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Date: Monday, 07 Apr 2014 12:05

Netboard.me is a tool that allows you to create your own webpages, pulling in content by adding URLs. They say of themselves "Your netboard is a world wide accessible Web page where you can easily gather videos, photos, presentations, links and many more things from the Web. Netboard is the best way to share Web things which you like."

I had high hopes of this tool until I got to the website. It is littered with basic grammatical and spelling errors, which is never a good sign. I created my first board but found the interface clunky and unhelpful. It was easy to change the size of each small widget type device that linked to the website you wanted to share, but I didn't find a way of getting back to the original size. There's a text option that allows you - I presume - to add your own text, but I was unable to make it work at all.

If you're interested in a tool like this - use Padlet instead, which is a far superior product. Sorry the folks at Netboard - but you're living in a cut-throat world, and you haven't done yourself any favours and while I appreciate this is a beta product - everything is in beta these days, and beta shouldn't mean 'basic errors that a quick copy proofing wouldn't catch.'

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Websites: creating sites"
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Date: Tuesday, 01 Apr 2014 15:37

Not sure if you can trust a particular site? There are a few tools that you can try out. Scamadviser lets you know the background to a site - I used mine as an example. Scambook is a site that helps you make a complaint against a particular site, but although they said that they've got damages for people running into $18mil, it doesn't look particularly professional. I wouldn't use it myself, I'd go through a court system, but it might be useful for research. Alternatively, try Complaints Board which describes itself as "The most trusted and popular consumer complaints website" and it's very US focussed.

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Shopping: finance"
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Date: Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 13:21

with Reme.IO The idea is simple: you decide on your email reminder text such as 'Don't forget the dentist at 3pm'  and give it your email address. You then get a reminder sent to you at the time that you have requested. Completely free - that's all that there is to it.

I have a couple of reservations - isn't that why my iPhone is for? I just tell Siri to set a reminder for me and it does it straight away. Of course, if you don't have a smartphone, ignore that concern. You can also add other people's addresses - and I can see the point of that, but it's far too easy to simply use the service to spam or otherwise irritate people - unless they send an email first to check that you're happy to receive a reminder. So, not something that I'll be using - but I'm putting it out there in case other people find it helpful.

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Email: miscellaneous"
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Date: Wednesday, 05 Mar 2014 11:37

They say of themselves: "Our free online PDF Converter provides a quick and easy way to convert PDF to Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, allowing you to create a PDF from literally any file.

Not only is it a completely free file conversion service, it also enables you to avoid the hassle of having to install something on your computer.

Simply select the type of conversion, upload your file, enter your email address, and soon enough, you will receive an email with a link to your converted file. Maximum file size of an uploaded file is 2MB."

via www.pdfconverter.com

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Miscellaneous: file formats"
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Date: Tuesday, 11 Feb 2014 12:20

The issue of backups is always an important one, but something we so often ignore, right up until the moment has passed and it's too late. I have backed up important material onto discs in the past (both CD and DVD), and I have also got data backed up onto several external hard drives. You should also make sure that one of your backups is off site - the distance that I once saw was something like 'double the wing span of a crashed aircraft on your house' which is rather dramatic, but not a figure that you'll forget.

Obviously the best place to backup to these days is into the Cloud, and after having a look around I've chosen to go with SquirrelSave which claims to be the UK's #1 service. It's a commercial offering, costing around £60 a year, but it's all automated and works entirely in the background, which is exactly what I wanted. I also have an unlimited amount of space, which is just as well, given that I'm backing up rather a lot. (You'll see what I mean when you look at the screenshot below!)

They highlight their keys points thus:

  • Automatic - No need to set a schedule or remember to start.
  • Instant - Save a file and it is backed-up straight away.
  • Unlimited - Unlimited backup for your personal files.
  • Historical - Copies kept so you can go "back in time" forever.
  • Simple - Simple to install and easy-to-use.
  • Secure - Fully encrypted and 100% safe.
  • UK based - No data sent overseas.

It's currently working away in the background, and I've not really noticed any degradation in speeds. I'll let you know how it goes. Meantime, here's a screenshot of the interface in action, which gives you a nice idea of what you can do with it.

(And yes, it really does mean 28 days!)

 

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Backups"
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BlueG   New window
Date: Tuesday, 04 Feb 2014 11:57

Your Personal Homepage which is to say that it's a home/start page alternative. It's very simple to set up and only takes a few seconds. If you're familiar with Netvibes it looks very like that, with widgets/gadgets and columns where you can drag and drop. There are tabs for different subject areas, and you can add widgets as you need to different pages.  Nice and easy to use. I didn't create an account myself, just played with the public stuff, so I'm not sure if you can share pages that you create with other folk, but if you're looking for a nice straightforward start page, this is one to check out.

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Start pages"
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MapFight   New window
Date: Sunday, 26 Jan 2014 13:37

This is a fun little tool. Type in the countries that you want to compare sizes for (including US states) and you get to see them both (in rather abstract form) with one overlaid on the other, with details on which is bigger. The graphic shows this quicker than I can explain:

via mapfight.appspot.com

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Miscellaneous: miscellaneous, Travel"
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Tweetchup   New window
Date: Thursday, 16 Jan 2014 15:12

is a nice little Twitter analytic tool which offers a wide variety of data. Start by logging in with your Twitter account and it really quickly analyses your stats. You can see how many times you're mentioned, average mentions per day, retweets, how many people you have potentially reached, a profile analysis, tweets by day, hour and so on. The graphs are reasonable, though not especially attractive, and I'd like the opportunity to look and see exactly which tweet got the most mentions on a particular day. However, it's fast, easy to use and effective. Worth a look if you want to try and analyse your twitter account.

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Twitter"
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MindMup   New window
Date: Wednesday, 08 Jan 2014 11:48

MindMup is a free, opensource, online mindmapping canvas, Its aim is to build the most productive mind map system online. When you go to the site you are immediately dumped straight into the designing screen, which can be a little daunting. However, the menu bar is simplicity itself and it's very easy to work with. It's free to use, but free maps are deleted after 6 months, and a subscription costs $25 a year.

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Collaboration: mind mapping"
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Date: Wednesday, 08 Jan 2014 11:43

mind42.com or as they prefer to call it Mind For Two is a brainstorming package. "Mind42 allows you to manage all your ideas, whether alone, twosome or working together with the whole world. Mind42 runs in your browser, so no installation necessary for the ultimate hassle-free mind mapping experience. Just open your browser and launch the application whenever and wherever needed."

Looks nice enough and there are some good examples of how it can be used on the home page. It is free to use, but adverts can be removed for a small cost.

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Collaboration: mind mapping"
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Listly   New window
Date: Monday, 30 Dec 2013 20:18

Lists made easy + social + fun! It's pretty much exactly what it says - it's a list making device with a bookmarklet to make it easy to add to. The social element comes in that people can comment, vote up or down lists and so on. It's a nice enough looking news curation tool, but doesn't come close to things like Pearltrees for example.

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "News Curation"
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Date: Sunday, 29 Dec 2013 17:22

If you're unhappy with home/start page tools such as Symbaloo or Netvibes, you might want to give Dash a run out. There's an emphasis on live feeds, you can create private or public pages, and there are a few widgets that you can add.

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Start pages"
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Date: Sunday, 29 Dec 2013 17:11

Want to easily download YouTube videos? There are a number of ways that you can do this, and one of the easiest is to use Keepvid. Simply visit the site and then input the URL of the video that you want. You can then just download it straight away. You do however need to have java installed, but that's the only issue.

 

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Multimedia: multimedia"
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Date: Sunday, 22 Dec 2013 12:50

Need a quick screen recorder that lets you record up to 30 minutes, then whack it across to YouTube without having to register? Then take a look at Screenbird, which does exactly that.

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Screencasting"
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Date: Saturday, 21 Dec 2013 14:21

This is an interesting idea - upload some pictures, share the link with friends, they bundle into the room that you've created and then you talk them through the pictures. Live pics is a nice way of quickly and easily sharing content.

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Multimedia: audio, Multimedia: visual"
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Date: Saturday, 21 Dec 2013 14:14

Stickynote software lets you create a little wall and then post stuff to it - Padlet is my favourite of these tools, but I thought that I'd take a look at PixiClip because it does promise a lot. You are able to record your voice, doodle, share material, use a webcam and so on. Pretty nifty. Except... I couldn't get it to recognise my webcam or my mic, and it wasn't interested in playing with the image that I uploaded. This might be a really good tool, but in all honesty, I have no idea! :)

via www.pixiclip.com

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Multimedia: multimedia"
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Date: Saturday, 21 Dec 2013 11:20

'How do you find all the stuff that you do?' is a question that I'm often asked, and one of my responses is that I use news curation tools that find it for me. So I was interested to see a new one on the scene; NOOWIT. What's different with this one is that it's actually web based, rather than an app on a smartphone or tablet, and there aren't many of those around.

So - if you want to try news curation, have a look at Noowit. Unfortunately, that's about as positive as I can get really. In comparision to other excellent tools such as Zite and Flipboard, this one is sadly lacking. It uses the magazine concept of small news blocks like magazine articles that you can click on and go to the whole story, but these are *huge* - you're lucky to get 2 or 3 to a page. This requires much more scrolling than should be necessary (they make a big thing of scrolling left right and up and down - but guys - that's just scrolling, we've had the for a while now), and it's really hard to work out exactly where you are. Some of the images cut over the text, and so I can't see what it is that I'm supposed to be reading.

I found stories being repeated on pages, which was irritating. Unlike Zite for example, which greys out a story when you've read it - very helpful - Noowit doesn't do that. I liked the fact that you could share stories on social media, like or bookmark them, but again, that's not revolutionary, it's just to be expected. There wasn't a like/dislike option as you have with other tools, so how could it learn quickly what interested me and what didn't; if you're going to have a personalised news feed, it's got to be well... personal.

I was slightly disconcerted over the reference to Google Reader, which died over the summer. Admittedly, it gave me an option to import my OPML feed, which is helpful, but most people will have moved on to other tools already, so why the emphasis on GReader, when it should have been on an OPML file? This just makes it look worryingly out of date.

I didn't have the flexibility to choose subject areas of interest to me, which I have with other tools, and I was fairly limited to choice of sources, although admittedly I could pull in my own RSS feeds, but again it's not ideal. I expect a vast array of subject areas, and having two - yes, two - for internet material was a little laughable. It just doesn't cut it.

So in summary, if you don't have a tablet device, and you're interested in news curation tools, give this one a go; it will give you a vague flavour for what people are experiencing on a tablet device. Hopefully Noowit will improve, but until it does, I'm not really interested in it.

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Discovery: miscellaneous, News Curation"
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Date: Friday, 20 Dec 2013 13:32

Clipartlord.com has a wide variety of graphics, and most of them are in public domain, but they do tell you what is and what isn't, and they're clear on what you're allowed to do. There were a nice collection of book/library images, and there were also some animated gifs as well. Great for children to use.

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Education 2.0, Humour: images"
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Date: Friday, 20 Dec 2013 13:19

Gone Google Story Builder This is an interesting little tool - it allows you to create something that looks like a word processed document, with changes and edits, the chance to add some sound in the background, and then save it as a video. I liked the look of it and it's done in usual Google style (which means that it's good, but no idea how long it'll last) but I wasn't able to log into my account to save anything, which was irritating.

However if you want to take a look at it in action, there's a link to a Hall and Oates type example - but have your speakers turned down a bit!

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Collaboration: presentations"
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PowToon   New window
Date: Friday, 20 Dec 2013 13:11

a free business presentation software animated video maker and PowerPoint alternative. This looks like a fun tool, and if you're into the whole animated cartoon effect presentation, this is right up your street.

Author: "philipbradley" Tags: "Collaboration: presentations"
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