Monday, February 28, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [February 27th]” plus 7 more “Cool Websites and Tools [February 27th]” plus 7 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [February 27th]

Posted: 27 Feb 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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Saymmm – People who cook food for themselves often find themselves spending valuable time on deciding what to cook. Normally we do not have a cooking schedule planned out and decide on the recipe only on the day. To make such cooking schedules, check out a website called SayMmm. It is a simple web service where, for each upcoming day, you can choose to either cook for yourself or dine out. Read more: Saymmm: Make cooking schedules & organize your recipes online


IKEA Hackers – IKEA furniture is greatly easy to assemble. Many people have created simple but highly useful furniture using IKEA parts. At IKEA Hackers, you can read about how other people have been creative with IKEA parts. IKEA Hackers is a great website to visit if you want to make something creative and useful out of IKEA parts. Read more: IKEA Hackers: Profiles Creative IKEA Hacks & Projects



Countdown Calendar – If there is a date coming up that is important to your website, you should put up a countdown calendar on the site for all your site visitors to see. An easy way to embed a countdown calendar on your blog is through a web service that is simply titled Countdown Calendar, a free and simple to use web service that helps embed a small widget on your site or blog. Read more: Countdown Calendar: An Embeddable Countdown Calendar For Your Website



Koi-Writer – Most text editing applications leave the taskbar and similar items visible. While writing, these visible items distract you. If you are looking for a way to peacefully type in a distraction-free writing environment, then you should pay a visit to Koi Writer Text Editor, a free to use text editing web application that has a lot to offer. Read more: Koi-Writer: Type In A Distraction-Free Writing Environment



iPad Simulator Online – Are you looking for a browser-based iPad simulator to test your iOS web apps? If yes, then you need to visit iPad Simulator, a simple web app that simulates an iPad within your web browser. While trying it out, I found that the app worked in Firefox better than Chrome. When you visit the site, you are presented with an iPad-like view. Read more: iPad Simulator 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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Thank You To MakeUseOf Friends!

Posted: 27 Feb 2011 06:31 PM PST

It's time to say thanks to our friends who, once in a while, tip us great articles, help out on projects and in some cases offer their services at discounted prices. Thank you, guys!

    [1] ShrinkTheWeb – Website Screenshot Thumbnail Service

    Ever wanted to add website screenshots to your website? ShrinkTheWeb is one of the best services for that, both in terms of performance and pricing. The free account gets you a whopping 250,000 impressions. See it in action in our daily Cool Websites and Tools series.


    [2] LapDawg – Hands-free Laptop Stands

    Hands free laptop stand
    The hands free laptop stand holds your laptop or books in any position you want with it’s unique 360 degree rotating joints. Perfect for holding them in bed while lying down. Made from anodized aluminum with a beautiful black matte finish.


    [3] SuperTintin – Skype Video Call Recorder

    Skype Video Call Recorder
    If you need a tool to record your video conversation on Skype or MSN head over to Supertintin. It is a nice application that allows you to record all audio and video streams easily.

    [4] Walyou – Cool Gadgets for Geeks

    new cool gadgets
    Walyou is a fun blog covering all sorts of new cool gadgets and other stuff every geek is likely to find entertaining. Everything from world’s largest Gunny Bears to E-hookah gadgets. Make sure to check them out.


    [5] rade | eccles – iPhone Application Development

    The perfect iPhone development team, rade | eccles managed to put our iPhone app together in record time yet exude professionalism and dedication every step of the way. Our collaboration wasn’t happenstance. We would make the same decision all over again. Our only recommendation for an iPhone developer – rade | eccles.


    [6] TrueKolor – Affordable Quality Logo and Banner Design

    If you’re looking for a cheap, original and quality logo or banner, check out TrueKolor. We often contact these guys when we need a logo or a banner made, some of the stuff they did for us listed on their portfolio page. Highly recommended.


    [7] Mobify – Making the Web a mobile place

    More and more users access websites and read blogs using their mobile phone. Mobify lets you mobilize your blog or website by creating lightweight version of it, which loads much faster and looks great on a mobile screen. MakeUseOf’s mobile site was created by Mobify, and we’re proud of it!


    [8] Sendible – The easiest way to market your brand online

    We’re strong believers of the service Sendible provides — we use it on a daily basis and it has never failed us! Sendible is an online marketing service to promote, grow and track brands through the use of social media, email and SMS messaging. It has the ability to post to multiple services at once, schedule social network updates and analyse their success. We love it!


    [9] Sourcebits – Android Developement

    Sourcebits did a bang up job of helping us put together our long-awaited Android app. For that, we are eternally grateful!


Thank you, guys!

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If OS X Stops Allowing Non-App-Store Programs, What Will You Do? [MakeUseOf Poll]

Posted: 27 Feb 2011 05:30 PM PST

Last week, we asked readers to tell us if they think Google search results sucked. It seems most MakeUseOf Readers are quite happy with Google Search results, however quite a few believe they are awful.

We tallied 449 votes broken down as follows: 57% voters think Google search results are fine; 30% think the results are awful and 14% were undecided.

Full results and this week's poll after the jump.

Personally, I think if 30% of people are dissatisfied, there’s still some improvements Google can make.

This week's poll question is: If OS X Stops Allowing Non-App-Store Programs, What Will You Do?

Recently, Twitter released a new client for Mac OS X which was only available via the OS X App Store. This left Tiger users unable to download the application and many users questioning where this was all leading. Do Apple want all apps to go through the App Store? If so, what will we do about it?

What are your thoughts on the OS X App Store? Do you think Apple will ever stop other applications from being installed? Let us know in the comments!

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Get Creative With 4 Free Magnetic Poetry Apps

Posted: 27 Feb 2011 02:31 PM PST

magnetic poetry softwareDespite its simplicity, magnetic poetry actually has quite a few uses. The most obvious is that if as a writer or poet, you’re suffering from a bad case of writer’s block, it’s a great way to try to get inspired and write a poem that could always turn out to be, or at least lead to your latest masterpiece.

Magnetic poetry is also a great educational tool that can be used with kids. For some kids and teenagers, poetry is usually synonymous with what they see as stuffy 16th century sonnets. Magnetic poetry can turn writing poetry into a fun game and is a great tool for kids to find different ways to express themselves. We’ve put together a list of web, desktop and iPad apps that bring the fun of magnetic poetry to your screen.

Desktop Poems (Mac only)

Desktop Poems brings magnet poetry to the Mac desktop in a very simple but effective way. The app is available for download from the Mac App Store. When you first open the program, don’t be fooled when nothing happens. You have to click File > New Word or File > Five New Words and Desktop Poems will display one or five tiles you can use to start creating your poem. The words will appear over any program you have open, and you can also control their opacity. If a word appears that you don’t want to keep, just right click the tile and click close.

magnetic poetry software

Desktop Poems does have a small glitch. Sometimes when opened, it will display the same words over and over, but exiting and relaunching the program seems to resolve the problem. Desktop Poems is compatible with Snow Leopard only.

Magnetic Poetry

If you’d rather use an online service, as opposed to downloading an app, MagPo is the ideal choice. As with their products, MagPo’s online magnetic poetry kits are themed, from romance to office to artist, there’s something there for everyone. Select a kit to play with or read poems that have been submitted by other MagPo users.

magnetic poetry

Within each kit, unlike with Desktop Poems, you have to manually select and drag the tiles from a tray, to start putting together sentences. You can also choose to display tiles only from A-F, G-O or P-Z to make it easier to select words. Once you’re done, you can submit your poem to share with the rest of MagPo’s users.

magnetic poetry

Poetry Magnets

If you want to take magnetic poetry on the go with you using your iPad, Poetry Magnets [iTunes link] is a handy little app that will get your creative juices flowing. Like with the web app MagPo, drag the words you want to use onto the screen. The tray of words at the bottom of the screen can be scrolled from side to side.

magnetic poetry

You can also choose certain categories of words, from common to mythical to zombie.

magnetic poetry freeware

Once you’re done you can save the poem as an image in your photos.

magnetic poetry freeware

Twitter Magnets

Twitter Magnets is another web-based app that really pushes your creative boundaries, giving you a certain number of words to choose from, and has a nice little tune playing to boot. Once you’ve selected the words you want to keep, you can swap the words.

magnetic poetry freeware

Twitter Magnets keeps track of how many characters you have left, so that the poem can fit in a tweet.


And Twitter Magnets also keeps track of your poem.


Once you’re done, you can choose to submit it to their Twitter account – although it hasn’t been updated since November so chances are it won’t be posted. Alternatively, you can just submit it to your own Twitter account if you want to share it with the world.

magnetic poetry software

What are your favourite magnetic poetry apps? Have you written any great poetry using them? Let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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Hot Tech Deals [Feb 27th]

Posted: 27 Feb 2011 12:30 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 Acer S231HLbid 23in LED-Backlit LCD Monitor $149.99 Free Shipping
  2. Kingston HyperX Blu 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3-1600MHz Desktop Memory $19.99AR Free Shipping via code EMCKHHH42 (Exp 2/28)
  3. Toshiba 32SL400U 32in LED-Backlit LCD HDTV (720p) $399.99 Free Shipping via code EMCKHHH69 (Exp 2/28)
  4. HP Pavilion dv6-3143us Intel Core i3-370M 2.4GHz 15.6in Laptop (4GB/500GB/Radeon HD5650) $549.99AR via code EMCKHHH22 (Exp 2/28)
  5. TODAY ONLY Vizio XVT472SV 47in LED-Backlit LCD HDTV (1080p, 240Hz) $939
  6. TODAY ONLY Sony VPL-BW7 LCD Home Theater Projector (720p, 2000 Lumens) $419.99 Free Shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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10 Free MP3 Albums To Download [Sound Sunday]

Posted: 27 Feb 2011 11:31 AM PST

Welcome to Sound Sunday. Get a drink, get comfy, and relax as a world of music unfolds in front of you. This edition is packed with excellence and I hope you will leave with a week worth of new music.

Before you head in, let me remind you that all music downloads featured on Sound Sunday are legal and free; unless the free offer has expired or Bandcamp numbers were surpassed. Nevertheless, you are encouraged to donate whatever you can afford for music you appreciate. Making music is hard work!

If you have any suggestions or feedback for future editions, please leave a comment or feel free to send me an email (tina at makeuseof dot com).

Field Days – Projector

Genre: folk, indie, alternative

Projector is the debut album of Patrick Damphier, aka Field Days and the bassist for The Mynabirds. Patrick recorded the album in the basement of his parents on a 4-track reel-to-reel machine he previously acquired from a former staff writer of Loretta Lynn.

Projector is available for free until March 1st only. Get it now! Preview three tracks on Bandcamp above and download the entire 11 track album until March 1st on New York Groove.

You can order a limited edition of the CD or Vinyl with 100% handmade packaging via this website. The handmade album packaging process is also demonstrated on YouTube. Amazing effort!

Field Days MySpace and Facebook.

Zachary Gray – Montréal I/II

Genre: ambient, electronic, idm, experimental, melancholic

From Bandcamp: “Zachary Gray’s latest ‘ Montréal I/II’ is dear to our hearts. We’re fascinated by this album and by Gray’s rapid understanding of our city. Living in Montreal only since July 2010, the album is ‘ the product of a tryst between dissolution and frustration ‘, he says on his website. Much like the city it takes its name after, Montréal I/II is an eclectic mixture of influences; often polarized between the warm & festive tones of summer to the deeper and more solitary moments of winter.

You can download Montréal I/II for free from Camomille (.zip archive) and SoundCloud (one mp3 song at a time).

Zachary Gray MySpace and Homepage.

Sounds of ASTEROTH – The Inventors

Genre: pop, glitter rock

If you can trust the Facebook profile of LA glitter rockers Sounds of ASTEROTH, this is a band from outer space. “Alien musicians with one common goal, to rock the planet Earth.” And as they state on their Bandcamp page, the above record is “made completely from glitter, construction paper, paste, sugar, and magic dust.” The music, however, sounds a lot more profound than that!

The Inventors is a free download from Bandcamp.

Sounds of ASTEROTH MySpace and Facebook.

Casa Castile – Vake

Genre: experimental, pop, psychedelic

free mp3Vake is the debut album of Casa Castile. The Nashville, Tennessee based band consists of Andrew Nabuco, three micorphones, and a bedroom full of toys. The live band, however, counts six more members. And if the reviews are any indication, recent live performances must have been awesome.

Listen to the song Time Machine below to get a taste of the album.

Time Machine by Casa Castile

Download the entire EP Vake from Mediafire.

Casa Castile MySpace and Facebook.

Thunderstorms – Self Titled

Genre: instrumental, indie, emo, pop, punk, post rock

Thunderstorms is the project of Ben Adler, a very talented artist from Canada’s capital Ottawa, Ontario. Self Titled is the second album, produced and written entirely by himself. Both Thunderstorms albums consist of powerful instrumental compositions with a focus on bass and guitar.

Self Titled is a free download from Bandcamp. Also check out Thunderstorm’s previous free album The Last Level.

Thunderstorms SoundCloud and Facebook.

Al-Fatir – Robots and Skylines

Genre: hip hop, rap, rhythm & blues

free mp3Danbury, Connecticut artist Al-Fatir lives for his music. On his Bio he is quoted “Hip-Hop is where the heart is you know, without it only God knows where I’d be but when im looking for that inspiration nothing does it for like R&B.” He has been making hip hop since 1985.

Download Robots and Skylines from Al-Fatir’s Homepage.

Al-Fatir MySpace and Homepage.

Astronautalis – The Toil Of A Wrecked Man

Genre: experimental, indie, hip hop

free mp3Astronautalis aka Charles Andrew Bothwell recorded a four track Daytrotter session on February 22nd. A rough voice introduces us to the session with the words “I hope you are all well-fed, wealthy, and wise.” And then Astronautalis washes his mesmerizing vocals over us. You would never guess that the man was born in the 1980s.

Preview and download The Toil Of A Wrecked Man on and from Daytrotter.

Astronautalis Wikipedia and Homepage.

The Consulate General – Remixes Volume Three

Genre: indie, pop

From his Facebook profile: “The Consulate General is the new solo project from Alexander Chen of Boy in Static, formed from a set of songs written and recorded after relocating to Gothenburg, Sweden.” The Taiwanese-American multi-instrumentalist often performs live on viola. His first recordings were released in 2004 by Markus Acher of the Notwist.

You can preview and download Remixes Volume Three on and from Circle Into Square. Remixes Volume One and Remixes Volume Two are also available for free.

The Consulate General MySpace and Facebook.

Tyler James – It Took The Fire

Genre: classic rock, indie, pop, soul

It Took The Fire is the debut album of Nashville, Tennessee musician Tyler James. His Bio states: “I’m part of a restless generation known more for its apathy than for its voice,” and “My songs are about the struggle to find my own truth.” With his heartfelt approach and raspy croon, James sounds like an old soul.

It Took The Fire is a free download from NoiseTrade.

Tyler James MySpace and Homepage.

Green River Ordinance – Out of My Hands

Genre: rock, pop

If this band sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. Green River Ordinance has been around for over a decade and especially during the past two years they have made quite an impression: over 20 songs on TV shows, two Top 40 radio singles, music videos on MTV and VH1, and tours with bands like the Goo Goo Dolls, Train, Lifehouse, and many more. Needless the say that Out of My Hands is one great album.

Out of My Hands is a free download from NoiseTrade.

Green River Ordinance MySpace and Homepage.

Past editions of Sound Sunday are available here. Feel free to get in touch with me [tina at makeuseof dot com] to share free material, suggestions, and feedback or simply add your comments below.

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How To Install A Second IDE Hard Drive On An Older PC

Posted: 27 Feb 2011 09:31 AM PST

how to install a new hard driveA few months back I showed you how to install a second SATA drive, appropriate if your computer was bought sometime in the last 5 years or so. We also taught you all about partitions and formatting drives, and to completely replace your old drive with a new one – but I skipped over the subject of physically installing IDE hard drives as I considered them to be too old to warrant a tutorial.

However, as some readers pointed out, the process of adding an IDE drive is significantly more difficult than a SATA drive, so in the interests of completeness and for those of you with old PCs, here is a complete tutorial for how to add a second IDE drive.

Background On IDE Interfaces

IDE was a significant limiting factor in older PCs. Though modern machines will often include a single IDE connection for the sake of backwards compatibility, most machines from the IDE era of computing were equipped with two IDE sockets – each connection being referred to as an IDE “channel”. On each channel, you could add up to 2 IDE devices – so that meant a maximum of 4 hard drives and/or CD-ROM drives.

On each channel, there is a master and a slave device. The master device is connected in the middle of the cable, and the slave at the end of the cable. Each device must also be set with a hardware switch (a jumper) as to whether it is supposed to be the master or the slave. This is where almost all headaches and problems came in.

IDE Cables

Let’s look at some standard IDE cables and connectors. There are 3 identical looking connectors – one at either end and one in the middle. However, one of the gaps between the end connectors and the middle connector is longer – this is the end that plugs into your motherboard.

how to install a new hard drive

On the motherboard end, the socket looks like this. On my fairly modern motherboard, the cable is actually colour coded so you know which end plugs where – but more than likely your old PC won’t be, so you’ll need to figure which end of the cable is longest and plug that into the board. There is a notch on one side of the connector to prevent you plugging it in the wrong way, so make sure you align that.

how to install a hard drive

The Drives & Jumper Settings

Whether it’s a CD-ROM drive or hard disk, IDE drives are identical in terms of connectors.

The power cable you will plug in has four female plugs in it, and will only go in one way due to the shape of it, so that shouldn’t be too hard. Take a look at one of your other devices to work out which the power cables are in your case. The IDE connector is also easy, the same as the motherboard it has a notch in it which you can align.

The difficult part is the jumper settings, which will vary according to your device. Basically, you’re looking for something that mentions CS or Cable Select, as well as Master, and Slave. There will be a diagram somewhere. The digrams indicate which pins a jumper should connect. You should be able to remove a jumper with your finger nails, if not then use a pair of very small needle nose pliers and don’t bend the pins.

how to install a hard drive

As you can see, some drives have helpful diagrams just above the jumper pins. Others will have a note on the drive label instead:

how to install a hard drive

Figure Out Your Existing IDE Scheme

It’s more than likely you currently have both a CD-ROM drive and hard disk plugged in through IDE. Write out a quick table to figure out how it is currently set up, like this:


Probably your hard dive is configured as Channel 1 Master, with the CD-ROM either on separate channel as Master, or Slave on Channel 1.

Now figure out where your additional drive is going to go. A couple of things to consider though:

1. Try to keep your CD-ROM either on a separate channel, or as a slave.

2. The cable length will affect your choice too, as IDE cables are usually quite short. If the CD-ROM is far from the hard drives, you will need one cable for the hard drives, and another going to the CD-ROM.

Set The Jumpers & Plug In

Since I only have a single IDE CD-ROM and single hard disk to show you today (as well as only a single physical IDE connector on my motherboard), I’ve opted to make the hard disk as Master and the CD-Drive as slave.

For the CD-ROM, the diagram indicates that 2 is Slave setting. What does this mean? Well, looking at the back of the device, we have 3 pairs of pins. So, to make it a slave device, I place a jumper over the central (second) pair.

install new hard drive

The hard disk is similar, but this time I chose “Master with Slave Present“. Then I connect the cable up, bearing in mind that the hard drive as the master should be connected to the centre of the cable, with the slave CD-ROM drive being added at the end.

install new hard drive

Note: You wouldn’t normally run devices outside of the case like this, but for the purposes of checking if they work, it’s a lot easier than unscrewing them and poking around inside a cluttered case.

Sure enough, the BIOS shows two devices loaded and functional.

how to install a new hard drive

Further Reading

Well, I hope that’s explained the whole IDE thing a bit more clearly. Once you’ve got it in, don’t forget to format the drive (or learn about what a filesystem is). If you’re up for a more up to date and practical guide on adding a hard drive to your computer, my guide to SATA drives is probably more relevant. Don’t forget to check our fantastic downloadable guide to all computer hardware too.

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Reminder: bundlelytic Charity App Bundle Ends Tomorrow

Posted: 27 Feb 2011 07:30 AM PST

Until tomorrow, you’ll be able to help MakeUseOf and our humanitarian effort to raise money recent disaster victims in Queensland, Australia. Until the 28th of February, get 9 great and very useful apps for a low price of $39.99. Half of the proceeds from your purchase will be donated to the Queensland Disaster Relief. The purchase is instant and as soon as payment is complete, you’ll receive an email with download links and your licensing information. Buy now from bundlelytic.

Among the apps included in the bundle are Paragon Partition Manger 11 Personal, novaPDF Professional Desktop Edition, SafeWallet for Windows, Divvy for Windows, EASEUS Data Recovery Wizard, Pixo, Returnil System Safe 2011, 360Amigo System Speedup and Altaro Oops!Backup. In total, you’re getting $299 worth of applications for just $39.99. Get it now from bundlelytic.

And here are the mini-bundles that we’ve released so far:
Paragon Partition Manager and novaPDF Professional Desktop Edition v7 for $15
Altaro Oops!Backup and EASEUS Data Recovery Wizard for $20
360Amigo System Speedup PRO and Returnil System Safe 2011 for $20
Divvy for Windows and Pixo Image Effects Editor for $15
SafeWallet for Windows and novaPDF Professional Edition v7 for $20

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter. Includes cool extras.



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