New Media Picks Of The Week: Sharewood Picnic 30
Sharewood Picnic is my weekly selection of new media gems found along my explorations during the past seven days. Among them precious new online services that have just launched as well as key new tools I had not had space to catch and write about before. My goal remains the one of providing you with constant access to those tools and facilities that can enhance, enable, augment and support your ability to be effective online publishers of some kind. If this is what you are after, come and check these out.
Photo credit: Monika Szczygieł
Here is what I have collected for you this week:
- RSS search engine searches only the feeds you want
- Virtual sticky notes you can place in the real world
- Personalized search from Google Labs
- RSS IT-focused search engine
- Music community and network
- Clearinghouse of exciting video clips
- MP3 streaming server software for small publishers
- Presentation enhancer for PowerPoint shows
- Warning labels generator
- Open Dictionary let's you define new words
- Geeks on film: Documentary recounts real software development story
ScoopGO! is a search engine that lets you search only the feeds of your choice. Designed to create very specific news searches, ScoopGO! is a useful tool to look within feeds from multiple news sources simultaneously. The search engine also has capabilities to search through multiple blog feeds or job search engines simultaneously. However, much of these features could be accomplished using Google's advanced search features. Free to use.
Socialight lets you put a virtual sticky note (aka Post-It) anywhere in the real world. Known as StickyShadows, the notes are like a cross between virtual graffiti and personal messages from friends and strangers alike. It works like this: when a Socialight user enters a place where someone has placed a StickyShadow, their phone buzzes. Then the information (pictures, sound or video) left by another user is delivered automatically. Users can then add to the StickyShadow, reply to the originator or just ignore it. Joining the service is free although usage fees from mobile companies apply. Available only in the US and only through select mobile service providers.
- Google Personalized Search
Google Personalized Search learns from your search history and uses it to rank results for future searches, providing more accurate results. Available to anyone with a Google Account, the personalized search is routed through Google's servers, making it accessible from any internet-connected computer. Users can easily turn off personalized search, remove items from their history or "pause" the personalized search so that words are not factored into future searches. Users can also create bookmarks complete with labels and notes that can also be searched at any time. The service is available in 12 languages and Google officials anticipate adding more languages in the future. Google Personalized Search and Google Accounts are free.
- Strategic Board
StrategicBoard is a search engine for IT-related RSS feeds. Monitoring over 12,000 sources, the engine constantly searches and indexes results using "Context-Driven Search" technology. Based in Tel Aviv, the company claims their search technology "understands the context behind text" and makes an educated guess about the most relevant results. The engine is still in beta and is free to use.
- Artist Server
ArtistServer is a community for musicians and music fans to come together. Comprised completely of freely-distributable, often Creative Commons-licensed music, ArtistServer hosts hundreds of tracks in more than 100 categorized genres and sub-genres. Users can search for music by genre, artist, geographic region and can stream or download tracks easily. The site also holds enormous potential for musicians, allowing registered artists to post tracks, site or blog links and even ringtones. Although the site is a bit hard to use and seems somewhat amateurish, basic memberships (ideal for music fans) are free.
ThatVideoSite is a free clearinghouse for great video files. Including anything from exciting sports videos to shocking, sexy or hilarious clips, ThatVideoSite is a great place to find and download uniquely interesting videos. The site also uses tags and categories, has a search feature and allows full video uploading.
Wimpy is an easy way to place video and audio clips on your web pages or blog articles in a way that allows them to be played instantly. Built on Macromedia Flash, Wimpy lets your visitors access easily any audio or video file uploaded on your own server through a simple play button that you can place on any page of your web site or blog. The software also comes with many tools to enhance your experience, such as a "playlister", authentication features and specialized integrations with Movable Type blogging software and WordPress. A limited trial version is available free on the Wimpy site and commercial versions cost from $20 to $60 USD.
Oviation is a program for spicing up PowerPoint presentations. Mostly devoted to reworking existing shows, Ovation uses simple, built-in enhancements that make your presentations more engaging for your audience. Users enter their slides into Ovation and the program recasts your message using numerous customizable features like high-resolution text, 3D visuals, subtle background motion and eye-catching transitions. A unique feature is the teleprompter, which allows you to record audio associated to specific slides in an effective way. Also available a countdown timer for keeping presentations on schedule and a navigation bar for jumping from slide to slide easily. The program is currently in Beta and is available for free with a final release version expected soon. Windows only.
- Warning Label Generator
The Warning Label Generator: title says it all. This easy-to-use site lets you create customized and official-looking warning labels. Just choose your label style, select a simple graphic, add text, click "Save As," and you've created a warning label in less than 60 seconds. Useful for creating actual warnings or parodies, the site is free.
- Merriam-Webster's Open Dictionary
Open Dictionary is a service of dictionary giant Merriam Webster that allows anyone to coin their own words and definitions. Obviously similar to Wiktionary, Open Dictionary lets people enter new slang words into the English lexicon where they can be searched and browsed by anyone.
- Project Aardvark Movie
Project Aardvark is a documentary about computer geeks, for computer geeks. Like a two-hour reality show, Project Aardvark follows four intelligently quirky interns selected to spend 12 weeks to develop a new software that helps revolutionize the way that programmers fix their code bugs and errors. Produced by Boondogle Films, Project Aardvark is a cinematic look at the software creation process. The film will be available on DVD for $20 USD in four days, starting on December 15th 2005.
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