Thursday, January 13, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [January 12th]” plus 10 more “Cool Websites and Tools [January 12th]” plus 10 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [January 12th]

Posted: 12 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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Counto – Blogs are a great way to publish content related to a specific theme or topic. Similarly, timeblogs are blogs that specifically focus on an upcoming event. Counto lets you create timeblogs with embedded countdown timers so you can interact with your users easily and share your excitement about the event. You can completely customize the design of your timeblog. Read more: Lichess: Play Online Chess Game Against Computer Or Others


gtimereport – As online workers, we always find the quickest way to get our timesheets or work reports done. If you use Google Docs or Google Calendar, you can use GTimeReport for quick timesheet generation. This tool lets you create time reports from your Google Calendar for free, basically allowing you to use your GCal to log work and then export a timesheet report. Read more: gtimereport: Create Timesheets From Your Google Calendar



Mirror Creator – If you are a regular user of file hosting websites, you must have encountered times when the download link to a file was not working. In most cases there are no alternatives or 'mirror' links provided and you are unable to obtain the file. To avoid this happening to your uploaded files you should pay a visit to Mirror Creator. Read more: MirrorCreator: Simultaneously Upload Files to Multiple Hosts



Maker Factory – What do you do when you need stuff like a waterproof pedometer or domekit hexagonal? Or maybe a plastic widget that can only be made through a 3D printer? Such goods that are made using fabrication technologies aren't very easy to find in shops. Maker Factory is a website which aims to address this issue by connecting people who need such things with those who make them. Read more: Maker Factory: A Marketplace For Goods Made Using Fabrication Technologies



Parks And More – Are you ready to take your friends to your next big outdoor adventure? Then check out ParksAndMore. This collaborative national parks directory that provides information about parks in the United States. Find parks by browsing through the different states and drilling down to local parks or by using the quick search functionality. Read more: ParksAndMore: State & National Parks Directory (US Only)


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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Student DOG Organizer – A Superb Digital Organizer You Should Check Out [Windows]

Posted: 12 Jan 2011 05:31 PM PST

digital organizerThere are many task managers, such as Remember The Milk and Toodledo that have been praised for helping users get things done in an organized fashion, but a lot of times, a task manager isn’t enough. Most likely, you need to integrate task managers with other programs, such as your calendar application. This is especially true for students that constantly need to be organized without dying in the swamp of tasks. Finding a task manager that works without sucking the little time you’ve got (because of its complex inputting syntax or what not) may be a challenge, but not for long.

Student DOG Organizer (version 2.1) is a popular download that contains a handy digital interface for organizing tasks that most students get day by day. Think of it as a digital student planner, complete with contacts, calendar, tasks, grades, notes and schedule sections.

What makes this program a gem is also the Overview section, which is actually the first one, so you can see a summary of the most immediate appointments, classes, tasks and even birthdays.

digital organizer

Of course, this Overview section certainly works better provided you actually fill out all sections of the application. Most sections work the way you’d expect, but the next ones are worth mentioning because they’re especially helpful.


free task list organizers

The Notes section lets you create notes and place them in specific categories, which could be certain classes or even random notes. The best way to go about creating notes would be to first create a category and then the note, which will ask you for the note title before opening Wordpad, with the file saved according to the title you provided. If you’re not too keen on using Wordpad, you can select a different program in the Settings tab. You can either select the built-in editor (a simple WYSIWYG composing window), Microsoft Word, or use a EXE program to which you will specify the path in the next field.

free task list organizers

The tooltips of the icons actually showed information in what I believe is Czech, but otherwise, the Notes section is truly a godsend as it displays links to note files on the computer while still organizing them by categories. In other words, it helps you tag documents and also automates the organizing and sorting beautifully.

Tasks With “Tagging”

free task list organizers

The Tasks section allows you to create a simple to-do list sorted by categories. You basically just need to create categories first before creating a new to-do, much like how you do in the Notes section. You can move items up and down to prioritize them, as well as insert lines to separate items and make groups if you so wish.


task organizer

In the Marks section, you can keep up with your grades and averages for each class to easily determine your progress in the class. Included is a list of 12 subjects that you might need to edit if you’re using the tool for college. To do that, you’ll have to go into the Settings tab and click on Edit Subjects List to alter any class.

task organizer


You can also create a visual representation of your class schedule on the Timetable tab of the program. You can set a different color for each class and set the start and end of this schedule. In the Settings tab, you’ll also be able to choose between high school-style and college-style schedules, which differ in that high school classes run in consecutive periods while you set your own schedule in college.

digital organizer

The best part about Student DOG Organizer is that the program brings together what could be several different applications all in one package and so it offers a sort of dashboard where you can see an overview of everything you’ve inputted in one view. What I would love to see in this application though, is the ability to export or backup the data should my laptop ever get stolen while all my work is on it, or should I need to use another computer in a university lab and need access to my data.

What applications or methods do you prefer to keep up with your student tasks?

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5 Great Linux Media Center Distributions To Transform Your TV

Posted: 12 Jan 2011 03:31 PM PST

linux media centerWhilst writing my recent article about XBMC, I came across a few quality Linux distributions aimed solely at providing media center capabilities.

Many people have used Microsoft’s Windows Media Center at some point, either on their PC or Xbox 360. Personally I found it a frustrating experience, with my Xbox 360 not recognising my Windows 7 laptop, not to mention limited streaming and playback options.

If you really want a powerful media center and are fed up doing it Microsoft-style then one of these Linux solutions might just do the job.


I’ve already mentioned it once – and for good reason. If you read my XBMC article then you’ll know that I personally think it’s the bees knees. Once a hacked media solution for the first generation Xbox console, XBMC now packs a punch and comes with its own stripped-down Linux distro.

linux media center

You can use a blank CD or USB stick to create a Live version of XBMC which boots straight into its media interface. Once you’re satisfied you’ve got no hardware incompatibilities you can install it straight to the hard drive (or even keep it on the USB stick for a truly portable solution).

XBMC is responsible for a number of other media products including the highly praised Boxee.


Based on Ubuntu (clue’s in the name), Mythbuntu is a dedicated MythTV distribution with full recording support (use your box as a PVR). The team of volunteers closely monitor the main Ubuntu project and release updates for their media distro every 6 months.

linux media server

Mythbuntu uses the XFCE desktop (found in Xubuntu) for its fast and simple nature. All the usual Ubuntu software extras have been stripped out, and your system is administered from the Mythbuntu Control Center.

The distribution provides you with a highly configurable system on which to build upon. What’s really nice about it is you retain compatibility with Ubuntu which makes customizing your box a cinch.


A fantastic all-in-one solution which brings the power of several services to your living room. Included in Element is the aforementioned XBMC, Boxee, YouTube XL, Hulu and more. You also have access to a web browser (that’ll be Firefox) with Cooliris support and as many extras and add-ons you can download.

linux media server

Thanks to pre-installed Boxee and the fantastic XBMC you’ll be able to stream the best live TV and make the most of your local media too. Element is based on Ubuntu, and thus binary compatible with available software.


Much like XBMC, GeeXboX aims to be a ready-to-go media solution ideal for streaming local, networked and online media. The project has spawned numerous side-projects including networking protocol uShare.

linux media center

GeeXboX uses an integrated media center frontend called Enna (which you can also download separately). The latest version (2.X) has improved on the visual style and aesthetics to bring this dedicated media OS in line with similar projects.

The distro can be run from a Live CD or USB stick, or you can install it on your media PC’s hard drive. The goal of the project is to embed all media applications into a single interface for the perfect media hub.

Do It Yourself

It might sound like a bit of a long shot, but there’s every opportunity for you to custom build your own particular set-up to use as a media center. There’s a myriad of lightweight Linux installs, many of which are binary compatible with big distributions such as Ubuntu.

What this gives you is the barebones of a media center PC and the option to install what you want, be it Boxee, XBMC, MythTV and even set up games and emulators to enjoy from your living room. You can then use a fancy launcher to sew it all together.

Time consuming but rewarding!


You’re not exactly spoiled for choice, but considering these offerings are completely free and have been developed by volunteers they pack a considerable punch. Luckily it’s easy to download and test out any of these distros using just a CD or USB stick.

If you’ve not tried these before then prepare to be impressed at what the developers have been working on in their spare time.

Image Credit: Juan Ignacio Sanchez Lara

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2 Video Card Tests To Troubleshoot Annoying Video Problems

Posted: 12 Jan 2011 01:31 PM PST

video card testSo you’re trying to play a new video game with awesome graphics and special effects, but for some reason the game either crashes or the graphics are very “laggy” – it’s more like watching a movie in slow motion than a high quality video game.

Sometimes the cause of this is that your system may not have the CPU power to handle everything that’s required of the game. However, other times it just boils down to the fact that your video card may not be able to handle it. It’s not always easy to determine which the problem is, but one thing that is easy enough is performing a video card test. If it is, you may decide to upgrade or overclock your current card, as Matt described earlier. There are a lot of free apps available for doing a stress test of your video card. Matt previously covered one called Furmark that does a pretty good job.

Before you make any decision as to whether or not to replace your video card, here are a few more excellent apps you can run that will perform a video card stress test and help you determine whether that is what is currently limiting your gaming experience.

Video Card Stability Test

The real test of any video card is its ability to handle multiple, highly detailed moving 3D objects at the same time. One of the most popular free applications that you can use to benchmark your video card as well as give it a stress test is the Video Card Stability Test.

video card test

There are two main functions of this app – taking a baseline of your video card compared to the performance of similar cards, or performing a stress test (stability test) over an extended period of time in order to push your video card to its limits, and monitor whether the 3D graphics skip, lag or freeze. When you click on “Benchmark,” the application will rotate a huge 3D image of the Earth and display the frames-per-second that your video card is able to produce.

video card stability test

Once the bar graph at the right reaches the top, the test is over and you’ll see the FPS score of your video card compared to other leading video cards such as the ATI Radeon family or GeForce cards.

video card stability test

When your benchmark test is finished, the score shows up in the top pane of the main window. The next feature of the software is running the stability test. You can get started with that by just clicking on “Start” in the right panel.

video card stability test

The stability test is a never-ending test (until you click stop) that lets you monitor how your graphics card handles the two rotating 3D images. The software utilizes what’s called VertexShader and PixelShader to push your video card. You’ll see the top 3D globe start off small and then slowly zoom in and then zoom back out. This varies the load on your graphics card over time to perform a good stress test.

video card benchmark

The longer you let the software run, the better because you’ll also be able to test video card memory limits whether at some point the rotating graphics start to lag or freeze. If you see the test eventually bring your video card to its knees, then you know that your card is the problem.

Real-Time HDR IBL

Another very cool application that you can use to test your video card (even though it wasn’t specifically written for that purpose) is a free app called Rthdribl. Strange name – but it stands for Real-Time High Dynamic Range Image-Based Lighting.  This is a graphics rendering tool that displays some of the most amazing 3D graphics with many moving objects that are sure to wow you.

video card benchmark

When you first run it, you’ll see a world of floating “planets” that look like marbles. You can manually rotate around the scene with your mouse by using the controls displayed on the screen. Frames per second are displayed in the upper left corner.

video card benchmark

With the mouse, you can pause the action and then zoom right into the center object. Through the menu system you can change skin, change focus and modify a bunch of other view settings. You can also change the model itself by opening a new model file – such as the skull.

If you really want to push your video card, just maximize the display to full screen and keep an eye on that FPS in the upper left corner. It’ll drop quite a bit (or might even crash if your card can’t keep up).

video card test

If you plan to upgrade your card, make a note of this FPS value when you’re running this 3D movie app in full-screen. After you’ve upgraded, run the app again and note the improvement, this will tell you whether you got your money’s worth with the upgrade.

If you’re experiencing any graphics issues with any new games you buy, keep these two apps on hand so that you can run a quick video card test and check the FPS rating you’re achieving with your current card. At the very least, this will help you cross off the video card as the source of your problems, and they’re a great way to benchmark the performance of your graphics card.

Have you tried either of these apps? How did your graphics card perform? Share your own insight and tips in the comments section below.

Image credit: Christy Thompson

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Hot Tech Deals [Jan 12th]

Posted: 12 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. Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS5 12.1MP 12X Digital Camera $179.99 Free Shipping via code Celebrate10 (Exp 1/17)
  2. Hitachi 0S03061 750GB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive $62.99 Free Shipping via code Celebrate10 (Exp 1/17)
  3. Garmin nuvi 265T GPS (3.5in, Bluetooth, Lifetime Traffic Updates) $85.49 Free Shipping via code Celebrate10 (Exp 1/17)
  4. TODAY ONLY Vizio E470VA 47in LCD HDTV (1080p, 120Hz) $647.99 Free Shipping
  5. LG 42LD520 42 inch LCD HDTV (1080p, 120Hz) $549.00 Free Shipping via code EMCKJJJ74 (exp 1/17, see price at checkout)
  6. EXPIRING OCZ Fatal1ty 4GB(2x2GB) DDR3-1600 PC3-12800 Dual Channel Memory (Cas 7) $44.99AR
  7. Sceptre E420BV-F120 42 inch LED-LCD HDTV (1080p) $539.99 Free Shipping via code CELEBRATE10

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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10 Websites For Famous Movie Quotes

Posted: 12 Jan 2011 11:31 AM PST

famous movie quotesIt is a really simple thing that gives a lot of pleasure to those of us crazy about movies. Film or movie quotes might be that one line dialog or two in an entire movie.  But, just like a good scene, a memorable one-liner in a movie stays on.

Some famous movie quotes even become part of street speak (“Go ahead; make my day” – Dirty Harry).  Some are so natural that we don't even realize that they actually came from a movie (“There’s no place like home” – The Wizard of Oz). Some become clichés (“That's classified. If I tell you I'll have to kill you” – Top Gun), and some become folklore (“May the Force be with you” – Star Wars IV).

If you are a film buff you have lots of places to revisit and relive them. Sandwiched between a search engine and an encyclopedic site like IMDB are these ten that are only about famous movie quotes.


famous movie quotes

Subzin is a search engine that helps to settle an age-old argument – which movie is this quote from? Type in the quote and you get the answer. Sometimes quotes get reused in similar forms in a lot of other movies or TV shows too and so you can have multiple results. Just like any search engine, the accuracy of the results depends on the correctness of what you type in (see Directory mention).

The MovieWavs Page

movie quotes and lines

At MovieWavs, you get to read and hear the original one-liners from movies and TV shows. The site showcases movie quotes and downloadable movie sound files. At present you have 17,196 wav files and 17,196 mp3 files available for free download from a long lineup of films, TV and cartoon shows. You can listen to them online, right-click the link and save it as MP3 or WAV, and even get it as an iPhone ringtone.

Reel Life Wisdom

movie quotes and lines

This movie quotes website is a clean nicely laid out resource with a collection of over 2,900 hand-picked quotes from films across the ages. The uniqueness of the quote collection is in its theme – life and inspiration. You can take the help of the search box or more conveniently use the tags arranged around ‘wisdom’ topics. Check out the blog posts for some interesting quote related stuff (how about The 11 Worst Movie Lines for Men on a First Date?)

Movie Quotes

movie quotes and lines

The movie quote website says that it has a million famous and funny movie quotes and movie lines in their database. Here you can not only browse through the movie quote collection but also submit your own. The Movie Quote game sounds like an interesting guessing game though lately it seems to be having some coding problems.

Killer Clips

movie quotes gives you a different way to revisit great movie quotes. The site is actually meant to host miniclips of movie scenes, but then most of the memorable scenes have memorable quotes. Search by keyword or browse the alphabetical index. Each title has its own page. A small Flash clip tells you the number of quotes you can reference in the movie. A mouseover on the circles plays back the audio of the quote. Little emoticons also categorize the quotes.


movie quotes

At, all quotes are contributed by the community of users. Some of the quotes also have an associated YouTube video attached with it. Some videos are removed because of copyright restrictions of course. As a member of the community, you can rate quotes, arrange your favorites in a list and reorder them around. After all that, you can also share your favorite quotes with other members.


movie quotes

Filmsite has a great collection of movie quotes. For sheer variety you have lists like Greatest Film Misquotes and Greatest Brief Film Quotes. Some of the quotes have attached sound files too. Film buffs might want to take up the challenge of the few quizzes on the page. Test yourself with Hilarious Quotes in the Movies Quiz or The Mafia Movie Quotes Quiz.

Movie Quotes of the Day

The site is an email web game which tests your knowledge of movie quotes. Sign up to receive an email with a quote from a movie every weekday. Answer that correctly and you win points. Be the first to answer and you get extra.


We know that Wikipedia itself is a huge source for movie plots and other background information. The sister wiki, Wikiquote includes most of the titles found there in a large alphabetical list. Clicking on any title takes you to the movie page with lines of memorable dialogs spoken by the characters. Also, you can check out the cast lineup and taglines for the movie.

Wikipedia also has a page on a list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema. Guess which movie has the most mentions on the list?

The Movie Quotes

famous movie quotes

Here, you can submit famous movie quotes which you think really struck a chord. But browsers can go through the quotes by genre, title, year, or just do it randomly. The good quotes also get rated by points.

There isn't an aspect of films and movies that the web hasn't tapped. Do you go back and relive standout cinematic moments with the help of quotes? Let us know if these sites help.

Image: Shutterstock

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How To Customize The GRUB Boot Loader Using BURG [Ubuntu]

Posted: 12 Jan 2011 10:31 AM PST

grub boot loaderAre you setting up your computer to dual-boot between two operating systems (or more)?  If so, you must be familiar with the boot loader. This tool enables users to choose which operating system he/she wants to log into. The boot loader that comes with the Ubuntu installation is called GRUB.

As useful as it is, the GRUB boot loader is not the prettiest girl in town. The interface is only as beautiful as a text-based interface can be. Even though some people can live with it just fine, some others wish they could beautify the look a little bit.

If you don’t mind meddling with command lines, you can apply some eye candy (and more functionalities) to GRUB with the help of BURG.

Playing Between The Lines

According to the explanation in the Community Ubuntu Documentation:

BURG stands for Brand-new Universal loadeR from GRUB. It’s based on GRUB and adds features like new object format and configurable menu system.

To add BURG from within your Ubuntu installation, you have to use command lines. But worry not, young Jedi! It’s not as scary as it sounds. As long as you follow everything to the letter – no pun intended – you should be just fine.

But before we begin, let’s look at the original boot loader text-based interface that we are trying to change.

grub boot loader

The first step you should do is to log into your Ubuntu installation. Then open “Terminal” to execute all the command lines needed to download, install, and configure BURG. You can find Terminal inside “Applications – Accessories“, or you can also use the search function to find it.

grub loader

By default, BURG is not included in Ubuntu’s standard repository. So you should add the server that hosts BURG files to the repository by executing this command line:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bean123ch/burg

To avoid mistyping, it’s easier to copy and paste that line to Terminal, and press Enter to execute it.

grub loader

Then you should download and install BURG (loader, themes and emulator). Use this command to do that:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install burg

grub loader

The process could take a while, depending on the speed of your internet connection. It’s essential that you use a stable connection to get the best result. From my experiments, I found out that an unstable connection will cause download problems: some of the components might not download completely, and the installation process will fail.

Configuring BURG

After we finish the download and installation process, the next step is to configure BURG. The Terminal will display something like this:

install grub loader

Press Enter to go to the next screen, and another Enter to skip again.

install grub loader

You will arrive at this “Configuring burg-pc” screen. This one is a little tricky because hitting Enter will not bring you anywhere. After several trial and errors, I found out that you have to select the “OK” option by using the right arrow key on the keyboard or by pressing tab, then after the “OK” is selected, you can press Enter to continue.

install grub loader

The following screen will ask you to choose which device is the “GRUB install device“. If your computer has only one hard drive, you will only see one device. The problem is, how to select it? To avoid accidentally skipping this configuration, press Space to select the device before pressing Enter.

03d Install Device Choose.jpg

Navigating BURG

The configuration is now done. You can restart your system and the GRUB boot loader menu will be replaced by BURG.

Navigating within BURG is easy: use the arrow keys on the keyboard to choose the operating system and Enter to load it.

You can also switch between themes easily by pressing F2 to bring up the list of available themes, move between the items with arrow keys, and hit Enter to choose one. Here are some examples of available themes.

06 Burg Themes.jpg

Other Function keys that you can use are F1 for Help and F3 to change screen resolution.

Installing BURG From Windows

BURG also comes with a Windows installer. You can get the installer from BURG’s download page. Using it is also very easy: install it,

05a Windows Installer.jpg

And click “Add Boot Entry” under “Programs – Burg” menu.

grub boot loader

However, I found this method to be working only if you installed Ubuntu from within Windows. So for those who installed Ubuntu alongside Windows, you have to stick with the command lines.

To be honest, I’m a total newbie when it comes to Ubuntu (Linux) and command lines. I had to repeat the experiment several times just to get it (almost) right, and I’m still trying to grasp everything that I’ve done and described here. So, if you Linux experts out there have found things that I missed here, please do not hesitate to share your input in the comments below.

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How To Loan Your Kindle E-Books To Other Amazon Members

Posted: 12 Jan 2011 09:31 AM PST

loan kindle booksIf you're an avid Kindle e-book reader like I am, you may be happy to know that Amazon now allows members to share their Kindle e-books with other Kindle users. This feature has been available with other e-book sellers for quite some time, most notably Barnes and Noble's Nook e-reading service. As you may know, the Kindle 3G e-book reader was Amazon's best-selling product over the holiday season.

As we have previously reviewed here on MUO, the Kindle e-reading app is available for all major devices, including the iPhone, iPad, Android, and the Blackberry. Kindle e-books can even be read on the Mac and PC. The price of Amazon e-books are still relatively great value, but now with their e-book lending feature, the service is even more attractive.

How It Works

Basically, all your purchased Kindle e-books in your Kindle library can be loaned out, but unfortunately only if the publisher of an e-book makes it lendable. So far out of the 15 purchased e-books in my Kindle library, only three are lendable. But I'm sure more publishers will come on board with this service in the coming months.

When you link to your Kindle Library on Amazon, you can click on the + button of each of your Kindle e-books to see if they are available for loan.

loan kindle books

Likewise, when you browse for e-books on the Kindle Store, it will also indicate if the e-book is lendable.

loan kindle ebooks

The other caveat to this service is that Kindle e-books can only be loaned out for 14 days.

The recipient of your lendable e-book does not have to own a Kindle. The e-books can also be read on other devices as stated above. However, the borrower of the e-book must already be or become an Amazon member to access the loaned e-book.

Loaning An E-Book

When you're ready to loan one of your e-books, simply click on the “Loan this book” button, and the resulting lending details will appear.

loan kindle ebooks

The recipient of the loan has up to 7 days to accept the loan, and only 14 days to keep the loaned e-book for reading purposes. While your e-book is loaned out, you don't have access to read it, which is basically the same as loaning out a paper book.

loan kindle ebooks

Additionally, when your e-book is on loan, all your annotations for the e-book are not visible to the borrower. Making annotations visible or not should be a preference option, as I could imagine sharing annotations could be a great study tool between two people sharing an e-book. The borrower can also make annotations in the e-book which are not visible to the lender. According to Amazon, “if a borrower purchases the same title after the loan has ended, any notes and highlights made in the loaned book will be retained in the purchased version“.

You can of course view the status of your loans from your Kindle library, by again clicking the + symbol next to the title and viewing the details of the e-books you have loaned or borrowed. You will also receive notifications about the status of your loaned and borrowed e-books.

While 14 days is a relatively short time to loan out a book, unlike with paper books you will at least get your book back in a reasonable time. Of course there should also be an option to pass along e-books to someone indefinitely, as can be done with paper books.

Amazon also says “Kindle book lending can only be initiated by customers residing in the United States.  If a loan is initiated to a customer outside the United States, the borrower may not be able to accept the loan if the title is not available in their country due to publisher geographical rights“.

Finding Lendable E-Books

If you don't have a few friends to lend or borrow e-books, you might consider joining one of several social networking sites for book readers.

Members of Goodreads, for example, have already created a Kindle Lending group on the site for sharing their e-books.

how to loan kindle books

You could go through your list of e-books to see which are available, tag them as lendable, and create a link to your list for others to view.

loan kindle books

A few groups on Facebook, such as this one and this one, have already been set up for lendable books as well. I'm sure that soon some enterprising web developers will be creating entire websites based on this and other e-book lending services.

There's much to be desired about Amazon's e-book lending feature. You should, for example, be able to initiate the lending process from within the Kindle reader or a Kindle e-reading application.

Let us know what you think about this feature. Have you tried it yet? What do you like about it, and what's missing?



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Alt & F2 – The Ultimate Linux Keyboard Shortcut

Posted: 12 Jan 2011 08:31 AM PST

linux keyboard shortcutsOne Linux keyboard shortcut gives you quick access to all of your software and some useful commands. It’s like a portable command line, and it’s probably already built into your Linux distro of choice. Just hit “Alt” and “F2″ at the same time to get started. Whether you want to force-quit a hanging application or quickly launch your favorite text editor, this shortcut is indispensable for Linux users.

Most long-time Linux users are probably already familiar with Linux keyboard shortcuts, but new Linux converts might not have discovered this simple shortcut yet. They should, because once you get used to using it you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. It’s a great way to quickly launch your favorite applications, and can be used to do much more.

We’ve already highlighted various Ubuntu keyboard shortcuts you might not know, but somehow we neglected to mention this one. It’s time to remedy that. This keyboard shortcut works by default on Gnome, KDE and XFCE systems. Not sure what any of that means? Then you’re probably using one of them, so you should be fine. Let’s check out what this shortcut can do.

What It Does

Press Alt and F2 and you’ll see a humble window:

linux keyboard shortcuts

It doesn’t look like much, and might look slightly different depending on your distro. One thing is for sure, though: start typing the name of a program and you’ll see results quickly:

linux shortcuts

Using this to launch programs requires that you know their command name, but it’s usually fairly obvious. Just type the name of the program, without caps in most cases. As shown above, a handy auto-complete feature will let you know when there’s only one possible program including all the letters you’ve typed already. This can make typing certain commands very quick; type “fire“, for example, and Firefox comes up.

Any program can be launched this way; you just need to know the command for a given program. Check out this thread on the OpenSuse forums for a quick list of programs you might want to launch.

Use this shortcut to launch programs for a while and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it, I promise you that. But it’s not just great for launching programs.

Awesome Commands To Try

No, there’s a bit more you can do. For example, should you want to kill a certain program, you should try typing “xkill“. This command will give you a cursor you can use to force any program to quit by clicking on it, perfect when a piece of software hangs on you:

linux keyboard shortcuts

Just click to kill; it’s that easy.

Alternatively, you could try the “killall” command. Type “killall” followed by the system name of the program you want to kill and hit enter. For example, to kill the file browser Nautilus, type “killall nautilus” and the program will be forced to close.

Ubuntu Netbook Edition

Users of Ubuntu’s Netbook Edition (10.10) will notice that this shortcut doesn’t work. This is very irritating, but can be overcome. The good folks at OMG! Ubuntu! wrote a great article about 5 ways to add ALT F2 functionality to Ubuntu, which outlines a few options. Just install one of those programs, then add a keyboard shortcut using the keyboard shortcut tool found under the settings.

Apparently the version of Ubuntu in 11.04 will bring back this feature by default, but it’s nice to have a way to restore the feature.


Alt F2 isn’t just my favorite Linux shortcut; I end up missing it on Windows and OS X as well. I think you’ll love using it.

If not, you should perhaps check out search and launch app Synapse or Gnome Do. These programs offer not only application launching but much more, so check them out.

For me though, no bells and whistles are needed. I want to launch software quickly, and this keyboard shortcut delivers. Let me know what you think below, and also feel free to share some handy commands as well.

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Glympse – A Safe & Simple Way To Share Your Location With Your Mobile Device

Posted: 12 Jan 2011 07:31 AM PST

share your locationI’ve been preaching about geolocation apps for quite some time now. Whether it’s Foursquare, Gowalla, similar apps, services like, or any of the other geotagging apps we’ve covered, every geolocation app puts a fun twist on a very useful technology: GPS.

Glympse is the latest geolocation app I’ve become really excited about, because it offers a service that is extremely useful. Essentially, Glympse allows you to share your location with anyone for a specified period of time. It’s easier and faster than a phone call or text message, and it allows you to answer the question, “Where are you at?” without having to pull out your phone.

How Does Glympse Work?

Like I said in the title, Glympse is simple. After you install the app on your mobile device (more on that below), you can begin sharing your location with your friends or loved ones, or “send them a Glympse”.

share your location

To send a Glympse, simply select a contact from your list, set a duration (e.g. 15 minutes), and hit send. Anyone with an Internet-enabled phone or computer can receive a Glympse, with no software or setup required. You can send a Glympse to a specific person, several people, or even to Facebook and Twitter.

share mobile location

I also said that Glympse is safe, and by that I mean you have complete control over who sees you and for how long. Coincidentally, it also prevents you from having to call or text people while you’re driving just to tell them where you are. With Glympse, you can set the time limit beforehand and let the app do the talking for you.

Glympse’s website offers a very good simulation of how the app looks and works. For more information on what Glympse is and what it’s for, you can also check out this funny, yet informative video:

Other Features Of Glympse

With Glympse you can be sharing your location in real-time with others in seconds. There’s no sign-up, no passwords, and no social network for you to manage, and it works on a number of different devices, including the iPhone/iTouch, Android, Windows Mobile, and even the iPad.

share mobile location

As stated above, the recipient of your Glympses doesn’t need the app to get them. They can be sent to anyone via email, SMS, Facebook, or Twitter. Glympse will send a link to your real-time position and, optionally, your speed, destination, a message, and your ETA. It will automatically stop after the preset time period passes. You can even get a route from yourself to your friend’s current location/destination.

share mobile location

The video below does a great job of showing how the app works with Facebook and the iPad:

Where Can I Get Glympse?

If you are looking to install Glympse on an iOS device, you can get the app on iTunes. For Android users, you can check out Android Zoom or use the bar scanning app on your phone to scan this QR code:

share your location

If you are a Windows Mobile user, you can get Glympse here. Don’t have any of these devices? Glympse also has a beta program listed on their website for users who would like to get the app on their phone.


I think this is a really cool app. It is a really good use for geolocation technology and I think it’s something everyone can use on a weekly or even daily basis. Save yourself the hassle of having to answer a dozen calls from your friends asking, “When are you going to be here? Where are you?”. Send them a Glympse!

Anyway, that’s my two cents. I’d love to hear what you have to say about this app. What do you think of Glympse?

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Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]

Posted: 12 Jan 2011 07:19 AM PST


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

  1. Steve Jobs Vs. Bill Gates (Pic)
  2. How to Stop Wikileaks (Pic)
  3. How my handwriting has changed since Kindergarten (Pic)
  4. This is not good, World (Pic)
  5. Kids Vs. Old Gadgets (Video)
  6. The Power Of The iPhone (Pic)
  7. Time to print! (Pic)

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