Wednesday, March 30, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [March 29th]” plus 10 more “Cool Websites and Tools [March 29th]” plus 10 more

Link to MakeUseOf

Cool Websites and Tools [March 29th]

Posted: 29 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.

Add Your Website Here!


Upstage – If you are working on a mockup of mobile apps clients, it is not enough to show them how it will look like. Instead, the app should come alive from the start. Upstage is a nice and powerful online IOS mockup software for creating live mockups for iPad, iPhone and iPod applications. Read more: Upstage: Free iOS Mockup Software Online


Cineshop Boulevard – Are you looking for the green pearls from The Rock? Or perhaps you want to get your hands on the necklace Matthew McConaughey wore in Sahara? Whichever movie accessory you are looking for, Cineshop-Boulevard is where you can find & buy products or clothes seen in movies. Read more: Cineshop-Boulevard: Find & Buy Accessories & Clothes Seen in Movies



SpeakingImage – Pictures only display a particular scene. If you need to clarify or explain objects in the image, you need to do it yourself. Based on this idea, a great new web service called SpeakingImage lets people interactively annotate digital images. By annotating images you can let others read what you have to say about a particular part of an image. Read more: SpeakingImage: Interactively Annotate Your Digital Images & Share



DOF Calculator – While taking high quality pictures through your DSLR camera, you often have to take a few test shots before you can accurately determine the depth-of-field settings for a given picture and camera. But by using an Android app called DOF Calculator, you can quickly determine the depth-of-field settings for a particular picture. Read more: DOF Calculator: Calculates Depth-Of-Field Measurements For Your Camera (Android)



Topicmarks – While reading a passage for a test the next day, you will want to get to the facts in the passage quickly. You need to skip the unnecessary details and read the main important points. Here to help you get those important points from long texts is a site called TopicMarks, an amazing website that summarizes long texts in a brilliant way. Read more: Topicmarks: Get A List Of Facts & A Summary For Your Long Texts


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.

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



More articles about:

The 7 Toughest Tech Questions [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 29 Mar 2011 06:31 PM PDT

tough questionMakeUseOf Answers has more tough questions to solve this week. Do you have an answer? If it’s a good one, it could earn you a prize!

In our weekly contest the Best Answer of the Week is rewarded with $50 and two runners-up win $30 and $20, respectively. Every comment automatically enters the contest, however, valid login information is required and only skillful answers will win.

Please help us out with these questions:

For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

Need help? Ask A Question at MakeUseOf Answers.

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter. Includes cool extras.



More articles about: , , ,

The Best 5 Free Universal Video Players For Mac

Posted: 29 Mar 2011 04:31 PM PDT

free universal video player for MacI recently purchased a shiny new MacBook Pro and while it’s pretty awesome, I didn’t realize how much time it would take for me to re-adjust to a new operating system. Being fairly new to the whole Mac experience, I’ve been browsing the MUO archives for as many tips, tricks, and interesting tidbits I can find that will help me better learn the new OS. From researching free apps I should download to finding a good screen capture tool, I’ve found some great resources. I can finally edit photos again and, yes, even play games.

One of the things I was curious about however, was which universal video player to install. QuickTime is pretty cool, sure, but I quickly found out its limits after a short time using it. Where can I find a good, lightweight video player that’s capable of playing every type of file?

1. VLC Media Player

free universal video player for Mac

Regardless of what operating system you’re using, VLC Media Player is one of, if not the, best video players out there. VLC is an open source cross-platform multimedia player that plays pretty much every type of video file, making it truly “universal”.

You can also use it to play DVDs, CDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. No codec packs are needed and it’s completely free. Anyone who is familiar with VLC should not be surprised to see it on this list.

2. DivX

mac video player

DivX Player for Mac is also a nice alternative for you to play videos, especially if you’re looking to play something in HD. Naturally, DivX Player allows you to play all native DivX videos (.mkv), but it does also support other popular video file types, including QuickTime files. The player also includes a desktop dimmer, window fade, and free full screen playback options.

3. NicePlayer

mac video player

NicePlayer is a relatively unknown application but it’s a pretty impressive video player for Mac. Jeffry dedicated a post on MUO to NicePlayer back in June 2010. It’s an open source app that was designed for playing movies and it features full screen or border-less floating windows, on the fly playlist creation, and more.

4. Elmedia Player

mac video player

Elmedia Player is a Flash and media player for Mac OS X that supports playback of FLV, SWF, XAP (Silverlight), RM and RV (Real), AVI, MOV, MP4, and many other formats. It features a built-in web browser, so you can browse through websites and watch movies without leaving the application as well.

5. Windows Media Components for QuickTime

free universal video player for Mac

You may be surprised to learn that this even exists, but it’s a viable solution if you’re just looking for a little bit of Windows love. With Windows Media Components for QuickTime, you can play Windows Media files (.wma and .wmv) directly in QuickTime Player and view Windows Media content on the Internet using a web browser. It gives you added support for numerous audio and video codecs, as well as different file formats (like .avi).

With the programs on this list, you should be able to watch any type of file you happen to come across. If you are a Mac wiz and you know of any other great video players, please feel free to mention them in the comments.

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



More articles about: ,

Fiverr: A $5 Marketplace For Anyone Looking For A Service

Posted: 29 Mar 2011 02:31 PM PDT

fiverr marketingImagine you’ve got a photo of yourself or a friend which you really like, but you know it could be made perfect with just a little Photoshop magic. Except you don’t really know much about retouching photos yourself so you’re a little stuck. What you really need is a friend or helper who can just do it for you, maybe in return for a few drinks. How will you find that person? Well, these days we have Fiverr.

Instead of hassling your friends, you can browse Fiverr to find someone offering the right sort of services. You can even check out examples of their work and ratings from previous customers before you ask them to do the job. And when you make the deal, you’re only promising $5. It’s only as risky as asking a friend to do you a favour and promising a few drinks in return. How’s that for a great idea?

What’s Fiverr?

In short, Fiverr is a marketplace, connecting people who have skills they’d like to sell for $5 with people who want small things done for $5. The $5 price point is crucial and leads to some fascinating offers.

fiverr marketing

Sign-up is quick, directly through Fiverr or even quicker with a Facebook login.

What Do People Sell for $5?

On Fiverr, there are people selling Photoshop skills, offering to draw pictures for you, offering to post postcards from a particular country, offering virtual assistant duties, posting special family recipes, singing happy birthday, offering critiques of websites, giving tourist advice of their local area, songwriting, giving industry advice, writing your name in Chinese calligraphy or elvish, taking photos of messages in coffee froth, proofreading and all sorts of other random offers.

fiverr review

Browse by popularity, rating or the type of service and you’ll get a feel for the variety of skills available on Fiverr. The ideas are wild and varied — some of them are so unexpected! Browse away and you’ll find yourself thinking “Hey, that would be cool. Yeah, I’d pay $5 for that!”.

fiverr review

If you do want to buy someone’s services, Fiverr links into PayPal to make payments simple.

What If No-One Offers The Skill I Want?

If no-one’s offering the service you’re after specifically, you can also advertise as a buyer in need of that service. To do this, look for “Request Gigs” in the right-hand column. Say what you’d like done for $5 and see if anyone takes you up on your offer.

five dollar marketing

What Could You Sell For $5?

As you’ve seen, there are many possibilities as to what you can sell through Fiverr. What is clear though, is that people selling their skills must quantify exactly what they will do. For example, “I will proofread one essay under 2,000 words within three days”. If you don’t specify how long the essay, how many essays you will proofread or how long you will take, things will get confusing for the buyer. Also be careful if you’re offering to post things — think of how much it would cost to post worldwide before you offer!

five dollar marketing

It seems as if some sellers are trying to undercut others by offering to do an incredible amount of work for their $5 fee. That sort of thing happens everywhere — just don’t buckle to the pressure if you think you’re worth more (which you are). Browse the site thoroughly as there are some very imaginative offers out there which would be quite useful for the buyer and yet easy for the seller to do. Let them inspire you into profitable ventures.

five dollar marketing

At the top of most pages in Fiverr is a box where you can offer your services for $5. Start there and it will allow you to add more details in the next page, including specifics and an example picture. They also make it easy for you to share your Fiverr service offers with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or elsewhere.

fiverr marketing

What Else Might You Use?

Obviously, Fiverr isn’t the only online marketplace for services in the world. There are many other ways you could solicit services or offer your services for hire online. The Facebook Marketplace is one of the simpler examples, followed by Craigslist. Any freelancing marketplace shows some similarity to Fiverr, eg. PeoplePerHour or MicroWorkers. Also worth considering are the other tools listed in this article on how teens can make money online.

Despite all these similar market options, Fiverr still has a unique selling point – that is, the $5 price tag. This encourages both the buyers and sellers because it’s an appealing amount.

What is the best service you’ve seen on Fiverr? Have you found it easy to use? What do you sell through Fiverr? Let us know in the comments!

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



More articles about: , , ,

Hot Tech Deals [Mar 29th]

Posted: 29 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. Lenovo G460 Intel Core i5-480M Dual-Core 2.66GHz 14in Laptop (4GB/500GB/Win7) $549 via code USPG9X324 (Exp 3/31)
  2. Lenovo IdeaPad Y460p Intel Core i7-2630 Quad-Core [NEW Sandy Bridge!] 14in Laptop w/ Radeon HD6550 $949 via code USPY42B0324 (Exp 3/31)
  3. Lenovo IdeaPad Y560p Intel Core i7-2630 Quad-Core Sandy Bridge 15.6in Laptop (8GB/500GB/Radeon 6550) $899 via code USPY280324 (Exp 3/31)
  4. Dell XPS 17 Intel Core i7-2630QM Quad-Core Sandy Bridge 17.3in 1080p Laptop w/ 3D Capability + Blu-Ray $1183 via code QFSNKXG0P1S1BK and 8GHR80Q1PLLCF7 and HLSKSR06S9ZG0F
  5. Dell XPS 15 Intel Core i5-2410M 2.3GHz Sandy Bridge 15.6in Laptop (4GB/500GB/Geforce GT525M) $729 via code 932N$0ZCCHWZB9 and HLSKSR06S9ZG0F
  6. HP Pavilion dm1z AMD Dual-Core E-350 (FUSION) 11.6in Laptop w/ ATI Radeon HD6310M Graphics $399.99 via code NB5751 (Exp Soon)
  7. HP ENVY 17 Intel Core 7-2630QM Quad-Core Sandy Bridge 17.3in Laptop (6GB/750GB/Radeon 6850) $1199 via code NB7275 (Exp Soon)
  8. HP dv7tqe Intel Core i7-2630QM Quad-Core Sandy Bridge 17.3in Laptop (6GB/750GB/Blu-Ray/Radeon 6770) $892 via code NB739862 (Exp Soon)
  9. HP Pavilion dv6tse Intel Core i5-2410M Dual-Core Sandy Bridge 15in Laptop (6GB/640GB) $664.99 via code NB2315 (Exp Soon)

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

NEW: Download MakeUseOf iPhone App. FREE!



More articles about:

5 Sources For Special Symbols To Spice Up Your Online Chat & Messaging

Posted: 29 Mar 2011 12:31 PM PDT

chat symbolsWe need symbols. We might have progressed through alphabets to cultured forms of languages, but the internet age has brought us right back to where we started off as cave dwellers. Complete or incomplete sentences are fine, but sometimes nothing expresses an emotion better than an emoticon or a symbol.

There are lots of online places which do not support graphic symbols or picture emoticons. Facebook is a prime example. But that shouldn't keep you away from communicating more warmheartedly. A lot of online platforms might not support graphic symbols, smileys, and emoticons; but then you have the entire Unicode character set to play around with. If you care to explore the Character Map installed on your system, you can literally use the special characters to speak a language of your own.

But that can be a chore. So, let's go online.

These five simple online apps save you from rummaging through the Character Map on your system and give you one click access to communicate more animatedly.


chat symbols

Twitter may be just about 140 characters, but even in that brief space, a symbol or two can brighten up a tweet. This Unicode character map available as a bookmarklet aims to do just that with its online chart of Unicode characters which you can use with your tweets. All you have to do is to pick from the different symbols available and decorate your tweets with a simple copy and paste. The best thing is that you don't have to give access to any third party app.

Also try out the Unicode Symbol Map.


chat room symbols

If Twitter is there, can Facebook be far behind. Facebook Symbols is a neat little chart of Unicode symbols that you can double click and paste on your Facebook profile. You can also use it as a bookmarklet on your browser's bookmarks toolbar. This character chart also works with Twitter and chat apps. Of course, in both the limitation is that you cannot format it beyond the paste. It just appears as it is.

Interchangeably, you can use the Twitter Symbols chart.

Facebook Symbols

chat room symbols

This is a blog which lists all symbols and emoticon codes you can expect to use on Facebook and other platforms like chat clients, forums, MySpace messages etc. This is a well compiled collection of cool Unicode characters and the author has taken the pains to categorize the different symbols under distinct heads.  Also handy are the other sections which point to text art generators, text combos as symbols for Facebook, cool letters for Facebook and MSN.


chat room symbols

Use a single click to copy a character from the smorgasbord on display.  The copied character is saved on the Clipboard and you can then simply paste it into your email message, chat program or social account. You can also view its corresponding HTML code. The web service also has an iPhone app which you can use to spice up your text communication. (See Directory mention)


chat symbols

This very useful Javascript app covers 18 European languages and their unique character sets that include currency symbols and other special symbols. You can use the virtual multi-language keyboard to type in complete messages and then simply copy and paste it in any message. The languages can be loaded from the side columns.

Using symbols to spice up your online conversations will make you seem like a pro. It will also put a lot of fun back into an otherwise drag conversation. If you think that chat symbols and special characters speak a thousand words, try out some of the previous posts we have covered –

15 Popular Codes For Smiley Faces & Their Meanings

10 Keyboard Techniques To Create Cool Symbols

How to Create Copyright and Trademark Symbols via Keystrokes

Are you a symbol whiz? Tell us if you think these symbol apps are useful for quick texting.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



More articles about: , , ,

Did American Express Just Launch A Paypal Killer? [News]

Posted: 29 Mar 2011 12:10 PM PDT

If you've been looking for an alternative to Paypal, American Express may have just the thing for you. They have just announced a new service called Serve, which offers similar features to Paypal, from receiving and sending money online, to making purchases with a credit card issued by Serve.

With American Express behind the new service, you should probably expect to see lots of online services making Serve payments the newest option, with TicketmasterConcur and Flipswap amongst their first partners. Serve could potentially be the first company to pose serious competition for Paypal, a popular service that hasn't been without its share of negative publicity. While Paypal does have a leg up on Serve when it comes to some of the service charges on transactions, there is something to be said for having another solid option for online transactions.

After signing up for the free service, you can then link your Serve account to your bank using your bank account number, your credit card number or even the last four digits of your social security number. Once your bank account has been verified, you will automatically receive a Serve card in the mail.

As with Paypal you can add funds to your Serve account from your bank account or credit card, and can also withdraw funds into your bank account. One of the major differences between Paypal and Serve is that, while you can add funds to both services using bank transfers or a debit card, with Serve, you can also add funds using your credit card. That extra service does come with a fee of 2.9% + 30 cents. That said, Serve will not begin charging a fee for credit card funds for another six months. ATM withdrawals with your Serve card will be charged at $2 per transaction, with one free transaction per month, as opposed to Paypal's $1 per transaction.

Signing up for Serve gives you several payment options all in one account, including person-to-person (P2P) money transfers, mobile payments, in-store card payments and online transactions. You can also access your Serve account on the go with their free iPhone and Android apps, allowing you to send, request and receive money no matter where you are.

While Serve is currently only available for US bank accounts, if and when they begin to expand geographically, Paypal may lose some business.

Are you going to sign up for a free Serve account? Would you be willing to abandon Paypal in favour of the new American Express service? Let us know in the comments.

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter. Includes cool extras.



More articles about: , ,

ioSafe Rugged Portable and iPad 2 Giveaway Winners

Posted: 29 Mar 2011 11:00 AM PDT

Now comes the time that everyone is waiting for. We’re announcing the winners of both the ioSafe Rugged Portable 250 GB bulletproof hard drive, the 10 Genie Timeline Professional Licenses and the winner of the iPad 2 giveaway.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you were selected as a winner?

ioSafe Rugged Portable

Rolando Islas

Genie Timeline Professional

  1. Primo Iglesias
  2. Sandra W. Seaberry
  3. Tom ONeill
  4. Amandeep Singh
  5. James Hughes
  6. Tobias Brusegard
  7. Anh Tao
  8. Bryant Helms
  9. Del Steiner
  10. Jason Reid

iPad 2

Sam Shields

Congratulations! For the winners of the Genie Timeline Professional giveaway, your licenses will be sent via email. As for the ioSafe Rugged Portable and iPad 2 giveaway winners, we’ve sent you an email requesting for shipping information. Please reply that email within 48 hours or your prizes will be forfeit. Thanks!

NEW: Download MakeUseOf App for Android. FREE!



More articles about: ,

Tell Your Own Media-Rich Web Story With Storify [Unlimited Invites]

Posted: 29 Mar 2011 10:31 AM PDT

create web storyI did my first newspaper clipping back in my elementary school years. I don’t remember what the topic was, but I remember that it was a great way to focus on a story out of everything else that filled the newspapers in those days. It was like arranging pieces of a puzzle to form a complete image.

Now with the Internet at our disposal, we are constantly bombarded by stories and news from all over the world. It’s becoming harder and harder to make sense of everything. There are too many sources with too many elements that compiling them into one big picture is really difficult.  Storify tries to change that. It’s is a web tool that will help you collect texts, photos, videos, and everything else from the web, into your own versions of media-rich stories. Storify will also help you share your stories to your friends and families.

In The Beginning, There’s The Sign Up

When you arrive at the site, you could start by looking at stories created by others. There are the “Featured Stories” and “Popular Stories Today” sections. After looking at those stories, you will learn what Storify is all about and be ready to create your own web story.

create web story

Currently, Storify is in private beta. To sign up, you will need an invite key. Luckily, the developer of Storify has been kind enough to provide MakeUseOf readers with the key (Thanks Burt!). Go to the site and enter sxsw.

internet story book

There’s no limit to the number of invites, but it might expire in the future. Even though the developer has promised to keep the invite key alive long enough for us, you might want to sign up as soon as possible.

After entering the code, you will need to sign in using your Twitter account.

internet story book

Then you are ready to create your first story.

internet story book

Start Building The Stories

Just like newspaper clippings, you are going to find similar news from different newspapers, then clip and collect them into one binder. The differences are, we are using the web and social media as sources instead of physical printed newspapers – and there are no scissors and glue involved.

create a story web

Write down some keywords of the topic for your story in the search field. Clicking the “Search” button will bring you results from many kinds of sources. We are not talking about traditional kinds of sources here. Aside from web, news and images from within Google search and RSS Feeds, there is also Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and many more.

create a story web

Drag and drop the “clips” from the search results into the clipboard to build your story. You can further enhance it by adding texts between clips. You can also give your story a title, a short general description, and a heading image.

create a story web

Keep your story as a draft if you still want to tinker with it later, or hit the “Publish Story” button if you are done with the building process.

Your published stories will appear on the main page of your Storify account. You can edit or remove them if you want to.

04a Published Story

On the top right corner of every story, there’s the option to share it via Twitter or email. You can also embed the story to any webpage or blog after generating the embed code.

04b Share n Publish

You can connect Storify with other sites to enable auto-publish. Click the “edit” button to add the sites. You can access this option from the settings.

Similar social functions are available at the bottom of every story.

04c Going Social

Clicking on the “Settings” on the top right corner of the page will give you several options. One of them is the ability to choose story “Sources“. Adding or removing sources is only a matter of dragging and dropping items to or from the sources box.

05a Settings Sources

Another option under “Settings” is “Publishing“. If you want to quickly publish your stories to your blogs or websites, you can add them here.

05b Publish To

For example, if you want to add your WordPress blog as one of the publishing locations, enter your blog information, and click “Save“.

05c Configure WP

Then the blog (and other publishing locations) will appear as quick publish options next to every story.

09c Auto Publish

If you want to add the ability to quickly “storify” any webpage that you encounter, you could install the “Storify This” bookmarklet to your browser’s bookmark bar. This bookmarklet is available on the lower part of the main page of your Storify account.

create web story

Storify is a great way to quickly create a web story from every imaginable source. So far it has already helped many traditional journalists in their research, and it could also be a great tool for common bloggers like you and me. What do you think of Storify? Share your thoughts in the comment below.

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



More articles about: , , ,

Just Gestures Lets You Use Mouse Gestures To Control Windows

Posted: 29 Mar 2011 09:31 AM PDT

control windows gesturesKeyboard shortcuts are a well known strategy to cut a few corners and avoid navigating menus while working on the computer. Often, however, your hands are not on the keyboard and it would be much more practical if you could do similar tricks with your mouse. Using third party applications, you can in fact teach your mouse how to take shortcuts.

This article will introduce you to Just Gestures, a program that let’s you turn your mouse into a valuable time saving tool by creating mouse gestures and assigning them to specific actions. Just Gestures is available for Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 in both 32- and 64-bit versions.

When you first launch Just Gestures, a wizard will take you through a brief orientation to teach you how to use your mouse buttons. If you wish to return to the wizard, you can re-run it any time via > Options and switching to the > Gestures tab.

control windows gestures

Depending on your mouse, you will have a number of different buttons that you can use as toggle or modifier buttons to create various gestures. You can make a classic mouse gesture by moving the mouse in one of 12 different predefined paths while holding a toggle button. Just Gestures also supports double button and wheel button combinations, i.e. holding the toggle button and clicking a second (modifier) button or moving the mouse wheel.

mouse gestures windows

Another element in successfully completing a mouse gesture is the sensitive zone, which is activated after the first (toggle) button is clicked. For example if your gesture involves the coordinated clicking of two mouse buttons, but you move the mouse out of the sensitive zone before you click the second (modifier) button, the gesture will not trigger an action. Finally, each gesture is subject to a deactivation timeout, thus if you are too slow in completing the gesture, no action will follow.

Just Gestures comes with a selection of useful predefined mouse gestures. For example holding your toggle button, which per default is the right mouse button, and drawing an upside down ‘U’ shape, will show the desktop. Making the same gesture again, will restore your open windows. Also, if you rest the mouse cursor in its final position for a moment, a tooltip will show the action this gesture is going to trigger.

mouse gestures windows

You can create global gestures or gestures that work only in a specific application. For the latter, you first need to add a new application group. Click the > Add Application Group button in the Just Gestures toolbar, browse to the .exe file of the application you wish to add, and add it. Now click the toolbar button to > Add New Gesture and under > Application Sensitivity, select to use this action > Under specific application, then select the desired program from the list.

mouse gestures windows

The actions you can create are limited to the ones provided by Just Gestures. They are sorted into seven different categories: Windows Options, Windows Shell, Volume Options, Media Options, Internet Options, Send Keystrokes, and Extra Options. As you see, they cover the most common operations and a little more. My favorite actions are controlling the transparency level of a window, opening applications or folders, and launching the shut down dialog.

control windows gestures

With a little practice you can do crazy things with Just Gestures, depending only on the click of a button and a gentle move with the mouse.

The programmer of Just Gestures, Miroslav Dzurenko, would love to hear your feedback:

I’ve done my best to create this application and I want to make it even better! But I need your help to know that Just Gestures is actually useful. Let me know if you are thankful what keeps me highly motivated in further development.

Post a message in the Just Gestures Forum to help make the tool perfect.

MakeUseOf has previously covered mouse gestures and other shortcuts:

What gestures are you working with or do you think they are a waste of time?

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



More articles about: , , , ,

5 Popular Free Turn-Based Strategy Games

Posted: 29 Mar 2011 08:31 AM PDT

turn based strategy gamesThe turn-based strategy genre has always been a niche, lacking the popularity of even real-time strategy, never mind first person shooters. This is probably because of the slower pace of turn-based strategy games which makes them a bit less gee-whiz exciting – but if you're a strategy gamer like me, that's exactly what you like.

Unfortunately, being niche means there are fewer free games to choose from, but some do exist. Let's take a look at a few rare, free turn-based gems.

Battalion: Nemesis

turn based strategy game

This flash-based strategy game pays homage to Advanced Wars, the simple but fun turn-based strategy game found on the DS. As such, Battalion: Nemesis betrays its very serious name and instead shoots for pure camp, with cartoony graphics and secret levels that feature popular gaming characters.

Serious and strategy don't always have to go together, however. The strategy of Battalion: Nemesis often focuses on terrain and unit combinations, so you have to pay attention to what you're placing on the field if you want to achieve victory.

Fantasy Kommander

free turn based strategy game

Remember Heroes of Might and Magic? Although the recent renditions of that franchise have been less than amazing, playing the first few titles in the series as left me with an occasional, reoccurring itch for a fantasy turn-based strategy game. If you're feeling that, Fantasy Kommander will likely be right up your alley.

The game is a bit thick on story for a Flash title, but you can skip the elaborate cut-scenes and get down to the meat of things easily.  Once you do, you'll find a deep game where unit combinations, unit type and terrain are all a major factor. There are also, of course, the appropriate fantasy units including knights, wizards and more.


free turn based strategy game

Founded in 1996, the Freeciv project is one of the oldest and most well regarded free turn-based strategy games ever released.  This is for good reason, as while most free turn-based games are flash based, Freeciv is a fully downloadable and incredibly complete game with features like multiplayer.

The project began in the same year Civilization II was released, so it's little surprise that Freeciv largely replicates that style of game. It retains the older 2D graphics and many features, such as the simplified combat system. Still, this will be interpreted as advantages to some; the direction of the Civilization series since Civilization II isn't universally praised.

If you'd like to know more, you can check out Ryan’s full article on Freeciv.


free turn based strategy game

Obviously taking inspiration from Freeciv, Freeorion is a project that attempts to replicate the glory of the original Masters of Orion. While Civilization is a series that has moved on, Masters of Orion hasn't. After the introduction of the universally panned third entry into the series, the franchise died. It's understandable then that a free project would begin.

Freeorion hasn't been around nearly as long as Freeciv, and it isn't quite as feature-rich yet, but it's still an excellent choice if you like turn-based space strategy games. The style is very reminiscent of the first two games, but it's also evident that the Freeorion project is relatively new. The graphics are better tailored for high-resolution displays and the menus are large and have very crisp text.

Hopefully this freeware game will have a life as long and illustrious as Freeciv's.


turn based strategy game

This java-based downloadable game is a recreation of the once popular Battletech board game, which is the inspiration for the Mechwarrior series. In Megamek, you command a number of huge, hulking warrior machines in battle against an opposing force of the same. You will have a number of lasers and missiles are your disposal.

Megamek includes an AI opponent for offline play, and it is reasonably competent, but the real fun of Megamek is the multiplayer. Battletech is fun to play, but like most complex boardgames, it could bog down under the weight of its own rules. With the computer handling the complexity you're free to play the game and pay attention to your battalion of battlemechs.


These five turn-based strategy games are among the most popular I know of, but they're certainly not the only ones available. If you're having fun with a particular free turn-based title let us known in the comments. And if you’re not concerned about keeping in the turn-based genre, check out our recommendations of the 3 best strategy games.

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



More articles about: , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment