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April 20 2012


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)

April 11 2012


Cringe With 5 Websites For Awkward Personal Stories

awkward personal storiesHave you ever had a terribly awkward moment in your life? Yeah, yeah. We all have. However, have you ever posted the your awkward personal stories on the Internet? Hopefully not. Granted, I could see it happening in a drunken state, but like I said, hopefully not.

There are several sites out on the Internet devoted to the publishing of awkward stories from all over. Some are kind of funny, and some are  incredibly cringe-worthy. Moving right along the lines with sites such as Awkward Family Photos, these sites are all worth taking a quick look at.

Experience Project

awkward personal stories

Experience Project is designed to draw people together who have had similar bouts with life, and all awkwardness aside, it serves an incredibly legitimate purpose. Are you dealing with a tough health issue? You can check and see if anyone else is going through the same problem with Experience Project. Do you have a personal problem with an ex? Experience Project is ready and willing to see if anyone has shared your experience.

However, as it always seems to be the case when humans decide to be brutally honest, there is the occasional awkward post featured on this site. Bear in mind what Experience Project’s purpose is, but it can’t hurt to read some items for enjoyment.

That Awkward Moment

awkward stories

I’m really not a big fan of the “That Awkward Moment” meme or any “#thatawkwardmoment” Twitter trends. If people would start saying, “Have you ever experienced that awkward moment when…” or “I just had an awkward moment in which…” I would be satisfied, but no. I’m not satisfied, and I never will be. I might as well get over it.

However, That Awkward Moment features many of these meme-type statements, and some of them are actually pretty funny. I am willing to bet that most if not all of them are based on true stories, so they are all worth looking at.


awkward stories

I wasn’t sure as to whether I should include websites about awkward texts or not, but I came to the conclusion that displaying conversations is merely another form of story-telling, and we shouldn’t leave it out. Now with that being said, are most text conversations found online made up? Likely.

As a matter of fact, all of the ones on SmartphOWNED are created with the on-site generator. However, this doesn’t take away from the humor aspect of a lot of them. Furthermore, I’m willing to bet that quite a few are actually based on real-life awkward conversations (just embrace your suspension of disbelief for a little while).


awkward stories

Oh, Reddit. With a site that has a population so big and variety of topics so wide, there are bound to be a few awkward comments strewn about the playing field. Sure, you could browse the site for hours and find them yourself, but you could also check out subreddits like r/BestOf and r/WorstOf to find a few out-of-the-ordinary statements.

With Reddit, there is the reminder of you aren’t who you really are on the Internet. You can say whatever you want, and no one will judge you. They will only judge the person that is your username.

When Parents Text

awkward personal stories

I found another awkward text site, but this time around, it’s all about the parents. Riding under the tagline, “Small keypad, old hands” (which I find to be rather relative), the site features the most awkward statements that parents say via text.

Granted, like anything else in this article, I can’t guarantee the validity of every bit of information. However, I can guarantee some laughter.


There are bound to be lots of awkward personal stories found all over these sites, and hopefully, they will provide you with quite a bit of enjoyment. Granted, I could likely create my own site of all the awkward moments that I have ever had, but I’m not sure when I could get around to it.

What other sites do you use to read about awkward moments? What are some of your most awkward moments?

March 15 2012


3 Stupid Computer Inventions That Never Took Off

stupid computer techA stroke of genius can lead to ideas that may or may not work out when they hit consumers. iPods, Twitter, RSS, and so on, are some ideas that have flourished favorably in today’s world. They started with the same, if not bigger, risks than any other inventions. But their ideas, combined with great execution and perhaps good advertising, resulted in success stories and lie today in your apartment, without you having to think twice about its usefulness.

Some other creations didn’t have such lucky paths. Perhaps their concepts were flawed. Maybe their execution lacked momentum, or the audience it was intended for didn’t care for it, to the dismay of the creators. The timing of the creation also matters. Some inventions may just be too advanced (or too simplistic) for society at the moment, but could prosper later (or earlier). Let’s look at three inventions that unfortunately didn’t take off.

Microsoft Bob (1995)

stupid computer tech

Remember Clippy from Microsoft Office? It was probably the least favorite office assistant for many users back in the day as it attempted to help them when it discerned what task they were trying to accomplish. I didn’t mind it so much, but if so many users were annoyed by its constant appearance, imagine an assistant that tries to help you with using the entire Windows operating system. Here’s a video showing how Microsoft Bob works.

According to the Wikipedia entry, Microsoft Bob aimed to help you navigate through many different software applications, including word processors, all by showing you the features in the inside of a house. Each room would have furniture and icons, representing programs. As a user, you could add, remove or move furniture to your liking. Each object would have an associated program with it. For example, clicking on a clock would launch the calendar application, while clicking on a pen and paper opened a very simple word processor.

Now, I’m not saying Microsoft Bob was completely stupid. Its purpose was certainly a valid one: to provide a very user-friendly and intuitive way to guide new users through the operating system and its applications. However, the program looked like a game for kids when it targeted adults. It also got heavily criticized by several magazines and blogs, and Microsoft discontinued the product in 1995, the same year it was released.

DigitalConvergence CueCat (1999)

dumb computer tech

The CueCat was a barcode scanner in the shape of cat  (plugged to a computer) that users could whip out when looking, say, at a magazine and for some reason, couldn’t type an URL from the magazine in their computers. I guess that was great for people with desktops that had a mouse but could use another peripheral shaped as a cat to complete the animal peripheral collection, but instead of having it to move the cursor on the screen, this cat-shaped device could scan URLs and such.

While the device sounds just like a predecessor to our QR code-scanning, wireless smartphones, the CueCat raised concerns because it was collecting user data into a database that could match barcodes and user name or address. According to Wikipedia, some hackers were able to block the data sent to DigitalConvergence’s databases, basically,  “declawing” the CueCat, augmenting privacy concerns. Investors in the CueCat eventually lost more than $100 million so it’s fair to say it failed commercially.

There seem to be a few CueCats still on the market, on Amazon even, though the reviews aren’t consistent. Reviews for barcode-scanning devices vary across the board. Some users think even QR codes today aren’t always secure, but others still find plenty of uses for such barcode-scanning ideas.

Wink Glasses (2009)

stupid computer tech

Do you spend too much time gaming and forget to perform some basic biological processes? These USB-powered spectacles might be a good fit for you (keyword here is “might”). They fog up to give you a friendly reminder when you forget to blink for more than 5 seconds. Simple, right? Maybe for hardcore gamers, but not so much in price since these glasses were projected to go for $430 according to CNET.

Since these were released fairly recently, they haven’t made much of an impact to call them a success or flop. It’s more of a novelty gadget that I just cannot see anyone using. Gamers, do you have a different opinion? Let me know in the comments.

There are probably plenty of other gadgets that flopped (or were close to) besides these. Do you know of any? Let us know in the comments section below.

Image credit: Impress, Oops Key Image via Shutterstock

March 14 2012


12 Interesting Google Suggest Results & What They Reveal

interesting google suggestGoogle Search is the modern world’s confessional. Whatever it is that we need help with, we just type it into the patient white search box and hope for relevant results. Google even helps us complete our searches by suggesting phrases based on the search activities of other users, a feature known as autocomplete. Not surprisingly, the results are often revealing and occasionally entertaining. For this article I have selected a few Google Suggest highlights.

Note that your results will differ depending on what Google location you are using and whether or not you are logged into Google. Moreover, results will change over time, as they represent the presently most used search queries. The results below were found using Google.ca and Google.se, while not being logged into Google.

How To vs. How Not To

interesting google suggest

This is one of many searches revealing how a single word makes all the difference in the world. While the ‘how not to’ crowd seems to struggle with jealousy, sadness, and laziness (How Not to Live Your Life is a British sitcom), the ‘how to’ folks are ready to take the corporate world by storm, while cooking healthy food (How to Make It in America is an American TV series).

I’m actually surprised that there aren’t more tech-related suggestions for the ‘how to’ search query.

Is It Safe vs. Is It Dangerous

google suggest results

Apparently, lots of people are interested in traveling to Mexico and wonder about its safety. While the average person beginning their search with ‘is it safe’ appears to be either pregnant or interested in traveling, there seems to be a lot more variation among people searching for ‘is it dangerous’.

Is It Right vs. Is It Wrong

google suggest results

Interestingly, ‘is it wrong to’ is most popular when searched all by itself, closely followed by concerns around sexual orientation and activities. People searching for ‘is it right’ on the other hand, seem to wonder about less trivial questions.

Can I vs. Can You

google suggest results

What I found interesting about this search is how the results correlate. In case you wonder, Can You Run It is a website that tells you whether or not your computer meets the system requirements of a given game.

After these fun comparisons, let’s have a closer look at some solo searches.

America Is…

google suggest funny

Google Suggest covers the whole spectrum of what America is thought to be, from the greatest country in the world to some less enthusiastic results. Overall, people using Google in Canada seem to be in a split mind over what America is. Try this search in your own Google location.

Work Is…

google suggest funny

Google suggests that work is the curse of the drinking class. This of course is a famous quote by Oscar Wilde. Work is love made visible is another quote, this one from The Prophet Kahlil Gibran.

After clearing those up, I’m left wondering why so many people would search for work is not a job.

Where Is…

google suggest funny

I like this one because of the Easter Egg hidden in this list. Try to search for where is Chuck Norris, but instead of actually searching Google, click the I’m Feeling Lucky button. Your result should look like this:

google search where is chuck norris

Stop Finishing…

interesting google suggest

This one speaks for itself I think.

Got curious about searching Google? Also have a look at these articles:

Here are a few articles specifically covering Google Suggest:

Have you come up with more interesting Google Suggest search queries or did you discover some wild Google Easter Eggs?

March 13 2012


Top 5 Survival Blogs To Read If You Hope To Survive The End Of The World

survival blogSo what happens when our world experiences some sort of apocalyptic disaster that renders modern civilization incapable of sustained existence? Or, I guess the more pressing question is, how are you going to survive?

If we’ve learned anything from movies, you’ll spend a few years scavenging run-down supermarkets and grocery stores around the country, looting canned goods and Twinkies. But then what? If you aren’t a farmer and if you don’t know any farmers, you’re out of luck. But assuming the ground stays fertile and rain keeps pouring, there is a way to live. It’s called Survival, with a capital ‘S’.

And maybe some of you readers are just interested in survival tactics even though the world hasn’t fallen apart yet. That’s cool, too. In either case, check out these awesome survival blogs that will help you learn all there is to know about surviving in the wild.

Survival Blog

survival blog

Founded in 2005 by Jim Rawles, Survival Blog has grown to be the Internet’s most popular blog on survival preparedness. The topics covered are broad in range and deeply thorough, and relevant to you whether you’re just hiking through the woods or preparing for the end of the world.

Survival Blog has published over 1,000 posts and articles over the years, so finding information can be like searching for a needle at the bottom of the ocean. According to the author, the best way to search is to “take full advantage of the article categories and blog database search window.”

Survival Spot

modern survival blogSurvival Spot is a website and community dedicated to the philosophy of wilderness survival. Not only do they focus on the particular “how” of survival, but they expound on “why” you should learn to be prepared.

Even if you think you’ll never be lost in the woods, you can never know when this knowledge will come in handy.

This blog is updated a few times every month with helpful information. For example, there are how-to videos, do-it-yourself articles, and free survival resources for the frugal.

The Survivalist Blog

modern survival blog

From M.D. Creekmore comes the Survivalist Blog, founded in 2007 and still reliably pumping out articles on survivalism. The author prides himself on his belief that survival is not just about owning the right equipment but having the right mindset.

He’s written thousands of articles on survival and all of his advice is personally tested and retested. Nothing is what he calls “armchair commando survival advice.” He lives and breathes what he teaches.

The Survival Mom

modern survival blog

When someone talks about “wilderness survival,” I’m willing to bet that your first thoughts go to rugged, muddy men with rifles slung over their shoulders, decked out in camouflage and worn leather boots. Well, here comes Lisa Bedford to demolish all of those preconceptions.

The author of the Survival Mom blog is an American wife and mother of two children who believes that everyone should be prepared for disaster. She has a great deal of informative articles, ranging from the basics of being prepared to instant survival tips that may come in handy at the most inopportune times.

Bug Out Survival

survival websites

God forbid it, but there may be times when you have less than a minute to grab what you can from your home and high-tail it out of there. That destructive tornado isn’t going to wait for you to be all packed and ready, that’s for sure.

Bug Out Survival aims to be the most pertinent resource for these sort of “bug out” situations: a situation where you may be forced to leave the comforts and familiarity of home behind and head out to the boonies with just what you can carry.

This blog will teach you the necessary skills you’ll need to survive, including techniques for bushcraft, hunting, and gathering, as well as the proper mindset when surviving.

BONUS: Ray Mears & Les Stroud

If you’re truly interested in wilderness survival and want to see it in action on the screen (instead of in articles), then you should check out Ray Mears and Les Stroud. Both of these men have created a TV series dedicated to teaching the craft of survival.

survival blog

Ray Mears has produced series like Extreme Survival, Bushcraft, and Wilderness Survival, while Les Stroud is known for his work as Survivorman. I highly discourage watching Man vs. Wild for anything but entertainment. Many of the stunts on that show have been exposed as fake and dangerous.

Do you have any survival resources you’d like to share with us? Post them in the comments so we can all learn a thing or two!

Image Credits: Hunter Image Via Shutterstock

December 02 2011


These URLs Will Make You Dumb: The Big List Of Single Serving Websites

Single serving websites are those pointless, often one-page sites that mostly exist for laughs with very little real-world value. If you’ve ever visited YTMND (You’re The Man Now Dog) then you’ve already experienced this flavour of Internet humour, and people are more than willing to spend their own money on proper domain names in the pursuit of comedy.

As with many Internet jokes, the following URLs are probably not going to be useful. On the other hand you might manage to impress/intrigue/annoy your friends with your favourites. However, due to the nature of Internet humour, the following may contain strong language and/or stupid jokes (but that’s why you’re still reading, right?).

Without further ado – the Internet dumb-list!


One of the best potential homepages out there. For people who still use homepages, naturally.


A globally unique identifier, or GUID for short, is a 32-character hexadecimal string used in software. The clue’s in the name, but every GUID has to be unique – so go ahead and waste a GUID today!


In the mood for an instant dance party? Then go ahead and click the record player, it spins and everything.


A long-standing homage to this movie scene and arguably one of the funniest lines in Jim Carrey’s career.


A particularly clever and foul-mouthed marketing campaign for a book clearly aimed at people who like swearing and cooking.


One of the oldest jokes on the Internet, this domain is still worth a mention just in case anyone missed it.


I’m in no way an advocate of the panda trade, caged pandas or terrible webdesign – but you know, it’s just a troll. Pandas, for less!


This one has its origins over at the SomethingAwful forums, and is appropriately stupid.


Free downloads for all who visit! Laugh at your friends as they eagerly download some tasty free RAM.


A simple domain serving up different images and animated GIFs of everyone’s favourite blue-haired miscreant Milhouse.


Just like that Simpsons episode, this website might actually cause seizures due to the flashing in the background and dearth of GIFs on endless loop. Funny, but you have been warned.


Yet more Milhouse-themed internet tomfoolery.


I have no idea.


This one functions as a clock, except it also has random bits of film and quirky backing music for absolutely no reason at all.


Three Bat-men, for your pleasure.


Do you have trouble deciding whether it’s Tuesday or not? Lay your curiosity to rest with this handy website.


Sit back, chill out and spend a little time watching old Pepsi adverts and other retro goodness all with the vintage buzz of analogue television. Try adjusting the antenna if you’ve got a particularly bad reception!


Sometimes it’s red, sometimes it’s blue. Why not experience both?


Entirely random, complete with orb-like floating cats.


Enjoy staring at blank pages with smooth transitioning multicolour backgrounds? You’ve just found your new favourite website.


Trade in that unwanted gold for cats or, as the website says, “turn your glitter to litter”.


The perfect website for when everything is going just fine.


Did someone on the Internet annoy you? Behold the might of MS Paint as you deliver the smackdown with this sharp comeback.


Feeling down champ? In need of an Internet high-five?


Confused about what you are? Let this full-screen animation clear things up. This one changes every now and again.


Everyone’s done it – you fall asleep watching a DVD and wake up in a daze to an endlessly looping DVD menu screen. Relive the frustration and confusion whenever you like with this valuable resource.


If you’ve never experienced the thrill of Telnet before then here’s your chance. This has to be one of the best links on this list, partly due to the fact that you can talk to ELIZA.


This is in no way a “complete” list. There are lots of these websites around, and you’re bound to have heard of a few that are not listed here. Add your own contributions in the comments.

Any sites you particularly liked on this list? Have you bought any domains for this purpose? Share it in the box below!

September 27 2011


10 Unique Live Webcam Feeds To Watch Around The World

webcams live onlineBig Brother’s eyes are everywhere thanks to remote cameras and related intrusive technologies. You can spot them at street corners and hanging from metallic arms on almost every building these days. Webcams are robotic eyes capturing our lives in frames. Thankfully, it’s not a Truman Show just yet.

Remote webcams peeping into your lives may make you go all choleric, but when they point at some fascinating places around the world, they can make you gawk.  Real-time webcam feeds that capture unique events (or non-events) always prick our interest because there’s something in our psyche that makes us want to be voyeurs.

So, here are ten remote webcam feeds from around the world that may make you switch off your TV for a while.

Times Square Cam

webcams live online

EarthCam is a network of real-time remote webcam feeds from around the world. We will be featuring a few more from this site, but for now check out the camera angles on view that capture Times Square. A few of the webcam captures are in HD. Unfortunately, the best one on view wouldn’t run on my browser because of lack of broadband speed. Maybe, inspired by the screen above you can try it out on yours. It should make for great viewing in Christmas Eve.

AuroMAX LIve

free webcams

Put down the Aurora Borealis as a must-see sight in your wish list if you have one. Most of us won’t be able to make the journey to the northern latitudes in this lifetime. So, the live feed from the AuroraMAX Observatory could the best alternative solution. The live feed starts after dusk and it updates every ten seconds. You need to have Apple QuickTime to view the feed in your browser. You can also catch the previous auroras by checking out the saved camera feeds in the archives.

South Pole Webcam

free webcams

One of the remotest of the remote webcams also brings you the spectacular sight of Aurora Australis or Southern Lights. The camera is now disabled because of extreme temperatures on the South Pole, but if it’s anything like the accompanying video, then this is a definite must-see. The webcam feed is part of the United States Antarctic Program. Live images will commence from November onwards.

David’s Ghost Cams

free webcams

For both ghost-spotters and Ghostbusters, this could be a dress rehearsal for the real thing. These are 7 live webcams set up in a 100+ year old Victorian house attempting to capture evidence of a haunting. All this while I thought you couldn’t capture a real ghost on film. Guess I was wrong as there are some exclamations in the comments as watchers report some ‘sightings’. Try to spot your own ghost – you will need oodles of patience – as camera run 24 x 7 and 365 days a year.

Ground Zero

live webcams

We return to EarthCam and New York with this webcam looking over Ground Zero. You can see the construction progress for the towers and catch a few sights like the Tribute in Lights. The camera pans around to capture the Manhattan skyline.

The Panama Canal

live webcams

The remote webcam feed on the Panama Canal is a bit erratic at times as the frame rate is slow, but you can still make out the hustle and bustle at the lock gates (Miraflores & Gatun Locks). It’s actually more fun when a ship enters the canal.

Bonaire Marine Park

live webcams

This is an underwater remote camera which brings you images from the marine park located in the Caribbean. You can select your refresh rate (lowest being 2 seconds) and watch a real-time feed of marine life. This camera is located at a depth of 15 meters on the drop off at the dive site called “Something Special”.

London 2012

You can catch the almost real time update on how London is faring with the preparations for the 2012 Olympics. It’s not a frame by frame feedback, but the constantly updated webcam feed is close enough to real-time. Also, check out the time-lapse video to see the Olympic village is coming up.

Niagara Falls

You can hear the wondrous roar of the falls even before the webcam feed buffers and runs. The remote webcam is located high above Niagara Falls in the Fallsview District and is pointed directly towards the massive Horseshoe Falls on the Ontario, on the Canada side.

Abbey Road

webcams live online

Abbey Road is probably the second most famous British street address after 10 Downing Street. This iconic address will forever be connected to the Beatles. If you are a fan, you will appreciate it because the group recorded most of their songs from here. This still functioning and still famous studio is a permanent tourist fixture. So is the 24 x 7 live webcam feed.

The following remote webcam feeds help me become a virtual tourist for a few minutes. I can ‘drop in’ anytime and satisfy my curiosity. These webcam feeds are definitely not all…as today you have camera everywhere giving us a glimpses of life in every corner of the world. Browse our previous two posts on some cool locations covered by remote webcams –

5 Boring Webcams To Watch If You Have No Life
The Best Free Web Cams To Watch When You’re Bored

You don’t have to watch them when you are bored. They can be fun and interesting just like that. Do you agree? Which is your favorite remote webcam location?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

July 22 2011


10 Almost Useless But Interesting Twitter Apps

twitter appsWho knew that 140 characters could be informative, opinionated, controversial, and hilarious? Well, Twitter is all that and we continue to revel in it. You might think that you have seen it all as an old Twitter hand. Almost is not all as these ten interesting Twitter apps will tell you in 140 characters or less.

Still new to Twitter? Check out The Complete Guide To Twitter

There are lots of Twitter apps out there -some useless; some interesting; and some bit of both. But all in all, they are fun tools to play around with just your Twitter username.

So, let’s look at ten Twitter apps, from a virtual fortune cookie to one that can calculate how much your tweets can cost our planet in terms of paper.


twitter apps

Twitter as a fortune cookie? Well this one is – with a click its takes a random Twitter message and hands it to you as a ‘hidden’ cookie message. If you have a few seconds to spare between some serious tweeting, try it out. Be warned, some tweets may be offensive.


interesting twitter app

As you can make out from the screenshot, this app takes your normal text and converts it into shorthand. Not exactly useless because I can shave off something from my SMS bills if I can condense two messages into one thanks to shorthand –  if I have the time to write it twice.

Twitter Loo

interesting twitter app

The time spent in the loo is a personal moment for many. Twitter barges into that sacred space by asking you to share what you are doing (or how) while sitting on the throne. Here the “pictures” tell the story. I will let the app speak for itself because I didn’t have the gumption to try it out on my followers.

Tweet Calories

interesting twitter app

The interface is really cool and you would think that they mean business. Maybe they do, because behind the flashy interface is creative marketing for a Brazilian gym. The app basically calculates how many calories you are burning while tweeting. It puts in several assumptions for arriving at your burn rate, so my own assumption says that it’s more of a fun tool rather than a scientific one.


interesting twitter application

Teetotalers and those who like tea more than coffee can opt out of this one. It’s all about sending a virtual I.O.U (a beer or a coffee) with a tweet. Well, a virtual thanks is not so useless after all. The messages show up on the ‘Foamee Pub’.

Overheard It

interesting twitter application

Twitter is a digital grapevine and this site tries to prove it by posting all the fun things people overhear on Twitter. Most of the tweets are humorous, so you will actually have some fun ‘eavesdropping’ on what people are saying all over the social network. E.g. “Today, I overcome my phobia of President Bush.”


interesting twitter application

It’s one of our favorite words in the English language and this visualization app takes advantage of it in an artful way. It searches for tweets containing the words ‘Zzz’ or ‘Zzzz’ and then generates it as shown in the screen above in real time. It’s a simple visualization project and is not intended to put you to sleep.

Sleeping Time

Let’s follow the previous Twitter app that actually does something for sleep. Enter the Twitter account name and this simple app tells you ‘when do they sleep’. It takes into account the period of inactivity of a person on Twitter.

The Print Effect

Enter your Twitter username and find out how much it would take to print your entire Twitter timeline. Then you can compare the results against some ‘metrics’ like kangaroos and tennis courts.

Tweet Wasters

twitter apps

Finally, if you have been spending the last few minutes on the above sites, expect to get a tall score in this one. Tweet Wasters as the name suggests how much time you have spent (wasted) on Twitter.

The list of Twitter apps is long. Some will survive the churn; most will fall by the wayside. But while they are there these Twitter apps will take fifteen seconds of our attention. Which Twitter app has intrigued you recently…not as much for its usefulness, but more for its quirkiness. Let us know in 140 characters or less.

10 Almost Useless But Interesting Twitter Apps is a post from: MakeUseOf

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July 20 2011


3 Apps To Get You Out Of Bed & Get Your Morning Started [Mac]

wake up appChances are if you are the typical Internet user, your nights will likely run into your mornings, give or take a few Red Bulls. But inevitably, there will be that situation in which you will actually have to go to bed early and wake up on time, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Thankfully, there are three Mac “wake up” apps you can use to break away from your REMs and into the real world.

Red Alarm Clock

This app is a nice free widget that runs on the dashboard of your Mac. I wouldn’t say it has much going for it graphics-wise (and it actually advertises its creator’s other anime-related app), but if simplistic functionality is what you are wanting, then Red Alarm Clock has got it going on.

wake up app

The widget is a little harder to understand at first than its other more feature-oriented counterparts (as mentioned in MakeUseOf’s past article, Best Alternative Alarm Clocks), but perhaps the beauty of it all is its minimalist approach to waking you up.

Rather than using one song or the traditional alarm clock noise that sounds like a duck having its feathers forcefully removed, it takes a note from the old days of radio alarms by playing one of your iTunes playlists.

wake up application

wake up application

Lastly, Red Alarm Clock operates on a twenty-four hour system, ridding itself from AM and PM restraints. The twenty-four hour clock took a little getting used to for me, but I am aware of many instances in which I have accidentally set my alarm for PM instead of AM.

wake up application

It would have been nice to see that on the app, but functionality is the name of the game, and it certainly has that. Plus, since it’s free, what do you have to lose?


As a guy, deciding what to wear for the day is a nigh impossible task. Usually, the best option for me is to pick up whatever smells clean (even if it’s on the floor), but Swackett is one weather app that can change such habits.

Deriving its name from three words (“sweater,” “jacket,” and “coat”), Swackett offers you suggestions on what to wear based on its weather information. For the summer weather, it might suggest a tank-top or even sun block, but in the cooler months, hoodies and sweatshirts take precedence.

morning apps

morning apps

Besides its basic clothing advice, Swackett gives you a nice description of the current conditions and the forecast for today’s, tonight’s, and even tomorrow’s weather. All of this information comes in a nicely packaged, easy-to-read window that also features air quality alerts and other weather warnings. To be honest, this may be one of the most usable weather apps out there.

morning apps

In addition to the app’s practical clothing advice, it offers Easter eggs for various holidays and special themes that will give you very unique clothing options. Granted, the only free themes available are the Standard, Modern, and 1950s editions, but there are other themes that can be purchased for a small price (such as the British Invasion edition).

As of right now, Swackett is test-driving a new web app for their amazing weather prediction service. This app is virtually the same as the original Mac desktop version, but it runs in your web browser. Furthermore, the web app works on PC browsers too. This isn’t as nice as being able to pull Swackett up as a stand-alone executable, but it’s the next best thing.

As a final note, the makers of Swackett have announced that iDevice apps are coming soon.

Mirror HD

Keep it simple with Mirror HD, a basic little app that takes the video feed from your iSight camera and turns your Mac into a pseudo-reflective surface. I personally think that this is a nice solution to my desire to shave and tweet at the same time. Unfortunately, prior to making screenshots for this article, I had already shaved and tweeted.

The app is fairly raw with no extra features or secret cool items, but I do think it’s good for quick little appearance checks before you head out the door. This also might be nice right before an actual job interview or perhaps prior to coffee with that one girl you met on OKCupid.

The only qualm with Mirror HD might be the fact that it advertises itself as a “full-screen” app. In all truth, it just opens up a fairly large window with no options to resize.

What you might be thinking right now is, “I can do the same exact thing with Photo Booth” and guess what? You can. But at least Mirror HD provides a bigger screen. Also, you won’t have to worry about accidentally taking an embarrassing picture of yourself whilst performing nostril inspections.

wake up app

There really isn’t much to say about Mirror HD except that it does exactly what it says it does. You don’t have to worry about any ads clogging up your screen real estate or any “special” paid options either.


Granted, they won’t be the apps you can’t live without, but they can definitely help. Hopefully they will provide you that extra morning convenience you need before meeting the boys at IHOP for a round of pancakes.

What apps do you use to get ready in the morning? What are your opinions on these three?

Image Credit: beanworks

3 Apps To Get You Out Of Bed & Get Your Morning Started [Mac] is a post from: MakeUseOf

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July 17 2011


Manage Your Real Life Vegetable Plot Online For Free With VGA Live

garden plannerOne of the key factors in growing your own vegetables is ensuring you rotate your crops every year to avoid a build up of disease and prevent a complete depletion of nutrients. In fact, some species of plant put certain nutrients back into the soil, so by rotating things around you can ensure optimum and healthy conditions.

But even with a small plot of land you may have lots of growing beds, and keeping track of what’s been growing where is one particular daunting task I am certainly not looking forward to.

Let me introduce you to VGALive, a 100% free (now and forever) online vegetable plot management system and encyclopaedia.

What is it?

The name isn’t particular descriptive, but it’s main function is to keep track of your yearly crop growing cycle – as much or as little as you wish. You can record what crop you have planted, where and when it was put in and harvested, and keep a complete history of that zone. When considering what to plant next year, it’s easy to see what you can safely put in there next, and the built in seed catalog makes it easy to plan ahead before the busy spring season comes.

Head on over to thevga.co.uk and click on sign up to begin. It’s painless and you’ll be able to log-in immediately.

garden planner

Create a Plot and Some Beds:

Once logged in, your first step should be to create a plot as well as some beds. If you’re not sure what these means, your plot would “garden” or “allotment”, while beds will be the individual sections of the garden that you’re going to cultivate.

You’ll need to create a plot before creating beds, so go ahead. From My Plots, select New. Next you’ll create beds. One thing to bear in mind is that beds cannot be deleted once they’ve been created (not sure why), but you can alter the name etc at a later date. This could pose problems for me next year, as it’s painfully obvious this year that my beds are far too close together, so I’ve ended up with a pathway less than 20cm across!

vegetable garden planner

Having created some beds, go ahead and upload pictures so you don’t forget which ones they are.

vegetable garden planner

Grow Something:

To add something to your garden, click My Crops – Sow New Crop. This is where the magic happens – when you select a particular bed to plant in, any family of crop grown there in the last 2 years will be greyed out, letting you know what you can safely plant. It’s a great at-a-glance feature, but I would personally appreciate bigger pictures, or more functionality from them – like even a simple tool tip when you mouse over that lists the plants of that family.

vegetable garden planner

Another of my favorite features is the crop finder, which lists loads of crops that can be planted month-by-month, so if you’re trying to plan in advance or just have a spare bit of ground which you’re not sure what to do with, it can be a great resource for ideas.

The visual cues for where to plant are a nice touch too, but I see room for improvement – even though there’s a small button next to each crop showing the symbol for sow, it takes you to the Sow New Crop form but doesn’t actually pre-fill the crop name for you.

garden planner

There seems to a few key points about the system, like deleting beds, that are noticeably missing. As something that is 100% free though, I don’t really feel I can complain too much, as the sheer level of functionality that you do get is far better than anything I could find elsewhere – paid or not.

Another point to keep in mind is that the site seems to be somewhat dying. The forums are completely inactive, and the Live Help! page seems to be selling an offline version of the software, yet half the images are broken. I’ll be in contact with the owners of site to see if it’s still being actively maintained, but it’s difficult to tell at this point.

I realize this is quite a niche topic, but I had a lot of difficultly finding a system that suited my needs when I moved into my house in February. If you’re curious as to how I’m doing so far, my wife and I have actually kept a Tumblr photo diary of everything we’ve harvested, but bear in mind we are complete beginners with a small garden. I began this year by germinating as many seeds as I could all at once – but I think that’s something everyone does when they first start. I really appreciate a free system such as VGA Live to help beginners such as myself, but I do feel like a lot of functionality is going to waste. There’s much more that could be improved and done with this fantastic resource and free web application.

If you interested in seeing what else is out there, I asked for suggestions myself on our community support site before, so be sure to check those out too.Also, check out our previous post on how to start a garden with the help of the internet and let us know about any other app you use to care for your garden.

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Manage Your Real Life Vegetable Plot Online For Free With VGA Live is a post from: MakeUseOf

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July 15 2011


4 More Amazing Graphical Ways To Browse & Read News

graphical newsStrangely, while watching news has stayed on the normal course, reading news has taken varied (and interesting) routes. There has been no better medium than the web to explore news in all its different avatars. RSS feeds and news tickers have become old-hat when you have more interactive apps coming in. Thanks to information overload, visualizing data has come into the picture…literally.

Data visualization starts with the idea of giving you a graphical tool to wrap all that information around your head. In the case of news, it ends with a really cool and interesting way to see news a bit differently.

Some of the data visualization based apps that focus on news may be experimental. It’s difficult to say whether graphical news apps will take off or not; but for now they remain as offbeat ways to browse and read news.


graphical news

It’s called a typographic news explorer. The interesting graphical news app is meant to break you out of the usual way you browse for news – from the top down. This one fosters creativity. It all starts with a doodle. You get a blank canvas and a search box. Search for a news item and then just doodle around to get all interlinked stories. As you doodle on, the news items branch out and you can go on a wild, chaotic journey through all the information that’s out there. Doodling also gets you the original source of the news. It’s difficult to explain this app in words – try it out.


graphical newspaper

To describe the site in their own words – Every hour, 10×10 collects the 100 words and pictures that matter most on a global scale, and presents them as a single image, taken to encapsulate that moment in time.

If that went over your head, just launch the app and play around with the little thumbnails. At the backend, the app has scanned the RSS feeds of several leading international news sources (ABC, BBC, Reuters etc.) and culled the most important keywords using a special algorithm. The top 100 words are chosen along with their images. This human history goes into the 10×10 grid. You can check it by the hour and also go back into history with the cool timeline.


graphical newspaper

We have featured this cool graphical news app before in our directory of news apps. It’s like a news aggregator with a difference – a visual one. Just like any other news aggregator, it plucks the most popular news stories from Digg, Reddit, Delicious, Yahoo! Buzz and Hacker News and displays them in one place. The more popular the story the bigger it appears on the homepage. Clicking on the square takes you to the source. You can also preview it in the bottom frame. With a registration and log-in, you can set about customizing the ways news squares will be displayed like choosing a theme and entering your own choice of feeds. The results are not always perfect but you can try it out. It’s also quite similar to NewsMap which is a Google News aggregator.


graphical news

Newser makes news reading more fun by taking news stories from around the world and showing them as thumbnails on a grid. Clicking on them takes you to the news stories. This is not really offbeat, but nonetheless a visual departure from the normal way of scanning headlines. We had taken a previous look at Newser when we mentioned 5 Great Multi-Source News Websites.


These five web apps are interesting visualizations. They may not allow you to read ‘between the lines’ but they serve to break you away from the commonplace. If you are looking at more interesting ways to digest news, check out the articles below:

Do you know about any other interesting visual ways to browse news?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

4 More Amazing Graphical Ways To Browse & Read News is a post from: MakeUseOf

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July 11 2011


July 08 2011


Video Game Vaporware: 5 Ambitious Gaming Projects That Never Made It To Retail

Vaporware is a term commonly used to refer to hardware or software that is confirmed yet never actually released, and much of the time never cancelled either. The curse of vaporware has hit numerous, big name projects over the years, with famed franchises and development teams often slipping by the wayside.

Some of these projects were simply too ambitious, promising technology that even the developers hadn’t embraced yet. Others simply run out of money, experienced repeated set-backs (Duke Nukem Forever, anyone?) or simply didn’t exist in the first place. If you’re thinking of a career programming games or developing hardware then maybe you could learn a thing or two from some of these entries.


Phantom (Phantom Entertainment)

In 2002 the Phantom was announced as a games console capable of playing PC games, which at the time meant head-to-head competition with Windows as a gaming platform. Whilst this sounds far-fetched (especially for 2002) the team behind Phantom actually had some pretty good ideas, including content delivery.

The Phantom was never meant to have an optical drive – instead games were to be delivered via a revolutionary new on-demand download service. Had it worked and been released then the Phantom would have enjoyed a huge library of existing games.

A working prototype was seen at E3 in 2004, with a release date tipped for November. As the team had yet to develop the online content delivery system, this date slipped as did others and in 2006 the Phantom was removed from the company’s website. Phantom Entertainment now make the Phantom Lapboard, an all-in-one keyboard and mouse, as their sole product.

Action GameMaster (Active Enterprises)

Not as famous as the Phantom but in many ways equally as ambitious, the Action GameMaster was announced at CES 1994 as a device with a truckload of compatibility. At the time Active Enterprises were a small company that solely manufactured unlicensed video games, though they had some pretty big plans for the GameMaster.

The console was to be a handheld portable device, capable of playing NES, SEGA Genesis and Super Nintendo cartridges via additional adapters to be sold seperately. Also planned was CD-ROM support and a TV tuner for peering into its 3.2″ colour LCD screen for hours on end.

With a projected retail price of $500 (at the time!) the GameMaster disappeared along with Active’s other video gaming ventures later in ’94.


Shenmue III (SEGA/AM2)

The perfect example of epic storytelling and thoroughly engrossing gameplay suffering at the hands of poor sales – Shenmue III is still in limbo. The original two games received critical acclaim, with the first selling 1.3 million copies, and Shenmue II a disappointing 400,000. Japanese games gurus Famitsu have tipped Shenmue III as the second most-wanted sequel to a video game franchise, and there is an army of dedicated fans online rallying Yu Suzuki (the legendary designer) to finally bring his finished story to the interactive screen.

The truth is that despite SEGA’s willingness to work on Shenmue III, funding is still an issue. Speaking at the Games Developers Conference in 2011 Yu Suzuki said “I think SEGA will let me make it…it’s a matter of budget…we have to make it in an affordable way.”

Fans still hoping for the sequel might want to hit up fan site Shenmue Dojo which features an active forum community that’s continually pining for Shenmue III.

Elite 4 (Frontier Developments)

The original Elite was written by David Braben and Ian Bell for the BBC Micro and released in 1984. The first game to use wire-frame 3D graphics and featuring an open-ended game model, Elite shot to success on each subsequent system it was released on. Two sequels exist, Frontier: Elite II and Frontier: First Encounters, with the latter released in 1995.

Since then fans of the series have waited patiently for the release of Elite 4, with David Braben claiming in 2006 that the game will be made once his team had finished another game, The Outsider. Since then development on The Outsider has also ceased, though the game hasn’t been cancelled (uh-oh, sounds like more vaporware to me).

As recently as 2011 Braben said that “it would be a tragedy” for Elite 4 not to be on the drawing board, though I suspect that drawing board has gathered quite a lot of dust. You can play the original Elite in your browser using an Java emulator, and find out how to reach the fabled “Elite” ranking in this guide.

Project Milo (Lionhead Studios)

Here’s an interesting one – there are conflicting reports over whether Project Milo was ever a game at all, despite being shown at E3 2009 to demonstrate the (then unreleased) Kinect. Milo was said to have an AI system that learns and responds to human actions, such as waving or speaking, and this was demonstrated at the show.

A year later, and Project Milo was nowhere to be seen at E3 2010. A month later and a Microsoft employee claimed that the game wasn’t a game at all, and was never planned for release. After further conflicting reports from Lionhead’s Peter Molyneux, the game’s existence was heavily disputed in November 2010 by both a Eurogamer report and another Microsoft representative.

Apparently Molyneux is using much of the technology developed for Project Milo in his upcoming Fable: The Journey Xbox 360 title, which features Kinect support.


So what have we learned? Well, if you’re going to go into the interactive entertainment business the first thing to remember is not to make promises you can’t keep – both the Phantom and Gamesmaster are proof of this. Better marketing (especially outside of Japan) might have saved Shenmue II and spurred the development of the third game, whereas Microsoft and Lionhead Studios probably should have confirmed Milo’s existence as a mere tech demo from the get-go.

Do you remember any of these titles? Do you still believe in Shenmue III? Do you have any favourite instances of vaporware? Let us know in the comments!

Images: ShutterstockPhantom

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Video Game Vaporware: 5 Ambitious Gaming Projects That Never Made It To Retail is a post from: MakeUseOf

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July 05 2011


Suggest Romantic Date Ideas & Find Compatible Partners With HowAboutWe

romantic date ideasIf you’ve ever spent any time dabbling in the online dating scene, you’ve probably realised that it has some huge limitations. Mostly, that it can be really hard to find someone who you’re actually going to like in real life. It’s simply not enough to be able to say you’re looking for a blonde 30-year-old. What you really need to know is whether your idea of a good time is in any way compatible.

This is where HowAboutWe comes in. It’s a dating site which revolves around the actual dates. In essence, you get to choose someone to date by whether or not you both like the same idea for a date. Plus, it’s a really neat way to get romantic date ideas!

romantic date ideas

Get On To HowAboutWe

The sign-up process for HowAboutWe is straight-forward and quick. Really, you’re just giving them a few important bits of information to ensure they never suggest that you date someone with completely incompatible ideals. The deal-breaker topics are about faith, politics and how important those ideals are to you. You also add the usual stuff about your general details, where you live and what basic sort of person you’re looking for. Photos are required to be found in search, but you can get by without them if you really wish.

ideas for a fun date

Once the basic details are filled, you can add more information to your profile if you like, or just get into browsing the dates.

Finding Great Dates

It’s easy to find great dates in HowAboutWe. That’s the whole point! Search date ideas by keyword, see popular dates or check out the trending romantic date ideas.

ideas for a fun date

When you see a date idea you like, repost it (much like retweeting tweets). The idea will be added to your profile page and you’ll be listed as one of the many people who think that date idea is a good one. The more dates you repost, the more likely it is that someone interesting will find you and ask you out on that date. Also, you’re opening yourself up to more excellent dates!

By building your profile with a selection of great dates you like, you’re also letting potential suitors know a bit about what you really like to get up to. It’s a win-win.

Coming Up With Great Date Ideas

You can also list your own date ideas and see who else likes them. Some users are broad with their date ideas, which can result in them being quite popular, while others make them more specific by adding the city into the date idea. This limits the exposure, but could also work in your favour. Try a few different tactics and see how it goes.

ideas for a fun date

Finding Great People

The best way to meet like-minded people is to browse the date ideas. When you find a date you like, see who else has liked it. Then you can ask one of those people out on this date – and you don’t even have to come up with a great date idea, either!

Obviously, you can also browse the user database for people who match your taste and live nearby. This might help narrow down your options if it turns out your town isn’t yet bustling with users.

good date ideas

In the meantime, you can still populate your profile with great romantic date ideas. If nothing else, you’ve got a handy list to refer to when you need inspiration later!

More Dating Ideas

For those of you who are keen for more great dating ideas, read on:

romantic date ideas

What are your thoughts on HowAboutWe? Will you give it a go?

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Suggest Romantic Date Ideas & Find Compatible Partners With HowAboutWe is a post from: MakeUseOf

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June 29 2011


7 Great Uses For QR Codes & How To Generate Your Own For Free

Quick response codes, or QR codes for short, have been used for a few years now to provide rapid access to URLs, messages or contact information. Marketing and advertising departments love QR codes, as with a simple scan, even more advertising related to their product can be delivered straight to your thumbs.

But why let the big multinationals have all the fun? It’s easy and completely free to generate your very own codes, and these can be used in a myriad of useful or entertaining ways. Of course you’ll need a smartphone with a QR reader to enjoy your own creations.

Creating & Reading Your Own

There are plenty of good, free QR generators out there with some offering more advanced options than others. Between them, the following four manage to cover most bases, including contact cards, URLs, text messages and even access to wireless networks (including security codes):

In order to read them back you’ll need an app for your chosen device. There’s plenty out there, but at the moment I’m using RedLaser for my iPhone which works a treat (and is fully Android compatible too).

  • Download Red Laser for iOS (4.0 required, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad 2)
  • Download Red Laser for Android (1.6 + required)

Business Cards

Not exactly original, but important nonetheless. Whilst you should always provide adequate contact information on your business card (email address, website, phone number and so on) a QR code might also be a good idea.

Your QR code could be used to store all of your contact information in vCard format, so that when it is scanned on a compatible device the option to add a new contact appears. With a scan all of the information stored on your paper business card is transferred to a digital device – effortlessly.

This could also work for posters, and is certainly not limited to just vCard uses.

Classified Ads (Offline)

Selling something locally? Too big for snail mail? For weighty electrical items, cars, hardware and so on QR codes could be used to help sell your item. If you are using an online merchant for the sale (such as eBay or AutoTrader) the QR code could be used to link directly to the item’s point of sale.

If you’re simply selling offline and advertising locally a QR code can be used to provide a web link to the manufacturer’s description, which will provide a lot more information than you can fit on a classified advertising card. Simply print out your code and glue it on!

Clothing & Jewellery

QR codes are on everything from rings to scarves to t-shirts these days, and getting your own t-shirt from somewhere like Cafe Press or Spreadshirt is easy. Why not advertise your brand on your back? If you’re a photographer, events organiser or musician (to name but a few) who doesn’t mind being scanned regularly then QR might be an effective tool.

You don’t actually need a valid use for QR codes in order to get some clothing or alternative jewellery made up though, and a t-shirt or bracelet that scans might make the perfect gift for the geeky girl or guy in your life.

Forum Avatars

Depending on the forum, a QR code as your avatar can act as a quick way of identifying you. Of course you won’t necessary want this for all forums, but it might help drive traffic to your site or increase your social media outreach with a simple scan.

Award yourself additional points if you can actually get it to look like something.

Starting A Revolution

Okay, so starting a revolution might require more than a scan of your mobile phone, but the ability to embed text, email addresses, URLs and so on within a code mustn’t be overlooked. If you’ve got something to say why not place codes around town and get your message out there? Many who know what QR codes are for will probably scan them out of pure curiosity (I know I would).

Bus stops, the subway, lamp-posts and even urinals (sorry, but it’s true) are all opportunities for this.


Will adding a QR code to your next job application land you that dream position? Possibly not, but it might set you apart from the rest of the crowd who simply didn’t think that far ahead. Employers love initiative and the ability to demonstrate understanding, so why not show off your forethought and get a cheeky link to your website in the process?

A must for social media types, programmers and techies alike.

Share This!

This could work pretty well on the street, especially if you’re an artist, street performer or (dare I say it) a graffiti writer. Simply stick a QR code next to your artwork/pitch/throw-up and link to a URL that tweets the scene. For example: “I’m currently in St. James Park, London watching The MakeUseOf Jazz Quartet” with a Google Maps link.

Add your own hashtag to monitor the success of your QR bombing. We could call it QRaffiti!


Remember there’s an endless number of applications for QR codes, especially considering it’s so quick and easy to generate your own! As more people switch on to the smartphone revolution, more people have access to these innovations. If you come up with any great unique uses then be sure to let us know!

Have you tried any of these? Do you scan QR codes on your phone? Any favourite scanners or generators? Add your thoughts below.

Images: Business Card, QR Code Ring, Street QR Code, QR Wall Code

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7 Great Uses For QR Codes & How To Generate Your Own For Free is a post from: MakeUseOf

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June 28 2011


5 More Cool Things To Do With An Old Computer

old computersDon’t chuck out your old computer, just yet. Though it may not seem like it, there are still some jobs it can serve. It’s not obsolete just yet, whatever the tech companies would rather have you believe. In the fast-moving world of technology, a year may seem like a decade. Gadgets are thrown out every year, sometimes with little consideration for whether they are still useful or not.

That 5-year old computer may seem like a snail, but even a snail can get to the other side.

1. Turn It Into A Web Server

Many of us here probably own a website. Well, if you’re up to the challenge, you can set up your own server to serve your websites from. Having your own server gives you the advantage of controlling what software to use, as well as the freedom to upgrade flexibly. Running out of server space? Just add another hard drive!  Are the pages loading too slowly? Just add more RAM!

old computers

Dave has previously detailed how to build a Linux web server in two parts.

2. Experiment With Viruses

things to do with an old computer

If you can’t turn it into a web server, you can use it as your torture machine. Abuse it anyway you want, install anything and everything. If you ever saw some free app you like the look of, but aren’t sure whether it’s a virus or not, you now have a sandbox to test it in. This is a real sandbox, not those fancy software sandbox techniques that are so common nowadays.

It doesn’t even have to be a virus. If you’re experimenting with dangerous software, you can do all your damage here. Just make sure to keep a Windows install disc handy.

3. Modify It

things to do with an old computer

The next thing to try is to turn it into art. At least you can appreciate the supple curves of your computer as it sits there collecting dust. There are many mods on the Internet, such as these ones here. Some mods also serve a purpose. For example, you can turn the computer into a photo frame. If it’s new enough to have a built-in WiFi card, you can also connect it to your Flickr feed, or something similar.

4. Destroy It

Failing any useful task that the computer can handle, you can enjoy watching it die. Why just throw it away? How about destroying it?

If you haven’t got a new computer yet, your old computer may help you raise the cost of the new one. It may not be worth the new one, but the amusement of blowing it up certainly is, as this YouTube user has proven.

5. Recycle it

old computers

For the more environmentally-conscious, there’s always the option to recycle it. First, make sure all the useful and surviving parts are out. This could be used later. You never know, your new computer’s RAM may fail and 2GB of working RAM is better than 8GB of non-working RAM. Before you attempt that though, make sure your new computer can take your older one’s RAM.  Also make sure that any personal sensitive information has been securely wiped from the hard drive.

There are many computer recycling programs around. You can go to a manufacturer or to your region’s local recycling program. Here’s Apple’s recycling page, which also holds a list for some US states. Saikat wrote a great post last year detailing 10 websites that help you recycle or reuse old stuff.

So do you know of any other possible uses for an old computer that we haven’t listed here?  Or have you tried one of the above?  If so, how did it go?

Image Credits: Monochrome, zdw, Enric Martinez, The Official CTBTO Photostream, SobControllers

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5 More Cool Things To Do With An Old Computer is a post from: MakeUseOf

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May 31 2011


Entrustet Ensures Your Digital Assets Are Smoothly Passed On After You Pass On

digital asset managementHave you thought about what’s going to happen to your online assets after your death? Have you even really considered what might count as an online asset? Who do you want to give access to your accounts after death? Which accounts would you prefer closed immediately? Would you want your family to read your email? So many questions to consider!

While the world of physical assets is fairly clear-cut thanks to wills and legal procedures, digital asset management is a little more confusing. Most online companies are happy to close an account after death, but don’t want to get bogged down with the confusion involved in account succession. You can imagine how difficult it would be to ensure requests were real! But, not to worry. Entrustet gives us a way to get things under control from one single control point.

Managing Online Accounts After Death

If you think your online accounts aren’t assets, think again. What will happen to your domains? Where’s that Adsense money going? What about your PayPal account? What about your blog? How will your family update things to ensure your work now benefits them? Do you have lots of photos in Flickr? The half-finished novel backed up in Dropbox? How will your family have access to these?

Now, consider your options here. If you want to give someone access to an account after your death, how will you do it? Give them the password now? Write the password into your will (and update your will every time you change your password)? Keep a secret list with that password on it? None of these options are ideal — they all post a current security threat and leave the plan vulnerable if you forget to update the password with them in time.

Even if you expect your account will be deleted your family may step in and demand access, such as with Justin Ellsworth’s Yahoo account.

digital asset management

It’s one thing to know what should happen to your online accounts after death. It’s another to have some degree of control.

Get Your Free Entrustet Account

Sign-up with Entrustet is free, meaning you can set things in motion without paying a cent. After verification, you can immediately begin to add your accounts to Entrustet, nominating what should occur with them after your death.

digital assets

Note that Entrustet cannot control accounts which are covered by a regular will, such as bank accounts.

digital assets

Up to 2GB of documents may also be added to Entrustet thanks to a partnership with Mozy.

Who Looks After Your Entrustet Account?

You may choose a digital executor for your estate. This person will receive an email immediately notifying them of their role.

digital assets

You may add unlimited heirs to Entrustet and designate your accounts to them as you wish.

If you already have a lawyer looking after your affairs, you may add their details to Entrustet, ensuring they can easily work together when the time comes. You should also ensure your lawyer knows about your plans with Entrustet and your digital executor.

If you don’t yet have a legal will, Entrustet can point you in the direction of some who understand digital estates. There’s also plenty of places online where you can ask legal questions for free and get an understanding of what you need to do.

What Happens Then?

The Entrustet digital asset management service supplements your regular will. Your lawyer will look after your regular assets, while your digital executor will look after your digital estate.

digital asset management

After you die, your executor notifies Entrustet and supplies a death certificate as proof. They then go about transferring your accounts to the heirs as nominated.

Alternatives To Entrustet

There are several alternatives to Entrustet which all offer a similar service. No doubt as more people consider their digital assets worth protecting even more new services will spring up in competition. Entrustet is still one of the very best services in my eyes and very little could be done to improve on it from here. I would love to see them add oAuth and other automatic login services to their system, as it would save users from accidentally forgetting to update their passwords.

You may also be interested in reading about some other online services which help you to prepare for death.

What do you think of Entrustet? Will you use it to protect your digital assets? Why or why not?  If not, what will you use to ensure that your digital assets are properly passed on after you pass on? Let us know in the comments!

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May 06 2011


10 Educational History Podcasts To Subscribe & Listen To

history podcastsIf Hitler knew his history, he wouldn’t have attacked the Russians and lost the war. Thank God, he didn’t pay history any heed. But shouldn’t we be aware of what happened in the times before us?

A lot of us left history back in the classrooms. For some it made for ponderous reading. Thanks to the many history podcasts available for free on the web, listening to it is both entertaining and educational. We have seen how podcasts can add value to our idle time. We have also noticed that the web and the many history related web apps have made the study of the past a more engaging one.

Now, with the help of these ten history podcasts we try to combine the best of both worlds.

History on Air

history podcasts

This is a podcast blog that’s all about historical figures, events and places. The About page says that since 2005, the site has seen 3.2 million downloads of its more than 100 episodes. The site features podcasts which you can listen to first, and then go through the blog post which includes external links for more study. The study aids are helpful if you want to do more research on the event. There are videos too that are collected from around the web.

Hardcore History

free history podcasts

The well known podcast site by the American political commentator Dan Carlin takes an unconventional look at history with his own take on events past. Yes, you have to be in tune with his sense of humor as he rips into today’s society and relates it to historical churns. He covers topics on Roman history, the World Wars, and the Cold War to mention a few. The tag says it best – history like you have never heard before.

BBC: In Our Time

free history podcasts

The BBC Radio 4 feature is hosted by Melvyn Bragg, the British broadcaster. Many podcasts have guests and follow a discussion format. Podcasts cover culture, religion, science, philosophy, along with history. You can listen to the podcast online via BBC’s iPlayer. Each podcast explores the ‘history of ideas’ and is usually broadcast live and unedited.

History According To Bob

free history podcasts

Professor Bob Packett takes his history class and his considerable teaching experience online in the form of free history podcasts. He explains historic events from the perspective of those people who were caught up in it. He has a light style as he goes from explaining Caesar to more close events like The Korean War.

Matt’s Today In History

best free history podcasts

We had gone back in history and taken a look at websites that tell us what happened in history on this day (or on a particular date). Matt’s website is an audio version of that. Each podcast is 5-10 minutes long and is narrated in a pleasant voice and casual story style by Matt Dattilo. The site seems to be dormant so it’s not actually ‘today in history’. But you can still listen to the podcasts because history is hardly current.

Binge Thinking History Podcast

best free history podcasts

I loved the podcasts on The Battle of Britain on this blog which has a much smaller selection of podcasts. The only thing about Tony Cocks’ small site is that the history podcasts are infrequent and spaced out over months.

BackStory with the American History Guys

best free history podcasts

Subscribe free to this radio program which uses the trio of U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh to look at events that shaped our world. The podcasts are professionally produced and fun to listen to. For students of history, the links provided for further reading are a treasure trove of knowledge.

A History of The World In Hundred Objects

Another cool program from BBC which takes a look at the world with the help of 100 objects from the British Museum and hundreds more from museums and people across the UK. Use the beautifully designed timeline to explore the objects in the list and take a look at the history around it. The program has ended, but the MP3 are a ‘historical’ treasure.

How Stuff Works

This top notch website does a great job explaining how our world functions. They have a dedicated podcast page sub-divided into a few more “official” pages like the one on – Official Stuff of Genius Podcast Page which looks at inventions past and present. But the one history buffs should fall for is the page on –  Official Stuff You Missed in History Class Podcast Page. The page is well supported by entertaining quizzes and puzzles.

Laughing Historically

history podcasts

Okay, we have had enough of serious history. Take a lighter look at it with these five podcasts on The Modern Day Pirates,  a geek lifestyle magazine with a well developed funny bone.

These ten websites show that podcasts aren’t only about easy listening pleasures. When it comes to things like educating on history, they are a very important tool. Do contribute any other cool history podcasts that I might have missed here.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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April 24 2011


8+ Most Awesome Third-Party Flickr “Interestingness” Tools

third party flickr toolsWe have featured the Flickr Interestingness section in a few popular articles in the past. For example, Bakari created an inspirational post sharing the best “explored” Flickr photos and I mentioned the tool in my piece listing Flickr RSS tools.

It is quite obvious that we (as well as our readers) love the feature because it is unique and really smart. It’s been working wonders for discovering the most creative photography artwork and offering them great exposure. For me, Flickr Interestingness has always been a constant stream of inspiration.

This post looks at more Flickr Interestingness third-party tools created through the Flickr API:

1. Flickr Interestingness Search Tools


Flickriver is one of the most popular tools for searching the Flickr Interestingness section and viewing high-resolution images on a black background:

  • Set the photo size to view: minimum is 500-width; you can set to view the large size (when it is available) or to fit the screen;
  • See today’s, yesterday’s or the past week’s interesting photos or set the time frame:

third party flickr tools


Flickrleech doesn’t have too many search options. Essentially what it does is retrieve interesting photos for a specified day. The good part about this tool is that it lists them all on one page (“Because paging sucks”) and allows you to change the thumbnail size:

third party flickr apps


This is both a fun and unique tool that breaks the Flickr interestingness photos into categories by country:

third party flickr apps


Multicolr is the visual Flickr “Interestingness” search engine and the most awesome tool for color-inspiration you’ll ever be able to find.

The tool lets you browse through “10 million” of Flickr’s most ‘interesting’ Creative Commons images using colors instead of words. You can choose up to 10 colors to mix in your search results’ color palette:

cool flickr apps

Flickr Explorer

This is the fun way to search Flickr Interestingness by username. Find out of any of your photos has been explored!

third party flickr apps

2. Flickr Interestingness Lean-Back Tools

Sometimes we are just too tired to actually browse. The following two tools will let you get inspired while doing nothing but watching.

Endless Interestingness

Endless Interestingness is the tool that does exactly what it is called: it creates an endless stream of thumbnails from Flickr “Interesting” section. Lean back and watch!

Anytime you click on a thumbnail that stands out from the crowd, you’ll be redirected to the image page on Flickr.

cool flickr apps

Gimme Shiny

This is a JavaScript slide-show of today’s most interesting photos from Flickr and popular images from deviantART, as well as the most recent images on FFFFOUND.

cool flickr apps

3. Flickr Interestingness Monitoring Tool

Weirdly enough, Flickr does not provide us with good tools to keep track of daily interesting photos. Therefore the users have had to build such a tool themselves. The result is the Flickr photo RSS that lets you subscribe to either one interesting photo or four photos a day.

That’s an amazing stream of daily inspiration (and one which is easy to scale!)

Flickr photo RSS

Bonus! Bring Flickr Interestingness To Your Desktop!

Would you like to get inspired each time you close all your windows and look at your desktop? I am sure you’ll find this tool awesome then!  I got addicted to it as soon as I installed and ran it for the first time!

John’s Background Switcher is a cool little utility that runs in your system tray (down by the clock) and periodically changes the background image on your computer (every ten minutes, hourly, daily or weekly) to something interesting. This tool has turned my Windows desktop into a constant stream of inspiration.

Using “Settings” you can set it to use the Flickr Interestingness section as the source of background images as well as customize the frequency of updates.

third party flickr tools

Are there any other cool “Interestingness” tools you are aware of? Please let us know what you think!

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More articles about: Flickr, image, Image Search, Interesting, photography, photography tips, photos

April 15 2011


5 Interesting Historical Events Timelines That Show History As It Happened

historical events timelineThink of timelines as historical markers on a scale with dates. But though timelines may be just a plot of dates and events on a long bar, they have a cultural significance; maybe not the timeline itself, but certainly the events that are placed on it. Historical events timelines help us to understand change as it happens over the course of time. This bird’s eye view enables us to grasp the complexity of a trend over the course of history. All it takes is a glance at a timeline.

But it’s not only history. It can be used to plot a fictional course of events too. Just take a look at the Lord of The Rings timelines which prove that these graphic tools can hack away at complexity. Or, if you are an Android user check out this cool video timeline.

Along with infographics, I think timelines are great educational aids. So, let’s take a look at a few cool timelines and understand events as they unfolded.


historical events timeline

The continuing scientific project covers 3000 years of world history with the help of interactive timelines, lifelines, and maps. A menu panel on the left enables you to navigate through people, history, events, and maps. The timeline is synchronoptic ­– it displays the interconnectedness between historical events and gives you a perspective on the events that shaped the world. The graphics may not be rich by current Web 2.0 standards, but the information certainly is.

Conflict History

timeline of events

This really cool timeline takes a darker look at world events: a look at war and conflicts around the world from the past to this day. The timeline is in beta, but it shows the potential of a Google Maps mashup to teach us about history. You can use the slider below or search for a conflict from the search bar. The relevant ones for that period get loaded in the grey box. Text information is sourced from Wikipedia.

Timeline of Art History

timeline of events

We go from war to art with the help of Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. It is definitely a well compiled look at the development of art forms by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. You can browse the timeline by period or by geographical region. From the pre-historic to the present, the timeline is a great educational aid if you are interested in exploration of the history of art from around the world. There are 300 timelines in total, supported by works of art from the Museum’s collection, a chart of time periods, a historical overview, a list of key events, and other content.


timeline of events

One of the world’s best magazines has a rich collection of timelines all in photo slideshows. Thanks to the photographs by some of the world’s top photographers, you get a close look at history through the photo stories. Pictures do speak a thousand words. 810 pages worth of timelines on diverse topics should keep you busy till the next year. Tell us about your pick.

Google News Timeline

historical events timeline

News becomes history one day. Google captures it all in its news timeline, a Google Labs project. The controls on the top enable you to sift through all the major happenings. The default view is on the current date. You can use the slider to go back and forth. News relates to scanned newspapers and magazines, blog posts, sports scores, and information about various types of media, like music albums and movies. But aptly, the timeline allows you to put in your own queries and view the results chronologically on the timeline. You can specify as many different queries as you’d like. Wikipedia and Time Magazine are there by default. The screen shows the result of a query on the tsunami disaster in Japan.

There are quite a few historical events timelines out there. All of them let us go back in time and take another look at history. Which ones are your favorites? Let us know if you like the concept of timelines.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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