Friday, May 6, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [May 5th]” plus 10 more “Cool Websites and Tools [May 5th]” plus 10 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [May 5th]

Posted: 05 May 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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YuDo Magic – Magicians have to go through a lot of training before they can pull off their tricks. If you are interested in becoming a magic tricks performer, then you need all the help available. One good place to start is a site called YuDo Magic, a simple website with video tutorials on how to perform various magic tricks. Read more: YuDo Magic: Video Tutorials For Magic Trick Enthusiasts


BuzzGrowl – By knowing what people are saying about a particular site on social networks you can easily find out how popular the site is. Here to help you quickly see what people are tweeting or Facebook-sharing about the site you are on, is a tool called BuzzGrowl, a browser extension for Google Chrome. Read more: BuzzGrowl: See What People Are Saying About The Sites You Visit [Chrome]



TheaterTag – Are you planning a movie watching day with your friends? If yes, then you need a tool that helps you plan your movie watching schedule for the day. TheaterTag is precisely that tool, a free to use web service that provides information on movies being played in theaters near you. You start by entering your zip code. Read more: TheaterTag: Create A Movie Schedule For A Movie Watching Day



How Web 2.0 – The Internet has evolved a lot in the past few years and this can be easily seen while comparing website interfaces and layouts to even five years ago. Web 2.0 is all the buzz nowadays, being a set of unofficial standards that make your website more interactive and user friendly. How Web 2.0 lets you evaluate how web 2.0 compatible your website is. Read more: How Web 2.0: See How Compatible Your Website Is To Web 2.0 Standards



Do It Tomorrow – If you are the classic hard worker that often gets drowned with a long list of to-do's , then you should probably keep your to-do list short. All you really need to care about is what you have to do today and the day after. Fortunately, Do It Tomorrow is an iOS app that helps you focus on tasks for today and tomorrow without worrying about anything else. Read more: Do It Tomorrow: To-Do App For Things Today & Tomorrow Only [iOS]


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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Play Your Part In The UEFA Champions League With Heineken Star Player [iOS & Facebook]

Posted: 05 May 2011 06:31 PM PDT

uefa champions leagueFor those of you who don’t follow football (the round ball, not the pig skin), the UEFA Champions League pits the crème-de-la-crème of European club football against each other for one of the most prestigious trophies in the world.

Football games generally require management, a fair understanding of the beautiful game or some impressive reaction times. Star Player is slightly different, and plays out in real time alongside the football match you’re watching at home, in the pub or round a friend’s house. Heineken calls it “dual screening” – sitting in front of the TV, watching the match and fiddling with your mobile. Now you can marry the two with Star Player, a free Facebook and iOS app that tests your knowledge and judgement, in real time.

Please note that landscape images depict the Facebook version and portrait images depict the iPhone version.

How It Works

The Star Player app only allows you to play along when the football is on. Unfortunately this will not be for all major football matches, so forget playing along with the Premiership, Bundesliga and so on – this is top-notch European football only, and that’s because Heineken sponsors it.

uefa champions league

10 minutes prior to the big match, players are able to join and wait in queue for kick off to begin. Once kick off begins, a timer appears on the screen (be it your PC via Facebook or your iOS device) which is synchronised with the time shown on your television. Whilst there can be slight inaccuracies in the time on your iOS device or laptop, you’re only at a disadvantage if your clock is behind; and it’s easy to re-sync.


Heineken Star Player is human controlled, and not an automated process. For each and every game there is an expert behind the scenes, controlling what appears on your screen.

During the match you will be presented with a number of Match Moments where input is required from yourself regarding a moment of play. For example, when the ball goes out for a corner you might be prompted to choose one of four options – Goal, Saved, Cleared and Missed. All you’ve got to do is second-guess the game, and if you’re right you get some points.


There’s also a 30 Second Goal button with 8 chances (plus one extra via a power up) per match. If you think someone’s about to score (either team) and you’ve hit your 30 second goal button, you’ll be glued to the TV willing your overpaid idols to score. The earlier you hit the button, the more points you get.


You might also (during duller moments of the game) get a few trivia questions pop-up. These are generally Heineken-tinged, but fun nonetheless – did you know it takes 78 regular-sized bottles of Heineken to fill the UEFA Champions League trophy? Nor did I, but it was a lucky guess.

Points, Power Ups & Badges

Your points are not only added to your Star Player profile, allowing you to keep track of your progress, but also help rank you amongst your friends. As well as a global leaderboard, fans are able to create their own 24-man leagues from within the app. These are free and unfortunately do not offer prizes; just a chance to brag. If your mates have already established a league, it’s easy to join too.

heineken star player

In order to aid you on your trivia quest, 2 Who Wants To Be A Millionaire-style “Power Ups” are provided to help you – a 50:50 (taking away two wrong answers) and Max Points (if you’re sure of your answer use it and you’ll score top marks). Your final power-up is an additional 30 Second Goal chance – use them wisely.

As you complete certain criteria, you will be awarded Badges (a bit like Xbox Live Achievements and Foursquare Badges). These are displayed on your profile, and whilst they don’t really serve any external purpose it’s fun to keep track of your performances.

Tactics or Guesswork?

The real question is whether the game relies on tactics or complete luck – and it probably depends how much you like football. If you eat, sleep and breathe the beautiful game then you’ll probably find Star Player tests both knowledge of football and your ability to read the game you’re watching.

heineken star player

Waiting to find out exactly who will be taking the free kick, penalty or corner pays off (provided you’re familiar with the players). The 30 Second Goal button becomes hard to resist when you see a textbook cross, promising run or simply feel that goal is just round the corner.

Then again if you’re not a massive football fan, the game holds some promise there too. You don’t need any knowledge of the game to play along and the most you have to choose from in one action is four options – so you’ve got a 25% chance on every question.

uefa champions league

The fact that Star Player is free is as good a reason as any to try out some pretty impressive, real time tech. There’s not an awful lot left of this year’s Champions League, but the Star Player app will continue next year giving you plenty of time to rack up the points.


Star Player makes for a great companion to a football match, without being too distracting. Well-timed Match Moments, fun trivia questions and a great competitive element should appeal to football fans and casual viewers alike.

One quick last tip – if you’re playing on an iPhone or similar, you’ll need a fair chunk of battery (50%) to make it through the full 90 minutes (maybe more if it goes to extra time and penalties).

Are you interested in real time football games? Will you try out Star Player? Who will win the 2011 UEFA Champions League? Let us know in the comments below.



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5 Weird Windows Bugs & Easter Eggs You Have To See

Posted: 05 May 2011 04:31 PM PDT

weird windows bugsWe all know that Windows isn’t perfect. I will take a leap and say that no program is. The thing is, Windows errors, more than anything, can drive people crazy.

But apart from plain old errors, there are also some bugs and Easter Eggs hidden in all versions of Windows. Care to discover 5 of them?

1. Naming & Renaming Folders

For the first one, try to create a folder named CON and you will see the following thing happening:

weird windows bugs

The same thing happens when you try any of the following names:

PRN, LPT1, LPT2, (…), LPT9, NUL, COM1, (…), COM9, and CLOCK$

All of the above names are reserved device names, which cannot be used as file names or folder names, regardless of the file extension. This is a relic from DOS, which has made its way through all versions of Windows, including Windows 7.

Source: Wikipedia

2. Advanced Calculations

Let’s do some basic maths together. Please use your head first. Highlight the next two lines to see the respective answers.

What is the square root of four? It’s two, isn’t it?

And what do you get if you subtract two from two? Zero, right?

Now let’s do the above calculation using the Windows calculator. Type in 4, take the square root and from the result subtract 2. What do you get now?

windows bugs

See why they don’t want you to use calculators at school?

To my knowledge, there is no explanation for this result. The operation returns different numbers in different versions of Windows, so it’s possibly a bug by design or an Easter Egg and not some weird functional error. What was your result?

3. Notepad Bug (XP Only)

This bug no longer works in Windows Vista or Windows 7, but if you’re still running Windows XP, give it a try.

Launch Notepad and type the following sentence: Bush hid the facts

Now save the file as anything you like, close it and open it again. What do you see?

windows bugs

If you did this in Windows XP, you probably see some weird unicode characters or Chinese characters like in the screenshot above. By the way, I have to admit that I ‘forged’ the screenshot because I no longer run Windows XP.

The explanation for this bug lies in the Windows function ‘IsTextUnicode’. When a text file is encoded in Windows-1252 it is interpreted as UTF-16LE, resulting in the so-called mojibake. It means that Notepad recognizes unicode characters representing Chinese characters and translates them back into Chinese characters.

Source: Wikipedia

4. Microsoft Word Trick

Open Microsoft Word and type the following: =rand (5,10)

weird windows bugs

What happens is that Word creates 5 paragraphs, each containing 10 identical sentences. The sentence will vary, depending on the primary language of your operating system. On English Windows, you will see this sentence: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

This is not a bug, it’s a feature! Many of you certainly know that the above sentence contains all letters of the alphabet. In this case it’s nothing more than a dummy or placeholder. Depending on the numbers you pick, you can make it appear in many more paragraphs and copies. The trick is also known as =rand (200,99).

5. Solitaire Bug (XP Only)

Here is another trick that apparently disappeared in Windows 7. Please try it if you have Windows XP.

Open Solitaire and click the following key combination: [ALT] + [SHIFT] + [2]

When you click the above key combination, the game ends right there and you see the cards jumping to the front in waves, as they do when a game is completed successfully.

What did you see when you tried to reproduce the above bugs and what are your favorite Windows Easter Eggs?

Image credits: Antonov Roman



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How To Remove Ambient Noise From Your Audio Files Using Audacity

Posted: 05 May 2011 02:31 PM PDT

how to remove background noise from audioIf you’re a little bit musical or you make your own podcasts, you’ve probably noticed that sometimes your recordings can sound a little annoying due to the background noise captured in the recording process. This white noise is not always easy to remove, but can be minimalised by the use of free tools and a little know-how.

Audacity is a free program available for Mac, Windows and Linux, so most people should be able to download this and use it to clean up their recordings. Today we’ll take you through a few simple steps you can use on all recordings to remove background noise from audio.

Install Audacity

When you’ve downloaded Audacity, you’ll notice that it’s able to be used to import or record music and vocal tracks and can be used to mix tracks together for other purposes. This makes it very useful to musicians and podcasters alike, whether you are an amateur or a professional. It’s very easy to isolate sections of each individual track and use the editing features to remove the ambient noise in the background.

Import Or Record Audio

Either import the audio file you wish to clean up, or use Audacity as the recording tool. In Mac you need to go to Project > Import Audio, whereas in Windows you’d use File > Import > Audio.

how to remove background noise from audio

Isolate A Quiet Moment

After importing, you’ll see the tracks of the audio file as separate lines in Audacity. This shows the waveform of the track. Flat sections are quiet while big vertical lines indicate the noisy sections.

noise removal help audacity

Zoom in until you can find a moment where there was no deliberate sound in the track (the flattest bit you can find), such as when you paused for a moment. Go to View > Zoom In. Then highlight the flat section by clicking and dragging with your mouse across that part of the track. Audacity suggests this selection shouldn’t be longer than a half a second.

noise removal help audacity

This will isolate a moment where all you recorded was the ambient background noise. By letting Audacity know precisely how much background noise there was, it can calculate how to remove it from the rest of the track.

Step 1 – Get Noise Profile

Once you’ve selected the quiet part of the track, go to select Effect > Noise Removal.

noise removal help audacity

This opens up a dialogue to remove the noise. You’re performing Step 1 here, so click on “Get Noise Profile” and the dialogue will disappear. You can do this again at any time and it will overwrite the previous selection. What happens next is a little confusing, as it has already acknowledged your quiet section of your audio track and simply shut the window on you.

how to remove background noise from audio

Step 2 – Apply Noise Reduction

Now Audacity needs to know which parts of the audio track you want to apply the noise reduction to. Most likely, you’ll want to apply the reduction to the whole project, so click CTRL-A or CMD-A to select all. If you want to select just a portion of the track or just one track, place your cursor at the start of your desired selection and go to Edit > Select > Cursor to End. Then, to remove ambient noise from the selection, go to Effect > Noise Removal again.

We’ve done step 1, so skip to step 2 now. Move the slider to indicate how aggressively you want Audacity to strip the background noise from your track. Many people tend towards the lower end, since stripping out too much sound can make voices sound quite tinny and weird. You can preview the sound or go straight to “Remove Noise“. If you don’t like it later, you can undo it. Make sure you listen to it before you go on to make more changes.

When you view your tracks, you should be able to see that the peaks are not quite as high, and the flat sections are far flatter now.

If you’re dealing with a special case, such as removing noise from cassette audio, take a look at the full Audacity wiki page on noise removal. There’s some great tips.

See also these great articles on Audacity:

Image Credit: ShutterStock



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Hot Tech Deals – Asus RT-N13U 802.11n Wireless-N Router + more

Posted: 05 May 2011 01:30 PM PDT

The insane deal is back! The Yamaha YMC-700 NeoHD Wifi Media Controller 5.1ch AV Receiver is available at $177.99, down $620 from its original price of $799.99! What a deal.

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

  1. Asus RT-N13U 802.11n Wireless 11N Router w/ USB for Print Sharing $34.99AR Free Shipping via code EMCKEKE26 (Exp 5/11) and rebate
  2. Rosewill RNX-N180UB 802.11n USB 2.0 Wireless N Adapter $9.99 Free Shipping via code EMCKEKE27 (Exp 5/11)
  3. Logitech C310 High Definition Webcam w/ Mic (720p) $23.99AR Free Shipping via code EMCKEKE33 (Exp 5/11) and rebate
  4. Yamaha YMC-700 NeoHD Wifi Media Controller 5.1ch AV Receiver $177.99 Free Shipping via code EMCKEKE36 (Exp 5/11)
  5. MartinLogan MLT-1 5.1ch Home Theater Speakers $299.99 Free Shipping via code EMCKEKE37 (Exp 5/11)
  6. JVC GZ-HM320B High Definition 8GB Flash Camcorder (REFURB) $124.99 Free Shipping
  7. TODAY ONLY Apple Macbook Pro Unibody 13.3in Intel Core i5 Dual-Core 2.3GHz Laptop $1049
  8. Dell Vostro 230 Mini Intel Core 2 Duo E7500 2.93GHz Desktop w/ Viewsonic 24in LCD $469
  9. Dell Vostro 230 Mini Intel Dual-Core E5800 3.2GHz Mini Tower Desktop w/ 22in LCD $399

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ctrlQ: The Search Engine To Find The Best RSS Feeds

Posted: 05 May 2011 12:31 PM PDT

best rss feedsQuickly find the exact RSS feed you're looking for. Whether it's a feed for a blog or a hard-to-find podcast, ctrlQ is the cleanest RSS search engine we've ever seen. It also sports a lot of advanced features, making finding even obscure feeds a snap.

RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is still the best way to keep up with a particular news source, even if social networking is closing in. Far too often however, RSS feeds for a particular website are buried and hard to find, if they can be found at all. That's when it's nice to search for a given feed directly.

We've highlighted a number of RSS search engines in the past, but none as clean as As recently announced by Digital Inspiration, this site uses the Google Feeds API to make searching for a particular RSS feed not only possible but simple.

Basic Usage

Using this search engine isn't all that different from using Google or Bing; just type what you're looking for. Unlike other engines though, you're not looking for a specific page: you're looking for a specific feed. For example, you might be looking for the greatest podcast in the history of humanity:

best rss feeds

As an aside, this particular podcast is much easier to find here than anywhere else, I should add, because of the Times of London's poorly done paywall. Their New York namesake did a much better job with their paywall.

Once you find a particular RSS feed, you can preview its contents:

best rss news feeds

I like this feature; it's a good way to check for new articles when I'm away from my feedreader.

Do you use a cloud-based feedreader? Good news: there's a simple way to add feeds you find:

best rss news feeds

Use these buttons to quickly add your feed. If you use a desktop reader, sadly, you'll need to do some copying and pasting, but that's not so terrible a burden.

Search Like A Pro

If this were everything here I don't think I'd write up this site. Happily it isn't. With the use of a few clever search modifiers, you can use this tool to find all kinds of obscure feeds you never knew existed. For example, did you know that the New York Times has an ice hockey feed?

best rss feeds

Me neither, but it does. You can search any site for any topic this way; just use the prefix “site:” followed by a particular website, as shown above.

There are other clever uses, of course. One example given on ctrlQ’s homepage is “google”, which allows you to find all of the Google employees on Twitter. How does this work? It shows every Twitter feed with “Google” in the profile. The prefix “inurl” means a given word in the URL of a given feed.

Another useful prefix is “allintitle:”, which allows you to find the best RSS feeds with a given word in the title.


This is going to be my new go-to place to find particular RSS feeds, including podcasts. I'm interested – can you think of a use for such a service? Let me know in the comments below. Also feel free to share the best RSS feeds you find with the service; we love discovering new things.



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Check Out Debt & Fraud Near You With Equifax Mobile [iPhone & Android]

Posted: 05 May 2011 11:31 AM PDT

map of debtThese days, you don’t usually hear much news about the big three credit reporting agencies – TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. They’re always there whenever you need to put a freeze on your credit after identity theft, or if you need to conduct a credit check on someone, but other than that, they’re fairly dull, boring entities in my opinion.

With that said, Equifax is changing that with a shiny new mobile app called Equifax Mobile. About half of the application is intended for customers who have an Equifax account and desire instant access to personal credit information, the other half of the application doesn’t require an account at all. It’s actually a standalone feature that you can use to check out the level of debt, average mortgage payments and even levels of debt fraud in your local area.

We’ve covered a lot about debt here at MUO – from the Creditable web app that helps you manage your credit, to three great blogs that help you become credit educated.  This useful mobile app is available for both Android and iPhone, and it’s perfect for real estate agents, house hunters, journalists, academics and more. The data is pulled straight out of the Equifax credit database. I’d imagine there would be some privacy considerations involved, but for the time being, no one has complained.

Equifax Lets You See The Community Credit Standing

Once you install the application to your phone, you’ll see two buttons – Equifax Places and Member Log In. The free section of this app is Equifax Places.

map of debt

The first thing you’ll see when you click on Equifax Places is the default view of local average debt levels. You’ll see a map of debt averages per town, and even in a few cases a few averages per town. I was pretty shocked to see some of the debt levels in my local area. Keep in mind that the default view includes things like mortgages, car loans and credit card loans all under the umbrella of “average debt.”

debt app

To change this setting, just touch the “Change” button. You can fine-tune what types of debt are displayed on the map.

debt app

I tried changing to “Average Mortgage Payment” to see what most people are paying for their mortgages around here. I discovered that everyone else pays a lot less than we do! Then again, this is an aggregate of everything from new homes to old homes as well as one bedroom shacks to luxurious mansions. So, take the numbers with a grain of salt.

debt app

If you’re done sifting through the local financial health of your community, you can move on to the level of financial unhealthy behaviors by going back to the menu and choosing credit fraud. Fraud includes improperly filling out loan applications in order to secure credit. I expected to find lots of fraud in the local low-income community, but was pleasantly surprised to see fairly low levels throughout the area.

financial maps

You can enter in any city and zip code to see the map of debt and credit health for any community in the United States. I checked the local city here, Portland, and learned that Portland residents are pretty healthy in terms of credit applications. Surprisingly, one of the wealthiest communities on the coast – Falmouth – had high levels of credit fraud. Interesting!

financial maps

You can filter the credit fraud display by a number of demographics like Age, Gender, Income or Credit Score.

map of debt

This innocent-looking application is actually an impressive window into the private financial information of entire communities. It collects the individual credit worthiness of credit customers, and accumulates it all into an anonymous, but highly informative snapshot of what the area debt situation looks like.

Credit health tells you a lot about people, and it tells you a lot about a community. When you’re house hunting, starting a business or looking for a good place to rent, this information can be very helpful. That isn’t to say that people with poor credit are bad, but that communities that have a lot of people with poor credit, probably have difficulty collecting taxes and paying for important things like good roads and schools.

Give Equifax Mobile a try. Did you learn anything new about your neighbors? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image Credit : Andres Rueda



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How To Create Your Own Music Stream With Icecast [Linux]

Posted: 05 May 2011 10:31 AM PDT

create music streamThere are a handful of people who find creating their own streams a useful thing to do, for whatever reason they want or need. Ever since the YouTube era started video streaming has been hot and music/audio streaming is still a pretty common thing to find. The process in Linux, though pretty easy for basic configuration, is somewhat lengthy.


Icecast is actually just the service that will stream the audio that is played by another music daemon. In this article we’ll be using mpd, which is an accepted combination by most people. The instructions will, for the most part, work in any Linux distribution, though I will be specifically covering Ubuntu and Fedora. Unless there are major differences in the commands, Ubuntu users will need to add “sudo” to the front of each command that I cover where root permissions are needed (which is a large portion). All commands will not include the quotation marks.

These instructions are for a simple setup, and is not the securest way to do things. If you wish to create your own music stream and share it publicly and not within your network, please make sure that you follow appropriate security measures.


Installing & Configuring MPD

The first thing is to install mpd, so fire up your terminal. Fedora users need to switch to root by typing “su -” and entering their passwords. Then, in Fedora, issue the command “yum install mpd“, while Ubuntu users use “sudo apt-get install mpd“. Once that completes, use your favorite terminal editor (such as nano) to edit the file at /etc/mpd.conf.

In the first couple of lines, find the following and replace them with your regular username (or create a new user specifically for Icecast and use that instead):

music_directory "/home/USER/music"
playlist_directory "/home/USER/music/playlists"
db_file "/home/USER/.mpd/mpd.db"
log_file "/home/USER/.mpd/mpd.log"
error_file "/home/USER/.mpd/mpd.error"

Soon after that chunk of text will be a small line, where you again need to replace the user with the one you wish to use:

user "USER"

Next, find the following text and make sure it matches:

bind_to_address ""
port "6600"

Finally, find a large chunk that looks similar to this (in Fedora, it is the third “audio_output” group in the default configuration file):

audio_output {
type "shout"
name "Stream short description"
host "localhost"
port "8000"
mount "/mpd.ogg"
password "hackme"
quality "5.0"
# bitrate "128"
format "44100:16:2"
# user "source" # optional
# description "My Stream Description" # optional
# genre "jazz" # optional
# public "no" # optional

Change the information in your own configuration file to match them with the code above. For simple use, you can keep the “hackme” password, but if you wish to share your stream with the Internet, I highly recommend you change it. Once you are done editing the file, save it and close out of your editor.

Next, leave your root permissions (or drop off the sudo if you use Ubuntu) and type the following:

cd $HOME
mkdir -p music/playlists
mkdir .mpd

This creates the necessary folders that the mpd daemon needs as described in the configuration file.

Installing Icecast

create music stream

Next we will install Icecast, so Fedora and Ubuntu users need to type (as root) “yum install icecast” and “sudo apt-get install icecast“, respectively.

If you didn’t change the password in mpd, then there’s no configuration needed for Icecast! However, if you did use a different password or want to change port numbers, you can change all instances of those in the configuration file, which is located at /etc/icecast.xml.

Installing & Configuring Pitchfork

Congratulations! You already have all of the background services installed and configured! However you still need an interface to configure mpd, else it won’t know what to play. I recommend that you use a Web-based configuration tool called Pitchfork. In order to be able to run that, we need to install some more packages.

In Fedora, we’ll type “yum install httpd mysql-server php php-mysql php-gd php-pear“. In Ubuntu, it’ll be “sudo apt-get install apache2 mysql-server libapache2-mod-php5 php5 php5-mysql php5-gd php5-pear“.

Once that finishes installing, download Pitchfork from here and extract the files into Apache’s default folder, which is either /var/www or /var/www/html depending on the system. In order to keep things easy for us, type the following:

chown -R apache:apache /var/www OR chown -R apache:apache /var/www/html
chmod -R 777 /var/www/config OR chmod -R 777 /var/www/html/config

Before we get to the more fun parts, we still need to start our services. We have three services, httpd (or apache2 in Ubuntu), Icecast, and mpd. So in Fedora, we’ll type “service <NAME> start“, replacing <NAME> with the service’s name. In Ubuntu, do the same for the command “sudo /etc/init.d/<NAME> start“.

Now fire up your favorite browser and head to localhost (or if you’ve been doing all these steps on a separate server, head to that server’s address). You should now be greeted by Pitchfork, and we can go ahead and configure it.

create streaming music

Under the configuration page, there’s actually not much you need to do. Just make sure that the address and port are the same as in mpd’s configuration file, and leave the password field blank. In the middle you can enter a login password so that access to Pitchfork can be restricted. Save and you’ll be sent back to the main page. Now you can add songs and have them play over Icecast!

create streaming music

If you want to connect to your stream, there’s an easy way to do so. Provided that you open port 8000, you can go to a different computer, go to a browser and type <IP_ADDRESS>:8000, and click on the M3U link. You’re finally done!

create music stream

Final Considerations

Please note that on Pitchfork the volume slider does not work. However, your media player should have one, so that shouldn’t be a problem. Also, when adding songs, they may not immediately appear. In this case you should simply refresh the page.

Considering the steps needed, I will provide some support in the comment section. If you have problems, ask for help there!


Icecast is a great way to get music on the go. Plus who doesn’t want their personal online radio station? Creating your own music stream can have its purposes and let you have some fun as well.

Do you think you’ll be creating a music stream? What do you like or not like about the idea? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Shutterstock



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Build Your Own Personalized Web Magazine With Pressjack

Posted: 05 May 2011 09:31 AM PDT

make a web magazineLove it or hate it, it’s undeniable that the iPad has redefined the course of the computer world. Many industries have already made their moves to adapt to this “post-PC” era, and the publishing industry is one of those which is trying the hardest to fit in.

There is no official standard of what the modern day publication should be like, but most people agree that iPad’s Flipboard and Zite are two great examples to follow. Big publishers pay professionals to redesign their publications to be more iPad friendly, while smaller ones try to do everything on their own or use ready-made templates like OnSwipe for WordPress.

If you are a fan of an iPad magazine layout and you want to publish your own, or if you just want to read your favorite news in this kind of layout, you could try Pressjack – a multi platform magazine publisher that will help you produce a web magazine from RSS feeds.

Early Editions

Pressjack is available for Windows and Mac. It works by collecting the RSS feeds of your choice and converting them into a nice e-magazine. The service is intended for publishers, but that doesn’t mean that ordinary people like us can’t try the app to create a bundle of our favorite feeds.

Pressjack is still in its very early beta with many “coming soon” features. But all the basic features are ready, and the 30-day trial version of the application is already available to download. In the near future, the developer will offer three pricing plans, including a free plan supported by advertisements.

make a web magazine

The main window consists of three tabs: “Content“, “Articles“, and “Output“. Let’s start by building the content of the magazine. You can use the default “My Publication” or you could add more publications to the library.

how to make a web magazine

When you add a new publication, the app will ask you to give a name to the publication. You could go with a general name or you could use the article source as the name, like MakeUseOf.

how to make a web magazine

Next, add the feed by clicking the “+” button above the “Publication Feeds” table. Fill in the feeder’s name, category, and the feed’s URL.

how to make a web magazine

After adding all the feeds that you want in the list, click the “Build” button under the feed list and Pressjack will start downloading the content of the feeds and building your magazine.

web magazine design

The Articles & The (Future) Features

You will find a list of all the articles from your feeds under the “Articles” tab. You can select one from the list and preview the text and other contents of the article in the right pane.

web magazine design

There are several article options which are disabled in the trial version. I think it means that they will be available in the future full version.

web magazine design

The “Output” tab is the place to preview the fully functional final result. It’s also the place to enable or disable features that you want to include in the magazine, such as Bookmarks, Print, Help, Fullscreen, and Statistics via Google Analytics.

web magazine design

You can also include the option to share the magazine via email and/or social networks.

02d output sharing

Those who want to go further can customize the “Scripts” to fit their needs. Those who don’t know what they are doing had better leave these scripts alone.

02f output email script 2

Publishing The Magazine To The Web

The final product of Pressjack is an interactive web magazine. Publishers will be able to upload the magazines to their chosen web server and give access to their readers to read them online. Unfortunately, this feature is still disabled in the trial version. What users can do is upload the magazine to the Pressjack server, and the magazine will stay alive for 7 days.

This limitation will make the current version of Pressjack unusable for publishers who want to spread their magazines to the masses. However, individual news junkies can use the application to build their own personalized web magazines.

To upload the magazine to the web, press “Publish“. This process can take a while depending on how large the article collection is and how fast the internet connection is.

030 upload

When the magazine has been uploaded, a small window with links to the online and offline versions of the magazine will appear. Even though the online version will only be available for about a week, you can keep the offline version forever.

03x published

This is what the web magazine looks like. Those who are familiar with Flipboard will see a resemblance in the interface between Pressjack and Flipboard.

03a result front

The first page after the cover is the table of contents. You can jump into any article from this page, or you can flip through the pages like a normal magazine.

03b content

The magazine’s features are available at the top of every page.  Hover the mouse over the features to know more about them.

make a web magazine

Ironically, even though Pressjack designed the magazine layout to mimic iPad magazines, the result is not accessible from an iPad (or other iOS devices) because it uses Flash technology.

What do you think of the “iPad magazine layout” trend? Have you tried Pressjack? Do you know of other similar applications? Share your thoughts and opinions using the comments below.



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3 Great Alternatives To Portal 2 When You’ve Finished Playing It

Posted: 05 May 2011 08:31 AM PDT

games like portalI love Valve, and I love Portal 2. It’s easily among the best game I've ever played. But it's also a short game. After eight hours, the game was done with me, but I wasn't done with it. I still had the itch to play a unique puzzle game.

If you've been similarly spurned by the fact that Portal 2 isn't infinite, give these five games a try. Honestly, they're not as great as Valve's masterpiece, but they're all solid games with their own unique mechanics.

The Ball

games like portal

Like Portal 2, booting up The Ball means learning a wild premise that is at first difficult to understand. The title of the game is perfectly descriptive, because the mechanics revolve around using a gigantic ball to solve puzzles, bust through obstacles and occasionally defeat enemies.

While The Ball uses a first-person perspective and focuses heavily on puzzle solving, the game is different from Portal 2 in other ways. The level design introduces massive spaces that only a few moments of Portal 2 can rival, and you will run into enemies that must be defeated using problem solving and The Ball.

Make no mistake; The Ball can't rival the excellent design and detail of the Portal games, but it offers an experience that is at one similar and unique, and it's easily one of the most polished and complex indie games around today.

Super Meat Boy

portal 2

Some gamers will disagree with me on this recommendation, but hear me out. While Super Meat Boy and Portal 2 have different perspectives and wildly different level design, they are both puzzle games at the core. It is impossible to beat Super Meat Boy without figuring out the underlying mechanics that make the level difficult.

Where Super Meat Boy deviates from Portal 2 is difficulty. I doubt I died more than five or six times throughout the entire game. Super Meat Boy is entirely the opposite. Once you move past the first world of levels, you'll likely die five or six times every level. You may need to try fifty times before beating the most difficult ones.

Sound frustrating? It can be, and that's part of the point. But like Portal 2, Super Meat Boy places you back to the beginning of the level when you die, and each individual level is short. It's no problem to put the game down for a while when you can't figure out a level, and indeed you should. This is not a game that you’re supposed to pound through in day-long marathon sessions, but rather one you dabble in twenty minutes at a time.

Lara Croft & The Guardian Of Light

games like portal

Franchises can be a blessing or a curse. If your franchise has a good reputation, simply slapping the franchise name on a box can guarantee sales. If your franchise is known for being shallow, however, you'll have a hard time convincing gamers that the latest title is actually a great action-puzzler.

Such is the case with Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. Yes, this is still a Lara Croft title and yes, she's still a smoking virtual hottie. But remember, this game has two characters in its title. The second, the Guardian of Light, is an ancient tribesman who assists Lara in her adventure. His unique abilities make the game's puzzles solvable; for example, he has spears that can be used as a weapon or to help Lara.

You’ll be most interested in the game if you enjoyed Portal 2's co-op play. In this Croft puzzler the co-op mode gives one player control of Lara, while the other is given control of the Guardian of Light. Each player has unique abilities that must be utilized to defeat enemies and solve puzzles. Much of the game’s fun comes from using the two different characters well, so you’re missing out a bit when playing solo.


Personally, I think this are the three titles you should certainly check out if you enjoyed Portal 2. There are two titles that I didn't mention, however, that you might want to check out as well. These are Narbacular Drop and Tag: The Power of Paint.

Narbacular Drop is the game that originally inspired Portal, and Tag: The Power of Paint is the game that inspired the gel puzzles in Portal 2. Both of these games are student projects that are available for free. Obviously, they lack the polish of a professional retail release, and they’re also rather short, but it's fun to see where the ideas behind Portal 2 originated.

Let us know in the comments if you can suggest any other Portal 2 alternatives.



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Spotify Takes Aim At iTunes, Mobile App Now Free To All [News]

Posted: 05 May 2011 07:31 AM PDT

After halving the amount of music available to free users last month, music streaming service Spotify has declared another big shake-up: its own music store, complete with iPod management. All users could already purchase the songs they liked through Spotify, though the service was provided by another company, 7Digital.

Spotify also announced that their mobile app which was previously limited to premium members is now available for all to download and use. Don’t expect to be streaming any of Spotify’s 9 million songs on the go however, as free accounts are only able to sync existing audio files that you have imported into Spotify on your Windows or Mac PC.

The company claims that these changes will hopefully make Spotify “the only music player you’ll ever need”, though opinion is split on whether the green giant can take a bite out of Apple’s core.

Users will be able to sync their iPod classic, nano and shuffle players directly within the program itself, with your iDevice appearing in Spotify’s sidebar. Similarly iPhone, iPod Touch and Android users who download the mobile app will be able to wirelessly sync their own tunes (but again, no Spotify streaming without a premium account).

Pricing for Spotify’s new download service is designed to reflect the way users listen to music, with per-track downloads and playlist purchases starting from 50p per track (that’s 100 tracks for £50). In the UK 10 tracks will now cost you £7.99, 15 tracks £9.99 and 40 tracks for £25; the service has not yet been launched in the US but these recent changes suggest it probably won’t be too far off now.

90% of Spotify listeners opt for the free option, so the company has got its work cut out in order to convert the masses.

If you have previously purchased any music within Spotify whilst 7Digital were the content suppliers, you can still download your old 7Digital purchases via the company’s website or any of the mobile apps that 7Digital serves.

Do you use Spotify? Are you more likely to use Spotify now? Will this make any difference? Have your say in the comments.



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