Monday, April 18, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [April 17th]” plus 6 more “Cool Websites and Tools [April 17th]” plus 6 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [April 17th]

Posted: 17 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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TwitShift – A journal helps us keep track of what we are up to. By reading old entries in our journals we can relive past experiences and old memories. The same can be said of Twitter status updates as they reflect our activities and thoughts. Here to help you read your Twitter status updates from the past year is a web service called TwitShift. Read more: TwitShift: Read Your Twitter Status Updates From The Past Year


Pixelfari – is a Mac OS app that can take your web back to the 1980′s when everything was in 8-bit. Pixelfari works with your Safari browser and renders everything in 8-bit including texts and images. To people who have never seen the 8-bit era, this will look ugly with blocky fonts and pixelated images. Read more: Pixelfari: Surf The Web In 8-Bit Format (Mac Only)



Smart Video Enlarger – The default video player size of YouTube videos is quite small. People often have to click on the "Full Screen" button in a YouTube video to enlarge it. Here to help you save that extra mouse click is a tool called “Smart Video Enlarger for YT”, a browser extension for Google Chrome. Its function is to automatically scale the YouTube video to the size of Chrome's window. Read more: Smart Video Enlarger: Automatically Enlarge YouTube Videos [Chrome]



National Broadband Map – is a US government initiative to let people learn and track how good broadband coverage is in a particular area. To start with, just enter the address of a location and the tool will display a complete list of broadband providers that offer service in your area along with their maximum advertised speed. Read more: National Broadband Map: Detailed US Broadband Coverage Map



Finance41 – While personal financial trackers are very useful, they can be a pain to use sometimes especially if you hate typing in your income and expenses. Finance41 is a cool finance tool that lets you enter your complete transactions with just one line of text. This awesome tool is so quick and easy to use that it's like tweeting! Read more: Finance41: Quickest Personal Financial Tracker


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: 17 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] 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!


    [7] 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 Browser Do You Think Improved Most In The Last Version? [MakeUseOf Poll]

Posted: 17 Apr 2011 06:30 PM PDT

Last week we stirred a little trouble by making readers tell us which operating system is best: Mac or Linux. We deliberately narrowed it down to just the two operating systems so we could get a definitive answer once and for all on what you readers prefer. Guess what? It’s Linux.

After collecting 865 votes, the answer was very clear to see: 71% voted for Linux; 29% voted for Mac. Linux is clearly well-loved in the MakeUseOf crowd.

Full results and this week’s poll after the jump.

As you can see, Mac fans are somewhat outnumbered by Linux fans in the MakeUseOf readership.

This week’s poll question is: Which Browser Do You Think Improved Most In The Last Version?

There have been major version releases of all the big browsers lately (see news on Chrome 10 and Firefox 4). Most have improved the interface, design, add-on handling and hardware acceleration. Aibek wants to know which of these upgrades you think has been the best. Please honestly vote for the browser you believe is most improved, not just the one you wound up using the most!

So, what decided your vote? Was it design upgrades or speed? Usability or extra features? What ultimately made you decide that the browser you voted for was lightyears ahead of its predecessor? Let us know in the comments!



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Keep Up With Trending News On Your iPad With Hitpad

Posted: 17 Apr 2011 03:31 PM PDT

ipad news appIf you use your iPad as a way of keeping up with the latest news, videos, tweets and more, there's a new app that brings all of those features together in one place. Hitpad [iTunes link] certainly isn't the first free app available in the iTunes app store that offers these features, but if you're the kind of person who's constantly on the hunt for new ways to consume the unbelievable amounts of information available online, you'll want to at least give Hitpad a try.

Hitpad takes a different approach to its already popular rivals like Flipboard and Pulse, which depend more on user-generated or personalised content. Instead, Hitpad instantly provides you with content based on what is currently making headlines, aggregating that content from various sources and in different formats. Is this enough to make Hitpad your main news source? Probably not, but it definitely deserves a place in your arsenal of free news apps, to be used alongside other apps.

When you first launch the app, it will prompt you to turn push notifications on if you so choose.

ipad news app

The app takes a cue from Twitter, offering trending topics in each of the available categories. You can even refresh these topics using the pull down to refresh method. The information available itself is divided into several formats – News, Tweets, Videos, Web and Photos.

news for ipad

Categories included in the app include Top Stories, Entertainment, Technology, US news, Sports and Business. And of course you can search for any given keyword or topic of your choice.

news for ipad

Under the settings, you can connect your Facebook, Twitter or Instapaper accounts.

news for ipad

After doing so, with each item, regardless of category, you can easily share the links on Twitter and Facebook, after connecting your accounts in the app's settings. You can also save them to Instapaper.

best news apps for ipad

Other ways in which you can interact with the content include copying the link to your clipboard, emailing the item, or opening it in Safari.

best news apps for ipad

When it comes to videos, you can play YouTube videos directly within the app.

best news apps for ipad

Functionality was clearly high on the developer's list. Not only do they offer the pull to refresh option, you can also swipe images to scroll back and forth between the search results.

With news stories and web results, each item is accompanied by a short introduction. If you want to read the full item or post, you can click read more and the full story will open up in the app's in-built browser.

ipad news app

Hitpad is bound to be popular with people who don't necessarily have the time to keep up with the latest news and stories making the rounds. Instead, they can depend on the app to deliver the most popular stories, so you'll never feel left out of the loop.

As an app that focused on topical news, there are a few features that could be integrated to widen its scope of users. For example, while you can search for news and keep up with trending topics, you can't save searches or keywords to come back to them on a regular basis. For someone who might need to keep track of their brand online, the addition of this small feature would make Hitpad an invaluable app to take with them on the go wherever they are.

What's your favourite free iPad news app? Let us know in the comments.

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Hot Tech Deals [Apr 17th]

Posted: 17 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. ViewSonic VX2450WM-LED 24in LED-Backlit LCD Monitor $169.99 Free Shipping
  2. Toshiba Satellite C650D-BT2N15 AMD E-350 [FUSION] 15.6in Laptop $374 via code C650DBTO (Exp 4/18)
  3. Toshiba A660 Intel Core i7-2630QM Quad-Core Sandy Bridge 16in Laptop $979 via code A660GBTO (Exp 4/18)
  4. Toshiba Satellite L650-BT2N15 Intel Core i3-380M 2.53GHz 15.6in Laptop (4GB/500GB) $499 via code L650BTO (Exp 4/18)
  5. OtterBox Cases Exclusive Coupon Code 10% off + Free Shipping via code tb0411u (Exp 6/30)

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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10 Free MP3 Albums To Download [Sound Sunday]

Posted: 17 Apr 2011 12:30 PM PDT

Let it be a Sound Sunday.

What I have learned so far from the ongoing Sound Sunday Survey is that most of you are interested in rock. Most also download albums they like and click through to the artist homepage. In the coming weeks I will try to incorporate a little more country and classical, and a little less hip hop. Well, thank you everyone for your feedback and keep it coming while I’m continuously adjusting!

Please post your feedback in the comments or shoot me an Email [tina at makeuseof dot com].

Broken Cities – Flux

Genre: instrumental, rock, post-rock

From their Bandcamp profile: “Broken Cities is driven 100% by donations. Our release strategy is like a pledge drive. There are 7 tracks in total. The first song is free. We have 6 total goals to reach in order for the full album to be released. Once the goals are met, Flux is free for all.

The album has been released under a Creative Commons license and meanwhile all 7 tracks are available for free.

Flux is a name your price download from Bandcamp.

deubner – ep

Genre: acoustic, rock

During the past month, deubner released two albums via Bandcamp in parallel. One is simply called ep, the other is simply called 8am . Both feature songs written by DJ Pollert, with vocals from his wife Andria Barberi Pollert and Nick telman. The band of three from Grand Rapids, Michigan is very private.

8am is a free download from Bandcamp.

Wind and Willow – Roots EP

Genre: americana, folk, roots

From their Facebook Bio: “Wind and Willow is an eclectic, invoking and heart telling deuo. Mark hails from Raleigh, NC and Sarah was raised in the heart of Toronto, Ontario. They have both come together to create a musical experience through the use of different sounds, styles and influences from there various upbringings. They have now made a home in Raleigh and are in the beginnings of a songwriting journey.

The Roots EP is a free download from Bandcamp.

The Lance – The Massacre On Watergate Street

Genre: indie, pop, rock

From the Bio on their Homepage: “We formed in 2007 and started playing rock n roll music with a small fellow we found in a basement. That small fellow turned out to be a bloody lunatic but a very good drummer to say the least. As the time passed by we developed our sound which came to be simply because of poverty. We simply couldn´t afford big amplifiers and fancy equipment so we had to settle for our little ugly black boxes that atleast made some kind of sound. That bloody junkyard sound turned out to be quite a flower in the hat and we have been sticking to it ever since.

The Massacre On Watergate Street is a free download from Bandcamp.

The Maxies – Greenland is Melting

Genre: power pop, garage pop, punk

From their profile: “This is the most crazy punk be-costumed band ever to rock from Greenland! Their live shows are a mix of old school up-beat punk and interactive comedy by frontman Maximum Maxie. In between jests about killing whales and having one's way with Manatees they really bring the crowd to life.

Greenland is Melting is a free download from Bandcamp.

Overhead, The Albatross – Lads with Sticks

Genre: instrumental, pop, post rock

From their ElevenEleven profile: “We got together to write music together and that’s what we’ve been doing. We record everything ourselves and do our best to have fun writing, recording and playing live. We have played with some great bands from home (Ireland) and abroad and plan to tour next year. It’s been a good year for us in that we didn’t break up, we’re writing music and we’re still having the utmost fun while we’re doing it. We sound the way we do because that’s what came out when we started jamming. A more rigid and clinical way of writing may be needed, so might many a thing, like a cessation of typation, in this typation nation, see you lation.

Lads with Sticks is a free download from Bandcamp.

Alfonso Velez – selftitled

Genre: alternative, pop, rock

Description from his fan Lesley: “His name throws a lot of people off, as they are expecting latin infused music, but while you can hear latin influence, it’s definitely not the only soundscape permeating this disc. Alfonso had the opportunity to travel all over the world at a young age, which you can hear bits and pieces of.

The selftitled album Alfonso Velez is a free download from Bandcamp.

Bad Credit No Credit – Hey, Rube!

Genre: punk, jazzpunk

In their Facebook Bio the band from Brooklyn, New York writes: “Bad Credit No Credit settled in New Amsterdam after being persecuted all over the globe for witcherycraft.

Hey, Rube! is a free download from Bandcamp.

Datahowler – Live

Genre: indie, electronic, chillwave, dance, down tempo

From is Homepage About page: “Datahowler, born Ross Edman, is a musician, producer and graphic designer from Dallas, TX. At a young age Ross started training classically in percussive arts and drums eventually moving on to guitar, bass, keys, vocals, ethnic percussion, sequencers, DJing, etc. His history traverses many genres from touring in Hardcore outfits to Motown revival acts, to creating indie mash ups and making tripped out space beats. He is an original member of the Midwest hardcore act Decades (State Of Mind Records) and was the drummer for The Secret Handshake (Triple Crown) in 2010. He also was known as Objektiv One for many years.

Live is a free download from Bandcamp.

Denise Powell – Free To Flow

Genre: christian, gospel, soul

From her Twitter profile: “I’m a wife and mommy who sings and loves to worship!

Free To Flow is a free download from Bandcamp.

Free single stream: Incubus – Adolescents

Genre: alternative, indie, rock

Alternative indie rockers Incubus have made their first single of the upcoming album If Not Now, When? available on SoundCloud. The single will be in stores on April 19th. Their first album since the 2006 Light Grenades is set to be released on July 12th.

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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Another 6 Free iPad & iPhone Games You Should Be Playing

Posted: 17 Apr 2011 10:31 AM PDT

free ipad gamesEach month we’ll be highlighting some new free iPad games releases from the iTunes App Store. So open up iTunes and make sure your iPad is charged and your wifi is working. This month, we have an eclectic mix of both old and new, clones of well-loved games and some unique fresh ideas – a little bit of something to suit everyone. Be sure to check out the previous article in the series too.


A deceptively addictive puzzle-bobble clone where you simply shoot bubbles into clusters, then they explode and fall down. Get them all before the bar at the top of the screen pushes them down to the bottom.

free ipad games

OK, so it’s hardly original, but it’s well presented and it distracted me for a good 10 minutes. Easy to pick up and play, and playable by all ages with a good selection of levels. The game is ad-supported, but you’ll be so focused on playing you honestly don’t notice them.

Neutron Capture

Invented by Robert A Kraus, this game was sent to me by bedroom coder Doug Sartori for inclusion in the iPad Board Games database, but I’m shocked to say I haven’t got around to a full review of it yet. The game is a 100% free implementation of the original Neutron game.

The game itself reminds me of an ancient British game called Fox And Geese, but it’s quite easy to pick up and play, and the iPad really lends itself well to these kinds of games. Basically, you have two players attempting to capture the central Neutron piece by moving it into their own zone, or surrounding it so the opponent can’t move it into theirs. Each turn, you move both the neutron piece, and one of your own pieces. The pieces move in any one direction, sliding along until they hit an obstacle. Here’s a screenshot of me about to win.

ipad games

Neutron Capture is a free game for the thinking-man, a must-have for any strategic board game enthusiast. Includes an AI player for those of us with no friends.

Legendary Wars Free

“Nothing lasts forever” is the motto of this game, as you send your legions into battle in this fantasy take on Tower Defense / Plants and Zombies. Mine the gems, build your army, crush your opponents. Like all good games, the concept is simple.

The makers of Legendary Wars have tried hard to differentiate their game from the rest of these PvZ clones, and to do this they have given you more strategic control over your troops and a longer battlefield that you can scroll across. The free version is optimized only for the iPhone, but it still looks great running at 2x on my iPad. Perhaps a little shallow, and certainly not as addictive as some games out there but definitely worth a free download, I think.

ipad games

European War 2 Lite

Yet another Risk clone, European War 2 Lite suffers from a slightly fiddly interface. In this fresh take on the classic, the idea of collecting taxes from your regions is introduced, along with building up regions and purchasing troops and support rather simply getting them each turn. It certainly offers a unique Risk-like experience.

ipad games

Helsing’s Fire Lite

Although I own the full version of this game too, the developers recently chose to release a lite version in the hopes of attracting new fans and I’d love you to check out too, as it’s a real star on the iOS platform.

Helsing’s Fire is a puzzler at heart, but it’s such a unique theme that there are no comparisons I can make with other games.

Dr Helsing and his assistant Raffton are on a mission to rid the land of things that go bump in the night. To this end, they employ the powerful Victorian force of a torch light and coloured potions. Simply touch to place the torch light and expose the beasties, and apply the correct coloured potion. It may sound ridiculous, but the execution and presentation is just so perfect. This is definitely my pick of the month.

games for ipad

Shadow Era

With incredible HD graphics on the iPad, Shadow Era is a card-battling game in the style of Magic The Gathering. I must admit, I could never really get my head around Magic and this game certainly doesn’t make anything more accessible to those new to the genre. Still, if you’re willing to put the time in to learn the cards or enjoy this style of gaming, then I’m sure you’ll appreciate the free online multiplayer mode and GameCenter integration.

free ipad games

That’s it for this month, be sure to check out the previous article in this series and stayed tuned for more next time. If you have some suggestions for the next article or would like your free iPad or iPhone game featured, let us know in the comments. Thanks!

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