Tuesday, April 12, 2011

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [April 11th]” plus 10 more

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [April 11th]” plus 10 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [April 11th]

Posted: 11 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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Personal Blocklist – If you are like thousands of other people who are tired of seeing spam in their search results, Google has an answer for you. They have released a Chrome extension called Personal Blocklist that will allow you to block unwanted search results when you use Chrome. You can at any time unblock a website by removing it from the blocklist. Read more: Personal Blocklist: Block Unwanted Search Results In Google [Chrome]


Picture Dots – If you like solving dot-to-dot puzzles, perhaps you will enjoy creating them too. But using Paint or any other image editor to create such puzzles is a very complicated task. Here to help get the job done is a web service called Picture Dots, a simple web service that lets you create dot-to-dot puzzles from digital pictures. Read more: Picture Dots: Create Dot-To-Dot Puzzles From Images online



PhoneGetters – Have you misplaced your mobile phone? Do you want somebody to give it a call so you can find out where it is through its ringtone? If yes, then PhoneGetters will come in handy, a simple and free web service that rings your phone from the internet. All you have to do is enter your phone number. Read more: PhoneGetters: Ring Your Phone From The Internet



My Likes Box – All regular Facebook users have “liked” countless Facebook pages. Keeping a track of all these likes and selectively “unliking” the pages is not an easy task. But with a tool called My Likes Box, the job is made much easier. It is a wonderful Facebook application that provides an easy way to view your facebook likes. Read more: My Likes Box: Cool Way To Manage & View Your Facebook Likes



uQR – Recently QR codes have seen a massive rise in popularity. The codes' ability to store information and be directly scanned through smartphones has made them useful in a number of ways. One of the web services currently making good use of QR codes is uQR, a simple and free to use web service that lets you share anything on the web using QR codes. Read more: uQR: Share Websites & Other Various Things Through QR Codes


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

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3 Great Ways To Tweak Your Google Reader Interface With Userscripts

Posted: 11 Apr 2011 06:30 PM PDT

google reader userscriptGoogle Reader is another free Google tool that I can’t live without (coming right next after Google Search and Google Docs).

Google Reader has been always almost perfect: and it’s been fun watching it being improved: the added cool search option and some interface tweaks have made it even better.

But there’s nothing too perfect under the sun, and the below userscripts have been quite good at making Google Reader experience even better.

(All the below Google Reader userscripts have been tested on FireFox 4 + Greasemonkey, but they may work in other browsers as well)

1. Add Favicons to the Feed List

Favicons for Google Reader is an old, but still functioning userscript that adds domain favicons to the corresponding feeds in your left-hand list. This way the feeds are much easier to recognize:

google reader userscript

2. Make the Most of the Screen Real Estate

Google Reader Absolutely Customizable is an ideal userscript for those who access Google Reader interface using a laptop or a mobile browser as it lets you make the most of the screen real estate:

  • Get rid of the top navigation;
  • Resize the left-hand sidebar navigation;
  • Get rid of “All items” in the left-hand sidebar;
  • Condense white space;
  • Move search box; many others.

Any of the above behavior can be turned on / off using the tool “absolutely customizable” (as the name suggests) options:

tweak google reader

Let’s see it in action!

Here’s your regular Google Reader interface:

tweak google reader

And here’s how Google Reader looks after you have the script installed and all its options checked:

tweak google reader

Other userscripts with similar functionality:

  • Google Reader Minimalistic is another fun option to try here that does pretty much the same but is harder to customize.
  • Helvetireader is yet another great userscript to minimize your Google Reader interface.

Note: all of the minimalistic userscripts in this section are incompatible with the “Favicons for Google Reader” script above, so you’ll have to choose one.

3. Color and Filter Feed Items

Google Reader – Colorful List View is a fun userscript that visualizes the feeds in your list by the source. Whether it makes the Gogle Reader interface more usable or more cluttered is the matter of personal taste. Here’s what it looks like (the “List” view):

userscripts google reader

The userscript options are available on Google Reader “Settings” page. From there you can set:

  • To colorize only read / unread items (or both)
  • To colorize only expanded / list view (or both);
  • To colorize comment view

userscripts google reader

Google Reader Filter is a userscript that allows to highlight feed items in the list by keyword (as well as filters duplicated entries and unwanted content). After the user script is installed, a “Google Reader Filter” button appears in the top-right corner of Google Reader interface. The button allows you to quickly access your filter and keyword highlight settings:

userscripts google reader

The userscript works as follows:

  • Feed items with banned keywords are in gray (these can be totally hidden upon your settings);
  • Feed items with your favorite keywords are highlighted:

This userscript only works with Google Reader’s list view and not expanded view – switch to list view from the view tabs on the upper right.

google reader userscript

Are you an avid Google Reader user? Do you think the Google Reader userscript above would come in handy? Please share your thoughts!

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Sazneo Allows Remote Teams To Communicate In Real-Time

Posted: 11 Apr 2011 04:30 PM PDT

communicate real time webCollaborating with others online seems to be getting easier every month. We have seen many excellent applications that surface the web with the aim to bridge the gap between team members working online. Just in the last two months, we encountered for example, a highly capable project manager, FreedCamp, and five different group-friendly brainstorming apps.

Today, we'll take a look at an application that makes sure that the most important thing about working in groups (communication) is done right, and in an organized fashion. Sazneo is a powerful communication service that allows team members to more effectively share information, placing heavy emphasis on making real-time conversations easier to track.

Why Try Sazneo?

It's a much smarter way to handle multiple conversations than using back-and-forth email or forums. While it's a form of real-time messaging tool that at first you might think is like instant messaging, Sazneo is a far more professional and secure solution for teams.

Perhaps best of all, Sazneo offers a free plan where users can have up to 5 channels (think of them as chat rooms), unlimited users, and 100 MB storage per company for file-sharing. Since Sazneo is web-based and there's nothing to download, it's pretty much effortless for teams to give Sazneo a try. To sign up, head here and register with your company email address. Users that have only free email addresses provided by Gmail or MSN will have to be invited by existing members.

How Sazneo Is Organized

communicate real time webOnce you've signed up, you'll notice that Sazneo has an easy-to-use interface with multiple discussions cleanly organized by topics on the left sidebar, while the actual conversation is displayed in the central panel.

real time chat

With this service, you can have group discussions with other team members as well as clients or users from other companies. You can also have private conversations (1-to-1 chat) with single team members. Whenever someone in your group discussion logs off, he or she can still catch up with what was missed the next time on the next login, thanks to chronological backchat record.

real time chat

This means all active conversations are stored and thus, searchable. When you have an inactive channel though, you can export the content of that channel as an HTML file for archiving before disabling it.

real time chat

You can also share files, like documents and images, which will be listed in a separate widget for quick reference, as well as inserted in the channel. Images can be previewed by channel members as they are loaded onto the conversation stream.

real time chat rooms


Not only can you organize all conversations in a single place in your browser, but you can keep track of and continue your multiple discussions on the go, with the iPhone-optimized mobile site at http://my.sazneo.com.

real time chat rooms

What's nice is that the service will have your unread message count synced between your desktop and mobile phone.

Sazneo also offers a desktop notifier for Windows that helps you stay updated on conversations without the need to keep your browser open, and lets you receive system tray notifications alerting you of conversation activity (though you can of course, change alerting preferences).

communicate real time web

Overall, Sazneo does a nice job of unifying communication with team members in a way that sometimes we wished the conventional methods of email and IM could.

What does your company or team use to communicate in real time remotely?

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UMPlayer – Another Feature Packed Cross-Platform Media Player

Posted: 11 Apr 2011 02:30 PM PDT

cross platform media playerThere’s no shortage of quality free media players to entertain your eyes and ears, regardless of your computer or operating system. With cracking cost-free solutions like VLC (often considered the king of media players) and iTunes alternative JetAudio, you really shouldn’t be paying for this sort of software.

Universal Media Player, or UMPlayer for short, is yet another addition to the media player category which uses the MPlayer backend to chew through any media you give it. The app promises to play everything and integrates various web services into one desktop solution.

There are versions available for Windows (XP, Vista and 7) and Linux (Ubuntu and Debian binaries and an RPM) with a Mac OS X version currently in development and destined for release any day now. The version I’m testing here is 0.9 (Linux) on Ubuntu 10.10.

Features & Playback

Thanks to the fantastic MPlayer backend, UMPlayer is able to play a healthy number of digital formats without the need for extra codecs. This includes your bog standard SD content, disc-based media (but no BluRay) and HD files (even in containers, like Matroska video). To quote the UMPlayer team:

“It plays most MPEG/VOB, AVI, Ogg/OGM, VIVO, ASF/WMA/WMV, QT/MOV/MP4, RealMedia, Matroska, NUT, NuppelVideo, FLI, YUV4MPEG, FILM, RoQ, PVA files, supported by many native, XAnim, and Win32 DLL codecs. You can watch VideoCD, SVCD, DVD, 3ivx, DivX 3/4/5, WMV and even H.264 movies.”

Another benefit to using MPlayer is the vast number of output options offered, including X11, OpenGL and VESA (amongst a ton of others). There’s also support for older, outdated graphics cards which should make UMPlayer a decent app to stick on an old PC.

cross platform media player

For an easy-on-the-eyes viewing experience, MPlayer also features shadowed anti-aliased subtitles with support for 12 different subtitle formats (and DVD subtitles too) and various different fonts and scripts. So far, so VLC; and that even goes for the interface (though it does for most media players).

cross platform music player

The program is completely skinnable, and there are five to choose from after installation. Despite the Get More Skins link under Options, there’s little to choose from in the official skins gallery so (once again) it’s up to the community to provide the real choice.

cross platform music player

Under the hood you’ll find plenty to tweak and adjust in UMPlayer’s options. From custom command line parameters to forcing frame drop to maintain sync, this is a heavily customizable program. Saying that, you won’t find yourself changing an awful lot (if anything) unless you’ve got some specific demands from the software.

Convinced? Well there’s still a couple of extra features that might just persuade you to ditch your current media player yet!

Online Integration

You may have noticed the small search box in the top right of the UMPlayer window in a number of screenshots. This can be used to search both YouTube and Winamp’s Shoutcast service for streaming video and radio stations. Despite YouTube being a bit flaky on my Ubuntu laptop, Shoutcast worked flawlessly.

cross platform music player

When you search either service your results are displayed in a separate window. Double click a result of your choosing and UMPlayer will do its utmost to launch your chosen video or radio station. It’s a nice, fast way of browsing for media – with a couple of extra services to choose from (Hulu, Vimeo and so on) it would be a killer feature.

UMPlayer can also fetch free subtitles for you. Simply open up your chosen media, click Subtitles and then Find Subtitles on OpenSubtitles.org. A new window will open displaying all available subtitles for the film or program you happen to be watching. Click Download to download the file and never have to worry about subtitles again.

cross platform media player


Is UMPlayer a VLC-beating media solution? Possibly. That totally depends whether you’re hankering for a dekstop YouTube solution, love internet radio or regularly rely on subtitles. Apart from those few features there’s very little to separate the two.

Both are light on system resources. Both can play pretty much everything you throw at them. Both are free! Give it a go for yourself and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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Hot Tech Deals [Apr 11th]

Posted: 11 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. Sennheiser eH 350 Evolution Over-the-Ear Headphones $49.99
  2. Toshiba 32E200U 32in LCD HDTV (1080p) $369.99 Free Shipping
  3. Dell Vostro 230 Slim Intel Dual-Core E5800 3.2GHz Mini Tower Desktop w/ 22in LCD $399
  4. Dell Vostro 230 Mini Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 2.93GHz Desktop w/ Viewsonic 24in LCD $449
  5. Dell Vostro 460 Intel Core i5 Sandy Bridge Quad-Core Desktop w/ 19in LCD, Win7 Pro $619
  6. Tomtom XXL 540TM Portable GPS Navigation (5in, Lane Guidance, Lifetime Traffic & Maps) $124 Free Shipping via code BEACHREWARDS5 (Exp Soon)
  7. Vizio VOJ320M 32in LCD HDTV (1080p) $319.99 Free Shipping
  8. Dell Inspiron 17R Intel Core i5-2410M 2.4GHz Sandy Bridge 17.3in Laptop $699.99 via code HLSKSR06S9ZG0F (Exp Soon)
  9. Dell Inspiron 15R Intel Core i3-2310M 2.1GHz Sandy Bridge 15.6in Laptop $549.99 via code HLSKSR06S9ZG0F (Exp Soon)

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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LiveProfile: Another Completely Free Messaging Solution For Android, iPhone & Blackberry

Posted: 11 Apr 2011 12:30 PM PDT

free text messagingWhen WhatsApp first launched, the possibility of a cross platform mobile messenger app was still a relatively new concept. Now, we have several choices on which messenger app to use to stay in touch with our friends when we’re on the go. With this kind of app in particular too many choices aren’t necessarily a good thing, since you’ll find your messenger contacts scattered across several different apps, much is like the case with chat programs.

But if you and your friends are looking for a completely free, cross platform option, LiveProfile is available as a free download for Android, iPhone and Blackberry phones. It will also work on the iPod Touch and iPad, although it isn’t optimized for the latter’s screen. That said, using LiveProfile, or any other similar application, is a great way to turn your iPad 3G into the ultimate messaging device.

Signing up for a free account is a simple as entering your email address and password, after which you can create your profile. The more information you fill out, the more useful it is if you want your friends to be able to find you using your real name or your phone number. If you’d rather not enter that information, they can also find you by your email address, or by a specific LiveProfile ID that you can give to them.

free text messaging

In addition to your profile information, you can also add an image as your profile picture, and update your status within the app, while simultaneously sending those updates to Facebook and Twitter.

From the “Me” tab you can access all of your settings, from updating your profile, your status, adding friends, and adjusting the app’s settings. To add friends using their profile information, scanning your contacts list to see if anyone is already using LiveProfile, or finding your Facebook friends to see who is already using the app.

free instant messaging

iPhone, Android and Blackberry users can send and receive text messages.

free instant messaging

iPhone and Android users have the added advantage of sending and receiving images and videos as well, either from their saved images or by taking a new photo or video.

free text messaging

When you receive a new message, you will receive a notification. On the iPhone, you will be able to see a preview of the message, whereas if you’re using a Blackberry, you won’t. You will however have to keep the app running in the background in order to receive these messages, but this should have no effect on your battery life.

Like with Blackberry Messenger, you can tell when your message has been sent, delivered, and read. You can also delete all messages from any given person by closing the chat session, but you cannot delete individual messages.

LiveProfile is the first real competition for its free counterpart, PingChat, since Whatsapp’s Android and Blackberry versions are not free. While there are no real distinct differences between LiveProfile and PingChat, the LiveProfile interface is a little bit more appealing than PingChat, particularly on the Blackberry where more often than not the UI is quite a let down in comparison to the sister Android and iPhone apps.

LiveProfile is available as a free download from the Android Market, the iTunes App Store, and as a direct download for Blackberry users from the app’s website.

Which app do you prefer? Whatsapp, Pingchat or LiveProfile? What other cross platform messenger apps would you recommend? Let us know in the comments.

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10 More Free Mac Gems In The App Store

Posted: 11 Apr 2011 11:30 AM PDT

free mac software
Hardly a week goes by that I don't find one or more free nifty apps in the Mac App Store. There's absolutely no easier way to quickly download applications without visiting several web sites. We here at MakeUseOf may well save you the trouble of having to browse the store for the best free offers.

We've already ran articles about the 10 Free Productivity Apps, and the 3 Best Free Games in the Mac App Store. And if by now you're still not familiar with this huge warehouse of Mac gems, check out my latest tips for getting the most out of shopping there. But don't spend any money yet, check out my latest 10 findings. I'm sure there will be one or more that you will want to download.


A clean desktop helps your Mac run better, and it means files can be more easily found if they are managed properly.

free mac software

Desktopday does one simple thing for your desktop: It takes all the files scattered on your desktop and puts them into a folder. In the Preferences of Desktoday, you specify where you want automatic folders sent to. Folders are labeled by the date and time they were created. I use an AppleScript program that does the same thing, but Desktoday can easily be accessed and run from your Mac's menu bar. It would be great however if it could be activated by a hot key.

Gaze HD Fireplaces and More

I can't explain why, but there's something a little odd and interesting about being able run a virtual fireplace on your Mac. For limited time, Gaze HD Fireplaces and More is available for free in the App Store.

free mac apps

Gaze HD includes a gallery of 5 HD 1080 fireplaces. Simply select one, set the volume sound, and click the full screen button for a nice ambient effect. This works great for Macs sitting idle in your den, office, or apartment.


It's quite easy to fill up your Mac menu bar with lots of applications, but Spin could be the one you definitely want there. Spin does one simple thing, it streams a selected category of music to your computer for easy uninterrupted listening.

free mac apps

If you hear a song you like, Spin provides a link to it on the iTunes Music Store, or you can link to it over the web.


If you're needing to brush up on your typing skills, there are a few online typing tutorials, but now there's also a typing tutorial program you can download from the App Store.

free mac apps

Typist includes various levels of typing exercises, and it shows your typing speed in real time.

Media Library Lite

If you collect DVDs like some people collect books, Media Library Lite may be of use to you. It runs an Amazon.com search of DVD movies and downloads of your selections, including cover art, other pertinent information (e.g. title, date, genre, actors, director) about the DVD.

free mac gems

You can also scan, via iSight, the barcode of DVDs for quick reference. Media Library may useful for those of you who want to keep track of DVDs you loan out.

PDF Converter Free

I never thought of needing to convert PDF documents into a PowerPoint presentation, but after coming across PDF Converter, I could imagine situations in which these type of conversions might come in handy.

free mac gems

PDF Converter Free does exactly what it says it does, and more. It can batch convert up to 50 PDF files at one time, as well "preserve text, hyperlinks, images, layouts, tables columns, graphics," in the conversion. The paid version offers the ability to convert in other formats. See Saikat's article, “How to Convert a PDF File to a Word Doc ” for other options.

iText Express

I'd be the first to admit that there tons of text editors out there, but I have found nearly all of them offer unique features. And when they are free, it doesn’t hurt to give them a try. IText Express is similar to Mac OS X's TextEdit, but it offers a few more useful features not found in TextEdit.

free mac gems

For longer multipage documents, iText Express allows you bookmark your pages so you can easily and quickly jump to various parts of your document. This text editor is fully compatible with Microsoft Word, and it supports RTF, RTFD, TEXT/DOC/HTML, plain text, and other format files. You can even read download e-pub public domain eBooks in iText Express.


Compositions is a clean, quick word processing program that has one unique feature. You can use it to take snapshots of the drafts you're writing for a project. This means you don't have to worry about losing your thoughts from draft to draft.

You can use Compositions independently on your Mac, or you can sync it with its .99 cents iOS mobile application counterpart.

Clipboard History

If you need a clipboard manager on your Mac, the popular Clipboard History is still being offered, for a limited time, for free download.

Clipboard History collects all the text and images you copy to your computers clipboard. This means you're not stuck with copying and pasting one item at a time. You can copy say ten items in a row, and then paste them back in the order you want using Clipboard History— a feature long overdue in Mac OS X.


One day, Apple will get around to allowing Mac users to access iCal in the menu bar by default. But until then you can easily use Calendar instead.

free mac software

With this app, you can view all your appointments and other scheduled dates without having to launch clunky old iCal. Unfortunately you can't input appointments using Calendar, but at least it's there for quick reminders.

Well, that's it for this round of free offerings. I'm sure other dedicated Mac Store users have downloaded apps not listed above. Please share your favorites and most useful findings.

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10 Comic Blogs That Every Comic Book Fan Should Read

Posted: 11 Apr 2011 10:30 AM PDT

comic book blogsComic books are probably the first things that help us to dream. Through the growing up years, comic books and the capers in them shield us from the harsher realities of the world outside, where there are no superheroes, adventurous reporters, or philosophical dogs. Even when we grow over to more adult forms of entertainment, the magic spell of comics remains.

Most of us might now read them or watch them on TV every day, but who can deny that it does bring back a whiff of the wonder years. But then there are many who follow comic books. After all, the enduring culture of comic books is not due to the kiddie crowd alone. Comic books continue to get fresh leases of life even in this digital age. As these ten comic book websites show, the web has become a portal into the world of comics. Enter this portal and catch up with these ten comic book blogs.

Comics Alliance

comic book blogs

The AOL website could be a favored destination if you like to follow everything and anything that has to do with superheroes, villains, video games, graphic novels, manga, toys, comic book conventions, previews, and reviews. A lineup of comic book experts put in their worth every day on this comic book blog. Some of the sections you might like to visit are – Humor, Videos, and Opinion.

Comics worth Reading

comic books

The blog comes straight to the point when discussing graphic novels, manga, and comic books. The opinions expressed might help you pick up the right ones to read. The blunt opinionated pieces take in both the good and the bad in the world of comics. Check out the Comics Classics section for some great recommendations.

Comics in Crisis

comic books

This is a simple BlogSpot blog, but I like reading it because it dives into the world of comics and discusses what works and what doesn't, for instance turning comic books into films. The weekly updated blog also has a poll that you can participate in.

Bleeding Cool

comic books

The blog covers comic news and movies based on comics in equal measure. Apart from the regular fare of news, the site is also about gossip and rumors spilling out of the genre. The writing is not neutral but individualistic which makes reading all the inner workings of the comic book industry quite engaging. The forum is the place comic book fans can call their own.

Comic Vine

comic book websites

Comic Vine has quite a few interesting sections that make this colorful site a must visit. The site has set out to build up the world’s largest comic book encyclopedia. You can browse through a long list of List of Comic Book Story Arcs. Comic Vine's podcasts and videos serve up multimedia entertainment. But for some casual fun, I always head to the Play section where there are quizzes, trivia, and superhero battles to be won.

Chris's Invincible Super Blog

comic book websites

A really nice comic's blog that's a humorous take on anything that has to do with comic books. You know that Chris Sims will hit your funny bone when you consider that he also freelances with Cracked.com. What's cool is that he watches the best and the worst that's out there and spouts on both.


comic book websites

This site positions itself as a one-stop point for comic book buffs. Comixology is a digital comic's platform which you can use to rate and discuss comics. It is an online community with an interface with retailers. You can use the site to watch for new releases and setup pre-order lists. The site also includes weekly columns, blogs, news and podcasts. The web app has its own Android, iPhone, iPod and iPad apps plus a web reader. Tie-ins with the big names of the comic publishing world like DC Comics allows them to host editions for subscription based reading and download. There are some 538 free comics available for online reading though.


ComicMix is not only about comics but also a bit about comic books inspired television, movies and video games. The blog is a commentary on the happening in the industry by some of its veterans. It's all about news, facts, discussions, and reviews.

Comic Book Resources

One of the better known comic book websites for enthusiasts, CBR is a complete resource if you are looking for comic book news and reviews. The regular columns on CBR like Permanent Damage, Pipeline, Where The Hell Am I etc each take a decidedly different look at the world of comics as well as the world around us.

The Beat

comic book blogs

If you like free giveaways then you will like the ones this site has for comic book fans. The site covers news, conventions, comic culture, and less interesting items like the financial health of the comic book industry.

If you haven't read a comic book in your life, then these ten websites won't be too much of fun. But I am betting that your child perhaps is reading a comic right now or at least watching a show based on one. If then point him to these as well as these other three posts based on the colorful world of comics.

8 Websites To Get The Inside Scoop On Comic Book Movies

5 Great WebComics you Should Read

5 Great Web Comics You Should Read [Part 2]

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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The Top 5 Portable Apps For Linux

Posted: 11 Apr 2011 09:31 AM PDT

portable linux appsMost of us know about portable apps for Windows, and how useful they can be sometimes. It’s great to simply have your favorite programs and add-ons with you, especially in the case of browsers. However, portable Linux apps have been nonexistent, at least until now. Lately a decent collection of Linux portable apps have showed up, and are now worth mentioning for those who want to try them out.

About Portable Linux Apps

The portable apps I will mention come from PortableLinuxApps.org, which packages commonly used apps into executable files that can be run from a USB drive.  But before we dive into the greatest portable Linux apps out there, there are a few things that you need to be aware of.

On the site, not all of the links are working, but most are. Although the program’s code itself is stable, the parts of it that make it a portable app are not what you expect. If a dependency is missing on the computer it is being run on, the app will not start. You can find this out by launching the app from a terminal and looking at the output. Additionally, while the program itself is portable, whenever it’s run, it creates a .<name> folder in the Home folder of whatever user you’re currently logged in as, and not on the flash drive. So if you want to remove your traces from the computer as well as actually keeping your settings, you’ll have to move that folder around between computer and flash drive.

Hopefully in the future, these little inconveniences will be solved.

portable linux apps

Downloading The File

One requirement for these portable Linux apps to work is that they need to have executable rights. On flash drives that are usually formatted with FAT32, this doesn’t work, and your apps won’t launch. Since you’ll be using them under Linux anyway, it’s best if you take a partitioning tool such as GParted and shrink the current FAT32 partition. Then you can create an ext3/ext4 partition in the free space and you’re ready to go.

portable linux

Change the settings to “Allow executing file as program“.  Then close and enjoy.

Now here are those top 5 Linux portable apps.


portable linux

It’s no surprise that Firefox is among the top 5 portable apps. It’s simply a very popular piece of software that can run easily on anything. It’s also one of the top portable apps for Windows, so this would probably be one of the first choices to turn into something portable for Linux. In case you’re not a Firefox fan, there are also Chromium builds available.


portable linux

If you’re on a system that doesn’t have an office suite installed, having either LibreOffice or OpenOffice with you can be a life saver. They’re easy to use, powerful, and in most cases don’t require any changes in settings. They also have advantages over Office simply because of their portability. If you pair up both the portable versions for Linux and Windows, you can create high quality documents and presentations without having to worry about something messing up.

VLC Media Player

linux portable apps

If you ever encounter a rare media format, you need the right player or be left in the dark. VLC is notorious for it’s ability to play virtually everything under the sun. When you’re on the go, you never know what strange things you might come across, but it’s always best to be prepared!


linux portable apps

It’s surprising that Boxee has been made into a portable app, but that’s a very good thing! Boxee is a great media center alternative among others, and has a great mix of functionality and eye-candy. It works fairly well too, though in my test many of the online features were dead. I had the same problem before when I actually had it installed, so I’m not quite sure what’s going on.

However, it’s a joy to have even with local files. Another plus with portable Boxee is that it’s not restricted to one operating system (unlike the version which you install to a hard drive), so people of other distros like Fedora and openSUSE can download the executable file and simply run it. All settings are kept in the .boxee folder, so it’s just like having an installed copy.


portable linux apps

Whenever you’re on the go, it’s very important that you can take notes and keep track of them. Gnote is a great choice because it’s lightweight and doesn’t have Mono as a dependency. It’s easy to use, has lots of formatting and organizational features, and doesn’t take up much space. It’s your best bet to jot down those sudden ideas.


Portable Linux apps are on their way, and will soon be as plentiful as their Windows counterparts. Although they are currently rough around the edges, their use will become more practical in the near future. However, it’s always a great time to try them out and be the first to make use of their benefits.

If you have used some way to run Linux programs with a portable app, what did you do? What other programs would you like to see as a portable Linux app?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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MacKeeper: The Multi-Tool That Every Mac Needs [Giveaway]

Posted: 11 Apr 2011 08:30 AM PDT

MacKeeper is not new to MakeUseOf — we’ve featured it before in a previous giveaway. Bakari called it the 911 solution for all Mac users and it truly is. With 16 apps packed into MacKeeper, it really is a multi-tool that every Mac needs.

This week, we’re giving away 25 free MacKeeper licenses worth almost $1000 in total. We’ve also got a discount coupon if you looking to buy one for yourself.

In this giveaway article, we’ll only be listing the updates that MacKeeper has implement since our last review and if you require a more detailed walkthrough, we suggest reading our previous review.


MacKeeper performs dozen of actions on your Mac that you might rarely get around to doing. If you run a Mac that’s still on the old PowerPC architecture, you can now install MacKeeper Antivirus from the MacKeeper Status page. In addition to that, if you run another anti-virus application, MacKeeper Antivirus will be able to detect them before installing.

Data Control and Fast Cleaning

Among the list of MacKeeper file management and data control tools are the Shredder and Duplicates Finder. If you have data sensitive files you need to completely remove from your computer’s hard drive, drop them into MacKeeper’s Shredder and they’re gone without a trace. In the latest revision of MacKeeper, lots of bugs were squashed. Additionally, Shredder now displays its toolbar on the welcome screen, making it more convenient for you to add items to be shredded using the Add/Remove buttons, not only the drag-and-drop functionality.

The Duplicates Finder tool is for Mac users who regularly download documents and manuals and throw them in one folder. Using this tool, MacKeeper will scan and detect all duplicate files, presenting them up for removal, and thus freeing up precious disk space.

MacKeeper’s Fast Cleanup identifies and presents files that are no longer in use and safe for deletion. Believe it or not, it now works even faster. The Binaries Cutter, scans your applications and deletes their unneeded parts designed for other platforms (either Intel or PowerPC), again freeing up disk space.

Keep your applications up to date is now as easy as ever with Update Tracker. MacKeeper scans your applications for updates and prompts you if any are available. It now has a new feature called Blacklist — if there are applications that you do not want to get updates for, you can move them to the blacklist. As a result, these applications will not appear in Update Tracker’s list, and you will not receive any notifications about their updates.

Technical Support

ZeoBIT also runs a Geek on Demand service to help you with all sorts of Mac-related needs, including configuring your Mac for remote access, troubleshooting hardware and software, and tips and advice for purchasing Mac related products.

We’ve got 25 licenses to hand out this week. Here’s how to be in the running to get your hands on one of them.

How do I win a copy?

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 Friday’s newsletter or on our Facebook page.

Step 2: Share!

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

Like it on Facebook

Or share it on Twitter

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

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, April 15th at 2100hrs PDT. The winners will be selected at random and informed via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

ZeoBIT has also graciously provided us with a 50% coupon code. In order to use it, visit the purchase page, click on "Have coupon code" and enter the code mxy437f into the field.

MakeUseOf would like to thank MacKeeper for their generosity while participating in this giveaway. Interesting in sponsoring? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via email.

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DOWNLOAD Hard Drive Of The Future: 101 Guide To Solid State Drives

Posted: 11 Apr 2011 08:00 AM PDT

You may have heard a lot of talk about Solid State Drives (SSDs) recently. In the last six months or so they’ve really taken the mid-range to high end computing world by storm. If a manufacturer decides to include a solid state drive in their computer, they’ll make sure that you know it’s there. But what are they?

Find out in Hard Drive of the Future: Your Guide to Solid State Drives. This guide, from Lachlan Roy, outlines everything you need to know about the future of storage technology. You’ll learn their history and what to look for when shopping for one.

Remember: if you own a flash drive, you own a solid state drive. Soon all computers will use the exact same technology for internal drives.

This amazing guide explains:

  • The history of solid state drives
  • Kinds of SSDs on the market
  • How SSDs compare to conventional drives
  • Whether you should buy an SSD
  • Things to look out for when shopping.

DOWNLOAD Hard Drive Of The Future: Your Guide To Solid State Drives
(take a moment and share this guide with friends on Facebook and Twitter
using the social network sharing buttons below)


Read Now On Scribd

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