Monday, February 7, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [February 6th]” plus 7 more “Cool Websites and Tools [February 6th]” plus 7 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [February 6th]

Posted: 06 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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We Go Look – is an interesting and useful service that provides independent third-party verification for products and services that are listed online on sites like eBay and Craigslist for sale. They've got over 7,000 lookers (or verification inspectors) in the US who visit the seller and check their product. They can also check rental properties, and even people in case of online dating sites. Read more: WeGoLook: Third Party Verification Service For eBay & Craigslist Listings


DeviceKnit – If you are a gadget freak who owns all kinds of different devices, and you love to play around with them trying out various implementations, then DeviceKnit is something you should check out. It's a website dedicated to gadget implementations. That means you'll find all kinds of tricks, hacks, techniques and tutorials that involve different gadgets. Read more: DeviceKnit: Directory Of Electronic Gadget Implementations



AceProject – Most of the project management tools available today are either to shallow in terms of features or focus way more on social media integration and user-interface than the actual functionalities. AceProject is different, as it is a no-nonsense, project management tool that gives you tremendous depth in features. You can add tons of attributes to your project including project type, start date, end date, estimated hours, client name and at any given time compare the project estimates to actual. Read more: AceProject: Feature Rich Project Management Tool Online



SnippShot – is a neat little tool that lets you create and save code snippets in the cloud. No hassle, simply give your snippet a name and start writing your code on the white space. You can create as many snippets as you want, search snippets, rename them or even delete them completely. You are required to log in with your Google account. Read more: SnippShot: Create & Store Code Snippets Online



Mapfaire – Do you want to create a map of all the places you have traveled to so you can display it nicely? Or do you want to display all the office locations of a company on a map? If you ever want to create a themed map where you can identify and mark various locations, Mapfaire is one of the simplest tools to do that. Read more: Mapfaire: Easily Map Your Locations & Share


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: 06 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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Would You Read Your Partner’s Email? [MakeUseOf Poll]

Posted: 06 Feb 2011 05:30 PM PST

Last week, we held a showdown between books and eBooks to see what had the most readership in the past six months. And guess what? MakeUseOf readers favour eBooks by a pretty big margin.

From the 328 votes collected, the split was: 38% predominantly read eBooks; 20% only read hard-copy books; 21% predominantly read hard-copy books; 20% only read eBooks; while another 2% hadn’t read any books at all.

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

Overall, nearly 60% prefer to read eBooks over hard-copy, while 40% prefer to read hard-copy over eBooks.

This week's poll question is: Would You Read Your Partner’s Email?

You may have read this story in the news recently. In brief, a guy was worried his wife was having an affair and she had left the password to her Gmail account in a booklet beside the computer. So, he used the password to log in to her Gmail account and confirmed she had been having an affair. There’s more to it than that, but we’ll leave it there. The question is, would you do it if you thought you had a good reason?

What are your thoughts on this case? Would you have thought it was a crime to read your partner’s email? If you would normally not read your partner’s email, is there anything which you would consider a good enough reason to read it? Let us know in the comments!

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4 Sites for Groups to Easily Share Photos from One Event

Posted: 06 Feb 2011 02:30 PM PST

how to share photosAs the pro-democracy protests throughout Egypt held the world captive, a flood of photos has been coming in from photojournalists and activists. The photos were posted through various online services from Flickr to Twitpic to Facebook. Unless you knew who to follow on Twitter, it was impossible to take in all of the incredible images coming in of protests throughout the country.

There are various free services that aim to make the sharing of these kinds of photos much easier. These services offer a few methods to funnel images into one location. Whether you want to know how to share photos from one event with a small group of friends, or are trying to find a way to collect a treasure of photos that document a significant moment in world history, here are a few ways to do just that.


Getting started with DropEvent, you can create your event and determine whether you want to approve photos before they are added, and if adding photos is invite only or open to the general public.

how to share event photos

You can then add photos yourself uploading them from the website. There is also an email feature, allowing to send in photos from your mobile phone, but in our experience it wasn’t successful.

share photos online free

Invite friends to contribute to the album via an email invitation, and they can then add photos using the same methods. To add photos, they don’t have to sign up, but will have to provide their email address, but it won’t be displayed with the image.

share photos online free

DropEvent’s simple upload interface is easy to use, but the display of photos can come across as a little clunky. It would also be nice to be able to identify (or choose to identify) who uploaded a photo especially for groups of friends. It’s also worth noting that the DropEvent invitation ended up in the Spam folder in Gmail.

share photos online with group


We’ve covered Yogile before and while the photo layout will appeal to the more artistic photographer, free accounts are limited to only 100 MB per month.

Like on DropEvent, you can choose whether or not to approve photos before they are added. Images are added by you or other users through the web interface. Just share the email address or album URL with friends and they can access it instantly.

If they opt not to sign up for a Yogile account, your friends can still add photos, but the drawback is, of course, that photos uploaded without logging in are not attributed to anyone.

free share photos

We love Yogile’s simple approach and minimalist layout, but the 100 MB limit puts it out of the running for collecting events on a very large scale, so is better suited for small groups of friends.


Picasa is another ideal choice for creating group albums for any given event or concept whether on a small or large scale. The advantage to using Picasa is that it’s a popular service that many people use anyway, so you won’t have to convince them to use another service.

When creating the album be sure you create a public album, or one that you can share with friends by sending them the link.

free share photos

After sharing the album by sending an email invitation, you can then decide which of your friends can add photos to the album. The catch with Picasa is that they have to have a google account, and that you have to manually toggle the upload icon next to each person’s name on the right hand side of the album. It would be nice to be able to have a universal toggle button for all friends.

free share photos

Each Picasa album is limited to 1,000 photos and your entire storage on Picasa is limited to 1 GB.

Flickr Groups

Of course Flickr does offer a similar concept through their groups feature. Flickr Groups are probably the ideal method for someone looking for a free way to amass as many photos from one event in one place, without any limit on the number of photos themselves.

how to share photos

At the same time, if you would rather use Flickr for a private or invitation only album of photos, these options are available when creating a group.

Do you have any tips on how to share photos amongst one group? Let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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Hot Tech Deals [Feb 6th]

Posted: 06 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. 48 hour fire sale: Get 360Amigo System Speedup PRO and Returnil System Safe 2011 for only $15 (digital download, instant delivery, 24 hours left)
  2. Paragon Partition Manager 11 Personal Edition and novaPDF Professional Desktop Edition for $15 (digital download, instant delivery)
  3. EASEUS Data Recovery Wizard v.5.0.1 and Altaro Oops!Backup for only $20 (digital download, instant delivery)
  4. Canon Coupon: 10% off Refurb Canon MX320 & MX340 Wireless All-in-One Printers via code MXRFB10 (Exp 2/10)
  5. Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium Operating System $84.99, Pro $124.99, Ultimate $164.99 via code KICKOFF (Exp 2/7)

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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10 Free MP3 Albums To Download [Sound Sunday]

Posted: 06 Feb 2011 11:30 AM PST

Sound Sunday is the best place to turn to if you’re tired of mainstream radio and the same old, same old.

This edition brings a wealth of fresh sounds to your ears. Don’t be concerned to see the ‘BUY’ link in the Bandcamp widgets; many albums this week are ‘name your price’ downloads, meaning you can still get them for free. However, the maximum  number of free downloads from Bandcamp can be reached anytime, so get your download now.

Questions, suggestions, feedback? Leave a comment or eMail me directly (tina at makeuseof dot com). Enjoy the mix!

Tristan Allen – selftitled

Genre: classic, piano, instrumental

Tristan Allen is a pianist from New York. His selftitled debut album was financed by Kickstarter and produced by Amanda Palmer, whom  he met by chance while completing a summer program at Berklee College of Music. The limited edition CDs have all sold out. Now you have the chance to download the digital version for free.

Tristan Allen is a name your price download from Bandcamp.

Tristan Allen MySpace. Amanda Palmer Homepage.

Yuji Takahashi - GUI+3

Genre: classical, acoustic, piano

From Wikipedia: “Yuji Takahashi is a Japanese composer, performer, pianist and author. He studied under Roh Ogura and Minao Shibata at the Toho Gakuen School of Music. In 1960, he made his debut as a pianist by performing Bo Nilsson’s Quantitaten. He lived in Europe from 1963 to 1966 where he worked with Iannis Xenakis. He gave the first performance of Xenakis’ Herma and Eonta. In 2006 he was awarded a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.

GUI+3 is a name your price download from Bandcamp.

Yuji Takahashi MySpace and Homepage.

Yellow Ostrich – The Mistress

Genre: rock, pop

Yellow Ostrich recorded their present album between Wisconsin and New York and in all sorts of places: an empty movie theater, a dorm room, a small office, and a Manhattan apartment.

The Mistress is a name your price download from Bandcamp or Afternoon Records.

Yellow Ostrich Homepage and Facebook.

Various Artists – Rude Boy

Genre: game music, 8-bit

From their Bandcamp page: “This album is a collection of reggae, ska, dub, and everything in between, played on a variety of game consoles. It was organized by Euan Lynn (TraceKaiser) on 8-Bit Collective and features a variety of artists from around the world.

Download Rude Boy from Bandcamp.

8BitCollective Homepage.

Remain Da 1 – All I Need

Genre: hip hop, r&b, soul

In his own words: “A rapper is a person that just puts words together. A artist is a person who creates songs with concepts. I’m a artist!

All I Need is a free download from Bandcamp.

Remain Da 1 Facebook.

Black Cloud Music – 12 Days On Cloud 9

Genre: hip hop

Black Cloud Music is a netlabel from California. From their website: “The 12 Days On Cloud 9 project is a heartfelt “in house” collaboration with efforts from all 6 members of the label, also featuring a few other respected artist in the “909″ Inland Empire area.  (…) This project is a clear representation of growth within individual artists of the label as well as the Black Cloud as a whole.

12 Days On Cloud 9 is a free download from Bandcamp.

Black Cloud Music MySpace and Homepage.

The Glorious Veins – selftitled

Genre: postpunk, bluesrock, disco

The Glorious Veins call their own style of music a disco-flavored postpunk bluesrock from Mars = ROCK. After compiling a 10 track demo, the band from New York recently released what I suppose is their debut album. The selftitled record is a fun rock album with great melodies.

The Glorious Veins is a name your price download from Bandcamp.

The Glorious Veins MySpace and Facebook.

Psh Project – Slomo

Genre: progressive, electronica, house, downtempo

Psh Project is the pseudonym of British producer Paul Hunter. He is also the man behind the digital label Psh Recordings, which released Psh Project’s album Slomo.

Slomo is a name your price download from Bandcamp.

Psh Project MySpace and Homepage.

Ruby Coast – Whatever This Is

Genre: indie, pop, rock

Whatever This Is is the debut album of Toronto, Ontario indie rockers Ruby Coast. The band formed in 2006 and after releasing an EP they toured extensively and, among others, supported Tokyo Police Club and Passion Pit. Their debut album was produced by Howard Bileman (Arcade Fire) and Brian Paulson (Wilco).

Whatever This Is can be downloaded for free from Bandcamp.

Ruby Coast Facebook and Twitter.

VCR Monster – Dangerous

Genre: disco, electronic, funk, experimental

VCR Monster, a band that leaves many questions open, for example where is IE? And what the hell is ecstasy, when nothing affects me? I really don’t know. You figure it out!

Dangerous is a free download from Bandcamp.

VCR Monster Facebook and Twitter.

Craving for more material for your mp3 player? There are many past editions of Sound Sunday for you to browse. 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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Speck CandyShell Case for iPod Touch 4G Giveaway Winner

Posted: 06 Feb 2011 10:30 AM PST

Another great giveaway has come to an end. Today, we’ll be announcing the 5 MakeUseOf readers who were lucky enough to be selected (randomly, of course) to receive a Speck CandyShell Case for their 4G iPod Touch.

An email has been sent to your inbox, please reply it within 48 hours in order to claim your prize.

And the winners are…

  1. Annie Laudick
  2. William Stuart
  3. Alex Guzman
  4. Andrew Kerr
  5. Cesar Garcia

Congratulations! Stay tuned for more great giveaways. In the meantime, check out our bundlelytic charity bundle giveaway — we’re giving away 25 app bundles worth over $1200 in total!

MakeUseOf would like to thank Speck 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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The Various Forms Of Website Hosting Explained [Technology Explained]

Posted: 06 Feb 2011 09:31 AM PST

what is web hostingEvery website on the Internet needs to be stored somewhere, and that's what we refer to as "hosting" – but what exactly does that mean? With so many different ways of hosting your site, it's easy to get lost in the internet tubes. Let me guide you through some of the many ways you can host your own website, as well as how much it's likely to cost (if anything), and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

If you've been meaning to start a blog, but find the choices overwhelming and the jargon mind-boggling – or maybe you just want to satisfy your technological curiosity about how the Internet works – then read on.

What Is Web Hosting Anyway?

A website host is really just a computer that is on all the time and connected to the Internet. When you visit a website, you’re downloading some files from the machine that stores that particular website. The truth is that any computer can be used to host a website, even the one you are using now – but the computers used by professional hosting companies are incredibly powerful with lots of hard disks and memory, highly optimized to deliver the website files to thousands of readers simultaneously. The machines are stacked up high, and there are no keyboards, mice or monitors to be seen.

So – You Need A Website Host?

There are various ways of hosting your website, so let’s take a look.

Hosted Services

The first and simplest kind of hosting is creating a sub-website within a larger site, usually for a specific application like a blog. There are so many hosted services on the Internet, but here are some specific blog examples, all free: – Free, but your blog will be hosted at a URL such as (unless you pay a premium for your own domain). You will get to choose from a restricted set of blog themes and plugins, and generally can’t do anything beyond the basic setup. – owned by Google, Blogger gives you a little more flexibility with regards to writing your own theme code, but the plugin selection is limited and the Blogger branding is everywhere. Frankly, there is a reason WordPress is top – but it’s good to have a choice anyway.


  • Simple to set up and get started.
  • Generally good speeds as the company is specialised and good at what they do.


  • Very little control over the technical side of things. Non-approved plugins not supported, although Blogger is a little more flexible.
  • Portability: If your blog does get popular and you have a subdomain from a free hosted service, then moving to your own host later becomes difficult and you’re liable to lose some of the fans you’ve built up when the domain changes.

what is web hosting


If you want to go the DIY free route, then it is in fact entirely possible to host your own website at home, on your own Internet connection – but you should be aware that most ISPs don’t approve of this and it may be in violation of your terms of service, so do check first.

We’ve written a few guides before on how to self host a website on a spare computer, or even within Windows on your main computer.


  • As much computing power as you have to throw at it.
  • The ultimate in freedom to do whatever you want with your site.
  • Free.


  • A fairly high level of technical knowledge, or the patience to learn.
  • The speed of your website will depend upon the upload speed of your internet connection, which is both slow and very limited. Bear in mind that any upload traffic you use to host your site will also count toward your ISP’s monthly quota, if they have one.

Shared Hosting:

So called because you share a hosting server with thousands of other websites that are also stored on the same computer. Shared hosting is the budget option – prices and packages vary greatly – most will come will a free domain name registration and so called “unlimited bandwidth and storage”, but don’t be fooled. Shared hosts rarely allow anything other than basic web files – so you can’t use that unlimited storage to backup your computer, for instance.

Perhaps the most famous budget shared host is GoDaddy, with plans starting at $3 a month. There are also lots of free shared webhosts, but you really do get what you pay for.


  • Budget, and a great way to start out with your own custom domain.
  • Easy install options for popular blogging and forum web apps that mean you don’t need a lot of technical knowledge.


  • Incredibly slow.
  • Anything beyond a basic blog will get warnings from your host regarding CPU and memory overusage.

what is a web hosting company

Virtual Private Server & Dedicated Servers:

These are the top 2 levels of website hosting, and mean you get the whole server to yourself. The difference between Virtual Private Server (VPS) and Dedicated Server is that a Dedicated Server is a single, physical system which you essentially “rent” inside of a data center. A VPS is a single, virtual machine – similar to the way you can use Parallels to run a virtual machine inside of your OSX install. MakeUseOf is hosted on a dedicated server.

My personal recommendation for a VPS or Dedicated server is Media Temple. Their VPS starts from $50 a month, while dedicated servers start at $750 (yes, you did just read that right).


  • (Nearly) Unlimited domain hosting.
  • The fastest hosting available (just to illustrate, I recently moved my iPadBoardGames site from shared hosting to a VPS, and the page load time dropped from an appalling 10 seconds to under 2.5 seconds).


  • High level of technical knowledge required.
  • Expensive.

what is web hosting

Starting Out

If you’re serious about starting a blog, I really suggest you skip the free route and head straight to a shared hosting account. Yes, it may cost a little, but it will save you so many headaches down the line – and there is a psychological effect that if you’re actually paying for it, you’re going to put more effort in. When the time comes to upgrade – then you can easily migrate to more a more professional solution. The learning process is one hell of a ride, so what are you waiting for?

Image Credits: Shutterstock 1 and Shutterstock 2

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