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Microsoft Thumbtack – Online Research Tool

Microsoft’s Live Labs has recently released a brand new online bookmarking service called Thumbtack, which allows users to compile web links, media and text snippets and store it online for future reference. Thumbtack also offers collaboration – users can share their thumbtack collections with friends and they will be able to add their own clips to it.

Whatever you collect from the web can be easily sorted using tags called ‘Collections’, which can be published to the web via RSS, embedded in blogs, shared to friends for collaboration, or kept private for your own reference.

TechCrunch points out, that Thumbtack also gives users ability to customize their look and feel by offering a set of ‘gadgets’. Initially the they provide an Address gadget that can identify addresses in clips and find them on a map, a Properties gadget that lets users to assign a price value to any specified item, and lastly a Layout gadget which users can use to organize their thumbtack workspace.

From Microsoft Live Labs Blog:

Thumbtack is an easy way to save links, photos, and anything else you find on the Web in a single place. Compare prices, colors, styles or locations at a glance. Grab the stuff you want from lots of different sites, put it into a Thumbtack collection, then get to it from anywhere you can get online.
Thumbtack uses machine learning and natural language techniques to understand the information you give it—it automatically extracts addresses, for instance, and the Address Gadget will then automatically plot that address on a map. Other gadgets help you compare items in your collection, or arrange them the way that’s easiest for you to see them.

Watch the following video to learn more about Thumbtack –

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-US&#038;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:6a905d98-0332-4c3f-8b25-75737cd9b675&#038;showPlaylist=true&#038;from=shared" target="_new" title="Thumbtack Introduction">Video: Thumbtack Introduction</a>

My Two Cents

As Adam Ostrow of Mashable points out, Microsoft Thumbtack may be useful for very specific tasks like doing research online, however for bookmarking purpose – I believe the traditional bookmarking & tag based social bookmarking sites works best.

What do you think? Would you use Thumbtack? Share in Comments!


Delicious Audio Player

Delicious Audio Player Robin Wauters of Techcrunch reports that the social bookmarking pioneer – Delicious has recently updated their IE and Firefox add-ons – which includes fixing a couple of known bugs and adding some cool new features.

Among the new feature what caught attention of many user is – a brand new audio player to play your MP3 bookmarks inside the browser.

Former GM of Yahoo! Music Ian Rogers confirms that Delicious is actually using Yahoo! Mediaplayer to support this cool new feature. He writes:

It’s very cool in that it is a single line of javascript and reads simple, easy to author, HTML on the page to create the play buttons. The page author needs only add the single line of javascript, then wrap an MP3 link in an href and voila, you have an inline player.

Delicious Audio Player


Technorati Engage Ad Network (Public Beta)

Technorati has came up with their own advertising network called – Technorati Engage. In their official blog they did mention about this network sometime in Octobar, but it seems like now the service is in Public Beta. So if you are a blogger/publisher or an advertiser, you can simply head over to Technorati Engage and Sign up to their network.

Technorati Engage

What is Technorati Engage?

Technorati Engage is a Advertising Network owned by Technorati that matches bloggers and social media creators with advertisers who want to reach their audiences. Technorati was founded back in 2003 as the first blog search engine and since then they have manged to gather enormous amount of popularity in the blogosphere. As of June 2008, Technorati indexes 112.8 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media.

Who will benefit from Technorati Engage?

Basically bloggers who are actively participating in the blogosphere will find this service great as it provides another source of monetization.

Advertisers who are looking to promote their Online or Off-line Businesses will find this service pretty lubricative, as Technorati Engage Marketplace will connect advertisers to the top notch high profile bloggers to the raising star bloggers of the blogosphere.

What are the Notable Features of Technorati Engage?

  • Multiple Types of Ads: Technorati Engage Ad Network offers different kinds of ads of different size. Current Ad Formats are 125 x 125 ad units, plain text ads and also a new type of ad called “PhoText” – which can nicely combine text & image together. They come in four sizes (25, 50, 100, and 200 pixels in width).
  • Technorati Engage Ad Types

  • Flexibility: The blogger can decide how much they want to charge the advertisers. They can also choose what categories of advertisers that they wish to be shown on their blog.
  • Moderation: The blogger can approve or reject an Advertisement before it goes live in the blog.
  • Alternative Monetization Option: If Technorati can’t serve an ad and there’s an empty ad unit Technorati will serve CPC ads to the ad position.
  • Automatic Ad-Rotation: Technorati has built in ‘ad rotation’ feature where you can serve ads from a variety of advertisers in a single ad box.
  • Easy Payment Technorati currently offers payment to publishers is via PayPal, Check or Wire Transfer.
  • Big Revenue Share: Whatever money that your blog earns, Technorati will share it in 60:40 ratio. Thus you can keep 60% of the ad sales.

So if you are a publisher, don’t wait up – Signup with Technorati Engage now! If you wish to learn more about their service, read the Publisher FAQ section.

My Two Cents

This is indeed a great news for bloggers, and I’ll definitely try them out. So what do you think about Technorati Engage? Share in comments!


TweetStalk – Stalk People in Twitter Without Following

tweet-stalkMichael Arrington of Techcrunch shared a nice little twitter plugin today called – TweetStalk that will let you stalk a twitterers without having to follow them!

The site writes: “Stalk, Don’t Follow — Sometimes you want to follow someone on Twitter, but you don’t want them to know you’re following them. We present to you TweetStalk ? the simple way to stalk Twitter users without having to follow them. ”

How to Use TweetStalk

Step 1 – Download and Install The TweetStalk Firefox Addon

Step 2 – Click on the Stalk Button

tweet-stalk-screenshot

Step 3 – Confirm the Twitter Account (If you’re not already logged in to your twitter account, you will need to log-in first for the first time you start using TweetStalk. Simply confirm your username and click on the Stalk button to start stalking….

My Two Cents

I’m not sure why people wouldn’t want to let the person know when they are following but I guess there are certain twitter users who likes to stay anonymous but still wants to deep into the twitter world. So if you prefer to “Stalk” people than to “follow” then TweetStalk is for you :)



TweeTag – Tag Search for Twitter

Tweet Tag If you like twitter, you might want to try out TweeTag, which is a brand new way to search Twitter, or ‘browse the Twittosphere’!

This web based application is fairly simple to use: you just need to enter a search tag, and Tweetag will automatically show public Twitter messages that contain that particular keyword, but more interestingly also a list of other tags that are related to it. The Homepage of Tweetag also displays the top 40 most recent/frequent tags, so you can easily get an idea of what’s hot on Twitter.

Tweetag - Search the Twittosphere

Twitter has its own Search functionality that they acquired from Summize, and I guess it won’t take them long to integrate this tagging feature into the Twitter’s defaullt search if its of real value to the user.

But I feel that twitter is really slow in making ‘changes’ and so It would be fair to say that until they can come up with such feature use Tweetag freely to monitor specific keywords and find out what’s hot on the popular micro-sharing tool in just a few seconds.

If you wish to integrate the results of Tweetag in your blog widget or other 3rd party applications, they have a API that you can use.

And Don’t Forget to Follow me (@saadkamal) in Twitter!


Mashable Open Web Awards Nomination Suggestions

2nd Annual Open Web Awards

If you all remember, just about a week back I have announced that saadkamal.com is a partner of the Mashable 2nd Annual Open Web Awards. And I just want to remind everyone that the last date for Nomination is Sunday night, 11:59 pm PST (2:59 am Monday EST, 7:59 am Monday GMT).

I’m really excited to see who gets nominated for this year’s Open Web Awards. According to Adam Hirsch (COO of Mashable.com), this has been their biggest web awards ever with over 100 Mashable Blog Partners.

So I’ll take some time and highlight some of my own favorite sites that I feel should be nominated. Check them out and if you feel that they have what it takes to be nominated for the Open Web Awards of 2008 then simply nominate them using the widget provided at the end of this post. Remember time is ticking (Tick Toc Toc) and you have only about 24 hours before this nomination gets closed.

Social News

I must admit that I spend a lot of time in the social sites, because I’m a Information junkie. I really love to read and I personally believe that learning is like a never ending process, and you can never learn ‘enough’ about anything (No matter how good you are at it). There is always something new that comes up if you actually take some time to read what others are writing about the same subject. Social News sites are mostly designed in such a way that it makes finding relevant information/news very easy. Now there are certain obvious ones that I’m sure you have already heard of such as: Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Mixx etc. Since they will be getting a lot of votes naturally, I’d like to showcase some other alternate Social News sites that are nomination worthy:

Yahoo Buzz

Yahoo Buzz

Yahoo! Buzz is a basically a community-based news article website, similar to Digg. It combines the features of social bookmarking and syndication through a user interface that allows editorial control. Users can easily Buzz Up/Down a story, participate in discussion & share the story with their friends. This service was launched by Yahoo in February this year and in short period of time Yahoo Buzz has really created a big buzz among the community.

Some other social news websites are:

Truemors: Truemors is basically a social rumor news site which focuses on the publication of “true rumors that are relevant, informative, and interesting. Users can even post links anonymously via text, voicemail, web or email.

Plime: Plime is a pretty general news site which features a wide variety of topics ranging from religion and sports to technology or business. It has been seen that the Odd news performs really well in this community.

Blog Plugins

There are plenty of plugins that are useful and I appreciate all the hard work that the developers put in to create these plugins that make our blog look so cool! I will particularly write about two plugins that has helped thousands of blogs to enable bookmarking & sharing of their posts to

ShareThis

Share This Plugin

ShareThis is a easy to use blog plugin that lets you integrate several social media voting & distribution buttons under one single ShareThis Button. It allows bloggers to Increase their content distribution with much less clutter and also has option for free tracking.

AddThis

Add this Blog Plugin

Very similar to ShareThis, this plugin is widely used for easy Bookmarking & sharing of your content via the social sites. Its easily customizable and loads faster then the ShareThis Plugin.

Social Search

I’m not sure how familiar are you with Social Search, but its something that has been there for quite some time already. The main difference between Social Search engines compared to any traditional search engine (e.g. Google) is that Social Search engines rely heavily on the social interactions & buzz in order to determine the relevance and ranking of a website. Some of the notable ones are:

Mahalo

Mahalo Social Search

Started by Jason Calacanis, Mahalo has done pretty well to bring social & search together under one roof. Their engine gets about 75,000+ visitors per day according to Google Trends.

Check out a comprehensive list of over 40 other Social Search sites.

Photo Sharing

Sharing photos on the Internet has been like a regular activity for many of us. Luckily there are so many paid & free photo sharing service out there that makes the task really simple & easy. The most popular ones are – Flickr, Photo Bucket, ImageShack and so on. But there is another photo sharing site that has recently caught my attention.

Smugmug

SmugMug

Smugmug is devoted to priceless photos, that is backed up to three data centers across the U.S. They currently have about 300,000 paying customers and 417,543,558 photos and counting.

Travel

Whether you are planning a holiday trip with your family or your honeymoon, the Travel portals really play a key role in your Trip planning and overall experience. According to a comScore study in 2007, booking travel over the Internet has become something of a nightmare for people. Why? Well its because over “Information Overload”. There are just too much information out there that makes planning a vacation really overwhelming. The travel portal that I’m about to share with you tends to solve that problem by using the Semantic Web Technology.

UpTake

UpTake Travel

UpTake allows you to search over 1000 travel websites and 20 Million user opinions at once. There service is currently under beta and only open to US.

Checkout out 25 other Top Travel Websites reviewed by CNN

Social Shopping

Social Shopping may be a new concept but its something that is growing rapidly. Companies have started to figure out the power of “social influence” in a buyer’s decision making process.

ThisNext

ThisNext Social Shopping

ThisNext is an interactive wish-list based social shopping network that works based on recommendation from real people. One can easily add or recommend different products and participate in discussion such as product reviews. Shoppers can create wish-lists with the direct ability to buy the items from ThisNext.

Check out the review of 18 other Social Shopping sites by Mashable.

Niche Social Network

I’m sure you are all familiar of different social networks that are out there: Facebook, Myspace, Orkut and so on. These social network are pretty “general” in nature, But the social networking site that I’m about to share with you here is pretty different than the ones that you are already using.

Ning

Ning is a social networking site that lets its users to create any niche social network about anything! So if you like gardening, you can open up or join a niche social network about gardening in Ning. Users have already created over thousands of small social networks on various topics that anyone can join.

Music

There are hundreds of music sites that are worth mentioning here. But two of my personal favorites are:

Last.fm

Last.Fm Social Music Site

Last.Fm is a UK based Online Radio and Music Community that was founded way back in 2002. It currently has over 21 million active users from over 200 countries. Last.fm builds a detailed profile of each user’s musical taste by recording details of all the songs the user listens to, thus it can also recommend you the type of music that you may like.

Blip.fm

Blip.Fm

Blip.Fm allows you to become a DJ and discover new music on the fly. You can listen to a continuous stream of songs and DJ your own music station.

Nominate Your Favorite Sites for 2nd Annual Open Web Awards

Now its your time to nominate your favorite sites that truely deserves an Award in any of the 52 available categories. The nomination process if very simply, just use the following widget to choose a category and include the URL or the name of the company whom you wish to nominate. Please note that you may only nominate one-site for each category. Be sure to Use a valid email address as you will have to click on a confirmation link that you will receive via email in order to confirm your nomination.

The Nomination closes in the next 24 hours!


FriendFeed Integrates Instant Messenging

Friend Feed Integrates IM Friendfeed is a very popular social website that lets you keep track of all the online activities of your friends. So if you sign up for a free friendfeed account and subscribe to someone’s feed, you will be able to see all his online activities such as – his blog posts, twitter messages, stumbled sites, dugged stories, his new photos at flickr and so on. Similarly you can make your own feed which other people can subscribe to and the best part of all is everything is purely automatic and you don’t really need to do anything other than just joining your different social profiles in Friendfeed. And not only that your friends can see your feed, they can also leave comments, Like it and share it.

The only problem of Friendfeed is you need to log in to their website – Friendfeed.com every time you want to see what your friends have been doing, Unlike Twitter which has different desktop/mobile clients that gives you all the updates from your friends instantaneously.

But looks like Friendfeed has identified the problem and recently announced that they are bringing in Instant Messaging Integration in Friendfeed that will allow you to get an IM every time someone comments on on of your stories. You can also respond to that with another reply right from your IM client. It’s just an amazingly easy way to keep on top of conversations and keep them flowing.

If you’ve never used FriendFeed before, it’s a must-see application for sharing and discussing cool stuff on the web. This new feature addition is going to make it even better.

Gary Burd writes at the FriendFeed Blog:

After we launched our real-time interface, we heard from so many of you that you loved being able to instantly see the new things in your feed. We also love FriendFeed for the quick and easy communication it offers with our friends. So we’re hoping this new way of using FriendFeed will be something that combines both, in a way that already feels fun and familiar.

How To Enable FrindFeed’s IM Capability

Friend Feed Instant MessagingIf you wish to enable the FriendFeed IM service, simply go into your FriendFeed account settings, and click the button to enable your IM notifications. If you already have a Gmail address or other Jabber client, your address will have already been populated into the address bar. Otherwise, just fill it out yourself. Once you click the enable button you’ll receive a message via IM asking to add the FriendFeed user in your IM client, and then asking you to confirm by clicking on a link. Once you do that, you’re up and running.

How to Choose The Types of Notification to Receive via IM

From your account settings you can choose to enable either all posts, all posts and comments from your friends, or all posts and all comments on the site. In addition to receiving posts and comments, you can also post back and reply to others.

Here is a Complete List of FriendFeed IM Commands.

My Two Cents

By enabling this feature, I’m sure a lot more people will start using friendfeed and it will make the existing user base even more active & as they will be able to participate more in real time. Let me know how you find this new feature and you can always add me as your friend in Friendfeed – http://www.friendfeed.com/saadkamal


The 2nd Annual Open Web Awards is Live

img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-428″ title=”Open Web Award” src=”http://www.saadkamal.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/owa-blog_partner_468x60.jpg” alt=”2nd Annual Open Web Awards” width=”468″ height=”60″ />

I’m very delighted to announce that the 2nd Annual Open Web Awards is on again! After last year’s tremendous success, Mashable is once again organizing this grand event that will let you nominate the most influential and cutting-edge company in social media

There are In total of 26 categories, from social news to online games. And I’m very proud to be a blog partner with Mashable for this award.

If you believe your company has what it takes to be nominated or if you’re just a huge fan of a company / Web Service that you believe deserves the recognition in the 2nd Annual Open Web Awards – Please nominate them using the widget below.

Nominations will close on November 16th 2008 (Sunday) at 11:59 pm PST. Nominate now and start campaigning! Spread the word via your blog by embedding this widget (simple click on the “Grab This” button!)

Some General Rules:

Nominations:
1. Any site or application can be nominated in as many categories as seen fit
2. Nominations is one Site per Category per person (validated through PollDaddy)
3. Nominees with the most submissions and/or determined by Mashable will move to the voting round

Voting:
1. Voting is one vote per Category per person (validated through PollDaddy)
2. IP tracking and e-mail confirmation will remain in place
3. E-mails will only be used in regards to alerts about the Open Web Awards
4. Winners will be determined after voting round is closed and data is verified

Winners:
1. “People’s Choice” Winners will be validated by Mashable and PollDaddy before any announcements are made
2. “Blogger’s Choice will be validated by Mashable and compiled from our Blog Partners


New StumbleUpon 3.27 Beta – New Features Added

Stumble Upon Beta One of the most popular Social Bookmarking site – StumbleUpon is going through some major changes as seen in their latest 3.27 Beta. Some of the most prominent changes of the new StumbleUpon are:

Unique Thumb Down Button which has the following options:

1. Not-for-me — You can tell StumbleUpon that the content doesn’t suit you.
2. Stumbled this before — This option lets SU know that you have previously stumbled the page
3. Too much like this lately — Tired of stumbling the same ‘kind’ of pages? This feature will definitely help!

Some other new feature includes:

  • Block a Website via the thumb-down menu for FF 3.x users.
  • Bug Fix: A problem with FF 3.x bookmark integration that could cause a tag to be applied upon rating thumbdown.
  • Ability to report a stumble as ‘Factually incorrect’ or ‘Unsafe’.
  • More convenient reporting of incorrect topic via an optional reporting menu. See the ‘Show topic as’ item on the Configuration tab of Toolbar Options.
  • When a particular topic is displayed as a menu (for reporting incorrect topic), other reporting items are located on this menu rather than on the Tools menu.

Download StumbleUpon Beta Toolbar

You can download the StumbleUpon Beta or join in with your own questions and comments at the official stumbleupon discussion thread.

My Two Cents

Its really good to see that StumbleUpon is trying to make the user experience better by implementing features like “Stumbled this before” and “Too much like this lately”. This is definitely going to reduce some SU Abuse by the shady marketers. I hope everyone at SumbleUpon will test out this new beta toolbar and help StumbleUpon to create a better final product.

Do you think the new feature is going to have any effect on the your traffic? Share in Comments!


Myspace MyAds – Advertising in MySpace

It looks like MySpace has followed the footsteps of facebook by bringing in their own Do-it-yourself advertising platform Myspace MyAds.

Myspace MyAds Interface

Simlar to Facebook Ads, the new MySpace ad platform allows anybody to establish an account and begin targeting ads to a particular demographic. It also allows advertisiers to build image-based ads on the fly and target them according to gender, age (14 to 65+), geographic targeting for the United States, and a series of highly targeted interests:

MySpace Advertising Demo

My Two Cents

Well this isn’t much of a surprise and everyone saw it coming. But I don’t think that Social advertising works well for all types of businesses. It has been tried before by many networks (including Facebook) and majority of them failed to make any strong impact in the traditional online advertisement that we have today. Its always good to get targeted leads but if the leads doesn’t really convert well for you its just a waste of money. I don’t think that MySpace audience will convert well for a plumber, for instance.

Read What Other Bloggers think about MySpace MyAds:

Breaking: MySpace MyAds Enters Public Beta – Marketing Pilgrim

MySpace MyAds: Target ads to “Drinking” & “Partying” – ReadWriteWeb

MySpace Launches myAds Platform – Face Reviews


Embed Youtube Videos with a specific timeline

I’m sure you know to how to embed a youtube video in your blog, right? The steps are simple:

First go to Youtube> Open the video that you want to embed > On your right, look for the embed code (Screen shot provided below) > Copy the Embed code and paste it in your blog! > The video will now appear on your blog.

But when you are embedding a video, by default it will start from the very beginning, but what if you want it to start from say 30 second mark? (Probably the first 30 second is boring or not relevant to what you are writing about). So in order to set a specific start position of the video, look for something called “start=x” (x is the start position in second) in the embed code. Below is an example:

<object width=”425″ height=”344″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/11Fl9ZVJ7B8&hl=en&fs=1&start=15“></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/11Fl9ZVJ7B8&hl=en&fs=1&start=15” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”425″ height=”344″></embed></object>

So this will make the video to skip the first 14 seconds and play from the 15th second. Cool isn’t it? Do you have any more youtube tips to share? Reply in comments!

Learn more about YouTube Embedded Player Parameters


Twitter Redesign

I haven’t logged into my twitter in a while as I’m currently very busy with my ongoing postgraduate research on Semantic Web.

Anyways, today when I logged in I was presented with a brand new interface of Twitter. Yes, apparently Twitter has redesigned the whole twitter interface without letting its ‘users’ know! (Well, They could have at least sent an email…)

For a while, I was just getting my eyes to suit with the new interface…but eventually I kind of liked the new design! (Unlike the horrible ‘re-design’ of Facebook…)

Some key changes in the Twitter Interface –

Tabs: Twitter Redesign - Twitter Navigation The first thing that you would probably notice is that the twitter tabs in your twitter home page (../home) has moved from the top to the right hand side bar. Twitter blog explains that the main purpose of making this change is to facilitate more tabs in future.

Ajax Implementation: If you click on the Home or @Replies tab, you will be able to see the updates immediately as they are now refreshed using the AJAX technology instead of loading the whole page. So the new Twitter interface is faster compared to the previous one.

Action icons: If you take your mouse over any update, you will automatically see two action icons (Star & Reply) showing up right next to the tweet.

Continue Reading


LinkedIn Ad Network

When many popular social networking sites are still trying to figure out how to make money from online advertising, one social network is way ahead in the trend.

LinkedIn, which is a very popular social network for business professionals, has already so much demand from advertisers that it will be launching its own ad network this coming Monday.

LinkedIn will be working with another high-ed media ad network Collective Media, to let other select sites target its users when they visit those partner sites.

Continue Reading


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