Thursday, February 17, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [February 16th]” plus 9 more “Cool Websites and Tools [February 16th]” plus 9 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [February 16th]

Posted: 16 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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Magazinify – Distracting online ads and having little time are the two main problems while reading articles online. But both those problems can now be easily solved, thanks to Magazinify, a simple and free to use web service. You can sign into Magazinify by connecting your Facebook account to it. Then drag the service's bookmarklet into your browser's bookmarks toolbar. Read more: Magazinify: Save Articles For Later Reading In A Cleaner Interface


GGOAL – People who know the game of soccer (football) intricately understand that the game is as much about strategy as it is about energy and passion. There are hundreds of web portals that let you play a soccer game online but if your purpose is to learn the sport while playing the game, GGOAL is one of the best resources. Read more: GGOAL: Strategic Soccer Game Online



Three Words – Do you want to know what your friends think about you? A fun way to find out would be to ask them to describe you in three words. This is precisely what the site Three Words helps you do. Three Words is a free to use website that helps you find out how your friends would describe you. You are provided with a public URL for your webpage, which you can share with your friends. Read more: Three Words: Let Your Friends Describe You In Three Words



The Official Profile Of – With so many celebrities opting to create profiles on sites like Twitter and Facebook, it was only a matter of time before a site that tracks all of those profiles on one page showed up. is that site. It aims to aggregate official social profiles of celebrities so that fans don't need to search separately. Read more: TheOfficialProfileOf: Aggregates Celebrity Profiles Online



FB Photo Magic – Many Facebook users are having a lot of fun with Facebook's new profile interface. In addition to the main profile picture, you have previous profile pictures appearing on your profile. If you use FBPhotoMagic you can create beautiful Facebook profile page with a nice photo effect. Read more: FBPhotoMagic: Create Beautiful Facebook Profile Page


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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How To Optimize Images For The Web Using GIMP

Posted: 16 Feb 2011 05:31 PM PST

gimp optimize image for websiteThere are two ways to optimize single images in GIMP. To optimize or convert multiple images in Windows, you’re probably better off using the ultra fast image viewer, IrfanView, which has an excellent batch conversion feature, or any dedicated mass image manipulators like the ones you can find here (for Windows users). You could skip using GIMP altogether and utilize the batch converters instead, but I prefer to monitor changes in quality in the images that I’m trying to optimize. Some images from batch converters can turn out so grainy because the optimization levels for one image can heavily degrade another one, that you might just have to re-convert.

In any case, one of the two ways requires a plugin from the registry, while the other one is a bit more manual but nothing too time-consuming. So we shall start with that so you can decide which one you prefer.

With No Plugin

Let’s say you have a raw screenshot straight from the source. A lot of the time, the resulting screenshot can turn out huge in file size. Just take Windows Vista and 7′s Snipping Tool. It creates high-quality screenshots, but in no way optimizes when you’re saving the file. Compared to the screenshot saved with my preferred screencapture utility, FastStone Capture 5.3, the Snipping Tool’s file was almost 4 times as large!

gimp optimize image for website

So when you obtain an image file like that, drag it from Windows Explorer to the GIMP window, head to Image > Mode > Indexed.

optimize images

You can type a value in the box for maximum number of colors or use a web-optimized palette, which will make your image suffer heavy quality loss.

optimize images

optimize images

You can always try the other mode using Ctrl + Z to undo. Now go up to File > Save As.

optimize images for web

You’ll want to name your file with PNG as the file extension as it’s a screenshot. In the next dialog, uncheck Save Resolution, Save Creation Time, as well as the comments, and then hit OK.

optimize images for web

The results when I optimized the 1.17MB file ended up having 481KB, which isn’t too bad!

optimize images for web

Alternatively, you can also save the image as a JPG file.

Just make sure you check the box to “Show the Preview in Image Window“, as it will display the potential file size in the same dialog while you can still monitor the quality of the image.

In this case, the resulting file turned out to be 458KB, which is still smaller than the original one.

With Plugin

Save For Web is a plugin from the registry that will create an option to optimize the image for web use under the File menu. Download either the zip or the tarball file from the site. You need the exe file in the contents of the zipped file in your GIMP plugins folder. If you don’t know where your plugins folder is, you can find the location by going to Edit > Preferences in GIMP.

Now expand the Folders option and highlight Plug-ins.

That’s the folder you want to copy the exe file (webexport.exe) to.

Now restart GIMP (remember to save your work) and you’ll notice the new option under the File menu.

When you’ve got an enormous file, you can use this option to preview the file size according to the file type you’re interested in saving.

gimp optimize image for website

You can already preview the file size natively in GIMP when dealing with JPG files, but this plugin gives you the same option for PNG files, which are most likely what you want for your screenshots. Using this plugin, I was able to get a 186KB PNG file with 8 bits per pixel, which is great compared to the 400+ KB (24-bit) file using no plugins like detailed above. The quality was virtually the same, as far as I could tell.

I haven’t tried this, but there’s apparently another plugin, RIOT (Radical Image Optimization Tool), which IrfanView uses to optimize images.

What do you use to optimize screenshots?

Image credit: Oxygen Team, eponas-deewey

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A Brief Guide To Nintendo DS Homebrew & Emulation [Part 2]

Posted: 16 Feb 2011 03:30 PM PST

nintendo ds games homebrewOn Monday, I showed you what you needed to have in order to play Nintendo DS backup games. Before we can proceed to discuss homebrewed apps and emulation, you’ll need to have a compatible flash card and storage device. Got that handy? Okay.

Let’s move on.


Just to recap, homebrew software is the catch-all term given to fan-made games and tools for platforms that are not usually open to development. The Nintendo DS is no exception and has its own fair share of tools and software that vastly enhance the handheld’s capabilities.

Whilst a lot of homebrew projects appear to have fallen by the wayside, there’s still plenty of killer applications that will keep you busy for hours.

If you want to use your DS as a media device then MoonShell is the app you want. There’s a good possibility your firmware will come preloaded with MoonShell (mine did) or a derivative – if not, download and enjoy.

MoonShell supports video in DPG format (which you can convert with the bundled converter or SUPER), a host of audio formats including MP3, OGG, WMA and low bitrate AAC and non-progressive JPEG, GIF, BMP and PNG images as well as plain text files. It is the last word in media playback on the DS.

There are simply too many homebrew applications to mention (DSLinux anyone?), with plenty of games and apps for all kinds of users. If you’re interested in trying out some hobbyist creations then you’ll find an exhastive list of NDS homebrew over at the Nintendo DS Homebrew Hive and DS-Xtra.


Recently I’ve been testing every emulator I can get my hands on. Here are my top 6:

jEnesisDS [Download]

A fairly well-behaved Sega Mega Drive (or Genesis, as it was known in the US) emulator that has now been discontinued (amidst claims the author helped Sega port a certain hedgehog to the DS). Despite no updates for a while, game support is generally good with a great number of titles working 100%.

nintendo ds games homebrew

There’s a couple of extra features and options including two save state slots (which do work, but work best if you pause the game first) and the option for a 6-button joypad.

Working titles include the first three Sonic games and Streets of Rage 1 & 2 – now that’s an afternoon.


Emulating the 8bit charm of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, nesDS is a cracking little emulator that’s handled pretty much everything I’ve thrown at it.

nintendo ds homebrew

In fact I’ve been playing with nesDS for a week or so now and am pleased to say it’s probably the single finest emulator on the DS platform. Each ROM is given its own save state slot, there’s the ability to reverse or advance the ROM and the controls really couldn’t be much closer to the original rectangular beast that was the NES joypad.

nesDS shoves the fluffy Nintendo 8bit sounds and sprites of years gone by into the palms of your hands.

Lameboy DS

A fully-featured Gameboy and Gameboy Color emulator with support for a huge number of games at full speed. This emulator also supports larger ROMs in excess of 2MB and provides save state support that works.

nintendo ds homebrew

There’s also a nifty original Gameboy colour palette which attempts to emulate the pale green of Nintendo’s old LCD display. Emulate handhelds on your handheld with Lameboy DS.


A DS port of the popular Snemul SNES emulator, SnemulDS has limited support for a number of games and a fair few options for getting everything looking the way you want it.

nintendo ds homebrew

Despite not having great compatibility (and save state just crashes the DS) this emulator will run the odd classic (Super Mario All-Stars being one) with all but a few problems. Worth a go if you’re a die-hard SNES fanatic, easily the best Super Nintendo emulator for the DS.

MarcaDS [Download & Compatibility]

Every platform needs an arcade emulator, and MarcaDS is the MAME equivalent on the Nintendo DS. Due to the somewhat limited processing power and available RAM for the DS, the emulator manages simple arcade games best, with a compatibility list on the download page (above).

list of nintendo ds homebrew

Compatible games include Pac-Man, Frogger and Galaga making this one for the retro gamers.


An official port of the SCUMMVM point-and-click adventure game emulator, SCUMMVM DS provides an impressive compatibility list and brings touch controls to the classics. Working (100%) titles include: The Secret of Monkey Island, Simon the Sorcerer and Flight of the Amazon Queen.

nintendo ds games homebrew

You also get full save/load support and two innovative and refreshing ways to make use of the DS touchscreen. A must have!


If you’ve got a DS and still don’t have a flash card then I’d urge you to consider one soon. The way things are going it won’t be long till these devices will be banned altogether (if they aren’t already) due to their ability to play Nintendo DS ROMs.

Just remember that downloading and playing games you don’t legally own is against the law, mmkay?

Any killer emulators I’ve not mentioned here? Got any favourite homebrew? Let us know in the comments.

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Google Launches “One Pass” Digital Content Platform For Publishers [News]

Posted: 16 Feb 2011 02:39 PM PST

Google’s Eric Schmidt today announced One Pass, a digital content distribution service designed to make life easier for publishers and end users alike. One Pass will allow users to log in on any device (website, mobile or tablet) to access their subscriptions to newspapers or other such premium online content.

The service will allow publishers to set their own prices and ensure content is available both through the web and inside applications. Much like Android Market, One Pass will route payments through Google’s Checkout service. Google hasn’t commented over whether the service will eat into publishers pockets, though many sources are reporting payments are only expected to be subject to the 2.5% Google Checkout fee.

A post on the Official Google Blog highlights the flexibility on offer, explaining “publishers can customize how and when they charge for content while experimenting with different models to see what works best for them—offering subscriptions, metered access, “freemium” content or even single articles for sale from their websites or mobile apps.”

The news comes in the wake of Apple’s recent announcement over subscriptions and in-app content, which has had a number of companies up in arms. Under the new payment system, Apple will take a 30% cut of paid content delivered through applications. Music service (and app) Rhapsody announced:

An Apple-imposed arrangement that requires us to pay 30 percent of our revenue to Apple, in addition to content fees that we pay to the music labels, publishers and artists, is economically untenable.  The bottom line is we would not be able to offer our service through the iTunes store if subjected to Apple's 30 percent monthly fee vs. a typical 2.5 percent credit card fee.

In addition to the cut, Apple’s new regulations stipulate “publishers may no longer provide links in their apps (to a web site, for example) which allow the customer to purchase content or subscriptions outside of the app.” Customers can of course still purchase this content outside of the applications, with the publishers taking 100% in that instance.

With the launch of The Daily, Apple’s subscription shake-up and the timely announcement of One Pass it is more evident than ever that publishers are seeing a genuine market for paid content on digital platforms. Who will dominate remains to be seen.

Would you purchase digital content like online newspapers? Would Apple’s tight grip be a factor in deciding your next smartphone or tablet? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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The 8 Best Sources For Product Recall RSS Updates

Posted: 16 Feb 2011 01:31 PM PST

product recall rssWhenever you buy a brand new product right when it hits the market, the safety of that product is always a concern. That’s particularly true when the product, like children’s toys or a new car, can have a direct impact on the health and safety of your own family. Rather than trying to constantly check for any recall announcements for every single product you’ve bought that could pose a safety concern if it malfunctions, it’s much easier to just sign up for product recall RSS feeds and then just keep an eye out for any recall alerts that might affect you.

The only problem is that there really isn’t one central feed that covers every product within every industry. So, to help you keep on top of the latest products alerts I’ve decided to provide a list of the top product recall RSS feeds that you can subscribe to for all of the latest recall updates.

Top 7 Product Recall RSS Feeds


The most popular product that people usually watch recalls for are cars. Aside from a home, a vehicle is one of the largest purchases that people make, so any defect or problem that arises becomes a major concern for consumers. Luckily, most car manufacturers will repair major recall issues for free, but you need to be aware of what those issues are. One useful product recall RSS feed throughout the auto industry comes from

product recall rss

There, you can subscribe to one (or all) of three feeds that cover the most popular issues that drivers are concerned about today, tire and child restraint recalls, and overall general vehicle recalls. This is a US based website with the feeds drawn from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but it also covers vehicles made from around the world.

Food & Drug Administration

Another useful feed from one of the largest organizations that monitors and manages the safety of both food and medication is the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) feed covering recalls and safety alerts for any medicine or food products you may be taking.

product recall notice

The feed is updated pretty often, so you can feel confident that if the FDA spots any problems with any product, you’ll be the first to hear about it. This is especially useful when there’s some kind of food contamination in a certain product that might be sitting on grocery store shelves.

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Another recall RSS feed that’s a little more general but just as useful comes from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). You can select a specific feed that covers a certain category of products like sports, outdoor gear or household products, or you can just subscribe to the general feed that covers them all.

product recall notice

This feed is also updated very often and even if there aren’t often products that you’ve purchased that make the list of recalls, it’s still interesting to see what products and which brands hit the recall list through the year.

product recall notice

Recalled Products

For readers in Europe, another great resource comes from a brand new website called RecalledProducts. This website lets you either sign up for email alerts, or you can click on the RSS feed link on the right to receive the updates via RSS. This feed is based exclusively on European product recalls.

product recall alerts

This feed is also updated often and filled with a lot of useful information about the latest product recalls throughout Europe.

product recall alerts

CSA International

Another resource that makes sense as a good place to find recall information is CSA International. This is a company that tests and certifies that products meet international standards, and the organization also issues recall information about any of the products that were previously CSA certified.

product recall alerts

You’ll find a variety of products on the CSA feed, but most of them do tend to focus on industry and manufacturing products. So if that’s an area you’re interested in following, then this is the recall feed for you.

New York Times Product Recalls

Out of all of the major news organizations around the world, the New York Times actually does an excellent job following and reporting on product recalls. The NYT even has its own Product Recalls section of the website, and an RSS feed on the right side of the page that you can use to follow along with their latest recall news reports.


If you still can’t get enough product recall RSS news, then head over to the New Zealand based Consumer website. This is another more general site with a section for “latest recalls” that you can subscribe to via RSS.

This page is updated at least a few times a month with a whole variety of recalls including food, electronics and more.

Food Standards Agency

Finally, for European based readers that want to stay on top of the latest food recall alerts right when then occur, the best RSS feed to check out is that of the Food Standards Agency.

product recall rss

This is a well updated feed with “rapid alerts” from any European Commission alerts about tainted food that needs to get pulled from the shelves. By staying informed about the latest food recalls, you can keep yourself and your family safe from potentially unhealthy foods.

Overall, each of these product recall RSS feed update services provide a good stream of information about products that you should be aware might pose a danger. One of the best ways to stay on top of everything with very little effort is to subscribe to multiple ones in your RSS reader and group them under “product recalls”. This way you can see everything at a glance.

Do you follow product recalls in your RSS reader? Do you take a different approach? Share your insight in the comments section below.

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Hot Tech Deals [Feb 16th]

Posted: 16 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. Paragon Partition Manager 11 Personal Edition and EASEUS Data Recovery Wizard v.5.0.1 for $9.99
  2. Sapphire Radeon HD5770 1GB HDCP PCI-E Video Card $99.99 Free Ship via code EMCYTZT302 (Exp 2/17)
  3. EXPIRING Linksys WRT400N 802.11n Simultaneous Dual-Band Wireless-N Router (DD-WRT) $59.99 Free Ship via code EMCKHJK35 (Exp 2/16)
  4. 1and1 Web Hosting Special – FREE Home, Business, Developer for 6 Months, MORE
  5. Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB Hard Drive $77.99 Free Shipping via code EMCYTZT299 (Exp 2/16)
  6. Asus K50IJ-RNC7 Intel Dual-Core T4500 2.3GHz 15.6in LED Laptop (4GB/500GB) $349
  7. TODAY ONLY Panasonic HM-TA1H 1920×1080 High Definition Portable Video Camcorder $79.99 Free Shipping
  8. Samsung X430-11 Intel Core i3-330UM ULV Dual-Core 14in Laptop + Zune HD 16GB MP3 Player $549.99 Free Shipping
  9. HP Pavilion dm3-3012nr Intel Pentium U5400 ULV 13.3in Laptop (4GB/320GB/6-cell Battery/Win7) $399.99

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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10 Music Trivia Sites To Test Your Musical Knowledge

Posted: 16 Feb 2011 11:31 AM PST

Small change, small potatoes, or something of little importance: that's how 'trivia' is defined in the dictionary. But when you take any trivia game and see it eating up time, then the dictionary meaning doesn't hold much water. Take music trivia for instance. You really won't be invited to the fan party if you don't know which track made the charts, or how that band got its name.

Do you know how The Beatles got their name or what was their first chart-topping number one single? If you don’t know, then it's time to brush up your musical IQ. The best part of your re-education is that you don't have to burn the midnight oil. Thanks to the number of music trivia websites you can have a rocking time while filling your head with ‘useless facts’. Here are ten of them.


As the name says, the site is about song meanings, lyrics, and trivia. As soon as you land on the site, you will spy a trivia question at the top. The Mighty Songfacts Trivia Quiz asks you 10 questions and getting them right might win you a fashionable Songfacts T-shirt (though I haven’t tested it out to that extent). The site also goes behind the songs and digs out little nuggets of 'songfacts' that make this site a destination for trivia buffs.


This site comes up in the first crop of music trivia websites. The Music Trivia Quiz has levels for beginners, experts, and professionals. You have to choose the game you want to play as there are different combinations on the basic idea of listening to a song and naming the song, singer or the group. Most of the trivia rounds have multiple answers and you have to select the right one. Points stack up if you can identify all the details on the song.

Music Trivia Master

Music Trivia Master is a simple game where you can select to answer questions from different eras. You can select categories, number of questions, and genre (pop, rock, country, R&B, hip hop). Each question is timed and a free registration allows you to save your scores and get up on the leaderboard. Music Trivia Master also says it has an iPhone app but I couldn't locate it on iTunes.

Action Quiz

Go up against the computer and see if you can score in the categories of classical music and pop music. You can start straightaway as there's no subscription. Music categories are further divided into decades, lyrics, titles etc. The trivia quiz asks you to identify the singers behind the tracks and the album. The trivia game based on classical music has a section on music theory which could be fun for learners.


Answer three questions a day everyday and by the end of the month you can be more surefooted with your musical IQ. There's a larger dose too in the form of a 15 question timed round arranged around musical decades. Check out the archives too for previous quizzes.

Trivia Plaza

Along with other topics, you can find quite a few free trivia games on pop music and classical music here. The classical music trivia games are based on composers and their works. The pop music games are more varied with the likes of 'American Idol', 'Real Names', 'Christmas Songs' etc. There are some others on lyrics and title tracks released in each decade. These music trivia games and the two above have been put together by the same man.

You Got Song'd

UGO Network's online music game gives you a few lives to get the answers right as it throws a succession of identify the song or singer questions at you. At the beginning you get to choose the category you want to get quizzed on. Hear the music and guess the answers to qualify for the leaderboard.

Mighty Quiz has over 3,000 topics that can test your knowledge. You can also write your own trivia questions and contribute to the site. Music alone has around 1,140 trivia questions to test your knowledge. The trivia questions come with options and you have to pick the right one. You can subscribe to your favorite topics and even follow members who send in their trivia questions. A sign-in allows you to save your progress through the questions.


The ten year old site features quality free trivia games, quiz and flash games. Daily you can go head to head against 20 new questions in 5 different categories, music being one of them. The trivia round is timed and you can instantly see whether you answered correctly or not. A percentage figure also indicates how many got the answer right.

The Crazy Cow Music Quiz

The Facebook app takes your knowledge of music and pits it against your network of friends. Each quiz consists of 10 multiple choice trivia questions. You have to put a name to the song that plays in the background. Points are also awarded or deducted according to the time you take to answer. I could not review this Facebook app completely because inexplicably it was getting stuck at 30 percent. The app has quite a large following with nearly 700,000+ active members so my problem could be a temporary glitch.

With these ten websites and others spread throughout the web, there's no excuse one can offer for a lack of music knowledge. Agreed, you might be looked upon as a musical nerd but armed with a brimful of trivia, you can demand right of place among all the music fans out there. If you have already secured that spot let us know about your favorite music trivia website.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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ClearLock – A Cool Transparent Desktop Lock For Windows

Posted: 16 Feb 2011 10:31 AM PST

transparent desktop lockDo you use a computer in an area which is accessible by others (for example, an open cubicle in a large office)? Do you often leave your computer unattended? Or a better question is, do you trust your peers enough to leave your computer unattended while they are around? If “trust” is not exactly the main ingredient which bonds your friendship together, then you should always secure your computer while you are away.

The easiest way to secure your computer is by locking it. Go to Control Panel and set a password (if you haven’t done so), then hit “Windows + L” every time you need to lock it. Your computer screen will change into a login screen, waiting for the unlocking password. But what if you need to see/show what’s on the screen while keeping the computer safe from those annoying fingers? Then maybe you could try a small transparent desktop lock application called ClearLock.

Choosing The Right Version

ClearLock is a standalone (portable) application that will help you lock your computer without hiding the desktop screen. It will only put a transparent dark layer above the desktop so everything that happens on the screen will still be visible. This kind of arrangement is perfect for people who want to monitor a process on their locked computer, or maybe for those who want to display an on-screen presentation in a public place.

There are two versions of the application provided by the developer: for 32-bit and for 64-bit Windows. All are packed inside a compressed file which is a little bit below 1MB of size. After extracting the content of the compressed file, be sure to choose the version that fit your system.

transparent desktop lock

If you run the wrong version of the app, you will get the warning pop-up window. But no worries, all you have to do is close the warning window and choose the other version.

transparent desktop lock

Locked & Darkened

The first time you run the application, you will be asked to create a password to unlock your system later on. To increase the security level, use a password which combines letters, numbers, and capital letters. Click “Save” and your system will be locked.

transparent desktop lock freeware

A new configuration setting file called “ClearLock.ini” will appear after you set the password.

transparent desktop lock freeware

The ClearLock window will float above the screen layer telling you that the computer is locked. Anybody who wants to enable the computer has to provide the password and hit Enter.

transparent desktop lock freeware

If you enter the wrong password, your access will be denied. After three incorrect tries, ClearLock will be frozen and the system can’t be accessed for several minutes.

free transparent desktop lock

This is what the locked screen will look like. Every active progress is visible behind the transparent dark layer, while the ClearLock window stands out in front of everything else. If there’s no input/activity for a while, the ClearLock screen will disappear leaving the darkened desktop screen.

free transparent desktop lock

Resetting The Password

Any digital lock is only as good as the password. If the password is revealed, then there’s no point using the lock anymore.  ClearLock should have a way to reset the password. My first thought was that we could reset the password by editing the “ClearLock.ini” file. I opened the file using Notepad and saw that the written figures were totally different to the ones that I used for my password. Editing the file is definitely not the answer.

free transparent desktop lock

After a quick search I found out that resetting the password is very easy. You just need to delete the “ClearLock.ini” file. The next time you run ClearLock, the app will ask you to create a new password.

transparent desktop lock

I also found out that the ClearLock developer doesn’t recommend using their app as the ultimate system protection because “computer savvy users can bypass the lock”. The app should work fine as light protection, though. It should keep your computer secure while you take a short trip to the rest room.

ClearLock is one good and unique alternative to casually secure your system. Plus, it will also keep your desktop visible. But if you have your own favorite alternatives, please feel free to share them using the comments below.

Image credit: Max Klingensmith

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BaShare Makes File Transfers Simple For Your Friends [Linux]

Posted: 16 Feb 2011 08:31 AM PST

simple file transferDo you want to send a file to a friend, or receive a file from a friend, but fear his lack of tech-savvy is impossible to overcome? Linux program BaShare surmounts that difficulty by giving your friends and family two simple links to send a file to you or receive a file from you. Just fire up the program, copy a link and send it to a friend in need. Best of all: your friend doesn’t need to install any software to receive or send files.

BaShare is perfect for transferring files during instant messaging conversations. It works regardless of the software your friend is using to chat, essentially turning your computer into a simple web server. BaShare will require some knowledge of routers on your part to get working. Get everything set up, however, and you’ve got a great tool for quickly sending and receiving files from anyone with an Internet connection.

Linux users can download BaShare from LaunchPad, with an Ubuntu package for easy installation. Once they do, the fun begins!

Port Settings

Before you can use BaShare you’re going to need to properly set up your port settings. This is only relevant if you use some kind of router in your home, but these days who doesn’t? You’re going to need to log into your router’s configuration panel and find the port forwarding option. On a NetGear router, it looks like this:

simple file transfer

The ports 65000 and 65001, as you can see, need to point toward the computer that you’ll be using BaShare from. Set this up once and you should be fine, particularly if you give your Linux computer a static internal IP.

That wasn’t so bad, was it? Feel free to ask questions in the comments below if it was.

Sending a File

With that out of the way let’s send a file. Fire up BaShare and you’ll see the main interface:

easy file transfer

Sending a file is as simple as clicking “Select File,” then copying the “sending” link for your friends. If they click the link the download will start, and you’ll see the progress they’re making:

easy file transfer

The link will only work, and the download will only continue, if you don’t shut down BaShare. Don’t shut the application down until you’ve confirmed your friend has the file in question!

Receiving a File

So your friend wants to send you a file, but has no idea how to? No problem. Just copy the “URL For Receiving” and give it your friend. The link leads to a website that looks like this:

easy file transfer

All your friend needs to do is click “Choose File“, find the file in question and finally click “Send“. Once that happens, your download will pop up on your screen like this:

simple file transfer

Make sure you save the file somewhere or your friend will see an error message and the transfer will have to start over.

I should mention that this application has two modes: one for local transfers and another for Internet transfers. By default Internet mode is enabled, but if you want to send a file to someone on the same network as you, switch to LAN mode.

Finally, notice that you can limit the upload/download rates at will. This is particularly useful if you need to reserve your bandwidth for high-priority programs, such as Skype.

Similar Services

There are plenty of programs out there that make file sharing easy. There are websites for sharing files without signing up, if you know where to look. Heck, Dropbox makes all kinds of file sharing easier. But if you want a quick way to send or receive a file I can’t think of anything better than BaShare off the top of my head. This program leaves the hard work to you, and your friends are the ones that benefit.

Feel free to try it out and let me know how you like it. Also feel free to recommend any other software for easily sharing files!

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What Google Chrome Instant Is And Why It’s Badass

Posted: 16 Feb 2011 07:31 AM PST

google chrome instantHow familiar are you with the ‘instant’ experience the web has given us all lately? As you may have noticed, Google gives you instant search results from the moment you start typing your search query. This was intended to save you time, which would enable you to complete more searches, which in turn would make Google more money. A win-win, you might say.

In recent months, Ann has shown us how to take this instant feature and apply it to Firefox searches and our YouTube experience, as well as how to shut it off altogether, if you didn’t like it or its sheer power frightened you. Now however, Google has given us the next piece in the instant puzzle: instant browsing. In this article, I’m going to explain what that means, how to enable it, and why I’m so excited about it.

What Is Chrome Instant?

Chrome Instant is a feature that was rolled into the latest stable version of Google's Chrome browser. If you spend a lot of time surfing the web, it can save you some serious time while browsing different websites.

Similar to instant search on, Chrome Instant loads websites for you as you’re typing in the URL. For example, let’s say you open up your browser and want to head to Facebook. As you start typing ‘www.fa’ your Facebook homepage loads up. If you were intending to go to, say, instead, just keep typing and Chrome Instant will continue loading pages instantly for you.

The more you use it, the better it gets at understanding what site you’re probably trying to go to. Coupled with the instant search results, it’s pretty impressive.

How Do I Enable Chrome Instant?

This is the easiest step-by-step walk-through I’ll ever do. Are you ready?

google chrome instant

First, make sure you have the latest stable version of Google Chrome installed (regular or beta). If you don’t have Chrome, you can download and install it here. If you do have Chrome installed, open it, click on the wrench icon in the top right, and go to About Google Chrome to see if you have the latest version. If you don’t, you may need to install updates and/or restart your browser.

instant browsing

After you have the latest version of the Google Chrome browser, the second step is to enable the feature that you now should have. Go back up to the little wrench and select Options (Preferences if you’re on a Mac).

google chrome instant

On the Basics tab, down where your search settings are there should be an empty box that says “Enable Instant for faster searching and browsing“. Go ahead and check the box, click Close, and you’re done.

Now, take it for a spin. Start typing ‘www.’ and a website and the page will instantly load while you’re typing. Badass right? I know!


If you don’t have a fast Internet connection, or you simply have too many people connected to your network at the same time, I could see this feature being a little frustrating for you at times, but that’s really the only potential cause for complaint that I see with it.

Google’s primary objective seems to be speed and that really excites me. Loading my website before I’ve even finished typing it is a really cool feature, and I’d imagine it will get even cooler as Google becomes able to predict what website I’m going to after only typing a letter or two. I’m a big fan of this instant kick that Google’s on, and you should be too.

What do you think of Chrome Instant? Did this fast browser just get even faster?

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