Archive for the 'cool & useful' Category

Jun 19 2008

Jed White @ PubCamp in Sydney

Recorded from about three rows back with my Nokia N95 (ie, ‘atmospheric’ sound quality), this is what Jed White had to say in his intro remarks about The Future of Media and the Web.

PubCamp, in case you’re wondering, was an attempt to pull together a conference about the future of media, Web 2.0, social and citizen media, mobile, the semantic web and so on. Ambitious? Yes indeedy! Fun? Oh yeah!

PubCamp was pulled together by Jed and the good folks at iTechne.

The next PubCamp’s in Melbourne. You can check it out and sign up here

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Jul 05 2007

5 online slideshow tools reviewed

Summary: The most difficult to use slideshow is slideroll but it was also the best in my view because it gives you the most control over the final results. For ease of use and good transition behaviour, the offering from is best. For ease of use for posting to social networking sites, I’m giving the nod to Photobucket.

I created this slideshow with an online application called Slidez [LINK TO SLIDEZ] and then embedded the code in this post. Because it needs to fit this layout, you can’t see the images at full screen size. To do that, you need to CLICK HERE to visit this gallery on the slidez site.

Slidez has a very web 2.0 interface, ie clean and quite straightforward to use. The site was in public beta when I tried it out, so things may have changed when you check it. Registration is free and you aren’t charged to keep your slideshows on the site. I also liked that it created a unique sub-domain for me (mine is and that it offered a number of editable display options. You can re-arrange the order of image, add labels and captions and email friends about your latest show, or embed it the way I have in this post.

All pictures were taken with my Nokia N95.

I’ve had a bit of a play with it, but cannot see how to embed a slideshow in this post. Instead, I can only link to one here

Here are some thoughts on the experience…

Slide has one of those slightly frenetic looking homepages that could be described loosely as adhering to the conventions of social networking sites in both appearance and functionality. It is quite easy to select and organise a slideshow, which is as it should be. There are any number of slideshow modes to choose from and you have a variety of customisation options. There is a limited music library from which you can choose a suitable soundtrack for your images. The biggest plus is that slide makes it very easy to add your slideshow to the most popular social networking sites (eg Friendster, Bebo, MySpace, LiveJournal, etc). However, it does not appear to provide code for embedding in sites other than those listed. Instead, you are left with the less than satisfactory option of linking to your slideshow. What’s more, it would seem that the site aggressively compresses uploaded images (there is no way to control how the images are processed after uploading). The shots in the example show a fair amount of degradation from the originals.Click here to see how it works.

The most popular photosharing and hosting site of all. Very good user interface. Clean, easy to follow and quite versatile. In addition to uploading images from their own computer, users can also upload from mobile phones and web addresses (for instance you might have a picture in another location like a blog that you’d like to add to a slide show). Once images are uploadedl they are displayed album style with direct links helpfully shown below each picture (to make it easy to add them to an email, a post in a forum or a personal blog). Edting your slideshow is straightforward and there are a range of display options to choose from. One may link to a completed slideshow or grab the necessary code to include a show in a blog, forum post or ordinary web page. A remix mode alllows you to create slideshows from stills images and short video sequences. Easy to see why this is so popular. Images did not show compression artefacts. Easy to see why this is so popular. About the only niggle was not being able to pause a show or control how long images displayed. However, if you use the remix facility, it’s possible to set the ‘dwell’ time of an image from 1-10 seconds. Interesting note too, the remix part of the site is powered by Adobe’s Premiere Express. Professional users may want to spend USD25 a year to get 50 image slideshows instead of the lower resolution, 10 image limit that applies to free users.

Imageshack slideshow created on their site:
ImageShack has become extremely popular with the social networking crowd in large part because it makes posting your images to your social networking accounts comparatively easy. This is really more of a general purpose online photo storage site than a specialist slideshow builder. The slideshow tool [click here to see a screen dump] is a pretty basic affair. You can only upload one image at a time, you only have three size choices, and more importantly there do not appear to be any controls over the timeline or the Ken Burns panning-zooming effects. You can choose from a short list of transition effects. Uploads seemed to be pretty slow as well, but there were no compression artefacts visible in the slideshow. Free users have a maximum file size of 1.5MB.

What seems to be a much better idea is to go into the tools menu on the site and to download and install their image toolbar for IE or Firefox. This has a better interface for assembling slideshows in my view, and there is nothing to stop you editing your slideshow later once the images have been uploaded to ImageShack

A tip: they apply a bit of compression to your images, so you can overcome this by setting the slideshow to 640×480 (their largest setting) and then when you get the code for pasting into your blog, dig into it and change the height and width settings to something smaller – presto smaller, but better res. If you just choose the smaller options, it seems the compression is still visible (see below)

ImageShack slideshow created using their toolbar for Firefox

Go to ImageShack® to Create your own Slideshow

Slideroll is the least user-friendly of the slideshow creating sites I’ve looked at – however, it also offers users the greatest versatility. The slideshow workspace [CLICK HERE to see what it looks like] is somewhat complicated and a bit idiosyncratic, but once you’ve pushed the learning curve (tip: save after every step), you find you have considerably more control over the display options. For instance, Slideroll allows you to set the amount of time each shot is shown, and to control those zooming-panning effects much beloved by online slideshow makers. Once I got to grips with the control options, I found it quite amusing to play with. There are tools to help you post your slideshows to various of the social networking sites, or to blogs such as this one.

For another round-up of interesting online photo editors, check this on mashup

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Jul 03 2007

A Nokia N95 slideshow by Don!

Published by under cool & useful,DIY,photography,Reviews

I created this slideshow with an online application called Slidez [LINK TO SLIDEZ] and then embedded the code in this post. Because it needs to fit this layout, you can’t see the images at full screen size. To do that, you need to CLICK HERE to visit this gallery on the slidez site.

Slidez has a very web 2.0 interface, ie clean and quite straightforward to use. The site was in public beta when I tried it out, so things may have changed when you check it. Registration is free and you aren’t charged to keep your slideshows on the site. I also liked that it created a unique sub-domain for me (mine is and that it offered a number of editable display options. You can re-arrange the order of image, add labels and captions and email friends about your latest show, or embed it the way I have in this post.

All pictures were taken with my Nokia N95.

Slidez is due to update their site on the weekend of 6-7 July.

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Mar 30 2007

Great wordpress plug-ins

Published by under cool & useful


TOP 30 WordPress Plugins in Blogosphere

27 Mar, 2007 Main page, Blogtips

Is there any blogger blogging about blogging 😉 that hasn’t posted a list of his favorite plugins yet? Well, since I’m now in it too, I might as well do it. But you won’t find a list of my favorite plugins here. I did much better! I compiled a true TOP 30 list of the most popular plugins in blogosphere 😉

The list is based on the Lists of favorite WordPress plugins, made by Lorelle last month. Lorelle found 48 lists with a total of 280 plugins that were recommended by other bloggers to their readers.

So I went through all those lists and compiled a spreadsheet of the mentioned plugins to see which of them were the most used in blogosphere. Here are the results:

1. The first place among WordPress plugins goes to Akismet. 34 out of 48 bloggers are using this plugin. Obviously the spam is a very serious issue and Akismet is doing a great job combating it.
2. Google Sitemap Generator came in second with 27 votes. Looks like a lot of bloggers are starting to care about SEO and this plugin is the best tool to tell Google how it should crawl your blog and where to find everything you want found.
3. Related posts by Wasabi takes the third place. As the name suggests, this plugin generates a list of related posts based on the text of blog entry. It is a great tool to increase the stickiness of your blog by showing your readers similar posts that you’ve written on the subject. Although since I started using Chitika RPU’s on my tech blogs, I don’t use this plugin there. 19 out 48 bloggers have used this plugin on their blogs.
4. Wp-Contact form. This plugin developed by Ryan Duff is used by 17 of 48 bloggers. It creates a contact form on your blog, through which your readers can contact you. However at the moment of this writing, Ryans website seemed to be down. Another good plugin to generate contact forms is here. Update: You can download Spam protected Wp-contact form from Doug Carr blog here.
5. WordPress database backup now maintained by Ilfilosofo and originally developed by Skippy is on 16 lists. It’s a “must use” plugin for every WP blogger and if you are not using it you might be in a lot of trouble eventually. Imagine that something goes wrong with you database and you loose all of your archives! The latest version of the plugin even lets you schedule automatic backups at a set frequency.
6. Feedburner Feed Replacement let’s you track your RSS subscribers and use a lot of other cool Feedburner services.
7. Ultimate Tag Warrior is a plugin does everything related with tagging. With this plugin you can tag your every post through a separate field, enter tags inside post text, use tags in external editors, etc. The tags then can be used to search your blog and are picked up by blog search engines like Technorati and can bring in new users. UTW was used by 14 of 48 bloggers.
8. Subscribe to comments plugin (13/48) allows your readers to check a box before commenting and get e-mail notification of further comments. This is a great plugin to grow your blog community by letting your readers stay up to date in the discussion that they already are interested in.
9. AdSense Deluxe (10/48) is a plugin that allows you to easily insert AdSense, YPN, Chitika ads inside your blog posts and provides for easy management when and where the ads appear. A must have if you want use ads inside a blog post.
10. Gravatars (9/48) Another community building plug-in. It let’s you place the small pictures (avatars) of your readers next to their comments on your blog. Makes the comment area and the discussion much more personal and lively. In order for the avatars to appear, reader has to register it with Gravatars service.
11. Jerome’s Keywords plugin. It’s another plugin for keywords/tags similar to Ultimate Tag Warrior. It has a little less options and functionality, but does tagging/keywords very well and is easier to use. JK plugin gets 11th place only conditionally, since 4 plugins were recommended by 8 bloggers. So the next 3 plugins (11-14 place) also have the same amount of votes and are ranked in alphabetical order.
12. Optimal title (8/48) is a SEO related plugin. It mirrors the function wp_title () on your blog, but moves the position of the separator to after the title rather then before. This way you can make blog post name, or category name appear in front of the blog name in he <title> tags (one of the most important elements of on page SEO). If you use the keywords you want to rank for in your blog post titles (which you should), this plugin can help you improve your position in search engines.
13. Sociable (8/48) You probably noticed small icons from various social bookmarking sites (like Digg,, reddit, etc;) under the posts on many blogs. Well, lot’s of them are done by this plugin. So if you want to help your users spread the word about your best posts, you may want to install this plugin.
14. WP-Cache 2.0 (8/48) is “… an extremely efficient WordPress page caching system to make your site much faster and responsive. It works by caching WordPress pages and storing them in a static file for serving future requests directly from the file rather than loading and compiling the whole PHP code and then building the page from the database. WP-Cache allows to serve hundred of times more pages per second, and to reduce the response time from several tenths of seconds to less than a millisecond.” It is not that important if you have a low traffic blog, but if you get dugg it can make the difference between your site being up or down for several hours when all the traffic comes flooding in.
15. Popularity Contest (7/48) A very useful plugin that lets you automatically highlight your best posts to your readers. It keeps a count of your post, category and archive views, comments, trackbacks, etc. and uses them to determine which of your posts are most popular. It can significantly increase the “stickiness” of your blog and help you convert first time visitors into a regular readers.
16. Sidebar Widgets (7/48) Plugin by WordPress creators Automattic, that lets you add various cool widgets (small applications developed by others) into your sidebar without any HTML knowledge.
17. Wp_Notable (7/48) Another plugin for displaying icons for various social bookmarking sites, very similar to Sociable in functionality.
18. Simple Tags. (6/48) Another tagging plugin for generating Technorati Tags. This is the most basic and also the most easy to use tagging plugin, if all you are looking for are tags for Technorati and other blog search services. Just type in your keywords at the end of your post between [tags]….. [/tags] and they will appear as Technorati tags.
19. Adhesive (5/48) is a plugin that lets you make the posts “sticky”.These posts will remain at the top of the page no matter how many other posts you wrote later. Very useful for making announcements or giving directions to your readers.
20. Exec-php (5/48). This plugin allows <?php ?> tags inside the content or excerpt of your posts and pages to be executed just as in usual PHP files. Definitely not for the code shy, but if you want to insert php code inside your blog posts this is plugin to use.
21. Extended live archive (5/48) plugin creates dynamic and easily navigable archive page that helps your readers easily find what they are looking for in your archive. The posts there can be sorted by tags, categories, date and popularity.
22. No ping wait (5/48) Have you noticed sometimes, after you press “publish” on your posts, that it takes forever for this command to execute. Well, the reason is the “pinging” process, through which WordPress tries to notify various blog search and monitoring services that new blog post is coming up, which can take some time. This plugin solves the problem by separating “pinging” and posting into two separate things.
23. PodPress (5/48) . If you are into podcasting, this plugin is a must have. It makes adding, managing and playing podcasts and other media files on your blog a breeze.
24. SRG Clean Archives (5/48) . Another plugin to generate Archive pages. It is designed to display your archive listings in a clean and uniform fashion. It lists the Month / Year (links to that months archives), the day of the month the article was published, the title of the article (permalink to article), and the number of comments that have been made on each article. It also hides password protected articles from showing up in your archives list.
25. WP-Page Navi (5/48) is a plugin to improve page navigation on your blog. Instead of having to go through blog pages one by one, it adds better navigation functionality that can look like this: Pages (17): [1] 2 3 4 » … Last »
26. WP-Cron (5/48) If you want to schedule some tasks, like database backup on your blog, this plugin lets you do just that. In the words of the author “WP-Cron provides a rudimentary support for scheduled execution of actions; a sort of “delayed action” processing for WordPress. It is nowhere near as robust as the actual UNIX cron facility, but should be good enough to “do stuff” on a fairly regular basis“
27. Wp-Shortstat (5/48) is the stats plugin for your blog. Install the plugin, go to your WP dashboard and you can see the stats you need. The plugin was written by Jeff Minard but now is maintained by Markus Kaemmerer.
28. Lightbox 2 (5/48) . Have you seen a neat trick on some websites, where you press on the image, the whole page dims into the background and the active window or image pops-up to the front? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just head to the plugin page and press on the images there. If you want such a trick on your blog, install the plugin.
29. cached (4/48) . Want to show-off what you have bookmarked on recently? Then this plugin is just what you need.
30. Get Recent Comments (4/48) does just what it’s name implies, it gets the excerpts of the latest comments on your blog and displays them on your sidebar

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