Docracy Helps You Track Changes In Online Terms of Service

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You never know when these new media / web services are going to pull the rug out on privacy and change the Terms of Service. Other than those high profile changes that get the tech blogs all in a bunch, it is very difficult to track changes and modify your on-line behavior accordingly.

Docracy to the rescue! If you are unfamiliar with Docracy, I have a video with their ad blurb at the bottom of the post, but short story: Docracy offers a web tool for the creation, modification and electronic signing of “free” legal docs. More to the point of this post, Docracy has a new online Terms of Service Tracker. From their site:

Using Docracy’s unique document change analysis, we are now tracking terms of service and privacy policies for hundreds of the world’s top sites. See below for summaries of recent changes, or to see the complete terms for any of the sites we track.

We started tracking these policies on January 16th, 2013. Earlier versions of selected policies can be found on EFF’s TOSBack and TOSBack2 projects.

It’s nice to have someone like Docracy do the heavy lifting for you. Just subscribe at the link to their RSS feed and be notified when they note a change in a policy. If it affects you, simply head over to the site for more detail and, if warranted OPT OUT!

Docracy’s main tool, the free document generator, not only offers consumers a source for free basic forms, it also offers attorneys a means of promoting their work by submitting documents to the pool and gaining another outpost for sharing work online. Obviously, use of the free docs won’t directly result in money in your pocket, but decent, on-point resources on your profile page or embedded in your website may cause a few people to head your way when they need more than a simple form. For more about Docracy, check out their vid:

Transcribe & Transcribe Pro: Transcription Made Easy

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Back several months ago, a free web tool and handy little Chrome extension called Transcribe was introduced. This tool allows you to upload an audio file in mp3 or .wav format and get a written transcription of the audio in your browser. The transcription auto saves locally in your browser with every keystroke. It also works offline – no need for an internet connection. It all saves locally and there is no storage of your transcription in a server anywhere, so your information is as secure as your own local computer. There are simple controls to pause, resume, slow down or speed up, and rewind or forward 2 seconds. So dead simple and great for a fast transcription.

Now Transcribe has made available its Pro tool. New features include the ability to save your transcriptions to the cloud. And a companion iPhone app allows you to record with your iDevice on the go and automatically get transcriptions in your Web account. A wave form visualizer allows you to skip past unwanted sections in the recording. And you can work on or with multiple transcriptions at once. The Pro version also appears to work with a broader variety of audio files. Exports are in .doc format.

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There is tiered monthly pricing depending on number of transcriptions and hours you desire, as well as a pay as you go option. The pricing is noted below, and Transcribe invites you to contact them for special student or multi-user pricing discounts:

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For most users, I would imagine the free tool would be sufficient, but there are definitely some nice features to the Pro set. Power users may want to spring for the monthly, if they are in need of dead-simple transcription on a regular basis. Nice tool, Wreally.

Remember Yahoo Pipes? You Should If You Want to Tame Your Info

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If you like to tinker with and automate your web, and if you are a fan of services like IFTTT, then you may or may not have heard of Yahoo Pipes. Yahoo Pipes has been around for a dog’s lifetime in Internet years – it was first introduced in early 2007. While venerable, it is still mighty useful if you spend a few moments getting to know what it can do for you.

So, what can it do for you? It’s tagline is “rewire the Web.” Pipes describes itself as a powerful composition tool to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web. Or, stated differently, it allows you to remix feeds and create data mashups so you can better control the flow of information to your virtual doorstep.

By joining together simple commands, combine multiple feeds into a single feed and then sort, filter and translate it. Use Pipes to  geocode favorite feeds and browse the items on an interactive map. Use Pipes to create widgets and badges with feed information on your web site. And this is just the beginning of it.

You start with a Yahoo account login. Then you access the visual editor wherein you can drag and drop preconfigured modules and “wire” them together. Each module performs a task like “Fetch” or “Feed Auto Discovery” or input date, location, number, text or URL. Operator modules transform and filter pipe data. URL modules manipulate the URL. Combine text strings, define and format dates, convert text strings to geographic location and perform mathematic functions. After you build a “Pipe” by stringing together modules in the visual editor, you can save it on Yahoo’s servers. You can output your data in several different formats. You also can publish your Pipe to benefit net-kind. You can discover a feed in module one, filter the feed in module two, three and four, add other functions and then connect the Pipe to the output module. You are then greeted with a Pipe that will pull and filter information and present it to you the way you want to see it. Then subscribe to the Pipe’s output in your favorite feed reeder and get only the news you want, when you want.

If you don’t feel much like building your own, check out the large number of community Pipes published by members and tailor them to your own use. Search for Pipes on the Browse tab, or check out the tagged Pipes along the left navigation pane. For example, type in “find jobs” and pull up a bunch of Pipes that will allow you to do just that. Pre-built Pipes allow you to simply add the required information into fields and run the Pipe to get the output.

What if you want to get really creative and use a search module to pull up any mention of your company or firm on the Web or on Twitter, mash the two feeds together and output them in a fancy little widget on your website? Real time, and real handy for web monitoring and promotion.

It is a little hard to explain without visual aids, so check out the video below to see how to build one yourself. And, remember, you can already use a pre-existing Pipe – chances are someone has already built the mousetrap using Pipes. Kinda like a virtual Rube Goldberg machine for your Internet information.