Friday, March 11, 2011 “Google Maps Navigation For Android Helps You Avoid Traffic Jams [News]” plus 14 more “Google Maps Navigation For Android Helps You Avoid Traffic Jams [News]” plus 14 more

Link to

Google Maps Navigation For Android Helps You Avoid Traffic Jams [News]

Posted: 11 Mar 2011 06:31 AM PST

Google has just released an update to Android’s Maps Navigation which makes it possible to ” />Google has just released an update to Android’s Maps Navigation which makes it possible to re-route to avoid traffic congestion, enabling users to get to where they’re going with less hassle. The free Google Maps Application received the update in the last few days, making it possible for Android users to avoid traffic jams in America and much of Europe.

Google Navigation used to calculate the shortest route and alternate routes, by allowing the user to choose side roads instead of highways. The inclusion of traffic data will allow Google Navigation to choose alternate routes around traffic problems and to help the user to more accurately decide which route will be fastest overall.

Traffic data is gathered in real time and collated to anticipate future traffic problems. Google claims it will always try to find you the fastest route to wherever you’re going, in order to save you time and fuel.

The new functionality is automatically included, so simply start the Navigation application as normal or enter navigation via the Google Maps application. Set your destination and Google will try to find you the best route.

It’s also possible to add traffic information to Google Maps via a layer (not to be confused with Layars). To do this, click on the layers button in the top right corner and choose traffic. This will overlay traffic data onto your maps whenever you’re browsing Google Maps — not just when you’re using it for navigation.

Source: TechCrunch

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Cool Websites and Tools [March 10th]

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 07:31 PM PST

Check out some of the latest MakeUseOf discoveries. All listed websites are FREE or come with a decent free account option. You can make use of them without spending a dime. If you want to have similar cool websites round-ups delivered to your email daily email subscribe here.

Add Your Website Here!


Internote – If you love sticky notes for Windows 7 then you might need a more useful version of sticky notes that lives right in your browser. Internote is a Firefox addon that allows you to stick notes to web pages. You can save notes on websites so you can see them again once you return. Read more: Internote: Stick Notes To Web Pages


Total Hotspots – Using the internet on your phone is a great convenience. Free Wi-Fi on your phone makes it easier to check your email while on the go and stay updated with your social networking accounts. To find free Wi-Fi around your areas, check out Total Hotspots, a free web service that lets you search free Wi-Fi spots from the around the world. Read more: TotalHotspots: Find Free Wi-Fi Anywhere In the World



Spam Recycling – Spam emails are annoying. Nobody needs to be bothered with emails that include useless advertisements. But these useless emails can now be recycled into works of art, all thanks to SpamRecycling, a free to use website that converts your spam emails into unique animations that are accompanied by audio. All you do is forward your spam emails. Read more: Spam Recycling: Recycle Spam Emails Into Unique Pieces Of Visual Art



Tabble – If you need to do a quick look-up of certain people and profiles, you usually hit Google and find a page about them. Tabble is a online profile aggregator for Google Chrome that makes it easier to know about someone by pulling up information from various social media sources and showing it contextually. Read more: Tabble: Quick Lookup For People On The Web (Chrome)



Photofeed – is a new Facebook application by Pixable that lets you sort, group and categorize Facebook photos uploaded by your friends. The app also organizes photos in categories like "Top photos of the day" and "Top photos of the month". All of the photos are organized and displayed as a continuous stream. Read more: Photofeed: Sort, Organize & Browse Your Friends' Facebook Photos


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



Join MakeUseOf On Facebook!

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 06:31 PM PST

If you like reading MakeUseOf and have a Facebook account, join MakeUseOf on Facebook, enjoy reading our greatest posts and download over 30 PDF guides on various topics!

We also use our fan page to inform you about premium software giveaways and discounts that are not announced on the website. We get a lot of those from software developers and distribute them mainly on Facebook. Simply click on the “Like” button below to get started!

So grab some friends and join us on Facebook today!



3 Free Alternatives To DAEMON Tools For Mounting Image Files

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 05:31 PM PST

image mounting softwareThe ability to use a virtual drive to mount optical media from a file will undoubtedly save you time and effort, but if you’re a Windows user then your operating system can’t do it without a helping hand.

For years DAEMON Tools has been regarded by many as ahead of its class in this field, but it is not without its rivals. If you’re searching for a decent alternative then we’ve got 3 hot tips right here.

If you’re using Linux then you can get better instructions here, these apps are Windows-only.

Do I Need A Virtual Drive?

You only really need a virtual drive if you want to mount image files. Image files are digital copies of optical media, such as CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs. It is possible to rip the entire contents of a CD (or other optical media), and then mount it with image mounting software.

The software (in this case DAEMON Tools) installs a virtual optical drive on your PC, which functions exactly the same as a normal drive – only instead of physical media, you feed it image files. You can then access the image file as if you had put a disc into your computer. If you download software or applications and want to avoid burning the downloaded file to a CD, then you can simply mount your chosen software in the virtual drive.

You could even rip often used media so it’s that little bit easier to access. Using virtual drives in this way can vastly speed up your workflow, especially with multiple-disc installs.

DAEMON Tools Lite

There exists a free version of the commercial DAEMON Tools product line, DAEMON Tools Lite. This is the best alternative to the paid versions, with a few restrictions imposed over the pro edition. The interface is familiar and easy to use, and there’s plenty of power beneath the hood.

image mounting software

Not only will it mount a wide variety of familiar and obscure file types (.MDX, .MDS/.MDF, .ISO, .B5T, .B6T, .BWT, .CCD, .CDI, .CUE, .NRG, .PDI, .ISZ) but you can also have up to 4 simultaneous virtual drives (which should suffice for personal use).

DAEMON Tools Lite also includes the ability to make disc image files from your own optical media. As this is the free version, you can only rip to .MDS/*.MDF and .MDX.


Maybe you’ve tried DAEMON Tools, decided it’s not for you and fancy something else. You may also be one of the unlucky few who experience problems with the program, and need something a bit different.

Here are 3 good alternatives to DAEMON Tools that won’t cost you a penny.


The first on the list is the completely free and open source WinCDEmu. As there are no commercial versions of the software, the free version packs everything the developers could come up with into one cost-effective package.

image mounting programs

Mountable images are limited to: .ISO, .CUE, .NRG, .MDS/.MDF, .CCD and .IMG. This isn’t quite as many as DAEMON Tools, but the major formats are fully supported. WinCDEmu completely integrates with Windows Explorer, allowing you to simply double-click a supported image file for it to be immediately mounted. You can then unmount the disc image using the right-click context menu from My Computer.

WinCDEmu should suffice for most common disk image tasks. What’s more its free and open source to boot.

Alcohol 52%

image mounting programs

Brought to you by Alcohol Software, Alcohol 52% is the smaller, non-commercial edition of the popular Alcohol 120% image tool. It supports the mounting of common image file formats and a maximum of 6 virtual drives in this free edition.

Alcohol does not integrate with Explorer quite in the same way as WinCDEmu, instead you must add your image files to Alcohol first and then double-click to mount them.

image mounting programs

This version is free for non-commercial and personal use only, otherwise you’ll need a licence. Don’t forget to uncheck that pesky Alcohol Soft Toolbar that’s bundled along!

Note: if you’ve been using Alcohol 120% and want to downgrade to this free version be sure to remove your old version first.

Virtual CloneDrive

image mounting

We’ve mentioned it before, and for good reason. Virtual CloneDrive is a freeware image mounting tool with the usual support for common formats (including .ISO, .BIN and .CCD) and a whopping 8 virtual drives. You may get a Windows driver warning whilst installing, but soldier on and click Continue Anyway to proceed with the installation.

image mounting software

Once installed you can associate your image files with the program so that in future all it takes is a double-click to mount. Virtual CloneDrive is simple, cost-free and effective.


We’ve already covered a lot of optical media tools, but it’s always nice to have a selection. All of these programs should work on machines running the Windows XP, 2000, Vista and 7 operating systems. let us know if they work out better than DAEMON Tools for you.

Do you have any preferred image mounting software? Have your say in the comments.

Image credit: Shutterstock



5 Best Sites To Find Cool Deals Near Your Home

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 03:31 PM PST

deals near meGroupon has started a trend by taking the customer back to local businesses via the Internet. Daily deal sites are a great resource not only for bargains, but also for discovering restaurants, stores, and services in your city. The vouchers also make for great gifts! But can you keep up with all the new services popping up left and right?

No one wants to follow a dozen different Groupon clones to catch the best local deal. The alternative is to sign up with one service that aggregates all of them. Below are the five best sites to find all the cool deals that you can enjoy close to your home.

Due to the geographic nature of these services and my limited language skills, this article can only cover a few selected regions worldwide. If you know of any major daily deal aggregators in your part of the world, feel free to post the links in the comments.


Available In:

USA, Canada, UK, Ireland


  • sign up with email address and password or connect with Facebook.
  • view summary on website in list or map view.
  • sort and filter deals by various criteria, including price, time left, and distance to location.
  • easily switch between cities.

deals near me

OneSpout is the service I have been using in Vancouver. I initially signed up for Groupon and then added LivingSocial and SocialShopper. I ended up being annoyed by all the emails coming in at random times every day. OneSpout solved the dilemma. Now it’s only one email that summarizes offers from all local deal sites. For example, there are currently 53 deals in Vancouver, 79 in Toronto, 89 in San Francisco, 102 in New York, and 101 in London, UK.

Once you want to purchase a deal, you will need to sign up with the respective deal site. However, you can opt out of receiving email updates, and some sites offer Facebook or Twitter login, so you don’t have to create yet another account.


Available In:

USA, Canada


  • sign up with email address and password or connect with Facebook.
  • view list on website and browse by categories.
  • easily switch from one city to another.
  • view past, national, vacation, and wine deals.

deals near you

On Dealery it’s easier to view just a specific category of deals. Apart from the additional deal categories, being able to follow the deals on Facebook, Twitter and via RSS is also very useful.


Available In:

USA, Canada


  • extensive checklist for deal categories in sidebar and for email updates.
  • subscribe to multiple cities and set frequency of email updates.
  • define price range, search by discount, and time left.
  • view available sources and include selected ones via checklist.
  • view nationwide deals.

deals near you

Yipit hasn’t reached quite the coverage that some of the other services offer. However, it has some neat features, for example subscribing to specific categories and receiving email updates in less frequent intervals.


Available In:

USA, Canada, UK, Australia


  • reveals which sites it aggregates for every city.
  • no signup.
  • subscribe by email or follow via RSS, Twitter, or Facebook.

deals near you

DealRadar provides a simplistic interface with only the most important information. Deals are listed under different categories. All the sites that DealRadar follows for each city are listed in the sidebar.

Social Deal Map

Available In:

USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia


  • browse deals worldwide in map view.
  • filter by included deal sources.
  • view local deals in the US by city or state.

deals near me

The Social Deal Map makes deals accessible in map view, which is very practical for travelers or if you’re looking to purchase a gift for someone in a different city. A similar service is The Dealmap, which superficially has a much better design. However, I didn’t find it easier to use.


Daily deal aggregators are almost as varied as daily deal sites. The challenge is to find the one that best suits your personal preferences, whether it’s the features it offers or the range of sources it aggregates. In the end, these services should not only save money, but also time.

Also check out these articles:

Have you been using daily deal sites? What kind of services have you purchased? Was it worth it?

Image credits: Pling



Quick & Easy Accent Keyboard Shortcuts For Foreign Languages [Mac]

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 01:31 PM PST

keyboard shortcuts for languagesAre you a Mac user who hasn’t got around to working out shortcuts for special characters? You’re not alone. Most new Mac users work out a few quick shortcuts for their favourite tools and figure they’ll work out the rest later. Then they realise years down the track that later never comes!

Well, the good news is that special language characters are incredibly easy to do on a Mac. Once you get started you’ll see that it follows a simple pattern, making it easy to remember your favourites and to work out the less frequently used characters on the fly when you need them. When you truly get the hang of it, you’ll never want to go back to another operating system.

Why Learn Shortcuts For Accents?

The beauty of these shortcuts is that you’ll never need to switch keyboards again. Stay in whichever keyboard you prefer for everyday use and add accents when required. No more messing around with the character map either!

keyboard shortcuts for languages

Trust me, it’s far easier to stick with a QUERTY keyboard than it is to change to an AZERTY keyboard. Plus, if you’ve changed to a different keyboard you still need to remember where they put the accents you’re looking for.

keyboard language shortcut

The Trick

The key to remembering all of these patterns is realising that it follows a regular scheme. Each accent type is associated with a letter it’s often used with in writing. For instance, ´ is associated with e because é is more common than á or ó, while ¨ is associated with u. Obviously, this won’t always be the most common association, since languages are quite varied in accent usage, but it will eventually help you to recall which accent goes with which key.

The Shortcut Format

All of these shortcuts are built with the same keystroke pattern: You type and hold OPTION followed by the key for the accent type, then the letter you’d like with that accent.

For instance, the key to remember for the acute accent is e. Hold OPTION and press e, then type the character you want with the accent. So, OPTION and e followed by e gives you é, while OPTION and e and a gives you á. To write it as a capital, you’d use the shift when typing the letter. It’s a two part operation, so you’d type OPTION-e, followed by SHIFT-e to get É.

For some characters, you just need to hold OPTION and press the letter. For capitals, use OPTION-SHIFT-your choice.

Adding Accents Marks On Letters & Other Foreign Characters

Here’s the accent shortcuts in brief examples.

Acute Accent ´ – á é í ó ú

OPTION e followed by a vowel.

Grave Accent ` – à è ì ò ù

OPTION ` followed by a vowel.

Umlaut/Tréma ¨ – ä ë ï ö ü ÿ

OPTION u followed by a vowel or y.

Circumflex ˆ- â ê î ô û

OPTION i followed by a vowel.

Tilde ˜ – ñ õ ã

OPTION n followed by n, o or a.

Nordic ø


Nordic å


Cedilla/Cedille – ç


OE ligature œ


AE ligature æ


Foreign Punctuation

Spanish/French Quotation Marks « »


Upside Down Exclamation Mark ¡


Upside Down Question Mark ¿

OPTION ? (Which is really OPTION SHIFT /).

Money Symbols

Euro Symbol €


British Pound £


Cent Symbol ¢


Yen Symbol ¥


More Methods & Symbols

There are plenty more symbols to be found this way. Mac OS X help pages suggest using the keyboard viewer to find new combinations. To set this up, do to Apple Menu > System Preferences > International.

keyboard language shortcut

Then ensure Character Palette and Keyboard Viewer are turned on.

keyboard language shortcut

To open Keyboard Viewer, go to the international flag on the right of your menu bar and choose Show Keyboard Viewer.

Now, you’ll be able to type and hold OPTION and see all the shortcut possibilities. It’s also an easy reminder if you forget one of your favourites.

keyboard shortcuts for languages

Character Map might also come in handy if you’ve forgotten the shortcuts.

More Mac OS X Shortcuts & Tips

Obviously you’re a fan of MacOS shortcuts and language settings, so here’s some more great articles you’ll love.

If you’ve got any great tricks for managing multiple languages in Mac OS X, let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: ShutterStock



Hot Tech Deals [Mar 10th]

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 12:30 PM PST

If you’re in the market for a new computer, laptop, mobile phone, games and other accessories; don’t waste your time searching online. We’ve taken the liberty of locating the best tech deals and unifying them into a single post for your convenience.

For more fresh hot deals, visit our Hot Tech Deals page, which is constantly updated.

  1. EXPIRING Infinity TSS-500 5.1ch Home Theater Speakers $169.99 Free Shipping via code EMCKGKF23 (Exp 3/10)
  2. HP dv6tqe Intel Core i7-2630QM Quad-Core [New Sandy Bridge] 15in Laptop (6GB/750GB/Radeon 6570) $804 via code NB6538 (Exp Soon)
  3. 30% off Customized HP Pavilion dv6tqe Quad Laptops Coupon Code: NB6538 (Exp after 630 uses)
  4. $300 off Customized HP Pavilion dv7t Quad Edition Laptops $1199+ Coupon Code: NB4556 (Exp after 450 uses)
  5. 28% off Customized HP Pavilion dv7t Quad Edition Laptops Coupon Code: NB1132 (Exp after 450 uses)
  6. HP dv7tqe Intel Core i7-2630QM [New Sandy Bridge] 17.3in Laptop w/ Blu-Ray, Radeon 6570 $899.99 via code NB1132 (Exp Soon)
  7. HP Pavilion dm1z AMD Dual-Core E-350 (FUSION) 11.6in Laptop w/ ATI Radeon HD6310M Graphics $419.99 via code TECHBARG30 (Exp 4/30)

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter. Includes cool extras.



The Email Game: Have Fun & Earn Points Emptying Your Inbox For Real!

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 11:31 AM PST

empty inbox at one timeTurn email checking into a game, complete with a score and timer. This will prompt you to finish quickly so you can get back to work. That’s the idea behind The Email Game, which feeds unarchived mail from Gmail or Google Apps to you and forces you to reply, archive or boomerang the message.

Turning mundane tasks into a game increases your likelihood of actually doing them. That’s the thesis of at least one book and an increasing number of games like this, which aim to boost productivity by borrowing the motivational prompts that make World Of Warcraft and Super Mario Bros so much fun.

Is your email full of messages you need to respond to, yet keep putting off? The Email Game is designed for you. From the makers of Boomerang, a Gmail plugin for reading and sending mail later, this web app forces you to get though your email and achieve inbox zero.

Getting Started

Head over to You’ll need to give this web app permission to access your Gmail or Google Apps account; proceed if you’re comfortable with that.

If you do, you’ll be presented with the title screen for the game:

empty inbox at one time

When you’re ready to do some serious email checking go ahead and click start. Then the fun begins, as the first email you need to deal with is presented.


The goal is to get emails out of your inbox. The main ways of doing this include responding, boomeranging and archiving/deleting. The Email Game’s website offers a simple explanation:

empty entire inbox

Click archive or delete and you’ll receive some positive feedback, along with points:

empty entire inbox

This will only be on the screen for a second though, before you’re presented with your next email. If you need to reply to an email, you’ll receive additional time on your timer and a composition interface will come up:

empty entire inbox

Get your response written quickly to receive the most points, but don’t be shy about asking for more time if you need to write a longer email.

Can’t respond to an email now, but don’t want to forget about it? You can use the boomerang functionality to have the email show up in your inbox later, be it three hours from now or three weeks. You’ll get points for this.

If you really must leave an email in your inbox, you can press “Skip.” You’ll lose points for this though, so don’t over-use it.


When you’ve gone through all of your emails you’ll see your score, along with the option to share it on Twitter:

empty inbox at one time

While it’s unlikely that a high score will much impress your friends, a friendly competition with someone close to you could greatly help your likelihood of using this tool to stay organized. Consider it.

Baydin, the company behind The Email Game, calls this “scientifically the best way to do email, period.” What do you think, dear readers? Is this a useful productivity tool and a fun game, or an uninteresting waste of time? Leave your opinion in the comments below and I’ll respond to them. Just know that, because your comments are emailed to me, I’ll be responding for the sole purpose of getting additional points in The Email Game.



Easily Fine Tune Every Aspect Of Your PC & Internet With TweakNow

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 10:31 AM PST

tune your pcIf I had to list anything that I don’t like about the Windows operating system, it’s the fact that some of the most basic things that you may want to “tweak” end up buried somewhere in some obscure Control System menu option.

Seriously, why do programs that launch when the PC turns on have to be in both the Startup folder OR the Windows Registry? Isn’t one place good enough?  Why is it so hard to keep so much junk from filling our hard drives? Between log files, cache files and other types of history files, you’re lucky if your hard drive stays empty beyond your first year of computer use – especially if you install a lot of apps.

Your first stop, if you want to tune your PC and get it working in prime condition, is Tina’s Windows On Speed Manual. I have family and friends who told me it made their computer run like new. However, if you don’t feel confident digging through Windows yourself, there are apps out there that will make the job easier for you. One example is an app called FreshUI that I covered previously. It wasn’t the prettiest app however, and some areas were rather complicated and difficult to understand.

A Simpler Way To “Tweak” Windows

I’ve discovered a similar app called TweakNow PowerPack that not only allows you to tweak different aspects of your Windows experience, but it also lets you enhance it with tools like Virtual Desktops and a Windows cleaner that is just as thorough as CCleaner, the old and reliable PC cleaner that Mark covered years ago. In my testing I found that TweakNow scanned just as thoroughly (maybe even more so), although not quite as quickly as CCleaner. This feature is the “Disk Cleaner” under the “Windows Cleaner” tab.

tune your pc

As you can see on the top menu bar in this section alone, there are a number of other cleaning features available. You can clean or defrag your registry (warning – defrag can take a long time), you can find where you’re wasting space on your hard drive with the Disk Usage Analyzer and clean any tracking cookies you don’t want off your computer with Track Cleaner. The registry cleaner is fast and efficient.

tweak your pc

The Startup Manager tool is very cool. It shows you every application that’s configured to launch when your computer boots, whether it’s in the Startup folder or buried in the Registry.

tweak your pc

If you see anything questionable or some app you forgot you installed and you don’t want anymore, just delete it from the list and it’ll never trouble you during your system boot again.

When I first clicked on the System Information tab, I wasn’t really terribly impressed. All I saw was the same basic system information you’d be able to quickly find in your control panel. It wasn’t until I clicked on “More” when the top icons showed up and it was clear just how thorough this tool is. You can see just about every detail you could imagine about every component of your system in this tool – including your hard drive, memory, your motherboard and your network.

tweak your pc

This app isn’t about getting system information though, it’s all about making tweaking Windows so easy that even a non-programmer can do it. The Miscellanous Tools tab is where you’ll find some of those types of tools.  For example, click on the TweakNow Shortcut icon to configure Windows to assign a high priority level to a specific application that you want the majority of CPU resources devoted to while it’s running.

tweak pc computers

The beauty of this is that if you have games or visual apps that are resource-intensive, you can make sure your processor is working as hard as possible on that program, and setting aside other “tasks.”  Another cool tool in here is of course the Virtual Desktop. This is similar to the two virtual desktop tools Aibek covered a while back. As you can see, this application is just a bundle of some of the coolest Windows tweaks and utilities.

tweak pc computers

There are a lot of other tools packed into all of these areas, so take some time to explore them. But one of the most important areas I want to cover is the Windows Secret tab.

tweak pc computers

This is an area that’s just jam packed with the sort of Windows OS hacks that I covered in the Windows Detective article, except these hacks aren’t just limited to Windows. In this area you can modify the look and behavior of core Windows components like how control panel elements behave, as well as tweaking network properties like SACK and MTU.

Off to the left there’s a “Core” icon where you can even hack some “core” elements of the operating system like what Windows should prefetch, time-out times before killing “hung” applications, reducing use of Virtual Memory, and a lot more. For anyone that’s not a hacker to have such easy access to this stuff is both exciting and scary at the same time. Tread carefully…

tune your pc

Most applications like this, I tend to overlook because there are just so many of them – but this one is different simply because it doesn’t only do one thing, it has a whole bundle of useful tools that can really help you keep your PC clean, well tuned and running faster and more efficiently than you ever thought possible.

Give TweakNow a try and let us know how it went. Did it perform as well or better than any other tools out there to tune your PC? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.



DOWNLOAD Five-Star Guide For Your iPad [PDF]

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 10:00 AM PST


The iPad may not have changed the world of computing quite yet, but it is still a pretty nifty device. An e-book reader, a newspaper, an entertainment center and a workstation, this device can do a lot in a very small package.

Want to get more out of your iPad? Check out “iPad: a Magical and Revolutionary Guide”, the latest manual from MakeUseOf. Featuring the 40 best free apps for the iPad, this easy-to-follow guide contains a treasure trove of information that will make using your tablet that much easier. Learn the ins and outs of the market’s premier tablet, for free!

Whether you’re a casual iPad user looking to learn a bit more, or an iPad addict wanting to get the most you possibly can, our “Magical and Revolutionary Guide” is the manual you’re looking for. Best of all, it’s free!

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

“iPad: A Magical and Revolutionary Guide” outlines all this and more:

  • Organizing your apps, with or without iTunes
  • Tips and tricks for typing on the iPad, in every language
  • Troubleshooting iPad issues, including battery life and app crashes
  • Syncing your Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail accounts
  • The best free apps for news, ebooks, drawing/photo editing, blogging/writing, TV, music, social media, remote control, productivity and games.

DOWNLOAD iPad: A Magical And Revolutionary Guide
(take a moment and share this guide with friends on Facebook and Twitter using the buttons below)


Read now on Scribd



8 Free Tools For Live Website Visitor Tracking

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 09:31 AM PST

visitors on websiteThe number of visitors that a website receives is an important statistic for many. Google Analytics, the widely-used website analytics platform, and alternatives like Webalizer or AWStats are great for long-term stats, but what if you want to see how many visitors are on your website right now?

Real-time visitor tracking tools have been popping up ever since 2007 or so, and now there are many choices in the live website analytics arena. Let’s go over some of the choices and see what makes them stand apart from the others.

visitors on website is one of the older live-click tracking services. MakeUseOf actually used their widget for a number of years – it was perfect for tracking who was on the site live, which articles were currently receiving a lot of visitors and historical viewer tracking. The service is listed in our directory here.

If you need a simple widget for your website, is perfect for this use. They do not include detailed tracking in their free service, but sometimes you simply don’t need it. Also, they allow you to place a map on your website or blog detailing where in the world people are coming from.


track visitors on website

Clicktale is more of a full-featured analytics package. They focus on taking an individual user session and allow you, as the site administrator, to “play back” the visit from their first page to the next. Clicktale also offers some more detailed statistics such as time on the page, conversion rates, and other features seen in packages like Google Analytics.

Another cool feature that Clicktale has (limited in the free plans) is the ability to see a heat-map over your website. This shows where a user moves their mouse on your webpages and what they actually clicked on. This is a great insight tool to get an idea of how real users interact on your page.

Clicktale has a free plan that includes 400 recorded pageviews per month and a limited playback of visits. To get some of the more interesting features, they do require that you upgrade to a paid plan.


track visitors on website

Clicky is a very strong, yet very simple live analytics package. We’ve featured it here on MakeUseOf before, and their offering has only grown in size and value.

They make a very compelling alternative to Google Analytics. Their free version includes many of the same features as GA, but also adds real-time tracking into the mix. The user interface is clean and simple and they also have mobile versions for iPhone or Android.

As with many of the other tracking platforms, there is a limited free version and also a pay version which includes more page views and features. The free version limits are 3,000 daily page views and one site. Clicky is definitely an option if you are looking for live website analytics at a good price.


track visitors on website

A popular service with bloggers is Feedjit. Feedjit offers live analytics but is more focused on the “here and now”. It will show you who has visited your page in real time, displayed in a widget on your site or blog. It displays various statistics about the visitor, including where they are visiting from.

Part of the free version of the widget is that it is supported by ads. This allows them to bring the widget to you for free and also an advertising platform for your own website or company (if you pay for it). This could be considered a good or bad part of the service depending on your viewpoint.


how to track visitors on website

GoSquared is “Analytics without the Analysis” and is a beautiful way to visualize visitors to your website in real-time. A live demo of GoSquared is available here.

The free plan offers one site and 10,000 monthly page views and paid plans start at $10 a month.


how to track visitors on website

Piwik is an open-source alternative to Google Analytics, with other features such as live visitor tracking built-in. For the crowd who don’t like Google having access to all of their data, Piwik is a great self-hosted option.

As with many open source alternatives, there is some legwork to be done to get Piwik set up correctly. Look for detailed directions in an upcoming MakeUseOf article by yours truly.

Piwik is absolutely free, and if you are willing to get your hands dirty, the source code is available to all for the ultimate customization.


how to track visitors on website

Reinvigorate offers many of the analytics offered above. What makes them stand apart is that they do offer heat-maps along with the normal statistics, and also they have a desktop client that can be made to ‘ding’ every time someone visits your site.

Reinvigorate offers a free plan for up to 100k page views and paid plans starting at $10 a month.


visitors on website

Woopra offers live stats on your website and is a very popular alernative to Google Analytics. Their free account (also known as Basic) gives you your website stats served alongside an ad.

Woopra has several features which set them apart from the pack. You can add a live-chat widget onto your site and chat with your visitors, and they also have an excellent API via which you can integrate your own statistics and metrics into.

Who’s The Best?

All of the above options are great solutions to the live-tracking analytics question. I think Woopra and Clicky are the two top analytics platforms as far as overall comprehensive features and ease of use. or Feedjit are excellent if you run a small blog and just want to add simple live tracking to your pages. Finally, Piwik is the ultimate customizable solution – look for a howto on setting it up on your website in the coming weeks.

Do you have another option to see how many visitors are on your website? Be sure to let us know below!



Manage, Edit & Share Your Photos Using Zoner Photo Studio Free [Windows]

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 08:31 AM PST

zoner photo studioNobody can turn back time. That’s why memories are so precious. Along the centuries, humans have invented various ways to capture the moments and preserve those memories; from stories, poems, paintings to photos and videos. In the digital era, it’s only natural that we manage our “captured memories” digitally. For most people, photo and video are the more popular choices because they are quick and easy to produce. But in terms of size, photos have an advantage over videos. That’s why there is more photo management software available out there.

If you still looking for the perfect photo manager, maybe you should try Zoner Photo Studio. This one will help you to manage, edit, and share your photos.

A Quick Start

Zoner Photo Studio is available to download for free. But please note that the free version is not the latest version of the software, because it’s based on v. 12, while the latest version is v. 13. Still, this is a very capable photo manager. After the installation process, there’s the First Run Wizard that will take you through a lengthy configuration process.

zoner photo studio

At the end, the app offers for you to visit the Tutorials page and/or check the Updates page. First time users might want to check the available tutorials. You’ll get many tips and tricks on utilizing the various features of the app.

zoner photo studio review

Exploring The App

  • The first time you open the app, you will be greeted by the photo manager. You can see all the quick tools available at the top right corner of the window, under “Settings“.

zoner photo studio review

  • The photo manager will let you browse pictures on your storage and view the thumbnails. It’s more or less like Explorer, but for pictures. It provides users with photo-specific tools like Rotate, Panes and Filter.

zoner photo studio review

  • Click on one of the thumbnails and it will be opened in a separate tab, and the menu will change from “Manager” to “Viewer“.

zoner photo studio free

  • To manipulate the image, switch from “Viewer” to “Editor” by clicking on the “Editor” tab at the upper right corner.

zoner photo studio free

  • Aside from the quick tools, you’ll also get other usual image editing tools like Crop, Resize and Text.

zoner photo studio free

  • The “Settings” give you several options to customize the app, save and load customizations, calibrate the monitor, and access the Preferences.

03a Preferences

  • If you need a bigger working area, you can hide the Title Bar, Menu and Tabs, and Toolbars.

03bj Toolbar

Several Examples Of Usage

There are lots of things you can do with the app so it’s impossible to list them all here. The best way to understand the tools is to try them all yourself. As a quick start, here are a few examples of some nice things you could do with Zoner Photo Studio.

  • When you are in the “Manager” view, you can see the “Publish” menu. You will see several tools that you can use, such as: Slideshow, Wallpaper, Contact Sheets, and Calendars.

04a Publish Calendar

  • The “Publish” menu is also the place to access the “Upload to Facebook” and “Publish to Flickr” tools.
  • Sometimes the images that you shot will contain too much noise which you would like to crop out. To access the cropping tool, switch to “Editor” mode. But Zoner’s “Crop” tool is no ordinary crop tool. When you activate it, you can use several add-ons to help you get the best composition out of your cropped image. There’s the “Golden Ratio” and “Thirds” grid that you can select under the “View – Crop Marks” menu.

04b Crop Golden Ratio

  • I won’t go on too much about the concept of golden ratio or the rule of thirds, but what the crop marks do is add imaginary lines based on one of those concepts to help you position the focus of the image.

04b2 Golden Ratio Marker

  • Another fun thing to do with your photos is to add effects to them. Zoner’s “Effects” menu contains several fun tools that you can play with. One of them is the “Pencil Drawing” tool that will transform your photos to pencil drawing lines.

04d Effect Pencil

  • After activating the tool, you can choose the thickness of the pencil. Then if you like the result, you can save the settings so that you can use it again later without the trouble of readjusting.

zoner photo studio

I think Zoner Photo Studio Free is a good photo manager and editor, and it deserves more exploration beyond this short article. So try it yourself, and share your thoughts and opinions using the comments below.

Image credit: Gamma-Ray Productions



MakeUseOf Is Giving Away An iPad 2!

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 07:41 AM PST

You read it right. It’s about time you got rewarded as a MakeUseOf reader. We’re giving away a free black 16 GB iPad 2, Wi-Fi only model to one extremely lucky reader.

Will it be you? You’re just going to have to participate to find out. We know what you’re thinking but never say never!

Good luck!

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 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 PST. The winners will be selected at random and informed via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter. Includes cool extras.



3 Ways To Help You Identify A Security Tool Virus On Your Computer

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 07:31 AM PST

security tool virusThere is no doubt that quality security tools can be a boon to your PC’s security. A good antivirus and firewall can protect you from most threats and do so without being an excessive drag on system resources. Going without is possible, but risky, as any mistake made on your part could easily result in infection.

Unfortunately, those who want to spread malware know that people want to protect their PCs and have created a weapon that exploits it – the security tool virus. This is a threat that has been around for some time, but continues to be an issue, as the people who tend to download a security tool virus are also usually people who don’t have a way to detect it.

Let’s take a look at some common traits these malware threats possess that blow their cover.

Virus Detection Before Installation

security tool virus

You’ve probably had this happen before. You’re minding your own business when suddenly, a tab in your browser starts what appears to be a virus scan. If you allow it to finish, a number of scary PC security threats are shown, along with a warning that you should download a security update, tool, antivirus, or other such program.

Although this may seem like an old-fashioned trick for spreading a fake security tool, it wouldn’t be used if it didn’t work, and it’s easy for drowsy or inattentive users to take this information seriously. The important thing to remember is that legitimate security tools will not “scan your PC” for viruses before you download them. In fact, the entire “scan” is actually a web animation, not an actual scan. If you pay close attention you’ll notice that the file structure represented doesn’t quite conform to the one on your PC – and many of these deceptions are still built to reproduce the computer window from a Windows XP computer, which makes it rather easy to see through the scam if you’re using Windows Vista or 7!

Aggressive Use Of Fear-Based Advertising

security tool virus removal

All security tools, be they legitimate or not, tend to use a dash of fear in their advertising. After all, you’re interested in them because you want to protect yourself from a perceived threat, and this means you have a need that can be teased out by advertising.

However, a security tool virus will often approach you by going entirely overboard. The virus detection before installation is just one example of this, but if you happen upon the front page of an illegitimate security tool (this is thankfully much harder to do now than in the past, thanks to search engines becoming better about de-listing malware) you’ll typically be spammed with all kinds of threats and suggestions about your PC’s security. Phrases like “Your security is at risk!” and “Your computer could be infected now!” are common.

There are usually a great number of weasel words in advertisements about these tools, as well. Your computer “is likely” at risk to a threat “experts agree” “may” compromise the security of “some people.”

No Information Available From Reviews

security tool virus

Perhaps one of the most ironclad indications that a security tool is not legitimate is the information blackout that seems to surround such programs. Legitimate security tools are reviewed like any other piece of software, but those that are malware usually don’t receive such attention.

I say usually, however, because there’s nothing stopping the creators of a particularly aggressive fake antivirus app from using online advertising or setting up blogs that provide fake reviews of their products. Although such elaborate schemes are rare, they have existed in the past. Not all security tool malware is free – some unfortunate users have been sucked into paying to install malware on their own system.

Perhaps the best source of information is AV-Comparatives, a source I’ve mentioned in many articles about malware. AV-Comparatives is an independent organization that exists solely to provide in-depth and objective testing of anti-malware solutions. Most legitimate security tools show up on their website at some point. If AV-Comparatives has never tested it, the security tool is likely not worth your time, even if it isn’t malware.


A security tool virus is a particularly devious piece of malware because it naturally tends to be installed on systems that don’t already have security software. Often, these programs sucker users with the promise of free protection but, as mentioned, there have been times in the past when paid malware scams with names like Antivirus XP and MS Antivirus have proliferated.

These days, there is really no need to go searching for free security tools, as there are many free antivirus solutions available from legit companies. Even Microsoft now offers Microsoft Security Essentials, a legitimate and quite effective security tool.



Gmail Labs Introduces Automated Filtering with Smart Labels [News]

Posted: 10 Mar 2011 07:28 AM PST

Another day, another Google announcement and whilst not as exciting as yesterday’s Chrome 10 launch the new Smart Labels feature in Gmail Labs promises to help organise incoming mail so you don’t have to.

At the moment it is an optional extra, which must be enabled in Gmail Settings under the Labs tab.

After turning it on, your inbox will be automatically labelled according to whether Gmail thinks it fits under Notifications, Bulk or Forums. What’s more the new smart labels feature operates nicely alongside your existing labels setup, so all you have to do is enable and go.

On the Gmail Blog, software engineer Stanley Chen explains:

"Bulk" mail includes any kind of mass mailing (such as newsletters and promotional email) and gets filtered out of your inbox by default (where you can easily read it later), "Notifications" are messages sent to you directly (like account statements and receipts), and email from group mailing lists gets labeled as "Forums."

You might even want to go ahead and disable your current labels system entirely, and the filters work well in differentiating between automated email and direct messages from humans.

There’s also the ability to edit your smart filters, just like any other filter you have configured. This gives you total control over where you messages go and how you read them. We’ve got a bit of a guide about it right here, if you’re interested.

Will you use Smart Labels?  Would you trust it to filter and label your emails properly? Do you use any other Gmail Labs features? Let us know in the comments below.

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