Wednesday, January 26, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [January 25th]” plus 10 more “Cool Websites and Tools [January 25th]” plus 10 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [January 25th]

Posted: 25 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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Collabshot – Screenshots are used for various purposes but if yours is simply to share them with other people, it is hard to find a better tool than CollabShot. This lightweight desktop tool works on almost all operating systems including Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, iPad and automatically uploads the captured screenshot to the web. Read more: CollabShot: Capture & Upload Screenshots With A Single Click


Webunal – This web app is of course a fun idea but useful nevertheless. Have a dispute to settle? File a complaint with the Webunal, let your opponent post his/her defense and let regular Facebook and Twitter users decide who is right. Anyone can file a complaint and anyone can be the jury. All you need is a Twitter or Facebook account. You can start judging any open case, review cases that have been closed and view the cases you have been involved in. Read more: Webunal: A Social Web Court To Settle Disputes Between Friends



TweetPsych – If you want to get more info about the person behind a Twitter handle, TweetPsych is a new psychological profiling online tool is here to help. Just enter the handle of any public Twitter account and TweetPsych will create a psychological profile based on a variety of factors. The tool analyzes the tweets of that user for certain categories. Read more: TweetPsych: Twitter Psychological Profiling Tool Online



Busy Lunches – If you are always busy and on the move, it gets difficult to organize meetups with your friends and colleagues. If you are the type who would like to have lunches but can't seem to make it work, then you should check out BusyLunches. This lunch planning app lets you create lunch dates and invite friends so you'll know the time, place, and who will be coming. Read more: Busy Lunches: Work Lunch Planning Made Easy



Feed2PDF – If you like saving specific blog posts to PDF for later reading, then you should check out Feed2PDF. This simple web application browses through RSS feeds and generates a beautiful PDF file for you to read posts using your e-book apps like iBooks or another PDF reader. Using this tool is very easy. To start, just copy and paste a feed URL. Read more: Feed2PDF: Convert An RSS Feed To A Readable PDF


These are just half of the websites that we discovered in the last couple of days. If you want us to send you daily round-ups of all cool websites we come across, leave your email here. Or follow us via RSS feed.

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The 10 Toughest Tech Questions [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 25 Jan 2011 05:31 PM PST

MakeUseOf Answers is a rewarding way to learn new things and share your knowledge.

Not only will you help other people, but you also enter our Best Answer of the Week contest with every smart solution you provide. Winning the contest will make you $50 richer. To qualify we need to be able to contact you, that’s all. You can start right now by answering one of our toughest questions below.

Try to crack these nuts:

Let MakeUseOf Answers feed you with knowledge and challenge your brain! Browse the forum by Latest Questions, Most Popular Questions, or Unanswered Questions. For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

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Twezr – Better Way To Stay In Sync With Your Friends And Contacts [iPhone]

Posted: 25 Jan 2011 03:31 PM PST

twezr iphoneHow close are you with the people you have listed under Contacts on your phone? My guess is pretty close, seeing as you take them with you everywhere you go. If this is the case, I would also bet that you reach some of these people in multiple ways, like Twitter perhaps, or Facebook.

Twezr gives your contact list a major upgrade while still enabling you to see your friends and other contacts in the same place. If you have an iPhone, Twezr is an essential app. Imagine being able to look at the contact list on your phone and see emails from your friends, Facebook messages, and direct messages on Twitter, all in one place. See the benefits?

In this article, I’ll be taking you through the ins and outs of this application, showing you everything you can do with it.

What Can I Do With Twezr?

Twezr is your personal organizer – the best way to stay in sync with your close friends and co-workers.

Essentially, Twezr (App Store link) organizes all of your contacts for you. It takes all of the content they've shared with you (emails, tweets, etc.) and it puts it in one place on your phone. This allows you to quickly view and respond to the people you’re closest with, even if you aren’t near your computer. No longer will you have to spend all of your excess time logging in and out of your various accounts or running different apps.

twezr iphone

One of Twezr’s key features includes generating a prioritized To See list with your contacts. It’s what tells you when you have shared items from your friends via email, Facebook, and Twitter.

You can also prioritize your contacts based on how frequently you've interacted with them, which offers you a way of sorting your contact list by the people you talk to and interact with the most. Twezr organizes all of the messages you get so they’re easy to sift through.

twezr app

Aside from seeing when you get a message, you can also read and respond to your emails, DMs, tweets, and wall posts right within the app. If you have multiple Twitter or Facebook accounts, you can view those too. You can also post status updates on multiple accounts, which is a key feature.

twezr app

Think incoming messages will be hard to keep track of with Twezr? The app also features an intuitive color-coding system, as well as multiple viewing options, like sorting by contact, message type, or platform.

twezr app

Lastly, the search capabilities you get with Twezr are phenomenal. You can run a full text search across all your email and incoming messages, as well as search all your contacts by their first/last name, email address, company name, or Twitter handle.

twezr iphone

To view some of the benefits you’ll be getting with Twezr, check out this short YouTube video:


Twezr lets you combine the profiles of all your contacts across iPhone, Microsoft Exchange, Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, IMAP accounts, Facebook, and Twitter and it creates a single comprehensive profile for each.

One thing I forgot to mention was how easily you can make phone calls, send SMS, email, Facebook, or Twitter messages with Twezr, which is definitely a plus. All-in-all, I was thoroughly impressed with this iPhone app. What do you think of it?

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Jibe Connects Facebook & LinkedIn With Job Search

Posted: 25 Jan 2011 01:31 PM PST

job search facebookYou always knew the line between LinkedIn and Facebook was pretty hazy when it came to business networking, but it seems it’s now even more entangled. Thankfully, this entanglement is great news for users of either service – and is set up specifically to land you work.

Jibe has stepped into the social networking job market, connecting Facebook data and LinkedIn data seamlessly in order to build you the best possible business network and job-seeker profile. All it takes is a few clicks.

job search facebook

Register With Jibe

Take a look at the Jibe site and you’ll see that it’s very easy to get started. All you do is log in with either your Facebook or LinkedIn credentials. It doesn’t matter which one you choose first, because you can easily link the other a little later.

facebook and linkedin integration

Network Statistics

The first things you’ll see is an infographic of your network (which you can find again later by clicking Account > My Stats). It’s quite interesting to see some of the positions my friends hold – it would make approaching the right friends for advice very simple. I also now wonder how many of them are making up business names for a laugh. The unemployment statistics are interesting, but are probably thrown out of perspective by the number of people in your network who are students, kids, retired or just don’t list their employment on Facebook.

If you scroll left or right you see more statistics, which I consider to be far more interesting than the original statistics. You can find out what the most popular field of study is within your network, which university is the most popular in your network, which professions are the most popular. These are both fascinating and potentially useful. What if you were considering a change of profession? What if you were a teenager with no idea which university to go to or what to study?

job search linkedin

Your Jibe Profile

While you’ve been distracted with shiny statistics, a welcome email has been sent to you and you’re encouraged to set up your profile on Jibe.

job search with facebook

First point of call would be to add either Facebook or LinkedIn (whichever is the remaining social network), which is a simple click and authentication. You can get back to the edit screen by clicking on Account.

Pick and choose from the employers and education you’ve listed on Facebook and LinkedIn. It’s a quick click to add each entry, or you can add or edit something specifically for Jibe. Scroll right down to the bottom and add a few interests too, then remember to save your profile.


Clicking on the “Jobs” tab opens up all the available jobs. You can filter it by US city, but at this stage there’s no option for other countries or even to choose “anywhere”.

You can filter jobs by your connections too, which also shows you which connection facilitated the addition of that job to your list.

job search with facebook

If you like, jobs can be further filtered by job type or employer. Plus, you can search for jobs at any time and with any of the above restrictions by using the search box at the top of every page.


Jibe’s a little bit viral. In order to convince you to invite more friends, they offer credits for all the friends you invite and when you share jobs to Facebook, then charge you credits when you apply for jobs through Jibe. However, you’re automatically given 400 credits for connecting both Facebook and LinkedIn.

Improvements To Jibe

I think the network statistics could be improved by adding some real-world statistics. For instance, a young person trying to choose a profession to study might like to see which of these professions in their network earn the most. Then perhaps to be able to click to see which qualifications were obtained to get there.

Filtering of jobs could be vastly improved by considering a worldwide perspective. Also, the use of credits to apply for jobs seems a little too restrictive. If none of my friends join Jibe, I’m limited to four job applications. And then what? There’s no word on what happens to you. In my opinion, that severely limits the life of this service. I hope this is something they’ll drop once they’ve got enough users to attract their ideal amount of employers.

More Job-Seeking Goodness

If you’re currently looking for work or just keeping your eyes open, here’s some great MakeUseOf articles to read:

It’s always interesting to see new ways to build a business network and look for work. Jibe is just one of the many new players. What tools do you use and why? Have you found work through social media? Let us know in the comments!

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Hot Tech Deals [Jan 26th]

Posted: 25 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. Corsair XMS3 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1333MHz PC10666 Dual-Channel Desktop Memory $47.99AR Free Ship via code DM15A0111US (Exp Soon)
  2. Sceptre X420BV-FHD 42 inch LCD HDTV (1080p) $399.99 Free Shipping
  3. LAST DAY – TechBargains Giveaway – Dell Vostro V130 Laptop valued at $799
  4. Dell Latitude E5510 Intel Core i5-560M 2.4GHz Dual Core 15.6 1600×900 Laptop $625.58 Free Ship
  5. TODAY ONLY AMD Athlon II X2 Regor 2.9GHz CPU + MORE Super Combo $254.99 Free Shipping
  6. TODAY ONLY Vizio E320VP RazorLED 32in LED-Edgelit LCD HDTV (720p) $339.99 Free Shipping
  7. LG Black 24X DVD Writer Internal SATA Drive $15.99 Free Shipping
  8. Western Digital Elements 2TB External Hard Drive $89.99 Free Shipping via code EMCKJHE22

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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5 Sites To Boost Your Brain Fitness With Fun Games & Puzzles

Posted: 25 Jan 2011 11:31 AM PST

brain games funDo we tune up our brain as frequently as we do our cars? The most wonderful organ ever patented by God is left on its own in the skull as we go on with the chores of life. The jury is still out on whether brain games and brain exercises can really make you 'smarter'. The weight of opinion does point to the fact that constantly working our brain does make it sharper.

Intelligence goes deep, so rather than go into the grammar of it, let's say that smarter or sharper, brain games are fun. And playing them all day through won't make smoke come out of our ears. Fun brain games though can improve our skills when it comes to logic and cognition. For the elderly, brain games are as vital as physical activity.

So here are five resources for brain workouts that help to wake up those grey cells.


brain games fun

Lumosity trains your brain with 30 targeted brain games and exercises. The specialized brain training web application comes in both free and paid subscription versions. The library of games relate to speed, memory, attention, flexibility, and problem solving. The full suite of games is open to subscribers only, though those with a free account can play quite a few games across the board.

The games are well designed: the Birdwatching game works on your visual processing skills and concentration. Lumosity also has multiple courses designed by experts that bolster weak areas like weak memory, problem solving, math skills, and also brain related medical conditions like ADHD and TBI.  Don't forget to take their free Brain Grade test.

Sharp Brains

free fun brain games

Sharp Brains is actually a blog that keeps tabs on the brain fitness and cognitive health industry. So expect to find a lot of articles on brain health and the use of digital tools to enhance our mental muscles. The site also tries to raise social awareness on the importance of regularly exercising our mental faculties. One way is through the site's newsletter. But if you are itching to put your brain through the paces head straight to the Teasers section. The large lineup of links to brain games, puzzles, and illusions could keep you occupied for some time.


fun brain games

Braingle is a community driven website that says it has the largest collection of brain teasers, riddles, logic problems, quizzes and mind puzzles on the web. 20,000 of them is a large number. Being a part of the community helps as enthusiastic members constantly keep the site updated with the freshest picks of games. As a free member, you can also subscribe to the daily teaser.  Check out the Mentalrobics section for some cool brain workouts and articles on topics like stress management and memory.


free fun brain games

At Smart-Kit, you get to cross train your brain on a variety of puzzles and games. All games are meant to be kid safe and designed to stimulate free thinking and problem solving. Some games like the Memory Match Game are easy while you might have to scratch your head when it comes to playing Take Something Literally. The Lateral Thinking games (which comes under the category marked – More) deserve a special mention here.

Brain Training 101

brain games fun

The founder of this brain training site (Erin Matlock) is a Mensa candidate. But what's more interesting about the site is that it's part of a larger bouquet of web services that includes a community website and a TV channel. But if you want to stay on in this site, then the range of interactive brain games should keep you engrossed. For instance, noticing a drop in my concentration powers, I took the Stroop Test Flash game. It's a simple game where you have to match the text color with the color of the ball. But this simple game also tells you if your focus starts to flag.

Games by their very nature call for a lot of co-ordination and mental skills. Take a game like Tetris or the classic Simon Says and you can 'reverse engineer' it as a game for brain exercise. Search among our games apps and you are sure to find many more that can be used to jog the brain. Apart from games there are many more ways to enhance brain fitness online. Tell us about your favorite fun brain games.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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7+ Popular Desktop Apps You Can Run From Your Browser Using Spoon

Posted: 25 Jan 2011 10:31 AM PST

spoon virtualizationWe have seen the magic of virtualization programs, in particular, the open-source VirtualBox, which allows you to install entire operating systems in an environment and use them in conjunction with its seamless mode. You don’t even have to be installing other OS’s because you can, in fact, clone your current OS for virtualization purposes. If installing a whole OS sounds like too much for you but you still would like to try Windows software without compromising the state of your registry, Spoon might be of interest.

We first talked about Spoon here, but in short, Spoon is a revolutionary virtualization tool that lets you run applications that you would normally need to download to your desktop by just using your web browser and a plugin. Once you’ve created an account and downloaded the plugin, you can select from a variety of applications in its directory, which features a number of the more popular software.

While this browser-based virtualization tool isn’t available for Mac or Linux (I tried Spoon in Ubuntu with no luck), it’s a great tool to have if you’re into trying new applications but don’t want to clutter your registry with unnecessary additions from programs you may not keep later.

Let’s see what applications you can try right now even in your Windows machine after getting the plugin, which is a 2.5 MB download.

spoon virtualization

Here are the more popular applications you can find in the Spoon App Directory that we’ve mentioned in our MakeUseOf Windows Pack or have made it to other must-have lists.

Office Suites

OpenOffice and OxygenOffice Professional are both available on Spoon. OpenOffice is the office suite included in Ubuntu by default (as well as in our list of 15 must-haves) and probably the most popular open-source office suite out there. OxygenOffice Professional is an enhanced OpenOffice clone, with additional templates, fonts, clip art graphics and images. Here is how the latter looks virtualized.

While the previous apps launched within 10 seconds or so, OxygenOffice took a few minutes to buffer.

virtualization spoon

There were also a few hiccups when I was testing OxygenOffice that I didn’t get while testing other Spoon apps, but considering I’m only emulating software components to stream this huge office suite, the hiccups (OpenOffice Writer froze a few times) weren’t too bad.


It might be redundant to feature browsers when you’re running it from a browser, but there are times when you just really need to use a more established browser other than your favorite one. Say, if you’re a web or graphic designer that wants to test your projects in another browser, or maybe your online banking site or university’s online database system (a big problem for me as my school’s degree audit website doesn’t display information properly in Chrome) doesn’t support your current browser, you’ll have the options to run either Firefox 4 Beta, 3.5, 3 and 2, as well as Safari 5 and Opera 10. That might save you from having to use portable apps in your hard drive too.

virtualization spoon

Useful Productivity Programs

Foxit Reader

virtualization software

Launching Foxit Reader was ultra fast, and there was even a popup asking me whether to set the reader as the system’s default PDF viewer. I don’t think that’d be quite possible but it just goes to show how close to the real application you are even though you’re just using your browser to stream the application.


virtualization software

This is a great, open-source word processor that you can use in lieu of the whole OpenOffice suite, with most features you’d expect to find in the OpenOffice Writer. It’s more feature-rich than, say, online distraction-free writing environments and you can still run it from your browser only!


An excellent text editor for programmers, Notepad++ offers a lot of features for heavy users. It’s so many steps up from Windows’ built-in Notepad that if you’re constantly taking notes using the latter, you should really consider trying Notepad++. It’s got multiple tabs, keyboard shortcuts for almost everything and more.

spoon virtualization

In my machine, it even picked up folders from my previous Notepad++ installation. Even virtualized, this app acts like the real deal.

Useful Utilities


You might have heard a bunch of positive things about RocketDock and now you can try it without worries! It’s been raved about in this article on how to make WinXP look like WinVista. This one’s really just about eye candy but could also help save time, as well as navigate around folders and bookmarks in an easier way.

virtualization software

You can probably deduce that the screenshots will not contain anything new, as you’ve probably seen screenshots of the real programs elsewhere. Additional programs you can find that aren’t really geared for productivity include:

As you can see, there are many popular programs that you’ve probably always heard about supported by Spoon. If you want to try any of them, Spoon would make things much easier. You get the same features as you would with installed desktop programs but they won’t even reside on your hard drive.

What do you think of Spoon and what applications have you virtualized?

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Orbit Downloader & Recipester: Keep Your Applications Updated & Learn More About Them [Windows]

Posted: 25 Jan 2011 09:31 AM PST

orbit downloaderApple has released the Mac App Store – a place where Mac users can find and download great Mac applications. This iOS App Store little brother has a similar behavior to its sibling: it will help users to keep their apps updated. When an updated version of any installed apps are available, users will be notified and they can easily download the updates from within the App Store.

Windows users who wish that this convenience could also be made available to them should keep their fingers crossed, because Microsoft is currently trying to persuade the court that the term “App Store” is too generic to be granted protection. The court may or may not approve Microsoft’s dispute, but while waiting for the verdict, why not try a combination of tools that are already available for Windows: Orbit Downloader and Recipester. These tools can help Windows users keep their applications updated, while helping users learn more about the apps.

The Software Updater

I found this feature by accident after I upgraded Orbit Downloader to version 4. There’s a new item in the left pane called “Software Updater” with a pair of numbers written after it.

orbit downloader

After clicking on it, the main area of the app showed me a list of updateable software on my computer. The pair of numbers represented the number of installed software and how many of them had updates waiting. Orbit gets this data by scanning the hard drive for the version number of installed software, then comparing the result with the list of the latest software releases on their database.

Clicking on any item on the list will open up more information about that software, such as the developer, the number of users, how many reviews it has, questions, tutorials, votes related to the app; and also buttons to “Write a Review“, “Ask a Question“, and “Visit Software Page“.

orbit downloader review

Most of the information is related to the data about that software on Recipester. This is the site that dubbed itself as “Wiki Answers for all things about (your favorite) software“. The site is created by the maker of Orbit Downloader as a software database to support Orbit Downloader’s “Software Updater” feature.

Orbit Downloader could also be set to remind users about the availability of software updates on a regular basis. You can set how often you want to be reminded from the “Preferences – Software Updates” menu.

When you click on the update notification, you will be brought to the software update list on Recipester.

orbit downloader review

Even though Recipester has promised that our data is not accessible by anybody but us, it’s advisable to check the “make the list of your programs private” box just to make sure. The box is located at the top right area of the software update list.

orbit downloader review

Clicking the download button of any item on the list will bring you to the software’s download page. Along with it you will see two small information links above: Reviews and Tutorials.

what is orbit downloader

Let’s Learn More

It turns out that Recipester is more than a database to support Orbit Downloader. It’s also a source of information on software. For example, clicking “Tutorials “on the download page will bring you to the software’s tutorial page. You can see several available tutorials related to that software.

what is orbit downloader

The other link that you can follow from the download page is the “Reviews” link.

what is orbit downloader

Basically, Recipester wants to be a one stop place for people who want to know everything about their software. All that users need to do is search for available information, or ask. Your questions will be answered by one of their 200-something experts.


Even though there are already many tutorials and Q&As in their database, I felt that Recipester is far from complete. Maybe it’s because the site is still in the early stages and still in the process of building their database.

orbit downloader

In general, I think that the combination of Orbit Downloader and Recipester provides Windows users with a convenient way to keep their software updated. But we still have to wait and see how everything will turn out in the future.

What do you think about this “Software Updater” feature? Do you know other alternatives?  If so, please share using the comments below. Meanwhile, if you have any technology-related questions of your own, why not try MakeUseOf Answers? Our technology-savvy authors and readers are ready and able.

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How To Format A USB Drive & Why You Would Need To

Posted: 25 Jan 2011 08:31 AM PST

format usb driveFormatting a USB drive is no different than formatting any other drive.  But how often have you actually formatted a drive and did you ever wonder what the various options mean?

Most of us go with the default settings without second guessing their logic. Naturally, optimal settings depend on the type of hardware to be formatted and what you are planning to do with it.

This article will hep you make the best choice. It explains what each option does and which one is best suited for your drive and expected use.

How To Format a USB Drive In Windows

Whether you’re running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7, the steps are essentially the same. Connect the USB drive, go to > Computer or > My Computer, right-click the drive and select > Format… from the menu.

format usb drive

The formatting options you have are > File system, > Allocation unit size, > Volume label, and >  Format options.

Formatting Options

To format your drive, you simply make your selection, click > Start, click > OK to confirm that you really want to erase all data and the drive will be formatted.

format usb drive

However, before you proceed with formatting, you will want to understand what each of these options actually means. So let’s analyze them one by one.

Which File System To Choose?

In Windows 7 you will see a maximum of four different file systems: NTFS, FAT, FAT32, and exFAT. You will actually not see FAT and FAT32 if your drive is larger than 32 GB. So what is the difference between those file systems and which one should you choose? Let’s look at the benefits of each.

NTFS Compared To FAT & FAT32:

  • read/write files larger than 4 GB and up to maximum partition size.
  • create partitions larger than 32 GB.
  • compress files and save disk space.
  • better space management = less fragmentation.
  • allows more clusters on larger drives = less wasted space.
  • add user permissions to individual files and folders (Windows Professional).
  • on-the-fly file encryption using EFS (Encrypting File System; Windows Professional).

FAT & FAT32 Compared To NTFS:

  • compatible with virtually all operating systems.
  • takes up less space on USB drive.
  • less disk writing operations = faster and less memory usage.

exFAT Compared To FAT & FAT32:

  • read/write files larger than 4 GB.
  • create drive partitions larger than 32 GB.
  • better space management = less fragmentation.

Due to its nature, FAT or better yet FAT32 are suitable for drives smaller than 32 GB and in an environment where you never need to store files larger than 2 or 4 GB, respectively. In other words, any regular sized hard drive (60 GB +) should be formatted with NTFS.

However, due to the way NTFS works it is not recommended for flash drives, even when they are bigger than 32 GB. This is where exFAT comes in. It unites the essential advantages of FAT (small, fast) and NTFS (large file size supported) in a way that is optimal for flash drives.

Keep in mind though that FAT and FAT32 are the only file systems that are cross-platform compatible. NTFS is supported by Linux, but it requires a hack or third party application to work on the Mac. exFAT on the other hand is supported in Snow Leopard, but drivers are required for Linux.

If for compatibility or speed reasons you want to go with FAT or FAT32, always go with FAT32, unless you are dealing with a device of 2 GB or smaller.

Which Allocation Unit Size Works Best?

Hard drives are organized in clusters and the allocation unit size describes the size of a single cluster. The file system records the state of each cluster, i.e. free or occupied. Once a file or a portion of a file is written to a cluster, the cluster is occupied, regardless of whether or not there is still space.

Hence, larger clusters can lead to more wasted or slack space. With smaller clusters, however, the drive becomes slower as each file is broken up into smaller pieces and it takes much longer to draw them all together when the file is accessed.

So the optimal allocation unit size depends on what you want to do with your USB drive. If you want to store large files on that drive, a large cluster size is better as the drive will be faster. If, however, you want to store small files or run programs off your flash drive, a smaller cluster size will help preserve space.

Rule of thumb: large drive and/or large files = large allocation unit size

For a 500 MB USB flash drive, rather select 512 bytes (FAT32) or 32 kilobytes (FAT). On a 1 TB external hard drive select 64 kilobytes (NTFS).

What Is A Volume Label?

The volume label simply is the name of the drive. It’s optional and you can basically name your drive anything you want. However, there are a few rules to follow, depending on the file system you’re going to format with.


  • maximum of 32 characters.
  • no tabs.
  • will be displayed with uppercase and lowercase, as entered.


  • maximum of 11 characters.
  • none of the following characters: * ? . , ; : / \ | + = < > [ ]
  • no tabs.
  • will be displayed as all uppercase.

Spaces are allowed regardless of the file system.

Which Format Options Are Recommended?

During a normal format, files are removed from the drive and the drive is scanned for bad sectors. During the > Quick Format only the files are removed and no scan is performed. Hence go with that option if you don’t have time and are dealing with a healthy or new drive.

If you thought this article was useful, please also check out the following:

What are your experiences with formatting USB drives and what are your preferred settings?

Image credits: Julien Tromeur

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Run Windows Faster On Your Mac With Parallels Desktop 6 [Giveaway]

Posted: 25 Jan 2011 08:00 AM PST

While all Macs come loaded with Bootcamp, making it easy to install any other OS alongside OS X, having to reboot your computer each time you need to test something in Linux, or whenever you have to use software that works only in Windows, is nothing short of a hassle. One of the best Mac alternatives available that enables you to get the best of all OSes is Parallels Desktop.

This week, we’re giving away 15 copies of Parallels Desktop 6 for Mac worth almost $1200 in total. If you’ve always wanted to buy one but never got around to it, here’s your chance to win it for free!

The recently updated Parallels Desktop 6 makes it easy to install Linux and Windows from a disc or an .iso file. The installation process is completed with an easy-to-follow wizard, taking you through a few simple steps to getting another OS working on your machine. When you want to create a new installation, select the source file, whether from your optical drive or from an .iso file on your computer.


If you want Parallels Desktop to determine the settings for you, select Express Install, and enter the product key if necessary. This will take all the hard work out of the process, leaving you only with a few choices such as how you want to work with your Windows applications and the location of your Virtual Machine.


Deselecting Express Install will give you the same choices, such as your Mac integration, along with the ability to determine exactly how your OS will be set up.


When choosing a name, and selecting the location for your Virtual Machine, make sure that ‘Customize settings before installation’ is checked.


As the Windows set up launches, you will be able to determine the exact settings for your Virtual Machine. First you can determine how much RAM the machine will use. For Windows 7, you’ll need at least 1 GB (1024 MB).


Next, you can determine various options including how Parallels will behave on startup and shutdown, determine the performance optimization, security, sharing options and much more.


Lastly, you’ll be able to determine the hardware settings, including boot order, selecting your optical and hard drive, network and printer settings, amongst others.


If you’ve installed several different OSes on your machine, launching Parallels Desktop will give you a convenient menu to select the OS you want to launch.


Just about any OS will work out of the box, meaning that if you want to try out the latest Linux distro, you don’t have to worry about configuring settings, and will run seamlessly within your OS X installation. When plugging in USB devices, you have the choice to use them either on your Mac OS, or in your virtual machine.


Another huge advantage to using Parallels Desktop is the ability to easily drag and drop files from one OS to the other. You can take this one step further with Parallels with the option to run Windows programs in Coherence mode, as though they were part of your Mac OS.


Windows programs can be accessed from the dock.


And they will run side by side your Mac apps seamlessly.


If you’d prefer, you can keep the two separate, running your Windows OS in a separate window, identical to any Windows OS.


While Parallels prompts you to choose your preference during the setup, you can easily toggle between the two after installation.

For those of you who already have Parallels Desktop, what will the latest update bring you? Most of the changes are subtle, or under the hood, but some of the surface changes are the ability to search for Windows programs using Spotlight and support for new OSes including Ubuntu 10.04, Fedora 13 and Windows Server 2008. Under the hood, they’ve been working on a faster Windows launch time, and an increased speed to allow for an even better gaming experience.

We’ve got 15 copies of Parallels Desktop 6 to give away this week and here’s how you can win one.

How do I win a copy?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

Join our Facebook page by clicking the Like button or you can follow us on Twitter, if you prefer. If you’re already following us, you may skip this step.

If you can’t see the fanbox, click on this link.

Here’s our giveaway form. Please fill it in accurately. Be sure to enter your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. Click here if you can’t view the form.

You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to share the post. There are 2 options to choose from or you can do both!

Like it on Facebook

Or share it on Twitter

And that’s it! You’re done!
Giveaway eligibility
You must be a fan of our Facebook page to enter;
Individuals who are over the age of 18. If you are under 18, get your parents to participate on your behalf;
Individuals who reside in a country embargoed by the United States; Belgium, Norway, Sweden, or India are not permitted to enter.

This giveaway begins now and ends Saturday, January 29th at 2100hrs PST. The winners will be selected at random and announced via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

MakeUseOf would like to thank Parallels Holdings Ltd. for their generosity while participating in this giveaway. Interesting in sponsoring? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via email.

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How To Install A New Hard Drive To Replace An Old One

Posted: 25 Jan 2011 07:31 AM PST

how to install a new hard driveHard drive space isn't infinite. Today's massive drives, with capacities exceeding 1TB, can create that illusion. But as drive sizes increase, ways to consume drive capacity also expand. HD video, for example, can eat gigabytes for breakfast.

That's the bad news. The good news is that learning how to install a new hard drive isn't difficult, so there is no need to be concerned about a hard drive that is nearly full.  Read on to find out how to install a new drive to replace an old one.

Identifying The Proper Replacement

Before you can upgrade a hard drive with a new replacement you’ll need to determine the type of drive you need to buy. Today, most hard drives use a data connection known as SATA. However, computers that are several years old might instead support a data connection called IDE. You can easily tell the difference between the two because an IDE connection uses numerous pins, while SATA uses a pin-less L-shaped connector. The picture below provides a comparison – the SATA drive is on the left and the IDE drive is on the right. Laptop drives will obviously be smaller, but have the connections have the same appearance.

how to install a new hard drive

Speaking of size, you’ll also need to make sure you buy a drive with the correct physical dimensions. There are two popular hard drive sizes – 3.5″ and 2.5″. The larger is built for desktop systems, while the smaller is generally for laptops and compact desktops. However, solid state hard drives often come in the 2.5″ size regardless of the type of machine they’re meant to be installed in. This rule isn’t absolute, however, because some all-in-one computers use 2.5″ drives.

Transferring Data From The Old To New Drive

The process of installing a new hard drive is one of the least difficult hardware installation procedures around in terms of the physical effort required. However, the hard drive is one of the most critical components in your system because it stores all of your information. Everything from your operating system to your emails to your favorite songs are stored on your hard drive. Obviously, a straight replacement will leave you without that information.

how to install a hard drive

If you’re using a computer that has more than one hard drive bay you’ll find the process of transferring data from one drive to another to be easy. All you need to do is install the second hard drive in your system and then clone an image of your existing drive using one of the many freeware tools available for this task. Once the old drive’s image has been cloned and placed on the new drive, you can simply remove the old drive or reformat it and use it as a second drive (make sure the clone was successful before taking this step, however!)

how to install a hard drive

Computers that have only a single drive bay are more difficult to work with because you can’t have the new and old drive installed at the same time.You can, however, still clone your old drive to your new one. This is possible by connecting your new drive to your PC with a USB-to-SATA cable or an external hard drive dock. Cloning a drive may take some time because of the bandwidth limitations of USB 2.0, but it will complete eventually.

Replacing The Old Drive

how to install a hard drive

Desktop computer hard drives are usually placed in the lower front half of a mid-tower enclosure and are attached using between two and six screws. The process isn’t overly difficult, but is detailed enough to warrant its own post. Please refer to James’s coverage of how to install a replacement or second desktop drive for instructions.

Laptops are different, but easier. Most laptops will offer a plastic hard drive bay cover on the bottom of the laptop that is held in with one or two screws. Removing the cover will reveal the drive, which is itself typically attached with a few screws. Installing a replacement drive is simply a matter of taking the existing drive out and putting the new drive in its place. The power and data connections are built into the mount itself, so you don’t have to worry about tracking down the cables. Please note that not all laptops are intended to be user serviceable in this way,  so please read your laptop’s manual for information about hard drive replacement before proceeding.

Booting & Partitioning

how to install a new hard drive

Once you’ve replaced your old drive you will, of course, want to boot up your PC to make sure everything is functioning well. Assuming you did clone your data from your old drive to your new once, this process should be painless. Your PC will barely realize that anything has changed. You should probably visit the Disk Management utility, which can be found by visiting the Administrative Tools –> Computer Management section of the Windows Control Panel, to ensure that Windows is recognizing and using all of your new hard drive’s capacity. If it isn’t, you can extend the current partition to cover the free space or create a new drive partition.

If you didn’t end up cloning your drive, this step will be irrelevant, as you’ll have to format and partition the new drive during the installation process of your operating system.


Hopefully this brief post has given you the information you need to learn how to install a new hard drive. If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment.

Image Credit : TigerDirectTV

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