Saturday, April 9, 2011 “Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]” plus 11 more “Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]” plus 11 more

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Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]

Posted: 09 Apr 2011 02:28 AM PDT


Check out the top picks from MakeUseOf Geeky Fun during the last week.

  1. How Do You Get A Guy To Propose? (Pic)
  2. The Story of Linux (Video)
  3. You Know You Are Addicted To Internet When… (Pic)
  4. Internetic: A New Internet Anthem (Video)
  5. The Circle Of Online Dating (Pic)
  6. The Ultimate Internet Love Song (Video)
  7. The Techie Dorm: Now & Then (Pic)
  8. Never Lose TV Remote Again (Pic)

If you would like to keep up with all latest Geeky Fun additions, please subscribe to the Geeky Fun feed here. You can also subscribe and get the latest additions via email.


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Cool Websites and Tools [April 8th]

Posted: 08 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!


Bodalgo – Looking for somebody to provide the voiceover for your ad or movie is not very easy. The process is not any easier for voice actors either. Thankfully there is an online voiceover talent market where voice seekers and providers can easily find one another – Bodalgo, a simple website that helps connect voice seekers and voice talents. Read more: Bodalgo: Online Voiceover Talent Market


Convore – With literally hundreds of group communication services available on the web, it is hard for a new one to stand out. Convore is different from other tools because of its super-easy and interactive interface. It doesn't take a new user more than 5 seconds to get familiar with what Convore has to offer. Read more: Convore: A Web-Based Group Communication Service



Zbar – Barcodes and QR Codes can store a lot of information within themselves. Just like you can store information in these codes, you can also extract information from them. One of the tools that can be used to read barcodes and QR codes is ZBar. The function of the program is to decode a barcode. Read more: Zbar: Read QR Codes on PC or iPhone



Initializr – HTML5 is the latest version of HTML standards that popular websites are quickly adapting to. If you want to update or create a website based on HTML5 but don't know anything about it, Initializr is an excellent HTML5 template generator to start with. It is a simple resource that lets you create an HTML5 based template. Read more: Initializr: HTML5 Template Generator



MeetMe – Arranging a meeting with a business partner or friend is not very easy when you have a busy schedule. Communicating your free dates through the phone or email might not be a very convenient solution. To schedule the meeting effectively, you can make use of a web tool called MeetMe. Read more: MeetMe: Schedule Meetings By Showing Your Available Dates


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 6 Best Questions From You [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 08 Apr 2011 06:31 PM PDT

MakeUseOf Answers welcomes great challenges and great solutions alike. Both are showcased every Friday as we honor the winners in our Best Answer of the Week contest.

This week the prizes go to:

Best Answer of the Week – Smayonak

1st Runner Up – Justin Baugh

2nd Runner Up – Roy

Congratulations to the winners!

Thank you very much everyone for your time and effort! If your answer wasn’t chosen this time, know that it was appreciated nevertheless! Maybe you will be more lucky contributing a further solution to some of the best questions:

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.

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How To Use Your Free 5GB Amazon Cloud Drive Space For Music

Posted: 08 Apr 2011 04:31 PM PDT

amazon cloud driveThe era of cloud-based computing is vastly taking hold, and if you are a computer user who juggles between one or more computers, plus a few mobile devices, then cloud-based storage is nearly essential to accessing your digital media and other data.

What is cloud-based computing, you ask? It essentially involves uploading computer files to a web-based network, which in turn means you can access those uploaded files from any computer or supporting mobile device that gets an Internet connection. So for example, if you have lots of music files on your home computer, you can't play that music when you're away from home. But if you have your music floating somewhere in a cloud network, then you can access and stream your songs nearly anywhere via the Internet. Dropbox, for many of us MUO writers and avid readers, is one of the most popular uses of cloud-based computing. Read How Cloud Computing Works for more information.

If you're looking for more cloud-based storage, one of the largest online stores on the planet,, now provides its customers with 5GB free online space. That amount of storage, Amazon says, could hold up to a 1,000 songs, 2,000 photos, or 20 minutes worth of HD video. If you just wanted to use the storage for backing up all your text-based files, I'm sure 5GB would be more than enough.

amazon cloud drive

Using The Cloud Drive

To use Amazon Cloud storage you need to have or open an Amazon account. You are not required to actually purchase stuff from Amazon to use the Cloud service.

amazon cloud

The Cloud Drive is where you upload your documents, music, pictures, and videos. The process is as simple as clicking the Upload Files button and from there adding your files to your Amazon Cloud drive. To keep things from getting messy, you might want to use the existing folder structure Amazon has set up for you. You can also create new folders within existing folders for even better organization.

Using The Cloud Player

As Amazon is the business of selling music, as well as books, it has also developed an Amazon Cloud Player. But even if you don't purchase music from the Amazon store, you can still upload your own DRM-free (Digital Rights Management) music to your cloud account and stream it over the web and through your Android phone.

amazon cloud

When you first start using the Cloud Drive, you might think you have to upload all your music files from there, but if you're wanting to get a significant amount of songs into your Drive, then you will want to use the free Amazon MP3 Uploader, which requires that you have Adobe Air installed on your computer. If it is not installed, the Uploader will ask you to download it. You download the Uploader by clicking the Uploader button in the upper-left of the Cloud Player.

The MP3 Uploader

When you launch the Uploader, it will scan for all the music files on your computer. If your music is organized in iTunes or Windows Media Player, the Uploader will recognize and upload all your playlists, tags, and album covers.

amazon cloud

If your computer is brimming with music files, you may think Amazon's meager 5 gigs of storage is useless for your needs. Well, you do have the option to purchase more space, but if you want to keep it all free, uploading just your favorite playlists or individual songs could suffice.

amazon free cloud service

The Uploader allows you to cherry pick from your computer music collection what you want to upload to your Cloud Drive. To make selections, click the Start Upload button. The Uploader may inform you that you do not have enough Cloud space available in your account for all your music. If you get that notice, click "Edit selections" to narrow the amount of files you can upload.

When your list of music on your computer appears, deselect the Playlists box and then scroll down the list and select the songs, albums, or playlists you want to upload.

amazon free cloud service

There are some exceptions to the files that Uploader supports, including DRM files and Non-MP3 and non-AAC format files. If you have a long list of files, you might first consider creating a playlist in iTunes or a folder on your computer that consists of only the music files supported by Amazon's Uploader.

amazon free cloud service

In iTunes, for example, you can create a smart playlist (see screenshot above) of all your non-protected music, then upload your songs via the Uploader. If the Uploader didn't locate all your music, you can click, "browse for more music," at the top of the Uploader to manually locate your missing songs.

After selecting your songs or playlists, simply click the "Start upload" button. The Cloud Player is a web-based music player. Similar to iTunes, you can browse music by albums, artists, genres, and songs.

amazon cloud drive

Though cloud-based computing is no longer in its infancy, there will no doubt be many more features added to services like Amazon Cloud that will make accessing your files via the Internet an essential and economical way of storing, accessing, and using data.

Let us know what you think of the Amazon Cloud Drive and Player. Are there similar services that you already use? Let us know about them.

See also our articles about other cloud services, including Amazon's free S3 Cloud, ZumoDrive and Sipgate storage services.

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5 Of Firefox 4′s Best Restartless Add-Ons

Posted: 08 Apr 2011 02:31 PM PDT

firefox restartless addonsIf you were not aware, Firefox 4 was released recently and it’s become pretty popular. According to the download stats, it has been downloaded nearly 50 million times as of this writing. Although admittedly I rely on Chrome to handle the bulk of my work while surfing the web, I have always liked Firefox and do still routinely use it from time to time. One of the main reasons for this is because of all the great add-ons that exist for it.

One great thing about Firefox 4, that I couldn’t say about previous versions of the browser, is that there is now support for restartless add-ons. Not sure what a restartless add-on is? It’s exactly what it sounds like. Restartless add-ons can be installed, uninstalled, disabled, enabled, and upgraded without you having to close all your tabs and restart Firefox.

In this article, I’ll take a look at some of the best restartless add-ons out there so you can start incorporating them into your browsing habits.

1. Mozilla Labs: Lab Kit

firefox restartless addons

The Mozilla Labs Lab Kit is an add-on that automatically checks for new experiments from Mozilla Labs. Included in this pack is F1, which lets you share links from within the browser in a fast and safe way, Find Suggest, which gives you suggestions from the page when finding, Instant Preview, which previews pages as you select them from the location bar, and Speak Words, which allows you to type a single letter in the location bar to go where you want.

2. Mozilla Labs: Home Dash

restartless addons

Home Dash is an add-on that removes the usual location bar, search bar, and tabs to give you access to the whole window to view web content. Don’t worry, you can still get your search functionality by way of the dashboard to find your top sites, tabs, history, and perform web searches.

3. GReader Panel

restartless addons

GReader Panel is key if you rely on your Google Reader feed for information. It pretty much does what you’d expect it to: pop up with all of your feeds for easy viewing. If you aren’t utilizing Google Reader, now is the time to bolster your list with some useful information.

4. Grooveshark Remote Control

restartless addons

As we all know, I’m a devoted Grooveshark user. This remote control add-on is great because it allows you to control your Grooveshark listening from any webpage, rather than having to go back to the tab each time you want to skip to a new song.

5. Tab Badge

firefox restartless addons

Tab Badge adds a small badge to your tabs to alert you whenever, say, you have a new message on Facebook, or a new email. The badge is also visible when tabs are pinned so you can see when there’s something new available. This is the type of functionality I’m used to seeing with the similar lab feature located in Gmail.


Another term for restartless add-ons, which I failed to mention in the introduction, is bootstrapped extensions. These are special extensions that, instead of using overlays to apply their user interface to the application, programmatically insert themselves into the application, thus not requiring a restart. You can learn more about how these types of add-ons work here. Also, be sure to check out our other articles on the subject of Firefox.

Do you have a favorite restartless add-on you’d like to share?

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Hot Tech Deals [Apr 8th]

Posted: 08 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. Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 1GB Video Card $139.99AR Free Shipping via code EMCKFKB25 (Exp 4/10) and rebate
  2. HP Photosmart Plus B210A Color Inkjet All-in-One Printer (ePrint) $69.99 via code EMCKFKB54 (Exp 4/10)
  3. Logitech M515 3-Buttons USB RF Wireless Mouse $29.99AR Free Shipping via code EMCKFKB47 (Exp 4/10) and rebate
  4. Logitech QuickCam Pro 9000 2MP Webcam w/ Mic $39.99AR Free Shipping via code EMCKFKB46 (Exp 4/10) and rebate
  5. Acer S231HLbid 23in LED-Backlit LCD Monitor $149.99 Free Shipping
  6. Samsung LN46C550 46in LCD HDTV (1080p, Wireless DLNA) $649.99 Free Shipping via code EMCKFKB62 (Exp 4/10)
  7. Seagate Expansion 1TB Portable External Hard Drive $79.99 Free Shipping
  8. TODAY ONLY Intel Pentium E6700 Wolfdale 3.2GHz CPU Super Combo $238.99 Free Shipping

Image credit: Modified from Svengraph’s icon set

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Learnable: Learn Or Teach Online Courses For Free Or A Low Price

Posted: 08 Apr 2011 12:30 PM PDT

teach onlineHave you ever considered online learning? Or have you considered courses from your local community centre? If so, Learnable has a selection of courses you just might like.

Learnable is a new initiative aiming to share a broad range of courses online for anyone who is interested in studying them. This means there’s technical courses, self-help courses and general interest courses such as musical courses. It’s still expanding, but eventually Learnable aims to have a little bit of everything there for you to learn whenever it suits you.

Online Learning Is Convenient

Online learning is very convenient for both the learner and the teacher. When it comes to teaching online, teachers can prepare lesson notes and lectures when it suits them, make the course available and then learners can sign up whenever they’re ready to learn the material.

teach online

Learning Through Learnable

The variety of courses available through Learnable is already impressive, despite being a new venture. Take a look at the technical guides, lifestyle courses, web development courses or business courses to get a feel for the different things you can learn. Some courses will be free, however there’s no way to browse through just the free courses. You’ll need to browse whatever you’re interested in and then see if the price is appropriate for you. Most courses are offered at a low price for a reasonable-sized course.

teach online services

Some examples of great courses you could try include:

Courses are paid for using Paypal or WorldPay. If you don’t like the course, you’re advised to first approach the instructor to see if they can elaborate or improve on the course. If need be, you can get a refund for the course within 30 days of signing up.

Once you’ve signed up for a course, you’ll have access to your course for a year from your sign-up date. If you need help during your course, the Learnable Q&A system is where you’ll be able to ask and receive help from the tutor and other classmates.

Teach Online Through Learnable

From the other side of the fence, Learnable can be used to teach the world what you know. Courses are easy to set up with a comprehensive course structure guide available for teachers to work through. All courses are reviewed by Learnable staff before going live to ensure they meet minimum quality standards, but they won’t edit your work in any way.

teach online

Learnable course teachers can nominate a price for their courses and the fee is shared with Learnable. Most courses can be set up to involve minimal teacher interaction during the course, so it won’t matter if students sign up when you’re mostly busy with other things.

Improvements Learnable Could Make

At the moment, there’s not a lot of incentive for teachers to offer free courses. If free courses were publicised within Learnable, new teachers could use it as a means to attract new students to their paid courses. Meanwhile, students could see if they liked the instructor’s style before moving on to their paid courses.

Hand in hand with the notion of a free course directory is the idea that instructors should have a profile page, detailing all of the courses they have to offer. Currently, if you like a particular course instructor there is no way to see what else they have created.

More Online Learning

There are many places like Learnable where you can take up online learning – some free and others paid. Some offer certificates, while others do not. Some only offer a brief guide, while others attempt to offer a deeper understanding of the material. With all these choices, it can be difficult to choose. Just keep in mind your end goals: What do you want to learn and will this course teach you that?

Other places offering online education include YouTube and Instructables, plus plenty of tech tutorial sites, general open education, places with music education and educational sites for children.

Have you tried any online courses? How did they suit your learning style? Would you recommend them to other people? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: ShutterStock

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Put Your Passwords Through The Crack Test With These Five Password Strength Tools

Posted: 08 Apr 2011 11:31 AM PDT

password strength toolAll of us have read a fair share of 'how do I crack a password' questions. It's safe to say that most of them are for nefarious purposes rather than an inquisitive one. Well, they are the script kiddies, so it makes me real scared of the tribe that goes by the collective names of – hackers, crackers, or black hats.

Breaching passwords is as common a sport as wild hunting used to be once. So, do you stay on the secure side and put careful thought into your passwords? CXO has an interesting infographic on password strengths.

Today, every well designed website and web app has a password strength indicator. These are basically scripts and plugins that follow basic rules of strong passwords. Then again, if you really like to pit your passwords against the black hats, try out these five password strength tools that tell you if your password is strong enough.

How Secure Is My Password

password strength tool

There are very few really engaging password strength testing tools, and this is one of them. It does tell you the strength but also something beyond that. For instance, a regular word like "enter" is among the 500 most common passwords used. My own email password (I ain't telling what it is) would take a desktop PC 2 billion years to crack. Though this feedback may not always correct, you are welcome to take a shot. (See Directory mention)

The Password Meter

password strength tester

This password strength tester is one of the more popular tools out there. It gives you a detailed breakdown of your password and puts a password through their customized measuring scale. Each element of your password string gets a point and they are totaled up to assess the strength of the password. You can use the scoring system to construct very strong, nearly unbreakable passwords. (See Directory mention)

Test Your Password

password strength tester

This is a dual purpose tool – it helps you to generate random passwords when you give it the parameters; and then you can test the password for its strength. You can put in additional characters of your choice. Use it to quickly see why eight character passwords are always advised over lesser numbered ones.

Strength Test

password strength tester

This password web tool considers the probability of letters landing close to each other when rating passwords strong or weak. Ideally, passwords should be random. The meter shows this by using a term called 'entropy', an estimate based on letter pair combinations in the English language.

Microsoft Safety And Security Center

password strength tool

Microsoft has its own little password checking tool tucked away on their site. More than the tool, the sub-site is an important resource for learning all about the rules of security. The password strength tool is pretty much similar to the others in its colored rating.

These web apps and testing tools show that it takes just a few seconds to test your password strength and ensure security for a lifetime. Carefully thinking of a good password takes slightly more time. You can put more thought into it with the help of these two posts –

How To Create A Good Password That You Will Not Forget
How To Create Strong Passwords That You Can Remember Easily

Do you put the right characters into your passwords? Review your passwords and let us know if you go to great lengths with them.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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How To Configure The Various W3TC Plugin Settings For Your WordPress Blog

Posted: 08 Apr 2011 10:31 AM PDT

w3tc pluginA while ago I talked about the benefits of installing the W3TC plugin on your WordPress blog in order to speed it up with various caching, but some readers were understandably a little wary about the plugin without some sort of tutorial to help them through the process. Luckily, the defaults will work well for 90% of us.

Bear in mind, I’m not an expert on the subject and to deal with everyone’s individual issues may be difficult. Follow the guide, and if you hit a snag then it’s likely that someone else has also, so a quick Google search reveals a lot. This plugin is difficult to configure perfectly for optimum performance, but even with some basic settings you’re going to see some form of speed improvement.

Some things to bear in mind though – if you’re running anything on a shared hosting provider, your results will vary and you may even see little or no improvement in performance. There is only so much a plugin can do for you – if the disks are slow, if CPU cycles are limited, and your database provider is running slowly in another remote part of the world….well, there will be no miracles. This plugin will perform best for you when running on at least a virtual private server level of hosting. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t give it a go anyway even if you are on shared hosting.

Activating The Plugin & File Permissions Errors

Assuming you’ve downloaded and tried to activate the plugin, you may find a slew of errors appearing related to permissions. Tackle them one by one as the plugin instructs and you should be fine.

1. WP-Content Is Not Writeable

w3tc plugin

Log into FTP and change the file permission information for the folder “wp-content” to 777

w3tc wordpress

2. Unable To Edit WP-Config.php

w3tc wordpress

Easiest to just edit this file yourself. Just open it up and add the line as the instructions specify. This turns on WordPress built-in caching abilities that w3TC needs to work.

w3tc wordpress

3. .htaccess Is Not Writeable

w3tc wordpress plugin

Again, change the file permissions on this, via FTP, to 777 temporarily. The plugin will also give you a helpful reminder to change the wp-content permissions back once you’re done.

Bear in mind that when preview mode is enabled, the changes won’t occur until you click deploy – or you can just turn on preview mode and work with the site live.

Check Compatibility

w3tc wordpress plugin

The button to perform a compatibility check should be your first action, as it will determine what w3tc can actually do for you and will be the primary limited factor. If you have your own private server then configuring areas in red or orange shouldn’t be difficult, but on shared hosting you are generally stuck with what they give you. Here’s some helpful tutorials on how to fix some of the individual points it will likely pick out as not optimal:

w3tc wordpress plugin

Note On CDNs: Configuring a CDN would take another article and is something I might cover at a future date. For now, be sure to disable the CDN functionality.

Now that we have some caching abilities set up and the plugin installed and activated, let’s look at configuring the individual components of the plugin.

Page Caching

If you have installed some caching extensions on your server or your shared host provides one for you, you should  be able to select them on the main configuration page for page caching and others too.

The individual configuration for page caching is fine as defaults, so leave them as is.


This is where the difficulty comes in for most people, but luckily there is a help wizard to get you started. By default, nothing is actually minified so you will need to use the wizard or manually enter filenames if you want something to happen. I’d suggest running the wizard, which will search through your theme files and identify any scripts and CSS being called.

w3tc plugin

Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules here for what can and can’t be minified. CSS should be OK to simply minify everything, but Javascript can give you some real headaches. Here are some general rules to stick to:

  • Analytics and tracking codes shouldn’t be minified, so uncheck them.
  • Amazon and other ad modules shouldn’t be minified.
  • The order is very important, and should be minified in the order they appear in the theme code.
  • Don’t enable comment removal if using jQuery.

If you’re using jQuery plugins such as cufon, be sure to minify the JS in a logical order: jQuery -> cufon -> fonts. I also had issues when embedding outside of the head so leave all embedding in the head as the default is the safest option.

Other Settings

Everything else should work fine with the defaults. Once you’ve confident you’ve got it working, head on over to pingdom again to test the speed. Using only the basic settings above, I managed to get my site from 10 seconds down to 5.5 seconds, and that’s without any additional server-side caching modules.

Further support

For setups beyond the basic, the W3TC plugin forum is a great source of troubleshooting information as you can be sure you aren’t the first to have difficulties. The plugin creator is also often on hand to help out, which is rare for free software of this quality. You’re also welcome to post a comment here or on the answers forum with your specific issues, but I can’t promise anything.

Let us know how it works out for you, and how much of an improvement you see in your site.

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5 Ways To Cut The Battery Drain On Your Rooted Android Phone

Posted: 08 Apr 2011 09:31 AM PDT

android battery lifeHave you ever glanced at your Android phone halfway through the day, only to notice that the battery charge is already half gone and you didn’t even touch the phone once? Many people constantly download and install new apps to their phone without realizing which of those apps may actually be continuing to run in the background, using Wi-Fi or data connections and drawing down the battery even while the phone is resting idle on your hip. Mobile Defense, a recent GPS tracking app I wrote about, is a perfect example.

Confident you have no apps that run in the background? What about your screen backlight, or the sync frequency of all of your social network apps and email clients? Do you control when and how your phone launches Wi-Fi and GPS, or do those connections control you?

Recalibrate Your Battery

One of the most common solutions that you’ll find on many Android blogs and forums is the battery “wipe.” This is related to the batterystats.bin file in your system which is where the battery indicator data comes from.

Apparently, particularly when you flash a custom ROM on your newly rooted Android, the calibration of the display versus actual charge level of the battery can get a little out of whack. The fix is pretty easy. First, charge up your phone to 100%, then reboot into recovery. For my purposes, I use the trusty ClockworkMod Recovery that comes with ROM Manager. In ClockworkMod Recovery, you can find the battery wipe in the Advanced section.

android battery life

Just select “Wipe Battery Stats” from the sub menu.

android battery life

Finally, confirm the wipe and then reboot the system again. To do this you’ll have to go back to the main menu and select “Reboot System Now.”

android battery life

Keep in mind that this won’t “fix” battery drain issues. If you have something running on your phone that’s sucking juice out of your phone battery, all you’ll notice now is that you have a much more accurate view of how fast your battery is draining.  Ready to troubleshoot and put an end to your battery drain? Read on.

What’s Using Your Battery?

The first thing to do is check out what is running on your phone that’s eating up the battery. It’s easy to look for the biggest battery-draining culprits. All you have to do is go to your phone settings -> click About Phone -> click Battery Use.

android battery life

Battery use will show you a breakdown of what’s consuming your battery. It’s broken down into percentages, so this is a nice place to come back and see how the different changes you make to your phone affect overall battery use.

android battery apps

See how the display is consuming 77 percent? This is fairly standard – the display is energy demanding, especially when you don’t put a lid on the brightness level.

Low Hanging Fruit

There are a couple of things you can do right now that will easily improve your Android battery life.

To reduce that consumption as much as possible right off the bat, go into Settings -> Display -> Brightness. First, remove “Automatic brightness“.

android battery apps

The next screen allows you to move a slider to adjust screen brightness. Try lowering it down to the bottom level and see if that setting is something you can comfortably tolerate. For most people it’s plenty bright. You’ve just reduced your battery consumption dramatically.

The second low-hanging fruit are your connections. Are you constantly leaving Wi-Fi, GPS or your Data Connection running all the time? Nothing consumes battery power faster than these connections. Ideally, disable them whenever you don’t need them. Go to Settings -> Wireless & Networks and poke around to see what you’ve got running. GPS is under Location and Security.

android battery apps

There are also some useful apps on the market to manage your phone connections – just search for “connection manager” and pick your favorite. Use them to disable your connections when you don’t need them.

What Apps Are Running?

Do you remember the old commercial that went, “It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?” The same could be said for your phone – do you know what your apps are doing?

Many people install apps on their phone, often not realizing that some of them are automatically configured to launch upon boot, and they keep running in the background. In fact, many of them automatically launch connections like Wi-Fi, GPS or your data connection. Check what’s running right now by going to Settings -> Applications and clicking on Running Services.

battery life and android

Take a look at all the apps that are running in the background. Any surprises?

battery life and android

Don’t worry, you don’t have to manually kill these all the time, there are apps that help you manage what programs run automatically. One I really like from the Android Market is called Autorun Manager.

android battery life

It shows everything that’s configured to autostart, and what’s currently running. What’s cool is that you can just tap these individually and disable them for good. Game over. You’ve just reclaimed your phone.

If you’ve tried all of these tips, did you see a longer Android battery life? Do you know of any other useful tips to stop battery drain? Share your ideas in the comments section below!

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MakeUseOf Is Giving Away An iPad 2 Again!

Posted: 08 Apr 2011 09:00 AM PDT

Oh, yes! We’re back and we’re giving away another iPad 2. If you didn’t get one the first time around, here’s your chance. The prize is still a free black 16 GB iPad 2, Wi-Fi only model. The winner will be selected at random and announced two weeks later. All forms of bribes and flattery accepted.

Think it’ll be you this time? Good luck!

How do I become a winner?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

Step 1: Fill in the giveaway form

Please fill in the form with your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. Click here if you can’t view the form.

The giveaway code required to activate the form is available from our Facebook page.

Step 2: Share!

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

Like it on Facebook

Or share it on Twitter

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Five Ways To Benchmark Your Web Browser’s Performance

Posted: 08 Apr 2011 08:31 AM PDT

browser benchmarkWeb browsers have become arguably the most important application on a modern computer. If you wish, you can replace many applications with websites viewed through your web browser. You can choose to use web mail instead of an email client, Google Docs instead of Word or OpenOffice, and you can keep yourself entertained with games and video.

Browser performance has a big impact on how you experience all of this. A slow browser might skip or stutter while a fast one breezes through without batting an eye. If you'd like to learn how to judge browser performance for yourself on your own computer, read on.


browser benchmark

Among the most well rounded and professional browser benchmarks currently available, Peacekeeper is the creation of Futuremark, the company behind industry-standard benchmarks like PCMark and 3DMark.

Unlike most benchmarks, which are very bare-bones, Peacekeeper has great presentation and wraps the benchmark into a tidy score at the end. You can even directly compare that score to other browsers, view statistics, and read tips on how to improve your score.

Peacekeeper's final score is based on an array of test groups. The social networking test, for example, throws your browser through JavaScript tests meant to replicate the navigation and features of a social networking site. Due to Peacekeeper's diversity, presentation and in-depth benchmarking, it's my personal favorite, and the one I turn to first.

SunSpider JavaScript

benchmark your browser

This very popular browser benchmark is focused exclusively on JavaScript and replicates a number of potential Javascript usage scenarios such as 3D content and code decompression. SunSpider doesn't have a library of results available for easy comparisons, but it does provide you with a link to your results when you are done.

SunSpider's specificity makes this a poor benchmark to use as a sole determination of browser performance, but it does allow for consistency. Using Google Chrome 10, I received results between 262.9ms and 269.2ms after ten runs. That's a very tight range that inspires confidence in the validity of the results.


benchmark your browser

This benchmark tests your browser using the V8 Javascript engine. As the name implies, V8 is designed to be big, powerful and fast. It was also developed by Google and is a part of the Chrome browser, so this benchmark is a bit of a showboat for Google's technology.

It might be worth wondering if the benchmark is a fair assessment, and indeed, Chrome does rule the roost here. But then, Chrome stomps most browsers in most benchmarks, so that's no big surprise. Given that this is a quick benchmark, it's not a bad idea to give it a go.


benchmark your browser

While V8 is associated with Google, Dormaeo is associated with Mozilla. It was created by John Resig, who works for Mozilla as a JavaScript Tool Developer. This is not just a JavaScript test, however. It's actually a collection of a number of benchmarks which are broken up into two main categories – JavaScript and DOM.

Some of the browser benchmarks in Dormaeo are those which were already explained above, such as the SunSpider and V8 JavaScript benchmarks. Dormaeo also includes a number of JavaScript library benchmarks, CSS benchmarks, and unique Javascript benchmarks found only in Dromaeo. Due to the huge number tests in this benchmark, running the whole thing can take a half hour or more on slower PCs, so be prepared to give your computer some alone time.


browser benchmark

Unlike the other benchmarks in this article, Acid3 is not a performance test. Instead it is a compliance test created by the Web Standards Project. It checks a browser's ability to properly render a complex series of instructions.

Acid3 is actually a number of individual sub-tests which, as they are completed, will cause the test page score to rise. The maximum score is 100/100, but unlike a high school math test, that's the only score that counts. Anything less than a perfect 100 is considered a “failed” test. In fact, even a 100/100 may not be enough to pass, because the completed test page must also match the reference rendering and be completed without any protest (error messages) from your browser.


Benchmarking your browser can be fun, and it will help keep you informed about how your browser performs and keep track of performance when new updates are made available. You can also use most of these tests (except Acid3) as a means of testing computer performance, as browser performance is tied not only to the browser itself but also the hardware it is running on.

Let us know what benchmarking method you prefer and why.

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