'On-line Services' Category

See Your Web Site in Different Browsers

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

Screenshot of rd.comHave you tested your Web site in different browsers and on different platforms? Web designers tend to focus on the one or two that they deem most important and often forget to test their Web sites in other browsers and on other platforms. That normally means testing sites in IE and Firefox, but the different versions of IE and Firefox and different versions of operating systems are ignored. Besides, very few have access to all the different browsers and operating systems, not to mention the hundreds of combinations that you get when you include screen sizes, Javascript versions and Flash enabled.

Browsershots is a free, open source solution for your problem. Browsershots takes screenshots of sites and displays the screen captures in .png files. You can use Browsershots as a free online service, but what makes this product cool is that it’s available as an open source (written in Python) download so that you can run it on an internal server. This is very useful when you need to test a site that isn’t live or accessible from the Internet yet. (more…)


The best social video sharing websites

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

YouTube was hugely popular even before the Google announcement, however, the deal generated a ton of press and media coverage. YouTube and Metacafe attracts users through their AFV-style video clips, but, with the growth of broadband and the addictive audience that these social video sharing websites provide, it looks like Google is the catalyst for making on-line videos and movies mainstream. There still isn’t a standardized on-line video/movie format or protocol, but this type of momentum will certainly help – especially for publishers who are struggling to find a recipe that works. And while off-line publishers and media companies are trying to find a way to monetize on-line video, users are embracing free on-line services like YouTube, Metacafe and Brightcove. For now, the best thing to do is to use these services and learn from them. You can find an interesting comparison of YouTube, Google Video, Metacafe and Soapbox here.

Switch your personal domain to gmail for domains

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Google Apps for Your Domain is a service that Google offers to individuals, informal groups and small companies that have their own domain name. The main attraction for using this service is for the email hosting. Most registrars and hosting providers offer good email services, but it’s hard to beat Gmail’s functionality, speed and flexibility. So having Gmail as the email service provider for your domain is pretty attractive! I use the service for davinciplanet.com and the more I use it the happier I am with the service.

Users concerned about the flexibility of the service like using email clients (e.g. Outlook & Thunderbird) need not be concerned because Google isn’t evil and they support it. Another concern has been the support of SPF records to prevent spam using your domain, but again, Google isn’t evil and so they support it: (more…)

Test the best php/mysql software using OpenSourceCMS

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

If you ever wanted to test open source software, this is pretty slick! OpenSourceCMS gives you – as an administrator to their sites – access to test the best php/mysql open source software. The site’s name is misleading because you’d expect it to be related to content management, but the list of applications available is extensive, including:

  • Portals; e.g. Drupal, Mambo, Joomla
  • Blogs; e.g. Serendipity and of course WordPress
  • eCommerce, Forums, Image Galleries, etc..


Wink social bookmarking that combines Digg and Google

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

I quite accidently stumbled on the search engine/tagging site Wink tonight. Quite accidently because I was looking for an update on the freeware presentation creation software called Wink: DebugMode (more on that Wink in another post). Since social bookmarking, tagging, social networking, social computing and all other social whatever stuff has been the topic at work over the last week, the Wink search engine really caught my attention. (more…)

Which blog application is right for you?

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

Over the last couple of months many people I know, mostly non-technical, have shown an interest in creating their own blogs. It is very easy to set up a free blog, but it gets a little more confusing when you are more serious like wanting your own domain name. So based on level of seriousness, here’s my recommendation to find a blog solution that works for you. (more…)

Add Google AdSense to your WordPress blog

Sunday, September 17th, 2006

One of the motives behind blogs is earning some extra cash from ads. To add Google AdSense to a WordPress blog is a breeze. First sign up for a an account with AdSense. It may take a few days for the account to get opened. In the mean time you can download the AdSense-Deluxe WordPress plug-in. I have not tested it, but I am sure that the plug-in should work for most affiliate programs.

Create a WordPress blog on GoDaddy.com

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

In this post I will try to explain how to set up a WordPress blog using goddady.com hosting services. The assumption here is that you have decided on a domain name(s) and have a reasonable idea of what your theme will be. There are many hosting providers that offer similar services, but I will focus on godaddy.com because they offer low cost hosting and domain registration with everything a serious blogger needs. Godaddy.com has WordPress prepackaged so you don’t need to pre-configure MySQL or FTP upload WordPress (their support site doesn’t mention this!). Here’s what you need to do:

1. Create a hosting account
To start off you will need to sign up for a hosting account and choose a domain name for your blog. Go to the Hosting Plans page on the Go Daddy site. The Economy Plan is usually suitable and currently costs $3.59/month for 12 month. You need to choose between Linux and Windows hosting solutions and I’d recommend Linux because it works nicer with WordPress (particularly permalinks). You typically do not need any of the optional services that they offer, but you may consider the Private domain registration ($4.99 per year) to hide your personal info from public whois. You can add a domain name for $1.99 (+ $0.25 ICANN fee). The total charge, for 1 year, will be around $50.32. That will be your only cost for this setup. Once you have paid you may have to wait a few of hours for your hosting set up to complete.

2. Install WordPress
Next you need to install WordPress into your site. To do this, browse to godaddy.com, log in to your account and then go to Hosting & Servers and go to My Hosting Plans. Select Open next to the hosting account that you would like to add WorPress. In the Hosting Manager look for click on Value Applications, locate WordPress and click on install. You need to enter basic WordPress administration info, submit, wait a couple of minutes and it’s installed. Besides WordPress, you will also see many other applications that are readily available, including Coppermine image gallery, SiteBar, AdvancedPoll and PmWiki wiki.

After installing WordPress, Go Daddy will show a link to launch the application. By default WordPress will be installed into the /wordpress folder. To change that could be tricky, but you could do it by using an FTP client to connect to your site (create an FTP account by going to Manage FTP Users in the Host Manager) and renaming the wordpress folder to the name of your choice, then you need to browse to the admin page in the new folder (i.e. http://yourdomain.com/new_wordpress_folder/wp-admin/index.php) and update the path info in the Options | General section. If you want to run WordPress as your root application, you will need to move the files to your root folder – possibly by downloading and then re-uploading the files to root (make sure you know what you’re doing!).

3. Familiarize yourself with WordPress
This is where the fun starts! :) After you get WordPress working you need to familiarize yourself with the Web application by checking out the admin tool and reading the documentation. You will want to create a theme or choose one from the many available on-line (mostly free) and enhance it by installing plugins and adding Web analytics, RSS feeds, etc..

4. Useful resources

WordPress Codex
Emily Robnins, How to blog – a comprehensive list of themes.

WordPress Codex

Add Google Analytics to your WordPress blog

Monday, August 28th, 2006

Google Analytics is arguably the best free Web analytics tool available. It’s free and they have now made it available to everyone. To sign up go to google.com/analytics and login using your Google account info. After creating an account you will be guided through the steps to set up your first profile. Copy the tracking code or keep it close for the next step.

There are two ways to add the tracking code to your WordPress blog: 1) by installing a plug-in and 2) by editing the theme source pages directly.

Install a Google Analytics plug-in.
There are a number of plug-ins available for free and they are mostly similar and very easy to use, including:

Edit your WordPress pages directly.
This is probably the no so smart option, but since I did it I might as well mention it. You will need to edit the source of your theme pages. Login to your WordPress admin tool, select the Presentation tab and then Theme Editor. The Header (header.php) or Footer (footer.php) is normally the best place to insert your Google Analytics code, but make sure that you insert it after the <body> tag in the Header or before the </body> tag in the Footer, depending on which file you inserted the code. After saving the file, preview your blog and view the page source to verify that the tracking code has been inserted. Google Analytics can can lag a few hours to show traffic.

Google Spreadsheets pushing Web 2.0 limits

Tuesday, June 6th, 2006

Google is pushing browser capabilities to the limit again by launching Google Spreadsheets – a Web 2.0 implementation.  The sharing capabilities are really Google Spreadsheetsneat and allows you to share spreadsheets, similar to sharing Google Calendars.  You can upload Excel spreadsheets as well.  Google is not the first and at this time not the best on-line spreadsheet service: It is still in alpha (Google Labs) and by invitation only, but it’s really good to get a player like Google in the game because it will certainly help put pressure on Microsoft to reconsider it’s MS Office licensing strategy.

Some other on-line spreadsheet service providers:

Windows Live, Microsofts answer to Google

Monday, May 29th, 2006

With all the fuss around Google and how cool they are, it seems few people are paying attention to Microsoft’s answer: Windows Live Beta Logo Windows Live. Windows Live has a matching solution for almost every one of Google’s services. If you spend a little time looking at it, it’s actually very impressive and makes you really wonder how things will shape up. The interface is clean and sophisticated and it supports Firefox and Opera.

What is Windows Live?
Your online world gets better when everything works simply and effortlessly together. That’s the basic idea behind Windows Live. So the things you care about—your friends, the latest information, your e-mails, powerful search, your PC files, everything—come together in one place. This is a brand new Internet experience designed to put you in control. And this is just the beginning—you’ll see many more new services in the coming months.

Here is a list of some of the services that Windows Live is offering (all still in beta).

The main site which is basically a search portal and allows customization similar to Google’s personalization.

Windows Live Ideas
Lists most of the initiatives they are working on.

Windows Live Local
Microsoft’s answer to Google Maps. They have a “Road”, “Aerial” and “Bird’s eye” view. Search Engine Guide has an article comparing the services and they prefer Live Local.

Windows Live Favorites
Save your favorites on-line. You can synch your Live Favorites with your IE Favorites and you can share them on-line. Doesn’t seem to try and be a del.icio.us.

Microsoft Office Live
The name implies that it’s an on-line version of MS Office, but it really seems to be more about creating and hosting Web sites. With the basic service you can register a domain name (new domain), create and host the Web site, get 5 email accounts and traffic reports for FREE! Not bad :) You are required to give your credit card information, but you don’t get charged.

Microsoft Gadgets
Gadgets for Windows Sidebar will run on your desktop or dock into Windows Sidebar, an upcoming feature in Windows Vista alongside other applications. Gadgets for Start.com (a.k.a. Web or Server-based Gadgets) provide a fast, customizable homepage with a clean user interface.
You may, as I have, also wonder what start.com is and what the relation is to live.com. sanaz’s space has a good description, but basically start.com is a testing area for live.com and ideas are tested there first before being implemented on live.com.

live.com blog
A blog maintained by the live.com development team where you can get the latest info on updates.