Saturday, May 14, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [May 13th]” plus 11 more “Cool Websites and Tools [May 13th]” plus 11 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [May 13th]

Posted: 13 May 2011 08:31 PM PDT

Check out some of the latest MakeUseOf discoveries. Most of the listed websites are FREE or come with a decent free account option. If you want to have similar cool website round-ups delivered to your daily email, subscribe here.

Add Your Website Here!


Waatp – Are you searching for people online? If yes, then instead of heading to your favorite social network, head on over to Waatp, a real time search engine to find people. It is a simple and excellent people search engine which searches for people using their first and last name. Read more: Waatp: An Excellent People Search Engine


World At Protest – Around the world, people protest various causes. These protests are reported by numerous news sources. If you would like to check out these reported protests, visit a site called World At Protest, a simple site that collects protest-related articles from numerous news sources. Read more: World At Protest: View People Protest News & Reports From Around The World



Weezic – When musicians practice classical music, they have corresponding music accompaniments playing in the background to assist them. Musicians in search of classical music for their instrument should head on over to Weezic, a free to use website that has a wide range of classical music for a number of musical instruments. Read more: Weezic: Get Free Music Accompaniments For Your Instrument



LiveGo – Most computer users connect with their friends through multiple social networks and messaging clients. Staying up to date with all accounts therefore becomes quite complicated and time consuming. Here to offer a solution by merging social networking, email, and messaging is a web service called LiveGO. Read more: LiveGo: Merge Your Social, Email & IM Accounts Into A Single Easy To Use Interface



Sweet Home! – is an Android app that lets users transfer data wirelessly from their Android phone to a local area network. That means whatever photos you took from your Android phone's camera while you were out can now be quickly synchronized to your home computer over Wi-Fi. The file transfer starts automatically as soon as your phone detects and connects to the network. Read more: Sweet Home!: Transfer Data Wirelessly From Android To A Home Network


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 9 Best Questions From You [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 13 May 2011 06:31 PM PDT

MakeUseOf AnswersEvery Friday MakeUseOf Answers honors the Best Answer of the Week . Every answer enters the contest and once you submit a solution, you have a real chance to win. The best thing is that you don’t need Facebook to participate and it doesn’t matter where you are from! All we need is a way to get in touch with you in case your answer is picked.

This week the best answers were given by:

Best Answer of the Week – Jay

1st Runner Up – Rodrigo (pending)

2nd Runner Up – ha14

Congratulations to the winners!

Didn’t win but are eager to increase your chances next week? Maybe you have some great input for the best questions of the week!

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.

Need help? Ask A Question at MakeUseOf Answers.

SuperTinTin – Skype Video Call Recorder
Record and save your audio and video conversations on Skype or MSN. Easy to use.


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5 More Powerfully Useful Safari Extensions You Should Try

Posted: 13 May 2011 04:31 PM PDT

safari extensionsAlmost two years ago, Apple finally set up a way for developers to create extensions for its fast and easy-to-use web browser, Safari. You can access available extensions by clicking on Safari > Safari Extensions Gallery in the menu bar. That will take you to a gallery page with over three dozen extensions to choose from.

Apple has also made it easy to install extensions. You simply click on the install button for an extension and it will automatically get embedded into your Safari browser. In most cases you don’t even have to restart Safari in order to begin using the installed programs. However, if for some reason an extension doesn’t show up or work, just restart Safari and you should be good to go.

You can turn off and on extensions by clicking on Safari > Preferences > Extensions. It’s a good idea to completely uninstall any extensions you’re not using.

safari extensions

All of the extensions described below can be found in the Safari Extensions Gallery.

Duplicate Tab Button

One of my most used Safari extensions is Thiemo’s Duplicate Tab Button. The name says it all. It simply duplicates the currently active tab and opens it in a new tab or browser window. Before using this extension I can’t count how many times I would be on a webpage and wanted to, for example, leave a comment, but at the same time refer to or check a piece of the article as I’m writing.

most popular safari extensions

With Duplicate Tab Button I can simply duplicate the page, move it over to my second monitor attached to my computer, and blast away with my comment. Duplicate Tab Button is a simple but powerful little tool.


If you’re a heavy Google Tools user, BBShare Networking has developed a Google toolbar, similar to the toolbar available for Firefox, that you should probably check out.

most popular safari extensions

Though it grows your Safari browser by half an inch, it provides you with icons for most all of Google’s popular tools and sites, including Google Search, YouTube, Gmail. Google Reader, Voice and a lot more. The toolbar does clutter up Safari a little, but it’s a faster way of accessing specific Google sites.


Another search tool extension is KeySearch. You use it by typing in a keyword for a designated website, such as “youtube,” followed by a topic, and then hit the Return key. KeySearch will navigate to the website and perform the topic search for you. This saves you the trouble of always using Google for searches.

most popular safari extensions

What’s even more powerful about this extension is that you can create keywords for your favorite sites. So for example, to create a keyword for MakeUseOf, simply navigate to the search field of a MUO page, right- or Control-click in the search box and choose “Create keyword for this search” in the drop-down box. You will be asked to give your keyword a name, such as “muo.”

extensions for safari

Now instead of first navigating to to do a search, you simply type “muo [followed by the topic you're searching for] and hit the Return key. KeySearch will take you to MakeUseOf and do the search for you. Click on the “Edit Keywords” in the KeySearch toolbar to manage your settings.

ResizeMe 1.0

One of the downsides of web browsing is that you have to keep re-sizing browser windows to view the content on the page. This is especially a problem for laptops and other smaller screens.

extensions for safari

Well, the extension ResizeMe may be of some use for this problem. When you click the ResizeMe icon in your Safari toolbar, (after it’s installed of course) it will re-size the frontmost Safari window to the size you set in the preference settings for ResizeMe. These settings are located in Safari > Preferences > Extensions > ResizeMe.

extensions for safari

Mindful Browsing

The Internet is a gigantic encyclopedia of information and an amusement park of entertainment, which means that sometimes it can be a huge distraction when you’re constantly visiting Facebook, Twitter, and other sites you can’t seem to tear your eyeballs from.

safari extensions

The extension, Mindful Browsing may well help you with your addiction to visiting specific sites. With Mindful Browsing you will get a warning that you blocked a designated site for certain period of time and/or days. You can ignore the warning if you want, but at least you’ll be reminded that you’re about to feed your addiction yet again. Thus the first step to tearing yourself away from Facebook for three days straight may be downloading and installing Mindful Browsing.

So these are the top five Safari extensions I’ve recently added to my Safari browser. There are others, including the weather extension tool, Cloudy, Facebook Ads Blocker, and the social network sharing extension, YourVersion, that might also be of interest to you.

Let us know about your favorite Safari extensions and how you use them. If you’re looking for reviews of other Safari extensions, check out these MUO articles, here and here.

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Miren – A Fantastic Free Browser For The Android Phone

Posted: 13 May 2011 03:31 PM PDT

android web browserThe stock Android browser isn’t half bad. For one thing, it works. You type in a Web address and it takes you there. For most people, that’s enough. But if you’re reading MakeUseOf, chances are you might be looking for a mobile browser with a bit more oomph.

When people ask me about an alternative Android web browser, I usually point them in the direction of Dolphin Browser or Opera. But there’s now a new kid on the block called Miren. Miren tries to provide “the most intuitive browsing experience” for Android. But does it deliver the goods?

The first thing we’ll look at is, naturally, the first thing you’ll see as you launch Miren:

android web browser

This is the startup screen. The attention to detail is evident right from the get-go. As I rotated my device to landscape mode to take the screenshot, a clear overlay suddenly appeared with a “lock” icon. This is the orientation lock, and if you’ve ever tried to browse the web while lying on your side in bed, you know how important it is. The button goes away after a couple of seconds, but reappears every time you change the orientation of the device.

Next, let’s have a look at a website:

android browser

What you see above is my entire screen — I did not crop out the top notification bar. Miren automatically goes to full-screen mode, but if you swipe down, the notification bar becomes visible. Also, you’ll note that even though there’s just one website active, it still gets a tab (and you lose a bit of screen space). This can be changed in the settings.

android browser

As you touch the screen, two or three transparent (yet large) buttons appear along the bottom. I say “two or three” because the middle one is an RSS feed button, which only appears if Miren has detected an RSS feed. We’ll be coming back to this one. The other two are the Back button and the Full-Screen button. You tap it to toggle the tab bar and address bar.

Another interesting usability touch you can see here is that the active tab does not waste any screen space on a label — it’s just a big, easy-to-hit X. Miren’s creators probably assume you already know what website you’re currently browsing, and that you’ll only need the tab bar if you want to close it. Elegant.

android browser

I switched off MakeUseOf’s mobile theme, and this is how Miren handled the site. Overall loading was snappy, and the layout was flawless. There’s pinch-to-zoom, and it worked quite well (as well as it could, given the flaky multi-touch on my cheap Acer device).

Now let’s look at the menu:

best android browser

I switched tabs for these, so you could also see how Miren handles a bit of CSS 3. That box up there (in my homepage) is implemented using CSS 3 rounded corners, transparency and shadows, and the font is a Google Web font (i.e, implemented in CSS as well). Miren ate up all of this CSS 3 goodness without a hitch, and spat back a great layout.

This screenshot is a 2-in-1, so you can also see the menu. The options are fairly straightforward; we’ll be looking at the Settings menu in a moment, but what intrigued me most at first was the Brightness option:

best android browser

Sadly, it wasn’t all that exciting. The Night Mode toggle did nothing; that’s the only part of the UI that didn’t work right in my entire testing session. I flipped it on and off repeatedly, and it had absolutely no impact. The brightness slider does work, and does what you’d expect it to.

Next, let’s have a quick look at the settings:

best android browser

Another lovely usability touch here: Rather than go for a “one size fits all” approach, Miren split settings into two clear tabs. You start off with the Common settings menu, which includes options such as “load images“, “scroll using volume button” and other options most users might want to tweak. The Advanced options menu is for the nerdier folk. Here you can tweak settings such as “don’t always display the tab bar“, etc.

Next, the built-in RSS reader:

android web browser

Yes, that’s right – I said built-in RSS reader. This is one perplexing choice; mobile applications are supposed to be lean, fast and effective. Bolting an entire RSS reader onto Miren must add at least some bloat, and I suspect not many users would find it useful. The reader does not sync up to Google Reader. You can read your feeds only on your mobile devices, and only from within Miren. With applications like Pulse and the official Google Reader client available for Android, I find it difficult to understand why Miren would invest time, effort and storage space in such a feature. Nevertheless, it does seem to work.

Bottom Line

Miren is an extremely capable Android web browser. It’s a serious contender to Dolphin Browser HD, and it’s my new default browser, at least for now. That’s saying something.  Let us know in the comments what you think about it.

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Take Control Over Your Weather Viewing With Meteo [Mac]

Posted: 13 May 2011 02:31 PM PDT

weather software with alerts for the macI never used to be too concerned with the weather when I would wake up in the morning, usually because I would be getting into my car regardless of whether it was rain or shine. Since I moved to New York City, however, I take public transportation and walk everywhere, so the weather is very much a factor in my daily routine. In fact, checking the weather has become one of the first things I do after waking up in the morning.

There are a lot of apps and websites out there dedicated to forecasting weather. Some are better than others, and on a Mac, Meteo is one of the best I’ve seen. Meteo, or Meteorologist, is a free weather program for OS X. It allows users total control over their weather viewing, with support for multiple cities, interlaced weather reports, weather alerts, and much more.

How Do I Start Using Meteo?

If you’re ready to start using Meteo, the first thing you should do is navigate over to the homepage, located on SourceForge, and click on the 1.5.2 (latest version) link at the top of the page.

weather software with alerts for the mac

When you first run Meteo, you’ll be on the Cities tab, where you can remove the default city (Cupertino, CA), unless you live there of course, and add the cities you would like to track the weather in. To do that, just click the Add City button, type in your desired city, state, or zipcode, and click Search. Your city will be displayed at the bottom for you to select.

weather software for mac

You can also select which weather and forecast items you would like to display for your searched city with the tabs at the top. You can select anything from Temperature and Forecast to Visibility and UV Index. Just click Confirm when you’re done.

On the Updating tab, you can select how often you would like active locations to update. By default, this is set to 15 minutes. Also by default, Meteo will be displayed in the Menubar at the top of your Mac’s screen, but you can change this to “Dock” or “Both” if you like as well.

weather software for mac

If you would like to receive alerts about the weather, you can set that up on the Alerts tab. Weather alerts can be in the form of an email, beep, a song you select, bounce, or message.

weather software with alerts for the mac

Once you have Meteo set up, you can click on your city in your Menubar and click Weather to be taken to for an updated forecast, or simply mouse over Current Conditions to see what it’s currently like outside or Extended Forecast to see that information for over the next 3 days.


If you’re really into weather forecasting and would like to include this type of information on your blog or website, whether for your own reference or if it pertains to your readers, you should also check out this article by John entitled Top 5 Sites to Download Weather Widgets For Your Blog or Website.

Meteo is a simple program that can give you as much in-depth information about the weather as you want it to. For my purposes, checking the weather every morning, it does the trick. Are you impressed with Meteorologist for Mac? What other apps/websites do you use to keep track of what’s going on outside?

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Hot Tech Deals – Gateway Intel Dual-Core P6200 2.13GHz 15.6in Laptop for $399.99+ more

Posted: 13 May 2011 01:30 PM PDT

Today’s featured deal is the Gateway NV55C38u Intel Dual-Core P6200 2.13GHz 15.6in Laptop with 4 GB of memory and a 500 GB hard drive going for $399.99. You might also want to check out the Asus 24″ IPS monitor which is available at $440 with free shipping.

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

  1. Western Digital Caviar Black 750GB Internal SATA Hard Drive $59.99 Free Shipping via code EMCKEJG25 (Exp 5/19)
  2. MSI H67MA-E35 (B3) Intel H67 Sandy Bridge LGA1155 MicroATX Motherboard $77.99 via rebate
  3. Linksys WRT120N-RM 802.11n Wireless-N Home Router (REFURB) $22.99 Free Shipping
  4. Dell XPS 17 Intel Core i7 Quad-Core Sandy Bridge 17.3in 1080p 3D Laptop $1249 via code QFSNKXG0P1S1BK and HLSKSR06S9ZG0F
  5. Asus PA246Q P-IPS 24 inch LCD Monitor (1920×1200, 98% RGB Coverage) $439.99 Free Shipping via code EMCKEJG54 (Exp 5/19)
  6. OCZ Vertex 3 120GB Internal SATA 6Gb/s Solid State Drive (RAID, TRIM) $265.99
  7. HP dv6tqe Intel Core i7-2630QM Quad-Core Sandy Bridge 15.6in Laptop w/ Blu-Ray $804.99 via code NB6171 (340 uses only! Exp Soon)
  8. Optoma GT700 3D Ready DLP Gaming Projector (1280×800, 2300 Lumens, HDMI) $611.99 via code EMCKEJH32 (Exp 5/18)
  9. Gateway NV55C38u Intel Dual-Core P6200 2.13GHz 15.6in Laptop (4GB/500GB) $399.99

Hey Facebookers, make sure to join MakeUseOf on Facebook and get access to some exclusve stuff. Over 70,000 fans already!


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ScoreBig Saves You A Truckload Of Money On Tickets [50 Invites]

Posted: 13 May 2011 12:31 PM PDT

Sometimes, a new start-up will come along and everyone knows from that first moment that it’s a great idea. ScoreBig is one of these great start-up ideas. What is it? Well, I think you’d know straight away if I said it was like Groupon but the group deals were only for live performance tickets.

You might think that limiting the scope means that they won’t be as successful as other group deal negotiators. But, I think that ScoreBig has a real edge in that they really understand ticketing. I mean, what good is 10 cheap seats to a concert if you can’t all sit together? ScoreBig can guarantee your seats – and that’s just brilliant.

Get Your ScoreBig Invite

Currently, ScoreBig is limited to the US only, but you never know what might happen in the future. ScoreBig is still in the early stages, so you’ll need an invite code in order to start using it. We’ve manged to secure 50 invites for MakeUseOf readers, so you can get in and have a go right now. Also, they’re letting you invite up to 10 friends, so you can spread the word. Awesome! Follow this link to use ScoreBig now.

What Sort Of Tickets Can You Get?

ScoreBig offer tickets to a variety of live performances, including sports, music, theatre and arts. To guarantee these tickets, ScoreBig has partnered with top venues, sports teams, artists promoters and more. If it’s a live event, check ScoreBig before paying retail prices!

Using ScoreBig

ScoreBig is very intuitive to use. There’s no need to talk you through it as it will clearly makes sense to most users. But, if you haven’t been one of the first 50 people to get hold of an invite, you might like to see what’s going on and how it works.

Browse by area, event or keep an eye our for the best bargains.

Once you’ve found an event you want to attend, the process works as follows. You choose how many seats you need and what sort of seat quality you’re after by grading with a star system. Since all performances will have a different seating arrangement (even within the same venue) there is a map guide to show you roughly where you can expect your seats to be for each star rating.

Once you’ve hovered over a star rating the corresponding area will highlight to make it easier to see.

Making Your Offer

ScoreBig then calculates what you would pay for that ticket if you were buying it at cost. A neat little form shows you the calculations and allows you to make an offer for the seat value. It also shows you how much other people have saved on this deal in the last 24 hours, so you can pick a good offer.

This works as a sort of auction. You make your offer and see how it goes. Maybe you just want to save on fees or maybe you want to get 25% off. It’s your call. ScoreBig will give you an instant answer, so you won’t be waiting until the last minute. If you score a handful of cheap seats for you and your friends, you’ll be enjoying a bargain night out thanks to ScoreBig.

If your offer isn’t accepted, you can instantly make an offer on another seat rating for that event. Or you can wait 24 hours and try again. ScoreBig may even write to you with a counter-offer.


Obviously, the world of group deals is currently dominated bu Groupon and is being imitated by many more players. But ScoreBig has an excellent understanding of ticketing and how both users and promoters want to benefit from these deals. I think they’ll go far with this model.

If you want to check out some other ways to get great ticket deals, try these articles:

Did you get your ScoreBig invite? Have you scored any great deals yet? Let us know in the comments! Oh and if you are one of the lucky 50 who got an invite, maybe you could give away your 10 invites to other MakeUseOf readers?

Image Credit: ShutterStock

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How To Print Multiple Pages On One Sheet Of Paper & Be Eco-Friendly

Posted: 13 May 2011 11:31 AM PDT

print multiple pages on one sheetThe utility of printing multiple pages on a single sheet of paper cannot be overstated enough. Perhaps in lesser eco-conscious times, condensing your print jobs might not have collected any attention. But as we head off to battle with the forces of global warming and natural depletion, learning how to utilize each square inch of paper is a must if you want to collect brownie points with the green brigade.

Printing multiple pages on one sheet of paper has uses beyond saving paper and toner of course. For example, you can check out a large document's layout, create handouts of slides, create little booklets, send out drafts, put cheat sheets on paper etc.

There are a few ways to print multiple pages on a sheet of paper. We will take a look at the most obvious one via Microsoft Word and then with the help of a free printing software.

Print Multiple Pages with Microsoft Word

MS Word (Screenshots are from MS Word 2007.) makes it real easy to print as many as 16 pages on one sheet of paper.

Click on the Office Button and select Print. Use the dropdowns under Zoom to select the number of pages per sheet.

print multiple pages on one sheet

Like any other print job you can set the size of the paper from the Scale to Paper Size dropdown. Zoom automatically scales the pages on the sheet without changing the layout or the formatting. Keep in mind that readability will depend on the number of pages you have set per sheet.

Print Multiple Pages with iPrint

iPrint 6 is a virtual printer driver and a 7MB download compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and 7. iPrint is a completely free printing management solution that does five important tasks for any print job –

  1. iPrint lets you setup multiple pages (maximum of four)to be printed on a single sheet of paper. Pages are automatically scaled down and fitted on the sheet.
  2. iPrint works for any document of any format.
  3. iPrint scans your document and can delete empty pages (without content) with a single click.
  4. iPrint enhances productivity by letting you group together print job requests from multiple applications into a single iPrint session. From there, unwanted pages are automatically removed and any additional changes can be made.
  5. iPrint saves you tons of paper if you regularly print out reams of documents.

If we talk about iPrint as a virtual printer driver that may not allow you to print more than two or four pages on a single sheet but it has the added advantage of letting you delete unwanted pages from the printing job. If you consider readability, four pages on a single sheet is just about ideal. Let's put it through a print job and see how it turns out.

iPrint installs as a virtual printer driver, so you can access it from any application that has a Print command. My screenshots show our PDF manual on MS Word – Writing Professional Reports & Documents.

Go to Print and select iPrint from the list of your Printers. Set the Print Range if you want to. You can also set it from within iPrint.

print multiple pages per sheet

iPrint Preview displays the document in the standard one page per sheet format. Use the menu commands to select the option you want – a 2 page per sheet layout or a 4 page per sheet layout. You can use the slider at the bottom to zoom in and out for a better view.

print multiple pages per sheet

Now, you can go through the pages and select the pages you want to delete. Use CTRL+Shift for selecting multiple pages. Deleted pages are highlighted in red.

print multiple pages per sheet

You can manage your print jobs using the first three buttons on the menu. Clicking on Print sends the document to be printed.

The final touch is given by green button which when clicked shows a report on how much you have saved using iPrint.

print multiple pages on one sheet

The iPrint website says it can save you 30 – 60% on printing, paper and ink costs. That could translate into a few trees, and who knows perhaps a part of our planet too. Here are a few more printing solutions for the guy who wants to go green on his computer -

3 Easy Bookmarklets To Print Nice Looking Web Pages Without Craplets
Save Paper By Formatting & Printing Your Files With Govert's Imposition Tool
Manage Printing Costs & Cut Paper Waste By Setting Up A Print Server with PaperCut

Do you think iPrint and printing apps of its ilk help to reduce waste and help us become more eco-friendly?

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Google Storage Opens Doors To All With Free 5 GB Accounts [News]

Posted: 13 May 2011 10:33 AM PDT

Google has recently opened Google Storage to developers, along with releasing many new features to the Google Storage service. Developers may now have instant access to Google Storage, without needing to wait for an invite.

The enhancements to Google Storage include powerful security features, European data storage, a free promotional tier, simplified sharing, team accounts and the ability to store items up to 5 TB in size. It all amounts to quite a significant overhaul of the Google storage service.

All Google Storage users can now begin with a free 5 GB account, with many other ways to obtain free storage space, including transfers from other storage providers.

Security is now controlled using the industry standard oAuth 2.0, meaning users can authenticate account by use of tokens rather than passwords. It also allows for applications to be granted access to the account, making Google Storage’s security more flexible and useful.

Storage users can now share documents with any Google account holder, thus ensuring customers and clients need not subscribe to the Google Storage service in order to access your work.

Users may choose the primary location of their data storage now, deciding whether they’d prefer storage in the USA or Europe. Both options are high-performance and backed up in multiple locations across the region chosen.

Teams can make use of Google storage more easily with the new project model of billing. This means one user creates the project and co-ordinates the billing process, then adds developers to the project so that they can work on it together.

Instead of requiring users to know the exact size of an upload before sending, Google now uses chunked transfer encoding. This allows users to stream the data to Google Storage, rather than buffering on local servers before sending.

The improvements and access to Google storage make quite an attractive package. Go sign up for your free 5 GB Google storage now.

Source: Google Code Blog

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How To Jazz Up Your WordPress Blog By Adding Featured Images

Posted: 13 May 2011 10:31 AM PDT

how to use featured images in wordpressFeatured Images were introduced into WordPress in version 2.9, and it enables you to easily display an image that’s associated with your blog post in various parts of your theme.

For an obvious example, check out the MakeUseOf homepage, where the featured image is used to make an otherwise dull list really pop out. Not only does this obviously improve the aesthetics of your blog, it also makes it more likely that readers will pay attention to the content. Visual cues are always better.

Today I’d like to show you how to use featured images in your WordPress blog. I’ll show you how to add and assign the image to your post as well as the code you’ll need to integrate them into your theme.

Setting Featured Images

If your theme supports it, you should see a Featured Image option on your post edit screen.

how to use featured images in wordpress

Click that to open the usual file upload pop-up, but instead of clicking Insert into Post, select Use As Featured Image instead.

wordpress featured image

Close the pop-up and you should now see your featured image added to the sidebar to indicate you were successful.

wordpress featured image

Don’t worry about the size for now, we can adjust that later through the WordPress options.

No Featured Image Button?

If you don’t see the link in your sidebar, it’s quite likely your theme doesn’t support them. No worries, we can fix that. You’ll need to log into FTP – or use the built-in WordPress file manager if your folder permissions allows you to – and locate your theme folder. This will be in the wp-content/themes/yourtheme, where yourtheme is the name of the theme you are using. Open that up and take a look at the files in there.

wordpress featured image

Look for the file called functions.php and open it up in your favourite text editor. Scroll to the end of the file, and just before the closing ?>, add the following line:


Remember, make sure you do this just before or on the line before the closing PHP tag. So the end of your file should now look something like:


Refresh the post edit screen and you should be able to now set a featured image.

What About All My Previous Posts? Do I Have To Edit Them All Again?

No. There’s a handy plugin called Generate Thumbnails that can handle the tedium of setting featured thumbnails on old posts really easily. After you’ve installed, just find the new link on your Tools menu and click the button to set the images. Obviously, if you don’t have images on your posts in the first place, you can’t automatically set any.

how to use featured image

Add The Thumbnail To Your Theme:

I’ll be using my newest blog Self Sufficiency Guide to demonstrate, so head on over there to see the results – using a theme called Nature_wdl which you can download here. By default it doesn’t support any kind of post thumbnails, so I’ve had to first edit the functions.php to include that line. The basic design of the homepage is fine, but I’d like it to show just a list of articles with a featured thumbnail next to them, instead of the entire post content.

how to use featured image

If you followed my WordPress tutorial last week, I showed you how the basic theme structure works. Since there’s neither a home.php nor front-page.php for this theme, the front page will be handled by index.php, so let’s open it up and take a look:

  <div class="post" id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>">                 <div class="post-top">                     <div class="post-title">                         <h2><a href="<?php the_permalink() ?>" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to <?php if ( function_exists('the_title_attribute')) the_title_attribute(); else the_title(); ?>"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h2> 						<h4><?php comments_number('0', '1', '%'); ?></h4>                     </div> 					<h3> 						Posted by <span><?php the_author() ?></span>  |  Posted in <span><?php the_category(', ') ?></span>  |  Posted on <?php the_time('d-m-Y') ?> 					</h3> 					<h3> 						<span class="post_cats"><?php the_tags(); ?></span> 					</h3>                 </div>   				<div class="entry"> 					<?php the_content('Read the rest of this entry &raquo;'); ?> 				</div>                   <div class="postmetadata">                   </div> 			</div>

Luckily, this theme is really well coded, so adjusting it should be no problem. Before adding the thumbnail, I want to make sure only a small excerpt of the post is being shown, instead of the entire post content. Find the line that says:

<?php the_content('Read the rest of this entry &raquo;'); ?>

On a different theme, it may just say the_content(). Simply replace it with:

<?php the_excerpt(); ?>

Now if you reload, you’ll see that only a short paragraph snippet is shown, rather than the entire content.

Next, to add the thumbnail, let’s just see what happens if we just add in a single line directly above, like so:

<?php the_post_thumbnail();?> <?php the_excerpt(); ?>

It’s a little ugly, but straight away with just one line of code we’ve added the associated image to the homepage! Fantastic! To make it a little more attractive, let’s try floating the image to the left, and cutting it down to the default thumbnail size like this:

<?php the_post_thumbnail('thumbnail',array('style'=>'float:left;'));?> <?php the_excerpt(); ?>

The syntax is a little complicated in there, but you should be able to see where you can insert your own CSS if you wish. For instance, to add a right margin:

<?php the_post_thumbnail('thumbnail',array('style'=>'float:left;margin-right:10px;'));?> <?php the_excerpt(); ?>

how to use featured images in wordpress

I’d say that’s pretty impressive for 30 minutes work!

Adjusting the Thumbnail Size:

You may find the default size of 150×150 is a little too big for your site. To adjust this, enter your WordPress admin and find Settings -> Media on the left hand side. Here you can change the size of your thumbnails. A word of warning though: this will only change future uploads, not your existing images, so don’t be surprised when nothing happens. There is however a helpful plugin called Regenerate Thumbnails which can automatically run through all your existing images and size them up right.

I hope this shows you just how incredibly flexible the WordPress system is and how you can easily adjust a theme code without any experience of PHP programming. In times past, adding this kind of functionality could have taken days. The best way to learn is to experiment though, so be sure to read up on the codex and stay tuned, as next time I’ll show you how to make your own widget for the sidebar that highlights a random post using its featured image. Stay tuned!

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Regularly Back Up Your Large MySQL Website Database With MySQLDumper

Posted: 13 May 2011 09:31 AM PDT

backup and restore sql databaseHaving a growing, popular blog is not something that I’m accustomed to. I’ve always been in awe of Aibek and his tech staff, and how they always have a backup of MUO on hand whenever anything may go even slightly wrong. As I watch my own WordPress blog grow in both posts and user comments, I’m starting to eye my growing database with a wary eye. What happens if the server goes down, gets hacked or worse? Shouldn’t I be prepared for such a situation with a constant, ready backup of all posts and comments?

This is something that a few MUO writers have covered here over the years. Years ago, Aibek himself wrote about 4 tools that were available back then for backing up your database. More recently, Jeffry wrote about the Updraft WordPress plugin for backups, and Tim covered a few manual ways to do backups, such as with FTP.

I admit it, sometimes I’m lazy and if it’s not simple and easy I just don’t have time for it. Plus, I have MySQL databases that are non-Wordpress, so a WordPress-only plugin won’t work for me. After a bit of searching, I finally came across a brilliant free MySQL backup utility called MySQLDumper.

Installing MySQLDumper

Running MySQLDumper is actually easier than most applications you’ve installed on your web server. Unlike WordPress where you have to run an install utility, with MySQLDumper you just extract the Zip files into a subdirectory in your public web folder, and then call the index.html file from your browser. Here, I’ve copied all files to the “sqlbackup” folder on the web server.

backup and restore sql database

In this example, to access it (accessing my local web server), the address would be “http://localhost/sqlbackup/“  If you’re installing this on your own web account, just replace “localhost” with your domain.

Once you access the index.html file in that folder, the “MySQLDumper Installation” screen comes up. This is actually more of a “configuration” than an installation. Just click your language and click “Installation“.

mysql backup

The installation procedure is simply setting up your database access parameters. If you want to use MySQLDumper to back up all of the MySQL databases on your server, then you’ll need to give it a user ID and password with access to all tables. You can either create a new user on each table just for doing backups, or give the web application root access.

mysql backup

Once you click on “Connect to MySQL“, the system will attempt to connect to each of the databases on your server and it will give you a status at the bottom.

mysql backup

That’s all there is to it! Once you click Next, you’ll find yourself on the main control panel of MySQLDumper.

Using MySQLDumper To Take Database Backups

The status of your databases, including space limits and usage, is all displayed on the main page. You can switch selected databases by using the dropdown box at the lower left corner of the screen.

backup large mysql database

Click on “Configuration” to see an overview of all of the MySQL databases on your system. Here, you can also customize SQL commands for each backup dump for individual databases.

backup large mysql database

Click on the Email tab inside the configuration area to set up delivery of your backup files via email. If your database isn’t too huge, and your email account doesn’t have a small attachment size limit, go for it. However, in most cases this will become impractical, especially if you have a very large and growing WordPress database.

backup large mysql database

If you have a huge database (or databases), and if you don’t want to store all of your backups on the server due to precious limited space, you can FTP the files to a remote location, like a free storage account or a PC you’ve set up at home as an FTP server just for this purpose.  Every time you perform a backup, the file will be FTP’d to the location you’ve defined.

If you want to do a backup, just click on “Backup” from the main screen. Make sure the database that you want to back up is selected in the lower left corner, and then click “Start New Backup.”

You can watch as the status bars display the progress of the backup procedure. You’ll see the table names as they get backed up, the space required of the backup file, and percentage remaining per table and overall.

backup and restore sql database

Once the backup is finished you can find the zipped files stored in the /work/backup/ folder inside the folder where you installed MySQLDumper. This web-based app also has the ability to quickly restore your database from any of your backup files in an instant. It also has a database browser that puts PhpMyAdmin to shame.

What really makes MySQLDumper stand apart from the crowd is it is specifically designed to handle huge databases. According to the website, it does this by getting around PHP script timeout limitations by breaking up the backup into segments, and then calls the script recursively until it completes the entire backup process, no matter how large your database is.

Have you ever given MySQLDumper a try? What do you think? What are your favorite tools to backup and restore your MySQL database? Share your insight in the comments section below.

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4 Ways To Protect Yourself Against Keyloggers

Posted: 13 May 2011 08:31 AM PDT

what is a keyloggerKeyloggers are one of the most well known and feared security threats on computers today. They’re feared because they are generally hard to detect, and because the damage they do is often meant to extend beyond the infected computer. A virus may seek to crash a computer, ruin its hard drive, or take some files, but a keylogger is usually employed to take personal information, be it a password or credit card number.

There are many ways to protect against keyloggers, however, and ensure that you don’t become a victim of identify theft or have to deal with any lesser hassle, like a hijacked World of Warcraft account. While no defense is perfect, these steps improve your chances.

Use A Firewall

what is a keylogger

In most instances, a keylogger has to transmit its information to a third party in order for it to do any harm. This means sending information out of your computer via the Internet. Although a very close examination of your network usage might reveal a keylogger, you can’t count on that as a means of monitoring for them. The bandwidth taken up by recorded keystrokes is virtually undetectable in a broadband world.

A firewall is a great defense against keyloggers because it will monitor your computer’s activity more closely than you ever could. Upon detecting that a program is attempting to send data out, the firewall will ask for permission or display a warning. Some firewall software, such as ZoneAlarm, provides you with the option of shutting down all inbound and outbound data completely.

The use of a firewall can’t guarantee protection, but it’s an important line of defense that should catch most threats.

Install A Password Manager

keylogger tips

Keyloggers work well because they’re simple. They just take raw information – keystrokes – and ship them out of your computer to a third party. The information they send doesn’t have to take up much bandwidth, and it can be logged quickly without any apparent performance impact on the target PC. Most users infected with a keylogger will never know it unless an account or credit card is hijacked.

One weakness of keyloggers, however, is the fact that you can’t keylog what isn’t typed. That’s where automatic form filling becomes useful. If a password is filled in automatically by your PC, without any keystrokes, the password will only be susceptible to keyloggers the very first time you type it.

All the major web browsers have this feature baked in and will ask to store your password information the first time you type it. Some computers ship with software that offers this functionality throughout the entire operating system. If you don’t have this software already installed, check out our post on the best free password managers.

Keep Your Software Updated

what is a keylogger

Being proactive about your computer’s security is always a good idea, and the most important part of a proactive defense is keeping software updated. Keyloggers, like most variants of modern malware, can exploit software vulnerabilities to inject themselves into your system without you, and in some cases your antivirus, being any the wiser. Adobe Flash, for example, has had issues with remote code execution exploits in the past. A malicious website could use such an exploit to install a keylogger on your PC.

Exploits are being found in software all of the time. Even Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X are routinely patched to take care of critical exploits. If you don’t update your system you will be leaving it open to all sorts of attacks that could otherwise have been avoided. Yes, making sure all of your software is up to date can be a pain, but consider the alternative. This is an easy, proactive remedy that will stop most attacks before they can start.

Change Your Passwords Frequently

For most users, the measures above will provide enough protection to ward off any keylogger woes, but there always seems to be people who have their passwords stolen even though they did everything right.

This probably is the fault of exploits that have yet to be identified or patched, and it can also sometimes occur because of social engineering – it’s not unheard of for a Twitter account to be hacked and begin tweeting out links to malicious sites and files. Every smart geek is vigilant, but nobody is perfect.

Changing your passwords frequently will help minimize the potential damage of a keylogging attack. Your password may be stolen, but it would be uncommon for it to be stolen and used immediately, unless that keylogger was targeted directly at you (in which case you may have bigger problems than keylogging!). If you change your password every two weeks, your stolen information will no longer be useful.


These methods will help protect against keyloggers by decreasing their opportunity to infect your PC and decreasing the information they can steal if one does happen to be installed. Although you can never protect yourself 100%, taking these steps will decrease your risk.

If you know of any other security precautions, let us know in the comments.

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