Sunday, May 15, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [May 14th]” plus 4 more “Cool Websites and Tools [May 14th]” plus 4 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [May 14th]

Posted: 14 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.

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Getupp – is an innovative service that wants to help you meet your location-based commitments by letting the world know when you are able to meet it and when you don't. Location-based means the goals that are location dependent. Examples would be visiting the gym every weekday, or going to the library every Wednesday. Read more: Getupp: Location-Based Commitment Tracking Service


UpForGame – Regardless of the console they use, videogame fans are always on the lookout of a helpful online source that aggregates reviews and delivers game-related information. This is why UpForGame will please all videogame players, a wonderful website that aggregates reviews, information, and videos of videogames from various websites. Read more: UpForGame: Get Aggregated Reviews & Trailers For Video Games



Readable – Not all websites have fonts that can be conveniently read. Different people are comfortable with different types of fonts. Thanks to Readable, a wonderful browser bookmarklet that lets you transform text on a site into a conveniently readable view, you can read text on any website in your preferred fonts and colors. Read more: Readable: Convert Websites To Text Only Friendly Version



ColorAPI – If you are a graphics designer or website developer, there is a good chance that you have already tried out the numerous types of traditional color choosers the Internet has to offer. But perhaps what you have not tried out is a cool new color choosing site called ColorAPI. Read more: ColorAPI: Find & Use Beautiful Color Palettes Generated From Flickr Images



PostalShout – Jobs that involve mailing a lot of letters can be very time consuming as writing all the letters and physically posting them is not a quick process. Here to help you save a lot of time in sending letters is a service called PostalShout, a web service that posts letters for you. Read more: PostalShout: US & International Letter Postage Service Online


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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2 Ways To Monitor Tweets Within Your Twitter Network

Posted: 14 May 2011 06:31 PM PDT

monitor tweetersTwitter is a well-known and well-used source of instant hot news and trending topics. It’s huge and is able to spread news in real time. We have listed lots of tools to monitor hottest Twitter topics, find important content and track popular news.

However being huge and powered by real people, Twitter is also hugely cluttered. It is almost impossible to find one’s way around thousands of tweets and retweets. The only way to give this stream of updates a meaning is to only listen to people that matter to you: people you follow for a reason. Here are a collection of tools that will help you track down the news within your Twitter network.

1. Updates Retweeted By Your Friends

“Old-style” retweets (also referred to as “manual” as opposed to Twitter-RT functionality) have long been an effective source of trending topics. If a story gets retweeted and cited, it must be a hot story. But are you really that interested in any hot topic discussed online?

If you’ve been smart enough to create a relevant circle of friends on Twitter, you are likely to share similar interests with people you follow. So here are two ways to find out what people you care about retweet daily:

Tweeted Times

Tweeted Times is a social media tool to create an easy-to-scan newspaper of your Twitter timeline. You can create a digest based on your own Twitter stream, any Twitter list and / or Twitter search results.

The tool ranks the updates based on how many of your friends and friends of your friends have retweeted the news.

monitor tweeters

Updated: hourly.

Tracking tools: You can read the newspaper online or use your preferred RSS reader to track your newspaper feed. You can also set up the tool to automatically share top stories and promote your newspaper from your Twitter account.


FeedEra is another tool that creates a digest of your friends’ retweets. The tool ranks the stories using its “FeedScore” which is said to aggregate data from Twitter, Topsy, and other powerful sources. All the updates are broken into stories, photos, videos and music.

monitor your tweets

Updated: daily (email digest) and live (online digest).

Tracking tools: Get a digest in your inbox every morning with the best of your feed.

In your settings you can also maintain a blacklist of domains and annoying Twitter friends you don’t want to be included in the digest:

monitor your tweets

Besides subscribing to your friends’ popular stories, you can also subscribe to any Twitter list update (the list should not necessarily be created by you).

2. Updates “Favorited” By Your Friends

Whereas retweeting spreads the word further, “favoriting” saves it for further reference (sort of a sharing versus bookmarking functionality). Most of your friends are likely to star Twitter updates to save most useful posts, so you may consider looking into what they like.

I wasn’t able to find any good tool that would create a digest of what all your friends favorite. Instead, there are a few ways to create an aggregated RSS feed of your friends’ favorite Twitter updates:


Favebytes is a quick, registration-free web-based application that creates an OPML file from your friends’ favorites. Outline Processor Markup Language (OPML) is the traditional format for RSS aggregators to import and export the subscription list. This means you can use the OPML file created by Favebytes to import your friends’ favorite feeds to almost any feed reader.

Here’s the sample of my OPML file imported by Google Reader:

monitor your tweets

Updated: live (powered by Twitter built-in Twitter favorites feeds).

Tracking tools: Most RSS readers.

2. Yahoo! Pipes

There are a few promising pipes that aggregate your Twitter friends’ favorites – here are two of them. If you are ready to cope with frequent Yahoo! Pipes slowness, that can be a good solution.

monitor tweeters

Updated: live (powered by Twitter built-in Twitter favorites feeds).

Tracking tools: Online interface or any RSS reader. is another online tool based on Yahoo! Pipes but I found it even slower. There’s also Favorious that lets you have various sorts of fun with Twitter favorites including your viewing your friends’ favorite timeline – but I wasn’t able to get it working properly.

From what I have seen, the above two tools only grab updates from ~100 people you most recently followed, so if you follow more users, these cannot be complete solutions.

Any other good tips on how to track only meaningful Twitter updates that really matter to you? Please let us know in the comments!

cc licensed flickr photo shared by jez`


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Hot Tech Deals – New Dell Deals + more

Posted: 14 May 2011 01:30 PM PDT

If you’re thinking of buying a new Sandy Bridge laptop, look no further. We’ve got a huge list of Dell Inspiron R-series laptops ripe for the picking. Have a look.

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

  1. Dell Inspiron 15R 15.6in or 14R 14in Intel Core i3-380M Dual-Core 2.53GHz Laptop $449 via code HLSKSR06S9ZG0F (Exp Soon)
  2. Dell Inspiron 15R Intel Core i3-2310M 2.1GHz Sandy Bridge 15.6in Laptop $499.99 via code HLSKSR06S9ZG0F (Exp Soon)
  3. Dell Inspiron 15R Intel Core i5-2410M 2.3GHz Sandy Bridge 15.6in Laptop $624.99 via code 0CQ6F64K$ZCPV$ and HLSKSR06S9ZG0F (Exp Soon)
  4. Dell Inspiron 14R Intel Core i3-2310M 2.1GHz Sandy Bridge 14n Laptop $549.99 via code HLSKSR06S9ZG0F (Exp Soon)
  5. Dell Inspiron 14R Intel Core i5-2410M 2.3GHz Sandy Bridge 14in Laptop $624.99 via code 0CQ6F64K$ZCPV$ and HLSKSR06S9ZG0F (Exp Soon)
  6. Dell Inspiron 17R Intel Core i3-2310M 2.1GHz Sandy Bridge 17n Laptop $549.99 via code HLSKSR06S9ZG0F (Exp Soon)
  7. Dell Inspiron 17R Intel Core i5-2410M 2.3GHz Sandy Bridge 17.3in Laptop $674.99 via code 0CQ6F64K$ZCPV$ and HLSKSR06S9ZG0F (Exp Soon)
  8. Dell Inspiron 560 Intel Celeron 450 2.2GHz Desktop Computer (2GB/500GB) $279 via code HLSKSR06S9ZG0F (Exp Soon)
  9. Dell Vostro 3500 Intel Core i5-460M 15.6in Multi-Touchscreen Laptop w/ Geforce 310M $669

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


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Abiword – The Best Free Lightweight Word Processor

Posted: 14 May 2011 12:31 PM PDT

free word processorGet a lightweight but not underpowered word processor. If you need a program compatible with a wide variety of file formats, Abiword might be the right fit for you. It’s not as powerful as Microsoft Word or Libre Office‘s Writer, to be sure, but it does have most of the features the average user needs (and many the average user doesn’t need).

Abiword isn’t well known on the Internet at large and that’s a shame. Not only does it work well on Linux and Windows computers, it also runs quickly on just about any computer, even really old ones. This makes it a great fit for anyone who finds minimalistic text editors, such as FocusWriter, too stripped-down when it comes to formatting, particularly if they also find Word and Writer too bloated.

Recently, during a discussion on MakeUseOf Answers, I noticed that our team never got around to reviewing AbiWord. Seeing as AbiWord has been around forever, and how it’s still the best compromise out there between a bloated word processor and underpowered text editors, it’s time to change that.

In A Nutshell

Fire up Abiword. The first thing you’ll notice – this free word processor loads quickly. The second thing you’ll notice is that this interface is familiar to anyone who used Word before 2007:

free word processor

You’ll quickly find all the formatting tools you’d expect – fonts, colours, lists, headers and footers and annotations. Naturally you can insert images and tables as well; explore the program and you’ll get a feel for what it can do very quickly.

You can save your files in a wide variety of formats:

free word processor

How well these will look in their respective native programs can vary, but the flexibility is appreciated. Most of these files can be opened as well, making AbiWord a great free word processor for opening obscure files.

Abiword also features real-time collaboration, similar to what’s found in Google Docs. This functionality might be the subject of an upcoming review, so I’ll say no more about it for now. Additional functionality can be added with Abiword plugins, though most of the best ones are bundled with the program on Linux.

What’s Missing?

So what’s not here that might cause some people to use Word or Writer? Well, macros are right out, of course, and there is no grammar checking. It’s also worth nothing that doc/docx support isn’t perfect. Advanced images and tables will cause Abiword to sputter, so I won’t be editing MakeUseOf’s manuals with AbiWord anytime soon.

There are certainly other features missing; feel free to fill in your fellow readers in the comments below.

Get It

Ready to get started? Install Abiword, then.

Debian and Ubuntu users can simply click here to install AbiWord. Other Linux users shouldn’t have any trouble installing AbiWord; it’s in your package manager.

Windows users can download AbiWord here. Your life would be easier if Windows came with a decent package manager, but at least you can have fun clicking “Next” a bunch of times.

Mac users can try to download AbiWord here, but note that the Mac version of AbiWord hasn’t been updated since 2005. This means some features are missing, and there could be a security risk. Having said that, it worked on my system:

free word processor

No promises it will work on yours, but on the plus side OS X’s built-in TextEdit is pretty awesome.

Overall, I think Abiword is a great application between minimal text editors and bloated word processors. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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Two Dead Simple Productivity Webapps To Keep You Organized

Posted: 14 May 2011 10:30 AM PDT

productivity web appsGTD system, or the less complex Pomodoro system is the perfect way to keep them organized and on track. Sometimes all it takes is a simple web app to keep track of your list of tasks, that you can check off once you’re done.

Sandglaz and Strike are two very simple, basic productivity web apps, that make it incredibly easy to keep track of your task list, access it from anywhere you have an internet connection, and share it with other people. The advantage to such simple web apps is that it makes it easier to focus on the task at hand, rather than trying to navigate an elaborate system filled with labels, tags and more.


Sandglaz takes a very straightforward approach to keeping track of the tasks that you have to do, adding a collaborative twist to the concept.

The Sandglaz page or grid is divided into four cells which you can label in any way you choose. The suggested labels that already exist with the first grid are Important/Later, Important/Now, Unimportant/Later and Unimportant/Now.
productivity web apps
You can create as many grids as you want, adjust their dimensions, and share them with other users to read or edit. Taking a quick look through the tutorial is the best way to discover all of how Sandglaz’s features and how to use the site.

You can easily edit the content of any task on the list by clicking on it, add new tasks by clicking the empty space at the end of the list, and clear all the text in a task to delete it from the list.
web apps for productivity
You can drag and drop tasks to reorder them within their grid, as well as reorder the list of grids you have created.
web apps for productivity
You can edit the label given to cells in the grid, check off tasks when they are completed, and drag tasks to other cells, or even to other grids.
web apps for productivity
You can also add a due date to the task by clicking the small arrow that shows up to the right of the task when you hover over it.
internet productivity apps
As far as the settings to each grid go, they’re relatively limited. You can adjust the size of the grid, with anywhere between 1 and 3 rows and 1 and 3 columns. From there you can also change the name of the grid or delete it.
internet productivity apps
If you want to allow other users to view or contribute to the task list, you can email them an invitation by clicking sharing. You can make other users Owners, Editors or Readers.
internet productivity apps


Strike takes the simplicity to a whole other level, giving users an easy-to-use, visually appealing task list, which you can access from anywhere – as long as you have an internet connection.

You don’t have to sign up to use Strike. Simply create your task list, and start adding tasks, and once you’re done you’ll have the satisfaction of crossing them off your virtual list.

Strike keeps it incredibly simple. You can rearrange tasks by dragging them to the desired spot on the list. Or you can remove a task from your list entirely by dragging it off to the left or the right.

Strike’s strength is in its simple UI, and its appearance can be tweaked to suit your preferences. All changes can be made from the small, barely visible menu at the top of the page.

You have three choices of how complete tasks appear on your list. They can be completely removed from the list. Or they can be crossed out.

Or they can be moved to the bottom of the screen.

Other ways in which you can tweak Strike’s appearance is to change the background image or color scheme.
productivity web apps
Strike is also collaborative by its very nature since you can share the list with anyone by sending them the link.

Do you have any recommendations for simple ways to keep track of your task list? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: Shutterstock


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