Saturday, June 25, 2011 “Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]” plus 11 more “Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]” plus 11 more

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Latest Hilarious Picks [MakeUseOf Geeky Fun]

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 11:00 PM PDT

Check out the top picks from MakeUseOf Geeky Fun during the last couple of days.

  1. The Most Accurate GPS Device (Pic)
  2. Apple's Final Cut Pro X Reviewed By Video Editors (Video)
  3. Paper Jam! (Pic)
  4. A Long Way Indeed (Pic)
  5. Sean Connery's Reply To Apple Ad Appearance Offer (Pic)
  6. A Toddler's Perception Of Household Objects (Pic)
  7. No Woman Will Ever Say This (Pic)
  8. The Dawn Of The Zettabyte Era (Pic)

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

Hey Facebookers, make sure to join MakeUseOf on Facebook and get access to some exclusve stuff. Over 105,000 fans already!

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Cool Websites and Tools [June 24th]

Posted: 24 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.

Add Your Website Here!

BridgeMe – The Internet has helped uncomplicate numerous tasks; unfortunately conference calling is not one of them and it remains a user-unfriendly task even online. Here to make online conference calling better is a web service called BridgeMe. It is a simple web service that lets you schedule conference calls ahead of time. After registering for an account you can set up conference calls. Read more: BridgeMe: Schedule Conference Calls Ahead Of Time For Convenience

Newsle – Online social networks let us stay connected with our friends and favorite celebrities. But they do not reveal any publicly published news about these people. That is where Newsle comes in. It is a free to use web service that shows you web news related to your social networking contacts and the people you follow. Read more: Newsle: Read Web News About Friends & Favorite Celebrities


AddressSearch – If you want to reconnect with a former friend, classmate or a relative and want to find out their email address, head to Address Search. It is a free extensive directory that containts over 68 million email addresses in its database. They check their email directory for possible matches and then run those matches against a telephone directory, which increases the chances that you will find an email of the right person. Read more: AddressSearch: Look Up Email Addresses Of People

Tweet Topic Explorer – is a neat tool that lets you quickly check what a Twitter user has been tweeting about. The normal way to check would be going through the user's Twitter timeline which can be pretty time consuming. This tool helps you avoid that by showing the main topics in a tag cloud format. Read more: Tweet Topic Explorer: Explore A Twitter User's Tweet Topics

Groovedown – Grooveshark has been one of the most favored apps by most users because of the ease of finding and streaming music for free. However, Grooveshark does not allow you to download music. Enter Groovedown, a third-party portable desktop app that lets you download music straight from Grooveshark. Read more: Groovedown: Easily Download Songs From Grooveshark

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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The 9 Best Questions From You [MakeUseOf Answers]

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 06:31 PM PDT

MakeUseOf AnswersEvery Friday MakeUseOf Answers honors the Best Answer of the Week. With the prizes, we are rewarding the hard work that goes into solving tough questions. Did you know that each and every comment is reviewed for the contest and that your feedback can help decide the winners? It's time to participate!

This week the winners are:

Best Answer of the Week – Bruce Epper

1st Runner Up – Jonathan

2nd Runner Up – 510

Congratulations to the winners!

You may not have won this week, but I did notice your answer and I'm looking forward to more! Be next week's winner. Meanwhile, check out the best questions of the week:

For regular updates subscribe to the Answers RSS Feed.

Need help? Ask A Question at MakeUseOf Answers.

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Eight Practical Auto & Gas Related Apps For Your iPhone

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 04:31 PM PDT

app gasWith the rise of gas these days, it pays to use whatever resources are available to get better gas mileage, through good car maintenance and low as possible gasoline rates. The iTunes App Store has a wide selection of free and affordable iPhone gas and vehicle maintenance apps that are practical and easy to use.

Most of these apps require you to provide access to your current location so that mileage destinations and other information can be determined. Since you no doubt carry your iPhone wherever you go, it's easy to download and collect these apps in a folder so they're available whenever you need them.

Gas Gubby

The ad-sponsored version of Gas Gubby keeps track of your gas mileage and what vehicle service maintenance you have had done. I've used this app for over a year to keep track of oil changes, tune-ups, tire rotations and the like. While waiting to fill up your tank or get your car repaired or maintained, it's simple to tap open Gas Gubby and type in gas amount data, mileage, and service reminders. The app also includes a user manual for further tips and hidden features.

app gas


If you're looking to squeeze in a few extra gallons in your next fill-up, definitely download GasBuddy and see how well it works where you live. Simply type in your city, state, and/or zip code, and GasBuddy will give you a list of all nearby gas stations and their current prices, which can often change every other day.

ipod gas mileage app


I haven't had a chance to test out BackToMyCar, but it looks to be a useful app for getting back to your car when parking in a large parking lot or area. After the app finds your current location, you tap the Park button to mark your parking location.

ipod gas mileage app

To get back to your car, you follow the direction of the on-screen arrow which will lead you on a straight line back to your car. The app also includes features for emailing and texting parking locations, setting a parking meter or garage notification, and a built-in camera for recording your car's location.

PIM: ParkingInMotion

Driving around and looking for a parking garage is not only frustrating but it can also mean a waste of gas. The app, PIM – Parking in Motion – features real time parking facility information for the top 300 cities of the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Just type in the location of your destination and PIM will give you locations of parking facilities types (garage, surface lot, valet), including hours. The same goes for airports.

ipod gas mileage app

Download the free version to make sure your city is included in the coverage.

MPG: Miles Per Gallon

If you're curious about how many miles per gallon your automobile truly gets, the free MilesPerGallon app will help you do the calculation. All you need to do is reset your meter the next time you fill up your gas tank, drive as you please; and then with your next fill-up input the number of miles on your trip meter, and the number of gallons used to fill up your tank. From there, MPG will do the calculation for you.

are there any iphone apps for checking gas prices?


HowMuchGas is not free (.99 cents), but if you want or need an app that will help you calculate and estimate the cost of long distance trips, then this app is one you might want to have in the Transport folder of your iPhone.

are there any iphone apps for checking gas prices?

In addition to inputting your travel destination, you will also need to know your car's gas mileage, the price of gas/gallon, and the type of city you're traveling to (city, highway, combination.)

Rest Area

If you're traveling long distances without a GPS in your car, the ad-sponsored Rest Area could come in handy for those stretches of driving for when you need to know the next upcoming rest area.

are there any iphone apps for checking gas prices?

VehiCal – Car Expense Management

VehiCal is similar to Gas Gubby as an app for recording and managing mileage and travel expenses for personal and business use. You can track "fuel consumption information, including fuel economy, gas prices, and pump totals, as well as vehicle expenses with customizable lists such as repairs, highway tolls, and parking costs.” Recorded data can emailed for external use.

app gas

For other auto related apps, check out these articles: Trapster: Get Alerted About Speed Traps On Your Way and 6 Effective Tools To Avoid Police Radar Speed Traps.

Let us know what you think of these handy applications, and about any other favorite vehicle-related apps you use on your phone.

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RoboForm Desktop – Keep Your Passwords Safe & Secure

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 03:31 PM PDT

keep passwords safeRemember The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? Douglas Adams had one tip – always carry a towel. While that’s a great tip for “real life”, if I had to choose just one tip to give all web users, it would be – use a different password for each website. Seriously, I cannot stress this enough. If you use the same password (or two passwords) everywhere, a single security breach on one website could leave you wide open to identity theft across the whole Web. Not a pleasant prospect!

But if you use a different password for every website, how will you ever be able to remember them all? You won’t, of course, and that’s where a password manager comes in. With a password manager, you only need to remember one “master password”, protecting all other unique passwords. KeePass and LastPass users are nodding their heads knowingly at this point, but if you’ve never used a password manager before and the concept seems a bit intimidating, it’s very possible RoboForm is what you’ve been waiting for all along.

First off, you should know RoboForm isn’t free: it currently costs $9.95 for the first year, and $19.95 for every year after that. For that, you get to install RoboForm on unlimited devices, with seamless password sync and backup. RoboForm also offers a free version, but it supports only ten logins (I know people who can keep ten different logins in their head). Fortunately, the full version comes with a 30-day trial, which is plenty of time to make up your mind. RoboForm’s commercial polish shows right from the first step on the installation process:

keep passwords safe

The installer is clear and simple, while not skimping on the details. Since you’re going to be trusting the database with all of your passwords, RoboForm lets you know right from the get-go where it would be stored, and you can change its location if you want to:

keep passwords safe free

Then, right within the setup process, RoboForm has you create your new master password, the one you really must never forget. The dialog is very clear, and includes a password-strength meter. The meter, incidentally, hit the “Excellent” grade when I was less than halfway through typing my complete passphrase. This could either mean RoboForm’s standards for master password strength isn’t high enough, or I’m paranoid. I leave that judgment up to you.

keep passwords safe free

RoboForm integrates tightly with IE, Firefox, Chrome and a host of other browsers. Here’s what the included Chrome add-on looks like:

keep passwords safe free

This is what RoboForm’s main window looks like:

keep passwords secure

If you come from KeePass (like I do), you might be flustered at first by the fact that there’s no “New Record” button. If you want to save a new user/password pair using the RoboForm editor, it’s not instantly clear what you have to do. It turns out the secret is pushing the large RoboForm button:

keep passwords secure

So rather than a simple “New Record“, there are three different terms here — Safenote, Identity and Passcard. A Safenote is basically an encrypted note, completely free-form. That’s parallel to KeePass’s Notes field included with every record, but shinier:

keep passwords secure

An Identity is a complete profile used by RoboForm to automatically fill in forms. It has just about every field you could think of, starting from the obvious Name and Title and ending with obscure fields such as Pager number and NI and NHS numbers:


That’s just for “Person“. There are several other field sets, such as “Bank Account”, “Passport”, “Car” and more.

Last but not least, we’ve got Passcards, which are username/login pairs for websites, the most common used for a password manager. Surprisingly, you cannot create those from within RoboForm Editor. Here’s what I got when I tried:


Okay, so I used Chrome to go to a random website and signed up for a new account. When the time came to select a password, I decided to try RoboForm’s Generate feature:


That’s RoboForm’s Chrome add-on in the foreground, with the site I was trying to create an account with in the background. That Fill button just didn’t work. I clicked it with all my might, repeatedly, yet the Password and Repeat Password fields remained blank. Dragging the generated password did work, but it instantly closed the dialog, so for the Repeat Password I had to open the dialog again and drag it again. Copy/pasting would have been faster.

As soon as I hit the Create Account button, RoboForm’s auto-detection kicked in:


Quite slick! It had the real site name in the box, not “Random Website”. Not the URL either, mind you, but the actual site name, and it was clever enough to extract it even though the page title wasn’t the exact site name. Very nice. So on the one hand, letting you create new passcards only by actually creating new accounts in websites feels a bit restrictive — but on the other hand, it’s a fantastic way to make sure you never forget to store your new password.

The actual passcard record is very simple: It contains just a site title, URL, user ID and password:


And just for comparison, here’s the same dialog in KeePass:


A different level of visual complexity, indeed. And yes, if you’ve been paying attention you now know my fictitious identity at, password and all. Go have fun, pretend you’re me.

If you’re already using another password management solution and wish to migrate to RoboForm, it’s very likely possible. Check out the comprehensive Import dialog:


Note that RoboForm also offers to import bookmarks. I had it import my IE bookmarks, and the process was very smooth. I ended up with a bookmark tree looking like this:

keep passwords safe

Are there other bookmark management solutions? Sure, just like there are plenty of other password managers. But what’s interesting about RoboForm is how embracive it feels — it does your logins, forms, in-app forms (not just browser-based forms), contacts and encrypted notes. And it somehow does it all without feeling too complex or clunky.

If you’re used to KeePass, sure, it might feel awkward at first. But if you’ve never used a password manager before, RoboForm has a way of integrating itself into your workflow, and you’ll find yourself using it for all of your passwords and forms in no time.  Let us know what you think of it or if you prefer using something completely different.

RoboForm Desktop – Keep Your Passwords Safe & Secure is a post from: MakeUseOf

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Discuss What You Love In Real Time With Like-Minded Individuals Using Namesake

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 02:31 PM PDT

real time conversationsWhere do you go to hold conversations online? Facebook? Let me rephrase the question. Where do you go to hold intellectual conversations online with experts? That’s a bit tougher. There are plenty of places to discuss things with others, especially with all the social networks that are out there, but not all of them really allow you to hold conversations with people you don’t already know.

Twitter does, but messages are in short-hand and generally take a bit of time, although it is extremely mobile. Sites like Quora allow for more in-depth discussions around a large variety of topics, but that can take some time to formulate as well. Where are all the real-time conversations happening? On a site called Namesake, that’s where.

What Is Namesake?

Namesake is a community built around real-time conversation. It makes it easy for you to locate people you find interesting, as well as topics like news, events, videos, ideas, best practices, and questions.

Our mission at Namesake is to build trust through conversation. Conversations are one of the most important tools we have as humans to learn, progress, and connect.

Conversations on Namesake are available to everyone in the community by default. This is meant to help connect you with new people around the topics you both find interesting and subjects you have in common. However, you can also opt to hold conversations that are private or invitation-only, which allows only certain community members to participate.

real time conversations

When you sign up, you will have a profile on Namesake, where you can highlight your strengths, what you’re currently working on, and open yourself up to new conversations. Everything you contribute in Namesake will automatically be rolled into your profile, so others can learn more about you through the conversations you’ve already participated in.

online discussion

Each person in the community can add up to 10 areas of their expertise, listing experts on topic pages and endorsing community members for specific topics. So if you’re looking for a place where you can have an intelligent conversation with someone who is an “expert” in a particular field, you can get that accomplished with Namesake.

online discussion

Also, by adding expertise, community members can endorse each other to build reputation and trust. This is similar to recommending someone on LinkedIn, if you’re familiar with that professional social network.  If community members endorse you and consider you an expert, you are more likely to get invited to relevant conversations.

How Do I Get Started With Namesake?

real time conversations

To get started using Namesake, just head over to the homepage and click Join us. You can connect through Facebook or Twitter to set up an account (every site seems to be doing this these days). If you connect with Facebook (as I have done), a box with pre-populated information will pop-up, allowing you to select your username, password, etc.

On the next page you can add your expertise. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be all set to start having conversations with Namesake!


This service reminds me a lot of Quora, which is a high-quality Q & A site that continues to increase in popularity. Whereas Quora deals primarily with questions and comments, however, Namesake brings something new to the table by focusing more on community and speed in the form of real-time comments. It’s almost like a chat-room for like-minded individuals.

Will you be signing up for Namesake? What makes you want to give it a try?

Discuss What You Love In Real Time With Like-Minded Individuals Using Namesake is a post from: MakeUseOf

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Make Extra Money Selling Access To Live Gigs On Facebook

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 12:31 PM PDT

facebook pay per viewIt’s a tough gig being a musician. You’ve got to make a crust, but you don’t want to rely on performance income only. Those seasonal concert months aren’t always enough to carry you through the year and most musicians will find ways to make money from sales of music or some other profession in order to make ends meet.

Well, social media has just thrown us a new avenue for earning money with music. Musicians on Facebook have started offering pay-per-view access to concerts, allowing fans from around the world to watch the gig at the same time. Although you might then put highlights on YouTube, that original live experience is limited to those fans who are willing to pay the cover charge. In the meantime, the musician is making a little bit more than they would for an everyday gig.

How To Charge For A Live Concert

All musicians who have so far charged for live concerts on Facebook have used different methods to obtain payments. Some have built their own Facebook application, while others have worked with a partner to process credit card payments and Facebook credits. For most musicians, it will be best to write your own Facebook application to get things just right. The going rate is 50 Facebook credits per performance, which is about US$5.

facebook pay per view

Those wanting to test the waters can try using free live-streaming video apps like or in order to see how many fans would watch the show. Maybe an enterprising geek will write an application which any Facebook musician can use to stream video and charge a few credits (*hint* *hint*), but for the moment it’s still in your own hands.

What Should The Facebook Application Do?

Ideally as well as streaming video and charging Facebook credits, the application should allow fans to comment in real time during the performance. If coding Facebook apps isn’t your thing, get a friendly geek on to it and promise them free CDs and beer at gigs.

facebook pay per view

What Does This Mean for Musicians?

This sort of exposure could initially double your takings for your gigs by adding punters who can’t make it in person. But you’ll be creating a circular marketing loop, promoting your performances, your Facebook fan page and your online concert streams at the same time. Eventually, this could boost your group’s overall popularity and income quite substantially.

More for Music Lovers

We realise that if you’ve read this far you’re probably a bit of a music fan. Here’s some more articles which might interest you:

Also, don’t forget to support up-and-coming new artists by visiting our Sound Sunday feature every week, where you can download free MP3 tracks.

So, have you tried streaming a concert live on Facebook? Or have you watched a live concert stream? How did it go? Would you consider charging admission to your live stream? If you’re a punter, how much would you pay? Let us know in the comments!

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How To Add Tabs To Microsoft Office & Improve Your Document Management

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 11:31 AM PDT

add tabs officeWe have got so used to tabs that we routinely miss them in the other applications we use. One of our more oft used applications happens to be the Microsoft Office suite. Tabs are something which the guys at Redmond woke up late to. So far, it has escaped an introduction in MS Office; a feature I am sure many of you out there would want as a default. At least I am sure that power users around the world are hankering  for it.

Microsoft Office plug-in Office Tab (ver.7.00) heeds it and adds tabbed document support to Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Office Tab is a 2.9 MB download and it comes in commercial and free editions. The free edition is for personal use and is feature limited. As we will see, the limitations of some features do not detract from the usefulness of this plug-in when it comes to managing multiple documents.

Install and First Look

Office Tab is compatible with Windows 7 (32 & 64 bit), Windows Server, Windows Vista (32 & 64 bit), and Windows XP. It fits in with Microsoft Office 2003, 2007, 2010 (32/64).

Office Tab frees up the Windows taskbar by enabling you to work with Office documents within a single window. Windows 7 has a much improved taskbar with a preview, but Office Tab is much more efficient when it comes to working with multiple documents alongside each other. Here's how the MS Word interface looks after the install:

add tabs office

As you will notice, all documents can now be opened within the same Office window, and switching makes working with multiple documents much easier.

A Few More Handy Features

Though it is a feature limited edition, Office Tab gives you a few more useful (and customizable) options to work with. You can click anywhere on the tab bar to quickly open a new document. You can alternatively right click on the tab bar to select New or Open to bring up another document. You can also Close or Save a document from here. (The features marked with an asterisk are only available in the commercial version of the app).

tabs microsoft office

Each program that Office Tab supports (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint in the free version) has a Settings panel where you can play around with a few more options. The Settings can be individualized for each application. The Settings panel is also displayed during the installation. The options that are grayed out are only reserved for the commercial version of the plug-in.

tabs microsoft office

Some of the options available change the appearance of the tabs and the way they are displayed. For instance, you can fiddle with the position of the tabs around the workspace (Select Tab Bar Position). You can go for a change in the Style and Color of the tabs by choosing any one from the eleven styles available. Go crazy with colors if you like to put some on your tabs (only Excel and PowerPoint).

add tabs office

Power-users should definitely settle on the shortcut keys that help to select and switch tabs. You can also drag 'n drop tabs, an immense help to organize multiple documents within the same window.

The commercial version has a few more important features like Quick Rename and Save-All in one click. But I don't think you will miss them because even with the basic features, Office Tab does make for a productive experience. Try out Office Tab and let us know what you think of this useful Microsoft Office Add-in.

How To Add Tabs To Microsoft Office & Improve Your Document Management is a post from: MakeUseOf

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What iCloud Is & Why It Changes Everything [Mac]

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 10:31 AM PDT

what is icloudPerhaps the biggest announcement made by Apple at the recent WWDC was that of iCloud, but many people are understandably not sure what it is. Is it a streaming media service? Is it a Dropbox clone? What’s this about wireless syncing? If you find yourself a little confused and wondering why you’d even want iCloud, and how much it’s going to cost, then read on to have all the answers revealed!

A Free Replacement for Mobile.Me

First and foremost, iCloud is a free replacement and upgrade for the aging service. For those of you who don’t know, is Apple’s current paid-for cloud service which gives you 5GB storage space, and automatically syncs your contacts and calendars across devices. For $99/year, it’s a bit crap really – but I have been paying for it, as the has become my main email address. iCloud is going to be free for the most part, and includes a email address.

Is iCloud a DropBox Killer?

iCloud will include 5GB of storage for your documents – so is it going to be a DropBox killer? Probably not in the big scheme of things, but for many people like myself it will certainly be a viable alterntive. Remember, iCloud will be a built-in core service of all Apple devices – so you won’t need to mess around with separate apps to access cloud documents. Using iCloud, the syncing of your 5GB of documents will be entirely automatic. Following Apple’s new philosophy of “no need to save”, this means you can be editing a presentation on your Mac, then literally seconds later you show it on your iPad. It just works.

what is icloud

Photo Stream

Since most of us have a significant bit more than 5GB of photos, iCloud syncing of your entire photo collection isn’t really feasible. However, Apple has figured out a great solution for that too. Photo Stream consists of all the photos you’ve taken in the last 30 days, and doesn’t count towards your 5GB limit. Having your photos wireless sync like this is actually pretty amazing when you think about it – take a picture, and within seconds it appears on your other devices.

apple icloud

Wireless Syncing

Apart from syncing everything that Mobile.Me users currently get (mail, calendar, contacts) iCloud will also allow you to sync books, music, and applications across devices using the cloud. Of course, you can do this by just plugging in a cable right now, but with iCloud you will be able to do this wirelessly, anywhere, automatically.

What’s The Deal With Music?

First up, iCloud is NOT a streaming media service. It is not designed to hold all your music in the cloud so you can play it anywhere over your Internet connection. For some with large collections, this will be a bit of a disappointment.

The basic service includes all of your past and future iTunes purchases – so when you buy something from iTunes, it will get pushed to your devices. However, that still leaves the question of your mountains of music that you didn’t purchase in iTunes – what about that? Well, you can always sync it as usual with your home PC. However, what about if you want your existing library to sync wirelessly, automatically, with every device you own? Under normal circumstances, you might think this requires you to upload your entire collection to your iCloud drive, and then purchase additional GBs to store it all – and this is indeed the way Amazon and Google have handled their cloud music services. Apple has decided to not handle it like this – instead, they’ve launched iTunes Match.

Instead of uploading all your music, iTunes will attempt to scan and identify all the tracks, and “match” the content in the cloud. Any tracks it doesnt know will be uploaded as is. As these songs are then stored on a central server, the same copy of the song will be served to everyone – saving on storage space enormously. The idea is really ingenious – why waste storage space for every individual user when you can just catalogue everything and serve the same song multiple times?

The savings are passed onto you, the consumer – iTunes Match costs only $25/year and allows up to 25,000 tracks to be matched online from your collection. If you think this is expensive then remember – used to cost $99/year, and it had no music facilities at all.

But thats not all.

apple icloud

Get Of Jail Free Card & A Quality Upgrade to Boot!

When your content is matched, it is matched to a high quality 256kbs DRM-free legitimate copy of that song. Once matched, you can then choose to REPLACE your local- possibly pirated and bad quality – copy with that legitimate one from the cloud. Yes, you can download the high quality DRM-free “official” version of the song, and replace that dodgy one – for up to 25,000 songs. If you stop your subscription, you keep the song – it doesn’t disappear.

Think about that for a moment – Apple, and the music industry – have just offered you a complete get out of jail free card – a chance to turn your ENTIRE music collection into a 100% LEGIT and high quality one, for just $25. To me, this is a fundamentally amazing paradigm shift that shows the music companies are indeed looking forwards.

what is icloud


I’m sure some people are going to remain sceptical of the whole thing. I mean – do you really want Apple (and the music companies) to know that you have 25,000 illegal songs on your PC? Apple has stated that while no personal information on who owns what song will be sent to the music companies, they will recieve reports on how many people in total own a particular track. But I’m interested to know how they might handle say, pre-release tracks – which the msuic industry generally gets quite worked up about. If Apple scans your machine, and finds something it shouldn’t – what will happen? Personally, I don’t think they would ever release personal information, even if you were downloading illegal tracks – you’re still paying for the service after all, and something like that could potentially turn millions of users away from the service.

Perhaps this really is a win-win situation all around thats going to completely change the computing experience. What do you think? Am I over-reacting about this whole thing? Has Apple really just offered to upgrade your pirate music collection to something legit?  Let us know what you think in the comments.

What iCloud Is & Why It Changes Everything [Mac] is a post from: MakeUseOf

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Take A Stand & Make A Difference On Any Issue With iPetitions

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 09:30 AM PDT

online petitionOne of the nice things about the Internet is that it isn’t just a static, meaningless forum for information. The Internet is a powerful domain where real people are able to initiate real change throughout the world.

As they say – information is power. If you are especially adept at getting information out into the world, you stand the chance of getting your perspective in front of the eyes of some surprising people. Government officials around the world, policy-makers, and yes even Presidents and other leaders have been known to use Google occasionally. So, the world of online information is fast becoming a place where powerful writers can influence policy and help mold leadership decisions.

The petition, as a vehicle for influencing change, has been a tool used by activists throughout the world for many years. Way before the Internet even existed, activists hit the streets with printed petitions – waves of social soldiers knocking on every door and pleading with people to join the cause.

Because the petition has always been a very powerful vehicle to influence both local and national governments, it makes sense that the idea of a petition would evolve into an online weapon of choice for activists today.

Create Your Own Online Petition

We’ve offered a few choices here at MUO for ways to spread the word about your cause, like PetitionSpot even Facebook Causes. One of the best websites I’ve found to quickly build and distribute a petition of your own is a site called iPetitions. At iPetitions, you can create your online petition just by filling out a few fields, and you’re done.

Now, just filling out those fields may not help you gather many signatures – you really have to take the time to write up powerful petition text that captures interests and motivates people to sign.
online petition
In addition, there are other features you can take advantage of at iPetitions that can help you promote and distribute your petition (I’ll show you these below) – so make sure to explore your account once you’ve created your first petition! Creating an account is really fast – you basically just need an email address.
online petition sites
When you get into your new account, just click on “My Petitions” to see your petitions list. You can create as many petitions as you like. This is the area where you can monitor how many signatures you’ve gathered every day. It’s also where you’ll go to make any changes to the online petition itself.

online petition sites

Click on “edit’ and then scroll down to the bottom of the petition edit form until you see the area with “Optional fields.” To improve your odds of people finding your petition directly on iPetitions (by searching the site), make sure to choose a category and write a good one-sentence description. This information will also show up on the right side field of your petition.

online petition sites
On the petition edit page, you can see just how many features are available to you along the left navigation bar. You can check out a history of signatures, view all of them in one place, or even download the entire list so that you can print it out. Many government offices will still only accept a printed petition, so this is an important option.

You can also change the theme of your petition page, and you also have the option to send signers to a customized “thank you” URL of your own if you want.

online petition tools

In my opinion, the coolest and most effective feature of iPetitions is the fact that every single petition features its own blog area. This is where you can publish posts about the issue, and anyone that visits your petition can see your posts. The reverse is also true  – if you are able to attract people to your iPetitions blog through the search engine or just by writing provocative posts, those visitors will also see your petition. This is a great way to attract more people to your petition.

online petition tools

Another nice feature is the notifications tool. You can have iPetitions email you on a regular basis with a status report, or whenever the number of signatures hits a certain level in any given day.
online petition tools

There’s also a form available that makes it really easy to fire off the URL of your petition to all of your friends and family. Write a powerful message to get them to visit your petition and sign it!

online petition tools
When people do decide to sign your petition, you can also customize the questions that they answer on the “sign-up” form. This is a great way to learn more about the people that are signing your petition.

online petition tools

All customizations you make are integrated seamlessly into the “Sign Petition” area of the page. You can completely customize this entire form to look however you like, so long as somewhere on the form you have the required name and email address.

online petition

The ability to create your own online petition site in less than 10 minutes that includes full blogging functionality and promotional tools really makes this site one of the most effective ways to get the word out about your cause. You don’t have to be tech savvy – you just need to be a good writer.

So go ahead and create a petition about a cause that is important to you. When you’re done, share what you created your petition about. Was it easy, and did you take advantage of the blog? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Image Credit: shho

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Take A Stand & Make A Difference On Any Issue With iPetitions is a post from: MakeUseOf

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Compromised Plugins Forces WordPress To Reset Passwords [News]

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 09:01 AM PDT

WordPress has disclosed that several plugins available on the popular blog-hosting site have been unveiled as malware. The problem stems from three very popular tools – AddThis, WPtouch and W3 Total Cache – which were found to contain disguised backdoors. According to WordPress, these plugins were compromised without the knowledge of their authors.

As a precautionary measure, the site has force-reset all passwords. This means that users will have to request a new password using the standard process on their next login attempt. The organization also advised that anyone using the infected plugins should update them immediately to obtain a safe copy.

Although was quick to take precautionary measures to safeguard its own hosted blogs, it has no way to force users running the self-hosted version of the blog software to take the same steps. Anyone running the software should check to see if they're using any of the infected plugins and, if so, update them as well as reset their blog's administrative passwords.

Matt Mullenweg, founder of the blog site, stated that an investigation is underway to discover how the plugins became infected and made their way undetected onto the plugin database. In addition to this, the plugin database is being combed to ensure that no other plugins are infected.

Source: TechCrunch

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Compromised Plugins Forces WordPress To Reset Passwords [News] is a post from: MakeUseOf

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The 4 Best Resources For Android App Reviews

Posted: 24 Jun 2011 08:31 AM PDT

android app reviewsGood Android app reviews are, surprisingly, not that easy to find. This is most likely because many apps are free, so for many users it's easier to just try out an app rather than read a review before downloading it.

Not all apps are free, however. In fact, many of the most useful apps require at least a few bucks, and some feature-filled productivity apps can have price tags of $15 or more. In these cases, it's best to read some reviews before spending the dough, but where can you turn for advice?

Life of Android

android app reviews

This general Android blog and review site focuses heavily on news and apps. The front page usually contains the latest information about the big names on the app market, and also sometimes provides general information about upcoming Android releases and best-of lists.

When it comes to reviews, Life of Android has the best sorting and rating system of any site I've read. Each review appears in miniature format, along with the score and a list of pros and cons. The full reviews are generally 250 to 500 words long and provide quite a few screenshots. The site seems to average one review a day overall, although some days will see the release of two or three reviews, while others will see none.

Android AppStorm

android market reviews

One of numerous sites in the AppStorm network, Android AppStorm is a blog that provides a great deal of information about Android in general, including How-Tos and some fairly decent editorials about the future of the platform. It makes for good reading if you're interested in the future of smartphones.

The reviews can be accessed by category. In terms of volume, Android AppStorm can't match the competitors on this list, and searching through reviews isn't particularly easy. However, the reviews are extremely detailed, with lots of photos and information.

AppStorm also does roundups that highlight the best apps of a given type. These articles are extremely helpful if you have an idea of the type of app you're looking for, but you're not sure how to go about finding it.


android market reviews

Androinica is a major Android blog that covers just about everything on the platform including news, and the phones themselves. There's a lot of content being generated by this website, and that includes app reviews. They seem to put up several app reviews and/or app roundups a week. Androinica also sometimes does video reviews, and they're reasonably well done.

The main downside to Androinica compared to others is a lack of easy sorting of reviews and a lack of definitive review scoring in the form of a numerical score or a thumbs up/down recommendation. That's not to say the site can't reach a conclusion – it's just not as clearly stated, which makes it hard to judge apps at-a-glance. Fortunately, the reviews are fairly short, so it should only take a few minutes to read them.

Android Tapp

android app reviews

This is the site you're most likely to run into if you Google search for Android app reviews either in general or for a specific app, and for good reason. Although there's news and blog posts on this site, app reviews are its strong suit.

Review volume is heavy, with most weekdays seeing at least two reviews go up, and sometimes as many as three. In addition to that, Android Tapp offers easy browsing via category and shows the app's review rating in the preview. This makes judging apps at-a-glance quick.

Most of the reviews are of good quality and around 500 words, and some of the reviews include video supplements that show the app in action. Although all of the sites on this list are good, if I had to pick just one on the strength of the site's reviews, Android Tapp would be the winner.


The next time you're thinking about downloading a paid app, but you're just not sure if you want to spend the money, check out these sites. Hopefully one will have reviewed the app in question and be able to give you a helping hand.

If you have an iPhone, check out our post on iPhone app review sites.  Also, as usual, if we’ve missed your favorite, set us straight in the comments.

The 4 Best Resources For Android App Reviews is a post from: MakeUseOf

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