

This is an idea for maximum cooling efficiency. This is really an exhaust system for your laptop.

laptop cool

How To Make A Laptop Cooling Stand

This stand has true elegance and simplicity. If you’ve got the tools to work with acrylic sheets, this is a simple stand you could be proud of.

laptop cool

How To Make A Laptop Cooling Pad With 5 Fans

Here’s an industrial-strength cooling pad, using five fans and a sturdy metal frame. The creator goes into details in the voice-over.

HOW-TO: Laptop Cooler For Under $5!

This is a nice cheap idea, creating a USB-powered cooling stand using a basic black folder and a few fans he rescued from elsewhere.

Type 3 – Water-Cooled Laptop Coolers

For the dedicated DIYer willing to risk mixing water and electronics (not advised), here’s a water-cooled cooling stand. This is another form of active laptop cooling, by using the water to move the heat elsewhere and cool it down.

Watercooling A Laptop On The Cheap

Water-cooling a laptop is quite an involved project and if you don’t get it right it could be very dangerous. Don’t say you weren’t warned!

best way to keep laptop cool

Type 4 – Cardboard Laptop Stands

If money is an issue or you just need something temporary, check out these great cardboard stands to cool your laptop. Some are active and work by having fans attached, while others are merely a passive cooling pad to keep your laptop raised off the table.

DIY Super Budget Laptop Cooler

Here’s a simple USB-powered fan cooler which uses a shoebox for the stand structure.

best way to keep laptop cool

DIY Laptop Cooler With Awesome Temperature Readings *Tutorial*

Here’s a basic cardboard stand and fan design, which plugs into a wall socket.

best way to keep laptop cool

Build A Cooling Pad For Your Laptop

Here’s a no-fuss cardboard stand to simply allow passive airflow beneath your laptop.

diy ways to keep laptop cool

Type 5 – Quickest DIY Way To Keep Your Laptop Cool EVER!

An unbelievably simple passive laptop cooling idea: use plastic bottle tops and a basic adhesive tack. Also try corks or erasers stuck to the bottom of your laptop for a quick DIY cooling fix.

Cheapest Laptop Cooler In The World!

Too easy! You won’t believe you never thought of this before.

More Great Laptop Ideas

If you want some great ideas for keeping your laptop in good health or looking awesome, check out these posts:

Which DIY laptop cooler do you like best? Do you know of any other great hacks? What have you done to cool your laptop? Let us know in the comments!

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A Quick Guide To Developing Android Apps With Google App Inventor

Posted: 05 Jan 2011 01:31 PM PST

developing android appsEver since I first received my Droid, I’ve been very curious about how people produce some of those amazing applications on and off the Android market. I’m a programmer, but not a gifted hacker by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve mastered Visual Basic and Coldfusion, but when it comes to writing an application from scratch that would work on a mobile device, I was certain that was well beyond the scope of my abilities.

When it comes to writing mobile apps, the closest we’ve come at MUO is Beth’s article on how to develop an iPhone app. Even with the iPhone approach, you need to learn Objective-C. In other words – you’ve got to learn how to become a coder. Well, for those of you that appreciate visual-based programming like me, then you will be very happy to learn that Android has made it possible for anyone with even the most basic programming experience to create their very own high-quality and highly functional Android applications. The secret weapon to developing Android apps? It’s called the Google App Inventor and it’s offered at Google Labs.

Setting Up Google App Inventor

The App Inventor consists of three parts. There’s the design tool, the blocks editor, and finally configuring your phone.

The first thing you have to do is set up your phone. Go into Settings -> Applications and make sure that “Unknown sources” is selected. This allows the Blocks Editor to install itself and communicate with your phone for testing purposes.

developing android apps

Then, click on “Development” and make sure that you’ve enabled both “USB debugging” and “Stay awake.”

how to build android apps

Guess what – that’s all you have to do to configure your phone to work with the programming tools.

When you first sign up to use the App Inventor, you’re going to need to install the Block Editor as one of the steps. This is a Java application that installs onto your computer, and it gives you the ability to modify the behavior of the “blocks” that you’ve created in design mode, and it communicates directly with your phone.

Once you’ve signed up and you’re in the design tool, just select “New” and name your first project. In this example, I’m going to get started on a matching game for my kids where they need to match images of cats on a 3 x 4 grid.

how to build android apps

The design tool is set up a lot like Visual Basic and Visual C++, where the objects that you can use are on the left, and the design area, or “form” is in the center. In this case the form is the individual screen, and you can have multiple screens per app (just remember to include navigation).

how to build android apps

Once you click and drag a component onto the screen, it shows up on the right side of the design app under Components. Under “Properties” you can view and modify the initial display properties of that component.

how to make android apps

Now below I’ve basically created a screen with a 3×4 table (you can find this under “Screen Arrangement“) and then I added 12 buttons with individual cat images for each “image” property of the buttons.

how to make android apps

Once you start using the Blocks editor, all of these design properties can be modified. As you can see below, I defined the image of button 1 as a blank image (which I loaded in design mode as a grey image called “Image1″).

how to make android apps

As you can see, everything is visual – there’s no coding here. Under “My Blocks” I chose the “Screen1″ component and dragged the “Initialize” event to the center program area. You need to tell an event what to do when it takes place, so I dragged the Button1.Image property into the box, and then told it to make that property use “Image1″.

After about an hour of playing around – I finished programming the initialization of all of the buttons when my app first loads, as well as what to do when the user clicks on the first button.

As you can see, even an application like a matching game can require that you carefully consider every possibility. You can program for all possibilities by defining and programming component events. The example above can get complicated, so if you’re just getting started, stick with something simple like the example Google provides when you first sign up. You can graduate from there when you’re comfortable with the programming and testing process.

As you can see in the left navbar in the design tool, you have access to just about everything your Android can do – sensors, contact list, video players and much more.

So – here’s my work of art, programmed, tested and then finally installed onto my phone in about an hour. I still need to program the rest of the buttons as well.

developing android apps

Needless to say, the fact that I could even get anything to run on my phone with about an hour’s worth of effort is impressive. I thought it would be nearly impossible.

So, sign up to become a developer and try out the Google App Developer yourself. You may be surprised, you may find yourself creating some of the coolest applications imaginable. All it takes is a little bit of patience and some time to play around with the development tools.

Let us know if you were able to succeed in developing your own Android apps and what you think of the design and block editor tools in the comments section below!

Image Credit : Svet

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Hot Tech Deals [Jan 5th]

Posted: 05 Jan 2011 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.

  1. TODAY ONLY Just Cause 2 Game for Playstation 3 $24.77 Free Shipping
  2. AOC e2243Fw 22in LED-Backlit LCD Monitor $119.98 Free Shipping
  3. Polk Audio RM6750 5.1ch Home Theater Speaker System $179.99 Free Shipping via code SPEAKER14 (Exp 1/11)
  4. TODAY ONLY Microsoft RLA-00001 LifeCam Show 2.0MP Webcame $21.99 Free Ship
  5. TODAY ONLY McAfee Total Protection 2011 Software (3-User) $6.99 Free Shipping
  6. Call of Duty: Black Ops Prestige Edition (Xbox 360) $79.99

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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5 Salary Comparison Tools For Your Next Job Search

Posted: 05 Jan 2011 11:31 AM PST

salary comparisonA search for a job usually beats a straight path to one that is financially more rewarding. The salary is the one firm number you can count on when it comes to underwriting job satisfaction.  But the one question we always ask is – what's the average salary for my work experience and profile?

A white collar guy with a few years under his belt can put a finger on a figure, but it still doesn't stop him from asking around and attempting a firmer fix on the right salary number. Having at least a ballpark salary figure is vital for negotiating during an interview.

The web gives us a few salary comparison tools to get to that ballpark figure. Salary comparison tools are also a great help when you are researching a career or planning a career change. Use these tools but also counter-check the salary with any other resources you can drum up.


salary comparison

Glassdoor is as close as you can get to some insider information without paying a dime for it. All details on salary, interview questions, and the company are posted anonymously. All bits of information are posted by current and former employees. Glassdoor is a career community which has a job search engine of its own. It has some nice sidelights like the section where you can take an office tour around a company by way of photos. The blog is also a good read for job tips (see Directory mention).


job salary comparison

The user generated salary comparison website greets you with a Google Map showing the concentration of shared salary data all over the world. All shared data is anonymous and in the end it's all about openness and fairness when it comes to a job search. You can submit your own data (first time users have to do that) or look it up for any company. The salary comparison is nicely displayed on a colorful graph (see Directory mention).


job salary comparison

The salary calculator also follows the same credo as the above websites. It's about finding your true worth after all. The site requires a log in to browse and compare all the global salary information. Lots of data is collected anonymously in four steps during the free sign-up process. One of the fields collects your satisfaction score with the company. The information you enter gives you the picture of the data you can collect while browsing other profiles (see Directory mention).


job salary comparison

As the site headlines – get a free salary report based on your job title, location, education, skills and experience. Apart from the customized salary survey, the website includes a full complement of tools for the professional. Using the links on the sidebar and the top menu, you can drill down and research a lot of specifics. For instance, Anonymous Profiles gives you a peek into your peers. The GigZig section could help to chart your future course while the tools on the top menu are useful career planning aids to explore (see Directory mention).

salary comparison

The website is an all round talent management and human resource portal. What's of interest to the job seeker is the free salary wizard that gives free salary information for thousands of jobs and locations across the US. The results of the search also lead to links to job postings. The site is enhanced further by special sections that help your search for more educational opportunities and seek career advice.

Comparison tools help us to benchmark and see where we stand. When it comes to the job, you can take these salary figures and run it on the numerous cost of living calculators found on the web to get the whole picture. Careerists of the last generation had to rely on hearsay and the grapevine for salary estimates. Though these websites aren't the holy gospel, they still help to paint a picture when it comes to the salary.

Have you used salary comparison tools? Do they get their numbers right?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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Put uTorrent On Steroids By Installing Extensions On It [Windows]

Posted: 05 Jan 2011 10:31 AM PST

utorrent extensionsNo one will argue that the most popular BitTorrent client (at least under Windows) is uTorrent. It’s small, it’s fast, and it’s also free. You can’t get any better combination than that, could you?

It turns out that you can. The developer of uTorrent is trying to improve the user experience by opening up the app to uTorrent extensions. If you’ve upgraded your uTorrent to the latest version (Windows version only), you will see the new menu called “Apps” which contains the ingredients to make your favorite BitTorrent client much more powerful.

Let’s Start With The Skins

uTorrent apps are HTML and Javascript compilations which are specifically built to run from within uTorrent. The concept of uTorrent apps is similar to browser extensions: to add more functionalities to the main software while still giving users full control on what functionalities they want to add.

To start using uTorrent apps, click on the “Apps” menu on the left pane of the uTorrent window. You will see a list of available apps. At the time of writing there are already seventeen apps in the repository, and the developer has promised that more are on the way. To add one of the apps functionality to uTorrent, click the “Install” button. You can also download the apps from the uTorrent Apps website in the form of “.btapp” files.

utorrent extensions

The first app that I chose to install was skins. This app will give users the ability to change the look of uTorrent’s interface. I clicked on “Skins” on the Apps’ page and arrived on the information page. Then I clicked the “Install” button to download and install the app.

utorrent plugins

The “Skins” menu appeared under the “Apps“. This menu will allow you to choose and install new skins under the “Browse Skins” tab and switch among the installed skins under the “Recent Skins” tab. Apply the skin that you want by clicking on the “Install” button inside the image box.

utorrent plugins

You can go back to the “Default Skin” easily by clicking the respective button, or you can also try to create your own skin using the “Create a Skin” button.

utorrent plugins

This is how uTorrent will look with one of the customized skins.

extend utorrent

And this one is how it will look under the default skin.

extend utorrent

The Other Apps

There are many other available apps inside the repository. Let’s take a look at some of them.

The second app from the list that caught my attention is VLC. Everybody knows VLC as a stand alone all-you-can-play media player. This VLC uTorrent app will display all the media that you downloaded using uTorrent, and you can easily select and play one of them using VLC in just one click.

extend utorrent

If you want to skip the information screen, you can just press the “Install” button on the repository page and uTorrent will download and install the app.


This is how the VLC app menu will look : a list of downloaded videos and music and a play button. To play a media file, just select one from the list and click “Play“.


If you love movies, you might want to also try VODO. Each month, this app will feature one movie that can be legally downloaded for free. The movies are provided by “creators who believe in the power of peer-to-peer distribution “. However, you are encouraged to donate straight to the creators to support them.

09e Vodo.png

After installing, VODO will display the “movie of the month” download page, and a list of other freely available movies.


Other apps that you might want to try are:

  • uMap: which will visualize the location of all the peers where you leech the file from.
  • 09a uMap.png

  • uBrowse: a file search utility that will help you locate the files that you have downloaded.
  • 09b uBrowse.png

  • Torrent Tweet: which will show you tweets about the torrent that you downloaded from others who have downloaded the same file. If you have a Twitter account, you can also contribute to the conversation.
  • 09d Torrent Tweet.png

    There are also games that you can play from within uTorrent, like Raptr, Outspark, and Tetronimoes. You can use these games to waste your time while waiting for your download to finish. You can browse the repository page for other available apps.

    Uninstalling Apps

    If – after trying out an app – you decide that you don’t want to use it, you can uninstall the app easily by right-clicking on the item under the Apps menu and choosing “Uninstall App” from the pop-up menu.


    You will get a confirmation window, asking you whether you really want to uninstall the app and reassuring you that none of your downloads will be interrupted nor removed. Click “Yes” to continue with the uninstallation.

    utorrent extensions

    As these apps are still in the very early stages, we will still have to wait and see whether additional functionalities from uTorrent apps will be as successful as browser extensions. Personally, I found that they are useful. All the apps that I tried worked as promised, except for Raptr – which is supposed to be a game repository but still doesn’t have any games inside its list.

    If you’ve used the apps before, or if you are a uTorrent user but never heard of the apps, try them and share your thoughts and opinions using the comments below.

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    5 Free Twitter Clients For The iPad

    Posted: 05 Jan 2011 09:31 AM PST

    twitter clients for ipadBack when the iPad was first released, I reviewed two of the first Twitter clients released for the tablet device. Since then, several new apps have emerged to provide various styled user interfaces for browsing and reading Twitter updates.

    From the official Twitter app to the broader social networking client apps, if you're an avid Twitter and iPad user, you will no doubt want to download more than one Twitter client for iPad, because each of the ones reviewed below offer something a little unique that you may find useful to how you interact with Twitter. With the new multitasking features of the iOS 4 for the iPad, there's little reason not to have a folder of several Twitter apps to choose from. Some client apps are great for extended Twitter browsing while others are more useful for quick tweeting and checking in on the latest updates.

    twitter clients for ipad


    While there are over a dozen Twitter clients in the App Store, this Twitter (iTunes Store Link) app is sort of the official one, produced by Twitter. It's the one I use most on my iPad. It contains all the standard features of most Twitter apps, including real time search, top tweets, Direct Messages, Mentions, photo sharing, internal web browsing, and the ability to share, copy and translate tweets.

    ipad twitter client

    While this Twitter client works in the typical linear fashion, its interface is composed into three sliding columns, the first one includes the Twitter tools, the second includes the timeline, and the third column is for viewing links and Twitter profile information.

    Website downloads in the application are fast, and the user interface is very intuitive. However, as suave as this application is, it shouldn't be the only Twitter client on your iPad. Let's look at some others.


    NibiruTech's TwitBird (iTunes Store Link) is a full featured Twitter client with a linear interface. TwitBird mirrors nearly all the features of the website version of Twitter. If you're a heavy Twitter user or addict, TwitBird has nearly everything you will probably need, including the ability to add multiple accounts, landscape and portrait viewing, shortening URLs,  inline photo viewing, geotagging support, Twitlonger support, and blocking and unblocking of contacts.

    ipad twitter client

    I like how you can mark tweets as as read, and can view how many new tweets have been added to your Home, saved searches, Lists, Mentions, and Direct Mentions.

    The tools for TwitBird are plentiful, including Nearby Tweets, Trends, Saved Links, and Public Timeline. But in addition, TwitBird's interface includes features for importing photos from your iPad Photo Album, accessing your contacts directly in its Address Book, connecting to your Facebook account, and audio recording a tweet.

    ipad twitter client

    You can also save a tweet as a template to re-use again.

    twitter clients for mobile

    There are premium and pro versions of TwitBird, but this free ad-supported version should be sufficient for most users.


    If you're both a heavy Twitter and Facebook user, this client app, TwitterBook (iTunes Store Link) does simply one thing: it enables you to send updates to your accounts at the same time. Unfortunately you can't view your updates and contacts on both social networks, but at least you don't have to open two different applications to post to both accounts.

    twitter clients for mobile

    HootSuite for Twitter

    If your social networking includes Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare, the iPad version of HootSuite (iTunes Store Link) may be your go-to Twitter client. If you're not familiar with the popular HootSuite website, check our MUO reviews here.

    HootSuite for the iPad contains most all the features of its website client. You can manage multiple accounts, comment on posts in your Facebook News Feed, perform real-time searches, schedule tweets for later posting, as well other standard features. All the standard Twitter tools are laid out columns in HootSuite making for convenient browsing by sliding across the columns and viewing updates.

    HootSuite may feel a little overwhelming for those new to Twitter and the iPad, but veterans social networkers will feel right at home.

    HelTweetica for Twitter

    For those of you who like the minimalist user interface, HelTweetica (iTunes Store Link) might appeal to you.

    twitter clients for mobile

    This Twitter client has all the standard features of most Twitter apps, but it includes some nice visual and information features that make it stand out. For example, it has an Analyze feature that gives you an hourly count summary of the most frequent Twitter users on your contact list.


    Tapping the app's All-Stars button will present the avatars of all your contacts. Tapping on a contact only gives you their last posted tweet, their Twitter name, and the last time they tweeted – all laid out of course in Helvetica font style.

    twitter clients for ipad

    There are a few other free Twitter client apps for iPad in the App Store, but the above five seem to be the most intuitive or they stand out in their features. However, if I overlooked a Twitter client for iPad that you like, please share it with us in the comments section below.

    If you're looking for desktop versions of Twitter clients, check Tim's comparative review of applications.

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    MiniTube – An Entirely New Way To Watch YouTube [Mac & Linux]

    Posted: 05 Jan 2011 08:31 AM PST

    watch movies on youtubeType any word, then sit back and watch a series of videos from YouTube. Then, if you want, download the videos you particularly like. It’s called MiniTube, and it’s a brand new YouTube experience. This lightweight Mac and Linux program is the perfect way to relax after a long day, because it feeds the best of YouTube to you without expecting much input from you.

    Web video is great, but there’s still a certain appeal to television. That appeal is the lack of thought one needs to put into watching it. MiniTube replicates this, to a certain extent, by requiring from the user only one input: the general search term. Do that, then sit back and watch. Best of all, this player doesn’t make use of Flash. Mac and Linux users know that Flash isn’t nearly as stable on their platforms as it is on Windows, so this is certainly a blessing.

    MiniTube is currently available for Mac and Linux, though a Windows version is also underway.

    A New Way To Watch

    There’s not much to MiniTube at first glance:

    watch movies on youtube

    But really, what else does there have to be? To start watching, just type what you want to watch and let MiniTube take care of the rest. It will automatically queue up YouTube’s most relevant videos for you and play non-stop, until you tell the program to do otherwise:

    how to download youtube videos

    This is a particularly nice way to watch public domain cartoons; I used it to watch Bugs Bunny, for example. But if you wanted to see music videos or concerts, all you’d need to do is type the name of the artist. If you want to see people being hurt, all you’d have to do is type “fail.” You get the idea: type something, watch related videos.


    Right-click any video, or look at the program’s menu bar, and you’ll find some interesting options:

    how to download youtube videos

    Copying the YouTube link is obviously useful if you want to share a given video with a friend. Switching to full-screen mode is also awesome for couch-bound viewers. But what I really like here is the “Download” option.

    watch movies on youtube

    Sure, there are a lot of great ways out there to download YouTube videos. I like 3ouTube and ClipGrab quite a bit myself. But if you’re using MiniTube to watch YouTube videos, it’s nice to be able to use that same tool to download videos.

    Saving videos on your computer is a great way to ensure you’ll be able to view them years from now, so give it a try.


    Installing MiniTube is relatively painless; just head over to MiniTube’s homepage and find the download for your platform. Mac users: this program actually works on PowerPC Macs, a rarity in this age, so check it out. Mac users are offered a “Demo” download, but I can’t tell what makes it different than the full version.

    Linux users: you’ll want to check out the Linux installation instructions. Here you’ll find a PPA for Ubuntu users and various other packages, as well as instructions that should work for most distributions. If you’d rather not mess around with that, know that there’s a portable package for every Linux distro over at PortableLinuxApps, the best place to find portable Linux applications that work on any distro.

    How do you like this program, everyone? I love it myself, but I know opinions vary. Let us know what you think in the comments below, or recommend alternative programs. I’d particularly love to hear about anything that might work on Windows like this does!

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    Top 5 Free iPhone Apps You’ll Need For The New Year

    Posted: 05 Jan 2011 07:30 AM PST

    free iphone appsNow that we’ve started a new year, you probably have a lot of lofty goals set for yourself. That’s good, you’ve taken some initiative this year. Depending on what those goals are, however, you may need some help to see them through.

    Whether you’re looking to get in better shape physically (or mentally), straighten out your finances, learn a new skill, or just manage your time better, you know the saying — there’s an app for that.

    In this article, I’m going to give you 5 free iPhone apps that I think will help you keep those goals of yours on track. I’ve chosen them from five different categories: health, finance, relationships, time management, and knowledge. Best of luck to you in the new year!

    1. Health: Lose It!

    free iphone apps

    Every year, millions of people create weight-loss goals for themselves or set other means to get healthy. Gym memberships skyrocket in the month of January, and then what happens? Within a month or two, the majority of people have already given up. FAIL.

    Is that going to be you this year? No, because you have technology on your side. Apps like Lose It! help you count your calories and set/follow goals for yourself. I happen to know as a fact that it takes 21 straight days of doing something to turn it into a habit. With this app, you can get there by establishing a calorie budget and staying on track each day by recording your food intake and exercise output.

    According to the makers of the app, more than 85% of their active users have lost weight.

    I also think you should check out the DailyBurn app, which compliments the social fitness site, and RunKeeper Pro.

    2. Finance: Pageonce Bills

    best free iphone apps

    Maybe one of your goals was to finally get your finances in order this year. Saving money is much easier if you know where it’s going, and if you keep better track of your bills and due dates, you can save on late fees.

    Pageonce Bills gives you a fast and easy way to keep track of all your bills in one organized place. You can use it to view detailed bill statements, get reminders, see how you spend your money, and track payments over time. Once you set it up, all of your detailed bill statements automatically push to your iPhone.

    If you’re really into money management, check out some of the other great money-related apps I’ve written about.

    3. Relationships: Boxcar

    best free iphone apps

    One goal that I think gets overlooked on a lot of people’s lists is keeping in better touch with others. Time goes by fast, and while all your friends and acquaintances may have profiles on sites like Facebook and Twitter, you still don’t want to lose touch with those people.

    Boxcar allows you to manage your relationships on all the social sites you belong to more easily. This app will send you push notifications anytime you receive a message, mention, retweet, or anything else. It works with Twitter, Facebook, email, RSS, Growl, Github, Google Voice, Google Buzz, and more.

    You can use it as a central inbox for all of your notifications. Once you’re on top of all your incoming messages, start re-connecting with people and sending some of your own!

    4. Time Management: wunderlist Task Manager

    best free iphone apps

    We all have goals to get more organized, do more with our time, or just be more productive. This app will help you do all of those things if you use it properly. As a task management tool, wunderlist helps you organize your to-do lists and synchronize them with your desktop.

    Add tasks and notes, set due dates, and get badge notifications about how many tasks are due today and how many are overdue. Put an end to your procrastination this year and save time for the rest of your resolutions.

    Another great app that’s similar is Do it (Tomorrow).

    5. Knowledge: Howcast

    free iphone apps

    For just about everything else, there’s Howcast for iPhone. This app shows you fun, useful how-to videos on a wide variety of topics, so if you have a really specific goal on your list, like “learn to moonwalk” or “become a bartender”, you can probably start here.

    With Howcast for iPhone you can search for a specific how-to video, shake your phone to get a random one, save videos to your favorites, and look at the history of those you’ve recently watched.

    For assistance with this, you should also check out the wikiHow app. If your goal for this year was to increase your general knowledge, Wikipanion is a good place to start as well.


    If you are looking for some general resources to go along with the iPhone apps I’ve given you, definitely check out Angela’s article on Best Tools To Help You With The Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions. There’s a ton of good stuff there for you as well.

    What are your goals for the new year? Have you been keeping your resolutions so far?

    Image Credit: Sugar Daze

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