The just-launched Screenr product isn't the only easy Web-friendly screencast tool out there, but among the competing products I've tried, including ScreenJelly and Jing, it is the best option for creating screencasts fast and getting them posted immediately. All you do is let the Java-powered recording app load from the Screenr Web page and hit a button to record a screencast of up to five minutes.
Eric Woodward, creator of the short URL service Tr.im, painted his product into a corner when he announced first, that he was going to take it offline, and then a few days later that he wasn't. Nobody wants to trust their Web links to a capricious business that could go offline again, and take working links and traffic with it.
On August 17, Woodward put a fresh coat on the prior week's drama with a new gambit: He said he was giving the service to the community. In the bitter post announcing this plan, he continued to claim that due to the fact that Twitter made Bit.ly the default URL shortener for the service, a product like Tr.im has no real chance for success. Related, he says, is the recent announcement of the 301works archive for short URLs, which he sees as a craven publicity stunt to boost Bit.ly, since the same people behind it are also running 301works.
Woodward says that the Internet needs an open link-shortening service, because the traffic data short URLs generates is too valuable to entrust to a single company. "You can't get the aggregate data on what's being shared in real time by everyone," he told me. "Twitter wants to become a real-time search engine, so the data Bit.ly is capturing is very valuable."
(Bit.ly data is currently wide open, at least on an individual URL basis. Simply append "+" to a Bit.ly link to get traffic stats on it. Woodward wants to see a "fire hose" of short URL data, however.)
A Twitter keiretsu? Woodward does have reason to be envious and even suspicious of the Bit.ly-Twitter relationship, although it's difficult to draw the connection all the way to malfeasance on the part of the two companies. And it's hard to believe that his strident posturing will win him much support outside of a small group of the most zealous open-source boosters.
Several powerful companies in the Twitter ecosystem are inter-related. Bit.ly's CEO is John Borthwick, and Borthwick is also CEO of Betaworks. Betaworks helps build companies in the social-messaging space. It incubated Summize, the Twitter search engine Twitter acquired last year, and through that deal Betaworks remains connected to Twitter. Betaworks has also worked with Tweetdeck -- which also uses Bit.ly as the default link shortener. The company has several other Twitter (and Facebook) projects running right now. Suffice it to say that if you're in Betaworks' network, you've got great access to Twitter. If you're competing with a Betaworks portfolio company to get Twitter's attention, you've got a tough road ahead.
Betaworks is one of the drivers of the 301works short URL data project, and it's the relationship between Bit.ly and 301works that led Woodward to shun the project, at least for now. "There's nothing wrong with it in theory, but it doesn't solve the link rot problem," Woodward said. He added, "Why would I give them the publicity?" … Read more
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that some New York coffee shops were pulling the plug on customers that park themselves at tables, open their laptops, and hang out for hours, buying perhaps only a single latte as their cafe rental fee.
While independent coffee shops that are struggling to make ends meet may see the need to flush out the low-revenue laptop users, the major chains are not so strapped. Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, in fact, was a big proponent of building a comfortable third place for people to work and socialize. (The first two places being home … Read more
Pinboard is Maciej Ceglowski's Delicious competitor. Sort of. It's a one-man show, a feature-light but fast site for saving bookmarks and seeing what other people are saving, too, if you wish. It's easy to use, thanks to a collection of functional bookmarklets that do various things (I like the "read later" one). TechCrunch has a glowing review.
Unlike most tools in the category, Pinboard is not free. There's a one-time fee for getting access to the service, and the fee is going up. For every person that signs on, the fee rises a tenth … Read more
In light of the near-shutdown of Tr.im--and the actual closing of URL shortening services like URLTea, Shurl.net, and Qurl.net--users of the URL shorteners still standing may wonder what's going to happen to their favorite services if they, too, go belly-up.
On Friday, Gnip is announcing that it's releasing a public database that will give URL shortening companies a place where they can archive or escrow their short URL directories, in the event their services shut down. The database would provide a way for another company to take over the services of the closed URL … Read more
The family video site Pixorial opens up to the public Wednesday. It solves two problems most people will probably relate to. First, it's a nice little video editor for piecing together clips from digital cameras and the like. Second, if you send Pixorial your old analog media (VHS tapes, Super 8 film, other formats), the company will convert them to digital so you can edit them into new films.
Once your film is edited, you can then press it to DVD ($9.99) or just view it online in smallish window. If you want to download the full, high-resolution … Read more
Can't decide which search engine to use? Use several. At once. After I covered Google's "Caffeine" beta search engine I got a link, in the story's comments, to a clever hack that puts old Google and new Google results side by side, so you can use both: CompareGoogle. Useful? Not really. But kind of entertaining if you're a search geek.
I prefer, though, the blind taste test of search, BlindSearch, created by Microsoft employee Michael Kordahi. You enter your query and it gives you three panes of search results, from Google, Bing, and Yahoo, … Read more
Google is running a public experiment of a new search technology, code-named Caffeine (link takes you to the beta search engine). There are visible changes in search results, but they are so subtle that you likely won't notice differences between the old Google and the beta Google unless you run queries side by side.
Caffeine is a test version of the Google indexing and ranking system, not an upgrade of the Google user interface. For many queries that I ran, the top entries were identical, and result pages look the same.
For example, when searching for "Google Caffeine,&… Read more
New users to Facebook (and probably some existing users, but not all of them yet) are getting a new search experience in Facebook starting Monday. The new interface for search makes it possible to see all public results from Facebook users (the Everyone filter), or just results from your friends. Or, as before, only Events, Groups, or Applications.
The Everyone filter is the key new feature. It lets Facebook users monitor the entire network for news and updates on big topics, the same way Twitter was consumed for information coming from Iran after the recent election.
Like Twitter Search, the … Read more
Allen Razdow, who wrote Mathcad in 1985, has just released his latest tool for engineers and other numerically-inclined professionals: True Numbers, an online service and specification that lets users see and record the meanings and histories behind the numbers they are using.
Say you're an engineer and you're working on a bridge, and in your calculations you need a value for the tensile strength of the steel you want to include in part of the structure. Your company probably has a spec for the material you want, so you grab it and put it into your design. (I'… Read more