Tuesday, January 18, 2011

MakeUseOf.com: “Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]” plus 12 more

MakeUseOf.com: “Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]” plus 12 more

Link to MakeUseOf.com

Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]

Posted: 18 Jan 2011 06:15 AM PST


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

  1. Pigeon-Express: Offline Torrent Client (Pic)
  2. Weird 3D Device: Watch 3D Video Without Glasses (Video)
  3. Ancient Tech Support Issue (Pic)
  4. I need a browser on my computer… (Video)
  5. Delete (Pic)
  6. Don't Walk and Text (Video)
  7. Firefox, Windows Explorer & Adobe Flash Literally (Pic)

If you would like to keep up with all latest Geeky Fun additions, please subscribe to the Geeky Fun feed here. You can also subscribe and get the latest additions via email.


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Cool Websites and Tools [January 17th]

Posted: 17 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.

Add Your Website Here!


Pulse – Reading news and feeds you subscribed to can be a little inconvenient on your handheld devices. The compact screen does not allow much room and requires an innovative interface from your feed-reading application. That innovative interface is precisely what Pulse offers. The app lets you read articles from your feeds by first previewing them as thumbnails which can be slid horizontally. Read more: Pulse: Cool & Convenient Feed Reading App For Android & iOS Devices


Heard On TV – If you are an avid fan of TV shows, you are probably interested in some of the soundtracks when you watch your favorite show. If you are, then you should check out HeardOnTV. This website provides a user-generated resource for music you hear on TV. To find songs from a specific episode, just browse through the different shows and their individual episodes. Read more: HeardOnTV: Search for Music You Heard On TV



Mightydeals – If you are a web designer looking for cool tools at the best prices, you should check out Mightydeals. Much like Groupon for designers, Mightydeals features a creative product or services at a discount. Each deal is available for a limited time, with a countdown timer telling you when the deal will expire. Read more: Mightydeals: Daily Deals For Web Designers



Let’s Crate – File hosting websites need a better interface. To share a file, you first have to direct the site to the file path, then copy the URL of the uploaded file, and then share that URL with others. This entire process is sped up by “Let's Crate”. Let's Crate is an extremely user friendly small file hosting and sharing tool. The host lets you create virtual crates in which you can store your files. Read more: Let’s Crate: Quick & Easy Small File Hosting & Sharing (1000 Invites)



Sifonr – Do you want to hold an online group video conferencing session? Most desktop VoIP clients usually support more than 2 people voice conferences but not video conferences. For video conferences, you will need to use Sifonr, a free Flash-based online tool. Primarily it is a chat-room creation website. Much like any other chat-room creation website, Sifonr lets you easily create a room. Read more: Sifonr: Easy Group Video Conferencing 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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3 Awesome Historical Google Maps Mashups

Posted: 17 Jan 2011 05:30 PM PST

google maps mashupsHave you ever wondered how your favorite place used to look like 50 or 100 years ago? Would you like to refresh your childhood memories and find out what your native town looked like when you were a kid.

If “yes” is the answer to either of the questions, you’ll find the three projects shared in this post quite exciting.

They have a few things in common: they all support Google Maps for you to easily find the place you are interested in. They all have Google Earth integrated for you to get the location 3D view and they allow users to upload old photographs of any geographical locations.


Historypin (see previous MakeUseOf review of HistoryPin) is a global project created by the social movement We Are What We Do, in partnership with Google. The site works as a digital time machine, allowing people to view and share history online. According to the site creators, its mission is to get families back together to share memories and organize them using the site.

In essence, it’s a community which means everyone can register to upload his old photo, locate the place on a Google Map and Google Street View and pin it. When uploading a photo you’ll need to enter date and location which is required information.

google maps mashups

You can also add stories behind your photographs (by sharing and discovering the stories behind your photos you’ll be finding out about your own history – who you are and where you’ve come from). The “Stories” feature makes this site the most personal of all the three I share in the post:

historic google maps

To browse the photos and stories, you don’t need an account (which is cool). The site has a very slick search engine that allows to search photos by:

  • Location;
  • Keyword;
  • Year (with help of a pretty slider):

historic google maps


LookBackMaps (see MakeUseOf review of LookBackMaps) is another (probably less fun but still cool) way to visually organize, explore and engage in historical photographs through web.

The collection stored on the site was started by mapping the “millions of historical photos available through public libraries and private collections on the web”. However, the creators do need help and do allow users to help them make their collection larger.

With help of this browser bookmarklet anyone can easily add historical photos to LookBackMaps – only photos already published on the web can be uploaded there. Any photo linked on LookBackMaps must have a source (this is to protect the original owner’s copyrights). This means there is no tool to upload a photo directly from your desktop and you will have to upload it to some image hosting service (like Flickr or Photobucket) to add the photo to LookBackMaps gallery.

The search option allows you to locate historical places by a keyword (location) like on Google Maps – you can also use year checkboxes to filter your results by time:

historic google maps

Then just locate the LookBackmaps icon on a map, click it to see the old photo and go to “details” if you want to know more and compare with Google Street View result of the exact same place:

maps mashup

3. SepiaTown

SepiaTown (see MakeUseOf review of SepiaTown) lets you view and share “thousands” of mapped historical images from around the globe.

We built SepiaTown because we wanted anyone anywhere to be able to see the past in an instant.

The site does indeed have a huge collection of photos (with carefully cited sources for each one):

maps mashup

The NOW/THEN link switches to Google Street View to compare the historical place with how it looks now:

maps mashup

Each photo has notes with some historical and geographic information on it:

google maps mashups

The Sepia Blog is also an awesome read and may take you quite some time to go through it. The blog shares the latest uploads, interesting finds and collects best historical photos by location.

Are there any other interesting historical Google Maps mashups? Please share them in the comments!

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Nurse Windows Back To Health With System Speedup Pro [Giveaway]

Posted: 17 Jan 2011 03:30 PM PST

Unfortunately, your Windows installation isn’t going to remain fast, speedy and well-behaved forever. Nothing quite beats a fresh installation, but if you’d rather not go through the process of restoring all your documents, drivers and personal settings then maybe System Speedup Pro from 360Amigo can help.

It does what it says right on the tin – checks your PC for known problems affecting performance and attempts to restore some of the speed you once had to your tattered operating system. We’re literally giving away 30 copies (worth over $500!), so read on to find out how you can win!


360Amigo System Speedup Pro is the commercial branch of the company’s System Speedup product, and features a number of improvements over its free counterpart. Both versions are compatible with most recent versions of Microsoft Windows including 32 and 64-bit versions of Windows XP, Server 2003, Vista and 7.

The application serves as a 3-in-1 tool for improving PC performance. Within the package, you get a system cleaner, system optimiser and a set of disk tools.

The system cleaner provides a one-click solution to fixing your computer problems. System Speedup Pro scans your hard disks for known "junk data" such as temporary files that are no longer required and automatically converts them to juicy, usable disk space.

Common problems are fixed instantly (no pesky confirmations) and the scanner will also check your registry for problems too. Privacy is also a concern, and traces of personal data can be deleted permanently using the scanner.

If you’re not the most organised of people then you can also schedule scans (a feature only found in the Pro version) for a time that best suits you.

In addition to the very capable scanner, System Startup Pro can also be used to optimize other areas of your Windows PC. The program can check your disks when Windows boots and decide whether you’ve got any unnecessary programs in your startup (trust me, you probably have). Pruning your startup list is a sure-fire way to regain precious performance, so it’s a relief to see it included.

You can also view a complete list of currently active connections with the included NetState tool, so you can monitor internet activity and keep tabs on your bandwidth and there’s even a bundled disk defragmenter (why not?).

The disk tools included with 360Amigo are a big added bonus, including the ability to scan for and remove unneeded applications, a file recovery tool and a tool for managing and removing old System Restore points.

Finally, for when you do decide to format your PC, you can even show a list of currently installed drivers. A nice touch, and one that makes reinstalling Windows that little bit easier.

360Amigo System Speedup Pro provides an easy way for users to tackle computer problems without going through the hassle of doing it by hand. This is especially good for those who dread the thought of reinstalling Windows, resolving driver issues and starting from scratch.

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 Friday, January 21st 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 P360Amigo 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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5 Fun Things To Do Online When You’re Feeling Creative

Posted: 17 Jan 2011 01:30 PM PST

fun things to do onlineWith so much content available, the internet is fast becoming the one-stop solution for boredom worldwide. Sometimes just browsing, reading or watching isn’t enough – especially if your creative juices are flowing.

There’s no reason ambling around the internet should be a waste of time. Who knows, you might learn something amazing, discover something you love or find one of the many pick-up-and-play services that’ll engage your browser and your brain.

Here’s a few ways of channelling your creative genius down the phone line.

Discover Better Music

One of my favourite fun things to do online when I’m bored is to go looking for more music to add to the collection and I never really feel like I’m wasting my time whilst doing so.

fun things to do online

Many years ago whilst looking for internet radio stations I discovered Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music, a toungue-in-cheek look at the history of music that was only possible with modern electronic instruments. Whilst even the author has admitted that the guide is opinionated and will never be finished, it still makes for an educational and entertaining stay.

Another good way of discovering artists directly via their music is to use Unsigned.com, a catalogue of unsigned and budding musicians who have willingly posted their music on the internet. You might just find someone you like.

things to do online

Finally for a comprehensive cloud-based solution to a complete lack of music there’s Grooveshark. It’s like Spotify for your browser, with less ads and it works a treat with the fantastic new Chrome web app.

Make Sweet Music

So you’re inspired, and fancy laying down your own rough mix – Looplabs can probaby help.

fun things to do online when you are bored

With 5 Flash-based virtual studios for you to choose from (including an Adidas sponsored effort, a Dubstep Studio and the Electro-House Blender) the team at Looplabs continue to produce very capable cloud-based music apps.

For a very impressive module-based creation suite try Audiotool. The suite provides a number of tools, including a number of digitally recreated classics. Using virtual wiring, you have the freedom to create your own unique set up, and your own unique sound.

fun things to do online when you are bored

Aviary’s free Music Creator is another online production suite (with a fantastic loop editor, might I add) and if you’re a Daft Punk fan who has never done the Daft, then you’d better dothedaft.com. Finally, if you’re lucky enough to own a guitar and clever enough to get the basics right there’s thousands of songs just waiting to be learned at Ultimate-Guitar.

Set Up A Blog

Obviously, if you’ve already got a website then this won’t really apply. However, if it’s been on your to-do list for a while then there’s no point in putting it off, especially now it’s easier than ever to establish your own little patch of cyber-space.

fun things to do online when you are bored

Harness that creativity by providing yourself with a platform on which to engage the web, so that the next time you’re bored you might just think "oh, I’ll blog". For a quick no-nonsense setup you’ll probably want to try WordPress.com, Blogger, Publisha or even the notoriously light Tumblr. These services will provide you with a place to write, though you’ll miss out on your own domain.

If you’re a bit more knowledgeable on the subject of web design and site maintenance then setting up your own website or blog might appeal. Take a look at WordPress and our many associated articles – we’ve got everything covered, from themes and plugins to social network integration and SEO. If you’d like to test it out locally then you can, with XAMPP.

Get The Digital Paints Out

For a fresh look at the creativity behind image-manipulation try Psykopaint. We’ve mentioned it before, and many readers loved the snappy presentation, UI and results that can be achieved either from stock photos, a blank canvas or your own personal snaps.

things to do online

For generic Photoshop-type web apps then both Pixlr and Splashup make for quick image editors, whilst we were satisfied that flauntR is one of the most powerful online editors. I have to give an honorary mention to Sketch & Paint which provides a lovely interface from which to sketch and then colour in your doodles.

Build Something

If you’ve ever played Sim City and thought "this is for me" then maybe you should check out my recent article about city building games. Amongst them were a few delightfully pixelated isometric projects, much like Cubescape.

fun things to do online

Like a digital isometric box of Lego, Cubescape allows you to build your own angular world, block by block. If you like 8bit pixel art but are too lazy to make your own then Cubescape should suffice. Of course, you could just get your old Lego out and make something.

Peeron is a database of all things Lego, complete with over 3000 sets of scanned instructions. If you’ve got a big box of Lego with no papers to help you out, Peeron is the only resource you need to rediscover the fun of plastic building blocks.

If you’d rather make real things that actually work then there’s always Instructables, the web’s premier DIY resource.


Boredom is generally solved by the internet. Here at MakeUseOf you’re bound to find some fun games, the odd documentary, short movies and even stand-up comedy to enjoy. Don’t get carried away though, haven’t you got some work you ought to be doing?

Any awesomely creative things you’ve discovered on the internet? Any websites that inspire you? Helpful guides? Silly games? Let us know in the comments.

Intro image: Shutterstock

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Hot Tech Deals [Jan 17th]

Posted: 17 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. EXPIRING Samsung SCX-4623F Monochrome Laser All-in-One Printer w/ Fax $109.99 via code EMCKJJJ44 (Exp 1/17)
  2. EXPIRING Thermaltake V6 BlacX ATX Computer Case w/ BlacX Top Mounted HDD Dock $49.99AR Free Shipping via code EMCKJJJ25 (Exp 1/17)
  3. Panasonic TC-L32X2 32in LCD HDTV (720p) w/ iPod Dock $299.99 Free Shipping via code AFL4COUPON (Ongoing)
  4. EA Sports Active 2.0 Bundle Playstation 3 Video Game $39.99 Free Shipping
  5. TODAY ONLY Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard + 6GB Memory $232.98
  6. Philips 47PFL5704D/F7 47in LCD HDTV (1080p, 120Hz) $649

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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5 New Android Phones From CES That You Have To Check Out

Posted: 17 Jan 2011 11:30 AM PST

new android phonesWith the dust settling from the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) it’s hard to decide which new flashy gadget to focus on first. The number of new Android phones alone will have any self-respecting geek dying to get their hands on any one of the latest and greatest models.

HTC, LG, Motorola, Sony and Samsung are all vying for the Android market’s attention, with what seems to be the new fad of much bigger phones. With screens ranging from 4 to 4.5 inches, the latest Android version, Gingerbread, and some even sporting the fastest processor technology yet, we thought we’d give you an idea of what to expect with each of these handsets that are due to launch, at the latest, during the first and second quarters of 2011.

HTC Thunderbolt 4G

Officially announced by Verizon, the HTC Thunderbolt 4G is almost identical to the currently available HTC Desire HD. From the 8 megapixel camera to the 4.3 inch WVGA screen, to the 1GHz processor, the phones are pretty much identical. The significant differences are that the Thunderbolt features a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera for video calls, an internal phone storage of 8GB, integrated Skype, and its biggest selling point – the HTC Thunderbolt will let you browse up to 10 times faster on the 4G network. Another feature HTC Thunderbolt owners can enjoy is a small kickstand on the back of the phone that makes it easy to prop it up on flat surfaces. Running Android 2.2 (Froyo), with HTC’s Sense UI on top, users can turn their phones into a WiFi hotspot, subject to Verizon’s control of course.

new android phones

See the Thunderbolt in action at CES 2011 here.

LG Optimus 2X

One of the first dual-core smartphones, the LG Optimus 2X, also dubbed the LG Star, is twice as fast as any other smartphone on the market thanks to its Tegra 2 processor. Running Froyo (with a promised upgrade to Gingerbread), the phone sports a 4 inch WVGA screen, with 480 x 800 resolution, an 8 megapixel camera, as well as a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera, 8GB internal memory (expandable up to 32GB with a microSD) and 1080p playback and recording. Available in Korea first, and Europe and Asia next, there are rumours that the phone could be available in the US by March, 2011.

android phones

As is to be expected, the fastest processor in a smartphone comes at a hefty price, and from what we hear, the phone will set you back over $700.

Check out LG’s promo video for the phone below.

Samsung Infuse 4G

Since 4G is the next big thing in the mobile world, it’s no surprise that 3 of the newest Android phones are made for 4G networks. Thanks to its 4.5 inch Super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 480×800, using the Infuse when your outside on a sunny day is no big deal. Like the LG and HTC, the Samsung model features an 8 megapixel camera and a 1.3 megapixel front facing camera for video calls. The processor on the Samsung is a 1.2GHz single-core Hummingbird processor – and if it weren’t for the latest dual-core processor phones – this would have been one of the fastest phones on the market. The Infuse is also running Froyo, with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI on top. The phone will be available in the US through AT&T, and they’re marketing it as the mobile network’s thinnest phone yet. So far, AT&T have kept quiet on the price and launch date.

android phones

Check out the Samsung Infuse 4G in action at CES.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc

Launching with the latest Android version, Gingerbread, the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc features an 8.3 megapixel camera, with 720p recording, and a 4.2 inch screen with a resolution of 854×480, and a 1GHz snapdragon processor. The phone comes with an internal memory of 512MB, expandable up to 32GB with a MicroSD. The Xperia Arc may be a step in the right direction, allowing Sony Ericsson to redeem themselves and finally get up to speed with their competitors, after a misfire with Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. An interesting feature that Sony Ericsson brings to their latest phone is their Reality Display, which of course is already being pitted against the iPhone 4′s retina display. According to Sony, Reality Display is meant to bring the same experience to your phone that you would have watching a Bravia TV.

android phones

To get a better feel for just how slim this phone is, check out Sony’s promo video.

Motorola Droid Bionic

Another Verizon offering, the Motorola Droid Bionic might just be the fastest phone to hit the market yet. Not only does it run on Verizon’s 4G network, it features a dual-core processor and 512MB RAM. Besides blazing speeds, Droid Bionic users will also be able to enjoy an 8 megapixel camera, a 4.3 inch screen, with a resolution of 960×540, full 1080p support, and HDMI connectivity.

new android phones

Check out the Motorola Droid Bionic in action at CES 2011.

Are you planning on getting a new Android phone? Let us know which one in the comments.

Image credit: Svet

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Localscope and CleanMyMac Giveaway Winners

Posted: 17 Jan 2011 11:00 AM PST

And now, here’s a long list of 50 lucky MakeUseOf readers who will each be receiving a free application today. License details and redemption codes will be sent via email so please check your spam box if you’re listed as a winner and have not received an email yet.


  1. Shellie Turcanik
  2. Craig Weyant
  3. Ken Simpson
  4. Adriana Masser
  5. Mario Aguilar
  6. Andrew Hernandez
  7. Joel Dorr
  8. Richard Alcorn
  9. Wade Potter
  10. Robert Neary
  11. Rigoberto Garcia
  12. Eric
  13. Low Yat
  14. Kemet Dugue
  15. Les Siewert
  16. Scott Mac Donald
  17. Torrens
  18. David S
  19. Zachary Aletheia
  20. Debi Tatum
  21. Bharath Gurram
  22. Jim Passin
  23. Louis Davidson
  24. Jonathan Mould
  25. Joanne Becker


  1. Forrest Houghton
  2. Michael Waltl
  3. B.Lee
  4. Tristan Amond
  5. Darrel Skubinna
  6. Ming
  7. Joseph Krak
  8. Dan Evans
  9. Cristóvão Lanna
  10. ami d
  11. Sheila Meiman
  12. Carlos A. Ornelas
  13. Giannis Dimakos
  14. lorna foelber
  15. Kim Fine
  16. Jim Passin
  17. Szymborska
  18. Aryka Griffin
  19. David Shoultz
  20. P. Hyland
  21. Autumn Loomthong
  22. Marwa
  23. Roy HSU
  24. Kyle Hill
  25. Hendro Subiyanto

Congratulations and enjoy!

MakeUseOf would like to thank MacPaw and Cynapse 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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Top 20 Free Apps for Your New iPad

Posted: 17 Jan 2011 10:30 AM PST

free ipad appsFortune magazine reports that over 6 million iPad apps were bought over this past Christmas season. If you were among the lucky ones to get the world's most popular computing tablet, you no doubt will want to start filling it up with very useful free apps. I posted a list of the top 10 apps for the iPad when the iPad debuted back in April, but since then several other top free apps have been developed or optimized for the iPad. Some of these apps have already been reviewed on MUO, but we're including them again for new MUO readers and iPad owners.

Note: each of the headings below is a link to the iTunes Store App Store, where you can download the free iPad apps in this list.


If you're new to the iPad, you will eventually realize that it lacks a traditional Finder where you can store and move files around. Apple wants you to use iTunes to import and export documents, PDFs, photos and other files, but the file sharing service, Dropbox, is a hundred times better as a Finder. With a free Dropbox account and the Dropbox app for the iPad, you can export and import files easily via Wi-Fi and 3G access.

free ipad apps

Dropbox allows you to read documents, watch videos and listen to audio files without having to make a wireless connection to your main computer.


Since last April, Apple's eloquent e-reader iBooks has been updated. Now it includes a way to both manage and read eBooks from the Apple Book Store, as well any PDFs you import into it.

best ipad apps

iBooks is a pretty full-featured reader, including annotation tools and the ability to print and email your annotations. If you download the same iBooks ebook on your iPad and other iOS 4 devices, Apple will keep the pages you read in sync between your devices.


If you like getting your eBooks from Amazon instead, you will want to make sure you have Amazon's Kindle app on your iPad. The app has similar features as the iBooks reader, but it also links to one of largest catalog of eBooks on the net. This app is well worth having for downloading free sample chapters of ebooks.

best ipad apps

Pandora Radio

Sure, you can add songs to your iPad from your iTunes library, but if you have a Pandora Radio account, you can also stream tunes to your iPad for free. This is another definite download.

best ipad apps

Air Video Free

Even if you have a 64 GB iPad, importing lots of videos onto it will eat up memory space really fast. Air Video enables you to get streaming access to all your AVI, DivX, MKV and other videos over a local network, Wi-Fi and even 3G. You will need to also download the free desktop client app in order to use Air Video.

ipad apps free best


If you have a Twitter account, you're going to find the official Twitter app for the iPad both suave and easy to use. I've reviewed other free Twitter apps, but this one should definitely be a part of your collection.

ipad apps free best


Another elegant app for the iPad is Flipboard, which was named Apple's iPad of the Year. Flipboard combines access to social networking sites, Twitter and Facebook, together with RSS news reading, including your Google Reader account. You'll be awed by how it downloads and presents feeds and networking updates.

ipad apps free best


For me, the iPad is the best tool for reading digital magazines. And for the most part, Zinio is a great app for subscribing to and downloading digital publications from its online magazine rack of over a thousand titles. While there are few desired features missing from this e-reader, it serves its purpose well. Read more about here.

apps for ipad


If CNN is your go-to news and sports media outlet, you will be able to view a lot of its content right on your iPad. This well designed app opens with a visual display of US and world news stories and reports. Tapping on a photo brings up the selected news story. The app also features an audio hourly update of news.

Simply Solitaire

Even if you're not a big on playing games on the iPad, you'll still want to have a folder of apps for you and possibly your kids. Simply Solitaire is appropriately named. It's easy to use, even if you have never played the game before.

Friendly for Facebook

As with Twitter, there a several apps for the social networking site, Facebook. While not the official Facebook app (which I believe has not yet been optimized for the iPad), Friendly Facebook has received the highest ratings of all the free Facebook apps for the iPad. You can easily chat with friends, swipe through photos full screen, and switch between multiple accounts.


Why Apple didn't include a calculator by default with the iPad we'll probably never know, but if you need a tool like this on your iPad, this one is free. However, I must add that if you think you will be using this calculator on a regular basis, you will probably want to upgrade to the 99 cents version because the app's flashy ad can be a little obtrusive.

Fandango Movies

Fandango Movies is my go-to app for when I want to view movie previews and read reviews of current movies, as well as get movie times and theater listings in my area. Well worth having on your device.

Adobe Photoshop Express

If you are looking for way to do some quick photo editing on your iPad, the makers of Photoshop provide an image editor that you will find fairly easy to use. It includes features for cropping, exposure adjustment and enhancement, sharpening, and various brush effects. You can share and manage your photos to a free Photoshop.com account.

Backgrounds HD

Although Apple provides a set of very beautiful wallpaper for the iPad, this app provides 10,000+ backgrounds to choose from. You only need to download the ones you like, so it takes up very little memory. It includes 60 categories, including cars, girls, celebrities, holidays, night scenes, sports and beaches.


One of the most widely published books of all time, the Bible, is also available for the iPad. This Bible app has a clean interface, annotation tools, and free access to other translations. You can even share passages via email, Twitter, and Facebook.

Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List

There are several dozen recipe apps for the iPad, but you might want to start with this free one. Similar to the Epicurious.com website, the app contains hundreds of recipes, beautiful photos, and the ability to mark and manage your favorite recipes. However, if you want to sync selected recipes to say your iPhone, you will have to pay $1.99 for the recipe box feature.


Another very useful reference app for the iPad is WebMD, which is based on the popular website of the same name. This app has a symptom checker, first aid essentials, a drug and treatment database, and a pill identification tool among other features. There's no reason not have this app on your iPad.

Google Earth

You no doubt would have used Google Earth on your desktop computer a few times, and while this iPad version doesn't includes the 3D effects of the online version, it's still looks just as great on the tablet device.

Find My iPhone (iPad or iPod Touch)

In November, Apple finally made available their Find My iPhone app to all its iOS 4 mobile device users. So even if you're not a MobileMe member, you can set up a free membership and use this app to locate your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. You can read more information about it here.

free ipad apps

As you can tell from my list, I'm not a game-playing iPad user, so I didn't want to be so bold as to recommend the best free gaming apps for the device. So all you gamers out there, please help me out. What game apps should make the list?

And you, veteran iPad users, feel free to add your personal recommendations.



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10 Websites With Fun Tests To Gauge Your IQ

Posted: 17 Jan 2011 09:30 AM PST

fun testsStephen Hawking and Albert Einstein are on this list. So are Paul Allen and Bill Gates. Abraham Lincoln is also assumed to be a member. Sharon Stone definitely is. But then so might be the guy or gal sitting next to you on the bus. It is a coveted three digit number, but it is far from an exclusive club.

Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is a term that's related to the wattage of your brain; in short intelligence and reasoning skills measured across a few standardized tests. Before an inferiority complex starts laying its foundation, remember that I.Q is not a measure of knowledge or its practical application.

To rub our egos the right way, you might take a few serious approved tests and arrive at your IQ. Me? I don't want to find out where I end up on the dunce scale, so I usually head to these fun tests to gauge my IQ.  Even if I don't ace them, I can have a bit of fun in the process.


fun tests

Try out the array of tests on this site which include a range of serious self discovery tools and fun quizzes. Majority of the tests are professionally designed for children. Some of the serious tests require a paid subscription, but there are numerous fun tests alongside that are free. Try the free IQ test that measures verbal reasoning and find where your child ranks on the chart. The Spatial IQ quiz helps to test how your child visualizes dimensions in space, arranges objects and develops images internally.


If you are looking for a range of tests that measure everything from IQ to your EQ (Emotional Quotient), then this site deserves to be bookmarked. The serious PhD-certified IQ test (Premium test) measures you in 20 minutes with a barrage of 30 questions. But then if it's too mind-numbingly serious for you, there are many fun tests too. The fun tests lean more towards your emotional health rather than judging your raw intelligence. They are pretty engaging if you want to poke into facets of your hidden personality.

Free IQ Test

fun tests to take

Just like the name says, this site is a place for a fast, free, and accurate online IQ test. The tests aren't timed but you have to wade through four sections (20 questions) before you arrive at your IQ figure. If your score crosses the 100 mark, I suggest you take the blue badge they give you and embed it on your blog or online profile.

IQ League

fun tests to take

The 60 Seconds IQ Test on this site is a fun and fast test which pits you against a clock as it countdowns to the minutes on the 10 questions. There are a few questions on general knowledge thrown in too. Points are awarded on the number of seconds you took to answer each question. The site maintains its

own system

to score you, so it's more of a fun IQ test rather than a scientific one.

Test Yourself

fun tests to take

The neat blue site has tests on personality, relationships, career, intelligence, health, and lifestyle. When it comes to IQ, you might be interested in the What’s your real IQ test which is a scientifically validated test. The test gets to a score using images rather than giving a verbal going over. At the end of the test, you get a free summarized report. The full report is available on a payment.

Magic Mnemonic

fun quizzes tests

The Flash-based fun IQ test is a colorful animated way to test your reasoning skills. To solve the 27 questions, you get 60 seconds for each. You can control the colorful timer if you are stuck, but that will eat into your points.

Color IQ Test

fun quizzes tests

It won't help to be color blind on this page. The Color IQ Test is a fun tool to test your sense of color by rearranging a bunch of color chips according to the shades. Try it; it's definitely more difficult than it looks.

IQ Test


fun tests

This Facebook app tells me that I am a very brilliant guy with an IQ of 140. Pity, that it's a fun IQ test and not a really scientific one. But if you are on the social site, give the seven questions a shot for some artificial ego boost.

IQ Test European Union

fun quizzes tests

It's time to wave your country's flag and go head to head with the world and find out which country is the smartest of them all. As an individual, you also receive information on your intelligence in comparison with others.

Mensa Workout

fun tests

If you have any ambitions of joining Mensa, then try their entertaining practice quiz. It is not an IQ test in the traditional sense, but a practice arena to loosen up your brain cells and have some fun in the process.

These fun IQ tests may not be professionally administered, so do take their results with a pinch of salt even when it's on the lower side. There's nothing wrong with exercising your brain cells once in a while. Before you get to our comments section and let us know how seriously you take your IQ score, read two more probing brain posts – 10 Ways to Enhance Brain Fitness Online and Top 8 Websites with Cool Free Personality Traits Tests.

Let these fun IQ and test websites put your brain cells through the wringer.

Image: Shutterstock

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9 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft From Your Online Activities

Posted: 17 Jan 2011 08:30 AM PST

prevent identity theftIf you have ever experienced identity theft yourself or even know someone who has, you know the experience can be a harrowing one. Criminals can open accounts in your name and impersonate you for a multitude of reasons – none of which are good. While thieves have been performing identity theft for a long-time offline the volume of personal information found online is astounding and these days a would-be identity thief only needs to log in from the comfort of his or her home to do their misdeeds.

That leaves the burden upon you to protect your personal information while using the internet. The only perfect way to protect yourself online and prevent identity theft is to not use it at all, but since you are reading this, I will assume that you are pretty net savvy and spend a good deal of time online. Let’s go over some tips to protect and prevent identity theft online.

1. Watch out for Phishing Websites

prevent identity theft

A Phishing website is one that presents itself as a legitimate business website however in reality is a fake one looking for your information. They may look for a username and password but also could be looking for your name, social security number, address, and other personal information. Be vigilant if a site asks for the following information:

  • Social Security number
  • Credit card number
  • Bank account number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Home address and phone number
  • Health insurance id or information

The request for information could be legit (for example, if you are applying for a credit card); but if it was unsolicited that should be a big red flag. If you have a question whether the site is a real one for a company, visit the organization’s main web page and call their number to ask.

2. Use an Anti-virus/Anti-Malware Program

Backdoors, keyloggers and other nefarious programs can allow entry to your system and they can be installed in any number of ways. The only way to be sure to protect against them is to install both anti-virus and anti-malware; vendors these days often have solutions which include both. For a current list of our top recommended anti-virus and anti-malware programs, check out MakeUseOf’s 10 best anti-virus programs.

3. Use OpenDNS

identity theft protection

While OpenDNS is a great way to speed up your internet connection it also has a feature that is less sexy but definitely more practical. That is that OpenDNS makes a great content filtering solution which can alert you when you visit a website which has been marked as dangerous by the awesome Phishtank service.

4. Unique Passwords for Every Website

Another method criminals may use to obtain your personal information is by logging into your email and other online accounts and glean information from there. That is the reason that it is so important to maintain password security across all of your online accounts. Generating a secure password is the first step to prevent identity theft by keeping your accounts secure, and then Lastpass or Keepass will assist you in remembering them.

5. Shop Only at Reputable Websites

identity theft protection

While one of the reasons that the internet is so great is that you can find sites that sell about everything, how do you know that a company will keep your information secure? You might check to see if the site is safe using one of the link checkers we mentioned or run it by the Web of Trust who also provides a browser plugin.

6. Don’t Divulge Too Much Personal Information via Social Media

Social media is great and I use it all of the time, so please don’t get me wrong. But be careful how much information you give out to the general public while sharing what you are eating. I’ve seen people check into banks occasionally on FourSquare; this is bad because it lets anyone know who you use for your bank and makes you an easy target for identity theft. The private information listed above should never be divulged on social media sites as well as other information people could use to obtain that private data from you.

7. Monitor Your Credit Profile

Part of being vigilant about identity theft is making sure someone doesn’t already have your information and is using it – the sooner you catch it the better. If you are in the United States you can get a Free Annual Credit Report, if you are in another location your country may offer a similar service.

8. Secure Your Wireless Network

prevent identity theft

There are a number of reasons to secure your wireless network and one of the main ones is to reduce fraud and identity theft. If you leave your wireless network open (not securing it with WPA encryption) and without a password, not only can an attacker use your network without your knowledge but can also view your website usage. This can allow them to easily build a detailed profile of you (and your family) and the websites you visit. Even if some information is encrypted (your credit card number for example) many sites do not encrypt login information and just the website names alone can help give an attacker information about you. Adding a password to your wireless network protects against this.

9. Only Download Software From Reputable Sources

Similar to only shopping on reputable sites, you should only run software that come from known sources. If you download games/screensavers/warez/cracks from disreputable websites they may include backdoors and trojans that your antivirus may or may not catch. The sites mentioned above are a start but always be aware and of course keep your antivirus updated especially if you frequent those websites.

What Else Can I Do?

There is an always-changing landscape when it comes to how to prevent identity theft. The US FTC and other government entities run a website named OnGuardOnline which has several educational programs for adults and children regarding protecting your information online. Get started there and of course, if you have any questions you can ask on MakeUseOf Answers. Be safe!

Image courtesy Shutterstock, 2, 3.



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7 Smartest Ways To Save Money Using The Internet

Posted: 17 Jan 2011 08:00 AM PST

ways to save moneyHoliday shopping season has come and gone, but saving money should always be on our minds especially since we’re starting a new year, and probably want or need new items or necessities. Online shopping is like the recently developed and hyped phenomenon, which may not necessarily be a bad thing to follow. We can save more money than ever by using Ebay and Amazon instead of having to wait in line for items at the stores without a guarantee that we will even get what we want if more customers are also interested in the same products.

Online shopping just brings more convenience but there’s sometimes so much to learn and so much that’s hidden from us unless we’re actively seeking the deals we want. MakeUseOf has covered a lot of ground when it comes to saving money with online resources so it’s certainly a rich source of information but we’ll try to condense some of the best shopping tips here.

Let’s check out the best ways to save money online.

Using Cash-Back Programs

ways to save money

Before buying anything online, check to see if the store participates in Ebates, the cash-back program that offers anywhere from 1 to 25% (depending on the store) back, or you can even check whether your bank offers a cash back program. Bank Of America, for example, offers the Add It Up program to debit or credit card holders.

Trading & Obtaining Cash For Items You Already Own

how to save money

Instead of letting your books collect dust in a corner or selling them without getting much money in return, consider trading them to get books you want. Tina featured a number of popular trading sites that specialize in books, games and CDs. If you own an old phone, MP3 player or even a game console, you can sell it to Gazelle, which even pays you to ship your old electronics to them. To earn money for knowledge you already own, consider writing articles for major online knowledge bases, such as Bright Hub.

Getting The Lowest Price On Virtually Anything

how to save money

Want to score an amazing cruise package to the Caribbean for cheap? Last-minute booking sites can really help you save money on trips. Additional sites that weren’t featured on that list is lastminutecruises.com, which showed $139 trips to the Bahamas last time I checked, and VacationsToGo.

If you’d rather stay in your state or within the country and take a road trip instead, you can also check any of these 6 sites for the best prices in gas so you can save up big time, including my personal favorite, GasBuddy.

Maybe you don’t want to travel anywhere and just want to save money on everyday purchases. Amazon is probably the biggest online marketplace for you to get a variety of items for excellent prices, but you can still get lower final prices with the help of promotional codes for Amazon. Additionally, you can get even more heavily-discounted open box items (returned products that are guaranteed to be like new) at the Amazon Warehouse, which not a lot of people know about.

how to save money

If you’re looking to buy things not for yourself, but for others, check out GiftCardGranny or CardPool (see a quick review here), which offer tons of discount gift cards and buys your unwanted gift cards for up to 92% cash back.

Taking Advantage Of Deal & Coupon Sites

You’re definitely not alone if you want to save some money. There are countless communities that focus their efforts in classifying best online deals so you can fully take advantage of them. There are general deal sites that aggregate all sorts of deals, while there are also plenty of comparison sites once you know what you want to buy. Then apply one or two coupons from any of the dedicated websites and you should be golden.

If you’re constantly purchasing things online, it might be beneficial to integrate shopping-friendly plugins into your browsing experience. These Firefox addons were made with shoppers in mind (Google Chrome users should check out these extensions). iPhone owners should also check out the RedLaser app [iTunes link], which can scan the bar code of any product and tell you how much it is at other stores and online.

Using Alternatives

Monthly purchases that seem unavoidable, such as cable TV and phone service, but the truth is, there are emerging alternative services that bring extra convenience and savings once you add up everything. Netflix and Redbox are major cable alternatives that won’t really empty your pocket. In fact, you can even get free codes to score free Redbox movie rentals using InsideRedbox.

list of ways to save money

There are also websites, such as Hulu and network sites, that let you stream full episodes of your favorite TV show for free. Don’t forget Crackle, which you can think of as Sony Pictures’ version of Hulu.

list of ways to save money

When it comes to shrinking your phone bill, VoIP services are the most convenient ones as you can use your computer to make calls. VoIP services abound so you pretty much have lots of options in this area, but for starters, be sure to see 3 Alternatives to Local Phone Companies That Will Save You Money.

Buying in Bulk

Buying things in bulk makes sense as you end up saving money in the long run and have products to last for a while. One way you can save money by buying things in bulk online is with BulkTix.

list of ways to save money

It’s a service that lets you purchase movie tickets and snack vouchers in bulk while saving tons. The tickets don’t expire and BulkTix takes Paypal, Amazon Payments and even Google Checkout.

Scoring Free Stuff

You might have heard of any of the freebie sites that accumulate free offerings from all over the net. Most of them are offerings that you don’t really need, but the next one might be of interest if you’ve ever reserved a table to a restaurant over the phone. Instead of calling the restaurant, create an account at OpenTable, and reserve tables through the website. Every time you show up for your reservation, you accumulate 100 points towards gift cards to any of the OpenTable participating restaurants. Some restaurants offer 1000 points for honoring a reservation, and once you get 2000 points, you score a $20 gift card, or you can wait to accumulate 5000 points for a $50 gift card.

ways to save money

The restaurant selection at OpenTable is still expanding so you may not find all of your city’s restaurant, but you might want to give it a try as it’s pretty much effortless to be on your way to receiving a restaurant gift card!

You can also learn how to get find free Internet/Wifi and even hotel stays! Don’t forget MakeUseOf offers free PDF guides on a variety of topics for you to learn fast!

Share your money-saving tips with us in the comments!

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Data Robotics Drobo FS NAS Review and Giveaway

Posted: 17 Jan 2011 07:30 AM PST

The advent of broadband, with speeds you wouldn’t even have dared to imagine 10 years ago is truly a blessing and a curse. Hundreds of movies, TV series, songs and other media are all at your fingertips. The only problem is storage.

Network Attached Storage (NAS) is now finding its way into more and more homes. If you’re thinking of buying a NAS, what should you factor in? Price? Size? In this series, we’ll be taking a look at several popular NAS devices, briefly comparing them — just to give you an idea about the things to look out for when shopping for one.

Here’s the first one. It’s the Drobo FS from Data Robotics. From its online store, the Drobo FS retails for $699 without any drives and shoots up the range to $1,699 with 5 x 2 TB Western Digital hard drives. At the end of this review, we’ll be giving the featured device away, bundled with 5 x 1 TB WD hard drives.

Let’s dive in.

An aspect that really pleased me about the Drobo FS is the way it looks. Its outer casing is a single solid sheet of metal in matte black. It doesn’t have any buttons in front and its indicator lights are hidden behind the front cover, which hooks on to the main unit magnetically.


While it’s powered down, it looks spectacular. But when the Drobo FS is connected, it’s even more amazing — the health of each hard drive is represented by green lights on the side of the drive array (see below). It also has power and network activity indicators close to the bottom. And finally, something that most NAS devices lack — a disk usage indicator. When lit, it will show you exactly how much hard disk space you’ve used, giving you an instant estimation of the storage you have available.


Installing the drives into the unit was a piece of cake. There were no screws involved. All I needed to do was push the grey clip out of the way and slide the drive in. Attach the front plate to the unit and I was done. That’s another great Drobo feature which I loved.

With the Drobo FS, you’ll have 5 drive bays and plenty of upgrade possibilities.


Things start to change at the back — where you’ll find a honeycomb-shaped fan grill, a power button, a Kensington lock port, network interface, and power inlet. The Drobo FS was the first Drobo device to ever feature a gigabit network interface and that will allow you to hook up the device to your home network. However, that is also its weakness — the lack of a USB interface. In my opinion if this is your first NAS, chances are, you’ll depend on USB more than you realise.


The Drobo FS came with a quick start guide which was very helpful. Basically, the device required zero configuration, almost. First, I needed to install Drobo Dashboard — it came in a CD and provided a simple interface to manage the NAS.

Screen shot 2010-12-14 at 8.03.42 PM.png

Once the dashboard app was installed, my attention diverted to the Drobo FS. I plugged it in, turned it on and the dashboard automatically detected the drives, formatted and prepared them for use.

Screen shot 2010-12-14 at 8.04.12 PM.png

Once that was done, a new shared folder appeared. And you’ll find this a little strange. The capacity shown didn’t truly reflect the amount of storage I had.


Mainly, this was attributed to Data Robotic’s BeyondRAID storage technology. With the Drobo FS, you won’t find yourself thinking about choosing between RAID 0, 1, 5 or 6 because BeyondRAID handles all that for you. The only decision I had was to select single disk redundancy or dual disk redundancy — an option to choose whether I would like to protect the device from 1- or 2-drive failure.


BeyondRAID also makes it numbingly simple to upgrade. Simple pull out the smallest capacity disk and replace it with a new one. The device will automatically recalculate the available storage and distribute the data to the new drive. No other intervention is required.


Besides the previously-mentioned Drobo Dashboard, you’ll also find a component called DroboApps.

drobo apps.png

DroboApps are basically small applications that run on the Drobo device, providing additional functionality. Although it sounds fantastic to have a torrent client, DLNA media server or iTunes server running on your home network, it doesn’t come pre-installed and installing them isn’t for the faint-hearted. Sadly, there isn’t a one-click solution.


As a network attached storage device, the Drobo FS makes life a bit easier with their BeyondRAID zero-configuration technology. Upgrades and expansion are a cinch. And if you can live without the possibility of copying files over to the device via USB or accept the fact that addons aren’t easy to set up, then buying the Drobo FS should be a no-brainer.

There’s just less that could go wrong. And when we’re talking about storage, that’s always a relief.

We’re giving this review unit away, along with 5TB of storage. I won’t bother asking — I’m sure you’d like to win it. Here’s how.

How do I become a winner?

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 Friday, Feb 18th 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 Data Robotics 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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