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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Google Friend Connect for Blogger Users

Just a quick note to update you with an upcoming Google's Friend Connect Following feature:

Blogger team is quickly fully integrating Friend Connect, so that Blogger users will ultimately have the superset of features Friend Connect provides. With the new Following feature, Blogger users are able to stay updated with favorite blogs and readers can easily follow their blog. Your dashboard now show you how many followers each of your blogs has. With a click on the followers icon, you can browse your followers, see what blogs they write, and read the other blogs they’re following.

Blogger members can add the new "Followers" gadget to their blog (from their blog layout), and show-off their followers to the world.
The followers gadget shows the profile pictures of your followers and gives your readers a “Follow This Blog” link to join up too.

Your followers can also
stay updated with your (the author) "Reading List" (blogs that you follow). The new "Blogs I’m Following" tab, automatically shows the latest posts from all the blogs you follow:


If you're a Google Reader user, you'll see a special folder in the Reader called "Blogs I'm Following" This is a dynamic folder, full of the subscriptions of the blogs you follow.

The new gadget to be rolled out to ALL, over the next few weeks!

More on Google Friend Connect | More on the Following gadget

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posted by Orli Yakuel at 10:24 AM 5 comments

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Friday, August 22, 2008

My 15 Favorite Web 2.0 Sites (2008)

I don't recall if I ever listed my favorite services in one post. The reason that I'm doing it now is because I feel something has changed from last year. The main change is my use of recommendation services such as: Digg, Stumbleupon and Reddit - services that I was so addicted to and somehow now are no longer my main interest.

It's not that I'm not using those services completely, but definitely not as much as I did before. Why? The answer is very simple: if I want to send a link (any link) I'll send it through Twitter or FriendFeed and most likely will get honest comments from people I actually familiar with. If I want to get updated with fresh content, all I need to do is to read my main stream on Twitter or Friendfeed. Another service that I hardly use anymore is Bloglines: I feel that I don't need to track content because the content is actually tracking me.

So what do I use on a daily-basis? Here's my list of favorites with some explanations, suggestions, and recommendations:


There's no doubt that Gmail is the center of my life. Everything starts with my email box. Unfortunately (or maybe not), not much has been changed this year, except maybe one sign about the future: Gmail Lab. In my opinion, users will have the ability to create applications built on open-social for Gmail, like it planned for Google Friend Connect.

Not that I need to explain why YouTube but l actually have the feeling that I've learned how to get the most from the site only this year. I'm visiting the site on a regular basis, subscribing to more channels and finding great videos to watch. I also think that this is the most talked about Web2.0 service ever, in terms of TV shows and Movies (Oprah, Boston-Legal, Hancock and more)

"Flickr loves you" and I sure loves it back! Although I have a list of features that I'd love to see on Flickr, for example: A Firefox addon that will allow to capture a screenshot and upload it directly to the site, or a share button from Flickr to Twitter... I think this service rocks! Be sure to check on their latest feature: The new and improve slideshow that combines photos & videos.

Let's start with the fact that I completely trust Google with their analysis report. But it's not just that, my directory - Go2web20, is a Flash based site, and only Google Analytics seem to provide full statistics over Flash.

I hate Delicious new design, it is so confusing and hard to use. But what can I say... I adores the site for years now, and the information it contains is very valuable for me, so I'm using it anyway. It's actually my main search engine.

I think Friendfeed didn't had its major breakthrough yet. Hopefully people will understand this is a great place to make true conversations, to get feedback about a site or a product, and to browse wonderful content that you really care about. However, Friendfeed needs to rash on with some new features to make the site less noisy. (a quick tip: if you own a new site/company/product, open a room and invite people to provide their insights).

It doesn't really matter if Twitter works or not, we'll use it anyway.

I strongly believe that Blip.fm found the best way to connect music with Twitter. But it is also a great music application with lots of worthy features regardless Twitter connection. Yesterday Blip.fm released a new embedded player:



Still using Facebook. However, very disappointed with the new design. At first I thought it will be more fun to use, but now I think they done a huge mistake when they removed most of the application boxes from the main user page.

If you don't own a blog and thinking of opening one, use Blogger. I remember it took me 5 minutes to open my blog, and that was more than two years ago. Lately Blogger improved the platform with new tools to help you create a shiny blog in no time.

I don't know what is it with acquired companies, but it always feels like they taking their time with the progress. Oh well, don't think there is a killer alternative for FeedBurner yet. The good news: soon you'll be able to log in to the service with your Google account: feedburner.google.com

Speaking of FeedBurner alternative... Lijit stats can help you get some good statistics about the viewers at your site. Not as powerful as FeedBurner, but it is a great addition to their main service - A fully customizable social search engine.

CrunchBase building a massive database, wiki style for new/old web companies and it's quite impressive to see the achievement so far. I'm trying to use it in my blog as much as I can, but I think it would be nice if it had a script code for blog templates that automatically add the company widgets. Also, I suggest the widget will come in lengthwise shape for people who wants to permanently place it on their site.

BlogRovR is the best tool to find out if someone already wrote about a certain site/product/company before (for credits or whatever). So if you are a blogger, I highly recommend this Firefox extension. BlogRovR also has a nice Twitter updater:


Last but not least is my site - Go2web20. So of course I'm not using it to find new content but you should, simply because I'm the content editor. But, I am using it on a daily basis as a search engine for old tools & applications that I need. It still feels like my private bookmarking site, but you can all use it as well :-)
posted by Orli Yakuel at 12:30 PM 13 comments

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Switching to Twteet Scan!

With all do respect to Twitter Search: Summize, it's not working good, certainly not as good as Tweet Scan! If I have to choose between replies or ALL replies, I choose the second one (comparison).

The screenshot below speaks for itself:

Shot at the same time.
posted by Orli Yakuel at 11:56 AM 1 comments

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Boost your Search with Omgili Firefox Extension

I already wrote about Omgili search engine for forum discussions several times, and I can honestly say that apart from their name, I like the service very much. In fact, I actually think Omgili has some great tools that can improve & enrich your daily search.

The new Firefox extension (so clean, you won't even notice it's there), can help you get better search results, fast. Just select the keywords in the text box and a simple menu will appear that will give you the options to use such features as Boolean search, Exact Phrases, Term Boosting and more. Additionally, you can create a Buzz Graph from any keyword or phrase you highlight.


posted by Orli Yakuel at 4:15 PM 2 comments

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Auto-Retweet



I'm almost sure Tweetbots will cause some noise around twitter because it's actually resends people tweets automatically, so I can't say I like it nor gonna use it. But if you find any good ways of using it (like it shown on the video below), and like to give it a try, I have 3 spare invitations.


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posted by Orli Yakuel at 4:48 PM 8 comments

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New Look for the Blogger Dashboard



I have to admit it took me more than a year to get use to Blogger, but I stuck with it no matter what. Yesterday Google released some new feature to spice this platform up. Unfortunately, I'm using the old template, so most of the changes will not work on my blog.

So, what's new?
  • More attractive & functional Dashboard
  • Google Gadgets in your layouts blog can now set their height automatically
  • AdSense page elements can now optionally have image ads.
  • Some of the bugs fixed.
The main improvement is the new gadget page, you can see the full feature list- here.

More on this video:


On the video you'll see that Google recommends to switch to Layout instead of Template. I advice you to read this carefully first:
By upgrading, you will lose many of the changes you previously made to your template. However, we will save a copy of your current template so that you can access it later.

I'm not taking any chances on this one.
posted by Orli Yakuel at 12:02 PM 1 comments

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Where are my Tweets?!



It is immensely frustrating to discover that twitter is messing with our data. When I started saving tweets to my Twitter favorites, it never occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to find them later (there are tweets that I know for sure are missing from my saved list).

I wonder how come Twitter is stable all of a sudden? My guess is that it's dealing with problems in ways we aren't noticing right away, those that fly under the radar like the favorites issue. In my account, I see that only seven pages of favorite can be saved, and I found about this only yesterday.

Apparently, I can save as much as I want but I wasn't informed by Twitter that it is erasing the Tweets from the backend of my list (double checked!).

My question therefore is: why the saved favorites and not the direct messages instead? After all, in settings, a user can choose to get the direct messages sent to an email account as well. I think it would have been smarter to clean up this data and not the favorites.

Please note that I've said "in my account." I've checked other accounts that have a lot of favorites saved, and they don't seem to have the same problem (but if you've used Twitter to save favorites tweets, I suggest you go and look to see if your saved tweets are there).

Twitter also has limited the number of viewable pages in each profile. Meaning, right now you can only see 10 pages of your or your friends' previous tweets.

In a discussion between Twitter and users that search their old tweets, I found this message:

@dacort replied:
Soooo....a followup question.

Will our own full archives ever be accessible to us again via the Twitter service?
Al3x answers:
Yes, that's absolutely a goal. I consider our service defective unless users can export all of their own content.

Unfortunately, for me that solution will not work because most of my old Tweets looks like this:

I found about it through Internet Archive, where you can enter your Twitter page and see some of your old data. Again, I've checked some other Twitter pages, and most of them showed me all the updates.

BTW, I think this is Scoble first tweet:


If it sounds from this post like I'm upset, I am. And, I'd like to explain why:

This is not my idea of microblogging. I've trusted Twitter to save my updates, and with the new search, I thought I'll be able to search for new/old data. In actuality, you can't search for old updates nor see them. Think about what would you do if Blogger or Wordpress lost over half of your previous blog posts... I'm sure you'd be very annoyed from it to say the least.

Twitter has become the most dynamic place for quick updates and conversations - they should respect their users enough to save their history because frankly, lots of valuable data is now down the drain.
posted by Orli Yakuel at 10:13 AM 5 comments

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Self Destruct Message



If you read my blog, you must know that easy to use tools that don't requires registration are my favorite ones. Privnote fits right into this description. The service allows you to send private notes over the Internet that will self-destruct after being read.

Write your message and simply get a link to your note. What makes it different from sending an email for example, is that your note can be seen only once, and when someone click on this link, the note is destroyed... and you can be notified when your note gets read.

The best thing is that if you send a note and suddenly regret having done so, you can click the link yourself which will destroy the note and prevent the receiver from reading it.
posted by Orli Yakuel at 6:22 PM 2 comments

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Beijing 2008 Olympic in 3D - Fascinating


Google earth is the most amazing application ever created by Google (if you ask me). Every time that I'm opening this software, I end up spending for at least two hours navigating through countries, pictures, panoramas, space... it never ends!

For 2008 Beijing summer games, that officially started today, Google created a model for each of the spectacular venues, allowing you to take a complete virtual journey in 3D just as if you were actually there. Well, almost.


More videos in this playlist.

To see the Olympic scene models on Google Earth, simply go to Google 3D Warehouse page, and download models that you like to your computer. (it will automatically open your Google Earth software)

Google has some other goodies for the upcoming games:
posted by Orli Yakuel at 1:48 PM 0 comments

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Kids Playground - Fun Sites for Children

Yes parents, this post is for you, and my guessing is that I picked a good time to cover some children services. Now, when the kids are in their summer holiday, you probably trying to find more activities for them. Here's a list of ideas that might help (all of them are Web related of course).

Lets start with some Game & E-learning Platforms:

One of the coolest game sites I've seen this year is Friv - A site with click & play approach. Friv gathered 200 online game onto one nice, flashy page with an easy to navigate look & feel, and fast access to all games:


There is a new e-learning software for kids called Kidthing - A downloadable player that seemed very brilliant to me. Overall, it's a safe and secure place where your child can learn, play educational games, mix their own media content, and collaborate with other friends, all from your desktop.

Kidthing teamed up with some of the world's leading publishers, writers and game developers (Dr. Seuss, National Geographic, Penguin Young Readers), to place their content in the Kidthing store. Members can browse through the beautiful store (that looks like the iTunes for kids), get a sneak preview of books and games, create a quick wish-list, and purchase items right from the software.

Right now (in beta version 0.82.0) you can play free content, browse and buy more content at the Kidthing store, and you can import your own pictures and video by just drag and dropping them on the Kidthing player.

I've been told that in the coming days Kidthing will release a major update with the mix mode, and it will be available to all members. Kidthing share mode will come shortly thereafter.

There is no charge to use the Kidthing player - Download here.


More screenshots - Flickr set.

Moving on to Kerpoof - A perfect time waster for your child. Kerpoof is all about having fun, discovering things, and being creative. Kids can make artwork, animated movie, printed card, draw stuff, and so much more.

Last year Kerpoof were one of Techcrunch40 presenters, but since then so many new tools have been added to the site. - It's really worth the revisit. Your kids will love the Super Doodle! I know i did!


ToonDoo is a fun zone for your kids. The young members can easily create comics, doodles, books and basically express themselves in anyway they want. Toondoo will provide them with all the tools they'll need to do so.

Book Platforms:

I already covered Lookybook in my blog, but it is such a wonderful service I'm just glad I have the chance to mention them again. Lookybook allows you to get a full preview of children books before you buy them. You'll be able read full books online, collect them as playlist, and share with friends, family and the Lookybook community.

AudibleKIDS, is an engaging, interactive community built from parents, their kids, and educators. Members can listen to audiobook samples (long ones though), review them, and share thoughts and favorite audiobooks with others.

Don't just read books, create one with your kid! With Tikatok, becoming a published author is easy. Just write a story, illustrate it and order the copy online. I've enjoyed the site a lot, the Tikatok application is extremely rich and fun to play with. But the greatest thing on TikaTok is that kids can view and buy other kids books - so the site is turning to be a large library of original, home-made, children books.

Video Platforms:

Youtube is a great source for children videos. However, within one click they can reach to clips that has nothing to do with kids content. In this case, Totlol is the most perfect choice for you, the child can safely browse through the content, with no supervision needed.

The Zimmer Twins is a fun and positive environment where kids can safely explore and exercise their creative muscles. Your child can watch short animation movie-clips or create their own ending to one of the story scenes.

I'll finish with one AIR application for both parents & kids. One that allows you to play while reading your favorite sites/blogs.
Pet-it RSS News is a virtual pet application that will keep track of your RSS feeds and inform you in a fun manner when something new occurs. There's no limit to RSS feeds so you can add as much as you like. You can also define filters by providing key words, so that you'll only receive news you are interested in.

What can I say... it's a must!

For more fun stuff go to Go2web20 Directory and click in the tag cloud on the word: "kids".
posted by Orli Yakuel at 12:50 PM 2 comments

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