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Microtask: The future of work

Ever think about what happens to forms when you fill them out and mail them in? It can be anything from a credit card application, getting an insurance quote, to claiming your promised prize. Saying nothing of how likely you are to win anything by filling out such forms, these forms create a wealth of menial work for someone to pine away on.

I can only imagine looking at a pile of forms and handing them to a staff to proceed with the mountainous task of meticulously copying the information and entering it into the system. Such tasks are undeniably mundane, slow, and expensive. With the internet such tasks can be dissected, distributed, and completed for a fraction of the cost. Microtask is a company that does just that. They take piles of work, organize it into bite sized tasks, send them out to their network of workers all around the world and return the results.

Microtask Home

Microtask is a crowdsourcing service for large companies. It lets them process huge quantities of redundant work cheaper and faster. The most basic service is form processing. Companies can submit their forms and have the information uploaded into their system. Erroneous information can be pulled so the data will be cleaned as well. Microtask works by separating the task into sub tasks. So if a form has first name and last name fields, those may be processed separately by different people. Dividing the steps like this both ensures that the information stays confidential and also allows for cost savings. Simple tasks are much cheaper to process, and more complex tasks cost more to complete. By breaking the tasks into smaller chunks Microtask is able to complete the same job for a fraction of the cost.

Microtask’s system is able to integrate with a client’s own workforce as well. So a company can configure a workflow that divides the tasks and then distribute those tasks throughout their own network. The system consists of both data processing as well automated data processing. All data is continually checked for accuracy.

Beyond form processing Microtask can be used for archive digitization. Libraries, national archives, and media houses may have a massive catalog of data that needs to be translated to digital form. Text recognition tools can be error prone. Microtask can be utilizing for advanced multilingual text recognition, structural analysis and assigning keywords. All projects are slightly different and Microtask creates custom solutions for client needs.

Microtask Solutions

One new direction for outsourcing is utilizing social network games. As some may be aware, all games by Zynga are notoriously evil. The amusement level of these games, Farmville, Mafia Wars, etc, is amongst the most nominally interesting in video game history. The addiction level is exceptionally high though. They are designed to never be completed and continually run out of resources. In order to keep playing you either have to pay cash or be subjected to the most inane advertising schemes conceived by man. Imagine being slimed by 30 minutes of spam ads all trying to get your personal information and credit card number. At one point I recall the ‘best’ option for gaining points in Mafia wars was to sign up for an adult dating service. So much for targeted ads, eh? OfferPal, one of the former providers of such scams had to close shop and completely rebrand amidst the furor over deceptive advertising. Their unofficial motto was, “Life is short, have an affair, in order to continue your Farmville game.”

Taking a positive slant on this ridiculous business model is Microtask. They’re currently working towards a solution where companies like Zynga can monetize by using their hopelessly addicted user base to do something constructive. That is, to gain more points in the game they could complete micro-tasks. This would more effectively ensure the game’s profitability as well as helping legitimate companies be more efficient. All the while not tearing down the very fabric of society.

Microtask offers a dynamic solution for distributed work. As more and more companies look for ways to keep their staff productive, using distributed workforces will become increasingly popular. Microtask is able to provide effective crowdsourcing solutions so companies can focus on their core business.

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Yogile: Photo sharing in style

Websites that store online photo albums are easy to find. There are literally hundreds of websites that all do the same basic thing. Upload a photo, organize them into albums, and share them with friends. It makes for a great project which students or software enthusiasts might do on the side.

Due to the impacted nature of the online photo album space, building one that stands out is an extremely ambitious feat. There’s only so many ways to skin this proverbial cat. It comes as an intriguing surprise then to find a new photo sharing site that’s bound to garner some attention. Yogile.

Yogile Home

Using Yogile is like being in a Roman bath where indentured servants come by making sure you have enough grapes. Few get to experience the height of luxury afforded by this level of extravagance. It’s a welcome indulgence to venture through its lavish and well crafted halls.

Instead of having to spend hundreds of years oppressing the downtrodden, registration for Yogile consists of submitting an email and a password. Once logged in the basic options are as expected. You create albums, upload photos, adding titles and descriptions along the way. Each new album can be private or sharable.

Where I really start to like Yogile is how readily it allows you to share albums with friends. It works like this. The url assigned to each album comes with an email address. Album owners can give anyone they like the ability to upload photos by giving them the email address. People only need to send an email with a photo attached and it will be uploaded to the album. By default Yogile auto-selects a random url/email label, but it’s easily customized. You can also readily embed your albums.

So let’s say you’re having a toga party and all your friends are dressed up in sheets, foliage, and sandals. Many people will take pictures. At the end of the party one person can create an album, click the share button, and send to everyone. The email contains brief instructions and the password if there is one. Those who receive the access info can then email their pictures which will be included in the online album. Album owners can arrange the photos, change the titles- they have full control of the album.

Yogile Photos

The two big limitations with photo sharing sites are bandwidth and server space. Picture files are large and take up a lot of resources to store and transfer. Yogile will store your photos in their original form in a free account, or gives you the option to upgrade to a paid account to keep them forever. Currently it’s around $45/year for their collaborative photo storage service. To contrast, in Roman times a pound of lavender would run you a month’s wages.

It’s hard to stand out with so many websites vying for your pictures. Yogile makes a clean break from the pack and provides first class photo storage and sharing.

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SiteNextDoor: Neighbors Online

The internet is full of websites. Even in the early days it was difficult to organize and find what you’re looking for. The most successful site online, Google, made its name due to its ability to direct people to the site they’re looking for. With tens of millions of websites out there surely there must be other ways to classify and dissect them than Google’s nebulous algorithms.

SiteNextDoor provides a different way to search through the masses of available websites. As their name implies, you submit a site and it returns sites that are similar. That is, it returns neighboring sites or those that are logically and virtually next to each other.

SiteNextDoor Home

Using SiteNextDoor is fairly straightforward. Type in the site that you’d like to find neighbors for and search. It also gives the option to provide any keywords you’d like to search on as well. Keywords can be used separately or combined with a website name. It will then return a list of neighbors. So for my example I tested with none other than OogaBooga.org. For those who don’t know, OogaBooga is a mighty and wise baboon that you can submit any question to and be sure to receive powerful guidance and enlightenment. You can also buy the OogaBooga sweatshirt, coffee cup, or thong, for those who are interested. The results of OogaBooga’s neighbors came back with a series of equally odd sites. Perhaps a better example would be submitting cnn.com as it returns msnbc.com, and similar. Note that each results line includes a find neighbors and preview link. These make it easy to continue exploring other neighborhoods of the web.

Similar to the major search engines, SiteNextDoor returns both organic and sponsored results. Organic results are those that are selected by SiteNextDoor’s algorithm. Sponsored results appear at top and are reserved for sites that paid for the privilege of being a listed as a top neighbor. The good news is currently all sponsored spots are free. Users can reserve (lease) up to five spots.

In order to lease a target location you first must register. From there you submit the sites you own. This requires validating ownership of the site, where you create an html page on your server which can be verified by SiteNextDoor’s system. The instructions are easy to follow. Once ownership has been established, you can select the sites you’d like to be top neighbors for. These can be competitors, allies, unrelated sites that attract the demographic you’re targeting, or any site you choose.

SiteNextDoor

Site owners are given the ability to enter a specific title and description which will be displayed in the search results. They can also indicate the exact landing page they’d like people to be directed to. This way site owners can choose whatever words they like to entice users to click on their site.

One thing that’s neat about SiteNextDoor is that it doesn’t lend itself to the massive industry of search engine optimization. In a sense SEO and everything like it is really a plague that the web would be better without. Ideally sites would be valued solely for the functions they perform or information they provide. Not by the drab mundanity of SEO design. At least at this point SiteNextDoor provides results based strictly upon its computations and not because someone figured out how to trick the system.

I’ve noticed of late that Google’s search results are starting to seem a bit boring. Maybe I’m the only one, or it’s just a general perception, but I sometimes wonder if their best days are behind them. Did the pride that led them to conquer maps, cars, and phones, also begin their slow, agonizing downfall? Or maybe it’s that they don’t readily offer thong underwear of their own as exemplified by our sage ape leader. It’s a complex question. Regardless, I welcome a new and creative way to discover interesting websites. SiteNextDoor provides that.

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Sentinel Monitoring: Is your server down

I remember the first time I received a text message indicating my server was down. I was at a ball game with friends and immediately phoned someone to check into it. Within a few minutes we resolved the issue and got everything back online. It followed the stages of panic, stress, anxiety, and then relief once the situation was over.

Over time you get better at dealing with these inevitable outages. First you freak out over every little thing, then eventually you learn to take them in stride. Now in the rare instances the server has a hiccup I just contact the tech department of our hosting service and go back to enjoying the burrito I was eating.

Sentinel Monitoring Homepage

Having a website monitoring service is important. Websites are online 24×7 every day of the year. Invariably the server will crash at some point. Whether the disc is out of space, OS is frozen, or network connectivity is down, there will be times when the website just conks out. Not all website monitoring services are created equal however. Most will only tell you if the server is offline and send you a message as soon as an error is detected. Sentinel Monitoring is a new service that offers a complete set of fully customizable server monitoring tools.

The primary feature offered by all server monitoring tools is to ping your machine. It sends out packets, receives them, and verifies the machine is a least online. Sentinel takes ping to the next level, allowing you to set various parameters such has how much latency to accept. That is, how long should it wait to receive the packets until it declares the server offline. Then you can indicate what percentage of packets you require to be received and how many packets to send. For instance, if it’s known that a network connection is spotty, the amount of packets can be increased and a lower success rate be required. On top of that it will check multiple times prior to sending out a warning messages. All these advanced settings give the user the ability to configure Sentinel so it’s less likely to send false alarms.

Sentinel doesn’t stop with pinging your machine though. They support checking services including http, https, certificates, smtp (email), pop3 (more email), ftp, imap, dns, ssh, streams (video and audio streams, Icecast and Shoutcast), and then they provide a generic tcp service checker. If these don’t make sense to everyone, think of them as the core functions required to keep a website happy and online. Of interest is http, in that you can configure more than just your home page. It can check any number of pages within your site to ensure the page loads and is online. Each has configurable options specific to that service, ranging from adjusting the port number to the frequency the service will be checked.

Sentinel Monitoring Dashboard

Sentinel’s offering isn’t limited to checking services that can be accessed externally. The platform is integrated with an agent that can be installed locally, to gather information about the machine itself. The agent used is Nagios, the industry standard for open source server monitoring. I can be installed on linux or windows. This allows you to monitor when disc space is running low, if the load is too high, or if a specific process is running. It also checks swap space, which is used for memory management, or NTP, which is a mysterious service shrouded in controversy and intrigue. Little is known about it. (It actually stands for network time protocol and ensures your server’s clocks are in sync.)

If all this sounds confusing, fear not. The core usage of Sentinel is as easy as registering and typing in your domain name. The advanced options default to reasonable settings and don’t immeditiately need to be adjusted. The notifications come in the form of emails, texts, direct messages from Twitter, or can be configured with an iPhone app. Sentinel also provides you the courtesy of a follow up email indicating your server is back online. This prevents you from getting back to the server only to learn it’s already taken care of.

Sentinel is extremely cost effective for a best of brand service. It’s free for the first month and then $10/month thereafter. These are New Zealand dollars, which makes it closer to 5 euros a month or 7USD with current exchange rates. Three servers can be checked with the core package and more can be added individually or with bulk discounts. Notably, it allows you to check as many services as suits your needs. Also notably, you can add other users to give the entire team access.

Sentinel offers a simple yet dynamic tool to monitor your websites. Its user friendly design makes it easy for basic set up as well as advanced configurations. The integration of the local agent gives you full access to all the system information you need. Sentinel is the new way web masters will be monitoring their sites. Which will leave plenty more time for burritos for all of us.

Sentinel’s fine service has announced that it’s refocusing. We don’t know if refocusing means having a few pints down at the pub, or working away on their next stroke of brilliance. We have high aspirations for them though.

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PartyTell: Where the Party’s at

Going to parties is a lot of fun. There’s music, food, drinks, and hopefully dancing. When a good party’s going on people call their friends and let everybody know about it. But once the party’s over the quest begins to find the next one. Sometimes there’s not a lot going on, or nobody’s heard where people are going that night.

Now there’s a way to find what parties are going on when you want them. PartyTell is a site that let’s clubs promote their parties so people can readily find them. DJs, promoters, and musicians can in turn list their services so they can be hired to assist.

PartyTell Home

PartyTell’s basic usage is for clubs and businesses to submit their party details which are then broadcast through PartyTell’s system. There are three packages available, Bronze, Silver, and Golden. The Bronze package lists the party info on PartyTell’s site. Silver lists it on their site as well as promotes the party on their Facebook and Twitter pages. The Golden package does all of the above and also prints 500 flyers for you. As of right now both Bronze and Silver packages are free. The Golden is $115. The distinction between Bronze and Silver is how widely you’d like you’re party to be promoted. If you don’t want it sent out to Twitter and Facebook, then go with the Bronze.

The Twitter followings of PartyTell are configured by state with separate Twitter accounts for each state. The site gives you the ability to see how many people are following each account, and also how many people visit the site from those states as well. This gives you a feel for how many people will be hearing about the parties. For instance, California’s stats can be found here.

When posting a party PartyTell collects the following information: name, business/company, name of venue, title of party, age limit, hosted by, DJ’ed by, celebrity guests, descrition, upload a flyer image, and then all the standard 411 information so people know when and where to go. The flyer will be displayed on PartyTell’s site, and printed if a club buys the golden package. Once posted, parties are listed online in a searchable directory. People can search for parties by city and state.

PartyTell pricing

PartyTell allows clubs to be listed even if an event isn’t currently being promoted. It collects basic information as well as the type of club. Club types include all the nightlife options, from bars to casinos to comedy clubs. Once submitted they can be searched by city, state, as well as club type. This gives party goers another venue to find places to go.

On top of allowing clubs to announce their parties or list their sites, PartyTell hosts a directory for DJs, promoters, and musicians. Here those that are ready to help bring the party together can offer their services. It’s a directory submission service similar to listing parties or clubs. In this case it collects basic contact info, service offered, and description. These can then be readily searched with contact info is listed on the site. Clubs can easily find people to make their event happen.

PartyTell is the place to go to find out about upcoming parties. Users can find the info on the site or follow them on the Twitter account for their state. Clubs will use it as a free way to let everyone know about the events they’re planning. DJs, promoters, and musicians can use it to promote their skills and get some extra work. PartyTell is  recently launched service, but it’s the site to watch when it comes to finding out about parties.

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Zenergo: Real world social circles

Just the other day I was having dinner with old neighbors. They know me as the resident computer guy, knowledgeable in all things technical. Whether this is the case or not doesn’t really matter. They look to me to provide insight on anything from remote controls to setting up wifi networks. This particular time the question arose regarding friends on Facebook. One lady had received numerous friend requests and was deciding whether to join. Two of these were from fierce enemies who have no intention of ever behaving civilly toward each other. Her question was whether it was possible for her to be friends with both these people on Facebook, yet keep them completely separate from each other. My answer was maybe the settings can be configured that way but the system doesn’t lend itself to keeping your social circles separate. She quickly decided not to join to avoid any conflicts.

The reality is online social networks place all your friends on an equal plane. Whether it’s someone you just met at the bar to someone you go way back with, a friend request is a friend request. Less technical users aren’t as adept at figuring out how to customize their privacy settings. One buddy of mine solved the issue by not letting anybody write on his wall. This kept his less savory friends from scaring off the innocent souls he knew in other circles. It also negated the original purpose of the social network.

Zenergo Home

Zenergo is a new website that provides a social network that mirrors our real world social circles. It’s an activities based social network that connects people based upon common interests and locale. Each of these connections can be as public or private as you would like. Just like real life.

The core of Zenergo is its activities. You can choose from over 300 preconfigured activities to connect with others. These range from tennis to wine tasting, dating, to a personal favorite- quilting. Once you pick an activity you can invite friends, start groups, plan events, and even create sub groups. Each one of these gives the user multiple levels of privacy. They can declare their tennis group to the world or keep it within a few friends. If they like they can set up a separate subgroup for their tennis friends that play with on Saturday mornings.

As would be expected each user is given a profile page. It includes some general information, private and public messaging, and photos. Each group, event, and activity also have separate profile pages so that the communications stay within that circle. You’re able to use different profile pics if you choose as well. So for you dancing friends you can upload pictures of the ballroom. For golf friends you can upload photos of you taking a nap. (Golf is really only so interesting.) A full list of sections within an Activity include the profile, news, inbox, photos, groups, friends and a search tool.

Zenergo Profilie

Beyond keying in on privacy, Zenergo picked up on one other major shortcoming of existing social networks. Location. It’s great to meet friends all over the world. I like the fact that I can send pictures and messages to people thousands of miles away. But when it comes down to it, sometimes it’s best for us to get off the computer and experience meaningful social engagement. Part of the profile is to enter your location. When searching for tennis buddies, or anyone else for that matter, you can readily see how many miles apart you are.

The service is available for both individual users as well as larger organizations.  Non profits or any association or organization would find the group and event planning features useful. Currently all services are free.

Zenergo is a social network that fits our natural social habits. For every activity we’re involved in it allows us to set up friend networks as they are in real life. It also allows you to meet new people locally who share common interests. In a world where too many people are feeling disconnected, Zenergo does its part to bring them back together.

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KarmaCRM: Customer Management Reincarnated

Keeping track of clients is critical. It starts when you learn their name and basic contact info. Over time you’ll cultivate the sale and deliver the product. This process is different every time. Some will purchase, some will fall away. Some will wait around for a few weeks then make up their mind. One of them will send you money out of the blue, leaving you in the dark for days as to who they are. It’s a fun challenge keeping track of clients.

The most basic tool for client management is a simple spreadsheet. Just add column headers, a section for notes, and you can set up a rudimentary CRM. Before too long this method becomes unwieldy and inconvenient. Keeping track of which clients need follow up, which deals were lost, and how much money was made, becomes increasingly difficult. Thus, Customer Relationship Management software was born.

KarmaCRM

There are huge CRMs that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, such as Oracle. And then there are open source options. These require time and effort for installation and ongoing maintenance. Not to mention people are much less likely to consistently back up their data. The biggest fish in the online CRM sea is SalesForce. It’s highly customizable, and highly expensive.

Springing up on the web are new CRM offerings. Some of these are shrink wrapped, in that you only get the options they provide. Others offer the core functionality that small businesses need, with an appropriate amount of customization and functionality. One such product is KarmaCRM. Karma is a new web based CRM that’s both simple yet flexible.

At its core Karma is a basic CRM that allows you to add contacts and track them every step of the way through initial contact, purchase, and then follow up. What makes Karma stand out is that it works right out of the box. You can immediately start adding contacts, companies, events, deals, and team members. At the same time, it provides the flexibility to be customized as well. New fields can be added to track extra information for the customer. Or you can adjust the customer stages, such as lead, qualifying, or follow up. Similarly you can add or modify the customer status, deal stages, referral source, and task categories.

KarmaCRM not only allows you to adjust what data is collected and stored, it also lets you personalize the presentation. For instance the dashboard consists of a series of widgets representing the activities of the business. There are graphs, reminders of upcoming events, tasks, and the most important one- deals. Each of these can be modified, moved, or removed as the user sees fit. Karma is also set up with two navigation systems. The first is the main navigation and runs along the top of the screen. The second is a drop down at the end. Sections can be move to one or the other and reordered.

Karma has one feature which I hold very dear to my heart. It’s the dropbox email address. Each client contact is allocated an custom karma email address. When you email your client, just bcc this address and it will automatically update the contact’s file with the email. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s spent countless hours of tedium cutting and pasting emails into systems that lack this functionality. What’s more is if you’re using a desktop mail client such as Outlook or Thunderbird, it will auto-populate both client and bcc addresses for you just by clicking the link within the browser.

As for initial setup, Karma readily imports client contacts from many major sources including:

  • FreshBooks
  • Highrise
  • vCard
  • Google
  • Yahoo
  • Plaxo
  • CSV file

Karma is integrated with MailChimp so you can send out bulk emails to your contacts. Once the contacts are set up in Karma’s system there’s a tool that allows you create lists by selecting the clients you’d like to contact. They can be selected individually, or by stage or status. So let’s say you want to send a bulk follow up email to all contact whose status is urgent. Just create a list based upon that status and click on the MailChimp button.

KarmaCRM Dash

Files can be uploaded, tagged, and categorized. Permissions can be set. Users can be placed in groups. Tasks can be created, given deadlines, and assigned. Multiple graphs and reports can be viewed. Karma has all the features you need to manage a full sales staff.

KarmaCRM is the web based CRM that small businesses have been waiting for. If you don’t have time to set it up, then don’t. Just start using it. The default configuration is fine. If after a while you want it would work a little differently, check the Settings tab. Chances are you’ll be able to make the adjustment. As of this writing KarmaCRM is still in private beta. I’m predicting they take the small to medium sized businesses sector by storm. Or another way to look at it- Karma will fill the CRM void where others fell short.

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Niggle It: A Timely Reminder

Warranties, receipts, documentation- let’s face it, nobody likes keeping track of them. Sure there are exceptions, like those with serious accounting tendencies. Every time we get a new cell phone, buy a car, purchase a new set of speakers, we enter into mini contracts which have binding consequences.

The most common contract is a warranty. Some products are covered for a few months, others are covered for years. Then there’s the infamous cell phone contract complete with its early termination fees. These fees’ legality is contested and in some cases deemed illegal. Keeping track of when warranties expire and when cell phone contracts are up can be tedious. Many just throw away the original receipts and don’t worry about it. Some put them in a file which is immediately forgotten.

Niggle It Home

Knowing when contracts and warranties expire can save you money and hassle. Now there’s a way to track this information so that you’ll be reminded before the contract runs out. Niggle It, is a site where you can enter all your receipts, warranties, and contracts, and it will remind you when they’re about to expire.

The core concept behind Niggle It is to enter the basic information, upload images of the receipt or contract, and then not worry about it until far into the future. The data you can enter is:

  • Item Type. This is either a product or a contract.
  • Manufacturer. Such as Nikon Apple, Subaru. Or Ferrari.
  • Model. Enzo, of course.
  • What you Call it. This is the name you know your item by, if needed. In this case it’s, My other car.
  • Purchase Price
  • Purchase date
  • Warranty length
  • Notes. Here you can add any other notes.
  • Tax deductible. If this box is check then Niggle It will automatically send you a list of the items that are tax deductible at the end of the year.

Once it’s saved you can upload documents for your Niggle. These are most typically receipts, contracts, or warranties. Essentially, Niggle It tracks warranties and agreements so they’re easy to look up the terms of your purchase.

Niggles

A full list of suggested services or products that can be Niggled includes:

  • Your assets
  • Warranties and extended warranties
  • Insurance policies
  • Telecommunication agreements, landline, mobile phones and internet connections
  • Utilities, electricity, gas, water supply and waste disposal
  • Contracts with services providers for IT hardware and software, cleaning, maintenance, stationery, kitchen supplies, web hosting, domain registration and other services
  • Contracts with customers for products or services you provide
  • Business name registration
  • Tax deductible receipts and invoices.

The way Niggle It works is once the contract is about to expire it sends you a notice letting you know. This can be an email or a text. So if your cell phone contract is about to expire it will send you a notice alerting you that you’re free to find a new carrier. Or if your car is about to go out of warranty it will remind you so you can make sure it’s working as desired before it’s too late. Here’s the full FAQ.

Niggle It is accessible from mobile phones as well. The first is their iPhone app. Here you can submit Niggles via the iPhone. Just enter the key information, take a photo of the contract if you like, and then submit it. More details can be filled out online later. For those who have a smart phone, but not an iPhone, they can submit niggles by email. Just take a picture of it and send an email to a specific Niggle It email address. The subject will become the item name and the rest of the details can be filled in online.

Niggle It iPhone AppNiggle It’s warranty and contract reminder service keeps track of your documents so you can find them when you need them. It’s easy to use and simple to set up. In a sense it’s just like putting  contracts and receipts in a file.  Except they’re  accessible when you need them and you’re reminded when you need to be.

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TweetCeekr: Local Streaming Tweets

Twitter is a website that changed the way the web works. Before it came along information was conveyed in much the same format as it was in the offline world. Emails are equivalent to letters, blogs are likened to diaries. Articles both online and offline are roughly the same. But Tweets are in an entirely separate category of their own.

These 140 character blurbs have made a definite splash on the internet. They are the central focus of some companies marketing efforts. Icons use them to keep their adoring fans up to date on their latest antics. Friends use them as a simple status update on their lives.

TweetCeekr HomeAs a result of Twitter’s popularity, there are so many tweets being sent out they are difficult to sift through. Finding relevant information can be challenging. TweetCeekr is a site that solves this. They made a tool that allows you to see stream of tweets for major cities in the US, broken down by category.

The cities that are currently available to view the latest tweets are:

  • New York
  • Los Angeles
  • Boston
  • San Francisco
  • Atlanta
  • Toronto
  • Chicago
  • Seattle
  • Philadelphia

These are then separated into the following categories:

  • News
  • Food and Entertainment
  • Deals
  • Sports

TweetCeekr works by pulling information from people’s profiles, including their location. The categories are established by lists in Twitter. There’s a link at the bottom of each category, which gives us the option to join. These lists stream tweets down their respective columns real time- as the tweets come in. It’s kind of like being in a news room as information is constantly flowing down the screen. To learn more about individual tweets simply read the short text (it’s only 140 characters), and click on the link.

TweetCeekr is a great way to get a feel for what’s going on in a new area. For instance, if you’re going to LA for the weekend and want to get some quick ideas on restaurants or learn what’s happening in the news, you could find it on TweetCeekr almost instantly. Just follow the tweet feeds for LA and click a few of them. You might even find some good deals while you’re browsing. In my explorations I found it interesting to check out towns I don’t know much about. Clicking on Chicago gave me the general lay of the land there- a few shooting, mob boss indicted, and an abundance of unimportant information about the Bears.

TweetCeekr Feed

On top of being a great place to find out information about America’s largest cities, TweetCeekr offers interesting advertising options. For those who are using their Twitter accounts primarily for marketing, they can sign on with TweetCeekr to have their tweets posted within TweetCeekr’s feeds. This is a great way to augment one’s marketing efforts from your Twitter accounts. So if  a restaurant in Boston wants to offer 15% discounts every once in a while, it could be posted to TweetCeekr’s Food and Entertainment section for Boston.

Twitter is widely known for distributing a lot of information, in the form of a lot of tweets. Finding those you care about can quickly become overwhelming. If you have hundreds of friends it becomes impossible to keep up with it all. TweetCeekr provides a great way to gain visibility both into the tweets, and also into the tweets from a specific area and topic. It brings the flow of information to a level that’s much more manageable. For those who are looking for more information on America’s most well known towns, TweetCeekr is a great place to find it.

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Bender Converter: Convert and Download Movies

The great thing about the internet is that you can find anything. It’s an encyclopedia of information. It’s a repository of videos, images, stories, stores, and everything in between. Not to mention the news and places online that we all use to stay in contact with friends.

Sometimes you find things online you’d like to keep. Maybe it’s a picture, an interesting article, a song, or a movie. Articles you can print on paper or save to your hard drive. But songs and movies aren’t always as easy to access. There are various sites that allow you to capture movies and songs, but they’re all lacking in some regard or another. Some bombard with you tons of ads. Others require you to sign up and then send you an indefinite stream of junk mail.

BenderConverter Home

Now there’s an easy and effective way to convert movies to audio, video, or even images. Bender Converter is a site where you can enter the link to the movie you’d like to convert, select the format you’d like output, and then download it. It doesn’t require you to enter an email address and it worked exactly as expected.

There are three fascinating aspects about Bender Converter- the video sources it accepts, the formats it converts to, and its search capability. It accepts videos from the following sites:

  • youtube.com
  • dailymotion.com
  • megavideo.com
  • vimeo.com
  • twitvid.com
  • veoh.com
  • video.google.com
  • blip.tv
  • break.com
  • kontraband.com
  • facebook.com
  • livevideo.com (liveshows not supported)
  • liveleak.com
  • stagevu.com

On top of listing what sites Bender Converter accepts, some of these might give you new and interesting places to look for cool videos. Once you find your video you can convert it to any of the following formats. Note that it will convert to three distinctly different formats: video, audio, or images.

  • MP3 Audio (.mp3)
  • Waveform Audio (.wav)
  • Flash Video (.flv)
  • Video for Phone (.3gp)
  • AVI Video (.avi)
  • QuickTime Movie for Mac (.mov)
  • MPEG Video (.mpeg)
  • Windows Media Video (.wmv)
  • GIF Animation (.gif)
  • Shots (2 frames / sec) (.jpeg)
  • Shots (5 frames / sec) (.jpeg)
  • iPod / PSP / iPhone Movie (.mp4)

Once you enter the URL and format, you press the convert button to start the process. When the conversion is done you click the download button and presto, you have your video.

The third area of interest is the search functionality. Let’s say you need a video for a project but just aren’t sure which one to use. Bender Converter provides a search tool where you can search for the ideal video.  For this example I picked the only movie character that really matters- Doc Holliday from Tombstone. Up comes all the videos where Doc’s name is featured. It displays the number of views, duration, and a preview button so you can check it out before converting the video. Once you find the one you’re looking for, you can select the format you want from the drop down menu and press the download button.

BenderConverter Search

Bender Converter puts some limitations on its free access. These include a maximum of two conversations a day, leaving watermarks on the animated gif conversions, and a few other limitations. To register it costs anywhere from $8/month to $59 for the entire year. Registering gives you unlimited access and top quality conversions. Of particular interest, they utilize Avangate to manage the payment transaction. Avangate is set up to accept any of the following payment options.

  • PayPal
  • VISA
  • Mastercard
  • JCB
  • Maestro
  • Solo
  • Discover
  • American Express
  • Cheque
  • Phone Order
  • Fax Order
  • ACH
  • Wire Transfer
  • Purshase Order
  • Paysafe Card
  • WebMoney payments made through Avangate B.V. using their secure HTTPS protocol

I’m fairly certain that once you sign up two guys show up at your door with dark sunglasses wanting more information on your money laundering operation.

Bender Converter is an easy to use site for converting and downloading your favorite movies. The process is intuitive and simple. One note worth mentioning, Bender Converter’s terms of use make it clear they don’t condone the misuse of copyrighted material. Given the recent legal turmoil over such issues it’s best to be respectful of ownership rights. Once you do find a video that is both legal and you’d like to download, Bender Converter is the place to go.