All posts by Amit Banerjee

Amit has been writing for Techie Buzz since early 2009 and keeps a close eye on web apps, Google and all things Tech. He also writes at his own tech blog, Ampercent. Follow him on Twitter @ amit_banerjee

Use Your Android Device As A Side Monitor With A Windows or MAC Desktop

Dual monitor setups are ideal for multitasking. You can move application windows from one monitor to the other, keep an eye on programs like Tweetdeck on the secondary monitor while doing your primary work on the main one. Multiple monitors surely consume a fair amount of desk space but they are actually worth it.

In case you don’t have an extra monitor at home but have an Android tablet or a smartphone, you’re in good company. iDisplay is a simple application for Android devices which lets you use your Android smartphone as an extra side monitor with PC or MAC desktop. You will need a common Wi-Fi network at your home or office to use the Android device as a side monitor with PC or MAC.

Here are the step by step instructions that needs to be followed:

1. On your Windows or MAC desktop, fire up the browser and download the iDisplay desktop client. During installation, Windows firewall will block some features of the iDisplay server, click Allow Accessto grant all the necessary permissions.

idisplay-installation

2. On your Android device, go to the Android market and install the iDisplay client for Android. The application isn’t free but you can use the trial version of the app for 1 week.

3. Make sure both the computer and your Android device is connected to the common Wi-Fi network.

4. Now run the iDisplay desktop client on your Windows or MAC computer and launch the iDisplay application on your Android device.

5. On the first run, the Android app will automatically detect your desktop computer, as shown below:

Android-detection

6. Tap on the name of the computer and you will see a notification on the desktop computer, as shown below:

idisplay-desktop-app

7. Click Allow Accessand it’s done. You will see the following notification window on your Android device:

Android-notification

8. Click Okand you will see a preview of your desktop screen on the Android device. Drag any program or application window towards the edge of the desktop monitor and you can slide the window into your Android device. Here is a view of Windows Explorer when viewed from my Android phone:

Windows-explorer-android

Using program or application Windows On the Android screen is a bit tricky but once you get used to it, you will love playing with them. There are two ways you can control an application or Explorer window on the Android screen. Either move the mouse cursor from your desktop computer to the Android screen or use Android’s own touch features for minimizing, maximizing and moving program windows from one position to another.

And here is a broader view of my laptop running Windows7 and the Android phone acting as an extended side monitor using iDisplay ( I regret the poor image quality, blame my retro mobile camera).

Android-phone-side-monitor

Note that I can move multiple browser windows from the desktop computer to the Android device. The only downside is that the corresponding size of the window decreases when you slide the window on your Android device. While using a smartphone as a side monitor is not that useful due to it’s small screen size, folks who have an Android tablet can make good use of iDisplay. [ via ]

Give this a try and let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

Completely Get Rid Of Facebook Questions In Firefox And Google Chrome

The Questionsfeature in Facebook may be useful to some folks, but I don’t find it useful for a couple of reasons.

First, the questions are more geared towards fun and virality rather than usefulness. I agree that the nature of questions depends on the people you’re connected to but I have hardly seen anyone praising the usefulness of Facebook questions.

Second, whenever there is a world event like the Royal wedding or the launch of a new gadget, my timeline suddenly gets filled with dozens of irrelevant questions in which I have no interest at all. Worst thing is that the same question appears multiple times in the timeline, whenever there is a new answer or someone posts a comment to the question

And the notifications.Mr X has answered Mr Y’s question. After a while, this gets really annoying and the sad part is that Facebook does not allow you to block Facebook questions like you can block a particular application, game, invites or a user.

Here is what the FAQ page reads

As with other Facebook applications like Photos and Events, there is no way to turn off Questions.

If you’re fed up with the spammy nature of Facebook questions and want to turn off the clutter, try the Hide Facebook Questions extension for Google Chrome. The extension hides every evidence of the “Questions” feature so your news feed doesn’t get cluttered with polls.Once installed, you will need to refresh Google Chrome and the Questions feature will vanish from your timeline.

And so will the notifications that used to come when one of your friends answered a question asked by another Facebook friend of yours.

 

hide-facebook-questions

Firefox fans can try the more advanced FB purity add-on which lets you fix some other annoyances apart from hiding Facebook questions in Firefox. For example, FB Purity allows you to use the older Facebook commenting system, where pressing Enter or Return adds a new line to your comment, and pressing the “Comment” button submits the comment.

Both the browser extensions works out of the box there are no options to configure and nothing to tweak.

Earth Day Awareness With Today’s Google Doodle

Google Doodles are a great way to learn about international events, famous inventions, important   dates and what not.   Over the years, Google doodles have always added a fun element to search and today’s Google doodle is no exception.

Inspired from the Earth day 2011, today’s Google doodle is all about the environment, animals, nature and going green.

Google's Earth day doodle

As always, Google wants to create awareness for Earth day by educating users about the global event. For over 40 years, Earth Day (April 22) has inspired and mobilized individuals and organizations worldwide to demonstrate their commitment to environmental protection and sustainability.

This Google doodle is animated and there are a couple of hidden animals which are revealed only when you hove the mouse cursor to specific areas of the doodle.

There is a Lion, a pair of Penguins, a Koala bear, a frog but the scariest of them all are the two Pandas sitting beside the Bambooo trees. Is this the same Panda which has changed the fate of a lot of webmasters because of it’s April 12th global update ? Not to forget that there is a small child panda waiting, so an update to the Panda algorithm might be a work in progress Smile

Jokes apart, the philosophy of today’s Google doodle goes hand in hand with that of Earth day 2011 – a pledge campaign aiming to get a billion people from around the world to pledge their allegiance to the environment.

One question to our readers how many animals can you spot in today’s Google doodle ? Let’s see who can crack the right answer first in the comments.

Google Toolbar 7 Adds Instant Search To Internet Explorer 9

Some good news for Internet Explorer users.

Google has recently released a new version of Google toolbar for Internet Explorer and Firefox. Google Toolbar 7 making your web browsing faster, simpler and instant.

The newer UI of Google Toolbar 7 for Internet Explorer and Firefox is sleek and hides all the options under a drop down menu, as shown in the following screenshot

google-toolbar7-internet-explorer

 

Enabling Instant Search In Google Toolbar 7

After you have downloaded and installed Google Toolbar 7, you will be first asked to choose your default search provider. You may either choose Bing or Google as your default search engine, hit OKand restart the browser for the changes to take effect.

search-provider

To enable Instant search in Internet Explorer 9, go to the toolbar options panel by clicking the tiny wrench icon at the top right of Google Toolbar and choose Enable Instant for faster searching and browsing

enable-instant-search

Once you have turned on Instant search for Internet Explorer 9, you can preview search results on Google.com by typing the keywords on the Google search box of Google Toolbar.

Since I am a regular Google Chrome user, I confused this with the address bar of Internet Explorer only to find out that I have to type the same words in the Google search box of Google toolbar (and not in the address bar of Internet Explorer 9). You can also type Alt+G to get to the Toolbar search box more quickly.

Here is how the Instant search interface of Google toolbar looks like

enable-instant-search1

To clear your search terms, hit the Escapekey on your keyboard and the search box will be highlighted, waiting for you to type the new keywords you want to search for.

With this new update, Google wants to push their instant search features deeper and let IE users get the feel of “Instant” search without having to use Google Chrome at all.

Privacy Options

Many features in Google Toolbar send anonymous usage information to Google, in order to improve your browsing experience.

If you’re concerned about the privacy of your system and don’t want to share anonymous usage data with Google, you can turn off specific privacy features from the preferences panel

google-toolbar-privacy

Other features are quite the same as before, it’s just that Google has revamped the overall look and feel of Google toolbar by removing unnecessary UI clutter of buttons and icons from the toolbar panel. To customize which buttons and options appear in the toolbar panel, click the wrenchicon, go to Custom buttonsand choose the buttons you want to see in the toolbar area.

Overall, the new Google Toolbar adds a hint of Google Chrome in Internet Explorer 9. While I continue to use Google Chrome as my default browser, those who want Google’s Instant search feature on Internet explorer, can try the improved Google toolbar 7 here. The following video gives a short introduction of what Google toolbar 7 is all about:

You might want to check our ultimate list on Internet Explorer 9 tips and tricks

Trying To Recover From Google’s Panda Algorithm? Some Mistakes You Should Avoid

If you have a couple of MFA sites and you specialize in auto blogging software for producing content, please skip this article.

So here we are, Google’s new wild animal (read Panda) is out from it’s cage and there has been a lot of speculation on the effects it has brought as a result. As before, some webmasters are on the winning side while some lost a significant proportion of traffic and rankings. Google did announced in their official blog post about the new algorithm and how it is geared towards increasing the user interaction and quality of sites in Google search results.

google_farmer_panda

Rewinding

Back in December 2010, we told you how spam sites were polluting Google search results. Typically irrelevant content, little information, scraping, aggregating stuff from other sources and gaming the game of search to get ranks in SERP’s.

Seeing the immense amount of pressure from a wide variety of sources, Google had to do something about the search spam.

They introduced a chrome extension which allowed users to blocklist specific websites from search results and then releasing another feature which allowed users to blocklist sites directly from the search result pages. No wonder, this move was deployed to see the user behavior for specific queries/sites and cross check whether the results produced from the upcoming algorithm go hand in hand with the obtained data.

Tip: You can read our earlier tutorial to check whether your site is a victim of Google’s farmer update

After Google’s Farmer Update

There are two possible scenarios either you’re on the winning side or you’re on the losing one.

I am not going to discuss the details on why a specific site was penalized, Good content, trustworthy links and factors influencing the sudden downfall or raise of specific sites. If you’re a blogger or web publisher, chances are that you have already done your homework and know all the basic stuff.

Instead, I would want to put some light on things you should not do, trying to recover from Google’s Farmer or Panda algorithm.

Some possibly wrong assumptions:

1. Google’s Farmer Algorithm Is Incorrect

Just because you’re on the losing side, does not necessarily mean that an entire algorithm is wrong. Google has deployed this algorithm after months of testing and collected user feedback, why do you think that the same guy who sent you thousands of visitors every single day will turn its back all of a sudden ?

2. It’s Not Just Me, thousands are saying the same

Yeah right.

Care to row the boat and go to the opposite end of the river ? You will find people shouting Google’s Panda algorithm is wonderful, we are getting 3 times more traffic than before…Thanks Google !

3. I think I would register a new domain name and 301 redirect all the pages to my new domain. Someone told me that Google has put penalization on specific domain names and blacklisted all of them.

This is a crazy idea and should be avoided at all costs.

Do you think that the search bots are so foolish that they wont recognize the new domain being related with the older one ?

Let me assure you that domain name is hardly a factor, it’s the content, links, reputation, user friendliness and overall reach that counts.

4. Some scraper has copied my article and is ranking ahead of me. Doesn’t that sound absurd ?

This is a problem. And I have to say that Google is losing it’s edge here

First ensure that your website is not sending “content farm” signals to Google. Most webmasters either don’t use canonical URL’s in their theme or have the same content accessible via different URL’s, which confuses the bot and annoys them over and over again.

The only thing you can do here is file a DMCA notice and take down the scraped content yourself. This is a indeed very very difficult for large sites who have thousands of pages but you have to keep an eye on the scrapers and take them down, if they are ranking ahead of you in SERP’s.

5. Google says that low content pages are no good for users. Hence, I will delete all those blog posts that are less than 200 words, I don’t want low quality pages to hurt my high traffic pages that have valuable content.

Okay this one is a bit tricky but first you need to define a few things.

1. What is good content ?

2. Does Word count play any role in deciding the usefulness of a page ?

There is hardly a proper definition of what Good content is all about. It depends from one perspective to another and every website has it’s own way to benchmark the quality, usefulness and overall usability factorof the content they are creating.

And, neither is word count.

If a page has 2000 words on some topic and another page has only 300 words; it does not automatically guarantee that the earlier one is more rich in terms of content.

Enter word padding, keyword stuffing, sentence repetition, citation, irrelevant opinions and user comments.

What I am trying to convey here is that the same information can be masked in a label of 1000 word article, could have been said in lesser words.

5. What’s the harm in deleting low content pages ? I hardly get any traffic to those blog posts and I think they are hurting my pillar content

Yes, but at the same time you will lose the number of indexed pages and the page rank which used to follow through those pages.   I agree that your pillar content is the cannon but at the end of the day, it needs those tiny little matchsticks to fire a shell.

Removing all the low content pages will also result in a good number of 404’s, which might break your site architecture and you will lose the Google Juice flowing through those pages. Don’t make this mistake right now, you can always hammer down the tree later.

Instead, noindex, follow the archive pages of your blog which is nothing but a collection of content, actually residing on your single post pages.

6. I have linked to a lot of external sites in the past. Since the Farmer algorithm is live for everyone, I must remove all those links as they are draining the pagerank out of my blog

If you have sold text link ads or linked to untrusted sites who don’t produce original content, you might want to remove those links. But don’t overdo and start removing all the links from scratch.

Remember Linking to external sites does not necessarily reduce your site’s pagerank or authority and neither it drains out Google juice from your pages in that sense.

7.   I didn’t pay enough attention to link building earlier on. I will contact the SEO guy and buy 50 dofollow text links from authority pages to inflate my lost traffic

I doubt it, and I wont recommend this either.

The search bots can determine whether a link is natural or forced, so you might get that initial thrust but believe me if your main product ain’t right, every other effort will fail.

Things I Would Recommend Doing

I would recommend performing a routine check on the technical aspects first.

1. Login to your Google Webmaster tools reports and fix those crawl errors. 301 redirect the bad links to the actual pages, let the Google juice flow smoothly across your site.

2. Use Google’s URL removal tool and remove the previously crawled 404’s.

3. Check your robots.txt file, check for unnecessary directories deeper in your site which you forgot to include in the Robots.txt file.

4. Check those codes, not just the theme files but also the corresponding output in the browser.

5. Noindex, follow the tag, category and archive pages of your site

6. Be patient and don’t do anything silly just because some problogger wrote a possible fix in his MMO website.

7. There is gold in the archives – login to your web analytics program and find those pages whose traffic has reduced considerably. Compare these pages with the past data, try to find a pattern.

8. Remember that this is an algorithm which works the same way as Mathematics does. You can crack a 100 out of 100 in the next exam, if your current score is only 40.

At the end of the day, it’s you who have to find what’s wrong with your site and fix the problems. Me saying that this works and that doesn’t, is just a light in darkness. You have to analyze your current situation and make decisions. Some of these decisions will be hard and unjustified to other’s eyes, but remember that noone else can judge your site and it’s internal behavior as well as you can.

6 Famous April Fool Pranks From Companies Other Than Google, Apple Or Yahoo

Ahh… April 1st, 2011 has just passed by and we are here with another list of April fool pranks by companies who are not so famous but pranked some very creative jokes towards their customers and users.

This is one day of the year when you should trust your senses and reasoning more than your eyes or ears, applicable for both online and offline worlds. While we have already covered April fool pranks by Google and April fool screensavers , the following list is all about creative April fool pranks by companies which do not appear in the limelight.

1. New Age Gadgets

Internet retailer Iwoot.com advertised several “high-tech” products, such as wireless “Ear” Phones, a RoboGirlfriend, “Memory Stick” and a Blue Tooth Brush.

new-age-gadgets-april-fool

 

2. Whistling Carrot

Okay this one is a little old (2002) and outdated but certainly a good one.

The British supermarket chain Tesco published an advertisement in The Sun,announcing that the company will soon launch a a genetically modified ‘whistling carrot. An advertisement was aired explaining that the carrots were specially engineeredand that they would grow with tapered air holes in sides. When you cook these carrots, the airholes will produce a whistling sound

carrots

 

3. Swedish Color Television Classic April Fool Prank

This is yet another classic April fool prank by a Swedish television channel which occurred on April 1 1962. At that time, STV (Sveriges Television) broadcasted in Black and White and was the only Television channel in Sweden.

STV Announced that the channel would soon describe a procedure to view colored images on their black and white television sets, all they have to do is pull a Nylon stocking over the front of the idiot box.

zztv

4. Flying Penguins

Other than Google or YouTube, not many companies are known to create video pranks on April Fools day. BBS however, surprised it’s audience by airing a small footage of Flying Penguinsfound in Antartica. Hit the play button below to see the prank in action

5. Relation Shift Automated Person Purge From Kodak

Kodak announced a new app which takes your relationships to a new level. A new tech called Three pronged” approachhelps users remove a person from all their photos and videos in just one touch. Their so called facial recognition software can identify a person throughout their photos or videos. This can be used to hunt down the person whom you dumped last summer and remove him/her from all photos of yours.

5138886092020721742

6. The Pirate Bay Wins Auction Site Ebay

A new blog post went live at the PirateBay blog announcing the following

We saw that eBay was up for sale on their own site and since we have a long going law suit against them for abuse of our trademark name “pirat(ebay)”, we wanted to be pragmatic and just use our immense profits to buy them.

This will hopefully make us spend less time with the lawsuit.

tpm-wins-ebay

Do you know any good and  hilarious  April Fool pranks by famous companies ? Shoot your thoughts and links in the comments section below.

Source: Aprilfoolsdayontheweb.com

Ultimate List Of Firefox 4 Tips; Tricks And Hacks You Should Learn Right Now

is definitely one of the best versions of Firefox I have seen over the last couple of years. Firefox is one of the browsers I use since it was launched, but there were a few features and annoyances which needed to be fixed. Some of these were high memory hogging, no easy sync of bookmarks, passwords or browser preferences, no feel of a modern browser, unnecessary UI clutter and so on.

Firefox 4 Tips and Tricks

Thankfully, the Mozilla team has learned that this is the age of cloud computing and have introduced some rich features in Firefox 4. This includes Firefox Sync, Site tagging, Instant search, smart folders, tab groups and more.

Last time we tipped you with a comprehensive list of Internet Explorer 9 tips and tricks. Now here is another featuring Firefox 4 tips, tricks, hacks and more which will help you get a better and flawless Firefox experience.

Download, Installation And Getting Started With Firefox 4

Download Firefox 4

If you haven’t tried the newer Firefox 4 yet, we suggest you download Firefox 4 final version or try the RC download here (our review of Firefox 4). Yesterday, along with the final version of Firefox 4, Mozilla also released the RC version of Firefox for Android and Maemo on the Android Market.

Prerequisites For Installing Firefox 4

It’s always a good idea to first check your system requirements and the prerequisites of a software program before installing it on your operating system. This system requirements page at Mozilla details all the software and hardware requirements required for Firefox 4 to run on Windows, Mac or Linux.

Firefox 4 Installation Guide And Screenshot Tour

If you’re no geek and need step by step instructions for installing Firefox 4 on your computer, the screenshot tour by Howtogeek should be a good start.

GetFlow Is a Superb Project Management App That Will Blow Your Mind

Let’s face it managing work load across different projects becomes impossible if you’re not using any task management or project management utility.

If you’re a full time web worker and work on a lot of different tasks e.g design, development, coding or stuff that involves team work you have to use a project management application which allows easy collaboration, structured output and an ad free uncluttered UI.

Referencing to and fro to different email inboxes, searching for information, attachments, client’s email address, sending the same messages to new members in the team it’s a very complicated cycle which you may want to bring in proper order.

Over the past few years I have seen a good number of web based project management apps but the one I am recently using is GetFlow (join the early beta here).

GetFlow, also known as Flow, is a task management app that’s going to help you organize your entire life. Whether you’re working collaboratively or all on your own, Flow is going to make getting things done a lot easier.

Creating Tasks or Projects Inside GetFlow

Flow lets you quickly create tasks by sending an email to [email protected]. The email subject will become the task title and the body of the email will be added as the description. By default, tasks you email will be added to your inbox but you can also use the web UI or iPhone App to create tasks, assign due dates, tag people and do other important things related to a project.

create-tasks-getflow

When you’re done creating the task, it’s added to your feed which consists of real time updates of your activity and involvement with the project. Any other member of the team can switch to your activity feed to know what you were doing, where you’re commenting, what files you have uploaded recently and so on.

Tasks are arranged in hierarchical order with a personview so you never mess up all the tasks in your timeline. Each member gets a new section under Tasksand any member can quickly find out what his colleagues were doing recently.

central-tasks

One of the best things regarding GetFlow is that you forget those long winded email threads. Flow’s real-time comment system eliminates back-and-forth emails, there is no need to clutter up your email inbox with the details and feedback of your project.

Flow’s real time threaded comments makes it just as easy to manage feedback on any activity, task or project your team is busy with.

comments-getflow

As it turns out, you never have to search for any feedback or comment left by other team members in your email inbox, since all the information remains archived directly within your Flow account. Another neat feature which is lacking in other task management apps is the ability to Followa discussion.

Let’s say two of your team members are discussing over a design issue which you want to keep an eye on. Simply click the Followbutton next to the discussion thread and you will be notified when a new comment or message is posted or when the task is complete.

GetFlow is completely web based which means you never need to download any software or install any plugin on the client end,  immensely  useful for folks like me who use multiple computers at home or office. Both the web and iPhone apps have offline modes and sync enabled which helps when you’re doing something and the internet connection breaked in the middle.

Flow works great for teams of all sizes – whether you are a garage team of 4 members or a small company of 23, GetFlow works just as fine when it comes to easier project management and real time collaboration.

You can try a 14 day trial of Getflow by signing up here (no credit card required).

Ultimate List Of Tips And Tricks For Internet Explorer 9

Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft’s latest browser which was launched on 14th March 2011 has quite a few improvements when compared to it’s previous versions. IE9 has a sleek new interface which is less cluttered and provides rich browsing experience.

IE9 Ultimate List of Tips and Tricks

There are no intrusive toolbars, unnecessary navigation buttons and other eye tiringbuttons or graphical elements. Moreover, Internet Explorer 9 is way faster, has improved performance standards and hardware acceleration support. And yes, Internet Explorer 9 is the latest version of the browser that’s supports HTML5 technology.

We tipped you with a list of tips and tricks for Internet Explorer 8, now here is another comprehensive list of tips and tricks for Internet Explorer 9 which is worth bookmarking. Don’t forget to visit our section to find more such useful and comprehensive lists for different software and browsers.

Note: This list will be regularly updated as we come across new posts.

Download, Installation And Getting Started With IE9

Download Internet Explorer 9

If you haven’t tried the newer Internet Explorer 9 yet, we suggest you download Internet Explorer 9 final version or try the RC download here. There are separate download links for Windows7, Windows Vista and Windows Server, so make sure you download the right setup installer.

You might also want to check out IE9’s brand new website at beautyoftheweb.com

ie9-download

Prerequisites For Installing Internet Explorer 9

When you install Internet Explorer 9, additional prerequisite software and components are also installed. The prerequisites vary, depending on the operating system you use.

Microsoft has put together a support and FAQ page for installation compatibility fixes for Internet Explorer 9, so if you’re having problems installing IE9 on your computer, head over to this support page to learn more about the required software and components required for Internet Explorer 9 installation.

Flickr Frontman And Product Head Matthew Rothenberg Quits Flickr

The last couple of years have been quite eventful for the folks at Yahoo.

First, they locked down Geocities during October 2009, followed by employees being laid off the next year. Shortly came the news that Delicious might just shut down as well, which was then explained as an idea of changing handsand not let the service die on it’s own.

Oh and the company also have a visitor tracking community system or something called MyBlogLog which is also going to shut down in May24 2011.

But wait, there must be something in the middle. Flickr Head of Product Matthew Rothenberg has recently announced that he will be leaving Flickr shortly.

Here is what the tweet reads:

Here goes: after 5 years, I will be stepping away from Flickr. Will miss working with such a talented, hard-working, and hard-drinking team.

flickr-head-quits

As it turns out, Yahoo will lose yet another loyal employee who has been working as product head of Flickr for the last 5 years. This is the third departure in a row in the last couple of years, the earlier resignations were signed by Flickr Co founders Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake in 2008.

Flickr has been under fire for quite some time now. With the growing popularity of other photo sharing and community websites like Facebook, it’s no wonder that Flickr is unable to generate the attentionand continue it’s growth in numbers, interest and popularity. Only last month, the company accidentally deleted thousands of photos of a Zurich based photoblogger, leaving his precious photo collection dead in internet space.

MG Siegler from Techcrunch has an official declaration from Yahoo, which reads:

Matthew Rothenberg has made the personal decision to move on to a new endeavor.   In the interim, Markus Spiering will be stepping in as head of product management. Flickr continues to have an innovative, energetic and creative leadership team that is dedicated to its community of members. Flickr remains a key priority for Yahoo! and we are fully committed to making it the best photo-sharing experience on the Web.

Don’t get busy backing up all your Flickr photos yet – they will remain alive for some time, I guess.

Google To Give Blogger A Modern UI, New Post Editor And Content Discovery Tools

blogger-logoBlogger.com is one of the best platforms for budding bloggers who are new to blogging.

Almost all of my online friends have had a blogger blog at some point of their life. Agree Blogspot does not provide complete control and customizations when compared to WordPress and other blogging platforms, but without doubt it’s one of the easiest ways for non geeks to start a blog in minutes.

The good news for Blogger users is that Google has decided to revamp Blogger’s UI and add new features e.g content discovery and an advanced Post editor amongst others. The upcoming changes at Blogger.com is not visible as of now, Google is showing a sneak peak of it’s new user interface at SFXW and plans to roll out these features in the coming months.

The Newer Dashboard of   Blogger

At first glance, it looks like Blogger has slightly mimicked the user interface of WordPress. The colors and style attributes look quite similar, though the arrangement of different elements is slightly different

dashboard_new

The newer dashboard of Blogger is much clean and shows recent blog posts from blogs which you’re following. On the left sidebar, there are links to create a new blog post in any of the blogs you own or contribute at. Google says that the newer design of Blogger.com is powered by Google’s Web toolkit, delivering the latest in web technology. The newer post editor of Blogger has also been polished, as seen in the following screenshot

newpost_new

From the above screenshot, it appears that the functionalities are still the same while only the design has been prettied out. We are yet to see the changes being rolled out but considering the growing influences of other free blogging platforms like Tumblr, Posterous or WordPress.com Blogger must act now and bring something new to the table. Just giving a coating to existing inventory won’t attract the eyeballs.

The content discovery tool appears interesting, it will allow bloggers to find interesting and related content based on the blog you’re currently reading. The following video shows in brief what changes are about to come at Blogger.com

Video link

Google Launches A Person Finder Website For Japanese Earthquake And Tsunami Victims

Earlier this morning, a devastating earthquake hit Japan causing a huge loss of life, property and human resources. The largest earthquake in Japan’s history was followed by a 23 foot gigantic Tsunami which wiped out homes, cars, buildings and every other form of matter near the north eastern coast of Japan.

In this alarmic situation, Google is trying to help. And here is how you can do your bit.

Google has launched a crisis response page where you can get important   information, phone numbers and additional resources related to the 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami, along with real time news updates. The crisis response page also helps you track the latest news of Japanese earthquakes, find useful maps, train information, blackout information and other web resources related to the 2011 Japanese earthquake and Tsunami disasters.

In addition to the crisis response page, Google has also unveiled a person finder app at japan.person-finder.appspot.comwhich lets you submit information about lost individuals or check whether anyone has any information about someone who was lost after the 2011 earthquake on Japan.

google-person-finder

Using the person finder app is fairly simple, you’ve two choices either search for a person or submit information about someone you know. The site has more than 7200 records as of the time of writing this article, so if you are concerned about friends, family members, neighbors or colleagues, head over to the person finder app and submit information if you have any.

I tested the website with some demo names and the results were impressive. To search for a lost or missing person, I typed the name of the person and the site returned a few results from it’s records as shown below

find-a-person

Clicking the names from the results will show more information about the lost person (if available). This may include current location, home address, age   and other details posted by the person who submitted information about the lost individual in Google’s person finder website for Japan. Here is how the final result page looks like

complete-details

The person finder app is not new, we have earlier seen how Google reacted to the Chile Earthquakes on February 2010. While most of Japan’s communication and broadcasting system is under darkness, the internet is one of the only resources to submit or retrieve information about lost individuals, friends and family members who have been affected due to the massive earthquake and Tsunami disasters.

We request our readers to spread the word about Google’s person finder app for Japan on their social profiles, Twitter account, Facebook account and so on. Someone might have some information which he/she can add to the Google’s person finder website which might be of great help to someone in Japan or elsewhere on the planet.

Finally: Google Let’s You Block Content Farms And Spam Sites On Search Results, Without Any Extension

If you are a regular web surfer, you might have noticed some sites appear on Google search result pages no matter what you’re searching for. These sites (read content farms) have content on every other topic and often times, the experience leads to a really frustrating experience. You keep seeing the same site over and over again and might want to block them permanently so that they never appear on Google search result pages.

Some days back, Google released a Chrome extension which can filter out specific sites from Google search results. Looks like the extension was just a trailer run, Google has finally decided to hammer content farms, aggregators and spam sites with a new weapon personalized block of specific sites on Google search result pages.

block-sites-permanently

From today onwards, you will see a new link like Block all example.com results, just below the search snippet as shown in the above example. Click that little link and you will not see any page of the same site on Google search results in future. Not even on the 100th page of Google SERP’s.

You can lift the domain block on Google search result pages anytime, since the blocked pages will be organized under a new section called blocked pagesat the bottom of SERP’s. Clicking that Blocked sitessection will allow you to manage your list of blocked sites, remove existing entries, manually block another site and so on.

manage-blocked-sites

Since your customized block list is saved to your Google account preferences, surfing as any anonymous user will still show the same spam sites as before. On the settings page you can find details about the sites you’ve blocked, block new sites, or unblock sites if you’ve changed your mind.

Of course this is much better than the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension which works only in Google Chrome. The sites which you have blocked will never appear on any of the search result pages, regardless of what browser you’re using and whether you have any extension installed or not.

Google says in the official blog post that they are not considering the domains people block as a signal in ranking but the web spam team will look at the data and cross check whether it would still be useful to show a specific site for particular queries.

This is indeed a clever move by Google at the right moment. I guess Google wants to go the stats wayto find out what majority of users are thinking about particular sites. How many users are blocking this site , what are the queries and phrases users were using before blocking this specific site Google wants to find out these answers through manual inputs by humans, no algorithm this time.

This can mean a lot of things. Hopefully an end to the old SEO saga of content marketers who not only create spam content but also email people asking Hey we will write free content for you in exchange of links

What are the next steps in fighting junk content on search results ? Google isn’t saying but it’s no wonder that the web spam team is slowly tightening their grip on content aggregators and junk sources.

Note: The image used in this article is just an example. Matt writes a highly informative blog, which we love reading.

Join The YouTube Creator Institute Program – Learn Video Production Skills From Industry Experts

vloggingIf a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is probably worth a million.

Video blogging is an emerging way of creating content on the web. In fact, vlogging is going to be the next big thing because some things just can’t be conveyed in text or image. You pick up the camera or sit in front of the webcam, shoot your video and post it on video sharing websites like YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion or even to your Facebook account.

But that’s just the fun part of vlogging, often times these casual videos fail to make an impact.

If you want to create stunning videos for whatever content you are creating, you have to learn and master the art of vlogging, which requires in depth knowledge of quite a number of things e.g holding the camera, lights, video processing, preparing the script, distribution and so on. It takes more than the 3MP camera or the attached webcam on your laptop.

This is where YouTube wants to help aspiring vloggers with it’s YouTube for Creators channel, better known as YouTube Creator Institute

What Is YouTube’s Creator Institute ?

The YouTube Creator Institute is a summer crash course in camerawork, storytelling, promotion, and new media skills, taught at the world’s top schools by industry leaders. YouTube has collaborated with world’s leading film and television schools to launch YouTube creator institute, whose sole objective is to help users produce more quality content in the form of videos, screencasts, films etc. It’s an online portal of skilled video gurus, filmmakers, technicians and other experts of video making, who will help all the participants learn the inner secrets of quality video production, applying new tools, building an audience for their videos and how to promote their YouTube channel to a global audience.

The technical sessions will include basic as well as advanced video production techniques, from story telling to cinematography, from screencasts to video projects;   the media curriculum looks really fantastic.

It’s interesting to note that Vimeo also launched their video school with a similar objective, which unfortunately didn’t drew good attention. YouTube says that the new creator institute will help nurture content creators, existing YouTube partners, and the next generation of stellar YouTube talent with the skills they need to thrive online and offline.

Watch the following introductory video to get an idea about YouTube’s mission to help video makers learn the inner skills and techniques of quality video production:

Video link

How to Apply For YouTube’s Creator Institute

To be eligible to enter YouTube’s Creator institute, you must be a citizen of U.S with at least 18 years of age and must have a valid YouTube account. Applications should be accompanied with a 2 minute video displaying creativity, originality, and technical skills of video production. Only the best applicants will be selected, so be sure your video is top notch and meets YouTube’s standards.

Head over to the YouTube creator institute channel or read the complete rules and guidelines here

Photo credit

Gmail Smart Labels Does Intelligent Classification Of Emails From Forums, Subscriptions And Mass Mailing Lists

Great … not again, this forum has sent me two dozen messages in the last 6 hours since I signed up, I just wonder how many will pile up till next morning

People get a lot of email every single day. And guess what, most of these messages go to Trashwithout any second thought. You use custom labels, filters, priority inbox, nested labels and other ways to organize your Gmail inbox but there are two major problems with Email filtering and categorizing them in proper order.

First, there is no automatic categorization of bulk emails (those which are not junk, of course). The ones you receive from forums, Google Groups, newsletters and other news groups. They land to your inbox and creating a filter or editing existing filters for each and every source is just impossible. The second problem is that you don’t want to mark these notification emails as Spam; instead you need a better way to categorize bulk emails, an autopilot mode is just what saves the day.

The good news is that Gmail has just introduced another neat feature in Gmail Labs called Smart Labels. Smart labels performs an automatic categorization of incoming emails and labels them as either Bulk, Notificationor Forum. There are no settings to tweak, no need to specify the source addresses in your existing filters; all you have to do is activate the feature from Gmail labs and you’re good to go.

smart-labels

smart-labels-filterAs soon as the labs feature is on, you will notice that three new labels have been created and listed on top of your existing Gmail labels. The image on the right is an example of my Gmail inbox.

I must say Smart Labels is quite intelligent, all notification emails e.g messages from Facebook groups, Paypal billing, invoice payments, shipping orders from Checkout sites like TinyDeal goes to the Notificationsfolder. These messages are not spam but they are skipped from the inbox the moment they arrive, saving you precious amount of time.

Messages that have been sent to a large number of people goes to the Bulkfolder. Typical examples are offers, newsletters, subscriptions and of course those so called funnyemails when your colleague thought that embedding 40 pictures of Mickey mouse is really cool.

notification-label

You can however replace your existing filters with Smart labels or keep both of them, Smart labels doesn’t gets in the way of your current order of categorizing and filtering incoming messages. Should you want to avoid specific emails being smart labelled, edit the required filter from Settings > Filtersand choose a proper category of your choice.

Overall, Smart labels takes the heck out of notifications, payment reminders, subscriptions, newsletters and other formalmessages that arrive your inbox every single day. As I said earlier, there is no setting to tweak and nothing to configure at all, set it On and forget. Do give this a try and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.