Friday, June 24, 2011 “Cool Websites and Tools [June 23rd]” plus 11 more “Cool Websites and Tools [June 23rd]” plus 11 more

Link to MakeUseOf

Cool Websites and Tools [June 23rd]

Posted: 23 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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FreshStart – Most of us access the web from multiple computers, such as at work and at home. It can get really annoying if you have 6-7 tabs open for a project and you suddenly have to leave that computer and jump to a different one to start again. FreshStart is a Chrome extension that can be immensely helpful to sync your browser sessions. Read more: FreshStart: Easily Save & Restore Your Browsing Sessions [Chrome]


VPFactory – Websites that contain videos would find it useful to have an online video player so visitors could stream those videos without having to download them. While creating a customizing a player for your website seems like a task that requires extensive coding, it is actually made extremely simple thanks to VP Factory. It is an embeddable video player that can be easily customized to suit your website. Read more: VPFactory: Get An Embeddable Video Player For Your Blog Or Website



Hashify – The Internet has many note-taking applications to offer. Most of the new ones being created do not differ much from their competition. An exception to this rule is a web app called Hashify. It is a note-taking web app that can be used to create notes as well as mini webpages. The site lets you type in your text and edit it. Read more: Hashify: Create Notes & Mini Webpages Online In A Unique Way



ShowYou – is an app for iPad and iPhone that lets you watch videos from all your social networks easily. Once you download the app and sign into your various social networks, ShowYou will fetch videos that have been shared on your Facebook and Twitter streams, grab videos from Tumblr blogs you follow and even add in recent videos from the YouTube channels you have subscribed to. Read more: ShowYou: Watch Videos From Your Social Networking Sites In One Place (iPad)



The Daily Cramp – We all know how strange women start acting during their "that time of the month" (a.k.a. periods). The Daily Cramp is a daily newsletter, which lets you follow the cycle of your girlfriend or wife and sends you funny original jokes and tips to your inbox every day, based on her cycle. Read more: The Daily Cramp: Follow The Hormonal Cycles Of Your Female Partner & Receive Daily Tips


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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Keep Track Of Your Halo Stats With & The Bungie Mobile iOS App

Posted: 23 Jun 2011 06:31 PM PDT

track halo statsHalo is one of the most successful console franchises ever, and if you’re an Xbox 360 owner both Halo 3 and the latest incarnation, Halo: Reach, are must-have games. Of course, you probably already knew that – especially if you’ve been playing online for a good while.

All that time you’ve been pummelling foes and sucking up bullets the folks who brought you the game have been quietly recording your every move. You can access your statistics online using your web browser and now on-the-go using your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. The level of detail recorded on the website is impressive to say the least, and if you’re an iOS user then there’s even a couple of in-game rewards to sink your teeth into!

Bungie Mobile – Halo as you Go

Once you’ve downloaded the Bungie Mobile app on iTunes and logged in (using your Windows Live ID, which is tied to your Xbox Live gamertag) you have limited access to your challenge and commendation progress on the Profile tab. Unfortunately I was only able to choose Halo: Reach stats from Bungie mobile, even though I have plenty of Halo 3 stats on Bungie’s servers.

Fairly quick access to challenges (especially daily and weekly challenges) is very useful, as checking this in-game can be a bit of a drag, especially when you just want to play the game. Players who often play split-screen will find this useful as they won’t have to interrupt the other party’s session with boring statistics.

track halo stats

As well as challenges and commendations, there’s a View Spartan button which fetches the last known configuration of your character, complete with custom armour. If you hit the small plug button in the top right corner of the View Spartan screen then you’ll be prompted to save the picture to your camera roll.

This might seem a bit pointless, but the image makes a nice unique-to-you wallpaper for both your home and lock screens. There is a More Details button on your profile tab also, and this opens up the Bungie site in Safari – we’ll come to that in a bit.

halo stats analyzer

In addition to the profile tab, there’s Find which allows you to search for friends by gamertag (and displays the same information that you’d find on your own overview), News which is… news and More, which features a link to Bungie and some other boring bits.

But wait… there’s also a Love Bungie tab! This is where you can claim your rewards for simply signing up to the Bungie Mobile service. Two rewards are available – Blue Flames and the All-Star Nameplate.

halo stats analyzer

You’ll need to activate each (only once) before turning on your Xbox, launching Halo and heading to the Armory section to apply your prizes. The Blue Flames is an armour effect, causing pretty blue flames to emanate from your Spartan’s helmet, and the All-Star Nameplate places a small star alongside your name and emblem in the scoreboards.

The Blue Flames is single-use (meaning you must sign into the iOS app from your gamertag to enable it) however the All-Star Nameplate can be gifted to 7 of your friends. That’s pretty much it for Bungie Mobile, if you want some really in-depth analysis you’d better check out… – A Wealth Of Stats and More

Leaving the mobile platform alone for the moment, Bungie also supplies an impressive resource for gamers via its online service, which tracks nearly everything you do and provides space to store and share media.

halo stats analyzer provides a far more in-depth look at your Halo habit. You can filter by game (Reach, ODST and Halo 3) and access your Game History in exquisite detail, right down to individual game scores, medals and any files (screenshots or video) that relate to that particular match.

halo stats

One of the more intriguing and potentially useful features are personalised heatmaps of the levels you play. This works for Halo 3, ODST and Reach and essentially shows you a top-down image of a map with areas of interest highlighted.

You can choose to show kills or deaths and even narrow it down to a particular weapon. If you’re the type who likes to analyse your playing style, heatmaps will probably give you an idea of where you’re going wrong (areas you’re always dying in) and what you’re doing right (lots of kills).

halo stats

Finally there’s your File Share, which is a public area to share map variants, custom game types, screenshots and videos you have taken in-game. Unfortunately you’ll need to pay for a Bungie Pro account to stream video (it has to render it for you, after all) but screenshots don’t cost.

Once you’ve uploaded an in-game screenshot you can retrieve a high resolution image to do what you want with from your File Share. The website also tags you in the picture much in the same way Facebook does!

halo stats


If you’re a die-hard Halo fan who hasn’t checked out the wealth of stats and other goodies on either the service or Bungie Mobile then you’re in for a treat. If you’re really dedicated then you can upgrade to Bungie Pro for streaming videos of past games and files, more space to share things and some other benefits for 320 Microsoft Points per six months.

Have you tried Bungie Mobile? How about Spartans report in via the comments box below.

Keep Track Of Your Halo Stats With & The Bungie Mobile iOS App is a post from: MakeUseOf

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5 Tips On How To Use A Jump Drive Without Corrupting Your Data

Posted: 23 Jun 2011 04:31 PM PDT

how to use a jump driveA jump drive, also known as a flash drive, thumb drive, memory stick, or simply USB drive, is a tiny but powerful storage device. Flash drives are cheap, small, come with sufficient storage for big files, and they are not as easily damaged as external hard drives. However, they are not entirely foolproof and there are a few basic rules you should follow so you don’t end up damaging the device or the data on it.

In this article I will show how to use your jump drive step by step, starting with when you connect the drive to your computer and ending with general tips. My tips will help you avoid data corruption, both on the flash drive and on your computer. All tips are easy to do and will help you keep your flash drive and your data safe.

1. Disable AutoRun

how to use a jump driveAutoRun is a Windows feature, which enables programs to run automatically off an external storage medium, such as a DVD or jump drive, once that medium is inserted into the computer. It is not to be confused with AutoPlay, which merely offers to launch media on the storage device in different ways. To protect the data on your computer, AutoRun should be disabled to avoid infections from malicious software running off USB flash drives connected to your computer.

The good news is that if you use Windows 7, you are pretty much safe. Microsoft reacted to the malware exploits and disabled AutoRun, except for media inserted to the computer’s optical drive. If you’re running Windows XP or Windows Vista, you should install patch KB971029 to get the same protection from AutoRun.

More information can be found on the MSDN blog: Improvements to AutoPlay.

2. Scan Thumb Drive for Viruses

Even when AutoRun is disabled, you can still get infected by malware if it is hiding on your flash drive. If your anti-virus software offers to scan the removable drive automatically, let it do so. In case it doesn’t, you can initiate a scan manually using your installed anti-virus or anti-malware software.

Go to > My Computer, right-click the removable storage device, and select the appropriate menu item, e.g. > Scan selected files with AntiVir. The options you see in your right-click menu depend on the software that is installed on your computer.

corrupted jump drive fix

Alternatively, you can set up scanning from the AutoPlay dialogue using Microsoft Security Essentials. For step-by-step instructions on how this can be done, refer to this article on How-To Geek - Scan Your Thumb Drive for Viruses from the AutoPlay Dialog

3. Avoid Working With Documents Directly From The Drive

corrupted jump drive fixIt’s convenient to carry your files with you and work directly from them using your flash drive. However, there are several problems associated with this procedure. One is addressed in the next point and the other is that a regular thumb drive can go through approximately 10,000 cycles of writing and erasing data before it will fail.

Therefore, I recommend to not save files directly to your flash drive while you are editing them. Drag & drop them to your desktop to work with them and when you are done, cut & paste them to your jump drive again. This way you have a backup on your removable drive, while you are working on a copy of the file saved to the desktop.

If you are working on a public computer however, it may be safer to work from your removable drive rather than risk forgetting the file on that desktop.

4. Safely Remove Hardware & Eject Media

The proper way to remove a jump drive (or external hard drive) from your computer, is to go through the Windows taskbar and eject the device before removing it physically. If you simply unplug it, you risk corrupting files that are still open.

To be safe, go to the Windows 7 taskbar, find the removable drive icon, click it and on the menu that pop us click > Eject Mobile Disk for the drive you wish to remove.

corrupted jump drive fix

If you get an error message that > This device is currently in use (…), then you probably have a file, folder, or program open that sits on your flash drive. Close everything and try again. If this doesn’t work, reboot your computer and remove the flash drive when Windows has logged off and before you log back into Windows again.

Once the disk has been ejected successfully, you can safely unplug your thumb drive.

5. General Hardware Tips

Unlike hard drives, jump drives do not have movable parts and are thus a lot more sturdy and less prone to physical damage. Nevertheless, a flash drive is still a piece of hardware and should be treated carefully, especially if you carry sensitive data on it. In other words, try not to drop it, keep it away from water or moisture, and don’t expose it to extreme heat.

If your flash drive did get wet, do not connect it to your computer until it has dried! If you do, an electronic shortcut will occur and destroy the hardware and data on it. This is true for most hardware by the way. Instead, store the device in a dry and warm place (40°C max) for at least 48 hours or use a blow-dryer at low or medium heat.

Also keep in mind that thumb drives are small and thus easily forgotten, for example in your pocket or when inserted into a public computer. Get a lanyard to reduce the risk of losing your flash drive or accidentally throwing it into the laundry.

how to use a jump drive

It’s probably a good idea to not expose a jump drive to strong magnetic fields, such as an MRI. Small magnets, however, are not to be feared. See this article from PC World - Busting the Biggest PC Myths.

For more tips and tricks on how to work with your jump drive, check out The Office Worker’s 101 Guide to a USB Thumb Drive.

What do you use your flash drives for and what is the worst accident you have had with one?

Image credits: Kirill__M, GagarianART

5 Tips On How To Use A Jump Drive Without Corrupting Your Data is a post from: MakeUseOf

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Tasker For Android: A Mobile App That Caters to Your Every Whim

Posted: 23 Jun 2011 03:31 PM PDT

android taskerWhen it comes to device automation, there’s just one 900-lb gorilla in the Android space, and that’s Tasker. True, Llama is an awesome free automation app, but it doesn’t aim for Tasker’s full power. Tasker is a paid app (it costs UK £3.99), so we’ve never really covered it in detail. Now the time has come to share with you one of the absolute best Android apps on the Market.

Tasker’s power lies in its versatility: It can single-handedly replace dozens of purpose-specific apps that tweak your device in all sorts of ways. Want your device to stop auto-rotating when you shake it, or when you run a certain app? Well, you could either install an entire app to do this for you, or you could just set up a quick Tasker profile to exactly the same effect. In fact, if someone’s already thought of this idea, you might be able to find a ready-made profile and just import it into Tasker.

Let’s take a look at Tasker’s main interface:

android tasker

This happens to be my own personal Tasker, so you’re getting a peek at my own use. I use it to turn WiFi off every night so I don’t have to think about it, to reboot my device every morning because Skype messes up the microphone and rebooting is the only thing that works, to reboot to Recovery mode every Saturday so I never forget to run a Nandorid backup, and even to remind myself to do some push-ups and log my weight. All of this is a tiny fraction of what Tasker’s capable of (experienced Tasker users in the audience have much more elaborate setups, I’m sure).

To get a feel for how Tasker works, let’s set up a simple profile. This profile will mute the device whenever I place it face-down on the table. When I flip it face-up, the device will unmute.

To start, let’s press New:

tasker for android

After selecting a descriptive name for my profile (“Mute when face-down“), I get to pick the first “context”:

tasker for android

A context is a “trigger”. For us, that would be “flipping the device over”. This is one of the irritating parts of using Tasker – there are dozens of contexts, but no quick way to find the one you need other than rummaging through the documentation or trying each category until you find what you need.

Tasker considers “device lying face down” as a state (that makes sense), so let’s tap the State category:

tasker for android

Are you starting to get a feel for how comprehensive this app is? Here’s Orientation, right there at the bottom-right corner. Let’s tap it:

tasker for android review

We get six different orientation options. Theoretically, I could have my device do something crazy when I put it left-side down. For now, let’s just for for Face Down.

tasker for android review

Once I tap Done, Tasker takes me to the next step, Task Selection. A task doesn’t have to be just one operation – it can be a sequence of actions, too. Here, we just need to mute the device.

tasker for android review

I don’t have a pre-set task to do this, so let’s create a new one. I tap New Task and choose a name, “Mute device“. Next, I need to add an action by tapping the + button:


Once more, the wealth of actions available seems daunting at first:


What I want to do seems to be related to Audio, so let’s tap that and see what’s inside:


Silent Mode” sounds about right. Let’s tap it and switch “Mode” to “On” (it’s “Off” by default):


We can now test our task by tapping the Test button — not a bad idea.


After verifying my task works, I tapped Done. I now have the basic profile ready:

android tasker

When I flip the device face-down, it switches over to silent mode. When I flip it back up, it goes back to whatever state it was in before I flipped it. How simple is that?

You can consider this a “Hello World” kind of task for Android Tasker. It’s a very basic use of the app, and we hope to share more advanced uses in the future. Better yet, if you’re a Tasker guru and have some powerful profiles on your device, do tell us about them in the comments!

Tasker For Android: A Mobile App That Caters to Your Every Whim is a post from: MakeUseOf

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Pocket Casts – An Awesome New Podcast App [Android & iPhone]

Posted: 23 Jun 2011 02:31 PM PDT

podcast appIf you love your podcasts and love your smartphone, you may have noticed that this should be a perfect meeting of technology and that there’s just not a lot of great applications out there that can do the trick. Well, there wasn’t. Not until recently, anyway.

Pocket Casts by Shifty Jelly has now jumped on to the scene with an incredibly feature-filled application. Obviously, the creators of this app have spent long hours thinking about exactly what is required of a podcast application in order to make it perfect. Then they went out and built this brilliant app that pretty much hits the nail on the head.

Getting Pocket Casts

Pocket Casts is a paid app for Android and iPhone, but we’ll walk through the Android version today. It costs just a few Aussie dollars (Android version is currently priced at AU$2.70 – about US$2.90 or €2) and believe me, this app is worth every cent. If you want to try it, the Android app store will refund the full amount if you return it within 15 minutes.

podcast app

Using Pocket Casts

It’s really easy to jump straight in and find some podcasts to listen to. Click on the search icon and you’ll be presented with a search bar and a number of other great ways to browse the best podcasts: by popular podcasts, podcast directories, category or importing podcasts from a URL or OPML file.

podcast app for android

The popular podcasts can be generated according to global settings or limited to a specific country.

podcast application

Everyday use is really straightforward, especially with Pocket Casts’ great introduction screen to get you started.

podcast application

Awesome Features of Pocket Casts

One of the best things Pocket Casts does is to monitor your subscriptions via their servers. This means they constantly check to see if your podcasts have new episodes, so that your phone doesn’t have to. In other words, when you press “refresh” you get an instant update of all your podcasts instead of waiting around for each one to check individually.

When you manually download your podcasts they will come without restriction, regardless of whether you’re using Wi-Fi or 3G internet. In your automatic settings you can tell Pocket Casts to only download new episodes when you’re using Wi-Fi if you like. Downloads also run in the background so that they don’t get in your way.

podcast application

You can choose to get status bar or vibrate notifications for new episodes so that you never get left behind. Users choose where to store the podcasts and can delete played episodes or all episodes whenever they need to free up space. There’s also a quick skip feature so you can jump 30 seconds ahead, 10 seconds back or skip to the next episode.

Users can set up podcast playlists, which is pretty handy when you’re about to go for a drive. You can even tell Pocket Casts to send the signal via Airplay so that your speakers can do the work.

Pocket Casts switches seamlessly between video podcasts and audio podcasts, so you don’t have to do anything manually. Just listen – or watch.

Gripes & Ideas

My main complaints with the Pocket Casts app is in regards to space saving. I’d like to be able to tell it how much of my SD card it’s allowed to use for downloads, tell it to automatically delete podcasts I’d seen or heard a day or so after I’d viewed it (not straight away, just in case), and I’d definitely like them to make this app App2SD. At 3MB on my phone it’s just too big!

podcast app

One other feature I’d like to see added would be the ability to scrobble to

Other Podcasting Stuff

Since you’re obviously a fan of podcasts, you might like to read these articles on finding podcasts you might like and creating your own podcast with your smartphone:

Give it a go and let us know what you think of Pocket Casts in the comments!

Pocket Casts – An Awesome New Podcast App [Android & iPhone] is a post from: MakeUseOf

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Hot Tech Deals – Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 for $159.99 + more

Posted: 23 Jun 2011 01:30 PM PDT

Today’s featured deal is one which is back by popular demand — the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 Smartphone and it’s going for $159.99 with free shipping. It features a 3″ 480×320 touchscreen; Qualcomm MSM7227 600MHz processor; Android 1.6 Donut OS; A-GPS; 802.11b/g wifi; 3.2MP camera; 128MB w/ MicroSD expansion; Bluetooth 2.1; FM tuner; and accelerometer.

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

  1. Mitsubishi HC4000 DLP Projector (1080p) $1124.99 Free Shipping
  2. Dell Inspiron 560 Intel Celeron 450 2.2GHz Desktop Computer (2GB/500GB) $279
  3. Dell Inspiron 620 Intel Core i3-2100 3.1GHz Sandy Bridge Desktop Computer $449.99
  4. Dell Inspiron 620 Intel Core i3-2100 3.1GHz Sandy Bridge Desktop w/ 19in LCD $499
  5. Adata 16GB MicroSDHC Card (Class 6) $24.49 Free Shipping
  6. HP 100-Pack 4.7GB 8X DVD-R Blank Disc Media $15.99 Free Shipping
  7. Sony Ericsson XPERIA X8 3in Touchscreen Smartphone $159.99 Free Shipping

Need Assistance? Ask questions to MakeUseOf staff and thousands of other readers on MakeUseOf Answers!

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3 Resources For Deleting Your Unwanted Online Accounts

Posted: 23 Jun 2011 12:31 PM PDT

deleting online accountsDelete unused user accounts for web apps you’ve abandoned. Don’t leave personal information in the hands of services you’re not using. Find out how to get rid of such accounts, then do it.

As web apps become the norm, the Internet is fast becoming a series of usernames and passwords. Accounts make services more useful, but they can be a security threat if left unmonitored. If you’re not using a particular account anymore, and doubt that you ever will, it’s a good idea to delete that account. However, deleting an online account is sometimes easier said than done. Many web services seem to intentionally hide the button that reduces their user statistics. This can make deleting online accounts around the web more than a little frustrating.

There are sites that can help though, which summarize in simple terms how to delete your various online accounts.


Got a service you’d like to delete your account for? If it’s possible, Account Killer has instructions for the job.

deleting online accounts

A colour-coded list will assist you, as seen above. Services highlighted in white offer accounts that are easily removed; in grey, possibly removed with a little work. The services in black, however, do not offer any way for users to delete their accounts.

Click on any of these services for more information, including instructions:

delete online accounts

User comments fill in some gaps left by the service, including additional tips for removal. Be sure to take a look at these.

Suicide Machine

Deleting web accounts sometimes leaves a trail behind. The Web 2.0 Suicide Machine helps by automating the process of removal, including deleting all the posts and photos you may have left behind. The service currently supports two social networks – Twitter and MySpace.

As the video implies, this service not only deletes your account. It deletes everything you’ve ever done with your account, and sends out a final message to your connections on a network informing them of your decision and the reasons for it. It’s dramatic, but effective, so check it out.

This service used to support Facebook, but Facebook’s lawyers made them stop.

Delete Your Account

Like Account Killer, Delete Your Account is a database of removal instructions. Sporting a clean interface and a search box, this service makes it easy to find removal instructions:

deleting online accounts

Instructions are easy to follow and includes links, if possible. If you’re looking for the simplest way to delete any particular account, odds are you’ll find it here.


Removing user accounts shouldn’t be complicated, but it usually is. Heck, sometimes it’s not even possible.

We showed you how to delete unwanted online accounts easily back in 2009, but the process for services mentioned there have changed since. That’s not okay. The web needs some kind of universal opt-out button that’s easily found in all services. Sadly, there’s no reason for any web service to include such a thing so it will probably never happen.

With the above resources however, at least things are a little easier. Can you recommend any more? Link to them in the comments below, along with any tips you might want to share.

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Host Your Own Fully Featured Wiki Site With Tiki Wiki

Posted: 23 Jun 2011 11:31 AM PDT

host your own wiki siteThese days, there are a lot of businesses, both online and offline, that make use of wiki platforms to help generate teamwork and collaboration. There are few better ways to have an online area where multiple people can edit notes, share calendars, and in general communicate as a group while remaining at remote locations.

Here at MUO, we’ve covered a number of free Wiki tools you can use to accomplish these tasks. Saikat covered a list of four Wiki tools that you can install locally for when you need the Wiki solution offline. Tina offered 3 online Wiki tools you can use to help with your studying needs. The solution that I’d like to cover today offers what I believe is the best solution – a Wiki tool called Tiki Wiki that you can host on your own web server so that you can decide exactly how it looks and functions, and at the same time you can access your Wiki from anywhere in the world.

Using Your Own Hosted Wiki

Why would you want to host your own Wiki site? That’s an easy question to answer. If you host it, then you own it. You can choose the appearance, manage the users and the content, and you can decide what features are available. This is especially true with the self-hosted Tiki Wiki, which offers far more features than most other Wiki platforms out there.

Also, the beautiful thing about Tiki Wiki is that the setup process is just as easy as installing a self-hosted WordPress blog. Just download the files to your PC, unzip them, and then FTP them up to your web host account under a subdirectory called something like /tiki/.  You run the setup procedure by going to the /tiki/ subdirectory on your site and the installer will automatically open. Just follow the steps, including setting up the database connection (hopefully you’ve already created the MySql database with an admin user that has full permissions.

host your own wiki site

Once the installation is complete, you have the option to choose from several pre-made profiles, depending on how you choose to use Tiki Wiki. These profiles are basically configurations where a certain segment of features are enabled depending on whether you’re using the Wiki as a collaborative blogging platform, as an internal company portal, or as a public collaborative community.

host wiki site free

If you’re not sure exactly what you want to enable and what you don’t, then choosing the manual Administration option is the best way to go. In the Administration area, you’ll find the configuration menus for every feature that is available on Tiki Wiki, including importing RSS feeds, managing comments, managing the wiki pages, and much more. To choose the features you want to enable for your Wiki, just click on “Features“.

host wiki site free

Trust me, the first time you look around in here, you’ll be blown away. This isn’t your typical Wiki – the platform extends far beyond simple Wiki pages. You can activate blogs (multiple blogging pages for your users), articles, a file management area, integrated Google Maps, Surveys, Quizzes and a whole lot more.

host wiki site free

Another fun section to explore is the “Experimental” area, but keep in mind that these are features still under development, so there could still be bugs. One thing that’s apparent is that Tiki Wiki has an active programmer base – there are so many “add-ons” to choose from!

personal wiki site

In my opinion, one of the most unique things about Tiki is that you can integrate Facebook and Twitter right out of the box. You will have to register the domain where you are running Tiki Wiki as a new application for each social network, but once you’re done, your Wiki users will be able to use the connectivity between your Tiki Wiki platform and their social network accounts.

personal wiki site

Individual Wiki pages, if that’s what you’re using Tiki for, are very simple to edit. Just use the WYSIWYG editor and you’ll be pumping out multiple pages in no time.

personal wiki site

The collaborative spreadsheet area is also pretty cool. This is pretty similar to the Google Docs spreadsheet app where you can share out multiple spreadsheets. Here, anyone can create a shared spreadsheet, and all of them are listed under “Spreadsheets” in the side menu.

Then there’s the useful collaborative calendar (think GTD), which will show up in the menu as well, so long as you’ve enabled the feature in the settings menu.

Unlike many Wiki systems where navigation can feel a little bit complicated, navigating at Tiki is just a matter of clicking on the side menu and then drilling down to where you want to go. If you’re logged into an admin account and click on “Admin“, you’ll see all of the Admin tools available to you.

One last feature I wanted to mention (there are far too many to cover them all in one article) is the RSS feed tool. Using the RSS feed tool, you can have Tiki read and import content from external RSS feeds and bring them into the Wiki environment for all users to read. This is a very cool way to create a news area with news stories that serve the common interests of your Wiki users.

host your own wiki site

Overall, the ease of installation and the huge variety of available add-on features for Tiki Wiki really make it one of the best self-hosted Wiki platforms I’ve ever seen. The large and active developer base is always a strong bonus.

Give Tiki Wiki a shot on your own server and see if it offers everything you need in a collaborative group environment for your team. Make sure to offer feedback or tips on ways to make use of it in the comments section below.

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How To Convert & Extract Audio From Video Files With Gnac [Linux]

Posted: 23 Jun 2011 10:31 AM PDT

extract audio from videoAt some point in your computer-using life, you’ve come to realize that not every song you have is in the right format for your MP3 player or any other device you may have. You may also have a video that you’d like to take the audio out of. In any case, it’s difficult to find the right program to do the job in Linux. Heck, I couldn’t find one that extracts audio from video in Windows, though I’m sure someone will eventually mention a program I overlooked.

However, Gnac does the job extremely well in a very simple format. By that, I mean that the user interface is as uncluttered as possible, there aren’t many options to get confused by, and it does exactly what it’s supposed to do, in an easy-to-understand way.


First you obviously need to install it. Ubuntu users get the pleasure of the availability of .deb files for easy installation. For everyone else, it’s going to be a bit tougher, but still overall easy. In this case, you’ll need to download the source and compile. No worries, as long as you have gcc installed, you can “cd” into the directory of where the source is, then run ./configure, make, and make install (make install as root, the rest as normal user).

You’ll probably run into a couple of problems during the configuration phase, but again, don’t worry. More than likely those error messages are just missing dependencies. Just install the needed package through your package manager and run ./configure again. Keep doing this until no more errors appear and it will finish configuring. Make will build the program for your system, and make install will install it. GNOME users can then find it under the Sound & Video category in their menu.


extract audio from video

When you launch Gnac, you’ll immediately see why I said that it’s so uncluttered. In my opinion the user interface cannot get any simpler than it already is. It is also very intuitive. You can add as many songs as you want to convert and videos you want to extract the audio from (yes, they all go into the same pile), check the list to see that everything is on there that you want to convert/extract, choose what file type you would like to receive, and hit convert.

extract audio file from video

Done. When the process completes, your new, shiny files are waiting for you.

extract audio file from video

You can also create new profiles to change the file type and quality of settings so you get exactly what you want.

extract audio from video

Although there aren’t many options in the program to get you confused, there are nevertheless a couple at your disposal. You do not have to change anything in case any of the options actually do confuse you, but there are some nice features for those who want them. For example, while the conversion is taking place, you can have a notification icon appear so you can work on other things while it converts in the background. You can also change the output folder, delete the original file when conversion finishes (probably not a good idea for videos, so I’d recommend to leave this unchecked), as well as some file and folder naming settings for the audio.


Gnac is a fantastic tool, even with its almost too simplistic approach. However, that simplicity serves the program well, letting users do exactly what they want it to do, with no surprises. It may not work very well for an audio professional, but for the casual home user, this is a highly recommended program.

How often do you need to convert audio, or extract audio from video? Have you been able to do this with Linux in the past? Let us know in the comments!

How To Convert & Extract Audio From Video Files With Gnac [Linux] is a post from: MakeUseOf

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BlueGriffon: A Multi-Platform WYSIWYG HTML Editor

Posted: 23 Jun 2011 09:31 AM PDT

wysiwyg html editorThere are several reasons why people hardly use desktop web builders – there are only a few of them available, the good ones are too expensive, and the process of web building itself is not a walk in the park. That’s why it’s sad to hear the news that Apple has decided to discontinue the development of iWeb – the application which can help ordinary people build beautiful websites in a fun and easy way.

With iWeb out of the picture, finding a free and good web builder becomes even more difficult. But it is not dead, yet. There’s a new web editing application called BlueGriffon, a free multi-platform WYSIWYG HTML editor which is easy enough for beginners but also powerful enough for more advanced users.

Rise From The Fire

BlueGriffon is powered by Gecko, the rendering engine of Firefox. Just like Firefox, this web builder supports the use of extensions, so you can add more features according to your needs. It also supports the latest and greatest of web technologies like HTML5 and CSS3. The app is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

wysiwyg html editor

As a WYSIWYG HTML editor, BlueGriffon allows users to easily add, remove, drag, drop, and arrange elements of the webpage. But the easiest way to start is to use the “New wizard” under the “File” menu.

free wysiwyg html editor

The wizard will guide users to set up their canvas, starting with choosing the document type, filling in data for the property, picking the colors, adding a background image, and deciding on the page layouts.

free wysiwyg html editor

But the real web building process will start after the wizard. To help you during the construction process, BlueGriffon provides you with all the tools that you need on the toolbar.

free wysiwyg html editor

For example, you can add an audio file to your page by clicking on the “Insert or edit audio file” icon, browse to locate the audio file, and click “OK“. Then the file will appear in the editing area.

wysiwyg web editor

The editing area itself consists of two different layers. The first one is the “WYSIWYG” area where you can arrange objects visually.

wysiwyg web editor

The second one is the “Source” area where you can manipulate the web by editing the HTML code. You can switch between these two by clicking one of the two tabs below the editing area.

04b source

Saving Your Work & Uploading It To The Web

There’s just too many elements involved in a web building process so it’s impossible to discuss all of them here. Please do your own exploration to familiarize yourself with the app.

The next step is publishing your creation. But before you can put the page online, you have to save the document that you are working on locally.

wysiwyg web editor

Choose the name that you want for the webpage and…

05b page title

Save it in the location that you want.

05c location

To publish the webpage so that it’s accessible by anybody from all over the world, you need to have a web hosting account and a domain name. Your web host will tell you the location of your account and you’ll need to upload the document there using a file transfer protocol (FTP) client.

03a get add on

There are many good FTP clients available, but why would you use an external client if you can add one to BlueGriffon? You can find the “FireFTP” extension on the “Add-ons” page on the BlueGriffon site.

03c download add on

After downloading the extension, you can install it by going to “Tools – Add-ons” menu, and…

03d add on menu

Click the “Install Add-on From File” sub menu under the “Extensions” section of the “Add-ons Manager“.

03e install extension

After restarting the application, you can find FireFTP available under the “Tools” menu.

03h installed FTP

After logging into your hosting account, you can transfer files from your local folder to a remote folder (and vice versa).

wysiwyg html editor

You can add other extensions to BlueGriffon using the same method. At present, there aren’t many extensions available, but I’m sure the choices will grow over time.

At version 1.0, the software is still far from challenging veteran commercial web builders like DreamWeaver. But as the only up to date free option available today, BlueGriffon has the potential to grow fast and catch up to the big boys.

Have you tried BlueGriffon? What do you think about the application? Do you think that we still need desktop web builders? Share your opinions using the comments below.

BlueGriffon: A Multi-Platform WYSIWYG HTML Editor is a post from: MakeUseOf

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Pottermore: Online Game & Treasure Hunt For Harry Potter Fans [News]

Posted: 23 Jun 2011 09:00 AM PDT

Harry Potter fans worldwide have been lamenting the end of the book series and movies, but J.K. Rowling has today announced one final project called Pottermore to keep fans immersed in the Potter-verse. The Pottermore website officially opens  in October, but fans are invited to return to the site in July for the chance to win an advance access pass.

What the Pottermore site offers is a chance for Potter fans to connect with each other online and to play a specially designed game full of online and offline puzzles. This sort of interactive fan website could easily become standard fare for big-budget films and book series’ to continue their legacy long after the release of their final product.

The Pottermore game is centred around the original Harry Potter stories, and will offer a variety of puzzles which will hint at clues for a real-life treasure hunt. Reports of an undisclosed amount of wands being distributed throughout Britain and America have been noted, but the details of the treasure hunt remain a secret.

The Pottermore website will also become the exclusive vendor of Harry Potter eBooks and digital audio books.

Source: Daily Telegraph UK

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Pottermore: Online Game & Treasure Hunt For Harry Potter Fans [News] is a post from: MakeUseOf

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3 Great Apps That Will Change Your Smartphone’s Wallpaper [Android]

Posted: 23 Jun 2011 08:31 AM PDT

smartphone wallpaper changerWallpaper is one of those little extras that let users add their own personalization to a device that thousands, perhaps millions of other users also own. The idea has been around for ages, and it's no surprise that increases in smartphone display size have also resulted in more ways to add and manage wallpapers to them.

One way to keep things interesting is to switch your phone's wallpaper constantly – but that can be tiring if you do it manually each time. The three smartphone wallpaper changers here will solve that problem for you.

Wallpaper Changer

smartphone wallpaper changer

The idea of switching between wallpapers is quite simple on its face. You just need an app that can put up wallpaper from a folder full of images. Easy, right?

Yes, it is. But often users want a certain level of control over what is shown, and most apps don't offer much. Wallpaper Changer is different. It gives users a wide range of options that provide significant control over when the wallpaper is changed, and what it is changed to.

Wallpapers are added to the smartphone Wallpaper Changer rotation by adding them to a list in the app. The change can happen at frequently or infrequently as you'd like. There are also a few convenient options that can alter the behavior of the app. For example, you can set the wallpaper to change every time you unlock the phone from the lockscreen.

This app works with Android 2.1 and up.

Wallpaper Switch

mobile wallpaper changer

Normally, control is a good thing. But that's not always true. Radio, for example, doesn't give listeners much say over what is played (usually) and is better off for it.

Wallpapers can be the same way. Picking some favorites and rotating through them can become stale, even if you do love those images. Wallpaper Switch solves this by automatically displaying wallpapers from the site

Although the next wallpaper shown is random, you aren't left entirely without control. You can decide how frequently you'd like the wallpaper to change and you can select the categories you're interested in. Beyond that, however, you never know what you'll get – and that's part of the fun.

This app works with Android 2.1 and up.

Wallpaper Change At

smartphone wallpaper changer

So we've now covered a wallpaper app that gives you great control over your own images and an app that can pick images at random. What else is there?

How about event-based wallpaper switching? It's your friend's birthday, and you're terrible with dates. You could just set yourself a reminder in the calendar, but sometimes you just slide those away and forget about them. So how about changing your wallpaper to a picture of your friend on the day before?

Wallpaper Change At does specifically that. It lets you display an image on your phone as your wallpaper on a certain day. It's still a rather limited piece of software, as you can't be specific about how long the wallpaper stays up, but the functionality is unique and useful.

This app requires Android 1.5 and up.


Like so many types of apps on Android, there are a LOT of apps that could be on this list. I picked these three to provide a good selection of functionality, but if you think there's a great choice that we missed, let us know in the comments.

3 Great Apps That Will Change Your Smartphone’s Wallpaper [Android] is a post from: MakeUseOf

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