I've heard of death by a thousand cuts, but never cursors--that was until Firefly, a less-than-practical approach to letting your site visitors communicate with one another in real time. The service lets everyone see each other's cursors live as they zip around the page and lets them chat with one another via text. To strike up conversation, just start typing and a chat bubble will form above your cursor. Everyone's public chats are stored in a little queue, and frequent users can register to have their information and chat history saved to view at a later date.… Read more
Pixel art has held a special place in the the world of Web 2.0. Most recently it reared its head at Adobe Systems' Engage event earlier this year, where attendees received a poster with pixel art characters using various Adobe products. The poster was professionally designed, but that doesn't mean you've got to go out and buy some special software or take digital art classes to have some fun making your own.
Last week NBC quietly released a learning tool called iCue in conjunction with MIT. (See coverage on CNET TV's Loaded.) It's been designed as a "learning environment" using a large collection of news clips taken from NBC's video archives to enable anyone to catch up on news coverage and current events. This archived footage is put into context, as long as viewers are willing to acknowledge that the content is coming only from one source (NBC), and for now only with the focus on the U.S. presidential elections.
To get going, users can simply … Read more
Over the years, Microsoft has taken different approaches to offering online support. Some of you may remember Microsoft Bob, a bizarre software desktop replacement whose personal guides were supposed to offer personalized help.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, the product went nowhere and is now better-known as the answer to the trivia question, "What was Melinda French's claim to product fame?" (Of course, Melinda French later went on to fame and fortune as Mrs. Melinda Gates.)
Most computer users are more familiar with the Clippy, the office assistant Microsoft put into Office 97 that offered advice to user queries. … Read more
I found this article on O'Reilly's (Microsoft-sponsored) Port 25 page fascinating. For all Microsoft's attempts to own the budding minds of students, it may well be that Microsoft has become too corporate, too sterile to be of interest to the creative mind:
Even back in my day, you could go to a "Windows lab" and work with Visual Studio or go to a "UNIX lab" and use vi and gcc. And you know what? All the fun was in the UNIX lab. And not just for me. There was just a difference in the attitudes and ethic across the two lab environments. People in the Windows lab were trying to get their project in before it was 11:59 PM, while people in the UNIX lab were goofing off, playing with code, and... trying to get their project in before it was 11:59 PM.
What is it about UNIX, vi, emacs, gcc, perl, and INSERT-HERE that makes it fun to play with, while Visual Studio just makes you want to... well, work?
In the enterprise, this alleged Microsoft attribute might be considered a Very Good Thing. But is it? Do enterprises really want automatons that punch in and code to spec? Or do they want innovation that changes the game?… Read more
Yahoo announced Wednesday that it plans to acquire Tensa Kft., a Hungarian company known professionally as IndexTools, which makes marketing analytics tools for the Web.
Financial terms of the deal were not released, but Yahoo hopes that the acquisition will be finalized by the middle of 2008. Yahoo, currently battling with both a Microsoft takeover offensive and its status as second-string to Google in online advertising, plans to use IndexTools' technology to bolster its existing marketing analytics software. The initial target, a release from Yahoo explained, will be the 150,000 small and medium-sized businesses using Yahoo's marketing analytics … Read more
Last week a video made the rounds showcasing a new way to bypass Apple's many layers of security on the iPhone. The software called PwnageTool, which has been released today for both Mac and Windows users, opens up the iPhone to running apps that have unsigned code, effectively letting users run homebrewed developer apps with no special seals of approval or verification whatsoever. The tool also lets you load up your phone with customized firmware, letting advanced users develop their own concoctions that could be shared with other users, complete with automatic unlocking, jailbreaking, and activation upon first boot.… Read more
The company has taken a creative spin on using geopositioning to help lead-footed drivers avoid known and newly discovered speed traps and other police dragnets. By installing the application on your mobile phone you'll get heads up on speed cameras, red-light cameras, hiding places, and live police while out and about. The application uses Skyhook Wireless' Wi-Fi and cell tower location positioning system to keep tabs on where you are while you're … Read more
Commenting can play a major part in making an author's blog post deeper, and more interesting to read. It's like having a discussion in real life versus simply hearing someone speak--there are details, and alternate angles that can come of making ideas go two ways instead of one.
When creating a personal blog or one for business, there are the standard comment systems that come with your blogging platform, as well as a whole new breed of third-party tools that can add extra functionality, and potentially a deeper level of discussion to your site. So which ones are worth installing?
We've picked six of the major players in this space, and talked about what makes them more useful than the ones that come built-in to popular hosted blogging services like WordPress and Movable Type. Even if you're not on one of these two platforms, several of these solutions will work on a site you've built from scratch.
CoComment lets your readers subscribe to comments on a blog post, and share that thread with other CoComment users. It scrapes people's comments from threads they've replied to, so they can monitor and access the responses for multiple sites in one centralized location.
Adding CoComment to your site doesn't involve replacing your current commenting system, but it means you're signing up to be part of the CoComment network. If your users are active members of this community you might get new people discovering your content and taking part in the conversation--which could translate to site growth and prominence. The two things that turned us off to the service were the sometimes slow service and distracting ads that take are found on CoComment's main service.
Co.mments is a plug-in for blog owners, as well as a simple browser bookmarklet that lets you (or your readers) track conversations regardless of whether or not the stock commenting system offers such a feature. It works similar to some of the Web commerce price trackers we've looked at before, and will notify you if there are changes. Commenters can keep an eye on all the conversations they're tracking in one spot, and quickly browse through them like an river of news with a full list of keyboard shortcuts.
If you like Wordpress' built-in comment system and Askimet spam-catching plug-in, and don't want to ditch it for some completely different system, then Co.mments is a simple way to add tracking services for your readers so that they will know when to come back. However, it doesn't offer some of the advanced functionality of the others, and is mainly for helping your users keep track of what's going on with various threads on your blog--not making them more advanced. Several other services we're profiling offer subscription features of their own, but we liked Co.mments' in-box that lets you go catch up on multiple conversations in one place.
Continue reading to find out the other four services and which ones we picked out of the bunch.
FaveBot is a service that keeps an eye on whatever keywords you give it to pull up related items from the Web. If you're familiar with Google Alerts, the idea is similar. In Favebot's case, you can take any keyword or set of keywords and apply it to the types of content you're looking to keep an eye on, be it photos, videos, blog posts, or podcasts. There are nine categories in all, and the system is designed to serve it up like a river of news with the most recent items appearing on the top.
What'… Read more