Sunday, May 1, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [April 30th]” plus 4 more “Cool Websites and Tools [April 30th]” plus 4 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [April 30th]

Posted: 30 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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Eevent – lets you quickly plan, manage and promote your events (parties, conferences, concerts etc) online. Unlike similar online event planners, it lets you maximize the event's attendance by making your guests your event's ambassadors (promoters) through different incentives. Read more: Eevent: Plan & Promote Your Events Online


3D Ribbon Generator – lets you generate 3D ribbons for your website or a blog. It is very straightforward to use and requires no registration. You can create a new ribbon from scratch by configuring the ribbon's elements, colours and sizes, or you can use one of the existing examples (at the top) and modify the values as you see fit. Read more: 3D Ribbon Generator: Free 3D Ribbons Creator Online



BTDigg – DHT (Distributed Hash Table) is a technology that eliminates the role of a central tracker when it comes to peer to peer file sharing. That means that using DHT, one could directly download a file from a peer computer without going through a tracker. BTDigg is a search engine that uses DHT network to find and index torrents. Read more: BTDigg: A Trackerless Torrent Search Engine



Plug In Launcher – Do you wish your favorite music player would launch automatically after you insert your headphones into your smartphone, or start a tethering app when you connect by USB ? Now you can, with Plug In Launcher. It is an app for Android smartphones that lets you specify which applications to run depending on the type of cable hooked up to your smartphone. Read more: Plug In Launcher: Auto Launch Specified Android Apps When Connecting Cables



Appnimi ZIP Password Unlocker – Have you ever forgotten the password to the ZIP archive you created? If so, then most probably you were unable to recover the data contained in the archive. Here to help you in such a situation is an application called Appnimi ZIP Password Unlocker, a free to use desktop application for Windows. Read more: Appnimi ZIP Password Unlocker: Recover The Passwords To Your ZIP Archives


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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3 Easy & Fun Ways To Switch Between Search Plugins In Firefox

Posted: 30 Apr 2011 06:31 PM PDT

select search pluginWe’ve been featuring Firefox search bar tips and tricks quite a lot. Here are two addons to improve Firefox’s search bar and here are 10 Firefox search plugins that support search suggestions. I’ve said many times why I love the simplistic yet functional search bar so much and why I like playing with it.  I can clearly understand why many people prefer it over using the address bar to find any particular website.

If you love the search bar as much as I do, you’ll find the following three tips just awesome – they will let you quickly switch between search plugins.

1. Use Keyboard Shortcuts

The Firefox search bar has a number of really handy keyboard shortcuts built in by default. Chances are, if you get yourself familiar with these shortcuts, you’ll need no other tricks to switch between the search plugins.

CTRL+K changes the focus to the search bar box, so you can instantly type your search term or change the search plugin.

Note: Firefox used to also support the CTRL+E shortcut to do the same thing but it isn’t working in Firefox 4. You can use this addon to set your own shortcut as well.

When your focus is in the search bar you can use the ALT+down arrow key to:

  • Select your preferred search engine;
  • Hit the first letter of the preferred search engine to instantly jump down to it.

select search plugin

2. Scroll Search Engines

Heavy mouse users will find this addon very useful. Scroll Search Engines lets you change an active search engine by scrolling the mouse over the search bar or search context menu (i.e. when you’ve highlighted a word on the page and right-clicked to search the web for it). Thus it saves you two mouse clicks: you don’t have to click the search bar, and then click the engine you want to use.

The add-on also supports the following keyboard shortcuts: CTRL+K and CTRL+SHIFT+K to switch between the search engines. Optionally you can also set to scroll search plugins in a loop by configuring it in the addon options.

3. Click: Quick Search Bar

If you (like myself) seldom use a mouse (and are rather a touchpad addict), you may want to try this addon - Quick Search Bar. It places the search engine buttons inside the search bar instead of the drop down menu. Thus it saves you one click: with it, you don’t have to click the search bar to access the list of search engines in the drop-down.

search plugin firefox

As you can see, if you have more search engines than can be placed in your search bar, the rest will be available after a click:

select search plugin

You may want to organize your search plugins for the most important ones to be on top of the list (and thus available before the click). It can also be set to use the mouse to scroll through the search plugin icons:

Quick Search Bar

The icons are also placed inside your right-click context menu:

Quick Search Bar

Do you love using the Firefox search bar? What are your favorite tips to make more fun with it?

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Hot Tech Deals – Acer S231HLbid 23in LED-Backlit LCD Monitor + more

Posted: 30 Apr 2011 01:30 PM PDT

For those looking to buy a new monitor, we’ve got the 23″ LED-backlit LCD monitor on sale. Apart from that we’ve also got a small price cut on the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm PC game. All that and more Dell deals today.

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

  1. Dell Inspiron 15R Intel Core i5-2410M 2.3GHz Sandy Bridge 15.6in Laptop $674.99 via code 0CQ6F64K$ZCPV$ and HLSKSR06S9ZG0F (Exp Soon)
  2. Dell Inspiron 17R Intel Core i5-2410M 2.3GHz Sandy Bridge 17.3in Laptop $674.99 via code 0CQ6F64K$ZCPV$ and HLSKSR06S9ZG0F (Exp Soon)
  3. Dell Vostro 3450 Intel Core i3-2310M 2.1GHz [Sandy Bridge] 14in Laptop (Aluminum) $499
  4. Dell Vostro 3750 Intel Core i3-2310M 2.1GHz [Sandy Bridge] 17.3in Laptop (Aluminum) $549
  5. Archos 28 4GB Internet Tablet w/ Android 2.2 OS $84.99 Free Shipping
  6. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Video Game (PC) $26.99 Free Shipping
  7. Samsung EcoGreen F2 1TB SATA 3.5in Internal Hard Drive $47.99 Free Shipping via code EMCYTZT432 (Exp 5/1)
  8. Acer S231HLbid 23in LED-Backlit LCD Monitor $149.99 Free Shipping

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Ubuntu 11.04 Unity – A Big Leap Forward For Linux

Posted: 30 Apr 2011 12:31 PM PDT

ubuntu 11It’s here. The newest version of Ubuntu sports an entirely new user interface: Unity. It also includes a much-improved Software Center, alongside the usual updates for the thousands of free programs Ubuntu offers. Download it now at

Canonical, the main company behind Ubuntu, decided to develop the Unity shell to replace Gnome 3‘s shell; a decision not without its detractors. Having said that, I’ve been using Ubuntu 11.04 for a couple of months now, since the early Alpha releases, and I’ve felt nothing but impressed. Some old-school Linux users may be disappointed, but they usually are. Unity, to me, seems like an interface that’s accessible and efficient. I wish my Mac was more like this.


So what does Unity look like? See for yourself:

ubuntu 11

You’ll notice the dock, of course; everyone does. I think this is the best Linux dock ever made. While it’s not as attractive as it could be, it’s very functional. Drag a file to it, for example, and the programs that can open that file are highlighted for you:

latest ubuntu

Of course you’re wondering: how do I access all the programs not in my dock? Easy. Just click the Ubuntu logo in the top-left corner, or press the Super key (the “Windows” key on some keyboards.) You’ll then see the main panel:

latest ubuntu

Here you can explore the applications by clicking, or by searching. Searching is the fastest way to find what you’re looking for, and used to be the main thing I’d miss in Ubuntu over Windows 7 or OS X. Not anymore: I find the programs I need quickly:

latest ubuntu

This also works for finding documents, which is really nice.

To save vertical space, and to reduce clutter, the traditional program menu is integrated into the top panel. It’s hidden, until your mouse moves over the panel, at which point it looks like this:

latest ubuntu distro

The result: every program looks more tidy. I really like this, but I realize there will be detractors.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that Unity is very keyboard-friendly, which is a must for Linux users. Find out more by reading this list of Unity keyboard shortcuts; you won’t be disappointed.

Software Center: Now With Reviews

Ubuntu’s easy-to-use collection of free software, which gives access to thousands of programs, is better than ever. Not only is it (much) faster than before; it also now includes user reviews of every program.

For example: here’s a couple of reviews for Calibre:

ubuntu 11

If you like discovering new free software (and if you read this blog, you probably do) I highly recommend checking out the Ubuntu Software Center on a regular basis. The latest free apps are always a couple of clicks away.

Other Changes

There are a few other changes, of course. Here’s a brief list:

  • No more netbook edition; Ubuntu now works well on all devices.
  • Banshee is the default music player, in place of Rhythmbox.
  • Libre Office replaced Open Office, because Oracle wasn’t playing nice.
  • The language of the installer has improved; installing is now easier than ever.

More changes outlined here.

Classic Gnome?

Think Unity is cute, but want Classic Gnome back? Simple. When you’re logging in, simply select the “classic Gnome” session. You can feel comfortable here, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into. Be warned, though: classic Gnome will not be included in Ubuntu 11.10, and most of the the major distros will be using Unity or Gnome 3 very soon.

This Is Awesome

Some argue you should always try to keep Ubuntu up to date, for a plethora of reasons. Up-to-date software is a big one, as is access to the latest features. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what the new features are with Ubuntu but not this time. From the first time you start this system up you’ll notice the differences. Some people won’t like these differences, which makes sense. Change always upsets people in the technology world.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been using Ubuntu 11.04 since the second alpha. It was buggy at first, but got better very quickly. So I have to say that a few months of using Unity leaves me loving it. There’s no desktop out there – not Windows, KDE or even OS X – that feels this well integrated and consistent. I can launch any program in just a few clicks, but default, and everything looks beautiful.

Granted, I’m not an expert on UI design, something I’m sure I’ll be told in the comments. But that’s not the point. The point is this: the Ubuntu team is seriously thinking about how to bring progress to the Linux desktop, and every Linux users will eventually benefit from this.

Think differently? Share in the comments below; I would love to have a conversation with all of you. Also feel free to share things you like about the new Ubuntu, because not every comment needs to be negative.

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Growly Notes: A Free Alternative To OneNote For Mac Users

Posted: 30 Apr 2011 10:31 AM PDT

free alternatives to onenoteIf you're a Mac user and have been looking for a free alternative to Microsoft's OneNote, GrowlyBird Software has the perfect solution. The note-taking and planning app, Growly Notes makes it easy to create individual notebooks with colour coded sections, sub-sections, with the ability to add images, PDF, text, audio and movie files directly into the document. The app also comes with several ready-made templates making it easy to dive right in and use Growly Notes in a variety of ways.

The ability to add all sorts of files, links, images and more into your notes turns Growly Notes into so much more than just a note-taking app, elevating it to a great organisational tool. With Growly Notes, it is easy to create any kind of template or notebook to serve pretty much any purpose, and there's no end to how the powerful little app can be used. If you're a freelance writer, it's a great way to keep track of your articles, with a section for each newspaper or site you write for. If you're working on a novel, it can serve as a great way to keep your ideas and thoughts in the planning stage organised. Growly Notes is basically whatever you make of it.

Growly Notes' comes with a few standard templates for notebooks. The first, the Clients Template, allows you to create a notebook to keep track of your current and potential clients, regardless of what your business may be.

free alternatives to onenote

The Moving Checklist, gives you a great place to start when it comes to keeping track of all the various items you have to remember when you’re moving out of your home, and moving into a new place.

onenote alternative

The Student template gives students a great way of keeping track of their assignments, to-do list, schedule, classes, projects and after-school activities.

onenote alternative

The Task List template gives you an alternative way to keep track of your To-Do list.

onenote alternative

To create a new notebook, go to File > New Notebook and you can then choose to create a blank document, or use one of Growly's ready-made templates.

onenote alternative free

To add new sections or pages, simply right-click the menu on the left-hand side and select New Section or New Page.

onenote alternative free

When creating new sections, they are automatically colour coded for you, but if you want to change the colour, simply right click the section title, go to Section Colour and select a new colour.

onenote alternative free

Growly Notes is superior to other note-taking apps because of the extent of the media that you can insert into your notes, going way beyond just being a text editor. With Growly Notes you can add images, PDF files and even movie or audio files directly into your note.

You can also use the app to draw basic shapes, lines, and with variety available, Growly Notes becomes an ideal app for creating flow charts from scratch.

Inserted audio and video files can be played directly within Growly. Not only can you insert media files from your computer, you can also record new audio and video files, using your webcam, directly within the app.

Lastly, you can insert direct links to files on your hard drive.

If you're not a fan of the default tabbed and colourful appearance of Growly Notes, go into Preferences > Appearance, and change Window Layout from Fun to Serious.

The Serious layout is much easier on the eyes, and seems to suit the Mac appearance better.

free alternatives to onenote

If we had just one wish as far as Growly Notes is concerned, it would be to give users a place to share their templates, much like Microsoft does with all of its software.

If you’re looking for a free web-based alternative to OneNote, be sure to check out some of the suggestions listed here.

Have you tried Growly Notes? What do you think of it? What creative uses for Growly Notes have you come up with? Let us know in the comments.

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