Can’t get enough tools, can we? Try these for size:
OK, Google’s a search engine, but what’s Google Sites? Well, in Google’s own words…Google Sites is the easiest way to make information accessible to people who need quick, up-to-date access. People can work together on a Site to add file attachments, information from other Google applications (like Google Docs, Google Calendar, YouTube and Picasa), and new free-form content. Creating a site together is as easy as editing a document, and you always control who has access, whether it’s just yourself, your team, or your whole organization. You can even publish Sites to the world. The Google Sites web application is accessible from any internet connected computer.. Did you get that?
Google has a finger in every pie these days, even the enterprise space. The what? You know, the big-businesses that control our lives; although you can always just pretend to be big in this virtual world. (Whether that means you too can control our lives I don’t know.) Anyway, if you own a domain name for example – and as a blogger you’d certainly want to think about it – you can sign up for Google’s Mail service, the Docs applications and of course Sites. Ah, so what was Sites again? Well it is in essence a few cool HTML templates designed around basic website needs. So you pick the closest thing to what you want and go personalize it. You end up with a club membership website, or an Intranet portal, or whatever you want. For free.
OK, so enough of plugging Google. Is Sites actually worth it? Well yes, it’s free. No, but is it really worth investing time in? Probably. If you have a need to use Google’s cut-down online spreadsheet tool and want to share it easily with your collaborators, yes. If you own a domain name and want to look flash on the cheap, yes. Is it secure? Maybe. You can control permissions, which is a start. Is it truly enterprise-ready? No, I don’t think so; but it is so darn close that Microsoft must be sweating somewhat. It’s certainly a glimpse of the power of online applications. When other developers truly jump on board and add real grunt to this web-enabled engine, boy oh boy… watch out.
- Whilst browsing Flickr I found this link to BigHugeLabs with some useful tools to make cool stuff with your photographs
- I realised a little while ago that you can blog from Flickr, just like blogging (or ‘sharing’) from YouTube. That counts as a plus in my book
- Speaking of Flickr, I’ve finally turned pro – meaning I’m paying for the privilege, but it’s (probably) worth it for the extra space. Nice little income stream for Flickr, and Yahoo, and anyone who buys Yahoo I guess (think Microsoft, but anyone cashed-up who needs to amp up their web services exposure)
- I also signed up to a small monthly fee on Skype (hmm, who owns Skype now?) which at least gave me a discount on things like phone numbers in other countries…
- Why you would you need a foreign phone number, you ask? Firstly it’s just plain cool. Secondly if you have a friend or customers in the US, say, but you are in Australia, say, well you can buy a US phone number (or 2 or 3) and let non-Skypers dial those numbers. Yes folks, some people still use real telephones rather than VoIP ones (bizarre but true)
- And with a real US phone number and caller ID from getinfo you can sign up to Jott and send yourself short text messages in numerous ways (like Jotting down a note to yourself, but over the phone or on the web). Jott will post these to your mobile phone as SMS text reminders, or to Twitter or Tumblr or whatever… cool, I reckon!
OK, so I think the way of the future is less actual travel and more virtual travel. That means more Internet connections, more working online. Although I still burn a bit of coal (at the power station end of things) by running my PC, overall I save a lot of energy by avoiding the gasoline otherwise spent in commuting to an office. I also save time, which I spend with my family… and by taking ‘time out’ to blog and maintain my websites. Although blogging is very much a sideline for me, born of my inner need to keep on top of changing technology, it’s key to where we are headed in the future. With that in mind I’ve test driven a few things bloggish lately which I’ll share you ’cause I can.
- Twitter, well I’ve mentioned this before, and Jaiku, ditto. Both great for microblogging. These are tools for bloggers who have become jaded and no longer wish to write heaps, or for readers who just want one place to read everything. Microblogging is also great for staying in touch as it can be updated so darn quickly and easily. You just log in and whacko! a great big list of microblogs appears before your eyes. Assuming you’ve subscribed to a few, of course. You can send your favorite blog streams to Jaiku and they’ll aggregate them
- Tumblr will aggregate your blogs and create for you… another blog! Fantastic service! You get to look at everything in the one place, even your Flickr stream
- One way to get your content out of blog A and into page B, or blogs A, B and C into page X, is to use Feeddigest. It’s a great little RSS aggregator that grabs your latest blog posts and bundles them into packages of your own design. You then take a bit of code away and plug it into your blog (or another page you maintain) and your content will be streamed into that space, automatically, as it happens. I use it on my blogs to provide a window to all of the other stuff I do. I can make the content as broad or focused as I desire and can customise the look and feel. Let me stress this is just a way to move your own content around, it doesn’t write it for you or steal someone else’s work
- You can of course use Freshcontent to get some some relevant news items streaming into your page, stuff that you don’t have to write yourself but adds value to your site. Don’t abuse it, this adds value and convenience – it’s not enough just to stream headlines, is it? You actually have to create as well!
- And of course I use Skype, one of several alternatives; what would we do without VoIP? (Probably just continue to move to cell phones and G3 I guess, and WiMax and all the rest. We’ll do that as well, eh?) It’s everywhere now but will get even bigger. With Skype and its ilk you can call PC-to-PC generally for free, and can call “out” to a landline for a small fee. You also get video, so the video phone is here, now. You can also buy real phone numbers so people stuck Skype-less on landlines can ring you. You can buy these numbers from a range of countries, so you can act like a big wheel and make friends or clients happy with local dial-in to your own VoIP system. I’m sure someone is already offering an OpenSource online PABX, I just haven’t stumbled upon it yet…
- Oh, and this is handy: RSSfeed to email conversion. You can also get RSS to podcast audio via Talkr
I could go on, but you get the drift. Great tools that help you blog in many places from anyplace.