Sunday, August 26, 2007

Web 2.0 Gap Cast

GabCast is pretty cool system that allows a user to call in a GapCast to a system that will convert your voice call into a mp3 and then hook this up to your account which can host subscribers. All of the details are handled by the website, which was very well done in terms of usability. Simply sign up for an account at, then choose the option to phone in your GabCast, call the toll-free number, enter in some account info, and then record. That's it! People can subscribe to your feed and get updates.

I wanted to test out the system, and I created a 10 second proof of concept - just click here. For me, this model doesn't fit how I would use the system (I rather write/read than talk/video). However, if I were traveling across the globe and didn't have a computer, this would be a great way to give friends updates as to my activities. In most countries a phone is easily acquired, certainly it is easier than a computer and Internet connection. I would also imagine in terms of real-time information, this would be handy. Certainly on a college campus news of a great party will spread even more quickly!

With my up and coming travel I will keep this tool in my Web 2.0 toolkit. I know that I will be traveling to locations where connecting to the Internet will be difficult at times. However, with GapCast, its just a phone call away.

Web 2.0 Browsing with Tags - Delicious

Here is one more tool that I am checking out. This tool is and you can find my list here This tool is a like your browser, but it is online and the links are shared. This browser also allows the bookmarks to have tags for categorization which allows advanced searching. I say that I am checking this tool out because I think that it will take several months to get a feel for this tool and how useful it will be. However, the initial thoughts are that this tool should be pretty cool. I say this because links of interest are only bookmarked when people think that the link is meaningful (people don't like clutter, so why bookmark garbage). Because there is a filter on the system (albeit a social filter), the system can bubble up the most popular links within a given field to the top of the list. This has two uses - emerging trends become clear, but also experts within the field, even the new ones are identified. This, to me, is very exciting and useful. Combine this technology with Goggles "Top 100 searched items" found here, a broad picture is formed. If you haven't downloaded this tool and setup your account, you might be missing out!

Web 2.0 Technorati

In checking out Technorati, the first objective was to figure out what the heck this website is and what does it do for me as a user. I went to the website to see if the meaning would jump out. I studied this for a while without luck. So, when that happens, where do you go to figure something out - realizing that no single person can be an expert in everything. Well, is your best bet. Sure enough, Wikipedia told me what I needed to know (found here if you want the official scoop).

Technorati is a search engine for blogs. The need to search blogs will increase as more meaningful information is posted. I tried out Technorati for a while, and although I recognize this is a first attempt into this field, I am not sure it is ready for prime time. In terms of searching, I entered some content from experts within their respective field, unfortunately the blog didn't return what I was hoping for. It is certainly possible that I just happened to request the wrong search words, but in this specific instance I was disappointed. Google does a very good job of bubbling content up to the top that most people find valuable and pushes the other stuff towards the end of the search list. I decided to investigate some of the content to see if I could spot why the search results were so different from what I expected. I was surprised by what I found.

In looking at content for top blogs, a number of blog authors were asking people to push their blog to the top by requesting that people add an entry and then do a search on that blog. I think that this explains in part why the returned search results from above were skewed. It is too bad that Technorati doesn't ban/delete this type of behavior as it really diminishes their service. When I saw this, it started to make sense. Anyways, I think that my summary of Technorati is something along the lines of I like the idea of a blog search engine, but unless they figure out how to get the right content on the first try, then Google will likely put them out of business.

Web 2.0 - My Slide Show

I decided that I should make a quick slide show as I wanted to see how simple it is to create a project. Good news - it is as simple as cut/copy/paste/save and then upload. You don't believe me? Here are some quick steps to make a slide show. I opt'd to use a service called to host my slides. This is a free site with options to upgrade if needed. The default has something around 1 GB of hosting which isn't bad considering it is free.

The steps to use this site to share pictures are as follows. Decide how you want to upload your slideshow - PDF, PPT or some other options. PPT is very user friendly, so I used this. Ok - now for the recipe
  1. Take your pictures and place each picture(s) on a slide. Add as many slides as needed as long as you stay under the 30 MB file size limitation. Pictures can be added in terms of cut/copy/paste or inserted.
  2. Go to and log into your free account.
  3. Now select the option to upload your presentation - wait a fairly long time for the presentation to upload [It's free - what do you expect...]
  4. Click on 'my slide show' and there you have it.
Here is an example of a slide show - click here.

There is one gotcha that I thought I would point out. Notice in my example the 2nd slide is just a pure gray slide? Well, this is because I didn't have the slide centered in the ppt and only a portion of the slide was taken. The entire picture must be centered. I was hoping that the application would center the picture as this seemed reasonable, but that isn't the case.

What would make even better (besides being faster and centering pictures?), well, a bit of user protection for content would be nice. Once pictures are uploaded, anyone on the Internet can look at them. This isn't a huge problem, but if you are taking pictures of your family/kids, you might not want this content available to the general public. It would be nice if they created access control lists or some other structure that controlled access.

Go luck and enjoy!

Web 2.0 SlideShow

In checking out SlideShow, I was pretty impressed. I think that this is a pretty cool tool and there was some interesting content out there. I think my favorite slide show is located here - it is along the lines of Art that messes with your mind... Each picture has multiple pictures within - and they are very different. Anyways, I might post my own slide show for fun, but for now, I will leave you with an interesting link.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Web 2.0 Flickr

So I was checking out some web picture/sharing services. I blogged on Flickr and Google earlier, but now I wanted to check out the next level - how to access the services programically. I was pleased by the amount of material on the web around Flickr - a number of examples and podcasts exist that allow easy incorporation into Ruby/Rails, C# and most other popular languages. Here is the Flick link with key information.

I also looked at Google, but I haven't found quite what I was looking for in terms of ease of implementation. There api documentation is found here. However, I didn't find as many examples on how to use this API and it doesn't look like it support the incorporation into native languages as does Flickr. Maybe someone can point me in the right direction as I could certainly use the help with Picassa and Google. Thanks!

Web 2.0 Corporate Skype

Skype - not just a fun word to say, but a very cool program, or so the advertisement goes. The program can be found here. Skype allows calls between users and also included video (web cam) if you have it installed. Anyways, I had an interesting issue with Skype, and maybe someone has a solution. I can only run Skype with a corporate version installed on my work computer. This ensures it is battle hardened I guess. Well, this is pretty irritating because my VPN runs at a fraction of the network speed I have available which diminishes call and video quality. However, when I don't run with the VPN, I don't have access to the proxy server (obvious statement). I don't want to turn on and off the proxy server daily, so I am in somewhat of a pickle. Anyone have any ideas? I can't run the public version because then I am in non-compliance of our security policies :( Feedback and solutions are welcome!