Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Google Sitemaps: A Useful SEO Tool?

Tony Ruscoe is a web developer working for a translation company in Sheffield, UK. He’s interested in translation technology, genealogy and Google.

Like many webmasters, when Google Sitemaps was released on 2 June 2005, I immediately created and submitted XML sitemaps for all my websites, keeping my fingers crossed that Googlebot wouldn’t find any errors when he finally downloaded them. At the time, Shiva Shivakumar posted to the Official Google Blog:


Webmasters expected big things from this experiment. Site owners hoped this would finally mean perfectly crawled, complete indexes of their websites that were regularly updated and would increase their rankings. Most were disappointed and decided to abandon Google Sitemaps almost immediately.

One year since its launch, the interface has changed two or three times and new features have gradually appeared. For any webmasters who ditched Google Sitemaps early on, here’s a quick summary of why there’s possibly more to Google Sitemaps than just getting your site indexed. (For some unknown reason, not all these statistics are available for all websites. It’s probably also worth noting that you can view most of this information by simply adding your website to Google Sitemaps without actually submitting a sitemap.)

Query stats: Perhaps the most interesting of the statistics provided, these tables show which searches performed over the last three weeks returned pages from your site and what the highest average position was. The top search query clicks table lists which queries resulted in click-throughs to your site (and this should return similar results to any analytics software that shows keyword conversion, such as Google Analytics) and the top search queries table shows which search queries returned your pages in the results where visitors didn’t click through to your pages.

Crawl stats: As well displaying breakdowns for the crawl status of your URLs and how many pages have a high, medium or low PageRank, this section also lists which page on your website has had the highest PageRank for the last three months. For sites with many pages, this can obviously be much quicker than checking each individual PageRank with the Google Toolbar or other tool.

Page analysis: The Content section simply shows the content type and encoding distribution of your pages, but the Common Words section is more interesting, displaying which words most commonly appear on your website and which words are the most common in external links to your site. (Unfortunately, both tables only list words rather than phrases but this should still give you a good idea of why people are finding you and how others are linking to you.)

How could any of this be useful to a webmaster?

  • If you’re seeing your key phrases in the top search queries but not in the top search query clicks, you should probably be paying more attention to increasing your rankings for the phrases that aren’t getting the clicks - especially if your average top position is low. If your key phrases don’t appear in either of these lists, you should be reconsidering whether users are actually likely to search for these phrases in the first place. Using tools like Google Trends and the Overture Keyword Selector Tool, you should be able to quickly see which terms could be more popular.
  • When optimizing your site for specific key phrases, you could use Crawl stats to identify which page has the highest PageRank and make sure your key phrases appear on that page as they should then carry more weighting in search results.
  • If the words appearing in the common words lists aren’t the same as your target keywords, you should probably be re-writing some of your content. And if you’re paranoid about why people are linking to your website, check the common words appearing in external links for any Googlebombs! (If the webmaster for uses Google Sitemaps he would undoubtedly see “failure” as the most common word appearing in external links.)

Google Sitemaps was created by Google to help them improve their index, in the hope that webmasters would take some of the strain out of crawling the web. Did Google always plan to add the statistics discussed here? I doubt it. I think it’s more likely that they realised webmasters expected something in return for helping Google to improve their index, especially since their indexing and rankings didn’t appear to be improved by submitting sitemaps.

In conclusion, is Google Sitemaps useful or just interesting? Do you use Google Sitemaps? If so, what do you use it for? What do you think the future holds for Google Sitemaps? Has it failed miserably, or succeed beyond their wildest dreams?

Gmail Hebrew, Arabic

Gmail is now available in two new interface languages, Arabic and Hebrew, Google reports. You can also change the text direction while composing messages. [Thanks Hermon.]

How do I change the text direction while composing a message?

If your Gmail interface language is set to Arabic or Hebrew, you'll be able to select either Left to Right or Right to Left directionality when composing a message. A message can contain any combination of right-to-left and left-to-right paragraphs. By default, Gmail starts composing a message with the Right to Left button active in Hebrew and Arabic interfaces.

To change the text direction:

At the beginning of a message or new paragraph:

1. Click the Left to Right button in the formatting bar of the compose window. The cursor will move to the left side of the compose pane.

Of an existing paragraph:

1. Highlight the paragraph to edit
2. Click the Left to Right button in the formatting bar of the Compose window

The recipient of your email will need to have Right to Left support in their email client in order to properly read your email. If their email client doesn't support Right to Left, invite them to create a Gmail account!

MSN/Microsoft AdCenter

The tools at the bottom of the page are quite interesting, particularly the 'search funnel' and 'demographic prediction'.

On the demographic prediction, there seem to be a few strange results. Not sure if it's based upon passport data or another data source.

Overall, very much worthwhile to take some time to play.

Microsoft shows off JPEG rival

EATTLE--If it is up to Microsoft, the omnipresent JPEG image format will be replaced by Windows Media Photo.

The software maker detailed the new image format Wednesday at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference here. Windows Media Photo will be supported in Windows Vista and also be made available for Windows XP, Bill Crow, program manager for Windows Media Photo, said in a presentation.

"One of the biggest reasons people upgrade their PCs is digital photos," Crow said, noting that Microsoft has been in contact with printer makers, digital camera companies and other unnamed industry partners while working on Windows Media Photo. Microsoft touts managing "digital memories" as one of the key attributes of XP successor Vista.

In his presentation, Crow showed an image with 24:1 compression that visibly contained more detail in the Windows Media Photo format than the JPEG and JPEG 2000 formats compressed at the same level.

Still, the image in the Microsoft format was somewhat distorted because of the high compression level. Typically digital cameras today use 6:1 compression, Crow said. Windows Media Photo should offer better pictures at double that level, he said. "We can do it in half the size of a JPEG file."

Not only does compression save storage space, which is especially important for devices such as cell phones and digital cameras, a smaller file can also print faster, transfer faster and help conserve battery life on devices, Crow said. "Making a file that is smaller has all kinds of benefits."

The compression technology is also "smart"--it is possible to process only part of a huge, picture file to show a smaller version, Crow said. Additionally, Microsoft's new image format allows such things as rotating the image without the need to decode it and subsequently encode it again, he said.

The new image format was received with cautious enthusiasm by some of the WinHEC attendees. Ralf Mueller, an application planner at mobile phone maker Sony Ericsson, said he would look into the new format just as his company looked into supporting Windows Media Audio and Windows Media Video.

"Considering our development cycle, I could not see us supporting Windows Media Photo before 2008," Mueller said.

Steven Wells, a part-time professional photographer, said he sees promise in the new file format. "The JPEG artifacts make it almost unusable for professional photographers," he said. "Windows Media Photo is possibly the first viable compression format."

Yet, success will depend on adoption, Wells said. Microsoft will need to get players such as Adobe Systems and Apple Computer on board to win over the graphics professionals, he noted. A major unknown is licensing, which Microsoft has not yet addressed. "Licensing can kill this," Wells said.

Windows Media Photo was developed by the same people who worked on Windows Media Video and Audio, Crow said. The image format takes a new approach to compression as well as color space and color conversion, he said. Furthermore, it gives a lot of flexibility, including in the pixel format and bit rate, Crow said.

Microsoft has finished the first official version of the "porting kit" software needed to build support for Windows Media Photo into devices and platforms other than Windows. It should be available soon, Crow said.

Licensing details for the technology are still being ironed out. These could be a concern, Crow acknowledged, but "the philosophy has been that licensing should not be a restriction" to adoption, he said.

Opt Out of DMOZ Titles in MSN Search
What has bothered the webmasters previously is that when search engines preferred search result descriptions from, they did not empower webmasters to opt-out of those descriptions. This can be especially annoying if the descriptions from are outdated, or just plain inaccurate.

We had one customer who was frustrated because the ODP description of their site mentioned “favours” and was listed under Canada when their site was actually in the United States and was spelled as “favors”. All they wanted was a way to specify that MSN Search should use the description from their page instead of using ODP.

So what we did was introduce a new option at the page level - a robots meta tag – that tells the MSN search bot not to use the DMOZ site snippet. This is something that only can be done at Web page level, by a webmaster, and is not done as part of the robot.txt file.

So in your Web page you’d put META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOODP"


Springdoo Improving their Service for the Better!

I wrote about Springdoo before. I have to say that I'm impressed with the new updates from that service and I would like to take back some of the things I've said about Springdoo.

Springdoo is a free video & audio email service that lets you send voice messages to your friends in an easy and cool way.

So what's new from Springdoo:

  • You can create high quality video within your message
  • You can now email directly from Springdoo
  • Friends can instantly reply to you with or without being a Springdoo member
  • The service is easier, better and FASTER

I have to say something about the service speed:
When I first write about Springdoo I was unhappy with the performances of my computer. It's seems like Springdoo toke lots of my computer power and it was crashing every time that I was trying to send messages. BUT now it's a different! The service is lightsome and fast - perfect.

Moreover, you can also Auto-load or "Import" contacts from your existing email program.

A little problem that I think the team of Springdoo should fix is the: Remove Auto Login-it's not working well. I was trying to log out and it's always bringing me back to my user name.

I always liked the layout of this site, so cool! Great design and good usability make sending audio and video emails even faster, fun and easy to use.
And I love that Springdoo listen to their users and improve the service.
Good for them!

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Krunch - Online WinZip Sort of Tool

Krunch is a little tool intended to make your life easier.

You can easily:

  • Upload and compress files - Upload up to 10 files from your computer and compress them online.
  • Pick and compress files from the web - Upload a compressed archive and decompress it online.
  • Upload and un-compress a compressed archive - Fetch a compressed file directly from the web and decompress it online.
  • Un-compress a compressed file from the web - Gather files from the web and compress them online.

There’s a 10MB and 10 file limit on archives.

After you'll get the zipped file you want, you can send it by e.mail to your friends
as a download link or as attachment that will stay online only for 24 hours (that's really a short time).

Still I find this little tool very useful for those that don't have software that zipped files on their computers.

Start krunching, It's free.

Thank you Rogel .

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Pirate Bay Raided by Swedish Police

Swedish law enforcement seized's server farm. Pirate Bay is a massive fixture of the Bittorrent community. This must have happened today, as last night I got one or two torrents around 0030 EST.

Anatomy of a Launch: The Riya Play-by-Play

Photo search and facial recognition site Riya is now about two months old (see here for our past Riya posts). Founder and CEO Munjal Shah is in the process of memorializing the highs and lows of the launch process, and this is must-read stuff for entrepreneurs looking to launch a company down the road. I may update my “Don’t Blow Your Beta” post based on some of his advice. Part 1 is up now, look for further installments on the blog. Bookmark this stuff, it’s free consulting.

Disclosure: This is the first time I’ve written about a direct advertiser on TechCrunch - Riya became a sponsor a couple of weeks ago.

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FeedBlitz Raises Angel Round

FeedBlitz, a Blog/RSS to email service, announced an angel round of financing today from Tom Evslin, a previous AT&T and Microsoft executive. I’ve been very hard on Feedblitz in the past (see no. 2 here), and have been trashed right back by founder Phil Hollows. But today I’m going to just say “congratulations” to Phil and wish him luck. This round of financing will help him compete with Feedburner, who recently launched a competing service.

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Benchmark Invests in Pageflakes: Ajax Desktop War Heats Up

German startup Pageflakes, an Ajax-rich personalized home page (an early profile is here) will announce a Series A round of financing led by Benchmark Capital on Wednesday. The size of the round will not be disclosed, which suggests it was on the low side.

In late March, Paris-based competitor Netvibes announced a $1 million seed round. Both Netvibes and Pageflakes compete with Microsoft’s and other personalized start pages. And while they have nowhere near the traffic of, users routinely comment that they like the speed of the Pageflakes and Netvibes sites in comparision.

Benchmark is actively investing in European headquartered or focused new consumer web startups. They recently led a $15 million round in Bebo, formerly headquartered in the UK (and now in San Francisco).

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Sharpcast Opens to the Public

Silicon Valley based Sharpcast, which closed a $13.5 million round of financing in early March (and $16.5 million total over two rounds), is now open to the public. The official announcement is tomorrow - Wednesday - but the site is open now for new registrations.

Sharpcast is important, but hard to understand at a glance. The basic idea is to remove the hassle of syncing data across computers and mobile devices. The first product, Sharpcast Photos, showcases the technology quite well. In the future we’ll see products from Sharpcast that allow auto syncing of contacts, calendars and documents as well, all from their native applications (outlook, ical, etc.).

Sharpcast Photos, though, allows users to upload photos to a desktop application. It is available only for Windows machines today, with a Mac version promised soon.

Once the photos are in the desktop application, users make a few option selections and the photos are then placed on the web, synced to other computers and synced to a mobile device. The process works all multi-directionally, too. Upload a photo the web and it syncs to the desktop (and mobile device). Take a picture with the mobile device and it syncs to the web and the desktop.

I saw a demo of Sharpcast at the DEMO conference in February, and then again a couple of weeks ago from CEO Gibu Thomas and Marketing/Business Development Director Allen Bush. The application is extremely well done and the syncronization is near instantaneous to a mobile device. If anything, the Sharpcast guys have waited too long to launch the product. I found distressingly few bugs to complain about.

This is the future. The question is whether Sharpcast will be part of it or not. If they execute, they will be.

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LogoWorks Redesign and Discount Code

Utah-based Logoworks, which just relaunched a major new user interface, has an innovative and inexpensive way of creating corporate and other logos for customers. They outsource the project to interested and pre-approved designers who come up with design concepts. You then pick the concept you like best and iterate from there. Designers are paid bonuses based on having their designs chosen, and so a very efficient and competitive market is created around each logo creation project.

I went through the initial stages of the process to see what the Logoworks designers could come up with. After a couple of days I received an email linking to logo concepts (many of them are below). Logoworks stresses that the initial compositions are simply concepts, and asks that you pick one of the concepts and go forward with iterations.

Some of my initial concepts:

The ability to tap into a number of different designers who will have very different logo concepts, combined with the rock bottom pricing, is pretty compelling.

Logoworks has a number of different pricing plans ranging from $300 and up. If you are in the market for a new logo, you may want to give this a look.

Discount Code:
If you go to Logoworks using this link -, they will take $50 off any order. I am not receiving any commissions or other payments for any purchases - I just asked them to give TechCrunch readers the biggest discount they could. The discount is good until June 13, and you’ll see the original prices crossed out and the discount shown when you select “start my logo”.

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SixApart To Launch Comet, Renamed Vox, on June 1

San Francisco based SixApart, which owns the Typepad, MovableType and LiveJournal blogging platforms, will start letting users test their new Vox (formerly Comet) hosted blogging platform on Thursday, June 1. Initially a few thousand people will be let in, and they will ramp up from there.

Vox was initially introduced last fall at a DEMO conference (click here for details and a video archive of Mena Trott’s presentation).

Vox is half a blogging platform for newbies (albeit with rich and deep functionality) and half social network. The “new post” functionality is WYSIWYG and allows very easy uploading of images, audio and video, as well as book information (for reviews) from Amazon. Privacy settings can be set for each post, as well as descriptive tags.

There is an obvious focus on social networking. A friends list, called “neighborhood” is prominently displayed on each page (see screen shots below). If you want to add any person on the list as a friend, simply hover over their picture and a number of options pop up.

Vox is not a platform at this point for hard core bloggers who want complete control over the look and feel of the site. But it combines a great interface with the type of functionality most people really want - integration with Flickr and YouTube, easy book reviews, etc. This is aimed squarely at MSN Spaces and AIM Pages.

Vox will be free and advertising supported.

More screenshots here.

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Redfin To Change the Rules of Real Estate Sales

Seattle based Redfin is making two major announcements today.

First, they’ve closed an $8 million Series B round of financing, from Vulcan Capital, BEV Capital and Madrona Venture Group. This follows a (roughly) $1m Series A round in January 2006. New CEO Glenn Kelman, the founder of Plumtree, joined the company in September 2005.

Second, Redfin is expanding their service out of the Seattle area to include the bay area in California (and will be expanding to Los Angeles, San Diego and nationwide soon).

They have an intruiging and aggressive business model. Instead of providing useful real estate information to consumers and then pointing them to real estate professionals like competitors Trulia and Zillow, Redfin is doing their best to completely remove real estate agents and brokers from at least half of a home sale.

Redfin combines MLS listing information (homes for sale) with historical sales data (homes already sold) into a single map. If you find a home you like and want to place an offer, Redfin will represent you in the buying process (they have a call center with licensed real estate professioinals to guide you). Here’s the good part: They reimburse you 2/3 of the buy-side real estate fee directly on closing. The average amount reimbursed to the buyer is $11,402 (and that is based on relatively low Seattle home prices).

Redfin is also testing a seller-representation model, called “Direct for Sellers”, that will handle all aspects of a sale for a flat fee (currently $1,350). On a $500,000 home sale, this saves the seller $13,650.

Everything isn’t rosy for Redfin, though. They’ve been operating in Seattle for a number of years and have numerous war stories to tell about threats, stalkings and other disturbing behavior towards their employees and some customers from, apparently, angry real estate professionals. Hopefully things won’t get out of hand as they continue to disrupt this stubbornly inefficient market.

I haven’t met the Redfin team yet, but am looking forward to seeing them tonight at the TechCrunch Seattle party that I am co-producing with them, Farecast and Triphub.

Screenshot (showing $106,000 refund on a $5.3 million San Francisco house):

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Office 2007 Usability

Office 2007 Usability

Office 12/2007, a usability revolution

I have now had the chance to use Office 2007, and I have created a number of documents with it and analyzed how much more efficient the new interface is. The verdict? It is a revolution in terms of efficient usability.

A number of people have already written about this new interface, but it is one thing to look at a couple of screenshots, another is to actually use it in a work situation.

It looks strange, but it quickly feels like home

The new toolbars is very effectively making you feel like a beginner, suddenly you cannot find the simplest thing – like how do you open a new document. The common “open” icon is completely missing. You also need to learn how different things is grouped together.

But, after a few minutes of being lost, you start to get hang of it. You start to feel comfortable, and even more interesting, you start to feel in control. With the old Office (and other office products on the market), you are never in control of your work. If you do something special, you feel like you in a battle of menus and settings.

Take making numbered list: If you want to, say, make a numbered list with roman numerals it would a long time in the old office, if you can ever figure out how to do it. But with the new office you simply select that as you list style.

The difference in usability is staggering. Using FITTs GOMS and HICKs we can calculate just how much of an improvement it is.

Example: “selecting the items you want, and turn into a numbered list – with roman numerals”.

  • Old Office: 15.04 seconds
  • Office 2007: 8.65 seconds

(42% improvement in efficiency)

So not only is the new interface much more efficient, it is also empowers you to do new things. To take advantage of the many features of Office.

On-demand text formatting

A really exciting element is the “MiniBar”, a on-demand text formatting menu, that pops-up when you select some of the text. It special because it can really boost your productivity. Take a simple thing like making bold text.

With previous versions you had two ways of making text bold. You could either use a keyboard shortcut, which involves switching from your hand to your mouse), or you use the bold icon in the tool bar. That would take (after selecting the text):

  • Keyboard shortcut: 2.5 seconds
  • Icon in toolbar: 4.02 seconds

Using the MiniBar this operation is 20% faster:

  • MiniBar: 2.0 seconds

I admit that half a second isn’t much, but if every UI operation is 20-40% faster you can finish you daily tasks with 2 hours and 42 minutes to spare. That is like, taking every Friday off, and still get the job done.

Note: A number of people have compared the MiniBar to SmartTags. But the two are alike. SmartTags utilized the contextual menu (where you had to open it to see it), whereas the MiniBar is an active element.

Interface calmness

Another surprising thing about the Office 2007, and specifically the toolbars is that they give a sense of calmness. The old interface was a visual mess. Every single element was in a constant battle for screen space.

The new interface seems much more uncluttered. The dark interface (of Vista/Office) calms your eyes – even though it does a little to get used to. The new Calibri font (default font face in Vista/Office 2007) is very readable.

Some usability problems too

Not everything is brilliant and fantastic. There still is a number of usability problems.

First of all there is a poor “out-of-the-box” experience for existing users. The problems is that the change is so drastic that you feel lost. I admit that the feeling is quickly replaced by the feeling of being in power, but the first 30 minutes of use is not a good experience. We all know how resistant people is to changes.

Read also: Habits and Expectations can Render Usability Tests Invalid

Another problem is lack of space for toolbar elements. Take style bar. I sure looks nice, but you cannot read the style descriptions (an so far I have found no way of expanding the text).

Then there is rather peculiar problem. Since Office 2007 features “Live Preview”, you often find yourself spending time waiting for the preview to render, before you click the button. “Live Preview” is great for when you don’t know what you want. But it gets in your way when you do know – even though there is nothing stopping you from just clicking the button in the first place. I expect that the problem goes away ones you have grown more accustomed to the program.

You also got a problem of “modes”. Every usability practitioner knows that forcing people to work in modes is not a good thing. But, that is exactly what the new toolbars do. You switch between groups of toolbars to do your work.

It is not problem if you are simply writing an document, then you only need the “Home” toolbar group. But, if you are reviewing a document, you constantly have to switch between the “Home” and “Review” to get your job done.

BTW: Why have a toolbar called “Home”, give it a useful label as “Formatting” instead

Publish your work

One really exciting things about Office 2007 is the publish feature. You can now publish your work directly to your blog – and use Word as WYSIWYG editor. This is a great thing. I always write my articles and reports in Word because using a

GOOGLE Page Rank 10 Sites

If you Love Google you will love this list: We Love Google and all its efforts

PageRank( PR ) 10 sites / pages list (New) - Backlink and PageRank update Day - FEB 23 2006, Google has moved into quarterly pagerank updates these days, After a long wait from JULY 2005 google updated their toolbar on OCT 15 2005 and now after an other long wait google updated their toolbar today ( Feb 23 2006),

Probably this is a gift for all toolbar pagerank watchers, Also this is evident google has moved their Toolbar pagerank update being a monthly one to a quarterly one, Also this pagerank update had a major drop of lots of page rank 10 pages from the main chart, Google lost most of their pr 10 pages and now most of them are pagerank 9,

We have the most up to date information on PageRank updates, We monitor all changes in google regularly, This pagerank 10 list has been compiled as on July 15 2005 after 2 days from the Pagerank update going live, We predict PageRank updates from movement in SERPs and our PageRank 10 sites list is updated within 2 days from toolbar PageRank update going live in all data centres of google, Google Toolbar PageRank is update on July 15 2005,

Adobe Acrobat
World Wide Web Consortium
Apple - QuickTime
Keio University
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Apple Computers
U.S Goverment Official Portal
Google Search
W3C CSS Validation Service
The European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics
MIT Laboratory for Computer Science
National Science Foundation
The New York Times
Language Tools
Real Media
The Web Standards Project
Stat Counter

Important PageRank ( PR ) 10 sites and internal pages

Adobe PageRank 10 sites list: -

Adobe Acrobat
Adobe Education
Adobe Products
Adobe Company
Adobe Downloads

Apple PageRank 10 sites list: -

Apple itunes
Mac OS panther

Following Sites were downgraded to Page Rank 9 from PR 10 in the latest backlink update,

Old pagerank updates list:

Click Here for the Old (Oct 2005 list) backlink and PR update Pagerank 10 sites list

Click Here for the Old (July 2005 list) backlink and PR update Pagerank 10 sites list

Click Here for the Old ( Jan 2005 list) backlink and PR update Pagerank 10 sites list

Click Here for the Old ( Oct 2004 list) backlink and PR update Pagerank 10 sites list

Click Here for the Old ( Jun 2004 list) backlink and PR update Pagerank 10 sites list

Click Here for the Old ( May 2004 list) backlink and PR update Pagerank 10 sites list

Click Here for the Old ( April 2004 1st list) backlink and PR update Pagerank 10 sites list

Click Here for the Old ( April 2004 2nd list) backlink and PR update Pagerank 10 sites list

Click Here for the Old ( March) backlink and PR update Pagerank 10 sites list

Click Here for the Old ( February ) backlink and PR update Pagerank 10 sites list

Announcing IE7+

With the release of Windows Vista Beta 2, I want to announce that we will be naming the version of IE7 in Windows Vista “Internet Explorer 7+”. While all versions of IE7 are built from the same code base, there are some important differences in IE7+, most significantly the addition of Windows Vista-only features like Protected Mode, Parental Controls, and improved Network Diagnostics. These features take advantage of big changes in Windows Vista and weren’t practical to bring downlevel. The IE7+ naming gives us an easy way to refer to this version. (“The version of IE7 in Vista” doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily…)

These differences shouldn’t affect most web developers, but if you need to know specifically, you can refer to the OS field of the User-Agent string. As Eric noted previously, the User-Agent strings will have the info you need:

  • IE7+ running on Windows Vista: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 6.0)
  • IE7 running on Windows XP: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.1)

Beta 2 is available now for developers and IT professionals who subscribe to MSDN or TechNet, as well as members of the Technology Adoption Program (TAP) and the TechBeta program. In the coming weeks, we’ll start the Windows Vista Customer Preview Program (CPP) for developers and IT professionals who aren’t part of one of those programs so they can get the code and begin their own testing. We’ll open up the CPP to a broader group of technology enthusiasts who’ll get a build of the OS to begin testing the various consumer scenarios Windows Vista enables.

The IE logo will also reflect this new naming.

Windows Internet Explorer 7+

There are no feature differences between IE7 and IE7+ beta 2 other than the ones I mentioned above; we have, however, fixed a bunch of bugs between the two releases. As always, I’d love to hear your feedback on this naming as well as the product. We’ll have more information on how to sign up for Windows Vista beta 2 with IE7+ shortly, but for now, you can download the IE7 beta here.

Yahoo search broken

[ search], no results found. This search worked fine days ago. Contrast. This is why search is broken. Any suggestions for better web search API providers? I loooove the way Yahoo provides results as serialized PHP in addition to XML (every API provider should do that!) but the underlying search product seems to be built on a shaky foundation.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Camraoke - Digg for Your Favorite Karaoke YouTube Videos

Camraoke is a funny and easy to understand voting platform for YouTube videos with webcam-karaoke content.

First you have to find your favorite Karaoke video on YouTube.
Submitting a new video to Camraoke is really easy - you only need to register and submit the YouTube video URL - the rest will do the API to grab all the data. So it is very easy for users to recommend new videos to the platform. Registered users can "Boost" videos to the FrontPage by visiting the "New Entries" section to see new submitted videos. Videos that have reached a minimum of 10% of the highest vote will reach the FrontPage of Camraoke.

Camraoke was build in less than 2 days but the more the developers work on the Platform the more they loved it so they decided to go further with the idea. Because of that some new features will be adding in the next days like the ability to comments and more activities with other users.

For now the application will support only YouTube videos. The reason is because GoogleVideo did not have an API to grab video data for a specific video.
Too bad for them ;)

Camraoke will be available in few days.

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Welcome to your new FREE telephone - GizmoProject

GizmoProject is a free phone for your computer service that released this week from SIPphone. This project hes been there a while but now they added some improvement to the service and the announce of Gizmo Project 2.0*.

What GizmoProject gives you:

  • Free calls to all Gizmo users.
  • Free voicemail and conference calls.
  • Super clear call quality.
  • Inexpensive add-ons that let you make and receive calls from any mobile phone or landline.

1¢ Minute Call Out Rate For All US Calls:
With Call Out, you can call any landline or mobile phone with super cheap Call Out Credits. Super cheap? How does 1.0 cents a minute sound? Enter any number into Gizmo Project and dial away. It rings like a normal phone, sounds like a normal phone, it only costs less. You only pay for the call you make. There are no monthly fees, no connection fees, and all billing is per minute. Simple, inexpensive, great quality.

Receiving calls from mobile phones and landlines:
Want to receive calls from mobile phones and landlines?
With Gizmo Call In, for $3/mo, you can have a phone number in over 50 cities in the US and UK. And, your Call In number goes with you wherever you may roam. So the folks who call you are charged as if they’re calling you at home. Easy for you. Convenient and cheap for them.

GizmoProject Feature:

  • Sound effects - Add Sound Effects to your calls.
  • Check call quality - Click for the Call Quality Assitant to see bandwidth quality.
  • Pick online status. Green: Available, Red: Away/Do not disturb, Orange: Idle, Blue: On the phone, Grey: Invisible/Offline
  • Online status. Gives the current status of all your contacts.
  • Click Map It to view map of call locations. Get a detailed map of the location of each call.
  • Instant Messaging (IM) - Chat instantly with your contacts. (Jabber/XMPP)
  • You can record any call on your Gizmo Project phone with the click of a button.

Asterisk PBX Support
Starting with Gizmo Project 2.0 for Mac and Windows you can now log into your office PBX (like the popular Asterisk PBX software) and the Gizmo Project network at the same time. This lets you be universally reachable and seamlessly receive calls from your office while anywhere in the world!

Downloading Gizmo is Free (and automatically receive 25¢ in Call Out credits, which mean 25 min for free).

Realated Tags:

Springdoo Improving their Service for the Better!

Springdoo is a free video & audio email services that lets you send voice messages to your friends in an easy and cool way.

So what's new from Springdoo:

  • You can create high quality video within your message
  • You can now email directly from Springdoo
  • Friends can instantly reply to you with or without being a Springdoo member
  • The service is easier, better and FASTER

I have to say something about the service speed:
When I first write about Springdoo I was unhappy with the performances of my computer. It's seems like Springdoo toke lots of my computer power and it was crashing every time that I was trying to send messages. BUT now it's a different! The service is lightsome and fast - perfect.

Moreover, you can also Auto-load or "Import" contacts from your existing email program.

A little problem that I think the team of Springdoo should fix is the: Remove Auto Login-it's not working well. I was trying to log out and it's always bringing me back to my user name.

I always liked the layout of this site, so cool! Great design and good usability make sending audio and video emails even faster, fun and easy to use.
And I love that Springdoo listen to their users and improve the service.
Good for them!

Related Tags:

Friday, May 26, 2006

Nokia New Amazing Cell Phone Game

This is a 3D generated in real time on NOKIA N93.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Jeff Pulver’s FeedCollectors Beta

FeedCollectors, in private beta, is one of Jeff Pulver’s new projects. Like Dave Winer’s Share Your OPML, FeedCollectors provides a mechanism for users to upload their OPML file of feeds that they read.

There are subtle differences to SYO, though. Feedcollectors is also a social network where you can add friends and see what they are reading, and users can also create public collections, which are topical based feed collections. The most popular collection is called “NYC” and features a number of blogs on the city. Each collection can be tagged, rated and commented by users.

There are a total of 150 collections so far from the limited number of users who have access to the site. And like SYO, FeedCollectors is using this feed data to generate interesting data on people’s reading behaviors.

What I like best about these services are the data that’s created once a statistically relevant number of people upload their data. Seeing what people are actually reading, deep into the long tail, is compelling stuff.

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Spinvox Converts Voicemails to Text

Oliver Starr at MobileCrunch writes about Spinvox, a UK based company that converts cell phone voicemails into text SMS or email messages (or both). Now this is something I would use.

This has been around for a while in the UK but is just rolling out in the US (it requires a deal with your cell phone carrier to work). No deals have been announced yet, but apparently in the UK people are using this like mad - and it isn’t cheap. See MobileCrunch for more.

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Official: Africans pay $1,800 for 1GB of data

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- African Internet users pay on average 90 times what Americans pay, crippling efforts by the world's poorest continent to become competitive, a senior Kenyan official said.

Internet users in America pay $20 for one gigabyte of data per month, but people in Africa pay about $1,800 for the same amount of data, Minister for Information and Communication Mutahi Kagwe said in a speech read on his behalf by Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo.

That's partly because the infrastructure-strapped continent spends millions of dollars every year to route data and voice traffic from one African country to another through Europe or North America, Kagwe said.

"The only undersea fiber optic cable to connect several African countries and the rest of the world ... remains the most expensive in the world and contributes to the high costs of bandwidth in Africa," Kagwe told participants at the Africa Information and Communication Technology conference.

Only about 1.5 percent of Africa's estimated 906 million people are connected to the Internet.

By contrast, more than 70 percent of people in Hong Kong are online, Kagwe said.

"We are behind almost everybody," he said.

Yahoo, eBay Sign on For More Exposure

Internet portal Yahoo and online auctioneer eBay announced a wide-ranging search and advertising pact designed to withstand Google's encroachment.

As part of a multi-year partnership set to begin testing over the next several months with a full roll-out later this year, Yahoo and eBay inked exclusive agreements on key technologies as well as co-branded tools enabling them to expand their reach.

Yahoo becomes eBay's exclusive provider of graphical ads, as well as sponsored search advertisements, which is key to competing with Google. In return, PayPal will be the exclusive payment service across Yahoo's e-commerce and advertiser networks.

Additionally, Yahoo will be added to eBay's toolbar, which the San Jose, Calif.-based auction service said 4 million users downloaded. Yahoo will examine "click-to-call" advertising, which would allow Yahoo Messenger users to directly contact advertisers via eBay's Skype Internet phone service.

EBay, Yahoo and Google spokespeople were not available for further comment.

The pact, which first undergoes several months of tests before a complete roll-out later this year, was hailed as extending advertising and exposure across the popular Internet destinations.

"EBay provides us with a great opportunity to further extend our sponsored search and graphical advertising reach to one of the largest and most active communities on the Web," Terry Semel, Yahoo's CEO and chairman, explained in a statement.

For the online auctioneer, Yahoo's audience "drives massive traffic through its rich consumer content and premium services," according to Meg Whitman, eBay CEO and president, in a statement.

For some time, the auction service has reportedly been in talks with Yahoo and Microsoft over a partnership that could wean eBay from its dependence on Google.

MySpace seeks link with Google or Microsoft

MySpace seeks link with Google or Microsoft
The rapid growth of MySpace has turned it into one of the most attractive potential allies for search engines, which are hunting for new online audiences for their search-related advertising.

The internet site, bought by News Corp last year for $580m (£310m) and which now has nearly 80m registered users, is discussing an alliance that would let one of the search giants supply internet searches on its pages, along with adverts tied to results, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Such deals typically involve the two sides splitting advertising revenues, with the lion’s share going to the website that delivered the audience.

“They are looking for a partner and trying to figure it out,” said a senior executive of one of the internet search companies. “They have a good opportunity to increase the revenue on that property.”

The rivalry over MySpace is expected to echo the competition between Google and Microsoft last year over a link with AOL, which was eventually won by Google after the search company agreed to invest $1bn in the business.

Google and Microsoft are believed to be talking to MySpace. Yahoo is believed to be less interested. The search market is dominated by Google, which in April increased its share of US searches to 43.1 per cent, according to comScore Networks. Yahoo’s share was unchanged at 28 per cent and Microsoft’s share fell slightly to 12.9 per cent.

The rapid growth of social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook has threatened to tip the balance of power on the internet away from traditional portals and search engines.

Their potential to become the places where many young people spend most of their internet time could make them the “gatekeepers”, or the entry point for online activity.

The rise of the social networking sites has already forced the established internet powers to revise their views of how new audiences will emerge on the internet.

“We’ve looked at this carefully, these online communities will evolve and search will be part of it,” Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Google, said earlier this month. “There’s not going to be a single winner.”

Steve Ballmer, chief executive CEO of Microsoft, added: “All the analysis suggests that’s where all the growth will come from.” declined to comment on the status of its search negotiations.

Ross Levinsohn, president of Fox Interactive Media, the News Corp internet division of which MySpace is the cornerstone, said last week that improving the technology underpinning the site and making it easier for advertisers to access its users was “still our highest priority”.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Vista Beta 2 Released

Windows Vista Beta 2 is now available for IT professionals and developers with MSDN and TechNet subscriptions. In the coming weeks, Microsoft will start the Windows Vista Customer Preview Program (CPP) for developers and IT professionals who are not members of the subscription services.

The Windows Vista CPP will also be available to technology enthusiasts that want to install and test a copy of Windows Vista Beta 2. You can get a head start on your Windows Vista CPP preparation by visiting the Get Ready section of this site and downloading the Windows Vista Product Guide (60 MB Word doc).

Getting ready for Windows Vista means choosing the edition that's right for you and ensuring that you have the right PC to enjoy the experiences you want.

2007 Microsoft Office system Beta 2

Evaluate the next release of Microsoft Office products for testing and planning purposes with 2007 Microsoft Office system Beta 2. The beta release contains all the functionality of the regular release, but is not the final product.

The new 2007 Microsoft Office system user interface makes it easier for you to find and use the tools you need to get the results you want.

About Beta Software

  • Registration is required for participation.
  • 2007 Microsoft Office system Beta 2 is for evaluation and planning purposes only.
  • Beta software does not necessarily display the same high level of stability of shipped Microsoft products.
  • Beta testers may experience problems with 2007 Microsoft Office system Beta 2 products that could potentially result in loss, corruption, or destruction of existing data.
  • This beta testing release is not appropriate for production use.
  • It is strongly recommended that you back up your existing data before you install and run this software.
  • Beta code is offered "as is," and does not include technical support.
  • Many organizations have policies prohibiting unauthorized software installation on company-owned computers. Make sure you check with your IT department before downloading and installing 2007 Microsoft Office system Beta 2 on your computer at work.

Compatibility Pack

Ensure your current installations of Microsoft Office XP and Office 2003 are ready for the new Microsoft Office Open XML Formats by downloading the Compatibility Pack.

Expiration Date

All 2007 Microsoft Office system Beta 2 software has an expiration date of February 1, 2007. After expiration, 2007 Microsoft Office system Beta 2 will continue to work in a reduced functionality mode that limits your options and operations.

System Requirements

We highly recommend you review the system requirements for each program or server before you install 2007 Microsoft Office system Beta 2 to verify your system meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements.

Note Servers generally require higher system memory and supporting software than programs.

Gizmo Project 2.0, Out Now

Announcing NEW Gizmo Project 2.0 with Asterisk PBX Support!

An internet telephone. As simple as an instant messenger. Now you’re talking.

Make all your calls from the comfort of your desktop. With Gizmo, it’s point, click, talk. For free.

Say goodbye to high price calling, and say “hello” to anyone online, anywhere on earth.

Why use Gizmo?

  • It’s free!
  • Free calls to all Gizmo users.
  • Free Voicemail and Conference Calls.
  • Super clear call quality.
  • Inexpensive add-ons that let you make and receive calls from any mobile phone or landline.
Gizmo is a free phone for your computer