Wednesday, April 27, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [April 26th]” plus 9 more “Cool Websites and Tools [April 26th]” plus 9 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [April 26th]

Posted: 26 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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Naked Password – People are constantly reminded to keep tough passwords. There are strength indicators on numerous sites' passwords fields but they are largely ignored by users. Naked Password is here to give your site a password strength indicator that is impossible to ignore. Read more: Naked Password: Tempt Site Users To Stronger Password Creation


Hellofax – Despite the advantages of email, fax machines are still widely used in companies. Thankfully there are web services that let us fax from the internet. HelloFax is one such web service, a simple to use web service that lets us fax any type of document to a fax number in the US. Read more: Hellofax: A Tool To Sign & Send Fax From The Internet



Books2Barcodes – QR codes are a convenient way of storing a large piece of text. These matrix codes can save relatively long texts within a small area of the screen. All that is required to read the books is a smartphone. Considering this, a project named Books2Barcodes was launched to let you read books on smartphones. Read more: Books2Barcodes: Get QR Codes For Classic Literature Books



Churnalism – Journalism has been commercialized so much that most of the news articles we read today are based on some other articles/press releases rather than being original pieces of writing. This method of journalism has been accurately titled as Churnalism by media gurus. Read more: Churnalism: Identify Copy Paste News Articles [UK Only]



Full Text RSS Feed – RSS feeds are a great way to send and receive content, but the fact that they only display a little bit of the content reduces their usability. Full Text RSS Feeds takes care of that by letting you convert partial RSS feeds to full text ones. Simply enter the URL of a regular RSS feed and click submit. Read more: Full Text RSS Feed: Convert Partial RSS Feeds To Full Text Feeds


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 15 Toughest Tech Questions [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 26 Apr 2011 06:31 PM PDT

tough questionMakeUseOf Answers provides a never-ending stream of questions and solutions. Many questions are redundant or fairly easy to solve, but there are always some very hard nuts to crack. Can you help us solve some of them?

In our weekly contest the Best Answer of the Week is rewarded with $50 and two runners-up win $30 and $20, respectively. Every comment automatically enters the contest.

Please share your expertise and help us with the following questions:

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Access Your Media Library On Any Device With QVIVO

Posted: 26 Apr 2011 04:31 PM PDT

access media libraryHow much content do you have lying around on your computer? By content, I mean music, photos, television episodes, downloaded movies, and so on. My computer is a multimedia machine as I am always on the lookout for the latest song or new show that is out.

One thing that’s always been tough for me though, was keeping my collection organized and easily accessing my media library. Sure, I have iTunes, but I use it mainly because it’s the best app for keeping my iPod in sync. But isn’t there an app out there that will let me do more with my content? There is, and it’s called QVIVO. If you’re looking to not only organize your media library, but make it extremely accessible to all your devices, I think you’ll really like what QVIVO has to offer.

What Is QVIVO?

QVIVO is an application that works to make your entire media library digitally organized and easily accessible from any device. It’s designed to be the hub for your entire movie, TV, music, photo, and online video collection, and it organizes your media into libraries, plays many different file types, and even includes social elements like Facebook sharing.

access media library

QVIVO builds your library with cover art, trailers, actors, artists, and more from the files on your computer, and it is capable of playing them all back for you, regardless of format or resolution.

access media library remotely

You can also keep your friends up to date on what you love with QVIVO by posting reviews, rating your collection, uploading photo albums to Facebook, and chatting with your friends. That’s right, QVIVO features live Facebook messaging, which means you can chat with your friends about your favorite show while you’re watching it.

access media library remotely

Another cool feature of QVIVO is that it works just about everywhere. Apps are on the horizon for the iPad, Android tablets, TVs, and more, so you’ll be able to access your media library and stream from anywhere in your home with any number of compatible devices.

How Do I Get QVIVO?

In order to download and start using QVIVO, you just head over to their signup page and fill in some basic information, including your desired username, email address, and password. Then, you will have the option of linking your Facebook account with QVIVO, but you are able to skip this step for now if you like.

access media library

On the next page you’ll see download links for both Windows (XP, Vista, and 7) and Mac (Intel 64-bit Snow Leopard), with Linux coming soon. QVIVO is still in beta, but very soon it will also be available for your iPhone, iPad, and Android devices as well.

Once you sign up for QVIVO, you’ll receive an email with a confirmation link. When you click that you’ll be taken to My Account for the first time, where you can adjust your settings, connect with Facebook, etc.


In conclusion, I really like the look of QVIVO. From what I’ve seen, they’ve done some nice work. I especially like the layout and overall look of the app, as well as how it sorts your content. The social features make it interesting for me, and I’m looking forward to checking out the iPad app. What do you think of QVIVO?



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Get Rid Of Vertical Window Controls In iTunes Once & For All [Mac]

Posted: 26 Apr 2011 02:31 PM PDT

itunes windows controlWe all know iTunes is a program which inspires extreme feelings of love and hate. Many of us suffer iTunes because there’s just nothing else we feel will do exactly what we need it to – yet. In the meantime, we put up with the inadequacies, quirks and bizarre changes which come with each upgrade. Well, more or less.

Sometimes, the changes iTunes introduce are so disliked by the community at large that people work out how to change it back. In this case, the vertical window controls iTunes introduced are so different to everyday Mac use that most users want to change it back to horizontal in order to make it less annoying. Let’s show you how.

The Vertical Control Button Problem

If you’re running anything above iTunes 10 for Mac, you’ll have seen the vertical windows control buttons for minimize, maximize and close (the red, yellow and green buttons). The vertical format is unlike any other Mac application and is therefore quite annoying for a regular Mac user.

itunes windows control

1. Close iTunes

To begin with, ensure iTunes is closed before you begin the following steps.

itunes vertical buttons

2. Run Terminal

To get these controls back to the normal, horizontal view we’re going to use a simple Terminal command. If you don’t normally use Terminal, you can find it a number of ways:

  • Go to Spotlight and type “Terminal“.
  • Navigate to “Applications“, then “Utilities” and choose the Terminal application.
  • In finder, choose the “Go” menu and pick “Utilities“, then open the Terminal application.

itunes vertical buttons

3. Type A Simple Command

Once you’ve got Terminal open, you’ll need to type in this simple command:

defaults write full-window -int -1

itunes vertical buttons

There’s no need for root access or moving to any specific folder. Just type it in and hit enter.

4. Restart iTunes

When that’s done, you’re essentially finished. Close Terminal and open iTunes to take a look. You’ll now have the control buttons horizontal again as per any regular Mac application. I hope you’re happy with the results of your little hack!

itunes windows control

For The Terminally Shy

Even though the above process is simple, I know there are people out there who just aren’t comfortable using the Terminal to muck about with program settings. If this sounds like you, you might prefer to try a program such as Tinkertool to do this for you. Tinkertool also lets you change settings for a number of other programs.

Bakari has written a great article on the tweaks you can make with Tinkertool, so take a look if you’re interested.

More iTunes Reading

Whether you’re an iTunes lover or sufferer, there’s probably room to learn a little more about the program, its hacks and best practices. Maybe you’ll find out something new in one of these articles:

Have you made use of this little hack? Why do you think iTunes deliberately went vertical? Did you think it was annoying? Or do you prefer the vertical layout? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: ShutterStock



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Hot Tech Deals – Dell’s 3D Vision Laptop + more

Posted: 26 Apr 2011 01:30 PM PDT

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5 Websites On Aircrafts & The History Of Flight

Posted: 26 Apr 2011 12:31 PM PDT

history of flightThose Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines; that wasn't just the title of the 1965 British comedy film but also the title that should be bestowed on those fearless men who made the modern miracle of flight possible. Today, we take airplanes and flying for granted. But where it not for developments beginning early (in fact earlier) last century, we still would have been grounded on terra firma.

Studying the history of flight makes us appreciate the events that made it all possible. The history of aircrafts and flight is also the success story of human adventure. It is not only educational but also inspirational. Thanks to the web we can today easily take a peek into the past and learn about the turn of events that shaped aviation. Then there are the interactive 'simulators' like the Wright Brothers 1903 plane which gives us a 'virtual' feel of the first flight.

Fly out to the five websites listed below.

Century of Flight

history of flight

You can start off with the Aviation Timeline. The site records the complete history of aviation from early flight myths to today's cutting edge space exploration. The site is very simply organized with the menu on the left. Some sections of special interest could be the one on the early aviation pathfinders and the collection of classic aviation posters.

The Aerodrome

aircraft history

Probably nothing captured the popular imagination than the flying aces from the First World War. This website documents those wonderful flying men and their flying machines. Through articles, photographs, medals awarded, books, and timelines explore aviation history of that eventful period. For instance, the World War I aircraft timeline is a well illustrated look at how the development of the fighter aircraft really took off because of the war. The information is well categorized and there are multiple ways by which you can narrow down on a specific item. The site also has an online discussion board where you can talk shop with other aviation buffs. Go through the Links section and the one on Today in History.

Air Force Historical Research Agency

aircraft history

The agency and the site documents the development of the U.S Air Force since the days of the Second World War. Today, it consists of over 70,000,000 pages devoted to the history of the service, and is the world’s largest and most valuable organized collection of documents on US military aviation. You can dive into the site or target specific documents using AFHRA's search engine. Many information records are provided as downloadable PDF guides. The site also has a superb collection of photographs like the ones on the early Wright Brothers flying machines. There's also an Art Archive with an interesting section by Disney.

Chasing The Sun

aircraft history

This cool website is courtesy the PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) program that chronicles the history of commercial aviation. The website directly offers or links to interactive sources which explore planes through the years and the innovators behind them. You can peek into aviation history with the help of old newsreels on plane flights and launches. Check out the Aviation Timeline and the Resources section for other informative links. For instance, you come across NOVA (PBS' science program) website which has a really cool animated interactive Wright Brother's Flying Machine from 1903. You can 'pilot' the plane thanks to the Flash player.

To Fly Is Everything

history of flight

This is a virtual museum that's all about the invention and development of the airplane. Aviation history buffs will love the movies & photos database while more serious students of aviation history would dive into the text intensive library. Me…I am busy downloading and playing the 1903 Wright Brother's Shockwave simulator and notching up some airtime.

Just five websites on the more than a century's worth of the history of flight! Not at all; there are lots more out there. For instance, you can go to the History channel website and try out a search on aviation related content. So, let us know if you are an aviation buff and your favorite site for reading up on the stuff that takes us up into the air.

Image Credit: Wikipedia



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Taptu: A Multi-Platform Mobile News Reader & Curator [iOS & Android]

Posted: 26 Apr 2011 10:31 AM PDT

mobile news feed readerNews reading is becoming a trend again, thanks to the iPad and its list of available beautiful news readers: Flipboard, Zite, and Pulse, to name a few. They give new life to the old news feeding technology and shows us that tablets and mobile devices are natural born news readers. If you look at the available alternatives, it seems that most of the good readers are made only for iOS devices. But there are exceptions, and one of them is Taptu: a multi-platform mobile news feed reader and curator available for iOS and Android.

Since I don’t have access to an Android device, all of the screenshots below were taken on an iOS device. There will be slight interface differences on an Android phone.

Reading & Sharing

The first thing I noticed about Taptu is the cool comic tutorial that appeared on the first use. This tutorial will tell you the basic usage of the app using beautiful illustrations. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a way to summon this tutorial again after I started using the app.

mobile news feed reader

If you’ve used other mobile news readers before, you might find similarities in the interface between Taptu and Pulse. The news items are arranged in lines of sources, and each line contains chronologically ordered articles. The unread articles are displayed clearer than the read articles.

If you’ve read all the articles and/or you want to get the latest ones, tap and pull down the main page to refresh all the sources. To refresh individual sources, slide its line to the right and release. The fetching process will depend on your Internet connection speed and the number of news providers that you’ve subscribed to.

mobile phone news

Tapping on an article will open it in optimized reading view, eliminating all the page elements except for the first image and the article text. On accelerometer-enabled devices, the layout will adjust itself to the position of your device – landscape or portrait.

As with every other app in this social era, Taptu allows users to easily share articles. Tap the share button at the top right of the page and you are ready to email, tweet, or post the article to Facebook. You can also open the full article in Safari.

mobile phone news

Tapping the small Star button next to share will save the article for you to read later (the icon is different on the iPad). Taptu takes a different approach than other mobile news reader in saving articles to be read later. While others rely on “read later” services like Instapaper, Taptu saves the article within the application. When you save an article, a new “Saved” category will appear at the top of the page.

Taptu optimizes the layout of its app based on the device where the app is installed. This is what the reading view looks like on an iPad screen.

mobile phone news

You can delete or rearrange the order of categories by tapping the “Edit” button at the top left of the front page. Tap the red button to delete, tap and drag the three small bars on the right to rearrange, and tap the small gear button at the top right page to access the “Settings“.

02c Edit  Arrange

Adding More Sources

Even though Taptu has included several sources with its app, it doesn’t mean that you can’t add more. Tap the “+Add” button at the top right of the main page to explore available sources or to search and add your preferred feeds.

mobile news

You can even link your Facebook and Twitter accounts to Taptu so you can keep up with all the tweets and friends’ updates while reading other news. If you are an iPad user, you can add Facebook and Twitter directly from Taptu’s main page.

There are lots of sources on the “Featured” tab that you can choose. Adding sources is as easy as tapping the “+” button.

mobile news

If the source that you want is not featured, you can find it by doing a search.

mobile news

Another way to find sources is to browse the categories under “Topics“. Some of the general topics – like Architecture or Technology, are curated by Taptu. They are collected from many relevant sources so you don’t have to go through individual sources.

03f Add Topics

Or if you have curated your own collection over the years and read them using Google Reader, you can easily add your collection by linking your Google Reader account to Taptu.

mobile news feed reader

If you are a news junkie like me, you might want to try Taptu. Some might say that it is not as beautiful as Flipboard, but design is personal taste. Feature-wise, Taptu is on par with other available alternatives out there.

Have you tried Taptu? What do you think about it? Or do you prefer to use your own favorite mobile news feed reader? Share your opinions using the comments below.



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The 7 Most Popular Items Most Commonly Sold On Craigslist

Posted: 26 Apr 2011 09:31 AM PDT

popular items on craigslistThe original Craigslist was created in 1995 by Craig Newmark as an email list for his friends in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1996 it became a web-based service and today it is one of the most popular free online classifieds service worldwide, although it is nowhere as popular as in North America.

Craigslist has it all. Whether you are looking for friends, a job, an apartment, a hair stylist, or a ride, you will find a matching category. While you can find almost anything on Craigslist, some items are more likely to be found than others. Let’s have a look at some popular items most commonly sold on Craigslist.


For this category I went straight to Craigslist in the Detroit Metro area but I found many more ads for used cars and trucks (sold from the owner) than for simple auto parts. Obviously, people are dying to get rid of their old cars to – hopefully – get something smaller and less expensive.

popular items on craigslist


Craigslist is the best place to get a great deal on high quality furniture, provided you don’t mind that it has been used.

Real Estate

In many cities, searching a room or apartment to rent via Craigslist is a standard procedure, just as browsing classified ads in newspapers was in the ‘old days’. If you’re in the market to buy, however, would you consider Craigslist?

popular craigslist items

Judging by the amount of ads posted by realtors, you should! The market is hot for those who can afford to invest, while sellers don’t want to lose even more money on advertisements. Hence, the best offers are more likely to be found on sites like Craigslist.

In this context, I should also recommend the following article: The 5 Most Significant Online Property Search Websites – Part 2

Computers & Tech

Where would you expect to find used computers and accessories if not on Craigslist? Indeed, if your keyboard or laptop suddenly died on you, an affordable replacement is certainly waiting for you in the respective category. Or maybe you need some additional toys?

popular craigslist items

Baby & Kid Stuff

For families on a tight budget, Craigslist can be a real life safer. Not only can families save a lot of money by making deals on otherwise horribly expensive items (strollers or baby furniture), they may also be able to afford less essential items.

popular craigslist items

Once junior has grown out of his fancy clothes, no longer needs baby furniture, or is tired of his toys, the items can easily be re-distributed via Craigslist, rather than catching dust in the attic.

Cell Phones

Mobile phones are hot items on Craigslist and if you don’t mind sporting last year’s model, you can get incredible deals. Or fall for a scam if the seller isn’t as honest as the one in the example below. So watch out!


This is one of the cheaper items and in a city like New York with a lively entertainment culture, there are hundreds of tickets for sale on Craigslist every day. Unfortunately, a lot of these ads forward you to other ticket selling websites and thus this is not really the most popular item on Craigslist.

popular items on craigslist

Are you burning to use Craigslist? Also have a look at these articles:

What things are you typically looking for or offering on Craigslist? Did you ever fall for a scam?

Image credits: Andy Dean Photography



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Turn Your Android Phone Into A Windows 7 Phone With Launcher 7

Posted: 26 Apr 2011 08:31 AM PDT

turn android phone into windows 7 phoneThe competition for mobile operating system market share is clearly a race between Google's Android and Apple's iPhone. That does not mean, however, that the other alternatives on the market are awful or have nothing to offer. Although not as popular, the smaller mobile OS options have their own unique traits.

Windows Phone 7, for example, has a unique “Metro” interface that is excellent in most every way. It's beautiful, it's simple, and the large tiles that make up the interface are easy to navigate on a touchscreen. Yet you don't need to own a Windows phone to enjoy the Windows Phone 7 launcher, thanks to Launcher 7.

Launcher 7 – Keeping It Fake

turn android phone into windows 7 phone

Android, as I'm sure you know, is a rather open operating system. Google doesn't put many restrictions on the apps that can be uploaded to the market. One of the most popular app categories is the launcher, an app that changes how Android's interface looks.

Most of the launchers seek to expand the functionality of Android by offering tweaks to the dock, icons, and other features. Launcher 7, however, completely changes the game. It replaces the typical Android desktop with the tile-based Metro user interface found with Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 mobile OS.

android to windows 7

By default, Launcher 7 displays a plain black background with a handful of green tiles, as well as image tiles for music and videos. The tiles send you to familiar places like Gmail, the Android web browser, or your contacts. An arrow in the upper right hand corner of the display offers access to your list of installed apps. These can be viewed either in Metro UI fashion, with a list of apps, or in the traditional icon tile style found on most Android phones.

That, as they say, is that. Metro is about minimalism. There's a reason why Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 ads focused on “saving us from our phones”. Launcher 7 does not offer anywhere near the same functionality as stock Android, with its number of home screens and icons. But it does offer very easy access to the functions most commonly used.

Have It Your Way

turn android phone into windows 7 phone

Minimalism does not imply a lack of options, however. There are a lot of great minimal apps on the Android market, and Launcher 7 offers users some choice in how it is set up.

You can access the options by pressing the Android Menu button while you at your home screen and then selecting Launcher 7 Settings.  This will give you the option to change your background color, add wallpaper, change the color of titles, alter animation settings, and more. There are not as many options here as you'll find with, say, Launcher Pro. But there is also a lot less on the display at once.

You can also add widgets to Launcher 7 by placing them into tiles. Obviously, this works better with some than with others – widgets with transparent backgrounds tend to work best. You can place the widgets on the colored tile background, or you can make the tile background transparent so the widget floats by itself.  Rearranging tiles – those that contain widgets or otherwise – can be accomplished by a long press on the tile. Once the background fades out you can move the tile where you desire.


Launcher 7 isn't for everyone, but it is cool, and it is likely to appeal to anyone who prefers a minimal launcher over one with widgets and icons sprawled everywhere.

If you like Launcher 7, you might want to also check out apps like WP7 Contact, which further change the interface of Android to be more like Windows Phone 7.



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Downloading Open Source Software? Watch Out For The Crapware… [News]

Posted: 26 Apr 2011 07:31 AM PDT

If you’re a regular here at MakeUseOf you’ll know we have a penchant for exploring quality, free open source software. Today we’re highlighting the importance of downloading these gems from the official software source, especially if you’re using a search engine to hunt for your download.

Sponsored listings that nearly always appear above the top search result can often point to unofficial sources that bundle harmful software (crapware, malware; call it what you like) along with the installer. This can occur before you’ve downloaded your chosen program, as part of an “updater” or browser toolbar which installs first.

In some cases these websites may even ask for payment, yet the software you ultimately download has already been released under a free license.

Tech site How-To Geek isolated a number of affected free programs that when searched for in major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo reveal sponsored listings that could potentially harm your PC should you download the software.

These include (but were not limited to):

The official links to these projects have been included, so if you’re downloading any of these open source programs, ensure you’re not getting it from sponsored search results. Other software may also yield similar results, so it’s up to you to spot the fakes.

If you think you might have fallen foul to one of these scams then you can always scan your PC online or with one of our recommended security tools. If you have any cohorts who lack your expertise in technical capacity, be a good internet friend and let them know.

Read: Important Warning: Be Careful Downloading Open Source Apps via Search @ How-To Geek

Have you encountered any of these sites? Fallen foul? Does it get you mad? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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