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Webby Wednesday: Generate Unique Usernames, Add Speech Bubbles to Photos, Create Letter Templates and Browse Facebook Fan Page Designs

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

Create Unique usernames with MyusernameGenerator.com

Whenever you signup in a social network, the first thing to choose is the username. It’s a good practice to pick the same username across all the social networks because your friends can remember the username and find you quickly. The username plays an important role in branding your profile across different sites on the web.

generate-unique-usernames

Myusernamegenerator lets you generate unique names for your social profiles. You can choose between different types: short, long, medium, Japanese, heavy, vowels, Chinese and the like. The site also lists the recently generated usernames in the footer. Once you find a short and attractive username, head over to usernamecheck.com and check whether the username is available on all the social sites or not.

Add Speech Bubbles to Photos With Speechable

Speechable is a free photo service that lets you easily upload and add speech bubbles to your photos and share them with friends via email or on Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, blogs, and message boards.

add-speech-bubbles-to-photos

There is nothing to download or install, simply upload a photo from your computer or any web URL. When the upload is complete, create a bubble and add some text in it. You can drag and place the bubble anywhere on the image. This is pure fun, as the images appear to be talking. Here is an example:

adding-bubbles-to-photos

Create Letter Templates with LetterGenie.com

LetterGenie is a web based app that can be used to create letters from templates. This is useful, because you don’t want to lose a client just because your covering letter was poorly written. Once you are done writing the personalized letter, you can print it or download a PDF copy in your computer.

create-letter-templates

The service also lets you import contacts and names from your email client.

Find the best Facebook Fan Page Designs With FacebookShowCase.net

Want to design a Facebook fan page for your company? Why not get some design inspiration from the very popular gallery of Facebook fan page designs at Facebookshowcase.net

facebook-fan-page-designs

The most popular designs are listed one by one on the homepage and you can see the user ratings of Facebook fan pages. The service acts as a great starting point if you seriously want an attractive Facebook fan page.

On each Wednesday, we will come up with a brief roundup of new web tools which provide value and add something extra to your daily technology. Stay tuned!

Hide URL’s from Crawlers Using Hides.at

Ever heard about a URL masking service? No, I am not talking about URL shorteners which can be used to shorten a long URL. A URL masking service forwards the visitor using a “Frame source” of the destination URL so that the original URL is kept hidden from the user (and from the bots as well).

URL masking is not required with regular links and in most of the cases, you can simply use rel=”nofollow” to instruct the bots from not crawling it. But if you are linking to a download page which you want to hide from the crawlers, URL masking services like Hides.at might help.

To use the site, simply paste the destination URL in the input field and click “Hide”.

hide-urls-from-crawlers

You will be shown a masked or coded URL like http://hides.at/3bffcb3bf9ba5f1ed115b2904b6b2b05. Putting this address in the browser address bar will not redirect you to the original page. Instead, you will see the destination URL in text as shown below:

original-unmasked-url

Since the masked URL does not redirects to any page, the search bots or web crawlers won’t be able to crawl that link. This is useful, when you want to hide suspicious links to download pages, torrent sites etc. Some forum bots crawl web links and automatically delete them at regular intervals, so you can use this service and stop worrying about broken links.

Techie Buzz Verdict

The service looks good but should have more options to choose from. I hate filling in the captcha to see the unmasked URL’s. I would love to see a bookmarklet or a browser extension being included so that I can mask and unmask URL’s on the fly.

Techie Buzz rating: 3/5 (Good).

Webby Wednesday: Create HTML Forms, Visitor Chat Widget, Shared calendars and Fill PDF Forms Online

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

Faary: Create Simple HTML Forms

If you have a blog or website, you will need HTML forms for different purposes. May be a contact form or a simple sign up form which you want to use in your product sign up pages. Faary lets you create simple HTML contact forms without writing any code or using any plugin.

To get started, visit Faary and enter the parameters you want to include in the form in the left column. Make sure to separate each item in a new line and include a “*” before the items which you want as required.

faary-create-contact-forms

Once the form is ready, click on “Generate” and the site will preview the contact form in the browser. You can then download the required HTML and CSS for the contact form as a zip file. The site is completely free to use and there are no registrations or signups involved.

Plupper: Live Visitor Chat Widget for Your Blog or Website

If you want to live chat with your site visitors, Plupper will be useful. You can embed a small code in your website’s source and visitors coming to these pages can start chatting with you on your preferred IM client. This includes Google Talk, Pidgin, Ichat, Trillian, Miranda, Meebo to name a few.

plupper-chatback-widget

The free account at Plupper imposes no limitation on the amount of conversations you can have with your visitors or clients. However, if you want something full featured, see the pricing plans of Plupper and decide the plan which suits your budget.

Meetifyr: Create Online Shared Calendars

Want to plan a meeting or an event with a group of people? Meetifyr lets you create shared calendars and add available dates to it, so that you and your friends can plan an event with ease.

create-online-calendars

Using the tool is simple, just head over to Meetifyr and create a calendar. Add your name and the dates when you are free and when you are done, the site gives you a unique URL of the calendar (see example). You can then share the URL of the calendar with your friends and they can also add their available dates. In the end, you can compare all the available dates and plan the meeting accordingly. The tool is not as versatile and feature rich as Google Calendar, but it’s an easy way to plan meetings with anyone.

FillAnyPDF: Upload and Fill PDF Forms Online

FillanyPDF lets you upload PDF forms so that other people can fill it any add their signatures. You can invite a group of people to fill data in the form and then track the results

fill-pdf-forms-online

The site lets you send forms to users via email or embed the entire form in your website. The good thing about FillAnyPDF is that users need not register to fill out forms.

On each Wednesday, we will come up with a brief roundup of new web tools which provide value and add something extra to your daily technology. Stay tuned!

Draw and Write on Google Maps With ScribbleMaps

Have you ever tried explaining someone how to reach a particular place in your city? Maybe, one of your friends will visit the town where you live and you want to give him a rough idea on the places that are worth visiting.

Google Maps is one of the best tools in such situations, but paired with Scribblemaps, it’s even better. The site let’s you draw directions and add text in any Google Map, and you can add arrows, shapes and other markers. This helps in adding more information to the map, and once it’s ready, you can save the map for later viewing.

Using Scribblemaps is quite simple, just head over to the homepage and zoom into a location in Google maps. Then use the menu bar to add text, arrows, shapes and directions.

draw-directions-in-google-maps

Once you have added all the directions and markers, save the map, and you will be provided a unique ID of your customized map.

save-map-with-directions

Next, you have to choose a password so that you can edit the map at a later time.

choose-password

Hit “Save” and you are done. You will be shown a link to your customized Google map, which can then be shared via email or other social networking sites (see example). You can also embed the customized map in your blog or website. Thanks Himangshu.

Techie Buzz Verdict

Scribblemaps is easy to use, adds value and is free from advertisements. No registrations or signups are required to use the service. It’s a perfect tool to add custom text and directions in a Google map.

Techie Buzz rating: 5/5 (perfect).

The Safest Search Engine on the Web

I would like to nominate WOT-SurfCanyon as the safest search site on the web. This might be debatable, because there are a few dedicated search engines for children. However, kid-safe searches will not show you search results that any curious adult will want to see.

I define safe searching for adults, as being able to see everything, and yet be protected against sites that deliver malware, trojans and spyware. If you follow my definition, the WOT-SurfCanyon site is a search service that you may want to use.

Here’s a look at some search results for the most dangerous item you can search for, screensavers.

surfcanyon-wot-search

Please notice that there is a little green circle next to each search result. This is due to the WOT (Web of Trust) service that SurfCanyon is partnered with. If those circles are yellow or red, the search result is either risky or dangerous for different reasons.

There are two options at the top of the search results page which exclude certain results by default. Un-checking the check-boxes will allow you to see those results.

surfcanyon-exclusions

SurfCanyon also includes an icon next to each search result. The SurfCanyon icon looks like a little target with a blue arrow in the bulls-eye.

surfcanyon-bullseye

Clicking on the SurfCanyon bulls-eye will show you recommended search results based on the result you’ve chosen. This is a very nice feature, but I have not found it as useful as the WOT icon. Clicking on the WOT icon will give you more details about the website behind that search result.

I recently wrote about the WOT addon for Firefox, IE and Chrome browsers. It provides this safe search feature, but it does require that you use the addon. If you don’t want to install an addon to your web browser, the WOT-SurfCanyon search is exactly what you need to stay safe.

Sometime soon, I’ll tell you how to set SurfCanyon-WOT as your default search engine in Firefox, IE, Chrome and Opera. Until then, search safely!

Convert One Hyper-Link Into Many

Hyper-links probably have a history as old as the internet. They are used almost in every article, blog post or website pretty heavily to point the user to a different web page. They work very well indeed, but how about a situation when you want to point your reader to multiple web sites. Traditionally you would create multiple hyper-links for them since it is the norm.

Butns is a new web service that is trying to revolutionize the way hyper0links work. It allows you to hide multiple hyper-links under one. For example, instead of saying “Check out Google, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Bing and Twitter” you would say, check out these websites”.

These multiple hyper-links are called butns and can be easily generated at butns.com. Just start by entering the word you want to turn into hyper-links and then choose a style for your hyper link. You can have it underlined, double underlined, bold or even dotted. After that, specify the hyper-links you want to include in your butn; you can choose from many popular URLs or enter a custom one. Once done, butns will generate a code for your hyper-link that can be pasted on your website or blog.

It may take a couple of minutes more to do than the traditional hyper-links, but it will definitely save some screen real-estate and make your website look good.

Multiple Hyper-Links

Create Photo Mosaics from Profile Images of Your Twitter Friends

We have seen some really cool ways to create background images for your Twitter profile. There is Twitlay, which lets you create Twitter backgrounds from an image stored in your computer. There is also Twitbacks, which makes it easy to show all your social networking accounts as your Twitter profile background.

But wouldn’t it be a great idea to use a photo mosaic as a Twitter background? The idea here is to create a photo mosaic from profile thumbnails of your Twitter followers or friends. Here is an example:

twitter-friends-photo-mosaic

MyFriendsMosaic let’s you quickly create photo mosaics from profile images of your Twitter friends and followers. Just visit the site and enter your Twitter username and choose followers or friends from the dropdown menu.

create-photo-mosaics-twitter-friends

Once the mosaic is done, you can download the image in your computer. The site works with Twitter and Livejournal. The premier option let’s you buy custom templates such as: an image for the mouse pad, a coffee mug, a T-shirt or may be a handbag.

mosaic-templates

Techie Buzz Verdict

The site looks cool but the downside is that there aren’t any templates. All you get is a rectangular image which can be set as a desktop background or the background image of your Twitter profile. I would love to see different shapes being introduced, so that each mosaic looks different from others.

Techie Buzz rating: 3/5 (Good).

Webby Wednesdays: Create Collaborative Diagrams, Build Websites for Free, Find IP Location and Sleeping Time of Your Twitter Friends

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

Creately: Create and Collaborate on Online Diagrams

Do you find yourself helpless when you have to make a proposal to some distant client? May be the customer is unable to understand your idea and approach, and a mere IM chat produces less results. That’s when you need Creately – a new web service which let’s you create diagrams, flow charts and strategy diagrams online.

create-collaborative-diagrams

There are lot of similar tools out there but what sets Creately apart is the easy to use interface and a wide range of already available templates. You can quickly create project diagrams, business strategies and let other members collaborate on the diagram from any part of the world.

The site supports a lot of objects and logical blocks which can be added in your diagram with little effort. You can revert back to an earlier state of the diagram anytime, because Creately saves revision history of all your charts.

Here is a wonderful screencast which briefly describes the useful features of Creately:

Lifeyo: Build Websites The Easy way

Want to create a small website for your company or business? Don’t have enough knowledge or expertise on coding and customization? Check out Lifeyo – a website which makes it super easy to create blogs and websites. Neither you need to   find a web hosting service and manage the web server on your own, nor you need to install any kind of software to run your website.

lifeyo-build-websites

All you get is an easy to use interface to build pages and content for your blog or website. The entire management of your site remains in Lifeyo’s hands and you need not worry about database failures, scheduled backups and losing your site due to technical glitches.

Lifeyo provides a free domain name such as abc.lifeyo.com, but if you want to have a custom domain name, you have to pay them $50 a year. This is quite cheap, as compared to other hosting providers who will provide you with more space but at the cost of more pricing.

InfoSpinner: Find The Geographical Location of an IP Address

IP address stands for internet protocol address and it can be used to find the geographical location of a person who is using the internet from some part of the world. Wouldn’t it be a great idea if you could track the location of a specific IP address directly on Google Maps?

Enter InfoSpinner – a simple yet useful web service which can be used to find the geographical location of IP addresses on Google Maps, Yahoo Maps and Windows Live.

track-geolocation-ofipaddress

Apart from the name of the city, this site can also be used to find out the zip code, latitude, longitude, country of origin etc. So if you are receiving spam comments in your blog from a particular IP, you can check in which city the spammer lives.

SleepingTime: Find When your Twitter Friends Sleep

You may wonder whether some of the tweeples, who post hundreds of tweets every day ever go to bed? Sleepingtime can tell when your Twitter friends sleep. Just enter the Twitter username of the friend and the site returns a predicted sleeping pattern of the friend.

sleepingtime-of-twitter-friends

The tool analyzes the tweeting pattern of your friend and combines it with the time zone information from the profile to predict the sleeping time of a user. However, the site does not work for private accounts.

On each wednesday, we will come up with a brief roundup of new web tools which provide value and add something extra to your daily technology. Stay tuned!

Put.io Fetches Content From Almost Everywhere And Brings It Together

Put.io Ever seen the movie The Rundown with Dwayne Johnson playing a retrieval expert? I think that was a great movie. A retrieval expert. What a nice job. Even better if you have someone to do it for you. On the Internet, you ain’t got no Dwayne Johnson. Here, you got Put.io. Put.io is your personal retrieval expert. Say Hello!

Let’s say you download a lot of stuff through different mediums. There’s bittorrent, rapidshare, podcasts, rss feed enclosures, file sharing with friends etcetera. Now imagine if all the content you require from all these different places land up in one single spot on the internet from where you can choose and download whatever you want. Don’t want to download? How about streaming the movie you just torrented? Better? Right.

That is exactly what put.io does. It fetches content from torrents, rapidshare, http, ftp, standard download websites and even scrapes out content from rss feeds and podcasts. You tell put.io what to download; it’s servers will download the file onto themselves and then you can either stream or download the media to your computer through normal http links. You can access and download your data to your computer/iPhone/Web based device anytime you want. You can also conventionally upload files from your computer. It’s like a middleman for fetching content, only this man has got many hands.

If you are fetching torrents with put.io, it’s good to know that after downloading, put.io will also seed it uptil ratio of 1:1, and for those interested to know, put.io is currently experimenting with their server side torrent client and mostly use different builds of Transmission and rTorrent. If you are fetching music, you can stream it right inside the browser. If it is video, you will need the DivX browser plugin (link provided on the video page) to stream the video in the browser. In case you prefer desktop streaming, you should be doing good, as a link for direct streaming via desktop players like VLC is also provided. Entire folders can be downloaded as zip files.

A Bittorrent Download

Put.io has also kicked in on the social aspect of the service. You can mark fellow users of the site as friends and then share files with them individually or with all of them. All it takes is a press of a button. Its servers are connected to the internet through Gigabit ports because of which they can fetch files faster than normal home connections their website says.

Sharing on Put.io

In case you are a media fanatic, you will need to get your fix as put.io has it’s own set of (lenient) limits. You will get a total of 50GB storage and 150GB of bandwidth. Any single file should not be over 20GB and if the servers are high on load, you will be limited to 3 simultaneous downloads (when fetching). Put.io will not extract any archive containing more than 500 files and as for private torrent trackers, not all of them are supported.

Video Player on Put.io

Put.io is currently in closed beta and you will need an invite to get in. Also, there are plans to take the service on a subscription based model where the user will have to pay to use the service. Certainly, after the beta period, put.io will become a paid-for service. So you better sign up now and reap the benefits for as long as they are available.

If you’re thinking This ship is going to sink in its own dockyardthat is something only time will tell. Sure it can be used for downloading copyrighted material and even used as a seedbox, but nonetheless, it is still a middleman*, or a retrieval expert. And as far as I know, retrieval experts are legal in USA ;) On a brighter note, Put.io assures to remove any infringing material from its servers as and when it gets a DMCA complaint.

So that’s all that Put.io is all about. Want in? Keep an eye on invites given away on Put.io’s Twitter.

*Copyright laws flummox me. I should be the last person to be asked about them. Thanks!

Hotmail Watcher: Firefox Add-on For New Email Notification

There are a number of browser and desktop based notifiers for Gmail but not many for Hotmail or Yahoo! email services. Hotmail Watcher changes that. It is a Firefox add-on that notifies you of new email in your Hotmail Inbox without leaving your current page.

Once you install it from here, you can configure it to check your email at your desired intervals which can be between   5 minutes and 4 hours. If you don’t like the automated checking of your inbox, there is an option to manually check it whenever you want. When Hotmail Watcher does find some new email in your inbox, it can notify you through a sound alert, display alert and/or a blink alert. As you can see, there are a number of customizations that can be done to suit your needs. The tool does not ask you for your Hotmail username and password but rather works based on cookies set by Hotmail. That means, after installing the add-on you will have to login to your Hotmail Inbox once.

Hotmail WatcherHotmail Notifier

We have seen a number of notifiers for Gmail but very few for Hotmail. However, for a person like me who is an active Gmail but a passive Hotmail user, this tool is much better than going to the Hotmail Inbox every time to see if there’s new mail.

The add-on can be installed here. [Via ghacks]