Saturday, August 29, 2009

Top 7 Things To Do Online When You’re Bored

timeIf you are bored right now or are always interested in material to cover future periods of boredom, you have come to the right place.
With the internet at your fingertips, there is never a lack of fun things to do. We here at MakeUseOf try to show you all the good stuff there is to explore, discover and, well, make good use of. :)
Alright, So don’t let me waste your time, here are 7 silly pages to have some fun with.

1. The Squirrelizer

Objective: Active entertainment, have fun with photos!
The Squirrelizer, inspired by the now-famous National Geographic photo, adds a ground squirrel to any image. All you need is the URL of a picture that isn’t copyrighted.
top things to do when bored
You could use one of your own pictures or go through your friends’ Flickr accounts and search for a boring group photo. Turn it into a hilarious shot by adding this unexpected guest, then share the blast with everyone.

2. flowers2mail

Objective: Do something good, make someone smile, send flowers!
Being bored means you have some time to spare. Don’t let it go to waste! You could invest a minute or two to make someone happy. Are there any birthdays, anniversaries or holidays coming up? How about mailing a bunch of flowers? And if you’re notoriously broke, you will love this one because it’s free!
top things to do when bored
You can add different color flowers to the bouquet, change the vase and add a customized greeting card. The virtual flowers can be mailed up to 15 days in advance and you will be notified once the flowers are picked up.

3. Kapi Regnum

Objective: Active entertainment, play a game!
Kapi Regnum is an online strategy game set in the Middle Ages. The game simulates an economy as it may have existed about 500 years ago. You enter the role of a man who was sent to settle down and repopulate land. Being the landlord, you can produce over 100 products, build houses and entire villages, hire employees, sell your goods, trade with other players and expand your business.
things to do online when your bored
How I wish something like this had existed back in the days when I had way too much time on my hands. :)

4. ScienceHack

Objective: Passive video entertainment, watch something different!
ScienceHack provides science videos of real scientific experiments. The videos are screened and approved by scientists. The categories include Chemistry, Space, Computer Science, Robotics and many more. Below is an example from the Psychology section:

Maybe you’ll discover something you can do at home?

5. Tworl

Objective: Social entertainment, chat with somebody.
Do you feel like chatting, but none of your friends are online? Head over to Tworl and be matched up with a random chat partner right now, based on age and/or sex. Unfortunately, the chat client is currently restricted to AOL Instant Messenger. There is one more catch: you need to sign up to use Tworl. And before accepting a match, AIM must be running.
things to do online when your bored
Once a match is accepted, you’ll see Tworl’s mashup data, consisting of your chat partner’s and your own details, i.e. age, location, picture, what you have in common etc. If your chat partner accepts your invitation, you can rate each other. If he doesn’t, you can mark him as unresponsive. Happy chatting!

6. Podiobooks

Objective: Passive audio entertainment, listen to audiobooks.
Podiobooks is a site that distributes free audiobooks through RSS feeds and direct downloads. You’ll find material in over 20 different categories from countless authors. The first chapter of each book is available to anyone. To hear more, subscribe to a title or download the entire book, you need to sign up.
things to do while bored
You should use your “I’m so bored” moment now to select a few cool books and load your mp3 player with chapters. One of these days you will get bored in a random place, e.g. stuck in public transport, and the internet may be far, far away. Yep, it’s a cruel world.

7. HadToSay

Objective: Vent, say what you have to say to a specific person and let the world know!
Do you have a secret crush on somebody and would you like to give them a hint? Or do you need to anonymously relate some information to someone? At HadToSay you can.
There are two catches: you have to sign up and you have to deliver a physical note to the intended recipient. HadtoSay provides a printable template, which contains the pickup code of your message. You can even print a template without attaching a message to it (yet), leave the note with someone, then log into your HadtoSay account and enter the message after delivering the code.
things to do while bored
If you cannot physically deliver a note to the person, you can still eMail them anonymously with the URL and code. Simon has written an article on How To Send Completely Anonymous Emails.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Make a bootable USB installer for Windows XP, Vista, 7 with WinToFlash

Making a bootable USB flash drive for Windows Vista and Windows 7 isn't all that tricky, but it's always nice to find an app that simplifies things. Not only does WinToFlash make the process about as easy as it can get, but it can also create Windows XP, Server 2003, and Server 2008 installers.

The default options make it easy to roll a silent Windows install, or you can flip the custom switch and specify the exact setup parameters you want to use.

The handy app also has one more trick up its sleeve: moving Windows Preinstall environments. PE discs can be extremely handy for troubleshooting and repairs, and being able to painlessly zap them over to a USB flash drive means not having to burn a new copy every time someone's haggard old optical drive decides to chew up your CD.

WinToFlash is a free download and is totally portable. It's an excellent tool to add to your USB-related utilities.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

How to Automate Mundane Tasks with AutoIt

autoit_logoAutoIt allows you to perform a series of actions and saves a snapshot of the actions. It’s called a macro in geek-speak. Then by simply invoking that macro, the same series of actions is taken again, identical to the first time you did it. Yet, this time all you did was click one icon. If Homer J. Simpson’s math holds true, that takes a 42-step process, reduces it to one, thus increasing your productivity by 42-fold. Is that worthy of a raise?
Here’s how I used AutoIt to create a macro to run CCleaner on my laptop. Yes, something this simple could be done with Windows Scheduler, yet this is a fun entry point to creating far more complex macro scripts.

Step One: Download and Install AutoIt and AutoIt Script Editor

Just jump over to AutoIt, download the appropriate install file and begin the install. I’d recommend going for the Full Installation. It’s only 8 MB in size, so it downloads fairly quick. While you are there you will need to download the AutoIt Script Editor, as well.
Once the download is complete you can begin the process of installing it. Here’s what that will end up looking like:
Standard start install screen. Go ahead and click next.
Standard EULA. Give props to Jonathan Bennett and the AutoIt Team for this fine software. Click I Agree.
For now, you want to choose Run the script as the option. If you are already familiar with scripting, go ahead and check Edit the script. Either way, once your choice is made, click Next.
Choose where you want to install the program. C:\Program Files\AutoIt3 is the default location. Works for me! Click Install.
There it goes! Installing away…
It says that the release notes are very important. In my opinion, they are only important if you’ve been using AutoIt for awhile and you are not new to scripting in Windows. Other than that – not that important. Click Finish.

Step 2:  Installing AutoIT Script Editor

Yes, this seems like a lot of work to avoid a little work. Please stay with me on this. I’m going to show you how to do just one thing with AutoIt, but once you get into it, there’s no end to what you can automate with it. Hang in there.
Find the installer on your desktop and double-click on it.
install_scite_1Standard start an install screen. Moving on.
install_scite_2Yep, looks about right. Let’s click Next.
install_scite_3EULA, blah, blah, blah. I mean, read it carefully and cherish the amazing copywriting. Click I Agree, if you agree.
install_scite_4IT’S INSTALLING! IT’S INSTALLING!!!!!!!! Cameraman, are you getting this?
Click Finish. Take note of the Use Ctrl+F1 to get help on getting started. Annnnnnnnnd, we’re done.
Whew. Let’s get down to making a macro shall we?

Step 3: Macro Making

The trick here is to open the right program in that bunch of stuff that we just downloaded and installed. Click on Windows Start > AutoIt> SciTE> SciTE. Just like in the picture:
Now, the appropriate SciTe editor will be open. Just to make your life easier, and believe me that’s what I’m trying to do, you may want to create a shortcut to this on your desktop.
Once the SciTe editor is open, you may want to close other programs and focus on this process. Multiple windows just makes things confusing.
Once SciTE is open, click on Tools > AU3Recorder. This will open up AU3Record 3.1.
What I’m going to do is run CCleaner. Make sure to check Record Window Text and Record Mouse. Click on Browse and navigate to the ccleaner.exe file.
Double-click on it to select it. You’ll see the path shown in the Run(’ ‘) text field.
Now you can Click to Record the tasks you want to automate.
CCleaner will open. That’s good. Now, click on Run Cleaner and wait for it to do it’s job. Then, close CCleaner.
Go back to the AU3Record window and click on Click to Stop. There! You’ve recorded your macro. Click on File > Save As and save the macro with a good name like quick_clean.au3.
Now when you want to run CCleaner, all you have to do is double click on quick_clean.au3.
Not too bad! Think of this as your “Hello World” program for AutoIt.
By doing this, you’ve just delved into the the world of Window’s Scripting. Keep going. Think of those things that are repetitive that you have to do with your computer and make the macro to suit. I used AutoIt to make an installer for LogMeIn Free that I could send to my field users. All they had to do was double-click the installer and away it went! They didn’t need to know my LogMeIn password or anything else.
You can also create an executable and obfuscate the code so it is harder for people to reverse engineer. You really want to do that if there are passwords involved.
I hope you found this tutorial useful and that you may find a place for AutoIt in your toolbox. It really is a very powerful suite of software and the price is right. Here’s the download link again. AutoIt will only work on Windows.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Top 6 Sites To Watch Horror Movies Online for Free

horrorI’m a big horror movie buff and would any day prefer to watch a gory bloodbath over the latest teeny bopper.
Fans of horror movies aren’t exactly treated well  – around the Internet as well as in the offline world. Reviews and mentions of horror movies are few and far between in the mainstream media and while there are plenty of torrent sites to download and watch free horror movies, the movies are usually (mostly) pirated and their quality and source is questionable.
On a particularly boring weekday night, when I was out of my stash of movies to watch, I decided to explore the underbelly of the Internet and was (pleasantly) surprised with what I saw. Not only is the horror genre alive and kicking in the underworld, it actually even has fans who, like me, would give up anything to watch a really nice monster on screen devour the damsel in distress.
Here is my list of the best places to catch horror movies online and for free.


free watch horror moviesFEARNet has been featured on the MakeUseOf directory before and they make this list again.
FEARNet is one of the best horror movie portals, as I’d like to describe it. They have free horror movies, shows, videos, blogs and even a pretty vibrant community with an active message board to boot.
So, the next time you really crave to chat with someone after watching the ultimate chainsaw wielding dude, hit up FEARNet.

Public Domain Torrents

free watch horror moviesPublic Domain Torrents hosts torrent files for public domain movies and has about 113 (and growing) horror movies in it’s collection right now.
Since, they only host public domain movies, their collection mostly consists of older movies. But, don’t make that stop you from visiting the site and getting your fix of the gore from yore.
With titles like A Bucket of Blood, Carnival of Souls and Drive-in Massacre, in their collection, you really won’t be complaining for a long time.


free watch horror moviesFancast is another site which, like Hulu, streams movies to your living room via your browser.
Their collection is nice, if a bit dated, but then with movies like Cry of the Banshee, Horror Express and Night of the Living Dead, who’s to blame me for the hours and hours that I’ve spent on Fancast?
Jimmy did an in-depth article on Fancast here.


free horror movies onlineJaman has a really slick site and one that I really like, which is unusual because I’ve never actually read or heard about Jaman anywhere else.
I came across Jaman some time back while searching for new sites to watch horror movies for free and I haven’t been disappointed till now.
They not only host English movies, they also have a good collection of movies in languages such as Hindi, Spanish and Swedish, to name a few. That and their fresh collection is what has prompted me to stick to them.

Asian Horror Movies

free horror movies onlineI’ve long believed that Asian horror movies were a genre in themselves. If you’re a fan of the Asian horror movies scene, this is one site you have to check out.
They’ve got more movies than all the above sites combined and feature collections from China, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and a couple of other Asian countries.


free horror movies onlineWhile Hulu is not strictly a horror movie site, it is still one of the best streaming video sites on the Internet.
They have a good collection of movies and if it’s one of those days when you’re too creeped out to actually watch a horror movie, you can always sit back and catch The Simpsons.
We have done loads of Hulu stories but here is a small selection :
How to watch movies & shows on Hulu & Sling from abroad.
Hulu Desktop: Instant TV Shows and Movies on Large Screen.
Best sites to watch TV on your computer over the internet.
How to download free Hulu movies to your computer.
Never again do I have to worry about a dull evening anymore. Which other sites do you guys visit to get your daily dose of horror flicks ?

Collection of Useful MyBrute Links

Here are some useful MyBrute Links:


EXP Calculator
Ultimate Guide
MyBrute Manager
EXP needed to LvlUp
Inventory Preview Tool
MyBrute Fight Simulator
Complete List of all Skills
How to make a black Brute
MyBrute Weak Opponent Matcher
MyBrute Pupil Exchange Chat Room
How to gain EXP fighting with guaranteed Win


Chinese Rip-Off

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

How to Copy DVDs That Are Copyright Protected With WinX DVD Ripper (Windows)

DvdHeadI have been looking for a good free easy to use DVD ripper for a little while now that I can use to copy DVDs that are copyright protected (for backups). I came across this gem called WinX DVD Ripper which is a 6.5 MB download and which will have you ripping DVD’s with ease.
I have had a few favorites and they have all either become paid software or they have been crippled via updates. The movie industry is a hard cookie to have mad at ya…
So the lawyers get cease and desist letters out to the developers and hey why would a free app writer want a long drawn out battle in court? Most don’t and cave.
Please note that it depends where you live – but deciding to copy DVDs that are copyright protected might be illegal! Know your country/state laws regarding ripping DVD’s. I am sticking by my story that I back up all my DVD’s so my little one doesn’t destroy them and the $30 they cost!

how to copy dvds that are copyright protected
So the new kid on the block is WinX DVD ripper. I put it through the normal tests and it is really easy to use! Let’s take a look
how to copy dvds that are copyright protected
Let’s set up our options, load our DVD in our drive and see how it works.
how to copy dvds that are copyright protected
You choose the format you want to convert to by clicking on the appropriate tab. I chose the first one which is AVI (my format of choice). Then I left all of the settings alone and just modified the path to output to above the settings here:
burn dvds which are copy protected
I left the folder name the same and changed the drive it was writing to. When I was done with the settings I made sure my DVD was in a DVD ROM and recognized by my system and then I hit the blue start button.
burn dvds which are copy protected
Now it was time to play the waiting game..
burn dvds which are copy protected
You have the option of shutting down your machine when the rip is complete or for the application to open the output folder when it is done. If you want either of these options to happen simply check the corresponding box.
Once the rip is complete you will have a video file in the format of your choice in the folder you specified a few steps earlier. If you did not change the path it will live in the same drive you installed the software in a directory called OutPutFolder.
burn dvds which are copy protected
For real – I have never seen a quicker or easier method to ripping.

10 Sites To Send Free Text Messages To Cell Phones (SMS)

smsvaderWith SMS messages becoming a key utility in today’s modern world, we are finding ourselves sending more and more of them. But the telecommunications industry is charging a fairly high price on 160 characters. So what can we do about it?  We can send SMS messages for free, or for a very low price by utilizing the magic power of the internet.
The only downside with this is that you have to be sitting in front of a computer, unless of course you have one of those hi-tech phones with internet capabilities.
So where are these free SMS services hiding?  We’ll expose them now. Here are 10 great sites to send free text messages to cell phones (SMS).


send free text messages to cell phones
If you are anywhere but in Australia and New Zealand, unfortunately this service will not work for you. But if you are, Yakedi is absolutely the BEST free site to send SMS messages to Australian and New Zealand users. I have been using this site for years now. When I first joined, they offered unlimited free SMS messages. Unfortunately, they reduced it down to 10, now it is a steady 3 per day.
  • You get the full 160 character for each SMS you send
  • The messages come from your phone number and not someone else’s
  • You have a contact list so you can select contacts
  • Their is no advertisements in SMS messages. However, you do have the otion to include advertisements in your messages
  • Since I have been using this service, they have not sent spam to my mobile phone, or to the people I send the text messages to
  • The website has a nice, clean, professional design
  • Ads are chosen based on surveys of your interest, so you know the ads are targeted towards you
  • Ads are from known corporations (could be a pro or a con)
  • All messages are kept in your message log so you can keep track of what you have sent (and how much money you have saved)
  • You have the ability to earn more free text messages through competitions and email promotions
  • You can change your mobile number anytime
  • SMS messages take roughly 5 seconds to receive
  • This service can only send SMS messages to Australian and New Zealand numbers
  • By default, you can only send 3 SMS messages per day, unless you have won more from promotions
  • They are starting to introduce email promotion = a little bit of spam in your inbox (1-2 a month)
  • There is a four step process to send your SMS. (1. Send SMS, 2. select recipient, 3. Write text message, 4. Confirm message)
Final Say
If you live in Australia and New Zealand, this is the best site for you to send free text messages to cell phones on a daily basis.


text messages to cell phones from computers
The good thing about GizmoSMS is that you can send free text messages to any number world-wide. You do not even have to sign up or have a mobile phone number. It is just a web-based form. But without signing up, the mobile number it is from will not be yours and you only get 80 characters.
GizmoSMS is great if you want to send a message or a note to someone who may be overseas. It is quick and easy. If you want a bit more features, you should have a look at Gizmo5 SMS.


text messages to cell phones from computers
A friend referred me to this program, however, it is not as good as Yakedi as you will see why in the pros and cons.
  • Contains an phone book
  • Messages come from your number
  • SMS messages take roughly 5 seconds to receive
  • Contains a number of other services
  • You can schedule your SMS messages
  • Provides a number of ways to send free text messages to cell phones such as through the web, email and allows you to turn English text into SMS slang
  • You have to do a one minute survey before you can start using the service, which gives you 5 free sms messages
  • SMS may contain ads
  • If your email has a ‘.’ in it, it won’t allow you to sign up
  • You only get 136 characters, which means the rest are advertisements (Free sms message by
  • Unless you want your email inbox to increase, with surveys and advertisments, don’t sign up with an email address you regularly use.
Final Say
Unless you want to do surveys all the time, SPSPup is OK. It still can’t beat Yakedi.


free text messages to cell phones
SMSFun not only allows you to send free SMS messages but you also join part of a community. You have access to forums, User Profiles and Useful Tools such as number lookups.
  • You can send SMS messages from email
  • Allows you to look up premium numbers to see what they are
  • A community based service, which allows profiles
  • If you need more SMS messages, you can upgrade to a Gold Subscription for $2 per week which allows you access to more features on the website
  • A lot of ads, and a few raunchy user pictures
  • Signup process is a bit lengthy
  • Have to earn free SMS messages
  • They may send premium SMS messages (with your consent of course) that will charge your mobile phone
Final Say
If you just want to send free SMS messages without all the other features that SMS fun offers, then I would go with Yakedi or SMSPup. Nevertheless, if you want to join part of a community, fill out surveys and earn free text messages that way, you can’t go past this website.


free text messages to cell phones
Text4Free allows you to send free SMS messages to most countries world-wide. The only downside is that you may have to know your recipient’s cell phone provider, otherwise recipients may be charged.

A Few Others

Web2msg – You do not need to register and you get 140 characters. This service is only for Australian users,  but it is a quick and free way to send a free text message to a mate.
SendSMSNow – You can send a free SMS to selected countries only. Registration is now free.
FreebieSMS – You need to register your number and your friends number and email address to be able to send a free SMS message.
Mobik – I have not had any experience with them.   Maybe you have and you can tell us a bit about them?


If you want to set up your own SMS website service, then you should have a look at Clickatell. They allow you to develop and integrate your own SMS service on your website. If that is not your thing, you can download a desktop application to send cheap SMS messages world-wide.
If you want to send cheap SMS messages using your computer, it is best to use Clickatell. Any problems, just send them an email, as they have 24/7 online help.

A word of caution

As with any website, please read their terms and conditions, and Privacy Policy before entering any personal information. Remember that these sites make their money by advertisements and possibly selling your personal information to third parties. What I suggest is to buy a $2 SIM card to try them out first, just in case they do spam your mobile number, or steal some credit. When testing these services, I have not had these issues yet.
So make sure you read these pages first before using these services:
Yakedi : T&C, Privacy Policy
SMSPup: T&C, Privacy Policy
SMS Fun: T&C, Privacy Policy