Sunday, February 6, 2011 “Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]” plus 6 more “Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]” plus 6 more

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Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]

Posted: 06 Feb 2011 12:41 AM PST


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

  1. How Cameras Are Used (Pic)
  2. How to Find Out The Gender Of Your Computer
  3. bus.rar (Pic)
  4. Building A Corporate Website (Pic)
  5. your xbox broke didn't it… (Pic)
  6. The Saddest eBay Auction (Pic)
  7. This just makes me want to dub copies of movies… (Pic)
  8. If Websites Were TV Shows (Video)

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


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Cool Websites and Tools [February 5th]

Posted: 05 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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Etsy Taste Test – is a fun little app by Etsy, the buying and selling website, that lets you figure out appropriate gifts. The app asks you to make a number of choices in different gift categories and after you are done, recommends a number of gifts based on your taste. If you have friends who are never happy with your gift choices, let them take the test so you can know what gifts would make them happy. Read more: EtsyTasteTest: Identify Appropriate Gifts Based On Personal Choices


Corkboard – is a free to use website that provides you with a virtual corkboard where you can create and edit sticky notes as a group. You can add a 'sticky' note anyplace on the board by clicking on an empty space. The note can be resized using the small arrow in the bottom right corner of each note. You can drag the notes around for better arrangement. Read more: Corkboard: Quickly Create, Save & Edit Sticky Notes As A Group



YouTube Trends – If you are planning your next big viral video campaign, then you should be listed in YouTube Trends. This website provides a running account of the currently trending videos on YouTube, by relying on viewership data and top video curators on the web. It also tries to provide broader cultural and media trends from the data they have for you. Read more: YouTubeTrends: Insight On Most Popular Videos On YouTube



Jerela – If you ever worry about your team wasting time on Facebook and Twitter during work hours or your freelancers billing you for hours they didn't spend working on the project, Jerela can be of immense help. Once you sign up for a free account and add your team members, they can install Jerala for free on their PC. Jerela will then send a report to your online account every few minutes. Read more: Jerela: Remotely Monitor Project Activities For Your Team



Photo To Cartoon Online – The 'cartoon effect' often produces fun results when applied to photographs. Normally to apply the effect you need to have a good photo editing application installed on your computer. But thanks to Photo to Cartoon Online, you can now apply the cartoon effect to your photos online. Photo to Cartoon Online is a simple and free to use web app that lets you apply the cartoon effect to your photos. Read more: Photo To Cartoon Online: Apply Cartoon Effect To Your Photos


These are just half of the websites that we discovered in the last couple of days. If you want us to send you daily round-ups of all cool websites we come across, leave your email here. Or follow us via RSS feed.

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3 Fun & Useful Google News Mashups

Posted: 05 Feb 2011 05:31 PM PST

Google News does a really good job of aggregating news from a multitude of data sources and from all over the world. However, how it often happens with Google, while it is good at collecting and ranking the information, one could always do better with representing and organizing that information.

This post shares 3 Google News mashups that offer you somewhat different user experiences. Let’s see if you want to swap the suggested interfaces with the regular Google News dashboard you may be using now.

1. News Timeline: Create News Summaries

Created by Google engineer Andy Hertzfeld, News Timeline (see our directory listing of Google News Timeline) is a Google Labs projects, that structures news stories and other information by date. It lets you view news (as well as other information sources) on a graphical timeline (the look reminds me of the New York Times Article Skimmer).

Note: The tool features English language results only and is only available for Google News users in the US.

There are quite a few available data sources and sets including recent and historical news, scanned newspapers and magazines, blog posts, as well as information about music, sport, movies and even artworks and buildings.

Google News

Essentially, Google News Timeline provides two ways to navigate through time:

  1. Drag horizontally anywhere on the timeline to move forward or backward through results (or click on the arrows on the navigation bar or use the arrow key on your keyboard. The latter seems really handy by the way).
  2. Click on an area of the timeline to zoom in and look at a shorter date range in more detail, or simply double-click to zoom out.

The navigation menus allow you to:

  • Add or remove “queries” (which are different sources including specific newspapers, magazines, blogs).
  • Select whether to see the timeline divided by a day, week, month, year or decade.
  • Control the width of the columns, by selecting sizes of small, medium or large, to change the scale to shrink or enlarge the data on the timeline.
  • Go directly to a specific date:

Google News Timeline

Another great (yet not really explained in the official guide) thing is that the tool supports Google advanced search operators which means you can restrict results to pages mentioning your word in the page title or force the exact match, etc.

I found the tool particularly useful for generating the summary of all events (and news coverage) associated to any name or business throughout the years (you should select the “year” mode for that).

For example, here’s what has been happening to “Google” from 2001 to, say, 2004:

Google News summary

2. Newsmap: Google News Visualized

Newsmap (we have a detailed review of Newsmap here) was already mentioned by David in his post listing ways to read the news a little differently. Newsmap is considered to be one of the most aesthetic information visualizations existing on the Web. The tool visualizes Google News results using a treemap visualization algorithm that helps display the enormous amount of information gathered by the aggregator.

The most obvious benefit of the tool is that it does a great job allowing you to quickly see and grasp some really hot news:

  • The font size is determined by how popular news is on the Internet.
  • The news is colored based on what category it belongs to.
  • The intensity of that color determines when that news item was published (brighter colors mean fresher news).

Besides, you can also read the summary by hovering over the item:


The tool is easy to filter by:

  • Country (it’s USA by default).
  • Category.
  • Time (more / less than 10 minutes ago, more than one hour ago).


The “Customize” button gives you more options to change the look and functionality (this requires registration so that your settings could be also saved).

3. Google News On A Map

Saikat did once a great job listing some aggregators to catch the news on a world map – not all of them use Google News as a data source. The following three allow you to browse Google News on a map (all three tools are searched and navigated by pointing your mouse at a spot on the map):

  • NewsWorldMap: an easy-to-use interactive map that uses the geographical database of for location information.
  • News Map: along with Google News, aggregates Yahoo News;
  • Google News on Map: a Yahoo! Pipe that maps Google News Top stories on the Yahoo! map also using WS to convert RSS to a GeoRSS feed.

Google News on a Map

Are you aware of any other interesting ways to organize and browse through Google News? Please share them in the comments!

Image credit: Spencer E Holtaway

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Hot Tech Deals [Feb 5th]

Posted: 05 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)
  2. Get Paragon Partition Manager 11 Personal Edition and novaPDF Professional Desktop Edition for $15 (digital download, instant delivery)
  3. Toshiba Satellite L650-BT2N23 Intel Core i5-480M 2.66GHz 15.6in Laptop (4GB/320GB) $599 via code L650SAVE30 (Exp 2/7)
  4. Polk Audio PSW10 10in 50W Subwoofer or Energy 1200W Mini Subwoofer $299.99 via code EMCKHKF22 (Exp 2/10)
  5. Dell Vostro 3700 Intel Core i3-370M 2.4GHz 17.3in Laptop (Aluminum, 2GB/250GB/Win7) $569
  6. Dell Vostro 3500 Intel Core i3 2.4GHz 15.6in Laptop (Aluminum, 2GB/250GB) $510 Free Overnight Shipping
  7. Dell Vostro 3400 Intel Core i3-370M 2.4GHz 14in Laptop (Aluminum, 2GB/250GB) $519
  8. Powerex 8-Cell Battery Smarter Charger $39.99 Free Shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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Use “Later” Buttons To Avoid Being Distracted & Get More Work Done

Posted: 05 Feb 2011 11:31 AM PST

It happens all the time. You mean to get some work done, and then find an article or video that ends up taking a half hour of your time. This is the peril of the Internet age: computers, the machines most of us use to do our jobs, are also connected to an endless source of entertainment. Save those distractions for later so you can get back to work without missing out on anything.

Services like Instapaper and Boxee offer free bookmarklets for saving articles and videos, respectively. It doesn’t matter what browser you use; all you need to do is click a bookmark and would-be distractions are sent to a place where you can access them later. Heck, even if those two services don’t work for you, a simple bookmark can do the same job.

The technology here is cool, but the most important thing is discipline. That’s why a simple bookmark folder can effectively accomplish the same goal. Contain your distractions; get more done.

Read It Later

Instapaper is a simple web app, but a good one. All it does is take articles you find from around the web, remove the various formatting/advertisements that surround them, and save them in an playlist for you to read later.

Find the “Read It Later” bookmarket on Instapaper’s extras page. Drag it to your desktop, and you’re ready to save articles for later.

Instapaper is an ideal place to save articles for reading later for a variety of reasons. There are iPhone and iPad apps for reading on the go, and it’s even possible to read Instapaper on any e-book reader. Try it out and see if it improves your workflow!

Watch It Later

Articles are somewhat distracting, but videos are an even bigger problem. Capable of eating enormous amounts of time, online video is definitely best left for after work hours. Boxee can help with this.

Boxee is among the best media center applications on the planet, but it can also help with your workflow. Sign up for a Boxee account, head to the services page and you’ll find a bookmarklet to drag to your bookmarks toolbar. Click this when you find a video and it will be sent to your Boxee queue.

This is not only a great way to save your videos for later; it’s also a great way to share videos you find online with friends and family. Since Boxee is best on a television, sending videos to Boxee is a great way to watch them in a group. Try this out; you’ll probably love it.


Like the idea of saving distractions for later, but don’t have any interest in using Boxee or Instapaper? Don’t worry. Simply set aside a folder in your browsers bookmarks for reading and watching stuff later. It may not be as snazzy as the above options, but the end-game is just as successful: your distractions are put aside but not forgotten.

Combine this strategy with a good bookmarking service, such as the (not dead!) XMarks, and you’re ready to send your distractions home where they belong.


This list is by no means definitive; it’s just meant to point out that distractions are best left until after work is done, and that there are tools out there that can help. Do you know of any other ways to achieve this? Share them in the comments below. Also feel free to share amazingly distracting videos and articles; I’ll take a look at them after work.

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48-hour Fire Sale: 360Amigo System Speedup PRO and Returnil System Safe 2011 for $15

Posted: 05 Feb 2011 09:50 AM PST

For the next 48 hours only, 360Amigo System Speedup PRO and Returnil System Safe 2011 (worth $60 together) are available as a bundle for only $15. Purchasing this bundle automatically enters you into the lucky draws to win a 250 GB ioSafe Rugged Portable and a license for Nitro PDF Professional worth $99.99.

Buy now from bundlelytic: fire sale.

This mini bundle, along with the bundlelytic charity bundle was initiated by MakeUseOf in an effort to raise funds and awareness towards the victims of the recent natural disasters in Queensland, Australia. 50% of the proceeds will be donated to the Queensland Disaster Relief fund.

Although no longer featured, you may still purchase previous fire sale bundles:
Paragon Partition Manager 11 Personal and novaPDF Professional Edition for $15
EASEUS Data Recovery Wizard v.5.0.1 and Altaro Oops!Backup for $20

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5 iPad Games You Won’t Believe Are Free

Posted: 05 Feb 2011 09:31 AM PST

ipad.pngWhile the iTunes App Store is packed with great games, most of them are paid. If you want to kick back and relax with some free games that won’t cost you a cent, we’ve put together a list of five awesome iPad games you won’t believe are free. From great graphics and sound effects, to challenging levels, there’s no shortage of addictive fun in the list below.

While some of them are ad supported, or require paid upgrades to unlock extra features and levels, the free versions are definitely worth downloading. And whether you have some time to kill by yourself, or want to play a game with your friends, there’s a little something in here for everyone.

NinJump HD

NinJump HD [iTunes link] is one of those addictive games where you’ll find yourself constantly trying to better your high score. The impressive graphics and sound effects would make you think it would be a paid app, but there is a paid version where for $1.99, you get two additional levels.


The aim of the game is to scale a building, jumping from one side to the other by tapping the screen, while avoiding obstacles that will send you falling into the emptiness below. The higher you jump, the higher your score. You can also get your score up by using your ninja sword to slash the obstacles out of your way. Slashing three obstacles of the same kind will also give you a short boost up the building, without having to jump to avoid obstacles.


Spades HD

Spades HD [iTunes link] is the ideal app for fans of the strategic four player card game.


Great graphics that take advantage of the iPad’s big screen, and adjustable settings from the maximum total score, total time, difficulty and toggling the nil bid on and off. If you’re not familiar with the game, check out the instructions on how to play.


If you’re more of a Hearts fan, we would also recommend their game, Hearts Multiplayer HD, with the choice to play against the computer or players from all over the world.

Cliffed: Norm’s World XL

While the free version of the game is limited to one character, one location and one speed, Cliffed: Norm’s World XL [iTunes link] is an addictive and fast-paced game which will appeal to Ninjump’s fans.


The aim of the game is to keep Norm racing down the cliff, looking for openings and avoiding big obstacles that make it impossible to get past. To keep Norm moving, use the two large arrows on either side of the screen. The free version of the game also features multiplayer mode where you can play against other iPad owners online, but if they have the paid version of the app, you’ll be hard-pressed to win since the other characters in the game are faster than Norm.


Escape – Norm’s World XL

If you want a more strategic game, Escape – Norm’s World XL will keep you busy for hours with 33 stages with two levels of difficulty – Intro and Easy. The Medium and Hard levels are available as a paid upgrade, as well as two player mode.


While the graphics are simple, the strategy behind the game is anything but. The aim of the game is to remove all of the circles from the screen. Move the character by swiping him from one circle to the next and it will disappear. If you find yourself stuck, you can easily reset the level and try again.


Air Hockey Gold

Air Hockey was probably one of the more popular genre of games when the iTunes app store launched, and with the iPad’s screen, the game is a hundred times better. Air Hockey Gold [iTunes link] is probably one of the best versions available, and it’s surprisingly free.


With 1 and 2 Player modes, either using one iPad or through Bluetooth, the latter of which works regardless of what kind of iOS device your friend has. There are 6 levels of play from Kiddie to Insane, and if you really want to make things complicated you can choose to play with two pucks rather than just one. If you want to pause or reset the game – just doubletap the screen.


While you’re at it, don’t forget to check out this list 10 Great Free Games for your iPad.

What are your favourite free iPad games? Let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Rego –

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