If you're anything like me, you've got a ton of documents that have piled up over the years. People my age (recent college grads) are some of the worst, with nearly a decade of research papers, projects, and various snippets saved along the way--many of which took hours of hard work and are now relegated to a hard archive somewhere in your documents folder or on burnt optical media. Luckily for your files, there are a few places to share them with others who might be interested in reading.
First it was the Google Toolbar, then it was an integrated search box in the corner of my browser. It's no secret Google's been slowly attempting to take control of our computers for years. The desktop search is a testament to that. What's really creepy is the new Web History tracking service Google quietly rolled out last week. This new service doesn't go after items on your computer, rather what you're looking at online.
Google Web History archives everything you've searched for (while signed in to your Google account), and gives you a bookmarklet to bookmark sites you like. The whole idea is to make the browsing experience something you can search through and access from any computer, anywhere. Search history has items listed by time of search, with the most recent ones on a front page.
Searches are broken down by Google category like Web, Images, Maps, and (the now misnamed) Froogle. Users can also see how many searches they've done by month, day, and hour. Drilling down deeper, you can also go in and click on the number of searches and see the top sites and results. It's a total analytic overload.
The real creepy part in all this is the integration you get if you have the Google Toolbar installed on your browser. This will track every single site you're visiting, and apply the same aforementioned analytics so you can keep track of which sites or services you're using the most. Sure, we've had browsing history for years, but it's always been localized. It's a little alarming to see it online, regardless of the fact it can't be shared with others.
The good news is that users can opt-out of Google's Web History program, along with the capability to delete any item that's been archived. The bad news is that if you have a Google account, all your search activity has been tracked since last week.
For more shots of the service, keep reading.… Read more
Kyte.tv is a new service that lets people create their own TV channel. It's a bit of a mashup between a live blogging tool, a social network, and some of the live Internet TV channels we've been seeing lately with Justin.tv, and UStream.tv. Although, instead of strapping a camera to your head, you can use a cell phone.
The mobile client is a small Java application for several Nokia and Sony Ericsson phones that allows Kyte.tv users to upload photos and chat with others in a Kyte.tv channel. The mobile live blogging component is called "Lifecasting" which lets users upload pictures from their camera phone in real time. You can set it to automatically take a picture every few minutes, or every time you click the shutter. Either way, photos will show up on your channel instantly and viewers will get a visual notification that you're "live."
Kyte.tv channel owners can create as many channels as they want and add music, photos, videos, polls and text. A channel consists of a display screen, a playlist, and integrated chat room. Each channel also gets its own custom URL and branding, which is chosen by the channel owner. Alternately, there's embed code to place the entire Kyte.tv experience on a social networking profile or blog post (like we've done after the break).
One thing to note about adding music: you can't upload your own tracks. Instead you have to pick from a small selection of music from indie music service IODA. It's a lot like the music integration you get with Photobucket's video Remix tool.
What Kyte.tv has done really well is the live chat room. While it's lacking admin controls and private conversation options, you're getting the same chat experience on your computer and your phone. It's also really easy to use, as long as you're handy with your phone's keypad.
Kyte.tv is a fun service that opens up a lot of options for live blogging. Like we've seen with Twitter, mobile blogging has exploded with the help of easy-to-use tools that can be used and accessed on multiple platforms. Likewise, live video broadcasting has become something normal people can do with services like Pocketcaster and UStream.tv. Kyte.tv is happy medium between the two.
We'll be broadcasting live at various points during the day, so to visit our Kyte.tv channel, just click the read more link below.… Read more
MixerCast is a new Web based tool for creating sharable slide shows. It pulls media from several different popular Web services like flickr, YouTube, MySpace, and Getty images, and lets users customize the look and feel with basic design templates. The show can then be shared with others through a direct URL or embedded into several social networks.
I've played with a ton of these tools since I started on Webware, but this is one of the few that actually emulates the feel of a desktop application. In this case, it feels a lot like one of Apple's consumer applications from the iLife suite. You can pick various elements to drag and drop into the template, like photos, videos or even a map from Yahoo (which, by the way, I found to be a little buggy).
MixerCast is definitely aimed at the social networking crowd. A few of its themes and templates, including one that's a full-on Pepsi advertisement, forgo a slick, clean look as you can get with a competing, mixed-media sharing tool like SplashCast. It's still really simple to put together a rich slide show, and share it with others, which makes it worth a try.
I've embedded a MixerCast module below, with pictures from last night's Digg 1 million-user celebration here in San Francisco. More screen shots of the user interface are shown after the jump.
See also: RockYou
This is one of the greatest technological anachronisms I've ever seen. The Victorian aesthetically-driven boys at the Steampunk Workshop have put together a telegraph clacker that sounds out RSS feeds. For those of you who were born after the death of the handlebar mustache, telegraphs were ways to electronically communicate information long before things like "computers" and "modems" were invented. Decades before even the telephone was invented, telegraphs were tapping out important information to important people in Morse code.
Eliot van Buskirk on Wired's Listening Post blog is reporting that a source has informed him of what could be a pretty darn interesting development in the world of social networking. Buskirk writes that social networking site Facebook plans to allow its members to embed third-party widgets on their profiles, "allowing users to embed outside audio, video, and other content onto their profile pages for the first time."
VBuzzer looks and feels like a basic instant messenger download, but it packs a whole lot more. It has your standard text chat and buddy lists, but also combines a Skype-like phone service, news feeds directly into the IM window, and the ability to send and receive faxes. VBuzzer is free to download.
While President and CEO Mike Mu says his target demographic is consumers--apparently not just young ones--and small businesses, it seems as though it might be tough to drag users away from established IM services, like AIM, Yahoo IM or MSN Messenger. He says his company is in … Read more
Need a Web application, but don't have a bevy of developers on your payroll? No problem, you have options.
Dapper.net is a place to build Web apps or mashups using content from any site. Before building, first check to see if there are any search for "Dapps" out there already doing what you want (for example, converting Webware content into a Netvibes module). There are 10,000 Dapps in existence so far, according to Dapper CEO Eran Shir. But, if a search comes back negative, you can create your own Dapp. Just tell Dapper which Web … Read more
Netvibes, maker of the single-page aggregator (or metagator) that I favor, is making an aggressive announcement at the Web 2.0 Expo. The company is launching the "Netvibes Universes" project. It's a simple technical improvement to the current service, but it's a bit of a business coup.
Netvibes Universes allows content creators to create custom Netvibes aggregation pages. What's technically new is that content owners can now customize the look and feel of their pages, and publish them as standalone Web pages with semifriendly URLs (for example: www.netvibes.com/icecube). Fully friendly URLS--in other words, custom Web addresses--will come later.
The business coup is that Netvibes signed up over 100 publishing partners, including recording artists like Mandy Moore and 50 Cent, and major media like Time, USA Today, and The Washington Post. All their Netvibes pages will be available on Monday.
It's hard to say if the Universes pages be better than their publishers' own home pages. They are different. A custom-designed home page can really stand out, but with more people finding content through "side doors" like blog posts, Digg, and aggregators like Netvibes, the front pages of content sites matter less than they used to. It makes sense, then, for some publishers to use off-the-shelf services like Universes to publish front pages that are almost as attractive, and far easier to modify, than all the individually coded front pages that sites now support.
Netvibes told me that it will make the Universes functionality available to all its users by June. At the moment, it's possible for ordinary Netvibes users to share a Netvibes page only with other users, and you can't customize the page nor specify a standalone URL for it.
In related news, Netvibes competitor Pageflakes is releasing its Flurry feature at Web 2.0 Expo. By interviewing you about your location and your interests, this update makes it even easier to get started with the service. I interviewed Pageflakes CEO Dan Cohen in February. It's a great product--I'd use it if I wasn't already hooked on Netvibes.
Both Netvibes and Pageflakes make better start pages than the majors (Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google), although in the long run that won't matter because the big guys can easily grab the lion's share of traffic. For that reason I think Netvibes' direction is very smart. Instead of focusing on making a better product for individuals, the company is now embarking on a business-to-business strategy, too, and hopes to reach new users not only directly, but through its business clients.
Read on for more preview screenshots from Netvibes.
Now's the time for early adopters who can afford Adobe Creative Suite 3 to break out their credit cards. The professional interactive design software is officially for sale online. If you can't plunk down upwards of $1,000 for a suite (more in Europe--or buy a plane ticket from there to the States if you want to spend less), then check out some freebie Web-based and downloadable alternatives.
Thanks to Adobe's work to incorporate its staple software with its Macromedia acquisitions from 2005, integration throughout the applications is the biggest news to report with this upgrade. There … Read more