5 Retro Gaming Projects With The Raspberry Pi Zero

The Raspberry Pi Zero, like its original forebear, has taken the DIY and homebrew world by storm, making it possible to revise old projects and inspiring newcomers and Pi veterans with a whole host of new ideas.

Somewhat surprisingly, the lack of things like an Ethernet connector and GPIO pins has not proved a barrier – if anything, these omissions have made the Pi Zero even more suitable for projects, especially in the fevered minds of retro gaming fans. Always desperate for an 8-bit fix, these gamers, with their Olympian competitiveness and, indeed, detachment, have been working to squeeze the Raspberry Pi Zero into all manner of projects, from TV sets to existing games consoles and controllers…

Turn an Old TV into a Retro Games Console

We love this, and reckon you will too. It packages all of the high tech, compact engineering of the Raspberry Pi Zero into the spacious interior of a CRT television set, in order to turn it into a retro games console.

This project is a perfect example of the ease with which the comparative lack of USB ports and absent GPIO pins has been effortlessly overcome. With the addition of a USB hub also added into the TV’s interior space and the soldering of an RCA cable to the TV out connector on the Pi Zero board, a Pi Zero previously configured to run RetroPie can deliver a truly retro gaming experience.

Mobile Gaming with the PiGRRL

A Nintendo Gameboy Color clone with Raspberry Pi interior, the PiGRRL project – so developed, it is available in kit form from Adafruit – comes with a Raspberry Pi A+ along with display, controllers, cables, breadboard and battery, among others. However, you’ll have to find your own case, or have one 3D printed.

Now, while there’s no Raspberry Pi Zero in that video, it’s quite clear that you would be able to substitute the old Model A+ for its replacement and enjoy a device that is just as compact, playing the same Gameboy titles.

Convert an Xbox Gamepad into a Games Console

Taking the idea of squeezing a Raspberry Pi Zero into an existing games console one step further, why not slot the device into a game controller? That what Terence Eden did, and with a bit of penknife action on the controller’s innards, he soon had the Pi Zero up and running with a game controller acting as controller and case.

Check Eden’s full blog for instructions, which ended up with him playing Doom quite soon after finishing. While he is realistic about the long-term possibilities of the build:

“Not exactly sustainable from a long term POV! Nor is the BluTak used to hold everything into place.”

…there’s no reason why it shouldn’t work long-term with a slightly different approach. After all, this NES controller is also hiding a Raspberry Pi Zero (although it does require a 3D printed underside).

Stick Quake 3 in a Gaming Mouse

This idea came from the brain of the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s very own Eben Upton (who we chatted to back in 2013), so while surprising, you shouldn’t dismiss it.

Indeed, thanks to this script for building Quake 3 in Raspbian, the job is half done for you. All you should be worrying about is finding a suitable gaming mouse, one with enough interior space to fit the Raspberry Pi Zero and any cabling (USB connector from the mouse, TV out/HDMI, etc.) but with enough buttons to enable you to play without a keyboard. Don’t think it’s possible? It is.

You don’t have to use the official script for installing Quake 3 on the Pi Zero, however. This YouTube video provides an alternative method.

Imagine the Quake 3 LAN parties you could have, lugging not a laptop or an entire PC around someone’s house, but just a mouse!

Raspberry Pi Zero in a Handheld Megadrive

Finally, the cute length, width and height of the Pi Zero means that it can – in theory, at least – be placed inside an existing portable, handheld games console. YouTube user Has Beard, Plays Games certainly thinks so, and since before the launch of the Pi Zero, he’s been trying to squeeze a Raspberry Pi into a Sega Mega Drive Portable Ultimate.

As you can see in this video, the Pi Zero is the first Raspberry Pi that makes the project viable. But will it be possible to see through to the end?

Unfortunately, this project is a bit of a way off completion. We urge you to take a look at part 2 and part 3 and if possible give it a go yourself and help Mr Has Beard, Plays Games out with some suggestions.

And if you have any ideas for further Raspberry Pi Zero retro gaming projects (we reckon a Pi Zero squeezed into a keyboard would be a good start for fans of text adventures) or know of any that should be added to this list, tell us about them in the comments.

3 Ways To Figure Out If Your Favorite Website Is Down

check if website is downI don’t know how many massive social media migrations have occurred every single time one of our favorite services was down. Say, for instance, that Facebook is down. At this point, everyone will flock to Twitter and tweet out the question, “What’s up with Facebook?” or “Is Facebook down?” Furthermore, the opposite will occasionally occur if Twitter itself is down (just remember to call in the Fail Whale).

However, there are a few websites out there that are devoted simply to answering the basic question that you’ll eventually ask: “Is this website down?” Below, we have three of these websites, and they are all based on this one solitary purpose. Even though they all do the same basic function, they are very helpful in even the most dire social media crises.

Down For Everyone Or Just Me

check if website is down

We’ve written about this free service before in the MakeUseOf Directory, so you may very well have already heard about it or tested it out by now. DownForEveryoneOrJustMe is a text-based website that will simply tell you if a website is down or not (by the way, that domain name is a mouthful. You could actually also use their short URL at IsUp.me. My fingers are weary from typing all of that).

All you have to do is enter the domain name in the text-box, click the hyperlinked phrase of “or just me“, and then the site will answer the question for you in a very easy-to-use format. I’m not entirely sure if another website sponsors this service, but it appears that there is a form of advertising on the site that is in the same text-based format as the content. Either way, it isn’t distracting, and it doesn’t clutter up your screen’s real estate.

Down Or Not

check if website is online

Down Or Not is a more graphically pleasing site than the first one that I just mentioned, but it has some pretty cool features seeing that it is powered by WatchMouse Security, a website monitoring company. This means that in addition to telling you as to whether or not a site is down, the service provides you with some pretty lengthy stats and includes information as to how exactly they find out if the site is down.

MakeUseOf actually covered a form of Down Or Not called SocialDownOrNot which is a website that provides information on most of the major social networks available on the Internet. Besides all of this, the homepage displays information that is seemingly the most-searched sites on Down Or Not. You can bookmark these and any other site you search (i.e. www.downornot.com/makeuseof) to quickly get your information.

DownRightNow

check if website is down

DownRightNow is a very interesting form of this type of site in that it includes user-submitted reports in its effort to find out if the Internet’s top sites are down. Besides company announcements and official status reports, the site bases its verdict on whether or not enough people supply common information, and for a crowd-sourced project, DownRightNow is very effective. However, one thing that I do not like about the site is the inability to run a search on a specific website you are checking on (much like SocialDownOrNot).

In addition to simply telling you if the website is down, DownRightNow includes a status history shown in the form of a graph that records the ups and downs of a site throughout the day. This is pretty good information to have in case you want to know if there have been similar outages for a site for a lengthy period of time. Furthermore, you can use a similar bookmarking system to Down Or Not for this site, and you can also follow its Twitter feed for updates.

Conclusion

At the core, the three services shown here are basically single-purpose sites. They may gain a little ad revenue or business for their publishers, and to be honest, since they do what they are supposed to do, it’s worth it. Do yourself a favor and keep at least one of them in your bookmarks.

What other similar sites to these do you typically use? Have any of these ever helped you before?

Image Credit: keyseeker

5 Traveler Secrets To Find The Best And Cheapest Flights

In his Netflix stand-up comedy special, Trevor Noah laid down one universal truth: “If there’s one thing you won’t waste your money on, it’s travelling.” But that still doesn’t mean you should spend more than necessary.

Regular travelers know the ins-and-outs of getting great offers on flights. They’ll search the right websites to find cheap fares 5 Rules to Finding Cheap Airline Flight Tickets Who says you can’t fly for cheap? Sometimes it comes down to whether or not you click the right links, search the right terms, or pick the right times to search the web. Read More , figure out “hidden city” routes, and regale you with tales of the amazing deals they got.

So how do you take advantage of the wonderful deals that regulars get? By knowing where the travelers look! Try these apps and sites to get started.

1. SkipLagged (Web, Android, iOS): Find “Hidden City” Fares for Huge Discounts

You know that flights often have layovers. But you probably didn’t know that getting off at layovers can save you big bucks. Such layovers are “hidden city” deals.

For example, let’s say you are travelling from New York to San Francisco. If there’s a New York–San Francisco–Seattle flight, then getting off at the SF layover will be much cheaper than a regular NY–SF flight. But airlines don’t usually show these layover stops. San Francisco, thus, is a “hidden city” deal in this case.

SkipLagged specializes in finding hidden cities across the world, but mainly in the U.S. The savings are substantial. Just to compare, we looked up New York–Los Angeles flights on SkyScanner, one of the best flight comparison tools Get the Cheapest Airline Tickets with These Apps Looking for cheap flights? Then you definitely need to download at least one of these apps! Read More . The best deal was $240, while SkipLagged found an alternative for $215.

The reason layovers are cheaper is because it has restrictions. You can only use carry-on luggage, and such flights don’t count towards your frequent flyer points. But if the deal is good enough, those are small sacrifices.

Download — SkipLagged for Android (Free) or for iOS (Free)

2. Hopper (Android, iOS): The Best Time to Buy to Get the Lowest Fare

Ticket prices for flights keep fluctuating based on the number of days left. Usually, there’s a “sweet spot” where you will find the lowest fare. It would be ridiculous to keep checking every day for this, nor would you be able to figure it out. So, let Hopper do it for you.

Add your origin, destination, and travel dates to the “Watch” list on Hopper. Based on historical data and its algorithms, Hopper will alert you on the day of that magical sweet spot. You can book through the app itself, or use your favorite flight ticket app How to Snag Cheap Airline Tickets Using Google Flights Newest Feature The newest feature in Google Flights will help you save a lot of money by capitalizing on deals before they expire. Read More .

You can add filters stating the number of layovers or if you’re okay with basic fare seats. Hopper will also tell you if the price you are looking at is a good deal or not, based on its historical data.

Download — Hopper for Android (Free) or for iOS (Free)

3. MadFientist CardRatings (Web): Get the Best Credit Card for Bonuses

If you plan to travel, you need a credit card that gives you the maximum benefits Find the Best Credit Card Deals Online With These 10 Awesome Sites Whether you’re looking for signup bonuses, cash back, rewards programs, or loyalty discounts, we’ve got your covered. Here are 10 sites that will help you find the best credit cards deals. Read More on miles. But the offers are overwhelming, the details (like flexible points) are hard to find, and you need to calculate if you’ll actually use them. MadFientist made a fantastic tool to help the confused traveler.

The CardRatings app caters to new subscribers because it’s all about the sign-up bonus. It will tell you the card’s sign-up bonus and its terms and conditions. More importantly, it shows how much you’ll need to spend on the card and in how short a time, to be eligible for that bonus. This is the most crucial detail of credit card points, so pay attention to this factor.

MadFientist gives his own recommendations for the best cards, and adds hotels, miles, and other details. You can also sort the cards by personal or business, and check out their annual fee.

4. TripStreak (Web): Rank Your Preferences

Travel search engines do a great job of showing you every detail you need. And then you need to further filter those details to your taste. Adjust the layover time, and refresh. Check your favorite airline, and refresh. Then check the other preferred airline, and refresh. Tick the box for Wi-Fi, and refresh. It’s annoying!

flights tripstreak travel

At TripStreak, you can enter all your preferences for a flight and rank them. If layover duration is more important than Wi-Fi in the air, rank those two accordingly. When you search for flights, TripStreak will take all your flying preferences Learn to Love Flying Again with These Secret Travel Tips Use technology to completely change your flying experience. Here are some not-so-secret flying and travel tips to make your in-flight experience more bearable. Read More into account to return the best flights based on those. It’s a major change from how you filter results right now.

The priority list includes lowest cost, fewest connections, type of aircraft, preferred airline or frequent flyer program, layover duration, miles/points type, refundable tickets, avoid red-eye flights, and Wi-Fi on board.

5. All The Flight Deals (Web): Amazing Deals, When Any Destination is Fine

Airlines often have limited-period deals for some routes. Keeping track of them all would be insane. You can rely on bloggers like The Points Guy How to Grab Cheap Airfares with These Best-Kept Travel Secrets Travel need not cost you any cash at all. We spoke to two famous travel hackers to find what travel hacking is all about and how you can get started yourself, stress free. Read More to find them for you, or use All The Flights Deals.

flights all the flight deals travel

The app asks you to enter your origin location. With that, it will show you all the current deals to fly out from your city, whether domestic or international. All The Flights Deals grabs data from all other resources to find last-minute deals How to Find Last Minute Flights and Travel Deals Online Take a last-minute vacation to booking something with the help of holiday deals. Here are some tips, tricks, and advice to help you find the absolute best last-minute deals. Read More . It’s a game-changing experience if you’re looking to just travel without having a specific destination in mind.

You can still filter your destinations a bit, either by the continent, the country, the city you’re interested in. But that’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time, so don’t rely on that luck factor.

Your Best Travel Deal?

The only thing better than travelling is travelling on a fantastic deal. What’s the best travel deal you ever got?

Usenet Tips And Tricks

This guide is available to download as a free PDF. Download Usenet Tips And Tricks now. Feel free to copy and share this with your friends and family.

Are you looking to discover the world of Usenet? There is a lot you can do on the newsgroups, but learning how to use it can be rather complicated.

Our new tips and trick guide for Usenet will guide you through getting everything up and running. You will be able to use all the file sharing and other features with the knowledge gained from our free cheat sheet.

Usenet Tips And Tricks usenet thumb

Please find the contents of the cheat sheet below.

Places to find Content

Free Usenet Clients

Tips for Choosing a Provider

  • Days of Full Binary Retention – Retention is the number of days you’re guaranteed to be able access to a file after its posting date. Mostly, providers offer around 200 days. See if that’s enough.
  • Monthly Transfer – Total amount of data you can download in a month. Usually in GB.
  • Connections – The number of simultaneous connections you can make at a single time. Usually you are provided with a sufficient amount of connections, regardless of the chosen account type.
  • Security – If you want to make your data transfer even more secure, you might want to check extra security offers from your provider.
  • Support – Sometimes you need to contact your provider and it’s always better if their support has a decent response time.
  • Cancellation and Trial Periods – It’s always a good idea to try their services without paying anything ahead. Just to check if everything fits your needs.

Top Usenet Providers

You may also download this cheat sheet in PDF format as seen in the image above.

How To Put Your Face On A Different Body Using Gimp

Admit it, playing around with image editing tools such as Photoshop and GIMP can be pretty fun, depending on what you’re trying to do. Virtually anything can be done with these tools, from some simple photo touch-ups all the way to creating impressive graphics from scratch (or some combination of both).

However, it’s not as fun if you only have an idea and you don’t actually know how to do it. Don’t worry though. Today we’ll be covering a classic – how to put your face on another body using GIMP.

Why GIMP?

I like writing articles about GIMP instead of Photoshop because, legally speaking, GIMP is freely available for everyone to use, and it’s definitely got some powerful tools. You simply have to take some time to learn it, and it’ll become a very worthy alternative to Photoshop. In any case, even for the inexperienced, Microsoft Paint is a disgrace by a long shot when compared to GIMP.

If you don’t already have it, you can download and install GIMP from their official site. GIMP is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac.

Getting Started

gimp face swap

When you’re ready to go, fire up GIMP and open one image with your face and another with the body you want to put your face on. You can minimize the picture with the body for now, as the main task at hand right now is “extracting” your face from the other picture.

“Extracting” Your Face

gimp face swap

In the left panel of buttons, you’ll need to find the one that I highlighted in the screenshot, named the Paths Tool. With this tool, you’re going to make a path that goes all the way around your face until it makes a complete loop and selects what’s inside of it.

Technically you can also use the Free Select Tool, but you’ll have to make your loop in one go, and trust me, it will not look as good.

Making The Loop

gimp face swap

With the Path Tool selected, you can begin clicking around your face. Each click will make a point that the line/loop has to go through, as you can see in the screenshot or once you do it yourself. Therefore, the more zoomed in you are, the more accurate your loop will be.

Preferably, you should place the loop on the edge of your face. You can also bend the lines between points for more accuracy by right-clicking on the line and moving the mouse around.

Don’t forget, you can always undo everything you do, so if you misplace a point, you can always undo it and try again.

Finishing The Loop

gimp face replace

It’ll be normal for all of this to take a couple of minutes, especially if you’re working with a high-resolution photo. You’ll have to keep going all the way around your face until you meet up again with the first point that you made.

Once you do, click again on the first point that you made to complete the loop.

It’s fine if a line doesn’t actually appear between the first and the last point; it be fixed in the next step. This last line won’t be curved though, so if a high level of accuracy is required, try to make your last point as close as possible to the first one.

Final Steps

how do i put my face on a different body using gimp

With the loop laid out, you’ll find a button labeled Selection from Path at the bottom of the left panel. Click it, and a selection will be made using the loop.

You can copy over the selection using Ctrl + C or by going to the Edit > Copy. Next, you can move over to the other image with the body, create a new layer (which will make it easier to work with), and paste your face onto that image.

Finally, you can resize and move your face around until it’s where it’s supposed to be.

How Did Your Face Turn Out?

I have to admit, unless you have some major luck, the lighting will probably be off and your face, therefore, won’t perfectly melt into place as if it was an original image.

There are a couple things you can do to make it less obvious, but all of that is a topic for another article. However, it’s still a fun effect, and the phrase “practice makes perfect” rings true in this case.

What’s your favorite thing to do with GIMP? Considering all aspects (including price), do you prefer GIMP or Photoshop for use by anyone who isn’t a total professional? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credits: Will Smith (Wikipedia), Dwayne Johnson (Wikipedia)

Feature Image Credit: Bystrov via Shutterstock

Mergepdf: Online Pdf Joiner

MergePDF is an online PDF joiner app for merging PDF’s online. Anyone can use it to combine multiple PDF documents into one. The application is free of charge and without any installation or registration requirements.

Users can add up to 10 PDF documents with a maximum of 5 MB per file. After adding the files, click on on the “Merge PDF!” button to upload and merge all the documents. The resulting file can be then downloaded and opened in the any PDF reader.

pdf joiner

Features:

  • Online PDF joiner for merging PDF documents.
  • Combine up to 10 PDF files per session.
  • Individual file size limit is 5MB.
  • All uploaded files are removed after the merge process is finished.

MergePDF is by no means an only tool to merge PDFs other sites include PDFHammer, SplitMergePDF, PDF SplitandMerge and PDFtk.

Check out MergePDF @ www.mergepdf.net

Top Issues People Have With Internet Explorer, And Easy Ways To Fix Them

Internet Explorer has come a long way since IE6, and you may have started using it again after reading one of the very convincing accounts of how Internet Explorer has greatly improved. However, technology will always have problems and glitches no matter the brand or how much it has improved.

Here are some of the most common problems you may encounter with IE and quick and easy solutions for fixing them. Some of the troubleshooting methods may overlap from problem to problem. So in order to prevent redundancy, I will reference to a previous section in which that was discussed already.

Always Check for Latest Updates

1 IE version

I know you may have heard this advice a hundred times, but seriously, before you ever try to troubleshoot anything in depth, quickly run Windows update to check for any missing updates. Even if you have Windows set to automatically install updates, there could be optional updates that haven’t been installed. In versions before Windows 8, go to the Start Menu and type check for updates.

In Windows 8 and 8.1, go to the Start Screen and start typing check for updates.

1.2 updates

Trouble Viewing Web Page in IE App

If you’re using Windows 8.1 and browsing via the IE app (otherwise known as Immersive Browser), you may experience pages saying “You’re not connected”. The easiest way to test if this is an issue with the app itself is to view the same webpage in the desktop browser.

2 IE app - view in the desktop

In the bottom right corner, click the “wrench” icon and then click View in the desktop. This will open the page in the IE desktop browser. If it works, you’ve narrowed down your problem to the Immersive Browser and probably need to update it.

404 Error: Page Cannot Be Displayed

If you’re experiencing 404 errors, but you know the webpage exists and you are connected to the Internet, try resetting Internet Explorer. Go to the Tools “gear” icon and click Internet options. Under the Advanced tab, click Reset. When the Reset Internet Explorer Settings dialog box appears, click Reset. Internet Explorer will apply the default settings. Click Close and then OK. You will need to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

2.2 IE Reset

Crashes, Freezes or Hangs

There are several ways to address these problems. The first is running Internet Explorer Performance troubleshooter. Search and click Troubleshooting. At the top of the left menu, click View All, then Internet Explorer Performance.

3.1 troubleshooting - Internet explorer performance

There is an Advanced link which displays the option to Run as administrator. I always suggest this when searching for problems since admin rights can yield more accurate results. Make sure the checkbox Apply repairs automatically is checked, click Next and follow the rest of the instructions.

3.2 IE performance scan

Turning off hardware acceleration can also help. Hardware acceleration uses your PC’s graphics card to accelerate graphics-extensive tasks, such as streaming video or playing online games.

4.1 IE tools - Internet options

In Internet Explorer, click the “gear” Tools button in the top right corner, then click Internet Options on the menu. Select the Advanced tab, then check the box for Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering. Click OK and restart Internet Explorer for the change to take effect.

4.2 Internet Options - Advanced - Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering

Add-ons can often interfere with the browser’s performance. The best way to determine if this is the case is to temporarily disable them. Unfortunately, going to Manage Add-ons and disabling them means you have to go back and manually enable them, as there will be some you will already have disabled. This would be very time-consuming.

5.1 IE - add-ons disabled

There’s a better way. Open the Run box (Windows Key + R) and type iexplore.exe -extoff and hit Enter (Surprisingly, this method wasn’t found on Microsoft’s IE troubleshooting page).

5.2 Run - iexplore.exe -extoff

If all else fails, you can do a complete reset of Internet Explorer, mentioned previously in the “404 Error” section. As previously stated, this will return it to the beginning state in which it was first installed on your computer. It’d be a good idea to back up your bookmarks and any saved passwords/web forms you have.

Display Issues

If a website isn’t looking like you would expect it to, such as appearing blank, images not displaying, broken or jumbled text, or out of place menus, there could be some compatibility issues between IE and the website. A quick solution might be adding this site to the Compatibility View list. In Internet Explorer, click the Tools “gear” button and then Compatibility View settings. The site you’re currently on will automatically display in the text field, so all you do is click the Add button and close the window.

7 IE tools - Compatibility View settings

If you’re still having issues, you can also try turning off hardware acceleration, mentioned in the previous section.

8.1 IE Tools - manage add-ons

Did you turn on Tracking Protection for that site previously? Though there are benefits to it, it may also interfere with content. To turn off Tracking Protection, click the Tools “gear” button and Manage add-ons. Tracking Protection is the last option in the left column titled Add-on Types. Then right-click on the list and click Disable.

8.2 IE manage add-ons - Tracking protection

You can also try clearing your browser cache, otherwise known as temporary Internet files. Note that this will also delete your Compatibility View list. Click the Tools “gear” icon, then Internet options. On the General tab, under Browsing history click Delete. Select the check box Temporary Internet files and website files and click Delete.

9 IE - delete temporary internet files

Videos Won’t Play

The video you’re trying to play may require an add-on that you don’t have in your browser. If you’re having trouble playing videos in the Internet Explorer app (what Microsoft calls Immersive Browser), then you can try watching the video in the desktop browser by clicking the Page tools “wrench” button in the bottom right corner and clicking View in the desktop.

If you’re already using the desktop browser, make sure first you aren’t viewing the website using InPrivate Browsing as it might block info or add-ons required for playing the video.

Viewing the website with Compatibility View can also correct the problem. This method is covered previously in the “Display Issues” section of this article.

Can’t See Any Pictures

You can try all the previously-mentioned solutions for this problem such as Compatibility View, turning off Tracking Protection and clearing temporary Internet files, but first make sure that Internet Explorer is set to show pictures. It’s simple fixes like this that make us scratch our heads how we didn’t think of this sooner… and how it got unchecked in the first place.

Go to the Tools “gear” button, click Internet options, the Advanced tab and scroll down to Multimedia. Make sure the checkbox (last one) that says Show pictures is checked.

10 IE - show pictures

If this is checked, you can reset Internet Explorer’s security settings. While in Internet Options, click the Security tab and click Default level. Note that this button will be grayed out if Enable Protected Mode is checked. Uncheck it, click Default level and restart your PC.

11 IE - Security settings - default level

Last case scenario if none of these work is resetting IE to its default settings, previously mentioned in the “404 Error” section above.

Pitch In Your IE Advice

Of course, there are always problems with technology and we can’t possibly cover all of them in one article, though we tried to provide quick solutions to the common issues that IE users have run into.

What have you done to make Internet Explorer work for you? Have you had a problem you found was common among IE users? What solution did you discover to fix it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Going Grocery Shopping? Top 5 Android Shopping List Apps

Just because a billion humans do something every day, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

There are grocery stores across the globe packed with shoppers. Many of them are struggling. They’re forgetting things they made a note of that morning, walking down the same aisle they’ve browsed three times already, and making many impulse buys. There’s time, money, and gas down the drain, and they still don’t have all the food they intended to buy.

This whole seat of the pants thing isn’t working. It’s time to think of a plan of action. You don’t have to use your smartphone to help you remember things, but, you know, it works. These five Android apps could be what you need to get control.

1) Buy Me a Pie!

When it comes to shopping lists, pen and paper can get the job done, but they can require rewriting the same items down every time you go shopping, and if someone thinks of something for you to pick up while you’re out, the best they can do is call and ask.

With Buy Me a Pie!, your list changes as your needs do. The app saves items for future use, and colorful tags help you keep everything organized. Separate food from the cleaning supplies, or if you really want to get specific, demarcate the produce from the spices, drinks, and frozen goods.

AndroidGroceryApps-Buy-Me-A-Pie

Buy Me a Pie! lets you sync lists across multiple devices, so two people can build them together over the course of a week. When one person goes out to the store, they know what to get, and their information is current.

Lastly, the app is cross-platform. So if your shopping partners don’t use Android, you’re not out of luck.

Download: Buy Me A Pie for Android (Free$2.98 | Widget)

2) Bring! Shopping List

If you want something that looks at home on Lollipop devices, add Bring! to your list. The developers have managed to create something that showcases material design while still sporting its own sense of style.

Not only that, Bring! has its own unique workflow. Rather than think of items off the top of your head, the app provides categories and depictions of food you may regularly need. All you have to do is tap on one to add it to your list.

AndroidGroceryApps-Bring

Syncing is available, but to create multiple lists and share them with others, you need to create an account. Fortunately, you can do that for free.

Download: Bring! Shopping List for Android (Free)

3) Grocery IQ

With the ability to keep lists and sync them across devices, Grocery IQ provides the core functionality we expect from a shopping list app. The interface is a little older, but it’s still pretty usable.

AndroidGroceryApps-GroceryIQ

Two features help set it apart. You can easily add items by scanning their barcodes. This lets you insert multiples at once relatively quickly.

Then there’s the coupons, one of the great ways to save money while shopping. Grocery IQ provides you with a list of products on which you can save money. You tap the ones you like to “clip” them, which adds them to your list. From there you can email them to yourself, print them out, and use them at the store.

AndroidGroceryApps-GroceryIQ-Coupons

While Buy Me a Pie! and Bring! aim for simplicity, Grocery IQ allows for more depth. You can add prices, weight, quantities, and other descriptive qualities to each item.

Download: Grocery IQ for Android (Free)

4) Our Groceries

Our Groceries is more basic than the previous apps, but it isn’t without its merits. You have two kinds of lists: Shopping Lists and Recipes. The latter doesn’t actually provide you with instructions and measurements.

Instead, it lets you store lists of items you need to make your favorite dishes. Tapping on any of these adds them to your shopping list. In effect, this kills two birds with one stone. You know what you need to make dinner, and you actually remember to buy it.

AndroidGroceryApps-OurGroceries

Aside from that, you can group items and assign colors that help you tell things apart. The app will learn from you over time and prompt you to re-enter words you type often. You can share lists via email, SMS, and other apps, but it’s not the active syncing you get elsewhere.

Download: Our Groceries for Android (Free)

5) Out of Milk

We’ve covered Out of Milk in-depth before, but three years have passed since then. Unsurprisingly, the app has received a visual overhaul. It doesn’t look entirely at home next to Google apps, but it’s close enough. The functionality remains rock solid, and there are numerous reasons to check out this app in particular. Its pantry list supplies a place to keep track of the stuff you already have, which can help you determine what you need even when you’re not at home digging through the shelves.

When it comes to saving money, Out of Milk provides an extensive list of coupons. Not only that, it keys in to local retailers in your zip code. It even lets you browse by store. This makes it perhaps the best recommendation for folks wanting to shrink the size of their receipts.

AndroidGroceryApps-Out-of-Milk-Coupons

Download: Out of Milk for Android (Free) | $1.99)

Honorable Mentions

The apps on this list serve as relatively comprehensive shopping companions. But if you want to save money in particular, there are ways to expand upon what these apps offer. ShopSavvy lets you scan barcodes and compare prices. Checkout51 provides a constant supply of coupons. Both serve as cost-cutting complements to the shopping list apps above.

For the record, you don’t need to a get a dedicated grocery app for your shopping trips. There’s a good chance your smartphone came with an app for keeping notes. Using that should at least cut down on the likelihood of you forgetting to bring your shopping list to the store.

Google Keep provides general note-taking capabilities, but it syncs everything to the web, and you can share notes with other Google accounts. So if you and your significant other both use Gmail, you both have all you need to start shopping with Keep.

There are general to-do lists — Android has a ton of those. You can also get by using Microsoft OneNote. Or you could fire up Google Drive or Office 365 and stick to storing your lists in a document. Some approaches may sound better than others, but all of us work differently. Find what works for you.

What Do You Do?

We all go shopping, or we all know someone who does it for us. Unless you make everything yourself, you probably have a regular grocery routine.

What do you do? Do you use any gadgets or services to help you out? What are your favorite apps? Share your approach with us. Maybe we will all learn something new.

Image Credits: shopping basket via Shutterstock

8 Websites For Creative Business Ideas If You Want To Be An Entrepreneur

ideas for a businessWhat are the chances of a tech blog succeeding in an ocean of similar blogs? Minuscule, one would think. But it took the entrepreneurial zeal of this site’s founders to make MakeUseOf.com one of the top rankers in its niche. If someone tells you that you can raise millions by selling pixels, back in 2005, you would have laughed on his face. Alex Tew laughed all the way to the bank when his site – The Million Dollar Homepage became an internet trend.

That’s the thing with ideas. You never know which ones will work. Without crazy ideas we wouldn’t have the airplane or the Frisbee. If you are an enterprising entrepreneur, you probably are in search of the next great big idea.

These eight websites with business ideas might not be your genie’s lamp, but they could light a spark.

Springwise

ideas for a business

Springwise spotters grab ideas for a business from across the world and put it in an ideas database. So, if you can have rocks that can inspire children to write creatively, you also have educational iPad apps that are helping children with special needs. The UK based website is a great resource because it tries to cover nearly 150 countries worldwide for the most promising business ventures, ideas and concepts. The site also has a great newsletter. This site is highly recommended for business inspiration.

Cool Business Ideas

good business ideas

The business blog is all about that – cool ideas for a business. Ideas are curated from around the world, scanned from publications, mined from various industries, and finally presented in a bi-weekly newsletter. You can of course, check out the ideas on the site too under various categories. From an iPhone case that doubles as a wallet to urban farms, you have some really innovative ones.

Trend Watching

good business ideas

This web service/publication watches out for consumer trends across the world. It has a mix of free and paid offerings. The monthly trend briefs are free but the more comprehensive annual reports and the trends database are paid products. Even then a trip through the site gives budding entrepreneur lots of cues to analyze consumer trends. The briefings look compiled and authoritative. For instance, if a trend says that the heaviest use of health or medical related apps is by young adults, you can probably find a germ of a business idea there.

Entrepreneur

good business ideas

The well-known entrepreneur’s blog has a section devoted to business ideas. Currently, the business idea center is listing 969 businesses you can start today. From starting computer classes to becoming a dog walker, you have all sorts of skills on display. There’s a nifty Business Idea Finder too which helps you filter business ideas by startup costs. What’s more you can also browse through the many success stories for inspiration.

PSFK

start up business ideas

This ideas website covers design, digital, marketing, media and technology domains. So, on one hand you have daily ideas being published and on the other you have events around the world (like the PSFK Salons and conferences) where thought leaders thrash out ideas. If you are interested in design innovation, you might like this website as it seems to have a strong leaning towards that.

Business Opportunities

start up business ideas

You can dip into an archive of over 19,000 business ideas if you are running short. The blog on business opportunities and ideas has a simple ideal – to help entrepreneurs find the business that’s right for them. So, you have the business opportunities directory arranged around neat tags, categories, and also chronologically.

Kickstarter

ideas for a business

Kickstarter itself is a great idea to begin with. It is said to be (or claims to be) one of the largest crowdsourced funding platforms in the world. People from around the world help to finance projects in the fields of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative areas via this web service. Click on the Discover Projects link and see what normal people are dreaming of creating. You can get inspired and create your project, and then seek backers. Even a casual glance reveals the rich variety of projects and the crowd funding behind each. Definitely check this out in more depth.

Quirky

Quirky is another web service for some entrepreneurial chutzpah. It all starts with a product idea. You can submit your own or be a part of the community and help to develop someone else’s. Submission fees ($10) apply for your own product idea, but otherwise participation is free. As a community member, you can influence product development by voting and rating ideas.

If you have your own idea, the feedback and help from the community, and Quirky’s own support could help it turn into a marketable product. Quirky says that they bring two brand new consumer products to market each week, by enabling a fluid conversation between a global community and Quirky’s expert product design staff. Oh, do read more about getting paid for your product!

So, has the entrepreneurial fire ignited in your belly? If it has, take a few more hints from our previous posts:

Instantly Connect Idea Makers & Entrepreneurs Using OpenInvo
3 Free Tools to Plan and Visualize Your Start-Up Business
10 Awesome & Inspiring Blogs for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners

Also, check out Kiva through which you can help out many smaller entrepreneurs in the developing world.

Do you know any other great websites out there with ideas for a business? Let us know your thoughts on ideas and innovations.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

3+ Free Must-have Programming Books For Your Summer Reading List

3+ Free Must-Have Programming Books For Your Summer Reading List intro11Want to be productive this summer? If your answer is no, I’m surprised you’re reading this article, but since you’re already here, you might as well read about some potentially productive things. Say, reading some great beginner-grade materials especially if you have an interest in making some of your own Chrome extensions, Windows programs, etc.

We have published a number of articles with links to programming video tutorials, interactive learning modules, and even our own programming lessons, but sometimes, you might just need a good book to immerse yourself in. Lucky for you, up next I’ve gathered a list of legally free programming books that can get you started with learning how to program, scripting and even making your own websites.

Thinking in C++ by Bruce Eckel

programming books

Thinking in C++ is a free electronic book in its second edition that consists of two volumes. The first volume constitutes an introduction to C++ while the second one contains more advanced topics and testing techniques as well as exercises. This book earned a Software Development Jolt Cola Award for best book of the year in 1995 when it was released, but it has seen changes to reflect the updates of the ANSI/ISO C++ standard.

The author of the book also has written various books on Java, Python and more, many of which are available for free from his site. With that much experience writing books, it’s no surprise that his books have earned quite respectable reviews on Amazon. In fact, the first volume has an average of 4.5 stars from 91 customer reviews, while the second volume also averages 4.5 stars from 18 reviews. If those aren’t signs of a great book that you should totally include in your summer reading list, I don’t know what is.

Dive Into HTML5 by Mark Pilgrim

Want to make some slick web apps? You know, polished mobile map web apps or websites with awesome drag-and-drop features? This resource to learn HTML 5 will be very handy. Brought to you by the same people that have released Dive Into Python, this Creative Commonslicensed book is also available from Github. You can additionally purchase a physical copy on Amazon, which has accumulated an average of 4 stars from 60 customer reviews.

programming books

Eloquent Javascript by Marijn Haverbeke

free programming books

Have you used bookmarklets (you should)? If yes, you’ve been clicking on pieces of JavaScript code then. How about Chrome extensions? Those can have JavaScript code underneath as well, in addition to HTML and CSS of course. JavaScript is the scripting language of the web so lots of websites use it to make pages interactive and fun. And no, its name should not confuse you into thinking that JS is derived from the Java programming language created by Sun. Still, that doesn’t make it any less capable, something you’ll find out reading Eloquent Javascript, which has a more updated version on Amazon. The version being offered under an open license on its official site is still a rich resource with interactive examples. When you’re done reading this, you might even want to check out the  Creative Commons-licensed book jQuery Fundamentals.

Bonus: The Python Tutorial (Release 3.3)

OK, I know this one doesn’t count as an e-book, but it’s an extensive resource that will probably feel like reading a booklet for learning Python. Python is a rapid-prototyping language that’s perfect for beginners with no programming experience or even experienced programmers with no previous exposure to Python. In fact, that’s the first language Computer Science students (at my University at least) are taught because it’s fairly easy to learn and read. Don’t believe me? Just head to the official Python site, which offers an excellent resource to learn the language from. This one is probably better for reading on your computer as there are different sections and modules for review. This release (3.3) is actually dated June 1st of this year, so it’s quite updated, ready for you to start reading.

free programming books

Another resource to note is the Non-Programmer’s Tutorial for Python 3 from Wikibooks, which indicates that it’s meant for individuals with no previous programming experience, though I’m sure intermediate programmers could also find the tutorial useful. There’s even a print-friendly version for those that want a physical copy of the tutorial.

programming books

For additional resources to learn Python, check out a more complete list of Python-teaching sites.

What other good programming ebooks can you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.

Image Credit: php code by kakaopor via SXC