Thursday, May 5, 2011 “Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]” plus 11 more “Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]” plus 11 more

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Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]

Posted: 05 May 2011 12:08 AM PDT


Check out the top picks from MakeUseOf Geeky Fun during the last week.

  1. They Couldn't Get Along Well (Pic)
  2. Thank You Apple For Killing Osama Bin Laden (Pic)
  3. Tagging Stuff On Facebook Can Be Dangerous (Pic)
  4. Exellent Apprentice (Pic)
  5. A PlayStation Engeneer Trying To Fix Hacked Network (Pic)
  6. Busted (Pic)
  7. Weird Gadget For Kissing Over The Internet (Video)
  8. What "LoL" Stands For Nowadays (Pic)

If you would like to keep up with all latest Geeky Fun additions, please subscribe to the Geeky Fun feed here. You can also subscribe and get the latest additions via email.


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Cool Websites and Tools [May 4th]

Posted: 04 May 2011 08:31 PM PDT

Check out some of the latest MakeUseOf discoveries. All listed websites are FREE or come with a decent free account option. You can make use of them without spending a dime. If you want to have similar cool websites round-ups delivered to your email daily email subscribe here.

Add Your Website Here!


URL Hunter – If you are a keen follower of HTML5 technology, then here is a simple game that will wow you. URL Hunter is an HTML5 game that is played right on your browser's URL bar. This game, although very elementary, basically showcases what HTML5 can do in your browser. Read more: URL-Hunter: Fun Little Game That Is Played In Browser's URL Bar


Fluidtables – Planning the perfect table seating for your wedding party can be a big hassle as you are never sure which of your invitees will attend. Fortunately, Fluidtables is a cool app that allows us to make seating charts for your party and edit them on the fly. Read more: Fluidtables: Free Seating Chart Creator For Your Wedding Party



Radial – One area in which the iPad needs to improve is how it lets its users type. People cannot reach all the keys of the virtual keyboard holding the iPad with both hands, so they hold the device with one hand and type with the other – a rather slow way to type. Here to solve this problem is a nifty iOS application called Radial. Read more: Radial: An iOS App To Ease & Speed Up Typing On The iPad



Wolfram Demonstrations – is a collection of some really amazing visualizations that have been created using the popular software Mathematica. Around 7,000 demonstrations belonging to various topics ranging from mathematics and physical sciences to creative arts and politics. Demonstrations have certain variable elements that a user can adjust and the visuals will adjust accordingly. Read more: Wolfram Demonstrations: Explore Thousands Of Interactive Visualizations



TuneViper – You probably want to purchase the albums of your favorite artists as soon as they are released. But often you may not know of the album's availability until well after its release date. Thankfully you can use TuneViper to be well informed of your favorite artists upcoming albums. Read more: TuneViper: Stay Updated On Favorite Artists Album Releases and Tour Dates


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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Banshee 2.0 – A Comprehensive Media Player, Streamer & Podcast Tool [Linux]

Posted: 04 May 2011 04:31 PM PDT

linux media playerThe Banshee media player was first released in early 2005 and has since come on leaps and bounds. Probably the closest thing Linux has to iTunes, Banshee comes with an integrated music store, Internet radio, podcasting and compatibility with Apple’s range of media players, including the iPhone.

Canonical, the Ubuntu overlords, decided to include Banshee 2.0 with Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal” – meaning the highly popular Linux distribution will be shipping with a fully integrated online music store for the first time. This version of Banshee has been tested on Ubuntu 10.10, and is the current stable release. Mac OS X users can download a temperamental beta, and there is a very buggy Windows alpha version in development.

Get Banshee

For those of you who aren’t already using Ubuntu 11.04, you can get a version of Banshee for your particular distribution over at the download page. There are plenty of versions for specific distributions, or you can download and compile from source should you wish to.

linux media player

Older versions of Ubuntu and Ubuntu-based distributions (with binary compatibility) can download from the official repository opening up a new Terminal window and typing:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:banshee-team/ppa sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install banshee

For the latest versions, adding the official Banshee repository (as above) is a must.

Streaming & Downloading

Banshee is very much reliant on an Internet connection for much of its feature set. One of the main features is Amazon MP3 Store integration, which appears in the menu bar on the left. Browsing for music is handled simply by the bog-standard Amazon frontend, and whilst a custom interface would have been nice it serves its purpose.

Anything you stream (preview) is handled by Banshee, which means no Flash plugins and some lightning-fast buffering. Every now and again a preview would timeout when clicked. I’m not sure if this is Amazon’s fault or Banshee’s. Simply clicking preview again loaded the track the few times I encountered the error.

media player for linux

Downloads (free or purchased) from the Amazon MP3 Store are automatically added to your Banshee library, and you can stipulate the settings for saving this to your hard drive within the preferences.

Also included are integration with Miro and The Internet Archive. Miro is a fantastic way of discovering both audio and video podcasts, with a hearty selection of media to choose from. Much like the Amazon MP3 Store all previews are handled by Banshee. Podcasts can be subscribed to with Banshee’s in-built podcast tool and you can even add a shortcut link to your favourite shows on the main Banshee sidebar.

media player for linux

The Internet Archive is probably one of the better integrated components, with an ever-expanding database of things to watch, listen to or read. The search interface makes it really easy to find what you’re looking for, and it’s a good job as you’ll have so much free content at your fingertips.

media player for linux

A simple Internet radio streamer and integration are also present and functional but nothing particularly special to write home about.

The daily builds of Banshee currently also include experimental eMusic Store support, described by Rolling Stone magazine as “the iTunes music store’s cooler, cheaper cousin“. When this makes it to the stable builds Banshee will come with 2 music stores, and offer a huge selection of tunes.

Playback, Connectivity & Customization

Bolstering the already impressive feature set, presentation and accessible content is the player’s compatibility with other devices. Banshee plays nicely with Apple’s range of portable media players, handy if you need to use iTunes to transfer media to your iPod or similar. If you’ve got a Creative Zen or other MTP device then Banshee will do the trick here too.

media player for linux best

Adding music to your library is done via the preferences. Simply point Banshee to your music folder, hit Refresh Music Library and wait for the program to do its thing. Video works in much the same way.

Browsing for music is done via the artist browser, which uses cover art for navigation (though you can always search). Intelligent shuffle has been included as well, with Banshee preferring songs with higher ratings to those you aren’t fond of. Audio playback displays a minimalist description of the track title, artist and album as well as cover art.

linux media player

There are several extensions included with Banshee from the get-go, including the cover-art downloader, YouTube support and artist information from Wikipedia during playback (in the context window, enabled via the View toolbar). More extensions are listed and available for download from the Banshee website.


Banshee is reasonably lightweight and responsive, and certainly doesn’t feel as bogged down and sluggish as the Windows versions of iTunes I have used in the past. If you’re searching for an iTunes equivalent for Linux, demand excellent integration with radio, video, podcasts and a music store then Banshee comes with everything you need.

Have you tried Banshee? What do you think? Any other similar Linux favourites? Let us know in the comments below.



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The 8 Most Useful DOS Commands That You Should Memorize

Posted: 04 May 2011 02:31 PM PDT

dos commandsI realize that providing a lesson on DOS commands to MUO readers is sort of like offering to teach a group of martial arts experts how to throw a punch. The thing is, there are quite a few people out there that don’t realize how easy it is to troubleshoot and fix certain computer issues using a few simple key entries. I’m not about to argue that DOS isn’t outdated. However, Windows 7 still features a command prompt window.

We’ve covered a number of current uses for DOS, such as  playing DOS games. I also provided some Windows Scripting tips, which is the next generation replacing DOS commands. With that said, there’s still a place for DOS commands. So, for those of you that like the idea of typing in a few commands to avoid the hassle of several mouse clicks, I’m going to review eight of what I consider to be the most essential and helpful DOS commands that are still available in Windows 7.

The DOS Prompt Window Is Not Missing!

If you are one of those folks that became convinced the DOS prompt was officially wiped out with Windows 7, all you have to do is click on the Start menu, and in the “Search programs and files” field, just type “cmd” and press enter. Voila – there’s your DOS window.

Assoc: Associated Extension

Not sure what default program you have set up to handle ZIP, MP3 or HTML files? A quick and easy way to check for your default file associations is the “assoc” command. Just open a command prompt and type “assoc” followed by the file extension.

dos commands

The response is the installed application that is currently configured to handle that file type. As you can see above, WinRAR is my ZIP file handler, MS Word handles doc files, and Chrome is set up as the default for HTML files.

Tree: View Directory Structure

If you’ve created a virtual spiderweb of files and directories on your computer, it can get pretty confusing to remember where everything is. Sometimes it would be nice to have a diagram showing directories and sub-directories. Using the Tree command, you can do just that.

First, navigate to the directory you want to get the file structure of, and then type “tree > myfile.txt“. The text file can be called anything you like.

ms dos commands

The command writes the entire directory structure, completed with all folders, into the text file, which you can print out for easy viewing.

ms dos commands

The formatting may look a little bit funky, but if you look closely you’ll see that the directories are all there, they just might be prefaced with some weird symbols.

File Search & Comparison

If you ever have two text files – particularly two very large text files – the file compare (fc) command is all you need to identify and synchronize file differences.

The usage is about as easy as it can get. Just type “fc” followed by the names of the two files.

ms dos commands

The system will respond by showing the lines from both files where there are differences.  This command can become pretty handy when you’re collaborating with people and trying to sync up differences between files that several people are working on.

If you only need to find a file on your system, and you know the name of the file, the “find” command is far faster than any point and click operation you can do. Just do a “dir” command to the directory you want to search, and then “|” followed by the name of the file.

dos prompt commands

The system will respond with the directory where the file is stored.

Network Commands

I really don’t think there are easier ways available to do network troubleshooting than the sort of tools you get in DOS commands. For example, if you want to know your basic network setup, just do a quick “ipconfig” and you will get details like your computer IP and the default gateway (which is typically your home router IP address).

If you’re not sure you have a good network connection, try doing a “ping” to a known IP address or a website. You’ll see it echo back with an IP address if the link is good. If you want to see all network connections currently active from your PC, type “netstat“.

This shows you all network connections from your PC. It may be a good idea to search through these carefully to make sure that there’s no surprises in the form of malware or a virus hijacking your bandwidth.

Windows Utilities

Finally, there are a multitude of DOS commands that are invaluable as system troubleshooting tools. For example, to view a list of active processes, just open up a command prompt and type “tasklist“.

dos prompt commands

If you see any process you want to kill, just type “taskkill” follwoed by the image name.

Nervous about whether a particular system file became corrupted after a recent virus infection? Just type “sfc /VERIFYFILE=” followed by the full path of the file.

dos prompt commands

Windows will check to be sure it is the original. You can also scan all system files like this at once by typing “sfc /scannow

Finally, probably one of the most useful DOS commands available – the AT command. With “AT”, you have the ability to schedule tasks to run on a regular routine, all from a simple command prompt.

dos commands

Setting up the AT commands can be a little tricky, so type “at help” if you need parameter help. In the command above I set up the computer to automatically archive all files in the temp directory to the archive folder. You could do similar jobs to routinely back up important files on your computer to a mapped external drive.

As you can see, there’s still plenty that you can do with the command prompt. Having these resources at your fingertips can really make it a lot easier to troubleshoot, maintain and repair computer systems.

Were any of these commands new to you? Do you know of any other useful DOS tips? Share your insights in the comments section below.



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Hot Tech Deals – Asus Eee PC 1015PN 10in Netbook + more

Posted: 04 May 2011 01:30 PM PDT

Today, grab the Asus Eee PC 1015PN Intel Atom N550 Dual-Core 10in Netbook NVIDIA ION for only $279.99 — that’s almost half off! Also, you might want to check out the deals we have on the Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 1TB USB 3.0 external portable hard drive and Dell laptops.

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

  1. Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 1TB USB 3.0 External Hard Drive $69.99 Free Shipping
  2. Asus Eee PC 1015PN Intel Atom N550 Dual-Core 10in Netbook NVIDIA ION $279.99
  3. EXPIRING LG WH12LS30 12X Internal SATA Blu-Ray Burner + 5-Pack Blu-ray Media $84.99 Free Ship via code EMCYTZT442 (Exp 5/4)
  4. HP Personal Media Drive 1TB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive $84.91 Free Shipping via code ACCS73419 (Exp Soon). Tax in most.
  5. TODAY ONLY AMD Rosewill RNX-EasyN4 Wireless N Router + Adapter $41.98
  6. Dell Vostro 3550 Intel Core i3-2310M 2.1GHz [Sandy Bridge] 15.6in Laptop (Aluminum) $499
  7. Dell Vostro 3450 Intel Core i3-2310M 2.1GHz [Sandy Bridge] 14in Laptop (Aluminum) $499
  8. Dell Vostro 3750 Intel Core i3-2310M 2.1GHz [Sandy Bridge] 17.3in Laptop (Aluminum) $549
  9. Dell Vostro 3300 Intel Core i3-370M 2.4GHz 13.3in Laptop (Aluminum, 2GB/250GB) $469

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5 More Action Packed Free iPad & iPhone Games

Posted: 04 May 2011 12:31 PM PDT

free ipad gamesI’m back again with 5 absolutely top-quality, action packed free iPad games to suit every taste, and this time I have a real variety for you from soccer-based streaking games to quirky trivia and steampunk shooters. Be sure to check out the archives of iPad and iPhone games we’ve covered before too, and don’t forget I wrote a great free guide to everything iPad for beginners and long-term owners alike, with tips and tricks and a round-up of our favourite apps.

Soccers Stealers (Universal)

If you’re looking for a full-on soccer game, then look away now – this is not it. I suspect this game was originally named Soccer Streakers, and renamed after Apple rejected it. The idea is refreshingly unique in that you run onto a soccer pitch naked, steal the ball, and attempt to outrun all the other players whilst picking up coins and power-ups, as well as “running” into the goal! If it sounds awesome, it’s because it is. How could you go wrong? The controls are simple enough for a two year old and involve dragging your finger across the screen to point your little streaking guy in the right direction.

Use the in-game coin currency to access harder levels – it’s a “freemium” game, so if you want to change your guy’s haircut or wear some pants, it costs extra. You can play without ever spending a dime though, as you collect coins while playing as well as playing every day. Personally, I loved this game, even though I can’t stand soccer.

free ipad games

Snooker Club (Universal)

The iPad seems to lend itself well to snooker, and this game is certainly easy to pick up and play with a great 3D view of the table and responsive controls. You can turn off the guide lines if you like, and go for either a one-device multi-player or versus A.I. mode. It’s pretty relaxing to knock balls around, but the game doesn’t deliver quite as addictive a feel as some of the others I’ve highlighted today.

Still, if you have a remote interest in snooker, you can’t really go wrong with this free simulation. There’s no power-ups or arcade modes, just a straight up simulation that seems pretty realistic to my untrained eye.

ipad games

You Don’t Know Jack Lite (iPad HD version, iPhone)

A bit of a cult classic, I remember first seeing You Don’t Know Jack on British TV in the 90′s, but it was soon cancelled due to being altogether too American and far too “quirky”. All I can remember is the audience would sing “Hit the road Jack” when someone lost, and their seat would vanish out the back somewhere. I loved it, personally. The show was resurrected on the PC and various other formats a few times, and now it seems to have made its way to the iPad, and this lite version gives you two full episodes to play through.

Though I must admit, some of the questions are definitely impossible for anyone outside the USA. It’s still an enjoyable distraction – though sadly lacking in multiplayer. Just to warn you in advance, some of the questions are somewhat NSFW (from a list of 7 things, decide if they’re the title of a Jenna Jameson “movie” or Three Stooges short, for instance).

ipad games

Men VS Machines (Universal)

This has to be the first SteamPunk themed game I’ve seen on the iPad (or anywhere, for that matter), and while the subject matter certainly doesn’t fall within my personal sphere of preferred fantasy styles, it’s a fun shooter with an above average selection of weapon and armor upgrades.

Various waves of machines come at you, you shoot them and collect their gear bits to buy better stuff. While it does seem a little clunky in the interface, it’s still an addictive game – definitely worth checking out if you’re into anything SteamPunk related.

ipad games

Dish Break

I hardly think this needs an explanation. Dishes come up, along with glasses, plates, cups and saucers and you break them by either tapping them individually or smacking them into one another. Curiously fun!

free ipad games

Frankly, I’m amazed every time at the quality of games you can get for free nowadays. The very idea of paying $40-50 for a Nintendo DS cartridge sickens me – the iPad is where it’s at for mobile gaming, and there’s some fantastic stuff out there that I promise to filter down each month for you.

As ever, feel free to leave comments or your own reviews and game recommendations in the comments. Or if you’re a developer looking for a bit of publicity for your free iPad games then you can email me directly at jamesbruce AT – looking forward to hearing from you!



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Launch Applications, Files & Folders Faster With MadAppLauncher [Windows]

Posted: 04 May 2011 11:31 AM PDT

launch applications fasterLaunching applications and documents is part of our daily computer life, and digging through piles of files and folders to find items that we want to launch is often a tedious job. Even though the Start Menu and Windows Explorer do their job well, most users could use a faster locate and launch method. That’s why application launchers are often popular.

Most launchers work the same way – open the launcher, type in the application’s name, and hit Enter to launch the item. There are many launchers available out there using this method. But if you are willing to try a different approach to launch applications faster, you could try MadAppLauncher. This application will help you launch anything in three strokes or less.

Three Hundred Boxes

After installation, MadAppLauncher will reside in the System Tray. Clicking on the icon or pressing the shortcut key combination will launch the program’s main window. You can assign a new shortcut key combination if you want to.

launch applications faster

The first thing you will notice about the app is the rows of boxes and tabs. MadAppLauncher takes a different approach than the other file launchers. Instead of letting users type the name of the apps they want to launch while keeping the display as minimal as possible, this mad launcher will display everything in rows of boxes and let users pick one to launch.

fast launch programs

The system works like this. You put something in one of the boxes, and you can quickly launch it by pressing a keyboard button related to that box. For example, if you put Notepad in box B, then you can launch Notepad by pressing the B button on the keyboard. All you need to do is populate the boxes with the items you want to launch. The boxes are grouped under tabs. There are 10 tabs and 30 boxes in each tab. So you have 300 boxes in total. That should be enough to contain everything you need.

While this system is more “maximalist” than the usual approach, the system becomes very effective when you need to deal with a great number of applications, files and folders because you can launch an application faster than the common launchers.

Populating The Boxes

To put something in a box, you can drag and drop the item from Windows Explorer. Or if you want more control, you could do it in a more traditional way – right click on a box, click “Edit“, then…

fast launch programs

Add the “Target” by clicking on “Browse” and locate the file you want. Select the item, and all the other fields will automatically be filled in using the default settings. You can customize the fields if you want to.

fast launch programs

The “Appearance” tab will let you set where and how the launched window should be displayed. For example, you can set that a certain document will always be opened on the left side of the screen and the size at a quarter of the screen.

launch folders

As an experiment, I assigned box A to Audacity. So everytime I need to open Audacity, all I need to do is to open MadAppLauncher and hit “A” on the keyboard.

launch folders

MadAppLauncher itself can be summoned by a customizable shortcut key combination. To do the customization, go to “Settings – Hotkey“.

03a hotkey

The default hotkey is “Control + Oemtilde“, but you can change it to your own combination. In case you are wondering (like I did), oemtilde is this sign: “~“.

launch folders

If you want to avoid an accidental launch, you could set MadAppLauncher to perform the task only when the assigned key is pressed twice. You can do this from the “Options” window.

03c general options

To better organize the launcher, you can assign different tabs to contain different kinds of items. For example, one tab for audio applications, one for games, another for work documents, etc. Then right click on the tab, choose “Edit“, and give the tab a name.

04a tab name

You can move between tabs easily by pressing the number keys (1-9 and 0). To speed up the tab switching process, put a number in front of each tab name so you know immediately what number to press for each tab. So instead of naming the first tab “Audio“, name it “1Audio” for example.

To hide the MadAppLauncher main window away after launching an item, check the “Auto Hide” option under the “View” menu.

launch applications faster

What do you think? Do you like MadAppLauncher method or do you prefer a normal launcher? Share your opinions in the comments below.

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Use PayPal Mobile To Pay On The Go With Your Paypal Account

Posted: 04 May 2011 10:31 AM PDT

paypal mobileSince we wrote about 9 tools PayPal users should know about way back in 2008, the online money service now has an app for iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry users. Using this app can almost be like carrying cash in your wallet or purse. We savvy smart phone, debit card, and Internet users don't much like carrying around paper money. We prefer to keep things online and easily accessible.

PayPal’s mobile app may well be useful in many different situations, not only for making purchases, but for sending other PayPal users money without using a check, money order, or credit card. Version 3.2 of PayPal Mobile includes some very useful features for making monetary transactions. I will show you how I set up my iPhone to use the app.  Please note however that a lot of these features may be US only.

Setting Up Your Mobile Device

In this article, I'm of course assuming that you already have a PayPal account and are familiar with using it. Before I describe the PayPal Mobile features, I want to suggest that you add the following PayPal information to your address book on your mobile device.

paypal mobile

  • Add the PayPal customer service number: 1-800-427-9725.
  • Add a second number/code for text messaging PayPal—729-725.
  • Add the – a PayPal calculator site I will talk about later.
  • Add “” – the email address you use to forward any fraudulent email messages you receive pretending to be PayPal.

PayPal Mobile Features

Text Messaging PayPal

What you may use PayPal Mobile the most for is keeping tabs on the balance of your account. You can do this two ways on your mobile phone. You can of course access your account from any Internet connected web browser. You can also actually send PayPal a text message and they will send you back the balance of your account.

To do this, you simply send a text message to 729725, and type BAL or BALANCE. You can use the same text message number for sending and requesting money.

pay on the go

You can use this same text message feature for sending or requesting money to or from someone (who has a PayPal account.) To send money, simply type, “Send [dollar amount] to [recipient's phone number or email address]“. To request money, type “Get [dollar amount] from [recipient's phone number or email address]“.

Sending the text message, “help” will get you these and additional instructions.


pay on the go

To use text messaging with PayPal, go into your account, click on the Profile tab > Add or Edit Phone Number. You will need to link your mobile phone number to your account to receive the text messages.

Using The PayPay App

With the latest version of PayPal Mobile, you can now use a 4-digit PIN number (instead of your account password).

pay on the go


Other Features

Similar to using SMS for sending or requesting money, the PayPal Mobile app includes dedicated buttons on the app's home page for making the same type of transaction.

mobile payments

I haven't tested it out yet, but there's also a Bump feature that enables you to physically bump your supported smartphone with another smartphone (with the mobile app installed on both phones) to make a money transaction.

mobile payments

Lastly, if you're out with a group of people, say at a restaurant, and you want a way to split the bill, you can use your PayPal app to not only configure how much each person should pay, but you can send or request payment from them using your PayPal account.

So how much does all this money exchanging cost, you’re probably asking. Well, I'll quote PayPal directly:

It’s free within the U.S. to send money to family and friends when you use only your PayPal balance or bank account, or a combination of their PayPal balance and bank account.

There is a fee to send money as a personal payment using a debit card or credit card. The fee in the U.S. is 2.9% plus $0.30 USD of the amount you send. For example, if you send $100.00 USD by credit card, the fee would be $3.20 USD ($2.90 + $0.30). For personal payments, the sender can pay the fee or pass it on to the recipient. If the recipient doesn’t want to pay the fee, they can choose not to accept the payment.

Now if you're wondering how much will be deducted from a credit card payment using PayPal, you can use the PayPal Fee Calculator that I referenced above.

paypal mobile

PayPal Mobile also includes numerous other services such as the ability to snap a photo of a check and cash it via your PayPal account – it takes about five days for the transaction to complete. As with the online version of PayPal, you can also use the mobile app for sending donations, collecting money from a group of individuals, and setting reminders for yourself.

Based on my experience, I've found PayPal to be a safe and secure way to send and receive money. Occasionally I will get fraudulent email pretending to be PayPal, but I simply forward those messages to PayPal.

So let us know what you think of PayPal’s services. Do you use the mobile app, and if so how is it working for you?

For more information about PayPal, see How To Use PayPal Mass Payment Feature, and How to Keep Your PayPal Account Safe From Hackers.

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DocumentCloud: Direct Access To The Documents Behind The News

Posted: 04 May 2011 09:31 AM PDT

news documentsWant to know what’s really going on? Read the documents behind the news. Journalists strive to summarize complex documents, but sometimes its nice to read source material in its entirety. Thanks to DocumentCloud, an web service partnered with various media organizations, now you can. Whether you're a blogger looking for information others missed or just an enthusiastic follower of a particular story, DocumentCloud is a site you should bookmark.

Everyone’s heard of WikiLeaks; most have heard of its recent spinoff OpenLeaks. DocumentCloud isn't aiming to compete with the likes of these organizations, who give leaked documents to the press and then to the masses. Instead DocumentCloud aims to give media organizations a place to submit their own news documents source material for the public to view it. It's a supplement to what you get from the newspaper or television, not an alternative to it.

With partnerships with a fast-growing number of news organizations, you'll find a wide variety of news documents worth browsing.

Finding Documents

Head to DocumentCloud's public search page to get started. You'll find the interface easy to use, but let's go over it briefly.

To get started, you can type search terms. For example:

news documents

There are a lot of documents here, so be sure to search for something that interests you.

Not sure if you want to search? You can browse by media source; the panel on the left lists them. Or, if you prefer, you can check out a list of entities mentioned in a lot of documents:

cloud documents

This list includes people, organizations, cities and even phone numbers mentioned in documents. It's a quick way to find interesting documents, if you're just browsing.

Once you’ve found a document you like, you can open it by clicking the globe icon beside it. This will direct you to the document itself, on the website of the organization that shared the document. Shared documents look like this:

news documents

Yes, some of these are heavily redacted (though not quite as much as this document, which outlines the murder of rapper Biggie Smalls). That doesn't mean there isn't a lot of information in them, or that they couldn't be a great read.


DocumentCloud is unique in that it allows media organizations to partner with it. Current partners are listed here, and include a lot of big names in North American journalism. As the project expands I'm sure the list will become more international.

Want to become a source yourself? Unlike WikiLeaks, the process isn't anonymous. Indeed, you need to represent a media organization, upload your documents on behalf of that organization and have approval from your editor before you can proceed. Find out more at DocumentCloud's contact page.


The web increases access to information; this site is an example of that. Unlike WikiLeaks however, DocumentCloud works with media outlets directly. Traditional media organizations, despite predictions to the contrary, aren't going away anytime soon. They do the heavy lifting that makes good reporting possible, and sharing information with the masses only increases their relevance. Due to this, I think DocumentCloud is a great service for news outlets and consumers of news alike.

Bloggers get access to information; traditional media outlets get an opportunity to show off the value of their investigations. Everyone wins in my opinion.

What do you think? As always, you have a chance to share your views in the comments below. Also feel free to link to any particularly interesting documents.



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Limited Edition Charity Bundle for Japan, $200+ Worth of Apps for $30

Posted: 04 May 2011 09:00 AM PDT

Nitro PDF Professional, Sticky Password PRO 5.0, Zoner Photo Studio 13 HOME, MaxTo and IObit Advanced SystemCare PRO 3. Those are the amazing Windows apps featured in this limited edition charity bundle. Worth over $200 in Windows software, you have the opportunity of purchasing this bundle for $30 and to top it off, all $30 will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross. There are only 300 copies of the bundle available so you might want to buy it now it before it runs out.

MakeUseOf, AllMyApps and TheDailyBuggle are the key organisers of this bundle. The licenses were generously sponsored by their individual companies in good faith. Thanks go out to all of them for participating in this charity effort.

What’s featured in the bundle

Sticky Password PRO 5.0

Sticky Password PRO 5.0 is an extremely useful and secure password and identity manager for Windows. In addition to storing online passwords and other personal information for form-filling, it can also manage passwords for your desktop applications like Skype, MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, Trillian, iTunes, Dropbox, etc.; thus saving you time. Sticky Password PRO 5.0 automatically retrieves your stored password and fills in any online form for your with just one click.

Switching over to Sticky Password from other password managers is a cinch — Sticky Password PRO 5.0 is able to retrieve store credentials from AI RoboForm, KeePass, LastPass as well as online passwords stored within browsers.If you’re always on the go, then use the included portable version of Sticky Password and you’ll never be without your passwords. Both the desktop and portable versions are secured using the same strong military grade encryption algorithms.

Sticky Password PRO 5.0 runs on all versions of Windows and is available in multiple languages.


MaxTo is truly one of those applications that you have to have, especially if you’re a web designer, programmer or perhaps just anyone who claims to be a productivist with a single or multi-monitor setup. MaxTo is a simple system tray application that helps you to organise your workspace and resize active windows just the way you want them. You don’t even need to stick to just one configuration — MaxTo allows you to store multiple profiles, so you can have as many arrangements as you need.

Whenever you need your windows arranged according to your preset workspace, invoke MaxTo from the system tray or by using the hotkey and you’ll have you perfect setup spanning one or several monitors. Setting these configurations is really easy with the overlay screen. MaxTo allows you to split each screen segment into as many areas as you require. Pixel perfectly.

With a purchase of this bundle, you’ll receive a perpetual license for MaxTo with free upgrades for 1 month. After that, the software will continue to operate normally but further updates will not be available.

MaxTo works with all versions of Windows and is available in multiple languages.

IObit Advanced SystemCare PRO 3

Although IObit Advanced SystemCare PRO 3 is one lower than the current version offered, it is still a complete PC maintaince suite. Advanced SystemCare PRO 3 works in the background to help you optimise your PC when it’s left idle.

It boosts your system’s performance with its Deep Clean feature by cleaning unwanted junk files, deleting obsolete files, defragmenting your hard drive, correcting system errors and finding and correcting registry errors. It offers the option of creating restore points before performing these tasks, enabling you to reverse any unwanted changes.

For those looking for a temporary speed boost, Advanced SystemCare PRO 3 offers Turbo Boost, a feature which temporarily grants your computer an additional boost of speed by disabling unnecessary background processes, clearing the RAM and thereby concentrating processor performance to your task at hand. In addition to all that, it also sports a malware scanner to protect your PC from infection and nefarious software.

*This version of Advanced SystemCare PRO 3 is upgradeable to PRO 4 but only until version 4.00.

IObit Advanced SystemCare PRO 3 runs on Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Windows 7.

Zoner Photo Studio 13 HOME

Zoner Photo Studio HOME can be easily described as “an Explorer for photos on steroids”. Zoner Photo Studio 13 Home is the latest update of one of the best photo manager and editor there is for Windows. Photo Studio provides you with an easy-to-use interface for organising your photographs, as well as a simple yet powerful image editor for quick touch-ups.

Zoner Photo Studio 13 HOME is able to import and preview pictures from your digital SLR and provide you with a convenient platform to edit those photos. It has a built-in library of retouching tools and special graphical effects to add some pizzaz to your images.

Zoner Photo Studio 13 HOME will also help you to share those photos with your friends by directly exporting them to Facebook, Flickr and Picasa. The intelligent software can the daunting task of creating beautiful calendars and web galleries using your images and turn it into a two-click process.

Zoner Photo Studio 13 HOME is compatible with all versions of Windows including Windows 7 64-bit.

Nitro PDF Professional

Nitro PDF Professional is more than just an Adobe Acrobat alternative, it provides you with a complete suite of tools to create, convert, edit, combine, secure, annotate, form-fill and save industry standard PDF files. Yet, it manages to be truly intuitive and easy-to-use.

Nitro PDF Professional can create PDF files from virtually any Windows application and is able to convert many file types into PDF with just one click. One of its most sought after features is the ability to accurately and intelligently convert PDFs to Word, Excel and RTF files individually or in a batch; retaining graphics, text formatting, paragraphs, columns, tables, headers, footers and more.

With its editorial tools, Nitro PDF Professional enables you to edit any text, graphics, links and metadata in your PDF files without going back to the source file in Microsoft Word or Excel. You can change the type of font face and size, insert new text, crop and resize images, add bookmarks and links directly in the PDF.

Nitro PDF Professional runs on all versions of Windows and on Windows Server 2003, 2008 and 2008 R2.

Convinced? Grab a bundle now before it runs out!



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3 Great Sites That Help You Read Books By Email

Posted: 04 May 2011 08:31 AM PDT

read books by emailMaybe the single most important reason for reading books by email is convenience. Come to think of it, when we spend most of our waking hours staring at a computer screen and reading all sorts of stuff like emails, tweets, social scraps, and feeds – why should books be left behind?

Simply reading books has never been easier. If reading is a passion for you, then you probably know all about book recommendation sites. You also probably download books in ePub and PDF format and read them on the screen. Throw reading via email into the mix and you get another choice to try out.

Reading books by email could be worth a shot if you are trying to interest yourself or someone else in different genres. You can try out email sized chunks each day and see if your interest holds. Here are three web services that send you portions of books by email. It costs just your time.


read books by email

As the site explains, it is similar to being drip fed a book one day at a time. Dripread is an absolutely free book website that works by letting you upload your own ebooks in the EPub format or picking one from the existing library. Dripread stores the ebook and serializes a page to the reader’s email address. You don't have to create an account to use Dripread though that helps to upload your own ebooks and keep track of them. You can also share your ebooks from your account.

All books on Dripread are free of copyright and are in the Public Domain. One of the interesting developments on Dripread is that they are trying to make available Open University lectures. The collection of books is not vast yet, but some of the titles are classics…always worth a read. (See Directory mention).


books by email

DailyLit probably best defines this type of web reading. It is also perhaps the best site on reading books by email or RSS that's out there. The sign-up is free and then you can fill out your profile information. Getting a free account helps because then you can participate in the forum, create book lists, keep track of new books, get personalized book recommendations, and more.

DailyLit not only helps you read books on email and RSS but also on other devices like Treo, Blackberry, Sidekick or any other the PDA of your choice. Books are sent out as excerpts (installments) and you opt for the frequency of emails in tune with your comfort. You can set a maximum of four installments to be sent out with each delivery. Each installment doesn't take more than 5 minutes to read.

DailyLit makes many books available that may not be free otherwise thanks to sponsors. Some books have free sections that readers can subscribe to. Installments are formatted in HTML or kept in plain text. You can make book requests in the forums if you don't see a book of your choice in the large collection. (See Directory mention).

Dear Reader

read books by email

I couldn't try out because it connects book lovers to U.S and Canadian public libraries only. The idea of this online book club is pretty cool – throughout the week readers get an email with a 5 minute long excerpt of the featured book of the week. By the end of the week, readers go through 2 to 3 chapters of a book, and get a fair idea if it’s a good match for them. It's the right kind of gentle prod if you want to take up reading as a hobby.

The site is run by Suzanne Beecher who maintains a blog on the site. The site is not for reading books cover to cover but more for discovering your book reading tastes using the 5 minute sample books in your email inbox.

Of these three, my vote goes to DailyLit. It is well rounded and looks most likely to survive the churn that goes on in the web. Reading books by email is another offbeat but easy way for book lovers.

Are you aware of any other website that lets you read books by email?

Image Credit: Shutterstock



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Sony Falls Prey To Hackers – Again [News]

Posted: 04 May 2011 07:31 AM PDT

It’s been a tough week for Sony. As if it wasn’t bad enough that the Playstation Network was hacked last week, Sony Online Entertainment users have fallen prey to a similar attack. The personal information of almost 25 million users has been compromised, making for a total of almost 100 million very angry customers.

Similar to last week’s debacle, this latest hack is said to have included more than 20,000 credit card and bank account numbers, as well as other personal information including names, phone numbers and addresses. In a press release, Sony admitted to yet another intrusion they discovered almost 2 weeks after it had happened.

Sony Online Entertainment provides online multiplayer games to its users, but following suit with just about everything else the PlayStation Network has been forced to do, Sony shut down its SOE servers once they became aware of the intrusion.


After announcing the intrusion a day after it was discovered, to make up for the fact that Sony may have led to yet another mammoth leak of personal information, their users are getting one free month added to their subscriptions, along with compensation each day that the service remain inaccessible.

Sony is currently in the process of sending out notifications to all users whose accounts were compromised.

What do you think Sony should do to compensate its users? Let us know in the comments.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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