Thursday, June 9, 2011

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [June 8th]” plus 10 more

MakeUseOf.com: “Cool Websites and Tools [June 8th]” plus 10 more

Link to MakeUseOf

Cool Websites and Tools [June 8th]

Posted: 08 Jun 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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Socialbakers – is a Facebook analytics website that provides a wide range of statistical data on different aspects of the world's largest social networking website. With Socialbakers, you can check out various quantitative Facebook traffic data on different countries, pages, brands, apps and developers, and advertising. Read more: Socialbakers: Provides Detailed Facebook Statistics & Analytics

 

YouTube Live – YouTube has introduced YouTube Live, a live streaming channel where one can watch videos of events as they happen. Some events in the past have been live streamed on YouTube but now they've got a dedicated page for such streams. So you can watch the live video and also communicate with your friends. Read more: YouTube Live: YouTube's Official Live Channel

 

 

Rome2Rio – is a newly launched Google Maps mashup that aims to simplify the hunt for accurate directions by plane, train and cars between two destinations around the world. Enter the from and to cities and then get all kinds of route information. It can search for 670 airlines worldwide, trains in Europe, and much more. Read more: Rome2Rio: Travel Directions By Auto, Train & Plane

 

 

The Vault – The FBI keeps a record of all important documents that have gone through the organization from the very beginning up to the present day. In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), many of these documents have now been made public. To help people access these documents, the FBI has set up an online section called The Vault. Read more: The Vault: Read Publicly Released FBI Files Online

 

 

Random Name Selector – Teachers often wonder which students to pick when it comes to assigning tasks, picking volunteers, etc. Here to make their job a little easier and to make the selection more random is a web service called Random Name Selector, a free web app that selects a name randomly from the list you provide it with. Read more: Random Name Selector: A Free Web App To Pick A Name Randomly From A List

 

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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Surf Websites With Buddies Using Channel.Me

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 06:31 PM PDT

surf with buddyYou don't see many websites nowadays that lack social sharing buttons. Sharing links, videos and images is fun and becoming integrated in major browsers like Firefox and Chrome, but the people you're sharing things with may not always experience those items the same way as you did. Ever wish sharing things was more seamless?

There used to be a website called Screen2, which would allow you to share your desktop browser view with a friend. It worked without requiring either of you to install any programs or plugins, kind of like an web-based, live screencasting application to help you and your buddy surf the net together. Screen2 doesn't exist anymore, but the idea has stuck and has been improved in the form of Channel.me.

Channel.Me is a neat website that helps you and your buddy (or buddies) navigate pages together and note interesting parts, especially if you're both on separate places and are talking about a cool website. It blows the water out of just sharing links since it's an easier way to surf and explore the web together.
surf with buddy

All you have to do is go to Channel.me and type the URL of the website that you want to surf with someone. A good real-world example use of this website would be if both (or several) of you are going on a trip and want to explore hotel options and such. Once you have typed in the website and click on the Start Surf Together, you'll receive a special link for you to share with your friend via email, Facebook or Twitter. Once your friend clicks the link, he or she will be taken to the same exact website as you, but there will now be a chat room on a bar at the bottom of your screen, where you can easily input your name. You and your buddy can invite more friends to explore the same site easily with the same Channel.me special link.
surf with friends

On the site you're exploring, you or the other participants can add sticky notes to the site, highlighting and pinpointing interesting parts of the website.
surf with friends
You can also perform Google searches to navigate to other sites.
surf with friends
When either of you click on a website link, there will be a popup indicating that one of you has clicked on a link so the Channel.me will load its bar on a different website.
surf with buddyUnfortunately, the notes you made in the previous page will not be available if you come back.

Since Channel.me is in beta, there might be hiccups when loading a website, but refreshing usually seems to clear those. Still, it's a pretty cool way to share what you're seeing and for me, it totally trumps sharing images or links on IM networks. Also, Channel.me has a Chrome extension that puts a blue koala button next to the Omnibar. Once you click it, it opens up the page you're visiting in another tab and spits out the special link for you to share with your friends immediately.

Overall, Channel.me makes it more seamless to share pages with friends. There are web browsers that take social sharing to a whole new level, like Flock, RockMelt, and Fizzik. If you own a website and want a more permanent sharing feature for your visitors, check out Wibiya or Meebo Bar, or you can stick to services that provide all-in-one social sharing buttons, like Share Sidebar or AddThis. If you're a regular user and don't want to use separate bookmarklets for sharing on different social networks, check out Sharetivity and Faviki. You don't actually even need to be sharing things using bookmarklets since you can even bookmark in Gmail!

Do you use similar tools? If so, which services do you use? Let us know in the comments!


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Become A Mobile Citizen Journalist Using Your iPhone & Meporter

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 04:31 PM PDT

become a citizen journalistWhen a big story breaks, and there’s no journalist around to hear it – does the news still have a voice? The guys behind Meporter, an intriguing new location-aware news app certainly think so – and they’d like to put you forward for the job. Everyone’s a citizen journalist these days, as more and more news stories comprise of grainy (though not always) camera phone video or blurry shots that only an eye-witness could have captured.

The recently launched Meporter is your chance to streamline the citizen journalist role. Currently there’s only an iPhone app available, though both Android and Blackberry versions are on the cards and hopefully won’t take too long.

You Stay Classy, San Diego

The main problem with citizen journalism is the often amateur nature of an untrained reporter in the wild. Don’t expect the “6 Ws” (what, where, who, why, when and how) in your opening paragraph, and don’t expect a highly detailed news story with quotes, figures and perfect wording either.

Instead what you will often find is a rough description and (hopefully) pictures or video of a news event, shot at the scene. The point I’m making here is that Meporter will not become your primary news app, mainly due to a lack of proper reporting.

This isn’t to say it’s not useful, and more to the point quite fun. Many events reported on Meporter have yet to (or never will) make it to the national press, and there’s a vast range of news, views and content to explore. The service accepts submissions in categories such as opinion, nightlife and entertainment as well as the traffic, weather and general news reports you’d expect to see.

become a citizen journalist

As the app is location-aware, the first screen you’ll see (after the download and granting permission to use your location) is your local area, with reports marked on the map with red pins. At first it took a while to load stories, with news pins seemingly vanishing. After a few minutes the app settled down, and I was able to read some local news and goings on.

Panning around the map allows you to browse global reports, tapping a pin will reveal the report title and tapping it a further time loads the story. Afoot each story are 4 buttons – Favorite which marks the story for later, Eyewitness which allows you to “check in” and verify the story, Directions which is fairly obvious and Share for posting to social networks.

how to become a citizen journalist

As well as the Map view, there also exists a Newswire panel which lists all stories coming in. It’s not a bad way to see what’s happening though unfortunately you can’t filter by region (you can still filter by category). On this screen it is also possible to subscribe to and follow particular users, though you’ll need to register first.

Making Headlines

Registering allows you to produce content, communicate with other Meporters and customize your very own profile. Within the app, tap Profile then Join and fill out the registration form. Once joined, finding associates that might be using the service is pretty easy over on the Friends tab.

how to become a citizen journalist

Next you’ll want to prepare a news post, on the Post tab. You’ll need to give your story a title and some body text with the option of adding a photo or video as well. Choose a category and tag your location (automatic if access to GPS is granted) before choosing whether to post to Twitter or Facebook as well.

how to become a citizen journalist

Unless the building across the road is on fire, you’ll need to find something decent worth posting. There’s plenty of categories to choose from, including classified adverts and weather reports if you’re especially short on material (I was).

become a citizen journalist

Once you’ve posted a story or two, you’ll begin to earn “Press Passes” which are essentially the same as badges on Foursquare or stickers on GetGlue – trophies from your past reportage. This isn’t a bad touch, though it has less “punch” here than say Foursquare because Meporter seems to be far more useful in the first place.

From here on out it’s up to you to find news, check out local happenings and share your findings online for all to see before the media get their hands on it. Of course, it doesn’t have to be newsworthy provided it’s interesting and fits into one of the categories!

Conclusion

Meporter is a fun app that currently suffers from a lack of reporters. At the moment it’s up to the iPhone crowd to provide the news, but hopefully with Android and Blackberry apps on the way they’ll be joined by an army of additional mobile correspondents in the coming months.

If you ever find yourself in the thick of it, Meporter can help get the story out there in record time. Joining Meporter at this early stage in the game earns you the Million Man press pass, entering you into a competition to win cash and other prizes as Meporter attempts to build up a solid userbase of at least one million active users.

What do you think of Meporter and other citizen journalist projects? Useful, fun or a waste of time? Will you use the Android or Blackberry versions when they land? Let us know what you think in the comments.


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3 Free Real-Time Malware Protection & Removal Tools

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 03:31 PM PDT

free malware removalMost people in the western world have access to flatrate Internet connections, cheap data plans for mobile devices, and free WiFi hotspots at almost every corner, allowing them to be online wherever they go. While these amenities are convenient, the freedom they provide comes bundled with an increased risk of catching malware. A digital infection with viruses, trojans, spyware, or other malware can put your data integrity and your system stability at risk and has the potential to cause further damage, including data and identity theft.

If you realize that your individual browsing and download habits put you at a high risk of catching malware, you should make an effort to be protected from these threats in real-time. An anti-virus tool is essential for PC security, but it is not sufficient. Experts recommend a layered protection by using multiple tools and real-time malware scanners are one important layer you shouldn’t miss. You can pick from one of the three free malware removal programs I will introduce in this article.

ThreatFire

ThreatFire is a malware detection and removal tool that works in real-time and provides a defense against zero-day attacks, i.e. novel malware attacks for which no virus definitions or signatures have been released yet. It works in cooperation with your existing anti-virus software.

The setup is dead simple and fast! After a brief setup, ThreatFire checks your computer for existing firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware protection. In a final step it scans for threats.

free malware removal

In my case, ThreatFire found that my setup was acceptable and no threats were detected. Installation and scan were completed in under 3 minutes and I was re-directed to a Quick Tutorial, explaining how the tool works. In this tutorial, ThreatFire addresses all common questions that you may have.

For a detailed review of ThreatFire, please see this article: ThreatFire – Free Zero Day Realtime Virus, Trojan & Malware Protection

Ad-Aware

Ad-Aware is an anti-virus and anti-spyware tool that offers malware protection, live ad-watch, and real-time protection against threats. Like all tools in this list, Ad-Aware works in cooperation with your existing anti-virus software.

Compared to ThreatFire, the installation of Ad-Aware took considerably longer, mainly because Ad-Aware instantly started downloading and applying updates, which took several minutes.

malware removal

When the updates are completed, you are greeted by a screen that summarizes the current status for web update, system scan, and ad-watch. Via a button in the bottom left you can switch between simple and advanced mode. In advanced mode you can schedule scans and access other more complex settings.

malware removal

It is recommended to perform an initial full system scan. Later you can choose between a smart scan, which will check critical sections of your system only, or a full in-depth scan.

I also recommend to head to the Ad-Watch tab (top right) and turn on real-time protection for files, registry, and network as desired.

malware removal

Also see this review of Ad-Aware on PC Mag: Ad-Aware Free Internet Security 9.0

Spyware Terminator

Spyware Terminator is a free spyware scanner and removal tool with real-time protection and an optional integrated anti-virus tool. Unlike its competitors, Spyware Terminator offers no paid alternative, meaning the entire suite, including personal use, commercial use, and software support, is completely free.

The tool installs via a standard installation process. Note that Spyware Terminator attempts to add a Net Security Toolbar during installation, which you can of course choose not to install. After the installation is completed, the setup assistant launches and you can define how you want to use the program. I selected the spyware protection without ClamAV and with advanced protection level. You can change these settings later via the Spyware Termination Center.

remove malware

The Spyware Terminator Center reveals the full complexity of this tool. Here you can adjust scan schedules and control further advanced settings.

free malware removal

For a more in-depth review about Spyware Terminator, have a look at this article: Spyware Terminator – Free Real-time Spyware Protection

Conclusion

ThreatFire offers a very easy and straight forward setup and is suitable for the average user. Experienced users will feel more comfortable with Ad-Aware or Spyware Terminator. Ad-Aware was one of the first tools to offer malware protection that went beyond simple virus scans. While it offers an easy setup and a clear interface, which is suitable for both inexperienced and advanced users, Spyware Terminator clearly beats Ad-Aware Free when it comes to advanced options and features.

Malware protection and removal tools are only one level of security. In addition, you should use a firewall and a traditional anti-virus program. Please check out these MakeUseOf articles for more advice on how to keep your system protected:

How do you protect your computer from malware and other threats? Have you ever experienced a serious malware infection and if so, do you know where you caught it? Please share your experiences in the comments!

Image credits: Oleksiy Mark


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Free Ride Games Offers Full-Version Premium PC Games For Free

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 02:31 PM PDT

download full version pc gamesIf there is anything that annoys me about the Internet, it’s the fact that so much of the “free” stuff out there is either completely lame, or it isn’t really free. Often, after downloading some free app with great anticipation, you discover that some critical feature doesn’t work unless you purchase the full-blown version.

One area that suffers greatly from the lame-factor are free games. Whether you’re talking online games or downloading full version PC games, nine times out of ten you end up with a game that has sound and graphics that look like something out of the 1980s, created for Atari or Commodore 64. If I wanted to play old games, I’d download vintage games like Simon previously suggested.

Over the holiday weekend, I started getting an inkling for a low-key game that would help me unwind, only require a few minutes to learn, and would be entertaining enough so that it would hold my attention. Since I’ve noticed that free downloadable games are usually the ones that are of much higher quality, I struck out in search of that genre. I am happy to say that I struck gold when I discovered Free Ride Games.

All Free Games, All The Time

The first thing I noticed when I arrived at Free Ride Games is that the games are described as “full-version premium PC games.” Game genres here include hidden object games, matching games and time management games. If you’re not really sure what you’re looking for, just click on “All Games” or “New Games” and you’ll see just how much Free Ride Games has to offer.

download full version pc games

Just glancing through the titles on the main page – including popular games, new games and editor’s picks – it becomes apparent that this isn’t just some online game site like Miniclip or Pogo. Here, when you click “Play for free“, you actually download a full version of the game. They aren’t quite the level of high-end premium games you’d buy for retail at the game store, but they are not some cheesy flash game with pathetic graphics either.

free pc download games

To describe the level of “premium” you get with these free downloads, I would say that they are the sort of games you’d find at the game store on the “bargain” rack at maybe a quarter or half of the full-fledged PC games like Sims or Starcraft. In fact, we once paid ten bucks for a full version of Diner Dash a few years ago, and after a quick search I found it available as a free download on Free Ride Games.

free pc download games

In fact, not only was the original available, but so was every sequel to the game since then.  Impressed, I knew there had to be a catch somewhere. You don’t get anything for free these days, unless it’s open source or it’s only a partially functioning game demo.

After playing around a bit, I realized how and why Free Ride Games offers premium games for free – they generate revenue through ad sales. The “install” is actually an installation of the Free Ride Games “container” app itself. This container handles all downloads and organizes all of your downloaded games in one place. When you first install it, you’ll have to remember to uninstall the toolbar and home page settings – unless you want them of course.

free pc download games

The player runs in your Windows toolbar, and shows up as the Free Ride Games “F” logo. This is how you’ll access all of the games that you’ve downloaded. Whenever you download another game (either at the website or through the application), a pop-up will appear that lets you play the game instantly.

free full version pc games

Right click on the icon, and you’ll see the features available with the games manager application. To quickly access your downloaded games, just select “My Games.”

free full version pc games

The “My Games” display opens up the player itself, and displays all of your downloaded games as large thumbnails. Below, you’ll also see additional suggestions of other games you might like. To play any of the games you’ve downloaded, just click the “Play” button.

free full version pc games

Once the game opens, you’ll see why these fully functional games are available for free. Large banner ads are displayed on two full sides of the game window. However, they actually aren’t very distracting. They are a small price to pay for the ability to play these games at absolutely no cost!

There are a lot of really cool games to choose from – I spent at least two hours just sifting through these free downloads and trying them out. Here, I’m playing Mind’s Eye, an adventure/mystery game. As you can see, the ads may be formatted at a different place on the screen for different games, but typically they are on two sides, and fairly unobtrusive.

There’s also an embedded Free Ride Games bar where you can quickly search the web while you’re playing a game, or interact with other players through the Free Ride Games chat system (it uses the Meebo chat engine).

download full version pc games

For the gamer that enjoys a fairly non-intensive, yet high quality PC game every now and then, you really can’t beat these free game downloads. Overall, most have the look and feel of many of the Facebook games that are so popular today – and there are really so many choices that there’s very likely something for everyone.

Give Free Ride Games a try and let us know what you think! Do you mind the ads in exchange for the ability to download full version PC games? What other sites out there also offer free premium game downloads? Share your insights in the comments section below.


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Hot Tech Deals – G.Skill 4GB (1x4GB) DDR3-1333 PC3-10600 Laptop Memory $30.99 + more

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 01:30 PM PDT

Need more RAM for your laptop? Now’s as good a time as ever to upgrade, especially with today’s deal: get four pieces of 1 GB G.Skill DDR3-1333 PC3-10600 laptop memory for just $30.99!

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

  1. Lenovo G560 Intel Dual-Core P6200 2.13GHz 15.6in Laptop (2GB/250GB) $349.99 Free Ship
  2. TODAY ONLY Toshiba Canvio 500GB USB 3.0 Portable External Hard Drive $54.99
  3. Acer A221HQV BD 22in Widescreen LCD Monitor $99.99 Free Shipping
  4. EXPIRING G.Skill 4GB (1x4GB) DDR3-1333 PC3-10600 Laptop Memory $30.99 via code EMCKDKC37 (Exp 6/8)
  5. TODAY ONLY Gigabyte H61 Intel Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz SuperCombo $274 via rebate
  6. HP dv7tqe Intel Core i7-2630QM Quad-Core Sandy Bridge 17.3in 1080p Laptop Blu-Ray $1024 via code NBQ5286 (Exp Soon)
  7. HP dv6tqe Intel Core i7-2630QM Quad-Core Sandy Bridge 15.6in 1080p Laptop $924 via code NBQ5286 (Exp Soon)
  8. NovaPDF Professional Desktop v7 for $25.00 (digital download)
  9. Genie Timeline v1.5 $10 (digital download/limited stock!)


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


 

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7 Amazing New Features You Can Expect To See In iOS 5 [Mac]

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 12:31 PM PDT

ios 5 featuresThe iPhone and iPad are still the leading devices in the mobile and tablet market, and with the announcement of the next major version of the iOS, I see no end to their dominance. Let’s take a look at some of the awesome new features that have been revealed for iOS 5 which is scheduled for release this autumn.

Notifications

This is one thing that Android users have been rather smug about, but iOS 5 levels the playing field and does more. Notification Center is a pull down screen available at any time. It basically amalgamates all of your notifications onto one screen that’s “always on”, and even adds little weather and stocks displays.

ios 5 features

Not only that, but notifications are no longer intrusive. Instead of blocking the screen and pausing your current app, the notifications are displayed at the top of the screen. You can still click them to go straight to the app in question, or you can pull down the full notification view to see any others.

The notification view on the lock screen has also improved greatly, breaking up various sections of notifications and allowing you to swipe to access any of them straight away – rather than unlocking the phone, finding the app which the notification was from, and opening it from there.

Lock Screen Camera Button & Photo Editing

Since one of the primary uses of your iPhone is to take pictures, there’s a new single click photo app access button from the lock screen. Not only that, but the volume up button can now also function as a shutter (something which was previously available in a third party app – then ripped out by Apple on the basis it would confuse users!). It’s a welcome addition, but certainly nothing revolutionary.

You can also now focus and hold to lock in that auto exposure/focus setting, so moving around won’t mess up your scene.

ios 5 review

Along with the slightly upgraded camera app comes some basic photo editing in the Photos app. Red-eye reduction, one-click enhance, and crop/rotate can now all be performed from within the app, something which has been possible with third party apps but was missing from the core functionality.

ios 5 review

Twitter Integration

I can’t say I’m excited about this, but some of you might be. There’s now a single sign on mechanism for Twitter in the iOS settings, and tweet buttons and functions all over the place, with a nice little “tweetsheet” with letter count-down, optional location and photo.

ios 5 review

iMessage

I expect this feature is going to be overlooked, but it sounds to me like a huge middle finger up at the ridiculous charges from mobile carriers for SMS messaging. The new iMessage app is an enhanced messaging app for inter-iOS 5 communication, and as such will use your regular (and MUCH cheaper) data plan rather than regular SMS charges. With full multimedia capabilities, it also adds encryption and read notification. Obviously, you can still send multimedia messages to users of other phones, but those will be subject to your regular carrier charges.

Another amazing feature is that this completely bridges the divide between iPad, iPhone and iPad touch – since iMessage will work on wifi or 3G networks, messaging is no longer tied to a mobile carrier. Though it hasn’t been announced, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this making its way to OsX, or at least be interoperable with iChat for true Apple cross-device messaging.

apple ios 5 features

iCloud

iCloud is an automatic wireless syncing service with lots of core functionality that’s set to replace the aging and costly Mobile.me service. In fact, you get a free @me.com address with service, and it’s completely free with iOS 5. For this you’ll get 5GB of storage included – however, it’s important to note that your purchased music, books, apps, and photostream don’t count towards this total allowance – so the 5GB is exclusively for settings and documents.

One absolutely stunning annoucement is that for $25/year, your iCloud will “match” all your current ripped songs with 256kbs DRM-free versions in the cloud – far, far cheaper than any similar services and completely avoiding the need to upload your files at all. This is quite incredible, and considering iCloud will save me $99/year on mobile.me services alone, I think $25/year for upgrade cloud versions of my entire music collection is quite a good deal.

We’ll cover the new iCloud feature in detail closer to launch.

apple ios 5 features

Wireless Syncing & Computer-Less Setup

Wait, did I just mention wireless syncing? Yes! Not only do your documents, photos and apps now automatically sync using iCloud, but you no longer need to connect to iTunes to sync your music and videos. This also fixes a long time annoyance of new iPhone users that they must connect and sync to iTunes once before they can even use their new phone – now it’s usable straight out of the box.

Reminders

Potentially killing all the current to-do list apps in one fell swoop, Reminders is a location and time aware list app that’s an entirely new core application for iOS 5. Apart from being a simple list maker, location awareness is able to set reminders dependent upon your current location.

For example, by adding a reminder “phone Jane when you leave London“, your device will set up a perimeter around London, and give you a location reminder to “phone Jane” when you physically leave the perimeter set up. Time-aware also adds some simple time commands that have been built-in to iMail for a while, such as “meeting with bob at 3pm Thursday“. In short, it’s a highly intelligent list maker, to-do list and scheduling app.

ios 5 features

With so many exciting new iOS 5 features, I can hardly wait. Is iCloud going to be a DropBox killer? Will wireless syncing give iOS the ultimate edge over Android? I just haven’t got the space to cover all the new features and apps, so stay tuned as we continue to highlight some more incredible new features. What are you most looking forward to?

 

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Upload, Edit & Share Your Images Online With Imgur, The Simple Image Editor

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 11:31 AM PDT

free online image editorEverybody needs a decent image editor. There are times when you’ll need to crop, rotate or make other light edits to your images. Even though I think all computers must have some kind of image editor installed by default, sometimes it’s quicker and more effective to use an online image editor to do simple jobs before say uploading photos to Facebook.

One of the online image editors that you can use is imgur. In its early days, the service focused more on simple ways to share images and only had two editing features (crop and rotate). But now imgur has integrated Aviary’s Feather to boost its image editing power.

Two Image Sources

If you look at the web interface, you can see that imgur really holds to its motto: “the simple image sharer“. There are only two buttons visible under “Upload images” – Computer and Web. The buttons tell us that aside from the images on your computer, you can also upload images from the web.

To use images from your hard drive, press the “Computer” button and several other options will appear. You can upload several images and have them grouped into an album while choosing the album layout. If you want to, you can also edit the images before inserting them into the album.

free online image editor

If you choose to upload the images from the web, copy and paste the URLs into the text field, one URL per line. You can acquire the images from your own web album, or from other image hosting services like Flickr or Picasa.

free image editor

Then the upload progress bar will appear. While the uploading speed from your hard drive will depend on your Internet connection, I found that the process of uploading web images is very fast.

free image editor

After the uploading process is done, and you choose to edit your images, they will appear under the editing window one image at a time. While the original editing tools are instantly available, you have to click the “Advanced” button to access Feather.

free image editor

Feather in imgur can handle images up to 1024 pixels wide. So if your images are wider, they will be scaled down to 1024 pixels.

online image editor

There are many tools that you can use in the advanced editing mode, such as Text, Saturation, and Stickers.

online image editor

For those who want to apply quick photo effects, you can use one or more of four Instagram-ish quick effects: Instant, Toy Camera, Old Photo, and Retro. Here’s an example of an edited photo using the Old Photo effect.

online image editor

To Share Or Not To Share

Never forget to click “Save” after editing a photo. Saving the picture will also bring you to the next picture in the editing queue. After you are done with all of them, the image gallery will be opened.

05a album view

Under the album, you’ll find the sharing option with buttons for many social sites. There are also other options – sharing the images via email, downloading them to your hard drive, or embedding the images on your website.

05b share options

Click the “Get embed codes” link and you’ll get several codes that you can use either in emails, IMs, websites, blogs, or message boards.

05c links

Tools Of The Trade

Adding advanced image editing tools to its existing image sharing features will surely give imgur an edge over other similar services. But I think one big advantage that imgur has is the availability of supporting tools, both online and offline.

You can find those tools under the “Tools” link at the top left of the page. Scroll down the page to see the complete list.

03a tools

Among them are Firefox and Chrome extensions. These tools will allow you to upload web images while you are browsing without the need to go to imgur first.

03c Imgur uploader

There are also several desktop applications both for Windows and Mac. There’s one app that you can use on any platform – an Adobe Air application called “imgur Uploader“.

free online image editor

If you’ve ever needed a quick online image sharing and editing tool, you should try imgur. I found the service to be very useful, especially times when I had to deal with online images for my blogs.

What do you think of the imgur free image editor? Have you tried it? Or do you use other similar online service? Share your thoughts and opinion using the comments below.


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Share, Annotate & Archive Screenshots With PixAM [Mac]

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 10:31 AM PDT

share screenshotsScreenshot applications are in no short supply for Mac users, starting with Apple’s own built-in rudimentary program and ending with Jing, a favorite among MakeUseOf writers. I typically keep three or four screenshot apps accessible on my Macs, and it looks I may be adding one more, called PixAM, a new addition to the Mac App Store. PixAM allows you to share, annotate, save, and archive screenshots with a few simple clicks. It works similarly to Jing but it has a few extra goodies.

Note: PixAM has both an online web client, as well a Linux and Windows client. This review covers the OS X and web client.

Main Features

In order to use and archive your screenshots using PixAM, you need to of course set up an account. Each screenshot taken with the application or uploaded through the web client automatically gets you a short link so that you can share screenshots as needed.

share screenshots

Options for taking screenshots include the traditional clippings: full screen, free form rectangle, and window clipping – all three of which are initiated from the Mac menu bar or via keyboard shortcuts.

annotate screenshots

 

Annotation Tools

Screen capturing using PixAM is slightly faster than other similar applications, in that when you want to take a full window clipping, for example, you simply click on the window and PixAM instantly takes the shot and the PixAM editor immediately opens.

annotate screenshots

Unfortunately, this feature does not allow you to use the Esc key to cancel a screenshot before it’s taken. In the PixAM editor, you can annotate your shots using a free-form pen or a straight line, circle, pointing, and text tool. There’s also a blur tool, which is not available in Jing. In addition, notice in the above screenshot, that the font size button allows access to Mac’s font library.

You can save screenshots to your desktop, and/or you can have PixAM automatically upload it to its server, where the screen capture will be assigned a URL and opened in your default web browser. The process is pretty instant.

annotate screenshots

Share Screenshots Online

Your PixAM-taken shots also get uploaded to your account where you can delete them individually or open them for additional use.

archive screenshot

When you click on the pix.am logo, you will get options for uploading pictures via the web client. You can simply drop an image on the “Upload a File” button instead going through the typical Finder process.

If you click the “Bullet proof” box, your shots or images won’t get displayed on your public account. You simply send the link to whomever you want to have access to the posted screenshot or image.

archive screenshot

The web client also provides a way to share the original, large, or thumbnail size shot.

Differentsizes

In addition, you can create a gallery for uploading numerous images at a time – not just limited to screenshots. There doesn’t seem to be a limit to how many shots you can upload to your account.

You also get access to other PixAM members’ gallerias, thus making PixAM another photo sharing site as well. Your individual screen captures are not automatically put into your gallery. The gallery seems to be more for your uploaded images and videos.

share screenshots

What’s Missing

While PixAM is a little faster than Jing, it doesn’t quite have the same level controls. After add markings to a screenshot, there doesn’t seem to be a hand tool to move individual annotations around. You can undo annotations, but not with the typical Command+Z shortcut.  It would be great if shots and images could be shared directly to your Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social networking sites.

Let us know what you think of PixAM. Is it a useful alternative to your existing screen capturing application(s)? If you’re looking for other screen capturing options for Mac users, check out this article.


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Wikihood Puts Wikipedia On The Map By Connecting Articles To Places

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 09:31 AM PDT

wikihood reviewFind notable places to visit, anywhere on earth. Wikihood combines Wikipedia and Google Maps, resulting in a surprisingly interesting way to find out what cool things are near a given town or GPS coordinate. Wikipedia has an article on practically everything, so it makes sense to arrange it in many different ways. Wikihood arranges everything on a Google Map, allowing you to explore Wikipedia in a new way.

Ideas like this seem simple, but can help you stumble upon things you’ve never heard of before. Whether you want to explore your home town or check out what’s worth seeing during an upcoming trip, Wikihood is a cool tool for exploring.

Exploring

Fire up Wikihood’s web version and you’ll see a two-paneled site:

wikihood review

The left panel is a list of Wikipedia articles; the right panel is a Google Map with arrows that point out the location of article subjects. Hover over a map point, or an article, and you’ll see what is where.

Click on an article and you’ll be shown other relevant topics. For example, clicking on Canada brings up a list of famous Canadians:

wikihood app

You can switch from “People” to “Culture” to see a different list. The real fun, though, is browsing your immediate area. Click the “Locate Me” button in the top-left and Wikihood will figure out where you are. It will then present a series of articles from your local area:

wikihood app

You’ll notice this to be a great list of all the notable buildings and destinations near your house. This can be a quick way to find something to do, and you might even find something you’ve never heard of before. In cases like this, you can pull up the Wikipedia article on a given subject by clicking the “article” button:

wikihood review

This is a great way to find out what a given location is all about, and whether you might want to visit it.

Planning a Trip

This isn’t just great for discovering local destinations and history; it can also be a great way to find things worth visiting for an upcoming vacation. Just type the city or country you plan on exploring soon and you’ll see many relevant things pointed out.

Click and drag to explore; you never know what you might find or what you might learn about places you’re heading to.

Apps, Apps, Apps

It’s the age of apps, so naturally you’re going to want to install one for Wikihood. You can get one from the Chrome Web Store, if you want. It basically serves as a bookmark to the website, but go ahead and install it here.

If you’re more of an iPhone person you’re in luck, though sadly the Wikihood app for the iPhone is not free. Still, it might be worth checking out. An Android app is upcoming.

Remixes

Wikihood doesn’t add any new content to the web; it just combines two services. Put Google Maps and Wikipedia together and you’ve got yourself a new way to look at these bits of information.

I love how remixing can create something new, but I want to know what you think. Is this a cool idea, or can you not think of a use for such a thing? Let me know in the comments below, because we love hearing from you.


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GrabMyBooks: A Firefox Add-On For HTML To ePub Conversions & Making Your Own eBooks

Posted: 08 Jun 2011 08:31 AM PDT

html to epub conversionA few years ago most of where unfamiliar with the ePub format or eBooks. Thanks to the mushrooming of PDAs, smartphones, and of course eBook readers, we all know what the format is for: reading great content on the go.

Now, is it a happy chance that our lack of time has coincided with the mushrooming of productivity tools and apps; more likely its necessity that has been the mother of invention. This catchphrase is summed by the very useful Firefox experimental add-on called GrabMyBooks. GrabMyBooks is your browser based tool that can grab content from any webpage (or the entire webpage itself) and compile it in a very readable ePub format for your digital handhelds or eBook readers.

The best thing about GrabMyBooks is that it works right from your browser. You don't have to go looking for online converters (e.g. BookGlutton) or desktop tools (e.g. Calibre). GrabMyBooks is not only a HTML to ePub converter but also bit of an editor. The two roles combined help you to build your own compilation of web content into customized eBooks.

Just after you download the Firefox plugin you can put it into action the following three ways to 'grab' content. All from a right click context menu. With a right click, you can grab content in the following three ways and add it to your eBook (My Book) visible in the notification box on the side of the browser screen.

Grab a Selection

Selecting text of course, copies only that part into your ePub file.

html to epub conversion

Grab a Link

Selecting a link grabs the content that the link points to and helps you to quickly add content when building your ePub file.

html to epub converter

Grab a Webpage

This command lets you grab the entire visible webpage in one go.

html to epub converter

But the desired for feature is not that you can grab links or pages…it is that you can compile all your 'grabs' into an eBook just as easily and do a bit of editing on it. All your 'grabs' are stored as separate pieces of articles in your eBook. This is how it stacks up together. You can view each individual article using the dropdown.

html to epub converter

If you have many articles, you can rearrange them in an order using the Up and Down clicks. You can add your own content into any of the articles or a separate article by clicking the Edit button and opening the article in the book editor.

This is really helpful as now you can simply add more relevant matter from non-browser based sources like PDF files or Word documents.

Finally, GrabMyBook gives you the entire compilation as a download in your desired ePub format. Save it on your desktop and transfer it to an ePub reader or a mobile device for reading on the go.

The quick-click and save feature of GrabMyBooks is really what you need to build up your notes and transfer them to an eReader for study. I can see myself letting it work on my feeds using the in-built feed capture tool (My Feeds) and building an ePub file for offline reading on a mobile device. As you can see from the screenshot, I can select the articles I want by using the checkboxes alongside the articles in the feed.

html to epub conversion

For study, research, or just general interest reading, this add-on could soon graduate from the experimental to the main stage. What do you think?


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