Tuesday, January 31, 2012

5 Excellent Open Source Content Management Systems To Start A Website

5 Excellent Open Source Content Management Systems To Start A Website:

content management systemAfter the dot-com boom in the ‘90s, the Internet has grown to be less of a novelty and more of a necessity. Whether you’re the CEO of a big corporation or just an everyday Joe Schmoe, it’s nearly impossible to live in complete isolation from the online world. According to Internet World Stats, over half of the Western world has regular access to the Internet. That means that Internet users are no longer in the minority and being online is slowly becoming a critical aspect of living in the West.

There are few examples that show this best than the sheer number of personalized websites, forums, and blogs that litter the online landscape. Every day, more and more people are building their own websites and leading their own communities. Soon, owning a website will be akin to owning a car or a house.

If you’re looking to start a website of your very own but don’t have much technological knowledge or experience, your best bet would be to get familiar with content management systems, or CMS’s. They are built to take care of all the backend programming and database maintenance, allowing you to focus on creating the website that you want.

Here are some of the most well-known free and open source content management systems that will help you get started.


content management system

It’s impossible to talk about CMSs without mentioning WordPress. Even though WordPress started off as nothing more than a simple blog publishing product back in 2003, it has since evolved into something much more.

With such a large and passionate modding community behind it, WordPress has become one of the best CMSs on the market. By playing around with various plugins and widgets, you can transform an unremarkable WordPress blog into a beautiful, fully-functional website. In fact, if you weren’t aware, MakeUseOf runs on WordPress, and we have lots of WordPress tutorials for you to take advantage of.

WordPress is powered by PHP and MySQL.


web content management system

Joomla first came on the scene back in 2005 as a derivative of its predecessor, Mambo. Since then, Joomla has been downloaded over 23 million times and remains as one of the most popular CMSs in the world. Take a glance at any list of CMSs and you’ll always find Joomla in one of the top 3 spots.

The great thing about Joomla is that your website can be as lightweight or as heavyweight as you need it to be. There are hundreds of extensions available that will help you mold your website into doing exactly what you wish.

Joomla is powered by PHP and MySQL.


web content management system

In the world of CMSs, Drupal is one of the oldest contenders still around. It was initially released back in 2001, making it older than both of its biggest competitors, WordPress and Joomla. It wasn’t until 2007 that this CMS started booming in popularity.

Drupal is somewhat unique in that its continued survival is due in part to the huge community of volunteer contributors. The developers have embraced the open source aspect of Drupal, thus splitting the CMS into 2 main portions: the core, which is maintained by the developers, and the modules, which are maintained by community contributors. At this time, there are over 9,000 of these modules available for download.

Drupal is powered by PHP and any of the following databases: MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQLite, Microsoft SQL Server, MongoDB, or MariaDB.

CMS Made Simple

web content management system

CMS Made Simple has a pretty clever name. Its initials are CMS, which makes it recursive. For those of you that are tech-geeks, I know that you just smirked on the inside.

In the world of CMSs, CMS Made Simple is a late comer, having been introduced in 2009. However, despite its youth, this CMS has received millions of downloads already and has quickly burgeoned into popularity – and for good reason.

Unlike other CMSs, which encourage their users to fiddle around with code and programming, CMS Made Simple aims to provide its users with an easy road towards developing and customizing a website without having to deal with a lot of the technical mumbo-jumbo behind the scenes. If you don’t intend to hack around with the underlying code that powers your website, CMS Made Simple was made just for you.

CMS Made Simple is powered by PHP and MySQL or PostgreSQL.


content management system

Interestingly enough, b2evolution has the same roots as WordPress. In 2003, both CMSs branched off of a preceding blog system called b2/cafelog, of which WordPress became the official successor. While b2evolution isn’t as widely known or respected as WordPress, it does have its fair share of features that prove useful and worthwhile.

b2evolution is perhaps best known for its inherent support for multiple blogs, admins, and users under a single installation. Most other Content Management Systems would require some sort of extension or plugin to support these features – particularly the multi-blog feature. b2evolution handles it all straight out of the box.

And even though b2evolution has a unique feature set right from the get-go, the system can be extended by installing third-party plugins and skins.

b2evolution is powered by PHP and MySQL.

Have you ever used any of these open source CMSs? Tell us about your experiences with them.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Make Sure You Drink Enough Water With These Free Apps [Android]

Make Sure You Drink Enough Water With These Free Apps [Android]:

android apps freeIt is easy to forget to drink enough, especially in winter time, and especially if you’re not very physically active (no offense, I’m just being frank here). But it is important to take in enough water, both for weight loss and just for your general well-being, energy level, and more.

If you own an Android smartphone, it is probably your constant companion throughout the day (and the night, too, but let’s not go there). Today, I would like to share two simple, fun and free Android apps that you can use to monitor your water intake and be reminded to drink more often.

Water Your Body [1.6+]

Water Your Body is one beautiful app:

android apps free

As you can see, it’s ad-supported, but they need to make money somehow, right? The shelves look a lot like iBooks shelves, only instead of books, you fill them with cups and bottles showing how much water you’ve been drinking throughout the day. When you first start the app it asks for your weight (and assumes 65kg) and then decides how much water it thinks you should be drinking every day. I have no idea where it comes up with that number, and I see no reason to place too much stake in it. But as a tracker, it is just lovely. Right by the daily water dosage there’s a cup with an arrow. Tapping it lets you set your default cup:

free apps for android

I love this feature, because throughout a typical day, I am likely to drink water out of one of several typical containers. Water Your Body lets me configure those cups and bottles in advance, gorgeous icons and all. Once you select a default cup, a short tap on the shelf would log that cup. You can also press and hold to pop up a menu that would let you specify a different cup.

If the cup sizes and icons aren’t right for what you need, just hop on over to the Settings menu:

free apps for android

You can now enter the Setting Cup option and fill in the list with whatever cups and volumes work for you:

free apps for android

The settings screen is also a good place to discuss the app’s reminder feature. You can have the app prompt you to drink throughout the day, at set intervals. A reminder is a message shown in the notification bar, along with a sound to draw your attention. I highly recommend changing the default sound: It’s a “running water” effect, and I leave it to your imagination what it looks like when you’ve got the phone in your pants pocket and suddenly the reminder goes off. Awk-ward.

Carbodroid [2.1+]

top free android apps

Carbodroid is a much simpler app, but is very cute. You’ve got four configurable containers (you get to set the volume), and a parched Android in the background. Tap a container (to show that you just finished drinking it), and watch what happens:

top free android apps

Ooh, Mr. Android looks a bit less gloomy already. That’s encouraging! Let’s finish another bottle and see how our droid feels:

top free android apps

Much, much better. And let’s round it off with the ultimate achievement, drinking enough water for one whole day:


I’m not entirely sure about their grammar there (I “have drunk” enough water?), but the message is clear. And once we tap the Awesome button, it reveals one seriously overjoyed droid:


If only water could make me this happy in real life. The settings dialog is straightforward, and lets you set your own daily consumption goal, container volumes, and reminders:

android apps free

Final Thoughts

Water Your Body is a gorgeous app, and it is definitely more full-featured than Carbodroid. You can set more containers, and the graphics are gorgeous. On a less positive note, I don’t like having it decide how much water I should drink per day, without even explaining how it arrives at that number. Carbodroid is much simpler, but it’s also cuter, at least in my opinion.

So, no clear winner here, but I do think that any of them is likely to get you to drink more water. Try them out and tell me which one works better for you!

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Draw a picture and find similar images via reverse Google image search with “unoffical Google Image Search by Drawing”

Draw a picture and find similar images via reverse Google image search with “unoffical Google Image Search by Drawing”:

Google Image Search by Drawing Screenshot1
If you’ve every had a picture in mind and wished that you could find a similar image on the web, then check out the aptly titled “unoffical Google Image Search by Drawing”. This free tool lets you simply draw a very rough picture of the visual you are looking for and performs a reverse image search on it in Google Image Search. For artists, designers, illustrators, bloggers, or anyone who needs to express an idea with a picture, it could be a great time saver indeed.

How it works: draw a rough picture. Pick your color(s), and use a slider to enlarge or decrease the size of your brush. You could use your webcam to snap a picture, and In Chrome and Firefox, you could simply drag and drop an image from your desktop for reverse search or as a background or starting point to your drawing.

Does it work?: it might work fairly well for signs or symbols or simple line-type drawings. For more complex illustrations a text search may be the better option.

Examples: see the image above on the top of the post, and the one below. In the above illustration, I dragged a black and white image of a beach and added a figure that looks like a boat, just to see what the results might look like, which actually are very neat IMHO.

In the illustration below, I thought to myself “what if I wanted to find an illustration of a hand holding a heart”, so I drew that. You can see the results for yourself (my own drawing seems like it might be a better fit than all of the images in the search result).

Google Image Search by Drawing Screenshot2

[Thanks to user Panzer for letting us know about this one]

Go here to test it out.

How healthy is your disk? Find out with CrystalDiskInfo

How healthy is your disk? Find out with CrystalDiskInfo:

A computer’s performance can be affected severely by a hard disk with declining health. That being the case, it is a little odd to think of a hard disk in terms of health, more so when it is “declining.” Typically in the grand scheme of modern transistor-based electronics, devices just simply die and do not give us much warning about how and when the untimely death will occur. Wouldn’t be great if you had a virtual doctor that could report on your hard disk’s health? Enter the free CrystalDiskInfo.

At least on the computer front, modern day hard drives have a bit of a warning system built-in which can be utilized to check the overall health of said disk. This mechanism is called “S.M.A.R.T.” status. “SMART” is short for Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology. SMART can tell you whether your disk is experiencing unusually high temperatures, sector read errors, vibration errors, and much much more.

Having this info is all well and good, but getting to this information is not quite so apparent. Many of us will never see anything related to SMART status other than that menacing “Imminent Hard Disk Failure” at system boot; and, if we’re lucky, we’ll be able to log into the computer and move our data (you should be backing it up anyway!) to a new disk.

This is where a handy-dandy bit of software can help you out.

CrystalDiskInfo is a great tool to get a read on what your hard disk is doing and how good it is “feeling.”

Some nice features of CDI:

  • Email alerting when a threshold is reached (it works nicely with Gmail)

  • Graphing over time for the various SMART statistics

  • Run as resident mode in your System Tray with temperature status

  • Capability of writing SMART events to your event log

  • Localization for a LOT of languages

As mentioned above, CDI does have the capability of writing SMART events to your Windows Event Log. This means if you have other monitoring utilities that you use, you can tweak them to watch the Event log for detailed SMART events.

On a personal note, I’ve seen MANY computers that have slow performance and the user thought that their computer was dying, when instead, the hard disk was going bad. A quick swap with a new disk brings these machines back to life every time.

Get CrystalDiskInfo for Windows here.

Overwhelmed By Selection? How To Find The Perfect Laptop, Tablet Or Camera

Overwhelmed By Selection? How To Find The Perfect Laptop, Tablet Or Camera:

electronics buying guideA while ago, I wrote about a web app that helps you make some sense of the vast selection of smartphones currently available on the market. While Geekaphone was great, it was limited to smartphones only, and we all know that’s not the only thing that comes with a huge selection.

Recently, I had to purchase a laptop for a family member, who couldn’t even begin to find her way amongst all the possible options. Even for me, the selection was overwhelming. Where do you start? So imagine my joy when I found out that the makers of Geekaphone now offer a similar service for other items, such as tablets, cameras, TVs and even laptops. With Sortable, you can sort through different products according to the things you find most important, and find out what the best product is for your specific needs. You can also easily compare different items, and learn about similar items for you to consider.

Getting Started With Sortable

The first thing you have to do with Sortable, is decide what you want to buy. And this is probably the hardest decision you’re going to have to make in the whole process. On the main screen, you can also choose your maximum price, but you can always change that as you go along. Now all you have to do is click “Go”.

electronics buying guide

If you’re truly dumbfounded and have no idea what you’re looking for, Sortable offers a list of popular devices in each category. You can start by browsing these devices, and looking at the most popular comparisons other people have made. This should get you up to speed with the hottest trends on the market.

buying electronics

Finding The Right Device For You

Before you even start digging in, Sortable will recommend the best devices based only on your price range. The best device will appear on the left side of the screen, and more options will appear on the right.

buying electronics

As you go along, you’ll think of things that matter to you more than others, or things the device you choose must have. You can easily screen the results by almost any imaginable parameter. This includes everything from brand, network and form factor…

buying electronics

…to card format, display and ports. These change, of course, when searching for different products. Simply go over these criteria, choose your preferences and watch what happens to the results below.


When you find a device you’re interested in, you can get a comprehensive overview of the device’s specs, including photos, advantages, tradeoffs and reviews from Amazon.


You can also see how the device matches up to its competitors in various categories, and get an idea of what other similar devices are on the market, and what makes them better or worse than this device.

buying electronics online

Comparing Items

If you’ve found two items you like, and would like to know which one is better for you, Sortable offers a comprehensive comparison between any two items, which includes any differences and similarities, a full specs comparison, and even a visual comparison.

To compare two items, either check the compare box when browsing items, or click the “compare” link at the top left.

buying electronics online

Here, you can fill in any two devices. You don’t have to remember the full name, simply start typing the brand name, and Sortable will offer different models for you to choose from.


You will then get a short overview of reasons to consider each device. You can already see significant differences here which can help you choose.

buying electronics online

If this is not enough, you can bore down into the more detailed differences, including a full specs comparison of every little aspect of the devices.


Editing Information

As you can see, there’s a huge amount of information in those specs. Naturally, some information is missing, and some information may be inaccurate. But there’s something you can do about it! When you’re viewing a item’s specs, and you find a missing piece of information or something you believe to be wrong, simply click the edit icon on the right and add or change that spec.


You don’t even have to create an account to do this, but if you do, you can keep track of your edits and become a known contributor on the site. If you choose to claim your account (personalize it, as opposed to keeping it anonymous), you can sign in with either Facebook, Google or Yahoo.


On the front page, Sortable features all the top contributors for each category (even if they are anonymous), and you can view a detailed list of their edits.


More Products

Wish you could use Sortable to find more products? Well, it seems that they’re definitely planning on it. If you want to influence what those next products will be, click the Sortable icon on any page, and choose “Vote on what’s next!


This will direct you to Sortable’s Facebook page, where you can vote on what new products you’d like to see on Sortable. Looks like cars are leading the pack!

electronics buying guide

Bottom Line

The only thing that’s apparently missing from Sortable is a price comparison feature between different stores. The site seems to be tightly integrated with Amazon, and all buy links direct to there. But price comparison engines are a dime a dozen, and once you manage to decide what you want to buy, finding the right price should be a piece of cake. In fact, ignoring the price makes the site much more usable internationally, since prices and stores vary depending on where you are. Specs usually don’t.

What do you think of Sortable? Know of other good comparison engines we should try? Share in the comments.

Image credit: Shutterstock