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August 23 2012

22:30

8 Crucial Things You Should Know Before Travelling Abroad With Your Phone, Tablet, Or Laptop

traveling with a tabletIf you’re about to go international with your smartphone, tablet and/or laptop there are a few things you should know before you go. You might need extra peripheral devices and plugs, entertainment and maps pre-downloaded, a new SIM card for data, and to prepare for a few important security scenarios.

Wherever you go and whatever your trip will involve, these tips will prepare you for things as best as possible. The last thing you need is to lose a smartphone full of data with no way of protecting yourself! Here’s what you need to know.

Work Out What International Plugs You’ll Need

Since the standard electrical socket type is different wherever you go in the world, it’s handy to have the right plugs for the places you’re going. There are useful websites you can use to find out which type of socket to expect though, like PlugsMap. Also, remember to pack your USB charger and car charger into your cabin bag as you can sometimes find places to charge devices on the plane or in airports.

Ensure You Don’t Use Expensive Wireless Data Plans

When you’re travelling internationally it’s worth noting that your regular data plan will probably cost you a fortune. Turn 3G off, disable notifications and push services, then do not touch it even for a minute unless you know you’ve got a good deal. Most people are horrified at how expensive international data costs are.

If you’re travelling through lots of different countries, you might consider getting an international data SIM. If you’ll spend most of your time in one country, it might be better value to get a data SIM for that one country or rely on a local hotspot network. Ask your current provider if they have any preferred partners in the country you’re heading to as you could get a better rate. Whatever you do, hunt around for the best deals before you choose your method.

traveling with a tablet

When considering your SIM choice, don’t forget to get the correct size SIM for your device! The iPad and iPhone 4 use a micro SIM, while most other devices use a full size SIM. You may also want to bring along any custom-made tool you need to remove your SIM.

Another data-conserving tip is to download as much as possible to your devices while using free Wi-Fi. Use apps like Instapaper to save websites you want to read in advance, while also adding music, movies and books to your device well in advance.

Plan Ahead & Get Offline GPS Maps

There are a huge range of maps available for smartphones and tablets. Ideally, what you need is one which allows you to get the maps you’ll need in advance and then find your location using GPS, without data access, later. Google Maps is very good at this, but there are plenty more you can consider too.

Bookmark All The Best Travel Deal Sites & Tourist Info

When you’re in a new area, apps like Foursquare can be a great way to find out about the best restaurants and bars. But most tourism offices have applications these days too, so do some research and get hold of them if possible. If there’s no application, they may at least have PDF versions of travel guides you can download and read while in transit.

traveling with a laptop

You might also like to check out these great sites for hotel deals and other useful travel information:

You May Need Wireless Peripherals

If you’ve tried to cut down on the amount of luggage you’re bringing and are therefore travelling with a tablet, you may think you don’t need a keyboard or mouse. But what happens if you’re suddenly required to do a few fiddly things for work or to make a Skype call? Would your tablet keyboard and microphone be good enough? Maybe it’s worth packing a few peripheral devices in your main luggage just in case. I also like to carry a headphone splitter so that I can share the sound for movies or music I’m enjoying.

Travelling Tablets Need Protecting

You might not need a case for your tablet for everyday use, but once your travelling things are different. You need free hands to go through airport security and carry luggage, so those tablets are going to be shoved into bags and possible handled by people other than yourself. Get a case if you want to protect your tablet properly.

Extreme changes in temperature may also affect your tablets, as it allows condensation to form inside the device. Also, extreme cold may affect the battery life of your device. For best results, keep your tablet insulated when travelling in extreme weather.

Protect Yourself Against Theft Of Your Devices & Data

Travelling will take you to busy places, some of them more notorious for crime than others. Regardless of the area, as a traveller you are a prime target. There are several things you can do to protect yourself against device theft or to help in the aftermath:

  • Carry your devices near your body.
  • Don’t get too distracted when using tablets or phones in public spaces.
  • Purchase insurance for your devices (and make sure you are covered internationally and for potential work usage).
  • Keep your devices locked when not in use. You might also consider the risks of leaving your applications logged in on your device.
  • Don’t log into sensitive accounts while using public Wi-Fi.
  • Back up your devices before you leave and when staying with friends while travelling.
  • Keep back-ups on-the-go by syncing with web storage like Dropbox or Box.
  • Install applications to help you retrieve a lost phone or tablet – or to delete the data remotely (for iPads, enable the “Find This iPad” feature before you go).

traveling with a laptop

Also note that many border security agents have the power to examine your devices and sometimes to ask for you to decrypt partitions. If you’re security paranoid, it’s best to bring only devices with clean installs and no personal data on them whatsoever (definitely nothing illegal!). This goes double for workplace devices.

Protect Against RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) Skimming

Here’s another travel tip for the technically minded. When you’re in a busy place like an airport carrying all your most vital identification and credit cards, you’re at risk of having that information stolen by RFID skimmers. Many passports and credit cards these days have RFID chips in them, which are vulnerable to being read by identity thieves who are carrying a portable card reader.

traveling with a tablet

It’s possible to buy an RFID blocking passport protector from places that sell anti-theft and travel security goods. It’s also an idea to put your credit cards in there while you’re in busy places.

More Great Travel Tips

Since you’re a techy who loves travelling, you’ll probably appreciate these articles too:

What are your best travel tips for travelling with tech gear?

Image Credit: Shutterstock, Shutterstock, Shutterstock, Shutterstock, Shutterstock


August 22 2012

00:31

Discover Marvel Comics & Marvel Characters On The Web

marvel comicsMarvel Comics was founded in 1939 as Timely Comics before becoming Atlas Comics in the 1950s and eventually the company we know and love in the 1960s. This was the era when Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and the omnipresent Stan Lee created the characters that have grown far beyond their humble beginnings as mere ink drawings.

Marvel Comics is now part of the larger Marvel Entertainment, which in turn is part of The Walt Disney Company after Mickey Mouse and Co. acquired the Marvel empire lock, stock, and barrel for $4.24 billion in 2009. There are a host of big-name Marvel characters, with the biggest arguably being Spider-Man, the X-Men, and Iron Man, mainly thanks to the smash-hit movies bringing these particular characters to a wider, mainstream audience.

So, you’ve seen the latest Marvel movie and now want to learn more about the whole Marvel universe. The following are the first places you should head online to achieve that goal.

Marvel Official

marvel comics

The official Marvel website is, as you would expect it to be, crammed full of all things Marvel. It’s an endless cornucopia packed with news related to the comic books, the movies, the games, and the TV shows. This isn’t the place to come for speculation and rumors; if it has made it onto Marvel.com then it’s official, real, and happening.

There are also links to digital versions of the comics, and the chance to create your own comic and/or superhero.

Marvel Facebook

marvel comics online

The Marvel page on Facebook may not be as well-kept as MakeUseOf’s (naturally) but it’s updated multiple times every day with interesting content that encourages fan interaction. There are links to other Marvel properties across the Web, updates on forthcoming projects across all media, and discussions running to hundreds of comments.

Marvel has also made good use of the controversial timeline with historical updates all the way back to 1939.

Marvel Twitter

marvel comics online

The Marvel account on Twitter is an essential to follow for all Marvel fans keen to read dozens of tweets a day. Thankfully the tweets in question are always interesting, with quotes from live blogging events, simple questions prompting fascinating responses, and the ubiquitous news updates.

This is the one of all the Web properties listed here that will appeal to the hardcore fans more than the casual, part-time fans who dip in and out when a new movie is released.

Marvel YouTube

marvel comics online

At the time of writing the Marvel channel on YouTube has more than 364,000 subscribers and the videos have racked up 341 million views. That says a lot for the quality of content posted. There are already in excess of 1,200 videos posted on the channel, with more added every week.

The content ranges from Blu-ray clips of the movies, extended clips of the television shows, and trailers for forthcoming games. And Stan Lee pops up from time to time!

Marvel Database

marvel comics on the web

And now we come to the unofficial Web resources for Marvel Comics and Marvel characters. The best by far is Marvel Database, the Wiki site which manages to pack almost 100,000 pages of content under its unassuming front page.

My favorite link to click on any Wiki is ‘Random Page’, but if you prefer to end up on a page you actually want to visit then the Marvel Database contains all you’ll ever need to know about the comics and characters.

SpiderFan.org

marvel comics on the web

Spider-Man is perhaps the greatest Marvel character of all time. He’s certainly the one with the biggest appeal across all demographics. Perhaps it’s the Lycra suit, perhaps it’s the compelling origin story, or perhaps it’s because we all hate spiders so much that a superhero with the powers of one of the critters is a guilty pleasure.

Whatever the ultimate reason for his popularity, SpiderFan.org is the best Spider-Man fansite I could find.

UncannyXMen.net

marvel comics on the web

The X-Men are a group of mutants – literally mutated humans – who come together as a group under the tutelage of Professor Charles Xavier. The best-known X-Men are Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, and Cyclops, who all battle together against good-guy-turned-bad-guy Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants.

UncannyXMen.net is a magnificent fansite with the tagline, “For the fans, by the fans.” And that’s a pretty much perfect description.

IronManArmory.com

marvel comics

Unlike Spider-Man the appeal of Iron Man is clear and obvious for all to see. Which of us wouldn’t want to don a metal suit and fly around the world impervious to attack from anything but a nuclear bomb? Iron Man is like Batman on acid; why mess about simulating a winged creature when you could be a walking, talking robot? IronManArmory.com is a great fansite dedicated wholly to the cult of Tony Stark and his metallic alter-ego.

Conclusions

Are there any other locations on the Web you’d recommend for people just starting out exploring Marvel Comics and the characters that populate the Marvel universe? Are you a big comic-book fan or did you not even know the difference between Captain America and Thor before the movies started hitting the big-screen?

As always we’d love to hear your views on the subject at hand in the comments section below.


August 10 2012

21:30

Inside 5 Of The World’s Biggest Data Centers [Stats & Pics]

data center picturesHave you ever wondered just how big the Internet is? After all, more and more of our world’s information flow is traveling through computers and various networks. As such, the “data center” has become one of the most important aspects of our computer culture’s existence. Without it, we’d be plunged once again into a world of faces and physical contact.

Think of a data center as a gigantic PC café. Except all of the PCs are state-of-the-art server boxes. And there are no keyboards, mice, or monitors (save for the control room). Instead of relaxation and recreation, there are network administrators working their butts off to keep everything running. Also, did I mention that a data center could be the size of many football fields combined? Yeah, massive.

There are hundreds, even thousands, of data centers all over the world. But which ones are the biggest? After all, the bigger the data center, the more data can be processed and stored. Size does matter, so get out your rulers and follow me as we take a look at the world’s 5 largest data centers.

#5. NAP of the Americas in Miami, USA

data center pictures

The NAP of the Americas is Terremark’s flagship facility and it was specifically designed to link Latin America to the rest of the world in terms of networking. It doesn’t hurt that it’s located in Miami either since Miami has been consistently ranked as one of the top five cities in the world with regard to interconnectedness. The significance of the NAP of the Americas as a telecommunications project isn’t to be underrated.

Completed in 2001, this data center measures in at 750,000 square feet. Due to its location, it is fortified and built–with 7-inch steel-concrete panels no less–to withstand the forces of a Category 5 hurricane.

#4: Tulip Data City in Bangalore, India

data center pics

In February 2012, Tulip Telecom officially opened a new data center in India. The focus for this project was efficiency. Today, it is the greenest and most power efficient data center in all of India. Technologically, the Tulip Data City primarily functions as a center for cloud services, but is also used for colocation, managed hosting, and data storage.

Tulip Data City measures in at an impressive 900,000 square feet, qualifying it as the largest data center in all of Asia. Security around the data center is tight as well, defended by a 10-feet stone wall with an additional 4-feet electric fence. Visitors are required to pass through metal detectors and explosives sniffers and they must be accompanied by security at all times.

#3. QTS Metro Data Center in Atlanta, USA

data center pics

Built in 2006, the QTS Metro Data Center measures in at 970,000 square feet, barely keeping it ahead over the newly built Tulip Data City. The building is powered by an on-site Georgia substation that has 80 megawatts of power capacity. With a data center this large, there’s little choice for any other option.

#2. Lakeside Technology Center in Chicago, USA

data center pics

Owned by Digital Realty Trust and built in 1999, the Lakeside Technology Center was and remains one of the largest telecommunications hubs in the world, measuring in at a hefty 1,100,000 square feet. An interesting distinguishing point for this data center is that it uses an 8.5 million gallon tank of liquid to facilitate cooling.

#1. SwitchNAP in Las Vegas, USA

data center pictures

The SwitchNAP, owned by Switch Communications, is actually a group of seven NAPs in the Las Vegas Valley. The largest of these is NAP7, also known as the SuperNAP. More NAPs are being designed. Located in the Nevada desert, SwitchNAP is extremely secure in that the area has no risk of natural disaster–including tornados, earthquakes, or tsunamis.

This network of NAPs measures in at 2,200,000 square feet, approximately twice the size of the second largest data center. Switch’s data centers are all built to a high standard and utilize the Switch Wattage Density Modular Design (WDMD), which allows complete control over the heat produced by the data center’s equipment.

What do you think? Are these data centers impressive or what? Personally, it’s hard for me to even fathom the size and magnitude of these buildings. How many servers are in there, lined up from wall to wall? I’ll never know! Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image Credit: Server Rack Via Shutterstock, NAP of the Americas Via Terremark, Lakeside Technology Center Via Data Center Knowledge


August 02 2012

17:01

5 YouTube Channels For Must-See Movie Reviews

The majority of us like watching movies. Sure, the genres we love differ, but there’s still little better than losing yourself in a different world packed with a story, a setting, and characters for a couple of hours. The problem is there are so many movies to choose from, with new ones being released each and every week. So what to see?!

This is where movie reviews come in to play. Regardless of whether you’re debating if it’s worth paying your hard-earned cash to see the latest blockbuster in a theater, or deciding between two or more DVDs to curl up and watch from the sofa at home on a Sunday evening. Thankfully there are a host of different reviewers to choose from, many of whom have set up shop on YouTube.

What follows are five YouTube channels that are a must for movie buffs everywhere.

Epic Movie Review

The Epic Movie Review YouTube channel is a fairly new one, with just three reviews posted at the time of writing. However, assuming these guys don’t give up through a lack of interest this channel is definitely worth subscribing to.

We get to see three clearly passionate movie fans giving their opinions on the movie they’ve literally just seen. These guys start recording the instant they leave the movie theater, with a back and forth between the trio as they digest the film while picking out key scenes and talking points.

Watch For: Honest and unbiased reviews delivered in a satisfying scattergun manner.

Blind Film Critic

That isn’t a typo, this movie reviewer is actually blind and has been since birth. His name is Tommy Edison and he operates what has to be the most unique movie review channel on YouTube right now. His videos prove beyond doubt that movies are more than just a visual medium.

We get to hear Edison’s thoughts on the latest movies, which he has watched without actually seeing. This means he raises points no other reviewer even notices, with insights into actors’ performances based on the tone, inflection, and subtlety of their voices.

Watch For: Reviews delivered from a unique perspective most of us will never experience.

Breakin’ It Down

Catherine Reitman is funny, attractive, and intelligent. Oh, and she knows her movies inside-out and back-to-front. Her father is famous producer and director Ivan Reitman, so she grew up around the business, and she’s also an actress in her own right.

All of the above means she’s more than qualified to review movies, which she does on Breakin’ It Down. These aren’t serious, po-faced analyses of films; instead they’re fun, frivolous, and very entertaining opinions on the latest Hollywood fayre.

Watch For: Funny reviews delivered by a hot woman dressed provocatively.

Kermode + Mayo

Simon Mayo is a DJ on British radio, while Mark Kermode is a movie reviewer that makes regular appearances on his show. This YouTube channel features videos of the two discussing movies in the studio. It sounds dull but is actually thoroughly entertaining.

Kermode is one hell of a movie reviewer. You won’t particularly like the guy and you may even disagree with everything he says. But you’ll be hanging on his every word as he delivers cutting reviews of the latest flicks. Suffice to say he isn’t easily impressed.

Watch For: Intelligent reviews from the ‘Yahtzee‘ of the movie review world.

What The Flick?!

I’ve saved what I consider the best until last. What The Flick?! is part of The Young Turks network, but politics rarely plays a part in the movie reviews posted to this YouTube channel. Thankfully. Which is, incidentally, the first place I turn to when weighing up a new release.

What The Flick?! draws together reviewers from across the Web and gets them talking about the movies they’ve all recently seen. They each have an opinion and hold on to it tightly in order to retain their reputations. It means disagreements are in plentiful supply.

Watch For: A panel of professionals offering expert opinions on movies.

Conclusions

Some of these channels are populated by reviews from amateurs, while some are from professionals. But one of the great things the Internet has done is blurred the lines between these two approaches. What you often find is that passionate people who do this for fun rather than as a career are more entertaining to watch. And with reviewers of all forms of media it’s about finding the ones you trust and which share your personal likes and dislikes.

Feel free to let us know in the comments section below which of these channels you enjoy and which you didn’t enjoy. Or share your personal favorite sources for movie reviews, whether they be YouTube channels, websites, or apps. Not only will you be adding to the collective pool of wisdom on the Web you’ll also be gaining points to use for rewards and giveaways here on MakeUseOf.

Saikat previously recommended 10 YouTube Channels packed full of movie reviews.

Image Credit: Davidd


July 31 2012

20:01

The Top 7 Places To Learn The Art Of HDR Photography

hdr photographyEven if you have no interest in the visual image (not very likely), you would have come across those dreamlike, glossy, and luminescent photos somewhere. Maybe as wallpapers, or photos which you imagined to be illusionary paintings. Welcome to the art and craft of HDR. High Dynamic Range Imaging is an image-processing technique that allows you to represent a wider and deeper range of colors. You can go to Wikipedia to read all about HDR, but I wouldn’t advice it as it is a bit too ‘technical’. Glance through it though, and then go over to this HDR photo gallery which gives you an idea of what HDR is with the help of the sliders on the photo.

The clarity and detail in the photos that comes from the HDR treatment is eye-popping. The good thing is that you can do your own quite easily and enchant the world. These seven websites tell you just how.

HDRSpotting

hdr photography

Make this your first stop, even before you start learning the technique of stitching together multiple exposure shots to create a HDR photo. HDRSpotting is a Pinterest-styled gallery of user-contributed HDR photos from all corners of the world. Photos are arranged by – Latest, Popular, and Editor’s Picks. You can use Advanced Sort to search through the photo gallery using filters for category, lens, user name, camera, and tags. Each photo-page gives the details of the image. Users can log-in for free and browse and upload on the site.
Look out for: The Advanced Sort feature. Use it to search by the camera-lens combo you own and learn from the HDR photographs.

Flickr

learn hdr photography

Head to Flickr for some more HDR inspiration. Flickr has a whole group chatting all theirs to HDR photography. Nearly 750,000 photos should take some time to file through. If you don’t have the patience, jump into the discussion group where 85,000 members can pool their experience to give you the best know-how on how to take great HDR photos.

Look out for: The Flickr group map which lets you explore photos on a world map.

Stuck In Customs

learn hdr photography

The sister site of HDRSpotting is a good place to go to if you want to learn how to take those cool HDR photos. It’s not only about photos but also equipment and frank opinion on a range of photography topics. Trey Ratclif specializes in HDR photography and travel photography and you will see them merge beautifully here on this site. Interesting note: He was born blind in his right eye.

Look out for: The HDR Tutorial in two parts and the YouTube channel which is fun and entertaining.

HDR Creme

learn hdr photography

HDR Crème has photo galleries, user contributions, and a community centered on the art of HDR photography. It features one photo each day labeled as Photo of The Day. It behaves more as an image hosting service than a tutorial site. I just found one tutorial here (HDR with your compact camera) , and that’s a bit disappointing.

Look out for: HDR photo collections centered on world cities and the camera and the Find By Camera feature.

HDR Cookbook

learn hdr digital photography

The HDR Cookbook is a free collection of practical, in-depth tutorials (the author calls them recipes) on High Dynamic Range photography and some variants like HDR Panorama and Vertorama photography. The contents are very systematically arranged right from the introduction to HDR photography to the workflow you need to follow.

Look out for: Watch The Making-of: High Five (HDR) video and pick up tips.

Before The Coffee

learn hdr digital photography

Ferrell McCollough is a well-known photographer and author of a photography book on HDR. Here in his blog, you will find tutorials on how to shoot HDR photos and a look into his rich galleries. He has a collection of informative posts filed under Quick Tips too.

Look out for: His beautiful collection of black and white HDR photos.

3Exposure

hdr photography

The site is all about tips, tricks, reviews, punditry, training videos, podcasts and anything else that can interest a photographer shooting time lapse, HDR or panoramic photographs. If you are looking to introduce yourself to the basics of HDR photography, head to the HDR Primer page on the site. The posts are a bit dated, but it doesn’t make much of a difference as the tips remain valuable as long as you hold a camera.

Look out for: The nicely compiled list on the The Top 10 HDR Software Programs

These sites are almost completely dedicated to the art of HDR photography. If you have been following our site, you would have come across my previous post on 10 Blogs That Will Make You Into An Amazing Photographer. Quite a few of the resources on that list also talk about HDR photography.

Also:

If you are a member of the photographic community, do you give a thumbs-up to HDR photography, or do you think that it’s more of a gimmick? If you are still on the doorsteps of the photographic community, you can give your take from the outside too. Also, enrich our learning with the best HDR tutorials you know of.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


July 30 2012

18:00

10 Programming Languages You Probably Never Heard Of

programming languagesOkay – you know your variables and you know you declarations. You can write something more advanced than ‘Hello World’. But if you think that you know every programming logic in the world, think again. Programming and logic co-exist…one is a Siamese twin of the other. But there are some very strange and bizarre programming languages which have turned logic on its head and have still managed to stay true to the science of communication with a computer. You are going to hear about ten programming languages you probably never heard of.

By the end of this post, you will be telling me – “You got to be kidding!” Believe me I am not. The computer not only understands zeros and ones, it gets a bit of humor too. How else can you explain the very real existence of these crazy and zany programming languages?

So, here’s the lineup of some esoteric programming languages and a few that actually do some work.

Befunge

programming languages

Origin: Befunge was invented in 1993 by Chris Pressey.

Described as an esoteric programming language, it is quite well described in Wikipedia. An esoteric programming language is a computer programming language designed to experiment with weird ideas, to be hard to program in, or as a joke, rather than for practical use. The strange goal of designing Befunge was to make a language that would be as difficult to compile as possible.

It is a two-dimensional, ASCII based language that is arranged in a ‘playfield’ (a two-dimensional grid). Arrows (<,>,^,v) are the main syntax that’s used to send instructions to the left, right, up, and down. Loops are constructed by sending the control flow in a cycle.

Read more about Befunge on the Esolang Wiki

Brainf**k

computer programming languages

Origin: Brainf**k was invented by Urban Müller in 1993. He wanted to develop the smallest possible compiler for the Amiga OS (version 2.0) using a new language. He managed to write a 240-byte compiler and later brought it down to below 200.

Along with Befunge, it is the more well-known of the esoteric programming languages. Both also have spawned other brain-twisting languages of their ilk. As it sounds offensive, it is also written as brainf***, brainf*ck, brainfsck, b****fuck or BF. The language uses a combination of eight commands – > < + – . , [ ] The absolutely minimalistic program is very difficult to use as like most esoteric languages it has no variables, no functions, no conditionals…which are part and parcel of common programming languages.

Read more about Brainf**k on the Esolang Wiki.

Piet

computer programming languages

Origin: It was created by David Morgan-Mar and was named after geometric abstract art pioneer, Piet Mondrian.

Piet is another esoteric programming language where the code resembles an abstract painting. It uses 20 distinct colors which are arranged in blocks. Each color corresponds to a specific behavior. Commands are defined by the transition of color from one color block to the next as the interpreter travels through the program.

Read more about Piet on the developer’s own page

Shakespeare

computer programming languages

Origin: It was developed by the Swedish duo of Jon Åslund and Karl Hasselström almost in one night (at least the core part) as a lab project while they were in university.

SPL (Shakespeare Programming Language) is a language with ‘beautiful’ source code that is resembles Shakespeare’s plays. The main purpose was to make programs appear something other than programs. The language has title, characters, acts and scenes, enter and exit directives, lines just as you would expect in a Shakespearean play. For instance, the characters are the variables.  It took its inspiration from the defined structured format of the plays. Compared to other esoteric programming languages, SPL is easily understood because the program itself is written in plain English and in drama form.

Read more about SPL on its homepage.

Whitespace

computer programming languages

Origin: It was created by Edwin Brady and Chris Morris at the University of Durham and released on April Fool’s Day, 2003.

Does exactly what it means by its name. It creates…whitespace. The project website says it best –

Most modern programming languages do not consider white space characters (spaces, tabs and newlines) syntax, ignoring them, as if they weren’t there. We consider this to be a gross injustice to these perfectly friendly members of the character set. Should they be ignored, just because they are invisible? Whitespace is a language that seeks to redress the balance. Any non-whitespace characters are ignored; only spaces, tabs and newlines are considered syntax.

And it goes on to say that it is a perfect language for spies because no once will guess that a blank piece of paper hides vital computer code.

Read more about Whitespace on its homepage.

Ook!

Origin: Created not by Tarzan, but again by David Morgan-Mar as an esoteric programming language which is more of a joke.

A language that resembles a pigeon call has to be in the ‘strange programming language’ category. But even strangely, it is not designed for birds. It is designed for orangutans in particular and primates in general. Believe me or not.  The creator of Ook! and Brainfuck being the same, the language structure is the same except the commands used in Brainfuck are replaced by the Orangutan call and has less syntax elements (only three – Ook./Ook?/Ook!).

Read more (especially about the design principles) on the Ook page.

Velato

list of programming languages

Origin: It was created by Daniel Temkin in 2009. He has also created other languages based around digital media like Light Pattern (it uses pictures)

Velato is a programming language which uses MIDI files as source code where the pattern of notes and its pitch and order determines commands. Velato produces jazz-like sounds but it is not a language to create music, but to create workable programs that can sound good. The screen shows the ‘Hello World’ program as sheet music (not code).

Read more about Velato on the developer’s blog.

Inform

list of programming languages

Origin: It was created in 1993 by Graham Nelson.

If Shakespeare can be about plays, Inform as a programming language is about fiction. It is a language developed specifically for writing interactive fiction.  Of all the languages on this list, it is actually usable and quite popular too in the writing community. It is an object-oriented and procedural language. It has also been used to design story-based interactive games like Savoir-faire and Floatpoint.

Read more about Inform at the Inform 7 Official Site.

BLISS

list of programming languages

Origin: It was developed at Carnegie Mellon University by W. A. Wulf, D. B. Russell, and A. N. Habermann in 1969. It stands for Basic Language for Implementation of System Software.

It was a well-known systems programming language on the scene till C came along. It has many features that are found in more modern high-level languages like block structures, an automatic stack, macros, and recursive routines. It was also unusual for its time in that it was a typeless programming language (a variable can contain any kind of value (numeric, string, boolean). BLISS was used by Digital Equipment Corp. for system programming and went into their VAX line of computers. BLISS is no longer widely used.

Read more on Wikipedia.

Go

programming languages

Origin: 2009

If you haven’t heard of this programming language, you should have. Simply because it was developed by Google. The language is Open Sourced and is sort of a combination of C++ and Python. It announced in a blog post –

Go attempts to combine the development speed of working in a dynamic language like Python with the performance and safety of a compiled language like C or C++. In our experiments with Go to date, typical builds feel instantaneous; even large binaries compile in just a few seconds. And the compiled code runs close to the speed of C. Go is designed to let you move fast.

Read more on Golang.

The above ten programming languages are a mix of the esoteric and the still usable. There are a few thousand programming languages around for everything imaginable – from one that looks like Morse code to Lisp which is the second-oldest high-level programming language still used today. Have you heard of the ten on this list? Which is the strangest programming language you know of?

Image Credit: Programming via Shutterstock || orangutan via Shutterstock


May 01 2012

22:31

6 Best Sites To Find Summer Internships Across The World

summer internshipsWith most of the world in various states of recession, it’s no wonder many students are considering spending their summers doing internships. Internships give you an insight into the specific roles in your chosen field and could help you to decide where to specialise in the final stages of your courses. You learn a great deal about the positions available and what extra study could be beneficial to you in order to get the best jobs. It also doesn’t hurt to have an internship on the résumé either, as it shows you’re dedicated and thorough. You might even get offered a position at the company you intern with.

But aside from being useful for you educationally and professionally, internships can be a great way to meet people with similar interests. If you’re planning on doing an internship during your summer break, the idea of going somewhere new in the world might appeal too. With these points in mind, many students are considering the merits of summer internships abroad in order to combine travel with work and education.

Here’s a list of the best places online to begin your search for your summer internship.

Internships.com Summer Internships In The USA & Abroad

Internships.com has a great search for Summer internships, along with good advice on how to get your internship and how to prepare your CV. They even have a tool to help you predict which internships would be best for you to apply for.

summer internships

Internships.com also have a listing of international internship postings which could see you working for American companies in a travelling position or an international post of a global company. There are many jobs listed and there are icons next to each position so that you can quickly spot paid roles and other key deciding factors.

E4s.co.uk Summer Internships In The UK & Abroad

Employment For Students is a UK-based job search site which makes it very easy to search for summer internships both in the UK and abroad. The results for an international internship search featured many positions in London, Europe, China and India.

summer paid internships

GoAbroad.com Worldwide Internships

Go Abroad focuses on international jobs of all types. Their internship search will allow you to narrow down the search by a specific country or a general geographic area, as well as by occupation. So, even if all you are sure of is that you want to go “somewhere in Asia” it’s easy to find an internship that you’ll love.

summer paid internships

Global Experiences Internships Globally

Global Experiences has a slightly different approach to finding an internship. There are a number of popular global destinations listed to choose from, such as France, Australia, Spain, Italy, Ireland, America and England. Within each destination there are lists of available summer internships, plus information on interning in each of those countries.

Each list of jobs contains a good variety of occupations to choose from, but with a focus on fashion and marketing roles.

summer paid internships

Student Jobs For Internships in UK & Abroad

Student Jobs have plenty of internships listed in the UK and summer internships internationally. They have a good variety of occupations represented across plenty of cities worldwide. Examples include being a Blackberry OS developer in Germany, a spa therapist in Greece or a sports journalist in Paris.

summer internships

World Internships

World Internships seems to cover positions in great detail and there’s a good variety of internships available in many locations worldwide. For instance, there’s biological research in Australia, Environmental Studies in Ecuador and Dental work in Nepal.

More Job Seeking Articles

If you’re looking for work, also check out these articles:

Have you ever done an international internship? Where did you find yours? How did it go? Let us know in the comments!


April 23 2012

18:00

10 Top Men’s Magazine Sites That Are Available Online for Free

mens magazine sitesThe magazine market is shrinking. Figures even suggest that the men’s magazine market is shrinking along with it. Heck, some claim (especially, women) that the breed of men are themselves in danger. All of this may be true – especially the first two – but media evolves every day. Your corner newsstand may not look the same anymore as long-standing magazines shut shop or shift over to the online world.

But the fact of the matter is, people including men still do read. Let it be on the web or on tablets. Here are the top ten men’s magazine websites you can catch online for free. Or at least, a substantial portion of their content. There is a lot to choose from as popular names have gone for a digital makeover. The paper magazine may offer more as you hold it between your hands, but their digital counterparts too offer a lot in the may of multimedia and downloads.

Maxim

mens magazine sites

Let’s start with a bit of drool. The digital edition of Maxim has enough drool worthy ‘news’ bytes to keep you happily occupied. Apart from the very obvious, Maxim also casts a side glance at the other things we men love – sports, gadgets, upkeep (lifestyle), vices (travel, food, gambling etc.), tough sh#&t (manly feats), and funny. Each section has its own sub-channel. So, along with photos of hot girls you also have a combat account of a U.S. Navy SEAL in Afghanistan. All packaged together make Maxim one of the world’s topmost men’s magazines. Maxim leads in the U.S. and also has country specific editions. The digital version of Maxim has articles that are not usually featured in the print mag, but are around the same topics.

FHM

free magazine sites

For Him Magazine (now, simply FHM) is a monthly lifestyle magazine for men which started its life in the U.K. As is the nature of things, some of the sections are definitely NSFW. It’s a bit more explicit that Maxim. Similar to Maxim, FHM also has country specific editions both for print and online (in 23 languages and in over 30 countries). The web version has a gaming section with online games like poker and casino.

Esquire

free magazine sites

Esquire started its publishing run in 1932 as a men’s magazine in the U.S. Style, manners, money, culture, and cuisine is covered along with politics. Esquire has 17 international editions with varied local flavors. As a man, you can call yourself well-rounded if you can jump from The Politics Blog to the Style blog, and then hop across to read up on Food and Drinks. In each section you can catch the directory which is a selection of popular articles published in recent times. Don’t forget to catch Esquire’s very own Sexiest Woman Alive annual list which is mix n’ match list from around the world.

GQ

free magazine sites

This one too features a section on babes. How could a men’s magazine not? But then it features style, cars, technology, lifestyle, culture, sports and fitness too. To round it all off theirs a section on breaking news and politics with an offbeat look at men who make it happen. The magazine and its online avatar have a heavy focus on style (Read – The Style Guy). If you can afford to buy the snazzy high-end suits and gizmos, then this online men’s magazine is a definite read. But GQ also has enough cultural commentary to keep you interested about the other things in life.

Men’s Health

magazine sites

Fitness, nutrition, weight loss, and in general healthy lifestyle tips are for the man who wants to be in control of his life. So, there are sections on grooming and relationships too. You can subscribe to the four newsletters (like the Daily Dose newsletter) to get the health tidbits in your inbox. Men’s Health also has a well-populated forum where you can join in. if you are really fastidious about what you eat, check out the Eat This, Not That section for the best and worst of food.

Men’s Journal

magazine sites

If you love the outdoors and have a sense of adventure, then grab the issues. Alternatively, you can head to this men’s magazine site and read up some of the content for free. There are features on travel and adventure gear, an outdoor gear store, photo galleries, and a section on the mind/body. This men’s magazine is for the active man.

Wired

magazine sites

A little bit of geekiness is almost essential for the 21st century male. Wired is the place for you if you want to be on the cutting edge of technology. Wired is neatly organized into sections, each specific to a certain mainstream geek culture. For instance, you can head to the GeekDad blog is about parenting while surrounded by technology. It was ranked a couple of years back as one of the top 25 blogs by Time. Product reviews and the How-To Wiki are also must reads.

Popular Mechanics

Popular Mechanics could be the man’s bible for knowing how everything around us works. If you are of the inquisitive kind, head here. You get everything from how to hang a picture frame to how to build a bomb shelter explained in detail. And it’s not boring at all. Popular Mechanics has a rich history (first published in 1902), and one can easily say that it is definitely one of the best magazines (or website) in the world.

You can read past issues going back to 1905 on Google Books.

Golf Digest

It is the number 1 golf magazine and the online website is pretty good too where you can read up on instructional tips and techniques, look at equipment hotlists, check out pictorial spreads of courses, and get the latest from the tours. There’s a very nice video section too for a multimedia look at things like a pro’s swing to the best courses to play on.

Smart Money

mens magazine sites

Forbes.com is the one which comes to mind when one thinks about a magazine on business. Smart Money is another leading publication that is not exclusively for men. It is described as a magazine for the man on the lookout for personal finance information. From an inside look at the markets, you have regular features on nurturing your wealth. Financial glossaries and how-to guides ensure that you won’t be more confused about the economy than you already are.

The official online websites differ in some details from their print counterparts of course. You have more premium content in the magazines. But then, you have multimedia tools and resources in the online versions. Plus, the major slice of the content is free in the online version of these men’s magazines. Tell us which one you prefer.

Don’t be put off if you don’t see Playboy and others of its ilk. I have gone for a less risqué line-up and a mish-mash of subjects. It’s difficult to please everyone, so if you are frothing at the corners on not having your favorite mag on the list, do chaff away in the comments. We may have missed some, but don’t miss these previous testosterone inducing posts:

Image Credit: Pixomar


April 20 2012

19:01

8 Gory Sites To Get Your Dose Of Cheesy Horror

Let me start this post with a fair warning – if you have a weak stomach get out while you can. The word “cheesy” in the title could prove to be a bit misleading by the time you reach the end of this post. “Cheesy” is synonymous with kitschy, soppy, flimsy, unnecessarily emotional…and a few more words. This post is going to be close and truer to the spirit of the word – gory. You can add gruesome and morbid to it.

The web is not sanitized. You might scream at any of the Top 8 Scary Websites To Spook Yourself & Your Friends. But there’s worse, much worse that goes within the dark portals of the web. So, close the doors, draw the curtains, and click the mouse as I try giving you a dose of the gore at  eight “cheesy” horror sites.

BME: Body Modification Ezine

From the streets of New York to the bylanes of Nanjing, tattoo art is pretty much a 21st Century subcultural trend. But some people can take it really far and turn their bodies into walking canvasses. BME has curated 1.3 million photos and more than 6000 videos on how to turn your body over to pins, needles, and ink. It is a definitive tattoo, scarification, and ritualistic piercing resource.

As the site says – they are the uncommon subculture and community built by and for modified people. The multimedia bytes on the site may be tame stuff for some, but for a person who hates the sight of needles, the tattoo detailing and body modifications (read, mutilation) could be a bit gruesome. Some parts of the site require a subscription.

Celebrity Morgue

Okay, we are getting bit serious now. The Celebrity Morgue is fact and not fiction. It has a short by historically significant list of famous people and their last photos when they were assassinated, murdered, or died of natural causes. Some photos are very disturbing because we know these famous names (e.g. Marilyn Monroe and JFK) only from photos where they presented their best sides to the world…not the worst. One might consider it as tasteless…but it’s there.

The Damaged Corpse

The site is in French, but the images speak the universal language of ‘holy creeps!’ Françoise Duvivier is a wonderfully (and ghoulishly) creative artist who uses mixed media like collages, masks, and dolls to give life to her artistic expression. Here’s a brief profile on her, but follow the title link to glimpse her unique but scary work.

Best Gore

This is a site which can give the well-known Rotten.com a run for its unpleasantness. This is a site that strictly for 18+ audiences. The site has graphic images and videos of bloody, gut wrenching, teeth grinding, offensive and upsetting human conditions. Take the domain name for what it means.

The Blood Factory

The first thing that makes you tingle is the background music. It’s a scare site for sure. And brought to you by none other than Danny DeVito, himself a fan of horror films. The Blood Factory features horror shorts called “Splattercuts”. There are about 16 horror shorts on the site now. You can watch them in the ‘darkened theater’ and vote for them.  The site was launched in 2009, but I am not sure how frequently it is getting updated.

Bloody Fingernail

You always wanted to write on the walls with blood. Here’s your chance. You can use your mouse to stand-in for your chopped finger and write a message on the “Flash” wall. You can then send forth the unique message via email, to whomsoever you want to spook. This is less of a horror site and more of a cheesy prank site.

Programming Language Inventor Or Serial Killer

Turn your thirst for cheesy horror into a chance to bump up your general knowledge. The above screenshot says it all. Play the quiz and find out if you know your serial hacker from your code hacker.

Death And Dementia

If you still haven’t had your fill of gore and horror, maybe the link bank here will lead you towards fulfillment. According to the stats on the site, there are 2600 links of all types, from paranormal anomalies to horror and blood. You have to sift through a lot of links, but they are alphabetically arranged. Such a large directory of links will lead to some sites with broken links, sites which have expired, and also sites which pre-date Web 2.0.

I decided to stop while I was ahead. These eight are just a whiff of the gore you can find on the web, and to be frank these sites are relatively tame. The dark side of the web is definitely not for the squeamish. There are websites that wouldn’t have passed muster with the most liberal censor. It just opens the debate on the dangers of sickening gore being left open on the web. Do your tastes for horror veer towards the macabre? Which is the worst (or the best) cheesy horror site you have come across?

Also, dim the lights and catch these previous posts from our house of the unusual:

Image Credit: u-JU (Flickr)


March 16 2012

20:00

Top 5 Free eBook Tools & Tidbits For Your Reading Pleasure

free ebook toolsEvery day more people join the world of eBook lovers, having suddenly decided to take the plunge and buy a new Kindle or some other eBook reader. Along with your new purchase (or your decision to buy) comes the realization that you now need to know a lot more about how you’re going to find great free eBooks to read. At MakeUseOf, we’ve written plenty of articles on how to find free eBooks, but it was about time we made a primer for those of you who haven’t been researching very long.

There are a number of different ways to get great free content on to your eBook reader, to organise your eBooks and to read eBooks without a dedicated eBook gadget. Here’s everything you need to know.

1. Find A Great eBook Reader

If you’re looking for a dedicated eBook reader device, check out MakeUseOf’s poll on eBook readers to see what our readers prefer.

If you’re using a smartphone, there are a number of great apps for eBooks like Aldiko for Android, iBooks and Stanza for iPhone.

free ebook tools

If you prefer to read eBooks using your computer, check out the best software for reading eBooks via computer including Lucidor, Calibre, Magic Scroll, Google books and a Firefox ePub reader extension.

2. Download Free eBooks From The Best Directories

There are a number of search engines and public domain directories for eBooks, like Scribd and Project Gutenberg. There are also other directories of eBooks like Planet eBook, Manybooks, Classic Reader and PublicBookshelf.

3. Borrow eBooks From Libraries

There are a huge amount of libraries which will lend out eBooks. You’ll be able to borrow the eBooks digitally without ever having to visit the library. Needless to say, this makes it easy to borrow eBooks from these libraries from wherever you are in the world. Some of them require a yearly membership to be paid, but sometimes it’s even possible to pay that and sign up from an international location, wherever that may be.

Try searching for an eBook library using the Sony Overdrive service.

Don’t forget to check your local town, city and state libraries to see if you can borrow eBooks there. Most people would be surprised at how well-stocked their local libraries are – and you’d be doing them a favor by supporting them! If you’re an expat, see if you can renew your old library memberships online.

Occasionally services such as the Kindle lending club will surface where you can join to borrow books from other users. These have a tendency to get shut down though, so they’re only a temporary tool.

4. Organize Your eBook Collection

Not everyone stores all of their eBooks on a dedicated device. If you’re trying to manage a collection of eBooks on a computer, there’s a large amount of tools available to use to organize them. Try Papers for organizing PDFs on Mac OS X or Calibre for the ultimate eBook organiser.

free ebook tools

5. Create Your Own eBooks Easily

You can create eBooks from blogs and PDFs using a variety of tools, including online convertors and freeware like BookGlutton, eBook Hood and Calibre (see more on how to download blogs to eBook with Calibre here) or Firefox extensions such as Grab My Books, which converts HTML to ePub format. You can also turn your blog into an eBook for other people to read by using tools like Anthologize, ZinePal and ePub Bud.

What’s your favourite tool for getting eBooks? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: ShutterStock


March 08 2012

00:31

How To Sync Your Contacts Between Your Computer & Your iPad or iPhone

Many of you will already know all about Apple’s iCloud, its wonderful sync features and the fact that it allows you to find your iDevice and access mail, your calendar and even documents from any standard web browser.

Then again I regularly encounter iPad and iPhone owners who have yet to update their devices to take advantage of the many new features. By far one of the most useful iCloud features is the ability to sync your contacts from your computer and have them appear on your phone or tablet without too much manual work. Today we’ll be running through this quick and painless process.

First Thing’s First

Whatever iDevice you own – iPad, iPhone or even iPod Touch – the first thing you’ll need is iOS 5, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. iCloud is built into the update, so you’ll have to connect your device to the PC you use for such tasks and update by selecting the connected device and clicking Update under Version.

You’ll also be needing an Apple ID, and there’s a good chance you’ve already got one if you’ve had your device for a while or if you’ve ever bought anything from the iTunes store. Your Apple ID is the email that you initially registered and the password you usually use to authorise app downloads or music purchases.

Once your device restarts after the iOS 5 update you should be guided through the iCloud setup procedure. Remember, you can always change your account details and sync settings from your device’s Settings then iCloud menu. Naturally for this tutorial you will at least want Contacts to be “on” under these settings.

With your newly updated device and Apple ID to hand, head over to iCloud where you’ll be invited to login using the credentials I’ve just mentioned. First-time users will be asked to select a language, timezone and a picture and once you’re set up you should see five main icons – Mail (for accessing your iCloud email which also comes bundled with iOS 5), Contacts, Calendar, Find my iPhone/iPad and iWork.

For a good look at many of the new features in iOS 5 we’ve got a few articles that will help you get started, familiarise yourself with notification centre and show off a few of the more obscure features.

iCloud Contacts

With iCloud still open, click on Contacts. This will show your address book as it is currently, it might be blank, have a single entry (you) or it might be populated but not full of your favourite contacts just yet. Whatever changes you make here will appear on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

You can add a new contact with the “+” button or make changes to your current contacts’ details from the comfort of your desk and the convenience of a real keyboard.

If you’re currently using another solution for contacts – for example an email client, webmail provider or Google Contacts – then you’re in luck as these can be imported with just a few clicks. Depending on the mail program, you will want to export all contacts in a single vCard file which you can then upload by clicking the cog “Settings” button on the lower left hand side of your contact list.

From here choose Import vCard and locate the file. For Google Contacts specifically, visit the Google Contacts website and click Export in the top right. Choose Everyone (provided you want everyone) and then vCard Format before hitting Export and downloading the file. You can then upload this to iCloud as you would any vCard file.

For those of you with Outlook 2007 or 2010 then it is also possible to sync your contacts, iCloud mail and so on using Apple’s iCloud software for Windows. You can download the software directly from Apple’s website. Unfortunately if you use webmail or another email client then it is not possible to directly sync with iCloud and the web interface is your best bet. Mac users have it built in to OS X Lion, and should have a look here.

Conclusion

That’s pretty much it! Appending and adding contacts using a web browser and keyboard is considerably faster than using an on-screen touch keyboard, and this was one of my favourite features added in iOS 5. The ability to easily export from almost any mail program and upload with just a single file is just as good, and if you’re an Outlook user then Apple’s iCloud software will do the trick.

Don’t forget any changes you make – from your device or from iCloud – will sync both ways, meaning you’re always up to date provided you have an Internet connection.

Have you set up iCloud sync? What do you think? Any features you’d like to see? Let us know in the comments, below.


March 02 2012

20:00

6 Best Apps To Use When You’ve Lost Your Android Phone

It’s amazing how even the most organised individuals, that is those who regularly back up documents and always plan ahead for future engagements, can occasionally find themselves up that notorious creek without a paddle. Take for instance when someone loses their phone. Not enough people have prepared themselves for this. The best applications to help you find or wipe your phone need to be installed in advance. There is at least one notable exception, which could well save your phone.

Plan B is the application to install when your phone is already missing. However, if you’re really going to get prepared for that lost phone scenario you might like to install a few other great applications too.

Plan B

Plan B is the perfect application to use when your phone is already missing and you realise you never installed any of the nifty apps which would have helped you find your phone. You can install it remotely by going to the Android market and it will use GPS or an SMS to find your phone’s location and email that to you. If you need a location after this, you can send an SMS to your phone from a friend’s phone saying “Locate” and the application will send another email with the new location.

On this note, if you were to install Plan B and set up some filters in Gmail to forward to your partner or parents (or if you are a parent, do this to your child’s phone and email), they could potentially use this to find you if you go missing. It’s a little paranoid, but could easily be effective.

Lookout

Lookout Labs are the makers of Plan B. Obviously they realised that not everyone gets around to planning ahead. However, if you’re thinking ahead they have an Android application which gives you the tools to remotely wipe your phone and offer some security against malicious code.

Android Lost

Android Lost lets you find or wipe your Android phone remotely. It allows access to your phone via a web interface, which can also let you trigger your alarm, read your SMS and offers many other useful features.

Phone Found – Owner Info

The Phone Found application lets you leave your email address and phone number visible even when your phone is locked. This way, if someone friendly finds your phone they can email you and let you know they’ve found it.

Where’s My Droid

Where’s My Droid lets you trigger an alarm when you send your phone an SMS with a special code. It can also send you a Google Maps location of where your phone is.

Mobile Defense

Mobile Defense is only available in the US, but it’s a pretty useful application. Once installed it hides from view and does not look as if it’s installed, meaning whoever’s stolen your phone won’t realise it’s running. Meanwhile, you can use the Mobile Defense website to control your phone and find out where it is.

More Reading

You might also like to read these articles on tracking tools and apps:

 

Have you ever lost your Android phone? What did you use to find it?


February 24 2012

20:01

10 Fun Outdoor Games To Play Using GPS Enabled Smartphones

gps gamesIf you’re looking for something new to do that will get you outdoors, use your smartphone and get involved in some great activities, you’ve probably considered playing some sort of GPS game.

Since there are so many fun outdoor games to choose from, many of which have very similar names, it can get a little confusing. So, we’ve made a list of some of the best GPS games for you to try out. It’s time to get stuck into some geohashing, geocaching, geodashing and a number of other games that have more than two letters different in their names.

1. Tourality

Tourality is a smartphone GPS game which has you running all over your area. You choose exactly which sort of game you’re playing in advance, then Tourality does the rest. The application will lead you to the each location in turn, so all you have to do is run!

gps games

2. Geocaching (& Travel Bugs)

Geocaches are hidden packages which are mapped for people to find. Inside the packages are useful bits and pieces people have left behind, often with a book you can sign to say you’ve been there. Usually you are free to take something from the cache and replace it with something new for someone else. Head to a major geocaching site or get a geocaching application for your smartphone to find out where your nearest caches are.

Travel bugs and geocoins are objects with barcodes and/or serial numbers attached, usually with some sort of instructions as to where you want them to go. You leave them in a geocache and when someone finds them they read your instructions and take them to the next logical cache. The bugs are tracked via sites like geocaching.com so you can map the journey your bugs take.

games for gps

3. Geohashing

Geohashing is an XKCD invention, thanks to a random comic that triggered the real life game. The nature of the geohash is such that for each day there is a new hash for every graticule (that is, the area inside four confluences). There’s a wiki of people geohashing worldwide, plus plenty of geohashing apps for smartphones and the web which you can use to get the co-ordinates for the day’s geohash adventure.

games for gps

4. GPS Mission

Pick a GPS mission and get out there! You’ll be sent on a scavenger hunt adventure to reach destinations and answer questions. Users can create their own missions for the site, involving locations of local buildings and historical sites.

games for gps

5. Geodashing

Geodashing is a game where a number of random locations are chosen for each game, then the winner is the person or team who visits the most locations before the deadline. As you might imagine, online teamwork is encouraged as the locations are worldwide. Head to the geodashing site to start playing.

gps game ideas

6. Make Your Own Treasure Hunt

Using Locomatrix’s Treasure Hunt game, you can design a treasure hunt using photos. The application will use your GSP to determine how close you are and tell you if you’re getting closer to it or not. This is a good one for parents to prepare for a family outing. If you’re lucky someone may have already created a treasure hunt for your area. Locomatrix also have other games designed to use GPS to bring computer games back outside, so check them out too.

gps game ideas

7. Waymarking

Waymarking is a way to share the co-ordinates and details of interesting locations in order to build a community map of cool places. From this, you can take part in scavenger hunts using your smartphone and the waymarks near you.

gps games

8. Repurpose Outdoor Games With A GEO Twist

Try playing capture the castle, where the “flag” is a GPS co-ordinate which you then have to reach in order to win. See more ideas similar to this here.

9. Confluence Project

Confluences are the points where longitude and latitude lines meet, so naturally there is a website dedicated to seeing what each and every confluence looks like. Head to your nearest confluence using your smartphone’s GPS to guide you, take a photo and stick it on confluence.org to take part.

10. Make Your Own Geocaching Game

Either use the cache to point the way to the next co-ordinates or use a stamp or sticker system within caches to fill out a passport of locations which have been found.

Even More GPS Games

If you like GPS games, here’s some more things you’ll love:

Now, what we really need is smartphone applications which show you all the geocaches, local waymarks, today’s geohash location, etc. all in one applications. Any takers to write one?

What are your favourite geo-games? How do they work?


February 21 2012

22:31

5 Of The Best Comic Artists On The Web

comic artistsComics are an acquired taste, and they vary quite wildly in style and talent – especially on the Internet. Sure, there’s plenty of funny comics out there with a simple drawing style (XKCD and the like), but this list isn’t for them. Sometimes it can be difficult to find new comic artists who create art which is as beautiful as it is interesting. We’ve therefore found a few of the best comic artists online for you who you really should check out.

No list of great artists will ever be complete – we can only really seek to enlighten you of a few artists worth noting and hope that your comic reading experience is better with the knowledge you’ve gained. And with this list of comic artists, we’re fairly sure you’ll love what you find! Note, these are deliberately not in any particular order.

Christopher Baldwin

Christopher Baldwin has written many a great comic which are all wildly different. Take for example Bruno (start here), Little Dee and his current project, Space Trawler. He also works for MAD magazine and has done many other smaller comics. Chris’s work is both wonderfully artistic and intensely enjoyable.

comic artists

Kazu Kibuishi

Kazu Kibuishi has a bit of variety you can explore. Copper is the comic to start with (start here) as it’s the most well known and easy to get into without reading every single strip. Newer comics include Flight and Amulet, which are stylistically completely different, but all of his comics are nonetheless very beautiful.

comic artists online

Ramón Pérez

Kukuburi is the most well-known of Ramón Pérez‘s works (start here), but it is not updated very regularly due to his other work commitments. It’s always worth the wait, though as it’s always gorgeous.

comic artists online

Karl Kerschl

Karl Kerschl‘s most famous online work is The Abominable Charles Christopher (TACC) (start here), but there’s a number of other works you can find from his homepage. The Abominable Charles Christopher has a wonderful gentle sense of humour, an epic story that slowly appears, and some moments of genuine heartbreak. And it’s all drawn with stunning detail and accuracy.

comic artists online

Aaron Diaz

Aaron Diaz is most popular for Dresden Codak (start here) which is weird but awesome and pretty. It’s also very popular with a certain subset of geeks.

comic artists

Honourable mentions

Here’s a few more artists you should check out too:

Want More Comics?

If you want to read more about comics, check out these posts:

Now, we know we’ve probably missed your favourite artist – there’s too many! But, feel free to send them a little link love and introduce our readers to your favourite comic artist via the comments.

Image Credits With Permission: Christopher Baldwin: Little Dee, Kazu Kibuishi: Copper, Ramón Pérez: Kukuburi, Karl Kerschl: TACC


February 03 2012

20:01

5 Awesome Free Printable Board Games

If you’re on the lookout for a new geeky craft for yourself or the kids you’ve probably considered making your own board games as an idea. But you probably didn’t realise that you can do it very easily for free. There are a number of games available online which are easy to print and play without the need for fancy things only available in boxed board games. You might need a couple of poker chips for the occasional game, but the essential boards and cards can be printed yourself.

If you’re handy with a laminator and some plastic tubs, these games could last a long while. And if they don’t, you can just print them again. No worries. Here’s some great printable games and sources to get you started.

BSG Express

BSG Express is a free non-profit print-and-play version of the extremely popular Battlestar Galactica game by Fantasy Flight Games. BSG Express is a much quicker game, but takes on many of the elements of the original game. Roll for skills, play action cards and accuse your friends of being toasters. There’s a bit of bluffing and deduction in there too, so it’s lots of fun.

Take-Back Toe

This Take-Back Toe game looks simple, is incredibly easy to learn and yet can be played repeatedly without getting boring. Take 40 poker chips, a 4×3 grid and a die, then prepare to work on your strategy.

Kolejka – Communist Poland

If educational games are your thing, why not teach your kids what it’s like to live in a communist country? Kolejka has you lining up at the doors of shops without knowing which shops are going to have a delivery that day. People use cards such as “Mother with a small child” to advance in the queue, then make deals with the merchants directly. It’s all in the name of getting home with a full bag of shopping.

Dr Who

Here’s a solitary adventure game based on Doctor Who. Whovians will love being able to take part in their own Dr Who story. Cards help you to gain allies, form enemies and take part in events and adventures. Basically, you’re writing your own Dr Who adventure, and what could be bad about that?

TimeLine

Sticking to the theme of time travel, TimeLine is another game you might like. Timeline has players combing history to buy important artifacts, then heading to the end of time to sell them.

Printing Games

All of these games are available for free to print, but if you’re really slack there are ways to get them printed professionally. Games such as TimeLine are already available to be printed at ArtsCow, while it’s also possible to get companies like ArtsCow to print any other printable card games you find online.

More Printable Games

If you’ve decided you like printable games, check out BoardGame Geek’s list of printable games and the list of free games at CheapAss. You’re bound to find some more games to enjoy.

More Printable Goodies

If you like printing useful things for free, check out these posts:

Do you know of more great printable games? Add a link below!


February 01 2012

16:31

10 Reasons To Buy Windows Phone 7 [Opinion]

Perhaps you’re coming to the end of your mobile contract. You might even be without a mobile phone entirely for some reason, but you’re interested in a useful smartphone that will give you Internet, email, the ability to perform word processing and check spreadsheet figures as well as the opportunity to enjoy music and games.

The usual wisdom coming from salesmen and the “experts” among your friends is that Android or iPhone are the way to go, especially with the current decline of BlackBerry. However, a third choice is becoming more popular day by day: Windows Phone 7. But why should you ignore the endless screens of shortcuts and widgets on an iPhone or Android in favour of a platform that is centred on you, the user, rather than the apps?

10 Reasons To Choose Windows Phone 7

10: Slick User Interface

You can find it on Windows 8 and Xbox 360 but the original and best use of the Metro UI is here on Windows Phone, where it is ideal for finger-based interaction. There is more to Metro than tiles, incidentally – the type face, the convention of “hinting” at additional screens to the right and the simple switches to enable and disable features are all part of the deal.

9. Fast

When I purchased my first Windows Phone I was astonished at how fast particular tasks could be performed. By far and away the most impressive was the speed with which I could snap a photo and upload it to Facebook, but the speed of the keyboard was almost as astonishing, making it very easy to send emails and messages, leave notes to myself and update social networks.

Use MIcrosoft Office on Windows Phone

8. Office Integration

It’s not for everyone but the integration with Microsoft Office on offer with Windows Phone is second to none. Exchange email accounts and SharePoint servers can both be accessed while Word documents, PowerPoint presentations and Excel spreadsheets created on your phone can be sent by email or uploaded to either SharePoint or Skydrive.

There are none of the compatibility issues that you will find with Android, BlackBerry or iPhone.

7. Social Networking

Key to the early interest in Windows Phone was its integration of Facebook into the contacts list and the latest release sees Twitter and LinkedIn added. You can disable this feature if preferred – standard apps are also available – but this is an excellent way to keep everything updated at once.

Nokia Music on Windows Phone

6. Nokia Music

The main Zune media player on Windows Phone is excellent and allows you to integrate third party media apps such as Last.fm (free on Windows Phone) but the whole idea of music on a WP7 device has taken on a new life thanks to Nokia Music. Available only on Nokia Lumia handsets this system allows you to stream music from the cloud to your phone and keep a number of your favourite tunes from the selection.

5. Nokia Drive

Again courtesy of Nokia and their joint partnership with Microsoft, Nokia Drive is a sat-nav application that uses cellular positioning and GPS to instruct you along the correct route to your destination. Nokia Drive offers a good alternative to the sat-nav apps available in the Windows Market as well as those on other platforms.

Play Xbox Live games on Windows Phone!

4. Xbox Live Integration

If you have the urge to unlock gaming achievements while at work or on the train, what better way to do so than with your existing Xbox Live Gamertag? Top titles such as Angry Birds, Assassin’s Creed and PES 2011, are available, and there are many non-Xbox Live games available from the Market.

3. Fast Growing App Store

In fact the Market is one of the crown jewels of Windows Phone, reaching 10,000 apps faster than any other mobile phone marketplace and reaching 50,000 apps quicker than all of the competition except iPhone. Best of all, the vast majority of apps in the Market are free.

2. Email & Internet

Naturally Windows Phones offer the ability to connect to any type of email account. Meanwhile the phone features what is probably the best iteration of the Internet Explorer browser, which features such fascinating innovations as placing the address bar at the foot of the screen in the so-called “dead space” area.

1. Skype

The popular voice over IP, cam and text chat service has been purchased by Microsoft and is set to arrive on Windows Phone in the next few months. If none of the other reasons for buying a WP7 device have tempted you so far then surely the presence of the Internet’s primary multi-function messaging service will.

Need More Reasons?

Actually, there is an 11th reason why you should buy a Windows Phone, specifically the Nokia Lumia 800. By doing so, you get the opportunity to be there at the start, be an early(ish) adopter and grab a stylish new mobile phone running the most stunning and efficient mobile phone platform currently available.

Make no mistake; while the phone isn’t set to be released in the USA until later in 2012, the Nokia Lumia 800 adds the necessary physical hardware style to Microsoft’s mobile platform. It’s already become the top selling phone in the UK and the pattern is set to be repeated around the world. Remember when everyone started buying iPhones? This is one of those moments.

Let us know what you think in the comments.  Is Windows Phone set to become the next big thing?

Image Credits : Windows Phone Newsroom


January 27 2012

21:31

8 Fascinating Artisan Videos That Everyone Should Watch

Have you ever watched a masterful expert perform their work with such skill and passion that you had no choice but to watch and admire in awe? As I scour the Internet from day to day, I run into videos of these masters every once in a while. And every time, I can’t help but stare in wonder and respect.

An artisan is a craftsman who is a master of their field. Here is a collection of some of the most interesting and mesmerizing videos of artisans who take immense pride in their work and strive to be the best at what they do.

Tea Server

I’ve been to a good number of restaurants in my day and I’ve seen waiters and servers with enough balance and dexterity to put trained acrobats to shame. But I’ve never been as impressed with a waiter as I was when I first saw this video.

As if the balancing act wasn’t enough, he pours hot liquid into the cups without dropping or flinching – twice!

Fish Filet

When a skilled man falls into a rhythm with their work, mechanically repeating their actions with robotic perfection, I become enthralled. Perhaps this is commonplace in the fishing industry, but seeing this man filet his fish in record time without leaving anything leftover has left me impressed.

Shoe Shiner Duo

Shoe shining may or may not have a slight stigma surrounding it, specifically that it is a job relegated to those of lower socioeconomic status. But these two men, in shining a pair of shoes, have injected a new sort of life into their occupation. It’s obvious that they take pride in their work and enjoy what they do, and that just makes it more awesome.

The King’s Dessert

Now, there’s nothing particularly difficult with what this man is doing. He’s essentially just pulling and twisting strands of frozen honey. However, you can definitely feel the enjoyment and pride he has in his work when you take in his charisma and charm. Plus, he’s funny. Funny is always good.

Ironing a Shirt

What if I told you that you could be entranced by something as simple as a man ironing a shirt? Most people, men in particular, would scoff at the idea of ironing a shirt. It’s nothing more than a chore, right? Well, this man seems to disagree. Passion can make the most mundane tasks interesting.

There’s a certain fluidity and confidence that this man possesses, and it absolutely shows in his work. You can tell that he has years of experience under his belt.

Santalum Shoes

(Warning: Silence until 0:25. Don’t foolishly pump up your speakers like I did…)

Santalum makes some pretty darn good quality shoes, but they’re hand-made and only available in Indonesia. That’s too bad because I’m sure there are plenty of fashion-heads all around the world who would love to grab a pair of these for themselves. Just watch the video and you’ll see the amount of skill, energy, and passion that is put into every shoe.

Ink Maker

In this video, Peter Welfare of the Printing Ink Company describes his love for the ink making process and what goes into the creation of said ink. Not only is this video highly informative, and not only does it showcase Welfare’s artisanship, but the video is just well made – high production values and fantastic editing.

Every time I start this video up, I can’t help but watch it to its end.

Perfect Cappuccino

If you love coffee and all things coffee-related, forget about Starbucks and pay attention to this guy from Intelligentsia Coffee. His knowledge precedes his passion, and he speaks in a way that just makes the whole topic so interesting. For most of you, this won’t be more than a simple video of someone making a cup of coffee. I’m hoping that the rest of you will be able to see the beauty of it.

Do you have any artisan videos of your own that you’ve enjoyed? Share them with us in the comments!

Image Credit: Shutterstock


January 19 2012

22:31

The 5 Best O’Reilly eBooks That Are Free To Download

There are quite a few people who have realised that smartphones, tablets and e-book readers are a great way to store and read technical manuals. It’s not just that these books are not taking up room on the desk. It’s also the fact that they’re on hand when you need to refer to them and easy to get stuck into when you find yourself with an hour spare and realise you could spend a little time learning something useful.

In the tech world, some of the most useful books available are from the O’Reilly collection. So, what could be better for your ebook collection than getting some of these great O’Reilly ebooks for free? Not a lot, really.

Today we’ve decided to showcase a few of the best O’Reilly ebooks you can pick up for free. Many of these are out of print and offered online specifically to keep the works accessible to you all, so you don’t need to feel bad about getting it for free. And if you do feel bad, just go buy a new O’Reilly book to keep the money going towards more of these projects. Note that some of these are available in ePub or PDF formats, while others are only available as HTML.

Linux Network Administrator’s Guide

Olaf Kirch & Terry Dawson, ISBN 1565924002

This book explains all the basic software and protocols you need to understand in order to begin network administration under Linux. It also talks a little about hardware needs. It doesn’t focus on Samba as there’s another free ebook dedicated to Samba.

Readers of this book may also appreciate Linux Device Drivers and Learning Debian GNU/Linux, which are also available to read for free.

Producing Open Source Software

Karl Fogel, ISBN 0596007590

This is a book to guide readers through the process of creating open source software. Primarily, it’s for the developers and managers of the open source project, but it’s also useful information for people who plan to participate in open source projects. Essentially, it discusses the human side of the process and how to make your project succeed.

Creating Applications With Mozilla

David Boswell, ISBN 0596000529

You may have heard of a number of excellent Mozilla-based projects, such as Songbird, the Flickr Uploader and Postbox. If you want to create a Mozilla application or work on one of the established applications, then this book is a great place to start.

CouchDB: The Definitive Guide

J. Chris Anderson, Noah Slater, Jan Lehnardt, ISBN 0596155891

CouchDB is perfect for creators of web applications that need a reliable, scalable, fast database manager. Written by three of the creators of CouchDB, this book is intended to be all you need to know about the document-oriented database.

We The Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People

Dan Gillmor, ISBN 0596102275

We The Media is something a little lighter for anyone who’s interested in citizen journalism, either as a movement or as a new participant. If you want a glimpse into how online journalism will change journalism as a whole forever, this book will deliver.

Don’t forget that O’Reilly have a current list of their open books here. Which O’Reilly books are your favourites?  If they are online, let us know the links to them so we can check them out.


January 18 2012

01:31

5 Best Websites With Fun Activities For Toddlers

fun activities for toddlersIf you’re looking online for fun activities for toddlers, you’ve probably realised that there’s a lot of garbage out there. So many sites have found their way to the top of the Google results which are so busy being SEO-friendly that they’ve managed to fail to have any useful content on their page. It’s a nightmare to sort through!

So, today we’ve pulled together this list of blogs and websites for fun toddler activities for you. Some sites made the list because of how fun and usable their content is, while others have made the list by having a good variety of content for toddlers on hand. This list should have something for you, whether you’re looking for educational fun, outdoor activities, printable pages, crafts or recipes.

1. Quirky Momma Kids Activities Blog

The Quirky Momma Kids Activities blog is a vibrant, interesting blog of kids activities and they make sure to dedicate sections of the blog to showcasing the best activities for each age group, making it easy to find things for your toddler to do.

fun activities for toddlers

These writers know exactly how to make up activities designed for the precise needs of growing kids. The toddler games focus on sensory activities, fine motor control, discovery, sorting games and building toys.

2. Play Based Learning

Play Based Learning is written by an Australian duo of early childhood educators, hoping to inspire parents and preschool teachers alike. Their colourful site is full of great ideas for toddler play which can be used by families or groups with more resources.

activities for toddlers

3. Today Is Fun

Two dads have come together to create Today Is Fun, making the site easy to search or browse by age so it’s easy to find something for your toddler or their older siblings to do. The activity ideas are quite creative and educational and they are colourfully displayed. It’s also possible to browse by handy categories such as “No Props Needed” and “Good For Bathtime”.

activities for toddlers

4. The Crafty Crow

The Crafty Crow is an aggregator site of children’s crafts with browsable categorising and a decent amount of toddler ideas. They feature and link to great ideas by smaller bloggers. While aggregators have a little less personality than a dedicated blog, they are certainly good at delivering exposure to numerous bloggers and ideas that may otherwise have not been seen by the reader.

activities for toddlers

5. Filth Wizardry

Filth Wizardry is a one-writer blog, so will never compete with the bigger blogs on the number or frequency of posts, yet it has a lot to give in quality. The charm of this blog is in the belief that kids are messy and that messy fun is great. There are some lovely art and craft ideas and ways to get involved with nature in this blog and it’s possible to browse by useful labels such as “at the kitchen table”.

fun activities for toddlers

More Reading For Toddler Fun

These articles might also come in handy for your children:

These websites will offer you a wealth of fun activities for toddlers between them, ensuring you’ve always got a few easy, educational ideas for play up your sleeve. Have fun!

Since there are a great many fantastic blogs and websites for toddler activities out there, we do encourage you to link to your favourites in the comments and tell us why they are the best.


January 04 2012

20:01

The Top 25 MakeUseOf Articles Of 2011

With 2011 now over, it’s been a wild ride here at MakeUseOf – so I thought it might be interesting to take a look back at the most popular articles of 2011. What stories did you appreciate so much you just had to share it with friends, or really got you talking? Read on to find out!

(Stats were compiled from a combination of number of comments and total social share counts)

That’s all folks! I’d like to take this moment to thank all my fellow writers for making me feel welcome since I joined in December 2010, and for continuing to publish fantastic and useful articles week after week – as well as to all our readers for sticking with us, MakingUseOf our tutorials, and generally being awesome! Stay tuned for ever more fantastic articles, and do let us know in the comments if you had a particular favourite article of 2011!

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