New Media Picks Of The Week: Sharewood Picnic 23
Sharewood Picnic is Robin Good's weekly basket of hand-picked goodies discovered and found in the last seven days; it includes new web sites, software tools and online resources that can further enable your ability to become effective independent publishers online.
Photo credit: Elisabetta Grondona
You are welcome to test, download and freely use any of the little gems listed here below. They are all powerful digital weapons to start more actively participating in the user-driven publishing revolution I am chronicling on this site.
Here is what I have found this week:
- RSS feed generator for Sites without RSS
- OPML lists and blogrolls publisher and sharing tool
- Desktop search tool with RSS output
- RSS channel-based aggregator
- Data mining tol covering news, press-releases, RSS and blogs
- Guide to del.icio.us
- AJAX-powered Mail Client
- Multi-engine and aggregator search tool by Chris Pirillo
- News aggregator with advanced features
- Flickr-based free images search engine
- Top license-Free Fonts
- Top design and usability mistakes made by weblog authors
- Top ranking factors determining your site visibility within all major search engines
- Emerging technologies affecting education
Feedtier is a web-based tool that is able to generate a RSS feeds for web sites that do not have one. This essentially turns any site into a live web feed, making it easy to get the latest content from a site without checking it constantly. Feedtier works by performing content analysis for a site and syndicating the results via RSS. It is completely automated (although a manual version is expected soon) and requires no technical expertise or in-depth knowledge of RSS. Free to use.
Rollr.com is a utility that allows users to remix OPML and export it easily, creating a forum for people to share their favorite feeds in the same way del.icio.us allows people to share bookmarks. Although a working version is not yet available, project creators Alexander Kohlhofer and John Carlin promise many applications of the software, including "plenty of hooks to integrate it into your workflows." Now in alpha stage, the beta version is expected soon, and a free invite can be obtained by visiting the official site.
Here are three complementary tools from Syndicatescape which provide the facilities to search and find news, articles and other online content in effective ways. SearchView is a free Windows desktop application allowing users to search multiple search engines and save results as XML (RSS or ATOM) or as a .pdf file. SearchView can be freely downloaded here.
BigBlogZoo is basically a free RSS reader with a twist, grouping similar content into over 70,000 "channels" that users can search, browse and syndicate. BigBlogZoo also lets you manage these your channels and create specialized ones that can be shared with others.
MediaMiner is a data miner tool focusing on news, press releases, stocks and blogs that allows users to save results as HTML, .pdf or XML (Atom or RSS). The software is designed for webmasters, and enables you to search for specific media and present it on the web as XML or HTML. Also useful for research, MediaMiner can scour the web to find out what customers are saying about a particular company, and because the results can be saved as exportable .pdf format, it is useful for generating reports and sharing the data. Available for a free trial.
Us.ef.ul is a great and comprehensive guide to del.icio.us. Created by beelerspace.com, Us.ef.ul tells the reader how to use and approach the many different and useful functionalities delicious has to offer. The guide discusses why tags are a unique tool anyone can use to navigate the enormous amount of information on the net, and how del.icio.us can be used to your advantage. Us.ef.ul also details the special benefits Firefox users have on del.icio.us, and includes an extremely useful comments section.
Roundcube is an AJAX-powered e-mail client that functions like a desktop-based application, allowing Gmail-like access to your webmail. It delivers everything you expect from email, including contact list, message filters, folders, attachments, etc., but also supports as-you-type address-suggestion, customizable skins, multi-lingual capabilities and other user-friendly features. The IMAP client includes MIME support, is written in PHP with MySQL, and functions with web standards including XHTML and CSS. RoundCube Webmail is released under the GNU General Public License and is currently available in Alpha for free.
Gada.be is Chris Pirillo's brainchild in the world of news and content aggregation. Gada.be is in fact a unique and powerful twist on RSS and web search that scours over 140 search utilities simultaneously, bringing up aggregated lists of results that are easy to visually digest. Eliminating the need to use several search utilities, gada.be lets you enter your topic in a single search field and view news, blog and web results at once. The search separates results by vendor, including Google News, MSN, flickr, Plazoo, IceRocket, Digg and many, many others. gada.be also allows you to categorize search vendors, so only results from specific kinds of search engines will come up, (i.e. if you only want to see results from jobs engines, news engines, photo engines, etc.). But what makes gada.be even easier to use is that the search topic is within the subdomain (if you want to search for cats, enter http://cats.gada.be/ as the URL). This makes gada.be a great utility for searching from a mobile device as it eliminates the time it takes to visit a search engine. gada.be also lets users create OPML automatically by adding "/OPML" to the end of the URL. A highly useful, free site.
Inform.com is a powerful platform that lets users build and customize their own free, daily news portal on the web. Covering thousands of news sources and blogs, Inform creates personalized online news accounts so registered users can have their favorite news sources or topics ready at their fingertips. Inform integrates a set of very customizable options, while making also available newsmaps and information trees of related topics, people, places, organizations and companies allowing readers to dig deep into stories. Inform's differentiating technology uses a series of information structuring techniques and natural-language interpretation to auto-categorize and group news stories into thousands of categories, and then shreds the text of the stories to isolate the important elements of each. One unique feature of Inform.com is the fact that it crawls and indexes also content hidden behind paid subscription. This allows Wall Street Journal and New York Times content to be as easily accessible as the content coming from a traditional blog. With Inform.com the reader can create custom news channels on any combination of subjects that interest hir as well as creating news channels on-the-fly while exploring related subjects. Free to use.
- Flickr Creative Commons Image Search
Here is another super great resource to search for photographic images that require no permissions or payments to be freely re-used. It is the Flickr Creative Commons image search facility, which allows anyone to search Flickr huge catalog for photos available under a Creative Commons license. Flickr's Creative Commons search uses simple icons to divide photos into the various licensing categories (including Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivative Works and Share Alike) so anyone searching for photos can instantly know what usage restrictions the image authors have placed on their pictures.
- The 20 Best Licence-Free Quality Fonts
Vitaly Friedman compiled this list of great license-free fonts available on the net, taking the best from several typographers including Gerrit van Aaken, Manfred Klein and others. The site also contains links to other license-free font clearinghouse sites, making it a great resource for anyone looking for unique fonts for their websites. Most fonts available through this site are usable for personal, private or commercial use without limitation, though the author warns that the licenses and restrictions of each font may indeed change at any time.
- Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes
Jakob Nielsen, the usability guru, just authored this essay on weblog usability, discussing the top ten design mistakes bloggers make, and why they turn readers off. He touches on issues including: lack of author biography or photos, bad titles, confusing linking and irregular publishing frequency among amny others. Nielsen also discusses the need for owning your domain name instead of looking amateurish by being dependent on a free blog service. The article also links to other similar lists, and is very helpful for beginner or experienced bloggers alike.
- Search Engine Ranking Factors
This article from SEOmoz.org details in order of importance the most important factors that affect a web page ranking inside the major search engines like Google, Yahoo! or MSN. Factors listed include title tags, keyword use, document accessibility, external links, global site popularity and many others. The list is compiled from submissions from a team of writers whose comments can be further explored through the many referenced links. The article is very comprehensive and it is extremely useful for bloggers looking to increase their visibility and exposure on major search engines.
- Emerging Technologies: A Framework For Thinking
This research document, produced by the Australian Capital Territory Department of Education and Training (ACT DET) describes how emerging technologies can benefit students from pre-school to high school, and how these can have positive effects on the business world. The 100+ page document examines multiple technologies, including content-delivery methods like podcasts, blogs, wikis and VoIP; delivery devices like mobile phones and PDAs; as well as delving into the educational benefits of scanners, p2p and solar-powered nday computer networks. The ACT DET document is an exhaustive review of technology's impact on education, and is a must-read for any technologically-inclined educator.
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