Archiving The Web Via PDFs and Dropbox

Hi, my name is Martha and I am a data hoarder. No really. I love to clip and save and organize the cool stuff I find on the web. Perhaps it comes from my professional background as a researcher – you never know when you are going to need that great bit of information in the future.

I also am a fan of PDFs and I love to work with them on my iPad. My favorite PDF app is iAnnotate, but there are other great ones, like the venerable GoodReader which has been around about as long as the iPad has. I also love Dropbox, the web storage / syncing / sharing application that is pretty much everywhere these days.

So, when MacStories published this great hack, I was all ears. Imagine using a web bookmarklet to save a webpage or URL as a PDF and store in your Dropbox so you can edit and sync across devices and access from anywhere? Federico Viticci has a great means of doing just that using the Instapaper Text Bookmarklet, available on the Instapaper web site (scroll down to the bottom of the page) and a command line Mac HTML converter called wkpdf.  Sure, its geeky. But it works great. Mac only, though, so sorry all you Windows users.

Hit the link above for the very explicit details. Viticci offers a couple of ways of getting the job done, but the end result is stored PDFs of sites with active links and images, with the crap stripped out for easy reading. I particularly like the option to use IFTTT by sending a Mail message with the URL, which then appends the body of the message to a text file. Takes a little bit of tweaking and a few apps to set the system up, but once it is up and going, you will be an automated URL / HTML to PDF machine! Thanks Federico!

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Bo.lt: More Page Sharing Fun

Interesting tool alert: Bo.lt is a link sharing application with more than one twist. When you paste a URL into the box on its site or via bookmarklet, a duplicate of the page is created on Bo.lt’s servers, letting you edit the page itself. Thus, someone clicking your link will see your manually redated and modified version of the page. You highlight the important content and let your reader cut right to the chase. Change text, edit or delete images or text, change links through its visual or HTML editor. Features allow you to share the page directly on Twitter or Facebook via the customizable URL. And, if you are collaborating with someone, they too can edit or make changes. All changes are tracked, so you can keep tabs on who has done what to the finished product. Realtime analytics reveal traffic on your links from Twitter, Facebook and Google. You can also see the activity of other users – check out the Community feed, complete with links to profiles. Additional, paid features are coming so keep tuned. In the meantime, watch this new service progress to the point where co-founders Matthew and Jamie Roche hope it to reach – a sharing destination, or the YouTube of linked pages.

The Good, The Bad & The Truncated

Now HERE is a novel concept in information consumption: applying liposuction to your news feeds. Thanks to Techcrunch, I became acquainted this morning with TLDR.it – a web app that shrinks long form news articles and RSS feeds into shorter versions containing only the salient(?) points. You can choose whether your abstract is short, medium, or long, but certainly the return will not be as long as the original article.

The app was built in 48 hours, a testament to the developer Jeremy McAnaly’s need for speed. Indeed, the app bills itself as “a.d.d. approved news reading.”

You can either enter the feed or the URL in search-styled boxes, or you use their bookmarklet to summarize any page you happen to linger on. Then you get a synopsis of the feed or URL, with options to see the short, medium or long versions, as well as the original source in full.

I couldn’t resist – I had to run Advocate’s Studio through Willie Wonka’s Mike TeeVee treatment and see what came out. The TLDR.it algorithm picked up on my second post about getting Studio content  at various web locales. (maybe it thought my top article was already the picture of brevity). If you read the content post, you will see that it was eight or so fairly meaty paragraphs. This is what tldr.it returned:

Visiting the page is cool because I have fitted out the blog with some extra material in the widgets and blog bar – you can get my Mobile App of the Day reviews in the sidebar along with my shares on Lazyfeed and Friendfeed and links to some of my other web profiles via my Retaggr card – I tend to spread my sharing out over many services, so that no one particular place has everything.

The long version contains approximately double the wordage as the short version, picking up pretty much where the short version left off. While this information is contained somewhere in the middle of the post, I cannot really say how the algorithm arrived at the “conclusion” that  this was the “meat”  of the post. Thus, I cannot really say that tldr.it returns the most salient points of the article.

Nonetheless, much like Cliff Notes, some information is better than no information, if for no other reason than giving you the appearance of having actually read the full work. I guess, with TLDR.it, you have to take the good with the bad.