Monday, April 11, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [April 10th]” plus 6 more “Cool Websites and Tools [April 10th]” plus 6 more

Link to MakeUseOf

Cool Websites and Tools [April 10th]

Posted: 10 Apr 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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OpenSignalMaps – If you are trying to decide which mobile phone carrier to go with, you will want to find out how well each carrier has covered your area. In order to do this you need to find out where the carrier towers are and see their coverage on a heatmap. This is precisely what interactive cell phone carrier coverage map OpenSignalMaps does. Read more: OpenSignalMaps: Interactive Cell Phone Carrier Coverage Map Online


Lissn – Chatroulette began the idea of connecting you with somebody randomly in the world. Since its success, many sites have followed the Chatroulette principle and given different ways to connect you with other people randomly. Lissn is one of these websites, a free to use website that lets you talk to other people using textual chat. Read more: Lissn: Text Chat With Strangers From Around The World



Mixtent – In our LinkedIn networks we have numerous contacts that include friends and coworkers. Of course some of them are better at their jobs than others. But we do not have the option to vote between our LinkedIn contacts to indicate their level of competence. But with Mixtent, we can vote. Read more: Mixtent: Vote on LinkedIn Contacts To Indicate Their Approval Rating



Androidify – You might have come across tools that create a cartoon version of you. There are tools that create your Avatar (the movie) equivalent image, South Park equivalent image, and even a Simpsons equivalent image. Now you can create an icon of yourself in the style of Google's Android robot icon, thanks to a tool called Androidify. Read more: Androidify: Create Google Android Robot Like Image Of Yourself



Cookzillas – Eating well cooked meals prepared by you has a joy that fast food simply cannot compare with. To get directions on cooking recipes, you can visit various websites. With CookZillas, you can find the dishes you will like in no time at all. CookZillas is a Google search based engine for finding cooking recipes on the web. Read more: Cookzillas: Find Healthy & Delicious Cooking Recipes


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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Thank You To MakeUseOf Friends!

Posted: 10 Apr 2011 07:31 PM PDT

It’s time to say thanks to our friends who, once in a while, tip us great articles, help out on projects and in some cases offer their services at discounted prices. Thank you, guys!

    [1] ShrinkTheWeb – Website Screenshot Thumbnail Service

    Ever wanted to add website screenshots to your website? ShrinkTheWeb is one of the best services for that, both in terms of performance and pricing. The free account gets you a whopping 250,000 impressions. See it in action in our daily Cool Websites and Tools series.


    [2] LapDawg “" Hands-free Laptop Stands

    Hands free laptop stand
    The hands free laptop stand holds your laptop or books in any position you want with it’s unique 360 degree rotating joints. Perfect for holding them in bed while lying down. Made from anodized aluminum with a beautiful black matte finish.

    [3] Walyou “" Cool Gadgets for Geeks

    new cool gadgets
    Walyou is a fun blog covering all sorts of new cool gadgets and other stuff every geek is likely to find entertaining. Everything from world’s largest Gunny Bears to E-hookah gadgets. Make sure to check them out.


    [4] rade | eccles – iPhone Application Development

    The perfect iPhone development team, rade | eccles managed to put our iPhone app together in record time yet exude professionalism and dedication every step of the way. Our collaboration wasn’t happenstance. We would make the same decision all over again. Our only recommendation for an iPhone developer – rade | eccles.


    [5] TrueKolor – Affordable Quality Logo and Banner Design

    If you’re looking for a cheap, original and quality logo or banner, check out TrueKolor. We often contact these guys when we need a logo or a banner made, some of the stuff they did for us listed on their portfolio page. Highly recommended.


    [6] Mobify – Making the Web a mobile place

    More and more users access websites and read blogs using their mobile phone. Mobify lets you mobilize your blog or website by creating lightweight version of it, which loads much faster and looks great on a mobile screen. MakeUseOf’s mobile site was created by Mobify, and we’re proud of it!


    [7] Sendible – The easiest way to market your brand online

    We’re strong believers of the service Sendible provides — we use it on a daily basis and it has never failed us! Sendible is an online marketing service to promote, grow and track brands through the use of social media, email and SMS messaging. It has the ability to post to multiple services at once, schedule social network updates and analyse their success. We love it!


    [8] Sourcebits – Android Developement

    Sourcebits did a bang up job of helping us put together our long-awaited Android app. For that, we are eternally grateful!


Thank you, guys!

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Which Operating System is Better? Linux Vs Mac? [MakeUseOf Poll]

Posted: 10 Apr 2011 06:31 PM PDT

Last week we asked how many backups you make of your important data. Most of you answered that you think 1-2 backups of your important data is plenty enough.

From the 297 votes collected, the breakdown was: 52% people make 1-2 backups; 34% people make 3-5 backups; 9% make no backups at all; 3% make 6-10 backups and fewer than 1% make either 10-19 or 20+ backups.

So, you can see 1-2 backups is the most popular amount for important data, followed by 3-5 backups.

This week’s poll question is: Which Operating System is Better? Linux Vs Mac?

We know full well that Mac is based on Unix and that there’s dozens of other amazing Unix flavours, Windows operating systems and numerous other operating systems out there to choose from. But if your choice were narrowed down to your favourite Linux or Mac OS, would you pick Linux or Mac?

Obviously, your answers could vary when considering the purpose of the computer – and some of you might really prefer neither. Have a rant in the comments and let us know what your choice is based on!

Hey Facebookers, make sure to join MakeUseOf on Facebook and get access to some exclusve stuff. Over 70,000 fans already!



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Get Push Notifications On Your Mac Desktop with Boxcar

Posted: 10 Apr 2011 03:30 PM PDT

push notifications macBoxcar is already well known for being one of the first solutions to bring push notifications to your iOS devices for Twitter, Facebook and more. They recently added a Mac desktop application to their arsenal allowing you to receive notifications of new updates on Facebook, Twitter, your email accounts, as well as RSS feeds, Gowalla, Foursquare and more.

The convenience of having all notifications set up and centralized using one app definitely makes the app incredibly useful, particularly if you already use it on any of your iOS devices. The app's settings are simple and straightforward, and it comes with a mute feature, allowing you to quickly and conveniently stop notifications for as long as you need to without having to the exit the program.

If you've never used Boxcar before, the first thing you'll do upon launching the app is sign up for a new account through their website. All it takes is your email address and a password.

push notifications mac

The next step will be to add the services, allowing you to receive notifications on your Mac. Through the Boxcar website, you can then add each service individually. The complete list of supported services is Facebook, Twitter, Gowalla, Foursquare, Google Buzz, Google Voice, Reddit, and Github, as well as any email account, RSS feed. You can also receive notifications of app recommendations from Boxcar, as well as updates from OMGFacts.

push notifications for mac

To add Twitter, make sure you are logged into your Twitter account on the web and authorize the app. You can then be notified of mentions, reweets, follows, DMs and even when you're added to lists or when your tweets are favourited.

push notifications for mac

When you receive a Twitter notification, you can reply or retweet from within Boxcar itself.

push notifications for mac

In addition to the standard Twitter notifications for your account, you can also receive notifications of Twitter's trending topics or a specific Twitter search of your choosing, or even tweets from a specific Twitter list.

Adding your Facebook account to Boxcar uses the same method as Twitter – by authorizing the app to access your account. In order to use Boxcar with Facebook you have to grant the app access to your basic information, to post to your wall, access messages in your inbox, posts in your news feed and manage your events.

To receive push notifications of new emails in any given email account, Boxcar generates a forwarding address for you to add to your email account.

push notifications email

After you add the Boxcar specific forwarding address to your account, you will receive the verification code as a notification within the app.

push notifications email

Since adding new accounts or adjusting their settings are all centralized through the Boxcar website, if you're already using Boxcar on your iOS device, you'll find that, upon downloading and logging into your account, all of your accounts already added to the app. All notifications can be accessed and deleted from the Boxcar window by clicking the icon in the status bar.

push notifications email

As far as the Mac app itself is concerned, Boxcar sits quietly in your status bar until you receive a new notification. Like with the iOS app, you can choose different notification sounds for different accounts, making it easy to differentiate between the notifications even if you can't see your screen.

By installing the Growl plugin each notification will be accompanied by a standard growl notification, allowing Boxcar to blend seamlessly into the Mac environment. Like with any other application you can configure your Boxcar Growl settings by going to System Preferences > Growl > Applications, highlight Boxcar and click Configure.

Settings for the app itself are limited to starting the app at login, playing the notification sounds, showing notifications using Growl, using a black and white icon in the status bar, and setting a keyboard shortcut to pull up the notifications window.

push notifications mac

Are you using Boxcar to get push notifications on your Mac? How do you like it? Let us know in the comments.



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Hot Tech Deals [Apr 10th]

Posted: 10 Apr 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. Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB Internal SATA 6Gbps Hard Drive $40.49 via code BLOSSOM10 (Exp 4/11)
  2. Galaxy GTX460 1GB Video Card w/ Wireless Uncompressed Streaming Audio & Video to HDTV $389.99AR via rebate
  3. Yamaha RX-V867 3D Networked AV Receiver $468.99 via code EMCKFKB56 (Exp 4/10)
  4. Vizio XVT3D424SV 42″ 3D-Ready LED-Backlit LCD HDTV for $989.99 Free Shipping via code VR9M094JL?RXBK (Exp 4/28)
  5. Vizio XVT3D474SV 47″ 3D-Ready LED-Backlit LCD HDTV for $1394.99 Free Shipping via code VR9M094JL?RXBK (Exp 4/28)
  6. Samsung E10 1080p High Def Portable Camcorder w/ 2.7in Touchscreen $79.99
  7. Jetway Mini-TOP Intel Atom D525 DDR3 NVIDIA ION 2 Barebone Nettop $229.99 via code EMCKFKB32 (Exp 4/10)

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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10 Free MP3 Albums To Download [Sound Sunday]

Posted: 10 Apr 2011 12:31 PM PDT

Enter Sound Sunday to preview the new Foo Fighters album and explore free music from a wide range of genres.

This week is heavy on the rock and electronic side of things, with a bit of metal and jazz to light things up.

Thank to to everyone who completed the survey last week. Everyone who missed it, you can still make your opinion heard here. As always, you’re most welcome to post your feedback in the comments or shoot me an Email [tina at makeuseof dot com].

Free album stream: Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Genre: alternative, rock, post-grunge

Before you get excited, NO, the new Foo Fighters album is not a free download. However, you can preview Wasting Light for free, a service provided through SoundCloud.

Free album stream: Radiohead – King of Limbs

Genre: alternative, indie, rock, electronic

Sorry to disappoint you, but Radiohead’s latest album is not a free download, either. I hope you enjoy listening nevertheless! King of Limbs is a free preview at tbd records.

The Outbreaks – Places

Genre: alternative, indie, rock

free mp3 downloadThe Outbreaks is a 5 piece alternative rock band from Chicago, Illinois. They have recently released the 5 track EP Places. The song below, however, is from their previous selftitled EP and provides a good introduction to the band’s music.

Places is available from The Outbreaks’ Blogspot page.

Netlabelism – Compilation 03/11

Genre: electronic, broken beats, dub, compilation

free mp3 downloadThe Netlabelism compilation album features the 10 best tracks of the month’s reviews. It is published under a Creative Commons license. From the project’s about page: “Netlabelism is a loose bunch of music-addicted people who love to share the most valuable tunes to be found on the internet for free. We pick up quality music on the web and try to give you an overview of the vast range of netaudio (music).

Compilation 03/11 is a free download from Netlabelism.

Cut Music – Cut Volume 1

Genre: electronic, drum & bass, techno, dubstep, compilation

From the project’s about page: “Started in January 2011 by DFRNT, Cut is a netlabel providing free music with an emphasis on quality. Our aim is to show you that free music can be as valued and highly regarded as any other.

Cut Volume 1 is a name your price download from Bandcamp.

Electrosound – Thirty X

Genre: electronic, ambient, idm, dubstep, techno, sampler

Electrosound is a non-profit project with all materials published under a Creative Commons license. It features mostly Russian artists who publish their music in the form of network releases, available for free download.

Thirty X is a free download from the Electrosound homepage. Or click this link.

The Jupiter Sea – Ghosts

Genre: alternative, indie, rock

While The Jupiter Sea from Massachusetts finish recording their upcoming full length album, you get to enjoy their 2010 debut EP Ghosts for free. The record starts out quietly with the melancholic title track Ghosts, followed by the emotional rock song Minnesota.

Ghosts is a free download from Bandcamp.

KRAZ – The Funky President

Genre: jazz, soul, hip hop, mixtape

For his first mixtape, KRAZ, aka Eric Krasno from Royal Family Records, mixed and remixed a broad range of artists and styles, including James Brown, Jay Z, The Black Keys, rare soul cuts, and some exclusive tracks from Fyre Dept and Lettuce. The resulting ‘soundtrack’ is a wild ride.

The Funky President is a free download from Bandcamp.

the Muted Pitch – the First 13

Genre: death metal

From their Facebook Bio: “Jason Freake and Bob Mills had their first jam on Oct of 2007. Since we both have a huge overlap in music interests, we decided to keep going. Jason is a guitarist that also plays drums and Bob is a drummer that also plays guitar. This allows us to both contribute to the overall sound and shape of the Muted Pitch.

Download the First 13 from the Muted Pitch‘s homepage.

Emnity – Murderabilia

Genre: metal, progressive, rock

From their Facebook Bio: “The scene slumbers in mediocrity, drenched in repetition and starving for the new. From beneath this carpet, a scream tears out. It howls with fervor and raw passion that hasn’t been seen on these shores for a long, long while. At the core of this scream – Enmity stands firm, a band of musical gunslingers, dealing not only in uncompromised heaviness of lead, but also in the natural beauty of death, filth and the human condition.

Murderabilia is a free download from Enmity‘s homepage.

The Future Kings – We Are

Genre: indie, pop

From their Facebook Bio: “The Future Kings sound runs the gamut between artful indie pop and odd meter rockers. Regardless melody and harmony are always at the forefront of this Midwest quartet. Along with sonique advisor and musical contributor Brandon Chavez they craft their indie wonderland with an expansive and relentless curiosity that’s as diverse as it is enchanting.

We Are is a free download from NoiseTrade.

The Damnwells – NoiseTrade Sampler

Genre: alternative, rock, sampler

From their Facebook Bio: “Singer Alex Dezen and bassist Ted Hudson met in college, played in a few bands, drank, and moved to Brooklyn.” As a collective, they have been making music since the turn of the century. Sometimes, a little is all you need to know.

The NoiseTrade Sampler is a free download from – you guessed it – NoiseTrade.

New to Sound Sunday? Past editions of Sound Sunday are available here.

Feel free to get in touch with me [tina at makeuseof dot com] to share free material, suggestions, and feedback or simply add your comments below.

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How To Backup Your Website Through SSH Command Line

Posted: 10 Apr 2011 10:30 AM PDT

ssh backupBacking up your website or blog can be an expensive and arduous task, requiring a variety of plugins, or additional plans from your hosting provider – but it needn’t be really. If you have SSH access to your website host (generally you would need at least a virtual private server for this), then it’s easy to backup, restore and migrate your entire website with only a few commands. Let me show you how.

What is SSH Command Line?

SSH gives you the ability to talk directly to your web-server. It doesn’t give a pretty interface, or a nice GUI, just a straight-up powerful command line. This can be daunting to some people, but the sheer power, speed, and level of automation it provides can be an absolute life-saver and makes the process of migrating sites incredibly easy.

Most shared hosts unfortunately don’t allow SSH access to your account, at least not by default. If you’re hosting with GoDaddy, you can enable it though, so be sure to check first.

To log in via SSH, open up the Terminal in OS X (or get some free SSH software for Windows) and type in the following:


You’ll be prompted for your password. If you’ve never used SSH before, you might be surprised when typing in your password doesn’t anything on screen. Don’t worry, that’s for security.

Once logged in, you’ll be presented with a command prompt, similar to the following:


This means everything is fine, so go ahead and continue with these commands.

Start by taking a look around and trying to navigate to your web directory. Type:


To ‘list’ the current files and folders.

cd directoryname

to change to a directory. In this case, I’m going to navigate to the httpdocs directory, which is the root of my web site (where all my wordpress files are stored). You can then ‘ls’ again, just to be sure.

ssh backup

At this point, we’re ready to begin the SSH backup process.

Backing up the Database:

Since the majority readers will be doing this with a WordPress install, you will most certainly have a database to backup in addition to any files stored on the site. First off, you’ll need 3 bits of information to backup your database, but all can be found within wp-config.php (if you’re running wordpress, that is):

  • Database name
  • Database user
  • Database password

Then, issue this simple command, being sure to replace the username, table name, and backup filename where neccessary:

mysqldump --add-drop-table -u username -p tablename > backupfilename.sql

Hit enter, and enter your password. Once it’s run, you can then issue another ‘ls’ command to check that the file has been output. Congratulations, this is all the information in your database as a single SQL file, ready to backup or import somewhere else.

Note: I’ve assumed that your database server is running on the same server on which you are hosting. On a GoDaddy host however, the MySQL database is actually stored remotely on a separate server to which you don’t have SSH access. In cases like these, you will need to access PHPMyAdmin via the hosting control panel, but that is out of the scope of this tutorial.

Backing Up Files:

Now that we have the database stored to single file on the server, we can go ahead and backup both that and your website files down to a single compressed backup file. To do this, we are going to issue one simple command. You need only replace yourbackupfilename with whatever you want it to be called.

tar -vcf yourbackupfilename.tar .

Let me break that down. Tar is a common linux compression format, similar to zip but more efficient. -vcf are simple some options that say “make a new archive, and tell me what you’re doing”. Next is the name of the file we want to create, and finally a single period mark tells it to include everything. We could have written * instead, but this would miss any hidden files such .htaccess which is essential for WordPress.

That’s it. Once that’s run, you will have a single .tar file consisting of every file on your site. You could log in via FTP at this point and download it, but let me show one final step that allows you to restore all these files.

Restoring Everything:

Let’s say the worst has happened, and something has gone horribly wrong with your site. You’ve got a tar file of everything that you backed up last week, so now you’d like to restore it to that. First off, log in via FTP and upload the backup file onto your server. Perhaps you’ve been storing them in a special directory. Either way, move the latest complete backup file into the root of your site, and we’ll begin.

Start by unpacking all the files, the reverse of what we did to back them up:

tar -vxf yourbackupfilename.tar

The crucial difference here is in the -vxf switch, which tells it to extract the files instead of creating a new backup. Also, there is no period on the end of the command this time.

The last step is to suck your database back in to where it was before. Make sure you have a blank database setup with the same password and tablename as before, or you’ll need to change your site configuration settings too. To suck the data back in, issue this command:

mysql -u username -p tablename < databasebackupfilename.sql

Next week: Automating Your Backups

That’s enough to get you started with doing SSH backups for now, then next I’ll show how to automate the task with a simple shell script and a CRON command. If you have some Amazon s3 storage space, I’ll even show you how you can automatically upload your backup files to a storage bucket once they’re done.

One last tip – when I first began to use the command line, this one really impressed me – try pressing the tab key when your typing in a long filename, and if the name is unique enough it will attempt to autocomplete the rest of the filename!

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