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

How to Perform a Location Specific Google Search

There are some situations when you may want to perform a location specific search on Google. For example – you are on a vacation and want to search for restaurants that serve thai food in the same city. Or you may want to look for historic places in a specific country using Google search.

Google makes it very easy to perform a location specific search. For some search queries, Google will automatically detect your location and serve local search results, as shown in the following example:

In the above example, I am using Google.co.in for the search query and seeing the location specific results. If the same query is performed on Google.com, the location is not detected.

Google has recently moved the location preferences on the left sidebar on Google search result pages, making it more easier to control your location preferences. If you are using a country specific Google search, your present location will be detected automatically, which can be changed by clicking the locations dropdown.

When you set the new location, the Google search result page will refresh and show local results from the same city (if available). This is very useful when you are performing special searches, some examples are shown below:

Knowing the sunrise time of a destination city

Finding Restaurants from a specific City

Finding Movie Showtimes in a specific city

The Google Public policy blog says

We do our best to automatically detect the most useful location, but we don’t always get it right—so in some cases you’ll want to change the setting. At other times, you may want to change your location to explore information relevant to another area. Meanwhile, Google has become much better at presenting this locally relevant content—so it felt like the right time to make this setting easier to find.

Tumbl.in Wants To Be the StumbleUpon For Twitter Links

Browsing through different links on your Twitter timeline can be tricky, you miss a day and your timeline is flooded with links which you may not want to miss. Twitter lists are a good way to organize whom you follow but again it becomes very difficult to filter important links from your Twitter timeline.

Tumbl.in lets you browse through random links from your Twitter timeline, much the same way you use Stumbleupon to discover interesting webpages. To get it working, just go to the website and sign in with your Twitter account. Then grant the application all the required permissions and you are done.

Next, you will be asked to choose the lists which you want Tumbl.in to check for links. You can choose specific lists or Twitter favorites, as shown below:

To start tumbling through links shared on your Twitter timeline, all you have to do is sign into your Twitter account and hit the big “Tumbl” button on the left top of the screen. That’s it, the website will then open random links shared on your Twitter timeline, favorites or lists and you can read the webpage as shown below:

The links are not entirely random, the pages shown also depend upon the recency and frequency of the Tweet. There is a “Tweet This” button and a Facebook like button available on the right top, so you can use that to retweet the same link or “Like” it on Facebook.

Overall, Tumbl.in can be used to browse links on your Twitter timeline in a more streamlined way. Keep the application opened in a new browser tab and hit the magic button every now and then, you might discover something interesting.

It would be a great idea if you can create a dedicated list following the most important people you follow on Twitter and use that list with Tumbl.in

Love Coding? Participate in The Google Code-In Contest

If you are a school going kid and love coding, here is something very interesting. In an effort to encourage more participation to open source developments, Google is organizing a contest for pre-university students, around the world.

The contest is named Google Code-in which starts on November 22, 2010 and is targeted towards kids who love to code but never had the idea where to start. Google will work with organizations who build open source software and applications, each of these organizations will provide a list of tasks that has to be completed by the contestants. The assigned tasks will include coding, documentation, testing, training, research, translation and so on.

The students can claim a specific task and submit their work to the organization for evaluation. If the task is well accepted by the organization, it will be closed while the tasks that does not meet the expectations will be queued for a claim by another contestant.

Eligibility criteria and Prizes

The contest is open only for students who are within 13 to 18 years, as of November 22,2010. In addition to that, the contestant must be enrolled in a university, secondary school or in any other recognized educational institution.

The prizes are awesome too; a T shirt and a certificate for each completed task and $100 for every three tasks completed. There are some boundaries though; a contestant can claim up to a maximum of $500 and only one Tshirt.

There are 10 grand prizes as well, the winners will receive a free trip to Google’s headquarters at Mountain View, California for an award ceremony.

To get an idea about the Google Code-in contest, watch the following video:

Be sure to join the mailing list of Google Code in contest here. More information is available on the Google open source blog

Facebook Adds Scribd For Personalized Reading Recommendations

Facebook is slowly encouraging instant personalization by teaming up with partner sites, some of the popular services are Pandora, Docs.com and the latest one to join hands is Scribd.

If you are unaware of Instant personalization, it’s   a new feature which lets a user easily bring the interest of their Facebook friends, when they are interacting with a partner site.

Say you have just uploaded a document at Docs.com and want to know which of your friends are very active on the same site. Instant Personalization will let you see the interest of your friends on Docs.com, which features do your friends use, what they are “Liking” and so on.

The good news is that Scribd – a social reading and publishing site has recently been added as one of the partner sites. Now it is really easy to find what your Facebook friends are reading or sharing over at Scribd.

It works like this – when you visit Scribd.com while logged into Facebook, you will see personalized reading recommendations. The recommendations will be based on what your friends are sharing over at Scribd and what type of content you “Like” on Facebook. When you find something very interesting, you can hit the “Share” button next to an item and it will be posted on your Facebook profile.

Here is how an example update may look like:


The following presentation briefly outlines what the Scribd Readcast is all about:

Can I Control Instant Personalization and What Information Is Shared?

Of course, you can certainly control what information is available to the partner websites from the “privacy settings”. If you want to turn off Instant personalization, go to   Account > privacy Settings > Instant Personalization and click the “Edit Settings” button , as shown below:

source: Facebook blog

Discover New Facebook Fan Pages With the Official Page Browser

Want to discover new Facebook fan pages? Facebook has officially released a “Page Browser” which allows you to search for new Facebook fan pages and “Like” them.

Just go to facebook.com/pages/browser.php and you will see a list of fan pages divided in several categories. The fan pages are distributed among celebrities, sports, games, politics, media, TV programmes, musicians and brands. Here is how the page browser looks:

Discover New facebook Fan pages

Hovering over a fan page will allow you to “Like” it, you can also click through the text link to visit the fan page and take a look.

The page browser will certainly help those who are always in the look out for interesting fan pages but are unable to find them from the default Facebook search box.   There is a right sidebar on the Facebook fan page browser, which shows a list of friends who have also “liked” the fan pages you are currently browsing.

The official Facebook blog says in a blog post that the team wants to create a fun way to browse movies, TV shows and musicians. The Fan page browser will allow people to easily express shared interests and keep themselves updated about those interests.

The fan page suggestions will of course vary for different Facebook profiles, you can also click through the small dropdown on the right corner of the page and choose a different country to see how the Fan page suggestions change.

One question to the Facebook team – how are users going to know about the page browser? There is neither a link on my profile nor on any of the fan pages which I have liked so far.

Planning To Watch The Facebook Movie? Hear the Soundtrack First

This is already some buzz regarding The Social Network- an upcoming movie about Facebook written by Aaron Sorkin and directed by David Fincher. Although the latest trailer of the Facebook movie can be found on YouTube, those of you who are interested in the background score have some good news.

Just go to this URL and enter   your email address in the subscription box. Hit Sign upand you will immediately receive an email containing the download link of the soundtrack of the Facebook movie – The Social Network.

facebook-movie-soundtrack[3]

The available tracks included in the free download are as follows:

  • Soft trees break the fall
  • Eventually we find our way
  • The gentle hum of anxiety
  • Pieces from the whole
  • On we march my pick

You can pre order other versions of the soundtrack from the same website.

The movie is based on Ben Mezrich’s book “The Accidental Billionaires” and has a budget of 40 Million pounds. The movie is supposed to be a comedy one but will surely add to the ridicule Mark Zuckerberg is already a target of. The movie is produced by Kevin Spacey and is expected to be released this October.

Here is the trailer video of the Facebook movie:

Thanks Vicky

Add Sticky Note Reminders to Applications And Websites

[Windows only]: Sticky notes can be useful at times but this little tool may add an extra level of productivity on your routine computing jobs.

sticky-notes-popups

Imagine this you work with applications and websites all day long and want yourself to be reminded whenever you open a specific application or a website. As an example, you want to see a specific message whenever you open Microsoft Outlook or browse Facebook during work hours. Meet Gumnotes.

Gumnotes is a simple sticky note application which lets you jot down ideas and comments from Windows desktop. The feature which separates it from other sticky notes apps is that you can attach a particular note with any program, document, file, image or a website. This is very useful when you forget important stuff you need to complete before a deadline – just write down the important things on a new sticky note and attach it with a document.

To add up custom notes or reminders, keep Gumnotes running in Windows system tray and work on the documents or website as you normally do. When you want to attach a reminder to a specific document, click the Gumnotes icon from system tray and write your message. Done!

write-notes

The next time you open the same document, the pop up reminder will be shown. The application can also scan your notes and show relevant suggestions, it’s a must use tool if you use a lot of to do lists, reminders, write down everything or aggregate stuff at one place.

The same is true with a website or email client if a note is added to a specific website, a message pops up reminding you of the things you had written earlier.

Did I mentioned that it’s completely free?

via Addictive Tips

Notesforlater: Email Links and Content To Your Inbox For Later Reading

Bloggers have this tendency of bookmarking webpages and saving Draftsfor later reading or writing. With time, these bookmarks grow and your entire bookmarks toolbar becomes unmanageable with too many links, you may have no idea about a bookmark which was saved two weeks ago.

If you are a die hard email person and want a simple way to manage content, links, to do lists and bookmarks from your email, here is a neat browser bookmarklet which might help.

Notesforlater is a brilliant web service which allows you to create a special bookmarklet for emailing links, content and anything else to your inbox. When you save a note using the bookmarklet, an email will be sent to your inbox containing the link to the webpage and the highlighted words. This is quite similar to Memonic – a web clipping tool which had reviewed earlier.

You can then use a special filter in your email inbox to sort and organize these notes, to do lists or links. Let’s take a look on how to setup Notesforlater.

How to Setup Notesforlater

1. First, go to the website and enter the email address where you want to receive your notes and links.

2. You will immediately receive an email from Notesforlater containing the link to your bookmarklet

3. Almost done now drag and drop the bookmarklet in your bookmarks toolbar.

Using Notesforlater to Email Links and Content to your inbox

When you are browsing a webpage and want to save it for later reading, just hit your customized Notesforlater bookmarklet. If you want to save only a few paragraphs and not the entire blog post, highlight the words and then click the bookmarklet.

This will immediately send an email to your inbox containing the link to the webpage and the highlighted paragraphs.

Now create a filter and assign a label to all incoming email from Notesforlater. This will sort your notes and keep them organized. At the end of the day, simply open the label and you can read the bookmarks or links saved earlier. Handy!

The advantage of using Notesforlater over browser bookmarks is that the later is browser dependent while the former isn’t. You may be using Google Chrome or Firefox it doesn’t matter because the bookmarks are saved directly in your email account.

Thanks Erez zukerman for the tip

Google Adsense New Ad Formats Are Coming Soon

If you are using Google Adsense for monetizing your blog or websites, here is some good news.

The Adsense team may soon introduce larger ad formats to the Adsense inventory, this will surely have a good impact on your Adsense earnings. The expected ad formats are 728 X 300, 300 X 600, 960 X 250 and 300 X 600 apart from the regular ad units.

Here is a video which gives a short glimpse about the upcoming Google Adsense units:

Exactly one month ago, we told you that Google is experimenting with newer Adsense formats. Major changes were made to the Leaderboard (728 X 90),large rectangle (336 X 280) and medium rectangular (300 X 250) units.

When it comes to online advertising, bigger is better. Study shows that visitors are more attracted to larger ad blocks and they ignore small banners or button advertisements. The newer ad formats will surely give publishers as well as advertisers more option, you can place the 300 X 600 ad unit on the sidebar or the 960 X 250 ad unit above the header.

There is no clear announcement on the official Adsense blog yet, we will update this post once we get more information on the story.

Thanks Anand for the tip.

Watch ‘Life In a Day’ Videos on YouTube

On July 2010, YouTube launched a global experiment called “Life in a day” where users around the globe were requested to shoot a small clip from their day to day life and submit it to YouTube. If the clip is selected from the submissions, it would be featured in a movie directed by Kevin Macdonald and Riddley Scott.

You can now watch some of the “Life in a day” videos on the official Life in a day YouTube channel.

Note: YouTube is no longer accepting submissions to the Life in a day project as the last date of submission has passed since July 24, 2010.

The channel consists of a spinning globe which again is made up of thumbnails of selected clips submitted to the Life in a day project. Just click through any video thumbnail and you can watch a video clip selected in Life in a day project.  Rotating the globe is also very easy, just click anywhere outside the globe and drag your mouse in any horizontal direction. The globe starts spinning, you can pause the globe, watch another video and move on – it’s really fun playing with the flash interface.

There is also a nice heatmap which shows the amount of videos uploaded by users from different countries. The heatmap is divided into different sections, countries shown in red sent maximum uploads while countries shown in lighter colors sent fewer clips.

Videos are also categorized with tags, you can browse through different moods e.g loving, eating, funny, family and so on. Meanwhile, here is the official Life in a day trailer video which is a must watch

Kevin and his team is uploading more and more videos in the Life in a day gallery every moment, so you can check back soon for more footage.

Thanks Sanjeev