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Friday, February 29, 2008

One Step Forward for Internet Censorship, A Step Backwards for Israel



Usually, I don't write about or get into political views on my blog, but this issue concerns me as a blogger and as citizen in a country such as Israel.

To make a long story short: More than a year and a half ago, Parliament member, Amnon Cohen suggested that all internet service providers should filter internet content for anyone who does not identify themselves as adults. The process was meant to be done via biometric identification and at the server level.

Now the proposal is due in Parliament after it received support from the government and passed the preliminary vote (out of three). According to this proposal, all internet users will either have to install filter software or use service-side filtering unless they identify themselves as adults willing to consume adult content (this is the place where the Minister of Telecommunications may decide how to identify users).

If this proposal is approved and gets full support from the government at the end of process of three votes, these will be the consequences as the result of this matter:
  • Blogs, Forums and other group discussions could be blocked by default;
  • Censorship is to be activated on News sites (pictures, videos, etc.,) and they will lose their freedom of expression;
  • LGBT communities will be probably blocked as well;
  • Israeli companies that contain user-generated content are at a major risk because surely this kind of content will be hard to monitor.
Speaking of which, what will become of the Israeli Internet industry?

If you familiar with the web 2.0, you must know then that there is an enormous growth when it's come to Israel's Internet Industry, a step like this will hurt lots of companies.

Frankly, I can't believe that in an advanced country like Israel, the government itself would have a hand in bringing down its own economy. Moreover, I can't even imagine a situation where content from my blog or worse, my whole blog is being censored. It's sounds nightmarish and like the plot of a doomsday sci fi story.

However, this is just one side of a bigger issue which seems to be more and more a matter of political power and control over Israeli civilians. In a democratic country, an undemocratic law that gains support by the government, may open the doors for other unreasonable similar low blows that could endanger more of our freedoms on the future.

What's scares me is that most of the population naively sees this action as something that will protect their children from being exposed to inappropriate content and do not fear its ramifications on all of us as a whole. If a parent wants to, and they should protect their kids, it's his/her personal decision to place a filter that will block access to adult content on their computer. It's their choice as an individual and that simple.

Please take a minute to read the full story on this blog and feel free to spread the word because your help is needed! Don't allow our rights to slowly slip away. Let's move toward progress!

You can also show your support in the Coalition against Internet Censorship group (via Facebook).
posted by Orli Yakuel at 6:27 PM 3 comments

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Go2web20 TechBites 02/29/08



Due to lack of time, I've gathered some news and updates to one (probably long) post.
Starting with some useful recommendation from Go2web20, here are my personal picks for this TechBites issue:

SendAlong allows users to send large files like a regular email. Just enter email addresses to send the files to, choose the files to upload, and click to send. Sound too easy? Well that's the whole point.

Fliiby owns a large web-library of shared files. You can preview and download Images, Audio, Video, Flash, Documents and Packed archives. You can also create your own file library, and upload multi files up to 100 files at once, when file size limit is 100MB per file. Easy describe, categorize and manage your uploaded files, make them private or disable download for audio and videos. Read more on Download Squad and here.

Both Fixmymovie & Fullpix will provide you with tools to help you fix and improve mobile and online videos. I would love to see video editing options like these on Youtube. May be a must when it's come to their video quality.

A new visual client WaveMaker, helps users create simple applications without any scripting knowledge, while developers can easily add Javascript, HTML, CSS, and Java code to create complex application behavior. Watch their DEMO for more.

Some highlights from the Israeli sphere:
YaData which provide marketing manager with an automated BI tool for self discovery of customer micro segments, purchased by Microsoft for $20-$30 Million. Full story on Techcrunch.

Omgili, a vertical search engine for forums and other group discussion based resources, is now combines the Omgili results over Google's. Basically other than searching on both Omgili and Google, it provides discussions info about the Google Results. For example, if you search for Facebook, You get the Google's results, but also the discussions that link to the result, a deep conversation about the site you received.

A round of $5 Million for Outbrain, announced this week. Outbrain is a leading content rating & recommendations platform, for blogs, RSS (in partnership with Feedblitz), and news. Read all about it on Ouriel's Blog.

Scheduly (new Israel-based company), offering smart online appointment scheduling engine where individual, group or small business can communicate with its clients efficiently, relieve resources from time consuming whilst increasing their business availability.
Still in private beta though.

Some Global updates:
Picnik is by far one of the finest online photo editors there is today. I'm using them constantly as a premium user. But as from this week, everyone can get the premium benefits for free, so you might as well grab this offer while it's there. More on Somewhatfrank's Blog.

i-Lighter is a fully web based application and includes a one click to post content to blogs and social bookmarking services like del.icio.us and digg. A number of enhancements have also been added to make i-Lighter even more stable and streamlined. Included in its new release is Twitterlights where Twitter users can instantly highlight snippets of web content and send Tweets while storing the highlighted content to the user's online account for future retrieval.

Announced GoogleSite, upgraded the Toolbar on GoogleDocs, which BTW is now available in Hebrew and Arabic, and about to release GoogleHealth.

The new JIWA is out! Among the new features:

- A new User Interface and a new Flash player
- All the Jiwers network to suggest you songs and playlist you will like
- Better performances
- and more...

Also, new embedding player:


Favorite Songs
posted by Orli Yakuel at 11:06 PM 2 comments

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Apparently Facebook has some Cleaning to do



Like mushrooms after the rain, Facebook application list is growing enormously. Currently the correct apps number is 17,108 (and it will probably change by the time I'll finish this post). However, I came across two applications that are not working anymore yet still listing as actives. So I wonder, how many like them are out there, and how Facebook can track that? Because I love for them to inform me about these kind of things. Maybe, the users themselves should report about that.

Anyway, I advice you to check the application discussion boards first, before you run and download yet another application to your prfile.

I found about this one when I couldn't enter their web site. (but I really, really hope it's only a downtime)

inTunes.fm announced their users.
posted by Orli Yakuel at 11:49 PM 1 comments

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List of Adobe AIR Applications that you may or may not need...



Adobe AIR released its beta back in June 2007, but it was only yesterday that they finally launched their finished product. This must be important news for developers because according to Adobe - they can now use familiar tools such as Adobe Dreamweaver , Flex, Flash, or any text editor to build their applications and easily deliver a single application installer that works across operating systems. For those who don't develop (like me, for example), the most interesting part will be to wait and see what others will build with this upgraded technology.

Anyway, it looks like the perfect time to recommend some AIR applications that were already built with the beta version. Since there is quite a long list, I've gathered apps that I think are truly unique and worth the try. Moreover, I'm sure you can find some applications on the list that may come in handy especially if you use the Internet on a daily basis.


If I needed to choose the most impressive music service that I know of, Finetune would be it. When it's comes to personalized recommendations, it simply has it all: A web-based application, iTunes integration, Finetune for Facebook/Wii, and of course: A Finetune AIR application for your desktop. The AIR application syncs all your web playlists and allows you to hear your favorite music right on your desktop, even if the browser's closed. With one click you can switch from your Finetune favorite artists to your own music collection from iTunes. Most of Adobe AIR applications has this kinda shiny, clean look (like widgets) so it's very lovable, and the experience is just soo good. Finetune has one of the best 'AIR look' I saw.

Password Keeper is a light, yet powerful application that has the capability to save all your passwords in one place. When you select a data row the password for that row will automatically be copied to your clipboard and you can paste it anywhere. Download here.

Fotobooth is a fun application for people who love Flickr and themselves :-)
Users can quickly snap pictures using their webcam, then upload to Flickr right from their desktop. Moreover, FotoBooth comes with a great set of editing tools, which allow you to take a snapshot of yourself, edit it on the spot, and send your creation to your Flickr account. Very sweet.

The Google Analytics Reporting Suite brings Google Analytics to the desktop, with a host of features that help you understand how your website is performing and where you can improve it. From tracking your visitors, referrals and campaigns to viewing your AdWords ROI metrics. You can see the feature list and lots of screenshots by clicking here.

Usually, if you use Twitter, you prob. don’t use Pownce as well (and vice versa), so I'll just recommend them both, and you get to choose which one to install:

Pownce: You can send and receive notes from your desktop as if it was from the website itself.
Tweetr is a twitter client that allows you to send and receive twitter messages but has cool features including: Support for taking photos with your webcam , and sending files to your friends (up to 10MB),

Kuler is adobe's color scheme generator. It enables you to quickly search, create, and share color themes online. You can either do it from the web or from the desktop. You can also built an application yourself based on kuler APIs.

I had a bittersweet experience with the last application on my list. It's called Snippage and amazingly it allows you to cut interactive parts from any web page and place them on your desktop!
Why sweet? Because I can cut code from everywhere and see it live on my desktop. (except Flash). Why bitter? Data not saved when the application closed! And unfortunately links opens with IE...

Still, I think it's HOT! I just cut my Blogroll and place it on my desktop:

Be sure to check this DEMO for more (or just skip it, and click on the download button)


Even though I enjoyed playing with these AIR applications, I can't help myself from thinking that it actually feels like I'm going backwards. Over the last two years I've tried to avoid activities from my desktop, and frankly most of my work today is from the Web. Why would I want to go back?

I've just noticed a very relevant post on ReadWritWeb that worth your visit!

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.com Click on the thumbnail to get adobe's pixel art, created by eboy!
posted by Orli Yakuel at 4:41 PM 5 comments

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Audiko helps you to create Ringtones in a Snap!


Now this is what I love about Web 2.0: Tools that are easy as One, Two, Three. Audiko is a new Ringtone Maker that don't required registration, and you won't need to download any software/plugin to your computer. Really, no hassle what so ever.

Just upload your favorite song, or supply Audiko with URL that ends with MP3 format. Then choose the part you want to cut from the song, the time you want it to play, and that's it.
you can download your new Ringtone to your computer, then to your mobile.

It's so easy, I've created two Ringtones myself:





















Update: Now Audiko offer full Ringtone support for iPhone users:

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posted by Orli Yakuel at 7:30 AM 0 comments

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ever wondered who's the artist behind Google Doodles?

Here's a quick video that shows Chief Google Doodler Dennis Hwang draw a Google Doodle from start to finish. He creates a doodle that commemorates the Lunar New Year and invites students to join the Doodle 4 Google art competition.



posted by Orli Yakuel at 8:28 PM 1 comments

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Blogger + Picasaweb = Inefficient

I've only recently discovered that Blogger automatically stores all my blog images into my Picasaweb account. They didn't informed me about this action, but accidentally I found about it myself. Don't get me wrong, I think it's great, obviously Google saving me valuable storage space, but here's what I don't get: All my images stores on Picasaweb yet I can't use these images again since there's no integration between the two services. Worse, instead of giving me this option, Google sending me to Flickr on their learn more about using web images explanation. I love Flickr but why do I need to upload photos that are already on my Picasaweb?!

Trying to search for more helpful info as I'm writing, I just realized I need to pay more attention to the little words:


Bottom-line: I really don't mind paying Google for more storage if I'll need to, but they seriously needs to do something about this Blogger-Picasaweb integration, it's just not useful as it is now.

posted by Orli Yakuel at 9:28 AM 3 comments

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Share your Personal Media with your Facebook Friends



doubleTwist, is a free desktop application for sharing, and syncing personal media. After downloading the software to your computer, doubleTwist syncs all the media from your computer: Photos, Videos, and your iTunes music collection. Then you can share your files with anyone via email, or with anyone from your Facebook friends (there is a 10MB limit per file). Once your friends are using doubleTwist, sharing with them is as easy as dragging & dropping the files you'd like to share. Your friends will receive a notification that you've sent them files. They'll have two weeks to download files you've sent them before they expire. Also, doubleTwist lets you sync iTunes playlists with several mobile phones, MP3 players and game consoles.




I've test it, but I'm pretty sure I will not use it at the moment - It is just too slow for me. I'm guessing it's because the long list of Facebook friends that I have. However, seems like doubleTwist already working on a better version that will fix some of the problematic issues, so I might going to test them again in the nearest future. (and post my insights of course)

In the meantime, you can check their DEMO for more information:


Thank you Olanrewaju Ogundero for sharing and testing this with me.

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posted by Orli Yakuel at 4:51 PM 0 comments

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What your Twitter/Flickr/Facebook/Digg Friends are Doing?



Flotzam is a mashup application that gathers info from Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Digg and blogs, then lets you see the data from your friend's web activities, all in one page. To be honest, I'm not a big believer in this kind of visual apps, the experience is always interesting at first, then you realize it's easier to track your friends by simply visit the networks themselves.

Anyway, I had to test it of course :-) pretty cool, yet a bit useless for me.

Try it here - IE only.
posted by Orli Yakuel at 2:24 PM 1 comments

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Looking for File? Try Fliiby



Fliiby owns a large web-library of shared files. At first glance it kinda looks like Youtube, only for all kind of file formats. You can preview and download Images, Audio, Video, Flash, Documents and Packed archives. You can also create your own file library, and upload multi files up to 100 files at once, when file size limit is 100MB per file. Easy describe, categorize and manage your uploaded files, make them private or disable download for audio and videos. (All mp3 are disabled for download by default)
As part of Fliiby community network, you can search files and browse through hundreds of file categories, user pages and folders.

Since Filiby is Flash-based application, the whole experience is different and unique - It's simply fun to navigate through the files. Being a Flash fan myself, I'm guessing it's not easy to create this kind of platform that will behave as fast and smooth as this one, so beside the fact that I was happy to see that it's built with Flash, I was pretty happy with the results as well.
Check out some of the embedding options:

Music:

Photo:

Video:


You can also embed your whole folder (Every user can have 25 folders, and unlimited number of files):
posted by Orli Yakuel at 12:46 PM 3 comments

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

New Songs on Facebook Hit List





Seriously, Facebook can release a CD from all these music material on the Web.
posted by Orli Yakuel at 2:46 AM 3 comments

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

500 Pageonce Invitations for Go2web20 Readers



Pageonce created a massive management that gathers all your personal accounts into one organized page. From this page you can track your Finance accounts (American Express, Citibank, Fidelity etc.), Cellular bills (AT&T Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile etc.), Email accounts (Yahoo!, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL Mail), Airlines (American Airlines, Delta, United Airlines, El-AL and more), Shopping online accounts (eBay, Amazon), Social services such as Facebook, Myspace, Linkdin, and Friendster. Except for that, Pageonce contains many more accounts so it's most likely you'll find what you need (especially if you live in the U.S). However, if you don't find something, you can simply ask Pageonce to add it. I've asked them to add Twitter and Pownce accounts because it's really good for me to track all my social networks from a single page. (Pageonce will add them in the nearest future)



Though it have the look & feel of Netvibes page, it is truly a different product. Pageonce is all about you and your personal stuff. You probably noticed that every day people are sharing more and more things on the Web, and of course I think it's great but I also think it's necessary to have a private place for all the stuff that you don't want to share.

There is an issue that can be an obstacle for Pageonce and it's the privacy & security matters. Surely it's hard on a user to trust a young company with its bank accounts, end even though their "how we keep you safe" policy looks good to me, it may take some time until people fearlessly update this specific data.

However, I do suggest that you try this management. You can get your invitation by clicking here

More insights on the product, in TechCrunch post.
posted by Orli Yakuel at 11:40 PM 1 comments

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Create Great Photobook from your Online Photo Album



Mixbook allows you to create good looking photobook from your photos online: Flickr, Facebook, or photos from your own computer. Design your book alone or collaborate with others to design custom books that Mixbook will print and ship right to your door. (very reasonable prices)



Lately Mixbook added a brand new AutoMix feature. AutoMix creates a professionally printable photobook in seconds with just one click of the mouse. All it takes is 3 easy steps - select a theme, select your photos from your computer, Flickr, Facebook, and MixBook then will create a finished photobook that you can share on the web or have printed. After AutoMix creates your book, you have the opportunity to personalize it any way you want by rearranging photos, adding text, etc. With this new feature, Mixbook are changing the way people make photobooks and making them available to everyone.

Quick preview:

View this book full size or get a printed copy at Mixbook

Printable photobooks are great way to preserve memories, and I'm sure everyone would love to get them as a present.
posted by Orli Yakuel at 12:53 AM 2 comments

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Valentine's Day Special (Web 2.0 Style)

Valentine's day is about to take action in three days, so if you're still looking for ideas of 'how-to' surprise your partner, here's a list of recommendations that may come in handy, especially if you're a web 2.0 geek...

First, if you don't have a partner (YET!) you can join LiveSpeedDating events online (special for Valentine's day), and meet up to 10 people each session:
  1. Feb 13 - Find that match and maybe more for Valentine's day!
  2. Feb 14 - Not too late, meet a match on the day St. Valentine intended.
  3. Feb 15 - Were you too busy to meet someone? You still can meet great matches with livespeeddating.
Don't worry, you don't need to download anything to your computer, or to fill out long profile page, just quickly sign-up and enjoy the company.

In case you want to send out different and creative Valentine greetings, check out Wix newbies: http://www.wix.com/love/valentine.

Upload your love story to YouTube and share it with the rest of the world. Not sure what to say? You can get some inspiration from the greatest love story contests powered by 1-800-flowers.com and YouTube.

Blogtv will offer some Valentine's Day activities on February 14th. On that day you can record stories, songs, live shows, etc., about lovey-dovey stuff and tag them under 'LOVE' tag, so it will be easy on everyone to follow the love scene on this day.

carded.tv is a free video e-card service that has a funny video list for Valentine's day. All you need to do is to pick a video, customize it and send it over to whomever you choose:

Care to say it with pictures? Flickr is by far the best place to find the most lovely pictures ever. Click here for more.


trustedplaces have some romantic ideas for you. If you wish to take someone special to somewhere special, be sure to run a 'romantic' search on their site.

Sweets for my Sweet is not just a song, it's also a way of showing your cooking skills :-) if you feel creative, go onto allrecipes and find tens of good looking recipes for Valentine's day.


Need more information, suggestions, recommendations for this special day? Quintura valentine's search may help you find what you're missing:

posted by Orli Yakuel at 1:40 AM 2 comments

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