Archive for the ‘Web 2.0’ Category

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FoxMarks to XMarks Shared Folder Update

01/08/2009

Combined Logo with RSS

I probably should have realised a lot sooner than I did, but there has been something a bit odd with my SpotIT feed on my RebootIT blog of late.

For some time now I’d been using an add-in for Firefox to manage my bookmarks.  This was produced by Foxmarks.com and allowed me to do various clever things such as synchronise my bookmarks between computers, access them on a special web page and notably share them with others via a web page or an RSS feed….

Foxmarks have extended their support to other browsers and renamed a while back to Xmarks.  Foolishly I never spotted the change to the RSS feed which was piping my list of useful bookmarks to my RebootIT blog.  So if you shared any of your bookmarks with Foxmarks and never updated your links when the name change took place I’d suggest you head on over to Xmarks.com and get the new URLs.

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Tweet from a dumb phone

22/07/2009
Buzby - British Telecom's old mascot

Buzby - British Telecom's old mascot ... the original Tweeter

There are lots of Twitter clients out there for smart phones, but you can also tweet from a ‘dumb’ phone.  The trick is to use a service like TwitSay or TwitterFone.  Once you register, these services give you a local telephone number to call.  You can then record a short voice message.

  • If you use TwitSay, then your message will be held as an audio recording on TwitSay and a URL will be posted to your Twitter feed.
  • If you use TwitterFone then a transcription takes place and the resulting text is posted to your Twitter feed.  TwitterFone also allows you a few additional options such as being able to listen to your Twitter feed being read to you and then being able to post responses and direct messages through the same audio transcription system.

It’s an interesting alternative interface to Twitter and one with several benefits in terms of accessibility – both in a disability sense and an availability of technology sense.  Even with a smart phone you could take advantage of these services if for example you have voice dialling enabled … not that I’d recommend tweeting whilst driving.

Interestingly both services refer only to mobile phones.  I do wonder if a land line would work too.  I can’t see any reason that it wouldn’t unless you have caller ID sending off or the services are actively blocking them.  You would however need to be able to receive a text message to the land line for activation validation purposes.  however many operators offer an SMS to audio service so even that shouldn’t really be an issue for most people.

Now I want to know when I can have a transcription take place on my phone without using a service so that I can just dictate a tweet (or an SMS) and not even have to pay for the local call – just make use of the data plan instead.

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Firefox IE Tab Script Debug Errors

30/05/2009

Recently I’ve been working a little bit with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.  It is recommended that Internet Explorer is used to interact with this web based system as it provides the widest and tightest integration and range of features.  Unfortunately I have a strong preference for Mozilla Firefox over Internet Explorer.

However there’s a nice add-on for Firefox that helps me get round the annoyance of having to have two browsers open – IE Tab.  Whilst it is still fundamentally using Internet Explorer, it allows me to set sites to automatically load into a Firefox tab and render a page using the Internet Explorer ‘engine’.  One browser window and no need to remember when to open another browser.

Unfortunately SharePoint seems to play poorly sometimes.  Whilst still fundamentally working I was getting a lot of problems accessing my ‘My Site’  and occasional problems in other areas.  I was plagued by dialog boxes asking me if I would like to debug when trying to move the mouse pointer to click on a link.  So much so that it just seemed to be unusable.

This seems to be a known issue (and looks like it falls back to some poor SharePoint coding), and Microsoft recommend simply turning off the warnings by setting an option in Internet Explorer.  Far from ideal, but it’s not like I can fix the problems for them.

Disable Script Debugging

Disable Script Debugging

To set this, open Internet Explorer, select the tools menu and Internet options… .  Select the Advanced tab and in the browsing section select the “Disable Screen Debugging (Internet Explorer)” option.

Unfortunately the debug messages continue to appear, but they don’t appear in Internet Explorer when it is run outside of Firefox.  I double checked and without this option set Internet Explorer did experience the same issues.

The resolution to the IE Tab in Firefox is however close to hand.  It seems odd at first that the disable option explicitly mentions Internet Explorer.  After all what else would you set an option for…?  Well it looks like there’s a separate option for anything using the Internet Explorer rendering engine outside of the main browser … such as IE Tab.  The option is “Disable Screen Debugging (Other)” and it works like a charm.

So until Microsoft sort out their SharePoint warnings and for all those IE Tab users out there who need to use SharePoint I’d recommend popping into Internet Explorer and setting the script debugging options.

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Grey Screen of Death

28/04/2009

Today I was taking part in an online presentation from Dr. Simon Ball of JISC TechDis; one of his regular HE updates.  They use an online presentation system known as Instant Presenter to deliver the presentations on a roughly quarterly basis and they last for about half an hour.  A genuine whistle-stop tour.

I connected to the specified URL in Firefox as usual and the presentation session kicked into life as usual.  However about three or four minutes from the end my screen went grey.  Totally grey!  I couldn’t Alt-Tab, turn caps lock on, or do anything to get a response out of my PC.  The audio from the presentation however did still continue to come through.  It was this that makes me think that it was probably some flash component having a bit of a panic.

I haven’t been able to reproduce it or find anything in any of the logs, but it certainly made a strange difference to the ususal blue screen of death and at least it was considerate enough to let me listen to the remainder of the presentation.  Unfortunately it meant I had to just cut out at the end and pass on my apologies to Dr. Ball by e-mail from my phone whilst I stared my lovely grey screen of death (gsod) or is it more a grey screen of coma?

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PBWiki Devoured

28/04/2009

When I’m asked about setting up a new wiki for a group, I often recommend PBWiki as it has a number of good features and for education it can be used for free.  Since I work within the HE sector this is a simple and quick solution for many of the cross-institutional groups and many people are familiar with it.

I was surprised a few days ago however that it is changing its name.  Apparently to reflect the fact that it is more than just a wiki.  For more information you can check out the story on the Daily Peanut – PB Wiki’s blog.

There’s a competition to guess the name and as yet I haven’t managed to crack this peanut.  I thought a search of domain names on whois might yield a common address or owner, but no such luck.  My only guess so far is given its wider nature and American source, it might be something like Peanut Butter and Jelly collaboration platform (PBJCP).

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The TED Interface

16/04/2009

I recently came across a site called TED. It’s a web site for the annual Technology, Entertainment and Design conference.  The web site itself has a showcase of videos clips from conference speakers and is worth a look.  The thing I want to quickly post about however is something I think is quite innovative … an interface I’ve not seen anywhere else (yet).

TED.COM - Image Cloud

TED.COM - Image Cloud

The TED home page displays a set of images based upon criteria selected in the page’s left hand list.  The images are stills from different videos that are available to view from the site.  The size of the image is relative to the other images and is based upon the selection criteria – e.g. “the most popular technology videos” would have the most popular video identified by the biggest still image.  This is really just like an image version of  a tag cloud (see the categories section in the right column of this blog).  Many tag clouds give a precise indication when hovering on a link (e.g. number of occurrences), but this “image cloud” pops up an information box and displays the image at a standard size in the box – which helps see the smaller images.

I’ve not seen one of these before, but I can imagine that it will become more prevalent in the not so distant future.

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Download YouTube Video

07/04/2009

youtube-saveI deal with a fair few academics and if there’s one thing they love about the Internet and the World Wide Web it’s YouTube and the vast resources it offers.  Giving multimedia presentations is obviously a great way of getting people engaged, but an issue is that when visiting an institution you can’t always guarantee that you will have access to the Internet so being able to download a video from YouTube is a huge benefit.

I was asked how to do this recently and I directed the user to a bookmark (/’bookmarklet’) I occasionally use for just such a task.  I use it from within Firefox whilst on a YouTube page and then simply click the bookmark on my toolbar to initiate the download.  Unfortunately WordPress doesn’t allow me to embed the Javascript for the bookmark directly into a link in this post, so you’ll either have to copy and paste the following into your bookmark location/URL…

javascript:if(document.location.href.match(/http:\/\/[a-zA-Z\.]*youtube\.com\/watch/)){document.location.href='http://www.youtube.com/get_video?fmt='+(isHDAvailable?'22':'18')+'&video_id='+swfArgs['video_id']+'&t='+swfArgs['t']}

… or visit the original source for this little gem, as the credit for the bokmark wizardry goes to a post on the Google Operating System blog.

I would urge anyone using this to pay attention to the terms and conditions of use of YouTube and at the very least credit YouTube and whoever created the original content in whatever academic presentation it might be used in.