Inquisitive Guide – RSS : Best way to visit many websites together

A few years ago, my mentor gave me a quick advice, which in turn has changed my life as clichéd as it sounds. He said I should make it a point of spending time online without using the usual refinements like Facebook, YouTube, email or other form of direct entertainment online. Initially targeted at spending an hour online, now I have some interesting hours online nearly every other day, which I should say has enabled me to even write about these Inquisitive topics. Eventually there are quite a few websites that I was reading regularly, blogs that I was reading and what came out of it was, that I started to spend too much time in visiting those sites / blogs to pick up the information that I wanted to read. Then I stumbled upon RSS.

Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication, the expanded version of RSS is actually a web format that is used to read “feeds” from sites. What it means is that people with RSS feeds on their sites have set up a sort of a radio channel for their websites, where you will constantly pick up any changes or posts that they add, however the advantage over radio is that it shows them by posts, so you can pick to read what you want to, where as you can opt to not read ones that do not really interest you. The video here should help better understand RSS.

Why RSS? Benefits and Reasons for using RSS

RSS solves a problem for people who regularly use the web. It allows you to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites you are interested in. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually. You ensure your privacy, by not needing to join each site’s email newsletter.

What do I need to do to read an RSS Feed? RSS Feed Readers and News Aggregators

Feed Reader or News Aggregator software allow you to grab the RSS feeds from various sites and display them for you to read and use. A RSS reader can be web based application, desktop-based standalone application, browser based application or a mobile device based app. Each of these readers has their own features and some are free while others are not. Those who have to access their RSS feeds from multiple computers prefer a web based RSS reader. Those who access RSS from a single computer generally choose the desktop applications. While choosing your desktop-based application, make sure that you are keeping into account the operating system platform that you are using. All recent browser applications also have an inbuilt RSS reader. These browsers also have a finder technology that automatically spots the RSS widget on the website that the browser is visiting. In addition, RSS feeds can be received on mobile phones. What more, you can even connect your RSS feeds with your social network channels like twitter and facebook. The services like twitterfeed and RSS graffiti makes this possible. RSS feeds can also be converted to emails and read from your inbox.

variety of RSS Readers are available for different platforms. Some popular feed readers include Amphetadesk (Windows, Linux, Mac), FeedReader (Windows), and NewsGator (Windows – integrates with Outlook). There are also a number of web-based feed readers available. My YahooBloglines, and Google Reader are popular web-based feed readers.

Once you have your Feed Reader, it is a matter of finding sites that syndicate content and adding their RSS feed to the list of feeds your Feed Reader checks. Many sites display a small icon with the acronyms RSS, XML, or RDF to let you know a feed is available.

As an additional step you can chose to beautify the RSS feeds with these plugins for popular browsers such that you can read the news from these sites easily. A great example of the RSS feed beautifier, aggregator and reader is the Feed.ly plugin for Google Chrome, that converts a boring looking interface into a proper magazine style interface.

At the end of the day the name of the game is pulling information from sites that you want and present it to you in the way you want it. So if Melvin’s Inquisitive Mind is on your list of blogs and or sites that you visit usually and want the information to reach you as soon as it is posted, well go ahead give the RSS a try on this blog. Its on the top right, just below the content slideshow.

Save the Tiger – Augmented Reality Campaign

One of the most fascinating and magnificent cats of all of the animal kingdom is the Tiger. However, we all know that this beautiful beast is on the verge of getting pushed into the extremely endangered species list. Tigers world wide are facing precarious conditions when it come to basic survival. In this effect it was quite apt when NDTV and Aircel in India launched an awesome campaign to try and save the tiger. We have gone down to only 1411 tigers in the country and no amount of campaigns and public support is enough to bring this species back.

What was even more saddening was a friend of mine had an opportunity to visit a home of someone high up the social ladder in UAE; the person was also a UAE national who had immense wealth.  Interestingly, the person had along with his collection of gazillion expensive cars, and other collectibles; Indian Tigers, both white and the normal ones, a few lions, some hippos and even some alligators. My first reaction was this is depressing, then I thought that they are at least keeping these beasts safe. My next reaction was also that of depression thinking what has the world come to, if tigers need to be caged in other countries to keep them safe from us. Not to mention that its really utterly and completely wrong.

I started looking at the campaigns of “Save the Tiger” and although there has been a lot of progress with a lot of people signing up to getting up  and doing something for the campaign, it was imperative that the feeling of loosing these tigers be bought to the foreground. They worked on amazing commercials which were aired on TV, but still had that one element missing. The efforts need to be absolutely increased, these ads are just not enough. Have a look at some of them here below :

So after the campaign in India, I thought it might be worthwhile checking out the other efforts. And I stumbled on the second campaign this time with the cousin of the Indian Tiger, the Siberian Tiger. The campaign of the Siberian Tiger went to technology to be able to achieve the punch factor in the campaigns, not only have they made the campaign interesting but also really powerful, with the power of guerrilla marketing. And we all know how good the guerrilla marketing techniques work.

Trying to make a point, the WWF Tiger T-Shirt shows what it is to be hunted down by poachers like the Siberian tiger. Incredibly graphic, it relies on an augmented reality to show you what it would be like to be shot. Reaching to Augmented Reality to achieve the effect, the campaigners provided T-Shirts to a lot of people which triggerd a shooting animation (complete with blood) when worn in front of a special mirror.  The campaign was launched with collaboration of WWF and Lookatme.ru. Check out the website at lookatme.ru/tiger.

I think we need to start looking at bringing this campaign to India.

New Stuff from Google has its own site now

As someone associated with Technology and how fast things change, especially on the web, it gets difficult to update yourself with all of the new changes that are happening. As a guideline you would follow the blogs of big companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, other famous tech blogs like Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Engadget and the likes. However gathering information from these places is a task in itself. So our very friendly Google has now come up with a site to let you know what the changes on their products are and the products updated !

Google New, is a new Website that updates the followers f google and Web Technology in general the various changes that the sites are going through. Your guide for finding everything new and Google, is something that shows an impressive number of changes to their products that this search giant is churning out.

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As a matter of fact, the more you think of, I think its more valuable for companies to have a micro site like this that will provide updates to their customers / visitors especially considering that people these days do not really like news letters on their emails. Honestly, when was the last time you read a newsletter. Just create a micro site or a blog and provide your customers with the updates required. Great Initiative Google, I know I am happy.

Fun things to do with your Facebook Account

For most people visiting my blog in the last few days , you would have noticed that there is a bit of an issue with the server. The site been dropping connection and the awesome support guys at blue host have promised to have a look at the issue and get it fixed. In fact I have been refraining from putting up too many posts just to ensure that I don’t create problems for them. I am really happy with the guys there as they seem to be providing me with updates on what really is happening with the blog and it seems that there might be a hardware error that I might be dealing with.

Having said that, the site has been given a breadth of fresh air, right from the look and feel to some new functionalities. Like everything else on the internet these days, I have integrated Facebook into the blog to a much larger extent than it was. You can now have a comment on the site and login if you want to the site with your Facebook Id itself. Moreover you will be able to see how many others like you have visited the site through their Facebook Id’s as well, including Friends. I would really request you guys to make use of the feature as it would give some faces to you the awesome visitors who have made it possible for me to be able to continue blogging with your support and comments.

Having registered to Melvin’s Inquisitive mind with your Facebook ID, you can not only comment on the site, but have your comment show up on Facebook as well. If you want you can invite your friends like you would do for any Facebook app etc, to come over and visit the Inquisitive Mind. All in all I am trying to make it easier for a lot of you guys to have to not enter details like name etc, to just post a comment. Logging in with Facebook will take care of that bit. If you thought the deceiving title was just to tell you about the implementation on my blog, well it’s not entirely true. I would also show you how Microsoft have made use of the Social networking Giant’s network to help us create a Resume and Charts to help analyze our friends circle. More to come.

Docs.com

Microsoft’s Document sharing platform made to rival others like Slideshare.net , Scribd.com etc is quite nice for a first glance. Although the documents are pretty much the presentations that you used to receive as forwards etc (nowadays no one sends forwards, everything is shared on FB, lol) meaning they are quite mediocre at least compared to the professional ones on Slideshare.net. The ties between Facebook and Microsoft start getting visible as you browse around this site.

 


Simple Resume with Facebook and Docs. Com

The resume feature is pretty basic and uses your work, location and educational details to create a basic resume that will need to be filled up with the remainder of the details. I do like the template that Docs.com provides and you might very well start seeing a lot of resumes using that style very soon. Check out the interface for creating the resume here.

Friends Chart with Docs.com

The Friends Chart analysis is pretty interesting and uses information like hometown, location, sex, age to provide some very interesting insights into the demographic of your friends list on Facebook. I am sure that with a bit of tweaking you can add it into your Social Resume, just to show how many people you are ‘Friends’ with. I have to tell you I found out some new things about my ‘friends’ circle that I would not have known otherwise.

Photo Album from your Facebook Album

The Photo Album was a concept that I was really looking forward to as a killer feature. But Docs.com disappoints with this, there is no selection of template for the end result. The object created is a PowerPoint file which is usually pretty large if the album is big. I would have however wished to see the output file as a Facebook Video, or a YouTube Video if anything such that it would be more accessible and would avoid me the trouble of re uploading it to another site.

A Request

All the three listed tools are available on the home page on the right hand side, with Icons which are pretty self explanatory. One word, one PowerPoint and one excel file means that people still would need to go to Docs.com to view them or need the Office Package to view them, which could have been avoided I think. Making downloads on PDF would have been another option. Try out these fun toold and maybe let m e know what you think as well.

Again, Facebook is everywhere and I think the Internet community is beginning to make use of the fact that it is everywhere, in one way or the other. Here is my attempt alongside Microsoft’s. A humble request use the facility on the Inquisitive Mind and comment on the posts now, or let me know if the new blog is good or just sucks. I am looking forward to some feedback.

Goo.gl really pushing QR Codes

How do you know that a technology is beginning to take off ? Google does something with it, thats how. After Twitter, the importance of the length of a webpage URL needed some real looking at, because you would get only 140 characters to include the URL and your message, hence the birth of the URL Shortness. Needless to say Google thought it was a good idea and came up with a similar service called goo.gl. Its been shown below that it is indeed one of the best services available out there. That is the first piece of the jigsaw.

qrcode

QR Code is something that Google has showed interest in from getting it onto the Google maps for businesses, to now a URL shortening service which generates QR codes for the shortened code. For those of you who don’t recall, a QR (“quick response”) code is a square barcode that makes getting URLs, location coordinates, any text or contact information onto a phone fast. With a barcode scanner app installed, you just point your phone’s camera at the code to read its contents.

If you’re already using Goo.gl to shorten your URLs, simply add .qr to the end of a shortened Goo.gl URL and it’ll instantly generate a QR code for you.

Once you’ve got your shortened Goo.gl URL—like http://goo.gl/aXum, which points to Lifehacker’s home page—just append .qr like so:

http://goo.gl/aXum.qr

…and you’ve got your personal QR code. Not bad.

Note: To use Goo.gl to shorten URLs, you need to be using the Google Toolbar, or you can point your browser here . You can also check out my previous post about QR Codes here.

25 years of .com and the Internet

[tweetmeme] The Internet, the most common resource of the entire world is not really very old. I mean considering that I am older to the internet by a good few years. Its interesting considering that it is more known than I am … hehehe well I guess thats like wishful thinking. Nevertheless, its really surprising that something that a few years back was considered very geek, is now considered normal. I guess there is hope for us Geeks, only issue is the time it takes 😉

Well getting back to the whole, how old is the internet, there is a website to answer the question, its (guess) www.howoldistheinternet.com which is quite the name that seems to answer the question straight off. But to be honest, the Internet was the successor of the then research network The ARPAnet, which was born in November 1969, making the Internet 39 years old. The ARPAnet created by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency(DARPA) of the United States Department of Defense, was the world’s first operational packet switching network, and the predecessor of the contemporary global Internet.

I am not sure when the internet was born, did people ever think that it could reach the proportions that it reached today. In the future, when we touch upon the realm of Augmented Reality, the Internet will become more ubiquitous with the day to day activities of our daily lives.

Having said that, the first website ever was the Cern Website, yes the research facility that is now the home of the world’s largest and most expensive machine ever built the LHC (Large Hadron Collider).

Todays Inquisitive tit bit is the oldest Domain Names of the Internet.

Rank Registered Date Domain Name
1 15-March-1985 SYMBOLICS.COM
2 24-April-1985 BBN.COM
3 24-May-1985 THINK.COM
4 11-July-1985 MCC.COM
5 30-September-1985 DEC.COM
6 07-November-1985 NORTHROP.COM
7 09-January-1986 XEROX.COM
8 17-January-1986 SRI.COM
9 03-March-1986 HP.COM
10 05-March-1986 BELLCORE.COM

I guess the only Joy I am getting out of this is reminding myself of how Old I am. lol What it does tell me is the most technologically switched on companies around the world have been Xerox and HP. Hmm, maybe next time before ridiculing the HP laptop that my friend bought I will keep this in mind.

How can you help others just being online

Understandably the primary use of technology should be for the betterment of the quality of life around the world, and the Internet is helping achieve it. Especially in the 3rd world countries where the basic necessaries of people are not completed, the penetration of the Internet is not really the priority and thus it is not able to help out people.

As a symbol of the human ingenuity we have however come up with simple but effective ways to be able to help people in those 3rd world countries, not directly though. So do you wanna join in as well, so here is a list of a few websites that do a lot of charity based on how much time you spend on their site.

http://www.freerice.com/ This amazing site provides 10 grains of rice to charity when you get a small quiz which is on their site. The site has daily stats for the rice they donate as well and yesterday Jan 22, 2010 the stats were

78,719,470 grains of rice donated and Over 73 billion grains donated to date

The great thing about this website is the fact that not only is the site doing a lot of good, but with the Quiz that are there on the website they help learn various educationally required material as well, such as Language Learning, Math, English, Geography, Chemistry and Art. It is really helpful in more than one type of education, the more important being that everyone should do something good for the planet.

http://www.thehungersite.com/ is another great site for charity, where they give away 1.1 cups of food for every click that you would register per day. The site is going one step further and has a store with produce that is created by the people in the countries that are suffering from calamities or in certain cases war.  In a 12-month period they donated over 43 million cups and it only takes a second for each person to do and costs nothing!

The great part of the site is that you can go to related sites (breast cancer, child health, literacy, rainforest, and animal rescue) where you can click and sponsors donate acres of rainforest, mammograms, etc. By shopping at the sponsors’ sites, even more will be donated to the causes.

Another way to give to charity without spending any money is to use certain search engines. Whenever you do a search, the advertisers pay to a charity – usually you choose which one before searching.

Here’s a site that lists a few of these search engines:
http://www.easydonations.net/searchengin…

And one that lists 15 of these search engines:
http://www.doshdosh.com/13-charity-searc…

Here is a list of some of these charity sites that I do try and visit regularly, please add more if you know of any :

  1. http://www.freerice.com/
  2. http://www.thehungersite.com
  3. http://www.easydonations.net/
  4. http://www.triviaforcharity.com
  5. http://www.freepoverty.com
  6. http://www.goodsearch.com
  7. http://www.freekibble.com
  8. http://www.freekittykibble.com

Mother Tongue

Throughout my use of the internet I have been surfing sites in English. Localization was not a big issue for me, as in I did not want Google in Hindi or to be able to blog in Hindi. Well they are beautiful features nevertheless, but then personally I do not find as much use of it. Maybe it’s just me, but then I can’t picture the next generation of vernacular based software developers and planners using any of our national languages to do the programming of the next gen software. Unlike countries like Russia or France or Hungary etc where people thrive on the vernaculars; India is a nation where the respectable person is only one who speaks English well. A person is regarded as well learned by the Metro Generation only if his English is good, no accent. Well I think we don’t think outside the box here in India.

I can confuse most people, when I am talking in my mother tongue cos its very rarely used. Well to tell you some interesting facts about the languages in India, Indian main languages are Hindi and English, But practically they are one of 800 Languages spoken in India and a total of 2000 Dialects exist for them. Out of the 28 states and 7 union territories, only 10 states and 3 union territories have Hindi as the principal official language. Every other state has its own regional language. And although I am from the state of Karnataka, my mother tongue is Konkani. The official language of Goa. It is so cos the name Konkani is derived from the region I am from originally called Konkan. And Konkan spans 3 states with different state languages. Confusing huh.

Anyway the Metrosexual personalities of people in India is driving the vernacular languages and people who speak vernacular languages to the side. Well that’s a bit more of the vernaculars digging their own graves, cos the commotions and strikes that all the antisocial elements conduct are under the veil of the vernaculars. Anyway, someday people will realize. But in the mean time the fact that the vernaculars are seen as outsiders is prompting more children to learn English more than any other language in India. At least so the metros, well there is only one issue with that. We are going to loose out on the language soon, in one or two generations we are going to be a complete mass of English speaking Indians and loose our vernacular individualities.

Konkani being my language is prompting me to take notice for the same reason. When I am thinking of the same thing, I am prompted to look at some options online. http://www.maaibhas.com/ ; http://www.daijiworld.com/, http://www.mangalorean.com/ and http://www.daijidubai.com/ are some of the options I looked at. But the most impressive for them, is the site called http://www.savemylanguage.org