Thursday, April 28, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [April 27th]” plus 10 more “Cool Websites and Tools [April 27th]” plus 10 more

Link to MakeUseOf

Cool Websites and Tools [April 27th]

Posted: 27 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.

Add Your Website Here!


Slowcop – If you are trying to compare the speed of your site with the speed of a competitor's website, then you cannot rely simply on the time it take for each site to load up in your browser. To conduct a proper speed test, you should pay a visit to Slowcop, a tool that scores the speed of your website out of 100. Read more: Slowcop: Get Detailed Website Speed Report


Ookaboo – There is no dearth of tools when it comes to searching for free images on the web, but probably none of them are as smart as Ookaboo. Ookaboo is an intelligent image search engine that uses the Semantic Web API to intelligently categorize your results. Read more: Ookaboo: An Intelligent Image Search Engine



PlaceKitten – If you are working on a website design, you might have numerous empty frames that you intend to fill with images later. These empty frames can be filled by images of kittens to give your work-in-progress a great 'cute' look. To get these kitten images for custom frame sizes, check out a site called PlaceKitten. Read more: PlaceKitten: Use Pictures Of Kittens As Placeholders



Micromobs – Finding references and other text from long email threads can be a tedious matter. What you could use is a way long email threads are converted into neatly organized conversations. This is precisely what MicroMobs does, a free to use web service that sorts out your long email threads for you. Read more: Micromobs: A Web Service That Sorts out Conversations in Long Email Threads – Since they are very long, magnet links are difficult to share. These links cannot be shortened using traditional URL shorteners. For them, you need to use a web service called Mgnet.Me, a URL shortener specifically for magnet links. It works exactly like a traditional URL shortener. Read more: A URL Shortener To Make Magnet Links Shorter


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.

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



More articles about:

6 Things To Look For When Buying A Laptop In 2011

Posted: 27 Apr 2011 04:31 PM PDT

buying a laptop computerAre you familiar with dying laptop syndrome? Is your mobile workstation showing signs of wear, tear, age and abuse? I know you’re both probably very attached to one another, but it might be time to let go…

Buying a new laptop computer can be both frustrating and expensive. Brand loyalty will only get you so far, and before long you’ll find yourself carefully studying specifications, reading countless reviews and examining every online shop you can find for the best price. Even if you’ve only got a modest budget in mind, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time with your new machine – so it pays to make the right decision in the long run.

Sandy Bridge

Intel’s second generation of Core-i “Sandy Bridge” processors landed in March, albeit a couple of months late thanks to a recall. The evidence of this is clear all over the web, manufacturers like Dell, Asus, Acer and Apple already have models sporting the speedier, more energy efficient chips.

buying a laptop computer

You’ll also probably notice many of the first generation Core-i processors floating around in numerous deals, as retailers try to shift “old” stock. The last generation aren’t bad processors by any stretch of the imagination, though if you’re really looking to future-proof yourself then the newer chips are by far the better choice.

Sandy Bridge processors run on average 5-10% faster than the previous generation, operate at cooler temperatures, are more energy efficient and the on-board graphical processors (GPU) provide impressive performance for an integrated, non-dedicated solution.

USB 3.0

In 1996 USB 1.0 was standardised with a maximum transfer rate of 12 Megabits per second. By April 2000 USB 2.0 set the bar higher with maximum theoretical speeds of 480 Megabits per second (in real terms 60MB per second), and now USB 3.0 is here to change the game again.

what to look for when buying a new laptop

With realistic transfer speeds of 3.2 Gigabits per second (that’s a mighty 400MB of data every second) why wouldn’t you want USB 3.0 on your next laptop? Notebooks often require additional, external storage (especially for backup purposes) so buying into speedier technology early is bound to pay off once you’ve invested in some USB 3.0 devices.

Good Screen Resolution & Colour Reproduction

One thing that repeatedly lets down well-equipped laptops is a poor screen. If you intend on doing more than just word processing and web surfing; fancy playing games, watching videos or editing photos on your laptop then don’t forget a decent display.

Despite promising “HD resolution”, many notebooks still only carry a 720p compliant screen. For some serious visual real-estate, invest in a full HD model (1080p or better). If you’re concerned about accurate colour representation then look out for RGB LED backlighting (possibly as an upgrade, for example Dell’s latest XPS machines).

buying a laptop

Unlike “white” LEDs which are blue with a coating of yellow phosphor to appear white, RGB LED backlighting provides a purer white and richer colours especially in the green and blue spectrums.

Chiclet Keyboard

Vaguely resembling Scrabble tiles, chiclet keyboards are (among some manufacturers, at least) all the rage at the moment. The keys certainly make for a refreshing look, but also offer the benefit of not having gaps between the keys.

buying a laptop

This means your keyboard should gather far less dust, fluff, crumbs and other desk-related paraphernalia over time. Reviews suggest that some of these keyboards are excellent, offering superior action and a much more comfortable typing experience over traditional keyboards.

For real wow-factor look for a backlit model and as always, read your reviews and if possible try it out before you buy – every manufacturer and model can differ.

Housing & Build Quality

As a Linux and occasionally Windows user even I’m aware that Apple have produced some wonderful laptops over the years. I’m not referring to the operating system, and I’m not referring to the hardware either – it’s the chassis that always impressed me.

buying a laptop

Finally, it seems, that “normal” laptop manufacturers have started to do the same. HP’s original Envy line took a well-executed metal leaf out of Apple’s (Mac)book, featuring a sleek aluminium chassis, flush screen and huge touchpad. It was the first laptop to dare try on an Apple dress in the Windows market, it looked great and it was built like a tank.

Build quality can make all the difference, especially if you’re prone to breaking things or expecting your purchase to last a while. It doesn’t have to be metal to be well-built (Toshiba’s business laptops are proof of that) but you’ll want to make sure you know what you’re in for before buying.

Solid State Storage

Traditional hard drives are electromechanical (keep strong magnets well away) and contain spinning disks to store an arm to access data. They are fairly susceptible to shock, have a tendency to die when you least expect and are on the way out in favour of solid state storage.

buying a laptop computer

Okay, so traditional hard drives are here to stay for a while yet (especially considering the constant reduction in price) but SSDs offer some great benefits, if you’ve got the spare cash. Not only are they faster, with no spin-up time and lower latency but also hardier (with absolutely no moving parts) and silent. We’ve recently published a guide here at MakeUseOf all about SSDs, so make sure you give it a read if you’re interested.


You’re probably not going to opt for a laptop that has all of the above, and if you do be prepared to pay top dollar. Always do your research before buying a laptop computer, either by reading reviews or asking owners. Users of forums like NotebookForums or NotebookReview can offer valuable insight into potential purchases such as Linux performance and heat output. Good luck in your quest for the perfect laptop!

Have you recently bought a new laptop? Are you considering one? Any killer selling points? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Credits: Shutterstock, Chiclet Keyboard: Stephen Bolen, RGB LED: flakeparadigm

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



More articles about: , , ,

Monitor Craigslist While You Search The Web With CraigZilla [Firefox]

Posted: 27 Apr 2011 02:31 PM PDT

monitor craigslistI have to admit that I really love Craigslist. I’m not sure I could ever explain why such a poorly designed, massive and hulking mess of a classified ad system would become so immensely popular around the world, but there’s no getting around the fact that it is. When you want to find something to buy or sell, need a service like a carpenter or a nanny, or you just want to find out where the local yard sales are, Craigslist is the place that can help better than even most local community event or bulletin boards.

Here at MUO, we’ve covered a lot of different search tools and methods to dig through Craigslist. I first touched on searching Craigslist with a desktop app called Craigslist Reader. Unfortunately the app didn’t stay entirely free for long. Then there are the various search engines like CrazedList, and lots of other tools that let you plug into the massive ad board, like the 5 tools David covered a while back.

Monitor Craigslist With A Firefox Add-On

While a dedicated desktop Craigslist client is something that I like to use when I’m trying to do a deep query of Craigslist, I also don’t want to keep extra software running all the time for scheduled searches to monitor Craigslist changes. I also like using Craiglist search engines, but again, they don’t always have the same features as an application, and most can’t do the scheduled searches that give you a competitive advantage with things like buying rare collectibles or spotting job opportunities.

So I was pleased to discover CraigZilla, a Craigslist search tool that runs embedded right inside Firefox. You don’t have to run any additional hardware and you don’t have to visit any website. Craigzilla will run in your Firefox browser and alert you any time there are new Craiglist listings that match your search criteria.

monitor craigslist

When you first install the CraigZilla plugin, the first thing you’ll want to do is go into the options (in the Firefox add-on list) and set up how often you want the tool to check Craigslist for new listings that meet your search criteria, as well as the search location (yes, unfortunately you can only choose one).

You’ll also notice in the preferences window that there are tabs for the various feed categories. You can select any categories that you want CraigZilla to monitor and alert you whenever there are any new additions. I wouldn’t suggest selecting “All” unless you want constant notification. However, if there are some categories that you’re always on the lookout for, this is a really effective way to stay on top of the latest listings.

firefox craigslist addon

The Job Feeds are also a powerful tool for any job hunter because you’ll be alerted instantly whenever a new ad is placed within your field or industry. For service providers, like freelancers or contractors, this is probably one of the easiest ways to identify new leads and opportunities just about every day.

firefox craigslist addon

If you’re house hunting or apartment hunting, there’s also a Housing Feed where you can monitor new ads published to the category of real estate you’re interested in. As any house or apartment hunter knows, being the first to make that phone call can sometimes mean the difference between getting a place or having it slip through your fingers.

firefox craigslist addon

If you’re a head hunter or someone that constantly needs new hired help, the Services Feeds section is a good place to start. Constantly need laborers? Select the Labor/Move category. Always in search of writers? Select the Write/Ed/Trans category. You’ll get alerted any time someone new places an ad that they are available for work.

craigslist add on

When you’re done configuring your feeds, you’ll see the CraigZilla icon appear in the lower right corner of the screen. This is where you’ll be able to quickly access all of the new Craigslist listings, and it’s also where notifications will pop-up.

craigslist add on

If you don’t add any filters, you can view all of the latest Craigslist ads in a category by right clicking the CraigZilla icon and then left-clicking on the category that you want to see. Only the categories you selected in the Preferences will show up.

craigslist add on

In the online reviews for CraigZilla, I read that one person had difficulty getting the filters to work, so I decided to test it out myself. You can add filters in the Preferences by typing in words in the Filter fields for that category.

Now, whenever listings with your filter show up, you’ll get a notification, and you can hover your mouse over the icon to get a quick view of those new listings that match your filter. As far as I can tell, it works like a charm!

When you click into the category to view the newest listings, you’ll see the ads that match your filter highlighted with an underline.

monitor craigslist

CraigZilla is one of those add-ons that I’m confident I’m going to keep using for as long as it’s available. I’m far too busy to be bothered to go back to Craigslist all the time to search for new opportunities, and I have way too many applications already running on my PC to launch yet another one. CraigZilla solves that dilemma by running in the background on your browser and alerting you whenever anything of interest shows up in the listings.

If you’re an avid Craigslist user, give the Firefox CraigZilla plugin a try and let us know what you think. Did it do everything you wanted? Were any useful features missing? Share your insight in the comments section below.

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



More articles about: , , , , , , , ,

Hot Tech Deals – Dell Vostro i3 discounts + more

Posted: 27 Apr 2011 01:30 PM PDT

Today, we’ve got some great deals on Dell Vostro i3 laptops, discounted environmentally-friendly Viewsonic LED-backlit LCD monitor and cheap Sennheiser wireless headphones.

For more fresh hot deals, visit our Hot Tech Deals page, which is constantly updated.

  1. Sennheiser RS120 Wireless Stereo Headphones $64.99 Free Shipping via code EMCKFHD82 (Exp 5/2)
  2. Viewsonic VX2250WM-LED 22 inch LED-Backlit LCD Monitor (1080p) $149.99 Free Ship via code EMCKFHD45 (Exp 5/2)
  3. Dell Vostro 3300 Intel Core i3-370M 2.4GHz 13.3in Laptop (Aluminum, 2GB/250GB) $469
  4. Dell Vostro 3750 Intel Core i3-2310M 2.1GHz [Sandy Bridge] 17.3in Laptop (Aluminum) $592
  5. Dell Vostro 3450 Intel Core i3-2310M 2.1GHz [Sandy Bridge] 14in Laptop (Aluminum) $580
  6. Dell Vostro 3550 Intel Core i3-2310M 2.1GHz [Sandy Bridge] 15.6in Laptop (Aluminum) $549
  7. TODAY ONLY AMD Athlon II X2 Regor 2.9GHz SuperCombo $209.99 Free Ship
  8. Microsoft SideWinder X8 Wireless Gaming Mouse (4000dpi) $39.99 Free Shipping

Need Assistance? Ask questions to MakeUseOf staff and thousands of other readers on MakeUseOf Answers!



More articles about:

5 Incredible CSS3 Effects You’ll Be Seeing More Of

Posted: 27 Apr 2011 12:31 PM PDT

cool css effectsCSS3 (combined with the power of HTML5) is rapidly being supported by all the major browsers (read – anything except Internet Explorer), so I thought now would be a good time to see some of the cool CSS effects we can achieve using the power of your the browser and a little CSS code. You should be able to see all the effects demonstrated in this article if you’re using the latest Chrome, Safari or Firefox browser.

First – What Is CSS?

If you’re reading this article because you’re intrigued but have no idea what CSS means, let’s me explain quickly. CSS is the coding language used to decorate webpages. It stands for Cascading Style Sheet, and basically just adds style and flair to a site. Websites are certainly readable without their CSS, but they are hideous just like all websites were back in 1995. While HTML files describe the structure and textual content of a page, the CSS makes them display in the way the designer intended, and determine everything from page layout, text size and colours, and now a number of fancy effects with the introduction of CSS3.

In the past, achieving the same kind of effects as the ones described in this article would have meant downloading bulky CSS or even bigger graphics. Now, CSS can just describe to your browser how it would like the page to look, and the browser will handle the processing. It like me handing you the plans to build your own house instead of selling you the whole house – it’s significantly cheaper!

Rounded Corners

The Internet has gradually been getting ’roundier’, but now this is solidified in CSS3. Take a look at the box surrounding this paragraph. It isn’t an image – try right clicking on it to see. Pure CSS!

The code for rounded corners is really easy:

.box_round {      -moz-border-radius: 20px; /* FF1+ */   -webkit-border-radius: 20px; /* Saf3-4, iOS 1+, Android 1.5+ */           border-radius: 20px; /* Opera 10.5, IE9, Saf5, Chrome, FF4 */   }


Text Shadow

Text can sometimes look really harsh on its own, but a simple little shadow really helps things. Check out the shadow I’ve applied to this paragraph.

Here’s the code for some text shadows:

.box_textshadow {      text-shadow: 1px 1px 3px #888; /* FF3.5+, Opera 9+, Saf1+, Chrome */ }


No more flat colors or background gradient images, now you can create a cool gradient using CSS only. Unfortunately, you do need a few lines due to current incompatibility issues between browsers, but you can use the tool that I will describe later to generate these automatically.

Here’s the code for CSS gradients:

.box_gradient {   background-color: #3f9fe3;   background-image: -moz-linear-gradient(top, #3f9fe3, #white); /* FF3.6 */   background-image: -ms-linear-gradient(top, #3f9fe3, #white); /* IE10 */   background-image: -o-linear-gradient(top, #3f9fe3, #white); /* Opera 11.10+ */   background-image: -webkit-gradient(linear, left top, left bottom, from(#3f9fe3), to(#white)); /* Saf4+, Chrome */   background-image: -webkit-linear-gradient(top, #3f9fe3, #white); /* Chrome 10+, Saf5.1+ */   background-image: linear-gradient(top, #3f9fe3, #white);             filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.gradient(startColorStr='#3f9fe3', EndColorStr='#white'); /* IE6–IE9 */ }


It’s difficult to imagine a use for this in terms of text, but it can add some nice design elements when using pictures, for example. Again, notice that even though this paragraph has been rotated, you can still select and interact with it as it remains regular text.

Here the code to rotate something:

.box_rotate {      -moz-transform: rotate(7.5deg);  /* FF3.5+ */        -o-transform: rotate(7.5deg);  /* Opera 10.5 */   -webkit-transform: rotate(7.5deg);  /* Saf3.1+, Chrome */       -ms-transform: rotate(7.5deg);  /* IE9 */           transform: rotate(7.5deg);                filter: progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Matrix(/* IE6–IE9 */                       M11=0.9914448613738104, M12=-0.13052619222005157,M21=0.13052619222005157, M22=0.9914448613738104, sizingMethod='auto expand');                zoom: 1; }


Oh yes, I saved the best ’till last. CSS3 introduces various forms of animation for any number of the cool CSS effects described. On this paragraph, I’ve defined the transition property as listed below, as well as a simple background color and rotation when you hover over it. If you aren’t already, hover over this paragraph of text now to see the effect in action. You can animate pretty much anything!

You’ll need the transition code like this to any element you want to change. You’ll also need to use some pseudo CSS classes (such as :hover to change any properties that you want animating, such as color, size or rotation)

.box_transition {      -moz-transition: all 0.5s ease-out;  /* FF4+ */        -o-transition: all 0.5s ease-out;  /* Opera 10.5+ */   -webkit-transition: all 0.5s ease-out;  /* Saf3.2+, Chrome */       -ms-transition: all 0.5s ease-out;  /* IE10? */           transition: all 0.5s ease-out;   }

Cross Browser Incompatibilities

Though most modern browsers do support all of CSS3 in some ways, some still require some slightly different code or hacks to make it work with their particular implementation of the standard. In the code above for instance, you’ll see many instances of -moz- or -webkit- preceeding some of the CSS properties, which relate to either Mozilla based or Webkit based browsers. Writing these extra lines can be a pain though, so check out the css3 generator to write them for you.


The web is going to get a whole lot more exciting with the new CSS3 and HTML5 extensions. Granted, we are going to see another spurt of flashing text and a high ratio of whizz-bang to real content (just as we did when animated GIFs were first “discovered”) but in the long run we will learn how to use the tools of CSS3 to make more interesting web interfaces. And hey, you can always turn it all off!

If you’re a designer or web developer yourself, just remember that CSS3 should never be the only option. If your site won’t function without CSS3, you haven’t used it correctly. CSS should be used to enhance the experience, not program functionality.

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



More articles about: , , , , , ,

PlayStation Network Hacked, Personal Information Compromised [News]

Posted: 27 Apr 2011 11:49 AM PDT

If you're one of the 77 million registered users on Sony’s PlayStation Network, your personal and confidential information may have been compromised during a security breach. According to Sony, between April 17 and 19, they discovered an intrusion, and shut down their PlayStation Network services on the evening of April 20. They waited days before announcing the reason behind what appeared to be a network failure, stating that they first had to study it, and understand the extent of what happened.

Sony has not been very forthcoming on the extent of the compromise, citing an on-going investigation as the reason for being so tight lipped. According to the FAQ on the intrusion, they can't tell us how it happened, why it happened, who was behind it, the extent of the intrusion, or how long it will take to restore the network services.

Regardless of Sony's reluctance to divulge details, we do know that by April 19, Sony realised that the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services had been hacked, although the how of it all still remains unclear. More importantly, it would seem that PSN users' personal information is at risk, including names, addresses, email addresses, birth dates and login information. If you have made any purchases using your credit card, your credit card details could also have been compromised, with the exception of your three digit secret code. Sony however has not confirmed any of these details, listing them only as possibilities.

All PSN accounts are inaccessible until Sony brings the network back up, so while you can't change your password just yet, that is the first thing you should do the minute the network is back up. In the meantime, if you tend to use the same password on all of your accounts, it would be an advisable precaution to change passwords on any of your connected accounts, particularly your email account.

There are certain steps that you can take to protect yourself and your information in the event of another intrusion of this kind. The first rule is never to use the same password on all of your accounts. While it may be easy and convenient, it is anything but safe. If you have a hard time keeping track of all of your passwords, you can always use a password manager to access your accounts. Another guideline to keep in mind is to make your passwords difficult to crack. Use a combination of upper-case and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols, to ensure the safety of your accounts, or better yet, use a password generator.

Sony is also warning users to be on the look out for emails claiming to be from them. Don't fall for phishing scams asking you for your Sony credentials as they have clearly announced that they will not be sending out any emails of the sort. In general, when you receive an email claiming to be from a service you use, always check the email address it came from, and avoid clicking links provided in these emails. Sony is also warning you to be wary of any telephone and postal scams asking you to reveal any personal information.

As far as your credit card information is concerned, Sony's statement is anything but reassuring, advising you to keep an eye out for unusual transactions on your bank account.

If you're looking for more ways to stay safe online, be sure to check out the following guides:

5 Tips and Tricks to Avoid Facebook Phishing Scams
Get Instant Alerts Of New Computer Viruses & Phishing Emails

Are you one of the affected Playstation Network users? Do you think Sony should been faster to announce the breach? Let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Declan Jewell

Need Assistance? Ask questions to MakeUseOf staff and thousands of other readers on MakeUseOf Answers!



More articles about: , , , ,

Tools To Help Dropbox Users Share & Receive Files Faster & Easier

Posted: 27 Apr 2011 11:31 AM PDT

share a dropbox fileSharing files is one of the most popular activities in the online world. This is why there are so many file sending methods available out there, from the simplest person to person file sharing via email attachment, to crowd-based methods like BitTorrent.

One of the players in the file sharing game is Dropbox. This popular file backup and sync service allows its users to share files easily via a “Public Folder”. Every file saved in the public folder will have its own download link. With this feature, sharing files is as easy as sharing the download links, and if you want to make the file sharing experience even better, here are two tools that could help Dropbox users share and receive files faster and easier.

Sending Files With Dropbox Plugin (Windows) & Dropbox Droplet (Mac)

These two tools will shorten the steps needed to share files using Dropbox. Instead of going through the ritual (copying files to your Dropbox’s Public Folder then right click on the files to copy the URL), you can just drop the files that you want to share into one of the applications and the download links will be available in the clipboard. These applications will do the routine steps for you in the background.

share a dropbox file

You need to insert your Dropbox ID in the applications before they can work properly. I found that adding the ID is more simple on Windows than on the Mac. You will find detailed instructions on how to do it on the websites.

dropbox file sharing

Please note that while you can drag and drop multiple files, these applications won’t work with Folders.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a similar tool for Linux users to share a Dropbox file. If you know of such a tool, please share it using the comments below.

Receiving Files With JotForm for Dropbox

Even though Dropbox makes file sharing extremely easy, the service doesn’t provide any easy way to receive files. Sure, you can trade files with your colleagues using shared folders. But receiving files from people outside the sharing circle is impossible.

Luckily there’s JotForm for Dropbox. This web service will let you build your own custom web upload form that can be used by anybody (with or without a Dropbox account) to send files to your Dropbox folder. All that you have to do is share the URL of the web form.

This kind of arrangement would be useful for those who have to receive a lot of files from many people, such as a team leader who needs to review files from their team members, a company which accepts portfolios from applicants, a design competition committee which collects submissions from artists….the list goes on.

If you’d like to create your own Dropbox upload form, JotForm will guide you through the process with step by step instructions. Since you have to authorize JotForm to access your Dropbox account, the first thing you need to do is to log into Dropbox.

dropbox file sharing

To continue with the process, you have to turn off the pop-up blocker in your browser. Then you have to log into your Dropbox account and give permission to JotForm to access your account.

dropbox file sharing

Finally, you will get your Form URL and ‘embed’ code. The URL is the shortcut to access your upload form, while the ‘embed’ code can be used to add the form to any HTML page. For example, you can create a new page in your WordPress blog and put the upload form there.

sharing dropbox files

This is what the basic upload form looks like. If somebody wants to send you a file, they have to fill in their name and email address, give a short description of the file when needed, and then upload the file. JotForm will create a new folder called “JotForm” inside your Dropbox folder, and the uploaded file will find its way there.

sharing dropbox files

After the building process is done, you can continue to customize your form in the “Form Builder” page. JotForm provides users with tools to customize the style of their form, but that topic is beyond our scope for today.

share a dropbox file

Have you tried these tools? Do you know of other tools that enhances Dropbox usage?  If so, please share your thoughts and opinions using the comments below.

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



More articles about: , , , , ,

5 Tips On Using The New Upgraded Apple Support Community

Posted: 27 Apr 2011 10:31 AM PDT

apple technical supportThough Apple hardware and software is touted as being very stable, especially in the last few years, that's not to say users don't have to troubleshoot issues with Apple products from time to time. In the past several years, the Apple Support Community has been my go-to repair shop for getting quick and detailed answers to problems I’ve had with say iMovie HD or my Mac Pro. It rarely took more than a day or two to get responses to my questions. In turn I’ve tried to help troubleshoot problems other users posted in the forums.

Recently Apple has revamped their Support Community page, making it easier to use, with a few welcomed features that all Mac users should know about. I keep the Apple Support Community site bookmarked and easily accessible for those times – though increasingly rare – when I have troubleshooting questions. Let's explore some of the useful upgrades to the site and how to use it.

Create An Apple ID & Profile

If you haven't already done so, be sure to create an Apple ID. This is useful in nearly everything you do with Apple, from buying apps to asking questions about problems you're experiencing with your Apple product. You will only have to create your Apple ID one time to use it for all Apple's products and services. You can do this when you link to the Support Community site.

apple technical support

One thing to keep in mind when visiting the Support Community board is that all the help you receive is voluntary. If your product is out of warranty, you could pay Apple up to $70 for a certified Apple support technician to troubleshoot your problems. So it's important when you use the Support Community to help others help you.

The first way to do this is by filling out your community profile, most importantly the information about the Apple products you use. If for example you have not upgraded to the latest Apple operating system, it's important to let others know that in your profile. For sometimes not installing the latest update could be the source of your problem. If you're a Window's user, for example, asking about how to add photos to your iPhone from your computer, it's important that you let potential responders know that you're not a Mac user.

Asking Questions

You will find that in visiting Apple's Support Community, most feedback you receive is generously helpful. However, the one thing that irks some responders is getting questions that have already been addressed in the board. So before you sign on and post a question, do a quick search to see if your problem has been addressed before.

In the revised version of the Support Community, Apple has made it easier to find out if your issues have already been raised or addressed. When you sign in and link to the discussion board, you first locate a community from a list that consists of all the Apple hardware and software that Apple makes.

apple tech support

You link to a community from the list provided, or type a few letters of the name of the product you need to troubleshoot.

apple tech support

Once you're in the community, you do a search by asking a question. You want to be as specific as possible in your question, for this will get you better results. So, for example, don't just type "MacBook Air"; instead, you might specifically ask, "Why is the fan so loud in the MacBook Air?". If then you don't get the results you're looking for, click the "Submit my question to the community."

Monitoring 'Your Stuff'

Once you have posted your question, it may take a few hours or overnight for it be responded to. In the revised Support Community, Apple has made it even easier to monitor your questions and responses. When you sign into the discussions, you can click on "Your Stuff" at the right-top side of the page.

apple tech support

You get a useful set of choices, including a link to the discussion questions you have posted or responded to. It's very important that when you post a question that you monitor the responses, even if you figure out the problem yourself.

knowledge base apple macintosh support

When you do get responses to queries, be sure to mark those responses as helpful. A simple click, of "Liked" will cost you nothing, and it's a great way to thank responders for taking their time out to respond to your question.

apple technical support

You can also bookmark or get email notifications for any question on the board. You're automatically subscribed to any discussion thread you create or respond to, and of course you can turn off that subscription when you no longer need it. You also now can view related responses to topical issues, which might also be helpful in addressing your own problem.

apple technical support

Another feature added to the Support Community is the ability to bookmark threads. This is especially useful if you're troubleshooting a difficult problem that you need to monitor on a regular basis.

Become An Apple Genius

It's good courtesy to not only ask questions on the Support Community board, but to also help answer them. Typically, each time I ask a question on the board, I try to address at least three or four others posted there. This type of support is what helps keep the community active.

apple technical support

Though you won't get paid to participate in the Support Community, you do receive points for each response that is voted "helpful" by other community members.

Personal Layout

If you plan on visiting the Support Community a lot, you might want to personalize your community homepage. When you sign into the community, click the “Your View” tap under your username.

apple technical support

From there you get options for laying out and adding widgets to your homepage. If you're responsible for taking care of a lot of Macs, you may find this homepage setup very useful.

Let us know what you think of Apple's new Support Community, and for other sites about troubleshooting your Mac, check out my article here.

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



More articles about: , , ,

6 Web-Based Instant File Sharing Sites You’ve Never Heard Of

Posted: 27 Apr 2011 09:31 AM PDT

file sharing sitesSend large files to your friends without any hassle. There are a wide variety of file sharing sites that make it possible for you to send any file to anyone else without having to create a user account. If you’ve got a file to share, and email simply isn’t cutting it, you’ve found the right list.

It’s almost become a cliche in the world of web apps: sites that allow you to share large files in just a few clicks. This isn’t a bad thing, though; you never know when a particular service might not be offered anymore. You also may find services you like better than others; whatever your reason, it never hurts to explore your options.

That’s why I highly recommend you check out 3 superb ways to share files. This service outlines Crate,, and, three great ways to share files. It’s also worth reading our unofficial Dropbox manual, if you want to do some serious file sharing.

If that file sharing site doesn’t cut it though, keep reading to discover some more great tools for the job. All of these programs don’t require  registration, work on any Internet-connected computer regardless of operating system, and need only a browser to function properly. Best of all: they’re free.


file sharing sites

Upload your file; share a public link. Featuring password protection and pretty fast transfer speeds, FilesOverMiles is a decent first choice. There is a catch, though: your file is never uploaded to a server. This means FilesOverMiles stops serving the file as soon as you close the webpage, so it may serve better for instant messaging conversations than for emails.


file sharing websites

Another service you need to keep open in order for a download to work, Pipebytes connects your computer directly with that of the person who needs a given file. Choose the file you’re sending; give a simple URL to your friend. It’s a useful service that does its job.


file sharing websites

You guessed it: this client connects you directly with another computer. The real advantage this file sharing site has over the others named thus far is its clean interface, though even that is a slight edge at best. Links generated by this site are single-use only, meaning you shouldn’t bother sending them to more than one person.


Want a link that lasts longer than your browser session? Good thing you found Dropdo. This web app not only stores uploaded files on its server, it serves up a handy file preview for most document formats. Behold:

file sharing websites

The entire document can be viewed without the necessity to download, and without a username or password. This is the perfect way to share files with family lacking in tech skills. Some people may have understandable privacy concerns, but if what you’re sharing is fairly public, I’d say give this a go.


Sure, there’s a 100MB limit, but Senduit is not without its advantages. For one thing, you can set its files to self destruct, spy style:

top file sharing

This is great if you’ve got a document you want to share, but would rather not keep on the Internet for an extended period of time. Also, this service’s links do not expire if you close your browser. Again, there are privacy implications to this, but to me the self-destruct features help make up for this.


Yet another tool for the job, Large Document sports a flash interface, so Mac and Linux users may experience some instability. Having said that, it works really well for Windows users if your Flash is up to date.

file sharing sites

It’s worth noting that Large Document also offers nifty instructions for integrating with Gmail. This is perfect for those moments when Gmail tells you a file is too big!


As I said, there are many different services to share files without signing up. This article just highlights a few more.

I’m interested in the file sharing sites you know about. Know of some services we’ve missed? Share them below; you just might find them featured later on this year. Also feel free to recommend services among those listed, because your experience is valuable input for the rest of us!

Image Credit: Sergej Khakimullin via Shutterstock

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



More articles about: , , , ,

7 Websites For Biographies Of Famous & Inspirational People

Posted: 27 Apr 2011 08:31 AM PDT

famous peopleWe are all interested in what the next man is doing. Biographies give us a historical look into the lives and times of famous people. Reading up on biographies can be about general knowledge, about research, or simply about inspiration.

A Google search and Wikipedia is usually our top two stations when it comes for searching for information on famous people people and events. Wikipedia is concise and informative and in most cases it would suffice for biographical information. But if you are doing some in-depth digging (for fun or research) for biographies of the famous and historical, it pays to have a few more resources in your kitty. Thanks to the goldmine of information on the web, it is easy to cross-reference and cross-check all your information before you start citing it.

Here are the top seven sources for you to visit if you are interested in the biographies of the who's who.

famous people

This is probably the most fun and multimedia rich site out there when it comes to reading up on what famous people have done with their lives. The site is the online vehicle of the Biography channel (Bio). Just like the channel, the site is also a mix of biographical information and fictional content. The site is a bit celebrity heavy. Perhaps, the most fun part of the website is the games and the quizzes. The lineup includes some titles like Celebrity Dead or Not, Where Are They Now, and Design Your Depp among others.

S9 – The Biographical Dictionary

famous people history

The biographical dictionary has some of the characteristics of Wikipedia; it is editable by the users and they also can contribute to the biographies on the site. You can use the search bar or browse through the listings to find a biography. The search page also has a Spelling Wizard to help you out with famous names. The biographical information is presented in a concise timeline format. Before exiting the biographical dictionary, test yourself on the Master Biographer Challenge quiz.


famous people history

The directory of biographies gives you 110,000 biographies searchable by name, by country, or alphabetically. The listing is quite broad in scope with the biographical page containing links to external information and YouTube content too. Be warned that some external links may be broken or in some other language. You can also submit your own link which has some biographical data.

Encyclopedia of World Biographies

famous people history

The simply organized encyclopedia on famous and historical personalities is very readable with an alphabetically arranged Wikipedia like presentation. You can also add your own information through a form.

Time 100

famous historical people

Time magazine's yearly poll on the most influential people of the year is an interesting read because it's about the contemporary generation who are shaping the world we live in. The current year's poll is still running and you can read up on 204 influencers who may be leaders, artists, innovators, icons or heroes.

Academy of Achievement

famous historical people

The Gallery of Achievers is a very neatly designed source chronicling some of the notable personalities who are shaping our world. The site itself is inspiring because you can use tools like Find Your Mentor which helps you to find an achiever who has faced challenges similar to your own. You can follow the famous by their careers too on the Academy Careers page.

Women's History Month (Library of Congress)

famous people

An exhaustive resource on women who have impacted history through the ages. The site prepared by the Library of Congress pays tribute to some of the greatest women in history with multimedia content and other exhibits. Check out the images and the slideshows for some cool educational content.

Biography websites are an important educational tool just like some of the reference and research tools we have covered earlier. Do you read up on biographies of famous people online? Mention your favorite hero and the link to their biography in the comments.

Image Credit: Striatic

Do you like MakeUseOf articles? Don’t forget to share our articles with others! It’s really important to us.



More articles about: , , , , ,

Gmail Introduces Background Send & Long Label Names [News]

Posted: 27 Apr 2011 07:31 AM PDT

Gmail recently introduced two new small but handy features. The most recent of these is a new labs feature which will appeal to email users who are used to using a desktop application when accessing their email. When enabled, the Background Send feature will allow you to hit send on an email, and continue reading other emails, composing new messages and chatting with friends on Gmail chat, at the same time your email is being sent.

This is a feature that we've come to take for granted using desktop applications like Outlook, Thunderbird or Sparrow, and even though it's only a matter of seconds, it can make a huge difference when you're pressed for time at work.

After you’ve hit send, the screen will redirect to your inbox where you’re free to continue reading and sending emails.

If something goes wrong, and your email isn't sent, Gmail will notify you and provide a link for you to fix the error.

A few days earlier Gmail made another small change to their labels feature. In the past, a label name could only be a maximum of 40 characters. With the latest change, you have up to 225 characters worth of space, giving you pretty much free reign with your label names.

What do you think of Gmail’s newest features? If you use a desktop application, could Background Send convince you to ditch your program in favour of using the web interface? Let us know in the comments.



More articles about: , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment