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Aggregate your Social Networks

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With increasing number of social networking websites, inevitably, there has to arise websites that help in consolidating the various profiles you maintain at these numerous pages.

These new breed of websites are called Social Network aggregators and they provide you one platform where you enter all your profile information, which can be automatically updated at the various profile pages. For example, Profile-Linker gives you a platform to manage over 70 social networks, including big names such as MySpace, FaceBook, LinkedIn etc.

With value-added features like customized toolbars to alert you when you receive a message from one of the several network websites, a social network aggregator such as this is going to be inevitable in the future.

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Previewing links: Snap Vs. Cooliris

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Snap was launched as "the other way to search" concept. Accordingly, while the conventional search engines judge the usability of a destination page based on the text content it has, Snap does so based on the seeming usability it offers through an preview screen of the page that the user could expect to land on.

Taking this concept, a plugin is now available at Mozilla for Firefox users. This is called Cooliris and offers to provide the same preview as is available to the users of Snap. Here are a few points I gathered while using the two softwares simulataneously. Note that the comparison provided is purely based on the preview utility alone.

I feel that Snap is much faster than Cooliris when it comes to loading the destination link. I made this observation after numerous trials on different pages which had Snap installed on them.

Snap, though it loads quicker has low utility on most occasions since the preview screen is too small to comprehend what is in store. Cooliris, on the other hand has a big enough screen.

Cooliris is not in fact showing a preview. It is actually opening the link, though in a preview type window. This could be one reason why Cooliris takes so long to open the preview window.

Continuing on the previous point, while Snap only allows you to click to enter the page, Cooliris allows you to browse the page, click on a particular link there and thereon continue as well. However, you cannot preview a link inside the preview screen!

Bottom line is that both the utilities do not offer what the user wants. Ideally, I would ask for a big screen preview of a cache page so that

1. My preview does not count as an actual visit,and
2. I can actually browse through the page to know if I can find what I want there.

Snap seems to have developed this utility mainly as a means to popularize its more valuable Search function. My two cents will be that, if you are a webmaster, then do NOT go for a Snap installation. Most of the top bloggers have already removed Snap from their page after poor visitor feedbacks.

However, if you as a user would want to 'preview' web pages, you can go with cooliris. But, as I had already made my point, Cooliris is more about actually loading the page rather than a preview.

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Good Mash-up tutorial

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Incidentally, after my last post regarding Mash-ups, I found a good tutorial on what Mash-ups are and how they work. The presenter is David Berlind, executive editor of ZDNET. You may watch the video, if you did not have a good idea of what Mash-ups are before this.
Video Link

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Build your own map

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Building maps are one of the most common amongst mash-up programmers. Some of the most well known and popular maps available on the internet are Google Earth and Virtual Earth. There are a lot of mash-ups based on these like the MapBuilder and Wayfaring. These websites let you build your own maps for your own use. Like, I found this one from the MapBuilder site about where to find Christmas lights in one particular county.
Here are two good tutorials I found on this subject. One is by Dan Theurer who talks about building your own maps mash-up and the other is by Rasmus Lerdorf, the founder of PHP and now at Yahoo, who talks about the Yahoo Maps API using PHP and Flash.

Related : Mashups - How internet grows from here

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Encrypt your email for security

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Some companies have started scanning the emails of their employees for security purposes. Though this is for good, it can also hamper other innocuous things like unofficial emails to friends from your office email id.

Mobrien is a software that helps you to encrypt your email message. What you need to do is go to their website, and after you obtain a temporary password, click on the 'Send out an encrypted email' button. You shall then be taken to a new window where you can send an encrypted email.

The receiver shall receive instructions on how to read the encrypted email. So, all along the email remains encrypted. I understand this would most often serve only malicious purposes, but felt that with so many softwares emerging to serve email encryption, I should review atleast one of those I know about.

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Gmail feature to integrate all your emails

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Google has recently introduced a new exciting feature in gmail. As per this, you can now integrate all your email ids (i.e upto a maximum of five) under one gmail account. Since this is in beta, not all gmail accounts have this feature. Nevertheless, you can check if your account has also got the feature enabled. Goto Settings - Account. If you can see information on adding new email ids, then lo you have it.

So, what can you do with this? You can receive email ids from your other account to the default gmail account. This apart, you also have a feature to send emails (You can choose the FROM address of your choice as well!!!)from any of the ids, though you shall only be operating from one account.

Now, if you have the feature enabled on your account, all you have to do is to enter the email id, and let the authorization code reach that email id. Once that is done, you can start right away!

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Display RSS feeds as a Screensaver

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Screensavers are most often chosen to display your attitude or passions. However, newer softwares allow you to customize screensavers to show your RSS feeds. NuParadigm offers a free download of a software to set up your RSS feeds to be displayed as a screensaver. The software looks to offer much more than a screensaver, in fact, as you can also use your keyboard arrow keys to navigate between stories, use your spacebar to open a story, etc.

NuParadigm is not the only one available. There are infact quite a few more as well. There is another popular software, the Tiger's Quartz composer which helps the user to create a customized RSS Screensaver. Microsoft has its own version, RSS "Screen Saver Starter Kit".

However, I felt NuParadigm should be much more useful as the other two softwares need a few prerequisites. Tiger's Quartz Composer works on Mac OS only. RSS Screen Saver Starter Kit, meanwhile, requires you to install the .Net framework. NuParadigm is just click to start if you don't have either of the other two prerequisites.

If you would want to download the .Net framework in order to try out the Microsoft product, you can do so here.


Hide Windows from Boss - hot key from MrHyde

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If you are my kind, then you surely do not want to display Internet Explorer windows that you have kept open to track cricket scores or to simply chat or orkutting, while at office. I found this nice software that helps you to define a hot-key which you can invoke to automatically hide all the windows on your computer screen that you do not want your boss to see when he comes on his rounds. Also, you can get your screen back to what it was when he has left.

The MrHyde software is a freeware and can be started as and when Windows is loaded. There is no icon or other stuff of MrHyde; so it is only you who know that the software is running. Pretty useful for office surfers!


One-click automatic social bookmarking

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If you notice my blog, I have a link for you to bookmark my blog above each of my blog entries. With so many social bookmarking tools available, it can sometimes get clumsy there, or I might fail to provide the, exact bookmarking tool that you, as a visitor use.

Socializer is an alternative to this mess. Socializer, itself is not a bookmarking tool, but it serves as a middleman, and with one click helps to submit the blog to the entire gamut of online social bookmarking websites available.

This shall help both the blogger in reducing the clumsiness of his website, as well as the reader, as it helps for universal bookmarking.

PS: Sorry, I have not put it in myself. I shall do it soon :)

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