Sunday, March 27, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [March 26th]” plus 4 more “Cool Websites and Tools [March 26th]” plus 4 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [March 26th]

Posted: 26 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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SelectOut – Knowing the various threats that the Internet poses, online privacy has now become an important issue for all Internet users. Browser cookies are one way your Internet activities are tracked. To view and selectively opt-out these tracking cookies you should pay a visit to Select Out, a free to use website that helps detect browser cookies. Read more: SelectOut: Helps to Opt-out Tracking Cookies


MyFakeWall – By creating a fake Facebook wall you can easily fool friends and have fun. One of the easiest ways to create such a fake Facebook wall is through the web service called “My Fake Wall”, a simple and free web service to use. It lets you create an account and then form fake Facebook walls. Read more: MyFakeWall: Create Fake Facebook Walls



PlayGIF – You know about GIF images, right? They're the animated images that play like a video. However, the problem with such images is that you cannot control them the way you can control a video playback. PlayGIF is a neat tool that can help you get around this by offering controls like pause, reverse, speed up and slow down. Read more: PlayGIF: Control How Animated GIF Images Play



HighNote – is an all-in-one social messaging application for your smartphone. Be it your latest Android phone or your iPhone, HighNote allows you to send free messages to other users with the app and even include rich media like pics and videos to your messages. Messages can be sent to multiple recipients at the same time. Read more: HighNote: All In One Social Messaging Application (Android/iPhone)



WhatWasThere – It is remarkable how places change with time. Have you ever wondered what your native city looked like in the past? If yes then What Was There is a website you should definitely visit. What Was There is a wonderful website that lets people upload old photographs of places in the world. Read more: WhatWasThere: See How Cities Looked In The Past


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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5 Browser Extensions To Expand Shortened URLs

Posted: 26 Mar 2011 06:31 PM PDT

expand shortened urlWith the advent of Twitter “micro-blogging”, the multiple URL-shortening services solved the main problem the 140-character-limit blogging platform posed: they allowed you to easily share long URL’s with your followers. People have quickly got used to seeing shortened URLs, however the two main disadvantages of the services still apply:

  1. You can’t be sure where you will land (there’s no way to tell where a shortened link goes just by looking at it).
  2. You can fall prey to online spam and scams. Website owners have started using the services to hide affiliate URLs, to create “phishing” URLs, to cheat you (or your kids) into clicking adult and gambling links, etc.

This post will help you get smarter with what you click. Here are various browser extensions to preview and expand shortened URLs.


1. Long URL Please Mod

Long URL Please Mod (an expanded mod of this addon MakeUseOf featured in much detail earlier) does a great job expanding short URLs shrunk by the huge range of URLs shorteners (currently “182 short URL services” are supported).

expand shortened url

When having it installed you are unlikely to ever notice it working: it integrates very naturally. You can also slightly customize its behavior using the settings:

  • To replace the short URL while maintaining the same number of characters (the rest of the full URL will be replaced by dots but you’ll be able to see the linked domain);
  • Replace both the URL and linked text (to see the URL path without the need to hover over);
  • Replace the URL path only or keep the URL path while changing the link text.

expand shortened link

2. Xpndit

Xpndit (which also exists as a userscript) is another regularly updated option for Firefox users that is supposed to display the full URL path as well as the page title. It wasn’t able to retrieve the additional information with me. Besides, it has multiple performance reports (found on the addon Firefox page).

Google Chrome

3. ViewThrough

ViewThrough is the Google Chrome extension that displays the full URL path and the linked page title on hover-over. Short URLs from,,,,,,,, and are supported.

expand shortened link

Many users report it doesn’t work on the latest version of Google Chrome. However I didn’t seem to notice any performance issues.

4. LongURL

LongURL is the extension that uses LongURL API to quickly turn shortened URLs into the linked page title: hover over to see the full URL path as well as some additional information (like HTTP redirect, linked page meta description, etc):

expand shortened link

LongURL supports most shortening services you are aware of. It also has a Firefox addon of its own but the addon has not been updated to work with the latest version of the browser.


(Tested on Firefox only but it may work on Google Chrome and Opera as well)

5. Long URL Mobile Expander

This userscript acts exactly the same way as the ViewThrough Google Chrome extension above (so if you like it, you can have it on Firefox as well).

expand shortened url

This script hasn’t been updated for quite some time but it uses LongURL API, so let’s hope it will work for both established URL shortening services and newer ones.

Are you aware of any other handy options that would allow people to browse the web without short URLs? Do you see yourself using any of them?

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Hot Tech Deals [Mar 26th]

Posted: 26 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. Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C 1TB 7200RPM/32MB Internal SATA Hard Drive for $49.99 Free Shipping via code EMCKGHF22 (Exp 3/30)
  2. Sony PlayStation 3 DualShock3 Wireless Controller (Black, Blue, or Silver) $39.99 Free Shipping
  3. Logitech M505 Wireless Laser Mouse w/ Unifying Nano Receiver $19.99AR Free Shipping
  4. Toshiba 32SL400U 32in LED-Backlit LCD HDTV (720p) $379.99 Free Shipping
  5. Palm Pixi Plus Cell Phone for Verizon Wireless (No Contract, FREE Hotspot, A-GPS) $54.99 Free Shipping
  6. Klipsch HD 300 5.1ch High Definition Home Theater Speakers $214.99 Free Shipping
  7. EXPIRING Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 14 Intel Core i5-480M 2.66GHz 14in Laptop (4GB/500GB) $599.99
  8. EXPIRING Toshiba Satellite C655D-S5136 AMD P340 Dual-Core 2.2GHz 15.6in Laptop (3GB/320GB) $379.99

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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“Are You Watching This?!” Offers Real Time Sports Awesomeness

Posted: 26 Mar 2011 12:31 PM PDT

real time sportsSports scores, highlight reels and a TV schedule tailored to your location and TV provider. Whatever sport or league you’re a fan of, “Are You Watching This!?” can fill you in with the latest about it. There are no shortage of places to go to find the latest sports scores and highlights. Most leagues have this and more on their website, and there are a plethora of blogs and websites dedicated to sports.

“Are You Watching This?!” is different than all of them. Equipped with a computer that knows when a game is getting good, this real time sports service can tell you which games are worth watching. It can even send you a text message when you absolutely need to turn on a game your TV carrier is broadcasting. Combine this with scores, highlights and a social aspect that connects you with other fans, and you’ve got a pretty impressive hub for all things sports.

Getting Started

Head over to Are You Watching This to get started. The homepage will show you selections from every major sport, focusing mostly on those popular in North America. Browse this if you like all sports, or click a particular league in the top menu bar to focus on just that sport. Being raised in Canada, I always click on NHL:

real time sports

As you can see, the dashboard for a given sport includes today’s games with live scores, arranged according to how exciting they are. You’ll also see live comments from other fans, as well as access to other panels. Of particular interest is the TV schedule. Let this service know where you live, and your TV carrier, and you’ll see when the games are on in your time zone and what station they can be found on:

real time sports software

It also tells you the number of the channel you’re looking for; this is very useful for cable and satellite customers. If you want to see all games, regardless of whether you can watch them on TV, click “Schedule“. You’ll get an unfiltered look at the day’s games (and then perhaps find a way to watch sports not broadcast in your country).

There’s a social aspect to this app as well. You can predict who will win games, comment on a given game and vote if you think a certain game is going to be exciting.

Want alerts when a game turns out to be epic? Sign up for an account and you can set all of that up:

real time sports software

You can set the app to only show you sports you care about, so don’t worry about being flooded with useless information.

Chrome App

Like this, but looking for a less cluttered interface? If you’re a Chrome user you’re in luck; there’s an app for this in the Chrome Web Store:

real time sports

It’s not just a bookmark; it’s a completely different interface. Put the content you’re interested in into panels, and you’ll have a one-click overview of your favorite sports. You’ll even have fast access to highlight reels! Some features aren’t quite finished, but this is one of the better Chrome Apps I’ve seen yet. It even works offline, though obviously without the real-time scores.


There aren’t a heck of a lot of quality sports apps, presumably because sports and geekery don’t always gel. Being a huge geek and a hockey fan, however, I found this app to be fantastic.

What about you? Do you like “Are You Watching This!?”, or do you know of better real time sports tools?  If so, please share in the comments below. Just don’t shatter my dream of the Leafs making the playoffs; I’ve been hurt too many times and don’t want to talk about it.

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2 Easy Ways To Create An Impressive Timeline For Free

Posted: 26 Mar 2011 10:31 AM PDT

create your own timelineIf you want a quick and easy way to create a timeline, there are many free online services that make it a snap. Tiki-Toki and Dipity are just two of the many options out there, but their varied features and impressive looking timelines make them a great choice for someone who is looking for a free, easy-to-use service.

Whether you want to create a timeline with details down to the minute, or you’re looking to create a timeline spanning centuries, between these two services, you can include your own media, pull in data from social media sites like Flickr and Twitter, and of course manually enter your own data.


Setting aside the fact that free accounts on Tiki-Toki do have their limitations, and the fact that the name of the service is bizarre, the easy to use interface, and professional looking final result makes Tiki-Toki a great choice for creating a timeline.

After signing up for a free account, you can create one timeline. If you wish to create more, you will have to sign up for a paid account. Creating a new timeline is done through the Admin menu. Fields you need to fill out include a title, introduction, a start and end date, and you can also include introductory and background images if you want.

create your own timeline

To begin filling in events and details in your timeline, in the same Admin menu, click on your new timeline, select the Stories tab and click on Create new stories. Information that can be included with each story or event include a title, description, date and time, an optional category and an optional link to further information.

create historical timelines

If you wish to categorise your events, you will have to create the categories prior to creating events. Unfortunately, you cannot leave the exact time of the event blank, which is a little bit inconvenient if you are dealing with a timeline that is more date oriented than time oriented.

To include additional media with any given event, after saving the story, select the event from the list, and click on the Story Media tab.

create historical timelines

From there you can add images using a direct link or from Flickr as well as embed videos from sites like YouTube and Vimeo. In order to conduct a Flickr search, just click on the magnifying glass to open up the search box.

create historical timelines

Flickr images can be searched in one of two ways. You can use Flickr usernames, so if you want to to use your own images, just upload them to Flickr. Or you can search all the images on Flickr that are under the Creative Commons license using Tiki-Toki’s inbuilt search engine.

how to create a timeline

You can add multiple images and videos to each entry, with the addition of audio files coming soon.

The final result is a slick, draggable timeline, with a calendar at the bottom.

how to create a timeline

When opening any given entry, you can read the full description, browse the images added and watch embedded videos.

how to create a timeline

While paid members can embed their timelines on their websites, with a free account, your only option is to share the link.


To sign up for a free Dipity account, you can either log in using your Facebook credentials or create a new account. The first thing you’ll be prompted to do when signing up is find other friends who have accounts on the site, as well as select other public timelines you wish to follow. Both of these steps are, of course, optional.

You can then begin to create your first timeline, by entering its name and description, uploading or linking to a thumbnail image and setting permissions, determining who can view, edit or contribute to the timeline.


There are several ways you can then begin to create events and add them to the title. You can manually create an event, adding a title, date, description, picture, link, location and video.


Alternatively you can automatically populate the timeline pulling in data from various online services. You can fetch data from your own personal accounts on sites like Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger, Pandora,, Friendfeed, Yelp, Digg or any RSS feed you choose to include.


You can also enter data based on keyword searches on sites like Flickr, YouTube, Twitter or Google News. Unfortunately, as far as Twitter was concerned, Dipity was unable to pull in data using a hashtag search which is a feature that would be of great use.


After you’ve added all of your sources and events, you can then enter the final settings including the timezone, tags, themes, and whether or not you want to enable comments.


Once you’ve created your timeline, if you want to go back and edit, add or remove events, click on My Topics, and click on Topic Settings of the timeline. From there you can also create a new timeline.


The final timeline can be viewed in one of four ways – as a map, as a traditional timeline:


a flipbook:


or a list:

create your own timeline

Free accounts can create up to 3 timelines, with a maximum of 5,000 views per month when embedded, and have up to 50MB upload space. It is also worth noting that free timelines do feature Dipity branding which, while subtle, is less than ideal in a professional situation.

Other services worth taking a look at include TimeToast and TimeRime. What free online service do you use to create a timeline? Let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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