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Laptops, Chairs, Student Websites, and Windows Apps

Back for a new run of episodes, this week’s Really Useful Podcast is a “back to school” special, with tips for students looking for new laptops, computer chairs, and useful apps and websites.

Really Useful Podcast Season 4 Episode 1 Shownotes

In this week’s show:

Please share our podcast with anyone you think would benefit from jargon-free clarity about technology. Point them to the Really Useful Podcast on:

Enjoy this show? Subscribe to the tech podcast for technophobes today!



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The 9 Best Baking Recipe Websites for Delicious Dessert Ideas

Do you have no idea what delicious treat you should bake next? Coming up with your own recipes is challenging and baking the same recipe over and over gets boring.

If you’ve run out of ideas, there are plenty of resources you can use to get some inspiration. End your baking dry spell and check out these websites for baking inspiration and recipes.

Baking Mad for Baking Inspiration

When you need some new baking recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth, head to Baking Mad. The site features hundreds of easy-to-follow recipes for cakes, cookies, bread, pancakes, cupcakes, and pies.

Each recipe displays a difficulty level and lets you know if it satisfies special dietary requirements. This makes it perfect for those living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle


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If you need a more hands-on approach, Baking Mad also has baking videos you can watch as you create your treat. For even more baking help, you can check out Baking Mad’s tips and tricks section—it features advice on everything from substituting eggs to making self-rising flour.

Baking Mad is your all-in-one source for baking needs, and the site even includes its own bakeware shop.

My Baking Addiction Website

My Baking Addiction was created by baking hobbyist, Jamie. The website includes a collection of her own recipes, a personal blog, as well as dessert inspiration from her travels.

You won’t have trouble figuring out your next baking project on My Baking Addiction. Head to the main menu, and click Recipe Index under the Recipes tab. From here, you can filter and find recipes based on easiness, type of dessert, and whether it requires baking in the oven.

Sally's Baking Addiction is a Baking Inspiration Website

Sally’s Baking Addiction is run by self-taught baker and cookbook author, Sally McKenney. You can find several recipes on just about any sweet treat that you can think of—candy, donuts, frosting, and ice cream are just some of the recipes you’ll come across.

Additionally, you can find recipes based on the type of treat, the season, or a specific ingredient.

Every month, Sally posts baking challenges for those who want to put their skills to the test. Sally walks you through an expert-level recipe, and you’ll feel proud once you successfully complete it!

In case you’re tired of baking desserts, Sally’s Baking Addiction has plenty of dinner ideas as well.

Joy of Baking Baking Inspiration Website

Although the Joy of Baking website isn’t the most attractive and has its fair share of ads, it’s still a reliable resource for unique and tasty recipes. Stephanie Jaworski created Joy of Baking way back in 1997 as a way to interact with other bakers. While Stephanie handles the recipes, her husband tackles all the photos and videography for the site.

In fact, her YouTube channel is one of the best cooking channels on the web


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As soon as you open the site, you’ll probably get overwhelmed by the number of options. The leftmost and top sidebars house several recipe categories like eggless recipes, apple recipes, cakes, and healthy baking.

Each recipe comes with high-quality videos that show you exactly how to get the decadent results you want.

Brown Eyed Baker Baking Inspiration Website

If you want recipes with a personal touch, check out Brown Eyed Baker. Clicking on the Start Here button at the top of the screen introduces you to the site. The mind behind Brown Eyed Baker, Michelle, prides herself on providing recipes that are uncomplicated, yet delicious.

To browse the entire site for recipes, navigate to the Recipe Index. Here, you can select the category of dessert you want to bake, as well as search by ingredient. Brown Eyed Baker gives recommendations on ingredients and baking equipment as well.

Bakerella Baking Inspiration

Bakerella offers a clean and organized website for several types of desserts. The owner of the site, Angie, focuses on simple and fun recipes. On the home screen, you’ll find the most recently added recipe, along with instructions.

The Sweet Stuff category on the top menu bar contains all Bakerella’s recipes, such as cakes, cookies, pies, brownies, and more. You’ll also find cake pop recipes, holiday recipes, and links to Angie’s own cookbooks.

Passion for Baking Baking Inspiration Website

Once you head to Passion for Baking, you’ll immediately get inspired (and hungry) by the collection of amazing dessert photos—the treats almost look too good to eat!

Manuela Kjeilen created the site with the goal to spark creativity in other bakers, and her unique recipes do just that.

When you click on one of the recipes, you’ll see a short introduction that shows pictures of the completed dessert. The mouthwatering photos are followed by an ingredient list, along with detailed step-by-step instructions. Better yet, you can scroll down and see photos of the dessert’s entire baking process.

Amy's Healthy Baking Baking Inspiration

If you’re looking for sites with healthy food recipes


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, Amy’s Healthy Baking is a great place to start. The words “healthy” and “baking” don’t seem to go together, but Amy makes it work. It’s hard to bake desserts that are healthy and tasty, so it’s impressive to see so many dessert recipes that won’t ruin your diet.

Each recipe has a low-calorie count that Amy will mention in the description of each recipe. When you want to indulge without all the extra sugar and fat, one of these recipes is the perfect healthy solution.

On this site, you’ll also find advice on how to start your own cooking blog and even some recommendations for kitchen supplies.

The Cake Blog Baking Inspiration Website

The Cake Blog has some of the most extravagant and creative cake recipes. If you have a special event coming up, try your hand at making one of these recipes, and you won’t fail to impress all your guests.

You might not have expert cake creation skills, and that’s okay. Navigate to the Tutorials tab on the top menu bar, and you’ll see a collection of unique cakes that you can bake. They look intimidating, but the provided step-by-step tutorials break down the entire process.

Experiment With Baking Recipes

You don’t have to keep baking the same apple pie or generic chocolate cake at your family’s get-togethers. Instead, you should expand your cookbook by checking out the desserts on one of the above websites. There’s nothing more satisfying than successfully baking a new recipe, and seeing others enjoy it.

When you find multiple recipes you want to try, you’ll need a way to manage them. Luckily, these recipe management apps can help you organize and keep track of all your recipes


The 7 Best Recipe Management Apps to Replace Your Cookbooks




The 7 Best Recipe Management Apps to Replace Your Cookbooks

Is your cookbook a mess? Throw it out and try one of these recipe management apps to find and organize recipes instead.
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10 Best Websites to Find Volunteer Work That’s Right for You

Giving back to the community makes yourself and others feel great. Thanks to the internet, volunteer opportunities have never been easier to find. Whether you want to help animals, the environment, or people in need, volunteer websites can match you with specific opportunities.

Ready to lend a helping hand? Check out these best websites to find volunteer work.

Volunteer Match is a volunteer work website

VolunteerMatch has matched millions of people with wonderful volunteer opportunities. When you type your location in the search bar, VolunteerMatch lists all the work possibilities near you.

You can sort several possibilities by cause—animals, children, seniors, women, and the arts are just some of the filters you can use to find the right volunteer work for you.

Since we live in an age where smartphone apps can help someone


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, VolunteerMatch also allows you to check out virtual opportunities. This lets you do volunteer work from the comfort of your home. Once you find work that you want, sign up to the site and let the organization know that you want to help.

All For Good Volunteer Website

All for Good uses your location to find opportunities near you. Simply click Find Ways to Volunteer on the top menu bar to search for local organizations. All for Good provides you with thousands of results for you to choose from.

Hit See more search options to type in a keyword that filters the opportunities by your special interests. The site also lets you filter the results by remote projects, date, and family-friendly projects.

JustServe Volunteer Work Website

JustServe makes signing up for volunteer work a breeze. Once you find an opportunity, simply sign up for an account on the website, and just show up at the event when the day comes.

Type in the location of your choice to view opportunities. Filter the events by age group, volunteer skills, and your own interests. JustServe not only displays one-time events, but it’ll show you ongoing opportunities as well.

United Way Volunteer Work Website

If you ever volunteered, you’ve probably heard of United Way. This nonprofit organization specializes in giving back to the community, especially in the form of education, healthcare, and fundraising.

United Way connects you with a wide range of opportunities that involve supporting children, gardening, construction, therapy, disaster services, and even working at a food bank. The huge variety of work makes it simple to use your preexisting skills to help your community.

When you search for opportunities, you’ll find that most events are sponsored by United Way in your area. To get involved in volunteer work overseas, make sure to contact your local United Way.

Do Something Volunteer Work Website

Do Something empowers young people to get involved in their community and fight for social change. The entire organization helped register over 100,000 new voters in 2018 and even cleaned up a total of 3.7 million cigarette butts. Do Something’s movements directly affect the community and make an immediate difference.

You don’t have to live in a specific area to get involved in its events. Most movements simply ask you to do your part to help the cause and give you guidance on how to do so. Some events might ask you to clean up litter around you, while others instruct you to collect food for the needy.

Habitat for Humanity Volunteer Work Website

Do you have a knack for construction, or have an interest in learning about interior design


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? In either case, you should definitely check out the opportunities at Habitat for Humanity. This organization specializes in building houses for underprivileged people across the United States and around the world.

When you search for opportunities, Habitat for Humanity lists its offices in your area. From here, you can select the branch closest to you, and sign up for any current or future activities. On the other hand, you can also search for global opportunities, which enables you to build shelters around the world.

To volunteer at Habitat for Humanity, you don’t have to know anything about construction to get involved. It encourages women, children, and veterans to join in as well.

Give Pulse Volunteer Work Website

GivePulse offers a whole database of volunteer opportunities. Simply type in your location, and scroll through a list of valuable volunteer work. As you spend your time helping others, it can turn into an educational experience for both you and the people in need. Work as a volunteer yoga instructor, or even become a caregiver for children with special needs.

If you need to keep track of your volunteer hours, GivePulse can help you with that too. GivePulse shows the amount of time you’ve worked, verifies your hours, and even calculates your volunteer statistics.

AARP Create the Good Volunteer Website

AARP is one of the United States’ biggest nonprofit associations. It aids Americans age 50 or older by helping them feel more comfortable and confident during the aging process.

AARP allows you to volunteer with people from all walks of life. Become a senior companion, tutor young children, or even assist veterans. As you uncover the secrets of generosity


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, you’ll get addicted to the satisfaction of volunteering your time.

Feeding America Volunteer Website

Connect with your local food bank through Feeding America. Since most food banks actually rely on volunteers to do most of the work, this organization can really use your help. By spending a small amount of time sorting through and stocking food, you can help the hungry families in your city.

Red Cross Volunteer Work Website

The American Red Cross specializes in providing emergency services and disaster relief to those affected by medical conditions or natural disasters. When you sign up for the Red Cross, you can choose from a variety of roles.

Opt to take a short quiz that places you in a specific position, or choose to browse through opportunities by category. While some roles have to do with finances, education, and IT, other roles allow you to help people face-to-face.

It’s Time to Make a Difference

Nothing beats the amazing feeling that comes along with volunteering. By taking a couple of hours out of your day, you can help improve your community or your environment. In the end, volunteering is always worth it.

When you’re not volunteering, you should think about donating your gently used clothes and items to the needy. Check out our article on NeedHave


NeedHave Inspires Goodwill Donations in Your Community




NeedHave Inspires Goodwill Donations in Your Community

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, an app that promotes goodwill donations in your area.



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6 Ways to Unblock Websites From Behind a Firewall

Sometimes you’ll go to visit a site on the internet and find that it’s blocked. You won’t be able to access the site, even though your internet connection is working.

You can check whether the site is working using a checking tool which will tell you if the site’s servers are down. If not, the site could be blocked. If a site you want to visit is blocked, here’s how to unblock websites.

Why Do Sites Get Blocked?

Unblock websites from behind a firewall

There are a number of reasons you might see an error saying “This webpage has been blocked!” The site could be restricted so that it is only available in certain regions. Or the network you are connected to might have a firewall which puts limitations on which sites you can visit. You can check a site’s status using a tool like Down For Everyone Or Just Me.

You may need to unblock sites if you run into problems with automatic spam detection software. Many sites will block access to ranges of IP addresses if they believe them to be the source of spam requests. But sometimes innocent users can get caught up by these filters even if they’re not doing anything wrong.

How to Unblock Websites

To unblock websites from behind a firewall, you have several options. You can try switching to a different network or restarting your modem. Or you can visit a site’s IP address instead of its URL. If just you need to view the page, you can use the Google cache. And if you have access to a VPN or proxy server, you can use this to access the site. Finally, you can try unblocking the site by using the Tor browser.

1. By Switching From Wi-Fi to Mobile Data

Sometimes you’ll find a web page blocked due to restrictions such as a firewall on Wi-Fi networks. If you’re connected to Wi-Fi at school or at work, for example, the network administrator may restrict which sites can be accessed. Sites which are considered inappropriate might be blocked, as might those that require a lot of bandwidth, like YouTube.

If you find a firewall blocking websites, the simplest way to unblock a site is to disconnect from the Wi-Fi network and use another way to access the internet. If you’re on your phone, you can use your mobile data to try and access the site instead. If you can access the site using 3G but not with Wi-Fi, you know that the problem is with restrictions on the Wi-Fi network.

2. By Visiting the Site’s IP Address Directly

If you don’t have the option of using mobile data, you can unblock sites by bypassing the URL. The way domain names work is that when you type one into your browser, such as google.com, your browser is directed to a server. That server sends over text, images, or anything else your browser needs to load the site. If the site is blocked when you type in the URL, you can attempt to access it by going straight to the server’s IP address instead.

This works as sometimes blocks only apply to domain names, such as google.com. If you are able to go directly to the server, you can still use the site as normal.

To try this you’ll first need to find out the IP address of the site you want to visit. Go to a page like IPVoid’s Find Website IP tool and enter the domain you want to know the IP address for, such as google.com. Then hit the Find Website IP button.

This will bring up an IP address in the lower text box. In the case of google.com, the IP address is 216.58.215.46.

Now copy this IP address and enter it into your browser. You should be taken to the site you’re looking for, and you may be able to access it even if the domain is blocked.

3. By Viewing a Cached Version of the Site

Unblock websites from behind a firewall - Google Cache

If a site is down but you still need to access it, you can try using the cache. This is ideal if the site isn’t updated very often and you just need some information from it.

The cache is an older version of the website which Google keeps a copy of as a backup. It can’t show you pages that you need to be logged in for, such as Facebook content. But it can show you older versions of simple text-based sites that don’t require a login.

To use the Google Cache, perform a search for the site you want. You can do this by entering in site:makeuseof.com, for example.

In the Google search results, you’ll see the title of the website, then below that a snippet of the content on the site, then below that the site’s URL. Next to the URL is a link that says Cached. Click the to view the Google Cache version of the site.

Alternatively, you could also try accessing a different version of the site, such as the mobile version or a version in a different language or for a different region. You might find that only one version of the site has been blocked.

4. By Restarting Your Modem

Sometimes your modem will assign you what is called a dynamic IP address. That means that whenever you connect to the internet, you’ll be assigned a temporary IP address to use for that session.

If a website has blocked your IP address, you can get around this by getting a new IP address. The easiest way to do this is to restart your modem and you’ll have a new IP address once your modem reboots.

However, if your ISP assigns you a static IP address, which is more common, then your IP address will remain the same no matter how many times you restart your modem.

5. How to Open Blocked Websites by Proxy or VPN

If you have a static IP address, there is another way to change it. You can use a VPN


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or a proxy server to access blocked sites by masking your real IP address behind a fake one.

These two tools work slightly differently, but for the purposes of unblocking a website they are the same. You start your proxy or your VPN, and the service assigns you a new IP address. Then, when you send a request across the internet, for example to load a particular page, that request appears to come from the new IP address.

This means you can use a proxy server to open blocked sites. If a site is blocked in your geographical region, as you can connect to a proxy or VPN server which is located in another country.

6. How to Unblock a Website Using the Tor Browser

If all of these methods fail, you can try using the Tor browser


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7 Tips for Using the Tor Browser Safely

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. Tor is designed to hide its users’ locations, so they can browse the internet without censorship.

Similar to a VPN or proxy, when you use Tor your real IP address is hidden behind a new IP address assigned to you. That means you can use Tor to access websites even if they are blocked on other browsers.

The downside to using Tor is that it can be slow and it is not compatible with all devices such as iOS devices. But if you’re on desktop or Android and you’re looking for a solution that will let you access text sites from anywhere, it’s worth trying.

Use These Tips to Unblock Websites and Browse Freely

Just because a site is blocked from your browser doesn’t mean it’s impossible for you to access it. Using these methods, you’ll be able to access many sites even if they are blocked at first.

If you’re trying to get around internet censorship, learn more about how to bypass blocked sites and internet restrictions


How to Bypass Blocked Sites and Internet Restrictions




How to Bypass Blocked Sites and Internet Restrictions

Need to access a blocked website? Try these tips and tricks to bypass internet restrictions and view the content you want.
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15 Fun Websites for Instantly Beating Boredom Online

Looking for websites to go to when bored? Don’t let boredom get boring. Even Steve Jobs was a fan of boredom. He believed that boredom allowed room for creativity. We all know how that turned out.

Even science says boredom is good for the brain. So, trust the boffins and take on boredom with these fun websites.

Open The Secret Door is a fun website to beat boredom

It won’t open into a dark nook at Hogwarts, but it can take you to equally unexpected places around the world. The idea is simple—open the secret door and let Google’s Street View transport you to an interesting place on the globe.

Think of it as a portal for virtual globetrotting. And if you don’t like it, just click the Take Me Somewhere Else button. This Google inspired cure for boredom definitely ranks as one of the more fun ways to use Google Maps and Street View


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Museum of Endangered Sounds, a fun website when bored online

Want a dose of serious nostalgia? Maybe, the sound of a dial-up modem will do it for you or the dial of a rotary phone. The Museum of Nostalgia will send you back in time. The single-person effort from Brendan Chilcutt aims to preserve the signature sounds of old technologies.

Use I Need a Prompt for creative inspiration when bored.

This neat website will cure your boredom with a thunderbolt of inspiration. Maybe, just a gentle prod if you aren’t a writer. But if you are a writer of any kind then try the creative writing prompts on the site that will make you think about unfamiliar situations.

The online tool is also an Amazon Alexa skill now.

NSA Haiku Generator

The National Security Agency isn’t one of the places to go when bored. So you wouldn’t connect the NSA and poetry even within a few words of each other. But this automatic haiku generator manages to pull it off. So, go ahead and stoke your wildest imagination with weird mashups of wonderful syllables.

The source of the random words is the NSA’s database of search terms it uses to red flag terrorist threats.

Sketch Something

Creativity is the magic pill to zap boredom. Sketch Something Daily is one of the artistic things to do online when bored. So, pick up a pencil, pen, or even a paintbrush, and test yourself with the daily illustrations on the site.

Try it as a daily habit and stifle the yawns as you interest yourself enough to learn the basics of drawing


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with the help of other sites on the web.

Cure boredom with One Tiny Hand's pictures

Apply a Photoshop trick to one part of the human anatomy and you have a viral hit. One Tiny Hand gazes at only one thing and make you laugh at the images of celebrities with one hand reduced in size.

Surprisingly, this one among the many time wasting websites on Tumblr started with Beyoncé Knowles and not the two head of states who are parodied often on the site and elsewhere.

2 Kinds of People

Another humorous Tumblr blog. Another dosage of laughter. The simple illustrations show that there are only two kinds of people in the world. Those that have a sense of humor and the rest who don’t.

If you fall into the former, then you will have cured your boredom. If not, read on.

Stinkmoji is a time wasting website to enjoy with your webcam

Switch on your speakers. Turn on your webcam. And make a face at your computer. Stinkmoji is a face recognition experience that uses a 3D emoji to mimic the faces you make at the camera. It even includes an Easter egg when you open your mouth wide enough.

Oh, just make sure it’s not on your list of timewasting websites when you are in the office.

YouTube alone can give you enough things to do on the internet. So, I am cheating by mentioning the Gross Science channel. But, I couldn’t help myself as I got pulled in by all the bizarre but scientific videos here.

So, find out about clothes made of slime. Or, why your pee can change the world. As I said, I couldn’t help myself.

The Innovation Station website

While we are on the subject of science and videos, could I also mention Innovation Station? This is a little known but cool website to go to when you’re bored. It showcases the latest videos on innovation and futuristic technologies.

It is a wonderful learning platform. As their charter says, “We aim to inspire and educate by putting innovations and innovators in the spotlight.”

Weird or Confusing - best Fun Websites to beat boredom

Wonder how unicorn meat tastes. This site will make you wonder about things like that. Press the button and it will beam you into the crazy aisles of eBay and its shopping universe where everything can be sold.

Well, it’s not all useless. That inflatable unicorn horn for cats sounds like a better deal than unicorn meat. Just hope it’s not a new eBay scam. Sometimes, you will hit a page without any funny eBay product. Just click on that pink Please button again.

frankenSim - best Fun Websites to beat boredom

The web toy is a wonderful simulation project by a London based animation studio. Here, you get to play “God” or Victor Frankenstein. The interactive may sound grotesque but it interesting as you manipulate the different organs and see what results.

In short, the developers say that this is a musing on how Frankenstein might have experimented with modern web tools.

Visuals can help you understand even the most complex of technologies. Blockchain and cryptocurrency are all the rage now. The Symphony of Blockchain takes you on an interactive, visual and auditory exploration of what it’s all about. It’s a way to mix online fun with a dose of education.

Try it. It’s wonderfully hypnotic as the 3D Bitcoin blocks move and expand against the background of music. Click on each block and it opens to give you more information.

The Passive Aggressive Password Machine

Let’s not underrate the value of a strong password in keeping the world safe. The PaP Machine is a neat little side project that can bring you out of your boredom fairly quickly with its funny and honest feedback on the strength of your passwords.

Arbitrary Awards website

Did you know that most awards are paid for? Well, if you didn’t then that’s what this site tells you. The developers here made their own awards and gave you a platform to gift yourself one with the many choices available.

You deserve an award if you have scrolled so far down the page. And, if we managed to cure your boredom then we deserve one too. Just a nice word in the comments will do for now.

There Are Many More Fun Things to Do Online

Don’t try to zap your boredom away. Use it creatively and who knows you just might light up a spark of motivation.

Boredom should be anything but boring. Sounds ironic doesn’t it? Just to prove what I mean by that statement, try these things when you are bored online


Top 8 Things to Do When You’re Bored Online




Top 8 Things to Do When You’re Bored Online

Trying to kill time but can’t find anything that’ll hold your attention? Here are some fun things to do online when bored.
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The 8 Best Apartment Finder Websites and Apartment Search Sites

It’s that time again: you’re on the lookout for a new apartment to rent. But with the number of available units greater than ever, how can you make sure you don’t overlook your perfect abode?

It’s easy. You just need to thoroughly scout the leading apartment search sites. Sure, it’s not a fast process, but it’s one that’s certain to land you the accommodation of your dreams.

Here are some of the best apartment rental sites for the United States and beyond.

rent.com map for apartment rentals

Rent.com is an apartment finder site that covers both apartments and houses. All the properties you see are available for medium- and long-term rentals; it doesn’t deal with short-term accommodation or property purchases.

The site has a selection of tools geared towards different types of apartment seekers. For example, there are filters for pet owners, off-campus housing searches for students, a way to find independent living facilities for senior renters, and even military base proximity filters for members of the armed forces.

Some of the listed apartments have 3D virtual tours, but they are available on a case-by-case basis. There’s also a dedicated Moving Centre. It can supply you with free quotes based on factors such as moving distance and apartment size.

padmapper listing for apartments

One of the big problems with apartment search sites is that they typically require a property owner or letting agency to list their property directly. Ergo, all the properties are not available on all the domains.

PadMapper offers a solution of sorts. It pulls apartment listings from other companies’ data and plots them all on a map. Sites that have their listings on PadMapper include Airbnb, ForRent, and PadList. Craigslist used to be included but was removed after a particularly controversial lawsuit.

A couple of features are worth mentioning. Firstly, the Drawing tool. You can use it to simultaneously search disparate areas of a map at the same time. And secondly, there’s a way to hide listings that you’re not interested in.

PadMapper has apartment listings in both the United States and Canada.

zillow listing

Zillow has built its reputation as a must-use website for buyers, but it’s also one of the best apartment finder sites on the web.

Apartment listings on Zillow are incredibly detailed. Yes, there’s all the usual stuff like floorplans and basic features, but there are also plenty of other features that you won’t readily find elsewhere.

For example, it integrates GreatSchools ratings so you can see the quality of the nearby education facilities. And there’s a “Walk Score” and a “Transit Score” for the neighborhood you’re looking at, thus giving you an idea of how easy it is to get around.

Zillow even provides a gateway for you to pay your rent, though not all apartments are supported.

hotpads apartment search

The Zillow-owned HotPads is one of our favorite apartment search sites.

The site is primarily aimed at urban renters where competition for units is fierce and new listings disappear within hours of going live. To that end, HotPads offers phone notifications for new listings that match your customized preferences, a map search that supports everything from dog park proximity to nearby glass bottle recycling facilities, and a commute time calculator.

HotPads also tries to engender a feeling of trust. It provides landlord ratings, real-time reviews, updates from other users, and verified contact information.

lovely apartment finder

You may have noticed a trend among the apartment search sites we’ve looked at so far—they all try to stand out from their competitors by offering dozens of fancy features.

But not everyone wants countless filters and endless amounts of information to filter through. If you would prefer a more straightforward apartment hunting experience, check out Lovely.

To begin your apartment search, just enter the city you want to live in; there’s aren’t dozens of questions you need to answer. And property listings are easy to digest— there are a few photos, the price, a list of basic amenities, and a short description.

apartmentguides apartment search

Like Rent.com, ApartmentGuide is an apartment rental site that provides default filters that specifically cater to a certain subset of hunters.

With a simple click on the homepage, you can find college apartments, military apartments, corporate apartments, senior apartments, cheap apartments, and luxury apartments in the area where you want to live.

Perhaps the similarities shouldn’t be surprising; the same parent company, RentPath, owns the two brands. The firm also owns Lovely and Rentals.com, showing just how small the apartment rental world really is.

Note: Many of the properties on ApartmentGuide are owned and operated by large management companies. If you’d prefer to rent from a private landlord, look elsewhere.

zumper apartment prices

Zumper (which also owns PadMapper) is the best apartment search site if you’re particularly sensitive to price considerations.

For example, it is one of the only apartment listing sites which lets you filter for Section 8 properties. For those who don’t know, Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937 is a US government program which provides financial assistance to renters from low-income families.

And unlike many of its competitors, Zumper also offers short-term rentals. If you’re planning to spend a couple of months in a city—perhaps because of a work project—the site is definitely worth browsing.

craigslist apartment listing

Craigslist had to be included, didn’t it? With localized sites around the world, Craigslist should be able to find you an apartment regardless of where you live.

However, the site has a few issues which let it down. From a usability perspective, the available filters are nowhere near as numerous as those you’d see on a dedicated rental search site.

But more worryingly, Craigslist has a real problem with scam listings.

Remember the golden rule: If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Never hand over any money before you’ve thoroughly vetted an apartment’s authenticity.

Use Social Media to Find an Apartment

Finally, don’t rule out social media when you’re searching for a new apartment. Sites like Reddit and Facebook have plenty of groups and communities that’ll help you find somewhere to live. You might even be able to find much better deals than you’d find on regular apartment finder sites.

For more information about how to successfully execute a house move, look through the tips on how to find your ideal city based on work and lifestyle


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Zoom Lets Websites Start Filming You Without Your Consent, Even on Windows

Zoom logo

Zoom’s video conferencing software has more problems than a secret web server on Mac. Even on Windows, websites you visit could start filming you without your consent. All you have to do is click a link. This problem affects Macs, too.

While previous reporting seemed to indicate that Zoom’s problems were specific to macOS, Windows is vulnerable, too. If Zoom is configured to turn on your camera by default in meetings, someone could embed a Zoom link in a web page and immediately start recording you. This would work on either Windows or Mac.

Zoom insists it “have no indication that this has ever happened”—yet. The company considers this a feature and says you’ve given permission for this if your Zoom client is configured to automatically turn on your webcam when you join a meeting.

Jonathan Leitschuh‘s proof of concept website demonstrates this. If you have Zoom software installed and go to the website, the Zoom software will launch and automatically join the meeting and start recording with your webcam. In the case of the macOS, you’d see that behavior even if you previously uninstalled Zoom, thanks to a secret web server Zoom leaves running after it’s uninstalled. But, even on Windows, Zoom will launch if you currently have it installed.

At first, Jonathan Leitschuh’s medium post seemed to suggest this issue only existed on MacOS. But he clarified otherwise in a tweet:

We tested this by installing Zoom software and visiting his proof of concept website using Google Chrome.

On the first visit, you’ll be prompted to open the Zoom app—assuming you don’t have Zoom installed. If you check “Always open these types of links in the associated app,” you’re in trouble. That’s a box nearly anyone would check to skip extra clicking in the future.

Always open these types of links in the associated app

The next time we visited the website, Zoom automatically opened, joined us to the meeting, and started our webcam. We didn’t click any prompts or give any approval. Without interaction on your part, malicious sites could easily record you as long as you have Zoom installed.

You do see the Zoom window and it’s clear you’re being recorded. However, a malicious website could capture some video of you before you stopped the video conference.

Zoom video conference

This is a huge issue. We recommend uninstalling Zoom if you don’t use it frequently. If you need it installed, you can also toggle the “Turn my video off when joining meeting” option on the “Video” tab in Zoom’s settings window to prevent this from happening.

On macOS, don’t forget to check for the web server and uninstall it too.

Unfortunately, Zoom’s official response to the situation seems to suggest the company considers this a feature and not a problem. Hopefully, it understands the full severity of the issue soon and changes course.

RELATED: How to See if Zoom Is Running a Secret Web Server on Your Mac (and Remove It)





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The Best Dark Web Websites You Won’t Find on Google

dark-web-sites

You’ve heard of it before: the mysterious dark web. You’re probably equally curious and apprehensive about the whole thing.

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But what is the dark web? And more importantly, what cool dark web sites are out there?

Here’s our list of the best dark web websites to visit. Make sure you leave your suggestions in the comments at the end.

Dark Web vs. Deep Web

Well, the deep web refers to anything on the internet that can’t be found using a search engine. That includes emails in your Gmail account, direct messages on social networks, and even your Facebook photos that you marked as private.

The dark web is a sub-section of the deep web. It is responsible for the deep web’s bad reputation. There are black markets selling drugs and other substances, grisly images, and even new identities for sale. Indeed, there are lots of reasons to avoid the dark web entirely.

Yet, at the same time, the dark web is well worth exploring. Amidst the chaos, you’ll find some great websites.

(Note: We’ve explained what is the dark web in more detail if you want to learn more.)

Use a VPN to Access the Dark Web

We strongly recommend shielding yourself with a VPN before you access the dark web. The notion that the Tor browser provides failsafe anonymity is false; you need to protect yourself.

Don’t know which VPN is best for you? There are plenty of options out there, both free and paid, but our 1# ranked VPN is ExpressVPN, which comes with Tor support and three free months.

1. The Hidden Wiki

hidden wiki home page

Onion URL: http://zqktlwi4fecvo6ri.onion/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

To visit a .onion site, you’ll have to both know it exists and know its URL. There are a few ways to find active .onion sites. One of them is using a directory of sites, like The Hidden Wiki.

Some of the sites are perfectly legit—such as domain services and email providers. Some—like whistleblowing—may face government censorship in your country. Others cross the divide into illegality. Make sure you’re smart about which dark web links you click on.

2. Facebook

Onion URL: https://www.facebookcorewwwi.onion/

You can access Facebook via the dark web by using the official Facebook .onion mirror.

Doing so has two primary benefits. Firstly, you can create and use an account anonymously. You can use Facebook’s services without exposing yourself to the company’s privacy-eroding tentacles.

Secondly, if Facebook is blocked in your location, you can use the dark web Facebook mirror to circumvent the censorship.

3. SoylentNews

soylent news home page

Onion URL: http://7rmath4ro2of2a42.onion/

It doesn’t matter where you sit on the political spectrum; almost everyone can agree that the mainstream media is barely fit for purpose.

One solution is to use an open source, community-driven news aggregator such as SoylentNews. Users can submit stories from around the world, and there’s also public discussion forums and an automatic comment moderation system.

4. ProPublica

Onion URL: https://www.propub3r6espa33w.onion/

ProPublica was one of the first major news outlets to launch a dark web version of its site back in 2016.

ProPublica is a non-profit news organization that aims to “expose abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust by government, business, and other institutions, using the moral force of investigative journalism.”

One of its journalists, Hannah Dreier, won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for her coverage of gangs in Los Angeles. It was ProPublica’s fifth Pulitzer Prize.

5. DuckDuckGo

duckduckgo home page

Onion URL: https://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion/

DuckDuckGo is one of the leading private internet search engines on the open web. It doesn’t track your browsing history, location, or any other data.

There’s also a dark web version of the search engine. It’s a great dark web search engine which it affords users an extra layer of protection and anonymity.

6. Galaxy3

Onion URL: http://galaxy3m2mn5iqtn.onion/

If you don’t want to trust the dark web version of Facebook, you could try an entirely dark web-based social network.

One that’s worth checking out is Galaxy3. Obviously, you’re not going to find many of your real-life buddies on there, but you will find experts in computer code, people looking for adult meets, and plenty of other “interesting” characters.

7. Hidden Answers

hidden answers home page

Onion URL: http://answerszuvs3gg2l64e6hmnryudl5zgrmwm3vh65hzszdghblddvfiqd.onion/

Reddit has dominated the “forum-meets-news” space for more than a decade, but a string of controversies, an influx of new users, and ongoing censorship accusations have seen the site lose of charm in recent years.

Hidden Answers is akin to a dark web version of Reddit; we think it’s one of the best dark web sites. Users seek advice, post stories, and discuss a wide range of topics. Unlike Reddit, Hidden Answers offers users complete anonymity.

8. Mail2Tor

Onion URL: http://mail2tor2zyjdctd.onion/

Email is one of the least secure communication systems; the email providers have access to the contents of your inbox. For evidence, look no further the way Google automatically adds travel information, meetings, and other diary entries onto your calendar.

Mail2Tor is an alternative email provider. It lets anyone send and receive email anonymously via webmail or with an email client.

All messages are encrypted, and the company does not log your IP address.

9. OnionDomain

oniondomain home page

Onion URL: http://onionname3jpufot.onion/

If you want to host your own .onion website, you will need a domain name. You can get a non-sensical domain for free, but if you want a vanity URL, you will need to pay.

Because of the way the network operates, you cannot purchase an onion domain from a regular registrar like GoDaddy. Instead, you will have to use a specialist service. OnionDomain is one such service.

10. TorLinks

Onion URL: http://torlinksd6pdnihy.onion/

TorLinks is an alternative site to The Hidden Wiki. It provides a list of dark web sites across endless categories.

Although there is some crossover, the list of sites on TorLinks is broadly different from those on The Hidden Wiki. Given the regularity with which .onions sites go offline and disappear, the more directory sites that you know about, the better.

Learn More About the Dark Web

The 10 dark web websites we’ve listed in this article will not be much use to you unless you know how to access and use the dark web.

To learn more, make sure you read our articles about the best dark web browsers and how to access the dark web safely and anonymously.

Read the full article: The Best Dark Web Websites You Won’t Find on Google



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How to Report Phishing and Malicious Websites in Google Chrome

Chrome logo with red background

Google now makes it much easier to report “suspicious websites” in Chrome. Websites you might want to report include phishing websites, sites hosting malware, and similar bad things. Google will use these reports to block websites for everyone.

This new official browser extension reports bad websites to Google Safe Browsing. That’s a service used by web browsers like Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and Mozilla Firefox to proactively block malicious websites. Whenever you visit a website, your web browser checks that it doesn’t match a list of known-bad sites and gives you a warning message if it does. Think of it like antivirus software with definitions—but it blocks bad websites.

You could previously report malicious websites by heading to Google’s Report Phishing Page form and entering the address of the website. You still can—but now there’s a Chrome extension that makes this much faster.

To use this it, install the Suspicious Site Reporter from the Chrome Web Store. After installing it, you can click the flag icon on your toolbar to report a bad website.

Chrome Suspicious Site Reporter extension

The extension will let you choose what to submit—the URL of the website and your IP address are mandatory, but you can also choose to share a screenshot of the page, the DOM content (all HTML of the site), and the referrer chain (which shows how you ended up on the suspicious site.)

Google can use these reports from Chrome users to proactively block these suspicious websites for everyone, hopefully making the web a better place.

The company released this Chrome extension on June 18, 2019. This feature goes hand-in-hand with other improvements against “deception” in Chrome, including warnings about confusing URLs like “go0ogle.com” in Chrome 75.






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13 Websites to Find People on the Internet

In an era of booming social networks, it’s easier to find lost friends and colleagues than it ever was before.

The private world of yesterday is now an online world. Everyone with a search engine has open access to social networks, government databases, and public records.

If you’re looking for a long-lost friend, or maybe want to do a background check on someone, consider the following free resources to find people on the internet.

How to Search People for Free on the Internet

The internet is essentially a giant database, overflowing with data points about individuals. Today, it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t commented on a blog entry, made a post in an online forum, or registered at Facebook or Flickr.

Different sites use this information in different ways. While the following 13 sites can be used to find people online, they may draw the data from different sources. As a result, there may be some difference between the results.

Before starting, learn a few details about the person. Start with their birthday or the state they live in.  Once you have those details, the volume of information you can find online about a person is amazing. In fact, it can sometimes prove overwhelming.

When searching for people online, be sure to use multiple people search engines for the best results.

Pipl search

There are many websites that search standard social networks like Facebook or Twitter. But Pipl is one resource that conducts a deep web search for the name on “non-typical sites”. The search results from Pipl are impressive.

I used Pipl to perform a deep search on myself. The search pulled my own data from profiles at Soundcloud, Last.fm, and others like job search websites and Google.

I was impressed by Pipl’s efforts to uncover street addresses, phone numbers, and even family members, scraped from miscellaneous websites.

To use Pipl, however, you will have to sign up. This is a little frustrating, but worth it as the results are good. I even did a search for my wife, who works as a local government councilor, and Pipl revealed a document she was mentioned in. Impressive!

Find people online with Google Groups

Probably the most powerful tool to find someone who used the internet a long time ago is Google Groups. Google Groups has incorporated over 800 million Usenet messages into its database, an impressive archive of internet conversations dating back to 1981.

For example, if the person you’re looking for attended university during this time, you might find a trace of them. Usenet channels were a popular way for people to access the internet before its explosion in the late 1990s. Universities, research centers, tech businesses, and other bodies relied on Usenet for collaboration and more.

Not only you might find who you’re looking for, but you’ll also get an idea about their thoughts, ideas, and motivations of the time.

Find people online with True People Search

A “100% free people search” service, TruePeopleSearch.com delivers some good results.

But it depends on where you’re based.

For US readers, this is a great tool, and by simply searching for a name and state of residence, you’ll find surprisingly in-depth results.

You should also get some good results for Canadian residents, too. TruePeopleSearch will typically return a list of previous addresses, along with phone numbers.

Look out too for the “Possible Associates” section. Useful to law enforcement and private eyes, this displays names of past college roommates, colleagues, and more. No doubt scraped from public Facebook information


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, this is useful information.

Find People Search tool

Like TruePeopleSearch, FindPeopleSearch.com generates basic background check “teaser” information. Still, that information can be extremely helpful when you’re trying to learn more about someone. What this website brings to the game is that it offers more extensive information than others.

However, again like TruePeopleSearch, this site doesn’t offer results from outside of North America. What it does, though, it does well. For example, after selecting a likely candidate, FindPeopleSearch provides a map with the likely location of your quarry.

Family information might also be listed here, depending on what data has been collated for the individual. You could find an important familial link here, such as a brother, sister, or even an aunt, uncle, or cousin.

Find people with PeekYou

While most people search engines scour public information and not much else, PeekYou.com goes the extra mile to dig into popular social sites like Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram and more.

The results are always impressive, although they can be somewhat garbled. For example, a search for my own records mixed up details about me with those of others with similar names.

Also, PeekYou gave me a new middle initial, which was certainly surprising!

As with all these sites, keep in mind that the data collected might be inaccurate. This could be due to mistakes in the source data, or errors when names are matched.

How to find people on Classmates

Sometimes tracking someone down requires a little bit more creativity than just typing a name into a search engine. Another approach is to rummage through popular high school reunion website Classmates.com.

Obviously, you will need to have some idea of the high school(s) the person attended. If successful, you’ll find a listing of people who’ve registered on the site with the same high school on record.

Start off by selecting a school by state and city, then enter the name of the student to search for. Many people are registered on the site, so you should stand a good chance of finding who you’re looking for.

Note that this is a US-only website.

Use FamilyTreeNow's free people search

Various genealogy sites can be used to trace individuals, although the process is a little different.

When it comes to genealogical records, information might be restricted for people who are still living. This will depend on data privacy laws and the policy of the genealogy site. As such, while it might be useful to establish familial links with whomever you’re searching, the information will be scant.

The results page will display address information and possible relatives, while paid background information can also be generated via PeopleFinders.

FamilyTreeNow is a good option for genealogy research. Interested in family history? Check our downloadable guide on how to research your family tree online


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Want to track someone down and you only have a photo of them? Use a reverse image search tool like TinEye.com. This site will turn the entire internet inside out for that same picture, and it’ll show you if it was uploaded anywhere else.

The site uses an innovative image recognition technology that can match images based on the one you upload to the site. It’s an impressive technology and it worked the first time I tried it, immediately identifying that I had uploaded that same picture to MakeUseOf. And, it even recognized the picture when only part of the image matched the original. Very impressive stuff.

Another option for reverse image searching is Google Image Search.

Google is also an effective tool to track someone down online. Before trying, keep the following tips in mind.

  • Enclose the person’s full name in quotes (like “David Lee Roth”). Google will return only search results with the person’s full name.
  • Include more information that you already know about the person (like “Sammy Hagar” ex-Van Halen singer). Your search results will be even more precise.
  • If the person is involved with a certain organization, try searching only that site (like “site: extreme-band.com “Gary Cherone”). If the person is listed as a staff or contact on the site, you’ll discover their details

These tips work well—give them a try!

In fact, searching for people with Google works so well that people search sites that existed years ago have closed. Who needs those when Google already does it best?

10. Find Public Records With Zaba Search

If you’re conducting a full background check on someone, then you’re probably interested in more than their online activities. You’re probably looking for any of the following information:

  • Residences over the last few years
  • Criminal record check
  • Driving record
  • Birthday and birth location (for citizenship verification)
  • Child predator check

A person with a criminal record or court ruling has a surprising amount of information about them online.  All you need is the name and DOB of the person you’re researching; the location will help narrow things down.

One of the best sites for conducting free public records queries. Using ZabaSearch, you can determine a person’s exact past and current addresses and phone numbers.

To view a full profile will require you to pay $50 through Intelius, however. This includes past addresses, relatives, criminal history, bankruptcies, and more.

This provides a huge database for all state and federal agencies. Most services where you need to pay for background details come from these free state and federal agency databases. You can find the data for free by searching this website to find those agencies and conduct the search yourself.

For example, digging through the state of Maine agencies reveals where you can search Maine criminal records.

One of the simplest ways to find people is just to search on Facebook. It’s amazing who turns up when you search for a name in Facebook.

Other social networks can also prove useful in finding people. For example, many people avoid Facebook and are active on Twitter, or even Instagram.

Find people online with LinkedIn

Meanwhile, LinkedIn is a superb resource for finding people. A career-centered alternative to Facebook, there’s a good chance you’ll find people that you can’t find anywhere else.

If you know where the person you’re searching for has worked or studied, LinkedIn is a great option. While you won’t find too many details without a LinkedIn subscription, there should be enough to go on.

You’ll be able to find out what they’ve recently been up to professionally, as well as who they’re associated with.

13 Great People Search Engines to Find People Online

By now you should have all the tools you need to find people online, dead or alive. We’ve shown you how to use the following people search sites for free public records:

  1. Pipl
  2. Google Groups
  3. TruePeopleSearch
  4. FindPeopleSearch
  5. PeekYou
  6. Classmates
  7. FamilyTreeNow
  8. TinEye
  9. Google
  10. Zaba
  11. USA.gov
  12. Facebook
  13. LinkedIn

Use these tools to track down the person or people you’re looking for and you should have success in no time. But what if someone is trying to track you down? Here’s how to check who is looking for you online


5 Ways to Check Who Is Tracking You Online




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Explore more about: Search Tricks, Web Search.



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