It's been a month and a day since my last blog post. This isn't down to
a lack of enthusiasm, just the pressures of work combined with not
having my own personal computer to use in the evenings! I'm hoping for
new MacBooks to be out soon and solve that particular problem.

In the meantime, this blog is going into hibernation. Let's see if it
survives the winter...


I'm currently pretty active at, so you know...

Mozilla have a prototype called Prism that lets you turn web applications, like Buzzword or the Aviary suite into stand-alone apps, that still use the browser's engine, but presents the app in a new window. You may not realise that the slick new Google browser, Chrome, lets you easily do the same trick.


Simply navigate to a page that you want to use as a stand-alone app, say Gmail, and select the drop down 'page' icon to the right of the 'omnibar'. Now decide what shortcuts you want created, and boom, you're done. Even if you don't like Chrome as a browser, it does run webapps nice and sharpish, and this is a great way to use your calendar or RSS reader. Of course, with Google Gears support, you can even use some applications offline. Handy.


Last month, the mixtape website Muxtape went down, leaving the understated message: 'Muxtape will be unavailable for a brief period while we sort out a problem with the RIAA.'

Users jumped to the pretty reasonable conclusion that Muxtape is effectively dead, although the official support tumblelog says: 'No artists or labels have complained. The site is not closed indefinitely. Stay tuned.'

Muxtape is dead. Long live

Dead or not, seemingly the same instant Muxtape went down, sprung up.

Opentape's creation and design are inspired by Muxtape's success and sleek interface. We were disappointed with its untimely shutdown and wanted the web mixtape movement to continue.

Molly Wood on Buzz Out Loud expressed a theory that 'the RIAA's constant crackdown on sites and services that ought to be fair use is creating cockroach-like, drug-resistant strains... like Opentape'. Speculation aside, Opentape is all the cooler for being open source and easy to install on your own website. The same slick Ajaxy page is all there, except instead of the links to buy music on Amazon, Opentape has a direct link to the MP3. It also has a flash player you can embed elsewhere:


Here's another simple service that I like - MeeID. Pick a name, add a picture, write up to ten lines about yourself. Each line can be a link, but doesn't have to be. At least some HTML is allowed.

meeid2That's about it. You can link your profile to others, but even this feature is pretty limited. The obvious use is to have your MeeID page be a central reference point. It's the link you stick in your Twitter bio, or on your moo card.

Hopefully they'll add some OpenID features, because I can see this simple approach appealing to a lot of people who are put off by the relative complexity of places like ClaimID.

(I can be found at

Today Google launched a new open-source web browser called Chrome. I'm not going to waste your time with some made up on-the-spot analysis and opinioneering - instead, here is a handy list of the key things you need to know:

  • You can download Google Chrome here:
  • It looks simple, uncluttered, minimalistic and very Google-ish (click image to enlarge):

The University of Texas, Austin has kicked off a project to study the best way to preserve the history of online worlds.

read more | digg story - simple private file sharing

In the (grand?) tradition of my blog, this is yet another 'web 2.0' service that does something very simple, but does it brilliantly. In fact, takes the concept of sharing small files and adds on so many clever tricks, it's actually hard to know where to start.

Things start simply enough - you pick a name for your 'drop'. This will become the URL, so although you can go with a randomly generated sequence of characters, you have the option of picking something a bit more memorable. Then add your files and decide if you want them to be private (ie. password protected), set an expiry date, and choose what rights you want any visitors to have. You'll be offered one chance to set an admin password, giving you the ability to edit the drop later. And that's it - see an example at

You can view your files by media type, as a blog or like a system folder. There's even PicLens support. The blog view is especially interesting, as can be used to store notes, links and even has commenting - in fact, it's a fully featured blogging platform!

In addition to uploading files from the web, you can email them, phone in messages and even send faxes to a drop. As many ways as there are to add content, there are even more ways to share content!
Discover Simple, Private Sharing at
For example, I've embedded the excellent Jonathan Coulton song, Flickr above. Of course, there are the expected RSS feeds for people to subscribe to, as well as email and SMS alerts and (surprise, surprise) an option to post updates to Twitter.


If the blogging capabilities are a neat feature, then the podcast hack (found at is brilliant: since supports audio files (and other media) and provides an RSS feed, it naturally makes it possible to host a podcast (or a 'dropcast' as they call it).

This is hardly an exhaustive overview of, but I'm sure you can see how useful this service could be. Go and have a play. There are some tutorials and a FAQ if you want to read some more.

Drag &

One new feature, currently in the testing phase, is a Firefox extension that will sit in the status bar and let you upload files by simply dragging them from your desktop, right onto a drop, or the icon. Sadly, it seems to conflict with Gmail Manager somehow, but it's early days. It also lets you bookmark drops, which could be very handy if you use several.

drop-ff - a new generation of Twitter client?

In barely-related news, has revealed a little information about itself, in this Vimeo video:

Clearly it is a new Twitter app, with the ability to display rich content that individual tweets may point to, even if the links are hidden behind a shortened URL. Since it promises to be 'a better way to navigate the twitterverse' I imagine we may see other media embedded in the client, like YouTube videos or mp3s, and some other neat tricks.

cloud-io pretty logoI hope the creators are thinking beyond the 'twitterverse', as they have one cool feature that many other Twitter clients don't - they are not riding on the Twitter brand. There are no bird metaphors in the name or the design, so if they are so inclined, they could add support for Plurk,,, FriendFeed,,, Kwippy and all the other services that are crying out for unification in some form or other.

Whatever we get, hopefully we will only have to wait until the end of this month.

Introducing a special guest opinion piece from Josh Scanlan, blogger, tumbler, Plurker, and of course, Twitterer. He has a few suggestions for you...

If you've spent even a little time on the popular website Twitter you will notice a few things about it. You may notice that there is quite a bit of downtime, or the avatars won't load, maybe your tweets don't get submitted or you can't follow people, sometimes. I am here to tell you today that these aren't even the biggest of problems that Twitter faces. Furthermore the main reason why Twitter is ruined right now, is you.

When I first heard of Twitter I thought it was a fantastic idea. For a creative person like myself it could be the ideal avenue to throw out some funny lines that I come up with and get instant feedback. It was like a dream world where I could harass people in new and hilarious ways, all the while getting instant feedback from the harassed and anyone who cared to read. Then reality kicked in.


I soon started to notice that Twitter was being used for sub-awesome ventures. I started getting attacked by a barrage of lameness like "eating food" or "I'm bored" and even the dreaded "driving to work". Uggggggh... I found that my new avenue of awesomeness was getting crowded with genuinely boring people. People with no imagination, with no vision, and apparently no fucking lives.

You have a great way to meet and chat with an unending amount of new people, and you decide the best way to befriend them is to fill them in on all the boring little details of your life? Not only that, but these people tend to have 5x as many followers as me. How can this be possible when they have the personality of an acorn and I'm the king of awesomeness? Simple. Most of these people only care about building huge follower/followee situations and upping their "tweet" count. Wow, what an ultra fulfilling and rewarding life you must live.

js-tweetBeing the nice guy that I am I want to help some of these people. I'm not helping the tweet count and follower count whores, they've already sold their souls to mediocrity and are forever in my little black book of hate. I will, however, help those people who tend to just be completely boring. They seem like nice enough people, and I want to follow them back, I just can't torture my mind reading their banalities on my timeline.

So here are a few examples of boring posts that I've seen, and my version of the same line. This should help you lame people spice it up a bit...

Original: "Off to take a shower."

New: "Uh-Ohs, It's shower time... Join me?"

Not only are you adding some semblance of personality, but you also see who is attracted to you and out the gays.

Original: "Eating a sandwich."

New: "I'm mouth fucking a turkey club right now."

Some people may find this comical, others may find it kind of gross, but at least you're getting a reaction out of people besides indifference.

Original: "Listening to *insert shitty band here*."

New: "Rocking out to *awesome band*, drinking Red Bull, and hitting my spouse."

Not only do I expect you to put a little more effort into tweets, but I also fully expect you to change your tastes from terrible music and movies, to awesome ones. Maybe it's the generic lines from the terrible movies and music you intake that are taking you over filtering into your tweets.


With any luck a large majority of the twitter community will read this post, realize that they're a failure to society, and then change their ways. It's going to take a lot of work to get these disappointments to turn it around, so I'll need your help. The next time you see someone getting their boring on, I want you to textually bitch slap them right in front of everyone. I feel if you make fun of the relentlessly they'll either be forced to change their ways, or they will just kill themselves. Either way it's win/win.


For more articles from Josh Scanlan check out his blog at is a new micro-blogging service, from Fuzz, that has a truly brilliant unique selling point - music. Twitter asks 'What are you doing?' but asks instead 'What are you listening to?' You simply search for a tune, scroll through a list of results, preview the ones you like to make sure it's working. Add a message and 'blip' it to the world.

Music is clearly the killer feature here, but that's not the only great thing about It's really easy to find and add people with similar musical tastes. After each post, Blip will show you a handful of others who have recently played the same song, and ask if you want to follow them. Additionally, the main page dynamically loads in new blips, without you having to reload the page. All micro-blogs should do this, but it's particularly hand on Blip as it means you can just keep listening, indefinitely.

I do wonder about the legality of this, but ultimately this could be a great tool for music discovery. Let's hope it survives!

Here, have an invite to, on me.

In a smart move earlier this month, Twitter bought Summize, and turned it into Now Twitter should snap up some more services to capitalise on the work others have done using the API, and really jump ahead in the micro-blog space that they created. So, what else could they add?

Twellow is rough around the edges, but it is a great way to search for useful stuff on Twitter. Want to follow some people who are into the same TV shows as you? Solicit some advice from a web developer or Linux geek? Find some news sources? Twitter could grab Twellow, or probably knock together their own directory.


TwitPic is essential. Already tightly integrated, this is a brilliant way of sharing photos through Twitter.

Twitterfeed is a core service for anyone who wants to tweet an RSS feed. (And I'm not just including this because I did the logo!)


Another service already in perfect harmony with Twitter is Tweetburner. Your link-sharing stats could be displayed on an extended profile page, along with all your shared TwitPics and other goodies. This one probably makes the most sense, as the URL shortening market thrives largely thanks to Twitter.

Another service that just needs a lick of paint is TwitterNotes. Just by using a plus sign, this can identify your tweet as a note, and keep it handy for later. It even supports tagging. Postica has a more novel way of displaying notes, but lacks for any other real selling (or buying) points.

Twitt(url)y and TweetWire both search and filter out hot links on Twitter. This could make for a pretty interesting alternative frontpage, to answer the frequent newbie complaint of 'I don't see what the point is!'

Buy TwitterCounter, mix in the Tweetburner and Summise data, and you can provide users with some pretty cool analytics data! A TwitDir or Twitterholic style 'Top 100' would be popular too. And Mood Status might be a fun addition.


Identica is already offering a tags page, but Twitter could take the lead by snapping up Hashtags (or the less sexy Twemes). +

Twitter really needs to revamp the follower/following management, and it could start by looking at MyTweeple, which does a great job of showing you a summary of information on all those who follow you, and all those you follow, making it easy to spot spammers or the anti-social attention whores who seem to be plaguing Twitter these days.

In conclusion...

There's not really any need for Twitter to spend millions on acquiring all of these new features, but I think this list does go to show how much potential there is. I'm sure Obvious know what they're doing (or at least think they know better), but they would be daft to ignore the brainstorming efforts of hundreds of smart fans. To a large extent, the beauty of Twitter is in its simplicity, but I think all of these features could be added without compromising what is already there.

C'mon Twitter, shake it up a little!

This is another of these web services that I'm usually so fond of - a simple but terribly useful tool that does just one thing and does it brilliantly. Postica, sadly, is not brilliant - but it has a couple of useful features nonetheless.


The screengrab above probably explains the concept entirely. You can add notes to an otherwise blank page, choose a colour and move them around. You can also upload small (2-5MB) files by attaching them to notes (see the pink sticky). Probably the most useful feature is the ability to add a note via Twitter, by direct message (something I actually have been finding rather useful).

Finally, you can share notes, although I was only able to manage this using my own email address, so I think it may only work for those already on Postica, even though the FAQ suggests otherwise.

I hate to say it, but I don't think Postica offers enough. I may continue to use it for the Twitter integration, but with services like Evernote around, they need to add some other innovative touches if they want any attention.

The new Joss Whedon project is a revolution in direct-to-web production, showing that a web drama can be high quality. Imagine a cross between Mystery Men and the Buffy musical 'Once More With Feeling', and you probably have the vibe.

Dr. Horrible

The idea came about during the Hollywood writer's strike earlier this year, when many writers were giving the web some serious consideration. Let Joss explain in his own trademarked Whedonspeak:

... I finally decided to do something very ambitious, very exciting, very mid-life-crisisy. Aided only by everyone I had worked with, was related to or had ever met, I single-handedly created this unique little epic. A supervillain musical, of which, as we all know, there are far too few.

The idea was to make it on the fly, on the cheap – but to make it. To turn out a really thrilling, professionalish piece of entertainment specifically for the internet. To show how much could be done with very little. To show the world there is another way. To give the public (and in particular you guys) something for all your support and patience. And to make a lot of silly jokes. Actually, that sentence probably should have come first. [read all]

Neil Patrick Harris is brilliantly cast as Doogie Howser, gone evil. Nathan Fillion plays his nemesis, square-jawed superhero Captain Hammer (introduced in a My Space webcomic) perfectly. Another smart move was to cast web-savvy internet kitten (and actress) Felicia Day. of YouTube hit The Guild.

If you fancy watching a quick teaser, I've embedded it below, but why not just go straight to Act I...

Teaser from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog on Vimeo.

Read more good stuff at Wired and USA Today. This bodes well for the future...

Summize had become one of the most useful and most polished Twitter services, a fact apparently recognised by Twitter who just snapped up the technology (and the five Summize engineers). The search engine has been rebadged with the Twitter logo and moved to


The Summize Blog has a nice potted history of the site and explains some of the thinking behind the search technology. The Twitter post also includes a neat little sketch showing how they plan to integrate their new toy into their main service:

Twitter Search mockup

This is a great move from Twitter. I hope they are considering buying up some of the other standout uses of their API, like TwitPic, Twitterfeed and Tweetburner (and maybe Twiddict too!). Moving in this direction will quickly put them miles ahead of the competition, which has really been hotting up lately.

Tweet Scan seems to have pipped Summize and others by adding new upstart micro-blog service Identica to its search index. Confusingly, the two searches have not been integrated. To search Identica you have to enter your term into a subtly different page.

Still, it's nice to see a Twitter-centric service embrace the new micro-blogging platform. It seems certain that the open-source Laconica will inspire many other Twitter services to embrace other platforms also.

Sorry for the lack of real updates recently, but I have been spending most of my time job hunting. Thankfully, with some success. This coming Monday I begin as a Web Assistant for BBC Wales, working primarily on the Nature site. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to work for a company that gets the internet. I feel like I am a pretty capiable web designer, but there is no doubt in my mind that I have a lot to learn about good usability, accesibility, semantics and editorial skills, not to mention media production and distribution. I don't really know what the future holds, but this is one big step in the direction I want to be going.

At the moment I am organising a big move from Plymouth to Cardiff, and the first few weeks in any new job are pretty hectic, so don't expect many new posts from me. In fact, I'm thinking about shifting focus somewhat, but I haven't settled on anything yet.

In the meantime, you can catch me on the Twitter. Also, the foobot is still slaving away, keeping you up to date with the latest and greatest links from me. My Tumblelog,, is due for a bit of a revamp, but it still aggregates my content nicely. All of this is due for a revamp in the near future, so please stay tuned. launched the other day to compete for attention with all the other URL shorteners, the classic example being TinyURL. In my recent roundup I showed how many of the alternatives had unique selling points. So what does the newcomer from Betaworks offer?


Pretty much everything, it turns out. Of course, it will shorten your URL, and like many others, you have the option to use a custom keyword to make the link more memorable (eg. But that's just the start. A cookie remembers the last 15 links you shortened and lets you view stats like clickthroughs, traffic sources, thumbnails and even a mirror on Amazon S3.

If you're interested, Dave Winer elaborates some more on the thinking behind the service on his blog and Webmonkey has a simple guide to making use of the API.

Following on from my last post a few months ago, Twitter applications with actual applications, here are some other, less useful Twitter-related services. For more of the same in future, check out my bookmarks tagged with 'twitter'.


It's no secret that Twitter is struggling to scale. Frequent downtime for maintenance, disabling core functionality under periods of heavy load and regular appearances of the Fail Whale have become a 'part of the charm'.

Twiddict is here to satisfy your addiction. Post your message here, and it will save it until Twitter is back online, then automatically post it for you.


Twitter Counter

Handy for stroking the ego (perhaps) is Twitter Counter. Just type in your username (or anyone else's) to get some basic follower stats. You can subscribe to email updates, but the nicest feature is the button provided to let you add your count to your blog, or wherever.

You can choose from several default styles, or make your own entirely.


Almost entirely pointless, but very pretty is TwittEarth. See live tweets rendered on a 3D globe. Also available as a screensaver.



Finally, this one is almost useful. TinyPaste lets you exceed the 140 character tweet limit. Just type your message in here and when finished it will convert your epic prose into a short URL to paste into Twitter, or indeed anywhere. (eg:


There is also a handy Firefox add-on to speed things up. It'd be nice if it let you post directly to your micro-blog of choice though. is either a valuable resource in this Web 2.0 era of endless social networking communities, or a sign that things have gone too far. Simply put, lets you update your status on Twitter, Plurk, Jaiku, Pownce, Brightkite, Facebook, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, LiveJournal, Blogger, Tumblr, Bebo, hi5, Mashable, Xanga, Plaxo, MySpace and now, with more being added all the time.

Ping-fmYou can send updates via email, IM, various gadgets, apps and widgets, or build something yourself using the API. In addition, you can 'group' your different services. By default defines 'micro-blogs' and 'statuses', letting you choose which group you want to update. When you're not using the web interface, you can use customisable 'triggers' (like @s for status updates).

And that's it. Another service that does a simple job, brilliantly. So now you can update all your services at once, and collect all the updates on FriendFeed or one of the other aggregation services. The cycle is complete.

If you want to sign up, the current beta code is "pingyoulater". Enjoy.

Twitter has a new rival in town: (although, as I write this the domain resolves to ''). This micro-blogging platform has one killer feature - it's open source. If you're so inclined, you can grab the source from and start your own Twitter competitor today. Not only is the source free, but your content will be too, as you have to agree to the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence to join up. Specific exceptions are made for private data like your, email address, IM address, phone number.


OpenID is supported, as well as OpenMicroBlogging, which seems pretty essential if a service like this is going to be competitive. It is the nature of open source projects to fork, and making the platform compatible with others will allow a much larger community to grow. (Maybe Twitter, Plurk and the others will all work together in the future, but until then I guess we'll have

So Control Yourself Inc. have provided all the right open credentials, but is Identica any good? And is it a Twitter killer?

Maybe. As I write this, Identica has only been public for two days. It has garnered pretty large numbers and created quite a buzz already, but it still lacks a few essentials. It has been slow and suffering from network timeouts and currently has no replies tab, API or SMS support. In fact, there is a huge bug list pointing all this out, along with many great feature ideas. Twitter has been teetering on the verge of true awesomeness for a while now, so I think it is still possible for a service like Identica to sweep in and take the initiative.


I hate to say it, but my biggest gripe is how bland the design is. I know this is a minor criticism, but they need to add some template love sooner rather than later. Lets have a little personality.

So, Identica is more potential than anything, but that is true of every so-called web 2.0 service. Openness, in this instance at least, gives Identica a real shot at long-term success. Amusingly, this could all lead to a terribly confusing Evan vs. Ev in the great Battle of the Microblogs '08. Bring it on, I guess!

If you join up, why not 'subscribe' to me at

Wordle just makes 'word clouds', and a beautiful job it does too. You can customise the layout and colours and you can either paste in the raw text from anything, or link to your Delicious links page, like I did here:


It's more of a novelty than a useful application, but it has got me thinking about putting more effort into organising my tags.

I'm a big fan of Tumblr and use it for my lifestreaming site,

One of the neat features of Tumblr is the pre-defined formats for different types of posts: text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio and video. These are all very useful, but I've always wanted to have a 'list' option as well.


The internet loves lists, whether it's the Top 10 Firefox addons; 5 Things You Didn't Know About Me, The 250 Greatest Movies or The Ten Best Top-Ten Lists! In my opinion, the list format would fit in perfectly with the Tumblr ethos.

If you would like to see lists added, please show your support at my Get Satisfaction suggestion page.

It is easy to become an OpenID provider, and hundreds have popped up. Even if you don't know what an Open ID is, you probably have one. The challenge for providers is to add a little extra into the offering. To use marketing jargon, they need a unique selling point.

claimIDClaimID have one of the best, in my opinion. Quite simply, ClaimID lets you manage your online identity by 'claiming' ownership of the various places on the internet you appear.

If you can edit the source code of a page, then you can use a MicroID meta tag to verify ownership. Otherwise you simply list pages, like your bookmarks, Twitters, Google Reader Shared Items and anything else you want people to find. It is also useful to keep track of the more obscure sites you may have a presence on, if only to remind you of them!

Check out my ClaimID page for a working example.

There is, of course, the ubiquitous RSS feed, bookmarklet, tag support, basic social networking features, a blog widget and all manner of microformat goodness, including hCards, ensuring that the service is future (and geek) proof.

If you're anything like me, you probably sign up for every new Web 2.0 service you see. ClaimID is invaluable for keeping track of everything and is a single source to point people who want to know where to find you online.

Here's another great web service that does something incredibly simple, incredibly well. Awesome Highlighter lets you highlight content on any website, add a note and store that information for later reference.


Then you can share a short URL (like others that links to the page, with all your highlighted text and notes. Twitter is supported, naturally, along with Facebook, Delicious, Live Journal and Tumblr, making it simple to share whatever you find.

So there you have it. If you don't need all the power and flexibility of Evernote, then you have Awesome Highlighter. Enjoy.

Since I have been away from my home PC for a few weeks, and am back using XP, I wanted to try Windows Live Writer. Very impressive it is too! I can write blog posts using my own blog styles, add tags, pictures and all the formatting I like. It is easily far superior to using the Blogger interface and also beats publishing from Google Docs, which I tried, but it added too much rubbish code. Here's hoping Mozilla, or someone, can come up with something just as nice.


I have been building up a list of useful Twitter tools to write another roundup. Twist is worth highlighting here though. It provides a simple analytic overview of whatever you search for, taking its results from the Twitter public timeline.


Above is a comparison search for 'plurk, pownce, jaiku, twitter, friendfeed' showing results for the last month. This is interesting because you can see when interest for Plurk spiked. It's dropped right down again now, but it's still fresher in peoples minds than the other services. Apart from Twitter, of course.

twitter plurk friendfeed

Compete also shows the spike, and makes it pretty clear that Twitter has gained a substantial lead in this space.

It will be interesting to see if Plurk gains any momentum. They turned down an interview with Leo Laporte on net@nite recently, so I guess they aren't ready to scale. I get the feeling they lack the mainstream potential of Twitter, anyway.

It's easy to miss a reply in Twitter, especially if you don't use one of the smarter clients like Twhirl. Here's a short but sweet tip that will help you never miss a message directed at you...

Pop over to Summize. If you're not familiar with Summize, all you need to know is that it's a really slick search engine that keeps tabs on conversations in Twitter. We're going to do a simple search for any mention of your username, so go ahead and enter @YourUsername (If you want to include your own tweets in the results, leave off the @).

Handy, eh?

Now bookmark the results page for future reference. Ideally, put the bookmark in your toolbar so you're just a click away. In Firefox, don't forget that you can use the RSS feed to make a Live Bookmark. Super handy!

Despite being generally out of touch with internet news, I have not failed to notice the dramatic uptake of Plurk recently. I didn't sign up immediately because of a negative gut reaction (I don't really have much 'emo-ness' to express) and a reluctance to commit to yet another social service.

Obviously, I couldn't resist - find me here (or get an invite here).

I rather like the odd cartoon graphics (even the zombie dog). The qualifiers and the karma system are neat features too. I'm not sure about the timeline yet though - it feels too tricksy and not practical. A more polished version of the mobile interface would be much clearer. The ajax trickery is well implemented, but it feels slippery to me, and I feel like it would be easy to miss posts. Maybe I'm just not used to it yet.

The interest in Plurk is probably more about users frustrations with Twitter than anything else. I imagine we'll be seeing a lot more microblogging alternatives popping up this year - and if they are all as innovative as Plurk, we'll have a lot of fun trying them!

I'm not likely to be blogging much this next week or so. It's pretty imperative I be finding a new job, so that's what'll have my full attention. I'll continue to microblog via txt at The Twitter, so I'll hardly be gone at all.

I'm not presenting Website Outlook to you as anything other than a curiosity, but a curiosity it most certainly is. Submit your website domain (or indeed, any other domain) and it returns a valuation. For example,

Net Worth : $1.2 Billion
Daily Pageview : 550000000
Daily Ads Revenue : $1650003.16

It also supplies PageRank, backlink count, Dmoz listing and other basic info. I have serious doubts that this has any real bankable value, (the site is full of typos and sloppy writing, so one wonders about the attention to detail behind the calculations) but if you're wondering about the potential value of your web properties, this is an interesting place to start. I'm certainly curious enough to delve a little deeper.

Learn how to use Yahoo Pipes and TwitterFeed to keep your Twitter followers up to date on your latest blog posts and anything else you happen to be up to on the internet.

You can get a glimpse at the end result by paying a visit to @foobot, my personal robot slave. There are several improvements I want to make, so he should be considered as 'in beta' for the meantime. As I add features I will add other parts to this tutorial series.

Let's get started, shall we?

Step 1: Create a fresh Twitter account

This step is entirely optional. Consider how your followers will react to receiving automated tweets - many will feel like they're being spammed. In the final stage of this guide you will be able to control how many tweets-per-hour get fed to your Twitter account, but I chose to create a separate account. You will need a different email address for each new Twitter account you create, but you should have no other problems.

It's going to be handy to be able to post messages manually to this account. Twhirl makes it easy to manage multiple Twitter accounts. Alternatively TwitterBar lets you post directly from your Firefox address bar.

Step 2: Yahoo Pipes

'Pipes is a powerful composition tool to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web' according to the blurb. It's also surprisingly simple to use, so don't be overwhelmed by all the options - we're not going to try anything complicated. If this is your first time watch the quick video 'Learn how to build a pipe'.

You'll need a Yahoo account if you don't have one. When you're all set, click 'Create a pipe' at the top. You should be presented with this:

The menus at the top lets you name your pipe and the left hand menu contains all the modules you can use to create and manipulate your feeds. Lets drag the 'Fetch Feed' module into the main window. Now we'll need an RSS feed. In this example, I've taken my feed. The easiest way to grab the RSS URL is to right click on the link and select 'Copy link location' (or similar, depending on browser). Paste that into our module.

Ta-da. If you select that box and look in the debug window you can see the feed output. Repeat this for all the feeds that you want to broadcast on Twitter.

Now we need to join all these feeds together, using the 'Union' module (under 'Operators'). Then wire the output of that up to the 'Sort' module. Sort should update itself so the dropdown menu has all of the relevant attributes. We are going to sort by item.pubDate in descending order. Wire that up to the 'Pipe Output' module, and we should have a working feed. Click on the screenshot below to take a closer look at what you should have:

Make sure your pipe is saved and click the 'Run pipe...' link at the top. This will take you to a page that displays the appearance of the RSS feed and gives you a multitude of ways to put it to use. We just need to grab the feed from the dropdown menu at the right and keep it handy for step 3...

Step 3: TwitterFeed

Finally, we need to get our RSS feed into Twitter, and this is exactly what TwitterFeed does.
You'll need an OpenID to sign into TwitterFeed. I like ClaimID, but it makes no odds which one you use. I don't think a step-by-step guide is necessary here as the process is so simple: Enter your Twitter login info; your RSS feed and how often you want TwitterFeed to tweet.

I chose to include only the RSS titles in my tweets, and I like my URLs to be shortened with TweetBurner. Consider if you want your automated tweets to have a special prefix so your followers can tell which updates are automated (A good idea, but since I'm using a special account for this, I didn't see the need). Finally, make sure the 'active' checkbox is checked and go ahead and click 'Create'.

Step 4: Wait...

That's it, we're done for now. You may have to wait a while for your first update, and there is no guarantee that every single item in your feed will be tweeted, but I think we're off to a good start.

Check back for part 2 later. In the meantime you're most welcome to subscribe to my RSS feed, or join me on Twitter.

Mixwit simply lets you produce a mixtape out of whatever music you can find via seeqpod, skreemer or just as plain mp3's on the interweb, and embed them as a snazzy widget on your webpage. Well, you can see how cool it looks below...

The process was really simple - just search for tunes and drag the ones you like from the results list to your playlist. I rather liked the default templates, but you can upload your own image to truly customise the look of your tape. I didn't need give out my email address or sign up to anything to produce the widget above, although doing so would let me go back and edit the tape in the future. If you write a music blog, this would make a great sidebar widget.

So, another little service that does something simple, incredibly well.

Just as I was calling it a night, I noticed on Summize that the term Jaiku is trending. From what I can gather, most of the posts are Brazilian and they seem to be dissatisfied with Twitter and leaving en masse for Jaiku. Here is a translation of the results page, updated in real time.

Orgoo describes itself as 'your personal communications cockpit'. In real terms this means that you can send and receive email through multiple accounts, through a single inbox (unless you use free Microsoft or Yahoo webmail). It similarly collates all your IM accounts and uses Joopz to let you send SMS messages (in the US and Canada). The interface is one of the cleanest I have used - It's as polished as Yahoo Mail but with more of the simplicity of Gmail.

They recently added video chat to the mix, which is well implemented and promises to be embeddable in the future. You are able to invite anyone by sending them a unique URL, and your guests don't have to be Orgoo members - an open minded approach that makes the service potentially much more useful.

Sadly Orgoo won't become my 'personal communications cockpit' for a while yet, for the simple fact that I would have to pay for my Hotmail and Yahoo services to make it really valuable, and those accounts are not worth the money. Pidgin is a more robust IM client too. I am forever opening and closing Firefox, and I suspect this is pretty common behaviour, so I like to have an IM running constantly in the background and not taking up a tab in my browser.

Also, in my tests Orgoo was deadly slow. It took forever to load up my Gmail inbox and then to view the individual messages. This may well be because of heavy load due to the sudden influx of new users from TechCrunch and the like. There are privacy issues to consider too as you will be trusting this one small company with a lot of your account information and personal data.

That said, I have six invites to hand out. Send your email address to foomandoonian (at), and I'll shoot out invites to the first six requests I get.

TinyURL is the original URL shortener. The service is very simple - take a long URL like:

and make a much tinier URL, like: TinyURL offers several additional features that are standard for most URL shortener services, including 'preview' links (eg: and bookmarklets, so you can streamline the process of creating short URLs.

So that's all pretty simple, right? Why would you want to use one of the many copycat services? Well, as with my other round-ups this one is not going to be comprehensive. Instead, here are a selection of URL shorteners that have some genuine value add. Still too much text? Skip to the end. Enjoy. is one of my favourites. It produces some of the shortest URLs (eg. Users can see a preview page by appending a hyphen to the URL (eg. You are also free to add any hints you like, after another "/", for example:

snipurl, snurl or, by contrast with, makes a simple service seem complicated. They have tons of features, and I hate to do them a disservice, but I wasn't prepared to create an account for something that is so non-critical. If you need Excel integration, RSS feeds, support forums, 'multi snips', privacy keys and tons of other features, check them out. Example url:

memurl tries to generate mnemonic URLS, like lets you pick a keyword (provided you can find a unique one) to produce more memorable URLs: It seems short of other features though. does the same as doiop, but with extra LOLcat, making for some amusing URLs: You have the option of entering your email address so you can edit your URLs later, but I could see no way of logging in. Just to be safe, I would advise against it.'s unique selling point seems to be 'cuteness'. It also has the option to personalise your URL. And it is cute!

Metamark can also generate custom URLs. A typical URL is, but that link will fail unless the user knows to append the password (in this case, add: -fail) is the only one I found that actually uses a custom subdomain, allowing you to create URLs like It also, by default, gives you a password to access your stats and manage the URL. One of the neater shortening services!

TweetBurner caters to the Twitter market by giving you stats associated with your account, and making it easy to tweet your twurl (!). Again, the bookmarklet simplifies the process. Typical URL:

HURL.WS is hosted on Google, so won't go down unless Google does. The URLs are not the shortest (eg. but it does let you check how many people have clicked through one of your links by appending /hits - for example:

urlTea is open source and has some extra funkyness. Typical URL: You can also append descriptive info to the URL after a question mark,

Finally, LinkBunch does something a bit different and creates a short URL for multiple links: It does mean that users have to be routed through a special page, but there are many useful applications that make this compromise worthwhile.

In conclusion...

Use to keep it simple and short. Use Tweetburner if you use Twitter. Use notlong if you want the URL to look semi-professional.

TechCrunch on Twitter. Nothing much to add, except the comments are great - in fact I think I'm now sold on the benefits of video commenting.

Muxtape quite simply lets you roll your own mp3 mixtape on the internet to share with others.

As you can see from the main menu on the left, things are kept very simple. Upload your files, rearrange the playlist and rename any tracks you need to, and settings lets you name and caption and associate a colour with your muxtape.

The social networking features are pretty basic too. You can add anyone else's Muxtape to your list of favourites and you can explore a random selection from the front page. this is not. Take a look at my muxtape to see the player in action.

A nice alternative is altertone, which is very slick looking and open source, but lacks the minimalism of Muxtape.

One final note worth mentioning is the official Muxtape blog. There was a short service outage over the last few days and this kept the users very well informed - something that Twitter has only just figured out!

We Heart It is a simple image bookmarking site, without the elitism of Ffffound. The service stands out because it keeps things simple and does things well.

After signing up, be sure to add the bookmarklet to your browser. Then it is just a matter of clicking a button, and optionally tagging and writing a comment on the We Heart It site. The tagging makes it easy to find similar images. You can choose to filter out NSFW content and there are rudimentary social networking features, but that in itself is no weakness. There is also the usual RSS feed so you can export your discoveries to your tumblelog or wherever.

I'm going to be writing about several other sites that serve a small niche but do it very well this week, so stay tuned for some more high quality discoveries.

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