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

China Partially Blocks Google Searches, Google.cn Redirects to Google.com.hk

If you go to the Google.cn homepage, chances are that you will see a static image of a Google search box. The search box, links and other options are gone and there is a small message in Chinese which means We have moved to Google.com.hk. Please add this site to your browser bookmarks. (see translated version)

Here is how the homepage of Google China looks like:

google-chine-homepage

Clicking anywhere on the page redirects you to Google Hong Kong homepage google.com.hk. It looks like Google is planning a separate landing page for all the Chinese users and this redirect is a temporary measure to let only a small percentage of users search Google via Google Hong Kong site.

A similar redirect was seen earlier on March 2010, when China was blocking Google search results and some users reported how Google had blocked access to Google.com within China.

It’s interesting to note that all search queries are also redirected which means google.cn/search?q=football will go to google.com.hk/search?q=football

The Official Google blog reports

We currently automatically redirect everyone using Google.cn to Google.com.hk, our Hong Kong search engine. This redirect, which offers unfiltered search in simplified Chinese, has been working well for our users and for Google. However, it’s clear from conversations we have had with Chinese government officials that they find the redirect unacceptable—and that if we continue redirecting users our Internet Content Provider license will not be renewed (it’s up for renewal on June 30). Without an ICP license, we can’t operate a commercial website like Google.cn—so Google would effectively go dark in China.

The Chinese government officials are not very happy regarding the redirects and if Google continues to redirect users to Google Hong Kong, Google’s Internet content Provider license might not be renewed.

Webby Wednesday: Get a Customized Browser Start Page, Archive your Travel Experiences and Share Windows Clipboard Data

Welcome to Webby Wednesdays – a brief compilation of some web services which we found useful during the course of this week.

Favitt – Get a Customized Browser Start Page

Tired of searching multiple sites from different browser tabs? Do you want an all in one interface where you can just type the query and the results from all the search engines can be seen from   a single page? Check out Favitt, a neat web service which lets you create your customized browser start page for free.

Favitt lets you customize your search experience and add some flavour to your daily searches. After you have signed up for a free account, you can add all the popular websites, search engines, blogs or news sources as tabs on your start page.

Typing a keyword and hitting the return key shows a list of results from Google. However, if you want to perform the same search on any other website – all you have to do is select the tab from the left sidebar.

The search results from the selected site will now load on the same page. This is very useful, you don’t have to open multiple search engines and perform the same search separately.

Another great thing about Favitt is the way you can customize your browser start page. You can add links to your most visited websites, social networking sites, blogs and so on. You can also upload some really good wallpapers and Favitt will automatically rotate them at a custom interval. Cool!

Learn more about Favitt

TravelJournal: Archive Your Travel Experiences

Do you travel a lot and need a simple tool to write about your travelling experiences? Check out Traveljournal.com a web based tool which can be used to document the memories of your trips. After you have signed up for a free account, you can create a journal, upload photos, add a small bio and the duration of your trip.

After the journal is created, you can start adding entries to your journal. All the entries are automatically archived and you can also enter a custom map location which relates to the current entry. Think of Traveljournal as a personal blog where you can document anything and everything about your trips.

The advantage of using Traveljournal is that you can easily find the locations you have been staying during the trip. The service also lets you share your journal with your friends, just enter the email address of your friends and hit Share. Learn the full features of Traveljournal.

Cl1p: Use an Internet Clipboard For Data Sharing

If you work with multiple computers at your workplace, you know how difficult it can be to share Windows clipboard data between them. If the systems are connected via LAN, then you can use a text document to share Windows clipboard data easily.

However, if you use multiple computers that are not connected via LAN, check out Cl1P.net. It’s a free web service which lets you share clipboard data with anyone. All you have to do is go to the homepage, append some random string at the end of the URL (e.g http://cl1p.net/test1) and then paste the data in the provided text box.

Next, you can open the same URL from any other computer and copy the data in it’s clipboard.

Suggest a Site

We are constantly looking for new startups, web services and cool tools which help you achieve online tasks more easily and efficiently. If you have found a very cool service or a web tool, why not share it with us by filling up this form.

Convert FLV Videos To Other Formats With iSkySoft FLV Converter

FLV videos have one drawback you can’t burn them in a disc and watch the videos on a DVD player plugged to your television. If you want to convert FLV videos to other video formats, check out iSkysoft Video Convertor.

iSkysoft FLV Converter for Windows is designed to convert videos to   FLV or convert FLV videos to other video formats. This FLV video converter is capable of converting most standard videos files and gives a full support to high definition videos.

Download

The free version of the software is available for download till September 1 2010, just head over to this page and enter your email address in the space provided. After that, the website will send a code and the download link at your email address.

Once installed, enter your email address along with the licensed code in the program setup and you are ready to use the full features of the program.

iskysoft

Using the utility is very easy, all you have to do is add the video which you want to convert using the Add videolink from the menu bar. The profile section at the bottom lets you choose the output video format and the location where the file will be saved, once the conversion is over.

iskysoft1

If you want to view the FLV videos on an iPod or iPhone, select the MP4 video format. The utility lets you choose between a wide range of video formats such as MP4, AVI, ASF, WMV, MPG, 3GP, 3GPP, MOV, MKV etc.

The interesting thing about iSkysoft FLV converter is that you can use it to extract audio from a video file. This will be useful when you want to convert videos to MP3 format and want to copy them in an MP3 player, just for listening the songs.

There are lots of other features which include resizing the video aspect ratio, trimming selected segments of the video or adding special effects like adjusting brightness, color, saturation or contrast.

The giveaway ends on September 1, 2010 download your free copy of iSkysoft video converter today.

BackupAnywhere is a Simple USB Backup Tool That Supports Folder Sync

[Windows only]: USB Drives are very vulnerable to data loss, a malware attack and you may lose all the data. It makes sense to use a handy USB backup tool and regularly sync the content of your USB drive with a folder in your computer.

Consider a scenario, you work in multiple computers and rely on using a USB drive for carrying important documents, programs and files. At the end of the day, you want to create a backup of your entire USB drive so that if you lose any data, you can restore the data using the last backup.

You may also want to create a local folder on your computer and sync it’s content with the USB drive.

Enter BackUpAnyWhere a free portable program for Windows which lets you perform automated USB backups and sync the content with a folder in your computer. Run the program and you will be asked to choose a directory for the backup:

chhose-backup-dir

Hit Set directoryand choose a directory from your hard drive where you want the USB data to be copied:

chhose-backup-dir1

Now hit Start backupand sit back while the files are copied. The software will mirror all the content of your USB drive in the specified directory on your hard drive.

Apart from a backup tool, the utility also supports synchronizing folders between the flash drive and a directory on your hard drive. When you run the program for the second time, you will be shown the option to either backup your USB drive or choose to sync the content with a directory:

sync-usb-folder

If you want to automate the backup job, remember to select the check box Automated mode. Now whenever you plug in the USB drive, the backup process will start on it’s own.

Related reading: How to Backup USB Drives using a USB Image tool

Techie Buzz Verdict

The software works great but one drawback spotted you can’t pause or stop the backup once it starts. I would love to see a list of files that are backed up being shown in the program interface.

Techie Buzz rating: 4/5 (Excellent).

Webby Wednesday: Send Handwritten Emails, Create Logos For Free, Sync Media Files Between Multiple Computers

Welcome to Webby Wednesdays – a brief compilation of some useful web services which we found useful during the course of this week.

PilotHandWriting Create a Font From your Handwriting and Send Emails

PilotHandwriting is a nice web service which lets you create own fonts from your handwriting. The idea is very simple head over to the website and download a sample template. Print the template on paper and fill out the template with all the alphabets and numbers.

Once you are done filling the template, switch on your webcam and hold the paper right in front of the camera. The site will record your handwriting, read it and save a digital copy on it’s server.

Once the site has saved your handwriting, you can edit and make minor adjustments with the mouse. Now comes the fun part type an email from the site’s interface and the email appears handwritten. Sweet!

pilot-handwriting

The only drawback is that you are not allowed to download the font in your computer for future use. Never mind, at least you can use this tool to send a handwritten email to anyone.

LogoSnap: Create a Free Logo Online

Do you run an online business ? Don’t have enough budget to hire professional designers to create a logo for your website? Check out LogoSnap a very useful website which lets you create professional logos for free.

It’s a four step process pick a profession or niche, select a symbol or style for your logo, customize it and then download the logo in PNG, JPG or EPS format.

The interesting thing about the service is that relevant symbols and artworks are neatly arranged in categories, you don’t have to find a graphic from a never ending list of images.

create-free-logos

Once you have selected a graphic, you can add text as well as customize the colors, font and the background of the logo. Finally, you can download the logo in PNG, JPG or EPS format.

The site also offers low budget paid logos so if you want a professional output, give LogoSnap a try.

Libox Access your Media Files From Any Computer

So you have a home computer, a portable laptop, an iPhone and a couple of mobile devices. The problem is: you want to access all the music and media files at one place and don’t want to copy the same set of songs or pictures in all the computers or devices.

One of the great ways to sync data between multiple computers is using a cloud computing service. Libox is a new player in this field but does a great job, when it comes to synching the media files across all your computers and other devices.

It works simple sign up for a free account and install the Libox client on all your computers and mobile devices(works for Windows as well as MAC). The site will scan your computer for all the media files (songs and images) and store it in your online Libox account.

libox

Later, you can access all these files from any computer as long as you have an active internet connection at hand. The service is completely free and you can upload unlimited amount of data.

Suggest a Site

We are constantly looking for new startups, web services and cool tools which help you achieve your online tasks more easily and efficiently. If you found a very cool service or a web tool, why not share it with us by filling this form.

Bing Gets a Fresh Look, Shows Deeper Content in Search Results

Bing is planning some major changes to their search interface. This includes adding a quicktabsbar just below the search box, showing refined results for specific queries and organizing information without cluttering the search result pages with lots of links.

Lets take a closer look on the new changes made to Bing search results:

Quick Tabs: Earlier, the quick tabs appeared in the left sidebar but now the Bing team has decided to move it directly below the search box.

bing-quick-tabs

The interesting thing about the quicktabs is that they depend upon the search query and you might see different tabs for different queries. For example: if you search for Albert Einstein, you will see images and video quicktabs but this is not the case, if you search for Firefox.

bing-quick-tabs1

This is a very neat idea, query specific quicktabs shows you relevant information without cluttering the search result pages.

The size of the background image has also been reduced to give the quicktabs more visibility and focus.

The Left Column: The left column shows related searches and the most recent searches made by you. Nothing has changed but since the quicktabs have abandoned the sidebar, you can quickly access the related search terms without having to scroll down the page.

bing-related-searches

Note: The Changes are implemented only for a small set of users and you might see the older interface of Bing. However, Bing plans to roll the updates for everyone in a couple of days from now.

SearchEngineLand spotted a few more enhancements. This includes queries related to automobiles, health and Finance.

If you search for honda accord specs, you get the following results on the older interface of Bing:

bing-auto-searches

This is the old layout of search results the different links are shown one after another. However, with the newer design, you get more information regarding Honda specsand Bing takes you directly to the quicktab, as shown below:

bing-newer-design

Each of the orange links contain more information from MSN Autos. This is a very innovative approach to engage the user from the moment he completes a search and show him targeted content which is more likely to be useful.

[ via Bing Community Blog ]

Get a Customized Browser Start Page and Search Experience With Favitt

So you have got a search engine’s home page bookmarked as your browser start page. You are not alone, most of the web users have a tendency to bookmark Google, Yahoo, Bing or other search engines as their browser start pages. This is because they want one click access to an interface where they can search for anything they want.

Why not customize the search experience a little bit and take it to the next level? Why not tweak some settings, add the features you use the most, remove those whom you don’t need and create a personalized search experience ? Favitt is one of the few sites which lets you do exactly that.

Favitt lets you completely customize your search experience and gives you a personal browser start page. You can add multiple search engines, popular websites and other sources in the Favitt start page and quickly use the tabs to search a particular site.

Imagine a scenario: You want to search Amazon for products, Google for blog posts, YouTube for videos, Flickr for images, Wikipedia for research and so on. You have to open all these sites in different browser tabs, type the keywords one by one and hit search. Favitt reduces this clutter and lets you search multiple search engines from one place.

When you go to the Favitt homepage, you see a search box, a list of search engines and a nice background, as shown below, you can also customize the  by uploading your own image and using it as a background.

favitt-browser-start-page

Type the keywords and select the search engine from the list to search a specific search engine. You can add or remove sources by using the More button placed at the right of the search box.

Once you perform a search, simply click the links of different search engines from the sidebar and the search results from these sites are fetched in the same browser tab. You don’t have to open multiple tabs and type the same keywords over and over again.

search-multiple-search-engines

If you sign up for a free account on Favitt, you get a personal browser start page for free. A personal browser start page has several advantages. First, your browser start page is accessible from any computer, you don’t have to install any extension or plugin to get started. All you have to do is type the vanity URL of your Favitt account and the start page is ready to be used.(see example)

Second, you can add a list of favorite sites in the start page and can access them with a single click. You don’t have to use an online bookmarking service like delicious or Google bookmarks.

Favitt also lets you upload images from your computer or a web URL and set them as the background of your start page. Upload a set of images and Favitt will automatically rotate these images on a daily basis. Cool!

Overall, Favitt is one of the best sites to customize your search experience, add or remove sources, spice up the page with backgrounds and more.

Property Search Comes to Google Maps UK

Do you live in the United Kingdom and want to shift to a new apartment? Do you want to rent your Garage and make some extra money? If you are looking for selling, renting or buying properties, Google Maps UK is here to help.

Earlier today, Google Maps UK added support for property search, which means visitors will be able to find properties, houses or apartments that are on rent.

To get started, simply go to the Google Maps UK website and hover on the Moreoptions dropdown. You will see a new checkbox named as Propertieslisted as one of the options.

As soon as you select the checkbox, you will see the UK map populate with red circles all over. These red dots are nothing but properties that are available for either sale or rent.

Let’s take a closer look on a property map:

You can refine the search by choosing features like sale, rent, apartments, bedrooms, garage, price and so on. The properties can be entered from the left column and the results appear in the right one.

Hovering the mouse cursor over a property shows you more details about it the price, location and so on. The map will update dynamically, as you zoom in and out of the map using the mouse wheel.

You can turn on other map details, this include terrain, satellite and earth view. This will help you know the geographical conditions and the neighborhood of the property in which you are interested.

This new feature can be immensely useful, if you are searching for a new house or want to rent your own house. On the very first day of it’s launch, hundreds of listings have started pouring in and who knows you might be the lucky one who finds a new dream house, through Google Maps of course.

[ via Google LatLong ]

Google Encrypted Web Search May Get a New URL

A month ago, Google introduced an encrypted version of Google search at https://www.google.com. This is to provide a secure search experience to the users as the SSL Search can encrypt the searches.

Using the SSL search has it’s own advantages, any third party or intermediate person won’t be able to trace what the user was searching, whether it be your ISP, network administrator or the employer of your office.

Google SSL Search is only available for normal web search, other Google products e.g Google image search is not yet under the security layer.

So far so good but some organizations are facing a strange problem when users are switching to Google SSL Search. Employees and students, who used the SSL version of Google search bypassed some content filters which in turn allowed them to access sites or content that were blocked in the network.

Hence, some schools started blocking the SSL version of Google search as well, consequently giving rise to other problems. Gmail, Google Apps for education and other Google products which use the SSL, stopped working in those organizations.

Dave Girouard, the President of Google Enterprise explained in a blog post

We’re working hard to address this issue as quickly as possible and in a few weeks we will move encrypted search to a new hostname so schools can limit access to SSL search without disrupting other Google services, like Google Apps for Education. Longer term, we are exploring other options like moving authentication to its own hostname so that we can return encrypted search to https://www.google.com.

So can we expect a new URL for Google SSL Search ?

TravelJournal: An Online Platform For Travel Writing

Travelling to different places is great fun, even great are the memories which you bring back. This includes photos, videos and may be notes which you have written on the way to your trip.

Documenting the notes and memories in paper is old school, you have to carry the pen and the diary everywhere just to write down something. However, you can use your mobile, iPod or a laptop to document your travel experiences using Traveljournal.com

Yes, we have social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter where you can quickly update your status and let your friends know about your trip. But there is a serious disadvantage – when you come back and want to read the entries, you are lost. Previous updates gets mixed up and your wonderful travel tidbits are lost in the clutter of ever expanding social media.

Traveljournal provides a very easy to use platform for documenting your travel experiences. After signing up, you can create a journal, add a duration and enter a small description about your trip.

traveljournal

After the journal is created, you can start adding entries using the “Add new Entry” link. These entries will be archived in the journal and you can enter a custom map location which is related to the current entry. This is useful, when you come back from the trip and want to know which locations you have been staying.

new-entry-traveljournal

Every journal created in Traveljournal has a visibility level – you can create a private or public journal or share the journal with selected email address(s). The most interesting part of using Traveljournal is the active community, you will be able to know new places, real life experiences and what other tourists are saying about a particular place, city or country.

Knowing the local customs is very important if you are travelling to another country and Traveljournal is the right platform to start documenting your travel experiences.

This is a sponsored review of the website, all views in the post are unbiased and true.