Tuesday, March 22, 2011

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [March 21st]” plus 11 more

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [March 21st]” plus 11 more

Link to MakeUseOf

Cool Websites and Tools [March 21st]

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 08:31 PM PDT

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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Holdr – Usually when you are put on hold during a phone call, there is not much you can do. Precious time is wasted as you pay attention to the phone and are unable to complete any other tasks. Here to help you save that wasted time is Holdr. Created by Bandwidth.com, Holdr is a free iPhone app sized at only 0.4MB. Read more: Holdr: Do Other Things While Being Put On Hold


ThoughtBoxes – Although there are many to-do lists and mind-mapping tools online, they still fail to attract fans of Post-It to switch over because Post-Its are still much simpler to use. Fortunately, Thoughtboxes is a cool online organizer that works like a Post-it. With this tool, you can list anything within boxes. Read more: ThoughtBoxes: Cool Online Organizer That Works Like An Online Post-It



InMaps – Our LinkedIn accounts connect us with people we have known from various places, such as educational institutes we have attended and places we have worked at. If you would like to visualize these sources and see how the contacts in them are interconnected, then InMaps will serve beautifully. Read more: InMaps: Visualize The Different Sources Of Your LinkedIn Connections



SeamlessWeb – is one of the most user-friendly apps when it comes to ordering food online. Start by searching for restaurants which can be based on your location or what you are interested in. The app displays a list of restaurants that are open and accepting orders. Add items to your bag and include any special instructions. Read more: SeamlessWeb: Android App For Ordering Food Online



Current.im – Most of us would agree that writing a daily journal summarizing what the day was all about is a good practice. However, only a few of us are able to do it consistently (procrastination being the obvious reason.) Current.im is an interesting web based service that encourages you to create a daily diary using just 140 characters. Read more: Current.im: A Daily Minimalist Diary Using Only 140 Characters


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 Ways To Meaningfully Visualize Your LinkedIn Network

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 06:30 PM PDT

visualize linkedin connectionsLinkedIn has always been one of the most useful social media networks for me. The reason is simple: it is business-oriented and (almost) clutter-free. While I do have a large network there, I am almost never spammed or bugged in any way: there no random people who are willing to chat or pitch their products.

The best thing is that people are connected for a reason there: when sending a friend request, you need to specify how you are connected to a person. This way your network contains a wealth of business-oriented information: you can find out how you are related to any company or person you need to get in touch with. Alternatively, you can be introduced to anyone outside your immediate network using your first-level connections.

Tapping into your Linkedin connections can be a great way to discover new career opportunities for personal and professional growth – and here are three tools that can help you to:

1. Visualize Your Network Layers and Influencers: InMaps

InMaps (we have already reviewed InMaps) is a new project inside LinkedIn labs that creates the visual representation of your professional network. The tool goes through your connections, analyzes the links between them and groups them into different network clusters.

It may take some time for larger networks but it is well worth waiting…

visualize linkedin connections

The tool can be a huge help in identifying influencers in your business network:

  • People with bigger dots and their names in larger fonts have more connections;
  • Click on any dot to see the person you are connected to as well as where your points of connection overlap.

Besides that, your map is color-coded to represent different affiliations or groups from your professional career, such as your previous employer, college classmates, or industries you’ve worked in.

The tool thus turns really helpful for building and expending your reach on many levels but most importantly, it adds some context to your connections: learn why people know each other and how they are connected.

2. Visualize Your Relation to Any Company: MyWebCareer

MyWebCareer is a multi-feature tool that makes sense of your Linkedin and Facebook connections by using sophisticated link analysis, visualization, and semantics technologies

All the content the tools retrieves from your LinkedIn profile is fed into the semantic and entity extraction engine. The output enables you to explore a merged view of your online presence across multiple Internet properties and search engines.

For example, the tool lets you identify your top companies you are associated with as well as top industry you are involved with:

visualize linkedin

While the above visualization and graphing tools look interesting, the best tool inside is called “My Network” that provides visual interface for exploring your merged Career & Social Graph. It can turn very useful for exploring your relation to any company in your network.

Click on any company name in the list and the tool will show which of your connections is involved in it and how:

  • Red Links = current position
  • Blue Links = previous positions
  • Link Thickness = time at company

If you also have Facebook account tied to MyWebCareer, you’ll be able to see if you are connected to the person through Linkedin or Facebook or both.

For example, here are my LinkedIn contacts who are related to About.com. You can see how long they have been involved into the company, if the are currently working there and how you are connected:

visualize linkedin

3. Visualize Company and Position Distribution: ManyEyes

ManyEyes (here’s our review of ManyEyes) is a multi-purpose free visualization tool that can process and graph any data you provide. With LinkedIn, you can export the whole list of your connections using AddressBookExport tool. The list will contain:

  • The full name of each of your contact;
  • The email address;
  • The current position;
  • The company.

The latter two can become a great source for visualization (especially for large networks).

Just format your .CSV file a bit. In my case that was merely about:

  • Breaking data into columns using comma as delimiter;
  • Adding informative column headers;
  • (Possibly) deleting unnecessary rows.

Then copy-paste the area with data into ManyEyes and make sure the data is properly processed using the preview:

visualize linkedin

Now, choose the visualization type and pattern (there are plenty of those inside). I chose the Matrix Chart that allowed me to visualize position versus company distribution using colors:

visualize linkedin connections

As far as you can see, the tool is quite useful for identifying companies with most connections as well.

Have you ever thought of using LinkedIn to grow your professional reach? Do you think these tools may turn useful?

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15 Awesome Dual-Monitor Wallpapers You Should Check Out

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 04:30 PM PDT

dual monitor wallpaperHaving multiple monitors can sometimes help you be a lot more productive, helping you digest more information at once, but this usually requires a bit of configuration, which you can easily achieve with these programs.

Having more screen real estate also gives you an excuse to beautify your now extra-long desktop, which shouldn’t be too hard, as there are many resources out on the web that only collect dual-monitor wallpapers for your convenience. Among these sites are Dual Screen Wallpaper, Multiple Monitor Group, etc.

We’ll go ahead and make it even easier for you to get started exploring wallpapers for your multiple monitor setup. While you’re at it, you should also check out how to go a step further and create animated wallpapers in Windows 7, because sometimes static images just aren’t exciting enough.

Hit the jump for some great landscape wallpapers, which I thought would be apt for dual-screen setups.

A Place in the Sun

dual monitor wallpaper

Taken in the Maldives

Dimensions: 2560 x 1024

Available at Interfacelift

Ocean on the Rocks

free dual monitor wallpaper downloads

Taken in Palm Beach, Florida

Dimensions: 2560 x 1024

Available at Interfacelift

Monument Valley

free dual monitor wallpaper downloads

Taken at Monument Valley, Utah

Dimensions: 2560 x 1024

Available at Interfacelift

The Hills of Munnar

free dual monitor wallpaper downloads

Taken at Munnar, India

Dimensions: 2560 x 1024

Available at Interfacelift

Uluru-Ayers Rock

free dual monitor wallpaper

Taken at Uluru “" Ayers Rock in Australia

Dimensions: 2560 x 1024

Available at Interfacelift

A Demain, Fontvieille

free dual monitor wallpaper

Taken in Monaco

Dimensions: 2560 x 1024

Available at Interfacelift

Hachinohe Sunrise

free dual monitor wallpaper

Taken in Japan

Dimensions: 2560 x 1024

Available at Interfacelift

Great Ocean Road

Taken at Victoria, Australia

Dimensions: 2560 x 1024

Available at Interfacelift


Taken in Bavaria, Germany

Dimensions: 2560 x 1024

Available at Interfacelift

Misty Water

Unknown location but possibly Portugal

Dimensions: 2560 x 1024

Available at Interfacelift

Jasper from Mt. Whistler

Taken in Alberta, Canada

Dimensions: 2560 x 1024

Available at Interfacelift

Old Pier

Unknown location

Dimensions: 2560 x 1024

Available at Interfacelift

African Sunset

Taken at Save Valley Conservancy, Zimbabwe

Dimensions: 2560 x 1024

Available at Interfacelift

Beautiful Sky

Unknown location but possibly China

Dimensions: 2560 x 1600, 1920 x 1200, 1680 x 1050

Available at Desktop Nexus

Earth View

dual monitor wallpaper

Dimensions: 3360 x 1050

Available at Dual Screen Wallpaper

For more wallpapers, be sure to pay a visit to these sites (especially these top-rate sites for funny wallpapers) to find new and high-quality eye candy for your desktop. If you prefer to be surprised with random wallpapers from a specific RSS feed, see this post on how to easily achieve that with Bing images in Windows 7 and Linux, though you can use any other source, of course, like Flickr, for which there are many ways to download wallpapers from. There’s also Wallcast, which is a my favorite new app with a cool twist: not only does it help you create a cool collage of photos on your desktop, it also lets you easily share photos with your family and friends, whom will see your pictures right on their desktops.

Speaking of collages and collections, be sure to see more of our very own collection of handpicked wallpapers:

- Top 10 Green Grass Wallpapers

- 15 Cool Facebook Wallpapers

- 10 Sexy Wallpapers Your Significant Other Will Approve Of

- Cool Windows 7 Wallpapers You Have To Check Out

Now, if you perhaps want to try your hand at creating your very own wallpapers instead of hunting for others’ creations, you can start making wallpapers in Microsoft Word and GIMP.

Care to share your favorite or current dual-monitor wallpapers? Let us know in the comments!

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Elmedia Player PRO for Mac Giveaway Winners

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 03:30 PM PDT

Congratulations to this week’s giveaway winners! You have each won a license for Elmedia Player PRO for Mac from Eltima Software. Your license has already been sent via email. If you haven’t received it yet, please check your spam inbox.

Enjoy your new software!

  1. Nick Dugan
  2. André Quenneville
  3. Guy Guyadeen
  4. B.Lee
  5. Lauris Sestulis
  6. Kay Petrie
  7. Alice Yucht
  8. Gary Wertz
  9. Renato H. Gatdula
  10. Walter Stauss
  11. Murray Atherton
  12. Michelle Ofstun
  13. Gábor Sánta
  14. Chips Chapman
  15. Guenter Horn
  16. Johanna Hallgren
  17. Mitchell Vahalik
  18. Loredana Ramneantu
  19. Kristine Rehall
  20. Kathy Graboyes
  21. Shirley Desbiens
  22. Vithursan Loganathan
  23. Mikkel Petersen
  24. Mark Turner
  25. Aaron Cozortg

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The Best Router MTU Settings & Practices For A Smooth Xbox Live Experience

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 02:30 PM PDT

xbox live best mtu settingXbox Live is Microsoft’s premium online content delivery and multiplayer gaming service for the Xbox 360. Whilst it’s free to join for a basic account, a subscription opens up the world of online play and exclusive content – when it works.

If you’ve recently signed up for a paid Xbox Live account and are unable to connect, experiencing severe lag or an inability to play online at all then your MTU settings may be affecting performance.

Whilst you can tweak this value in your router, the issue may be caused by a number of possibilities which we’re going to explore here.

The Best MTU Settings for Xbox Live

MTU stands for Maximum Transmission Unit, and it is a value set on your router. Chances are you’ve never had to mess around with it before, and much of the time an Xbox Live MTU error reveals (on closer inspection) nothing wrong with your configuration whatsoever.

This is naturally, quite perplexing. Your router’s MTU value stipulates the largest possible chunk of data (in bytes) your router can transfer outwards, to the big bad internet. If this value is below 1364 your Xbox 360 console will not be able to even connect to the Xbox Live service. If yours is below this, then you’ll want to change it to a value above this number.

xbox live best mtu setting

On the other hand, 1500 is the largest value allowed by Ethernet at the network layer so increasing the value beyond this will benefit very few, especially those on already-wired connections.

xbox mtu settings

You can access your router preferences (in most cases) by visiting routerlogin.net. The website should automatically point you to your router’s login page where you can login with the credentials you have used in the past. If this website isn’t working for you consult your manual or try searching for your manufacturer’s defaults.

Once you’ve logged in, you’ll probably find your MTU settings can be changed in your Internet or WAN settings (it was under Advanced on my Netgear DGN2200). If you’ve had to change the setting from a lower number you might find your issues have disappeared, if your MTU settings were already fine then there’s a couple of other possibilities to explore.

Full Power Reset

Your MTU rate can be affected by your internet service provider (ISP) experiencing temporary issues. If this is the case then your MTU woes will probably alleviate with time, though you can try resetting your equipment to see if the blockage clears.

You’ll need to do a full power-off, make yourself a cup of tea and then power-on a few minutes later. If you’re still having problems then it may be wise to check your ISP service status or give them a call.

optimal mtu for xbox live

It might be wise to remove all devices from your network except the Xbox 360. If your MTU configuration works, add each additional network device one by one until you discover the source of the problem.

Wireless Issues

A poor wireless signal can also be the cause of MTU-related issues. If you’re using a 360 with a wireless adapter then you might need to optimize your setup to get the most out of your hardware. Poor wireless reception will result in poor transfer speeds between your console and the router, potentially limiting the MTU rate.

You can instruct your console to test your network connection (with signal strength indicator) under System Settings.You can also test whether your wireless causing the issue is to connect directly via Ethernet. A really long Ethernet cable is handy at this stage, for obvious reasons.

optimal mtu for xbox live

Poor wireless performance is often caused by interference from other household devices and items. Try moving your router off the floor (if it is positioned so) and away from too much metal (desks, filing cabinets and so on). If possible reducing the distance between your console and the router should help your strength and speed.

The usual wireless troubleshooting moves will all work here. Turning on and off other wireless devices (cordless phones, Bluetooth) and changing the channel your particular network uses can all potentially improve your network speed. If you’re using an old wireless adapter (up to 54Mbps) then a new wireless-n (up to 300Mbps) adapter should help (even a third party one), provided your router supports the new high-speed standard.

optimal mtu for xbox live

Port Forwarding

Whilst unlikely on newer routers, there’s a chance you’ll need to open some ports in order to communicate with the Xbox Live servers. If you’re experiencing an MTU issue in some sort of dormitory or shared internet connection then this may very well be the cause.

xbox live best mtu setting

If you’re able to access your router admin interface (again, routerlogin.net) the ports you will want to forward are as follows: 88 (UDP), 3074 (UDP and TCP), 53 (UDP and TCP) and 80 (TCP).


If you’re still having problems after checking your preferences, trying an Ethernet connection, re-arranging your house and network hardware and giving your ISP a good grilling you might want to consider the possibility that your router is dying.

If possible test a spare (working) router before making the purchase, just to be sure. Good luck and happy gaming!

Have you had any Xbox Live issues? Are your MTU settings stressing you out? Let us know in the comments.

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Hot Tech Deals [Mar 21st]

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 01:30 PM PDT

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 Jamo E770 3-way Floorstanding Speaker $149.88 Free Shipping
  2. Hitachi XL Desk 1TB USB 2.0 External Hard Drive $49.99 Free Shipping via code EXTERNALHDD321 (Exp 3/21)
  3. Garmin nuvi 1250T Portable GPS (3.5in, Text-to-Speech, 25% Slimmer, Lifetime Traffic Updates) $79.97
  4. TODAY ONLY Dell ST2310B 23in Widescreen LCD Monitor (1920×1080) $149.99 Free Shipping
  5. TODAY ONLY Sapphire 100292DDR3L Radeon HD 5450 1GB DDR3 PCI-E Low Profile Ready Video Card $24.99AR Free Shipping
  6. Sennheiser PC151 Gaming Headset w/ Mic w/ $25 Newegg Gift Card $59.95 Free Shipping
  7. Acer S211HLbd 22in LED-Backlit LCD Monitor $129.99 Free Shipping via code EMCKGJC46 (Exp 3/23)

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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3 Ways To Keep A Journal Using Your Mac

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 12:30 PM PDT

free mac journal softwareIf you want to keep a journal on your Mac, there are several free options available for users, depending on the extent of features you want, and how you plan to use your journal.

Three of the best free Mac journal software apps offer very different experiences when it comes to the journaling experience.

viJournal Lite is an elaborate app, with features including text formatting, adding images, and multiple journals. Thoughtback is a microblogging app with both local and online support. MotoDiary is a minimalist app whose primary focus is on the writing itself rather than features.

Each of the apps address essential features needed when keeping a journal, such as password protecting your diary, because let’s face it, who wants your family or friends rifling through your personal thoughts?

viJournal Lite

viJournal Lite is a simple, no frills app which allows you to create two separate journals. This feature is particularly useful if you want to keep, for example a spending and an athletic diary, or any two kinds of journals. The paid version of the app allows you create as many separate journals as you want, post directly to Blogger or LiveJournal, amongst other features.

The free version serves as a private local diary, and entries themselves can consist of text, where you can change the font, font size and color, add images, tables and even checkboxes if you want to keep a to-do list in your diary.

free mac journal software

Another interesting feature is the ability to add side-notes to your journal in a slide out drawer, if there are extra items of information that you want to keep separate from your main journal entry.

mac journal

You can add a password to your journal in viJournal’s preferences, that makes it necessary for a password to be entered when the app is first launched.

mac journal

iPad owners can also sync the Mac app with a mobile version and update their journal on the go, but the app will set you back $7.99


Available in the Mac App Store, Thoughtback [App store link] takes a slightly different approach to keeping a journal. To use the app, you have to sign up for a free Thoughtback account, which you can do upon launching the app for the first time.

mac journal

Once you’ve logged in, you can create small journal entries by clicking on the Thoughtback icon in your menubar. These thoughts are then saved in your online account, and cannot be accessed on your computer at all.

software journal diary mac

Using the Mac app isn’t the only way to add thoughts to your private online journal. You can also do so directly through the web interface, so Windows and Linux users can use the site if they want.

software journal diary mac

Using hashtags in your entries is a convenient way to keep yourself organised, but if you’re looking for a date-oriented journal app, Thoughtback isn’t the right choice for you.

iPhone users can download the free app [iTunes link] and save their micro-journal entries on the go.


MotoDiary is free Mac journal software that will appeal to minimalist fans. The distraction free app consists of a simple, plain white window where you can write the entry for that day, and scroll back and forth between your entries.

software journal diary mac

Signing up for a free account allows you to access your journal from anywhere using the web interface, including on iOS and Android devices, as well as allowing you to sync your entries between the app and the web.

Like viJournal Lite, you can password protect your journal, and lock it, even when leaving the app open. Be sure to lock it before you quit the app, otherwise it will not be password protected when next opened.

free mac journal software

If we had any requests to make of MotoDiary, it would be to include a calendar, making it easy to jump to specific diary dates.

What’s your favorite free Mac journal software? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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Zite For The iPad: An RSS Feed Contender?

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 11:30 AM PDT

rss ipad feedsWe reviewed several RSS feed and magazine style readers for the iPad (including Pulse), and all of them are good. But the latest addition to the fray, called Zite, may well be a serious contender to the others.

The iPad is Apple”˜s best hardware device for reading web pages, PDFs and digital magazines. Downloading or importing your reading content to the tablet reader means no more file drawers of folders or stacks of paper, or magazines collecting dust in your closet.

Zite (iTunes Store Link) brings the right mixture of customization and newspaper style reading to iPad users. With a Wi-Fi connection, you can easily access news content with a tap of a button. Let’s take a closer look.

Magazine Personalization

What distinguishes Zite as a news aggregator is that it attempts to customize and deliver the type of articles you like to read. When you first open the Zite, it asks you to create your magazine using your Twitter feed and Google Reader if you use them.

rss ipad feeds

Zite doesn’t directly download your feeds from your Google Reader, it uses the reader to build the type of topics you’re interested in. If you don’t use Twitter or Google Reader that much, no problem, just tap the “Skip this step” button. At this point you can select from a broad range of topics to build the type of articles that you want downloaded for you.

ipad rss reader

As you can see in the screenshot above, the categories include politics, business and investing, gaming, gadgets, science news, food and cooking. You simply tap the sections to start the process.

ipad rss reader

On the last page of the sections process, you can enter keywords, such as wedding, urban planning, San Francisco, and knitting. Wait a few seconds for Zite to see if there are enough articles for the topic. I tried inputting some topics (such as “Sacramento, and “MacBook Air”) and didn’t get anything. Seems as though the topics need to be more broader in scope, such as “California” and “MacBook.”

ipad rss reader

Zite delivers an almost magazine style layout of suggested stories and categories from popular websites. The huge difference between this digital reader and paper magazines is that you don’t have to flip through pages and pages of advertisements and wasted content to find what you’re looking for.

ipad rss

Many potential users of Zite will not like that they can’t”"at least in this initial version of the application”"enter specific sites or RSS feeds in the application. However, when you do come across articles from sites you like, you can specify your preferences.

ipad rss

Click on the right sidebar of an article and you can tell Zite if you like or dislike the article. You can also tap “Give me more from,” to get articles from a particular site or author. There’s not much explanation for how suggested articles are pulled from various sites, your Twitter account, or your Google Reader. Each time you launch Zite, it refreshes your content. Sites I subscribe to in my Google Reader do show up, but I can’t gauge the content which is not delivered.

ipad rss

Magazine Style Layout

I like the way articles are laid out, and though the application can hang for several seconds before articles open, pages are clean cut and reader friendly when downloaded. The interface is very easy to navigate and it doesn’t feel overwhelmingly crowded. You get three text and text style sizes to choose from. And selected content opens in the application”˜s internal web browser.

However, unlike the two other popular news aggregators, namely Flipboard and Pulse, links inside of articles downloaded in Zite must be opened in the iPad”˜s Safari web browser, which means you must leave Zite in order to read linked content.

rss ipad feeds

You can of course, share selected articles on your Twitter and Facebook accounts, or via email. However, Zite doesn’t seem to have a direct synchronization with your Google Reader. It just pulls suggestions from it. This is not a problem for me; since I started using the iPad to read news feeds, I don’t have much need to read articles in Google Reader itself. I am satisfied with just linking to it, via apps like Zite and Pulse. I get more than enough content to consume, and I typically save my favorite articles in Instapaper.

Zite may not appeal to many users who want more control over what they read, but many will like how easy it is to navigate and consume content. Let me know what you think of it.

Also, if you’re an owner of an iPad or are interested in getting one, check out MUO’s free “iPad: A Magical and Revolutionary Guide,” by James Bruce. It’s packed with tips and tricks for using the device.

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The Simple Guide on How The Internet Works (DOWNLOAD)

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 11:00 AM PDT

The web’s place in our daily lives is undeniable. We can now access the Internet from our home computers, office, laptops and our phones. But even with this close intimacy many people still aren’t entirely sure what the Internet is and how it really works.

We aim to change that with MakeUseOf’s latest PDF guide, “How The Internet Works.” This guide, by Taty Sena, explores the hardware, software and organizations that power the modern Internet. You’ll learn about everything from the history of the Internet to the organizations that make it possible today. If you read MakeUseOf you probably use the Internet every day, so educate yourself. You don’t need to know how the Internet works to use it, of course, but that doesn’t mean anyone can’t benefit from a quick overview.

(Tip: after downloading, drag the PDF file to iTunes to read this guide in iBooks!)

This guide gives a great overview of the Internet and how it works, including:

  • The history of the web
  • How information is transferred
  • What DNS servers do
  • The languages of the web, including HTML, java and more
  • Current Internet trends
  • How the web changed the world

DOWNLOAD How The Internet Works
(take a moment and share this guide with friends on Facebook and Twitter
using the social network sharing buttons on the left)


Read now on Scribd

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7 Best Websites To Follow The 2012 Olympic Schedule And Latest News

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 10:30 AM PDT

olympic scheduleAre we jumping the gun on the 2012 London Olympics? After all, there are more than 500 days to go for the 2012 London Summer Olympics. With all things that relate to the greatest sports show on Earth, you can never be too early. After all, even when it comes to hosting the quadrennial event, countries compete for the rights nearly a decade in advance. It’s also usually tooth, nail, and whole lot of megabucks.

The Olympics are now just about things like tourism as they are about sports. The greatest sporting spectacle draws most of the world towards it. Perhaps you are a sports buff. Perhaps, getting a ringside view at the Olympics is on your wish list. Or perhaps, you are just an armchair traveler interested in the hurly burly of the Olympics.

Till the XXX Olympics start on 27th July, 2012, the web is the place to be for the latest news and Olympic schedules. Here’s a list of seven sites that will help you follow the Olympic Games more closely.


olympic schedule

It’s always recommended to go to the mother site of movement. If there’s anything breaking, you can be sure the official website of the Olympic movement will catch it. Browse around or join them on Facebook or Twitter to keep yourself updated. Click on the tab that says Olympic Games; four nicely done Flash slides will pop-up. The very first one leads you to the London 2012 Games. Photos, videos, and the latest news should help to keep you in the know. Then there’s a link which takes you directly to the second site on our list.

London 2012

olympic event schedule

If you have to choose just one site to stay on top of the Olympic schedule and what’s happening around the London Games, then this site is it. The site gives you the inside news from how the bid was won to what’s happening right now on the ground. Okay, you can read the news or the blog. But the really cool clicks are the Virtual Tours, the Webcam images, and the interactive UK Map (a must see). You can also check the schedules and shop for tickets online. Sign-up and get alerted when they go online. You can also download a PDF with the schedule and the ticket prices. Not the least, you can even play online games with the mascot.

Also, if you have a child around, check out “" Get Set: The official London 2012 education programme

The Independent London Olympic Site

olympic event schedule

This is an unofficial site built around the London Olympic Games. But it’s no less relevant as the unofficial site tries to gather information on tickets, hotels, latest news updates, and more. One of the useful pages lists all the BBC sports blogs that are up on the games and talking about it.

BBC Sport

olympic event schedule

The Olympic Games are happening in their own backyard, so you can be pretty sure that this page will keep you updated with the latest news. There’s the nice timeline on top which you can click to find out more about the events on that day. There’s also a handy Q&A guide on tickets which is a must read if you are planning to buy even one of the 8 million that will be on sale soon. The sub-site is beautifully put together with video programmes that you can catch on BBC’s iPlayer. Then when you remember that this is the third time for London and Olympics, dive into the archival materials on the previous games.

Also, go back and look at this slideshow from July 2010 which shows the Olympics “˜in construction’.

The Telegraph

official olympic schedule

The Telegraph is one of the largest broadsheets in the U.K and with the Olympics; they have a dedicated section on it. There’s the interactive schedule guide you can follow to check up on the dates and plan your Games. Ticket prices are listed near the foot of the time-table. The Venue Guide is another font of information you should follow. News is great, but for opinionated pieces, there’s nothing like the Olympic blogs written by some esteemed sports journalists.


official olympic schedule

The online edition of another leading English newspaper also has a lineup of interactive features that give a preview of the Olympics. Check out the panorama inside the Olympic stadium; it’s a 360 degree view from the VIP gallery. You can trace the cycling routes across the city in another interactive. The ticket guides, event schedules, and news posts are almost old-hat when you interactive presentations, videos, and audios to browse through.

The 2012 London Olympics Forum

olympic schedule

This is an unofficial forum comprising of members who like to chit-chat on the happenings around the games. Of course, it might just gather more steam as D-Day arrives, but with nearly 2500 members and 15,000 threads, it has a ready launch pad. Expect to find a lot of hints and tips if you ask the right questions. For Olympic Games tourists, this might be a handy watering hole to pick up a cost saving advice.

There are of course, many more information resources on what’s happening with the Olympics in London. You can also browse through our travel recommendations to plan ahead.

But I think these seven top-notch websites should be just enough to fan your Olympic spirits. So, jump on the bandwagon of the London Olympics and also let us know how much an Olympic Games fan are you.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 – An Advanced Calculator Tool That Students Love

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 09:30 AM PDT

microsoft mathematicsMuch to the chagrin of students and parents worldwide, it is not unheard of for graphing calculators to cost upwards of $100. Thanks to software, you have a full-featured graphing calculator that’s designed to work just like a hand-held calculator.

With a simple program from Microsoft named Microsoft Mathematics 4.0, you have the full power of a graphing calculator – and more – right at your computer.

Let’s go over some of the neat features this program provides and how it can help with homework or other math functions.

When you launch the program you have an interface that is very similar to any other graphing calculator. You can enter your numbers and calculations directly into the program by either pressing the buttons with your mouse or just typing it in.

Think of it as the built-in Windows ‘calc’ program on steroids.

You can also draw your calculations and Mathematics will try to decipher your drawing into an equation. This is helpful if you receive an problem but don’t know exactly how to enter it into the program. It works fairly well, but does have some difficulty decoding some more complicated equations.

microsoft mathematics

Of course the core of a graphic calculating program is the graphs it can make. Entering the equations into the “equation” portion of the program allows you to graph multiple lines on the same chart.

Once you get used to the program, you can actually get very fancy with your graphs. Entering the right commands in the software will translate to a graph on the worksheet:

microsoft mathematics 4.0

Another interesting portion of the program is the equation solver. Once you type in an equation it will help you step through to solve it for one of the variables you have listed. After it is solved, you can then graph it in 2d or 3d to help visualize the equation and learn what it actually does.

If you are interested in learning how you can apply Microsoft Mathematics to help your child or student learn mathematics, Microsoft offers this free guide to give you learning ideas.

The Equation Library built into the program also gets you started on some interesting ways you can enter data into the program.

The final feature I’d like to go over is the Triangle Solver. The solver takes all of the legwork out of figuring out the remaining angles or length of a triangle and will also let you know exactly what type of triangle it is.

microsoft mathematics

On a personal note, when I was going through high school I relied heavily on a graphing calculator to do all of my work for me. Although I was very good at translating problems into a format the calculator can read, I ignored the underlying concepts which lead me to receive good grades, at least for the mean time. Once I went to college and was no longer able to use a calculator I had a very tough time adjusting. Please make sure to use this program responsibly and actually learn the underlying principles.

Microsoft Mathematics 4.0 can be downloaded here and is free. It is only available for Windows, however if you have VirtualBox you will be able to run it on any other OS.

Have you used Microsoft Mathematics before? Do you know of some alternative software you can use in place of it? Let us know in the comments below!

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ioSafe Bulletproof 250 GB Rugged Portable Giveaway

Posted: 21 Mar 2011 08:30 AM PDT

If all you have ever wished for is a 250 GB portable hard drive enclosed in a bulletproof, crushproof, waterproof and shockproof aluminium alloy enclosure; you’re in luck! We just happen to have one lying around — it’s the recently released ioSafe Rugged Portable hard drive.

Retailing for $150, this virtually indestructible portable USB 3.0 hard drive was the talk of CES ’11 in January. We’re giving one away to a very lucky MakeUseOf reader to enjoy. We also have 10 licenses for Genie Timeline Professional (worth $60 each) as additional runner up prizes.

Like its desktop counterpart, the ioSafe Solo and SoloPro, the sole purpose of the Rugged Portable is to protect your data from incinerating external factors that would normally destroy regular hard drives. The Rugged Portable is definitely one of the safest ways to transport data.

The Rugged Portable is available in 5400 and 7200 rpm HDD in 250 GB to 1 TB capacities. There is even also an SSD option available in 256-512 GB configurations that come in a titanium alloy enclosure. Both enclosures are crush resistant up to 5000 lbs (for the titanium model) and 2500 lbs (for the aluminium model). Interestingly, the drive is suspended in all six axes of motion within the enclosure, protecting it from up to 20′ drops.

Complete Physical Specifications

  • Full Metal Jacket Technology — CNC machined enclosure from a solid billet of aluminum (Al) or titanium (Ti) alloy. Crush resistant to up to 5000 lbs (Ti) and 2500 lbs (Al) yet weighs as little as a pound (Al).
  • Full Suspension Drive Technology — Full suspension in all six axes of motion. Optimized for data loss protection from drop and shock of 20′ drops (SSD version) and 10′ drops (250-750 GB HDD versions, 1TB HDD requires optional drive skin) per MIL-STD-810G Method 516.5.
  • HydroSafe Technology — Waterproof yet heat conducting barrier to protect against data loss in up to 10′ for 3 days in fresh water or salt water (aluminum version) or 30′ for 3 days (titanium version) per IP68. Protects data even when USB or FW plug is in. No requirement for a connector cap to retain data protection.
  • ChemSafe Technology — Full immersion in diesel fuel, oils, hydraulic fluids, aircraft fuels, 12′ depth for 1 hour with no data loss per MIL-STD-810G Method 504
  • EnviroSafe Technology — Continuous exposure to UV, blowing sand, blowing dust, rain, salt fog, icing or freezing rain, 24 hours with no data loss per MIL-STD-810G Methods 505.4, 506.4, 509.4 and 510.
  • AltiSafe Technology — High altitude operation. 15K ft. (Alum.) and 30K ft. (SSD and Ti.) rated altitudes per MIL-STD-810G Method 500.4
  • Theft Resistant Kensington Lock compatible slot solid metal construction — theft protection
  • Genie Timeline Professional ($60 Value) award winning backup software. Simple, block level, open file and OS Continuous Data Protection (CDP) software for Windows users. Disaster recovery for entire hard drive including programs and settings, roll back and AES encryption features for the ultimate protection. Registration required at www.iosafe.com to validate purchase prior to downloading software and install code.
  • Apple Mac TimeMachine Supported — Apple Time Machine fully supported. Reformat of device may be required. Simple instructions online at www.iosafe.com
  • TrueCrypt AES-256 Encryption Compatible3 – Open source, encryption software. FIPS 140-2, ISO/IEC 10118-3:2004. PC, Mac and Linux compatible.
  • USB 3.0 Cable (USB 3.0 version), USB 2.0 compatible

In the event that the ioSafe Rugged Portable is inflicted with physical damage, ioSafe provides a complimentary one time (1-year) professional Data Recovery Service (DRS) to help you recovery your data, not matter the reason (basically anything you can think if, even covers accidents and acts of God). ioSafe will retrieve your data, replace the device and send it back to you. However, this service is only limited to US residents.

Considering to buy one for yourself? Watch the video, and if you’re convinced, head over to ioSafe and make your purchase.

Runner-up prizes

All ioSafe Rugged Portable devices come bundled with a complimentary copy of Genie Timeline Professional (worth $60). Genie Timeline has always been regarded as the best home backup solution for PC users. Recently, Genie Timeline Home 2.1 was awarded the Gold award by TopTenREVIEWS and rated as their No.1 continuous backup software.

We have 10 copies of Genie Timeline Professional to hand out as runner-up prizes.

How do I become a winner?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

Step 1: Fill in the giveaway form

Please fill in the form with your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. Click here if you can’t view the form.

The giveaway code required to activate the form is available from today’s newsletter or on our Facebook page.

Step 2: Share!

You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to share the post. There are 2 options to choose from or you can do both!

Like it on Facebook

Or share it on Twitter

Giveaway eligibility
In accordance with Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines 2.4.2 and 2.4.3:
Individuals who are over the age of 18. If you are under 18, get your parents to participate on your behalf;
Individuals who reside in Belgium, Norway, Sweden, India or any country embargoed by the United States are not permitted to enter.

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, March 25th at 2100hrs PDT. The winners will be selected at random and informed via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

MakeUseOf would like to thank ioSafe 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.

Need Assistance? Ask questions to MakeUseOf staff and thousands of other readers on MakeUseOf Answers!



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