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You are being watched

By: Ask Bob                                                                                                                                                                                        April 29, 2010

Today, we shall talk of ghosts. Virtual ones. Do you know there now exists an online service that, without your knowledge, can monitor your mouse movements on on a particular webpage or a blog, and then transmit the feedback to the owners/publishers/designers? Brrr...did we just give you goosebumps? 


So, one more barrier has fallen. Now, in addition to closed circuit cameras, hidden microphones, spycams, you have a webmaster's tool that monitors the movement of your PC mouse. Every click is recorded, every movement noticed. All of it is then stored for the benefit of the publisher/webmaster, who can then study the 'click' patterns to understand why a particular surfer exited his page within 2 minutes of logging in. All this to help him improve the web page and of course, ensure the staying power of his website. Ghostrec, the service that does the mouse tracking, belongs to Enjoy Entertainment Media Technologies. While Ghost started its beta service in 2009, its 2nd version or Ghost v2 was launched this week. It boasts of a new logo, layout and user interface. Both versions are free, and for some payment, you can get additional features. When a website publisher signs up with Ghost, he/she is given a piece of simple code which has to be installed on the site. Once done, the code records the movements of every person who downloads the site or logs in. The webmaster can then playback this recording to understand the actions of the surfer. All the data can then be used to make the website more use-friendly.      



Our View

Name: GhostRec                                                                                            
Design - 3/5       Utility - 3/5     Nav - 2/5     Download - 3/5                                                Score - 11/20

Click, Blink                                                                                                    28/4/2010
By: Ask Bob  

Almost every web surfer has faced this problem one time or the other. Many a times you come across a webpage or blog that catches your attention, making you want to save it for posterity or for a read later. One way is to of course press the right click on your mouse and save the page on your desktop. Building on this philosophy is BlinkList. Advertised as a productivity tool, using it, any surfer can click and save his fav page, or even share it with friends and colleagues.                       

The makers of Blink, Startups.com Network INC, say the way this tool, launched recently, works is simple. They give the surfer a button on his browser which he can then use to 'blink' the web page he likes. Meaning - you press the button and it saves the page you want in a zippy. You can then recall any of the saved pages at will, even if it has been pulled out from the original website or blog. The search for a saved page, says the Blink team, takes only 0.18 seconds, so well are the pages organised and saved. So, how is this different from right-clicking and saving it on your desktop? Well, we think the differentiator is that Blink users are given a mini-website to save their fav webpages, and they can recall these from any computer or laptop, from anywhere.

http://blinklist.com/ already claims to have 4,50,000 users. As bonus, after a certain time, Blink gauges the kind of webpages you like to surf, and without even a prompt, starts recommending similar webpages. And of course, the service is completely free.




Save all your passwords                                                                           16/4/2010

This is really something which we think almost every Internet user would love to have.  Okay, let us first ask you’ll a question – how many passwords do you have to how many Internet products? And, do you remember each and every one of them? How many times have you sent a desperate e-mail to your e-mail provider, saying you have forgotten your password? That is so not happening any more with MobileWitch Pass Safe. Using MobileWitch Pass Safe, one can park all their passwords here. Even your pockpet PC and mobile phone passwords. All your passwords are kept in one part of the database and you are given a masterkey (virtual, obviously) which is actually one password. So, basically, it means, one password for all your passwords. Those who own MobileWitch claim the entire database is encrypted using the best and most secure encryption algorithms. To be frank, there have been a couple of similar sites before. MobileWitch has launched recently with “additional features”, or so they claim. It offers other user-friendly applications like pasting your password on the application you want. The software allows you to sort passwords into groups which then can be modified or deleted at any time. You can also have subgroups attached to the existing groups.




Tagging clouds                                                                                            15/4/2010
      We presume our users know of web clouds. No? Okay, very quickly, before we get down to the crux of this article, here's is an explanation for those of you who still don't. A web cloud or a tag cloud is a collection of tags (called labels) where the tags (links) are arranged in a cloud shape or a loose blurb form, mostly right next to the main content. Today, they have taken on various forms but by and large, the word 'cloud' has stuck on. Once upon a time, clouds used be visually unappealing, some times even downright ugly. All that has now changed.

There are many services now in the business of providing really cool-dude clouds. So, web clouds are a visually appealing way of showing the tags in your content, and are quite routinely used by bloggers. There are other uses of such clouds (but we are going to side-step them because this is not a tutorial). Click on one of the tags (hyperlinks) and it takes you on to a new destination, just like in a link. We think you have got it by now.

The use of such tag clouds got really popular from mid-2000 onwards. Today, there are many service providers who give you the means to create such clouds for your website or blog like wordle. In our search on the Internet highway, we came across yet another interesting one launched in October 2009, still in Beta version, called Tagul. It is created by Alex, 27-year-old entrepreneur and tech geek from Moscow, Russia. Alex explains on his blog that http://tagul.com/can be used to create some rather dandy (not his word) clouds across blogs & websites by being embedded on the webpage, something that he claims other such service providers do not do. Each link in the cloud is linked to a URL and is "clickable".  The other "differentiator", claims Alex, is that his web clouds are based on flash and not the commonly-used Java platform. And, they are quite fluffy as a cloud (we mean light to download on the page). Using Tagul, you can give customised shapes to your clouds (meaning arrange them like a heart or even the face of a personality) which is what grabbed us. You can even use multiple fonts for the tags. So, if you have a blog of your own or a website, and are thinking of adding clouds to it, this blog is something which you would like to check out. As of now, the service is in Beta and is free. It may not be so for long as Alex has cautioned, except may be for non-profit use.     




Our View

Name: Tagul                                                                                                       
Design - 2/5       Utility - 3/5     Nav - 3/5     Download - 4/5                                         Score - 12/20



  Your View

A river of Content                                                                                       11/4/2010

We are confused. First came websites, then portals, then vortals, in-between newspapers went online, then digital, then came blogs followed by social networking sites...and now, are we going back to newspapers? We are not talking of a newspaper as in a newspaper (confusing, eh?). Well, atleast not the Real World type. In our continuing search on the Net for new and user-needy websites, we came across something that goes by the name http://www.paper.li. 


This one is powered by a start-up in the brrr....cold climes of Switzerland called SmallRivers, but more on that after we finishing explaining about paper.li. paper.li is unique - though it makes clear that it is not affiliated/sponsored/endorsed by Twitter, it takes the "public stream" of  Twitter (i.e. all that can be seen/read by common users), converts it into a newspaper format. Like any other paper, it comes out once every day. There are sections under which you can find such a "paper". If it just happens that a "newspaper" does not yet exist, you can create one (which should be fun). Of course, you have to be a member of Twitter or facebook. One can say yet another start-up has derived yet another application from Twitter.


paper.li has a cousin called http://www.river.li The latter is to connect like-minded web communities and related conversations on the web.


But the key to understanding paper.li and river.li is to first understand what the networking site Smallrivers is all about. Here is what we found, and understood. SmallRivers is located on the Swiss Institute of Technology EPFL campus. The company has a single goal - find an easy way to connect various communities with shared interests. The logic is simple - there are communities across the length and breadth of the Internet, working in isolated groups, with common points of interest, yet, they remain unknown to each other. What SmallRivers proposes is to collect these common-interest groups ( individual streams) into a river-like formation. Several rivulets (sub-sects) that eventually flow into one gigantic river.


Allow us to illustrate: There is Group A on facebook that is highly interested in farming. There is Group B on Twitter with the same interest and Group C on Digg with the same interest. As of now, chances are high that all three groups do not know of each other's existence. Thus, they are robbed of the other's valuable inputs. SmallRivers' plan is to connect all these 3 groups by its "software" called river.li.


How does it work?


SmallRivers has developed what it calls a portable networking element that can be attached to a specific Content. This travels with the Content, even as it is being downloaded or copied. This Content stays 'connected' and in turn, connects people interested in that particular kind of Content across the web. Confused? Well, these guys have devised a virtual "sticker" which is pasted on a particular content. Click on the river.li sticker and you can see all the sites and web conversations on a common subject attached to it. Eg: The 1st member of Group A puts the sticker on an interesting article on Swiss farming, the 2nd member of Group A puts his own input by way of a related article, the 3rd member of Group B adds another conversation on Swiss farming...and hey, by the end of it all, you have say about 400 web sites on Swiss farming floating in this river. It is like a mini-search engine on Swiss farming.


Talking of search engines....the guys are SmallRivers have also devised a 'Live' search engine of all their sub-sets -- meaning you put in a key word and it throws up in real time, all the URLs connected in a particular river.  How does this help? As a searcher, you may key in the word Swiss farming in all the major search engines and you know the chaos that will be thrown up. An ocean of information will be churned out. Hundreds and hundreds of pages on Swiss farming, Swiss cheese, Swiss women, Swiss cows...groan. The same search on SmallRivers will throw up a more precise result.


paper.li and smallrivers.li are free services but each will also have premium services attached. 


  Our View   
Name: SmallRivers    
Design - 3/5       Utility - 3/5     Nav - 3/5     Download - 2/5                                           Score - 11/20
       Your View

A new text linking site                                                                                                                   8/4/2010

If you are a new-born website or blog, you probably are just about waking upto the 1000s of online tricks to announce your birth. One of them, if you have not heard it so far, is called back linking. This means getting into your site from some other website. There are scores of companies out there and even double the number of methods to get back linked to your site. Last week, another 'back linking' company was born. Called http://www.swapmylink.com it claims to have made it "easier" to sell text links and buy text links. A press release in our 'In Box' this morning told us of the launch. We wanted to dismiss it as yet another marketing gimmick. Then we thought - hey at least some of our readers are website owners or potential ones. So why not feature a back link company on our web pages?

And at least, its owners say there are no hidden traps. It is a fact that there are many websites offering back link services saying it is free, but in reality have certain hidden clauses that ultimately ensure you pay.

We decided to check out Swap My Link. A cursory look told us that its focus is on pairing a site owner who wants to buy a link with another site owner interested in selling a link. A back link marketplace, if you will, say its creators. Website owners who want to make money publishing links on their site just name their price and put a link spot on their site up for sale. Those who want to purchase quality back links can just search through the data base and decide on which website is right for them. Swapmylink.com is unique in that sense; you are not buying several hundreds of links, you are able to connect with someone who is selling a link to publish on their site, and if you choose to buy, you are buying what you value as quality.

For the information of our readers, becoming a member on swapmylink is free and there are no other membership fees.

Our View   

Name: Swap My Link 
Design - 3/5       Utility - 2/5     Nav - 3/5     Download -                                                               Score - 11/20
                                                                                                                                                               Your View

Get an alias for your favourite URL                                                                            5/4/2010

The Net is a fascinating place. It's like trawling the ocean every day and discovering new species in its depths. Having nothing better to do over the (just-over) long week-end, I decided to log on and surf. Made a "discovery", soon. They are called URL shortening services. In net terminology, such smaller URLs are called 'to./' urls. Yup folks, there are actually people who will take any URL of any individual page or an entire website, and shorten it into a tiny, itsy bitsy, URL. Chop, chop. Amazed, I searched on. This article is a result of my voyage, and I have written it for the benefit of 1000s of netizens like me around the globe who are still not aware of these URL shortening services.


Here is one such service called .... http://to./


I picked up the following url randomly 




and keyed it into a box provided for the purpose on the above site




out came the shortened URL




Apparently, these services have been around since the start of this decade but have caught the fancy when social networking sites like Twitter and others were launched. Now, why would any one want to chop URLs, I asked myself. Actually, there are many who want this service. Since all social networking sites have a limit to the amount of characters used, it is of great help to have a very short url when you are forwarding a link to your friend or boss. Imagine trying to send the above, original URL. You would probably exhaust your character limit mid-way itself.


In a sense, I gather these services are actually page re-directs. So, it works like this - you wanna send your friend a URL, you key in the original one, and either ask for a random short or nano url to be generated by the service provider or make your own short URL. There are services that randomly throw up short URLs, there are others who allow you to convert them using your own imagination. But I did not come across any service that offered both. There maybe some thing like that out there, though....


The other uses of a shortened URL is that while copying it from an email or chat site, you may find that suddenly some of the original characters in the original URL have been inadvertently gone missing. A short URL is so much easier to copy.


I am told that one of the very first such service was offered by tinyURL for Twitter. Twitter would automatically translate every original URL into a shortened one. Since 2009 though, Twitter has moved on to bit.ly


As recently as December 2009, a URL shortened To./nanourl was launched by .TO ( The one I used for the above example)


There are about 14 of these services currently in operation ( talk of competition). I did not have the energy nor the time to go through each of them. But I did come across some amount of criticism against some of the URL shortening services. Many of those who had used them said the 'chop chop' version were no great sakes, in one or two instances, the shortened URL was as long as the original one and maybe even more tougher to remember, said one such critic.


There is a Holland based portal called WatchMouse. It monitors websites and it has recently launched an online URL shortener performance monitor (if you please) at http://url-shorteners.public-website-status.com/.

Click and Publish on the Web                                                                                            31/3/2010
With" web publishing growing, it is obvious that more and more tools will be available to make the proposition a little more attractive and...easier? In the latter category comes Posterous, launched by afomer Apple Inc. guy. Posterous tag line says it all....."Its the dead simple place to post every thing . Just email us." www.posterous.com claims to cater to one and all - first time publishers, casual bloggers, for a group like a family or even a rugby team. Some experts have even hailed it as the next best thing to happen to the Internet. The thing is, you just need to log in to Posterous and send them an e-mail with the stuff you wanna upload, but either don't know how or wouldn't be bothered to learn the ropes. It can be an MP3 file, a video for youtube, photos, whatever. The Posterous team almost simultaneously transfers your file into a 'publishable' one and upload it. For shutterbugs who keep loading photographs, it even creates and manages an individual photo album. Those who subscribe to Posterous even get their individual ids, http://yourname@posterous.com It does not end there. If you are one of those guys who is a member of all those microblogging and social networking sites, you no longer have to manually connect to each and every one of them. Just submit a list to Posterous, the first time, and subsequently send it the post you wanna upload on all those sites. Posterous does it for you. Imagine - one click and your posts are up and running across all your social networking sites! Suddenly, weblife looks a little more beautiful, right? Well, we at www.whatsnewonthenet.com have one slight issue though, Posterous' very communication tool is the humble e-mail. We believe the e-mail is on its way to becoming obsolete. So, then, what will Posterous do?

Our View   

Name: Posterous 
Design - 3/5       Utility - 4/5     Nav - 3/5     Download - 4/5                                          Score - 14/20

Control info at the press of a button                                                          30/3/2010

Today, we bring you a virgin, Web 2.0 tool that may bring in a little more order in your Net lives. We came across this newly inaugurated service called Fliptop. This one is for both - customers and publishers. Forcustomers, using Fliptop allows them control over the information theywantfrom their fav websites/blogs, and so on.


Basically, fliptop is simple. And, it makes both, the site owner/publisher as well as the reader/subscriber two happy individuals. After all, if the subscriber can control/download only that content of the portion he is interested in, he would be more than glad. For the publisher, it means a happy subscriber who keeps returning to his site, thus keeping up a constant flow of traffic. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of www.fliptop.com Dough Camplejohn explains (on the site) how the idea came to him. "When I was once swimming in the San Fransisco bay, one day it was too damn cold to go out. I thought wouldn't it be great if I could get an email each morning whenever the water temperature was above 60 deg. A nice application to be sure but it quickly got me thinking of all the other, 'Tell me.... when' things I wanted to be alerted on and fliptop was born." So there you are, aptly described by its creator as a "Tell me when.." tool, fliptop involves the setting up a green Follow button on every favourite site  of a subscriber, which is a no-brainer. Once that is installed, subscriptions are then delivered either to his/her email account or on to the RSS reader page. There are other benefits to fliptop but we leave it you to find out. And hey, before we forget, as of now, subscription to this service is free.

Our View   

Name: Fliptop
Design - 2/5       Utility - 3/5     Nav - 4/5     Download - 4/5                                                        Score - 13/20

Your View

Pen drives, e-mails a thing of the past?                                                     28/3/2010
Hey guys, check this one out. We came across this online file sharing service called drop.io.which is almost
certain to make pendrives go out of fashion. E-mails, too, are in danger of becoming dinosaurs. This service offers you online storage space for any of your files - Word document, video, images, and any thing else that can be stored. All that you have to do is to log in, save the specific file, and well,get access it to online,from any other spot on the Internet. That too, in real time. http://drop.io works in a real simple way. Here’s an example - You just add your file name,' blue', to `http://drop.io/blue' and that becomes your ‘drop’. This becomes your very own mini url for that particular file. All that you now have to do is to either download it from another computer bay or share the url with your boss, girlfriend or friend, who will then download the file. Like we said, not only plain vanilla Word files but you can also upload and store even complex video files. You can use this site for real time project collaboration, to privately share family photos, share documents among a group of co-workers, for presentations or even to keep a personal journal. Wait, it does not end here. drop. io can be accessed from your mobile, you tube, face book and other media. All this for free. If you think you gonna upload much more than the stipulated file size, you may need to purchase a premium account. But let us tell you that the free account is more than enough for your day-to-day needs. Every ‘drop’ has an expiry date, if you set it for ‘unlimited time’, it will anyway expire after a year. So do not think it is an online back up service. In addition to this basic feature, drop.io also allows private chat and a host of cool features. Our space is limited here so we cannot elaborate on those. So, why don’t you take a tour of http://drop.io

Our View



Name: Drop.io                                                                                                                                                  28/3/2010


Design - 2/5       Utility - 4/5     Nav - 4/5     Download - 3/5                                                        Score - 13/20
 Ever heard of Wolfram/Alpha?                                                                       27/3/2010

Most of you may have heard of search engines but have you heard of a 'computational knowledge engine'. Well, here goes...(And remember you probably read about it for the first time on this site). Wolfram/Alpha professes to be just that - a computational knowledge engine ( and may be the first of its kind in cyberspace). 

This computable knowledge engine is the brainchild of one, Stephen Wolfram, a Brit who is a physicist, software developer, among other things. Its creator says this is one heck of a long-term intellectual exercise, something which has already taken up 30 years of his life. This unique engine is basically where one can, at the click of a button, dregde up any knowledge or answer to any factual query. It is like this - wolfram/alpha is a single window where you can go and key in a question on any field of science, technology, what-may-have-you, and get an instant answer. Backing up this function is, hold you breath, 10 trillion pieces of data, and 50,000 types of alogrithms and...perhaps all the knowledge that is available in the world, and computable. In that sense, it has a rather common sense approach unlike the "mindless" results thrown up by search engines. Released to the public in mid-2009, the site continues to evolve. Whew...must have been a heck of a job.


So, it works like this...you wanna know the answer to a complex mathematical formula, or even a simple one like how much is 2+2, key in your question and hey, pronto, comes out the answer. You wanna know how fast a cheetah run, you just need to ask this engine. You are lost and wanna know the longitude and latitude of Argentina, you better go on to this site. We could go on and on about the merits of this new engine but we rather you find out more for yourself. By the way, this was voted one of the best 50 top sites of 2009  by Time magazine. Click on  http://www.wolframalpha.com/

  Our View

Name: Wolfram/Alpha  
Design -   4/5      Content - 4/5      Nav - 4/5   Download - 4/5                                                      Score-16/20
IE 9 up for public scrutiny                                                                                                 13/3/2010
The world's first major Internet browser developer, Microsoft, has put out the latest version of its brower, Internet Explorer, called (IE9) in cyberspace for test. The company has said anyone and everyone is welcome to preview the browser and send in their comments. Those interested can click on https://connect.microsoft.com/