Monday, May 16, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [May 15th]” plus 8 more “Cool Websites and Tools [May 15th]” plus 8 more

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Cool Websites and Tools [May 15th]

Posted: 15 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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Bookmark Reminder – If you knew when you last visited a website, you could quickly find out new material posted since then. While various online forums automatically highlight new posts for users, not all websites provide this facility. For these other websites, Bookmark Reminder can be a great help since it keeps a track of your last visits to websites. Read more: Bookmark Reminder: Keep A Track Of Your Last Visits To Websites


FbSym – Are you wondering how to spice up your next Facebook status message? If yes, then you should consider adding special symbols in the status. You can get these Facebook-compatible special symbols from the site Facebook Symbols, a simple to use website. The symbols can also be used anywhere else in Facebook where you can type text, for example, comments, descriptions, etc. Read more: FbSym: Spice Up Your Facebook Status Updates Using Special Symbols



FiestaCC – Sending emails to a group of friends and business contacts requires you to enter everybody's email address in the “To” field of the email. Doing this each time you want to send an email to a group can take up a considerable amount of time. Here to help you save that time is a web service called FiestaCC. Read more: FiestaCC: Effortless Mailing Lists



CamCard – If you get overwhelmed managing the dozens of business cards that are thrown at you in a conference or event, try CamCard. This cool Android business card reader app lets you capture each business card through your smart phone camera, and uses the OCR technology to convert them into a text-based contact. The app can handle business cards from 16 different languages. Read more: CamCard: Android Business Card Reader App



WhisperCore – The security of your data on your smartphone has become an issue of increasing importance. Various applications let you lock your data on your smartphone but if you are an Android phone user looking for a data encryption app, then check out WhisperCore, a free to use smartphone application for Android devices. It integrates with the underlying Android OS to protect everything you keep on your phone. Read more: WhisperCore: Encrypt Data On Android Device


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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Thank You To MakeUseOf Friends!

Posted: 15 May 2011 07:31 PM PDT

It’s time to say thanks to our friends who, once in a while, tip us great articles, help out on projects and in some cases offer their services at discounted prices. Thank you, guys!

    [1] ShrinkTheWeb – Website Screenshot Thumbnail Service

    Ever wanted to add website screenshots to your website? ShrinkTheWeb is one of the best services for that, both in terms of performance and pricing. The free account gets you a whopping 250,000 impressions. See it in action in our daily Cool Websites and Tools series.


    [2] LapDawg “" Hands-free Laptop Stands

    Hands free laptop stand
    The hands free laptop stand holds your laptop or books in any position you want with it’s unique 360 degree rotating joints. Perfect for holding them in bed while lying down. Made from anodized aluminum with a beautiful black matte finish.

    [3] Walyou “" Cool Gadgets for Geeks

    new cool gadgets
    Walyou is a fun blog covering all sorts of new cool gadgets and other stuff every geek is likely to find entertaining. Everything from world’s largest Gunny Bears to E-hookah gadgets. Make sure to check them out.


    [4] rade | eccles – iPhone Application Development

    The perfect iPhone development team, rade | eccles managed to put our iPhone app together in record time yet exude professionalism and dedication every step of the way. Our collaboration wasn’t happenstance. We would make the same decision all over again. Our only recommendation for an iPhone developer – rade | eccles.


    [5] TrueKolor – Affordable Quality Logo and Banner Design

    If you’re looking for a cheap, original and quality logo or banner, check out TrueKolor. We often contact these guys when we need a logo or a banner made, some of the stuff they did for us listed on their portfolio page. Highly recommended.


    [6] Sendible – The easiest way to market your brand online

    We’re strong believers of the service Sendible provides — we use it on a daily basis and it has never failed us! Sendible is an online marketing service to promote, grow and track brands through the use of social media, email and SMS messaging. It has the ability to post to multiple services at once, schedule social network updates and analyse their success. We love it!


    [7] Sourcebits – Android Developement

    Sourcebits did a bang up job of helping us put together our long-awaited Android app. For that, we are eternally grateful!


Thank you, guys!

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How Many Programming Languages Do You know? [MakeUseOf Poll]

Posted: 15 May 2011 06:30 PM PDT

Last week we asked MakeUseOf readers exactly how many email addresses you have. It turns out most of us around here have between 2 and 5 email addresses, and the rest of us have even more.

Out of the 954 votes, we had this breakdown: 51% have 2-5 email addresses; 29% have 6-10 email addresses; 10% have between 10-20 email addresses; 8% have 20+ email addresses; 1% have only one email address; while one voter (or .01%) had no email address at all.

Full results and this week’s poll after the jump.

The bulk of MakeUseOf readers have 2-5 email addresses), while the rest generally have more.

This week’s poll question is: How Many Programming Languages Do You know?

MakeUseOf readers generally seem to have a little geek talent in reserve, so we thought we’d find out just how geeky you all are. In order to decide whether you “know” a programming language or not, think about whether you could honestly tell a potential employer you knew it. Basically, it doesn’t matter if you’d use a cheat sheet for reminders, but you should understand how the language works, have coded with it before and remember it well enough to not need to re-learn it. As for what counts as a programming language, that’s another argument. Be sensible!

So, which languages do you know? Why did you choose to learn them? Let us know in the comments!

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Illumination Software Creator Giveaway Winners

Posted: 15 May 2011 04:30 PM PDT

Winning over $1,200 worth of software to create other software sounds like a treat, doesn’t it? Let’s take a look at the lucky MakeUseOf readers who won themselves a free copy of Illumination Software Creator!

  1. Leo Bien Durana
  2. Mette Nygaard
  3. Bart Aronoff
  4. Ian Klatzco
  5. Alex Gartlan
  6. Mark Webb
  7. Frances Nicola Mendex
  8. Matías Nahuel Carballo
  9. Stephen Day
  10. Mario Bobek
  11. Andrew Sharkey
  12. Dickey Wilson
  13. Brian Kovach
  14. Naga Ravi Kiran Anne
  15. David Crossman
  16. Victor Wiebe
  17. Eghan Kojo
  18. Marian Cimbru
  19. Oliver Zhu
  20. Josh Fox
  21. Rachel Ohana-Levy
  22. Duane Purcell
  23. Kacey D
  24. Sam Gallagher
  25. Randy Williams

Congratulations! You should have received an email from confirming your prize. If you haven’t received it yet, please check your spam inbox.

Follow MakeUseOf on Twitter. Includes cool extras.


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Get Social With Collaborative Lists On ListGeeks

Posted: 15 May 2011 03:30 PM PDT

collaborative listsIf you’re a fan of making lists and want to turn it into a social affair, ListGeeks has the perfect set up for you. ListGeeks is the ultimate site where you can get your list-making fix, while also keeping up with other people who are just like you. The site takes a simple approach, simply create as many collaborative lists as you want to, share them with other users, and encourage other users to create similar lists of their own.

Since ListGeeks really does label itself as a social site, you won’t find any way to make your lists private. All of your lists and comments are public, shared with all other ListGeek users. If you like the idea of creating lists but are looking for a more elaborate social network site, where your lists are illustrated with photos, be sure to check out Pinterest.

After signing up for a free account, you can get to creating your first list straight away.
collaborative lists

Each item on the list can be accompanied by a URL.

collaborative list making

Once you’ve completed and saved your list, it will be visible on your profile, and you can also share your list, or other people’s lists for that matter, via Twitter or Facebook. You can also give and receive comments on lists.

collaborative list making

You can delve into the social aspect of ListGeeks in either one of two ways. You can either browse the lists that have been posted, by popularity, date or take the staff picks.

collaborative list making

Or you can choose to browse other Geeks by most recently active or most active.

online collaborative list

You can then choose to follow other users, and a list of their latest lists will be visible in a personalised feed.

online collaborative list

You’ll find that there are little numbers accompanying the title of each list. The first number represents the number of people you follow who have done so. The second number represents the number of people on the site who have created their own version of the list.

If you want to create your own version of someone else’s list, when you open it, you will be presented with a space to create your own list using the same time.
online collaborative list

You can also scroll through all the available versions of the list by selecting Everyone and then using the arrows above the list to navigate.

Lastly, you can edit your own profile through Settings. You can add a picture, select a color that will always be used for each of your lists, add your name, location, website and a short bio. The color you select for your profile is the color that will be used for all of your lists.

collaborative lists

ListGeeks is built on a simple premise and for that reason it works. It doesn’t claim to be more than a site where you can go and create lists. While other sites, like Amazon for example, have this feature built into their services, sometimes all you need is a place to create lists.

ListGeeks can also prove to be quite inspirational if you want it to be. It can be a great way of finding inspiration for your writing, inspiration for things you should try and haven’t done before, or even just a great place to see what makes other people tick.

What site do you use to create collaborative lists? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: Flickr

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Hot Tech Deals – Sony KDL-46EX720 46in 3D LED LCD HDTV for $999.99 + more

Posted: 15 May 2011 01:30 PM PDT

Today’s featured deal is the Sony KDL-46EX720 46in 3D LED LCD HDTV complete with full 1080p HD (120Hz) and Netflix for $999.99.

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

  1. Dell Vostro 3750 Intel Core i3-2310M 2.1GHz [Sandy Bridge] 17.3in Laptop (Aluminum) $549
  2. Dell Vostro 3450 Intel Core i3-2310M 2.1GHz [Sandy Bridge] 14in Laptop (Aluminum) $499
  3. Dell Vostro 3550 Intel Core i3-2310M 2.1GHz [Sandy Bridge] 15.6in Laptop (Aluminum) $499
  4. Dell Vostro 3300 Intel Core i3-370M 2.4GHz 13.3in Laptop (Aluminum, 2GB/250GB) $469
  5. Sony KDL-46EX720 46in 3D LED LCD HDTV (1080p, 120Hz, Netflix) $999.99 Free Shipping via code OXF30019 (Exp 5/21)
  6. LG 42LK520 42 inch LCD HDTV (1080p, 120Hz, Calibration Friendly) $619.99 Free Shipping

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From Classical To Metal: 10 Free Albums & A Song [Sound Sunday May 15th]

Posted: 15 May 2011 12:31 PM PDT

free musicEnjoy a Sound Sunday!

This edition is wild with a little bit of everything and something for everyone. The mix takes you through metal, rock, pop, reggae, folk, country, soul, hip hop, classical, instrumental, acoustic, and electronic music. What else could you ask for?

Please post your feedback in the comments or write me an email [tina at makeuseof dot com].

Free Song: Two Cent Revival – Save Our Souls

Genre: americana, folk, rock, roots

A few weeks ago I featured the song The Devil’s In This Whiskey on Sound Sunday.  In light of the upcoming album release, Two Cent Revival have made a second song available for free download. It will be available for one week only, so get it while it’s out there!

Save Our Souls is a free download from Bandcamp.

Abused Romance – Shine

Genre: alternative, rock

Abused Romance is an emerging alternative rock band from Los Angeles, California. They have recently released their debut album Shine and are going to tour the US in June this year.

Shine is a free download from the Abused Romance Homepage.

Enxo – Black Circus: Intermission

Genre: experimental, pop, soul, hip hop

From his ReverbNation profile:”Enxo, born Lorenzo Joseph Burroughs, is a young, vibrant, eclectic artist and producer, who prides himself on innovation and congratulating creativity in all of its forms. To his fanbase, he is known to be a very passionate songwriter and deftly illustrates his Christian Faith through music and a variety of social. Much like a young Michael Jackson, there is an unmistakeable magic that one sees and hears as they experience what Enxo has to offer.

Black Circus: Intermission is a free download from Bandcamp.

Damon Amir – Digital Intercourse

Genre: instrumental, rhythm & blues, electronica, hip hop

From Damon Amir’s Bandcamp profile: “From Denver, Colo comes” Damon Amir” , consisting of Paul P-FUNK Dawan and Derrick CEO Savala, a two man production team . All songs are from our catalog we have built. They are free to use and ask only that you acknowledge where you got them.

Digital Intercourse is a free download from Bandcamp.

Slavery – Revenge

Genre: heavy metal, death metal, thrash metal

Slavery was born as a death metal project between Jimmy Ponce (drums) and Rafael Salgado (guitarist) in early 1990. The band didn’t come together until 1993 and subsequently released their first demo After The War 1994. Slavery is based in Santiago de Chile.

Revenge is a free download from Bandcamp.

RootDown – Sampler

Genre: pop, rock, reggae

The reggae band from Oregon is about to release their new album Tidal Wave. Just before the album hits digital stores, they have released a free album sampler.

From their Facebook profile: “The new ROOTDOWN record "Tidal Wave" features ten songs produced by Grammy-winning producer Christopher Stevens (TobyMAC, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood). The band has shown significant growth and maturity since their last release "Summer of Love" in 2009 (which debuted in the top ten on the iTunes reggae charts).

RootDown’s Sampler is a free download from Music Bailout.

Jay Morgans – Burning The Portrait

Genre: acoustic, alternative, folk

Burning The Portrait has come a long way. It started as a project of the brothers Jay and Jesse Morgans (The Morgans Project) and was pre-released as a limited sampler before the tracks were produced and mastered for a commercial release years later. Jesse had departed to pursue other projects and after a while Jay had basically stopped performing live. Some people, however, never forgot about his music. Around the same time that Jay agreed to organize another show, Bret Alexander re-discovered the original recordings of Burning The Portrait and ended up finishing the album. After being sold through iTunes, the album is now available for free.

Download Burning The Portrait one song at a time from The Morgans Project website or stream it from Rhapsody.

Music from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum – The Concert: Selections, Spring 2011

Genre: classical

From the FMA album page: “This spring, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum launched a revamped website and music library to accompany their world-renowned classical music podcast, The Concert. To celebrate, ISGM digs into their library to curate this fresh batch of world-class performances for the Free Music Archive. Enjoy!

The Concert: Selections, Spring 2011 is a free download from the Free Music Archive.

Nest – Nest

Genre: electronic, 20th century classical, minimalism

From the FMA album page: “Nest is a project of fellow pianists and record label operators Otto Totland (Deaf Center / Type Records) and Huw Roberts (Serein). They became friends when they were members of the Miasmah free netlabel. This self-titled EP is their first work publicly released. It is apparently no longer available through Serein since their 2009 rebuild, but has been remastered and incorporated into the album RETOLD. The recording is too good to fade into obscurity, so it lives again now at the WFMU Free Music Archive.

Nest is a free download from the Free Music Archive.

Amy Courts – NoiseTrade EP

Genre: folk, pop, rock

From Amy’s hompeage: “With the July 2008 release of the independent follow-up to her 2005 EP,These Cold and Rusted Lungs, Amy Courts shows with effortless fluency that she is indeed here to stay. With her trademark impassioned vocals, captivating melodies, and audacious honesty, she ably takes on love, heartache, spirituality, and personal demons. Though her voice and songs invoke inevitable comparisons to great singer-songwriters like Jennifer Knapp, Patty Griffin, Derek Webb, and Sheryl Crow, her sound and experience are uniquely her own, and are delivered with a rare distinction.

Amy Courts’ NoiseTrade EP is a free download from NoiseTrade.



Liza Day – Liza Day and the Northbound Trestle Singers

Genre: folk, rock, country

From her Facebook bio: “Born Lindsey Czechowicz, her stage name is one half affectionate nickname and one half borrowed from social justice crusader Dorothy Day. Her music reflects this marriage, half diary-page-reflection and half public service announcement, with sounds appropriated from, well, wherever. From Appalachian folk she borrows rustic textures and deadpan storytelling. From the margins of pop she takes a disregard for tired conventions. From classic rock she borrows a dash of grit and recklessness. From old soul and gospel she borrows the secrets of voicing urgent conviction with the most human of all instruments. It’s all there, it isn’t particularly tidy, and ultimately it’s nobody’s but her own. So then, here’s the bargain: let her borrow your ears and a few minutes of your time, and you’ll be glad you did.

Liza Day and the Northbound Trestle Singers is a free download from NoiseTrade.

New to Sound Sunday? Past editions of Sound Sunday are available here.

Feel free to get in touch with me [tina at makeuseof dot com] to share free material, suggestions, and feedback or simply add your comments below.

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


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Pixelmator – The Image Editor That Mac Users Should Be Using [Giveaway]

Posted: 15 May 2011 11:30 AM PDT

Ever since we first featured Pixelmator in March 2010, it has been improved in so many ways. It’s pretty much the affordable Photoshop alternative for Mac. We’re giving away 25 copies of the latest version of Pixelmator this week, worth almost $1,500 in total; and saying goodbye to GIMP.

Personally, Pixelmator is my everyday go-to image editor. I use it to create all of the image featured on my website, TheDailyBuggle. Very rarely do I feel the need to use Photoshop for the purpose of simple image editing, plus Pixelmator is more intuitive anyway, in my humble opinion.

Perhaps the most significant enhancement since we initially reviewed Pixelmator was the addition of 64-bit architecture support, which resulted in huge performance improvements. I’m not really going to dive into the details about what makes Pixelmator tick and the technologies used to drive it. If you’re really interested in those details, I’d recommend that you read up here — it’s better than me trying to explain it to you anyway. I’ll be showing you how Pixelmator works and how you can integrate it into your image editing workflow.

Pixelmator is compatible with over 100 different file formats including PSD, TIFF, JPEG, PNG, PDF and EPS; so you’ll have no trouble opening just about any image in Pixelmator. It can also output images in a whole load of image formats, which we’ll discuss a little later.

Did you know that you could get a free 30-day fully-functional trial of Pixelmator? Download it now and give it a whirl. The first thing you’ll notice about it is it’s sleek interface — it belongs on a Mac. Everything else just falls into place. Unlike Photoshop, there’s no bounding window. Instead, you’re presented with floating toolbars which you’re free to re-arrange however you want. It’s very tightly integrated with OS X, providing you access to iPhoto, smart albums, iSight, and Aperture.

On the left, you have the instruments you’ll need to edit your images. Pixelmator provides a variety of 4 selection tools: Rectangular Marque tool, Elliptical Marque tool, Lasso tool, Polygonal Lasso tool and the Magic Wand. In addition, you also get an assortment of freestyle painting tools: Pencil, Brush, Eraser, Magic Eraser, Paint Bucket tool and Gradient tool. Not forgetting, the high-sought Clone Stamp tool is also included. Essentially, its a complete toolkit for basic image editing.

If you look carefully on the right-hand side of the screenshot above, you’ll see something that resembles a layers palette. In fact, it is — Pixelmator is a layers-based image editor. Like Photoshop, it allows you to blend layers, adjust their intensities, create clipping and layer masks to accurately edit your photos.

In regards to image correction, Pixelmator is no slouch. It has all of the powerful adjustment tools that Photoshop has — Levels, Curves, Exposure, Colour Balance, Channel Mixer, Colour Replacement, Hue and Saturation and of course, Brightness and Contrast. Just about everything you need to properly adjust your photos can be found in Pixelmator, including over 60 Quartz Composer and 130 Core Image-powered filters and effects, which you can preview in real-time.

A fun feature of Pixelmator, one which I’m sure a lot of users will utilise is the ability to export directly to Facebook, Picasa and Flickr.

Pixelmator supports the popular image formats and allows you to easily export them as JPEG, PNG, TIFF, PSD and PDF with a single click. However, what you don’t see are the other formats that it’s capable of exporting: WEBP, GIF, PICT, ART, AVI, AVS, BMP, DNG, DOT, DPX, EPDF, EPI, EPT, FAX, FIG, FITS, FPX, GPLT, JP2, MAN, MONO, MNG, MPEG, M2V, MPC, MSL, MTV, MVG, OTB, PCL, PCX, PDB, PDF, PFA, PFB, PGM, PICON, PIX, PNM, PPM, PS, PS2, PS3, PTIF, PWP, RAD, RLA, RLE, SCT, SFW, SGI, SUN, TGA, TIM, TTF, UIL, UYVY, VICAR, VIFF, WBMP, WPG, XBM, XCF, XPM.

If you’re a preparing an image to be shared online, Pixelmator will grant you the option of saving a web-optimised version of JPEG, PNG or GIF.

If you’ll be using Pixelmator for painting, you’ll be pleased to know that it supports the use of a graphics tablet and almost every brush property can be adjusted; from its size, hardness, spacing, flow, stroke jitter, as well as the graphics table sensitivity.

Give it a try. Its tight integration with OS X and beautifully simple interface might just encourage you to stop using GIMP. If you’re happy to purchase Pixelmator, you’ll find it on the Mac App Store for $59.99.

We’re giving away 25 copies of Pixelmator this week, don’t miss out on the change to win this fantastic image editor for free!

How do I win a copy?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

Step 1: Fill in the giveaway form

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

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

Step 2: Share!

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

Like it on Facebook

Or share it on Twitter

This giveaway begins now and ends Sunday, May 22nd at 2100hrs PDT. The winners will be selected at random and informed via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

MakeUseOf would like to thank Pixelmator for their generosity while participating in this giveaway. Interesting in sponsoring? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via email.

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Setup A Perfect Media Center With Plex [Mac & Windows]

Posted: 15 May 2011 10:30 AM PDT

windows media centerPlex is widely regarded by many as being the best media player, manager and streaming application around – available for both Windows, Mac and even mobiles (though the mobile apps are not free). If you’re looking for a single solution as both a media center and server, then read on – this *is* the Media Center app you’ve been looking for your whole life.

If you read through and decide you’d rather check out some of the alternatives, have a look at Bakari’s round of streaming and converter apps for OsX, Tim’s collection of linux-based media center distros, or Justin’s list of TV-ready media centre apps last month.

Is it a player? Is it server?

Plex produces a media server and client app for Mac OsX, however there is only a server app for Windows currently available. To view your media on the Windows side of things, you can use a Plex plugin. Since Plex is essentially a fork of the XBMC app, there is very little difference in the client/player side of things.

Both Mac and Windows Plex Media Servers can send data to the mobile clients (obviously, there is no media server for mobile devices).

I’ve made a little diagram to help explain this:

windows media center


Download and install the appropriate version from . During the install, point the app at your directories for movies and TV.

media center

Naming Conventions and Fixing MetaData

One thing that always annoyed me about media center systems in the past has been how utterly incapable they seem to be of identifying my eclectic collection and gathering the appropriate covers / metadata. The secret is to name the files correctly – this helpful page details the process, and though it may be tiresome, it does result in a beautifully unified media collection rather than a mess of folders. For those of you who can’t be bothered to read, name your movies “name of movie (date of release)” like “Steal This Movie (2010)”. I suggest you go through your collection and do a little renaming before you install Plex to give it the best chance of correct identification. If you have odd formats such as .img or .iso, then no worries – just name them and Plex will handle it all!

To launch the media manager and see what it’s found, click the taskbar icon (or right click in windows) and select Media Manager. You can then choose between TV and Movies, as well as Music if you chose to import that.

media center

You may find a few odd matches – in that case you can easily right-click on the item in question, and select Fix Incorrect Match. this will bring up a list of possibilities. In general, I found that if the files were actually named correctly a match would generally be found – it was only when I had files that didn’t follow the guidelines that mismatches occured.

media center

The only complaint I do have is that the poster picture can’t be changed by dragging and dropping – it takes a bit of effort to navigate through the options for that – but then again you shouldn’t need to most times if it’s been correctly identified.

The Plex Player App (Mac only)

When your data is sorted, go ahead and launch the main player app (from Applications or the Start menu, not the icon already running in your taskbar). Bear in mind that you can’t use the mouse, as it’s designed for full-screen – so stick to the keyboard or remote. Hit Apple-F to switch to fullscreen, and start browsing through the options.

The movies and TV menus options don’t need an awful lot of explaining really, except for that you can change the view style to cover flow or grid view (my personal favorite) by selecting “right” on your keyboard or remote to bring up the view options:

media center

media center pc

Plex Online is the place to find plugins – such as the BBC iPlayer (UK only) – that enable Plex to interface with hundreds more free online video sources.

media center pc

To access the online media content channels that you install, choose Video Plugins from the main menu. I especially recommend TED for some fantastic inspirational talks:

media center pc

The app also makes a really good interface to YouTube and other social video sites. Just hit Search and type in your query – local media will appear first, as well as tons of internet videos that you can start streaming instantly. I actually found it easier than browsing the real YouTube site, since’s there’s absolutely no clutter and zero commentary from 14 year old idiots. Bonus!

windows media center

PleXBMC (Windows)

To view your movies on Windows, you will need to install XBMC, then the add-on for Plex. Tim has covered the ins and outs of XMBC before with a thorough review, so I’ll only be showing you the actual connector add-on. To install it, make sure you use the XBMC interface rather than downloading and installing the zip file manually. Head to the System -> Add-Ons -> Video Add-Ons -> PleXBMC -> Install. If you have the server software running on a remote machine, you’ll also need to configure the IP of the remote server in the Configure option for the add-on. You should then be able to browse your Plex media server using the Add-Ons folder from the main Video menu, complete with covers and meta-data.


I have to admit, having all my movies in one central place with all the metadata correct is incredibly satisfying. If you have a large collection you’d love to browse by DVD covers then I strongly suggest Plex. I’ve tried other solutions in the past, but none have handled my movies particular well, and I find the media manager of Plex to be the best overall. It’s a shame there isn’t a native client for Windows yet, but the add-on for XBMC means I can basically have the same fantastic player interface while we wait for the official client. Plex is going to form the center of my living room now, and I’ve even splashed out on the iPad app which let’s me stream any of my collection without format worries.

If you’re having any troubles setting it all up, then feel free to ask away in the comments or Q&A section, and we’ll see if we can help.

Oh and one last thing – Plex supports streaming over the internet too!

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