Friday, February 4, 2011

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [February 3rd]” plus 10 more

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [February 3rd]” plus 10 more

Link to MakeUseOf.com

Cool Websites and Tools [February 3rd]

Posted: 03 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.

Add Your Website Here!

 

Fotofuze – If you have photos that are a little too dark, you can digitally enhance them using a number of programs. One of the best and free ways to do it is by using FotoFuze. a simple and free to use online application that enhances your dark pictures. After uploading the image, you have to highlight the portion you want to keep. As you highlight, a preview of the final result is generated and displayed to the right. Read more: Fotofuze: Digitally Enhance Your Photos Online

 

TravelMath – If not properly planned, travel can end up costing much more time and money then you anticipated. TravelMath helps you with that by letting you calculate almost all sorts of traveling costs and time. Values you can calculate include flight distance, flight time, closest airport, driving distance, drive time, time difference and more. The tool also lets you find hotels in the area. Read more: TravelMath: Calculate Trip Cost & Time

 

 

Postpost – Each time you log into Facebook, you will see a clutter of links, videos, and photographs your friends have either posted or liked. The given filters from Facebook do not satisfy all its users. For a better and cleaner filtering interface you should pay a visit to Postpost, a simple Facebook client that will display all the links, videos, and photographs your friends have either posted or liked in a cool newspaper like interface. Read more: Postpost: Cool Personalized Facebook Newspaper

 

 

Font Comparer – Are you trying to decide which font to use on your website? One easy way to select a font would be to juxtapose different font samples. Font Comparer lets you easily do this. FontComparer is a simple online tool that lets you compare web fonts from Google Fonts as well as Typekit. You can type in any text and it is displayed in different font styles next to each other. Read more: FontComparer: Compare Web Fonts Online & Get The CSS To Use Them

 

 

The Deadline – Looking for a way to efficiently manage tasks and assign them to group members? If yes, then look no further. TheDeadline is one of the best collaborative task management solutions on the web that you can use for free. TheDeadline is a free website that can be used to manage your own to-do lists or to assign tasks to others. Read more: TheDeadline: Collaborative Task Management Tool For Groups

 

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.


Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter. Includes cool extras.


 

 

Similar MakeUseOf Articles


Join MakeUseOf On Twitter!

Posted: 03 Feb 2011 06:31 PM PST

If you have discovered MakeUseOf just recently and are one of our 450,000+ subscribers, consider following us on Twitter as well.

You’ll be notified everytime there is a new post on the MakeUseOf Blog, a web app review on the MakeUseOf Directory or something new on Geeky Fun.

Plus, we would love it if you would re-tweet the posts and discuss them, so more people get to know about us and join our community.

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter Now

Thank you!


Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.


 

 

Similar MakeUseOf Articles


qBittorrent – A Polished, Simple & Reliable Cross-Platform BitTorrent Client

Posted: 03 Feb 2011 05:31 PM PST

bittorrent client reviewWhilst on the hunt for worthy Linux BitTorrent clients I came across a handful of feature-packed apps, all vying for my attention. I immediately took to Deluge and qBittorrent, mainly due to the similarities with the fantastic uTorrent.

After using Deluge for a good few months I started to notice the odd crack under the surface. My torrents weren’t quite behaving exactly the way I wanted and it was costing me patience and disk space.

So I broke off my impromptu relationship with Deluge and switched to qBittorrent.

A Torrent Of Clients

It’s no secret that there’s a seemingly endless stream of BitTorrent clients available on the web. It can be difficult to carve away the crap when you’re presented with so many options, so the qBittorrent team took a different approach. Aware of the success of the popular uTorrent client, the qBittorrent team took it upon themselves to create a similar client with the aim of developing a cross-platform client which retains full functionality regardless of the operating system.

At the moment there are still a couple of features missing, but the groundwork is done and the foundations laid provide a very stable and elegant tool to handle your downloads. The interface is clean and clutter-free, and anyone with who has used uTorrent in the past will immediately notice the similarities.

qBittorrent 2.6.4:

bittorrent client review

uTorrent 2.2:

qbittorrent download

The same default layout is present with labels and filters for sorting torrents on the left, menu buttons along the top and content, statistics and a status indicator along the bottom. On Linux by default the icons are pulled from your GNOME theme, which is a nice touch.

Under The Hood

The one main feature that qBittorrent lacks compared to uTorrent is extendibility. The only specific add-ons available are search engine scripts as opposed to the many apps available for uTorrent.

qbittorrent download

If you’ve no need for a million-and-one extra features in your torrent client then this won’t bother you. There’s a good few features already included (such as alternative speed limits, with scheduler) that many clients (Deluge, for example) bolt on as plugins.

qbittorrent download

There’s also a web UI thrown in, which is great for controlling the client remotely via a web browser (and handy if you do your downloading on your main machine, and like to check in with your laptop).

bittorrent client

The options panel is straightforward enough, with features and options categorised into 7 separate areas.

bittorrent client

If you enable Display torrent content and some options in the Downloads tab then you’ll be presented with a small window upon adding each torrent. Here you’ll be able to choose a download location (your default location is shown automatically), contents (if you’re downloading multiple files) and whether to start the download straight away.

bittorrent client

There’s also the option to download each file sequentially, in order. This is a great feature to have available, especially if you regularly download music and videos.

Once you’ve added a download there’s the usual array of information regarding the tracker, peers and files and even in this view you’d be forgiven for thinking you were using uTorrent.

bittorrent client review

Download

Windows and Mac users can download versions for their respective operating systems by making a selection from the binary packages on the download page. If you’re running Linux then you can find packages and individual distribution instructions by choosing Linux from the binary packages list.

Ubuntu users can install via the Launchpad PPA by typing the following into a new Terminal window:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:hydr0g3n/ppa
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install qbittorrent

Conclusion

If you’ve been searching for that perfect client for Linux then qBittorrent is worth a look. Through a familiar interface, powerful features and stable performance the development team have developed a promising product.

For Windows users, plugins (or lack thereof) are irrefutably the main reason to stick with uTorrent at the moment. Then again, if you fancy a change…

Do you use BitTorrent? Have you tried qBittorrent? Any other clients that you absolutely love? Let us know in the comments below.


Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.


 

 

Similar MakeUseOf Articles


The Best Video Players & Codecs For Playing Your AVI Movies

Posted: 03 Feb 2011 03:31 PM PST

avi video playerI bet this has happened to you! Trying to watch a movie, you ran into issues and then you frantically queried Google for a way to access it. You would think that with a common file format such as .avi this wouldn’t happen.

Well, to be honest with you, this is not necessarily about finding the right video player for your movie. The truth is that video players require codecs to play video files. There are lots of great video players out there and virtually all of them can play AVI movies. First I will show you the best AVI video players, i.e. those that don’t require codecs, and then I will explain how you can get your AVI movie working in all other media players.

VLC Media Player

If you don’t want to hear about codecs and if you’re not attached to Windows Media Player, may I recommend VLC Media Player? The great thing about VLC Media Player is that it natively supports almost every video and audio format on the planet, including AVI. So if you’re looking for the best AVI video player in terms of convenience, you have just found it.

avi video player

Key Features:

  • requires no codecs for all standard and many other media files.
  • decodes audio.
  • supports subtitles.
  • portable version available.
  • open source and cross platform.

Care to learn more? Check out my article The VLC Media Player – Does it Really Play Everything?

You want options? OK, you shall have them. The fact is, there are at least five more players that provide native support for a great number of media files. One is KMPlayer, but it’s difficult because there is bad documentation. Others include MPlayerKantaris, and uPlayer. They’re all great in one way or the other, but I would like to speak more about…

GOM Player

GOM Player comes pre-packed with default codecs, so you won’t have to worry about them. When you first launch the player, it takes you through a setup process, which among other things let’s you choose from three playback modes: normal, high quality, and TV output. In other words, you can optimize GOM Player depending on what you want to do with it.

avi video player

Key Features:

  • comes pre-packed with standard codecs.
  • codec finder for any missing codecs.
  • can play broken AVI files (so can VLC).
  • supports subtitles and subtitle editing.
  • integrated screen capture tool.

Your Video Player Here

So you already have a favorite video player and you don’t want to install and learn about another piece of software? Fair enough. There is a solution for you too.

It doesn’t matter which player you have. It could be the good old Windows Media Player, Winamp, Media Player Classic, or maybe something more extravagant such as Mozilla’s Songbird. What unites all of them is that they require a codec to play back AVI and many other video file formats.

So this is where you finally get to learn about codecs. The word codec is an abbreviation of coder and decoder. In other words, the video was coded into a certain container, e.g. AVI and the media player software needs to decode it in order to be able to play it. The codec is a little program that helps your media player handle the decoding so that it can read and playback the video file.

When it comes to codecs, you have two options. You can either download one multipurpose codec that can handle most standard audio and video files. Or you can download a codec pack that contains all specific codecs for a wide range of media files. I recommend you save resources and go with the first option.

Multipurpose Codec:

Codec Packs:

So what are you going to do? Will you stick to your media player and which codec option will you choose? Or will you download one of the hassle-free AVI video players that comes with all necessary codecs pre-packed? It’s up to you! Let us know what you decided.

Image credits: Andrea Danti


Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.


 

 

Similar MakeUseOf Articles


12 Most Common iPod Sync Problems & How to Fix Them

Posted: 03 Feb 2011 01:31 PM PST

ipod sync problemsAre you having iPod sync problems?  Does iTunes keep giving you a weird error number that you don’t understand?  Have you searched through many an iPod/iTunes forum looking for answers and yet still don’t know what’s wrong? Yeah, I’ve been there before. I know it well.

The most frustrating thing is to wade through idea after idea, gradually considering the XYZ things you might need to do just to get your iPod to sync. You think there has to be an easier way. Surely someone at iTunes had this version of iPod and used XP too? Surely they didn’t have to resort to registry hacking to fix this? Well, we can hope. In the meantime, here’s a compiled list of the most common iPod sync problems and the easiest steps you can take to work out how to fix them. Hopefully it will have you sorted out in no time.

1. Back Up Before You Try Anything

It’s advised that you do an iTunes backup and an iPod/iPhone backup before you try any fixes.

2. Are You New To iPods?

If you’ve never had an iPod before, quickly check this basic user guide to make sure you know how it’s supposed to be syncing.

3. Restore & Update

iTunes encourage users to restore and update their iPods if there are any sync problems. Often your problem can be resolved easily this way, so give it a go. Connect your iPod, open iTunes, then choose “Check for update” to ensure you have the latest version of the software.

To back up your iPod, Right-Click (or CTRL-Click) your device in iTunes when connected and choose “Back Up“.

4. Beware Of Applications Which Change Computer Appearance

Skins and other appearance-changing software can have undesired consequences with iTunes, so try uninstalling them. You might find a quick fix to your problems!

5. Enable Disc Use

This might help if you’ve seen any of the following errors:

  • Unknown iPod Error (-50).
  • An unknown error occurred (-50)
  • The iPod cannot be synced. The required disk cannot be found.

These errors occur a lot under Windows XP and are often fixed by enabling disk use on your iPod.

You need to click “enable disc use” then “apply” really quickly. Then you need to do something to make XP recognise the drive ASAP. The easiest way is to have Device Manager open and ready, then click Scan For Hardware Changes” or “Add New Hardware.

ipod sync problems

6. Deselect Music Sync / Deselect Voice Memo Sync

You may be able to pinpoint the problem by deselecting various sync checkboxes (eg. Voice Memo or Music Sync) before attempting a sync.

7. Try Syncing With A New Admin Account

Create a new admin account on your machine, open iTunes (which will be a new library), then attempt to sync your iPod with this new library. If it works, you can at least eliminate hardware conflicts and iPod failure. It is likely to be a problem with the library, a corrupt file you’re trying to transfer or a program automatically running in your normal profile.

8. Run Disc Utility / Repair Disc / Error Checking

It might be the case that your iPod needs to have the disc repaired. Make sure the iPod is set to “enable disc use” but not to start iTunes when plugged in, then shut iTunes and eject the iPod. When you re-connect, run Disc Utility / Repair Disc on the iPod. Then try syncing in iTunes – you might have to run Repair Disc again.

Also try going to the iPod in My Computer. Right click and choose Properties > Tools > Error Checking.

ipod sync problems

9. Fix Digital Signing Of Windows Drivers

This might be required if you’ve seen one of the following errors:

  • The iPod could not be restored. An unknown error occurred (-124 , 1418, 1429, 1430, 1436 or 1439).

It’s possible that your registry files have been corrupted in some way. So, iTunes have written out the content of a batch file for you to create and run. Don’t forget to back up first! They also suggest doing a virus check afterwards just in case that was what caused your problem in the first place.

10. Verify MobileMe Settings

To verify your MobileMe settings are correct, ensure your Internet connection is working then connect for a sync. If it’s not syncing (or has finished) check that the MobileMe contacts and calendar data is correct. Also check your MobileMe email as that will let you know if your password is correctly entered. Then click on “fetch new data” and ensure push is turned “ON”.

11. Corrupt Files and Hardware Conflicts

Have you seen “sync error -69″?

Every now and then, you might find a corrupt MP3 file or photo in your collection. If that happens, iTunes will throw an error message at you, but not necessarily explain why. Check to see if you can pinpoint a particular song it’s trying to transfer. Or, try deleting your photo cache. Note, this could also be caused by a hardware conflict.

12. It Might Just Be iTunes

Don’t forget that it might just be a problem with iTunes itself. Try going through these iTunes fixes to see if you can get your iTunes working properly.

More on iTunes

If you love iTunes, here’s some more articles for you to read:

Image Credit: Shutterstock

 

 

Similar MakeUseOf Articles


Hot Tech Deals [Feb 3rd]

Posted: 03 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. TODAY ONLY Thermaltake VL84301W2Z V3 Black Edition ATX Mid Tower Case w/ 430W PS $44.99AR Free Shipping
  2. TODAY ONLY Dell SX2210 22in Widescreen Monitor with Webcam $189 Free Shipping
  3. Panasonic TC-L22X2 22in LCD HDTV (720p) w/ iPod Dock $177.99 Free Shipping
  4. Patriot PCMPBO25 PBO Core Box Office All-in-one 1080p Full HD Media Player $35.99AR Free Shipping via code EMCKHKG65 (exp 2/9)
  5. 48 hours only! Buy EASEUS Data Recovery Wizard v.5.0.1 and Altaro Oops!Backup for only $15 (Digital download, exp 2/5)
  6. Seagate Expansion 1TB External Hard Drive $59.99 Free Shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set


Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.

 

 

Similar MakeUseOf Articles


Streamfree LiveTV: Watch Live Web Streams In Boxee

Posted: 03 Feb 2011 11:31 AM PST

free broadband tv streamsGet access to lots of live streams from across the web, all without picking up a keyboard. StreamFree is a Boxee plugin that aims to make live streaming more accessible from your couch.

International news addicts no doubt already know about Boxee’s LiveStation plugin, which gives users access to a plethora of international news stations. You probably even know how to watch sports not broadcast in your country using the web. StreamFree offers a Boxee plugin with content from Justin.TV, uStream, atdhe.net, ChannelSurf and more, giving you access to live content that’s easy to browse from your couch.


StreamFree’s “LiveTV” works anywhere Boxee does, meaning you can use it on Linux, Mac and Windows computers as well as the Boxee box. Some of the free broadband TV streams offered are less legal than others, so use discretion.

Add Repository

The first thing you’ll need to do is add the repository found at StreamFree.tv to your Boxee setup. Go to “My Apps“, then press left until you get to the side menu. Click “Repositories“. You’ll see the option to add a repository. Click it, then you’ll see this pop-up:

free broadband tv streams

Add the repo “dir.streamfree.tv” to get access to FreeStream’s collection of software. As of this writing all that there is is the StreamFree app, but more may come. Click the app, then click “Add To My App“. Feel free to also add a shortcut, if you’d like one.

live tv streams

This process may look a little different on the Boxee Box; I don’t have access to one for testing. StreamFree should work the same on that device as any other, however, so let’s take a look at the app.

Browsing

Fire up the app and you’ll see a variety of media you can browse:

live tv streams

Justin.TV and uStream are front and center, with the former being broken down by category. But don’t think that what you see on the home page is all that you get; click left to browse other media sources:

free broadband tv streams

Delicious Users gives you access to a variety of user-bookmarked streams, and there are a few things worth finding under “Other Feeds“. You can even browse for streams by the country of origin, useful for expatriates wanting a taste of home.

I’ve found that some streams work inconsistently, but there’s a lot here to explore. Have fun looking through the media and you’ll find something you like!

Conclusion

If you haven’t noticed, some of these streams aren’t exactly legal. It’s a shame most media companies don’t offer a legal way to watch live streams of their content online, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should help yourself to free content. Use discretion in browsing these feeds. There is plenty of legal content to browse here, so explore and let me know what kind of highlights you stumble upon in the comments below.

Also feel free to let me know if you have a better source of live television, be it for Boxee or any other media app.


Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.


 

 

Similar MakeUseOf Articles


Control and Modify Windows of Active Programs with Window Detective

Posted: 03 Feb 2011 10:31 AM PST

windows propertiesIf you’ve ever had a situation where your computer starts behaving strangely, with windows opening and closing or ignoring your mouse clicks, then you will know how frustrating it can be to figure out exactly what your computer is doing. Windows programmers that have to actually take control of specific application windows and modify the window properties or behavior of those windows also need access to more detailed “handle” information about those windows that aren’t available in your standard task manager display.

Tina offered some very useful apps, such as WinTabber and TaskSwitchXP that can help with managing multiple open windows. Varun also offered a list of multitasking apps to keep track of what you’ve got going on. All of these programs work well, but none offer the level of information you’ll find with Window Detective.


If you’d like to take a peek under the hood and take a look at exactly what your computer is trying to do when it is acting weird, just download Window Detective and give it a test drive.

View Open Window Properties

When you’ve got a lot going on at the same time, it’s nice to see more than just processes. When you use Window Detective to check out what visible and hidden windows you’ve got going on, you may be a bit surprised.

change window properties

Window Detective shows you everything you could want to know about each app you’ve got running, whether it’s a dialog box, an app in your taskbar, or the seven or eight browser tabs you’ve got going on. When you first run the app, it lists everything based on the “desktop window hierarchy.” However, if you’re used to viewing the process task manager, use the View dropdown box to change this to “process window hierarchy.”

change window properties

In that view, you can see all the apps you’ve got running and all of the windows that those processes have open. Beyond the main window that you’re probably aware of, you’ll see a list of other things going on, their handle which other applications can use to alter the window properties, and the window dimensions.

When you go into Edit -> Preferences, you’ll see that you can pretty much customize the Window Detective to show you only the information that you really care to see.

change window properties

Even at this point, this task/window monitoring program does more than most other process monitoring apps out there, but beyond just seeing all of the windows that are open on your PC and their basic properties, there is also a long list of advanced properties you can see with this program.

Advanced Information & Control

With the process list open, if you drill down into the windows that the process has open, you can right click on any of those on the list and choose from a list of options. The three that are most useful include viewing properties, viewing messages and most importantly “setting” properties.

ms window properties

When you choose to view the window properties, the information shows up in the right data pane. This window shows you everything about the window that you could possibly want to know – the child/parent handle, dimesnsions, all of the active style options that are enabled, and a whole lot more.

ms window properties

You’ll also notice, as you’re using the Window Detective, that when you have the list of processes and windows open and you go on with your business of using your computer, the application will graphically show you using color codes, where the current window activity is taking place – where windows are opening, closing or changing.

ms window properties

The next option when you right click on the window is to “set properties.” Personally, I think this is the most useful part of the application, because it actually lets you hack any windows that are open by modifying the active or inactive style bits and properties.

For example, above I’ve modified the open main window of IrFanView so that it no longer has a caption at the top of the Window. Checking the actual open IrFanView window, I discover that Window Detective successfully modified the properties of the IrFanView main window.

Additionally, if you choose the option to view window messages, you can actually watch all traffic between the OS and that open window. This lets you monitor exactly what’s going on during mouse clicks, window movements or any other activity where the Window behavior changes or responds to user interaction.

windows properties

While a lot of the information you can get from using Window Detective may mostly be useful for programmers that want to figure out ways to program interaction with current windows, the information also gives you a rare peek at behind-the-scenes activity on your PC. This is helpful when you suspect that an program you just installed may be messing up your computer.

Give the Window Detective a shot and see if you learned anything new about your computer. What do you think about the ability to tweak the appearance of any open window? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.


 

 

Similar MakeUseOf Articles


9 Tips & Tricks To Get The Most Out Of Your Netflix Subscription

Posted: 03 Feb 2011 09:31 AM PST

get the most out of netflixNetflix is seriously the best thing since sliced bread. In addition to their outstanding collection of DVDs and Blu-Rays available via mail, they have an astounding selection of streamable movies. In fact, there are so many movies that it is hard to decide which one to watch.

With so many choices, how can you get the most out of your Netflix subscription? The tips and tools below will work to push your Netflix subscription to its limit, whether you just have movies mailed to you or are a frequent instant watcher and consumer of movies and shows.

Netflix Queue Sorter

get the most out of netflix

A Greasemonkey script named Netflix Queue Sorter will give you advanced queue sort options not available on the Netflix site itself. Since Greasemonkey scripts are compatible on a variety of platforms, you can use this script to augment your queue management tasks. This is very helpful for sorting your queue on a number of options including popularity, rating, year and more.

Use Keyboard Shortcuts While Streaming

using netflix

A number of keyboard shortcuts are available while watching a streaming video. These shortcuts not only help with your viewing of a movie but also have options to tweak your streaming experience.

Space – Toggle Play/Pause
Enter – Toggle Play/Pause
Page Up – Play
Page Down – Pause
F – Full-screen
Escape – Exit full-screen
Shift+Left arrow – Rewind
Shift+Right arrow – Fast Forward
Non-Full Screen Only:
Ctrl+Shift+Alt+M – Menu
Ctrl+Shift+Alt+C – Codes; frame rate plus other (unknown to me) info. Also makes other overlays green.
Ctrl+Shift+Alt+D – Display A/V Stats on-screen
Ctrl+Shift+Alt+L - Logging window
Ctrl+Shift+Alt+P – Player Info
Ctrl+Shift+Alt+S – Stream bit rate and manual rate selection

Use A Remote For Netflix Watch Instantly Movies

using netflix

Tying into the keyboard shortcuts above, you can use Girder or other remote software to have your remote control the playback of your Netflix movie. Although Netflix doesn’t have a full blown UI like some of the nicer players (Boxee, Wii, etc) it will allow you to control the playback on your PC in the normal browser window. The full instructions for getting this set up are over on Geektonic.

Keep Up To Date On Netflix News

HackingNetflix has less to do with hacking in the traditional sense and more to do with the latest Netflix news. They also feature new tips they have found out about as well as any new features on the Netflix website. If you want to keep in touch with the latest trends within the world of Netflix, HackingNetflix is the place to be.

Manage Your Queue Remotely

using netflix

If you are anything like me while out speaking with friends a movie will casually be mentioned, only to be forgotten about when I finally got home to add it to my queue. Now that smartphones are ever-present, you can download an app on many platforms that can be used to manage your queue remotely from anywhere. Some free options are PhoneFlicks on the Apple front and QueueMan on Android.

Find Interesting Movies

how to use netflix

Two websites which tie into your Netflix account using its API are Inveni and FFlick (recently purchased by Google). They take the movies you watch and the movies that your friends watch to make recommendations as to movies you might like to see. This non-automated recommendation engine works differently than the algorithmic Netflix “Movies You’ll Love” section, giving you a different set of results based on human recommendations.

Also sites like Instantwatcher allow you to browse movies available instantly based on ratings, reviews and other interesting parameters, giving you a good selection of movies to watch right away.

Watch Netflix Movies From (Just About) Any Device Under The Sun

how to use netflix

Netflix has partnered with many hardware manufacturers to give you access on a lot of platforms. From televisions to DVD & Blu-Ray players, Game systems like the Wii and Xbox 360, to mobile devices, Netflix has you covered. Their platforms are constantly expanding, for example on the mobile device front they currently support iPhone, iPad and Windows Phone 7 and it has been rumored that Android support is forthcoming.

Put Your Subscription On Hold

how to use netflix

Going away for an extended period of time but want to keep your movie Queue? You can put your account on hold for 7 to 90 days with no charges as long as you have returned all of your physical DVDs. This is a good option if you are going on an extended vacation or trip or otherwise want to save some bucks while not actively using the site. It should also be noted, at least when I did this a few years back, if you cancel your account and then reactivate it at a later time it will also save your movie queue.

Set Up Content Ratings Lock

get the most out of netflix

If you have a family with small children this is fairly important to get set up. While your little ones are on the site they will have a full reign of movies at their disposal and to keep things clean you can set the movie ratings to only allow movies with a certain MPAA rating to be watched. Since this is integrated throughout the site, it will make it harder to switch back and forth for a multi user account; but it is a good option to keep only clean stuff in your account.

Do You Have Any Tricks?

With these tips up your sleeves you can really make the most out of your Netflix subscription. Whether you have streaming-only or mundo 8-out-at-a-time plan, these tips can help you maximize the money you pay to receive all of that great content. Do you have any tricks to share? Let us know below!


Hey Facebookers, make sure to check out MakeUseOf page on Facebook. Over 24,000 fans already!

 

 

Similar MakeUseOf Articles


Change The Way You Search & Consume Information With Qwiki

Posted: 03 Feb 2011 08:31 AM PST

video information toolSome technology analysts argue that we are entering the second wave of dot com bubbles because of the amount of funding given to start-up Internet companies. But I think it doesn’t really matter whether the analysts are right or wrong, because the most important thing is that those new Internet companies provide us, the users, with great applications to enrich our lives.

One of the most buzzed about start-ups is Qwiki. This is a web application that will change the way most of us search and consume information. Qwiki has just opened its doors to the general public after refining its system during closed beta. Let’s have a peek inside this video information tool and see what all the buzz is about.

It Knows Millions Of Things

The way Qwiki works is simple. Maybe it’s too simple for some who have great expectations from a company which has just raised $8 million in funding. But sometimes great things come from simplicity.

In a sense, Qwiki is both a search engine and a curator for Wikipedia entries – and more. It will help you search for specific information, and it will collect the results in a visual list and create a video on the go summarizing those results – with computer generated female voice narration. Users can sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. Literally.

To start using Qwiki, put your search query into the “Enter A Topic” field.

video information tool

You can also take another route: by browsing through the featured topics. They are grouped by several categories such as Daily Topic, Monuments, Natural Wonders, Animals, and Historical Figures.

video information system

If you’d like to expand your knowledge one article at a time, you can sign up to receive “Qwiki of the Day” emails.

video information system

That’s a brief overview of Qwiki. Now let’s get down to business.

The Multimedia Approach To Information

Entering a search query on Qwiki will give you an instant list of results. Pick one to view the collected information about that topic.

video information system

For example, I wanted to know more about Easter Island. I typed in the search query and clicked on the result. Qwiki immediately generated a video showing a general overview about Easter Island.

video searches

While the video shows you both related images and videos, an accompanying text will be shown below the video and a computer generated female voice will read the narration for you. It’s a truly “multimedia” experience which will appeal to both visual and auditory learners.

video searches

The volume control is available next to the video bar along with the replay button (Q plus), the hide/show text button (A), and the full screen button.

video searches

After the video ends, the screen will show you groups of information related to the topic that you’ve just searched for. Under the social pane, you’ll find links to more information on Wikipedia, Google, Fotopedia and YouTube.

02c Related Result.jpg

To see the information from the summary video in a more traditional way, click the “Contents” tab.

02f Contents 1.jpg

Next to the “Contents” tab is the “Improve this Wiki” tab. You can help to improve Qwiki by contributing links to relevant pictures, suggesting YouTube videos, and pointing out mispronounced words on the video.

02g Improve QWiki.jpg

As with everything else on the web today, Qwiki is also social. You can easily share your searches on your social network via Facebook, Twitter, and/or email.

02h Share and rate.jpg

The social buttons are available at the top of the page under the search box and in the sidebar of the search result.

02k Email This.jpg

Qwiki also provides its users with a shortened link of their searches and the embed code so that users can easily attach the searches on their website.

03f Embed Qwiki.jpg

To Sign Up Or Not To Sign Up, That’s The Question

At the top right corner of Qwiki, you can (barely) see a small “Sign Up | Login” link. Since Qwiki is already fully functional without the need to sign up, I assumed there would be some special privileges given to those who sign up for an account.

01a SignUp Login.jpg

So I went through the signing up routine and created myself an account. It turns out that the difference between registered users and non-registered ones is a small message displaying how many Qwikis registered users have watched. I tried to click on the number with the hope of seeing a history of all the Qwikis that I’ve watched. But nothing happened.

video information tool

I think it would be very cool if registered users had the ability to save their searches and to export them as videos to YouTube and to the hard drive for offline use.

Anyway, I found my Qwiki experience to be useful, fun, and entertaining. I would definitely put Qwiki on the list of places that I must visit to find quick references about things that I want to know.

Have you tried Qwiki? What do you think about it? Share your experiences and thoughts using the comments below.


NEW: Download MakeUseOf iPhone App. FREE!


 

 

Similar MakeUseOf Articles


The 7 Best Powerful Netbook Applications That Don’t Chug System Resources

Posted: 03 Feb 2011 07:31 AM PST

best netbook applicationsNetbooks, and other small ultra-portable computers including Windows tablets, are well loved because of their small footprint and light weight. However, netbooks are far less powerful than the typical notebook PC, which means they can have trouble running applications that other PCs have no problem with.

This means that anyone who wants a snappy netbook needs to pick the best netbook applications. Finding and judging the best netbook applications can take some time, which is why I’ve handled it for you.

Best Antivirus: Panda Cloud Antivirus

best netbook applications

Picking an antivirus program for a netbook is tricky because of the limited system resources available. All antivirus software has the potential to become a real resource hog, because the process of shifting through files in search of virus signatures isn’t easy.

There are a number of relatively lightweight antivirus programs, however, and Panda Cloud Antivirus is at the top. It’s intuitive, quick, and provides solid protection. I will admit that this spot was hotly contested, however. If you’re not happy with Panda, try Avast! free edition or Microsoft Security Essentials.

Best Browser: Google Chrome

netbook software applicationsHonestly, there wasn’t much of a contest here. Google Chrome is incredibly light on system resources and does almost everything that you could want a browser to do.

I have occasionally run into websites that failed to support Chrome properly, but you can always keep a backup of Internet Explorer installed for those very rare situations.

Best Desktop Enchancement: 360Desktop

netbook software applications

Netbooks have small displays. This is a disadvantage that is common in small devices, and one that can feel very limiting. Fortuantely, 360Desktop can help you get around this problem. No, it doesn’t magically make your display larger, but it does virtually enlarge it and provides the ability to scroll across it. This provides you with more usable space on the same small display.

Best Office Suite: Google Docs

netbook applications

The decision to include Google Docs as the pick for best netbook office suite, rather than OpenOffice/LibreOffice or any other contender, is related to the small footprint of Google Chrome. If you’re already using Chrome on your netbook, as recommended, it only makes sense to use Google Docs. This has a very low impact on system resources but provides common office suite functionality.

Best Image Editor: Fotograpfix

netbook applications

There are a lot of image editing programs to choose from these days, but out of all of them I think Fotograpfix is the best for netbooks. Although the program isn’t very pretty, and doesn’t match the functionality of GIMP, Fotograpfix does include all the basic image editing features. It’s absurdly light, as well – if Windows Task Manager can be trusted, it typically uses less system resources than Mozilla Firefox with a single tab open. That’s not bad at all!

Best Resource Monitor: TinyResMeter

netbook applicationsSystem resources on a netbook are important. They’re the entire reason I’m writing this blog post. With only so much to go around, you need to keep tabs on what is available and what isn’t.

TinyResMeter is a great way to do that. This light, customizable application provides information about your netbook without consuming much resources itself. It can monitor a huge range of  variables including not only common items, such as available RAM, but also more obscure information such as current hard drive disk speed.
best netbook applications

Best Game Platform: Impulse

Steam generally takes the cake when it comes to gaming on a PC, but it can be a bit unwieldy on a netbook. Steam itself always runs in the background, and I’ve found that during sales the pop-up Windows loaded by Steam can take some time to appear on a netbook.

Impulse is a solid alternative that provides many of the same functions. Although the game selection and social networking features aren’t as good as Steam’s, Impulse has an advantage – it can be shut off completely, and you can still play the games you purchased. Impulse also has a good selection of obscure indie titles that tend to be less demanding on system resources.

Conclusion

Obviously, there is always going to be some debate about the programs that are best for netbooks. There are also a lot of categories of software – I covered those I think most relevant, but if you have a favorite program that wasn’t included here, please post it in the comments.

Image Credit: Ward’s Kitchen


Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.


 

 

Similar MakeUseOf Articles


No comments:

Post a Comment