All posts by Soumen Halder

A web 2.0, startups and photography enthusiast. Lately found on Twitter @hsoumen. A cinephile and a zealous cyberflâneur. He also authors his own blog Ampercent.

GitGrow Adds Meaning to the Data Google Analytics Fetches

If you are a webmaster, chances are you already use Google Analytics for understanding and analyzing your user behavior. The tool from Google aggregates the data that can answer a ton of questions about your visitors which otherwise would have been kept unanswered. However, you need to spend some time and study closely to understand which data means what, and depending on that what changes are needed to be implemented to improve stats. GitGrow is here to help.

gritgrow-intro

You will be required to authorize your Google account(which you use for Google Analytics) to get an account with GitGrow. Next you will have to add your analytics profile for the website you are willing to monitor with GitGrow. Once you are in, you will get to see insights based on your Google Analytics data.

Google Analytics and other tools that measure web visitors metrics for your website, only points out raw data (lately a bit of insights too). It happens often that you hardly know what to do with it. For example a rise in bounce rates indicates that your customers/visitors are not engaging with the content that you have, so you need to optimize your internal linking or landing pages. Similarly a study of the resolutions used by your site visitors gives you a good insight into how you can design your website to look or perform better on their screens. This is where GitGrow comes in. It analyzes your data and puts forward suggestions to leverage from the user metrics which serves great for website analytics.

The service comes at an introductory price of $49/month(which is free to use now). Other plans are priced at $499 and $799 per month with many more advanced features like recommendations, peer comparing etc.

In an age where the companies are understanding the potential of mining their user data in helping them improve their revenue opportunities and customer engagement, solutions like GitGrow are quite relevant. Currently in beta, GitGrow plans to integrate other popular analytics tools like Kissmetrics in later versions. Give a try if you want to know more.

Parse Can Help You Build Instagram in Just 30 minutes

Instagram is one of the most successful startup stories you’ll ever hear about. It took over a year to build such a great product in terms of popularity, usability and money it earned. Quite acceptable. However, as Mike Krieger (co-founder Instagram) likes to put it, “Instagram is an app that only took 8 weeks to build and ship, but was a product of over a year of work.”. But if you use Parse, a backend service for smartphone apps, Instagram could have been built in just 30 minutes. Now here’s an awkward statement for any founder.

anypic-intro

Anypic is a latest open-source alternative released by Parse that replicates Instagram. You can download the source and put together your own version of Instagram. Parse claims that developers have already started tweaking Anypic to create intriguing photo apps. Cool, right?

Just like me, you must be wondering why would someone roll out a replica of a burgeoning service. Well it was not meant that way. The developers of Parse had other intentions in mind while building this app. Anypic commends how flexible and robust Parse(which also serves backend for Anypic) is. The 30-minutes-to-fame is actually complementing the fact that developing smartphone apps with Parse supporting the backend is as easy as pie.

As mentioned at the beginning, Instagram couldn’t have been built with Parse as the latter came along only while Instagram was already a hit. Parse is already serving backend for more than 25,000 apps which includes enterprise apps as well as apps from non-affiliated developers. On a closing note, Anypic is a great product-showcase app that reinforces the ability of Parse.

Tripku Lets You Plan Trips, Get Your Friends Involved As Well

Planning for your bachelor’s trip? Sure you wanna get your best buddies with you. What if they aren’t around? Emails, Facebook you may go banging every door for notifying them in advance. Tripku makes this experience seamless. Create a trip with necessary details and your invited friends will be notified. Keep commenting on the trip and all the Tripkuers in it will stay updated.

tripku-intro

Get started by creating a free account with Facebook login. Create a trip by selecting what type of trip it is – hiking, beach, climbing, cycling, diving, sailing, winter sports, snorkeling, sailing, fishing, road trip, wildlife, recreational, mountains and airsports. You can choose multiple types. Like the one I’m creating a road trip to Goa, where I’ll enjoy the beach, do some diving and get some adrenalin pumping water sports experience as well.

tripku-choose-trip-type

Next point the place on the map, select an amount you are willing to spend and choose the date range you are planning to make the trip. All done share the Tripku on the network. You can also make it private. Once you make the trip public you can share the trip with your friends on Facebook and invite them. There’s also an option where you can even choose what kind of company you are looking for, make choices based on gender and age.

tripku-post-trip-invite

As the trip is live other Tripkuers can jump in to join or comment on the trip. You can also join or comment on trips posted by other Tripkuers. On the downside, the service has a UI that is quite dreary in the context of the niche and the current state of UI and UX standards. Beatriz Cardona and Alice Neves Thomé are the brains behind the new startup which is a part of Startup Chile.

If you are a passionate traveler and keep wandering every once in while, Tripku is certainly a great place to hang around with fellow travelers and plan trips. This also helps you discuss itineraries from other people who has been there before or is planning to. However, if you are an occasional traveler it’s better to use the social networks you otherwise connect with your friends. On a concluding note, the new startup has a simplistic angle compared to other trip planners like TripIt but more features are expected to make it stand out. It’s still in beta hopefully things will get better with time.

Diaspora Introduces Makr.io, An Image Sharing Network With A Twist

Remember Diaspora? An open source initiative that powers you to stay social and have control on your data as well. It has recently rolled out Makr.io which lets you share images. Well that’s not just yet another image sharing network, it has a different angle.

makr-io-intro

Start by signing up for a free account with the service using your Facebook account or any email. Once you get in you will get to see what might appear as a flowing image feed. On a deeper study you will notice every(or most) image is remixed with some words that emphasizes the perspective that inspired the image. You can re-Remix any image and add your own text or effects. Images can be imported by URLs or uploaded from your local storage as well.

makr-io-remix

However simple the idea might seem, the image sharing on the service has a story telling angle which is the USP for the product. The images shared on Makr.io can also be shared across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. Although Diaspora’s new initiative reminds me of Cowbird, the latter is a little better in storytelling while Makr.io is dead simple to use.

The whole campaign relates to the developer company’s core motto of preserving data ownership rights for users. According to the developers,

…..It isn’t just that people need to be able to own their own data, it’s that user data as it stands has no tangible meaning. We believe that ownership of data can be more valuable when you have the ability to create meaningful moments and experiences with your community.
Makr.io is solving the second part of the problem. It is an exploration of social communication that lets people make things they are proud of, and collaborate with other users….

In an age where every big shot social networking websites are busy taking control of every byte of data you share with them, Samaritan companies like Diaspora brings the sense of security back in the game. And that the community is so far responding well(Diaspora is already among top 2% of all open source initiatives) to the cause. More similar initiatives need to get born to help restore the freedom of web that it used to enjoy once.

While concluding with Makr.io, I can hardly resist a line and to append one of mine to it. An image says a thousand words although an image with the right words tells a story.

Get Grooving on Fandalism, The Musician Social Network

Planning to get your latest performance rated by like minded individual. Fandalism, a new startup, aims to get musicians on board to create a social experience around them. Launched in January and currently out of the invite-only mode, Fandalism lets musicians interact in a way they like most, by playing their hearts out.

fandalism-intro

Create a profile by choosing the genres you prefer, your location, musicians who influence you and instruments you can play. Get started with the network by sharing your compositions or performances. You can share YouTube videos or SoundCloud audio apart from lyrics and photos to show what you are capable of.

Like every social network out there, Fandalism also has a voting feature which is coined as “props”. So if you like a song/video from a user, you can quick vote it with props. The songs/performances that are “hot” have a tiny flame icon on it to clarify its hotness on the musician social network. You can follow users and search for great musicians based on location so you can work with them on your next composition.

fandalism-connections

Remember Philip Kaplan? The guy who founded the far-famed blog FuckedCompany and the ad network Adbrite has single-handedly built the next best thing for musicians around the globe. Based on the popularity with no conventional promotions, the necessity among the community is quite obvious.

As to monetizing the app, there is hardly any clue so far. However, reports suggest it would probably go for the sponsored ad model for music related companies. No seed funding is reported till date. Bootstrapped by one man and the huge number of musicians amassed, Fandalism can definitely make pots of money in coming days.

Unlike many other social startups with music as the core niche, Fandalism is more of a solo act. It serves great as a front page representing your musical entity. So whether you are planning to look for gigs or searching for perfect pianist for your band or just curious about the new kids in the business, Fandalism is a great place to hang out.

This Day MIGHT Just Be Your Last On The Internet [Editorial]

Does the name DNSChanger sound familiar? Well I’m quite sure it wasn’t to many until recently when the word went out on web, thanks to the-kinda-hyped initiative from ISPs and FBI. Most infected users were incognizant of the threat of getting disconnected from the internet. So before we get down to solving the problem, let’s get a formal introduction to the threat it possesses.

dns-changer-malware

What is DNS?

As per Wikipedia,

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical distributed naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities. A Domain Name Service resolves queries for these names into IP addresses for the purpose of locating computer services and devices worldwide. By providing a worldwide, distributed keyword-based redirection service, the Domain Name System is an essential component of the functionality of the Internet.

In plain English, DNS is an interpreter that translates human understandable domain names into IP requests readable by a computer server. So if they are absent, you are practically disconnected from the web unless you know the IPs for your daily Facebook and Twitter addiction. Think of a lone blind man in a blind alley. Without DNS an internet user is just that blind person.

So what’s DNSChanger?

Known by many names (TDSS, Alureon, TidServ and TDL4 viruses) the DNS Changer is a malware that changes your DNS for malicious intentions. So typing a URL, instead of taking you to an original website, will show you an altered version that serves the purpose of the perpetrators promoting fake and dangerous products. On November 8 last year, FBI and Estonian police arrested individuals operating under the name “Rove Digital”. This unearthed “Operation Ghost Click” that, so far, has victimized around 570,000 (while experts place the number somewhere around 250,000) computers.

Why is this sudden urgency?

While the incident is quite old, the good guys managed to hinder the actions of the DNSChanger by running an alternate server for the Rove Digital botnet so the infected users may continue to enjoy proper DNS redirection up to the time, they find a cure for the disease. Under court order, these(two) servers will be down from today and infected users won’t be able to browse internet in a way it actually works.

Cure for the Itch

DNS Changer Working Group(DCDW) has nice set of links which you can use to check if your computer is infected with DNSChanger and if so, how to remove DNSChanger malware. I’m not delving into more as the steps/tools illustrated there are not so theatrical and any average Joe can get them done.

If you are late to fix it and you can’t just visit websites for a query, here’s a IP to the URL (74.125.45.100/search?q=dns+changer+working+group) where you can find answers to fix DNS Changer malware.

What if I’m not so unlucky?

I’ve read a dozen pieces by now, and a hundred more updates on the social networks. That inspired me to come up with such a scary title for the article and as it may suggest ANY user might lose their much beloved internet connectivity. That’s a false underlying notion. Well, if you aren’t affected, YOU AREN’T GOING TO SUFFER. Keep enjoying the epic fail videos until the Internet really falls apart.

That’s one of the ugly sides of technology. Any average user is hardly aware of the existence of the complex mechanisms that work in background in order to make their computing task a breeze. So if anything goes wrong in the backstage they are only worried if something in the performance behaves weirdly. And if it isn’t, well they hardly even feel that it actually happened. That’s the case with this security threat which so far didn’t seem to be a trouble, although, it had serious implications like disabling antivirus features to do what it was intended for.

The internet community has always been judgmental and several conspiracy theories are already out. As they point out, like the Y2K crisis, as anticipated, this DNSChanger issue won’t actually mean a doomsday for the internet users. Frankly, a few thousand strong infected users can hardly be a dent in a crowd of billions. However, if you are one of them, you have big reasons to worry and perhaps it will be wise to get it fixed and now is a great time to do that.

IORAD Lets You Record Like A Video, Present Like A Powerpoint

Planning for a quick video for your friend on how he can configure his network setting or how he might be able to start a download from YouTube? Or planning for a tutorial for your next blog post. For all the practical reasons you would have done a screen video or a presentation. This time let’s try something in between, something equally(if not more) better, let’s try IORAD.

iorad-intro

Sign up for a free account and you will be taken to a page where you can start creating a tutorial. You will be required to start by naming your tutorial first. Next steps involve window selection and then just doing what you wish to demonstrate. As you complete the tutorial you can press “Done” to finish the recording or you can pause the recording midway as well. The recorded clips will now be loaded and you can edit them a slide at a time. Add action buttons from the left which includes Read, Click, Type and Hover. For most of the slides, however, the action buttons are already added. So all you need to do is rectify the mistakes or include a few more.

Be advised that Internet Explorer and Firefox browser are recommended to get the action balloons to be added automatically. IORAD is something in between video and Powerpoint presentations. You get to record the screen just like you would normally do a video screen grab. However, the end result is based on slides and the illustrations are more interactional as the viewer can actually perform the similar actions(demonstrated in the tutorial) on the presentation to move on to the next slide. Although, a streaming slideshow would have been a great addition to the features on the platter. There is also an option to embed any tutorial on a webpage. The size restriction only allows you to add an iFrame of 1000px wide which is quite high for most blog layouts. Take a look at a demo tutorial I created with IORAD.

Apart form browser windows, any window from the PC can be recorded with the tool which would definitely help any presenter to create comprehensive tutorials. One downside is that the fixed window size for the recording is a bummer if tried on many dynamic websites where the elements fall apart once the window is resized. The tool has been there for a while. The older version used to have additional flexibility while recording/editing that are removed in the latest edition. The new interface is simpler and more task oriented. Nevertheless, it’s still a quick and nifty way to create interactive tutorial presentation with precise brevity for anything that happens within a computer screen.

Acunote Launches Real-Time Online Project Management And Scrum Software

If you are team of 10 members or an enterprise consisting of 3000 individuals, Acunote is the latest entrant in the online project management and scrum software category that can provide you with a simple(akin to Gmail) yet robust tool for the tasks at hand. Founded by a YCombinator alum (from Winter 2011 class) the new startup aims to make project management a real-time job with better capabilities.

acunote-intro

Start with a project and tasks can assigned to people which can then be bundled into sprints that pertain to specific group of people responsible for a role in the project. As in real scenario, during the period any project is under process tasks are often needed to be re-assigned(to a team or member) or rescheduled. The drag and drop assignment of task is a healer, while any change that is made to any section of the project is precisely reflected in real time across the network. Now if you have tasks that are meant to be performed for successful project completion but hasn’t yet been scheduled goes into the backlog section to be taken care of when a member/group/time is available.

acunote-codeview

Code view and commenting on pieces of codes being worked upon (or completed) provides an all-in-one interface for the coding team. Integration of other useful tools like Google Apps, source control systems (Subversion, Github, Perforce), bugtrackers (JIRA, Trac, FogBugz, Bugzilla, Mantis) helps make Acunote a complete solution for the coding folks.

acunote-analytics

Every task has a status which clearly depict whether it is in progress or completed or has not been acted upon. Aided by the task progress data, brilliant burndown and analytics charts as well as ETA predictions are shown with which the managerial team can easily make decisions for future. Wiki for tasks, timeline(log of events) and access control, keyboard shortcuts are also some key features to take advantage of this online tool.

acunote-plans

Plans start from $49/month for small teams while bigger teams can opt for $99/month or $149/month with added advantages. While all the accounts are free for 30days with all the features, the company only accepts credit cards(Paypal payment not supported) for all sorts of payment. Acunote also has a free plan in place for small teams with 1-5 members. Although officially launched a little late, the company has been in action for quite some time already has an impressive clientele to brag about.

acunote-customers

Compared to those obstreperous project management tools Acunote offers a wieldy interface that any Gmail user can familiarize with. Acunote provides flexibility for numerous iterative and incremental methodologies implemented for software development. So if you have a project at hand and need a hassle-free mechanism to manage it, Acunote is a great choice.

Need A Second Opinion? Ask A Question On Thumb

Bought a new pair of glasses? Or need some buying advice? Whatever be the case, we have questions to ask, we love responses and we need opinions. There’s always a good way to ask your Facebook or Twitter buddies or some may even try the Google+. Frankly from time to time the updates never receive attention as it is buried down with the flooding updates from others. Here is an Android app that does a great job in getting your updates rated or opinionaided(as they like to call it). The amount of responses you get is something makes it stand out in the crowd of already popular services that offers Q&A.

thumb-intro

Thumb, with a simplistic method, lets you ask a question about anything you wish to get a second opinion. Once you have uploaded something the app algo shows it to random users listed in a random pattern with similar updates from people using the app. Users can vote on it with a thumbs up/down, express indifference with a neutral button or those who really wish to take participation to higher level can drop in a comment too. You can also add images to your questions to make them more intriguing.

thumb-app-interface

Asking a question or voting on a question on Thumb is so surprisingly easy and judging by the obvious engagement big names have it already being termed as one of the most addictive social network around questions. The average responses ranges something around 70 per question which is not just a big number, it explains how addictive Thumb is already. The user engagement even astounded the company CEO Dan Kurani when it first took off. Check out the promo video, it demonstrates quite exactly how prompt, albeit, diverse thinkers the Thumb community comprises of.

The app once again proves that the social space is far from being called saturated. If you have right mantra and the right skills to implement it, getting someone into the social game is not that hard. As in this case, the app banks on the instinctive nature of humans, where the response is more impulsive rather than judgmental. Moreover, we all have opinions and we just love to express them even before we are asked. That’s me exaggerating, although, I believe Thumb took this simple logic into consideration.

Get Thumb for Android and iOS.

NTES Offers Enquiry Portal To Track Indian Trains’ Current Status

150 years old Indian Railways is considered the fourth largest railway network and commercial/utility employer among the world’s leading organizations. It employs 1.4 million people and provides transport system to 30 million passengers and 2.8 million tons of freight daily. Although the numbers speak highly of it, the railway service in India has a vexing factor that only those 30 million daily commuters can relate to. For some obscure reasons the trains are late except occasionally showing up in time. CRIS(Centre for Railway Information Systems), an umbrella organisation, is responsible for all the computer related activities dedicated towards Indian Railways’ proper functioning. It has several systems for ticket booking, freight info etc to answer the user queries online.

train-enquiry-intro

CRIS, for long, had a system named NTES(National Train Enquiry System) in place to put the information about trains online so that people can know about train’s current location or how late it is running. Users needed to call a toll-free number to access the desired information. However, the new online service from NTES coined Train Enquiry, powered by Railyatri.in, needs you to search trains by name, number, destination and alike. Once you have selected the train properly it will show you the current status of the train. You can also use the web-based mobile app to do the same. The information is acceptably accurate and the results are shown quite promptly.

train-enquiry-status

As mentioned earlier, before this service was introduced, travelers had to rely on a 24X7 toll free number “139” to get updates about the trains they are willing to know about. The automated service was tardy in response and often failed to deliver as promised. The latest alternative on the other hand delivers the result under 20 seconds and provides additional info like the next stations and ETA at that station.

On a concluding note, I would like to state that, in contrast to those dull-looking and oft-crashing government web portals this one is thankfully appealing design-wise and functions quite well too. As it may seem the presence of Railyatri might have a say in that. The service serves perfectly in a way it publicizes, and hopefully we will need much of it unless we have a train service that runs on time.

Kyck Start Your Football Madness With The Soccer Social Network

The knockout stage has kicked off for Euro 2012 thereby taking the football fever to a higher level. There are plenty options you can socially connect to the madness. There’s Twitter and other apps like OnSports, PlayUp, Share The Match etc that does a fine job handling the social updates pertaining to the game.

kyck-intro

However, a new social network, Kyck plans to make the experience more specifically soccer-centric. The service went live last summer with a website and the release was followed by an iOS app launched afterwards. The company plans to go mobile and an Android variant is expected during the end of the current year. The company was started by Mac Lackey, a vet in the online tech industry and was sold off later. The team currently consists of 14 members and 3 interns.

The social network is currently invite-only, although, the team urges users to ask for an invite which will most likely get answered in a day. Alternatively, you can ping them on Twitter, letting them know about your eagerness and passion to join the network by adding a hashtag #KYCKme to your tweet. Once you get in you can follow international teams as well as any player to check out the latest conversations related to the topic. Similarly, if you wish to get your views included in a specific conversation feed, you can tag them with the relevant tag. Check-ins to a game, club or player will ensure you get in-app or push notifications related to them in later times. The social element comes in as a hybrid of Twitter features. You can follow people to get updates(photos, comments, notes etc) from him/her on your stream. Moreover, the spiffy algo also curates a list of contents(Top Kyck) that are considered commendable by the community.

The new network is planning for a public release sometime during the next month. The UI and wider availability are two major elements they are putting their faith in to ensure better feel for the users.

While OnSports and PlayUp remains my favorite, I can’t stop myself from using the official Euro 2012 app in an unceasing manner while I’m not in front of a TV. But that said, the Euro 2012 app is for the time being I will certainly love to have something like OnSports that is entirely for soccer games and all sorts of them. Thankfully Kyck feels so much like it. Since I prefer Android, I will have to wait for some time to comment more on the mobile experience the soccer social network delivers. Until then we will love to  hear more from you about your favorite sports apps.

Hotstagram Borrows Facemash Idea to Compare Instagram Photos

Remember the Mark Zuck classic Facemash? Well the story didn’t go that well for him. Did you know yet that the inspiration behind it was Hot or Not? Many, borrowing the idea, came afterwards and made their mark. The whole idea of girl pics being compared is kinda too hot to resist. Isn’t it?

hotstagram-intro

Yet another startup Hotstagram plans to exploit the idea. Instagram, not so while ago an iOS darling and then dished out for Android users to play with it and finally Facebook joined in to spoil acquire the whole party. Yet Instagram remains the most preferred app that still makes(and shares) those dull snaps look brilliant. 2011 figures suggest the number of images shared on the network is 400 million. That’s indeed a big number. The new startup plans to compare the people photos from Instagram based on how attractive(or HOT) they are. Users can choose to rate pictures of girls as well as guys. There’s no signup needed to vote on pictures. Instagram users who wish to get their pictures voted by random people can share their Instagram pics with Hotstagram by adding a simple #hotstagram tag to them. Hotstagram also provides a link for current matchup to share it elsewhere.

The idea although sounds a little creepy but the 27-year old founder who goes by the name Captain Kirk claims there’s nothing illegal. The whole picture sharing is compliant with the terms and conditions of Instagram. Facebook and Instagram is yet to issue any official statement to claim anything fishy about Hotstagram.

Seriously speaking the USP is intelligent. Tapping into a mammoth database of retro imagery and using a popular network to create content combined with the gender tickle will hardly be a failure. However the success banks on how the Instagram users are going to adopt it or rather how willing they are to get rated. Expectantly the response so far has been overwhelming and the unnamed developer claims their servers have crashed several times failing to handle the user overload. It’s up and running now. So have you rated yet?

With Waze Enjoy Social Navigation, Discounted Gas Prices, Voice Control And Lots More

Have you ever got stuck in traffic and hoped you could simply check in to a social map where someone has suggested an alternate route? Even better, if you had an early information about the roadblock, you could have avoided the route? Waze, an Android and iOS based startup, can help you get all the necessary traffic information and help you reach your destination without much frustration.

waze-intro

The Android and iOS based startup backed by Kleiner Perkins is aimed towards crowdsourcing traffic information. The app can be used to notify(and get notified as well) traffic information like roadblocks, police traps, jams, accidents etc. The app lets you take advantage of the data fetched by other fellow drivers(also using Waze) in your locality to outsmart traffic. Powered with voice control(initiated by a simple hand gesture) the app can be a great way to stay connected to the traffic updates and report necessary changes that you might encounter during your daily road trip.

The app has recently launched a new feature that will enable users to refuel gas at a lower price. So apart from finding (and reporting) traffic information one can now locate a gas station that’s offering lower prices. GasBuddy, already a market leader in this segment is already doing a great job. Users will have to wait for some time to find out the accuracy of Waze’s information and how it is planning to take up the challenge of competing with Gasbuddy. Waze has partnered with vendors that will offer discounts to Waze users at nearly 2000 stations currently in US. The service will gradually be rolled out globally so that the community can also report a gas station in their daily commute.

Along with other behemoths in the mapping scenario, Waze is also confirmed to be a part of Apple’s new turn-by-turn mapping services that is being implemented in the latest iOS6. This will definitely take the numbers up for the Waze users thereby producing more information for the service. However it is still unsure to how far Apple is planning to integrate the service in its maps, we will have to wait for that too.

Other notable features that has been dispensed includes search by category(for locating restaurants, ATMs, coffee shops etc), waypoints(to add a stop in your proposed route, helpful for car poolers) and text-to-speech.

To be candid, with what Waze professes to be offer, will eventually grow into a complete tool for car navigation. Now to be true, crowdsourcing, in terms of usability, offers both sides of a coin. Information generated by users help keep thing updated and grows at a steady pace as well. On the other hand, the accuracy of the information is questionable. Nonetheless, Waze has grown into a massive database, thanks to the (17million plus) community and doing great so far (else the Apple deal might not have happened). If things goes this way, Waze has all the mettle to change the face of turn-by-turn navigation by so-called social (storytelling) reporting of traffic.

With Facebook for WordPress, What’s Going to Change?

WordPress is admittedly the most used CMS(content management system). It caters to a wide range of siteowners. From small scale websites to tech news giants, everybody can rely on its robust yet flexible website management. On the other hand, to promote their content every webmaster has to rely on social media. Facebook, for long, has provided a feisty marketing tool for every business out there. From the time Open Graph came to existence, webmasters had no other choice but to code their apps to integrate Facebook’s social experience with their WordPress blogs. Thankfully with the new plugin it won’t be a strenuous task anymore.

facebook-for-wordpress-intro

Let’s start with the installation. Follow the simple steps below to activate the new plugin.

1. Download the Facebook plugin for WordPress.

2. You can either upload it to your blog’s hosting server with your ftp client or you can use your WordPress account. A quick tutorial is available here.

3. Once you have succesfully uploaded the plugin, go to Plugins > Inactive and scroll down to activate the Facebook plugin.

4. Now in order to use the plugin you will need to register a Facebook app. You don’t need to be a coder to do that. Just go to The Facebook Developers page and create a new app.

NOTE: If you already have an app registered with Facebook you can go directly to the app and copy the App ID and App Secret. Skip this step and start from step 6.

5. Now add the page name (your blog name would be a good choice here), namespace(optional, entering your blog name is recommended) and Heroku web hosting(optional). Once you are done, you will be redirected to the app page where you will get the App ID and App Secret. These will be needed for configuring the plugin. Scroll down and you will find an option where you will need to mention how your app integrates with Facebook. Click the first option “Website with Facebook Login” and enter your full blog URL i.e including the http://. Once done press the button Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

register-app-facebook

facebook-app-id-secret

6. Now that you have your App ID, App Secret and namespace go back to your plugin configuration page and enter them. After, you have completed the activation you will be presented with a settings page for the Facebook plugin. Choose the options you wish to and save the necessary changes after you had configured them. We’ll discuss more on the configuration changes and how it effects your site layout in a later post.

Every WordPress is meant to add additional capabilities to the CMS. Facebook for WordPress implements the latest social attributes of Facebook for your blog.

1. Social Publisher: This is indeed something new and helpful if you own a multi-author blog. True you could already share posts automatically on Facebook as they were published. However, if your authors too can showcase their posts on their personal timeline, that would mean some additional traffic from their friends and followers. Apart from these any author can mention the names of their friends to post on their timeline as well.

2. Send and Like buttons are primitive if compared with the rest of the functions the plugin offers. It adds a Like and Send button to the top/bottom of any post of your blog to let users share it with their Facebook friends.

3. Subscribe Button: This definitely helps any blog to promote their authors and in turn their content. So far top blogs with reputed authors used to have this feature(but was not limited to). The hassle of coding is no more there, all you now need to do is ask every author to authorize the app from within their WordPress accounts. Doing this will show a subscribe button at the end of the post.

4. The comments section is also something that was popular already. It also comes bundled with other features with this plugin.

5. Recommendation Bar: Technically this is the only significant feature that comes for the first time along with the plugin release. This adds a sticky bar that shows article recommendations to readers. The readers can use the Like button there to like the post they are on or turn on the social reading. This can serve as viral marketing as friends of the reader will see a ticker or news feed entry that says “X read THIS POST on THE BLOG”. Until now this was possible with the selected social readers after the last f8 keynote.

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What it means for a reader?

So as the behemoth of social marketing integrates more easily with the most popular blogging platform expect more clutter in your already populous news feed. Apart from that if you really love sharing what you read, it would be a more pleasant experience for you.

What changes for a webmaster?

Thankfully, a lot. Less coding and more functions. A caution, do not overdo. Sometimes less is more. With more sharing features you will enjoy better visibility on the social network but similar to other plugins your site load time will be hit. Sticky bars are good but at the same time can be annoying too. As you are a better judge for your readers, the decision rests upon you.

Why was it launched? How does it make up for Facebook?

As you have noticed, apart from the recommendations bar everything was already there. This might just be a compilation of the Facebook sharing features. My personal opinion is that the recommendation bar feature is what motivated Facebook to launch this plugin. Since Facebook is planning on a better functional search (and Bing’s social search) their repository should be rich in content. Apart from pages, updates and other things the social reader will take the user engagement to the next level. The less known blogs (with low sharer counts) can also include their content now in a much simpler way. This seems even more relevant as Facebook went on the IPO way and is struggling so far. A new opportunity based on search ads sounds too lucrative to dismiss. Now considering their proximity to Bing they are less likely to go for a head-on clash with Google(Bing already enjoys that rightfully). So improving the internal search for content might be a way out of this.

Think of me as an elitist but I will still bank on the facts that Facebook has already done a great job in luring users. A better platform with better search will only make things better for them(and hopefully a boost for their IPO) and for a right mind that should not be considered evil. There’s nothing personal, it’s all business.

Bet, Brag And Banter With Friends as Euro 2012 Football is On

Euro 2012 is on with the highest level of footballing skills on show. It’s a season of great pub times, large screens, table banging, friends’ banter, and everybody is suddenly an expert. If you are missing out on the Euro madness, call in your gang and be the Football guru online. Not just that, if your team do have the right predicting power you can bag some free cash.

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Irish startup BragBet has recently launched a new service based on social gambling. You can invite friends by email or Facebook to join your team. During the Euro 2012 Championship, each team member will take turns to be the captain of the team, who will also place bets for the team. Other members can place suggestions on the team wall for all the bets available. There is also a €1000 bounty for the leading tipster as well. To start with, you will have €125 for each team member who joins your team.

Gambling may sound a little scary as you have high chances to lose than to win. Fret not, there is no actual cash flow here. It’s a virtual betting social network or I would prefer to say it a social gambling game. Once the real gambling service is out, players can place money on the team which their captain can use to place bets. The beta service has only launched just more than a week ago and the engagement they are experiencing are overwhelming by their terms.

Phil Riordan(current CEO), Jonathan O’Neill and Brian O’Mullane met during the 2010 Start-Up Weekend in Dublin and soon after they started working on the gambling category which is expected to grow extensively in the future times. Although some firms has already shown their interests in the newly launched service, the developers are wary of the fewer number of VCs in the gambling startup industry. BragBet is currently focusing on the Euro games but plans to extend to other premier leagues as well as sports.

Being social is the need of the day and hopefully with Euro madness on, people can still enjoy the social aspect related to the games. With sharing capability any BragBet user can share (on Facebook) the teams they are rooting for and placing bets on. So until and unless the gambling aspect takes an ugly turn, you can still brag about your football insights and predictions.