View Craigslist House Listings on Google Maps with CLMapper

If you live(d) in the U.S. you might have used or heard about Craigslist at some point of time. Craigslist is an online classified website which lets you sell or buy almost anything. It is a service which has been useful in finding used furniture, house for rent and more.

However, Craigslist is very simple as is and does not provide users with an intuitive interface that we are used to in several other services on the Internet, specially when it comes to apartment hunting. Previously, one of my favorite service, which I have used several times to find housing; PadMapper, used to provide a interface to map Craigslist house listings on a map. Unfortunately, Craigslist sent them a cease and desist to stop using data from the website.

While that in itself led several users to revolt at Craigslist, the revolt led to nothing and Padmapper will no longer show Craigslist listing on their site. Nevertheless, Craigslist is still useful for finding apartments and if you are a Padmapper user or are looking to view Craigslist listing on a map, you can use a simple Chrome listing which does something similar.

A Google Chrome Extension called CLMapper will allow you to view Craigslist posts on Google maps while you are browsing house listings Craigslist.

CLMapper Craigslist Apartment Mapper

Once you install the extension, you will be able to view all the apartments on an adjoining map as seen in the screenshot above. Clicking on the map will take you to the original Craigslist listing. This is definitely a useful PadMapper alternative because it allows you to only view apartments in a particular area and not browse through everything.

One thing I noticed that this extension does not work in all cities right now. For example, it does not work for New York. However, it does work for other cities/states like New Jersey and Phoenix.

Download CLMapper

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 Valid Credit Card Numbers for Development/Testing

If you are a developer who works on integrating payment gateways into websites, you might have had to use dummy credit card information for testing purposes. While getting valid credit card numbers for testing is not that hard, a new website aims to make it far more easier to test your payment gateway integration.

Get Valid Credit Card Numbers

Get Credit Card Numbers is a service which generates valid credit card numbers for testing purposes. Users can visit the site and get credit card numbers for Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express.

The website automatically generates a random set of credit card numbers when you visit the site. However, it also provides options to generate valid numbers in JSON, XML and CSV formats as well for individual card types.

If you are a developer who works on payment related modules, this website is definitely something you should bookmark.

Please note that the credit card numbers generated are “not real” and cannot be used to make purchases on the internet.

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.

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.

Indite is a Home Grown Cloud Writing Tool–Now in Beta!

It is not often that you find enterprising web apps from Indian developers that cater to a diverse group of people. (Forgive my ignorance if you do, and send their links to me) So when I am asked by one of the developers, a friend of mine on Twitter, of this brand new online writing app I pretty much jump at it like a really hungry direwolf on a bunch of scared stags.

Indite is a… how do I put it… writing and thought aid that features a very minimalist, distraction-free environment (for the most part). The developers describe it as a “spatial text editor” that, in turn allows you to create short snippets of texts or “blurbs” across multiple sheets. These can be collated later and downloaded as a plain text file or a rich text file with formatting.

It holds great use for  me as a mind mapping tool to lay out the different aspects of a story, an essay, or even this post:-

InditePost

You simply click on any region of the screen and start typing. A tiny box will pop up to show you what you have written. You can use HTML markdown to format the text  and that is just *very nice* if you ask me. There is no save button anywhere in the app, because everything is automagically saved. All you need to do is login to Indite to see your thoughts arrayed across.

InditeFeatures

Collating text to export is as simple as selecting the blurbs you want and pressing Ctrl+J (if you are on a Mac, ⌘+J) and it opens up a new window with the blurbs in an ordered manner along with an option to save it to disk.

inditejoin

It is indeed quite a charming little app, currently in an open beta. However it does suffer from being slightly sluggish. I am not entirely sure if it was just my ancient laptop. There is no mobile version for this as of now. The app, however, does load on an HTML5 capable browser and is even slower than on my laptop.

The app also needs an active Internet connection and has no failover if the connection is lost and you type away happily and shut the page down without exporting and saving it.

That said, it is still in beta. I cannot wait to use this when it comes to a portable device!

Summarize Your Day In 280 Characters with 280Daily

Remember old days when your friends waited for a chance to sneak peek into your diary to have a look at your long kept secrets? Or the times when our daily lives were neatly archived into a silly notebook? Journals, micro-blogs, note-taking apps replaced them with time. The secrecy and simplicity got suppressed with sharing features and usability. 280daily is here to gratify the dissatisfaction users whine about. The short, simple and private journal app can log your day in just 280 days and it stays encrypted and private to you only.

280daily-intro

Sign up for a free account and don’t offer a Facebook (or Twitter) login. Wonder why? It’s not a product built with sharing in mind. Once you are in, click the “New Entry” and you can add a note for the current day or the previous ones. Adding images or an interesting link is also allowed. View your entries in a grid to get a quick look at your notes which is good way to track your daily activities. You can configure the app for better appearance and performance that suits your needs. The “Overview” option allows you to get an overview of your notes which also provides a link to the summary of your daily activity(that looks something like the screenshot below).

280daily-account-summary

Seamless and clean interface makes the daunting task of documenting every day quite comforting. Since the notes are private you need not worry about privacy. Use succinct sentences while taking down notes for a day. Tracking your progress for a task at hand and at the same time trace the shortcomings are a bonus to what you can achieve with this simple application. So if you are looking for a journal app that doesn’t need you to fill-up a dozen of entries like categories, tags for organizing content or give into the most contemporary need of sharing, 280daily does a great job.

The Big Daddy of Search Just Got Better with Knowledge Graph

Google has just rolled out the new Knowledge Graph that is expected to make your search experience more engaging. Until now, search was all about queries matching keywords. The new technology is designed to deliver a more human approach to the search results rather than just a list of links. With Knowledge Graph, Google can now shed light on people, places, books and many other such things that are correlated to the query. Google presents you with 500 million objects along with 3.5 billion facts that relates those objects. That’s an impressive count to start with. Let us take a closer look at what it promises to do.

Pinpointing The Search:

taj-mahal-google-knowledge-graph

Every time you search for something that may have different interpretations, you are presented with a list of possible things that relate to the search. For instance, a search for the term Taj Mahal will now show Shahjahan’s monument, a musician whose stage name was Taj Mahal and even a casino likewise with a same name. Click any of those and links having matching keywords or relevant information will show up.

Summary and Related Information:

frank-lloyd-wright-google-knowledge-graph

The search for the term Frank Lloyd Wright will now show a summary about the versatile architect with information such as date of birth, education, projects etc. In addition to these, Google will also show people and data that may be of importance or concern to the user. A similar search about Marie Curie, the Noble winning erudite, will portray her as a person and not just a search term, thus depicting her as a mother(name of children) and a wife(name of spouse) as well apart from showcasing her achievements in the field of radioactivity.

Delving Deeper:

The another side of search that intrigues a user apart from the information he/she was looking for is something that he/she found out of the blue. The new search is capable of doing that(as the press release publicizes). Web seemed great so far, however, at times the pool of information seems overwhelming. The new search feature will perhaps be better enjoyed for consuming information easily.

The Knowledge Graph was rumored to change the search experience altogether and with the official launch, the response so far from the media bigwigs are quite pleasant to summarize. The feature is yet to be available for all but will soon be rolled out globally. Since Google has already implemented social search with Google+ search integration, the new technology is expected to provide better results based on facts from knowledge bases like Wikipedia, Freebase or CIA World Factbook which with time will be augmented by the search habits and shared information not only by any user but his/her network as well. Although Google predicts Google+ to be the next step, the improvement to the core product is a welcome change. To put it in a line, “I’m feeling luckier”, are you?

[via Google Blog, Forbes]

Starting Today Your Not-So Smartphones Too Can Enjoy Twitter

Twitter is one of the leading social networks and unlike Facebook a much cleaner media to interact. You can find almost every soul you ever wished to follow. The minimalist interface and the 140 words keeps sharing simple and more engaging. The native clients for Android and iOS platforms has been great to keep up with the main web interface. Although, until today, the web interface that is still being used by a lot of cellphone users who don’t own an Android/iOS mobile was a step behind. Twitter has finally responded and rolled out the new spiffy mobile web interface which resembles the smartphone iterations. Let’s take a quick look.

Twitter for Android Vs Twitter Mobile Web

twitter-mobile-web-home

Home: The home screen looks the exact same on both the interface and also similar in how it works . Long pressing or swipe any update gives you choices(reply, retweet, favorite, profile and share) in the native client whereas on the web client for mobile you need a swipe to do that. The “Pull down to refresh” also works on both.

twitter-mobile-web-connect

Connect: The Connect tab is a great way to track replies which also offers a quasi-similar interface on both with a little rearrangement of items. Functionality remains same for both.

twitter-mobile-web-discover

Discover: The most intriguing section about Twitter to keep a tab on the latest and greatest stories, finding people who matter and many more. The interfaces are an exact match and also the way they behave.

twitter-mobile-web-me

Me: The features and interface remains same here too.

Overall(refer screenshots) the mobile interface seems to work the way it is meant to. Although the screenshots(on Twitter’s official announcement) refer that the top bar exists (and a refresh button is also there) I found it missing(refer screenshot below) while using Dolphin browser which means you may miss out on the search option. . The update button is still there and is clubbed into the top bar along with the other four major options. The elements on the profile viewing screen also remains the same on both the web and native clients. The web client is also quite low on bandwidth demands.

twitter-mobile-web-no-search

The timing isn’t so great considering the competition. Facebook has a equally interesting (and Android/iOS equivalent) mobile web interface for a long time now (and perhaps the best way to avoid the app nuisance ). Nonetheless the new interface is an adaptation much awaited.

Too Many Birthday Wishes On Your Facebook Wall? Here is How To Automate Your Thank You Message

You know that moment. It’s your birthday, the clock gets past 12:00 a.m and your Facebook wall is ambushed by birthday messages and wall posts from friends. It feels great when 167 friends have wished you “Happy birthday” on Facebook but at the same time, it is really painful to thank each one of them.

Painful in the sense that you have many contacts on Facebook who are no more than “acquaintances”; you rarely interact with them or know them personally. Yet, they wish you on your birthday and not acknowledging their post with a “Thank you” message is loutish and may be considered as ill mannered.

These days, Facebook is a really big issue with lot of netizens. Things like not replying to a comment, not responding to an instant message or not interacting for a long time is considered “avoidance”. This behaviour affects relationships, especially if both players are equally savvy about Facebook.

One way to get over this situation is to publish a wall post e.g “Thanks everyone for wishing me happy birthday”. I’ve seen some of my Facebook friends do this but you know what? This ain’t funny and it proves that you’re too lazy not to respond to each birthday wall post personally.

However, here is a little hack which you can use to automatically reply to birthday wall posts on Facebook with your own custom “Thank you” message. Your friends, (who have wished you “Happy birthday” on Facebook) will have no clue that your reply was posted automatically. I know this sounds cheap but if you want to get over the formal mannerism and save yourself from the control v frustration, this is perfect.

First, go to the Say Thank you app page on Facebook and grant the application all the required permissions.

say-thank-you

Once you’re through, the app will automatically scan your birthday date and year from your Facebook profile. Verify the details and proceed to the next step.

facebook-birthday1

Now you will be asked how you want to thank your Facebook friends when they post a “Happy birthday” message on your timeline (wall). You can choose any of the following options:

  • Comment: The app will post a comment on the “Happy birthday” wall post on your behalf.
  • Comment and like: The app will like the wall post and post a comment on your behalf.
  • Like: The app will like all the birthday wall posts o your Facebook profile.
  • Wall post: The app will reply with a counter wall post on your behalf.

facebook-birthday-thankyou

All set? Hit next and done!

facebook-birthday-thanks

This is important. The app will find all the old wall posts on your Facebook wall and post a comment on your behalf. This might start a chain of likes, counter likes and comments so use this app only when you’ve not responded to a birthday wall post.

For example: my birthday was on 14th last month, I used this app today and here is what happened.

facebook-birthday-example

Fun, right? Hard to believe we are entering an age where people post automatic birthday wishes and there is also an app to automatically reply to those wishes. Did I mentioned that you can post to Facebook from your grave?

If you ask me, I prefer to reply each friend personally no matter how much time it takes. But maybe, that’s just me. [ via ]