I've gathered the remembered highlights of this year to a one quick video. This video contains the services that most of us uses on our daily basis, and some of the names that we might hear about more often this year.
I just want to mention that since I'm located in Israel, I had the opportunity to already see some of the new companies that are being created, and aims to launch in the year of 2009. Take my word on that: Some of them are really worth waiting for! (unfortunately I can't reveal new startups that I know of)
TweetWith all the excitement around Facebook Connect, this must be the best time to host a Developer Garage Meetup in Israel (the first of its kind).
If you want to hear & learn more about the process, meet and connect with developers in Israel, discuss and share your knowledge about Facebook services and applications - we're invite you to join us to this event.
Facebook Developer Garage will take place next Tuesday, on December 30, and will include presentations from: Gigya and Devunity. The special guest of this evening is Netanel Jacobsson - A Director, Business Development at Facebook.
For more information see this FacebookEvent and don't forget to RSVP asap.
TweetKwout upgraded the site with a bunch of useful tools. Video comments, Pixlr, Tumblr and Friendfeed support have been added to the service. But the most cool feature for me is the Twitter user script for Greasemonkey. It enables people to grab any status and post it on their blog/site, Flickr account, Friendfeed and more:
If you install the user script, "kwout this! button" will be added to each status of Twitter. And when you click the button, the corresponding status will be quoted automatically.
Over the last month I bumped into some really nice services that can help you with your Christmas shopping, songs, e-cards, videos, and there are some other goodies in this list. I've gathered them here so you can browse the content below to see if anything matches your taste. If you spend so much time on the net like I do, I'm sure you'll find here some great tools that will make your holiday a bit more festive.
TwitterGallery has a nicely done Christmas wallpaper that you can install in just few minutes (automatic installation).
Create memorable scrapbook with wonderful layouts from Scrapblog.
Lovely idea coming from Xpapr - They are allowing you to use images from Flickr to make your own customized wrapping paper. (unfortunately, you can't order it online, you'll need to print it with your own print machine which is not so attractive)
With ElfYourself you can upload your photo and be a star in an elf video. The video can be sent as digital cards to family & friends. Pure fun! (see example at Techcrunch)
By browsing Tastespotting you either get the crave to eat, or the passion to cook. Great Display of good looking recipes. (user generated posts)
Tons of recipes, tips and EVERYTHING you'll need this holiday, divided to beautiful sets - Great inspiration in a never ending collection page from: Taste!
Since then a bunch of new tools have been added to the site, but I want to focus on these two: NewsSkimmer & NewsScroller.
NewsSkimmer is an interactive Screensaver that allows you to read the news when you're not active on your computer. To be honest, I don't like Screensavers that much, nor I get to see them in action, but I installed this one and was pretty amazed to see the progress in this field. NSNBC created a beautiful Screensaver that is actually visualize a live webpage where you can let the news float by themselves, or simply click and dive in while you're computer is in Screensaver mode (customizable with the topics you like).
The other service that I'd like to recommend is the NewsScroller widget which allows people to easily customize a real-time news ticker to their site or blog. The only problem here is the auto-scrolling. I found it to be a bit annoying... so hopefully MSNBC will add the ability to control that.
Overall, I like the fact that MSNBC are potting so much effort to give their readers a variety of tools to make it easy on them to read the news, and I don't actually think that anyone is doing this BUT them. Screensaver may sound very old fashion to some people (me included), but when you sits in meetings for hours (for example), this could be a great way to stay up-to-date with the stuff that's going around.
MyClusta allows you to create a visual bookmark page with all your favorite services, for an easy access. It's really easy to set: all you need to do is to add the link you want and MyClusta will grab the logo for you (in most cases). Therefore you can customize your own bookmark page that can be used as your start page from now on, in only few minutes.
Well, I haven't seen those kind of players for a while, but it's worth a try. The new online Cloud Player is based on SoundCloudAPI and have a silky look. It allows users to find an play all of the public tracks from the SoundCloud service. In addition, users can also add information to their playlist, and make them collaborative so other people could add their own picks.
Sign-in is surprisingly via your Google Account and not through your SoundCloud account. But I guess this is a good news for people who don't have SoundCloud account, and still want to listen to the great music that listed there.
It's been a while since I first integrated the Google Friend Connect gadgets in my blog (in June to be specific), and it has improved enormously since then. But I still find some problematic issues that needs to be fixed.
If you'll go now to the Google Friend Connect site, you'll be able to easily set your site and grab a piece of code to place in your site or blog. You can choose from several gadgets that Google already has, when the most attractive one is the "Members Gadget". By adding this one to your blog, you are allowing readers to join the site, see other people pictures, and basically to explore other members profiles. Friend Connect Members can add links to their profile with their favorite social networks, sites etc. This profile will go with them on each site they'll join, and anyone can see the full profile by clicking on a member picture. Google also allowing you to see a full screen view of all the members, for an easy browsing.
But now Google needs to ask themselves: what is the added value by placing this kind of gadget(s) on our sites. From few month experience with the Member Gadget & the Wall Gadget in my blog, I'm still struggling to find this one little feature that will make me go: Wow, I really needed that! True. You can learn more about your site visitors, but can you really connect with them? You might will if Google will add:
A member search engine
The ability to track comments (for blog/site owner)
The ability to send quick messages to each other, or one to all (again, for the blog/site owner)
Customizable Member page
Search Members: If I'll take my blog as an example, there is no way I'll be able to browse through all my 1,000+ site members. It's just too frustrating for me and for the people who check on this gadget. But if we had the option to search through the content or by a person name, it could have been much easier to find and discover stuff that we care about. I'm also thinking about relevance. Will it be able to connect me with others, based on similar interests?
The ability to track comments: If you added the wall gadget, you probably noticed that there's actually a wall to each post where people can comment instead of the post itself (if they choose to). Unfortunately, Google is not sending you notifications when that happens, so it is most likely you won't see it (or won't see it in time). This should behave like a blog commenting system - someone wrote a comment, the blog author should be notified about that.
The ability to send quick messages: I think this is a must have feature and needless to say, it's the real way to communicate with someone. Also, why not add the possibility to send one message to all members? (only by the blog author) This could be a good channel to send important notes, posts etc, by email. (but this means Google needs to let the users choose if to get/not get these messages)
Customizable Member page: My guessing is that this will become an important zone to the people who added the Member gadget, why not allow them to upload their logo, and customize the page to be more pleasant to the eye. Right now, the back-office of each user looks better than this visible front page.
One last complaint: The invitation form is bad. You can't understand what people wants from you when it lands in your email. This need to be changed ASAP.
BUT, don't get me wrong... overall it's been an amazing opportunity for me to be the first that tried it, and I'll keep watching the progress. But has I've said: there's still room for improvement, especially in the functionality & UI side. I'm sure it will get better over the time.
BTW, Google Friend Connect looks like a perfect application for the iPhone, don't you think?
Tweet Funny. When I first saw Teeny-Tile service, it reminded me of a really old style gift that we used to give back at the '80s. But come to think about it, this could be a great additional decoration to your kitchen, Bathroom etc,. and of course back then we didn't had the chance to customize it the way we wanted to. (hell, we didn't had Internet)
Anyway, with Teeny-Tile you can generate a two-inch-square ceramic tiles printed with your images. Though it's extremely easy to create, I have to admit that this is a very odd size for a tile, and I'm not sure the price - %5 each, justifies that.
Overall, it could be a cute gift this holiday and if you'll order 10 of them by December, you'll receive free shipping. (only in the U.S.)