Breaking Down Google

Google by the image. Pingdom (link here) is a website monitoring company that loves to collect web stats. I reported some of those stats in a post a little while back (link here). Want some goods on Google? Check out this somewhat large infographic showing some Google numbers. And be humbled.

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So Excited, Just Can't Hide It: Feedly for iPhone!

I can’t begin to count the number of times I have attempted to “read” my feeds on the iPhone and longed for the desktop Feedly interface. I wondered if and when one would show up, figuring those big brains would come up with something REALLY cool.

What’s Feedly, you ask? It is an application add-on to Firefox and Chrome (developers version) that works with Google Reader, providing a slick, magazine-like overlay of your feeds. There are granular controls for telling Feedly what you want to see and how you want to see it. And, as you use Feedly over time, it learns what you like best and pushes those stories to the top. Posts include buttons for recommending, sharing and starring. There are filters that alter your view and tabs for viewing posts within feed categories that you set.

I have raved about Feedly here in the Studio before. But I couldn’t recommend it as a mobile application. But I will be able to soon.  Here is Feedly iPhone Prototype 7:

Check out their blog post introducing mobile Feedly (link here). The developers indicate that simplicity and performance were their goals. I think they got it. Using a swiping gesture, you can:

  • swipe through the feedly digest
  • drill down into a specific article
  • recommend/share an article
  • tweet an article
  • mark an article as read and hide it (swiping the card to the top)
  • use the home option to select a specific category and feed

The developers are looking down the road to Feedly on Android and Palm Pre. Head over to the blog, give them some feedback on the video and they may actually incorporate your suggestions. And get ready for the live beta, coming March 15!

I’m going to hold my breath until then. Wish me luck.

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Zootool: When You Want To Corral Your Web

More content means more overwhelm. It really is true. Sometimes you are surfing aimlessly and see something you want to save for later. Sometimes you are engaged in pointed search and you see something off topic that you know you need in another matter. Or sometimes, you are researching and need to snip and collect the efforts for later assimilation and aggregation.

Delicious and Diigo are the main players in the social bookmarking realm. Evernote and OneNote are competitive products in the notetaking / notebooking realm (OneNote is an off-line tool, while Evernote is everywhere).  Zotero is the academic option, offering full citation and archival benefits.

If you are a visual learner, you might want to try out Zootool (link here). Unlike FFFFound, which is limited to web images, Zootool will allow you to snip and save pretty much everything but audio.

It offers a function similar to Delicious or Diigo, but with visual rather than pure text entries. You can organize content in packs (instead of folders or, as in Evernote, notebooks). The original URL is saved, and you can edit the identifying information and tag your content accordingly. There is URL shortening, and the ability to share with social networks (such as Twitter, Delicious and Friendfeed), and quick-blogging sites like Tumblr. There is a social aspect to the site, in that you can follow others and publish links to your other on-line outposts.

The result is your “zoo” – a series of visual “files”, with tags and links, organized by type accessed by tabs marked “all”, “images”, “videos”, “documents”, and “pages.”  If you click on the image, you can either download the doc, navigate to the page or pull the image or vid. You can further organize and identify your content in packs, titling the packs accordingly. The interface is easy and intuitive.

Zootool upports more than 30 video plattforms, Slideshare and Scribd Documents and employs a special reader for Wikipedia-articles and RSS feeds. Zootool can also accompany you on the got with a mobile version for the iPhone.

With any archiving, bookmarking service, one has to be concerned with backing up the informatinon. Zootool is web-only. I haven’t yet determined the best way to create a redundant system to protect against loss of saved snips, other than possibly saving everything over to Delicious.

Furthermore, with its visual bent, Zootool does appear to be aiming for artistic types or those primarily interested in images. Nonetheless, as a visual person, I find Zootool’s interface far easier to scan than Delicious. It could definitely serve a purpose, particularly with respect to combining your docs, video and image snips all in one place.

I have to chuckle, though, at the logo. Color scheme is similar to Evernote but, in place of an elephant, insert a rhinoceros.

Hat tip to John Hicks at The Hickensian.

Flavors.me: Give The Web A Taste Of You

If you are going to play on-line, you need to have an outpost on-line. Lots of different sites can serve this purpose, but few are as simple to set up and yield as elegant a result as Flavors.me. If you need a quick fix on which to hang your virtual hat, Flavors.me is a great place to start. This web tool allows you to create a splash or landing page for your on-line self with a simple, easy-to-use, drag-and-drop editor. Your page can incorporate background images and links to your other favorite web hangouts, like Twitter, Vimeo, Facebook, Flickr, etc. The editor will allow you to play with layout, colors and fonts. The results? Quite beautiful and very effective. Take a look at the video below. Or take a look at mine (link here). Not bad for ten minutes’ work. Tips to Lifehacker and Techcrunch.

Give Your Facebook Biz Page Some Panache

By now, most people have heard about or have actually customized their Twitter page and / or created a Twitter landing page for people clicking on the link shown on their Twitter page. But did you know that you could customize your Facebook Business page too? Facebook pages, by default, look rather, well, blandly uniform. Not anymore! With the addition of a special FB application that allows you to manipulate FBML (Facebook Markup Language), you can create a page worthy of Coca Cola or Disney or Lady GaGa.

The application that powers this process is called “Static FBML” (link here).  What it does is create a blank canvas that can be filled with your own graphics and links. You will need to go into the settings for the application and make a few selections as to how the information is presented (box or tab), hit the edit to add your content via a standard text entry box, modify the title of the box or tab, and start entering the content. You can make it the default landing spot by editing your page settings.

I make it sound simple, but there is a little bit of effort to it. Hey, as any woman will tell you, it’s hard work being beautiful! Seriously, though, for a more thorough explanation for how it works, head over to the Mashable! article where I found the goods (link here) or Tamar Weinberg’s article on FBML (link here).

Hat tip to Mashable!

Power Up Your Blog Speed

Google Reader remains, by far, the most popular RSS feed reader out there. I rely on it heavily, both in its direct form and as the back bone of my other reading sources, such as Feedly and other information-consuming applications.

One of the complaints comparisons often bandied about the Web regarding GReader is that it is painfully slow to update feeds with new publication, now that we have such hyperactive services such as Twitter. Real time speed (“RTS”) is often considered a “good” thing among Webizens. I, for one, prefer curated content from dependable sources to RTS and have always preferred to sacrifice a wee bit of speed for reliability.

Until now. Techy people already know about the PubSubHubbub protocol which enables the transfer of RSS feed publications at RTS. I don’t know enough about these technicalities to even attempt to explain the how of it. But I do know that the protocol has been rolling out via various Web applications, speeding things up wherever it lands.

Late last week, commenters noticed GReader delivering information from feeds enabled with PubSubHubbub at a much faster rate. Apparently, GReader is now reading and relaying PubSubHubbub-enabled feeds in real time. Most major on-line publications have already adopted the protocol so the GReader experience has definitely picked up as a result.

What does this mean to content creators? Well, you too can jump on the PubSubHubbub bandwagon with your blog and supply the world’s most popular reader with your writing in real time. If you use Blogger or Posterous, your feeds are already PubSubHubbub-enabled. If you use the WordPress software on your own hosted site, you can install this PubSubHubbub plug-in (link here).  If you are slogging away over at WordPress.com, you unfortunately are out of luck at the moment – they have adopted the competing rssCloud format, which is not yet supported in GReader. If you use Feedburner to send your RSS feed, turn on Google’s Pingshot to send out information in real time.

What are you waiting for? Not GReader anymore! 

Hat tip to ReadWriteWeb (they so smart).

Incorporating A Social Media "Back Channel" In A Presentation

There is nothing quite like the immediacy of real-time conversation about your presentation while the presentation is going on! This is particularly true if your presentation is about the power of social media. I found this great tutorial on how to create such a back channel for your next presentation. The website is called “140 Learning” and the topic is “Incorporating a Back channel in a Presentation” (link here). The article presumes your use of Powerpoint, Keynote or Sliderocket in your talk. It is relatively short but quite comprehensive and impressive, discussing issues that range from how to create a hashtag prior to the presentation to how to encourage dialog, from tools for easily adding your own postings during the presentation to ways to encourage dialog, from how to show the Twitter stream to how to invite feedback after the presentation. There is a lot of other great stuff in this article, so I highly encourage you to hit the jump if you are considering adding such a high-tech feature to your next presentation!

If you are interested in sprucing up your presentations generally, check out Ray Ward’s suggestions over at the (new) legal writer on better Powerpoint presentations (link here). Thanks Ray!

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Adding Statute Links Where There Were None

Great tip from RIPS Law Librarian blog  on a tool for pulling the text of statutes from a web page that fails to include the hypertext link (link here). The tool is called LII Citer (link here) and it is offered by the Cornell Legal Information Institute. The tool works by adding the Citer to your favorites (in any browser). Simply highlight the law on the web page, then go to the Citer link in your Favorites and you will see the text of the highlighted statute. It currently accesses federal law only, see the list below:

  • U.S. Code, e.g. 12 U.S.C. 1749bbb-10c, or 7 U.S.C. 136a(c)(3), which links to the paragraph level, using the LII internal USC resolver.
  • United States Supreme Court, e.g. 457 U.S. 800, using the LII resolver that tries to find an LII-local copy, and failing that, gives the user the option of choosing another source.
  • Federal Circuit Court System, e.g. 875 F.2d 1059, “resolved” by constructing a direct link to the resource.org data set as hosted by lawlibrary.rutgers.edu
  • Code of Federal Regulations, e.g. 40 C.F.R. Part 164 Subpart D, tries to resolve section references with the get-cfr.cgi file at frwebgate.access.gpo.gov; if no section number is cited, then a resolver at ecfr.gpoaccess.gov is used.
  • US Statutes at Large, e.g. 118 Stat. 919, resolution currently very speculative, using get-cfr.cgi at frwebgate.access.gpo.gov
  • US Public Law, e.g. Pub. L. 110-116, fairly stable, using get-cfr.cgi at frwebgate.access.gpo.gov
  • Federal Register, e.g. 72 Fed. Reg. 37771, uses the getpage.cgi at frwebgate.access.gpo.gov

Even without state statutes, it is still a handy tool for speeding up your web-based research process. Thanks Cornell and RIPS!

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When Social Media Hits Your Wallet

I just read an interesting post by Omar-Ha-Redeye at Slaw on how social media usage might result in an increase in insurance’ premiums to reflect an increased risk of loss (link here). The article actually discussed homeowners’ premiums and privacy and location-based services. These topics have been the subject of heavy discussion over the past two weeks, spurred at least in part by the brouhaha from Google’s launch of Buzz with insufficient privacy controls and the articles surrounding the website Please Rob Me. Personally, I think Please Rob Me is about ten times more irresponsible than the original location posters – it opens up location data to anyone and everyone in a clearinghouse-style, hyper-organized fashion not available to the potential robber who randomly peruses Twitter, Foursquare or any of the other location-based services that first require a friend or follow connection. Furthermore, I doubt that the persons engaging in this activity are learning the lesson this site is “purporting” to teach. But enough about that.

The title of Omar’s post sent my thoughts in a different direction – lawyers using social media who might experience an increase in legal malpractice fees. I am not suggesting that this is currently the case – I don’t have the data to back it up. But there certainly have been news stories over the past year outlining the different ways that lawyers can get themselves in trouble in and out of court based on their own on-line activities.

Engaging in social media in general, and for lawyers in particular, requires common sense. The same common sense that people and professionals should employ in the off-line world. Internet trouble may result from the incorrect perception that only those you are interested in targeting with your efforts will see your efforts. In reality, the digital trail is wide and clear for anyone interested enough to follow.

That said, if you only publish content that is valuable and well-thought out, there should be little problem with the law. On the other hand, you cannot control the perceptions of the other side in a dispute. So, how do you engage and protect at the same time? Carefully read your malpractice policy to ensure that on-line activity is not excluded. If it is excluded, then consider contacting your carrier / agent to discuss adding such coverage. There are specific insurance policies now being offered that cover blogging activity. It is worth it to take some time with your coverage and make sure it protects against the risks you want it to protect against.

Above all, if you are on-line in a professional capacity, keep it professional! If your activity doesn’t pass the “smell” test, well, then ….

Government Docs on Kindle, For Free

Novel marriage of tech and exec – Amazon announced a few days ago (link here) that it would be adding the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget of the United States and the President’s Economic Report to Kindle as free, downloadable content. So, in under 60 seconds, you could be slogging your way through the “weighty” language written in e-ink.

All quips aside, this is precisely the type of e-reader use that gets me excited about the technology. While I don’t see myself giving up paper and ink for casual, fun reading, I am totally into the idea of shedding pages of documents, drafts, case books and reference guides for a slim 8″ by 10″ by 1/4″ tablet. Some readers already allow you to load PDFs and other types of docs for viewing. I an looking forward to the day that all of my professional reading can be done on an e-reader, although probably not a Kindle. I have my eyes on the upcoming tablets and more generalized content consumption devices.

For now, the government documents can be read and synced between the Kindle, Kindle DX, iPhones and  iPod touches running the Kindle app, PCs and soon, Mac computers and BlackBerry smartphones.

Hat tip to beSpacific.