CleverClogs

Experiments in writing, by Marjolein Hoekstra @OneNoteC

Supercharging Summize Searches in Firefox and Flock

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There are several ways you can integrate the superior Twitter search engine Summize into Firefox or Flock, turning your browser into a very efficient Twitter research tool. In this post I discuss these three:

  • adding the Summize search plug-in
  • creating a Summize quick search command
  • using the SmartSearch add-on to perform in-context queries

Summize Search Plug-in

Add Summize to your Firefox search bar by clicking on the “Install Search Plugin” link on the Summize home page:

Summize Search Plugin

The search plugin is available for use immediately after installing. To enter a Summize query, put cursor focus on the search bar with your mouse or press the Ctrl-K keyboard shortcut. Then type your query as usual and press Enter.

Summize Quick Searches
Besides performing searches from the search bar, Firefox also offers the browser address bar to execute search commands. It comes in handy if for some reason you’d rather not change search engines from your search bar. The functionality to search from the browser address bar is generally called Quick Search. In our case you would type in something like “s Obama”, press Enter and then, because of a keyword shortcut command that points to Summize, a query is run automatically to find tweets about Obama. The Quick Search command you can create by following the step-by-step instructions is also useful for in-context searching, which I describe in the section Summize Smart Searches.

Selecting the Add Keyword Search command

The Summize Quick Search command is universal and only needs to be created once. Luckily, Firefox makes this creation process a piece of cake: right-click with your mouse in the Summize search input box on any Summize web page and select “Add a Keyword for this Search…” from the context menu.

Now you may try your newly created Quick Search command by carrying out a query from the address bar: Type “s [keywords]” without the double quotes and press Enter.

Summize Smart Searches
With a few simple steps you can perform a Summize search for any word on any web page displayed in Firefox. The steps to create the Summize Quick Search command that I described in the previous section are required to make this Smart Searching functionality work. First, install the SmartSearch Firefox add-on.

Note that the default, version 3.10, is meant to be used with Firefox 3 beta. Users of older versions of Firefox should install version 3.7, which you can find here: SmartSearch add-on for Firefox 2.

Restart your browser.

Next, open the SmartSearch Settings dialog box and put a check mark in the option Show “Search Web for …” item

Next right-click or select any word(s) that you want to search for on Summize, and select Search for [keyword] on…“, then select @Summize. The following screenshot shows a fun recursive search right from my WordPress editor window, looking for tweets about Summize:

This nifty SmartSearch in-context search functionality works immediately by right-clicking individual words, without the need to select a word with your mouse first. Alternatively select multiple consecutive words, right-click on the selection, and follow the same steps.

My compliments to Ben Goodger and Chris Povlrk for providing the excellent SmartSearch add-on, and of course to the Summize folks (@abdur, @gregpass, @ericcj, @jayvirdy), who in my opinion really created even more than the Google of Twitter. Chapeau bas!

Written by CleverClogs

May 10th, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Those heart-felt comments…

with 6 comments

I believe my first post on this WordPress blog attracted more comments already than any of my posts on my previous blog hosted with TypePad. Rather unoriginal, the first post defaulted to the title “Hello World” and it sparked an avalanche of reactions from a handful of people around the globe. I knew they were sent by just a few people because their identical IP addresses were shown in the Comments section in the WordPress Admin panel. So apparently these people run a Google search for “Hello World” blog posts and then submit their compliments in bulk about the well chosen theme and topic of my blog. Sure, I’ll get Akismet in place.

Once I’ve figured out how to successfully import my old posts here, I’ll probably transfer them so that I can terminate my contract with TypePad. I have been wanting to get rid of TypePad for so long but would rather not lose my content. TypePad doesn’t just host CleverClogs, but also AWesome, my first attempts at blogging ever about ActiveWords. I also ran a bunch of other experiments. It will take me a while to get up to speed with WordPress.

The pieces on my previous blog were usually quite lengthy and required lots of research and preparation. Sometimes I’d work on a post for a whole day. I’d like to use this new blog to practice writing shorter articles, so that the barrier to actually start writing becomes less high.

So, please animal with me while I get to know this bear 😉

Written by CleverClogs

March 12th, 2008 at 7:05 pm

Posted in Announcements

Meebo Integrates MeBeam Video Conferencing

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As of today, users of the web-based instant messaging client Meebo can instantly open a live video conferencing session with each other, neatly integrated into the Meebo chat window.
From its launch in September 2005, Meebo has developed into a full-fledged multi-protocol chat client. In the very beginning it impressed heavy chat users a lot because of its Ajaxy look and feel and of course because it offered web-based access to the four leading IM networks from one interface. After that, the Meebo developers started their mission to adding numerous new features:
– Jabber support, allowing Gtalk users
– password encryption
– universal sign-on
– extensive localization
– public chat rooms
– widget
– iPhone app
– file transfer
– Firefox add-on

Written by CleverClogs

November 20th, 2007 at 12:24 am

Twitter to Skype Mood Message using Twype

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“Twype allows you to grab tweets from *any* Twitter account (there’s no
authentication) and lets you publish that stream as Skype mood
messages. Twype only works from Skype for Windows PCs.”

Twitter_cleverclogs_teaser

A new Skype add-on named Twype was just released by its developer Julian Bond. I’m very excited about it because it offers tremendous opportunities and because it fulfills a desire I’ve felt for years ever since I started using Skype. Let me explain what Twype does with a mix of screenshots and text:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by CleverClogs

October 13th, 2007 at 8:47 pm

Posted in Skype,Twitter Tools

Basics of Attention Profiling through APML

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“If you want to inform yourself of the basic principles of attention profiling or need to explain the concept to others then please read on. Feel free to add your clarifications, your
conclusions and your constructive criticism to this deliberately non-geek conversation.”

In recent months quite a few bloggers covered the growing adoption of APML, a proposed standard for attention profiling. Those about to give up reading here already, please don’t. I personally found most of these posts delving in rather deep. If you want to inform yourself of the basic principles of attention profiling or need to explain the concept to others then please read on. With today’s post I’d like to make an attempt at writing a layman’s article answering exactly these three questions:

  1. What is attention profiling and what are the benefits?
  2. What tools and services already support or endorse attention profiling?
  3. Where could you go next?

As usual, this post concludes with a news radar.

I encourage you to participate in this deliberately non-geek conversation about
attention profiling, either by posting a comment or by writing a blog
post of your own. Feel free to add your clarifications, your
conclusions and your concerns.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by CleverClogs

October 8th, 2007 at 5:00 pm

Podcasting Professionals : Advanced News Radar using Grazr

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Ever since I started developing Grazr RSS applications, I’ve been wondering if it were possible to integrate other services intothe Grazr widget. Today I’m presenting you with my most advanced project to date: Podcasting Professionals. This news radar demonstrates that Grazr RSS applications can be enhanced with the functionality of other, quite useful services. For this particular Grazr I
picked ZapTXT, Particls and BlogRovR. In this post I’ll discuss the
value they each add to this particular news radar.

A full-page version of the Podcasting Professionals news radar is hosted on the PODHANDLE servers. To give you an idea here’s the reduced-size version:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by CleverClogs

September 23rd, 2007 at 6:26 pm

Jerome Ryckborst’s Multi-party Webcam Wall

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Written by CleverClogs

June 22nd, 2007 at 8:51 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Multi-party Video Conferencing with Viper Room

with 13 comments

Ashod Apakian, the extremely talented developer behind Wigiwigi, just made an extremely easily accessible, multi-party video conference room service available that website owners can embed on their pages: it’s called Viper Room and its quality is very impressive, to say the least.

Viperroomfourpeople

The base functionality of Viper Room is to let you see the live webcam streams of up to four people in a video-conferencing room. Note that Viper Room does video only: to also hear the people in the room, you’ll have to set up a multi-party voice conference, for example using Skype. The rationale behind this deliberate decision is that voice-conferencing is already handled well by other services. It’s really the video conferencing part that is was missing.

Update: On June 19th audio was added to Viper Room: click-and-hold the loudspeaker icon in the top-right corner of the Viper Room panel and you’ll be able to speak. Keep the mouse button pressed down even while listening to your room mates to have a lively conversation.

So here’s Viper Room, offering very quick access to a shared video conferencings room—no sign-up required. Just go to the Viper Room website and you’re good to go. For those interested: Viper Room is based on Adobe Flash.

Viper Room basicallly comes in two versions:
There’s a generic version hosted on the Viper Room website, which lets you create a conferencing room on the fly with any room ID you desire: just make up any name, type it in and press Enter . The room exists for as long as there are people in the room. I’ve been using this version over the past couple of days with several of my friends on the web and everybody was amazed at the quality.

Then, just a few minutes ago, Ashod pinged me to tell me that he’s made another fully customized version available, with a fixed room ID determined by the website owner and that can be embedded on any website. I inserted the HTML object code here in this blog post, just to demonstrate how easy it is to make this work:

(HTML code removed because it generated a problematic error message on the MeBeam website)

Now imagine how this could work to communicate with visitors of your website: you could invite them into a live multi-person demonstration of your service. You could do the voice part by phone, by VoIP, or by any other service.

I’m also thinking this could be very cool for communication among larger teams: misunderstandings are much more easily captured from facial expressions than through typed chat or even voice.

Please use the comments for ideas how this very practical solution can be put to good use. Ashod welcomes constructive feedback very much. He promised me he’d raise the number of slots in a room to 8 (and up to a maximum of 32) as soon as the first inevitable glitches have been ironed out. Expect kick, ban and other administrative controls as well.

Updates:

For those who want a disposable Viper Room of their own:

<object width="660px" height="520px" id="vroom" align="middle"><param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" ></param><param name="quality" value="high" ></param><param name="scale" value="exactfit" ></param><param name="movie"  value="http://www.mebeam.com/uploads/Main/mebeam.swf"></param><param name="flashvars" value="room=cleverclogs&bordercolor=0xd0e0f0&backcolor=0xf3f6ff&menubordercolor=0xaaccff&menutextbgcolor=0xd0e0ff&menutextfgcolor=0x6060c0" ></param><embed src="http://www.mebeam.com/uploads/Main/mebeam.swf" flashvars="room=cleverclogs&bordercolor=0xd0e0f0&backcolor=0xf3f6ff&menubordercolor=0xaaccff&menutextbgcolor=0xd0e0ff&menutextfgcolor=0x6060c0"  quality="high" scale="exactfit"  width="660px" height="520px" name="vroom" align="middle" allowScriptAccess="always" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer"></embed></object>

Given the positive response this post is receiving, I’m including a button for the digg that someone submitted:

Written by CleverClogs

June 17th, 2007 at 7:09 pm

Posted in Video Conferencing

Share your daily stream of feeds and keywords: creating a Particls inTouch badge

with 4 comments

Particls is entering public beta today. If you haven’t come across the name before: the product first started under the name Touchstone about a year ago, and then last April when it went private beta to a larger audience of testers, a much desired and appropriate name change was carried out.

Read on if any of these catchwords appeal to you:

  • lifestreams
  • information overload
  • personal relevance
  • attention profile
  • keyword monitoring
  • importance-correlated disruption

Particls_homepage

I’d like to point out two remarks in today’s announcement on the Particls Blog that I definitely consider highlights: firstly it is now confirmed that a Particls version for OS X is in the pipeline. Secondly, bloggers and web site owners can share their Particls setup with a custom sidebar badge, such as this one:

Particls for OS X coming
The upcoming OS X version of Particls now officially being mentioned in a communique issued by Faraday Media is a real milestone. Ever since I got acquainted with the two creative minds behind Particls, Chris Saad and Ashley Angell, in February 2006—and also when I briefly met with Chris in person in San Francisco last December—the sensitive topic of Mac lovers feeling heavily neglected was frequently brought up.
"Ping me as soon as they make an OS X version available!", has probably been the most often heard reply from the tech journalists on my contact list when I would approach them with a brief but substantial update about Particls.

Ok, that said, what I haven’t managed to get hold of from the developers yet is an estimate release date for the OS X version, but I trust they’ll attract sufficient additional funding soon to make the first prototype available within a year from now. Until then Particls runs fine under Parallels Desktop for Mac.

Getting the download
Particls is now freely available for download from the Particls Download page. I suggest you get acquainted fast, because I’ll be shifting to fourth gear shortly.

CleverClogs focus
I figured that a couple of other tech news sites would likely do a perfect job offering an introduction to the core functionality of Particls (see Track Your Favorite Topics … on Digital Inspiration from a few days ago, glance through my Particls news radar for a live-updated list of reviews, or refer to the Particls FAQ), so I decided in this post I might as well focus primarily on the publisher aspects of the product. Please follow me to the Particls inTouch introductory page while I describe the technical, practical aspects of this new Particls partner program.

Particls inTouch installer packages
Particls inTouch lets you share your own customized version of the full Particls installer package on your website. There are two flavors of inTouch, a basic one that generates an installer from a single feed or from a set of feeds (OPML),  and an advanced one targeted at publishers obviously offering more granular control. I’ll describe both here.

inTouch Basic
inTouch Basic is the most simple way to offer your readers a Particls installer package: just type the web address of the website you’d like to track and copy the code from the box on your screen.

Intouch_basic

inTouch Basic also lets you enter the URL of a single RSS feed or from a set of RSS feeds, a so-called remotely hosted OPML file. Most online RSS aggregators allow you to create an OPML file and they’ll host it for you. The advantage of this is that any changes you make to your list of subscriptions is immediately reflected in the OPML file. Remotely hosted OPML files are often referred to as Reading Lists. If you are looking for high-quality OPML files around a certain topic, then browse the BlogBridge Topic Experts Guides. This library of OPML files offers tons of feeds on topics such as marketing, politics, online education and science & technology.

Here’s my inTouch Basic badge that simply tracks CleverClogs posts using Particls:

Particls InTouch

inTouch Partner
inTouch Partner offers publishers full control: after signing up for an account, they can choose which feeds to include with the package, which keywords to look out for, which ones to avoid, and they have the option to change the look and feel of all of the Particls screen elements, such as the logo and text color on the ticker and on the pop-ups. A personalized set-up file is generated and then hosted on the Particls servers so that your readers can download and install it. The inTouch user account allows Particls Partners to modify their settings later on.
My CleverClogs installer package, should you want to try it, is located at

and the underlying web address points to

http://intouch.particls.com/download/?mode=1&pid=1014

Creating a Particls inTouch Installer Package
To have Particls host an installer package on its server, a user account needs to be created through the Partnership Sign-up form.

After signing up, a rather straightforward edit form opens that lets you enter the details to create the package:

Creating_intouch

Just for the fun of it, I added a CleverClogs logo to my ticker bar by changing the following options in the Settings and Skins. I then followed the instructions to upload the Particls skin file to their server:

Cleverclogs_skin

This is what my Particls ticker looks like now:

Cleverclogs_ticker

Creating your own branded version of Particls
I had no difficulties creating my own Particls badge. In fact, you could use any badge image as long as you make it point to the web address at which Particls stores the installer package.
In short, these are the steps once more:

  1. Read the overview page of the Particls inTouch Partner program
  2. Sign up for the service at the inTouch Admin Console
  3. Create your custom installer package
  4. Get the code for your badge
  5. Insert the badge code into your blog

Ideas to improve Particls
It’s obvious I like Particls as it is very much already. Still, there are a couple of things I’d like the developers to pay attention to (!):

  • Commit to releasing the OS X version and communicate about it
  • Allow the Particls client to regularly poll a remote OPML and adjust the feed list accordingly
  • Make it easier to quickly find back items that just scrolled off the screen
  • Increase the font size of the ticker items
  • Display the source of individual feed items in the alerts if not identical to the feed source (especially important for "River of News" feeds)
  • Allow changing the URLs of feeds in the "Manage my feeds" panel

Particls News Radar
I’ve collected a couple of feeds related to Particls. Please feel free to use the comments section to suggest another feed.

Written by CleverClogs

May 28th, 2007 at 9:00 pm

Hands-on Grazr Tutorial for Beginners, and Hot News: GrazrScript Talking Javascript

without comments

“In a series of posts I discuss how to add Grazr feed browsing widgets to your website. This introductory post explains the most basic version of a Grazr application—one that displays a single feed or a list of feeds that you provide. Too simple? Scroll down for a summary of what I’ll cover in the next installment: how Grazrscript enables the option to create a feed based on a custom-keyword search among all of the feeds in your OPML. After that, check today’s hot news: Grazrscript talking Javascript as of today.”

Grazr widgets are popping up everwhere on the sidebars of people’s blogs, usually performing the task of a little browser displaying one or more feeds relating to the author’s interests. Creating such a Grazr is pretty straightforward: visit the Grazr Create a Widget page and provide the first box in the wizard with one of these types of URLs:

Assuming you clicked on the link in the third option, the Grazr configuration screen will look like this:

Grazr_does_feed_autodetection

Do you see box 1, where I put the URL for my website? Because the source code of my website contains links to RSS feeds and to OPML files, Grazr is capable of detecting those and displaying them in a list. You can easily substitute your own blog URL there or use the URL of a feed or of an OPML file.

Default themes and views
As you can see, I’ve applied sateen_black, one of the many cool themes that were introduced by Grazr recently. Of course you can pick your own theme from the list. Maybe you’ve also noticed that all my Grazr widgets are based on the 3-pane view and that I prefer to display the address bar, revealing the URL of the feed or OPML I am showing. Although these choices are all directly available from the Grazr wizard interface, they are not the default settings. If you like my new settings too, then please feel free to adopt them by dragging this URL to your bookmarks toolbar: default Grazr widget configuration settings.

Grabbing the Grazr code
Embedding the Grazr on your web page is now just a matter of grabbing the piece of HTML that the Grazr wizard generates, displayed in the box with the green background, and inserting that piece of code into your blog.

Grazr_embedding

CleverClogs Grazr template
If this all seems a piece of cake to you, then feel free to have a preview of what’s up in my next post: download the template that I have been using myself to create more advanced RSS applications, such as the Power 150 Kitchensink for Todd And, the Yahoo! Pipes News Radar for MasterNewMedia.org and the Grazr News Radar for Grazr.com. The template is a plain text file, located here: CleverClogs Grazr Template. If you study this file closely, you’ll see that you could create your own application by substituting several parameters inside the file. A few weeks ago James Corbett told me he successfully created his Irish Twittersphere Search Engine based on my template.

Grazr_template

Summary of the next tutorial
A few weeks ago GrazrScript was pretty much a mystery to me. It took me a whole week to build Todd’s Power 150 Grazr application. Using this fairly new template, I can now create a full-fledged Grazr application in about one hour, including the option to offer feeds based on custom keyword searches across all feeds in an OPML.

In the next tutorial I’ll tell you for which third-party RSS services you need to sign up, which parameters you could change and give you some insider’s tips to get you started fast.

Hot off the presses: GrazrScript talking Javascript
As I just talked about this post to Mike Kowalchik, head developer with Grazr.com, he told me the stunning news that most likely today Grazr.com is going to release a new version of GrazrScript that allows the use of procedural code. Here’s the link to the official announcement: GrazrScript v1.2 Beta.

Because almost the entire JavaScript command language becomes available to Grazr application developers, this means very advanced RSS applications can be built with the new version. To name a few new capabilities, GrazrScript will now let you use variables, string manipulations, regular expressions, functions, loops, conditions and error handling. Read the GrazrScript tutorial chapter on Procedural Programming, then give the sweet ‘Hello World’ sample script a try.

Needless to say I’m very excited to be able to squeeze this bit of news in, just before my own post goes live. Obviously I’ll need some time to figure it all out myself—not a programmer anymore—but I’ll definitely devote one of the posts in this new Grazr Tutorial series to it. I’m also sure several of my diehard programming friends will take the new Grazr to its extremes in the mean time. Here’s Tom Morris’ description of the GrazrScript potential: New Grazr Launch (March 19th, 2007).

Congrats, guys.

And you, my readers, will you please let me know if indeed this first part of this post is correctly called a tutorial for beginners?

Some coverage in the blogosphere on GrazrScript:

Grazr Badge

Written by CleverClogs

March 19th, 2007 at 8:38 pm