Win One of 10 Lifetime Plex Passes! | MakeUseOf

Thanks to Plex, we have 10 lifetime Plex Passes (worth $120 each) to give to 10 lucky MakeUseOf newsletter subscribers. Here's what you need to know.

If you already use Plex, and want to be in with a chance of winning, head over to our Plex Pass giveaway page. But if you want to learn more about what Plex is, read on.

What is Plex?

Plex is a true one-stop media platform where you can watch thousands of free, ad-supported live and on-demand movies and TV shows on any device. But this is just the beginning.

With a free account, you can also set up a Plex media server, giving you easy access to all of your home media: movies, music, photos, and more. You can access these this media directly from your computer or remotely via your own NAS server. If you want to stream your media to your smartphone, this will require an in-app purchase, unless you have a Plex Pass. In which case, it's included in your subscription.

That brings us neatly on to Plex Passes. You can pay for a Plex Pass monthly, yearly, or fork out for a lifetime subscription. Alternatively, you could enter our giveaway to be in with a chance of winning one of 10 lifetime passes!

With a Plex Pass, you get a range of benefits including higher quality streams, DVR functions, automatic photo backups, the ability to download media to your mobile devices, and share content with other users.

You can see the full range of Plex Pass benefits on the official Plex website.

Enter The Giveaway

Want in? We have 10 lifetime Plex passes to give out to 10 MakeUseOf newsletter subscribers. To be in with a chance of winning, simply sign up for our newsletter from our Plex Pass giveaway page. Existing subscribers can enter, too!

As a MakeUseOf newsletter subscriber, you will receive our top tech articles, exclusive deals, and free ebooks, straight to your inbox.

Terms: This giveaway ends 22 Oct 2020, and you must still be subscribed when the giveaway ends to be in with a chance of winning. Winners will be alerted via email. You can unsubscribe at any time.


Download a FREE Copy of Success Habits for Dummies (Worth $18)

A large part of what we do, how we think, and what we achieve is governed by habits. It makes sense then, that by developing the right habits, we can better position ourselves for success.

In Success Habits for Dummies, Dirk Zellar sets out a proven framework for “creating, building, and cultivating winning habits to achieve success”.

Through daily routines, time management strategies, and plenty of wisdom, this book (free for a limited time), can help you on the path to long-term job satisfaction, career progression, and the accomplishment of your goals.

Download Success Habits For Dummies

Success Habits For Dummies Free Copy

Inside, you will learn to:

  • Make a plan to perform at maximum potential.
  • Maintain a growth mindset.
  • Overcome a lack of motivation and willpower.
  • Design your environment to make success easier.
  • Get back on track when you fall off course.

Whatever your situation in life, this book will help you to reshape your habits to put you on the road to success.

Interested? Simply click here to download this free ebook (worth $17.99) from TradePub. You will have to complete a short form to access the ebook, but it’s well worth it!

Note: This free offer expires on June 2, 2020.

Read the full article: Download a FREE Copy of Success Habits for Dummies (Worth $18)


Download Cybersecurity Essentials FREE Today (Worth $26.99)

If you want an easy-to-use, comprehensive introduction to cybersecurity, this ebook is for you. And up until May 26, 2020 you can download it free of charge!

Cybersecurity Essentials offers an in-depth introduction to the field, covering the theoretical and practical sides of four distinct challenges: securing the infrastructure, securing devices, securing local networks, and securing the perimeter.

This expert coverage of essential topics required for entry-level cybersecurity certifications is a must-read for anyone wanting to advance a career in cybersecurity.

Download Cybersecurity Essentials For Free

Cybersecurity Essentials Free Copy

Using real-world scenarios that show what vulnerabilities look like in everyday computing scenarios, this ebook comprehensively covers many of the challenges you will face as a cybersecurity expert.

Each section concludes with a summary of key concepts, review questions, and hands-on exercises, allowing you to test your understanding while exercising your new critical skills.

In short, Cybersecurity Essentials covers the fundamentals you will need to master the basics of this lucrative, growing field, including:

  • Understand security and surveillance fundamentals
  • Learn to secure and protect remote access and devices
  • Understand network topologies, protocols, and strategies
  • Identify threats and mount an effective defense
  • And more

Interested? Simply click here to download this free ebook (worth $26.99) from TradePub. You will have to complete a short form to access the ebook, but it’s well worth it!

Note: This free offer expires May 26, 2020.

Read the full article: Download Cybersecurity Essentials FREE Today (Worth $26.99)


Download Office 365 For Dummies FREE Today! (Worth $20)

If you want to take your understanding of Microsoft Office 365 to a higher level, this ebook is for you, and up until 13 May 2020, you can download it free of charge.

Microsoft Office 365 bundles together some of the most well-known software applications all into one subscription. We’re talking: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, and countless other new products to aid your productivity.

These applications are used by over 70 million people worldwide, yet they’re rarely used to their full potential. Office 365 For Dummies will change that, allowing you to get even more out of your Office 365 subscription.

Do note that the consumer and business plans of Office 365 are known as Microsoft 365 now.

Download This Ebook For Free

Office 365 For Dummies

Among other things you will learn how to:

  • Move to Office 365.
  • Increase your productivity with Office 365.
  • Keep your documents and data secure.
  • Improve team communication with Exchange Online.
  • Collaborate anywhere, anytime.
  • Integrate mobile experience with Office 365.
  • Use Office Online, from the basics to the more advanced features.
  • Create better presentations with PowerPoint.
  • Keep on top of your notes with OneNote.
  • Manage Office 365 administration.

Interested? Simply click here to download this free ebook (worth $20) from TradePub. You will have to complete a short form to access the ebook, but it’s well worth it!

Note: This free offer expires 13 May 2020

Read the full article: Download Office 365 For Dummies FREE Today! (Worth $20)


Boost Your Productivity With This FREE Ebook Worth $10!

If you want to discover how to get more done with less stress, this free copy of Productivity: Get Motivated, Get Organised and Get Things Done, from Wiley, is for you.

Throughout this book, you will learn to find your own rhythm in order to maximize your productivity, no matter what situation you’re in.

This isn’t about squeezing productivity out of every waking second, though. You’re not a machine. Instead, it’s about working smarter. It’s about getting organized so you can tackle your important tasks efficiently and effectively.

Download This Ebook For Free

Free Productivity Ebook

Whether you want to get more done, fit more in, or achieve more by doing less, this ebook will steer you in the right direction.

Inside, you will learn how to:

  • Develop a personal productivity mindset.
  • Identify your optimum times of day.
  • Plan your time purposefully.
  • Manage difficulties and setbacks.
  • And more.

Interested? Simply click here to download this free ebook (worth $10) from TradePub. You will have to complete a short form to access the ebook, but it’s well worth it!

Note: This free offer expires 1 May 2020

Read the full article: Boost Your Productivity With This FREE Ebook Worth $10!


7 Skill-Building Photography Exercises That Really Work

Despite how easy it looks, photography is hard, with three learning curves to conquer: the technical aspects of the camera, the theory of light and shadows, and the actual composition of a photo (sometimes called “seeing the shot”).

That last part is the hardest thing for beginners to grasp. Composition has an artsy component that can’t be easily taught. It must be discovered by the photographer themselves.

Fortunately, there are photography exercises that can help “develop your photographic eye”. And with practical experience being the only guaranteed way to understand composition, these are the most effective photography exercises we’ve found.

1. Crop Someone Else’s Photos

Great photography starts with the eye, not the camera. This means it should be possible to develop your photographic eye without ever touching a camera or lens. And it is! For this photography composition exercise, all you’ll need is one of the easy-to-use photo editing programs like Paint or GIMP.

First, learn the fundamental rules of photo composition. You don’t have to know every single one of them right now, but you should know at least one, as this exercise will force you to put these rules into practice. We recommend starting with the Rule of Thirds.

Next, go to a free photo-hosting site like Flickr or 500px and download a bunch of images to your computer. (The easiest way is to right-click and “Save Image As”). Any kinds of images will work, but this exercise works best with portraits and landscapes.

Learn photography exercises - cropping
Image Credit: Ann Haritonenko/Shutterstock

Now, open one of the images in your photo editing program of choice and start cropping. Try all of the standard aspect ratios, including 1:1, 4:3, 3:2, and 16:9. Try cropping vertical photos as horizontal, or horizontal photos as vertical. Move the subject around. Be creative.

The point is to experiment and see how different crops can change the look and feel of an image, and how certain crops are more aesthetically pleasing than others. This experience is invaluable when you start framing your own shots through the viewfinder.

NB: You can play around with someone else’s images, but do NOT upload them or republish them on the internet in any way. That would be a violation of copyright law unless you have express permission from the image’s original owner.

2. With One Subject, Shoot 10 Photos

Here’s a common mistake made by newbies: always taking photos from the same height and from the same angle. It’s natural to stand up straight and take snapshots from eye-level, but that’s boring. After all, everyone knows what the world looks like from eye-level.

If you want your photos to be more compelling, change things up. Capture the world from unusual angles and positions: viewpoints that are foreign to most people.

Learn photography exercises - one subject 10 photos
Image Credit: Stefanolunardi/Shutterstock

This photography exercise helps train your sense of angles. First, find a subject. Any subject. It could be a stove-top kettle, a pet dog, a fire hydrant, a herb garden, a manhole cover. Anything works.

Then take 10 photos of it. No two photos should be alike. Try looking directly down at it. Then try looking directly up at it. Shift the angles. Look at the front of the subject, then the back, then the sides.

The possibilities are countless, and even the smallest tweaks to the angle can have a large impact on the resulting photo. Do this for hundreds of subjects and you’ll start seeing angles everywhere you go without even trying.

3. With Three Objects, Shoot 10 Photos

In some cases—like landscape, astronomical, and street photography—the idea is to capture scenes in the moment as they are. In other cases—like portrait, food, and product photography—the idea is to construct your own scenes.

As you imagine, this isn’t easy. There are many factors to juggle such as lighting and background, but one particular aspect that newbies find difficult is how to position multiple subjects within the frame.

Learn photography exercises- 3 objects 10 photos
Image Credit: Halfpoint/Shutterstock

That’s what this photo composition exercise is about. Find three random objects, such as action figures, fruit, bowls, candles, plants, or whatever else you have to hand. It doesn’t matter if they’re related to each other or not, although it will be easier if they’re all similar in size.

Now position them however you wish. Think of it as if you’re composing the objects for a photo shoot (that is what you’re doing, after all). Do this 10 times, rearranging them in different ways each time. Over time, this will stretch your creative muscles and develop your eye.

4. With One Lens, Shoot 1,000 Photos

The focal length of a lens controls more than just the zoom factor of a shot. Yes, all things being equal, an 18mm lens requires you to be closer to the subject than a 50mm lens or an 85mm lens. But different focal lengths can evoke different feelings from a photo, too.

For example, the wide angle of an 18mm lens comes with a lot of distortion, which can produce a comical or whimsical effect. On the other hand, a 200mm lens has a compression effect that makes the photo seem flatter than, say, an 85mm or 50mm lens.

Learn photography exercises - lens focal length
Image Credit: Rrrainbow/Shutterstock

In short, different focal lengths require different approaches when composing shots. That’s why we recommend mastering one kind of lens at a time, preferably starting with a 50mm prime. Read up on the common camera lenses and when to use them.

For this exercise, all you have to do is stick with one focal length for your next 1,000 photos. It’s easiest with a prime lens, but if you only have a zoom lens, just pick a focal length and leave it there. Switch to another focal length when your 1,000 photos are complete.

By the end, you will have a better understanding of how to use the different focal lengths at your disposal to achieve the shot you’re after.

5. Hula-Hoop Photo Walks

Creativity is often seen as something that’s infinite, and full of possibilities. And while there’s technically nothing wrong with that, the truth is that creativity needs limits and constraints to really flourish.

If you’ve ever felt like you wanted to take photos but didn’t know where to start, where to go, or what to shoot, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. Restrictions are good, and that’s how this photo exercise is going to unlock your creative potential.

Learn photography exercises - photo walks
Image Credit: Leungchopan/Shutterstock

Take a hula hoop and go outside. Toss it up into the air, then let it bounce and roll around until it eventually comes to a stop. Now stand inside the hula hoop, take a look around, and shoot 10, 20, or 50 photos of anything. But try to make them good.

When you’re done, toss the hula hoop into the air again and repeat the process. If you don’t have a hula hoop, just pick a random direction and walk a random number of steps to find your next spot. Pretty soon your creative juices will start flowing, guaranteed.

6. Weekly Photo Challenges

Weekly photo challenges are popular on the internet, but different photography communities have different names for them: Photo of the Week, 52 Photos Project, Sunday Photo Prompt, etc. The key is to take 52 photos over the course of one year.

Learn photography exercises - photo walks
Image Credit: Efired/Shutterstock

Ideally, you’d take part in some kind of community version of the challenge because this gives you a chance to see the photos of other participants, and a chance for others to critique your work. But if you’d rather do a personal challenge instead, that’s fine too.

Sometimes each month has a theme, but not always. It’s up to you how you want to do it. We recommend setting a regular weekly deadline and sticking to it. Need inspiration? Check out 52 Weeks Photography Challenge, 52 Frames, or 52 Weeks of Photography.

7. Recreate Someone Else’s Photos

Once you feel a little more comfortable behind the camera, you may want to try recreating photos that others have shot. Browse Instagram, Flickr, or 500px, pick a few that seem within your skill range, and have at it!

Learn photography exercises - recreate photos
Image Credit: Evgeny Karandaev/Shutterstock

The goal here isn’t to make an exact 1-to-1 replica of your source material, so don’t be discouraged if you can’t get that far. Rather, this photography exercise is meant to get you thinking in ways you haven’t considered. To push you outside your comfort zone.

At first, your imitation photos will look like garbage compared to your source photos. That’s normal. Keep at it, however, and you’ll start to see fast improvements. Along the way, you may even start to discover your own voice and sense of style as a photographer.

Photography Is a Long But Rewarding Journey

Don’t expect to unlock your photographer’s eye overnight. It’s a gradual process that could take weeks, months, or even years before you really start to “see” photographs before taking them. But the journey is well worth taking, so don’t give up!

If these photography exercises weren’t enough and you need even more ideas, then we highly recommend checking out these free lessons to learn the basics of photography.

Read the full article: 7 Skill-Building Photography Exercises That Really Work


Safely Explore The Dark Web With This FREE Guide

You’ve seen dark web in the movies. You’ve heard about it in the news. You know the hackers are down there, planning attacks. But is the dark web really that bad?

Why not take a look for yourself? With this free ebook, we’ll safely guide you into the hidden depths of the internet to show you what you’ve been missing.

Download The Deep and Dark Web Guide

Deep and Dark Web Guide

Over six chapters, you will learn:

  • The difference between the deep and dark web.
  • Reasons for accessing the dark web.
  • How to enter the dark web while staying safe.
  • How to avoid the bad side of the dark web.
  • The best sites to visit while you’re there.

If you’re curious to learn more about the dark web, this guide will give you a solid introduction to the subject.

Are you ready to explore? To learn the tricks, tips, and secrets of the deep and dark web, click here to download The Deep and Dark Web Guide from TradePub. You will have to complete a short form to access the ebook, but it’s well worth it!

Read the full article: Safely Explore The Dark Web With This FREE Guide


Future-Proof Your Career With This FREE Ebook (Worth $16)

A lifelong career doesn’t exist anymore. In fact, “People entering the workforce today will have an estimated 17 employers and five careers in their lifetimes—and already many existing roles are being automated away, with many more to follow”.

These trends mean that more and more people will enter the freelancing world or the gig-work economy. This comes with certain freedoms. But it also brings its own challenges.

Given that no profession or industry is immune to these trends, how can you future-proof your own career?

In this free copy of Career Leap, worth $16, Michelle Gibbings answers these questions, showing you “what you need to know, how you need to change and how you can prepare for the inevitable tides of change.”

Download Career Leap for Free

Career Leap Free Ebook

The 10-step framework set out in this book will help you reinvent your career for the 21st Century. Inside, you will learn how to:

  • Future-proof your career with the new laws for success.
  • Undertake a health check of your career and make deliberate career choices.
  • Design, build, and execute your influence and career strategy.
  • Be equipped to take control and leap ahead with your career.

Want to download your free copy? Simply click here to download Career Leap from TradePub. You will have to complete a short form to access the ebook, but it’s well worth it!

Note: This free offer expires 24 March 2020. 

Read the full article: Future-Proof Your Career With This FREE Ebook (Worth $16)


Download “Windows 10 All-In-One For Dummies” For FREE (Worth $40)

Without dwelling on the technical mumbo-jumbo, Windows 10 For Dummies takes you through everything you need to know about Windows 10, from the basics to the more advanced features.

This all-in-one ebook is a collection of 10 mini-books that you can easily hop around to find the information you need, to take your Windows 10 skills to the next level.

Before you know it, you’ll be the resident Windows 10 expert in your office, and at home.

Download This Ebook for Free

Windows 10 For Dummies Free Copy

The ten mini-books included in this fantastic resource cover everything from backing up your data to making Windows work smarter for you.

The topics of the books included are:

  • Starting Windows 10
  • Personalizing Windows
  • Working on the Desktop
  • Using the Built-In Universal Apps
  • Connecting With the Universal Apps
  • Socializing With the Universal apps
  • Controlling Your System
  • Maintaining Windows 10
  • Securing Windows 10
  • Enhancing Windows 10

Want to download your free copy? Simply click here to download Windows 10 For Dummies from TradePub. You will have to complete a short form to access the ebook, but it’s well worth it!

Note: this free offer expires 17 Mar 2020.

Read the full article: Download “Windows 10 All-In-One For Dummies” For FREE (Worth $40)


Download “Becoming The Hacker” For FREE (Worth $32)

If you’d like to delve into web penetration testing, Becoming the Hacker is a clear guide to approaching this lucrative and growing industry.

This free book (worth $32) takes you through commonly encountered vulnerabilities and how to take advantage of them to achieve your goal. You’ll then go on to put your “newly learned techniques into practice, going over scenarios where the target may be a popular content management system or a containerized application and its network”.

Download This Ebook for Free

Topics covered include:

  • Introduction to attacking web applications
  • Advanced brute-forcing
  • File inclusion attacks
  • Out-of-band exploitation
  • Automated testing
  • Practical client-side and server-side attacks
  • Attacking APIs
  • Attacking CMS
  • And more

By developing a strong understanding of how an attacker approaches a web application, you’re placed in a strong position to help companies protect their own applications from these vulnerabilities.

This book is aimed at readers with basic experience with digital security, such as running a network, or coming across security issues when developing an application.

Want to download your free copy? Simply click here to download Becoming the Hacker from TradePub. You will have to complete a short form to access the ebook, but it’s well worth it!

Note: this free offer expires 3 Mar 2020.

Read the full article: Download “Becoming The Hacker” For FREE (Worth $32)