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Falcon – Browser Based Image Editor

browser-based-image-editorOften times when I’m at work or at any other location away from my personal computer (which has piles of softwares and tools installed) – I often feel in need of many softwares which I don’t get access to on spot. Google & Zoho has made my life a lot easier with their complete web based office suite. However when it comes to photo editing, I miss Photoshop & Gimp a great deal. But do you know that you can also edit images online just like any other cloud hosted application?

Edit Images Right from your Browser

I’m totally blown away by the new Browser based online image editor – Falcon, which is brought to us by the great – aviary.com. Aviary which itself is a full online photo editing & creation tool has always been awesome, but their new creation is more simplistic and easy to use for day to day photo editing.

web-based-image-editor

You can quickly grab and edit images within your browser and also run it on any OS platform as its completely web based. Falcon currently offers a simple subset of tools which was previously only available in Adobe Photoshop. These tools are very useful to bloggers and others who spend a lot of time manipulating and editing images on the fly.

The best part of this cool service is in its Firefox plugin called Talon, which let’s you grab a screen shot on the fly at any time and automatically upload them into Aviary’s browser-based editing platform.

During your capture, you are given the choice of capturing a portion of the screen, the entire viewed screen, or the entire page (below the fold). The option of capturing the entire page is extremely useful; and a feature that many advanced photo editors doesn’t have.

How much Does it Cost?

Well its Free for most usage. Once you are done editing your image, you can save the image as a PNG or JPG either on your desktop or host it on Aviary. If you become their Pro member, you will be privillaged to get some additional storage options like privacy and watermark control for $24.99 per year.

How to use this Online Image Editor

So if you still haven’t tried Falcon – Just head over to the website – http://aviary.com/launch/falcon and try this amazing service. You don’t need to register or signup in order to test it. Just click on the link and it will load the photo editor right in your browser. If you wish to grab photos and take screen shot then don’t forget to install the firefox plugin – Talon!


Opera Unite – Web Server on a Browser

Opera Unite, the recent product from the browser maker opera may not have re-invented the web (which they originally claimed) but it really got me hooked up with it! If you are looking for a web server within your computer that will allow you to host websites, files, music, photos and share it with the world then Opera Unite is something that you should really check out.

What is Opera Unite?

Opera Unite is a web browser that has built in capability of a web server, file server and also sort of a social network where you can easily share photos, music, exchange messages etc. You can even run chat rooms and host entire Web sites with Opera Unite. It puts the power of a Web server in your browser, giving you greater privacy and flexibility than any other online services.

Watch this Introductory video to get to know this cool product:

Opera Unite is Flexible

If you use Opera at home and a different browser at work – you don’t have to worry! Opera Unite services can be accessed from any browser, even including the tiny mobile browsers! At home, just select what you want to share, and you can view it later using your work Web browser without any issues.

Opera Unite is Easy to Use

Just fire up the Opera Unite browser and you have a nice menu in the sidebar to enable all these cool services like a Web server – to host HTML websites, file server – to share files with others, photo sharing, music sharing etc. You need absolutely no technical knowledge of any sort to run any of these services.

Opera Unite is Secure

When it comes to sharing information online, security is the first thing that jumps on everyone’s mind. Well, opera is very secured and they take several security measure to protect user’s data. Opera has a dedicated team who deals will all the security issues at their highest priority. When you are sharing your data online, opera automatically provides you a couple of options to choose the level of security that you wish to implement. For instance, you can open everything up to public or you can make them private and protect your shared files with a password. If neither suits your requirement, you can also share it to specific group of individuals which is pretty cool.

Opera Unite Services

Below are some of the services that comes by default in Opera under Opera Unite. But I believe that they will (or already have) opened up this platform to everyone else, and soon their services page will be pilled with other cool services (Just like how facebook became popular with their apps).

opera-unite-services

1. Web Server If you want to host your own website, for whatever purpose – you can do it pretty easily using this built in web server. You don’t need to be a tech guy to set up this server, in fact within a matter of few clicks you will be able to host and share your website with the world. Of course the only drawback would be, your website will only be live and accessible as long as your computer is ON and connected to the internet. I really like the idea of having web servers on your own computer – if you are a web developer, and you want to show your client how their website will look like, you can easily use the opera unite webserver and put up the dummy page live on the internet. Your client can simply go and visit the link that you will provide him to view the page.

2. File Server: This is one of the super cool feature that I really liked! Who doesn’t like to share files? Well I do! Sometimes its just a huge pain to share big folders with friends over IM. Now with this feature, you can just share a folder and give your friend the link and he will be able to download them to his computer easily. This feature is also neat for those who have files in both office and home and sometimes need to access them remotely.

3. Photo Sharing: Is there any photo sharing service in the world that doesn’t need you to upload the photos onto their server? Try Opera Unite Photo Sharing! You will be amazed how easy it is just to select your photo folder and you have be given a “live link” which your friends can use to browse through your photos. Simply Mind blowing!

4. Music Player: Access your complete home music library from wherever you are. Run the Opera Unite Media Player at home and access your entire music library from anywhere you might be. No need to duplicate your music on different machines!

5. Fridge: This is totally a social service that works almost like Facebook’s Wall. Your opera fridge is a fun place for people to leave notes on your computer. Friends and family will love leaving notes on your fridge. It’s open to all and you get a notification when someone writes a note.

– Mom posts a note, “Dentist appointment at 2:30 – Don’t forget!”
– Your roommate writes, “We need milk!” and you use the fridge as your shopping list with Opera Mini while in the store
– Your niece says, “I miss you! Come visit us soon!”

As the service owner of your fridge, you can delete notes, turn off posting, limit the total number of notes so that it doesn’t get too full, or disable and enable this service whenever you want. Other people can also delete their own posts.

So have you tried Opera Unite Yet? Give me one reason to NOT try this cool product?! Just try it and I am sure you will love it. You don’t need to actively use it, just keep it installed on your PC and you never known when you will need it.

Where to Download Opera Unite

Opera Unite (Beta) is available for FREE from their website. Visit the following link to download:

http://labs.opera.com/downloads/

Visit the Opera Unite Homepage for more information on this product.

What others are saying about Opera Unite?

Hands on: Opera Unite review – Techrader

Opera Unite Hopes Old Idea Entices New Developers – GigOm

Five Questions about Opera Unite – Yahoo Tech

First look: Opera Unite alpha lets you share files — but is it safe? – ComputerWorld

Opera Unite: The real plan is to put software in control again – Infoworld

Exclusive Video: Hands-On With Opera Unite (It Rocks) – Techcrunch

Opera Unite reinvents the web – Techmeme

Opera Unite: Web Browser Becomes the Web Server – Mashable

Opera Unite frequently asked questions (FAQs) – Opera Support

Opera Unite: a cloud-based promise to ‘reinvent the web,’ again – Engadget

Inside Opera Unite–screenshots – CNet Downloads


Robert Scoble launches Building43.com

building43logoRobert Scoble, a very renowned technology blogger recently started a brand new project called – building43, which is an online community for all Internet enthusiasts.

What is Building43?

The main objective of Building43 is to help businesses use modern technology and social sites to increase their online exposure and revenue. Now I am hearing a lot of people ask on Friendfeed, how building43 is any different from a traditional tech blog?

Well, based on my initial analysis I found that Building43’s whole focus is more on practical business & tech advice rather than covering tech news like what Techcrunch and Slashdot does. So I believe Building43 has touched a completely different niche and it would be an understatement if we just call it a blog! Its more like an community of similar minded people wanting to become successful on the web and Building43 is sort of trying to be the platform for that.

Now I’m not saying that this concept is new or ground breaking, probably there are handful of other sites that does the same thing – I just don’t know. But why does it matter anyway?! There has always been a handful of ‘everything’ on the web and thats why today we have more options & diversity of the content.

So Kudos to Scoble for starting this wonderful project! The site currently has quite a number of video interviews of some impressive interviewees including Google’s VP of Search – Marissa Mayer, Facebook’s CEO – Mark Zuckerberg, Principal with Union Square Venture – Fred Wilson and many more! Other than the videos, the site also has some blog posts from famous web entrepreneur like Guy Kawasaki and Scoble himself.

They are clearly going to add more and more content as the community grows. Currently they have a dedicated community page where they are showing the building43 twitter & friendfeed feeds.

They are asking the community to share their valuable content via video, blog posts, podcasts, friendfeed comments and tweets. If you are interested to be a part of Building43 in any way, just drop them an email.

To learn more about Building43 just check out their website – www.building43.com and also read what others think about building43:

We’re shipping today: the road to Building43
http://scobleizer.com/2009/06/11/were-shipping-today-the-road-to-building43/

Building43 – A new era for Rackspace and the internet
http://www.rackspace.com/blog/?p=184

Scoble’s Building 43 Launching Tonight With Practical Tips For Businesses Stuck In The 90’s
http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/06/11/scobles-building-43-launching-tonight-with-practical-tips-for-businesses-stuck-in-the-90s/

Understand Building 43 and Understand Web 3.0 – Staying Ahead of the Curve
http://www.watblog.com/2009/06/13/understand-building-43-and-understand-web-30-staying-ahead-of-the-curve/

Scoble’s latest adventure: Building 43
http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10196572-93.html

Socialize with me

Are you on friendfeed or Twitter? Then don’t forget to add me up! –

http://www.friendfeed.com/saadkamal
http://www.twitter.com/saadkamal

See you there!


Notify Google about your Domain Change

google-domain-name-changeBarry Schwartz @ Search Engine Land recently reported that there is a brand new feature in Google Webmaster Tools named change of address.

How To: Tell Google about your domain change

If you’ve recently moved your site to a new domain, you can use the Change of address tool under the Google Webmaster Central dashboard to tell Google about your new URL. This will allow Google to update their index to reflect your new URL. Changes will stay in effect for 180 days, by during that time Google will crawl and index the pages at your new URL.

The change of address tool is safe to use as its backed up by Google’s site verification. So only the real site owners will be able to use it.

Note: If you’ve specified a preferred domain for your original site, you should also set it for your new site.

In order to use the change of address tool, make sure that you’ve added and verified both your old and new sites in your Google Webmaster Central Dashboard. In addition to that, make sure your original site is not a subdomain (for example, http://newwebsite.example.com).

change-address-webmaster-central

Access Change of address from:

1. On the Webmaster Tools Home page, click the site you want.
2. Under Site configuration, click Change of address.
3. In Step 4, in the Select a verified site list, select the new site.

Google posted a help document on moving your domain to assist webmasters with this process.


Bing Webmaster Center

bing-webmaster-centerYesterday I wrote a review about Bing and how this new search engine from Microsoft really impressed me.

Today I’ll be reviewing the new Bing Webmaster Center – www.bing.com/webmaster which is sort of like an all-in-one dashboard of the webmasters for the Bing Search Engine. Previously a similar version of the Webmaster Center was known as Windows Live Webmaster Center. Google and Yahoo both has similar dashboard – Google Webmaster Central & Yahoo Site Explorer.

What is Bing Webmaster Center?

Just like any other Webmaster dashboard, Bing webmaster center has many tools targeted towards the webmaster community that anyone can use to access his own website’s information & other useful details as recorded by Bing.

So if you are a webmaster and want to know how Bing is looking at your website, how its ranking your pages, which pages are more valued than others, what are your inbound & outbound links then this dashboard is a must have.

Why should you Signup for Bing Webmaster Center?

Previously most of the people never really bothered to optimize their pages for MSN/Live Search (which is now Bing). Due to the very small market share, Microsoft Search was never popular among the webmasters. However according to the Stat Counter’s global stat of search market share, Bing’s popularity seems to be growing exponentially as it has already overtaken Yahoo’s usual number #2 spot after Google.

stat-counter-stats-bing

Now you may say that this is probably because of the initial ‘hype’ and their expensive media advertisements, however if you read my Bing Review where I concluded that Bing is a pretty good alternative to Google, then you may think otherwise.

The main advantage of Bing would be its Mass reach to the general population. Do you know what is the very first thing people do when they buy a new computer? I remember reading an article where they had a huge list — Installing Anti Virus, Installing IM, Installing Firefox and somewhere in the middle of the list I remember reading “Changing the default search engine of IE back to Google!”. That didn’t strike me as odd even for a second, in fact if I were to make my own list, I think It would be ranked between #1 – 3.

Microsoft has a OS market share of over 90%, which all comes with Internet Explorer as their default browser. And when it comes to Browser market share, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has a market share close to 70%.

So you can imagine, if Microsoft’s new search engine Bing sucks even a bit less compared to their previous search versions – Live/MSN, many people may not bother to switch to Google or any other search provider for that matter. My first impression of Bing is – its going to stick, and Google is going to see a bit of competition after many years of market dominance.

So before everyone starts to realize that getting your site up in the Bing Search Engine has a lot of value for your business, you should start to look at some of the very basic things that you can do to make sure that bing is crawling and indexing your site properly and certainly there is no better way to monitor it than using their very own tool that they have provided to the community – Bing Webmaster Center.

How to Signup for Bing Webmaster Center?

Signing up with Bing Webmaster Center is very easy and FREE. The only thing that you will need is a Windows Live ID. Typically if you have a @hotmail.com, its already good enough. However, if you want you can also use @gmail.com or any other email address for that matter and make it a Windows Live ID.

Step 1: Go to http://www.bing.com/webmaster and Sign-in with your Windows Live ID

Step 2: Once you are inside the dashboard, you will need to add in your website. You will need to provide a web url (www.domain.com), your sitemap address (www.domain.com/sitemap.xml) and the webmaster’s email address for communication purpose.

Step 3: Once site has been successfully added, you will need to verify the ownership of their site by following any of the following verification method – Meta Tag Authentication ior XML file Authentication. Both the authentication is pretty simple and straight forward.

Step 4: After successful verification, you should be able to see your website listed in your dashboard.

What can Bing Webmaster Center do?

Currently, Bing Webmaster Center contains the following tools and features to support webmasters to access data and manage their websites on Bing:

1. Robot.txt Validation – This tool allows webmasters to check their robots.txt file for any incompatibilities with MSNBot that may affect how their site is indexed on Bing. Read more on Robot.txt Validation on bing.

2. HTTP Verifier – This tool basically lets you check whether your webserver has HTTP compression and conditional GET enabled to reduce bandwidth uses with browsers that support these technology. Read more about these features before you decide to play with them.

3. Site Summery – Bing Webmaster Center, also shows a nice site summary for each of your sites which includes – Last crawl date, total number of indexed pages, domain score, top 5 pages of your domain along with their page score crawl date and so on.

bing-webmaster-center-site-summary

In case you are wondering what domain score is, its basically just a measurement of how authoritative Bing views your domain to be, with five green boxes being the highest rating and five empty boxes being the lowest. Similarly Page score is the same thing but instead of the domain level the measurement is done on the page level.

4. Crawl Issues – This section allows webmasters to find out about any issues Bing discovered while crawling and indexing your site. This information can really help you track down missing or bad links, find pages blocked from our index by your robots.txt file, identify URLs that may be too long, and isolate page with content-types that are not supported by Bing. You can read more on the crawl issues here.

5. Backlinks – This is definitely a very neat and useful tool. Since Google takes quite a while to update the backlinks, most of the webmasters depends quite a lot on Yahoo Site Explorer to check for inbound links. I found Bing’s Back link checker pretty handy and accurate. You can use this tool to find out which webpages (including your own) are linking to your site. This information can help you identify who is talking about your site, useful information for learning more about your potential audience or customer base. They also have a filtering option where you can exclude results from a domain or show only results from a single domain. You can also specify a domain (microsoft.com), a sub-domain (technet.microsoft.com), or a top-level domain (.com).

6. Outbound links – Just like the backlinks page, Outbound links page gives you information about web pages your site is linking to.

7. Keywords – Bing has a Keywords tool which basically shows you how your website performs against searches for a specific keyword or key phrase. This tool is useful for understanding how users (who often choose websites based on keywords searches) might find your website. You can use this keywords tool to e the Keywords tool to also get webpage scores for a keyword or key phrase. This tool enables you to evaluate the webpage score for a given keyword or key phrase for the webpages in your website. The webpage score is a measure of how often a webpage is returned when a user is searching based on that keyword or key phrase. You can easily review webpage scores for a given keyword or key phrase, type the keyword or key phrase in the Keywords box, and then click Search.

8. Sitemaps – You can use sitemaps to give Bing a list of URLs to index for your site. Simply enter the sitemap URL and click submit to send your sitemap to Bing. Bing also has a sitemap ping service which allows you to nudge bing whenever your site updates. To notify MSNBot when you change an existing sitemap or add a new one, enter the following in your browser:

http://www.bing.com/webmaster/ping.aspx?siteMap=[your sitemap web address]

And thats pretty much it! So what you waiting for? Sign up with Bing Webmaster Center now!

Don’t forget to check out Bing Webmaster Community and the Bing Webmaster blog for more news & Updates.


Microsoft’s Bing.com Search Engine

bing-search-logoFinally the past speculations became a reality – Microsoft has re-branded their live search and came up with a completely new and innovative engine called Bing, which can be accessed at bing.com.

The reason I call it innovative and new is because, this is the first time I’m seeing something positive from Microsoft. At least now they are trying to look straight instead of trying to eat out other companies.

They did a complete re-brand of their Live Search which was previously known as MSN and sometime last year there was a rumor that they wanted to call it Kumo (which probably would have been a complete branding disaster in my opinion).

But luckily they came to their senses and named their revamped Search Engine -> Bing. Now couldn’t they just work on their existing brand “Live” instead of creating a whole new brand “Bing”? Well probably they could, but i really don’t wish to go into any debate on which would have been better and such. They have re-branded their search to Bing already and that’s how it is (and hopefully that’s how its going to stay..).

My only advice to Microsoft would be to stick to a brand and give more emphasize on the core of the product/service that they are providing. If people are not using their search engine, definitely there is a reason behind it and changing names and creating fancy TV ads doesn’t make the problem go away. After a while people eventually figures out that this new hyped brand is actually the same shitty MSN search.

Now this post is becoming a bit ‘anti-microsoft’ … so let me change my approach for a bit and say what I feel about Bing.

Bing Search is Awesome!

Yes I said it! I never thought I’d complement a search engine that is not Google. But I guess I just did. The reason I’m probably the last one to report this Bing story in the Blogosphere is because while everyone was busy writing about Bing on their blogs, I was doing some extensive testing with Bing. I have played with the engine day and night, making it exhausted and taking it to a level that my ip was probably blocked out from Bing for a while.

And after comparing all the data, I can say that Bing is awesome and It is a pretty good alternative for Google & Yahoo Search. But is it perfect? – Hell no! There are tons of issues with bing, that I’d definitely address in my blog (which is why i even created a new category here called “bing”, where all my bing related posts will go).

My Take on Bing.com

bing-search-engine-home

There are many things that I like about Bing. None of them is probably original, majority of the features that I’ll highlight here are probably already implemented inside Google & Yahoo. But I don’t think for a user its important to know who has implemented what first and so on. As long as the search engine is user friendly and has everything that a user needs – he will be happy to use it. These are some of the things which bing has really impressed me with:

1. Speed: Bing.com is pretty fast, the home page has a high quality image which takes a bit of time to load on slow connections. However, when you put in a search query and click search the result page comes almost instantly – just like Google. Previously with both Msn & Live search speed was a major issue. People loves Google because of its lightning speed. Well certainly Bing is almost catching up with Google on that regard. Since Bing is still new I believe they can still do a lot more tweaks and make the engine even faster in future.

2. Auto Suggestion: Bing automatically suggests search queries as you type in the search box (very similar to what Google does now). Its a very neat feature which saves a lot of time when you are searching for something very obvious but unsure of its spelling and how to phrase it properly and so on.

bing-auto-suggest

3. Look and Feel: Many people complained about the design of Microsoft’s previous search engines. But personally this time I have found Bing’s design very soothing and consistent throughout their site. The high quality picture on the home page does make it look very cool compared to Google’s simplistic design (However Ask.com has been doing this for a long time already and they even let users to choose their own background).

4. Best Match: Microsoft calls this feature of Bing – “Best Match”, which basically refers to the ability to get relevant information instantly without leaving the search results page. Google has been doing this for a long time for many queries like time (e.g. Time Tokyo), currency conversion (e.g. 1000 USD = ? EUR) and also flight and package tracking of different providers.

Apparently Bing.com also has couple of neat best match queries to get relevant information quickly. Best Match results include customer service numbers for retail sites, the ability to track a package right from the search page, deep links to common pages within the site and much more.

bing-best-match

5. Site Preview: This neat feature of Bing allows you to hover over a search result to see a preview of the site’s content, which helps you determine whether the site is likely to contain the information you’re looking for — before you make that click. Well this is definitely useful, however the hovering feature only works when I move the mouse towards the end of the the listing which is pretty annoying! Moreover, I figured the preview is very small so it doesn’t really tell you much about the website anyway. A small snapshot of the page would be nice, something like what snap.com is already doing. But again this is a feature that not everyone may like, so keeping all these additional things ‘optional’ may be a good idea.

6. Instant Answers: Bing also provides near instant answers to many queries. For example, entering a flight number will return the most recent flight information and display it prominently in the results, saving the hassle of going to a separate page. Other Instant Answers on Bing include stock prices, local weather, sports scores and more. This feature is also not new as both Google & Yahoo have been doing it for a long time. But its really good to see that Bing has really caught up with most of the useful features of both Google & Yahoo.

7. Related Searches: Bing does show some good related searches when you search for a term. This definitely helps to refine a search query and also come across other useful and related terms.

bing-related-search

8. Image Search: Bing has a pretty awesome image search. Occassionally images do appear within the web search results for certain queries, just like Google’s Universal Search. However their dedicated Image search page is also pretty neat and has a very handy left hand sidebar to refine the search by size, layout, colour, size etc.

bing-image-search

9. Travel Search- Bing has a very cool search interface for travel related searches. You can just enter your travel particulars and bing automatically searches different travel portals and shows you hotel prices, air fares and so on.

10. Shopping Search – Bing also have a dedicated interface to deal with the shopping queries. It sort of promotes the previous Microsoft Cashback program. Try doing a search for any product and you will get a pretty good idea of what it does. (E.g. Nokia E63)

Bing Product Tour Video

Bing vs. Google – Search Result Quality

To me, the quality of the search result is the most important factor that leads me to decide which provider stays as my default search in my browser (currently its Google in all my 3 browsers – Google’s Chrome, Firefox & IE 8).

Bing provides a nice way to do a head on head comparison of Bing & Google, they named the feature – Bing Search Challenge. Basically it opens both Bing & Google on the same browser window and let you perform a search on both on them and match the results. [This isn’t new as well, it was done by Hakia way back..]

But its a good way to convince people who are thinking about making a switch that the engine that they are about to switch to is indeed better and provides better results. I have tried a number of queries in both Bing & Google to perform a side by side comparison. In most cases I noticed that Bing did pretty well compared to the old Live.com results. However still in most cases I find that Google can interpret the natural language way better than bing. However for many queries Bing actually performed better than Google! I’ll try to do a separate post with all my test search phrases and the result comparison. But for now you can take a look at Greg’s post in Search Engine Land.

There are lots of other things about bing that I would still like to mention, but due to a bit of time constraint I’m ending this post here. If you want to learn further on bing you can head over to their PressPass page, which contains a lot of information on each of the bing’s features.

Also if you are a twitter user you can follow the bing team on Twitter – (@bing).

So have you tried bing.com? Whats your feedback? Please share in comments!

Update: Are you a Webmaster? Try Bing Webmaster Center today!

What others are saying about Bing?

Bing Off to a Good Start: Takes #2 Spot Ahead of Yahoo – Read Write Web

Microsoft’s Bing Vs Google: Head To Head Search Results – Search Engine Land

Microsoft Bing: Much better than expected – Cnet News

Microsoft’s Bing Search Arrives Early, and Impresses – FastCompany

Bing off to solid start, but not that good – CNet News

Bing Opens Up. Is It Good? It’s Too Early To Tell – Mashable

Bing Goes Live—Here’s What You Can Do With It – Lifehacker

Bing.com; Is it Worth Switching from Google? – Marketing Pilgrim

Bing: How Useful Is Microsoft’s New Search Offering? – CNN

Microsoft vs Google: Bing It On – Sitepoint

Live Search : The sound of found: Bing! – MSDN Blog


People Search Engine in Europe

people-search-europe

123people.com is a wonderful People search engine which is built upon the Yahoo Boss platform. It has recently launched many local sites in Europe which makes it the first multinational people search tool. It is now available in seven countries including; France, UK, US, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Austria, in six languages.

What does 123people.com do?

123people is a real time people search engine that looks into nearly every corner of the Web. You can find comprehensive and centralized people related information consisting of their social networking profiles, images, videos, phone numbers, emails, blog posting and documents and much more.

They currently gets over 16 million unique visitors per month. Designed to fundamentally improve the quality of people search on the web, the site retrieves people information from globally accessible databases and social networks on the web and also searches country-specific websites, local business services and news sources to provide fast and comprehensive results.

What is most amazing to me is the fact that the guys behind 123people.com are able to run such a popular & powerful engine by using Yahoo Search Boss. However, the big question is, If an external company can come and use Yahoo’s Search index to make something really cool, why can’t yahoo just update their own people search engine and maybe make it a little more effective?

But anyway, the only problem that 123people.com probably has is their scalability issues – because i noticed that their site is often down (because of too much traffic maybe??), who knows!

You might ask, why do we need a people search engine when we have the all-in-all of search engine like the big G! Well the best part about having a niche search engine only for finding people is that you don’t end up getting millions of results for that person name which are irrelevant and probably not even accurate. A niche engines like 123people is intelligent enough to understand where to look for people, for instance today if I want to look up specific information about someone , I usually do the following:

1. I do a search at Facebook with the person’s First, Last Name and email address.
2. I do a Twitter advanced search to see if that person has an account.
3. If I have seen the person before, I do a Google Image Search to see if I can spot him in the first page.
4. and lastly I’d do a search of his email Id, directly in Google.

Now all these gives me more than enough information to find the person that I’m looking for, however searching these different engines takes up time and if there is one engine which can do all these, I’m all in for it and you should be too!

Now, 123people is not the only search engine that is covering this particular niche. There are lots of other players that do a pretty decent job in people search as well. I personally like one of them and I think it really deserves a mention.

Pipl – Pipl is a very comprehensive people search on the web. Pipl query-engine finds very high-quality results and displays them on a single page. They look at online personal profiles, phone listings, court records and scientific publications.

pipl-search-engine1

Update: Apparently, Yasni.com is another cool people search engine that I didn’t know about. It also lists all the information about a person from different social networks and search engines on one single page.

yasni

So the next time you are searching for a person online, you know where to look!


Scribd Store – Sell your documents Online

scribd-sell-documents-online A great news for all content publishers out there – Scribd, a free online service for sharing documents online has recently launched Scribd Store – An online marketplace where content creators can sell their digital content like documents, presentations, reports, spreadsheets and so on.

Trip Adler who is the CEO and co-founder of the company said:

Our goal has always been to democratize the publishing process for ‘everyday’ people who have so many great ideas to share,… Adding e-commerce capability gives all our users — professional and non-professional publishers — even more options in recessionary times, when every dollar counts.

Johanna Vondeling, Vice President, Editorial and Digital, Berrett-Koehler Publishers said:

The Scribd Store has the potential to revolutionize book publishing by allowing readers the opportunity to pay only for the content they need — a model that offers real value in this down economy,.. It also gives book publishers a promising new marketplace to sell short and unique content, as we are doing with our new Fast Fundamentals whitepaper series.

scribd-online-marketplace

How Do I Sell my Documents Online via Scribd Store?

Scribd Store is still in beta, thus their marketplace is currently open to the United Sates residents only. Thus if you are not from US, you wont be able to start selling your documents as yet! However if you represent a publishing company then they can make it an exception for you.

For those of you who live in US, you can start selling documents immediately by simply uploading your docs in the Scribed Store via the following link: http://www.scribd.com/upload/store. For more information about the store see http://www.scribd.com/store/about or http://www.scribd.com/store.

Why should You Publish Documents via Scribd Store?

Not convinced? Here are few reasons why you should join:

Revenue Sharing: Scribd will pay you 80% of each sale. Thus, if your document is worth $100, for each sale you can get $80 and the remaining $20 will be taken by Scribd.

Flexible Pricing: The best part about scribd store is, you get to set your own price so you can control how much you would want people to pay to view your document. The minimum price in Scribd’s store will be $1, with no maximum. A research report on business in China will start in Scribd’s store at $5,000.

Multi Platform: It allows any document bought from its store to be read on different gadgets — a personal computer, an electronic book reader like Amazon’s Kindle or a sophisticated mobile phone.

Easy Publishing: Scribd’s store gives authors a way to bypass the publishing industry so they can bring their books to market more quickly and perhaps make more money than they would have from following the conventional route. Book lovers, in turn, could benefit from prices below those found in traditional book stores or even on Amazon.


Download WordPress 2.8 Beta 1

wordpress-2-8-beta WordPress has recently announced their WordPress 2.8 Beta 1.

You can easily download WordPress 2.8 Beta 1, here, and also leave your feedback for the developers, here. This is not a final release, so don’t update your blog just yet, as it may have a lot of bugs and loop holes.

So what to expect in the new WordPress 2.8? Well they have put up a whole list here.

How to try WordPress 2.8 Beta in a safe way?

If you are really interested to try out this new beta but don’t want to screw up any of your blog up by doing an upgrade,I strongly suggest that you do a fresh installation of this version on a sub-folder of your website/blog. There you can play with it without having to worry about any problems it might cause.

If you are too cautious or don’t have a web hosting account yet, You can download this free program called – EasyPHP, which has a built in MySQL DB Server and Apache Web server that can run quietly on your Windows taskbar. It replicates an actual web hosting account with access to database and a webserver and can run any html/php web platform like wordpress smoothly on your own computer. You don’t even need an active internet connection to try this!

So have you tried out WordPress 2.8 Beta 1 already? Share your views in the comments!


Wolfram Alpha Search Engine Review

There seem be a lot of buzz going around about the new search engine Wolfram Alpha. In case you don’t know what it is, it is basically an answer-engine developed by Wolfram Research.

Wolfram Alpha is almost like plugging into a vast electronic brain. It provides very sophisticated and and thorough answers to a wide range of questions asked in many different ways, and it computes answers, it doesn’t merely look them up in a big search index. So its very much smarter than (and different from) Google. Google simply retrieves documents based on keyword searches. Google doesn’t understand the question or the answer, and doesn’t compute answers based on models of various fields of human knowledge. So its look like we are almost reaching a Web 4.0 stage, when a search engine is smart enough to understand what a search query really means.

But obviously its knowledge is very limited at this stage, but the engines does look promising and may eventually be taken over by Google. (Google loves to eat up anything that has any potential in their field). Below I have a simple screen shot of how the interface looks like:

wolframalpha-search

How does it work?

Well, Wolfram basically gathers important data based on your search terms and presents you with the answers in a pre-formatted structure, using a lot of charts, graphs and other visual aids. For instance, if you want to compare stats about different cities, you type in their names and find out that, say, Delhi has several thousand more people than New York.

How is Wolfram Alpha useful?

If you are doing research about very specific subjects then this could be a great resource, once Wolfram Research beefs up its informational sources. It lays out the data in easy-to-read, well-formatted pages that include a variety of charts and graphs. For example, if you try typing “Hubble,” it will first ask you whether you mean ‘a unit’ or the ‘telescope’. So if you select telescope it will bring up a lot of interesting facts about the Hubble Space Telescope, including its current position and original launch date etc. So basically the engine is intelligent enough to understand what the search term means and how it is related to other words.

Nova Spivack who is the current CEO of Radar Networks has shared some useful insights as to how the Wolfram’s search engine works:

Wolfram Alpha is a system for computing the answers to questions. To accomplish this it uses built-in models of fields of knowledge, complete with data and algorithms, that represent real-world knowledge. For example, it contains formal models of much of what we know about science — massive amounts of data about various physical laws and properties, as well as data about the physical world. Based on this you can ask it scientific questions and it can compute the answers for you. Even if it has not been programmed explicity to answer each question you might ask it. But science is just one of the domains it knows about–it also knows about technology, geography, weather, cooking, business, travel, people, music, and more. It also has a natural language interface for asking it questions. This interface allows you to ask questions in plain language, or even in various forms of abbreviated notation, and then provides detailed answers. The vision seems to be to create a system which can do for formal knowledge (all the formally definable systems, heuristics, algorithms, rules, methods, theorems, and facts in the world) what search engines have done for informal knowledge (all the text and documents in various forms of media).

Well definitely its not a “google-killer” and I bet wolfram is not even interested to go into any competition with Google. They are just filling up a vacuum in the search industry. I wonder what will be Google’s next move – Buy Wolfram!Alpha.. or improve their own engine?

Share your thoughts!


Publish your Blog in Amazon Kindle

amazon-kindle-blog-publishingGreat news for all blog publishers, Amazon.com has recently opened up their Kindle publishing program to all bloggers. This means that you can now add your blog in the Amazon Kindle Store and any kindle user who wish to read your blog on their kindle can subscribe to it by paying a small fee. So if you have a good reader base already, this can become a whole new area where you can improve your blog readership even more.

How much can a Blogger Earn?

Currently Amazon is only giving 30% of the monthly blog subscription price for every subscriber Amazon signs up. Its kind of low considering the fact that all mobile app developers traditionally gets to keep 70% or more of the revenues. But anyway, 30% of the subscription fee comes around 30c per Kindle subscriber per month. Even though it may seem like a very small amount but it at least widens the reach of your content.

How to Publish your blog in Amazon Kindle Store

Amazon has made it very simple for the bloggers to sign up for this program. All you need to do is make your blog’s feed available to the Kindle Store, and Amazon will do the rest, formatting your content for that special device. According to the email from Amazon, after a few easy steps, your blog should be up and ready to go in the Kindle Store within 12-48 hours of processing.

The downside of the program is that you have no control over the amount of subscription fee that amazon sets for your blog, most blogs on Kindle are currently available for a monthly subscription fee of $.99 to $1.99 and your share of revenue is fixed at 30%. So even if you want to make it free, you can’t!

So what are you waiting for? Publish your blog in Amazon Kindle Store Now!


Search Marketing Expo London 2009

smx londonSearch Marketing Expo – SMX London is almost knocking at the door. Its a 2 full day event starting at 18th May 2009 at New Connaught Rooms, Covent Garden.

If you are not sure about what to expect from such a large scale conference, you may want to read a great summary of SMX London 2008, compiled by Matt Sawyer.

This year’s keynote is Search and the Evolution of Marketing, which will be presented by Brian Featherstonhaugh of OgilvyOne Worldwide.

Some areas which Brain will be touching on during his keynote are:

  • Marketing is changing – right down to its fundamental pillars. The “Four P’s” are no longer valid.
  • Consumers are adopting digital much faster than marketers. Why does it exist? Why isn’t it going away? What will finally close the gap?
  • Search is the single most profound change in marketing. It is a gift from the gods. Will marketers squander it, or turn it to gold?

A full list of agendas can be found here.

Who Should Attend SMX London 2009?

  • Advertising Budget Holders
  • In-house search marketers
  • Brand managers
  • Paid search advertising planners and buyers
  • Organic search optimization specialists
  • Web technology professionals

You can use the discount code : SAKAUK09 to get 15% discount off a 1-2 day or/and combo pass. So don’t waste anymore time, Click here to sign up now!


Become a Google Analytics Guru

google-analytics-iq-testIf you are an online marketer or just an in-house webmasters managing your company sites & blogs, I’m pretty sure you are already familiar with the web analytics tools like Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a completely free tool which allows any webmaster to get different statistical information of their website in the form of reports. Now it may seem very easy to install & use Google Analytics in your website – but using it to it’s fullest potential is something that very few webmasters can achieve.

Google has recently started offering a FREE online course in web analytics techniques and Google Analytics implementation, administration, and analysis tools.

So if you are interested to master Google Analytics, you can easily do so without spending a penny – Just log on to ConversionUniversity.com to master Google Analytics. In addition to the free course materials, Google is also offering a test that you can take online to prove that you are qualified in Google Analytics — Google Analytics Individual Qualification (Google Analytics IQ) test.

The press release by Google states:

The Google Analytics IQ program is tailored for agencies who want to retain and develop employees who are knowledgeable about Web analytics, and for individuals who seek ways to improve their job prospects or further their own personal development. Individuals do not have to be associated with an agency or organization to take the online course or test.

It costs only 50 bucks to take the Google Analytics IQ test. Once you pass (over 75% mark), you’ll be registered as Google Analytics qualified!

So don’t wait up, study the free online course materials and give the Google Analytics IQ Test when you are fully ready. Best of luck!


Kumo: Microsoft’s Test Search Engine

Microsoft employees have began testing Microsoft’s new search engine – Kumo, which may or may not replace their official brand – Live.com.

Microsoft writes:

There has also been a fair amount of speculation around the use of the Kumo brand and URL, and whether this means that we are rebranding Live Search. We’re using the Kumo brand and URL for this test experience to make sure employees understand they’re in a test experience. We believe this will encourage more active feedback. As for rebranding, it’s something we’re still considering.

Mike Nichols who is is General Manager of Live Search also writes that Kumo is solely a prototype of their ‘new search engine’ that they have decided to open to their employees only. This sort of internal testing is pretty common at Microsoft before they release a product publicly.

microsoft-kumo-search-engine

As you can see in the screen shot above, the new engine does look a bit different from Live search and has a few new features like – Images withing results, Related search queries in the sidebar, history. grouping of search results etc.

I can’t wait to test out this engine myself! Hopefully Live search will open Kumo for public beta testing soon.



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