[Cheat Sheet] Google+ Tips and Shortcuts for Windows and Mac Users

Google-Plus- Google+ has been here for a week now. As we are exploring it, we are finding various tricks to add more functionality to Google+. We discovered a Chrome extension that lets you share Google+ posts and updates on Twitter.

We also came across an online tool using which you can create easy to remember short URL of Google+ Profile. Let’s now take a look at some of the keyboard shortcuts and tips to use Google+.

Google+ Shortcuts (Works for Mac and Windows)

  • Space: Scroll down
  • Shift+Space: Scroll up
  • J: Scroll down one post
  • K: Scroll up one post
  • Enter: Start comment

Google + Tips:

  • To write in:
    • Bold: *Bold*
    • Italics: _Italics_
    • Strikethrough: -Strikethrough-
  • You can also use a combination of all three, i.e., *_Bold and Italics _*

    google plus bold italic strikethrough

    In fact, these are also the common auto correct options that are available in MS Word.

  • Tag people: Use + or @ before the name. You can even tag someone who is not in your circle- (just like twitter).
    gplus tag
  • Drag and drop to share your photos and videos – a feature similar to that in Gmail.
    gplus drag photo
  • Edit your post after publishing: The small arrow at the top right of the post is very useful. If after posting an update, you realize that there has been some mistake, you don’t have to delete it. Just click on the arrow, it’ll give you an option to edit your status. You can also edit your comments after posting.
    gplus disable comment
  • Disable reshare:This option is also available from the small arrow at the top right of the post. This is useful when you send a message to a selected group of people, and you don’t want someone from that group to share it with others.
  • Disable Comment:Use this feature when a post is getting spammed with comments.
  • Mute others’ post to remove it from your stream.
    mute post

Do you know any other shortcuts or tips? Share it with us through your comments.

Use Social Translate To Translate Tweets

Social Networking sites has made this world a small place to live in. Sitting here in India you can find out what a person in France is doing, just by following him on Twitter or Facebook. Social Networking sites has undoubtedly removed international boundaries.

But there are times when language becomes a barrier. What if a person you follow, tweets in a language that you don’t know? If you are thinking about Google Translate which pops up every time you open a site in a foreign language, well that does not work with sites like Twitter or Facebook. See the example below:

tweet in foreign languageOne way is to copy the message and go to Google.com/translate. Easier way is to install Social Translate- an extension for Google Chrome.

Installing Social Translate

Social Translate is an extension for Google’s Chrome that translates updates on social networking sites into your native language on the fly using Google Translate. At present it supports Twitter, Facebook, Orkut, Flickr and Amplify. From my experience it works best for Twitter at present.

Install social translate from the extension gallery.

Once you install it, go to Extensions (or in Chrome address bar type chrome://extensions/) and click “Options” for Social Translate.

Social Translate Options Here you can set your preferences regarding Translation Quality, and setting up Primary and Secondary Language.

Social Translate in Action

Once you have Social Translate installed, you’ll see the Social Translate icon in the address bar for the pages where the extension can work. It translates the status message automatically. You’ll see the icon next to the tweet that has been translated, and if you click on it, it’ll show the original message below the translated tweet.

social translate in action

social translate in action with original tweet This is a must-have extension for those who spend time on social networks as it automatically translates messages to your native language. However, the translation reliability is not very good for small messages (which is clear in the above message). But that is because of limited ability of Google Translate which this extension uses.

Do you know of any other extension that can be used for translating messages on Social Networking site? Do share it with us.

BookSmith – A Service to Publish e-book of Your Blog

blog_book

Blog, or web log as it was originally known, initially started as an online journal. The idea was to bring more and more people write their thoughts on an online platform, instead of a diary, so that it can be shared with everyone. The idea was well received, as can be judged by millions of blogs-both personal and professional, present on the web.

Though I spend a lot of time reading blogs, at times I wish I could read them in the form of a book. After all nothing can match the feel of having a book in one’s hand, which one can go through at a leisurely pace, while lying on bed. :-)

Looks like guys at Pothi.com felt the same way. For they have introduced a service by the name of Book Smith, wherein you can get your blog converted to a book! What’s more, you can even get an e-book, which is provided free of cost. For paperback edition, you need to pay a small fee depending on the number of copies you order. You can order as less as 1 copy!

Step by Step Instructions To Convert Your Blog To Book

  1. Point your browser to http://blog2book.pothi.com/ and click on ‘Start Now’.
  2. Enter the blog url (it supports only Blogger and WordPress). After that enter the number of posts that you want to convert. You can either choose a maximum of latest 100 posts or you can specify a date range. However the date range should not be more than 1 year, and only 100 posts from the specified date range will be chosen.
    select posts to convert into book
  3. In the next step, you can change the order of the posts as you want them to appear in the book. You can also remove a specific post, if you do not want it in your book.select and order the post
  4. In the next step you customize your book by giving it a name, subtitle and author’s name. You can, if you want, add Preface and Dedication too.
    customize the book
  5. Click on “Choose Cover” to select a cover for your book. You can choose from the  7 covers provided by default.
  6. Click on “Create My Book” and wait for a few minutes while your book is being created. Once it is done, you get an option to download the e-book for free. You can also buy a print copy, which is optimized so as to look good in printed form. Devils Workshop book that I created using this service costs Rs. 249/- per copy (irrespective of the number of posts). Looks decent to me.

download e-book

You can download the Devils Workshop e-book created through this service over here DW-eBook.

There are a couple of areas where I think Pothi.com can improve the service the upper limit on number of posts should be increased, and more cover designs should be included along with the option of having a custom cover design. If you keep aside these minor things, I think this is a good service. The best part is it is very simple to use and the quality of e-book is good.

Do you know of any other website that offers similar services? Are you planning to convert your blog to book? You can use it to gift a printed copy of your selected blog posts to one of your loyal readers ;-).

Why Disabling Error Report in Windows is Not a Cool Idea?

error report

In order to make Windows stable, Microsoft comes with an error reporting tool which is enabled by default. Every time a program crashes, a window pops up asking you to send diagnostic information to Microsoft. For those lucky souls who have never come face to face with it, this is what it looks like:

Error Reporting WindowAs if the crashed program was not enough to irritate you, Windows throws up this pop-up on your face driving you to extreme limits of exasperation. Cursing under your breath, you click on “Don’t Send”. But that does not please you enough. So you decide to take a revenge on Windows for irritating you. You look for ways to disable this feature permanently. A quick Google search introduces you to thousands of sites that are happy to help you out with this. Five minutes later, you are giving a mocking smile to Windows. Revenge completed. Windows will not dare to annoy you in future.

But wait! Was this really a cool thing to do?

No, it wasn’t. You wasted your vote by clicking on “Don’t Send”. And you gave away the right to vote in future by disabling this feature. A vote that could have helped fix a bug.

You might be wondering if reporting an error has any effect on Microsoft. Because the same program keeps on crashing again and again, even when you reported about it the first time. This has led to a general perception of Microsoft’s error reporting tool as:

complaint boxBut actually that is not the case. Every error that is reported is taken very seriously by Microsoft. They have a team dedicated for this purpose-WER (Windows Error Reporting) team, which analysis each error that is submitted. A common adage is that 80 percent of the errors and crashes in Windows are caused by 20 percent of the bugs detected. When you report a crash, the WER team analyses it to find the bug that caused it. To optimally utilize the resources, bugs that are responsible for most number of crashes are fixed first.

Same applies for third party software that you install on your computer. These software makers have the option to sign up to access the Windows Error Reporting data, using which they can find where their program is failing, and fix it in subsequent releases.

Thus when you send a diagnostic report to Microsoft, you are actually voting for a bug. More number of votes that a bug gets more is the chances of it getting fixed.

So next time when you get a thought of disabling the error report, think again. You might unknowingly contribute in making the Windows experience better for yourself and others by sending the error report.

Have you ever reported errors to Microsoft? Did you see any improvement after that? What are your chief reasons for not using the reporting tool? We’ll love to hear your views on this topic.

Image Credit

Get Facebook Dislike Button For Real

dislike Lately Facebook has been hit with a lot of viral scams. One among these is about getting a dislike button. The reason this scam has been able to get viral is because people actually want to have option of disliking a status update, a picture or a video. Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t provide such feature officially- a fact being exploited by scammers.

However it seems there is a third party extensions that actually let you add a dislike button to Facebook. This dislike button has been developed by Facemod Inc. and it lets you add a “dislike” option next to the “like” button. Facemod calls it the “THE OFFICIAL FACEBOOK DISLIKE BUTTON™ ADDON”.

How to get the Dislike button?

You can add the dislike button to your Facebook account by installing a Firefox add-on.

Once you restart the browser after installing the add-on, you’ll see a page asking you to share the news about dislike button. Though it appears that this is a mandatory step to use dislike button, actually it is not.

installation complete Open your Facebook account now. You can see the Dislike Link next to the Like Link in your profile. See it in action on my profile:

dislike button in action

Downside

The extension has some drawbacks which may give you second thoughts before installing it:

  1. After you install the add-on, apart from seeing the Dislike button, you’ll also start seeing banner ads on your profile. Dislike!ads on fb profile
  2. The add-on has been released for Firefox only. That means if you want to see dislike button, you’ll have to use Firefox. Not a great news for Chrome addicts.
  3. Only people that have installed this add-on can see the things you disliked. So to tell others what you dislike, you’ll first have to invite them to install this add-on.

Considering these downsides, you may want to wait for Facebook to officially release a dislike button. But if Pete Cashmore (founder and CEO of Mashable) is to be believed, your wait can be endless!

So will you add the dislike button or wait for Facebook to officially release it?

Link: Facemod
Image Credit

The Power of 140 Characters [TDIS]

Interesting Twitter Stories It’s that time of the week when we sit back and relax, reflecting on the days that went by. Like any other person, I love my Sundays and avoid doing work which involves the use of brain :P. So instead of writing some tech article, I thought of sharing these interesting stories related to twitter that I came across over time. These are not the normal stories of someone getting sacked because of a tweet. These are stories with a difference, and show the immense power 140 characters can wield.

Case#1: Woman saved from committing suicide

A woman tweeted about committing suicide and directed one such tweet to Demi Moore at @mrskutcher. It said, “@mrskutcher getting a knife, a big one that is sharp. Going to cut my arm down the whole arm so it doesn’t waste time”.

tweet Luckily Moore saw the tweet in time and retweeted it immediately. The tweet became viral and the police station got flooded with the calls about this. Fortunately the police was successful in tracking down the woman before she could take any such step.

Source: abcnews.go.com

Case#2: Twitter comes to the rescue of people tired of waiting for train

people waiting for train Commuters traveling through Caltrain between San Francisco and Bay Area (equivalent to Local train in Mumbai or Metro in Delhi) were often left waiting for hours for the train to arrive. With no proper system to communicate about the delays, getting real time status of the train was almost impossible. But not anymore- thanks to Twitter and Ravi Pina.

Ravi Pina- a tech enthusiast and sufferer at the hand of Caltrain, created a twitter account at @Caltrain. Now the riders on board can send latest updates about the whereabouts of train to @Caltrain which is then broadcasted to all the followers. Simple but effective! Interestingly, official Caltrain employees have fully embraced @caltrain.

Source: tales.twitter.com

Case#3: Man travels for free around the world

around-the-world The latest one is about Paul Smith (@paul_a_smith), a British freelance writer, who decided to get to Campbell Island, 200 miles off New Zealand’s coast, within 30 days. He tweeted about this 28 days before he was to leave. British actor Stephen Fry came across his tweet and retweeted it to his followers. The response was amazing. He traveled around the world for free! This is how he did it:

  • Ferry ticket from Newcastle to Amsterdam (tweeter called Leanne)
  • Train to Paris (two French tweeters)
  • Free bed at a hostel
  • Train to Saarbrucken
  • Lift in car to Frankfurt (German tweeter Andrea Juchem)
  • One-way flight from Frankfurt to New York (tweeter called Owen, using Air Miles)
  • Spare bed in hotel room (tweeter from Yorkshire called Mark)
  • Travel and stay in Washington DC, Chicago and San Francisco by plane, train and car (US tweeters)
  • Flight to San Francisco (Zurich-based tweeter)
  • Car to Los Angeles
  • Free flight from LA to Auckland (Air New Zealand)
  • Ferry to South Island
  • Lift to tip of South Island (tweeter called Smiley)
  • Sailed to Stewart Island.

Source: telegraph.co.uk

Strange how kind people can be to total strangers! I am planning a trip to Pune, Mumbai and Delhi. Any tweeple here ;)?

Hope you enjoyed reading these stories as much as I enjoyed sharing them. Do share other interesting stories related to twitter through your comments. In the mean time also check out 10 Interesting facts about Twitter and 21 Interesting Facts about Google.

India on World Wide Web

india on web

<Image Credit>

India is celebrating its 63rd Independence Day today. In these 63 years, India has achieved remarkable feats in various areas, be it sports, science or technology. When it comes to technology, time and again India has proved itself to be a super power. Adam Tablet PC- the iPad killer from India, and the recent $35 tablet computer are some of the examples to substantiate this claim.

Even in World Wide Web, India has made its presence felt by coming up with decent alternatives to the already present services.

Indian E-Mail Client

rediff This needs no introduction. Everyone must have heard about rediff, and many of you must even have an account on it. I started with rediff and still have that account active, though I no longer use it for sending e-mails. Interestingly, I subscribed to DW through my rediff id some 2 years back. :)

However rediff is no longer the preferred e-mail client now, because it failed to compete with new features introduced by Gmail.

Link: Rediff

mail.in It is a relatively new e-mail client, which offers you shortest possible e-mail id of the form yourname@in.com along with 10 Gb of storage space. It also has some unique features that Gmail doesn’t have presently. One such feature is “Future Mail” which lets you send a mail at some future date and time. Another cool thing about mail.in is the concept of in-browser tabs that opens e-mails in new tabs within the website.

If that wasn’t enough to lure you to in mail, it also offers some cool applications like Gmail Preview which shows you a feed of latest 20 unread mails in your Gmail account.

However the compose mail box needs some more refining if it wants to give real challenge to Gmail.

Link: Mail.in

Indian Search Engine

KhojThis is one area where we are yet to come up with something unique. Though there are quite a few Indian search engines present, they are either based completely on Google or they are not competent enough.

Still if I have to go for an Indian search engine, I’ll prefer Khoj.com. It has clutter free homepage and since it is powered by Google, it provides relevant search results. I tested another popular search engine Guruji with the same search query that I used for Khoj but the results relevancy was no where near to that of Khoj.

Link: Khoj, Guruji

Indian Web Browser

epic browser The latest addition to Indinized web is the Epic browser, which was launched on 15th July 2010- the same day when India got a new symbol for Rupee. Epic browser, which is developed by Bangalore based startup Hidden Reflex, is based on Mozilla platform and has most of its features, tailored to suit Indian mind. It supports a long list of Indian languages and comes with a sidebar that supports over 1500 applications which matter to Indians- such as Facebook, Orkut, Gmail, BookMyShow and lot more.

Link: Epic Browser

Let’s hope that in the time to come, Indians will come up with alternatives to other web based services too- maybe a blogging platform that has the best features of WordPress and Blogger?

Today, instead of using the regular web services, I’m using their Indian versions. This is my way of celebrating Independence Day. :)

Have you ever used any of these services? Do you think they stand a chance against the already established players?

Are Your Comments Working For Your Blog?

comment When one starts blogging, the primary concern is to get visitors. For this, various bloggers often use different strategies. Some submit their blogs to directories, some write guest posts and some use their blog url in e-mail signature.

However, the best way to get targeted traffic is to leave comments on other blogs. If you leave a quality comment, probability of people visiting your blog increases. But how do you know if the comment you left on a blog is getting you traffic or not? Having this information is essential, because then you’ll know which blog to target and which to leave.

This tutorial will help you analyze your comment strategy.

We are going to use Google Analytics to track how are comment strategy is working, so if you are not already using Google Analytics, add your blog to it.

Step by Step Guide to Track Your Comment Strategy

  1. We are going to create a separate URL for comments. To do this point your browser to http://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55578
  2. Enter your blog URL in the field “Website URL”. In “Campaign Source”, “Campaign Medium” and “Campaign Name” fill some unique identifiers which you can later recognize while tracking. If it sounds confusing, just write “Comment-Name of Blog on which you are leaving comment” in all the three fields. For e.g. if you are leaving comments on DW, use “Comment-DW” in the three fields.
    creating custom url
  3. Click on Generate URL. Copy this URL and use it every time you leave comment on DW. Similarly create custom URLs for other blogs where you leave comments. Don’t worry, this URL will direct visitors to your home page (or any other page you want).
  4. Now go to Google Analytics-> View Report-> Traffic Source->Campaigns. Here you can see which blog sent you how many visitors. (It’ll take some time before you’ll start seeing this report).
    google analytics-campaigns

Tips

  • You’ll not have to repeat this process every time. Your browser cookies stores this information so that next time when you go to that particular blog, it’ll automatically fill the corresponding custom URL for you (if you have not cleared the cookies).
  • This might look like a lot of work to you if you comment on many blogs. So instead of creating separate URLs for each blog you can create just one URL and use it everywhere. You’ll get a consolidated report on how your comment strategy is working, but you won’t be able to identify which blog sent more traffic.
    This is what I did for this tutorial. I randomly picked two blogs and created one custom URL for both. See the result below.
    campaign visitors
  • You can even set up a separate custom url for guest posts. This will be useful to differentiate between the visitors coming from guest posts and those coming from comments. For e.g., I write guest posts on DW as well as leave comments on other posts on DW. I can use two separate URLs to track these two types of visitors and find what works better for me-leaving comments or writing guest posts.
  • You don’t have to visit the link I mentioned in step 1 above every time you want to create a custom url. Just use the following structure to create a custom url:

http://www.yourblog.com/?utm_source=WRITE SOURCE &utm_medium=WRITE MEDIUM&utm_campaign=WRITE CAMPAIGN NAME

Analyzing this information, you can build on your comment strategy and get more targeted traffic to your blog.

Do you use any other method to check if your comments are working for you? Share your thoughts with us.

How To Create Widgets For Your Blog Using Wolfram Alpha

wolfram_alpha Internet today is dominant with search engines, with every search engine fighting hard to grab their share of market. But in this fight, there is one search engine that stands apart-Wolfram Alpha.

Wolfram Alpha, which was launched last year in May, has quietly created a niche for itself by providing calculable knowledge available to everyone.

In an attempt to let users use the computational knowledge of Wolfram Alpha on their site, it has recently come up with Widget Builder, which lets users create widgets easily. These widgets can then be used on blogs or websites or shared on various social networking platforms.

The widgets are built on top of Wolfram Alpha queries and anyone can create them without any programming knowledge.

In this tutorial we will see how to create a widget from scratch. We’ll create a widget to convert one currency to other.

How to create the widget

  • To create widgets you need to have an account with Wolfram Alpha. If you don’t already have an account create one here.
  • Once you have signed in, you’ll be taken to My Widgets page, where you can create a new widget and also view your existing widgets. This page also displays a chart that shows the number of people who have used the widget created by you. (to boost your ego :P).
  • When you click on Build Widget, you are taken to Query Template page. Here you write a search query as you would have done in a normal search engine. I queried for “US Dollar to Indian Rupee”. Now click on “Try it” button to see the result of your search query and if it is what you want then click “Use It”. If not, then modify your search query.

wolfram alpha search query wolfram alpha result search query

  • In the next step you’ll be asked to highlight the elements of your search query that you want to use as variable. I want US Dollar and Indian Rupee to act as variable so I’ll highlight those. This means that US Dollar and Indian Rupee are variables and can be replaced with any other currency in the final widget. So our widget will act as a currency converter for all currencies.

wolfram widget specify variables

  • Now you have to specify the label name and component type. Label name is what will appear before the variable field in the widget. Using component type you define whether you want to keep the variable field as “input field” or a “check box” or a “pop-up menu”. This might sound confusing now, but once we are done with the complete process, it will be clear.

wolfram widget specify label and field

  • The next step involves customizing the look and feel of your widget.
  • Now you have to decide the output you want to display. If you have used Wolfram Alpha before, you would have notice that unlike other search engines, it gives a detailed result for your query, which includes Interpretation, Assumptions, Result and other useful information. So in this step you decide whether you want to display all the outputs or some specific output. For our widget, I want only the result to be displayed.

wolfram widget output

  • In the next step you decide how you want the output to appear- as a pop up, or embedded below the widget. After that just enter the name, category, tags and description for your widget and hit Publish button. You are done. :D

Your widget will get published in the Widgets Gallery under a Creative Commons License. You can embed the widget on your blog or share it with others. You can see the widget created in this tutorial here.

wolfram our widget

Wolfram should be praised for making the entire process of creating widget so simple. Since this is still in beta stage, you can expect more modifications in the near future.

So go ahead and create your own widgets or modify the existing ones. But don’t forget to share the link of your widget with us :).

Do let us know if you found this tutorial useful. Will you use it to create widgets for your blog?

Search For Similar Sounds Using FindSounds

Sounds Whenever we want to search for something, the first thing that comes to our mind is Google. However, there are situations when Google is not of much help, for example while looking for images similar to an image, or while searching for people. For such situations, we have sites like Tineye-The Reverse Image Search Engine and Pipl-To Search People on the Web.

But what if you want to search for a sound? Not songs or ringtones, but sounds that you can use for your presentation or for composing some music. Google or any other commonly used search engines like Bing, Yahoo etc will be useless in this case.

Find Sounds fills that empty space by providing a search engine for sounds. While there are lots of search engines that let you look for text and images, FindSounds.com is the only search engine fully devoted to sounds.

How to search for sounds?

  1. Point your browser to www.findsounds.com and enter the type of sound you are looking for, say, ocean.
  2. Beneath the search bar there is an option to specify file format, minimum resolution and sample rate (which defines the quality of sound) and maximum file size.
  3. Once you click the search button, you’ll see a search page showing top ten hits for that sound. To play or download the sound click on the URL of the audio file or the volume icon.
  4. For every audio file listed, information such as size, number of channels, resolution, sample rate, and duration is mentioned. Link to the web page where the sound was originally found is also provided. You can even e-mail the sound to someone else by clicking on e-mail this sound.
    FindSounds-Search Page

An Interesting Feature…

The most interesting thing about this search engine is that you can search for sounds similar to some other sound. That is, instead of searching for sounds by providing a text label, you provide a sound file, and it searches for sounds similar to that. This is a better way of exploring sound because the audio files are searched based on how they sound, and not based on how they are labeled.  It is difficult at times to describe a sound and so not every sound can be labeled in a category.

However using FindSounds you can do a sound-like search only on the search results that are displayed. If you want to search for sounds similar to the ones stored on your computer then you’ll have to buy a software “FindSounds Palette”.
In the search results page just next to the audio file URL you see a clip_image001 button. When you click this, it shows sound similar to the one that was displayed along with percentage of similarity between the two sounds.

FindSounds-Similar Sound Search

The FindSounds’ database has an excellent collection of sounds, ranging from the sound of a frog to sound of a washing machine! The only thing I didn’t like is that the ads appear to be a bit intrusive.

Interestingly enough the site has been in function since 1st Aug 2000, but has maintained a low profile. Or is it that we are so used to of Google that we don’t know there are search engines beyond that :P?

You may also want to check 5 Useful Search Engines for Students.

Were you aware of this site? How are you going to use the sounds you find here? Let us know through your comments.