Saturday, April 23, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [April 22nd]” plus 9 more “Cool Websites and Tools [April 22nd]” plus 9 more

Link to MakeUseOf

Cool Websites and Tools [April 22nd]

Posted: 22 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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Breakup Notifier – With 500 million users and hundreds of friends, Facebook is a great place to build romantic relationships. However, the fact that many of the eligible candidates are taken doesn't help. Breakup Notifier is a fun little Facebook app that sends you an email whenever one of your Facebook friends becomes available. Read more: Breakup Notifier: Get Alerts When Your Facebook Friends Break Up


Neevia Document Converter – Here is another quick online converter that you can use. Neevia Document Converter is an upload-and-done tool that converts several file formats to a PDF or an image. Supported formats include Microsoft Office, Microsoft Works, Apple documents, Lotus, Open Office, Adobe documents, and more. It even supports various graphic formats like JPG, PNG, BMP. and a lot more. Read more: Neevia Document Converter: Turn Anything To PDF Or An Image



Remote-Utilities – Controlling a PC remotely can come in handy in a large number of situations ranging from help desk and trouble shooting to centralized software management. Remote Utilities is one of the best software out there that allows you to view or fully control a PC remotely using an Internet connection. Read more: Remote-Utilities: Easily View & Control A Remote PC [20 Free Licenses]



iHearNetwork – With millions of users buzzing on Twitter from around the world, one often wonders which ones are in your area and what they are talking about. iHearNetwork is an Android app that identifies tweets being sent in your area and reads them out to you so you don't have to focus on reading them yourself. You can change the location by simply entering any city. Read more: iHearNetwork: Reads Out Tweets In Your Area



DAR – or Digital Audio Recorder is a tool that lets you record radio broadcasts aired over the Internet. To start, simply browse through the list of radio stations to find the one you want. These are all actual radio stations that also stream their content online. Read more: DAR: Record Radio Broadcasts Aired Online


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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The 7 Best Questions From You [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 22 Apr 2011 06:31 PM PDT

Every Friday MakeUseOf Answers honors the Best Answer of the Week . Winners are preferably chosen based on user feedback. So if you received great help, please leave a comment with praise, it may result in a nice prize for your helper.

This week the prizes go to:

Best Answer of the Week – ha14

1st Runner Up – Roy

2nd Runner Up – Brent Adonis

Congratulations to the winners!

Picking the winners is always a tough call. So in case you participated, but didn’t win this week, it doesn’t mean I didn’t recognize and appreciate your excellent answer/s. Every answer counts, so keep them coming!

These are the best question this week:

MakeUseOf Answers can teach you a trick each day. Read, learn, and share by browsing the Latest Questions. For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

Need help? Ask A Question at MakeUseOf Answers.

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Share Traditional Style Photo Albums Online With Albm [Mac]

Posted: 22 Apr 2011 04:31 PM PDT

free online photo albumThere are nearly limitless ways to share a free online photo album these days. In addition to the popular Flickr site, we have reviewed 5 alternative photo sharing sites, as well as 4 Photo Websites to Share One Photo Everyday. All of these sites provide you with a way to quickly sort your collections of photos and present them on individual webpages or slideshow presentations.

But there’s something about the old school album style that still makes photos stand out. That’s why you might want to check out It’s a stylish, simple way to share your photos online using its straightforward album editor that you can download for free from the Mac App Store.

Along with Mac OS X, supports mobile devices, including the iPhone and other iOS devices, Windows phones and mobile devices using Android such as the HTC Desire, Samsung Galaxy S, and others.

free online photo album

How To Use The Photo Album Editor

The Photo Album editor starts you off with a half dozen stylish album themes to choose from. No doubt more themes will be eventually added, but there’s enough variety for almost any type of photos. You need to give your album a name and then click to start your layout.

online photo album

Like all advanced photo applications for Mac users, Photo Album integrates with your iPhoto and Aperture libraries, so you don’t have to open those applications to get at your photos.

online photo album

Photo Album also integrates with Picasa and Flickr, allowing you to pull photos directly from those sites. To access your own Flickr or Picasa accounts, you will need to confirm and allow Albm to have access to your accounts. The integration with Flickr is easy, but in my testing, Photo Album doesn’t download your photos as sets, and its search tool didn’t do a good job of helping me locate specific photos in my Flickr account. So it seems best to simply drag selected photos from your account onto your desktop, and then drag them into the album pages of Photo Album. If you need to get photos uploaded and presented a hurry, Photo Album even allows you to pull photos directly from your camera.

Editing Photos

Photo Album starts you off with a set of ten pages, but you can easily add as many pages as you like. You can also edit your photos in Photo Album, but the tools for doing so are very limited.

After you drop a photos into an album page, you simply select it to bring up the editing toolbar.

online photo album

The tool on the far left allows you to rotate your photos, and the slider in the middle allows you to zoom in on the content of your selected image. This re-size feature will be the most useful to you. Clicking the fuzzy little button on the top-right side of the image toolbar presents three very basic photo conversion tools.

my online photo album

Except for perhaps the Sepia conversion filter, I don’t find these filters very useful. It would be much better to do all your photo enhancements and editing in iPhoto or some other image program before adding them to Photo Album.

my online photo album

The existing templates in Photo Album include pages for text that you can customize, but as it stands now, there doesn’t seem to be a way to add your own text boxes to pages.

Sharing Albums

When you’re done with your layout, it’s a simple process of clicking File > Publish to From there you can create your account.

my online photo album

Your albums are presented in a simple, minimalist layout where viewers can click from page-to-page using the thumbnail pages, or they can use their mouse cursor to “flip” pages one at a time.


As you might expect, your albums can be embedded and shared on your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, amongst others. You can also use straightforward links to your albums and viewers can add comments to your album pages.

free online photo album

There are plenty of desirable tools and features that could be included in Photo Album, but for now the application and service is a quick and elegant way to share your photos in your own free online photo album.

Let us know what you think of, and also what other photo sharing sites you have found to be useful.

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Watch The Videos Your Friends Are Sharing With Showyou [iPad/iPhone]

Posted: 22 Apr 2011 02:31 PM PDT

video sharing iphone appWhen it comes to my iPad, probably my favorite thing to do with it – aside from reading, tweeting, and playing Angry Birds – is watching videos. It’s the perfect device for video watching, whether it’s videos you converted and added yourself or those you stream using apps and services like YouTube. We even wrote the book on it, which shows you how to utilize all that screen space.

Flipboard is one popular app that makes use of the iPad’s big screen. For those of you who don’t know, Flipboard is an iPad app that takes your Facebook and Twitter streams and displays them in a magazine style.

Why am I talking about Flipboard? Because Showyou is like the Flipboard of video and is one of the coolest iPad apps I’ve come across in a while.

What Is Showyou?

Showyou is a fun, social video app that enables you to watch the videos your friends are sharing on Facebook, Twitter, or Vodpod, all in one place, using the Showyou Grid.

When you first start using Showyou, it will ask you to integrate your Facebook, Twitter, and Vodpod (if you have one) accounts. Once you do, it will automatically populate the grid with videos that were posted in your network along with how long ago they were posted.

video sharing iphone app

The Showyou Grid is pretty awesome. Essentially it’s a customizable 2D grid of nearly 1,000 videos, and it includes a feed where you can watch and talk about videos with your friends on Showyou. You can find and follow your friends on Showyou too, and if they aren’t using the app you can invite them.

video sharing iphone

When you see a video you really love, you can share it on Showyou or your other connected social networks with a simple tap of your finger. Another social feature is the ability to let friends know you like their videos by “thanking” them.

You can also share videos you see while browsing the web just by sending an email to

video sharing iphone app

Lastly, you can watch videos being shared by your friends on your television using Airplay and an Apple TV (you'll need version 2.0) with Showyou, which might just be the best feature of all.

If you’d like to see Showyou in action, I recommend you check out this quick video:


While I primarily focused on the iPad app here, Showyou is also available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. You can download the app from iTunes here.

Showyou puts a nice social twist on the video viewing experience, which made me want to watch more videos. Also, because it pulled from videos my friends were sharing, I noticed a higher level of quality videos on my grid as well. It makes sense, because videos that are worth sharing are much more likely to keep my interest than sifting through a lot of uninteresting ones on giant sites like YouTube.

The screenshots don’t really do this video sharing app justice, as you have to play around with it yourself to see how fluid everything is. I’ve been spending a lot of time with Showyou and I think it’s one of the better free iPad apps out there.

What do you think of Showyou? Will you be using it to watch the videos your friends have been sharing?

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Hot Tech Deals [Apr 23rd]

Posted: 22 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. TODAY ONLY Boston Acoustics 5.1Ch Classic Series Home Theater Speaker System $299.88
  2. Alienware M11x Intel Core i7 Sandy Bridge 11.6in Netbook w/ Geforce GT540M $1109 via codes FHRRHN2JSKLHDL and HLSKSR06S9ZG0F
  3. Alienware M15x Intel Core i7 Quad-Core 15.6in 1920×1080 Laptop Blu-Ray $1249 via codes BHW1L0MX0D?MCX and XXF4B4H6QRLG9L (Exp Soon)
  4. Hitachi Deskstar 3TB Internal SATA Hard Drive $129.99 Free Shipping via code EMCKFHH25 (Exp 4/28)
  5. Dell XPS 17 Intel Core i7 Quad-Core Sandy Bridge 17.3in 1080p 3D Laptop $1299 via codes QFSNKXG0P1S1BK and HLSKSR06S9ZG0F
  6. Dell XPS 15 Intel Core i7-2630QM Quad-Core Sandy Bridge 15.6 1080p Laptop Blu-Ray $1029 via codes 932N$0ZCCHWZB9 and HLSKSR06S9ZG0F (Exp Soon)
  7. TODAY ONLY Creative Labs Live! Cam Socialize HD Webcam (1080p) $39.99 Free Shipping
  8. TODAY ONLY Visioneer Strobe XP 220 USB Sheet Fed Scanner (600dpi) $99.99 Free Ship
  9. Onkyo TX-NR708 7.2ch 110W/ch AV Receiver (3D-Ready HDMI 1.4, Network Ready, THX Certified) $549.99
  10. Sharp AQUOS LC-40D78UN 40in LCD HDTV (1080p, 120Hz) $479.99 Free Shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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Add An OS X-Like Dock To Your Android Phone Screen With Dock4Droid

Posted: 22 Apr 2011 12:31 PM PDT

android dock appDoes changing apps in Android bug you just a little? Do you find it just a teensy bit annoying to exit an application or jump back to the home screen in order to start a new application? Shouldn’t you be able to change between apps using a dock? Yeah, that’s what the makers of Dock4Droid thought too.

Dock4Droid is an easy way to add a dock similar to the Mac OS X dock to your Android phone. It’s easy to choose which apps feature in the dock and to customise where the dock is placed. Then you’re set to switch between applications using your dock instead of exiting each application in order to navigate to a new one. Easy!

Get Dock4Droid

Get your copy of Dock4Droid for free here. As well as the free trial version, there’s also a paid version of the application available for a tiny fee, which unlocks a few neat features such as colours and advanced features. The trial version also limits you to two dock items you can choose to lock. Other dock items will be chosen from recent applications you’ve used.

Setting Up The Dock

Open up the Dock4Droid application to access a menu of options. This allows you to choose whether to have your dock at the bottom or some other area of your screen. You can customise the response time, which apps you want to appear in the dock as well as many appearance options. Many of these options are unavailable in the free trial, but there’s still plenty of customisation available to the free application user.

android dock app

You may also wish to view a brief tutorial on how to use the dock, which is accessible at the top of this menu.

Using The Dock

You’ll see a red line appear in your chosen section of the screen, indicating that the dock is available there. It will be red to start with if you chose the free application, since colour changes aren’t available to the free app users.

android dock app

Simply touch that area, swipe to the app you wish to use and release your finger while resting on that application. It’s a natural movement which is easy to get used to.

Dock4Droid Is Tiny

The Dock4Droid application is a tiny 84KB, which is a nice surprise for those of us with space issues on our Android phones.

Problems With Dock4Droid

Dock4Droid doesn’t yet support an auto-hide feature to get it out of the way of the stock keyboard when in use. The work-around is that you can change the settings to hide the dock when in landscape mode. Specifically, this means if you’re trying to use the keyboard then you only have to swing it into landscape mode to get rid of the Android dock app. Since many people do this habitually anyway, it’s a decent fix for the interim.

Other Dock Options

There are a few other options available to Android users looking for a dock or launcher application. Very few of them are available for free or even with a free trial.

More Android Hacks

If you like tweaking your Android to make it just right, you might like these articles:

How have you found Dock4Droid? How does it compare to other Android dock apps and launchers you’ve tried? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: ShutterStock

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Learn How to Make Paper Airplanes With These Five Paper Craft Websites

Posted: 22 Apr 2011 11:30 AM PDT

craft websitesPaper airplanes have been as much a part of our growing up as has been the dream of flying. Many among us have taken this up further into a lifelong hobby. Learning to make paper planes is not just about creasing the paper at the folds and throwing it up in the air. It is aeronautical science at its most fundamental.

Making paper airplanes may also be about wasting time and having fun, but a general browse through the web shows that making paper planes is also a serious education. In fact, NASA uses it to teach kids all about aeronautics. Many other sites apart from NASA also have downloadable paper plane activities for kids. You also know that paper planes are right up there as a hobby when you have an iPad app called the Paper Plane Project on it.

Not all of us have an iPad. So, these five craft websites have to do for learning how to make paper planes.

Alex's Paper Airplanes

craft websites

This is a great step-by-step guide on how to craft paper airplanes, paper helicopters and gliders. The paper planes are categorized as – easy to make, medium difficulty, and hard to make. The 25 varieties on view should keep you folding and flying away for ages. The site also contains a lot of YouTube video instructions on how to properly make the flyable models. Alex Schultz also has put up a page of other sites on paper planes; not all the links are on paper planes though. Some links are also broken.

Origami Kids

paper craft websites

If you want your child to start off building some paper planes on his own, then this colorful site for kids could be the destination. The step-by-step instructions with clear illustrations are kid-friendly. Some of the paper plane instructions are accompanied with video demos. Start of from the simpler models like Vortexes (or even a simple paper helicopter) and graduate upwards to a barracuda. There's also an interesting section on Flight Simulators which are a collection of free online games.

Best Paper Airplanes

paper craft websites

The ten designs on view on this paper airplane site are copyrighted original designs. You will not come across names like Tumbler, Canada Goose, Duck etc on any other paper plane website. What I like about this site are the clean-cut instructions which take me from a simple origami design like the Zump to a complicated one like the Katydid.

The OmniWing

paper craft websites

The OmniWing is one of the first airplane designs I was drawn to. It is a basic airplane but a high performance one that can fly for a length of time in a straight line rather than a loop. It's also a perfect office stress buster because it can be crafted from a single sheet of standard typing paper, and a little transparent tape. The site contains all the construction details on the plane along with videos. Later, feel free to graduate to the more advanced versions of this cool paper plane.

Airplane Collectible Net Resource

craft websites

This site is more like a directory which you can dive into for more links. It's not only about paper craft but also about the complete universe of airplane modeling. The site lists free airplane collectible items on the web such as free airplane photos, free paper model kits and free online flight simulators. The paper plane design page has links and available PDF downloads (World Record Breaking Paper Airplane designs originally folded by Ken Blackburn). You might want to check out resources like the one on How to Make your Paper Airplane Fly Better that grounds you on the basics.

The five craft websites websites on view may not be visually appealing to those of us attuned to slick Web 2.0 interfaces, but when it comes to following a hobby, it's the content that appeals. Are these some of the best on the web, or can you provide me and other paper airplane enthusiasts a few more?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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3 Useful Things You Can Do With Amazon Video On Demand

Posted: 22 Apr 2011 09:31 AM PDT

amazon video on demandWhen most people think of Amazon, they think of shopping. At least, that’s what the company and the brand is famous for. Other than Amazon Affiliates, everything at Amazon has had an associated cost.  However, as time goes on, it seems that the company is starting to appreciate the value of providing free services and products to customers.

One example is Amazon S3, which James covered previously, where you can get 5GB storage space absolutely free. Another service that Amazon offers, and many people use, is the ability to download music and movies. There’s so much demand for video content that can be instantly streamed that Amazon renamed the entire streaming section “Amazon Instant Video,” commonly referred to by many fans as “Amazon Video On Demand”.

While it’s not obvious when you get to the main Instant Video page, where you’ll see lots of TV shows and movies that you can download for a fee, there’s actually an decent-sized library of free video on demand files as well. To find them, all you have to do is click on the “Getting Started” link at the top of the main page, and then click on the “Free Videos” link just under the header image.

Watching Free Videos On Demand

In the free area, you can start browsing all of the videos that you can immediately watch right now at no cost. There are a few different ways that you can watch these videos, and I’m going to cover each of them. The simplest method is just to click on the video you want to watch and click on the “1-Click Free” button.

amazon video on demand

You can watch the free movie or TV show in the embedded player right on Amazon. You can maximize the video and watch it full-screen if you want. If you’re a fan of sites like Hulu and you get most of your TV and movie programming on the Internet, then this is a really cool resource to add to your list for free video content.

amazon instant video

If you want to stay up to speed on the latest new videos that become available at Amazon Video on Demand, you can sign up with the official Amazon Video Twitter page where you’ll get a steady stream of the latest discounted and free videos to watch.

amazon instant video

Downloading & Saving Amazon Video Files

Aside from the online approach to watching these free videos, you can also download Amazon’s free app called Amazon Unbox. Amazon Unbox is a desktop application you can use to access and play videos from your Amazon video library.  What not everyone realizes is that you can also use Amazon Unbox to download the actual video file to your hard drive and use it however you like.

amazon instant video

After installing Amazon Unbox, click on the “My Videos” tab and you’ll see your collection of videos from your online Amazon video library. The videos don’t actually download to the player until you click on the video and then click on the Download button.

amazon videos

Once you click on the download button, the video file will download to your PC, and on the “My Videos” screen, you’ll see that the status of the video now allows you to play the video. Most people just click to play, and then watch the video in the Amazon Unbox video player. Except – you don’t have to. Once Unbox downloads the video file, it’s actually available for you to use however you wish.

amazon videos

To find out where the actual video file is on your PC, click on “Settings” from the top menu and then choose “Preferences.” On this window you’ll see a field for “Video Folder Location.” This is where you can go to the actual video files for everything you’ve downloaded using Amazon Unload.

amazon videos

For example, here you can see my download of the House video. There’s one icon file for each video, and then a Windows Media File for the actual video itself. There’s no reason you need to use Amazon’s video player to watch this video, just copy and paste it wherever you like.

Better yet, upload the file to your own web server (using any upload utility that doesn’t block large uploads), and you can embed these full length, free videos right on your own website.

Not sure how to embed Windows media files on your website? Just use the following code:

<OBJECT ID=”MediaPlayer” WIDTH=”350″ height=”250″ CLASSID=”CLSID:22D6F312-B0F6-11D0-94AB-0080C74C7E95″
STANDBY=”Loading Windows Media Player components…” TYPE=”application/x-oleobject”>
<PARAM NAME=”FileName” VALUE=””>
<PARAM name=”autostart” VALUE=”false”>
<PARAM name=”ShowControls” VALUE=”true”>
<param name=”ShowStatusBar” value=”false”>
<PARAM name=”ShowDisplay” VALUE=”false”>
<EMBED TYPE=”application/x-mplayer2″ SRC=”” NAME=”MediaPlayer”
WIDTH=”350″ height=”250″ ShowControls=”1″ ShowStatusBar=”0″ ShowDisplay=”0″ autostart=”0″> </EMBED>

Replace the image link with the location where you uploaded your video file, and now you can watch the free full-length videos right from your page. Doing this is a unique way to keep your collection of your favorite free videos in a spot where you can watch them any time you like and from anywhere in the world (if you have the server space to store them).

amazon video on demand

Unlike other video streaming websites where it’s nearly impossible to download and store the actual video files, Amazon is really flexible. Whether you want to quickly watch a video right at the Amazon website, download the video and watch it on Amazon Unload, or just open the video file in any player of your choice – with Amazon Video on Demand, the choice is yours.

Did you know you could get so many free videos at Amazon? What’s your favorite method of watching Amazon videos? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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MyFitnessPal – A Cross-Platform Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker

Posted: 22 Apr 2011 08:31 AM PDT

free calorie counterDieting is a serious issue for millions of people. Over half of the American populace is actively trying to lose weight. It's not just the USA, either; approximately 46% of Britons are looking to shed a few pounds, and numerous countries in mainland Europe are dealing with similar weight-loss desires. Even countries you might not suspect have serious problems with the pounds – over 50% of the population in Mexico, Chile and Greece struggle with being overweight.

One of the most effective ways to combat weight gain is to count the calories and keep track of your intake, as well as your exercise, in a diet diary. The only problem is that you can't take a diary everywhere – and so you might forget a meal here, or a snack there. MyFitnessPal solves the problem by having a presence everywhere – on your phone, your tablet or your PC.

Calorie Tracking Where You Are

free calorie counter

Perhaps the biggest advantage of the MyFitnessPal free diet tracker, beyond the features we'll talk about soon, is the number of platforms on which you can use it. There are MyFitnessPal apps for iPhone/iPad, Android and Blackberry. Windows Phone 7 is the only major mobile platform left out.

In addition to this, the MyFitnessPal website can be accessed online from anything with a web browser. Your account ties information between all of these platforms together, so you can count your calories during lunch at work on your smartphone, then finish up the day by counting dinner on your PC.

Massive Calorie Database

free diet tracker

MyFitnessPal has been around for several years now, and since the introduction of the service it has constantly added new information to its food database.  The database is easy to search and now includes over 750,000 items. The only food that isn't commonly found on the database is food from local independent restaurants. If the restaurant is a chain, or if you're eating something from the grocery store, you'll find an entry for it in the MyFitnessPal database.

Once you've found what you're looking for you can add it to your meal. MyFitnessPal is very flexible when it comes to adding food; you don't have to pick one particular type of serving. You can also add servings in any multiplier of the base serving size. If you eat half a bagel, for example, no problem! Just search for the type of bagel you ate, and then enter .5 as the serving size.

If the food isn't in the database, that's also not a problem. You can always “quick-add” a given number of calories.

Tracking Your Progress

free diet tracker

One problem that often trips up dieters is long-term calorie intake. Going crazy at a favorite restaurant can defeat an entire week's work of careful, healthy eating – but without a clear way to track calories over time, a dieter may be prone to think “I met my goal six out of seven days, but I'm still not losing weight! What's wrong?” That's understandably frustrating.

MyFitnessPal keeps track of your daily calorie intake and provides information showing how you're doing over time. It also provides information about how your current eating habits should impact your weight in the future.

When you start your MyFitnessPal account you are given a target calorie intake based on your current weight, your height, and the amount of weight you wish to lose each week.  This information can be reviewed in the goals section, and helps you keep on track by reminding you that every calorie counts. Exercise is factored in as well, so you can see how your exercise program is impacting your weight loss.

Social Motivation

free calorie counter

Perhaps the coolest feature, and the most likely to keep you on track, is the social networking functionality. If you like, you can hook up MyFitnessPal to your Facebook or Twitter account. MyFitnessPal will automatically let friends know when you've met a goal. Being put on the spot like this can feel embarrassing at first, but if you can become comfortable with it, the additional motivation is great.

There is also an active forum community on the site, and the site provides "badges" and "tickers" that can be added to a forum post or a blog post. The badges can be used to show off an accomplishment, while the ticker actually updates over time to show how much you've lost.


MyFitnessPal is an excellent free calorie counter and diet tracker. You can input your calories from anywhere with your phone, you can track your progress and calculate your estimated weight loss, and even get your friends in on it! It really doesn't get any easier than this.

What effective online methods do you use to lose weight?  Let us know in the comments.

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[READ THIS] Your iPhone Is Tracking You – How To View That Data & Turn It OFF

Posted: 22 Apr 2011 07:40 AM PDT

It has come to light in the past few days that all 3G based iPhone and iPad devices are recording a complete history of your location data ever since you bought the device (or upgraded to iOS v4). On a Mac, it’s incredibly easy to view this data and fascinating to watch your own movements over the course of a year or two. You can still get at the iPhone tracking data on a PC, but it’s a little harder. If you’re worried about the availability of this data, I’ll show you how to turn off the tracking too.

How To View The Data


The duo who widely publicised (originally discovered here) this shocking data embedded within iPhone backups have also released a very user friendly app called iPhoneTracker (Mac only) which visualises all of the data points. Download, and upon launching the app, you’ll instantly see all your data points plotted on a map. If you don’t move around a lot like me, you may have to zoom in to see the full extent!

iphone tracking

You can also view a video playback of your movements over time with the play button, or skip around through various dates with the slider. Here’s a fascinating video of my movements since September.


There is no simple app I’m afraid, and you’ll need to have a jailbroken device to get at the file containing the data.

Update: Commenter Ray has pointed out that there is in fact a similar iPhoneTracker app for Windows available here. The following guide is about how to extract that data manually from a jailbroken iPhone, but isn’t necessary if you use the app.

  • First enable SSH access to your iPhone by installing the OpenSSH app from Cydia. Be sure to update Cydia first if you haven’t touched it in a while.
  • Log into your device using an SFTP compatible app such as WinSCP. You’ll need to know the IP address of your device, which you can find under advanced wifi settings. Enter that IP address as the host to connect to, then use the username “root” and password “Alpine“. After a while you should connect and be able to browse your iPhone’s filesystem.
  • Navigate to Library -> Caches -> locationd, and download the file consolidated.db
  • Next, go to this website, where you can upload the file and have your datapoints plotted onto a Google Map. The link is to an English version of the page but the upload and plotting options are in French I’m afraid. The defaults work fine though.

iphone tracking file

Possible Uses For This Data & A Reality Check

I’m sure some of you are fuming right now, screaming all manner of civil liberties abuses and what have you. While your feelings are quite valid, here’s a few reasons why you should calm down:

  • Mobile phone providers have been tracking you for years. Of course, it takes a court order to get at it, but your data is still out there somewhere.
  • The data doesn’t leave your computer – at least not in any way that is known of currently.
  • There is no conspiracy against your freedoms.

The question still remains though of how Apple is using the data, if at all. One guess is that because the data appears to track location through tower triangulation rather than GPS, that it may be used to show areas where reception needs to be improved.

Here’s a discussion/ interview from the guys who discovered it.

How To Turn It Off

On a standard untouched iPhone or iPad there is currently no way to turn this location tracking off. Simply disabling location tagging or location services in settings does NOT work, because the tracking is performed at a much deeper level. You can however prevent simple local access to the data (and stop the iPhoneTracker app from working) by simply encrypting iPhone backups from iTunes.

iphone tracking file

The good news is that if you’re running a jailbroken device, the free app untrackerd available from cydia will run in the background and prevent tracking. According to the makers:

“A package installs a daemon (process that can run in the background) to clean consolidated.db file) No new icons are added to your homescreen. There are no options to configure."

iphone tracking

Scary stuff, or nothing to be afraid of? Let us know what you think in the comments. Do you have any wacky ideas of how Apple could be using this information, or do you think the whole thing is being blown out of all proportion?

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