Code School: Best way to learn programming online

If you’re a newbie at programming and want to kickstart your career by learning programming online, you’re left with a lot of choice. There’s CodeAcademy, Khan Academy, Udacity and many others.

Code School is a similar site which I stumbled upon recently, and I was really impressed with it. It seems to better than all the sites I’ve tried before.

code-school

The main thing which sets Code School apart is their high quality screencasts – which is a much better way to learn than going through documentation (especially for beginners).

After you have watched the screencasts, you’ll be able to write code in browser itself, completing challenges. As you complete a course, corresponding badge will be added to your profile page, which you can make public for sharing with others.

I have started learning Git and it’s going really well. Apart from screencasts, you’ll also be given access to slides for referring to later.

The courses are pretty good in number, covering most of web designing (HTML5, CSS3, JQuery), iOS development, Git, Ruby and lot more. If the course you wanted isn’t listed, you can ping and ask them on Twitter, they’re pretty active there.

While Code School isn’t exactly free, they do provide few of the courses for free and more over, you can have access to all courses for free for 48 hours when you sign up initially. If your friends sign up for Code School under your referral link, you’ll be getting free access for 2 extra days.

Link: Code School

Opinsy–A Social Network for Opinions [Beta]

There are many new social media websites which try and get users to share photos, posts and videos. Opinions and polls are also socially very relevant but none of the major social media giants have been able to do get much traction here.

Opinsy.com is a website which is about taking part in discussions and opinions. It allows users to create an opinion and let users vote on it.

Opinsy Features

  • The idea behind Opinsy is very simple. As a user you get to vote on “Agree” or “Disagree”.
  • Additionally users can also add comments to a particular opinion they have voted on.
  • To complete the circle, users are allowed to add their own opinions on the website and get people voting on them.
  • Users can also follow each other to keep track of their opinions and vote on them. Most importantly it also has a dashboard where you can review all your activity on the website.

Opinsy is a good example of combining the opinions with social. The new website is still in beta and users can sign up by invitation only.

Do try out Opinsy and drop in your comments.

Link: Opinsy

Online tool to keep track of your mentions on Facebook/Twitter

If your company has a social presence on the web, you must be getting a lot of mentions online, from a lot of sites including Twitter/Facebook etc. Tracking and responding to all those comments can be overwhelming. Sure, you can use Google Alerts(even on a feed reader), but all you get is Google results which doesn’t get updated in real-time.

Mention is a new app (available on almost every platform) which tries to solve this.

Mention app

To get started, you got to download the app or just use the web version. The app with a neat iOS-inspired interface asks you to setup your alert, you can also add aliases to the main keyword. Mention will look for your keyword in lot of sites – including Facebook, Twitter, News, Blogs, Images and more.

The app is pretty fast in fetching new mentions of your keyword and also has anti-noise technology built in, to filter spam. If you’re using the Chrome app, you’ll be greeted with desktop notifications (or else E-mail notifications).

Each alert can be turned into a task, so that you can respond to the mention later – you can connect your social accounts to respond directly, or even invite your friends who are using the app. That way, this app can be great for team collaboration.

You get over 1000 mentions with the free account, which will get renewed every month. It does seem like worth paying for.

Mention is available as a free download for Windows, Mac, Linux, Web and also as a Chrome app. The iPhone app seem to be coming soon.

Link: Mention

[Update: You can get the iPhone app now, right from the iTunes Appstore.]

Popular News Reader app Pulse releases an HTML5 app for the web

Android and iPhone users are familiar with Pulse, a gorgeous news reader app providing an interactive way to consume news. Till now, Pulse wasn’t available on the web, except that you could able to read your ‘saved’ articles online.

But not anymore, the team behind this app has made a slick HTML5 app which is also part of Microsoft’s IE 10 marketing campaign (along with Cut The Rope).

Pulse webapp

The app sports responsive design, which means it will work on any device, from 3.5″ smartphone to a 27″ monitor. You can add popular blogs to your feed and also categorize them.

The app lets you customize the layout, and also you can save articles for later. If you’ve an iPhone/Android, make sure you install Pulse app, which will be in perfect sync with the webapp.

There’s no way to add blogs through an OPML file, which can be a big problem if you subscribe to a lot of blogs. I can make out that the app is not suitable for power users, because it’s not exactly a RSS reader nor is it as productive as Google Reader.

On a side note, if you’re a web designer/developer who wants to know how they were able to port the app to web, check out Pulse’s blog post.

Pulse on IE10

As shown in the video, Pulse looks amazing on IE10 on Surface tablet – it’s fully optimized for touch and blends with the metro layout.

Link: Pulse

Bit.ly releases Realtime to Show Viral Content

Bit.ly links are everywhere on Twitter, Facebook and what not. Though there are several URL shorteners out there, Bit.ly was one of the first apps in this field. Taking this as an advantage, they have released Realtime – a search engine which helps you find viral content.

2012-07-29_12h40_03

The webapp is pretty straight forward, showing the Bit.ly links with most number of clicks.

That also means links which aren’t using Bit.ly are missing out. You can also filter out the results using search term, topic, country, website and even social network.

For example, you’ll be able to see what’s trending on Facebook right now. It won’t be that useful for Twitter, as you already have Twitter trends which is now tailored for you.

You can add the shown links to your Bitmarks with a click, which you can share or add notes afterwards. As always, you can add a ‘+’ sign to any Bit.ly link to get deep statistics related to it.

Recently Digg was sold out to Betaworks for a mere half a million dollars, it tried to do pretty much same thing. Reddit on the other hand, is very strong because of its loyal community, though Bit.ly has taken a totally different approach to track viral content.

Realtime is a product of Bit.ly labs, so it’s still in beta and invite-only. But you can always sign up for one with a Bit.ly account, I got mine very quickly and sadly there’s no option to invite other people.

Link: Realtime

MyColorScreen – Show off your beautiful Android and iPhone screens

Customization is one of the best things about Android. You can do so many things to make the device yours, without even rooting it. Sure, iPhone users can customize too, but jailbreaking is too much of a hassle. So, if you have an Android or a jailbroken iPhone (because, you can’t do much with the stock), you got to check MyColorScreen.

Mycolorscreen

MyColorScreen Features

  • MyColorScreen is like a network for smartphone geeks, sharing their beautiful customized homescreens.
  • The site is neatly designed with a Pinterest-like layout, you get to see what the uploader has used to make the screen i.e. widgets, wallpapers, icons and all.
  • You can of course sign up for the site, and upload your screens, who knows you can become popular in no time.
  • You can also follow people with popular screens (or from your Facebook network), and look at trending screens, sorted by OS.

The site can be a great resource for wallpapers (and apps, too), some are really neat. If you follow news with a  feed reader, you can subscribe to respective feeds.

For people who customize their home-screen frequently, this can be great for inspiration. Rather than searching for screens on sites like DeviantArt, it’s great to have a dedicated site.

Link: MyColorScreen

Read RSS feeds in an interactive way with RSS Voyage

While you have apps like Flipboard, which lets consume information in a interactive way on mobile, there are not much options when it comes to desktop. You’re either stuck with Google Reader or some desktop RSS reader, they are definitely good apps, but no where near the interactiveness of mobile RSS readers. RSS Voyage tries to solve this.

RSS Voyage
RSS Voyage

In RSS Voyage, you get all the posts scattered in 3D space, which can be browsed using your mouse wheel (or touchpad scroll, in case of laptop), and keyboard arrows. You get a small excerpt of the posts, and you need to go to the website for the full article (for both full, and partial feeds).

You can add RSS feeds you want by signing up for the site and logging in, but there’s no way to upload an OPML file, which really matters if you have too many feeds to subscribe to. For an immersive experience, you can try the full screen option.

And in case, you’re wondering, the site is built using Flash, one of the most underrated technologies. This is not an alternative for RSS readers out there, but definitely worth using when you’re bored out of one. Also, we’ve covered quite a few tools regarding RSS and Google Reader here at DW.

Link: RSS Voyage

Showdown: Instapaper Vs. Readability

Ever came across a long article and wish you could read it in a ad-free, customizable place? Instapaper and Readability do just that, and that’s what today’s showdown is about.

Instapaper-readability

Interface

Winner: Readability

Interface plays a big role, after all, these two apps are intended to make an article clutter free and put it on a neat interface for comfortable reading.

Readability has a really clean interface allowing you to customize the background color, spacing between the letters and font size. If you use Kindle to read articles, then you can also use the ‘Send to Kindle’ feature. One thing you may miss when you navigate from the article page, is the sharing buttons, but with Readability you can even share the article on Facebook and Twitter.

Compared to Readability, Instapaper doesn’t offer much customization.

3rd Party Apps and Integration

Winner: Instapaper

There are tons of apps which use Instapaper’s API, notable are Readnow for Mac, Instafetch for Android and many more. Instapaper is integrated into more than 50 popular iOS apps including Feed Readers, Twitter clients, for example if you use Hootsuite on your iPhone, you can send the links which you come across in your timeline directly to Instapaper.

Readability has released API very lately, apps using it are The Telepaper, Readit for Android and a few more. It’s integrated into very few apps.

Available Platforms

Winner: Instapaper

Instapaper is available on iOS, web, also available as a bookmarklet. On the other hand, Readability doesn’t just have a dedicated iOS app, which is a total let down, although there are addons and bookmarklets.

Other

Winner: Instapaper

If you ever want to quit Instapaper, you can download the list of articles you saved for reading later, along with you, similar to Google Takeout. You can also organize the saved articles using folders, which isn’t available in Readability.

Final Note

Instapaper and Readabilty are great apps for no-nonsense reading, but the 3rd party apps supporting Instapaper makes it better, but that’s more of my personal opinion. Trying both the services is the best way to know the right one for you.

Tell us which one you use, Instapaper or Readability?

Link: Instapaper | Readability

5 Best News Aggregators To Keep Yourself Updated

The web contains millions of blogs, so what’s the best way to look up latest news, everything on one single page? Here are 5 awesome news aggregators which do the work for you. Read on!

Note that, by news aggregators I don’t mean feed readers like Google Reader, Feedly etc., instead I mean the services which grab and show trending links.

#1. Google News

One of the most used news aggregators, Google News covers news of all kinds gathering posts from 4,500 sites. It has great options for customization, you can add custom news topics, add news sources you like and more. Another cool new feature is, Badges, the more you read the more badges you get which you can certainly show to your friends.

Link: Google News

#2. Techmeme

imagesGetting featured on Techmeme is like a dream for every tech blogger. It’s totally confined to technology, great for tech enthusiasts. Unlike Google News, you get everything on one single page. They also have a mobile optimized site so you can catch news on the go.

Link: Techmeme

#3. Popurls

Popurls_black_backgroudPopurls is more than a news aggregator (we did a full review, back in 2008), apart from the fact that it has dedicated apps for iOS, Android, Blackberry and more, it also has other services in its network like PopShuffle which randomly opens popular links. You can signup with Google/Open ID and get access to customization features.

Link: Popurls

#4. News Map

NewsmapA flash based news aggregator, great for looking up world news, again, it shows everything on one page. It is actually based on Google News but shows the content more visually, looks great on wide screen computers.

Link: News Map

#5. Twitter

Twitter-trendsLast but not the least, who can I forget Twitter? Keep an eye on Twitter trends and make sure you follow the right people (or bots) to get the news you want. You can also make use of Twitter lists, one of the most overlooked features of Twitter, to build lists of Twitter handles of BBC, CNN etc. for more organized way to follow news.

Twitter Search is great for looking up news of live events, Twitter also has an official search addon for Firefox and in Chrome, you can manually add Twitter to the list of search engines.

Check out these tools and do tell us what’s your favorite news aggregator.

Save and Share Pieces of Content with Clipboard

I browse a lot daily and come across interesting pieces of content. So, if I want to save it, all I can do is, bookmark the page. But that is not a good way to do this, as I want to save a piece of content, not the whole page.

clipboard-tweet

Clipboard is a new service which lets you save the part of webpage you want. Apart from that you can also organize your clippings (pieces of content), share it to your friends and discover new content by following them.

They provide a nifty bookmarklet which you can use to clip any part of a webpage, extensions coming soon! One major thing which separates Clipboard from other bookmarking services is that, it preserves the HTML and CSS of the clip, so it doesn’t look like an image.

Clips are private by default, but you can publish them so that your friends can see what you’re saving. You can search for content/friends and follow them in the feeds tab. You can even embed clips in your website/blog from the share menu.

How to get Invited?

Clipboard is in private beta, if you want to try it now, we can provide you an invitation. All you need to do is, drop a comment below this post and we’ll send the invitation right away!

Link: Clipboard

Do you use web clipping services? Tell us in the comments.