Cool Odds & Ends: OnSwipe, Free FB Page Tool, Desktop Cloud Drive

I have a few cool tools to share that have little in common except the useful factor. Rather than clutter the feed with multiple posts, I thought I would report on them all in one spot. My involvement with them ranges from “in the process of using”, “about to try” or simply “just interested in the application.”

The first, OnSwipe, I began using yesterday. While I am still working out some bugs with it, it holds a great deal of promise for Web publishers in this tablet-crazy age. OnSwipe is a plug-in available automatically to all WordPress.com users and by choice to all self-hosted WordPress users to give your blog that iPad-esque, Flipboard-y, Pulse-able sort of look. It takes full advantage of the swiping gestures available to touch screen users and even uses some slick animation on the front page of your blog, which is generally composed of whatever image you have loaded in your latest post. It offers accelerometer aware content (vertical or horizontal positioning), a cool dedicated homescreen icon for your blog, the ability to use a selected loading screen, integrated WordPress comments and built-in sharing tools. My issue is digging past the second page of most recent posts – I can’t scroll to earlier posts or bring a single post to full-screen. But I am working on it by turning off various plug-ins that might be in conflict. I think it is worth the effort – the end result on your iPad, or any other touchscreen device, is fabulous.

The second came to me via email in response to my Facebook Business Pages for Dummies post a few weeks back from developer Wilco de Kriej, an affiliate marketer in the Netherlands looking for a free way to improve the experience of creating Facebook Pages in the new iFrames format. As Studio readers may recall, I used my WordPress blog editor to create code to embed in the iFrames application. Doable, but somewhat unwieldy and definitely limited. Mr. de Kriej has created a WordPress template that you can use to create an iFrame friendly page, complete with fan-gate (fan only and non-fan only content). He calls it WP4FB, (WordPress for Facebook, perhaps?) and you can download it yourself for free and/or watch his demo here. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think I am going to give it a shot because, well, I am just that way.

Finally, if you have managed to get yourself past the Vader-ian terms of service for the new Amazon Cloud Drive, you might want to check out this cool hack from the fine peeps at Make Use Of – a desktop tool to easily access and work with the heretofore web-only Cloud Drive interface.  Hit the jump above for the complete instructions, but for the reader’s digest version, it involves using an application called Gladinet Cloud Desktop, a longstanding cloud-storage access application. It handles more than just Cloud Drive, but is especially useful for Cloud Drive, which doesn’t have a companion desktop application. Easy set up and very cool result.

Nice little basket of toys for your web-and-desktop pleasure. Hey, who said there was no such thing as the Easter Bunny?

Let IBM Handle Your Commute, Intelligently

First you have Watson taking over our game shows and now IBM’s Smarter Traveler has your commute covered. This new system is better than your average GPS’ traffic alerts – it learns your routes and then analyzes data from various sources to actually predict how bad it is going to be before you even leave the comfort of your home or office. 

The system is the product of IBM, Caltrans and a team at UCal Berkeley. It combines predictive analysis software with an existing network of road sensors, toll booths, and data from GPS equipped cell phones to learn travel habits, routes and areas of congestion. Alerts are then automatically delivered via email or text message with the status of the driver’s typical commute before the trip begins, eliminating potential driver distraction during the trip. What I really like is the app’s ability to suggest alternative routes before the traffic gets gridlocked – I cannot tell you how many times I get the traffic alert just as I am pulling up to the back of the wall of stopped traffic. It is anticipated that suggested alternative routes may include trips to the nearby public transportation along with current schedules for buses and trains. Useful and eco-friendly!

You can check out IBM’s press release here. Right now, it is being tested in the Bay area, but hopefully soon in an urban area near you. In anticipation, I already signed up. You can too here. Maybe, just maybe, we can all kiss traffic hell goodbye in the near future.